Fonterra, again

Written By: - Date published: 9:15 am, September 29th, 2019 - 24 comments
Categories: climate change, Economy, Environment, farming, Free Trade, global warming, Globalisation, trade, uncategorized - Tags:

So, finally, Fonterra have released their annual results, and they are $600 million in the red. They are selling most international ventures off, rapidly shrinking their ambition, and focussing on basic ingredients rather than more capital intensive product lines. No apology for wasting two decades of near-monopoly position and the weight of that lost opportunity upon New Zealand.

Our largest business is in full retreat, although Fonterra calls these massive losses and global retreats a “strategy”:

New Zealand – and its government – need to engage much harder about Fonterra.

Why?

Since it clearly needs re-stating, Fonterra is a massive contributor to the New Zealand economy and to achieving the Government’s objectives for sustainable economic development. Fonterra is New Zealand’s largest business and the only New Zealand-based multinational firm with global scale and reach.

Our largest private entity has its profit and revenue streams captured in New Zealand by its New Zealand-based shareholders, unlike most other businesses of any size here. Reason enough for government to engage hard when that’s tens of thousands of New Zealanders with their welfare deeply tied to Fonterra’s rise and fall.

When it was merged, the government was advised that the entity would be a near monopoly accounting for about 7% of the entire GDP, around 20% of total exports, and 96% of dairy exports. They knew the collective national risk to us.

It’s still incredibly important to New Zealand.

The presence of Fonterra’s head office, innovation and manufacturing facilities in New Zealand have huge impact upon the wider New Zealand economy, society, and environment.

There is simply no question that there is a national interest associated with Fonterra and its performance.

But the question of how this national interest should be guided and protected is clearly not being grasped by this government. Only those with small imaginations fail to see how it could be done.

There was a time when government would lead by focussing all agricultural and food production business leaders together, with common funding and common goals.

Rural people see this, and I’m sure Fonterra’s fortunes are a factor in some of the worst business confidence levels and farmer confidence levels we have had in living memory.

Sure, there’s no political incentive for government to engage when they will probably not gain any more rural seats or rural vote. They’re throwing petrol on opinion that’s already on fire.

But.

Fonterra’s accountability for its strategy, structure and performance lies with its private owners, but the Government does have a critical role to play with Fonterra.

The first obvious area of engagement is with regulation and trade. Just summarising these set of levers shows massive areas in which engagement with Fonterra and government is so essential.

Regulatory Certainty and Outcomes

A basic job of government is to ensure regulatory certainty to enable Fonterra, its farmer-shareholders, and all other industry players to plan and operate in line with their chosen long-term strategic direction and environmental limits.

A useful example of this is the proposed regulations around fresh water and streams of August 2019. Fonterra thought they had good story to tell about this through the Dairying and Clean Streams Accord of 2003 between Fonterra, the Ministry for the Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and regional councils. The new regulations would not have been needed if that 17 year old accord had worked. There’s some new instrument needed that prices environmental damage to dairy company profit besides regulation of farmers.

Fonterra itself is pretty clear why it needs to build its reputation about being good to our environment.

I’d be reasonably happy if the New Zealand government were able to produce a sustainability report about its own environmental impact as well as Fonterra does here.

A smart government could actually learn lessons from Fonterra – positive and negative.

Market Access

Protecting and enhancing international market access for New Zealand dairy exports. There’s no doubt the New Zealand government has tried, but over multiple international trade agreements most notably CPTPP there’s been limited improvement in forming the deregulated and de subsidised international milk market that would have enabled Fonterra’s production advantages to be really profitable. There’s been nowhere near enough return for the dairy industry despite all the negotiation effort. This is despite MFAT turning into practically the diplomatic arm of Fonterra.

Research and Development

Providing targeted research and development incentives to promote innovation and development of higher value added dairy products and market development opportunities has been weak and uneven. A few years back Fonterra had a thing called Fonterra Ventures, which sought active high value partnerships with universities. Commercialised successes were rare, and the government tax framework around research and development was cumbersome and ineffective for too long. An example is Foodspring through Goodminton AG: bought, then flicked 18 months later.

Another example is Fonterra’s recent sale of its 50% stake in DFE Pharma.

But it was evident from the first years of Fonterra that there was huge potential to improve the entire dairying sector through a comprehensive partnership with New Zealand universities. Hence, the Helen Clark government formed the Fast Forward Fund in 2006-7. This was intended to be a 50-50 multi-billion government-industry funded contestable fund for dairy pasture productivity, by encouraging deep research partnerships between dairy company research arms (at that time almost entirely Fonterra) and the Crown Research Institutes and universities. It was killed off by the 2008 National government. It would take an effort to resurrect something similar. The limited partnerships between Fonterra and CRI’s and universities have not turned New Zealand into a global powerhouse of nutritional research that they should have.

The above are the kind of engagement any decent government could make with Fonterra if it was trying. They could still do so, if they wanted.

What they have gone for is …

Legislation

This is of course the most forceful and effective form of government engagement with Fonterra. The Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 allowed the creation of Fonterra Dairy Cooperative Group Ltd. The Act has the provisions to promote the efficient operation of dairy markets in New Zealand by regulating the activities of Fonterra to ensure New Zealand markets for dairy goods and services are contestable, even though in 2001 it was a near-monopoly.

I’m not going to bother summarising the changes to the DIRA Act that are going through parliament right now. Look them up if you want to.

Suffice to say that even Fonterra, and its Farmer shareholder council, were both disappointed it didn’t go far enough, and said so.

