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Capital market taskforce pushes asset sales scam

Written By: - Date published: 1:00 pm, December 16th, 2009 - 47 comments
Categories: privatisation - Tags:

Another government-appointed taskforce of rightwing, market ideologues (this time appointed by Labour, the fools) has reported and, surprise, surprise, their report is a rightwing prescription without any supporting argument that it would be good for the country.

The headline recommendation of the Capital Market Development Taskforce is that the government sell shares in SOEs. The reasoning behind this major recommendation that would mean privatising the profits of billions of dollars worth public assets forever is incredibly lightweight. Just two pages in the 134 page report* are devoted to explaining why we ought to part-sell our our assets and half of that is taken up with a graph that supposedly shows other countries have allowed private investment in public assets but in fact shows nothing of the sort (Australia, that country we are supposedly trying to catch, actually has a higher portion of its state assets entirely publicly-owned than we do now).

Here is the entirety of the Taskforce’s reasoning for telling us to sell off our hard-built assets:

1.
It would materially increase investors’ choices of domestic assets. Government holdings are extensive in the energy, land and environment, transport and infrastructure, and telecommunications sectors. In many other countries, such companies would be listed on the stock market and could be part of investors’ portfolios. Given the lack of perfect international integration in capital markets, the ability to invest in similar assets offshore does not fully compensate for the lack of these assets domestically.

2.
The government, as owner, would benefit significantly from the capital market discipline and monitoring that would occur with a partial listing. Private sector participants with personal wealth at stake in these companies will be more effective monitoring agents than government can ever be.

3.
It would materially improve the depth of our capital market, particularly in some of the areas in which central and local government is a key holder of assets. Partially floating some of these assets is the only way in which our share market can markedly increase in size in the near term. Bulking up the market in this way will also have the spillover benefit of making it more attractive to other companies considering listing on the market, by increasing activity and investor interest.

No facts, no modelling, no proof. Not even any argument that doing this would benefit us as a country, which is surely meant to be the point.

The clamour for the sale of state assets is coming from one source – the people who would make money off it. They reckon they would get our assets at knock-down prices (like they did last time) and then be able to extract greater profits out of them by demanding higher dividends, which would require asset-stripping (just like last time).

The notion of selling part of the asset to ‘free up capital’ is like those dodgy companies that encourage you to take loans out against your house. We would get some cash up front, and then end up paying back far more from the profit streams of our assets.

It’s a scam. We were tricked into selling our assets by lying neoliberal governments back in the 1980s and 1990s. We’re not dumb enough to be fooled again.

*(there’s little content in those 134 pages. most of the pages are half empty, there are even some pencil sketches to take up space – it’s like what you would get if you asked for a 20 page report from a lazy fifth former.)

47 comments on “Capital market taskforce pushes asset sales scam”

  1. grumpy 1

    A timely post Marty. as i see it this taskforce was to develop capital markets. It seems simple to me that NZ suffers from a lack of capital and the easiest way to get some more is to take it from the State. Certainly much easier than developing the private sector.

    So, stupid solution but understandable.

    Privatisation of State assets in NZ has always been just a rip-off to benefit a small clique. Show me one example where privatisation has left an organisation better off and compare that with Kiwibank, a prime example of a well run state owned organisation.

    Hope this “taskforce” didn’t get paid for this.

    • Tim Ellis 1.1

      Auckland Airport. Wellington Airport. BNZ. State Insurance. Rural Bank. Works Development Services. Capital properties.

      Almost all the international empircal studies show that privatisation delivers more efficiency in the businesses and greater benefits to consumers.

      I don’t think you can argue when the government is creaming billions of dollars in near monopoly profits from electricity generation that you can argue that consumers are getting a good deal.

      • Kirsten 1.1.1

        Nice assertion but unfortunately not actually backed up by the facts. Most public services were created because of market failure – the failure of the private sector to be able to provide these services at a sufficient standard to support social and economic development.

        Public infrastructure (clean water, roading, waste disposal, public education, health and social services etc.) weren’t established because of ideology but because the market failed to provide for them adequately and governments recognised that they were esstential for social and economic development.

  2. bobo 2

    Funny how this announcement is timed with Key being overseas. Just another scheme like the power company privatization of the 90s. Goff should be attacking on this and getting some traction. Oh and we are dumb enough as a nation to do it again, how else do you explain Nact being so high in the polls?

  3. Lanthanide 3

    Seems to me that the government needs to run these taskforces much more like the 5th form assignment you compared it to.

    If you just do a shallow repeat-the-textbook job, you get shoddy marks. You get good marks when you do in-depth analysis and form a plan backed by data.

    Only in the case of the government and taskforces, marks = money.

  4. IrishBill 4

    From the preface: At the same time, we are aware that financial system
    ‘failures’ including recent finance company collapses
    have greatly undermined public trust and confidence in
    our markets.

    ‘failures’, in speech marks. Just in case you thought that the collapse of a finance company leaving thousands of people in financial ruin was some tangible, objective, real world failure rather than a “perception”. These f*ckin people can’t even confront the reality of their f*ckin banckrupt ideology and yet we’re seriously listening to their advice to give them and their mates our family silver???

    • grumpy 4.1

      I agree with you Bill, but why is the NZ financial/business system so piss poor?

      I know that the US and Aussie are not much better but crap like Toll/TranzRail and all the crooked finance company failures mean National will NEVER fight an election on Private v Public.

