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English vs. Key on rebuilding costs

Written By: - Date published: 7:13 am, March 24th, 2011 - 47 comments
Categories: bill english, disaster, john key, leadership - Tags: ,

The PM and the Minister of Finance are at odds on how the cost of rebuilding Christchurch will be met.

Bill English (last Wednesday) stated that the costs are too high to be met by cuts, and significant borrowing will be required:

The Budget deficit is set to blow out by $5 billion this year as the Government ramps up borrowing to pay for the rebuilding of Christchurch.

Finance Minister Bill English has previously warned he might need “a bit more borrowing” to cover the costs. But it has become clear that cuts to other programmes, such as Working for Families, will not deliver big enough savings to make a difference, leaving the Government to rack up more debt.

Mr English yesterday conceded the deficit would balloon by almost 50 per cent to $16b – equivalent to 8 per cent of gross domestic product – from the previously forecast $11.1b. “Meeting the Government’s share of the immediate earthquake costs will require a quite substantial front loading of Crown debt in the next year or two,” taking him outside his comfort zone.

Mr English and Prime Minister John Key had signalled cuts to Working for Families payments for high income earners and some tightening of eligibility for student loans and KiwiSaver. But those are now seen as measures to bring the Budget back into surplus.

Mr English said the scale of the borrowing would be “too large to be offset with any particular saving effort”.

John Key (in an interview with Guyon Espiner last Sunday) wants to avoid borrowing and cover the costs with budget cuts:

GUYON But it can’t have been unaffordable to be borrowing $300 million a week and now be affordable to borrow more than $300 million a week, can it?

JOHN No, we’re—

GUYON So it’s not affordable, is it?

JOHN Well, we agreed that as a long-term position, no, that’s not the desire of the government to be borrowing in the order of $15 billion a year – $300 million a week. But I think the third point is if you look at our budget expenditure, and this is really where the government’s response will come, that is that we were— the previous government spent about $2.8 billion a year. We cut that to 1.1 billion extra a year.

GUYON And then down to 800.

JOHN Down to 800.

GUYON Are you still going to spend $800 million more in the May Budget?

JOHN Well, I think the answer to that is no. What we are going to do is spend more on health and education. That may well be in the order of 600, 700, 800 million, but we are asking ministers and what they are working on is looking to reduce expenditure in other areas so that can be reprioritised to pay for the more in health and education we want and ultimately the Christchurch earthquake.

GUYON So this is a zero budget, then?

JOHN They’re your words, but certainly we’re taking a view that says—

GUYON Are they true words?

JOHN Well, you’ll have to wait and see on Budget day, but, I mean, the reality is, as you’ve just pointed out, there are very limited options to the government. We’ve inherited an earthquake. We now have to deal with that. The options are borrow more and sustain that position forever – not affordable; go out there and fundamentally put a big tax on people – well, again, that will have economic implications; or the third is cut our cloth to what we can actually afford.

My bet is that English has a better grasp of the numbers and the size of the problem than Key, and that the PM is going to end up looking pretty silly on this one. But either way, this disagreement is indicative of the Nats shambolic preparation for the road ahead. It’s not just that these clowns don’t have a plan. It is that, one month after the quake, they don’t even agree on the very basic first requirement of a plan — where is the money going to come from?

All of my posts for March will finish with this note. While life goes on as usual outside Christchurch, let our thoughts be with those who are coping with the aftermath, with the sorrow of so many who were lost, and with the challenges ahead.

47 comments on “English vs. Key on rebuilding costs”

  1. tsmithfield 1

    I think you are trying to paint a conflict where there is none.

    Note Key said he would “ultimately” want to see the budget paying for earthquake reconstruction, not immediately. This is a long project, likely to take many years. So the word “ultimately” is likely pointing to some distance in the future. Thus, borrowing will undoubtably be required in the short-term, consistent with what English is saying, but hopefully covered by the budget in the more distant future, as Key is saying.

    • Lanthanide 1.1

      Frankly, Key has such a conversational style in any interview he does that you can’t really analyse his words that closely, because he just uses whatever words he wants to describe what he’s thinking about at the time, not words that would indicate some longer term plan.

      I’d say that’s part of his appeal to the masses – he doesn’t come off and some super-educated person like Helen did, he just comes across as a bloke at the pub who knows a thing or two.

      • Jim Nald 1.1.1

        Yeah, he uses whatever words he is thinking at the time with no sense of anything longer than the next second and we’re left thinking he will bugger off next minute to whatever.

      • felix 1.1.2

        Exactly. He uses words like “ultimately” and “actually” and “therealityofitis” as fill-in sounds to bridge the gaps between ideas.

        They have literally no meaning in the context in which he uses them.

        • tsmithfield 1.1.2.1

          It is actually clear what he means, and there is no conflict with English.

          What Key says is unacceptable is to “borrow more and sustain that position forever” as he says above. So he is not against short-term borrowing for immediate requirements. However, he is against long-term structural debt.

          This is absolutely consistent with English when he said in the interview above:
          “Meeting the Government’s share of the immediate earthquake costs will require a quite substantial front loading of Crown debt in the next year or two.”

          English was talking about short-term debt. Key was against long-term debt. Key appears to accept the need for some short-term debt. No conflict. Just a beat up by R0B.

