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Open mike 10/04/2011

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, April 10th, 2011 - 70 comments
Categories: open mike - Tags:

Open mike is your post. For announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose.

The usual rules of good behaviour apply (see the link to Policy in the banner).

Step right up to the mike…

70 comments on “Open mike 10/04/2011”

  1. Jenny 1

    Financial terrorists strike Christchurch, thousands with wrecked dwellings held hostage, Terrorists demand $500 million ransom from the government. As the crisis unfolds the terrorists demands are expected to increase to $1 billion.

    No charges to be laid.

    • Jenny 1.1

      John Balmforth AMI head, says they have enough to pay out on all their earthquake damage policy claims – estimated cost, $1 billion.

      AMI has $600 million of reinsurance cover and about $500m in cash and investments which would be enough to cover all claims, but would leave the company financially strapped.

      AMI chief executive John Balmforth:
      “We have not had events of this magnitude before. But we had $600 million reinsurance for the first event and we have another tranche of $600 million we can draw down on and another tranche of $400 millon we can draw down on,” he said.

      Bamforth said AMI “had no issues meeting its commitments” “There will be increases in premiums nationally. I think these will be across the board, that’s just going to be a flow-on effect,” Balmforth said AMI was backed by some of the largest international reinsurers based in Bermuda and other parts of the world. Claims would be met. “I’m completely confident we can cover this. I’ve had messages from reinsurers offering support and saying they are ready to assist.”

      In my opinion, it is probable that an honest effort by AMI to meet their commitments without government help would seriously effect AMI’s position in the insurance market. By paying their bills like an honest citizen would by necessity entail serious downsizing by AMI, with a resulting loss in market share, even complete collapse.
      But so be it. It is not their money, it was deposited with them by their policy holders for just such an event. So rather than pay back their policy holders with ‘their’ money AMI gets to keep it, and we the taxpayer pay out instead?

      So, How does this work again?

      The Government comes up with eye watering amounts of public money to allow a bankrupt private company to avoid it’s responsibilities and continue to be a major player in the insurance market, ensuring that this corporate will be around to reap the higher premiums that John Balmforth speaks of.

      Tax paid Social Welfare to big companies and private investors, comes at the expense of the Social Insurance Policies that this money was supposed to provide for.

      So when families are poorly housed and children get sick and their parents can’t afford the medical bills, and they get sicker. They can comfort their children, by relating to them the warm fuzzy fairy tale ending for AMI that Mum and Dad helped pay for.

      “So darling the government propped up a bankrupt private insurance company, they did this by bankrupting the state, so despite your Mummy and Daddy and Grandma and Granddad paying taxes all their lives, that is the reason why you can’t get into the public hospital.”

      With not even the flimsy excuse that AMI was part of the outrageous Deposit Guarantee scheme… What possible moral justification can the government give for this bailout?


      capcha – “damages”

  2. Carol 2

    I read 2 stories in Stuff’s Business section this morning on Tax Havens.  The stories are not that prominent on the site, but they show a significant process that is part of the way the global financial/money system works to maintain and extend the wealth gap.  The articles point to the way Tax Havens are an essential part of this system, Where the Rich… Get Richer:

    BRITISH AUTHOR Nicholas Shaxson wants you to forget everything you think you know about tax havens. The author of Treasure Islands believes even calling them tax havens is a misnomer.
    They should be called “obligation havens”, he says, because dodging tax is just one of many obligations the world’s rich and crooked avoid by using them.

    But back to the the global financial crisis. Havens allowed toxic brews of subprime loans to be mixed, repackaged and sold away from the eyes of regulators, Shaxson said. They allowed companies to grow and take on vastly more risk than regulators realise because they could see only a part of the operations of multi-nationals such as Lehman Brothers.
    Shaxson dismisses pro-haven cheerleaders who claim they keep politicians honest by capping the tax they can impose on their citizens. Tax havens are for the rich, the criminal and the powerful, and opposed to the interests of the rank and file of society, who can’t afford the lawyers, accountants and tax advisers to take advantage of them, he said.

    This and the second article, on the NZ government’s opposition to a UN initiative to tackle tax haven abuse say that NZ is also being used as a tax haven by some of the wealthy in other countries.