But wait ….

What I want to get to briefly is just some of the other areas this Government could really positively shape Fonterra and the other big dairy players if they wanted to.

Transport

Almost by chance, the Kiwirail effort to pull out of decline and into something with some heft has been good for Fonterra. Kiwirail is engaging with Fonterra about rail sidings beside major processing plants to enable as few as possible heavy trucks exiting site. I think there’s just one more Fonterra processor that’s not connected to rail in New Zealand, somewhere obscure in the Waikato. Kiwirail have also pushed ports to enable easier track and offload access for rail in and out for milk-industry trains.

But there’s so much more it could do. The biggest pressure to use trucks is of course that Fonterra are required to take all the milk that they are offered. The way to turn down the volume of milk trucks to Fonterra is to turn down the requirement that they always take milk from everyone all the time. Cabinet has ruled that out in the Bill.

Should the government want to, it could force Fonterra to think about how it wants that product delivered to Fonterra and to ports through transport costs. Larger dairy farms could be strongly encouraged to dry their own milk to powder and other core ingredients with smaller dryers on site. This could be done if the RUC for dairy transport vehicles was significantly increased. Government needs to look much more carefully about how to use an integrated NLTP to require Fonterra to use rail not road as the dominant form of bulk transport, price harder what it can’t get to rail, and pull the total volume of dairy products transported in the first place.

Starting to move out of coal is one thing; there’s a place for Government to lead Fonterra out of oil.

Skills and Immigration

According to Dairy NZ, the dairy sector needs around 5,000 new people each year. The New Zealand education system simply doesn’t generate enough of them, so it’s critical that they continue access to migrant employees.

Apart from on-farm worker supply, just imagine if a fully-firing Fonterra hovered up a great percentage of the food technology, food engineering, and nutrition graduates that we produce, rather than importing them. There are always exceptional anecdotes, but government through the tertiary sector has a much stronger role to play in inspiring people to graduate targeting dairy companies. Currently there is no such inspiration in Fonterra.

Tax

Dairy is the oil industry of New Zealand. It’s uniquely valuable to us, and represents a similar cost, risk, and opportunity to that of the oil industry to Norway. The proceeds of oil taxes and revenues to Norway’s dedicated fund have been massive. In time, the fund has decreased investment in oil and is diversifying. At the moment this government dances around the income dairy generates for New Zealand, and the special place it holds in the national income and national costs. According to the IRD it’s just another business. Fonterra can’t go anywhere, and is loading societal effects upon us all. So arguably it should have higher company taxes upon it to pay for its higher social license-to-operate. Arguably dairy needs a super-tax to transition us away from dairy.

Then there’s the question of how to further tax its supplier farmers. For example if a farmer had a spare $20,000 per year to invest, what tax incentive is there to discourage buying another vehicle or replace the barn roof, and encourage planting a 2km riparian strip with 5 metres of native plants? This years’ Tax Working Group would have been a better place to put that question, rather than through more oblique means like water quality regulation. Incentivising where you put your own money is always more effective than penalising.

Innovation

From the 2001 Cabinet paper, a key risk that troubled Cabinet concerning innovation has been borne out.

The proposed merger’s main risks were that “the continued under performance of innovation, including the evolution of new and higher value products, through insufficient diversity and competition in the production, marketing and exporting of New Zealand dairy products”.

Whatever innovation they were investing in simply hasn’t had rewards. In 2018 the Fonterra annual report showed that the farmgate milk price had fallen 20.4% since 2014, and the co-op’s dividend was the same in 2018 as it was in 2014, and its shares had a dividend yield of only 1.7%. The co-op’s share price continues to decline. And of course, A2 Milk and Synlait have soared in multiples over the same period.

Fonterra is now in no mood for expansive and expensive innovation. As Fonterra retrenches, so does its R&D programmes that focus on higher value products. It is of course always fraught for a government to pick sectors it wants to dedicate particular chunks of R&D funding to. It doesn’t need to. But it is proposing to restructure all polytechs, and has had to rescue many existing rural polytechs from death. Government could at least incentivise universities to ask and asnwer the question: what can universities and polytechs do to give us the highest-value and lowest-impact dairy industry in the world? Ask sectoral questions like that, and pretty soon everyone will want one. That is the job of government.

Focus

As far as the eye can see, dairy is here to stay in New Zealand as a powerful part of our economy. Fonterra’s size and its massive retrenchment will impact upon farm businesses and upon every town and city in which Fonterra has a large presence. You get a tiny sense of things to come from Kapiti.

That means that the national interest of government engaging with Fonterra should change as well.

In previous years, there was great optimism, as in Dairy NZ’s DairyTomorrow site.

Back in the day, with a fully sectorally engaged government, there were massive cross—government long term initiatives that engaged dairy as part of the food and beverage sectors.

Such optimism and sectoral engagement are a distant memory now.

It shouldn’t be.

There are far more levers this government can operate around Fonterra than it does. It’s highly likely that for the foreseeable future, Fonterra doesn’t have the strength to rise itself up again.

Fonterra needs a cross-government plan that prepares for the negative impact of its current decline and contraction, for the massive social, economic and environmental costs and opportunities that it generates within New Zealand, and for a future that turns Fonterra and the dairy industry into a greater success in the interests of New Zealand.

What is needed is a government prepared to lead the dairy industry, using everything it has.

24 comments on “Fonterra, again”

  1. Dukeofurl 2

    in the Red  is just an accounting measure, by writing down the value of assets.