          • felix 1.1.2.1.1

            I don’t really care what he means as he’s proven he can’t be held to his word anyway, but you’ve put quite a few words in his mouth there.

            I was just referring to his use of language generally. He often talks so far out of any meaningful syntax that the only way to make it comprehensible is to replace some of his words (as you’ve done above) and change the order of others. In this way he can be interpreted to be saying almost anything you like.

            Which I suspect is just how you like it.

            • tsmithfield 1.1.2.1.1.1

              I understand exactly what you were saying. Which is why I pointed to quotes from both that didn’t involve any question of syntax.

              Anyway, both you, Bored, and CV are going off topic somewhat. We are discussing the perceived conflict between Key and English which is what I have been discussing.

              • felix

                So he is not against short-term borrowing for immediate requirements

                Please show where Key says this.

                Not where you deduce that he thinks it, but where he actually says it.

                • tsmithfield

                  I don’t need to. You are arguing for the affirmative. Therefore it is up to you to provide evidence of the conflict. You need to point out where Key has said he is against borrowing of any kind for the earthquake.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Evidence of the conflict?

                    English is pissed off that he has to keep hand holding and providing all the analysis and heavy lifting to support the lightweight Key.

                    And then get smashed down for it by the aforementioned lightweight Key.

                    That’s gotta be grinding inside.

                    • tsmithfield

                      From the article linked to above quoting Key:

                      Borrowing the best funding option as a levy would be insufficient and “there’s no single either asset you could sell or expenditure that you could cut which would be great enough to actually fund the type of impact that the Christchurch is having on the books

                      Obviously no conflict whatsoever. In the article above Key is concerned about the long-term debt position, not immediate borrowing for the earthquake. Both Key and English are supportive of exactly the same things: cutting costs and short-term borrowing for the earthquake. No conflict. Just a beat-up, and comments taken way out of context by R0B.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      ts, Key is NOT worried about the long term debt position.

                      If Key were worried about the long term debt position he would be advocating for ways to increase revenue as well as decrease operational spending.

                      But he’s not, so he ain’t.

                      And saying he’s worried about the long term debt position at the same time that he pushes for more borrowing – that’s just dumb.

                    • tsmithfield

                      “And saying he’s worried about the long term debt position at the same time that he pushes for more borrowing – that’s just dumb.”

                      No its not. It is very common. Have you ever heard of bridging finance for instance? It is quite possible to incur a short-term debt without considering it a long-term liability.

                      Anyway, you’re going off topic again. The take-away from what I have been arguing is that Key and English have not actually been contradicting each other, which is the point R0B was trying to make. If you read both the link to the English and Key articles, it looks like they are actually saying pretty much the same thing if you read the whole articles, not just the excerpts that R0B has clipped and pasted. Do you agree?

                    • Jim Nald

                      Key is so smart that we have to be smarter to read sense into the mumbo-jumbo he and Douple Dipton cook up.

                      When we stare into our alphabet cereals for breakfast tomorrow morning, we’ll be able to read the embargoed speech for Budget 2011.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Key is NOT pushing for “bridging finance” for the country.

                      That’s just dumb to suggest he is. Is is advocating debt, lots of it, and while moaning about all that debt he still wants to keep tax cuts for the rich.

                      It’s clear his priorities.

                  • felix

                    tsmithfield:

                    So you claim that Key believes something or other (I’m not even paying attention to what it is, btw) and I have to prove he doesn’t?

                    Weird world you inhabit there buddy.

                    I quoted you saying you know what Key thinks about something, above. He doesn’t say it in the snippets you quoted from him.

                    If you can’t show where he’s actually said any such thing then it’s your opinion and you should say so. (Looks like this: “I believe that Key thinks blah blah…”)

                    Otherwise you just made shit up and attributed it to Key.

                    • tsmithfield

                      Actually, I found it for you. Read my post previous to my last one.

                    • felix

                      Bollocks. That says there is no *single* asset or cut that would fund the cost.

                      From that you have deduced that Key *must* support extra borrowing.

                      Which he may well do for all I know or care, but you’ve still totally failed to quote him saying so.

                      Which means you’ve still made shit up and attributed it to Key.

                    • tsmithfield

                      Sigh…

                      Here is the quote directly from the interview:

                      One is you can temporarily borrow the money and start the process, and we think that is the right thing to do because there’s no single either asset you could sell or expenditure that you could cut which would be great enough to actually fund the type of impact that the Christchurch is having on the books.

                      See. Key does think that borrowing in the short-term is the right thing to do. No contradiction with English at all. Just as I have been saying.

              • Bored

                Mr TS, you are right,we have gone off topic…and we are right as well. As an accountant (you did say something like that so I am assuming) can you answer my question (3)?

        • Bored 1.1.2.2

          Felix, in telephony it is a well established technique to generate “white sound” to fill in gaps etc to make it sound “good”….I think that is hardwired into John Key. From now on I will only envisage him as a crackly phone line smoothed out.

        • burt 1.1.2.3

          OMG you guys are bagging Key because he is not scripted.

    • Colonial Viper 1.2

      So the word “ultimately” is likely pointing to some distance in the future.

      Key isn’t thinking of Christchurch past November, in the short term, and in the long term, he isn’t thinking about Christchurch past the day he leaves Parliament, whether its this year or next year.

    • r0b 1.3

      Hey TS, I love the way you’re always prepared to bend over backwards to help the Nats, but do please read the first link in the post (to the Armstrong piece).

