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Dark visions

Written By: - Date published: 9:53 am, July 26th, 2009 - 29 comments
Categories: privatisation - Tags:

I still get the chills some times remembering how close the Left came to losing the 2005 election. If it hadn’t been for Brash being caught out in his lies over links with the Exclusive Brethren’s smear campaign, National might just have squeaked the win.

The Hollow Men would have been in charge. Wholesale privatisation, slashing benefits, no minimum wage, regressive tax system, strategic deficit, policy for sale to business interests, Iwi and Kiwi at each other’s throats. What a nightmare.

These neoliberal ideological follies would, as they have in the past, have taken New Zealand quickly backwards. We would have entered the 2008 world recession already well in decline, and the impact of these current events would have been that much more catastrophic..

Thank goodness we dodged that bullet. Instead we got three more years of sane government, and entered this recession with historically low unemployment and a sound economy. Things are rough and they will get rougher, but not nearly as bad as if Brash Co. had been running the place into the ground.

But of course the hydra has many heads. The neoliberal agenda didn’t go away, it just changed its suit and got a bit more patient. And now that the Hollow Men judge that the time is right, they are testing the water by wheeling out Brash again, to get back to his unfinished business. Soon they’ll be telling us that “there is no alternative”. Brash in charge of “productivity”? The lunatics are running the asylum.
— r0b

29 comments on “Dark visions”

  1. Johnty Rhodes 1

    Hydra is associated with the left, not NatACTMP. Get some originality.

  2. Anita 2

    I worry that the lesson that the Nats took from 2005 was the in-your-face neoliberalism and overt incompetence were vote losers. So look competent and obscure your agenda a little better and it’s landslide victory time.

    I agree it changed its suit, but I’m not convinced it got more patient.

  3. Tim Ellis 3

    Interesting analysis r0b.

    Instead we got three more years of sane government, and entered this recession with historically low unemployment and a sound economy.

    The high points being the electoral finance legislation, the pledge card funding fiasco and Labour’s staunch defence of Mr Peters?

    • Socialism is Poison 3.1

      Not to mention another 3 years of what has turned out to be 10 years of the most abysmal productivity growth, the continuation of the massive blow out in core state sector drones, the Mary Anne Thompson fiasco at Immigration, etc. etc.

      • Marty G 3.1.1

        interesting handle.

        I assume you don’t believe in the law and police. After all, those are socialist institutions – they force issues between individuals to be dealt with collectively by the State.

        • Socialism is Poison 3.1.1.1

          Sorry Marty, just because policing and justice are currently provided by state actors doesn’t mean they originated from state action nor does it mean that they are thereby socialist..

          Policing was originally provided by private providers before it was taken over by the state. Likewise justice provision originated in private courts, like the ‘Pie Powder’ courts associated with medieval fairs, before being subsumed by state provision.

          I don’t deny the need for a mix of collective action and individual responsibility. But socialism as a political programme is a bankrupt 19th century anachronism.

          • felix 3.1.1.1.1

            Whereas pie powder courts, on the other hand…

            Out of curiosity, when did you come up with the idea that pie powder courts predate the state provision of the function? It’s actually pretty funny. Were you high?

    • r0b 3.2

      The high points being the electoral finance legislation, the pledge card funding fiasco and Labour’s staunch defence of Mr Peters?

      No, the high points being Working for Families, Kiwisaver, Kiwibank, record low unemployment, interest free student loans, massively reduced debt, falling poverty rates, falling crime, falling numbers of beneficiaries, gradually closing the inequality gap and the wage gap with Australia, an independent and sane foreign policy – that sort of thing.

      And on “scandals” – remind me again which major party lost its leader because of public outrage at their disgusting unethical behaviour? Oh, that’s right, it was the National “bye bye Don” Party.

      • Tim Ellis 3.2.1

        Okay, I accept I took your bait r0b, but this isn’t a very constructive debate. It’s quickly become a “look what damage you did” and a “oh but look what good we did” he-said she-said slanging match.