      In any reasonable country (capitalist or otherwise), Hotchin and Watson et.al. would be looking at real punishment. Not this crap.

      http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10615792

    • Rex Widerstrom 4.2

      That really is shoddy fifth former work.

      For instance they could have left out the speech marks and instead said:

      “… financial system profitability downsizing…”

      “…recent monetary redistribution events…”

      and so on. Or done the old “it’s actually all your fault but we’re not going to say so directly” trick and said:

      “…profitability failure by key stakeholders…”

      “…failure of market forecasts to align with outcomes…”

      Better yet, just get Sarah Palin to write the next one.

  5. Sanctuary 5

    This will founder on the rock of “no privatisations in our first term”. Of course, the more O’Sullivan and the rest of the crony right fume and demand the more the next election will be fought on privatisation.

    I’ll be interested to see the public reaction to English’s next budget. His 2010 budget will be an ideologically driven austerity budget and he is prepared to risk a winter of massive discontent with public sector workers like nurses.

    And race has a lot more to run yet. It’s already been signalled that Tariana Turia will get her wish of getting large sums of taxpayer funded dollars syphoned off to her fat cat buddies in the Iwi authorities to run “welfare programs for Maori”. When the public realise THEIR money is going to privare, unaccountable race based organisations the Hone emails and the flag issue will be very small potatoes indeed.

  6. tsmithfield 6

    We are currently borrowing $250 million per week to fund our deficit. If the crown has surplus assets, why not sell them off to reduce our borrowing?

    That doesn’t mean I don’t support retaining some state assets. For instance, in hind-sight, I would probably support state control of electricity and similar services. However, the government owning things that would normally be in realm of the private market seems silly. Also, many public bodies have excess assets in terms of land, buildings etc. Whats wrong with selling these off to reduce our level of borrowing.

    • grumpy 6.1

      I have no problem with selling surplus assets as any prudent business would do. I do have with selling things like railways, electricity networks etc. that we have to buy back after they have been run down through asset stripping, price gouging etc.

    • Kirsten 6.2

      All governments (like all households) run with a level of debt they feel comfortable with – this is a capitalist world after all. The amount of government borrowing may sound impressive but actually it is proportionally much lower than pretty much all of Europe, the UK, Australia, the US, Canada….So, not quite time to sell the family silver quite yet.

  7. Bored 7

    This is just another of the ongoing attempts from those with money to privatise the commons. What they are really saying is that democratically controlled voter owned infrastructure and services are better controlled by undemocratic private ownership. What these people will never ever mention either is the cost of capital that they wish to recoup and the profit margin they add. It means that you and I will pay 10% plus more for dividends etc for the same outcome. That’s the economics.
    The politics are more severe, to corporatize (i.e to privatise the commons for the benefit of a small sectoral interest group of wealthy investors) means that the democratic process loses breadth and control over what we all commonly utilize. When the commons becomes so limited (as is the thrust of this ‘plan’) we the public will no longer have any democratic share in the “commons’. This is a fairly accurate description of what fascist Italy achieved. What business is really saying is that the public should not make any decisions over anything except through transactions in a “market’ that they own; we are to be reduced to mere transactional units. It sort of out does communist tyranny because their enemies of the state were still regarded as people, in the corporate (fascist) model you are merely a unit of consumption.

  8. tsmithfield 8

    Why should the state own an airline, for goodness sake?

    • snoozer 8.1

      because we sold it and the private owners ran it into the ground (unfortunate metaphor) and we were left with three options

      a) let it collapse
      b) let it be bought out by Singapore Air
      c) buy it back ourselves

      a and b would have meant the end of regional flights in New Zealand, Singapore Air would have had no interest in running such small, low-profit routes.

      knowledge changes things, eh?

      • kelsey 8.1.1

        Incorrect.

        Michael Cullen was a significant cause of the collapse by vetoing an increase in Singapore Air’s minority stake because he preferred it to be bought out by Qantas and have a single Australasian carrier.

        When that fell through he was left with little choice.

        Source:

        http://www.wsws.org/articles/2001/nov2001/nz-n03.shtml

        Knowledge changes things, eh?

        • Julio 8.1.1.1

          The ‘World Socialist Web Site’ is hardly a credible source. The guy who writes their NZ stuff, John Braddock, is just a typical trot with an axe to grind.

      • Kirsten 8.1.2

        Also because of its strategic importance to our geographically isolated country – our trade with Japan rose only after sufficient flight services were put in place. Likewise South America.

        And actually quite a few countries have stakes in their national airlines – Air France etc.

    • Because it makes a return for the Country, which can be reinvested to other areas like Health ,Education, roading, public transport. Oh and it was the NZ tax payers under Labour that bailed out Air New Zealand last time. Why shouldn’t the NZ tax payer get a return on their money.
      Why should it only be rich private people making money. Explain to us all tsmithfield why the NZ tax payers interest shouldn’t be advanced.

  9. Why should the state own a commercial TV? Scrap TV one as it is, invest in a genuine public service model and sell TV2.

    The state needs to selectively invest in assets where it’s needed.

    • snoozer 9.1

      TV1 as a true public broadcaster I agree with.

      Selling TV2 – before agreeing I would like to see a business case for it. Something that this report fails to provide.

