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He wasn’t here to help us, was he

Written By: - Date published: 7:10 am, January 4th, 2020 - 80 comments
Categories: australian politics, climate change, disaster - Tags: , , , ,

Scummo is what Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia, was called yesterday by residents of a town that had just been devastated by fire including the loss of two lives. Gutless was my own addition seeing him utterly fail to engage with the people in front of him who had just been through hell, and then him walking away.

Watching the videos, my heart goes out to these people from a small town who know exactly how much they figure in the greater schemes of the government.

Sixteen people have died in the fires in NSW this season. Two have died in Victoria and another 28 are missing this week. Thousands of people are being evacuated from areas at threat of fire. Both states have declared historic states of emergency. In the autumn and winter last year Morrison had refused to meet with senior former fire chiefs to discuss the likelihood of a bushfire crisis. With the predicted crisis arriving in early summer and escalating, he’s been missing in action for weeks. Whatever he is doing now is too little, too late.

In an age where government parties poll excessively to predict what will go down well, it’s hard to imagine what kind of advice Morrison has been given in the past month. Morrison’s words when meeting with the Australian and New Zealand cricket teams two days ago were almost unbelievable.

As someone pointed out on twitter, you don’t go to a funeral and call out ‘how good’s the cricket?’

While I was fuming about gutlessness and scumbaggery, this happened. The young woman from the first video demonstrates she has more social and emotional intelligence and humanity in her little finger than the whole of the federal government,

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this came from a young mother.

Humans, given the chance, will act with compassion and decency, and our survival as a species is tied to our care for our children not our politicians. When we mobilise as communities the politicians will follow.

There’s a chance here. That this catastrophe unfolding in Australia will be a catalyst for change. Climate devastation reaching a lucky, wealthy country far sooner than expected, together with a political response appalling by most people’s standards, may compel Australians, and those watching, to act.

A Guardian poll in November showed more Australians want action on climate change, and more accept there is a connection between global warming and bushfires.

Ominously for the Morrison government, which bristles at regular public criticism it is not doing enough to reduce the risks of the climate crisis, 60% of the sample of 1,083 voters believes Australia should be doing more. This is up from 51% in March.

Writer Richard Flanagan wrote a stunningly stark summation of the situation in Australia in the New York Times yesterday, He ended with this,

The situation is eerily reminiscent of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, when the ruling apparatchik were all-powerful but losing the fundamental, moral legitimacy to govern. In Australia today, a political establishment, grown sclerotic and demented on its own fantasies, is facing a monstrous reality which it has neither the ability nor the will to confront.

Mr. Morrison may have a massive propaganda machine in the Murdoch press and no opposition, but his moral authority is bleeding away by the hour. On Thursday, after walking away from a woman asking for help, he was forced to flee the angry, heckling residents of a burned-out town. A local conservative politician described his own leader’s humiliation as “the welcome he probably deserved.”

As Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, once observed, the collapse of the Soviet Union began with the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in 1986. In the wake of that catastrophe, “the system as we knew it became untenable,” he wrote in 2006. Could it be that the immense, still-unfolding tragedy of the Australian fires may yet prove to be the Chernobyl of climate crisis?

We can hope that Australians find a way, but I think there is another equally important aspect to this. While it’s tempting to point at Australia, its appalling position on climate action and its seemingly entrenched climate-denying political and media culture, there’s the reality that we are all responsible for the bushfires. By ‘we’ I mean humans generally across the planet, but perhaps mostly the ones doing best from and still supporting the globalised economy that is both the driver of the climate crisis and the biggest impediment to change.

While Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and gas, it is humans elsewhere that are buying and burning those fossil fuels. And while it is Australia that is bearing the brunt of the crisis this season, and will soon have to face up to the bushfires doubling their GHG emissions in 2020, it’s all of us that are going to reap what we are sowing as the fires feed into the large, complex natural systems that push us ever closer to runaway climate change.

Many New Zealanders feel particularly affected from the outside, because of our close geographical and social ties with Australia, but we’re not really on the outside, there is no outside of this.

Need to take action now?

Newshub has a page from November with ways to donate to the various support agencies in Australia. 

School Strike for Climate (Australia)’s donation page is here.

Greenpeace NZ has a petition to cancel OMV’s permits to explore for new oil and gas in NZ.

Front page photo by Alex Coppel.

Moderation note: no climate denial under my posts, including ‘it’s too late’ lines.

80 comments on “He wasn’t here to help us, was he ”

  1. A 1

    He should stand down before this gets any worse.

  2. Formerly Ross 2

    Weka

    It's unlikely that Australia will take significant action because that's not the Australian way. Voters recently re-elected the Government with a thumping majority. In addition, it's a relatively small emitter. Any action taken by smaller countries in effect subsidises the lack of action taken by the big emitters. (The bigger emitters, including China and the US, account for 61% of global emissions.) Furthermore, it's difficult to imagine it spending large sums of taxpayers' money when the effect of such spending is unknown.

    The 2009 fires were “unprecedented,” as many commentators have said. They erupted at the end of a record heatwave and there seems little doubt that this was a fire exacerbated by climate change. But it is the recurrent realities that are more striking. For those of us who know the history, the most haunting aspect of this tragedy is its familiarity. The 2009 bushfires were 1939 all over again, laced with 1983. The same images, the same stories, the same words and phrases, and the same frightening and awesome natural force that we find so hard to remember and perhaps unconsciously strive to forget. It is a recurrent nightmare. We know this phenomenon, we know the specific contours of the event, and we even know how people live and how people die. The climate change scenario is frightening. But even worse is the knowledge that we still have not come to terms with what we have already experienced.

