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Lots of ideology, not argument

Written By: - Date published: 10:16 am, July 10th, 2008 - 65 comments
Categories: uncategorized - Tags: , ,

I was going to write a piece on the much anticipated paper from ANZ’s chief economist on government spending. But now I’ve tracked it down and read it, there’s hardly any point. It’s just 4 pages in the Bank’s monthly market report and it reads like something I would expect from an excitable commerce student, not a professional economist.

Allegedly, the report shows ‘back-room’ government spending has increased 40% faster than ‘front-line’ spending but it takes a bizarre, self-serving definition of ‘front-line’ vs ‘back-room’ spending. No logic or arguments are provided for assigning spending to either category. Areas that have grown rapidly are lumped in backroom spending to bolster its growth figures. Health spending is not even included – if health were included in the ‘front-line’, there would be virtually no growth difference in ‘front-line’ and ‘back-office’. It then compares the percentage increases in these two stupid categories (which hides the fact that nearly all government spending is ‘frontline’) with the automatic conclusion that spending on the second category is bad.

In fact, the whole report is premised on the childish position that anything non-‘front-line’ is waste – but you can’t have a ‘front-line’ without back office support. Hell, ANZ’s chief economist has a back office job, is he a waste of money? (don’t answer that)

[Update: “Stick to Banking CTU tells Bank Economist“, ouch]

65 comments on “Lots of ideology, not argument”

  1. J 1

    Maybe you should talk to some nurses or hospital patients regards the importance of backroom vs frontline staff. I’m sure it could be enlightening.

    As someone who once occupied a lowly paid frontline position in a govnt department we certainly had strong opinions regarding those highly paid ‘essential’ backroom policy analyst churning out insightful reports.

  2. Daveski 2

    In my industry (science/research) same thing – there is genuine concern at the front line about the size and impact of the backroom.

    Ditto education.

    Ditto health.

    I agree that there needs to be a back room in order to function – I am one of those back room people. But there is more than a suspicion that the back room has expanded at the expense of the front line operations under Labour.

  3. well that “more than a suspicion” is not backed up by this joke of a report.

  4. randal 4

    for every soldier in the frontline during ww11 it took 19 others to support him…the right whinge want people to go round ignorant and confused so they can be manipulated at will by the marketers and the profiteers.,,economists are as common as dentists anyway…JM Keynes.

  5. Why didnt Bagrie include “Im a National voter” in his report. I also see the herald were happy to call him an ‘expert’.

  6. J 6

    There is a role for backroom staff as afterall what you can’t measure you cannot manage and for accountabilities sake.

    But when people are being left in the corridors of hospitals like my grandmother was after a stroke I would say that money could be better spent on frontline staff who make a real difference to peoples lives.

  7. randal 7

    Oh I forgot to mention the big four bank chief economists got their own full page in the SST a couple of weeks ago and now they all think they are akin to moses preaching from on high by holy writ. they are just employees of profit taking institutions pretending to be impartial so they can push their own barrows.

  8. andy 8

    ANZ are talking their ‘book’, no surprise!

    SYDNEY (Thomson Financial) – Australia & New Zealand Banking Group’s (ANZ) 200 million US dollar one-off loss provision relating to its exposure to a troubled US monoline bond insurer is seen as a ”clearing of the decks,” an analyst said on Monday.

    ANZ write down.

    They have also moved ANZ technology to Bangalore blah, blah, blah so they could save on back office costs, pity we can’t offshore the NZ govt to India…

    /snark

  9. Daveski 9

    SP – I could see that being a reasonable response to my comment. At the same time, I suspect that the report is closer to the truth than you would like to admit. I just don’t have the facts at hand to back up my suspicions.

    In this case, the verdict must be not guilty which is not the same as innocent 🙂

    [lprent: see my note at http://www.thestandard.org.nz/?p=2464#comment-68082 Consider the effects of annoying a sysop]

  10. Matthew Pilott 10

    Steve – when you have time i’d be interested to see some stuff about what is/isn’t ‘back office’ according to this report, and what was excluded. Hell, maybe I’ll have a look myself instead of asking you to do it. I’m all for personal responsibility (since it’s just a bloody slogan the tories wish they could coypright).

    Cap subsidy racisim – err…no. Only at Orewa.

  11. J you can’t admit that backoffice staff are a vital part and then say you would prefer the money was spent elsewhere instead.

    if you want more hospital capacity, you should support more spending on health – both ‘front’ and ‘back’ – seems people want tax cuts instead.

    Daveski. You don’t have an argument, it’s just a bunch of assertions, what’s to seriously discuss?

  12. BeShakey 12

    I don’t think this report is as bad as you suggest, its more of a ‘so what?’ report. Given the number of caveats and the questions/issues/explanations that were either ignored or acknowledged but not investigated its pretty much impossible to draw any sensible conclusions from the report (which does raise the question of why they bothered to publish something that was so shoddy).

    The other thing to keep in mind is that there are, and will always be more efficient ways that government could be working (but show me a private business that couldn’t be run any more efficiently and I’ll show you a business you don’t understand). The problem is that saying ‘more front-line staff and less back-room staff’ isn’t a solution, it’s a slogan. If you really want to provide public services more efficiently something a lot more rigourous and well thought-out than most of what is floating round is needed.