  10. tsmithfield 10

    Snoozer “because we sold it and the private owners ran it into the ground (unfortunate metaphor) and we were left with three options

    a) let it collapse
    b) let it be bought out by Singapore Air
    c) buy it back ourselves

    a and b would have meant the end of regional flights in New Zealand, Singapore Air would have had no interest in running such small, low-profit routes.

    knowledge changes things, eh?”

    So, the state should bail out every private organisation that fails because some consumers might be disadvantaged by the change? Even under the scenario where Singapore Airlines purchased Air New Zealand there were options that would have preserved the uneconomical routes. For instance, the state could have subsidized the Singapore airlines for operating on those routes if it wanted to. So, I don’t see the problem with private ownership of Air NZ from any perspective.

    Look at it this way from a leftist perspective. Money not tied up in Air NZ is money that could be invested in hospitals, schools etc.

    Heres another one. Why should the state own a valuation company when there are plenty of private ones that can do the job perfectly well?

    • snoozer 10.1

      “So, the state should bail out every private organisation that fails because some consumers might be disadvantaged by the change?”

      No, don’t be silly now. We do need to perserve our transport networks though. We get a lot of value from the regional air network, far more than the airline gets in profits.

      “the state could have subsidized the Singapore airlines for operating on those routes if it wanted to”

      Yeah, because that model has worked so damn well with the rail. If the choices are between owning the company and running it in a way that benefits New Zealand as a whole or annually being blackmailed by some foreign company with the threat of losing our regional air network, I know which I would choose.

      The money isn’t ‘tied up’ in New Zealand. We’re getting a healthy return on equity. Nearly $600 million in dividends on a $885 million investment in 8 years. That return can be spent on hospitals etc.

    • felix 10.2

      For instance, the state could have subsidized the Singapore airlines for operating on those routes if it wanted to. So, I don’t see the problem with private ownership of Air NZ from any perspective.

      So you’d like us, the taxpayers, to subsidise a foreign-owned company so they can make a profit flying us around our own country.

      You’re so opposed to public ownership that you’d actually rather have us pay other people to own our assets so they can profit from our use of them.

      • tsmithfield 10.2.1

        Its called a private/public partnership, Felix. I thought Labour quite liked the idea of private/public partnerships, if I remember correctly.

        • felix 10.2.1.1

          And Labour has what to do with me exactly, tsmithfield?

          Should I start comparing your statements to that of some political party or other or would that be a moronic, arrogant, insulting and presumptuous thing to do rendering me looking as much of a smug, ignorant prick as you do now?

        • Kirsten 10.2.1.2

          Public Private Partnerships – as proposed by the current government for schools. This will mean we sell off education land to a private company who will build a school (financed privately at greater cost as the Government can actually get better rates than the private sector) and then lease back the school to the government and charge for school maintenance.

          Of course for this to be attractive to the private “partner” they will need to factor in a decent wodge of our taxpayer dollars as profit. After around 30 years the State will be able to take ownership of what by that time will be a clapped out facility in a location that may or may not still need a school.

          Of course some time in that 30 year period the private “partner”‘s shareholders may decide they want to move their capital elsewhere and owenership of what should be the centre of a community will be up for grabs. Or, as is just as likely, the “partner” may at some point end up in financial schtook and the shareholders may want to extract maximum benefit from their asset before the company folds – leaving the State to pick up the pieces. This is what has happened in some very high profile cases in the UK.

      • prism 10.2.2

        sounds like that guy Prebble.

    • IrishBill 10.3

      Yes because it’s not like we’re a geographically isolated island trading nation that needs an airline so much that having it fail would devastate our economy. No wait. We are.

      • gitmo 10.3.1

        How would having Air NZ fail devastate our economy ?

        How would having the Canadian Pension Fund own part of AIA Ltd be risky ?

        How can people on this website breath by themselves ?

        • felix 10.3.1.1

          We simply turn away from you to inhale.

        • Kirsten 10.3.1.2

          See my comments above. Our increases in trade with different countries has directly followed the establishment of air services. Just like the advent of refridgerated ships to carry lamb to the UK led to substantial economic growth in NZ, the establishment of regular flights to Japan and South America enabled, for example, the kiwifruit boom.

  11. tsmithfield 11

    Craig “Because it makes a return for the Country, which can be reinvested to other areas like Health ,Education, roading, public transport. Oh and it was the NZ tax payers under Labour that bailed out Air New Zealand last time. Why shouldn’t the NZ tax payer get a return on their money.
    Why should it only be rich private people making money. Explain to us all tsmithfield why the NZ tax payers interest shouldn’t be advanced.”

    When considering where to put state money the question of return on assets and risk needs to be considered. I am not sure this was really a consideration when the government decided to buy out Air NZ. But it may well have been better to put the money into some other investment to get a better return for the taxpayer with a lot less risk. As I recall it, Air NZ was looking very shaky when the government bailed them out. Therefore, public money was put at considerable risk, but the public had no say in it.

    If the shares for Air NZ were simply floated on the market, then of course, NZ taxpayers would have an opportunity to benefit from the profits of Air NZ. However, they would do this out of their own free choice understanding the risks balanced against the returns.

  12. tsmithfield 12

    snoozer: “No, don’t be silly now. We do need to perserve our transport networks though. We get a lot of value from the regional air network, far more than the airline gets in profits.”

    But the service won’t disappear if the private company fails. It will just be taken up by another operator.

