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Open mike 22/05/2020

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, May 22nd, 2020 - 138 comments
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138 comments on “Open mike 22/05/2020”

  1. Andre 1

    Hang in there Simon! Just remember, Bill led the party to a vote share of 20.93% yet he went on to become Prime Munster. Helen had 6 years of lousy polling and one lost election before she succeeded. You can do it, Simon. Have faith and tough it out!

  2. Andre 2

    It can't open and close gates or do fencing. Yet. But it’s got rolling in something nasty sorted.


    • lprent 2.1

      That was interesting and kind of creepy.

    • Robert Guyton 2.2

      How bucolic.

      • Andre 2.2.1

        Yeah. When they take over, I'm really going to miss the dulcet tones of small petrol engines and large diesels. All lacking effective mufflers on their exhausts.

    • RedLogix 2.3

      Another aspect is that these could improve productivity in tropical agriculture which has traditionally been limited by the intensive labour needed for the crops grown in these climates.

      That could conceivably change the prospects for chronically poor nations like the Phillipines.

      • francesca 2.3.1

        I think it would be difficult to replace humans in agriculture, without inviting a world of trouble .

        We already reap the bitter rewards of factory farming

        There's a true stewardship of the soil thats not just about inputs and outputs , spraying for pests and diseases etc , as if the earth is a mechanical being

        Regenerative agriculture depends on acute observation over time ,and an intuitive "learning" of each complex environment

        Only humans can have the serendipitous moments necessary

        • RedLogix

          I totally understand what you are saying; it makes sense and I've no argument. I wasn't imagining humans being replaced. As an automation engineer I've had the chance to see the impact up close and personal’ and everything I’ve seen is that automation works to amplify and assist human capacity. It has no independent existence.

          In my view no automation or AI system will ever replace human consciousness. Superhuman AI will turn out to be one of what Vernor Vinge called 'the failed dreams'.

          The reason is that consciousness is not computational.  (And if Roger Penrose says so that's good enough for me.)

        • Andre

          Where machines shine is being able to do the simple routine tasks that are able to be condensed into an algorithm. Thereby freeing up time for humans to be able to do more observing, learning, and synthesis of new and different ways of doing things.

          • weka

            which is good in a factory, not so much in nature.

            Shocking to some I know, but farms are nature not factories.

            • KJT

              W've been hearing about autonomous ships for decades, now.

              In reality they haven't even developed controls and machinery,  that can get reliably through a day, without human intervention.

              • weka

                I really don't get the whole automation ideology. Let's use that where appropriate, but there's nothing wrong with people doing things. Lots of people love growing food (and I assume love working on ships), so why not take advantage of that and design systems that are good for people and are functional.

                • RedLogix

                  Yup. And that's the general pattern, automation is best thought of as a tool to extend human capacity, not to replace it.

              • RedLogix

                In reality they haven't even developed controls and machinery,  that can get reliably through a day, without human intervention.

                I once got a major water treatment plant to run autonomously for 9 days without operator intervention … it was quite an accomplishment!

                But in general you are right, and it's my view that the prime role of automation is to reliably control the routine, predictable tasks and free up the humans involved so that they can focus their much more flexible and creative energies on higher value add.

                Autopilots are a good example you will familiar with, no-one hand steers any more than they have to or enjoy doing these days. And the modern versions do a better job of holding track than a human anyway. On the other hand deciding where the track should be plotted still remains a task better suited to people. Usually. 

      • greywarshark 2.3.2

        RL   Now that's a point.   The temp is said to be going beyond what humans can cope with working in the fields growing food, and can’t do enough with new tech or have enough covers, already is in India etc.    So robots to do that would make sense.   Unfortunately, the way our 'civilisation' is configured these days, the good of robotising will be compromised by the attack/defence capabilities.    But what can't be cured must be endured perhaps.

    • gsays 2.4

      Funny. Yesty, the boss was talking about her teen son's idea.

      Getting 2 or 3 lawnmower robots. We have about 60 lawns ranging from about 2 square metres up to around 50 square metres.

      I smiled enthusiastically when mention of a drone to control them came up.

      • greywarshark 2.4.1

        What about thoughts of having city lawn clippings as base for silage for farmers?   Ever pursued that idea gsays, it would have to be planned, done carefully, a range of weeds kept out and no spraying, and people take responsibility but it could mean free lawn mowing for them.

        • gsays

          I work in a senior lifestyle village.

          Rather than silage, I investigated and proposed composting of grass clippings, leaf mulch, tree trimmings and the kitchen scraps.

          The compost would be returned to the sub standard soil that is found in most new housing developments.

          Long story short (too late!), the residents had concerns about appearances, smell and rats. The management didn't see the benefits…. I have walked this earth long enough to try and convince folk against their will.

          Every time I tip another catcher full of clippings into the skip bin, a little part of me dies. Then the last two frosty mornings the bin has been toasty warm with the decomposition starting up.

      • McFlock 2.4.2

        I read a while back that the DCC had bought a remote control lawnmower – still needed a remote control unit run by an operator, but it was intended to make mowing slopes safer. Ah, here we are.

        The fun question is "if the drone controls the mowers, what controls how the drone controls the mowers?"

        Not sure I like the idea of autonomous mowers – we don't need to give our robots-gone-berserk edged weapons. Very sci-fi peasant revolt, that.

        • KJT

          Ha. Reminds me of my Dad telling us, about the self propelled mower that got away from him, and ended up drowned in the Avon. Briggs and Stratton petrol reel mower, of course.

          More recently the automated straddle carrier, that made a bid for freedom in a Dutch port. Through the gate and down the street.

          My own favourite machinery with a life of their own, are Lister and Gardener diesels, that have to be thoroughly suffocated to get them to stop. Unlike modern ones, where one dud chip on an electronics board can kill them

        • gsays

          On an unrelated subject, I was on University Tube looking to upgrade my drill press with a DC permanent magnet motor from a treadmill…

          Anyhow, one of the videos talked about fancy saw benches have 'flesh detectors', that shut down the motor when your fingers get too close.

          I figure these lawn automatons would have a similar tech involved.

          • McFlock

            I suspect it's easier to train a computer to distinguish between wood and a finger than it is between fresh mulch or dog turds and a finger.