  13. Nothing to see here folks, move along, nothing to see.

    (Quick, declare victory and move on. And while your at it call the CTU and get them to pull some skeletons out of ANZ’s closet to distract the media.)

  14. mike 14

    So once again any report that paints the govt in a bad light is dismissed.
    Steve, don’t shoot the messenger – the ANZ are not pushing an agenda they are reporting on the facts.

    “(but show me a private business that couldn’t be run any more efficiently and I’ll show you a business you don’t understand). ”

    What the? Have you ever worked in the private sector?
    A private business would not survive with a backroom ratio anything like the public sectors.

  15. Positive and ambitious 15

    I think the value of reports like this is summed up best by this definition I heard (at an economist’s conference) years ago….

    An economist is a man who knows 100 different ways to make love to a woman….. but doesn’t know any women

  16. BeShakey 16

    Mike – I can now show you someone who can’t read either. I never said that business and government could or should be run the same way. Simply that inefficiency isn’t the sole preserve of government. Try not to let your ideology get in the way of your ability to read.

  17. mike. you haven’t read the report, i have, i’ve made fundemental criticisms of it as have others. that’s not shooting the messenger, that’s called informed political debate, you might like to try it

  18. Lew 18

    mike: “A private business would not survive with a backroom ratio anything like the public sectors.”

    The primary reason for this (and the primary reason for policy analysts) is that the private sector is held to much less stringent requirements of conduct and management than the public sector. Private business is required to grow profits, and there aren’t all that many strictures on how that’s done. (Contrary to frequent complaints about over-regulation, NZ is consistently rankes as among the easiest developed countries in which to do business).

    The public sector has to be inclusive, ethical, transparent, and respectful of the needs of all its customers. The market doesn’t apply as it does in private business, because public service agencies don’t have competition. What this means is that instead of rationalising poor service or poor policy away to `well, customers can go elsewhere’, the public service has to improve its policies and service so as to include those customers. It needs policies and procedures to ensure it’s not excluding people to whom it owes service, and to ensure that its decisions are ethically right as well as right in terms of promoting business. This, which many people deride as `PC’, takes a lot of doing; a lot more than you seem to imagine.

    If freed from these extra-business requirements, there would indeed be a need for far fewer `bureaucrats’. What it boils down to is whether you think these non-monetary aspects of the public service have value. I do.

    L

  19. Matthew Pilott 19

    Bryan, that comment was directed towards the inside of your head, yeah?

    mike – do you think the Government’s goal, its raison d’etre is to make profit for shareholders? If so, then I could see your argument for getting rid of all these back office types. That would also make you a unique, paradoxical combination of communist-capitalist. If not, the comparison between the two is of no value.

  20. “Government bureaucrats wages are up 8.8% this year while wages for the rest of us are up 4.5%.”

    It’s clear who is causing inflation, it’s not the poachers it’s the game keepers.

  21. Billy 21

    Positive and ambitious,

    That reminds me of:

    An actuary is someone who wanted to be an accountant but did not have the personality.

  22. Tane 22

    Bryan:

    Annual wage growth in the private sector was 3.5% in the year to March 2008, the largest annual increase recorded by the LCI. Annual public sector wage growth increased slightly to 3.3% in March 2008 from 3.1% in December 2007.

    http://www.dol.govt.nz/publications/lmr/lmr-wage-growth-summary.asp

  23. Bryan – although this is off topic I have noticed that you were the one who tried to scoopit Davey’s weak smear on the standard. Would you like to explain why you attempted to propagate an unsubstantiated smear against this site? Is it because you can’t win an logical argument here? It seems like a pretty pathetic and underhanded thing to do. Are you pathetic and underhanded?

    [Tane: Sod, that’s off-topic and likely to lead to threadjacking and flamewars. Please restrain yourself. If Bryan wants to act like a jerk on other sites that’s his business. Alternatively, take it to Sodblog.]

  24. mike 24

    “mike. you haven’t read the report, i have”

    Correct Steve, but working in the private sector I do not have time to read all the fine print.
    I got the gist of it from Bernard Hickey’s business report on Radio Live this morning.
    Next I guess you are going to run him down as a tory…

  25. Lew 25

    BS: Source? I’ve seen figures with a much smaller delta.

    Edit: Ah, the lag. Thanks Tane. BS, the query stands – put up your numbers or face ridicule.

    L

  26. Matthew Pilott 26

    It’s clear who is causing inflation, it’s not the poachers it’s the game keepers.

    Petrol prices up 63%, food up 23% or thereabouts. I think it’s the game, Bryan, not the game keepers. Where did you get that stat from anyway?

    Govt spending as a % of GDP is below OECD average too, which is hardly a damning indictment.

  27. Matthew Pilott 27

    Mike – you still haven’t actually made any decent assertions about the report, a hazy stab at the back-office requirements of private vs public industry isn’t much use. No need to run Hickey down as being a Tory, if what you say is based upon listening to him (coz it didn’t help you).

  28. Sorry Tane – but the little creep comes here, spouts his economically illiterate lies and then gets called on them. The fact that he then slides off to try to smear the standard pisses me off. What an impotent loser. I’ll say no more.

    edit: except that he’s shown there’s no point in arguing with the poisonous little oik as he is only interested in his warped agenda. Not the facts.