    The Bureau of Meteorology predicted the conditions superbly. The premier issued a warning. Fire experts knew that people would die that day. History repeated itself with uncanny precision. Yet the shock was, and still is, immense. It is the death toll, and not the weather, which makes the event truly unprecedented.

    http://insidestory.org.au/we-have-still-not-lived-long-enough/

    • RedLogix 2.1

      Any action taken by smaller countries in effect subsidises the lack of action taken by the big emitters.

      That indeed is a reasonable argument. Combine that with the link I gave you yesterday that did a deep dive into the complexities of carbon accounting … my argument is that it's not possible to fully account for any single nation's CO2 emissions in isolation from every other nation on the planet. In a globalised world where every nation is linked through trade it's not possible to cleanly isolate any single nation from the rest of the world.

      In short yes Australia's purely domestic CO2 is around 1.6% of the world, but that number rises to something between 3 -5% (depending on how you do the accounting) when you add in their coal and gas exports from which they benefit. And consider that the Adani project (and several others co-located in Galilee Basin) could potentially increase that number to something like 6-10% of world emissions, then suddenly it's not so trivial anymore. Now I accept there are counter considerations here, the nations which import this coal benefit as well, so it's not easy to put unequivocal numbers on all of this.

      But there is one number that is beyond all dispute … the total fossil carbon emissions of all humanity. That's the only one that physics cares about, and that's why our political response to this must be at a global scale. It's a point I've been making here for years now.

      • Robert Guyton 2.1.1

        I agree, RedLogix. The plans to drill for oil and gas off the Southland coast would/should/could pump-up Southland's/New Zealand's greenhouse gas"tally" given none of the expected fossil fuels will enter the atmosphere if we don't allow OMV to drill but we have, they will and the resulting gases will add to the global load. But how will the "blame" be apportioned? Probably won't, I suspect. Everyone gets off Scott-free, seemingly.

      • UncookedSelachimorpha 2.1.2

        I think those arguments are rubbish. Sort of the Zeno's paradox of emissions logic.

        "We won't reduce emission source X, because X is only a small proportion of some other total…"

        "Reducing emission source X just subsidises larger emission source Y…"

        The same can be said of any reduction in emissions, anywhere. For example, you can split large emitter China's emissions into smaller bits, and make these same arguments about each smaller component, to justify not reducing each component.

        The one thing you can be sure of – the outcome (and I believe intent and purpose) of these sorts of argument is to do NOTHING.

        • RedLogix 2.1.2.1

          The one thing you can be sure of – the outcome (and I believe intent and purpose) of these sorts of argument is to do NOTHING.

          I'd not deny there are some cynical individuals for whom this is true, but from the perspective of a conservative thinker whose primary value is 'is what I am doing right now going to work?' the answer is no … nothing that one small nation or individual can do on their own will make any difference in the absence of a rules based system that carries sufficient authority, and everyone obeys. It doesn't make any sense to incur the costs of responding to climate change, when everyone else is cheating.

          I know that's not how you and I think, but if you step outside of our liberal matrix for a moment … you can perhaps see why it makes perfect sense from a highly pragmatic perspective.

    • ScottGN 2.2

      What thumping majority? The Coalition has 77 seats in the 151 seat House of Reps. Once an MP is given up to provide the Speaker Morrison has a majority over the other members of, wait for it, one vote.

      In the Senate the Coalition government is in a minority position holding 35 of the 76 seats.

    • A 2.3

      Things change when distressed and angry people start looking for someone to blame. They aren’t even through the worst of it.

    • Sacha 2.4

      when the effect of such spending is unknown

      And there we go again with your Lomborging. #Sigh

      Of course there is no evidence from the past for cautious managers to draw on about how to tackle a global climate crisis. We have never done it before.

  3. James 3

    You talk of humans acting with decency and compassion.

    but remember there are always people like our very own muttonbird who posted (on Christmas Day – classy)

    Anyone want to see Australia burn?

    I do.

    https://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-25-12-2019/

    it’s idiots with morals and (using the term lightly) thought processes like that go out there and light the fires

    • RedLogix 3.1

      I agree. That example from muttonbird is regrettable and counterproductive.

      Contrast that with a conversation I had yesterday afternoon with a conservative Australian where I framed the conversation quite differently. We started with what we all have in common, a deep sense of unease seeing the best parts of Australia burn (it's the most loved, beautiful areas being burnt, not the desolate outback), the loss of animal life, the tremendous loyalty and service of the fireys in saving so many lives and homes (almost 9,500 at last count), the tremendous work being done by the RFS authorities at a state level and so on.

      And he volunteered that Morrison wasn't handling it well; I countered that ScoMo was clearly not a 'bad person', but his political instincts were not serving him well now. Incidents like the 'lump of coal in Parliament' while really nothing more than minor stunts, were now haunting him. At every step in this crisis, whether it was the four day decision to come home from Hawaii, to recompensing vollies … he's had to be dragged into doing the right thing.

      Then my Liberal Party voting friend said, "Yes … ScoMo has to make up his mind whether he is the Prime Minister of Townsville, or Australia". I didn't think I needed to say anything more after that.

      This issue has been poisoned polarisation since the late 90's; extremists at both ends have intentionally sown discord and distrust, paralysing our collective ability to act. Now is the time to put and end to this.

      • Muttonbird 3.1.1

        That moment was born out of frustration, yes.

        I don't feel Australia has been a decent player or partner in recent years and the NZ-AUS relationship is at a low point.

        They have exported a killer of 51 people.

        They have exported the made-in-Australia 501s for New Zealand to deal with.

        They have arrogantly held lumps of coal in parliament.

        They have imprisoned people in remote conditions adding troubles to those who live there already.

        They have never had a proper relationship with indigenous people.

        Their prominent media attack our PM for being compassionate.