    Now, going back to the rail situation. As I recall it, what price did we pay to get rail back under public ownership? As I recall it we may have paid a teeny weeny bit too much. So, was public money well spent? I don’t think so. But thats what tends to happen when the state gets involved where it shouldn’t.

    • grumpy 12.1

      Funnily enough, I once worked for NZ Rail (and even more funnily was a Uniopn Branch Secretary). The operation needed to be sold in order to be reformed but NOT at such a HUGE profit to Fay Richwhite and certainly not bought back at such a ludicrous inflated price from TOLL.

      Who made the money – unscupulous operators.
      Who paid – the taxpayers.

      • tsmithfield 12.1.1

        Thats because public servants are generally to thick and naive and will get screwed by cunning private operators. Thats why its best to leave these sorts of companies in the private sector.

        • grumpy 12.1.1.1

          Interesting point of view and generally correst.

          BUT – it wasn’t public servants who paid a huge price to Toll. In general I have found the PS attracts the mediocre where they are managed by the incompetent. I doubt that happens in Singapore Air – or Kiwibank.

          It is not the fact they are public serbvants that makes them thick and naieve – it’s as much the environment they live in when they get there.

        • felix 12.1.1.2

          generally to thick

          Priceless.

    • snoozer 12.2

      will it be taken up by another operator?

      big punt there. Kind of like saying that it didn’t matter if Toll ran the rail network into the ground because someone else would build a new one.

    • felix 12.3

      You’re absolutely right, tsmithfield – the govt should’ve compulsorily renationalised the rail network (for a fair price determined by themselves) without negotiation.

      It’s a public asset, bought and paid for by the taxes of generations of New Zealanders and no govt was ever in a position to sell it.

      Same for all the rest of them.

      Not yours to sell. Hands off.
      .

  13. I knew Birch’s electricity market reforms were simple asset-stripping and would be a disaster for the nation as a whole, but I snapped up all the Contact shares I could at the float, have hung onto them and done very well out of them, thank you. It would have been stupid not to have done.

    On the Taskforce’s point 1 – “Given the lack of perfect international integration in capital markets, the ability to invest in similar assets offshore does not fully compensate for the lack of these assets domestically.” I have no idea what this means – I receive dividends in A$, US$ and Sterling from holdings in similar assets offshore, which I convert to $NZ and spend here quite happily.

    On point 2, “Private sector participants with personal wealth at stake in these companies will be more effective monitoring agents than government can ever be.” Quite right – I want the public utility etc. companies I hold shares in to maximise their profits for the least possible investment. That the people of Australia, the US, the UK etc. have to pay through the nose for it is no skin off mine.

    On point 3, “Partially floating some of these assets is the only way in which our share market can markedly increase in size in the near term.”

    I’ve also seized my share of other privatisation floats – Capital Properties comes to mind along with another of the power companies – which were, amongst other things, intended to ‘bulk up and help ‘capitalise’ the market, only to have them forcibly bought from me in a hostile take-over which resulted in their disappearance from the New Zealand exchange.

    The only way ‘our’ share market can markedly increase in size in the near or any other term is for New Zealanders to start investing, and that ain’t gonna happen because, frankly, it’s minor league and with a country smaller in every respect except landmass that a hundred or more cities around the world, it’s always going to be.

  14. Herodotus 14

    So from what I understand we list govt asets to boast the sharemakets size allow overseas investment (As many mums & dads cannot afford to buy shares). So we take from NZ and send the profits off shore. How will that effect or current account?
    And what happens when a capital fund takes over majority ownership or a controlling interest?
    Was there not a film made about this dumb and dumber?