    Dairy farming is still producing rivers of cash, and as a Cooperative its designed to deliver that money tax free to farmers pockets ( and more commonly now corporate farmers) rather than through  company dividends.

    The  red numbers , are tiny for a $20 bill per year revenue company .  A similar amount ,$607 mill was written down  by  Sky TV , yet their revenue was $800m per year.

    The wringing of hands over Fonterra  dividends wont change anything as its really doing very nicely thank you  in what was intended – the milk price to Farmers.

    • Pat 2.1

      Their problems are far wider than asset write downs….and they are problems shared by many companies/industries worldwide…and all compounded by their co operative structure. At the basis of it all is…too much debt.

      https://www.interest.co.nz/rural-news/101797/keith-woodford-sets-out-how-seeds-fonterra%E2%80%99s-current-situation-were-sown-long-time

      "My calculations quickly showed that Fonterra was highly indebted, with inventories apparently overvalued, and almost certainly running up against its bank covenants"

      https://www.interest.co.nz/rural-news/101888/guy-trafford-predicts-some-quiet-years-ahead-fonterra-it-regroups-and-seeks-regain

      "The general view is that Fonterra has the support of its shareholders. However, I would suggest this is only because there are effectively no other viable options for most."

      https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2019/09/29/830948/fonterra-way-forward

      "Moreover, what it doesn’t add is that milk volume for the whole sector will, at best. only edge ahead because dairying has reached its ecological limits in many parts of the country. Worse, Fonterra’s share of that milk supply could fall if it fails to rebuild its rewards to, and loyalty from, its farmer-shareholders. They would be ripe for picking off by competing processors."

      https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/-/media/ReserveBank/Files/Publications/Financial%20stability%20reports/2019/fsr-may19.pdf?revision=47e0d60a-bdca-4fbb-bddc-2ad9f20a4b2d

      "Most dairy farms are profitable at current prices and should have been able to repay debt. However, around a third of dairy debt is held in farms with high DTI ratios. Many of these farms struggle to make profits and repay debt, despite good milk prices. This is particularly concerning as the costs of the dairy sector may rise in response to longer-term challenges, such as environmental and climate change policies. Restoring resilience in the sector will be a challenge for farms and their lenders. The willingness of banks to continue supporting the sector will be an important determinant of how smoothly the current risks will be reduced."

      • Dukeofurl 2.1.1

        Thats the dairy farmer operating model –  struggle to make profit , because they would pay tax on that. They will increase borrowing against the farm as an asset to buy a holiday home etc, as tthat way the interest is tax deductable.

        Fonterra is fine as far as borrowing goes, except where the asset is secured against shares in Chinese companies,  which  is a minefield for anyone.

        Ask  sheep farmers or beef farmers how it works  when you only get the price the  freezing works likes to offer – and you pay to truck the stock to the works.

        Dairy farmers get  paid the same wheter they are 2km from the factory or  90km.

        With  with Fonterras suppliers being 'picked off', those suppliers can get regulated Milk from Fonterra too as written in the ACt applying to Fonterra.

        Why are new factories being set up that will use that provision ?

        • Pat 2.1.1.1

          "Thats the dairy farmer operating model –  struggle to make profit , because they would pay tax on that. They will increase borrowing against the farm as an asset to buy a holiday home etc, as tthat way the interest is tax deductable."

          Nor confined to dairy farms..and only works as long as the asset grows and banks are willing

          "Fonterra is fine as far as borrowing goes, except where the asset is secured against shares in Chinese companies,  which  is a minefield for anyone"

          Obviously not..which is why profitable assets are being sold

          "With  with Fonterras suppliers being 'picked off', those suppliers can get regulated Milk from Fonterra too as written in the ACt applying to Fonterra."

          The requirement is for up to 250 million litres p/a….a drop in the bucket of 16 billion litres of processing

          • Dukeofurl 2.1.1.1.1

            That 250 mill litres per year is Goodman Fielder alone

            "Under the Dairy Industry Restructuring (Raw Milk) Regulations 2012, Fonterra must make up to 795 million litres of the milk it collects each season available to independent processors at either an agreed price or a regulated price."

            You are comparing Fonterras nationwide  supply ( where it MUST take ALL milk offered by its suppliers and who are allowed to supply 20% of each farm to other than Fonterra)  with its dozens of plants.

            250 mill litres is a lot of milk when you only  have  single plant making a higher value product .

            The French Danone group now effectively owns the Chinese based Yashili Pokeno plant which will make  only make infant formula

            In Victoria , their main  farmer owned coop  ( Muarray Goulburn) came to grief ( along the same lines of Westland) when they got   corporate whizz kids in to run the business – what could go wrong.

            We have the instance of Westland here  who built a new  plant in Canterbury  thinking they could  compete with Fonterra an attract big corporate farmers to supply  that plant.  The debt overwhelmed them

             

  2. Stuart Munro. 3

    One of Fonterra's major weaknesses is a lack of shareholder activism. In principle, large corporates like Fonterra are held accountable by shareholders, and the clowns who lost the value of all those foreign assets would be not long for this company. But NZ companies are rarely held to this standard, which is why cowgirls like Shipley and other former Gnat parasites are larded into so many of them.

    I don't really pay much attention to Fonterra, but they're not offering products that have become very popular overseas, like Yakult, nor do they seem to recognize the value available from niche or organic products. Mass commodity production is not the mark of a world-leading company, never mind its capitalization.

    • Ad 3.1

      Agree. 

      Their Shareholder Council was supposed to enable farmer-owners to hold Fonterra to account. 