            • Nic the NZer

              Easier to train as long as your willing to lose a bunch of fingers getting there.

              The SawStop works by running a small electric current through the saw blade and detecting when its interrupted by an electrically conductive body part.



              • gsays

                Thanks for the reading.

                There are 10 table saw amputations a day in the US.

                " After numerous tests using a hot dog as a finger-analog, in spring 2000, Gass conducted the first test with a real human finger: he applied Novocain to his left ring finger, and after two false starts, he placed his finger into the teeth of a whirring saw blade. The blade stopped as designed, and although it "hurt like the dickens and bled a lot," his finger remained intact."

                sends a shudder down  the spine.

                I have gone to a mates workshop to find doors open, blood spattered table saw outside and no-one around.

                He lost his right index finger-tip.

  3. Ever seen the Black Mirror series?

    There's an episode with post-apocalyptic survivors being hunted by super wired dog robots.Horrifying 

    • I Feel Love 3.1

      Metalheads, my first thought too, brilliant episode, brilliant series. Check out Black Mirrors creator Charlie Brookers Anti Viral Wipe (about UKs response to pandemic) on YouTube for a good laugh and also quite insightful. 

      • Wensleydale 3.1.1

        I've been a fan of Charlie Brooker's since he wrote for nerdy games mag, PC Zone during the '90s. He's viciously hilarious and his books are great. They should really make him PM.

    • RedLogix 3.2

      Yes and it will happen too. All tools get misused, the problem is always the workman.

    • Molly 3.3

      No.  But I can imagine.

      I also think that the military in many countries will already be/or looking into weaponising these.

      • RedLogix 3.3.1

        Yup. Absolutely and we will live to see the horror. Sorry if that comes across as grim.

        • Molly

          Might not be age-appropriate for the TS audience, but after having and reading the Harry Potter series to four children – (should have bought Stephen Fry's audiobooks when they came out) your Grim reference immediately struck me as appropriate.

          " The Grim is an omen of death, which is reputed to bring about the demise of the person who encounters it. The Grim takes the shape of a large, black, menaching, spectral dog. "

          (BTW:  Still trying to keep the offspring reading.  Just bought two Terry Pratchett novels for the nineteen year old's birthday next week.  It's a shared enjoyment.)


          • RedLogix

            Pratchett is wonderful; he's the only other author I still keep a full collection of every published novel I could buy. (The other is of course Vernor Vinge.)

            Going Postal was pure genius.

            • Molly

              Thanks, will check out Vernor Vinge for him.  He's still likes collections…

              He has the book for Going Postal, and we all enjoyed the miniseries.  Even the youngest.

              Was delighted to find four pristine Pratchett hardcover books in our local charity shop last year – 25c each.

              I absolutely HATE shopping, but I was embarrassingly overjoyed to make that purchase.

            • halfcrown

              Can't go wrong by reading Pratchett Red. I like the Big Bang Theory in one of his Disc world novels.  Mort I think.  I have it somewhere, will have to have a read of it again. 

  4. mauī 4

    The wonderful Bob Clarkson (former MP) was just on the radio nationale. Said Todd is the equal of Simon, and would definitely be better than the "communist" currently in charge.

    Thank you Bob, for capturing the mood of the nation…

    • pat 4.1

      Bob who?

    • observer 4.2

      Worth repeating (from Colmar Brunton thread):

      28% of National voters disapprove of the "communist". That's 28% out of 29% which is … *counts fingers* … single digits.

      They don't even understand their own voters, never mind the rest of the country.

    • francesca 4.3

      haha was that Bob the Builder , who briefly ousted Winnie?

      • observer 4.3.1

        And then replaced by Bridges. The rising star.

        It'll be quite the twist of fate if Bridges leaves Parliament before Peters. He already knows he won't rise as high in government. Ouch.

        • francesca

          Wonder if he's willing to bet his left testicle?


        • swordfish

          This is all getting a little incestuous:

          Peters = former MP for Tauranga

          Clarkson = former MP for Tauranga

          Bridges = current MP for Tauranga

          Muller = current MP for a Seat that is basically Tauranga Suburbs

    • millsy 4.4

      "Communist", really?

      Last time I looked, there was no nationalisation of businesses without compensation, collectivisation of land and agriculture or even purges of those seen as enemies of the state, unless you count Mike Hosking leaving 7 Sharp.

      People need to start calling the likes of Clarkson out.

      • Wayne 4.4.1

        You are calling him out.

      • observer 4.4.2

        "Mr Clarkson, the Prime Minister's critics say she has focused too much on keeping you alive, are you one of them?"

      • mac1 4.4.3

        A quick Google of 'Bob Clarkson MP' found that he had been called out by quite a few people in the media.
        Issues with Bob the Builder involved anti-gay and anti Muslim comments, stoushes with family over money, blaming people who lived near industrial sites for complaining about heath problems from dust.

        Now we find he doesn't like our "Communist" PM even though he does call by her first name. I presume that local National people called him out because he only had one term as Tauranga MP. Later news said he was leaving to join ACT.

        After all these years, a one term wonder is called back to comment on Bridges and Muller on RNZ. I listened to the interview. It's an interesting interview from the point of view of personal values and political support.

        RNZ  did neither Muller or Bridges a favour by allying such support to them from this man.

    • I Feel Love 4.5

      "Our rights are being violated. That is all actually real," Stokes said. "But this is one of the few times that's ok. Pandemics – these call for a collectivist response. They don't work without one."  An American gun rights activist gets it, the people calling Labour communist don't. 

      I remember it was a trap lefties got into when National/Key were flying high, disparaging their supporters as stupid etc, I see it with the righties now, didn't work for us and shouldn't for them either. 

      Also, I watched the One News last night, first time in years, and I waited to see what the Muller guy was gonna be like, and they had no footage, just some friends saying he wss a good "bugger" & that "maoris stole his flash sandwiches at school", or something. 

      One last thing, to me the Labour numbers proves no one is listening to Hosking, Garner etc or reading the Herald.

    • RedBaronCV 4.6

      Who thought it was a good idea to put him up to give public comment and use airtime? He's a has been of the worst sort and his opinion as irrelevant as most of the public. It smacks of irresponsible journalists. What is national radio's guidelines for selecting commentators?