      • tsmithfield 1.3.1

        Yeah I read that link. Seems to support what I was saying. Key and English being on the same sheet so far as reducing expenditure is concerned, and borrowing for the earthquake being short-term, not the long-term structural stuff that Key was concerned about.

        But that link to Key’s interview. You seem to overlook what he said further down:

        Borrowing the best funding option as a levy would be insufficient and “there’s no single either asset you could sell or expenditure that you could cut which would be great enough to actually fund the type of impact that the Christchurch is having on the books

        Stacks up exactly with what I have been saying and shows there is no conflict whatsoever.

        • Pascal's bookie 1.3.1.1

          So the long term structural cuts they are talking about don’t really have anything to do with the earthquake then, in spite of how they sell it?

        • r0b 1.3.1.2

          Yeah I read that link. Seems to support what I was saying.

          Apart from, you know, Armstrong writing about how Key and English disagree, and how folks around Parliament are talking about it. “Even so, the different stances taken by Key and English on the Christchurch rebuild have raised eyebrows around Parliament”.

          So yeah, I guess that seems to support what you were saying, in the sense of saying exactly the opposite.

          • tsmithfield 1.3.1.2.1

            Actually, I missed seeing your first link, and looked at the English one. You also need to read what Key said fully. He was talking about needing to borrow short-term as well. So there isn’t actually a conflict.

            Even Armstrong concedes:

            Neither is the disharmony that unusual in their case. The Prime Minister and Minister of Finance have different audiences to satisfy – be it voters, the money markets, the credit rating agencies or whomever.

            That leads them to emphasise different things.

            So, even Armstrong agrees that the apparent conflict may well just be a difference in emphasis. Reading fully both the other links you give suggests that to be the case.

            • r0b 1.3.1.2.1.1

              Yup, yup. White and black, really just a difference in emphasis too. That’s why Armstrong wrote a piece about it and the surprise that it generated around Parliament. I guess he should have checked with you first TS, and you could have explained it to him.

              • tsmithfield

                From Key’s interview:

                One is you can temporarily borrow the money and start the process, and we think that is the right thing to do because there’s no single either asset you could sell or expenditure that you could cut which would be great enough to actually fund the type of impact that the Christchurch is having on the books.

                There. Did you actually read through the entire interview? Because Key has plainly said that he (as part of “we”) is in favour of borrowing money in the short-term. No contradiction with English whatsoever.

  2. Lanthanide 2

    “My bet is that English has a better grasp of the numbers and the size of the problem than Key, and that the PM is going to end up looking pretty silly on this one.”

    Yeah, that’s my impression. I said the same on the incoming splitting post yesterday – there just doesn’t seem to be any way to realistically make small enough cuts to enough areas and not piss everyone off at the same time. They should just introduce a levy and be done with it.

    captcha: variables

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      The Budget is supposed to be released in ~2 months or less. How on earth are they going to sort this out by then?

      Conclusion: high likelihood that the Budget will be full of holes and random line items appearing and missing.

      Scary.

      • Lanthanide 2.1.1

        The budgets are generally signed off and completed in mid April, so there’s only 1 month left.

        • Jim Nald 2.1.1.1

          Appreciating the current lot of Nats’ (Simon Power’s excepted) deep thinking, originality of thought, impressive vision, and policy freshness, we can expect John Key and Bill English to use the latest technological abilities of Microsoft Word and, with the fantastic help of some conjured figures, apply a superquick ‘find and replace’ job on to a digitised version of Ruth Richardson’s budget of yore.

          Voila!

          Mother of All Budgets resurrected.

          Let’s look to bless the upcoming 2011 budget as Mickey Mouses’ Grandmother of All Budgets!

          • Jim Nald 2.1.1.1.1

            Btw, wotz happened to old lady Ruth?
            We should extradite her to face trial for economic crimes committed on New Zealand.

            • Bored 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Ruth is busy with the planned larceny of the Canterbury water resources by the farming lobby and a dairy company she is involved in. You can be certain that the environment and the public domain will be treated with the same cavalier disregard that the general public of NZ were. Post prime euthanasia wont suit her…God is likely to have her on the reject list. I am not looking forward to my extensive years in Purgatory with her as company

  3. Bored 3

    A question to anybody there able to answer: Is the difference between insurances and actual damages known or has it been estimated?

  4. Kevin Welsh 4

    I’m picking that the “Allowance for macroeconomic effects” will be rather large.

    • Bored 4.1

      Seems “Allowance for macroeconomic effects” is the best get of of jail free card to date. What worries me most about this is the likely shortfall between the insurances and the cost of the damage, nobody sems to be able to state what it is likely to be, or if the insurances will be able to be paid. Ultimately that is the number we may be borrowing against.

  5. Well it seems to me that Christchurch is being flooded with money.Everywhere I go, there is a fund raiser in action. Then there is the insurance money plus the government Earthquake fund .( I forget its proper name) . Then there must be some payouts from ACC, So why the excuses byKey and Co to soak the Taxpayer and to sell assets .

  6. My favourite from Key’s interview: “We’ve inherited an earthquake.” Who from? Labour??

    That slip says to me his brain/mind is in “don’t blame us for anything, blame Labour” mode.

    • kriswgtn 6.1

      Totally agree.
      I read that and thought WTF?? Inherited from who?