      They were obviously weak and ineffective.

      • Dukeofurl 3.1.1

        For years they believed also the Bumpf about conquering the world. Yet the reality was dairying is a  highly protected agricultural product where the high value  products are often  branded and specific to individual countries usually with 'cultural'  connections

        Kerry from Ireland  hasnt bothered with more  milk supply and  instead branched out into  every variety of  food and ingredients in Europe and US ( helped by Irelands tax minimisation)

         

      • Stuart Munro. 3.1.2

        I think they may, being tied to the land, not be well placed to recognize international norms as well.

    • greywarshark 3.2

      SM   Your comment keeps us up with the 'play'.

      Love that cowgirls allusion, but 'larded in' comes from beef!   Thinking about dairy and butter, I think Fonterra is readjusting after having butter put on its paws (you do that to help cats get used to the smell and taste of home).  

      But why sell off Tip Top and not have useful little value-addeds, are they not grand enough for the moguls of milk?    The value-addeds made here appealing to the overseas market and profitable, would help our economy, our employment (giving farmers sons and daughters jobs off the farm!) and i don't like this root and branch feeling of sweeping change that I get.   Failing enterprises often try this cleaning up, rearranging the furniture – eg the Titanic meme.  

      If you can drop in your opinion FTTT it would be helpful to understand where we stand, or slide.  

  3. Blazer 4

    The proud and resourceful dairy farmers of NZ hardly need the interference of the Gummint'!

    Private enterprise and initiatives are the cornerstone of  the Market'….so we are constantly told.

    The current model creates employment and profits for a few.

    If its broken,they can fix it.

    NZ commercial operations must be the jewel in the crown as far as margin goes.

  4. Weasel 5

    It is grossly rich to blame the government for Fonterra’s problems when the company has scored own after own goal – Sanlu, Beinggate, the rejection by the farmer owners of a new structure that could have provided necessary capital, Brazil, Venezuela, the botulism scare, overpaid CEOs etc etc

    Many of these disasters can be sheeted to hubris that in turn arises from Fonterra’s PR long standing firm that has been the tail wagging the dog.

    And to say that the government has created regulatory uncertainty is as rich as a cow pat. The Dairying and Clean Streams Accord 2003 has been marked by a catastrophic deterioration in our water quality almost entirely due to dairy farmers who treat their and our land like shit. Far from being outliers, the Crafar brothers were typical in cokkies’ attitude to land. The only thing that has changed dairy farmer behaviour is regulation and proper policing which to date has never happened. 

    Your whole contention that Fonterra is more important to Aotearoa than other companies of size is unsupported. With its decision to return to being a pure commodity company it is actually a millstone around our the neck of the economy and the government would be best to leave it to its own gradual demise. 

    • Ad 5.1

      Nowhere did I blame the government for Fonterra's problems.

      Fonterra's problems have been analyzed elsewhere in the media. 

      Fonterra has been for 18 years, and continues to be, our largest business.

      Fonterra dominates our physical landscape more powerfully than any other business has in  our history. No other single entity comes close. 

      Whether you view that as a good or bad thing, there's no arguing with my actual contention that the government needs to engage Fonterra with more strength and with more powerful coherence around it. 

    • Weasel wisdom  –  Why didn't you come forward with it earlier and saved Fonterra's shame?

  5. Weasel 6

    You state there is national interest associated with Fontera an go on : “But the question of how this national interest should be guided and protected is clearly not being grasped by this government.” 

    That looks to me like pointing the bone at the government. 

    [Corrected typo in e-mail address]

    • Ad 6.1

      Only a most paranoid hairless Weasel would think so. 

       

    • mike 6.2

      if fonterra is to big to fail then there to big to exist.

      the value added that fonterra was to do is being done by a2 milk

      if fonterra and farmers want  a bailout there going to have to share the profits make a case to kiwisaver funds not the tax payer. then again would you  invest in fonterra or a2

  6. Gosman 7

    Are you suggesting the Government starts supporting a private business in a twilight industry more?

    • Dukeofurl 7.1

      Well , National did with Chorus, to  structurally realign it to the tune of $950 mill  by buying  45% of the shares.

      The  Telecom that remained – now Spark- took advantage of that  by loaded up far too much debt with the business that ran suburban telephone exchanges and the lines to customers , surely which was built over the previous 75 years
      And that was just the beginning of the subsidys where each household fibre connection – say $1k each was paid for by the taxpayer

    • Well, thinking of you Gosman. I think that would be the right thing to do.

  7. Ian 8

    What a load of twaddle.You all should be worrying about the country going down the gurgler ,and look in the mirror to find the reasons why.

     Fonterra has had the reset and the milk payout to suppliers is very good. It is totally undervalued and many dairy farmers have been snapping up the cheap units that  short term investors are giving away.

    City dwellers are in for a rude awakening when the costs of cleaning up their waterways hit home. Decontamination of heavy metals is very expensive,and just stopping human raw sewerage  from entering waterways is going to cost ratepayers tens of Billions.

    The sooner we clean up our shitty cities the better.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 8.1

      The idea that each of us should pay for our individual environmental footprints is excellent.  The idea of dairy farmers paying the full cost, year on year, of damage done by all the shit and urine their animals produce is very appealing.

      Dairy and beef cattle outnumber the human population of NZ, and each cow/cattle beast produces ~30 times the effluent of an average human (~2 L urine and ~0.2 kg faeces).

      "The standard figure for dung and urine production of an average dairy cow is 70 litres per day." [not to mention all that lovely methane!]