        It really isn’t very helpful or relevant.

        The jury reached its verdict in November last year. Labour lost. Quite overwhelmingly.

        • felix 3.2.1.1

          “…this isn’t a very constructive debate. It’s quickly become a “look what damage you did’ and a “oh but look what good we did’ he-said she-said slanging match…”

          Weird. I wonder how that happened?

  4. mike 4

    and the hollow men know where you live rOb – they are watching you…

    • Chris G 4.1

      beauty [flaw?] of the internet that you can safely sling that around like a tough cookie. Now in real life….

      • r0b 4.1.1

        S’ok Chris, I think mike was frustrated at his inability to construct a rational argument, so he was attempting a “joke” that he thinks I’m paranoid about the Hollow Men. I don’t think it was any kind of dick waving threat thing.

  5. It seems like the key Hollow Man was Steven Joyce. I wonder what role he’s playing in this recent shift to the hard right?

    (OK I admit it, I really don’t like him. He’s a terrible transport minister).

  6. Tom Semmens 6

    Neo-liberalism and its followers have a guiding idea, a simple and easily prolytised dogma of a darkly Manichean world of the right way and the wrong way, immune to external correction and one that animates and excites its disciples like all revolutionary doctrines from Christ to Rand.

    The biggest problem is we, out of fear of the implications I think, refuse to see neo-liberalism for what it is – a neo-fascist political ideology. The reason for this is “fascist” these days so devalued as a general insult as to have lost any real meaning. Leftists and liberals refuse to take fascism seriously as a political idea, despite the fact it had great appeal to many important intellectuals, from Martin Heidegger to Milton Friedman. Therefore few on the left bother to study fascism beyond visions of nihilistic and racial violence, of uniforms and discipline and not-so-subtle undertones of sexual perversion.

    But the overriding characteristics of fascism are not the Germanic ones we automatically associate with it as a result of the virulent racist Nazi variant of it we are most familiar with. Fascism’s greatest strength is it is a SYNCRETIC ideology that can vary significantly from country to country, and can borrow from both left and right, whilst at the same time drawing away from these traditional political platforms and presenting itself as a radical, and alternative “Third Way”.

    Because fascism is so syncretic, it’s latest variant, which we politely call neo-liberalism but I think would be better described as’market fascism”, has been able to co-opt the successful revolutionary tactics of Bolshevism to further its agenda. Take the Leninist vehicle of revolutionary change from above, the Vanguard Party. With a Vanguard Party the engine of revolution is highly disciplined group of radical intellectuals. Now considering that, think about the role of Treasury, the ACT political idea of the Super City, the tightly disciplined market fascist radicals who largely make up the BRT or the “mood of the Boardroom.” These groups effectively constitute the Vanguard party, the bearers of market fascist ideology, trying to determine the general development of our society, its policies, and to alter the very character of the population. Leon Trotsky, a contemporary of Lenin, believed in a globalised permanent revolution, in which the “Vanguard Party” was a global coalition drawn from many nations, which is remarkably similiar to the sort of language used by the proponents of globalised business. These ideas of revolutionary change imposed from above (The “moral imperative to lie” to quote Don Brash) have been syntheseised into the ideology of modern market fascism.

    So, to quote Lenin again, what is to be done? It seems clear to me that market fascism has achieved syncretic legitimisation in New Zealand, which means it has succeeded in convincing at least a section of our mainstream elites that it can serve their purposes better than our existing political structures. It is equally clear to me that any kind of fascism and democracy cannot co-exist. To recognise market fascism for what is, then, is to imply a confrontation that many on the traditional left – and the traditional right – shrink from in fear of the consequences of that confrontation.

    • rave 6.1

      This is a very confused piece.
      Bolshevism and fascism are not comparable.
      Bolshevism is the vanguard of the proletariat, it acts for and in response to the interests of the proletariat. It does not dictate to the proletariat but articulates and organises its interests. Read Trotsky on the History of the Russian Revolution to confirm this point.