        This list is seemingly endless…

        • RedLogix 3.1.1.1

          There are scarcely two nations on earth that are more closely linked socially and economically. Most families will have links on both sides of the Tasman, and a substantial fraction of large businesses are the same. Having lived in here for seven years now, I’m constantly struck at how much we have in common, despite many quirky cultural habits divide us.

          It's politically that the two nations have drifted apart, mainly since the Lange govt nuclear free moment, widely seen in Aus as fundamentally anti-American. Yes that was something we were proud of at the time, but this was the cost.

    • weka 3.2

      James, please don't use my posts to have a go at other commenters.

      We know there are stupid people in the world, what's you're point otherwise?

    • Muttonbird 3.3

      Well, in fact I have witnessed people lighting bush fires in Australia first hand. It is what some 10 year old Aussie kids do for kicks.

      That is a fact.

      Another fact is, if you continue to put people in ever remote areas they they will light fires…

      The more people you put in those areas then the bigger the fires.

  4. Formerly Ross 4

    Let's not forget that in 2009, then-Police Chief Christine Nixon was hammered by the media for her alleged inaction over the 2009 bushfires.

    OK, so Christine Nixon went out for dinner. By doing so, did she endanger any lives or properties? If so, how? Does anyone have evidence that, for instance, the rostered officers made the wrong call because Nixon was too busy 'washing down' her dinner to guide them?

    Again, maybe that will come out in the Royal Commission. But Nixon's critics seem less concerned about the firefighting measures she did or didn't take than the shocking image of a large woman who – gasp! – eats.

    In the Daily Telegraph, Claire Harvey drew out the obvious implications:

    "Here is a woman who can't control her appetite, according to the pundits in newsrooms and living rooms. That's a moral question, apparently: if she cannot manage her own body, how can she manage anything else?"

    "Fat f***," says one of thousands of blog comments on news websites about the story.

    "I bet she had dessert," says another.

    And it's not just anonymous armchair bullies: TV news has relied almost entirely on full-body shots of Nixon in her tight police uniform (a uniform she has not worn for 12 months).

    Why? Because it's the most unflattering type of outfit for a large woman.

    It makes her look much fatter than the forgiving civilian clothes she wears now.

    Newspaper headlines and editorials have referred to "Hungry Nixon" and to the "gut instinct" she apparently lacked.

    The Australian's page one photograph showed Nixon eating a piece of cake.

    Turns out the photo was taken 22 months ago – in June, 2008 – at a 25th birthday party for the Neighbourhood Watch scheme, where Nixon’s formal duties included cutting a cake.

    Classy. Making the bushfires personal is inappropriate but not unusual.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-04-20/33730

  5. pat 5

    Morrison rightly condemned and this 'event' may well be the beginning of the end for his Premiership but the real question remains…..if this is the new normal how are Australians going to adapt or will they even be able to?

  6. Robert Guyton 6

    I don't feel enraged by Morrison; he's heavily compromised and ideologically constrained, so if anything, frustrated would describe my feelings. I'm somewhat unconvinced by the claim that "the ordinary people" are where the hope lies, as I haven't seen or heard of "their" significant actions around the environment and climate emergencies. I do give some credence to the idea that these fires at this time could predicate a change of attitude by Australians toward their treatment of their chunk of planet; fingers crossed.

    • RedLogix 6.1

      I don't feel enraged by Morrison; he's heavily compromised and ideologically constrained, so if anything, frustrated would describe my feelings.

      That's a good way to put it, something I'm hearing a lot over here. And that frustration will be felt even more deeply by more than a few of his fellow Liberal Party members. It's their electorates and the fires don't select which homes to burn down on a party political preference basis.

    • weka 6.2

      Not sure about your use of "ordinary people" there Robert. Is Zoe Salucci-McDermott an ordinary person? How about the firies? People that go on climate strike marches? People that vote from conscience? Extinction Rebellers? People in the pub or at work who defend XR? The 9% of Australians who now believe the government should do more on CC that didn't believe this last March?

      I have no way of knowing this, but my thinking is that in every sector of society there are people with kids and grandkids who are increasingly concerned about CC and how close it is. That's journalists, staffers in political parties, farmers, big business, all the places considered to be intractable and slowly that stuckness is coming undone as people feel it more deeply.

      I still believe that having proactive pathways is critical for people getting to that point so they step into action rather than despair or defeatism, but I think the waking up is requisite and there is no doubt that is happening, just a matter of whether it's soon enough. Thing is though, we don't have to wait for the bushfire smoke babies to grow up, we can work with their mothers (and fathers) because they're the ones that have the power.

    • I don't feel enraged by Morrison; he's heavily compromised and ideologically constrained, so if anything, frustrated would describe my feelings.

      Yes. As a religious conservative leading the astonishingly inappropriately named "Liberal" Party, any move by him to acknowledge reality would be a betrayal of his core supporters, and more importantly his party's donors. It would also turn the Murdoch propaganda machine from an ally to an enemy. All he can do is put a brave face on pretending AGW has nothing to do with this, and all we can do is hope that the resulting displays of cognitive dissonance (as illustrated in weka's OP) lead people to the appropriate conclusion.

      • weka 6.3.1

        trying now to imagine if it was possible for him to keep his denialist position but still show up during the emergency and do the right things just on the immediate crisis alone. I guess this would have laid him open to questions about CC, so maybe he thought it better to hide.

        Or maybe there are climate activists secretly in his team giving him just the advice to push people against his actions 😉 Hard to imagine the conversations and planning that has gone into this. It's also possible that they just didn't believe what everyone was saying about the fire risks this season and so were caught unprepared.