      That's literally a shit load of business byproducts for responsible farmers to deal with to protect/conserve NZ's ‘100% pure’ clean green image.  I wish farmers the very best in their endeavours, I really do, and hope the NZ environment can continue to soak up their business byproducts.  I'm sure it can; after all, the environment is huge – there's no way a few million cows could affect it, right? wink

      I understand the dairy and beef sectors agreed to fund 32% of the cost of attempting to eradicate the Mycoplasma bovis disease from their businesses.  wonder where the other 68% is coming from?  And the ‘ground zero farmers’ are bleating again.

      https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/rural/2019/10/we-just-want-what-s-fair-farmers-demand-mpi-compensation-after-mycoplasma-bovis-outbreak.html

  8. mike 9

    farmers and fonterra have dug there own hole let them lie in it

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    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz There is a lot of discussion on the benefits of ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 days ago
  • “Manifest” by Andrew Bird – A Song For The Times.
    I came across this song quite by accident. If it isn't one of Greta Thunberg's favourites - it should be.Video courtesy of YouTube.This post is exclusive to Bowalley Road. ...
    2 days ago
  • Passing the buck
    Last month, NZDF's shoddy coverup of what it knew about civilian casualties in Operation Burnham began to fall apart, with the revelation that a report on the matter, which NZDF claimed not to have, had been sitting in an NZDF safe for the past nine years. Yesterday, the man responsible ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • India a major player in Earth observation satellites
    While many imagine that countries like the USA and Europe dominate space activities, in fact India is now a major player on this stage. It launches satellites for its own purposes and also commercially, and has constellations orbiting our planet and returning data of vital importance to that nation in ...
    SciBlogsBy Duncan Steel
    3 days ago
  • The rot at the top (2).
    Thanks to a report from the Acting Inspector General of Intelligence and Security following a complaint by Nicky Hager, we have come to find out that the SIS illegally spied on Mr. Hager on behalf of the NZDF after publication of Hager’s 2011 book, Other People’s Wars. The NZDF justified ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    3 days ago
  • Common misconceptions about “Global Warming”
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    An average kiwiBy admin@averagekiwi.com
    3 days ago
  • A climate of tyranny
    For the past week, Extinction Rebellion has been peacefully protesting in London to demand action on climate change. The British government's response? Ban their protests:Police have banned Extinction Rebellion protests from continuing anywhere in London, as they moved in almost without warning to clear protesters who remained at the movement’s ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Collins crushes climate
    An essay by Judith Collins MP reported on Carbon News yesterday seems to show an alarming shift in attitude within the National Party. Collins argues against the Zero Carbon Bill, the Paris Agreement, and downplays the magnitude of climate impacts. The Paris Agreement was adopted in December 2015 and ratified ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert McLachlan
    3 days ago
  • More disappointment
    When they were running for election, Labour promised to overhaul the Employment Relations Act and introduce fair pay agreements to set basic pay and conditions on an industry level, preventing bad employers from undercutting good ones. They followed this up by establishing a working group, which reported back in January ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • What do these mother-child studies really say about fluoridation?
    A list of indicators of bad science – many of these are found in articles promoted by anti-fluoride activists. Anti-fluoride activists have been pouring money into a scaremongering campaign warning pregnant women not to drink fluoridated water. They claim fluoride will lower the IQ of their future child. Fluoride ...
    3 days ago
  • Losing Labour’s Mills-Tone.
    Nothing Left To Say: Labour's pollster, Stephen Mills, remains swaddled-up in the comforting myths of the 1980s. As if the experience of Roger Douglas’s genuinely radical post-Muldoon policy agenda was literally a once-in-a-lifetime thing – as much as the party could possibly absorb for at least the next 50 years.MEMO ...
    3 days ago
  • Speaker: Disability and the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse
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    3 days ago
  • Spain is not a democracy
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • UK Conservatives hate democracy
    With an unfair voting system, uneven electorates and an un-elected upper house, the UK's "democracy" is barely worthy of the name. But now the government wants to make it worse:The government has been accused of suppressing voters’ rights with the potential disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of people after plans ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • What is wrong with our building industry?
    Back in the 90's and early 2000's, the building industry was building leaky homes which should never have been granted consent. Now it turns out they've been building dodgy office blocks as well:New imaging technology has revealed hundreds of major buildings nationwide have defective or missing concrete or reinforcing steel. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Local bodies
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • A future of government
      How could government evolve over the next decades? Reports of democracy’s imminent demise are greatly exaggerated.  However, satisfaction with political systems in many countries is low, so there is much to do for governments of all political stripes to improve relevance and trust. Digital technologies are seen as one ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    6 days ago
  • Speaker: Catalonia, interrupted
    Two years have now gone by since the Friday afternoon when my university-student son and I headed out of our Barcelona flat to a nearby primary school, designated as a polling station for the vote that was to be held the following Sunday: the referendum on Catalonia’s independence from Spain ...