      Both unfortunately happened on your watch Key.own up and take charge and do something before winter sets in

      Because if they dont do something satisfactorily,they will pay at the eelction

      anti spam-costing

      • Puddleglum 6.1.1

        If the authority they’re about to announce (Tuesday by Brownlee, after Cabinet on Monday) doesn’t have local officials with equal if not more clout than those from Wellington, Christchurch people are going to get very angry.

        We’ve already had ECAN taken out by central government. And Key’s wishy washy, evasive answer to Guyon’s question about whether Christchurch people will have a say in the rebuild (in the link to Key in the post) doesn’t inspire confidence.

        Letters to the Editor in The Press, this article on the front page of the print edition a day or two ago, business people protesting that we’re ‘in a communist state’ – Christchurch is in no mood to be bossed around.

  7. Dan 7

    Strategic deficit strategies are clearly in place. Tory parties worldwide have given tax concessions to their mates, spent up large and then determined the debt is so great they will have to sell assets to the private sector to reduce the debt. The earthquake provides English with another justification for selling the public resources.
    The reality is they privatise profits when something is profitable, but expect government handouts when something fails.
    The NACT philosophy is quite immoral.

    • ZeeBop 7.1

      Bubble capitalism: Where people cycle into town past homes whose value is high because of their location (but are held as an asset by the car owning owners). The low energy lifestyle is merely just another way for the free market to create scarcity. Sustainable and resilient communities need two things for a free market to produce; low wages and high equality. Government could step in and charge inner city homes for their car usage and their occupation rates, and reduce the value of inner city homes as asset warehouses, but the very people who would need to change, own the assets that will lose value as they move from being assets to productive elements in the economy. Just as any goods when used become less valuable. So inner city homes as extensions to the trophy wife syndrome, trophy homes if you will, only become valueless (in terms of financial wealth) when they become something more engaged with. Governments and councils need to flatten the advantage of location by providing public services to outer suburbs and charge inner city homes for having cars.

  8. logie97 8

    English quoted on the BBC that the Government must borrow to rebuild Christchurch. (Even has a photograph of him with the quote under it…)