  5. Molly 5

    Interesting Guardian article yesterday about negative interest rates coming up in the UK.

    It refers to the Danish Jyske Bank which launched it's first negative interest mortgage rate last year

    A Danish bank has launched the world’s first negative interest rate mortgage – handing out loans to homeowners where the charge is minus 0.5% a year.

    Negative interest rates effectively mean that a bank pays a borrower to take money off their hands, so they pay back less than they have been loaned.

    Jyske Bank, Denmark’s third largest, has begun offering borrowers a 10-year deal at -0.5%, while another Danish bank, Nordea, says it will begin offering 20-year fixed-rate deals at 0% and a 30-year mortgage at 0.5%.

    Under its negative mortgage, Jyske said borrowers will make a monthly repayment as usual – but the amount still outstanding will be reduced each month by more than the borrower has paid.

    “We don’t give you money directly in your hand, but every month your debt is reduced by more than the amount you pay,” said Jyske’s housing economist, Mikkel Høegh.


    In recognition of how puzzling the new mortgage is for customers, the bank’s FAQ is littered with questions and statements such as Hvordan kan det lade sig gøre? (How is that possible?) and Ja, du læste rigtigt (Yes, you read that right).

    The mortgage is possible because Denmark, as well as Sweden and Switzerland, has seen rates in money markets drop to levels that turn banking upside-down.

    Høegh said Jyske Bank is able to go into money markets and borrow from institutional investors at a negative rate, and is simply passing this on to its customers.

    But the flipside is that savers will see nothing paid in interest on their deposits – and may also suffer as they go negative."

    I'm thinking there may be benefits for this happening in New Zealand.

    1.  Palatable or not, those best able to weather the financial implications of Covid will most often be those who have the excess income, and ability to amass savings.    They will not gain interest but they will also retain equity on their savings, unless the savings are more than a specified amount, such as in Sweden:

    " In Switzerland, the bank UBS last week told its wealthy clients that it would introduce a charge of 0.6% a year if they deposited more than €500,000. "

    Those implications may mean that those with money may choose to invest in businesses or spend it which will circulate that money and improve the economy recovery.

    2.  For mortgage holders, this will allow a practical relief from the financial commitment of a mortgage, while still maintaining a payment relationship with their bank.  It may be able – in many cases – to offset financial hardship resulting from reduced pay or unemployment.

    3.  A further benefit is, that if housing prices fall significantly (which would be a huge benefit to society) those who have entered the market lately, when it is most inflated, will have a reduced payment for the rest of the mortgage, offsetting a larger amount of equity loss than those who are at the end of their mortgages. 

    That is, if a mortgage has been taken out for $500,000 today and goes for twenty years at 4.0% paid weekly, the interest paid over that time is $226,569 accounting for just over 31% If of payments during that time. (NB: I used the stuff mortgage calculator for these calculations)

    If that mortgage is transferred to what the Jyse bank offers there are two options:

    a.  Keep the 20 year term and reduce the weekly payment to $481

    b:  Retain your existing weekly payment of $699 and reduce your term to 14 years.

    c:  A combination of either above.

    This is a reduction of around 30% of current mortgage commitments on offer.  This provides a cushion for house prices to fall – 20-25% or more without causing excessive financial harm for home owners and tenants.

    For me, the elegance of this proposal is that those who are at the end of their mortgages – and will not gain as much benefit as those at the beginning – will have, during their mortgage term have already accumulated untaxed, and inflated capital gains so their direct investment will still be higher than what they have contributed.  In fact, any mortgage transferring over will have built into it a proportional cost/benefit that relates to the loss of equity if house prices fall vs the reduction in interest payable on that property.

    This is kind of a follow up comment to the article I posted from the NEF last week

    I am coming from the perspective that house prices and rental costs need to fall significantly – and have needed to for a while.  I also understand that many NZers have all their financial wealth and security in their homes, and need to be considered.

    I would like to see our government administer or legislate for such a solution. 

    Ideally, it would be a government agency, such as the State Advances Corporation that provided home loans to ex-servicemen. 

    To facilitate rollout it may be necessary to provide in tranches depending on owner/occupier and citizenship status.  I'd personally delay offering to family trusts or LLC's  or overseas residents because their choice of vehicle provides them with some insulation from taxes, expense and financial shocks already.

    I'd be interested to hear from others about problems they can see with this proposal, to see if there are any kinks that needed to be worked out if it was to be a practical and possible option.

    (Quick correction: Just noticed the -0.5% bank rate only applies to 10 years and I used it for the whole 20 yr term, which is only offered at 0%. Will update on next comment)

    • Molly 5.1

      … still a term reduction of 6 years according to stuff at $699/wk.

    • Dennis Frank 5.2

      Hi Molly, it's a trend to watch for sure.  When I grew up & got a savings account the bank paid me 3% interest to deposit money in it.  Banking then had a structural incentive to get more custom.  We may be returning to it!

      John Campbell interviewed a young asian guy who spoke our lingo like a kiwi a few days ago, about quantitative easing.  He was representing the Reserve Bank on the TVNZ breakfast show.  They've recently doubled their qe.  He said the new money gets created as electronic credit (which I knew), which would have confounded many viewers but he was refreshingly forthright and sensible in not spooking them by calling those dollars imaginary.  They become real when digitally invented.

      So the way to keep the economy going now is to invent money.  Farmers could use this thinking in times of drought, eh?  Invent rain.  How?  Well, easiest way is to catch and store it when it falls.  They could call that process water conservation.  Conservatives ought to conserve, eh?  You'd think.  The reason farmers don't is because they believe rain always falls eventually.  As Tom Petty once sang "the waiting is the hardest part"…

      • Adrian 5.2.1

        Catching and storing rain is fine for targeted irrigation but the dam needs to be half the size of the farm for an effective grazing regime. And it does rain most of the time.

        The numbers around volume and weight for just 20mm on a thousand hectare farm are astronomical. Clever farming is a better option.

        • WeTheBleeple

          That's utter nonsense. 

          And even if it were true (it's total crap) aquaculture is more productive than farming, because gravity.