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  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #14
    Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Review... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... North Atlantic's capacity to absorb CO2 overestimated, study suggests Research into ocean’s plankton likely to lead to ...
    4 days ago
  • The Americans are trying to kill us all again
    The Treaty on Open Skies is one of the most effective mechanisms for preventing war curently in force. By letting countries make surveillance flights over each others' territory, it eliminates fears that they are secretly preparing for war. So naturally, the US is planning to withdraw from it: The Trump ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 11
    . . April 5: Day eleven of living in lock-down… My one day of rest for the week, and an opportunity to mow my lawns – which I’d been delaying for about three weeks. (On the plus side, the damp micro-climate in my back yard yielded three lovely fresh mushrooms ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    4 days ago
  • Now we know what the rules are
    As the lockdown has gone on, disquiet about what the rules were and the police's enforcement of them has grown. On Friday, Police admitted that they were abusing routine traffic stops to effectively set up illegal checkpoints, and on Saturday Stuff revealed internal police advice saying that they actually needed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Anti-fluoridation propaganda now relies on only four studies. 2: Green et al (2019)
    Paul Connett is putting all his eggs in one basket. He says “you only have to read four studies” to find community after fluoridation harmful. Image credit: Fluoride Action Network newsletter. For part 1 of this series see Anti-fluoridation propaganda now relies on only four studies. 1: Bashash et al (2018). Paul Connett, ...
    4 days ago
  • Hard News: Splore Listening Lounge 2020: the road to a “yes” vote
    As far as anyone can say, New Zeaand still has a general election scheduled for September 19 this year. The election will be accompanied by two referenda, one of which will ask voters:Do you support the proposed Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill?The official campaign period for the cannabis referendum begins ...
    4 days ago
  • Obituary for The New Zealand Listener (1939-2020)
    The vast majority of tributes to the Listener hearken back to its glory days, with little reflection on the magazine as it was at its end.I wrote for it, for half the Listener’s life; I have known personally all the editors except the first (mythical) three. From 1978 to 2014 ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    4 days ago
  • Universal income – a challenge to capitalism or a crutch?
    As the world economy slides rapidly towards deep recession there are growing calls for a Universal Benefit coming from some leftists and rightists. Now Finance Minister Grant Robertson is saying it is on the table.  This article by a French party Workers Struggle provides analysis of various forms of universal ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Anti-fluoridation propaganda now relies on only four studies. 1: Bashash et al (2018)
    This is the advice from the very top of the anti-fluoride movement – Paul Connett, director of the Fluoride Action Network (FAN). Don’t worry about reading  up on all the scientific information “You only have ...
    5 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 10
    . . April 4: Day 10 of living in lock-down… I wake up to a fine Saturday morning which normally would be like an early Christmas. But it’s Day 10 of Level 4 Lock Down. What  will my fellow New Zealanders be doing on a day like this – staying ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • Redline reaching out to more writers & readers
    Some time during the night we went over the 850,000 views mark. We might have had our millionth view by the end of this year – certainly by early next year. Most of the people involved in Redline spent years and years producing various small left-wing papers and selling them ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Keir Starmer elected
    Comfortably, in the very first round, with an impressive 56% of the votes.I wonder, did members of the Shadow Cabinet start tweeting their resignations during Starmer's victory speech, or is that only a trick the right pull?It is odd how all the talk of how the next leader "needs to ...
    5 days ago
  • Hard News: Michael Baker and the Big House
    One of the key voices in this extraordinary time in which we live is that of University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker. Philip Matthews did an an excellent job this weekend of capturing the way he became the man for this moment in a profile for The Press.But one ...
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand Gives up on Trying to Save Daylight
    New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed the nation today about the decline in daylight New Zealand has been experiencing over the previous few months. She said “As many of you will notice, our attempts to stem the dwindling of the daylight over the last few months have been completely ...
    Can of wormsBy Can of Worms, Opened
    5 days ago
  • A bulletin from Greece
    Redline received this article from the KOE a Marxist party in Greece Our friends in the KOE describe here the mounting crisis in Greece and tensions on the Turkish border. As desperate people flee from their homelands which have been ruined after decades of imperialist wars and interventions the people ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • And God spake all these words, saying
    As the first week of Level Four lockdown unfolded, mounting questions grew as to just what was (and was not) allowed under its “rules”. Partly these were driven by some apparently contradictory messages from different authority figures and explanations carried in the media. Partly they reflected a somewhat sketchy legal basis ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    6 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 9
    . . April 3: Day 9 of living in lock-down… Another late-start to my work day. Everything is temporarily upended as clients are shuffled around so we can minimise our “bubble” by reducing the number of people we help. One of my colleagues has been removed from his clients; his ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    6 days ago
  • Death to our lockdown enemies!
    We must root out the traitors among us! ...
    Imperator FishBy Scott Yorke
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: The benefits of electrification
    In order to meet our 2050 carbon target and do our bit to avoid making the Earth uninhabitable, New Zealand needs to decarbonise our economy, replacing fossil fuels with electricity in the energy, industrial and transport sectors. The good news is that it will mean cheaper power for all of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 8 (sanitised version)
    For those folk who find my other Lock-Down Diary versions too “negative” or otherwise unpalatable… Here’s a photo of a pretty flower, .   . Better? Tomorrow’s Sanitised Version: a cute animal video. . . . =fs= ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    7 days ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 8
    . . April 2: Day eight of living in lock-down… Today, my work day starts late. Our rosters and clients have been dramatically changed, lessening (theoretically) the number of people in our work “bubble”.  If just one of us catches covid19 the impact could be considerable as Grey Base Hospital ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    7 days ago
  • A note on apartments and bubbles
    As Aotearoa enters week two of lockdown, it’s clear we’re all still working out what our “bubbles” look like and how to stay in them to stop the spread of Covid-19. New to the government’s Covid-19 website is some good guidance for people living in apartment blocks. Recent decades have ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    7 days ago
  • Getting in futures shape 
    “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” Lenin Don’t we all know that feeling now.

    Prospect Magazine alerted me to this particularly apt quote. It is a much more evocative quote than Hemingway’s “gradually then suddenly” which is also doing ...