    Shaxson, who has become famous following the publication of Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World, said New Zealand is letting down the developing world.
    He has also revealed that New Zealand has a growing reputation as an offshore haven itself. He predicts New Zealand will appear on the Tax Justice Network’s Financial Secrecy Index by 2013.


    • Lanthanide 2.1

      He has also revealed that New Zealand has a growing reputation as an offshore haven itself. He predicts New Zealand will appear on the Tax Justice Network’s Financial Secrecy Index by 2013.

      Sounds like a nice little thing to pin on National / Key.

      Lynn: the quote button is even more munted today, I can’t turn it off at all. It looks like you’ve changed how the enter key works – it used to insert a paragraph break (that could eventually stop the block quote), but now it only does line feeds and so can’t be used to break out of quote mode. I took your suggestion of selecting the text to be quoted and hitting the quote button, but it doesn’t work. Clicking the unquote button just unquotes the whole block.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1

        Lynn: the quote button is even more munted today, I can’t turn it off at all.

        press enter at end of the quoted block, back arrow or click to the end of the quoted block and click on the quote button again.

      • uke 2.1.2

        Wikipedia – not necessarily the most reliable of sources – currently categorises NZ as a tax haven because it:

        “…does not tax foreign income derived by NZ trusts settled by foreigners of which foreign residents are the beneficiaries. Nor does it tax the foreign income of new residents for four years. No capital gains tax.”

  3. PeteG 3

    Should the tax reductions have been reversed because of the Christchurch earthquakes? No – it’s absurd to think that immediately an event occurs taxes are tweaked. At the very least it takes time to evaluate and implement significant monetary changes.
    Should the tax reductions be reconsidered? Yes, this year’s budget is an appropriate time to announce any changes if they are thought necessary, but they are problematic, it’s unlikely the GST rate will be dropped back down, or taken off selected categories, so increasing taxes risks further stalling a struggling economy.

    • millsy 3.1

      So you would rather wreck our public and social services then?

      Tell me Peter, how many hospitals did National close between 1990-99 and how many did Labour close between 1999 and 2008?

      Ill tell you. When labour put taxes up in 1999, the money went into HOSPITALS AND HEALTH CARE SERVICES. No hospital closed after 1999. But you are quite happy to have solo mother live on the street, and have American style health care so the rich can pay a few dollars less in tax.

      And given that you have opposed wage increases for workers (I suppose you want wages to go back to 1999 levels like Don Brash does), you see a future of misery for people

      • PeteG 3.1.1

        But you are quite happy to have solo mother live on the street, and have American style health care so the rich can pay a few dollars less in tax.

        Bullshit. I have never suggested anything like that.
        * I support a fair welfare state.
        * I have never mentioned an American style health system here, and have never supported an American style health system.

        And given that you have opposed wage increases for workers

        Bullshit again. I have never suggested anything like that. I have questioned why the amount of $15 per hour is being claimed to being some magical fix, I have never seen yet anyone justify that over any alternate amount. No data to support it.
        Why $15?

        • RobC

          Go and do some of your own research like you did the other day. There should be plenty on Union websites (try CTU for a start maybe). From memory the Unions want it pegged around 66% of the median wage which is more than $15.

          $15 just happens to be the minimum wage in Oz, must have been suggested to close that gap 😀

        • felix

          Actually Pete you’ve stated several times that you don’t believe in minimum standards of living except as determined by the market.
          What usually happens now is you demand that I show evidence, then I post a link to you spewing some awful heartless bile, then you stop replying.
          But it’s very boring so I don’t think I’ll bother anymore.

          • freedom

            Good on Ya Felix.  I also see no point in replying to the repetitive time-wasting and frankly overly distractive slogans that are spewing from the right.  Personally I want to concentrate on far more interesting events, 

            Like sharing the information that is already out there

            Like getting every voter i know to not vote for any of the major parties

            CERRA has a lot to answer for and I for one do not see the point in voting for people who voted against Democracy

            I am beginning to believe NZ must sacrifice this election and send a very clear message to the troughers, shape up or piss off

            I am fairly confident that the thousands and thousands of  people who actually run the country will welcome the opportunity to do their job without seasoned MP’s constantly twisting the rules, changing the game-plan and generally shitting on NZ again and again and again

          • PeteG

            You just keep making things up felix. It’s not achieving much, us it.