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/12834145

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    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • 2019-nCoV (the new coronavirus): Should we be concerned, and will there be a vaccine?
    Probably yes to both but don’t panic yet. There is a plan. What is this virus? 2019 novel coronavirus, aka 2019-nCoV, belongs to a family of viruses called coronavirus. These are very common viruses that infect a wide range of animals including humans and can cause mild to severe disease, ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    1 week ago
  • The Chinese coronavirus outbreak: what are the options for vaccines and treatments?
    By now you’ve probably heard of the coronavirus outbreak that started in Wuhan City, China. The number of cases is rising, up to about 300 with six deaths. Cases have been reported in several more Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as in Japan, Thailand, and South Korea. ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • Educating New Zealand’s future workforce
    Judy Kavanagh Do you remember your first day at school? The education I received was for a very different world than the world of today. Along with huge social shifts there have been big changes in the New Zealand economy and the work people do. There are occupations unheard of ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • A casual attitude towards transparency
    Back in December, when the government was introducing new secrecy legislation on an almost daily basis, I posted about the Infrastructure Funding and Financing Bill. The Bill establishes a new class of public entity, "special purpose vehicles", which collect and spend public money and enjoy statutory powers. Despite this, they ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Against a carbon bailout
    If we are to avoid making the planet uninhabitable, we need to cut carbon emisisons fast. Which basicly means putting the fossil fuel industry - coal, gas, and oil - out of business. But this means that the banks and other lenders who have bankrolled the industry's environmental destruction will ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Still a criminal industry
    More evidence that the fishing industry suffers from pervasive criminality, with Forest & Bird highlighting some odd numbers in the annual statistics:The Annual Review Report For Highly Migratory Species Fisheries 2018/19 (Pg 4, Table 4) showed only 4% of commercial long lining trips for tuna and swordfish reported non-fish bycatch ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Controversy? Or Manufactroversy?
    A few days ago, New Zealand’s Minister of Education announced the wider release of a resource on climate change, which was initially trialled at a Christchurch school during 2018. According to the Minister, children will learn about “the role science plays in understanding climate change, aids understanding of both the response ...
    SciBlogsBy Alison Campbell
    1 week ago
  • The emerging coronavirus outbreak in China
    By now you’ve probably heard of the new virus causing an outbreak of severe pneumonia in China. The question on most people’s minds is, how worried should we be, especially as hundreds of millions of people will soon be travelling across China and beyond to visit family for the Lunar ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • How did climate change get so controversial?
    An excerpt from the book Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change, released Feb 25. Our human brain is poorly equipped to deal with a threat like climate change. Over millions of years, we’ve evolved to avoid life-threatening dangers like predators jumping out of bushes. We’ve survived by quickly detecting and avoiding immediate, short-term ...
    1 week ago
  • Farmers are ruining Canterbury’s rivers
    Its summer, so people naturally want to go for a swim. But in South Canterbury, you can't, because the rivers are full of toxic goo:As of Monday, the Waihi River at Wilson Street footbridge, Geraldine, the Waihao River at Bradshaws Bridge, and three spots on the Opihi River - at ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Sack Shane Jones
    Late last year, NZ First was caught trying to enrich itself from public office, with a dodgy forestry company linked to a number of NZ First figures sticking its hand out repeatedly for government money. Regional Economic Development Minister shane Jones' "explanations" were patently unconvincing, and his recusal from deciding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BIG idea physics
    This morning I’ve been having a quick look through some documentation from The Ministry of Education on proposed changes to NCEA Level 1 Science. For those not familiar with the NZ secondary education system, a typical student would complete NCEA level 1 at the end of year 11.  In this ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    1 week ago
  • Revolution in New Zealand? Not Even Close!
    No Fires Thanks, We're Kiwis: For the moment, in those close-to-home places where revolutions are born, there may be tetchiness and resentment, frustration and complaint, but nowhere is anybody uttering the cry that will bring a New Zealand revolution into being: “We have found the way to make tomorrow better ...
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #3
    Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Graphic of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... 'It's heart-wrenching': 80% of Blue Mountains and 50% of ...
    1 week ago
  • Britain exits the European Union and takes a sharp right turn
    by John Smith  Britain’s exit from the imperialist bloc known as the European Union (EU) is now irreversible. The crushing electoral defeat of the Labour Party has dismayed many workers and youth who had placed their hopes in Jeremy Corbyn, its left-wing leader. This article assesses these historic events, neither of which ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #3
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Jan 12, 2020 through Sat, Jan 18, 2020 Editor's Pick The Past and the Future of the Earth’s Oldest Trees Bristlecone pines have survived various catastrophes over the millennia, and they ...
    2 weeks ago
  • How climate change influenced Australia’s unprecedented fires
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections, and has been adapted into a new myth rebuttal on climate-wildfire connections with the short URL sks.to/wildfires Australia’s frightening bushfires, which kicked off an early fire season in September 2019, have already had cataclysmic effects, and the continent is still just in the early ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Gender Identity Ideology – A Partial Bibliography of Online Coverage
    This great resource has been contributed to Redline by Janie Doebuck. Janie made some notes on the bibliography: 1) It is by no means exhaustive. There are tons more gender critical posts, essays, articles, podcasts, youtube videos, etc. online. 2) There are links in the bibliography that are behind paywalls. There ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • About those biased Oscar Nominations
    There’s been a lot written about the 2020 Oscar Nominations and their apparent lack of diversity. It’s true, there are in fact no women nominated for the Best Director and very few nominees of colour across the board. But is this a result of a biased process or a symptom ...
    2 weeks ago
  • How New Zealand media reports chronic pain
    Hemakumar Devan Around three million New Zealanders access news media (both paper and online) every week. Yes, you heard that right! So, the potential for news media to shape public health beliefs is common sense. As chronic pain affects one in five New Zealanders, we wanted to find out how ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Still Waiting For American Democracy.
    Unfinished Republic: Though the United States' crimes against democracy are legion, most Americans are blissfully unaware of them. The brutal realities of American life: the officially sanctioned violence; the refusal to hold racists accountable for their actions; the seemingly endless tragedy of African-American suffering; of which White America is the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • In Outrage Over Its Bunk Science, Goop Finds Fuel for Growth
    Michael Schulson For years, experts have said that Goop, the wellness and lifestyle brand founded by the actor and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow, markets pseudoscience and overblown cures. And for years, despite the criticism, Goop has just kept growing. Now the company, which was valued at $250 million in 2018, ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Tobacco Excise Taxes and the Smokefree 2025 Goal: Some Ways Forward
    Janet Hoek, Richard Edwards, George Thomson, Andrew Waa, Nick Wilson Debate over tobacco tax increases has intensified as research indicates potentially conflicting policy directions. On the one hand, excise tax increases continue to stimulate quit attempts among smokers yet, on the other hand, they may lead to financial hardship for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #2, 2020