      • Nic the NZer 5.2.2

        I think the most important thing to understand about all this stuff was highlighted to me simply by the US economist Randell Wray (and recently I heard this idea repeated by the US Fed chairman in a public interview where he encouraged the US treasury to spend more).

        The statement (miss-quoted) is "the central bank lends and the treasury spends". Treasury spending gets spending moving including when facilitated by central QE programs to lower the government interest rates, but all the monetary policy stuff done by the central bank is about changing the interest rates and so all depends on the amount of interest in taking on loans.

      • Molly 5.2.3

        Hi Dennis, good analogy. 

        Using that analogy, I would say that would require the government to direct the rain to fall more equitably, instead of providing torrential downpours on dams and giving the control to commercial banks and saying turn the taps on as you wish.  (Or don't.)

      • Sacha 5.2.4

        a young asian guy who spoke our lingo like a kiwi

        You mean a Chinese New Zealander or suchlike?

      • Nic the NZer 5.2.6

        A post about many of the incorrect things you will hear said about government spending and its impacts on the economy. In this case highlighting that the Bank of England is presently falsifying many of these ideas.


    • Nic the NZer 5.3

      That's a very interesting thing to observe, seeing this in practice doesn't make much sense to me however.

      Negative interest rates (which I believe Sweden's central bank is running) mean that the banks deposits with the central bank lose money. Collectively there is no way for the financial sector to rid itself of these excess deposits (other than lending them to the government) as any payments they make then go to another large financial institution. The upshot of this is that government debt often ends up lending at negative interest rates which are however lower than what the central bank is offering.

      This is what is going on with the charges banks are setting for holding onto large deposits.

      What makes little sense to me however is public loans at negative interest rates, and I suspect there is some missing piece such as a small number of these loans are made as an advertising ploy by the bank. The reason I understand things this way is because the interest component paid on a loan is basically the income part of the arrangement for the bank. If there is negative income to the arrangement then it makes little sense to enter into the loan agreement. Maybe Jyske bank is simply leading the pack in this case, but if all the banks are doing this then collectively it seems to make more sense to get out of the banking game.

      • Molly 5.3.1

        Your concerns are already covered in the comment, Nic.  This is about ensuring everyone gets through intact.  No interest on deposits does not remove equity, just encourages direct investment and spending.

        " Maybe Jyske bank is simply leading the pack in this case, but if all the banks are doing this then collectively it seems to make more sense to get out of the banking game. "

        Banks still can charge fees, as I believe Jyske does, but not excessively.  Long-time the banks will be able to survive, and their chance of survival improves if the majority of their customers are financially secure.  But we have businesses – banks included – that are not used to long-term thinking.

        And why can't the government play the game to benefit all NZers?

        • Nic the NZer

          Molly, I'm not saying it would be a bad thing if this happened. I just think its unlikely to be something which can be setup as a widespread part of the financial system, as your expecting banks to engage in widespread unprofitable lending. The long term thinking on that game is to stop being in the business of banking.

          I did consider that this can be a way to shrink the financial system which might be a good thing to do to some extent. I do think this aligns with something which seems to be not widely understood, but low (or even negative) interest rates are actually less favorable to banks than the high interest rates, which are supposed to be restraining their lending.

          • Molly

            I understand.  But I'm not worried about the banks incentives.  So, far the banks are not offering anything that doesn't improve their income substantially in the long term – which the mortgage holidays do.  What the rent holidays don't necessarily do – is improve the financial security and well being of their clients.

            So, I'm trying to look at it from the perspective of the people of NZ, taking into account the inflated cost of housing that has continued not to be addressed, AND the NZ cultural attachment to housing as financial security.  That is the problem I'm talking about and trying to address – not how to retain the bank as a commercial entity.


            • Nic the NZer

              The facts became somewhat more clear when I read the guardian article in full. First its a Danish bank (which I was calling Swedish) and second the banks still make profit on the loans due to the associated fees.

              I suspect that in their banking system these fees are much higher than in New Zealand which has a much higher rate difference between the central bank (and money market interest rates) and commercial bank interest rates. In New Zealand the fees component is typically very small and often waived. This structure makes the New Zealand banks profitability much more opaque.


              I would suggest that to gain the social benefits the overall cost of lending is what is relevant rather than the specifics of only some of interest rates and costs involved in the lending.

              • Molly

                "I would suggest that to gain the social benefits the overall cost of lending is what is relevant rather than the specifics of only some of interest rates and costs involved in the lending. "

                I agree, and we need to start quantifying those benefits by some means in order to know where to rebuild the economy and support NZers.   SROI (Social Return on Investment) has been around for a while now, but is not often referred to in policy statements or media articles while expected returns from events such as the America's Cup are calculated and accepted without much scrutiny. 

          • RedBaronCV

            I guess – without going into the role of the central bank – any single bank would make money by taking a deposit of $10k and then repaying $9500. It loans the $10k on mortgage but receives repayments of say $9700. So it would still have a $200 margin. I made the figures up for the above.

            • Nic the NZer

              Its a question of how far $200 goes to paying the banks employees though, and also why you do if the borrower defaults (e.g stops making repayments).

              • RedBaronCV

                Same as banking now I expect – the margin plus  any fees need to cover the banks expenses plus profit.

                • Nic the NZer

                  Absolutely. As I highlighted in other comments in Denmark they pay a lot more in fees (including an annual percentage of the loan, as a fee), in New Zealand all the payments are rolled into interest rates, so by focusing on just the interest rates this is a bit miss leading when compared to New Zealand.

                  • Molly

                    Yes, I understand that as well.  Which is why I have suggested a Government run system that reduces those costs as much as possible.

                    The banks have been very profitable and have no incentive to reduce their income from clients or reducing the inflated housing costs.  They are financially better off when these are as high as possible.

                    A government agency – however – can consider SROI when calculating cost/benefit and a create a system that does not need mortgage brokers and refixing every two-three years.  A young relative working for one of the big four banks in the mortgage lending department receives quarterly bonuses in the tens of thousands for the process of refixing existing loans or signing up new ones.  There's a lot of extraneous extras that are lost when a constant long-term loan at a fixed rate is entered into. 

            • Molly

              A bank in Switzerland is already doing that  – charging clients for deposits over a certain amount.