    • Lanthanide 3.2

      Pete, either we raise taxes to cover the shortfall in the budget now due to the earthquake, or we borrow the money.

      If we borrow the money, we have to pay interest on it. The amount borrowed + the interest must be paid back at a future date, from taxes. So we either pay taxes on the principal now, or we pay taxes on the principal and interest over time.

      Therefore refusing to raise taxes now, for this one-off event, will cost us more over time.

      • travellerev 3.2.1

        Or we take back our right to print our own money and tell the money masters f*&k off and say no to the sin of usury. Our work our wealth.

        • Draco T Bastard

          It would still require an increase in taxes so that the government can redirect our resources into fixing up that damaged by the disaster. As I’ve said, money is not a resource.

      • PeteG 3.2.2

        It’s a tricky balancing act Lanthanide, with no guarantee that whatever is chose is the right mix. Taxing more runs the risk of stifling a recovery which runs the risk of lowering the tax take or keeping it low for longer.
        It’s easy to say “we should raise taxes”, or “we should borrow more” (as Helen Kelly suggested on Q+A this morning), but those who make the decisions have a lot more complexities to consider.

        • Pascal's bookie

          And as Jon Johansson said on Q+A this morning this government is only pragmatic within its ideological straight jacket. The point being made that this government has ignored the complexities and is ruling out even temporary tax increases in favour of its ideologically based solutions. 

          There is very little evidence for the supply side nonsense you are peddling. Cuts run exactly the same risk you are talking about, so it’s a wash in that respect.

          That point was reinforced in the discussion with English when he was talking about Treasury advice around the benefits of privatisation.  Treas was saying that there is very little evidence that the private sector would run the companies any better, and Old Bill could only fall back on dogma.

          It would be nice to think that this government was ‘considering the complexities’, but as the panel agreed on Q+A there are concerns that they are not, and little evidence that they are.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Taxing more runs the risk of stifling a recovery which runs the risk of lowering the tax take or keeping it low for longer.

          All the evidence over the last 50 years shows that too low taxes stifle the economy more than too high taxes do.

      • prism 3.2.3

        That is clearly put Lanthanide.  I can’t see how the wishful thinkers about reduced taxes regularly here can pop up like corks again with their tripe.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.3

      No – it’s absurd to think that immediately an event occurs taxes are tweaked.

      Actually, it’s absurd not to. How else is the country going to pay to fix things up?

  4. Jim Nald 4

    My friend tells me Double Dipstick has been mouthing more billshit bullshit claptrap craptrap on Q&A.

    • Anne 4.1

      Don’t worry Jim Nald: The panel dealt to him afterwards. Good to see Helen Kelly on the panel and a ‘respectful’ Paul Holmes who didn’t interrupt her once.

      Job well done. 🙂


      • Dan 4.1.1

        I agree Anne. I nearly didn’t turn on the programme but figured there was not much else on for my morning cuppa! Holmes was much better by staying more in the background: I normally can’t stand his opinionated nonsense. Espiner asked harder questions than the usual patsy, but what was most interesting for me was English trotted out his usual ideological nonsense, but his eyes and general lack of enthusiasm suggested he no longer believed it.

  5. millsy 5

    The future of housing in Auckland

    This lodge was in the news 3 years ago, there was a huge fuss over it Labour promised to do something about it, but then everything died down, and National got in, and people there still live in misery. And as rents skyrocket, and landlords get more choosy about what tenants they choose to house, and as Housing NZ wash there hands of more and more people, and start kicking more and more tenants out, squalid boarding houses, are going to grow and grow.

    This will be the price of National’s prosperity.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      Why is that lodge still standing? It should have been knocked down and the owners fined years ago.

    • Vicky32 5.2

      Housing Minister Phil Heatley said: “We’re there to help people who need a state house – not those who would like a state house.”