    6 days ago
  • Sage Decisions Unwisely Over-Ruled.
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    6 days ago
  • Government may ban voting in effort to get more people to do it
    More than double the number of people who will vote in this year’s local body elections have tried marijuana or urinated somewhere they shouldn’t have. As local elections look set for the lowest turnout in decades, with many regions falling well short of 40%, the Government is exploring a number ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    7 days ago
  • Woman: Deleted.
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    7 days ago
  • The Hollowest of Men Ride Again… SURPRISE!
    Musings continue apace about “the experienced businessman!” soon to be taking up a National Party MP position. Or to be more accurate, being parachuted into a seat to shut down their former MP Jamie-Lee Ross, who despite his own shortcomings shed at least some more light on the inner workings ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    7 days ago
  • Barbaric
    The Ugandan government wants to murder gay people:Uganda has announced plans to impose the death penalty on homosexuals. The bill, colloquially known as “Kill the Gays” in Uganda, was nullified five years ago on a technicality, but the government said on Thursday it plans to resurrect it within weeks. The ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Fighting Monsters.
    Freedom Of Speech? The Säuberung (cleansing by fire) was the work of the German Student Union which, on 10 May 1933, under the watchful eye of the Nazi Reichminister for Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, consigned 25,000 books to the flames in a ritual exorcism of “un-German thought”. According to the logic of the ...
    1 week ago
  • The next wave of kaupapa Māori politics: its constitutional, it must be.
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    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    1 week ago
  • Night lights of NZ from orbit
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    SciBlogsBy Duncan Steel
    1 week ago
  • Reporters deliver uplifting news to fleeing Japanese residents: they won’t miss any rugby
    New Zealand’s media is doing its part in Japan, reassuring those in the path of the storm that they won’t miss any rugby while away from their flooded homes. New Zealand sports reporters stationed in Japan for the Rugby World Cup have had the rare and heartwarming opportunity to inform ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Government in contentious discussions about whether to put surplus on red or black
    Regional Development Minister Shane Jones is the only Cabinet member in favour of putting it all on green. As Finance Minister Grant Robertson finds himself with an enormous $7.5 billion surplus, the Government has begun intense, at times contentious conversations about whether to put the money on red or black at ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Jordanian teachers’ successful strike has lessons for here
    by Susanne Kemp At the start of September close to 100,000 school teachers went on strike in Jordan.  They demanded a 50% pay rise.  A pay rise actually agreed to by the regime back in 2014. In early October, however, in the face of government repression and threats, the teachers’ ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Why some people still think climate change isn’t real
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    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • The SIS unlawfully spied on Nicky Hager
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • October 2019 – Newsletter
    https://mailchi.mp/7d9133add053/closing-the-gap-october-2019-newsletter ...
    Closing the GapBy Tracey Sharp
    1 week ago
  • And they wonder why we think they’re environmental vandals…
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Paying the price in California
    Last year, California burned. This year, to stop it happening again (or rather, to stop themselves from being found liable if it happens again), Pacific Gas and Electric is cutting power to half the state for a week:Schools are closed. Traffic lights down. Tunnels dark. Businesses unopened. Hospitals running on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Let’s Hear It For Up-Close-And-Personal, Hard-Copy Democracy!
    The Best Way: Missing from the on-line voting debate is any reference to the voting system that produces turn-out figures ranging from 77 to 93 percent of registered voters. The voting system used to collect and count the votes cast in our parliamentary elections. The system that involves citizens making ...
    1 week ago
  • 10/10: World Day Against the Death Penalty
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Talking Freer Lives: a Marxist gender-critical perspective from Australia
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    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Government spin accepted by union leadership
    by Don Franks  The Auckland City Mission is struggling with a 40 percent increase in demand for food parcels this year. A total of 23,020 were needed by June. Last month Missioner Chris Farrelly told the Herald the “cupboards are bare” and without an emergency food drive, he can’t see ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Forbidden Thoughts
    by The Council of Disobedient Women   Massey Wellington Student Association had a sit-in today. Imagine a sit-in. On a campus. Against a women’s rights meeting. Did the ’60s really happen or did we fucking dream it? They gathered in the student square, an echo chamber. Sitting on soft pillows ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Much love to my loyal Ukrainian readership
    For some reasons, my post about the mystery message from inside the Downing Street bunker seemed to catch people's attention.  Quite a lot of hits from NZ (unsurprisingly) and the USA (a bit more puzzlingly, but hi there, USAians!!) and 76 views from the Ukraine.I've celebrated my Ukrainian readers in ...
    1 week ago
  • Another day of bonkers GNUmours (again, sorry)
    First, almost a score of Labour MPs seem to have sent a letter to the EU basically begging them to accept a deal - any deal - just so Britain can get the Heck on with Brexiting instead of being trapped in limbo:
    To avoid no deal, deliver on the ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour vs working class immigrants – again!
    by Phil Duncan In 2016 the National-led government suspended the Parent Visa Category, through which migrants were able to bring their parents into New Zealand.  Since then over 5,700 people have been in immigration limbo, stuck on the visa wait list. Labour is now bringing back the scheme.  Well, sort ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Speak Up for Women press statement: on Massey University and Feminism 2020
    The following was released yesterday (Tues, October 8) by the women’s liberation organisation Speak Up for Women. On 23 September Speak Up For Women announced that we would be holding an event at the Massey University Theaterette in Wellington. The event is called Feminism 2020. The intention of the event ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Farmers support dirty rivers
    The government is currently consulting on plans to improve freshwater quality. So naturally, farmers oppose it:South Taranaki farmers are preparing to fight proposed national freshwater changes that some fear will bankrupt them. The Government's proposed National Environment Standard on Freshwater Management, released in September, rated the Waingongoro River as one ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No-one cares about local government
    Yesterday was the last day for (reliably) posting your vote away in local body elections. Turnouts are mostly much lower than the equivalent time last year (Palmerston North is down 2.3%), and so naturally people are pushing their online-voting snake oil again. Because the online census worked so well, lets ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The political ghosts of eugenics may matter more than the genetic
    This essay, on the political legacy of the eugenics movement, by Kenan Malik was originally published in the Observer on 6 October 2019, under the headline ‘The spirit of eugenics is still with us, as immigrants know to their cost’. Birth control. Intelligence tests. Town planning. Immigration controls. It’s striking how ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • “Surplus” again
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Inside the Downing Street bunker
    James Forsyth at The Spectator (I know, I know) has tapped one of his contacts inside Number Ten for an insight into the Johnson administration's thinking and strategy.It is fascinating, unsettling and quite, quite mad.  Some key points:Negotiations have stalled and the Johnson administration are keen to blame the EU: ...
    1 week ago
  • Taking Control Of The Nation’s Story.
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    1 week ago
  • Are GNUs extinct?
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    1 week ago
  • Labour chickens out again
    When the government was elected, it promised to lead the way on electric vehicles, and specifically to make the government vehicle fleet emissions-free where-practicable by 2025.They lied:There are 15,473 vehicles in the government fleet and only 78 are electric. When the coalition Government came into power in late 2017, the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Transgender extremism, violence at work against feminist meeting at British Labour Party conference
    by Nick Rogers The debate around the meaning of sex and gender made an appearance at this year’s British Labour Party conference in Brighton. Women’s Place UK – an organisation that questions the demand that biological males who self-identify as woman should have access to women’s spaces, to all-women shortlists, ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Rebelling in Wellington
    Yesterday I went down to Wellington to participate in the Extinction Rebellion protest. Its part of the latest global wave of XR actions, with actions happening all over the world. Some of those protests are massively disruptive: in Canada, XR is blocking major bridges, stopping people from getting to work. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • ‘The Workshop’ – Report: Talking about Poverty and Welfare Reform: A Guide to Strategies that ...
    The Workshop is a charitable trust for public good. The Workshop undertake research to find ways of communicating that will build support for the solutions that work to solve complex social and environmental problems. See their Report on Talking about Poverty and Welfare Reform below. ...
    Closing the GapBy Tracey Sharp
    2 weeks ago
  • Exclusive language
    What is language? We generally assume that it a facility unique to humans, allowing us to share what’s in and on our minds. We can tell of our plans, our past exploits, our knowledge. It also allows us to lie. And yet there are vast numbers of people we can’t ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Corballis
    2 weeks ago
  • April 2018 – Submission to the NZ Govt Tax Working Group
    You can read our submission HERE ...
    Closing the GapBy Tracey Sharp
    2 weeks ago
  • 2018 – Submission to the NZ Government Tax Working Group
    Read our submission here ...
    Closing the GapBy Tracey Sharp
    2 weeks ago
  • Guardian: Poll shows DISASTER for Corbyn and the End of Times
    The Guardian - ever eager to forewarn of doom and disaster on the left - are leading with a new poll from Opinium, which puts the Conservatives 15% clear of Labour.Con 38% +2Lab 23% -1Lib Dem 15% -5Brexit 12% +1Green 4% +2This isn't good news, and it would be very ...
    2 weeks ago
  • How prostitution became the world’s most modern profession
    Being and Being Bought (Spinifex Press, 2013) by Kajsa Ekis Ekman  A synopsis and commentary of Chapters 1-2 by Daphna Whitmore Ekman, a Swedish journalist and critic, brings together a Marxist and feminist analysis of prostitution and surrogacy in this groundbreaking book She opens the discussion with a definition of ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Clever legal fellow on Scottish challenge to Brexit
    I make no claims to having much legal knowledge,  so I defer to those trained in this area.I am very much enjoying this twitter stream from m'learned friend in Edinburgh, deciphering the legal arguments around the Scottish court challenge to Boris Johnson, based on the charmingly obscure principle of Nobile ...
    2 weeks ago