      Fascism is the ideology of the capitalist ruling class in a crisis of falling profits and under extreme threat from the proletarian revolution. It is forced to mobilise elements of the petty bourgeoisie and lumpen elements of the working class to provide the shock troops to smash the proletariat. Read Trotsky on The Strugge Against Fascism in Germany to confirm this point.

      Neither have anything to do with the market at such. The market is only a vehicle for capitalist exchanges of commodities already produced, or signals what should or should not be produced. So market fascism is an non-sequitur.

      And neither have much to do with NZ at the moment. Bolshevism as a force or movement does not exist in NZ. If it did then, the threat of revolution would bring fascism out of the cupboard.

      What we have under Key is just the efficiency of the ruling class able to manipulate ‘democracy’ to impose policies that increase their profits at the expense of the working class.

      More important, Bolshevism (and Trotskyism) is in total contradiction to fascism, and they are not reducible to some abstract equivalence as forms of fascism.

  7. gobsmacked 7

    Vote now for which far-flung volcanic island nation you would like to have been a citizen of for the last three years:

    a) New Zealand
    b) Iceland

    Finger nails that might need a trim, or amputated arms? Take your pick.

  8. Nick 8

    Yeah, Brash is so thick Labour re-appointed him as Reserve Bank governer. I’d much rather have Steve Pierson heading it.

    And Jarbury, It seems like the key Hollow Man was Steven Joyce. I wonder what role he’s playing in this recent shift to the hard right?

    WTF? Key is a Bolger in disguise – a pragmatic centrist. Have you been smoking some of Nandor’s stuff again?

  9. Some balance on those ‘high points’. Under Labour the number of beneficiaries dropped but only because of lower unemployment due to the strength of the worldwide economy. Sickness and invalid beneficiary numbers continued growing and the DPB was virtually static when taking into account many recipients changed from receiving a partial DPB to receiving the In Work payment. Semantics.There is a crisis in mental health with growing rates of depression which account for unprecedented numbers turning to a sickness/invalid benefit. Drug and alcohol abuse is worsening.

    Recorded violent crime grew. Prison numbers grew. The justice system has gotten slower and slower to process cases. The doctor shortage worsened considerably while waiting lists were distorted by reclassification. WFF alienated young childless workers who left in record numbers. Teenage birth reversed its downward trend and now more young Maori women than ever are defaulting to lives on welfare. NCEA has produced as many problems as it purported to solve while truancy rates increased. Violence in schools increased.

    Kiwisaver just changed where people saved rather than increasing overall savings. Our productivity failed to keep pace with Australia and NZ dropped another place in GDP per capita ranking.

    The only good things that happened under Labour were the passage of legislation giving same sex relationships more legal protection, lowering the drinking age and decriminalising prostitution. But they were all of govt votes.

    • r0b 9.1

      Some balance on those ‘high points’.

      Some balance on the “balance”.

      Under Labour the number of beneficiaries dropped but only because of lower unemployment due to the strength of the worldwide economy.

      Wrong wrong wrong.

      and the DPB

      Just incidentally, do you agree with John Key that mothers on the DPB are “breeding for a business”?

      There is a crisis in mental health with growing rates of depression which account for unprecedented numbers turning to a sickness/invalid benefit.

      According to the Ministry of Social Development:

      Changes between 2003 and 2008 which have affected the number of Sickness Benefit recipients include the ageing of the population, and increasing movement of people with incapacities into the community.

      Changes between 2003 and 2008 which have affected the number of clients receiving an Invalid’s Benefit include an ageing population and increasing movement of people living with long-term incapacities into the community.

      Recorded violent crime grew.

      Good thing you put “recorded” in there, indeed it did, thanks to a huge publicity campaign on reporting domestic violence. And overall crime fell.