        • McFlock 6.3.1.1

          Can't remember where it was, but read one thing in the last couple of days that said they could see the method in his approach, but it was the wrong method: his holidaying, cricketer meetups, all that stuff was to try to say "it's all ok and normal, don't panic, states are handling it". Which is consistent with his denialist position – fires happen all the time, we've faced worse, nothing new here.

          Trouble with that approach is that the size of the fires is not normal, and people are calling his bullshit. But the more he has to get involved, the more these fires are abnormal, and of an abnormal origin.

  7. Formerly Ross 7

    I do give some credence to the idea that these fires at this time could predicate a change of attitude by Australians toward their treatment of their chunk of planet; fingers crossed.

    More lives were lost in the February 2009 fires. Before 2009, there were a number of bushfires which resulted in multiple fatalities. I'd be very doubtful that this time will result in anything changing.

    • Robert Guyton 7.1

      This one's on top of those ones. The media's taking a different line. "Global" awareness of the threat of climate change has grown since 2009. There's every chance of a "change in attitude", I reckon.

    • RedLogix 7.2

      I agree, Australia does burn, it's a necessary fact of life here. More lives were indeed lost in 2009 for several reasons; it had been decades since anything similar had happened and there was a loss of institutional memory and understanding.

      Moreover there were now far more people building homes on the rural fringes highly exposed to fire risks they simply didn't understand. For years in had made sense to 'remain and defend' your home, it had been done many times before. Few understood that in a firestorm this was suicide … especially in locations with only one road in or out.

      The lesson of Black Friday has not been forgotten, this year the RFS people are concentrating on getting people out of undefendable locations. It's now much better understood that fire on this insanely intense scale cannot be contained, the first priority now is saving lives, then saving homes where this is possible.

      Yet I'd also accept that climate change is not necessarily the proximate driver of this fire season. As you rightly point out, at least every few decades a combination of drought, fuel load and cold fronts driving strong winds has always resulted in intense fires. But climate change is responsible for shifting the underlying dynamics. The droughts are now becoming more persistent. (Everyone rural know this, their farming patterns have typically had to be radically adapted to the changes in rainfall.) It seems to be impacting the monsoon season in the tropical north which in turn is creating huge persistent masses of superheated air in the centre of the continent. Whenever this is dragged down south by an approaching cold front, temperatures are routinely hitting the mid 40's and eucalypt terpine oils vapourise massively.

      Critically climate change is reducing the season available to do traditional 'cool burn offs' that for thousands of years have been used to reduce fuel loads. With more people and infrastructure in harms way, it's become impossible for the RFS people to risk controlled burn offs. Combine all these factors and Australia is now burning at a truly unprecedented scale and intensity. These 2019 fires are on a far wider scale than anything prior.

      And as Robert points out, public opinion has shifted in the decade since 2009, it's now far more widely accepted that climate change is an important driver in what is happening now.

  8. bwaghorn 8
    1. While cc will definitely be making things worse, alot of the chatter I'm seeing points the finger at lack of controlled burning due to budget cuts, it being to hot to do controlled burns when they are normally done and environmentalists stopping it from happening.
    2. Also the removal of farmers rights to run stock in the parks adjacent to there farms is loading the bush with fuel.
    3. So blame scomo all you want but it might be more productive to look ad the whys
    • RedLogix 8.1

      and environmentalists stopping it from happening.

      In some local cases this may be true, but in general most environmentalists here understand the role of cool burn offs in reducing the fuel load. A few years back we spent a few fascinating days at a conservation centre in Little Desert VIC, and they were fully aware of the need for controlled burn offs, and indeed were planning for one later that month if the weather permitted. But you can only do this safely when there is sufficient ground moisture and dampness to prevent the fire from getting away from you.

      The big problem is that climate change and extended droughts have closed the seasonal window. It's either too wet, or too damn dry to do controlled burns anymore.

    • weka 8.2

      The only stuff I've seen blaming environmentalists is denialist lines about Greenies banning fuel reduction burns, which is an outright lie currently being used by the reactionary forces in society. But if you have any credible evidence of that I'd be interested to have a look. I get that this is what some people are talking about, but afaik it's a falsehood that needs pushback.

      I also understood that there had been less controlled burns because it was too dangerous to do them. Someone on twitter pointed out that increased rainfall in the past decade may have increased the amount of growth that then wasn't able to be reduced in the drought years. Also heard the theory that kangaroo culls have meant more growth, don't know how credible that is. In all likelihood we are looking at multiple factors that are all underpinned by CC.

      Re grazing, this is going to be an issue in NZ with the conservation estate from Tenure Review now building up more fire prone vegetation. The problem is that the farmers want slash and burn approaches and the nativists want native at all costs. The regenag and permaculture people are suggesting using all the tools but within a different framework. I can see the value in using selective grazing, but not the kind of overgrazing that export farming does. Am also curious how to protect land while it is transitioning from farming to forest when at that vulnerable bracken burnable stage.

      The reason I led with Scomo is because of how his inept leadership is impacting on the people and how this may create more demand for action. But he's also a big part of why the powers in charge are not acting, so I can't see how this is not also about the whys.

  9. Anne 9

    It has been reported today that anyone who has not evacuated from the regions which are going to be the most affected this weekend may not survive. That is unimaginably awful.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=12297977

    Thank-you weka for another fine post.

    • weka 9.1

      Thanks Anne.

      That article is a hard read. Imagine having to right an emergency contact number on your toddler's arm in case you get separated and don't survive.

      "She said the biggest frustration was their lack of access to accurate information during the ordeal. The lack of power stopped people from charging their phones, and some of the information they did get access to was misleading."

      One of the things I am noticing is that it's relatively difficult to follow some of the stories, there's just not the degree of media coverage of detail that we might see in other situations. I'm assuming that all on the ground resources are going into the emergency, which speaks volumes in itself, and also just the extreme danger involved. People will be stressed and tired too and more so as time goes on.