  • Bill to refresh superannuation system passes first reading
    Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni has welcomed the first reading of the New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran’s Pension Legislation Amendment Bill. “Every New Zealander has a stake in New Zealand Superannuation and Veteran’s Pension,” says Carmel Sepuloni. “They are our most common form of social assistance – nearly 800,000 New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    30 mins ago
  • Government announces next steps in fight against measles
    Babies in Auckland aged six months and over can receive a free vaccination and children will all have access to vaccines, Associate Minister of Health Julie Anne Genter announced today at Papatoetoe High School.   The move comes as part of Government efforts to step up the fight against measles. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    48 mins ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, Pacific Futures: Connections, Identity...
    ***Check against delivery*** Good morning. It is a pleasure to be here, and to have the honour of opening this important conference on behalf of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs. Let us take the opportunity to acknowledge all the people who have helped make today possible, including our special ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Police trial new response to high risk events
    Police Minister Stuart Nash says the safety of frontline officers and members of the public will be the focus of a new trial of specialist Police response teams in three of our largest urban centres. Police have this morning released details of an initiative to be trialled in Counties Manukau, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • New awards celebrate fisheries sustainability
    The Minister of Fisheries is calling for entries for a new public award to celebrate innovation in our seafood sector. “I have established the Seafood Sustainability Awards to recognise and celebrate those throughout industry, tangata whenua and communities who demonstrate outstanding dedication and innovation towards the sustainability of New Zealand’s ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 hours ago
  • More progress for women and we can do more
    Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter welcomes leaders in the private sector taking action on closing their gender pay gaps to ensure a fairer workplace for all New Zealanders. Ms Genter today launched a new report, Addressing the gender pay gap and driving women’s representation in senior leadership, from the Champions for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Proposals to curb environmental damage help our coasts and the oceans
    Government Ministers today welcomed the release of a marine environment report highlighting the four key issues affecting our oceans, estuaries and coastlines.  The release underlines the importance of government proposals to combat climate pollution, ensure clean freshwater, protect biodiversity, make land use more sustainable, and reduce waste and plastic.    Environment ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    19 hours ago
  • New mental health facility for Waikato
    The Government has approved funding for a new acute mental health facility for Waikato which will provide better care and support to people with mental health and addiction issues. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Dr David Clark announced the $100 million project to replace the aging Henry Rongomau ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    24 hours ago
  • 500 new te reo Māori champions in our classrooms
    The Government is making progress on its goal to integrate te reo Māori into education by 2025, with over 500 teachers and support staff already graduating from Te Ahu o te Reo Māori,  Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis announced today. Kelvin Davis made the announcement at an awards ceremony in Waikanae today, for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Minister James Shaw welcomes 2018 Census first release
    Statistics Minister James Shaw has welcomed the first release of 2018 Census data. The first release of data today, 23 September, includes key data on population, regional growth, the number of homes and the size of different ethnic groups in New Zealand. Data from the 2018 Census will support the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Driving transparency, ethics and accountability in government use of algorithms
    Minister for Statistics James Shaw today announced a public consultation on a proposed algorithm charter for government agencies. The charter has been developed by the Government Chief Data Steward in response to growing calls for more transparency in government use of data. Computer algorithms – procedures or formulas for solving ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New Zealand and the Netherlands working together on climate change
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, Climate Change Minister James Shaw and visiting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte co-hosted a business roundtable in Auckland this morning focused on working together to address climate change.  “The Netherlands is an important partner for New Zealand. We share a strong agricultural history. Sustainable agribusiness and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Protecting fairness for workers and businesses
    The Government is taking action to build an inclusive economy where more of us receive our fair share at work and businesses can compete on great products and services, not undercutting wages and conditions, Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. Two consultations launched today seek feedback ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Indigenous Freshwater Fish Bill Passes
    The future for New Zealand’s threatened indigenous freshwater fish looks brighter with the passing of the Conservation (Indigenous Freshwater Fish) Amendment Bill in Parliament today said Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage. “Until now, our freshwater fish legislation has been 20 years out of date. We have lacked effective tools to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Kiwis to take part in world’s biggest earthquake drill
    At 1.30pm tomorrow, hundreds of thousands of Kiwis will join about 65 million people around the globe in ShakeOut, the world’s biggest earthquake drill. The annual drill is to remind people of the right action to take during an earthquake which is to Drop, Cover, Hold, and to practise their ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Rising wages and low inflation supporting Kiwis
    Kiwis are benefiting from higher wage growth and low inflation under the Coalition Government. Stats NZ data out today shows the rise in the cost of living remains low, as annual Consumers Price Index (CPI) inflation fell to 1.5% in September from 1.7% in June. “The low inflation comes as ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • NZ economy strong amid global headwinds
    New Zealand’s economic strength and resilience has been recognised in a major update on the state of the global economy. The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook released overnight shows a reduced global growth forecast over the next two years as issues like the US-China trade war and Brexit take hold. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Keeping New Zealanders safer with better counter-terrorism laws
    Justice Minister Andrew Little has today introduced a new Bill to prevent terrorism and support the de-radicalisation of New Zealanders returning from overseas. The Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill gives the New Zealand Police the ability to apply to the High Court to impose control orders on New Zealanders who ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Improved succession and dispute resolution core of Ture Whenua changes
    A Bill that proposes targeted changes to simplify the processes for Māori land owners when engaging with the Māori Land Court has had its First Reading today. “The approach taken by the Government is to ensure that the protection of Māori land remains a priority as we seek to improve ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Speech to CTU Biennial Conference
    Let me first thank all the new unionists and members in the room. There is nothing more important to improving people’s working lives than people making the decision to care, to get on board and help, to take up the reins and get involved. Congratulations to you. You bring the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Minister ensures continued Whenuapai flight operations
    Minister of Defence Ron Mark has signed a certificate exempting the activity of engine testing at Whenuapai Airbase from the Resource Management Act 1991. The Act gives the Minister of Defence the power to exempt activities for the purposes of national security.  The certificate will mean the recent Environment Court ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • NZ joins Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action
    Finance Minister Grant Robertson has announced New Zealand will join the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action while attending APEC meetings in Chile. The objective of the 39 member Coalition is to share information and promote action to tackle climate change. It was formed in April this year, in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • CTU speech – DPM
    Ladies and gentlemen, NZCTU President Richard Wagstaff, members of respective unions – thank you for the invitation to speak to you today. This might be preaching to the choir, but the importance of trade unions in New Zealand’s historical arch is difficult to understate. And it is my belief that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Police Association Annual Conference
    "Let’s start by acknowledging that it has been a huge year. " Police Association Annual Conference James Cook Grand Chancellor Hotel Wellington Nau mai, haere mai. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, ka nui te mihi, ki a koutou katoa. President of the Police Association, Chris Cahill; Members of the Association and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand announces a further P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark have announced the New Zealand Government’s decision to again deploy a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea. New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand deeply concerned at developments in north-east Syria
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand continues to have serious concerns for peace and stability in north-east Syria. “Recent reports that hundreds of ISIS-affiliated families have fled from a camp are deeply concerning from a humanitarian and security perspective”, Mr Peters says. “While we acknowledge Turkey’s domestic security ...
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