  29. Billy 29

    Four lifetime apologies (and three in a week).

  30. Lew/Matthew: Ironically those numbers are courtesy of the Government bureaucracy: Statistics NZ.

  31. higherstandard 31

    Lew

    Can I take issue with your comments above (appended and abbrevaited below)

    ‘The public sector …… This, which many people deride as `PC’, takes a lot of doing; a lot more than you seem to imagine.’

    While I agree that there is more of an obligation on the public sector and this will often lead to an increase in the “backroom” one could also expect that this increase in the ‘backroom’ would lead to continuous improvements in the service offered.

    Where I take issue is there appears to be a number of instances/examples in which there has been little improvement, no change, or a decline in service despite these backroom increases.

    Although I haven’t thoroughly read the report I am in complete agreement with the comment as below.

    ‘…here’s a challenge to Treasury, as guardians of the public purse. Develop a set of fiscal indicators that will allow independent assessments as to the mix and quality of government spending.

    And in answer to the question that the report poses slightly earlier – No we do not need 21 DHBs in NZ.

  32. Anita 32

    BS,

    Which StatsNZ data set?

  33. A – the one’s from his personal stash. He keeps them under his bed in the same tin as his copies of “Atlas Shrugged” and “how to win friends and influence people” (he hasn’t finished that one yet…)

  34. Anita 34

    ‘sod,

    I’ll miss you while you’re gone 🙂

  35. T-rex 35

    The funny thing is that if the real world equivalents of John Galt and Hank Rearden did sneak off and form a libertarian utopia you can guarantee they wouldn’t invite Bryan.

    Is a tool
    |
    |
    /

  36. Robinsod: I wonder if you would say those things if you were commenting under your real name: I suspect not.

  37. Ha! Classic! He’d probably try to hide in their luggage…

    edit: why would you want to know who I am, bryan? So you could poison my dog? Or maybe crank call in the middle of the night… Get a life you spineless little man.

  38. Kevyn 38

    Oh come on. We all know the only problem with our hospitals is they’ve got more managers than nurses. How come when the ANZ says it you start making stuff up about managers being just as important as nurses.

  39. J 39

    “J you can’t admit that backoffice staff are a vital part and then say you would prefer the money was spent elsewhere instead.”

    Actually I can. It’s called a balanced opinion as opposed to your kneejerk partisan response on a study which gave an interest insight into government spending which you dislike simply because it shows labour in a bad light.

    Your invective on ANZ’s ‘ideology’ is simply nonsense. They are not working for a political party or cause as you are which would make your attack ideological.

  40. Tane 40

    Guys, let’s cool it down a little. There’s no need to get personal.

    But Bryan, seriously, you have to understand that you’re going to get ridiculed if you put up stats like that and can’t front with the figures to back it up.

  41. Tane 41

    J, you seriously think banks don’t have a political agenda?

  42. Matthew Pilott 42

    HS – I haven’t the time for a detailed reply, one of which your comment warrants, I’d just like to comment about you asking for treasury to give fiscal guidelines for government spending.

    This is dangerous for two reasons. I: Hate to say this (bryan, cover your eyes) but fiscal ain’t everything – outcomes can’t always, or even often, be classified according to some financial imperative.

    II: That’s what the private sector is for (yes, it serves a purpose). Once the government adopts the private sector’s goal for provisioning (i.e. purely financial) what will the point of a government be?

    This isn’t carte blanche for the Government to blow cash
    without any accountability, but implementing fiscal measures will be counterproductive. Good qualitative measures are what’s needed. Eg a recent survey showing that our health system is rated as pretty damn good by a high percentage of NZers, and that most would keep it as it is…

  43. mondograss 43

    I’ve just read the ANZ article and I have to say that it seems to be very poor quality research. Yes they’ve qualified all (or most) of their assumptions, but to not be able to decide which category health spending belongs in, or to exclude welfare spending specifically on the basis that it has had low growth, frankly boggles the mind. I would be ashamed to hand a report like that in for an undergrad economics essay, let alone for publication to the clients of a major bank.

  44. Matthew: To answer your question re source.

    “Table 9 in the QES (Stats NZ Quarterly Employment Survey) spreadsheet shows that that the average hourly gross wage for those in the government administration and defence (ie core bureaucracy) sector was NZ$30.93 an hour in the March quarter, up 8.8% from a year ago. The all industries figure was NZ$23.66 an hour, which was 24% below that of the average bureaucrat and up only 4.6% for the year.”

    “The government has employed 16% more bureaucrats in Wellington in the last four years and has paid them 18% more per hour to work there. It has asked them to work 1.5 hours less a week. Meanwhile the rest of us are working 1.8 hours a week longer than we used to and our wages have fallen further behind those of the bureaucrats.”

    Yep, it’s time to bring back the QUANGO hunters.

  45. You retard. The QES covers all allowances and overtime payments and is a measure of average wages. Your mate should be using the LCI (adjusted) as it measures only the changes in salary and wage rates for the same quality and quantity of work. Which is the appropriate measure for matter under discussion.

    I suspect he knows that and discovered it didn’t show the spin he needs to justify his ideology.

    And again (for the cheap seats) – you retard.