    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    7 days ago
  • Maybe axing Clark would be unfair. But what about any of this is fair?
    Yesterday was the day the consequences of the lockdown suddenly got very real for many. Firms have been closing and laying people off since the outset of the quarantine but this has mostly been happening out of the public eye. The mass closure of a number of iconic New Zealand ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Might a ‘Coasean’ social contract mitigate overall societal harm from COVID-19?
    Brian Williamson1, Prof Nick Wilson2 (1Economic consultant, UK; 2University of Otago Wellington) In this blog, we outline how a win-win social contract could be forged to address the major dimensions of response to the COVID-19 pandemic when using a mitigation strategy: the particular need to protect older people from high ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • Returning To “Normalcy”.
    Resuming Normal Service: The Republican Party's nominee for in 1920, Warren Harding, promised the American people: “not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration”. If she wishes to remain our prime minister, then Jacinda Ardern will offer New Zealanders the same.HOW EDUCATED AMERICA snickered when the ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand’s Government Must Save New Zealand’s Media.
    No Free Society Without A Free And Functioning News Media: If we are to surrender our civil rights to the broader cause of defeating Covid-19, then foreign corporations must, likewise, surrender their right to inflict immense economic and cultural harm on New Zealanders simply because it improves their bottom line.I’M ...
    1 week ago
  • Corona fevers and the madness of models
    by Daphna Whitmore A third of the world is under lockdown and a clear assessment of this measure to curb the spread of COVID-19 is urgently needed.  With any high-stakes decisions it has to be asked what are we dealing with here? Are the measures warranted? Will they achieve their ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Lockdown day 8
    I haven’t done a huge amount in the last few days. I’m reading The Poppy War and I’ve sort of poked at a couple of games – I started SOMA but I’m a wimp and I quit while in the first room after the brain scan. I might try it ...
    The little pakehaBy chrismiller
    1 week ago
  • Backstage and Theatre
    The swan politicians may be gliding on the water, occasionally snapping at one another. Meanwhile, as the Covid19 crisis illustrates, the officials are desperately paddling below providing the real locomotion. One of the most fatuous recent grandstanding comments (of about a week ago), adding to the public’s anxieties, was ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • Legal Beagle: Waiver, the singular Crown and the conduct of Crown legal business
    Much has been written about the importance of discretion in an emergency situation, and the concerns raised by the potential for it to be exercised arbitrarily. Given the quality of the discussion, there seemed little point in adding to it at any length. In particular, I point to the evidence ...
    1 week ago
  • Highlights from Bauer Media’s science-related reporting
    Today has felt surreal. I was all set to touch base online with my science communication students when a colleague shared the news that Bauer Media would be shutting down its publications immediately. The first link I saw implied it was Woman’s Weekly affected, and even that shocked me. But ...
    SciBlogsBy Sarah-Jane O'Connor
    1 week ago
  • Outsiders.
    Bogeymen, Real And Imagined: Is the number of psychopathic and sociopathic individuals in any given society truly as vanishingly small as we like to tell ourselves? Isn’t it more likely that the mass-shooters and serial-killers filling the headlines represent only the tip of a much, much larger iceberg of frightfulness? ...
    1 week ago
  • We have a right to know the rules we are expected to obey
    Outgoing Police Commissioner Mike Bush appeared before the Epidemic Response Committee today, who asked him for the rules police are using to enforce the lockdown. He refused:Police Commissioner Mike Bush has admitted the advice given to Kiwis about what they're able to do during the lockdown hasn't been clear enough. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 7 (sanitised version)
    For those folk who find my other Lock-Down Diary versions too “negative” or otherwise unpalatable… Here’s a photo of my cat, . . Better? Tomorrow’s Sanitised Version: a pretty flower. . . . =fs= ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 7
    . . April 1: Day seven of living in lock-down… This morning I had a brief chat with one of my neighbours, “D” (social distance between us, a good three or four metres). I learned he had resigned from his previous job and had been hired by another company – ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • RIP The Listener, New Zealand’s pioneering voice
    Funnily enough, my thought as I start this post is whether it will be well written enough. Or should that be well enough written? Because so much of what I know about good writing came from my two stints at The Listener, which this morning was shut down due to ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    1 week ago
  • OK, Britney: stop sniping at National for doing its job
    With normal democratic procedures in abeyance, there were two ways to go. First, it was open for the government to dissolve itself and invite the National Party to join a ministry of national salvation. That would have lessened the democratic deficit of the times by having a team of rivals without ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Helpful tips for parents during lockdown
    Dr Kirsty Ross Children and young people can respond differently in times of distress. This also varies by age and developmental stage, with younger children having more magical and imaginative thinking, and older children having more awareness and knowledge of the issues our communities are facing (which brings up ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #13, 2020
    1 week ago
  • Hungary is now a dictatorship
    Hungary has been a virtual dictatorship for a decade now, as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has gradually eroded its democracy. But now, its official, with the passage of an indefinite emergency law allowing rule by decree:Hungary’s parliament has passed a new set of coronavirus measures that includes jail terms for ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A new Ministry of Works
    While the economy is on pause under lockdown, the government is beginning to plan how to cope with the post-lockdown, post-tourism, post-export education world we will eventually find ourselves in. They're planning a lot of infrastructure spending as economic stimulus, and have asked for proposals which can start the moment ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Capture: Well spaced out
    It's my distraction,  setting up tiny scenes to photograph.  I've got stuck on the Babushka dolls for now.  Something about their bubble shape.  Something about their never changing, smiling features, suggesting persistent equanimity.  Can we get through everything that is being thrown at us and keep at least a tiny ...
    1 week ago
  • Life in Lock Down: Day 6
    . . March 31: Day six of living in lock-down… This time I managed to sleep a little longer and the alarm woke me at the pre-set time: 6.55am. Then remembered I was working a later shift and could’ve slept in. Oh well, there are things to do at home. ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • March ’20 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image credit: Diamond Harbour School Blogs I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your blog is unexpectedly missing or ...
    1 week ago
  • Hard News: Poll Pot and the partisans
    Yesterday's Horizon poll showing support for a "Yes" vote in this year's cannabis referendum sliding into the majority for the first time in a year looked like good news for reformers – and it probably is. But the result warrants some scrutiny.The poll is the fifth in a series commissioned ...
    1 week ago
  • Why those bubbles are so important
    For almost a week now, every one of us who isn’t an essential worker has been confined to their bubble. We are allowed to go shopping for groceries, to visit the doctor, and to get a bit of exercise if we stay local. The reason we are doing this is ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • A Government System That Works
    The Covid-19 saga will no doubt produce many twists and turns for us before it is finally brought to an end. But one thing it has shown us – and what comfort it should bring us – is that our country’s government is in good hands. I am not thinking ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Smashing down the barriers: Where are we at with COVID vaccines?
    In the absence of a vaccine or a cure for a deadly disease, staying home in your bubble is what you do, the concept is not new.  To the best of my knowledge last time we did this in NZ was for polio, in the years before a vaccine came ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    1 week ago