  10. I presume the folk that voted Morrison and co. in did so with the full understanding, and no doubt, appreciation of the fact he wasn't going to get bogged down with all this 'Man Made Global warming crap"…he was voted in on certain policies, pushing certain budget constraints…then you read things like this..

    "I decided to write to you as my family lay face-down in the sand, covered in wet blankets on Malua Bay Beach as hot embers rained down on us on New Year’s Eve to escape the Clyde Mountain bushfire.

    Most of my family (not mum) and I have voted for the Coalition for as long as I can remember. I helped hand out flyers at the 2019 state election. However, after what my family went through the last three days, I can no longer support a government or party that choose to remain on the sidelines on climate change and the devastating effects it causes."

    ..and you despair..because it seems a good number of people are fine with voting for inaction ans financial constraints on all manner of issues.. till they are actually, quite literally, crouched on a beach surrounded by flaming embers..(or, and this is the same in NZ..they find themselves on a waiting list for surgery, or the kids are homeless or the grandkids are suicidal over student debt etc etc..)..even then, I suspect if Scotty boy had gone full Jacinda and managed to act vaguely human, handing out hugs to (consenting) victims I suspect all would be forgiven..all in all it does not bode well for the human race..

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jan/03/ive-always-voted-liberal-but-after-sheltering-my-family-on-a-beach-i-cannot-support-this-government

    • RedLogix 10.1

      all in all it does not bode well for the human race

      Your comment goes right to the heart of the matter Siobhan. The failure of conservative thinking people to grasp the risk seems incomprehensible to those of us who first read about it in the 70's. Yet I am going to write in defense of these people.

      Broadly speaking individuals can be placed somewhere on a spectrum of a personality trait called 'openness to experience'. It's reasonably correlated with political preference. I'd like to explore another useful way to look at it; a few days back I was talking about how any given challenge (I used climbing a mountain as my metaphor) needed three types of thinking … visionary, strategic and tactical.

      In this context, progressive liberal people, open to experience (and I personally score insanely high in this respect) are very drawn to the 'big picture, 10,000 ft view idea'. We're always looking for something new and improved, we are idealistic and are really good at coming up with new long-term visionary goals for the world.

      At the other extreme are the people who score low on this openness trait; they are very averse to risk, and find change unsettling. What they are very good at however is tactical thinking, they take known, proven systems and make them work. They're really good at adapting to short-term challenges and shifts of priority, their attention is totally on the immediate one or two steps ahead and ensuring they get accomplished reliably, safely and efficiently. And while it's taken me a lifetime to appreciate this; I would put it to you that if you want a stable society, you need stable people to operate it.

      So if liberals are natively good at visionary thinking, and conservatives at tactical thinking … what is the role of strategic thinking? That I put to you is what politics is all about. It's the meeting of minds between the visionaries and the tacticians to devise a common strategic plan of action that we can agree on. In other words, liberals and conservatives need each other in order to act effectively.

      Like every other progressive minded person here, I've spent a lifetime being frustrated by people who needed to wait until their world was literally burning down around their ears before they would contemplate change. Yet for me the lightbulb moment was this, berating them, shaming and demonising them was taking me in completely the wrong direction. I needed to understand them, learn what was important to them in order that I could persuade and negotiate with them from a position of strength.

      I needed to love my enemy.

      • Robert Guyton 10.1.1

        RedLogix – you are describing the Greek/Roman divide with Greeks being those who are " always looking for something new and improved, we are idealistic and are really good at coming up with new long-term visionary goals for the world." and the Romans representing those who are adept at "tactical thinking, they take known, proven systems and make them work. They're really good at adapting to short-term challenges and shifts of priority, their attention is totally on the immediate one or two steps ahead and ensuring they get accomplished reliably, safely and efficiently."

        Your proposal that this "is what politics is all about. It's the meeting of minds between the visionaries and the tacticians to devise a common strategic plan of action that we can agree on. In other words, liberals and conservatives need each other in order to act effectively. " I agree with entirely and have come (independently) to the same point of understanding (as have others).

        Now, can we lead by example, regularly and reliably, provide examples (I note that you are) and influence the commenters and readers here on The Standard sufficiently that a team of RomanGreeks (Reeks? Gromans?) begins to influence all those they/we come in contact with?

        Just wonderin'

        • RedLogix 10.1.1.1

          I'm not pretending this would ever be easy. But logically it's the Greeks who should be more open to making the first and necessary move.

          • Sacha 10.1.1.1.1

            I've seen strategic people thwarted by tactical ones, not the other way around – hence phrases like "Can't see the wood for the trees" I guess.

          • Robert Guyton 10.1.1.1.2

            "But logically it's the Greeks who should be more open to making the first and necessary move. "

            sighs Yes. Acknowledging their practical skills and pragmatism. It burns though smiley

        • Obtrectator 10.1.1.2

          Very apt, that allusion to Greeks and Romans. As the poet Ovid (45BC-18AD) put it: "fas est et ab hoste doceri" (it's right to learn, even from an enemy).

          By the way, quoting Latin doesn't mean I'm a BoJo fan. Far from it.

      • I certainly hope my comment did not come across as berating, shaming or demonising. And, I was in fact making a slight dig at both liberals and conservatives…both of whoom are selling voters a variety of austerity/capitalism..neither of which are able to tackle our current, let alone our future planetary problems.

        On a more positive note..i hope this link works..i can only find this on facebook…

        https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=442576966695236

        I guess it points to the fact that nature was designed, in Australia, to burn..and the spread of permanent housing into these areas is a fight that nature will always win..

      • Ad 10.1.3

        Nice writing Red.

        Time you did a post on something you're good at.