    [lprent: Less of the personal stuff…. What has got you wound up today – I’ll probably find out as I work backwards]

    [lprent: Ah and already noted on by Tane. What do you reckon ‘sod? I’m on holiday because of funeral – can’t see a good reason to give you one as well. Of course you could continue in the same vein and get some time to help BIlly with the posts]

  46. Matthew Pilott 46

    So after all that bryan, NZ has an average percentage of workers in the government (1%) and below OECD average expenditure on the public sector. I don’t know what ACT has to do with it, but I suspect it’s based on hype and Mr “Perk-Buster” as opposed to doing anything of value.

  47. John BT 47

    In 1999 we had around 1500 policy analysts working for the government, 3 years later we had 3000. God knows how many there are now and nobody knows what they do. This is the backroom waste we could do without.

  48. Robinsod: Care to dispute the numbers directly on Bernard’s blog ?

  49. Rob 49

    [Tane: So now you’re accusing The Standard of being written by 1500 public service policy analysts hired by Helen Clark for that express purpose? FFS, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve heard all week.]

  50. Robinsod: Care to dispute the numbers directly on Bernard’s blog ?

    Man you really need the traffic, eh?

    Lynn – I will admit “retard” may have been a little harsh but FFS the guy’s using the QES to argue a situation where the LCI is the natural dataset! And he misuses apostrophes! Words cannot express the pain all of this cause causes me…

    [lprent: corrected your syntax. That pains me as well. Programmers really love language syntax. Pity this language does not have a compiler to check it for you.]

  51. higherstandard 51

    Tane

    Point of order.

    The dumbest thing I’ve heard all week is that a missile defence system is being set up in the Czech republic to defend against attack from the Middle East – sounds like a bizarre plot out of a Simpson’s episode.

  52. Tane 52

    HS, we are agreed on that one.

  53. RedLogix 53

    On RNZ Checkpoint Mary Wilson first of all gives an Auckland DHB person a grilling for NOT having the resource to audit resthomes more often than once per three years, and not picking up events like the elderly resident whose mouth was taped.

    Then the very NEXT item Wilson regurgitates the Bagry ANZ report and gives Brownlee free air time to prat on about how all bureacratic backroom activity is a waste and will be cut by a National govt.

    Not the slightest hint from Wilson challenging Brownlee, or recognition that you cannot have it both ways, that you cannot have a transparent, well monitored and accountable public sector without the very “back-room” services that National/Bagry are claiming are a waste.

    On the other hand it can only be welcomed if they do slash the public sector bureacracy… lack of transparency, muddled policy implementation, poor accountability of spending and inevitably a rise in corruption will result. Will make Nat Ministers an easy target.

  54. lprent 54

    Be interesting getting the FinSec take on the report. It seems to me that the banks have steadily been reducing front-end staff forever. I wonder what the percentage growth in their backend relative to the font-end looks like.

  55. Lew 55

    Lynn: “It seems to me that the banks have steadily been reducing front-end staff forever.”

    This is what my wife, who started working on the `front line’ in a major retail bank in 1999 and currently works in the back office of the same bank,. said to me this morning as we listened to the Morning Report coverage.

    Not that anecdote is a unit of data.

    L

  56. Tane 56

    Lynn, finsec’s release is here:

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO0807/S00150.htm

    [Captcha: fractured cashier]

  57. Anita 57

    BS,

    From DoL

    The QES is affected by changes in the composition of the workforce as well as changes in pay rates, while the LCI measures changes in pay rates for a fixed set of jobs. The LCI is, therefore the preferred measure of wage growth because it reflects changes in salary and wages for the same quality and quantity of work.

    There’s more detail in the appendix if you want/need it.

    ‘sod’s right, LCI would’ve been the right measure. QES conflates who is employed by the public service, what they are being paid to do, and how much they’re being paid. LCI gives you like-with-like pay increase.

    I often wish Stats would provide a “if you’re looking to answer this sort of question you want that dataset there” set of pointers, along with some flags about what not to do with a particular data set. It’s way too easy to grab a set which looks about right and get an answer which is not quite what it looks like.

  58. Anita 58

    BS,

    So, the numbers you want for March 2008 quarter

    Salary and ordinary time increase over 12 months

    Public sector: 3.4%
    Private sector: 3.5%

    All salary and wage increase over 12 months

    Public sector: 3.3%
    Private sector: 3.5%

    So public sector increases are marginally lower than private sector.

    Oops – Tane’s linked to these above, my only excuse is that they’re nice clear numbers which bear repeating 🙂

  59. ‘sod’s right, LCI would’ve been the right measure.

    ‘Sod’s always right. It’s a curse I tell yah, a curse…

  60. Anita 60

    ‘sod,

    It’s hard to be you, I can tell 🙂

  61. Lew 61

    That’s an unequivocal response from FINSEC. What makes it interesting is that they see this as an attack on workers, rather than a defence of the front-line staff, as the report purports to be. They clearly see NBNZ’s outsourcing move and this as two parts in a pattern.

    A union has nothing to gain by criticising a major employer in its sector for attacks against workers in another sector, so it’s a big call.

    Curious that Don Brash is involved, too.

    L

  62. El_Pinko 62

    “Salary and ordinary time increase over 12 months

    Public sector: 3.4%
    Private sector: 3.5%

    All salary and wage increase over 12 months

    Public sector: 3.3%
    Private sector: 3.5%

    So public sector increases are marginally lower than private sector.”