    Conflation and how to fix it VIa AMS,  Raul Lejano looks at what in a layperson's thinking would be called conflation— confusion and blending of entirely different topics— when people think about climate change. Ideology and the Narrative of Skepticism  (open access) starts with some arguably frightening false connections between the science and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • ‘Cranky Uncle’ smart phone game will show you how to disarm climate deniers
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bud Ward (Image: Courtesy of John Cook) When it comes to climate change, it seems every family has its own version of the proverbial Cranky Uncle. An uncle, cousin, grandparent, in-law, neighbor, whatever. Just think back to the recent holiday season’s large ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Science in the ’20s – part 1
      Outrageous, immoral or downright dangerous. That’s a description of the lifestyle of women “flappers” in the 1920s. Could it apply to science (and scientists) in the 2020s? Actually, you could look back at the past decade and see those, or similar terms, used about some science and scientists. Sometimes ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    2 weeks ago
  • Postscript: Citizenship Granted.
    I am pleased to say that I have been granted NZ citizenship. I need to do the ceremony for things to be official, but the application was a success. I now join my son as a dual NZ-US citizen. To be fair, very little will change other than the fact ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Music: Morales is coming
    It will be no secret to longtime readers that I, Russell Brown, love the disco.   So I'm pretty excited by the fact that one of the greats of the game is returning this summer – and also pleased to say I have tickets to give away.Legendary mixer and DJ ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The WHO Vaccine Safety Summit – from someone who was actually there
    The conspiracy I saw a new conspiracy theory flying around the other day. According to the conspiracy (that seems to originate from Del Bigtree), the World Health Organization have been ‘caught on camera’ questioning the safety of vaccines. Gosh this sounds as though someone was a mole at a ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    2 weeks ago
  • The timely death of the British Labour Party
    Below is an article submitted to Redline by Alec Abbott  At its inception, the British Labour Party was a vehicle for the propagation of racist and imperialist views within the working-class. Such views are still widespread in the party, as they are in Europe’s Social-Democratic parties, though, in the case of ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Mystery China pneumonia outbreak likely caused by new human coronavirus
    Connor Bamford, Queen’s University Belfast Since December 2019, there has been a cluster of 59 cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, eastern China. The pneumonia is associated with a previously unidentified coronavirus related to the deadly SARS virus. Seven of those cases are thought to be serious, and one person – ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Yes, koalas are cute – but should we bring them to NZ? Errm, no
    It’s been hard to miss the extreme fires raging across Australia and the tragic plight of the animals – human and otherwise – affected by the fires’ insatiable spread. I know I’ve been captivated and concerned by the tales of how Australia’s famous wildlife has been coping. Koalas approaching cyclists ...
    SciBlogsBy Sarah-Jane O'Connor
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s negative campaigning
    Anybody who looked into the Dirty Politics saga knows all too well that honesty is often in short supply within the National Party. You would think that after the exposure the John Key government received over their untruthful attack politics, the National Party would learn from its "mistakes" and leave ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ending the government’s charade over water
    For the past decade, the government has been responding to the obvious Treaty issues raised by water allocation with the mantra that "no-one owns water". But last year, the Waitangi Tribunal ruled that actually, Māori owned it, and that those rights had never been extinguished. They recommended that iwi bring ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Northern Ireland joins the civilised world
    Same-sex marriage has finally become legal in Northern Ireland. But not through any decision of the Northern Irish Executive or Assembly, which has only just reformed after a three year walkout by the DUP; instead, Westminster made that decision for them. I've talked before about the constitutional impropriety of this, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • I had an intense conversation at work today.
    Claire Cohen-Norris volunteers with Citizens Climate Lobby as a chapter founder and leader in rural New York. Her climate advocacy sprung from her drive to provide a secure, joyful and fulfilling life for her two wonderful children. It has become a life’s mission, shared with her like-minded husband and partner. Claire ...
    2 weeks ago
  • French transport workers take on Macron over pension reform
    by John Edmundson Starting on December 5th, 2019 workers in the Parisian rail network commenced an open-ended strike in opposition to French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed changes to their pension scheme. Rail workers in the Metro Underground have, for decades, had retirement conditions that compensate them for the low wages, ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • What a difference the decimal point makes
    I’m back at work following a nearly three-week break over Christmas. We were fortunate to be offered a house to stay in for a week over Christmas, which enabled us to have a holiday in Dunedin and see the extended family reasonably cheaply. But the house came with a catch:  ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    2 weeks ago
  • Who’s Going To Stop Him?
    Blank And Pitiless: Having ordered the assassination of the Iranian General, Qasem Soleimani, President Donald Trump promised to reduce the cultural monuments of Iran’s 3,000 year-old civilisation to rubble if a revenge attack was mounted. A breach of international law? Certainly. A war crime? Indisputably. Who’s going to stop him? Nobody.WHAT ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A worker’s story
    This interview is from Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement (AWSM) and is the first of an ongoing series of interviews they plan to do with workers from various sectors who are having their well being and livelihoods damaged. They begin with an educator in Southland. Due to the attitude and actions ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #2
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Jan 5, 2020 through Sat, Jan 11, 2020 Editor's Pick Debunked Australian Bushfire Conspiracy Theories Were Pushed by Alex Jones, Murdoch Media   As unusually intense and widespread bushfires have ...
    3 weeks ago
  • J.K. Rowling, the Seattle Library, and the Issue That Must Not Be Named
    This article was submitted to Redline by Seattle-based activist Lucinda Stoan J.K. Rowling recognizes repression when she sees it.  That’s why the author of the wildly popular Harry Potter books recently tweeted in defense of Maya Forstater. Forstater lost her job for stating that sex is real and immutable. A judge ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    3 weeks ago
  • Rules of Empire: Laws simply do not apply and “National Security” excuses all else.
    Empires rise and fall, and the American Empire is absolutely no different. But while an Empire, in order to further the footprint, it seems to pay to do one primary thing above all else: project that everything – everything – is “simply for the good of the world” at large, ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    3 weeks ago
  • Indian lessons for NZ workers – the January 8 general strike
                    by Phil Duncan On Wednesday (January 8) another massive general strike took place in India.  Some 250 million industrial workers, white-collar workers, agricultural labourers struck against the government’s economic policies and attacks on the Muslim population through new proposed citizenship rules. This ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    3 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: The action that counts
    Over on Newsroom, Professor Jacqueline Beggs writes about the action she is taking on climate change. Its the usual list: reduce meat, don't fly, consume less. I'm doing some of this myself, and none of it hurts - but the way our economic system is constructed means the impact of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 weeks ago
  • Fossil fuel political giving outdistances renewables 13 to one
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Karin Kirk Corporations, special interest groups, and individuals inject billions of dollars into the American political system every year. Much of the financial support in politics is concealed from public view, as some rules – and loopholes – allow “dark money” and ...
    3 weeks ago