      From the Herald article.
      I am in a 2 bedroom State House, and I want a transfer, because although I need subsidised housing (on UB), I don’t need two bedrooms. But I am currently having a huge battle with HNZ over other issues, so a transfer is way down the list for me. Survival mode. Honestly any of the families in that article could have this place, if I had my way. But I am just managing to survive myself! I wish I could help one of those families.  I wish even more, that the NACT government would do what it’s supposed and help all of them!

  6. RIP Sidney Lumet
    Here is the unforgettable “we’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore.”
    I hope you’re with me on that.

  7. todd 7

    The week that was


    The National Government offer to bailout AMI to the tune of more than a Billion dollars. The privately owned company has had financial difficulty since the Christchurch Earthquake and improper re-insurance. In light of the South Canterbury Finance hash and despite the Treasury advising John Key that South Canterbury Finance was never compliant with the scheme…

  8. prism 8

    Wendy Pye, NZ literacy entrepreneur, was on Chris Laidlaw on Radionz this morning.  People like her should get listened to, she has been a business and educational plan  success, has a good product doing good things around the world. that magic word ‘exporter’. Not ‘dairy producer’, but ‘advanced high-end products producer’.
    She has an excellent take on NZ, business and the export market as she has been round long enough to have wide experience with successes and failures, and how to survive both.  She is held at arms length by Min of Education though embraced by other achievement focussed governments.  This seems to follow from what I see is a negative attitude amongst NZs to trying anything new, stepping out from the known.  And one of the problems is that the bureaucrats and academics are concerned about dealing with private enterprise.  I think they can’t differentiate between having Macdonalds sponsoring schools and successful, experienced non-religious or narrowly ideological companies focussed solely on educational tools.

    I referred to NZ negativity in the waka controversy which idea suffered death from a thousand whiny criticisms from contributors here, ie I don’t like plastic, Maori can’t make good decisions about showing their culture.  Wendy’s products appear to have received less than positive treatment probably with the same mindset.   I thought also of Peter Snell, such a success but not embraced and drawn back to this country – he has been in Texas for years.

    BTW Texas is planning a new wide-ranging project for literacy.   Here at the bottom of the world we have tight-minded smug middle-class Ann Tolley whose low horizon is viewed from a entrenched trench, choosing National Standards as her lead initiative in schools. Yet Wendy Pye points out our good record in literacy, the problem being the large ‘tail’ of non-readers, prevented from obtaining worthwhile work and achieving prosperity by their lack of literacy, and that most of our jail inmates bear this disadvantage.

    • D-D-D-Damn ! 8.1

      Yeah, but I found myself getting increasingly bored as Laidlaw and Pye started going on endlessly about the alleged ‘tall-poppy syndrome’ in this Country. The same old scolding of the New Zealand public for not treating entrepreneurs as some sort of Super-Heroes. Yawwwwnnnnn.

      • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1

        Danyl @ The dim post wonders if the reason our business leaders have difficulty with the “red tape” is because they’re stupid.

        • prism

          The Mainfreight genius talking on the Dimpost wants less bureaucracy and regulation.  Isn’t that firm where sweet Jenny Shipley presides?   Pollies from NACT get consolation so often with the old saying ‘When one door closes, another opens’ don’t they?

          • Jim Nald

            Yup, call it the “revolving door” of jobs or sinecure between NACTs, rich elites and big business.

      • prism 8.1.2

        You may be tired of the tall poppy syndrome being mentioned but facing it becomes more relevant as we move through the decade and I think it is time for a change.
        We need to be as supportive of our entrepreneurs and successful projects of all types that are beneficial to the country, as we are of sports people.  They work hard to help themselves trying for personal success;  sound, innovative  businesses that achieve success help the country.

        • McFlock

          But nor should we forget the people who enable them to achieve that success. We shouldn’t enable entrepreneurs to succeed at the expense of their employees’ rights to fair pay and fair treatment for fair work.

  9. Maggie 9

    Anyone needing a laugh should look at Kiwiblog, if you can stand the stench.

    There’s some cove keeps impersonating me and taking DPF to task. What a bloody cheek!

  10. I have always approved Mat McCartens opinions and I admire the way he overcame a bad speech impediment .However these days he seems to spend more time attacking the Labour Party and in particular Phil Goff. What the hell is he playing at? The enemy is the Tory Party.,The only conclusion I can come up with is that there is a personal vendeta going on with Phil,Goff.Get back on Board Matt its going to be hard enough to win the next election with out you attacking Labour at every opportunity .