    What are the nominal rates that these % increases apply to?

    Anecdotally it seems to me that for a lot of my intelligent; well educated and ambitious mates back home they need to apply for either a job with the Govt. or a job connected too the Govt. In order to be paid well and get ahead both financially and in their career.

    i.e. I have a mate who works for mgmt. consultants in Welly and he researches the efficent allocation of NZ Police resources. Although he is not a public sector employee his wages do end up coming from the public purse…

    It pains me to say it but point to another developed western society where it would seem the best career opportunities are with the Govt.

    I can’t decide whether it is an indictment on either;

    A) Too much Govt. therefore sucking up good talent

    or

    B) Piss-poor private sector management that is unable to generate the opportunties that these people seek.

    I suspect it is a little of both…

  63. Tane 63

    El-Pinko. It’s worth noting that public servants tend to be well unionised while their equivalents in the private sector are not. If you want a pay rise join your union – simple as that.

  64. Anita 64

    El_Pinko,

    Everything you could every want to know about the LCI is provided by Statistics NZ. This includes discussions of the coverage, methods, etc.

    All the stats geeky excitement you could want, and more 🙂

  65. Phil 65

    Tane,

    That’s just dumb – The PSA was so short of members they virtually bribed staff to join up a couple of years back.
    Being a rational economist, I signed up, took the free cash, then changed jobs and ceased membership… along with almost every other under-30 that worked for the same govt department.

    On a broader note, I don’t think you have any hard-evidence to suggest union members recieve better pay, or larger rises, than their non-union colleagues. Equally, I don’t have any hard evidence going the other way.

    We could start with an occupational breakdown of the LCI, making assumptions about the relative unionisation of each category, but it’s a fairly tenuous assessment at best.