  • FAQ – Everything you need to know about the Big New Zealand Upgrade
    Today, our Government announced the biggest infrastructure investment in a generation. We’re investing $12 billion to upgrade and build rail, roads, schools and hospitals across the country – modernising our infrastructure, preparing for climate change and helping to future-proof our economy. Find out everything you need to know about the ...
    16 hours ago
  • Week That Was: 2020
    We are back for 2020! From changes to Family Funded Care, to a record high number of Kiwis in construction in the trades - we're already back making progress on those long-term challenges. Read all about it and more ...
    6 days ago
  • Winston Peters: “Ihumātao deal still a long way off”
    Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters told Mike Hosking that a settlement deal regarding Ihumātao in Auckland is still a long way off. The Maori King's flag was lowered at the site near Auckland Airport yesterday, sparking suggestions an announcement of a deal could be made by Waitangi Day. Pania Newton, ...
    7 days ago
  • Winston Peters accuses Gerry Brownlee of ‘politicising’ Holocaust memorial
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters is accusing Gerry Brownlee of "politicising" a Holocaust memorial event after the National MP questioned the lack of Kiwi representation there. The Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem, Israel, is holding the World Holocaust Forum on January 23 to mark 75 years since ...
    7 days ago
  • Provincial Growth Fund to help Waipukurau Pā sites attract thousands of tourists
    The Ngā Ara Tipuna - Waipukurau Pā Site Interpretation project is receiving $2.798 million from the Provincial Growth Fund. It is is expected to boost the town's employment and tourism, creating sixteen new jobs once completed and attract up to 15,000 visitors a year. Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development ...
    1 week ago
  • “Common sense will prevail, not extremism” Winston Peters backs Shane Jones’ pro-meat stance
    New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is backing his MPs who have spoken out against a new climate change teaching resource that advises students to eat less meat to save the planet. The new teaching resource, announced by Education Minister Chris Hipkins and Climate Change Minister James Shaw, tells students ...
    1 week ago
  • Violent assault on paramedic highlights need for law change
    Darroch Ball MP, Spokesperson for Justice Today’s horrific violent assault of an on-duty female paramedic which rendered her unconscious is truly unsettling. “Our thoughts are with the paramedic, her loved ones and the St John’s team at Warkworth Station,” says New Zealand First Justice Spokesperson Darroch Ball. “Harsher penalties for perpetrators ...
    1 week ago
  • Acting PM Winston Peters confirms NZDF troops in Iraq not hit by Iranian attacks
    Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters called for calm and diplomacy following Iranian missile strikes on bases housing United States troops in Iraq, but confirmed New Zealand's base in the country was not hit. The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) was earlier today investigating claims New Zealand's base in Iraq had ...
    1 week ago
  • Kaikōura $10.88 million boost in tourism & business
    Fletcher Tabuteau MP, Parliamentary Undersecretary for Regional Economic Development The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $10.88 million to boost business and tourism opportunities in Kaikōura, Parliamentary Undersecretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau announced today. As part of the Kaikōura Marina Development Programme, the following two projects will receive ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Delivering a stable water supply to Wairarapa
    Hon. Ron Mark, New Zealand First List MP based in Wairarapa The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $7.11 million to create a sustainable water supply for the Wairarapa. The PGF will provide a $7 million investment to Wairarapa Water Limited to progress the Wairarapa Water Storage Scheme towards procurement, consenting, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing consents hit highest level since 1974
    Housing consents have hit a 45-year high, as Statistics NZ data shows a total of 37,010 residential consents were issued in the year to November --- the first time they have breached the 37,000 mark since the mid-1970s. Statistics NZ said the trend had been rising since late 2011, when ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Darroch Ball MP: “Violence against first responders is a problem on the rise”
    New Zealand First MP Darroch Ball says that a paramedic being kicked unconscious last night in an attempted burglary in Warkworth, north of Auckland, is a symptom of a larger problem. "Incidents like this are becoming more and more frequent...and it’s getting worse," Mr Ball said. The MP is pushing for ...
    2 weeks ago