    • chris73 11.1

      Hes attacking Labour because he sees whats wrong and how to fix it, maybe Labour need to start listening

    • prism 11.2

      The enemy is the Tory Party.
      Seems that the purpose of having a Labour Party is to enable people on low to average wages to earn sufficient to have a full life, and bring in country-wide policies that are good for all.  To get this requires that Labour wins, but merely winning is not enough for a left-wing party to achieve – the policies, the direction, the vision, the problem-solving need to follow.

  11. gobsmacked 12

    Labour’s list has been announced:


    So, if Labour get roughly their current level of support (low 30’s) could there be only one or two new list MPs? (plus several from “safe” electorate seats?)

    It doesn’t look very inspiring – no noticeable new names apart from Andrew Little. If Labour lose, there’s going to be a big clear out for 2014 (Barker, Horomia, King, Mallard, Goff etc).

    Oh well.

    • Jasper 12.1

      At the time of writing, The Poll on that page puts Lab/G/NZ1 combined vote of 387 higher than M/UF/ACT/Nat 316.
      Ideally that would be indicative of the long term trend. Lets see what One News has to say tonight on their poll.

    • Carol 12.2

      Actually, the Labour list looks to me like a reasonable mix of relative newbies (class of 2008) and experienced MPs.  It looks like there is a gradual turn-over of new MPs, which is for the best, rather than a radical clean-out of ALL the old hands.

  12. Jum 14

    When are people going to start complaining about foreign banks deciding our economic future for us?
    Saturday, 9 April 2011, 2:26 pm
    Press Release: The Nation ‘THE NATION’

    GEORGE FRAZIS – Westpac New Zealand CEO
    Interviewed by DUNCAN GARNER

    Duncan Let’s talk about the state of the economy in the wake of the AMI decision and how does the country afford this rescue package and the bail out of South Canterbury Finance for that matter? Well some say we can’t afford it and we can’t afford to keep bailing out bad business decisions, they say if we do we’ll go broke. So how close are we to going broke? The Chief Executive of Westpac New Zealand George Frazis is with me now.

    • Jim Nald 14.1

      Hey Jum from Jim

      There’s a small baby step each Kiwi can make for a real difference –
      Walk away from foreign banks
      And put money into locally owned banks like TSB Bank and Kiwibank
      Go on. Do it now.
      Open an account with http://www.tsbbank.co.nz or  http://www.kiwibank.co.nz,
      then move funds and mortgage into either.

      • M 14.1.1

        Jim, if NACT is returned then I don’t think we’ll have Kiwibank.

        • Jim Nald

          Bugger. You’re right.
          But we should move our money into locally owned banks while they are around anyway. If not now, when?

        • PeteG

          I don’t think National have done anything to suggest they would try and privatise Kiwibank. Remember, this is a voter cautious, slow action or no action government. Any proposed asset sales are likely to clearly signposted pre election. If Labour have a strategy of vehemently opposing a modest number of partial asset sales it may reinforce the perception they are just exaggeration junkies.
          Actually, vehement is not the best description, passion and enthusiasm may be wrongly inferred – going through the motions of loudly protesting for the sake of it may be more appropriate.

          • rosy

            2008 –  and since then Key has had to categorically deny they’d sell while he is PM
            “Mr English refers to the voters’ view of “that nice man John Key” and his appeal to “Labour-plus” voters – people who believed National would let them keep all Labour’s money, with more on top.

            He also refers to needing to “sort out” Working for Families and suggests National will sell Kiwibank “eventually, but not now”.”

  13. Peter 15

    Brian Goulds latest post on how we revere business leaders:

    • Draco T Bastard 15.1

      That is well worth the read and so very close to the truth. We’re expected to worship the businessmen whether they’re capable of what’s expected of them or not.

  14. RobC 16

    Paula Bennett on people having to go through a budgeting exercise before applying for a hardship grant:
    “They could go online and fill out a budgeting form”

    Right, like all Decile 1 households have a computer. What fucking planet is she on?