              "Swiss banks are to start charging their super-rich clients to look after their piles of cash.

              UBS, the world’s largest wealth manager, told its ultra-wealthy clients on Tuesday that it would introduce an annual 0.6% charge on cash savings of more than €500,000 (£461,000). The fee, to be introduced in November, rises to 0.75% on savings of more than 2m Swiss francs (£1.7m).

              The minimum fee is €3,000 a year. Savings of 2m francs would attract an annual charge of 15,000 francs."

              In terms of addressing the mechanisms that produce inequality, this may also go some way to improve it.  At a certain point when you have met all your financial requirements to live, and have saved enough to be secure, the current financial environment allows wealth to multiply and accumulate. 

              Note: The Jyske bank also charges fees that cover admin and employment costs, but they are not excessive.

              Following the discussion with RedLogix above the following thoughts from the character of Samuel Vines seem appropriate:

              “The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.

              Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.

              But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet."

              This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness.” – Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms: The Play

              Terry Pratchett, economist.

    • Molly 5.4

      Already thought of a possible improvement while AFK:

      IF landlords on a property take this option, they have to take the same term and the reduced payment amount and pass on at least 80% of that saving to the tenants.  That would reduce financial rental pressure immediately.

      • pat 5.4.1

        That will happen anyway in current situation …and considerably faster.

        Negative rates are a very slow way of unwinding the effects of QE…. especially at -0.5%.

        • Molly

          Why and how do you think that will happen? 

          I would expect quite a lot of turmoil for both homeowners, landlords and tenants that are financially stressed, and this mechanism might be a way of providing security in terms of housing without a lot of changes in ownership.  (As well as providing a needed downwards pressure on housing and rental prices)

          “Negative rates are a very slow way of unwinding the effects of QE…. especially at -0.5%.”
          And why is slow considered a negative? This does allow a downward movement in housing prices and rentals – at -0.5% a 31% neutral position compared to maintaining the same mortgage at the current 4%.

          Given the love affair and financial security many NZers have with property, we need a plan to allow many to still feel and be financially secure while creating a more affordable housing environment for all.

          Any other ideas on how to do that would be great… because many have been waiting quite a while to access housing that is affordable and healthy without needing to overcrowd…

          • pat

            Thousands of under-utilised Air BnB properties, high and increasing unemployment, increasing State housing provision will drive it…..the same forces that will drive down property prices.

            Slow is considered negative because the need is now….the tenants and mortgagees cannot wait years or decades for the ratios to begin to become aligned with the real economy again.

            The RBNZ backstopping the banks is (I expect) designed to support that deflation while enabling bank viability….it would not surprise to see them take on the bad loan books of the banks and administer those mortgages in the near term to remove them from the private balance sheets. Hopefully they will have a mechanism to support owner occupied to continue and foreclose investment properties.

            • Molly

              The mechanism you state, which is left to circumstance and commercial entities, will disrupt a lot of homeowners, landlords and tenants.  The disruption may also continue for some time, and will result in NZers losing out – not banks who have benefitted from increasing debt levels for many years now.  It just depends on where priorities lie.

              There will also be a fast response time to reduced mortgages – for financially strapped owners and tenants. 

              If your housing costs are reduced immediately by 20-30% to offset the financial downturn and resulting constricting household incomes, then there is less likely to be disruption by the need to move or sell – AND find somewhere else to live. (Although, I think there still will be disruption and devastation, just perhaps reduced)

              I do agree that the state has to be more involved to direct the fallout, and ensure long-term benefits to NZers.


              • pat

                negative rates won't create that scale or speed of reduction (immediate)…and as stated the reduction is going to occur anyway, negative rates or not.

                And negative rates create other problems that make the whole regime problematic.

                The mechanism I outlined is hardly left to commercial entities and circumstance (market forces) for it involves market intervention by the state…..and its not as if it hasn't been done before.

                Back in the 80s high interest rate environment the government offered Housing Corp mortgages at considerably below market rate to distressed mortgages for owner occupiers….the mechanism may be different this time but the result will be the same.

                P.S. disruption is not going to be avoided no matter what is done.

                • Molly

                  " Back in the 80s high interest rate environment the government offered Housing Corp mortgages at considerably below market rate to distressed mortgages for owner occupiers….the mechanism may be different this time but the result will be the same. "

                  What was the result from your perspective?  Because the government also offered low rates to returned servicemen, and increased home ownership and security was also a result.

                  And, without rancour.. do you have any ideas about reducing the fallout without just allowing the market to crash?  Another concern I have about that passive method is that on top of financial and housing disruption, it also reduces the likelihood of investment in improving housing stock standards, and our housing stock is still often disgracefully low in this regard.

                  (Already conceded disruption will occur, just looking to reduce the impact, while supporting NZ people – not entities)

                  • pat

                    "What was the result from your perspective?  Because the government also offered low rates to returned servicemen, and increased home ownership and security was also a result."

                    When the mortgage we had taken out at 8% hit 19% we applied for a housing corp refinance and from memory the rate was 11%…and the term extended to 24 years (greater than available in the market)…the result was we didn't lose our home.

                    "And, without rancour.. do you have any ideas about reducing the fallout without just allowing the market to crash?"

                    The market is going to crash whether we like it or not…the only question is by how much. I have outlined how I believe the RBNZ will reduce the fallout….remember they are required by statute to ensure the stability of  the banking system but they have also stated the property ratios are unsustainable and create instability so really their options are very limited.

                    And if they bail out investors  (in both residential and commercial) they create the same problem for themselves that the Fed did with their QE programme….they become captured by the underwrite and cannot withdraw it….which ultimately runs counter to their charter.



                    • pat

                      "another concern I have about that passive method is that on top of financial and housing disruption, it also reduces the likelihood of investment in improving housing stock standards, and our housing stock is still often disgracefully low in this regard."

                      Gov is partially addressing this with increased social housing build and the improving standards can be covered by increased trades training though its not a given….there is room for much more particularly in regard to CC and density as Susan Krumdieck promotes.

                    • Molly

                      I'm someone who thinks the inflated housing prices do need to come down – both for purchase and for rent.