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    If you’re here, you probably know that the climate crisis is upon us, that it’s getting steadily worse, and that attempts to address it haven’t worked yet. People are still driving and even advertising SUVs with impunity, and oil companies are exploring like crazy, even in New Zealand. Politically, socially, ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert McLachlan
    5 days ago
  • The Thoughtful Mr Parker.
    Stunningly Wrong-Headed: So blinded are the “left-wing” believers in free markets and free trade (like Trade Minister, David Parker) that even when they are staring directly at the wreckage of the lives and communities which these “unconscionable freedoms” (to borrow Marx’s telling phrase) have left in their wake, they cannot ...
    5 days ago
  • What’s the problem with all science being “done” in English?
    I’ve been listening to a wonderful podcast this morning which left me thinking. The podcast was a 30-min well-spent break, in the company of Daniel Midgley and Michael Gordin.  You might know Daniel Midgley from the Talk the Talk linguistics podcast. Michael Gordin is the author of “Scientific Babel”, which ...
    SciBlogsBy Andreea Calude
    5 days ago
  • Snakeflu?! An intriguing source suggested for new Chinese coronavirus
    The whole world is on edge over a coronavirus outbreak that started in early December in Wuhan City, China. The virus is thought to have first infected people working at a seafood and live animal market. So what could the original source have been? There’s no official word yet, but ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    6 days ago
  • Simon’s Philippine jaunt: #LittleBoysPlayingToughguys
    Not too far back, Simon Bridges the Leader of the Opposition and National Party, went on an excursion to China. This was arranged not by MFAT (NZ’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade), but by their MP Jian Yang – a man who also just happened to “forget to mention” ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    6 days ago
  • Will Turia ever forgive Labour?
    Dame Tariana Turia with former PM John KeyWhat is it about Tariana Turia’s grudge against the Labour Party? Not content with attacking the Government over Whānau Ora funding, which was increased by $80 million in 2019, she has now made it personal by saying that Jacinda Ardern is out of her ...
    6 days ago
  • What are the recent fluoride-IQ studies really saying about community water fluoridation?
    Scaremongering graphic currently being promoted by Declan Waugh who is well known for misrepresenting the fluoride science This graphic is typical of current anti-fluoride propaganda. It is scare-mongering, in that it is aimed at undermining community ...
    6 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #3, 2020
    Biography of a policy metric Bård Lahn performs a sweeping literature review to present the history of our notion of a "global carbon budget" and how this number has come  to encapsulate a massive amount of scientific research into a useful, easily grasped tool in our policy skill set.  A ...
    6 days ago
  • Oxfam Report: Time to Care – Unpaid and underpaid care work and the global inequality crisis
    January 2020 Economic inequality is out of control. In 2019, the world’s billionaires, only 2,153 people, had more wealth than 4.6 billion people. This great divide is based on a flawed and sexist economic system that values the wealth of the privileged few, mostly men, more than the billions of ...
    Closing the GapBy Tracey Sharp
    7 days ago
  • How to avoid being a cunt to hospo workers’
    Working hospo is hard mahi for many reasons, from long hours and gruelling high-volume weekends to customers who treat us as their servants. There are always lovely and polite customers who treat hospo workers with respect and kindness but, throughout my 15-years in the biz, I’ve collected a number of ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    7 days ago
  • 2019-nCoV (the new coronavirus): Should we be concerned, and will there be a vaccine?
    Probably yes to both but don’t panic yet. There is a plan. What is this virus? 2019 novel coronavirus, aka 2019-nCoV, belongs to a family of viruses called coronavirus. These are very common viruses that infect a wide range of animals including humans and can cause mild to severe disease, ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    7 days ago
  • The Chinese coronavirus outbreak: what are the options for vaccines and treatments?
    By now you’ve probably heard of the coronavirus outbreak that started in Wuhan City, China. The number of cases is rising, up to about 300 with six deaths. Cases have been reported in several more Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as in Japan, Thailand, and South Korea. ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    7 days ago
  • Educating New Zealand’s future workforce
    Judy Kavanagh Do you remember your first day at school? The education I received was for a very different world than the world of today. Along with huge social shifts there have been big changes in the New Zealand economy and the work people do. There are occupations unheard of ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    7 days ago
  • A casual attitude towards transparency
    Back in December, when the government was introducing new secrecy legislation on an almost daily basis, I posted about the Infrastructure Funding and Financing Bill. The Bill establishes a new class of public entity, "special purpose vehicles", which collect and spend public money and enjoy statutory powers. Despite this, they ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Against a carbon bailout
    If we are to avoid making the planet uninhabitable, we need to cut carbon emisisons fast. Which basicly means putting the fossil fuel industry - coal, gas, and oil - out of business. But this means that the banks and other lenders who have bankrolled the industry's environmental destruction will ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Still a criminal industry
    More evidence that the fishing industry suffers from pervasive criminality, with Forest & Bird highlighting some odd numbers in the annual statistics:The Annual Review Report For Highly Migratory Species Fisheries 2018/19 (Pg 4, Table 4) showed only 4% of commercial long lining trips for tuna and swordfish reported non-fish bycatch ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Controversy? Or Manufactroversy?
    A few days ago, New Zealand’s Minister of Education announced the wider release of a resource on climate change, which was initially trialled at a Christchurch school during 2018. According to the Minister, children will learn about “the role science plays in understanding climate change, aids understanding of both the response ...
    SciBlogsBy Alison Campbell
    1 week ago
  • The emerging coronavirus outbreak in China
    By now you’ve probably heard of the new virus causing an outbreak of severe pneumonia in China. The question on most people’s minds is, how worried should we be, especially as hundreds of millions of people will soon be travelling across China and beyond to visit family for the Lunar ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • How did climate change get so controversial?
    An excerpt from the book Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change, released Feb 25. Our human brain is poorly equipped to deal with a threat like climate change. Over millions of years, we’ve evolved to avoid life-threatening dangers like predators jumping out of bushes. We’ve survived by quickly detecting and avoiding immediate, short-term ...
    1 week ago
  • Farmers are ruining Canterbury’s rivers
    Its summer, so people naturally want to go for a swim. But in South Canterbury, you can't, because the rivers are full of toxic goo:As of Monday, the Waihi River at Wilson Street footbridge, Geraldine, the Waihao River at Bradshaws Bridge, and three spots on the Opihi River - at ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Sack Shane Jones
    Late last year, NZ First was caught trying to enrich itself from public office, with a dodgy forestry company linked to a number of NZ First figures sticking its hand out repeatedly for government money. Regional Economic Development Minister shane Jones' "explanations" were patently unconvincing, and his recusal from deciding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BIG idea physics
    This morning I’ve been having a quick look through some documentation from The Ministry of Education on proposed changes to NCEA Level 1 Science. For those not familiar with the NZ secondary education system, a typical student would complete NCEA level 1 at the end of year 11.  In this ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    1 week ago
  • Revolution in New Zealand? Not Even Close!
    No Fires Thanks, We're Kiwis: For the moment, in those close-to-home places where revolutions are born, there may be tetchiness and resentment, frustration and complaint, but nowhere is anybody uttering the cry that will bring a New Zealand revolution into being: “We have found the way to make tomorrow better ...
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #3
    Story of the Week... Editorial of the Week... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... Graphic of the Week... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... 'It's heart-wrenching': 80% of Blue Mountains and 50% of ...
    1 week ago
  • Britain exits the European Union and takes a sharp right turn
    by John Smith  Britain’s exit from the imperialist bloc known as the European Union (EU) is now irreversible. The crushing electoral defeat of the Labour Party has dismayed many workers and youth who had placed their hopes in Jeremy Corbyn, its left-wing leader. This article assesses these historic events, neither of which ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #3
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Jan 12, 2020 through Sat, Jan 18, 2020 Editor's Pick The Past and the Future of the Earth’s Oldest Trees Bristlecone pines have survived various catastrophes over the millennia, and they ...
