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Surplus power and asset sales

Written By: - Date published: 10:03 am, March 28th, 2013 - 55 comments
Categories: Economy - Tags: , , ,

Apparently Meridian Energy are saying that there is unlikely to be a renewal of the Tiwai Point power contract. As the Herald says

The bombshell disclosure has the capacity to upset the government’s plans to partially privatise state-owned electricity company MightyRiverPower.

Since Tiwai Point consumes about a seventh of the power produced by the country and we are already awash with surplus power as National’s plans for significant economic growth seem to always never come to fruition (the reverse does seem to be their area of strength). Not having this contract does rather limit the returns that investors will be able to realize for quite some time from purchasing shares. Which will reduce the share price and the value to the taxpayers (already minimal to negative) from any sale.

Good strategy by the local smelter company and it’s main shareholder Rio Tinto and Sumitomo Chemical Company.  Based on the Chicken Little approach to economic threats displayed by John Key, Steven Joyce, and Gerry Brownlee in the past, the pathetic bootlicking of Warner Bros executives over the Hobbit being a prime example, we can expect them to cave in and to shovel taxpayers dollars in their direction.

The timing makes this an all too familiar scenario for people interested in strategic leverage.

This morning’s announcement to the NZX comes ahead of a select committee appearance this morning by the chair and senior managers of Meridian at the commerce select committee, where it’s expected chief executive Mark Binns will outline more fully the implications of the stalemate.

But news that there may be no new electricity price agreement with New Zealand Aluminium Smelters carries huge implications for the electricity sector, which has struggled to grow in the last five years and would face a massive supply over-hang which could last years, were the smelter to close.

Coincidence. Yeah right… The only real question is in what manner this weak-kneed government will collapse.

Perhaps they should consider that this would be a good time to consider what alternative economic development could do with a surplus of electricity. Or just to look at shutting down some of the older power stations earlier. For instance Huntly power station which ..

The plant, as one of the biggest carbon dioxide greenhouse gas generators of the country,[5] contributing over half of New Zealand’s emissions of greenhouse gases from electricity generation,[10] has repeatedly drawn the ire of environmentalists and has been the focus of associated protests.[3] A 2006 government report outlining future climate change mitigation and energy policies was seen by the operator as a sign that the plant might have to be closed by 2015 under these plans, with around 10 years of design life still remaining. It was also noted that, apart from being difficult to replace as a source of power (due to New Zealand’s annually growing generation demand, especially around Auckland), such a decision would also be uneconomical for the foreseeable future, even if coal prices were to rise.[11]

 

55 comments on “Surplus power and asset sales”

  1. toad 1

    While it would be great to see Huntly shut down, there are considerable transmission infrastructure difficulties to be overcome in getting Manapouri electricity to the North Island.

    Not insurmountable, but still significant.

    • lprent 1.1

      Agreed. However in a long skinny country with significant power generation at one end and most of the population and industry at the other, we’d be better sinking funds into economic development there than into bailing out Rio Tinto’s sale plans. It has been a structural problem forever and putting the smelter down in the deep south was a kludge designed to get around that. The country as a whole reaps very small returns off that power from it’s current usage and the NZAS plant is steadily becoming uncompetitive from a productivity viewpoint.

      There is already a major set of upgrades going on in the transmission system because it is creaking already. Just needs an extension. It’d actually be pretty good as a economic stimulus as well.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        The country as a whole reaps very small returns off that power from it’s current usage and the NZAS plant is steadily becoming uncompetitive from a productivity viewpoint.

        An article I read suggested that it had become un-competitive several years ago. That’s why Rio Tinto are trying to sell it.

    • Jenny 1.2

      While it would be great to see Huntly shut down…..

      Toad

      (It is amazing to me, how the Greens now qualify everything they say. Obviously getting ready for “responsible government”. Eager to show big business that they will be “a trusted pair of hands”.)

      Tiwai must be shut down

      The National government are arguing that we have to subsidise the profits of Rio Tinto Zinc (one of the biggest and richest companies in the world) to save jobs. No doubt the Labour opposition will fall for this argument and remain silent. Leaving the National government free to indulge in another piece of monumental corporate welfare, costing the taxpayer $millions.

      When the right start talking about “preserving jobs”, it is code for “conserving corporate profits”. Any jobs resulting, are a side effect.

      Every week we see the Nacts callous concern for jobs.