                      The question is:  Can this be equity adjustment occur WHILE still allowing people to live in and retain their current housing?  You seem prepared to let the market which has failed us in terms of providing homes, crash AND then provide them. 

                      You also seem to suggest you would support govt loans only for homeowners, but I don't think that would deflate the housing market substantially.   Significantly, tenants would be delayed in receiving any benefit.

                      I would have landlords who don't use alternative entity vehicles such as trusts, or LLC's to be the next in line for government mortgages after owner occupiers.

                      Only if there was a capacity left, would you include commercial entities that trade in housing and rentals.  I would also not offer the facility to overseas investors or non NZ citizens. 

                      The current social housing programme is going to take a while to come online, and is inadequate unless you are counting on a vast load of properties to come on the market at diminished prices.  Which while beneficial in terms of stock numbers, will have an ignored human cost to it, that might be avoided if some direct action is taken.

                      As mentioned, IF investors were included, they would only be able to take the reduced rate option AND be required to pass on the majority of that rate to tenants.  Eg.  they still get the 30% reduced payments over time to offset the expected loss of capital equity, and rental costs are directly and immediately reduced for tenants.

                  • pat

                    "The question is:  Can this be equity adjustment occur WHILE still allowing people to live in and retain their current housing?  You seem prepared to let the market which has failed us in terms of providing homes, crash AND then provide them."

                    You appear to misunderstand …the equity adjustment is going to occur….and as it does we can (and I suspect will) provision home owners to remain in their homes.

                    "You also seem to suggest you would support govt loans only for homeowners, but I don't think that would deflate the housing market substantially.   Significantly, tenants would be delayed in receiving any benefit."

                    Support for homeowners is correct….if you include provision for investors you are placing the floor under the market and encourage the lending…the deflation will  occur because homeowners do not require a return…it is somewhere to live…whereas investors require the return to justify the investment.

                    Serviceability is the key

                    "I would have landlords who don't use alternative entity vehicles such as trusts, or LLC's to be the next in line for government mortgages after owner occupiers."

                    They can be next in line…but if the gov says sorry nothing for you then the deflation occurs….there is a disincentive for banks to provide finance.

                    "Only if there was a capacity left, would you include commercial entities that trade in housing and rentals.  I would also not offer the facility to overseas investors or non NZ citizens. "

                    It is not a question of capacity…the Govs ability to finance is unlimited (if we ignore future impact) …it is what is the desired outcome…commercial property is also overvalued and over leveraged…..it cannot be subsidised as that creates disconnects and disconnects from the real economy are the problem.

                    "the current social housing programme is going to take a while to come online, and is inadequate unless you are counting on a vast load of properties to come on the market at diminished prices.  Which while beneficial in terms of stock numbers, will have an ignored human cost to it, that might be avoided if some direct action is take"

                    Yes the social housing will take time and in one respect I think the gov foolish to build when they could buy cheaply existing properties (there was no shortage of houses, only a shortage of affordable housing) But there are positives to building social housing including training, employment and new technology (or systems)

                    "As mentioned, IF investors were included, they would only be able to take the reduced rate option AND be required to pass on the majority of that rate to tenants.  Eg.  they still get the 30% reduced payments over time to offset the expected loss of capital equity, and rental costs are directly and immediately reduced for tenants."

                    And why would an investor do that?…the incentives are to quit as they are now.


                    • Molly

                      Social housing opposed to state housing helps to maintain inflated housing prices.

                      Supporting landlords while requiring them to pass on the savings to their tenants, will still allow the market to deflate while allowing the high proportion of tenanted NZers to stay in their current housing if it is still the most appropriate for them.

                      You seem to expect the market which has failed, to crash, and then as it recovers – somehow do what it has failed to do in the past.  Our housing situation requires a stronger government intervention to solve.  Social housing programmes won't be the solution.

                      "As mentioned, IF investors were included, they would only be able to take the reduced rate option AND be required to pass on the majority of that rate to tenants.  Eg.  they still get the 30% reduced payments over time to offset the expected loss of capital equity, and rental costs are directly and immediately reduced for tenants."

                      And why would an investor do that?…the incentives are to quit as they are now.

                      Well, aren't all landlords in it for the business of providing housing at a profit and not capital gains? (/sarc) In essence, their profits won't be adversely affected – their income would reduce, but so would their expenses.  The return should be equitable with pre-Covid.

                      I'm advocating a bottom-up approach.  What do the NZ people need.  We need to be housed, fed and supported – then employed.  The current social housing plan is not going to cut it, it was ineffective to address the real housing issues before, and it will not deliver now.

                    • pat

                      "Social housing opposed to state housing helps to maintain inflated housing prices"

                      .Not sure your definition of social housing is the norm…social housing INCLUDES state housing, community and emergency housing.

                      "Supporting landlords while requiring them to pass on the savings to their tenants, will still allow the market to deflate while allowing the high proportion of tenanted NZers to stay in their current housing if it is still the most appropriate for them"

                      Supporting them how?…..and tenants can remain in their current housing (if they so desire) if the landlord changes…the property remains.

                      "You seem to expect the market which has failed, to crash, and then as it recovers – somehow do what it has failed to do in the past.  Our housing situation requires a stronger government intervention to solve.  Social housing programmes won't be the solution."

                      You continue misunderstand what I am outlining….'the market will do what the market does , and currently it is in a deflationary environment….the state intervention (or not) is crucial to the desired outcome…as it always was, its just that in the recent past the intervention was considered undesired

                  • pat

                    "The World Bank also says this ratio is "possibly the most important summary measure of housing market performance, indicating not only the degree to which housing is affordable by the population, but also the presence of market distortions".

                    Based on this official work, it seems to have become accepted that a median multiple of 3.0 times or less is a very good marker for housing affordability. Much of the work in support of the 3x standard is based on US research on the US housing market"


                    Is that a ratio you wish the government to "support"?…..for by requiring support for investors that's exactly what you will be doing.

  6. observer 6

    I have little time for JLR but credit where it's due, this is a useful insight into how things are done inside the National caucus:


    • ianmac 6.1

      My link didn't work Observer?

      • I Feel Love 6.1.1

        Basically he says all MPs are liars and it's anyone's guess between "mr unlikable and mr unknowable". He's quite funny.