  • Decisions made on urgent turf maintenance
    The Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson has announced that urgent maintenance of turf and care for plants in non-plantation nurseries will soon be able to go ahead under Level 4 restrictions. “The Government has agreed that urgent upkeep and maintenance of biological assets will be able to go ahead ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Acknowledging an extraordinary te reo champion
    E tangi ana a Taranaki iwi, e tangi ana te ao Māori, otirā e tangi ana te motu. Mōu katoa ngā roimata e riringi whānui ana, mōu katoa ngā mihi.   E te kaikōkiri i te reo Māori, e Te Huirangi, takoto mai. Takoto mai me te mōhio ko ngā ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • Prime Minister’s remarks halfway through Alert Level 4 lockdown
    Today is day 15 of Alert Level 4 lockdown. And at the halfway mark I have no hesitation in saying, that what New Zealanders have done over the last two weeks is huge. In the face of the greatest threat to human health we have seen in over a century, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 hours ago
  • Licenses, WoFs and regos extended under lockdown
    All driver licences, WoFs, CoFs, and some vehicle certifications, that expired on or after 1 January 2020 will be valid for up to six months from 10 April 2020, Transport Minister Phil Twyford has announced. “People shouldn’t have to worry about getting fined for having an expired document if driving ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    21 hours ago
  • Inquiry report into EQC released
    The Government has today released the report from the Public Inquiry into the Earthquake Commission chaired by Dame Silvia Cartwright.  Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Grant Robertson says the Government wants to learn from people’s experiences following the Canterbury earthquakes and other recent natural disasters. “Dame Silvia’s report documents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    21 hours ago
  • More time for health workers and elderly to get flu vaccine
    The Government has extended by two weeks till April 27 the amount of time priority groups, such as health workers and those aged over 65, have to get their flu vaccine before it is made available to the wider public. This year’s vaccination campaign is a key component of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Communities step up to help New Zealanders stay connected and fed during lockdown
    Communities stepping up to help New Zealanders stay at home to break the transmission of COVID-19 and save lives have received Government support, said Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni. “Delivering groceries for the elderly who can’t shop online, providing data packs for low income families to keep them connected, and being ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • 120 COVID-19 testing centres now operating
    Across New Zealand 120 sites are taking samples to be tested for COVID-19.   68 community based assessment centres (CBACs) have been established to take samples from people with COVID-19 symptoms. Alongside this, 52 other centres including designated general practices, swabbing centres, and mobile clinics are now testing people for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Covid19: Government moving quickly to roll out learning from home
    The Ministry of Education is working with partners to develop a package of options so that students can learn at home when Term 2 begins on 15 April, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. Supports are also being prepared for households with children under five, to help parents and whānau ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Making learning from home accessible to Māori learners and whānau
    Māori Television to begin educational te reo programmes Ki te Ao Mārama – a new online learning space Thousands of hard copy learning packs ready for distribution Helpdesk and advice service for kōhanga, kura and wharekura Television, the internet and hard copy learning packs are some of the ways whānau ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand to provide assistance to Vanuatu following Tropical Cyclone Harold
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced an initial package of support to help the people and the Government of Vanuatu respond to the impact of Tropical Cyclone Harold. “Our Pacific neighbours have been hit by a Category 5 Cyclone at the same time as dealing with the economic impacts ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Planning for the future of tourism
    Tourism New Zealand to lead work reimagining the way tourism operates in post-COVID-19 world. Ministers to review International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy investment plan. The Government, industry and business are working together to develop a plan for how tourism will operate in a post-COVID-19 world, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • NZ horticulture sector feeding Kiwis and the world during COVID-19
    More New Zealanders are taking up the chance to work in horticulture as the sector keeps New Zealanders fed and in jobs during the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown. “Our horticulture sector has long been one of New Zealand’s export star performers, contributing around $6 billion a year to our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Work to repurpose PGF funds begins
    The Provincial Development Unit is working through applications and projects to see where Provincial Growth Fund money can be repurposed for initiatives deemed more critical to fighting the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says. “We need to be throwing everything we have at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • A million workers supported by Govt wage subsidy
    The Government’s wage subsidy to protect jobs and keep workers and businesses connected during the lockdown has now supported over a million New Zealanders, with $6.6 billion already paid out. “We’re supporting businesses to pay wages, and stay connected with their workers so that we are all in a better ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government helps Pacific communities fight COVID
    The Government is stepping up efforts to help protect New Zealand’s Pacific communities in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet has agreed that $17 million will be allocated to support a COVID-19 Pacific Response Package, which will: Support Pacific health and disability services facing increased demand; Ramp up public health messaging ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Statement from the Prime Minister on Dr David Clark
    “Yesterday evening the Health Minister advised me of his trip to a beach during the lockdown and offered his resignation,” Jacinda Ardern said.  “Under normal conditions I would sack the Minister of Health. What he did was wrong, and there are no excuses.  “But right now, my priority is our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Statement from David Clark
    Last night as part of my preparation for the Epidemic Response Committee, I provided the Prime Minister with a complete picture of my activity outside my home during Alert Level 4.  That included the fact that on the first weekend of the Alert Level 4 lockdown I drove my family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • COVID-19 mental health support begins