    1 week ago
  • How climate change influenced Australia’s unprecedented fires
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections, and has been adapted into a new myth rebuttal on climate-wildfire connections with the short URL sks.to/wildfires Australia’s frightening bushfires, which kicked off an early fire season in September 2019, have already had cataclysmic effects, and the continent is still just in the early ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Gender Identity Ideology – A Partial Bibliography of Online Coverage
    This great resource has been contributed to Redline by Janie Doebuck. Janie made some notes on the bibliography: 1) It is by no means exhaustive. There are tons more gender critical posts, essays, articles, podcasts, youtube videos, etc. online. 2) There are links in the bibliography that are behind paywalls. There ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • About those biased Oscar Nominations
    There’s been a lot written about the 2020 Oscar Nominations and their apparent lack of diversity. It’s true, there are in fact no women nominated for the Best Director and very few nominees of colour across the board. But is this a result of a biased process or a symptom ...
    2 weeks ago
  • How New Zealand media reports chronic pain
    Hemakumar Devan Around three million New Zealanders access news media (both paper and online) every week. Yes, you heard that right! So, the potential for news media to shape public health beliefs is common sense. As chronic pain affects one in five New Zealanders, we wanted to find out how ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Still Waiting For American Democracy.
    Unfinished Republic: Though the United States' crimes against democracy are legion, most Americans are blissfully unaware of them. The brutal realities of American life: the officially sanctioned violence; the refusal to hold racists accountable for their actions; the seemingly endless tragedy of African-American suffering; of which White America is the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • In Outrage Over Its Bunk Science, Goop Finds Fuel for Growth
    Michael Schulson For years, experts have said that Goop, the wellness and lifestyle brand founded by the actor and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow, markets pseudoscience and overblown cures. And for years, despite the criticism, Goop has just kept growing. Now the company, which was valued at $250 million in 2018, ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Tobacco Excise Taxes and the Smokefree 2025 Goal: Some Ways Forward
    Janet Hoek, Richard Edwards, George Thomson, Andrew Waa, Nick Wilson Debate over tobacco tax increases has intensified as research indicates potentially conflicting policy directions. On the one hand, excise tax increases continue to stimulate quit attempts among smokers yet, on the other hand, they may lead to financial hardship for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #2, 2020
    Conflation and how to fix it VIa AMS,  Raul Lejano looks at what in a layperson's thinking would be called conflation— confusion and blending of entirely different topics— when people think about climate change. Ideology and the Narrative of Skepticism  (open access) starts with some arguably frightening false connections between the science and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • ‘Cranky Uncle’ smart phone game will show you how to disarm climate deniers
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bud Ward (Image: Courtesy of John Cook) When it comes to climate change, it seems every family has its own version of the proverbial Cranky Uncle. An uncle, cousin, grandparent, in-law, neighbor, whatever. Just think back to the recent holiday season’s large ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Science in the ’20s – part 1
      Outrageous, immoral or downright dangerous. That’s a description of the lifestyle of women “flappers” in the 1920s. Could it apply to science (and scientists) in the 2020s? Actually, you could look back at the past decade and see those, or similar terms, used about some science and scientists. Sometimes ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    2 weeks ago
  • Postscript: Citizenship Granted.
    I am pleased to say that I have been granted NZ citizenship. I need to do the ceremony for things to be official, but the application was a success. I now join my son as a dual NZ-US citizen. To be fair, very little will change other than the fact ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Music: Morales is coming
    It will be no secret to longtime readers that I, Russell Brown, love the disco.   So I'm pretty excited by the fact that one of the greats of the game is returning this summer – and also pleased to say I have tickets to give away.Legendary mixer and DJ ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The WHO Vaccine Safety Summit – from someone who was actually there
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    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    2 weeks ago
  • The timely death of the British Labour Party
    Below is an article submitted to Redline by Alec Abbott  At its inception, the British Labour Party was a vehicle for the propagation of racist and imperialist views within the working-class. Such views are still widespread in the party, as they are in Europe’s Social-Democratic parties, though, in the case of ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Mystery China pneumonia outbreak likely caused by new human coronavirus
    Connor Bamford, Queen’s University Belfast Since December 2019, there has been a cluster of 59 cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, eastern China. The pneumonia is associated with a previously unidentified coronavirus related to the deadly SARS virus. Seven of those cases are thought to be serious, and one person – ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Yes, koalas are cute – but should we bring them to NZ? Errm, no
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    SciBlogsBy Sarah-Jane O'Connor
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s negative campaigning
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    2 weeks ago
  • Ending the government’s charade over water
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Northern Ireland joins the civilised world
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • I had an intense conversation at work today.
    Claire Cohen-Norris volunteers with Citizens Climate Lobby as a chapter founder and leader in rural New York. Her climate advocacy sprung from her drive to provide a secure, joyful and fulfilling life for her two wonderful children. It has become a life’s mission, shared with her like-minded husband and partner. Claire ...
    2 weeks ago
  • French transport workers take on Macron over pension reform
    by John Edmundson Starting on December 5th, 2019 workers in the Parisian rail network commenced an open-ended strike in opposition to French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed changes to their pension scheme. Rail workers in the Metro Underground have, for decades, had retirement conditions that compensate them for the low wages, ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • What a difference the decimal point makes
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    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    2 weeks ago
  • Who’s Going To Stop Him?
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    2 weeks ago
  • A worker’s story
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #2
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Jan 5, 2020 through Sat, Jan 11, 2020 Editor's Pick Debunked Australian Bushfire Conspiracy Theories Were Pushed by Alex Jones, Murdoch Media   As unusually intense and widespread bushfires have ...
    2 weeks ago
  • J.K. Rowling, the Seattle Library, and the Issue That Must Not Be Named
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    RedlineBy Daphna
    3 weeks ago
  • Rules of Empire: Laws simply do not apply and “National Security” excuses all else.
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    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    3 weeks ago
  • Indian lessons for NZ workers – the January 8 general strike
                    by Phil Duncan On Wednesday (January 8) another massive general strike took place in India.  Some 250 million industrial workers, white-collar workers, agricultural labourers struck against the government’s economic policies and attacks on the Muslim population through new proposed citizenship rules. This ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    3 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: The action that counts
    Over on Newsroom, Professor Jacqueline Beggs writes about the action she is taking on climate change. Its the usual list: reduce meat, don't fly, consume less. I'm doing some of this myself, and none of it hurts - but the way our economic system is constructed means the impact of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 weeks ago
  • Fossil fuel political giving outdistances renewables 13 to one
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Karin Kirk Corporations, special interest groups, and individuals inject billions of dollars into the American political system every year. Much of the financial support in politics is concealed from public view, as some rules – and loopholes – allow “dark money” and ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Animal response to a bushfire is astounding. These are the tricks they use to survive
    Dale Nimmo, Charles Sturt University Have you ever wondered how our native wildlife manage to stay alive when an inferno is ripping through their homes, and afterwards when there is little to eat and nowhere to hide? The answer is adaptation and old-fashioned ingenuity. Australia’s bushfire season is far from ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    3 weeks ago