      • WeTheBleeple 10.1.4

        This is quite brilliant. The trick then for visionaries is to break it down to the immediate steps required for the practical minded. This is why a surprising number of 'right wing' folk are getting on board with conservation, electric cars, recycling, divestment from oil, becoming locovore food snobs etc. While their effectiveness is not the topic right now… These wee immediate practical steps are in the right direction.

        But I do not believe people power (alone) will save us. We need political will. Today's politicians are largely a corrupt bunch of media/corporate puppets. As Chloe Swarbrick so succinctly put it recently

        "Change the decision makers, change the decisions made."

        Scomo would not be in charge if not for Murdoch. If we are to blame someone for the deliberate exacerbation of global conditions: it is media, it is media, it is media.

        When the witch hunts begin, I hope people have this clear.

        • RedLogix 10.1.4.1

          Yet the Australian media is capable of superb journalism like this:

          The chaos of recent weeks is just the discordant final cadence in a decade of bitter, personal, small-minded and shortsighted political leadership that has crippled our country and consigned us to burn long before Morrison took the keys to the Lodge.

          It is obvious to all but the most hermitic mountain monk that there is widespread anger in the Australian community that burns as hot as the bushfires themselves, and this anger has been simmering since long before the fire season.

          We have had Liberal and Labor powerbrokers treat the office of the prime minister as a personal plaything and the electorate with contempt in the process.

          https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/bloodcurdling-insanity-real-reason-scomo-is-under-fire/news-story/ed82d72f4aea8ff5ee11664626c3fa22

          Joe Hildebrand excoriates the entire political system, from one end to the other, for it's failures going back at least a decade. ScoMo is merely the latest muppet to occupy the clown seat.

          I'm not pretending that what I said above at 10.1 is anything I dreamed up on my own, I'm hoping there are many people already thinking along similar lines. Nor am I underestimating the challenge in the slightest. As soon as I start contemplating how to make it work, I see daunting obstacles … but none insurmountable.

    • weka 10.2

      I don't think people have voted with full understanding. People vote for all sorts of reasons, the number of people voting on CC alone won't be that great. Yet.

      Yes, once it's in our faces we change. I think this is true for all of us. I knew about CC for a long time before I finally took it seriously (I was in the group of people that for a while thought Peak Oil was going to slow CC, and we were wrong).

      Most people don't understand the gravity of the situation. Giving those people avenues to act as they wake up, even if it's when face down on a beach, gives us more chance. And yes, there will always be the people who choose denial or cognitive dissonance or to give up, but they're not the ones who will effect change and at this stage they're still in the minority so again, offering people a way out is tremendously useful.

  11. Incognito 11

    Cometh the hour, runneth the man.

  12. Stuart Munro 12

    FDOTM is, so to speak, on fire.

  13. Exkiwiforces 13

    I’ve given Morrison a serve on Twitter since Boxing Day, but the big issue is the fact that Nth Australia Monsoon hasn’t arrived yet and is currently about mth and half late. The weather boffins are saying it should arrive this weekend mainly in the Nth West part of Australia which would the Sth States.

    The Nth Australia Monsoon has a cooling effect on the Sth half Australia, but with no Monsoon the Hot dry winds from the Nth West part of Australia suddenly drys out out the Sth States of SA, Vic, ACT and NSW, which therefore the temps hit low to medium 40’s and the humidity into single figures which creates the prefect weather for these fires to be so extreme and nasty.

    The other issue is that fuel reduction burns haven’t carried out due to a number of reasons,

    some areas already in drought like conditions,

    environmental conditions when burns were meant to have taken place aka wind, temps, soil moisture content being to low or it’s been to dry or to wet to burn and

    finally humans, State Governments reducing funding for fuel reduction, staffing levels within Rural Fire Services and Park & Wildfire Depts, then we elements of the Greens, tree huggers and sea changes objecting to fuel reduction burns which has lead to some areas not having a fuel reduction burn for 30 odds in some places etc etc.

    when you combine all of these factors to together then you have the prefect conditions for a massive shit fight, fire disaster/ storm to smash current records and in the end put a lot of stain on those a coal face be it us firies, 1st Responses, and various support agencies like Red Cross and SES etc.

    • weka 13.1

      "then we elements of the Greens, tree huggers and sea changes objecting to fuel reduction burns which has lead to some areas not having a fuel reduction burn for 30 odds in some places etc etc."

      30 odds?

      Can you give some concrete examples where people have prevented fuel reduction burns for environmental reasons?

      • Exkiwiforces 13.1.1

        Weka, I it was meant to say some areas haven't seen a fuel reduction burn in 30 odd yrs due one reason or another.

        Before the white fella turned up, the local black fella's would burn every yr or between every 2 to 3rd yr to either in aid them from hunting or reap a harvest of locals plants such fruits, roots and seeds etc.

        Since the green moment (please take note i'm not green bashing as some do a good job, buts the extreme greens I have issue with) has taken off in areas, conjunction of the extreme lefty greenies and the inner city soy bean latte tofu eating set have cast a side yrs, decades, centuries of bush management in Australia.

        Where my father in-law lives around the Sussex Inlet area some parts of the state forest and national park hasn't been burnt off in yrs due to this small vocal active group (I do hunt in these areas for deer and other exotic pests). Even the local RFS unit has a hard time trying to maintain fire breaks around the small villages Sussex Area unlike us NT Bush Firies here in the NT we just put one or fined the shit out of you and then put one in and bill you afterwards.

        And it even worst further sth of Sussex or nth of Sydney. The Hippies and Greenies around Bryon Bay have come to blows (almost a fist fight at one stage) this fire season and along with a other places between Foster and Bryon Bay.