    A range of support is being rolled out across New Zealand to help people look after their mental health during COVID-19 Health Minister David Clark said this morning. “COVID-19 has brought a lot of uncertainty into our lives and many of us will be feeling some level of distress or ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealanders in Peru to be assisted by Government charter flight
    The New Zealand Government has made arrangements to charter a flight for New Zealanders stranded in Peru to depart the country, following agreement with the Chilean government to allow the necessary transit through Chile, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced today. “Like many travellers around the world at the moment, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • COVID-19 Hospital Preparation Well Advanced
    Hospital preparations for COVID-19 are well advanced says Health Minister David Clark. “Hospitals across New Zealand are repurposing buildings and training staff to get ready for COVID-19 patients. This gives me confidence that we are well prepared for any potential increase in COVID-19 patients needing hospital level care,” said David ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Further measures to support businesses
    The Government will be introducing legislation to make changes to the Companies Act to help companies facing insolvency due to COVID-19 to remain viable and keep New Zealanders in jobs. The temporary changes include: Giving directors of companies facing significant liquidity problems because of COVID-19 a ‘safe harbour’ from insolvency ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Govt’s COVID plan, economic strength recognised
    The Government’s plan to cushion the blow of COVID-19 by supporting incomes, jobs and businesses, and position the economy to recover has been backed by another international report. International credit rating agency Moody’s today reaffirmed its highest Aaa credit rating on New Zealand, saying the economy is expected to remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Government supports air services to offshore islands
    The Government has stepped in to support vital air links to our offshore islands, the Chatham Islands, Great Barrier Island and Motiti Island, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. “As part of our $600 million support package to minimise the impacts of COVID-19 on the aviation sector, the Government has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Funding certainty for sports through COVID-19
    National sports organisations have been given certainty of funding to ensure they can remain viable through the COVID-19 pandemic, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson announced today. “The global spread of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on sport and recreation in New Zealand, including the cancellation or postponement of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Butchers now allowed to process pork
    Changes have been made to allow butchers to process pork, only for supply to supermarkets or other processors or retailers that are open, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced. “We carefully weighed the risk of allowing butchers to open their shops for retail customers, but the risk of spreading COVID-19 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Essential workers leave scheme established
    Essential workers who take leave from work to comply with public health guidance are being supported with a leave scheme to ensure they will continue to receive income, say the Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway and Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni. A number of essential businesses ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt WhatsApp helps share COVID-19 information
    A Government WhatsApp channel has been launched to help make information more easily accessible and shareable in the fight against COVID-19. Govt.NZ, which is free to use on any mobile device, will carry information and news for the public, businesses, healthcare providers, not for profits and local government. It can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Managed departure plan for stranded foreign nationals enables safe, orderly exit
    The Government has announced a plan to enable the safe, orderly exit of tens of thousands of stranded foreign nationals from New Zealand during the current COVID-19 Alert Level 4 restrictions, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters has said. “When we moved into lockdown a week ago, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government delivers COVID-19 support to GPs and Pharmacies
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says the Government is delivering on its commitment to support general practice doctors and nurses, and pharmacies on the front-line of our fight against COVID-19. "For us to overcome COVID-19, we need community health services such as general practice and community pharmacy to step up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Susan Thomas the new Chief High Court Judge
    Justice Susan Thomas has been appointed Chief High Court Judge, Attorney-General David Parker announced today.  She replaces Justice Geoffrey Venning who has resigned from the position.   David Parker paid tribute to Justice Venning, who he said had stewarded the High Court very capably over the last five years.   “On behalf ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Business Finance Guarantee – applications open
    Businesses can start applying to their banks for loans under the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme set up to support the New Zealand economy during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re moving quickly to protect New Zealand businesses, jobs and the economy during this unprecedented global economic shock,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Work starts on ways to fast-track consents to boost recovery from Covid-19 downturn
    Work is underway looking at measures to speed up consents for development and infrastructure projects during the recovery from COVID 19, to provide jobs and stimulate our economy.  Environment Minister David Parker said the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious global crisis that will have a wide ranging and lasting impact ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Advance payments to support contractors
    Advance payments will be made to transport construction industry contractors to retain the workforce and ensure it is ready to quickly gear up to build projects which will be vital to New Zealand’s COVID-19 economic recovery, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. He said keeping the workforce required to build ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
    The Government has tasked a group of industry leaders to seek out infrastructure projects that are ready to start as soon as the construction industry returns to normal to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones say. The Infrastructure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Health system scaled up to prepare for COVID-19
    Work to scale up the health system in preparation for COVID-19 was today outlined by Health Minister David Clark, as he reported back to the new Epidemic Response Committee. “We are well placed to contain the spread of COVID-19. We have taken early and decisive action at our borders, and ...
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