      Prison numbers grew.

      One of Labour’s failures I agree, and it’s one that National is continuing.

      WFF alienated young childless workers who left in record numbers.

      Proof please? See I think it was the prospect of a National government that caused them to leave.

      Teenage birth reversed its downward trend and now more young Maori women than ever are defaulting to lives on welfare. NCEA has produced as many problems as it purported to solve while truancy rates increased. Violence in schools increased.

      Links to the figures please, I’d be interested to have a look.

      Kiwisaver just changed where people saved rather than increasing overall savings.

      To great benefit to NZ however.

      Our productivity failed to keep pace with Australia

      On most indicators comparing NZ and Australia we did much better under Labour than under National. As for “productivity” I might have a guest post on that up in a day or two.

      and NZ dropped another place in GDP per capita ranking.

      Yes, but only because because other countries changed the way they calculated GDP.

      The only good things that happened under Labour

      None so blind as those that will not see I guess.

  10. Lindsay 10

    I have already commented extensively at the 2nd two links attached to “wrong,wrong,wrong’.

    Yes, ageing is contributing to the SB/IB growth but “Some of the growth in inflows can be explained by population growth, population ageing, and the effects of the rise in the age of eligibility for New Zealand Superannuation. However, more than half cannot be accounted for by these factors and is explained instead by an increase in the proportion of people aged 1559 taking up Invalid’s Benefit.”

    http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/publications-resources/journals-and-magazines/social-policy-journal/spj29/understanding-the-growth-29-pages127-145.html

    The fastest growing incapacity for needing a SB/IB is psychological/psychiatric reasons.

    “Breeding for a business”? No. I wouldn’t put it that way. But I do believe the DPB incentivises young people in particular to put less effort into acquiring educational qualifications and skills. It is a lifestyle too easy to default to.

    For teenage birth rates (climbing since 2003) see Statistics NZ Births and Deaths. The number of 15-19 year-old females on DPB/EMA has steadily increased alongside that growth. Check MS benefit fact sheets.

    For truancy http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/series/2503/11879

    Re the violent crime increase being solely due to the domestic violence campaign I hope you will continue to push that explanation when it continues to climb under National.

    Thanks for taking the time to put up a substantive response.

    • r0b 10.1

      I have already commented extensively at the 2nd two links attached to “wrong,wrong,wrong’.

      Indeed you did, and anyone interested can refer to those debates.

      The fastest growing incapacity for needing a SB/IB is psychological/psychiatric reasons.

      Do you think that was on account of government policy? Do you think it’s going to go down now?

      For teenage birth rates (climbing since 2003) see Statistics NZ Births and Deaths. The number of 15-19 year-old females on DPB/EMA has steadily increased alongside that growth. Check MS benefit fact sheets. For truancy http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/series/2503/11879

      Do you think these were on account of government policy? Do you think they’re going to go down now? (Childhood poverty fell under Labour, for the first time in ages. That was on account of policy. Hopefully some years down the track we’ll get better social outcome stats as a result.)

      Re the violent crime increase being solely due to the domestic violence campaign I hope you will continue to push that explanation when it continues to climb under National.

      Well if they run another big advertising campaign on it I think that would be fair.

      Thanks for taking the time to put up a substantive response.

      Likewise I’m sure.

      Keep an eye on all these social indicators that you study so assiduously Lindsay. I hope for the sake of NZ that they all get better. But if they don’t, I look forward to you telling us here whether the government is or isn’t to blame…

    • Draco T Bastard 10.2

      It is a lifestyle too easy to default to.

      Or, perhaps any other lifestyle is too hard to get to.

  11. Lindsay 11

    Correction. The lowering of the drinking age didn’t happen under Labour. It was earlier in 1999.

  12. Lindsay 12

    Draco, That’s a fair comment. Any children coming out of homes that don’t value education are up against it.

    Rob, I am not expecting much to change under National.