  15. joe90 17

    Salon: Right winger + hard time = compassion.

    Some of the most eloquent advocates for prison reform are conservatives who find themselves behind bars

  16. joe90 18


    Two intrepid dudes encounter stray animals, torn apart roads and deserted settlements as they film their trip to measure the radiation from 30 km out to 1.5 km away from Fukushima.

  17. M 19

    Bill Maher – Shine My Shoes Fuckface II

    “They’re banging porn stars and you’re getting the crabs”

    “While the Republicans, the party of millionaires, is shutting the government down because they can’t have a tax-free world. As Paul Ryan says, ‘It’s not a budget it’s a cause’, like slavery…”


  18. Jim Nald 20

    Hey Lynn

    When will The Standard email me the bank account number so that I can make monthly cash donations?

    Will be good to be provided with a pdf version of “best of the week’s” posts (maybe including comments from others) so that they can be printed on A3 or A4.

    I would be willing to stand at street corners or outside supermarkets for a few hours on Fri-Sun and sell them (with money being deposited back into The Standard’s bank account) or to give away. The point is to encourage the wider dissemination of the issues raised by TS.

    • Draco T Bastard 20.1

      Will be good to be provided with a pdf version of “best of the week’s” posts (maybe including comments from others) so that they can be printed on A3 or A4.

      This has been commented on before – you’re quite welcome to put one together. I believe others already do pass out copies.

      • Jim Nald 20.1.1

        Guess I can just copy and paste or print out separate, selected pieces but
        I’d prefer to have an official or endorsed pdf version for hard copies to be printed …

  19. M 21

    Want to see pole-axed Rethuglican?

    This guy could not find one good point to refute universal healthcare in the US:

    • Draco T Bastard 21.1

      Comment by dch3348

      It’s amazing to think that I was born into a republican, conservative, christian, homeschooling family in the middle of the Bible Belt. How far I’ve come since then. After learning more about the world, and having to actually work for a living, I have rejected all of the economic philosophies that I was taught as part of that community. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that the only true lazy, corrupt welfare queens living off of handouts are believers in conservative economics.

      Says it all really.

      • M 21.1.1

        Yes Draco, scrolled down and read that particular comment and it wondered how many more peiople were coming to the same realisation in America.

        Still, I think it’s going to take maybe 50% of Ameicans on food stamps before they’re angry enough to do something about it and figuratively eviserate the GOPlets.                                                                                                                                                                      

    • ianmac 21.2

      You know M, it is amazing that in the wealthiest country in the world they appear to not understand the disaster of their own Health system. The strange story from the “pole-axed Rethuglican” that the British Health System was and example of failure because “his sister couldn’t get an epidural because they thought she was too fit.” Aha. There you have it if the Brit Health system  don’t want to give you an epidural so the System is a complete failure. Huh?
      I think NZ has one of the least expensive with the finest effectiveness in the World. (Unless you believe it when Tony Ryall that it is a disaster.)

      • M 21.2.1

        Yes ianmac, NZ’s system isn’t perfect and there are medical disasters that make my blood boil but I’d rather have “socialist” health care than the bloated, corrupt and “loaded dice” system where every possible avenue is explored to turn down a legitimate insurance claim.

        I also believe the epidural refusal was if not a complete fabrication then a definite stretching of the truth. Having had epidurals for both my kids as I had a 20-hour and a 12-hour labour there are few situations where a woman cannot have one provided there is time and I would hope that most obstetricians would not be so sadistic as to refuse one. Even if a woman is chided about having one she should go all out to have one if she wants it – screaming down the birthing ward would probably be enough to convince a reluctant doctor.

        When my youngest was born she had a ABO incompatibilty problem and the treatment she received in neonatal was first class. I hate to imagine what parents in the US would pay for such treatment although I’m sure Tony and his mob are working overtime to bring about such a situation.

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    2 weeks ago
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  • Racing Industry Bill passes third reading
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    2 weeks ago
  • Green Party seek amendment to ensure all prisoners can vote
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    2 weeks ago
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    2 weeks ago
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    2 weeks ago
  • Ground-breaking on NZ Post depot
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  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
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  • New Zealand to host virtual APEC in 2021
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