    • ianmac 6.2

      Thanks observer. A worthwhile read. Much more credible insight on the "Vote. Far more useful than some of the commentators! Thanks Jamie.


  7. RedLogix 7

    So much for the Swedish experiment:

    Sweden now has the highest coronavirus death rate in the world per capita over the last week after continuing to shun lockdown.

    The government has insisted that its softer approach to dealing with the pandemic will pay off in the long run as restaurants, bars and businesses remain open.

    But over the last seven days, Sweden had an average of 6.08 deaths per million inhabitants – more than any other country in the world.

    This is in comparison to 5.57 in the UK, 4.28 in Belgium, 4.11 in the US, 2.62 in Spain, 2.29 in Italy, and 2.26 in France.

    Many of these other countries saw far more virus deaths earlier in the pandemic, but managed to bring down the numbers with strict lockdown measures.

    • pat 7.1

      Sweden currently ranks 8th on deaths per capita @384 per million….behind the likes of Spain, France , UK and Italy…San Marino is the highest @1209


      Ah…over the last week…lies, damn lies and statistics.

    • I Feel Love 7.2

      Also something in the Guardian about the lower than expected percentage of infected people with antibodies, the mathematicians are baffled (?????).  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/21/just-7-per-cent-of-stockholm-had-covid-19-antibodies-by-end-of-april-study-sweden-coronavirus

      • Andre 7.2.1

        There's some kind of mental disconnect going on between an expected 25% antibody rate, or even a 7% antibody rate, and a reported population case rate of 0.3%.

        Evidently they are putting a lot of hope into the asymptomatic infection and transmission rate being orders of magnitude higher than detected case rate. But that hope isn't supported by data from places where extensive testing of contacts is carried out (such as New Zealand), which shows that true asymptomatic cases are a small fraction of the number of symptomatic cases.

        Given that most reports of antibody tests highlight the fact that most tests have a very high false positive rate, the likeliest explanation is that even the 7% at the end of April is a gross overestimate of how many have actually been exposed. Which in turn suggests that the voluntary physical distancing the Swedes have done has successfully flattened the curve, but they are just somewhere near the start of a very long broad peak of the curve.

        • lprent

          Which in turn suggests that the voluntary physical distancing the Swedes have done has successfully flattened the curve, but they are just somewhere near the start of a very long broad peak of the curve.

          That was my reading of it this morning as well. Covid-19 simply isn’t as infectious as originally anticipated, or it doesn’t cause the immune system to generate antibodies unless symptoms are severe or ….

          But as was obvious from the start – this isn’t a standard disease

          • Andre

            Covid-19 simply isn’t as infectious as originally anticipated

            My sense is that infection spreading is mainly due to large groups getting close together and making loud noises at each other. Choir practice, bars, weddings, noisy restaurants etc. Those appear to have been the superspreading events. Then once those events stopped, and very basic precautions against spreading started, it took a lot of close personal contact for most new infections.

            It kind of makes a mockery of the idea of an R0 number when most infection spread is due to a few discrete superspreading events, each resulting in a large but random number of transmissions. Rather than the picture implied by an R0 number, which suggests each infection likely passes it on to two or three other people .(or twenty in the case of measles in an unprotected population).

            • I Feel Love

              Ever been to a resthome lately, they're squished in like sardines, and of course NZs other outbreak was at a school.

            • Nic the NZer

              I looked into typical infection models of the kind being used to discuss policy (the SIR form) and was astounded by how unrealistically simplistic they are. While its possible to understand they are modelling a process like viral spread its always going to be questionable if they are making a reasonable forecast, specifically as the outbreak occurs people will and have been naturally socially distance themselves from others (people automatically out less and take more precautions), but the assumption seems to be a static R0 throughout any forecast which doesn't respond to the outbreak.

  8. Ad 8

    Does anyone know of government reviews going on in response to the Covid-19 outbreak?

    • Anne 8.1

      I vaguely recall talk about a review into the Covid 19 responses by DHBs after complaints about lack of surgical equipment and PPEs in some parts of the country. I can't remember the actual specifics.

  9. lprent 9

    That was annoying. Software security update reboot. It found a configuration issue from the operating system update earlier in the week. Set the IP incorrectly.

    Rapid fix while I was in a zoom webinar.

  10. Poission 10

    One interesting aspect of the lockdown,and spending constraints is that NZ has reduced both its use of credit cards,and paid off over the last 2 months 1.5 billion of interest bearing credit card debt.



    • RedBaronCV 10.1

      It sucks to be visa . Wonder what the impact is on the balance of payments and how much less is going to overseas as profit and fees. I'm assuming the local banks provide the capital circulated but I don't  really know how it works in the background.

      Another random thought – so far banks and credit card companies seem to have made up the fraud losses. that happen but with the changing banking enviroment will security become a higher profile activity?


  11. Muttonbird 11

    I see James' favourite politician, Jair Bolsonaro, is butchering Brazil's Covid 19 response.

    1153 deaths today with 8000+ critical.

    • James 11.1

      It makes me laugh how mush you mention me – whereas I never give you a second thought. 

    • Drowsy M. Kram 11.2

      When asked (on 1 November 2018) who he thought the world's most charismatic leader is, James replied "At the moment .. Jair Bolsonaro".

      Daily Review 01/11/2018

      How many times has James moved on since then?  More recently (January 2020) our very own leader of the opposition Simon Bridges had reacquired James' favour.

      "i (as stated prev) stopped my regular donations to national telling the office that I would not restart while Bridges was leader. 

      but he’s won me over and I have started donating again."

      19th September: Talk Like a Pirate Day

      A few days ago these ‘word clouds’ revealed that some NZers consider that another political leader close to home as ‘charismatic‘.


      But I suspect that’s not how James rolls. Perhaps Todd Muller's looking pretty charismatic to James "at the moment".  Ah James, ever the fair-weather admirer.

      • james 11.2.1

        look at you – searching back and spending time searching for old comments.  Good on you.

        In reply to the first item – who is the worlds most charismatic leader – I answered.  why for the moment?  simply because this is not an absolute.  Ardern may be polling the highest "for the moment" dosnt mean she will for all eternity (despite the wishes of some on here).  