  13. Razorlight 13

    ROB I love your unconditional support for Labour. With people like you Labour will continue to flourish no matter what their short falls are.

    You keep slapping that back of the mighty reds and continue to tell us how wonderful things were under Helen and how silly we were to turf her out. Keep saying that and I am sure you will bring the mighty Gabour coalition back to their rightful place of power in 2011.

    Reading your posts i cannot work out what we were doing voting in the Nats as Labour were obviously without fault.

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    4 days ago
  • Govt boosts innovation, R&D for economic rebuild
    $196 million for Crown Research Institutes $150 million for R&D loan scheme $33 million for Māori research and development opportunities $12 million for the Nationally Significant Collections and Databases $10 million to help maintain in-house capability at Callaghan Innovation New Zealand’s entrepreneurs, innovators and crown researchers will benefit from a ...
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    4 days ago
  • Temporary changes to NCEA and University Entrance this year
    Further temporary changes to NCEA and University Entrance (UE) will support senior secondary school students whose teaching and learning have been disrupted by COVID-19. “The wellbeing of students and teachers is a priority. As we are all aware, COVID-19 has created massive disruption to the school system, and the Government ...
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    4 days ago
  • Extended terms for the directors of the Racing Industry Transition Agency
    Minister for Racing Winston Peters today announced that the terms for the directors of the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) have been extended to 30 June 2021. Due to the COVID-19 crisis the transition period has been extended to ensure that the Racing Industry Bill can complete its progress through ...
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    4 days ago
  • Healthy Homes Standards statement of compliance deadline extended
    The deadline for landlords to include detailed information in their tenancy agreements about how their property meets the Healthy Homes Standards, so tenants can see the home they are renting is compliant, has been extended from 1 July 2020 to 1 December 2020.  The Healthy Homes Standards became law on 1 July 2019. The Standards are ...
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    5 days ago
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission board appointments announced
    Justice Minister Andrew Little today announced details of further appointments to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. “I am pleased to announce Paula Rose QSO OStJ as Deputy Chief Commissioner for a term of five years commencing on 15 June 2020,” said Andrew Little. “I am also pleased to announce the ...
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    5 days ago
  • Release of initial list of supported training to aid COVID-19 recovery
    The Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF) will pay costs of learners of all ages to undertake vocational education and training The fund will target support for areas of study and training that will give learners better employment prospects as New Zealand recovers from COVID-19 Apprentices working in all industries ...
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    5 days ago
  • Emission trading reforms another step to meeting climate targets
    The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will finally start to cut New Zealand’s greenhouse gas pollution as it was originally intended to, because of changes announced today by the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw. The changes include a limit on the total emissions allowed within the ETS, rules to ensure ...
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    5 days ago
  • Queen’s Birthday Honours highlights Pacific leadership capability in Aotearoa
    Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says the Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List provides an abundance of examples that Pacific people’s leadership capability is unquestionable in Aotearoa. “The work and the individuals we acknowledge this year highlights the kind of visionary examples and dedicated community leadership that we need ...
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    6 days ago
  • Govt backing horticulture to succeed
    The Government is backing a new $27 million project aimed at boosting sustainable horticulture production and New Zealand’s COVID-19 recovery efforts, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. “Our horticulture sector has long been one of New Zealand’s export star performers, contributing around $6 billion a year to our economy. During and ...
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    6 days ago
  • Applications open for forestry scholarships
    Applications have opened for 2021 Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarships, which will support more Māori and women to pursue careers in forestry science, says Forestry Minister Shane Jones. “I’m delighted Te Uru Rākau is offering Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarships for the third year running. These ...
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    6 days ago
  • Excellent service to nature recognised
    The Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List once again highlights the dedication by many to looking after our native plants and wildlife, including incredible work to restore the populations of critically endangered birds says Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. Anne Richardson of Hororata has been made an Officer of the New ...
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    6 days ago