        But when you do have the extreme weather events we are facing atm, no amount of fuel reduction, passive fire defences aka fire breaks etc are going to work especially when you are having ember attacks up 5 to 10kms away from the main fire front and crown fires racing though the top like a J or a K class stream Loco on the Canterbury Plains.

        I did send in a write up of the Bush fires we had on the weekend of Sep 14-17 and the following two weeks here in the NT via thestandard gmail account? Not sure if you have seen it?

        • Sacha 13.1.1.1

          no amount of fuel reduction, passive fire defences aka fire breaks etc are going to work

          I believe that's the most important point.

    • weka 13.2

      does that mean that southern Australia should cool down a bit soon? Will that affect NSW?

      • RedLogix 13.2.1

        The monsoon in the north increases the humidity and lowers the dry bulb temperatures in the center of the continent. Instead of baking hot temps in the 40s they drop into the low 30s.

        When the Southern Ocean cold fronts move over land in SA, VIC and NSW there is a strong northwesterly flow immediately in front of them, drawing a huge mass of air south from the outback.

        Without the monsoon it's hot dry air that vaporises the eucalyptus oils and intense fires are inevitable. With the monsoon it's 10 deg or so cooler and the much wetter air is likely to cause rain as the cold front gets under it.

        At least that's my simplified understanding of what EKF is saying and why the late monsoon in the north is causing fires in the south.

      • Poission 13.2.2

        There are 2 major weather systems affecting macroweather in Australia.

        The indian dipole.

        http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/about/australian-climate-influences/images/iod-positive.png?popup

        http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/enso/indices.shtml?bookmark=iod

        and the southern annular mode which was strictly negative across austral spring.

        The SAM is neutral to slightly negative at present the IDP is moving towards neg.

      • Exkiwiforces 13.2.3

        I hope this link might help you understand the weather issue we are facing atm in Australia as a result of the monsoon not arriving at its usual time due to CC weather events. But Red's description is on the money at what I was trying to explained.

        https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-24/what-makes-a-horror-fire-danger-day/10685918

    • joe90 13.3

      finally humans,

      The NSW government fire control measures.

      https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/parks-reserves-and-protected-areas/fire/managing-fire/bushfire-management-program

      A community member on why, despite all their efforts, they were unable to prevent these fires.

      https://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/6494097/opinion-we-did-burnoffs-badja-sparks-hits-back/

  14. JustMe 14

    Whilst Aussie burns Scummo/Nero headed off on holiday.

    And upon his return he hurriedly went to towns affected by the fires in search of photo opportunities eg grabbing the hand of a woman who quite obviously did not want to be seen shaking hands with such a low-life as Scott Morrison.

    I sure as Hell wouldn't want to shake hands with It(Morrison). Goodness knows where his hands have been eg did he wash his hands after using the toilet? Probably not.

    As Morrison's arrogance and waistline(due to too much feeding times whilst not giving a toss about Aussie's who do not have food etc)increases his intelligence has quite obviously decreased.

    I am so glad we have a compassionate Prime Minister in Jacinda Ardern. She has shown to the world what a true leader should do and be. Unlike Morrison who preferred to go on holiday whilst Aussie was burning.

    But out of all this all we see and hear about Morrison is his empty words of 'people need to be patient..' That is rich coming from a guy who hasn't lost his home in a fire. And dropping off ONE BAG of groceries to a family affected by the fire.

    Gawd does Morrison lack any moral fibre in his entire body? He is coming across as a joke and an idiot. Mind you that could well explain why the NZ National Party so love him.

  15. adam 15

    Scummo is a fundamentalist who has some strange theological quirks.

    http://theconversation.com/five-aspects-of-pentecostalism-that-shed-light-on-scott-morrisons-politics-117511

    When coupled with his economic beliefs, are scary. Don't be surprised if deep down he believes that the fires were God's way to punish none believers.

    I'd also argue that his response is normal if you believe in Prosperity Theology. If you are willing to reject the essence of sermon on the mount so fundamentally, then I'd argue your capable of all sorts of evil. Including, but not limited to watching people burn to death whilst holidaying on the other side of the Globe.

  16. Jackel 16

    Scott Morrison's attitude reminds me of an old Michael Jackson lyric, "they don't really care about us."

  17. Exkiwiforces 17

    FYI, from the ABC's news website active blog for the fires,

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-01-04/nsw-vic-australia-fires-continue-burning-live-blog-january-4/11840348

    Penrith is sweltering

    A short time ago, the mercury in Penrith hit 48.6 degrees Celsius. Please look after yourselves in Panther country.

    It is also the hottest day on record in Canberra, which hit 43.6 degrees not long ago.

    • A 17.1

      Crap that's hot. Saudi desert temps.

      • Psycho Milt 17.1.1

        Yep. I lived for a while in Kuwait, 46 – 50 degrees was typical summer maximum temps and you really did not want to be outside in that for more than a few minutes at a time. Also not conducive to most kinds of vegetation, which is why the Gulf states look like they do. That doesn't bode well for Australia's future.

  18. Exkiwiforces 18

    Just heard on the some app that the wife uses to listen to RFS South Coast, that two villages Sth Sussex Inlet in which the Father in-law lives have gone in asset protection mode in other words they are defending people’s homes and the shit has hit the fan big time.

    Not good atm.

    PS the Southern most village the residents are on the beach now and the fire is totally uncontrolled within the village, don’t like the tone or pitch of voice from the firies on ground must serious. Was in a similar position to them on the weekend of September 14 2019 fighting bush fires it’s not a good position to be in as firie.

  19. A 20

    This nicely sums things up…tweet responds to what looks like an ad for how well ScoMo&Co (sorry, I had to) are doing

    • A 20.1

      Offensive political ad capitalising on the destruction of what seems like a quarter of Oz here

      Awful stuff. Bad enough to be a riot in the making…not sure if I’m over dramatizing that but it affected me.. check out the ad and see for yourselves

  20. Jenny How to get there 21

    Australia Is Committing Climate Suicide

    As record fires rage, the country’s leaders seem intent on sending it to its doom.