        And yep – I stopped donating, and then I started once I thought he was doing a better job.  Still am – every month – wont stop with the new leader.

  12. pat 12

    "But first, the latest update records +2.4 mln more people claiming unemployment benefits in the US, taking the total since early March to more than 38 mln. We may be getting used to such large numbers and this latest week is lower than last week, but this still represents a building social disaster, the scale of which vastly exceeds the Great Depression. In 1932, twelve million Americans were unemployed and one out of every four families no longer had an income. In 2020 the social safety net is helping with the income stress in the short term, but the level of real jobless level is also now approaching 25%. US jobless benefits typically last only 26 weeks"


    Over 38 million unemployed in worlds largest economy…and a virus uncontrolled…difficult to see any upside

    • RedBaronCV 12.1

      I don't envy the state governors who seem to be the last stand of sensible politicians in many parts of the US. No money, no food and widespread gun ownership is a recipe for civil unrest. Those billionaire communities maybe don't look so secure anymore and the overseas boltholes are closed

  13. weka 13

  14. Fireblade 14

    Newshub Breaking News:

    Todd's in, Simon's gone.


    • Bruce 14.1

      And hes making it pretty clear, his absolute priority is the economy, no matter how many lives it costs.

  15. Fireblade 15

    Hoots got the boot?

    National's Chinese Communist Party funding must have been cut now that Simon's gone.


    • weka 15.1

      maybe he's got a new job that's incompatible with his twitter account.

      Or he's arch trolling the left.

  16. joe90 16

    A wee twist…

  17. The Herald changing its tune? Pointing out New Zealand's shameful inequality of recent decades.

    Social and racial stresses arose from widely differing interpretations of the Treaty, the article said, which led to 135 years of conflict and grievance until the document was enshrined in law in 1975 and a truth and reconciliation commission formed.

    "Today, the nation has shamefully unequal rates of Māori health, educational and judicial outcomes, and youth suicide statistics are tragically high."

    Because of these disparities, many contemporary local commenters viewed the country's progressive label with scepticism, the article said.

    Many social advances previously occurred because of the nation's values of fairness and equality, but now some of the motivation was to be seen as a world leader.

    "If you look at the right of women to vote, in the 1890s, no one was saying, 'We want to be the first…'," historian Professor Paul Moon told the BBC.

    "The concern was, 'This is an important right because it will enfranchise women or be more representative, more democratic and so on'. "

    But then Granny reverts to form and tries to link 35 years of neoliberal crap to the current Labour led govt.

  18. Corey Humm 18

    I feel like hell has frozen over. Firstly my dad has been saying nice things about Winston Peters… And I agree with them (my dad's a labour/alliance kinda guy)

    Then all the older blokes I know who have benefited enormously from neoliberal policies and absolutely hated Labour and adored key and haven't voted Labour since Lange,  many of them are praising the PM, talking about nationals lack of compassion and saying they may vote labour or NZ f. 

    Obviously not a poll or anything but … It's so weird to hear so many people who traditionally spit bike at me for being a lefty even entertain the idea of Labour. Perhaps covid 19 has changed how a lot of people value things. Time will tell. 

    • I Feel Love 18.1

      I hope so Corey.

      • Eco Maori 18.1.1

        Kia Ora Newshub. 

        Paddy I see you won a award. Yes it great that the government took a strong stance against the virus.

        Looks like the young ones are enjoying the night life. 

        That's cool A shortage of wool for because of a The people nitting. 

        Ka kite Ano. 


  19. Eco Maori 19

    Kia Ora Te Ao Maori News. 

    That's correct the health of the Kaumatua comes first our traditions can still be revived later on. 

    Festpack is postponed till 2024 it looks like a great Pacific people festival. of Arts

    Ka kite Ano. 



  20. Eco Maori 21

    Kia Ora Newshub

    I think it's a great idea dropping council concent for sheds and sleepouts under 30 Square metres. 

    That's good $600 million being put into regional economy's.

    Looks like Kiwis are enjoying the ski fields.

    Conserving water is the best way to go so we stop putting huge pressure on our environment look around the world and learn from there mistakes. 


    Ka kite Ano 

  21. Eco Maori 22

    Kia Ora Te Ao Maori News. 

    Some people will be able to build sleepouts to house the whanau with the guidance of a qualified builder.

    Tangata Whenua using the Internet to entertain and teach Te reo Ka pai.

    To much the tangata living off the grid. 

    Ka kite Ano 


  22. Eco Maori 23

    Kia Ora The Am Show. 

    The government has done a great job in their first term. 

    Aotearoa is the place a lot of people want to flight to.

    Fruit juice will be good for you with no sugar or coffee.  Sounds like the new drink is great.

    Ka kite Ano 

  23. Eco Maori 24

    Kia Ora Newshub.

    Great that Stuff is going to be owned by its staff. 

    The magnetic virus testing is great especially with the technology being open sourced and very cost effective open source is the way of the future.

    Ka kite Ano 

  24. Eco Maori 25

    Kia Ora Te Ao Maori News.

    That's great church and tangi can have 100 tangata attending . 

    The Papatuanuku has changed a lot in the last 3 years.?????.

    Mana Wahine. 

    Ka kite Ano. 


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  • PGF grant for Ventnor memorial
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  • 75th anniversary of V.E Day
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  • Winston Peters responds to Simon Bridges’ ‘my sweetheart’ comment
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  • Foreign Minister makes four diplomatic appointments
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  • Concern at introduction of national security legislation for Hong Kong
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  • Adult kakī/black stilt numbers soar
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  • Waikato-Tainui settlement story launched on 25th anniversary of Treaty signing
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  • New District Court Judge appointed
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  • Govt increases assistance to drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers
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  • Investment in New Zealand’s history
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  • Is it time to further recognise those who serve in our military?
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  • Sport Recovery Package announced
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  • Great Walks recovery on track for summer
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  • Māori – Government partnership gives whānau a new housing deal
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  • Keeping New Zealanders Safe In The Water
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  • Legal framework for COVID-19 Alert Level referred to select committee
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  • New Zealand condemns shocking attacks on hospital and funeral in Afghanistan
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  • $62 million package to support families through the Family Court
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  • A modern approach to night classes
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  • New registration system for forestry advisers and log traders
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