  • Wetlands and waterways gain from 1BT funding
    The Government will invest $10 million from the One Billion Trees Fund for large-scale planting to provide jobs in communities and improve the environment, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Forestry Minister Shane Jones have announced. New, more flexible funding criteria for applications will help up to 10 catchment groups plant ...
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    1 week ago
  • New fund for women now open
    Organisations that support women are invited to apply to a new $1,000,000 fund as part of the Government’s COVID-19 response. “We know women, and organisations that support women, have been affected by COVID-19. This new money will ensure funding for groups that support women and women’s rights,” said Minister for ...
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    1 week ago
  • Govt supports King Country farmers to lift freshwater quality
    Healthier waterways are front and centre in a new project involving more than 300 King Country sheep, beef and dairy farmers. The Government is investing $844,000 in King Country River Care, a group that helps farmers to lift freshwater quality and farming practice, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. “Yesterday ...
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    1 week ago
  • Libraries to help with jobs and community recovery
    A major funding package for libraries will allow them to play a far greater role in supporting their communities and people seeking jobs as part of the economic recovery from COVID-19. “Budget 2020 contains over $60 million of funding to protect library services and to protect jobs,” says Internal Affairs ...
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    1 week ago
  • Support for arts and music sector recovery
    A jobseekers programme for the creative sector and four new funds have been set up by the Government to help our arts and music industry recover from the blow of COVID-19. Thousands of jobs will be supported through today’s $175 million package in a crucial economic boost to support the ...
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    1 week ago
  • Legislative changes to support the wellbeing of veterans and their families
    Minister for Veterans Ron Mark has welcomed the First Reading of a Bill that will make legislative changes to further improve the veterans’ support system.  The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2, which will amend the Veterans’ Support Act 2014, passed First Reading today. The bill addresses a number of ...
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    1 week ago
  • Christ Church Cathedral – Order in Council
    Views sought on Order in Council to help fast track the reinstatement of the Christ Church Cathedral  The Associate Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Hon Poto Williams, will be seeking public written comment, following Cabinet approving the drafting of an Order in Council aimed at fast-tracking the reinstatement of the ...
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    1 week ago
  • New Zealanders’ human rights better protected in new Bill
    The law setting out New Zealanders’ basic civil and human rights is today one step towards being strengthened following the first reading of a Bill that requires Parliament to take action if a court says a statute undermines those rights. At present, a senior court can issue a ‘declaration of ...
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    1 week ago
  • Deep concern at Hong Kong national security legislation
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today reiterated the deep concern of the New Zealand Government following confirmation by China’s National People’s Congress of national security legislation relating to Hong Kong. “New Zealand shares the international community’s significant and long-standing stake in Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability,” Mr Peters said. “New Zealand ...
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    1 week ago
  • Government invests in New Zealand’s cultural recovery
    Thousands of artists and creatives at hundreds of cultural and heritage organisations have been given much-needed support to recover from the impact of COVID-19, Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Jacinda Ardern announced today. “The cultural sector was amongst the worst hit by the global pandemic,” Jacinda ...
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    1 week ago
  • Better protection for New Zealand assets during COVID-19 crisis
    Key New Zealand assets will be better protected from being sold to overseas owners in a way contrary to the national interest, with the passage of the Overseas Investment (Urgent Measures) Bill. The Bill, which passed its third reading in Parliament today, also cuts unnecessary red tape to help attract ...
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    1 week ago
  • Cleaning up our rivers and lakes
    Setting higher health standards at swimming spots Requiring urban waterways to be cleaned up and new protections for urban streams Putting controls on higher-risk farm practices such as winter grazing and feed lots Setting stricter controls on nitrogen pollution and new bottom lines on other measures of waterway health Ensuring ...
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    1 week ago
  • Record year for diversity on Govt boards
    The Government is on the verge of reaching its target of state sector boards and committees made up of at least 50 percent women, says Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter and Minister for Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa. For the first time, the Government stocktake measures the number of Māori, ...
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    1 week ago