    Richard Flanagan, New York Times
    Jan. 3, 2020

    ……the response of Australia’s leaders to this unprecedented national crisis has been not to defend their country but to defend the coal industry, a big donor to both major parties — as if they were willing the country to its doom. While the fires were exploding in mid-December, the leader of the opposition Labor Party went on a tour of coal mining communities expressing his unequivocal support for coal exports. The prime minister, the conservative Scott Morrison, went on vacation to Hawaii.

    Since 1996 successive conservative Australian governments have successfully fought to subvert international agreements on climate change in defense of the country’s fossil fuel industries. Today, Australia is the world’s largest exporter of both coal and gas. It recently was ranked 57th out of 57 countries on climate-change action….

    ….In no small part Mr. Morrison owes his narrow election victory last year to the coal-mining oligarch Clive Palmer, who formed a puppet party to keep the Labor Party — which had been committed to limited but real climate-change action — out of government. Mr. Palmer’s advertising budget for the campaign was more than double that of the two major parties combined. Mr. Palmer subsequently announced plans to build the biggest coal mine in Australia….

    ……“Australia is a burning nation led by cowards,” wrote the leading broadcaster Hugh Riminton, speaking for many. To which he might have added “idiots,” after Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack blamed the fires on exploding horse manure…..

    ……The situation is eerily reminiscent of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, when the ruling apparatchiks were all-powerful but losing the fundamental, moral legitimacy to govern. In Australia today, a political establishment, grown sclerotic and demented on its own fantasies, is facing a monstrous reality which it has neither the ability nor the will to confront…..

    ……..As Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, once observed, the collapse of the Soviet Union began with the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in 1986. In the wake of that catastrophe, “the system as we knew it became untenable,” he wrote in 2006. Could it be that the immense, still-unfolding tragedy of the Australian fires may yet prove to be the Chernobyl of climate crisis?

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/03/opinion/australia-fires-climate-change.html?fbclid=IwAR03krzb53kpDyRL4EJIQenLAtMxSTVtAvwhss9YqTtsDwooP_Gk8l_qOg0

    After watching the mini-series on Prime Chernobyl I too was struck by the similarity, with the current crisis in Australia.

    Just like the flying foxes in Australia, the mini series depicted birds falling from the sky to lie flapping on the ground in their death throes.

    After the Chernobyl explosion, Soviet political leaders were in deep denial as the reactor core was open to the air and lumps of radioactive graphite was scattered on the ground and roof of the plant.

    Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, (famous for holding up a lump of coal thoughtfully shellacked by his coal industry backers to stop him getting soot on his hands), like some unconcerned Soviet nuclear industry apparatchik, holidays in Hawaii.

    Coal is the single most dangerous fossil fuel for the climate.

    At least Gorbachev didn't hold up a lump of (decontaminated) graphite to declare "This is graphite– don't be afraid!"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=3KoMeJB_ywY&feature=emb_logo

    [Another Moderator released your comment from Pre-Moderation where it was held up because of too many links. If you cannot make your point in your own words without less than 10 links, I consider you to be a spammer – Incognito]

  21. Formerly Ross 22

    One journalist gets it. The attack on Scomo is political…and cynical.

    "even Blind Freddy can see that there is also a far more cynical campaign being waged against the PM that originated not from the bush but from the leafy and inner-city suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne – hashtag activists who are more angry at Morrison for winning the election than for anything he has or hasn't done about the fires.

    As has been noted, many of the same commentariat who condemned Morrison for not doing enough to fight fires condemned Tony Abbott for actually physically fighting fires.

    It also insults the intelligence of every Australian to suggest that the same people who circulate pictures of the PM's face etched on a ballsack are looking to him for guidance and reassurance in these troubled times.

    If anything, they only want Morrison around so they can spit in his face. […]

    The Twitter left's attacks on Morrison's absence is like the old joke about the two rich ladies complaining about their dinner: "The food here is terrible," the first laments. "I know," agrees the second, "and in such small portions".

    That is the most obvious irony but the even greater one is that all this hypocritical hysteria is probably what tricked Morrison into thinking that all the outrage against him was confected and so he might as well go catch some rays.

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=12298041

  22. JustMe 23

    As we saw with John Key I get the impression that when a person who possesses a huge amount of arrogance rises to a position of power they eg Key, Morrison and Trump; decide they know everything and don't need advice from those they now deem as lesser intelligent beings than themselves.

    Morrison is deeming himself as knowing everything and has an answer for everything. But every time he does or says something now he comes across as being out of touch with reality and a complete fraud(of a person).

    He has managed to get one of his supporters in the Australian media to write a glowing article about him. He has also been in self-promoting videos etc whilst Aussie burns.

    Really Aussie if you can get rid of him as your prime minister and also perhaps dump the rest of his cronies and supporters then hopefully there could be a future for you.

    Sadly right now Morrison is chanting a mantra of a growing economy for Australia. However if the land is dead then how can a farmer 'grow the economy'? How can Morrison sleep at night when so many Australians are now homeless and the insurance bills will be enormous?

    It's likely Morrison will chant the mantra of 'mind over matter'. Well his actions to date is he doesn't mind and Australians don't matter.

    • Obtrectator 23.1

      " …. so many Australians are now homeless and the insurance bills will be enormous"

      NZ will be picking up a goodly portion of those insurance bills, in the form of sharply-increased premiums. All our major firms are, ultimately, owned and run by Australian parents. Expect every policy-holder here to get a little white envelope shortly, with some unwelcome news inside.

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