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

  • The New Zealand Upgrade Programme
    Rail, roads, schools and hospitals will be built and upgraded across the country under the new $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The programme: Includes investments in roads, rail, hospitals and schools to future-proof the economy Will give a $10 billion boost to New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 hour ago
  • School infrastructure upgrades ramping up
    The New Zealand Upgrade Programme is already underway, with schools busy getting building work started over the Christmas break. The Coalition Government announced just before the end of last year $400 million in new funding for most state schools to invest locally in building companies and tradies to fix leaking ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 hour ago
  • Flicking the switch on a clean powered public service
    Our Government’s programme to upgrade infrastructure and modernise the economy will help more communities to be part of the solution to climate change through a clean-powered public service. Minister for Climate Change James Shaw today announced the first group of projects from the New Zealand Upgrade Programme’s clean powered public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 hour ago
  • Government of Infrastructure delivers for New Zealanders
    Infrastructure and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says today’s capital investment announcements show the Coalition Government is the Government of Infrastructure. $7 billion in projects have been announced today as part of the Government’s $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme, which will see capital spending at its highest rate ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 hour ago
  • Boost for child, maternity and mental health
    $300 million dollar capital investment in health, divided among four focus areas: Child and maternal health - $83 million Mental health and addiction - $96 million Regional and rural service projects – $26 million Upgrading and fixing aging hospital facilities - $75 million Contingency of $20 million The New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 hour ago
  • Transport infrastructure upgrades to get NZ moving and prepared for the future
    $6.8 billion for transport infrastructure in out six main growth areas - Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Canterbury and Queenstown. $1.1 billion for rail. $2.2 billion for new roads in Auckland. The Government’s programme of new investments in roads and rail will help future proof the economy, get our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Growing and modernising the NZ economy
    A new programme to build and upgrade roads, rail, schools and hospitals will prepare the New Zealand economy for the future, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. “The $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme uses our capacity to boost growth by making targeted investments around the country, supporting businesses and local ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Future proofing New Zealand’s rail
    Minister for State Owned Enterprises Winston Peters says the funding of four major rail projects under the New Zealand Upgrade Programme is yet another step in the right direction for New Zealand’s long-term rail infrastructure. “This Government has a bold vision for rail. We said we would address the appalling ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Delivering infrastructure for a modern NZ
    Roads, rail, schools and hospitals will be built and upgraded across the country under the $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme announced today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to invest in New Zealand – modernising our infrastructure, preparing for climate change and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • $1.55m support for Hawke’s Bay three waters services review
    The Government is pleased to announce a $1.55 million funding contribution to assist Hawke’s Bay investigate voluntary changes to the region’s three waters service delivery arrangements. “Over the last 18 months, the five Hawke’s Bay councils have been collaborating to identify opportunities for greater coordination in three waters service delivery across ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 hours ago
  • Minister welcomes report of nation’s household plastic rubbish, recycling practices
    A new report on New Zealand’s plastic rubbish and recycling practices is being welcomed by the Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage.  “The report by WasteMINZ provides a valuable insight into what’s ending up in household rubbish and recycling bins around the country. It highlights the value of much ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 hours ago
  • Government considers retirement income policy review recommendations
    The Government is now considering the recommendations of the Retirement Commissioner’s review into New Zealand’s retirement income policies. “The review raises a number of important issues in relation to New Zealanders’ wellbeing and financial independence in retirement, particularly for vulnerable people,” the Minister for Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Kris Faafoi, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 hours ago
  • PM announces election date as September 19
    The 2020 General Election will be held on Saturday 19 September, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. “I will be asking New Zealanders to continue to support my leadership and the current direction of the Government, which is grounded in stability, a strong economy and progress on the long term ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    22 hours ago
  • Provincial Growth Fund supports Waikato youth into constructionProvincial Growth Fund supports Waika...
    Two projects focussed on supporting Waikato youth into the construction industry have been given combined funding of just over $1 million from the Te Ara Mahi allocation of the Provincial Growth Fund, Undersecretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau announced today.  The two Te Ara Mahi PGF projects announced are: ...
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