  • Statement on evacuation of New Zealanders from Wuhan
    “I spoke with Prime Minister Morrison again this afternoon and we have confirmed that we will work together on a joint ANZAC assisted departure of Australians and New Zealanders from Wuhan,” Jacinda Ardern said. “Specific details of the evacuation plan, including the medical protocols that will be applied to returning ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    13 hours ago
  • The New Zealand Upgrade Programme
    Rail, roads, schools and hospitals will be built and upgraded across the country under the new $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The programme: Includes investments in roads, rail, hospitals and schools to future-proof the economy Will give a $10 billion boost to New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • School infrastructure upgrades ramping up
    The New Zealand Upgrade Programme is already underway, with schools busy getting building work started over the Christmas break. The Coalition Government announced just before the end of last year $400 million in new funding for most state schools to invest locally in building companies and tradies to fix leaking ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Flicking the switch on a clean powered public service
    Our Government’s programme to upgrade infrastructure and modernise the economy will help more communities to be part of the solution to climate change through a clean-powered public service. Minister for Climate Change James Shaw today announced the first group of projects from the New Zealand Upgrade Programme’s clean powered public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Government of Infrastructure delivers for New Zealanders
    Infrastructure and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says today’s capital investment announcements show the Coalition Government is the Government of Infrastructure. $7 billion in projects have been announced today as part of the Government’s $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme, which will see capital spending at its highest rate ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Boost for child, maternity and mental health
    $300 million dollar capital investment in health, divided among four focus areas: Child and maternal health - $83 million Mental health and addiction - $96 million Regional and rural service projects – $26 million Upgrading and fixing aging hospital facilities - $75 million Contingency of $20 million The New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Transport infrastructure upgrades to get NZ moving and prepared for the future
    $6.8 billion for transport infrastructure in out six main growth areas - Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Canterbury and Queenstown. $1.1 billion for rail. $2.2 billion for new roads in Auckland. The Government’s programme of new investments in roads and rail will help future proof the economy, get our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Growing and modernising the NZ economy
    A new programme to build and upgrade roads, rail, schools and hospitals will prepare the New Zealand economy for the future, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. “The $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme uses our capacity to boost growth by making targeted investments around the country, supporting businesses and local ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Future proofing New Zealand’s rail
    Minister for State Owned Enterprises Winston Peters says the funding of four major rail projects under the New Zealand Upgrade Programme is yet another step in the right direction for New Zealand’s long-term rail infrastructure. “This Government has a bold vision for rail. We said we would address the appalling ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Delivering infrastructure for a modern NZ
    Roads, rail, schools and hospitals will be built and upgraded across the country under the $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme announced today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to invest in New Zealand – modernising our infrastructure, preparing for climate change and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • $1.55m support for Hawke’s Bay three waters services review
    The Government is pleased to announce a $1.55 million funding contribution to assist Hawke’s Bay investigate voluntary changes to the region’s three waters service delivery arrangements. “Over the last 18 months, the five Hawke’s Bay councils have been collaborating to identify opportunities for greater coordination in three waters service delivery across ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    18 hours ago
  • Minister welcomes report of nation’s household plastic rubbish, recycling practices
    A new report on New Zealand’s plastic rubbish and recycling practices is being welcomed by the Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage.  “The report by WasteMINZ provides a valuable insight into what’s ending up in household rubbish and recycling bins around the country. It highlights the value of much ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    19 hours ago
  • Government considers retirement income policy review recommendations
    The Government is now considering the recommendations of the Retirement Commissioner’s review into New Zealand’s retirement income policies. “The review raises a number of important issues in relation to New Zealanders’ wellbeing and financial independence in retirement, particularly for vulnerable people,” the Minister for Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Kris Faafoi, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    23 hours ago
  • PM announces election date as September 19
    The 2020 General Election will be held on Saturday 19 September, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. “I will be asking New Zealanders to continue to support my leadership and the current direction of the Government, which is grounded in stability, a strong economy and progress on the long term ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Provincial Growth Fund supports Waikato youth into constructionProvincial Growth Fund supports Waika...
    Two projects focussed on supporting Waikato youth into the construction industry have been given combined funding of just over $1 million from the Te Ara Mahi allocation of the Provincial Growth Fund, Undersecretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau announced today.  The two Te Ara Mahi PGF projects announced are: ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Provincial Growth Fund supports Waikato youth into construction
    Two projects focussed on supporting Waikato youth into the construction industry have been given combined funding of just over $1 million from the Te Ara Mahi allocation of the Provincial Growth Fund, Undersecretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau announced today.  The two Te Ara Mahi PGF projects announced are: ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand to support Pacific Public Sector Hub
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today announced New Zealand’s support for a Pacific-led hub that will strengthen public services across the region. “Strengthening public services is a core focus of New Zealand’s Pacific Reset, as efforts to improve democratic governance in the Pacific contributes to a strong, stable and more ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Minister pays tribute to journalist, author and broadcaster, Gordon McLauchlan
    The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, has paid tribute to well-known New Zealand author, journalist and broadcaster, Gordon McLauchlan, following Mr McLauchlan’s death today. “Gordon held a statesman-like place in New Zealand’s media, which was fittingly acknowledged in last year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours, when he was ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Minister wishes best of luck to those heading back to school
    As Kiwi kids and teachers return to classrooms over the coming weeks, the families of around 428,000 students will feel a bit less of a financial pinch than in previous years, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “The Government’s decision to increase funding for schools that don’t ask parents for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Health staff to meet flights from China as precautionary measure
    Public health staff will begin meeting flights from China from tomorrow, to actively look for signs of the novel coronavirus and provide advice, information and reassurance to passengers. Health Minister Dr David Clark says the additional measures are being taken following the arrival of the disease in Australia, via flights ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • National Yearling Sales 2020
    National Yearling Sales at Karaka   26 January 2020    [CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY] Good morning. It is a pleasure to be here on opening day of the 2020 National Yearling Sales Series. Let us all acknowledge Sir Peter Vela and the Vela family for their outstanding contribution to the New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government and construction industry to build big, lift productivity with Transformation Plan
    Delivering the workforce and productivity gains required to build the houses, schools, roads, rail and hospitals New Zealand needs will become easier with the Government-industry Construction Sector Transformation Plan launched today, Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa says. “The action plan launched today delivers on the Government’s Construction Sector ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Log trains to begin on Wairoa-Napier line
    Log trains are about to start running between Wairoa and Napier following Provincial Growth Fund investment to reopen the rail line, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says. The Government invested $6.2 million to reopen the mothballed rail line which was closed after significant storm damage in 2012. “With PGF ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Minister of Defence concludes successful visit with his US counterpart
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