      …..there are considerable transmission infrastructure difficulties to be overcome in getting Manapouri electricity to the North Island.

      Toad

      There’s your jobs right there.

      Most developed countries are starting to realise that a rationalisation of the power grid is the next big step to making full use of renewables.

      As Lynn properly points out. Shutting down Tiwai, will allow us to shut down the coal fired Huntly Power Station.

      This would see New Zealand well on the way to becoming the first fully zero carbon energy generator. And a beacon for the world.

      The Greens need to have the courage of their convictions.

      If the Green Party are truly sincere in fighting poverty, (rather than just an electoral ploy). Then the Greens should be opposing this proposed piece of corporate welfare that will rob the government’s accounts.

      The Green Party need to come out strongly in opposition to any plans to subsidise the profits of Sumitomo with tax payers money. And openly demand instead, that the smelter be closed.

      Truth in Advertising

  2. Rich 2

    It isn’t a contract renewal. NZ Aluminium are looking to renege on or be released from their existing contract to take power from Meridian, which has several years to run. *If* there is a shareholder guarantee from RTZ/Sumitomo, which there should be, then they will be obliged to either buy the power and resell it, or compensate Meridian for any losses. (It’s quite possible that the government/Meridian was dumb and craven enough to omit such a guarantee, in which case RTZ/Sumitomo will probably just liquidate NZA).

    Even without a transmission upgrade, it should be possible to use Manapouri electricity off-peak in place of North Island generated power, which would conserve Waikato water and enable the retirement of some of the Huntly coal units. Whether this will actually work out in the pseudo-market remains to be seen (it’s to be regretted that Labour did nothing to change the daft pseudo-market system for allocating generation).

  3. China is the largest producer of aluminium in the world. Why would NZ try to keep this smelter open and compete with China.

    • lprent 3.1

      Precisely. The plant down at Tiwai was pretty good at the time it was built and upgraded. But these days the only thing that keeps it productive compared to other plants worldwide is the cheapish power.

      It is a long way away from the users of the product. A long way from the raw materials apart from power. The plant is destined to become more and more obsolete because there is no reason to upgrade it. Cut it now before it stops costing us too much. That was the decision that RioTinto came to in 2011. I think that “NZ Inc” should make that decision too

    • Rich 3.2

      One reasonable argument is that it’s better for the planet as a whole to produce Al from renewable electricity here than coal-derived electricity in China.

      • RJLC 3.2.1

        Interesting point, also interesting that I don’t see anybody disputing it in here.

    • DH 3.3

      “Why would NZ try to keep this smelter open and compete with China.”

      There are commercial reasons. Chinese smelters are overproducing and built up a stockpile of aluminium. The world price has fallen not because of reduced demand but because of oversupply; China is dumping stocks at cost or below. If it was just reduced demand the smelters would have cut back on production and the problem would have disappeared at least 1-2 years ago. It’s not that the Chinese smelters have lower costs either, they pay more for power than Tiwai does,

      Rio Tinto look to be wanting to wait the Chinese smelters out, they can’t keep running at a loss forever. The solar panel industry had the same issues and Suntech have finally just defaulted on some big debts, prices of panels will probably start going up again soon and the Chinese smelters will face the same fate if their competition don’t all close down first.

      I guess it still is a question of whether NZ wants to be involved in a trade war that we don’t really have much of a stake in. We’d be backing Rio Tinto by subsidising them.

    • jim 3.4

      Maggie the grade of allumminium produced at Tiwai is of the highest grade and is in high demand along with one other that i do not think is produced in China.

  4. geoff 4

    Tell the smelter to fuck off, give free power to the citizens. Bullshit capitalism can go fuck itself.
    The whole country is run like a farce, we’re all running around trying to chisel one another to try and get to the top of the heap. What a fucking joke.

  5. clashman 5

    Cue J Key doing a “deal” to keep this “important industry” running and of course to maintain wholesale electricity rates with his pet sale coming up.

  6. Dv 6

    I have just recieved my contact energy dividend. 2% before tax!!!!

    • toad 6.1

      And Contact’s share price took a hit this morning with the uncertainty over Tiwai Point. Buyers of MRP shares beware.

  7. Matthew 7

    According to Twitter, more corporate welfare right on cue !! I bet Key will come out & play the hero for saving the jobs, despite the fact that we the taxpayers might as well be paying their wages.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    I/S has a good breakdown of the whole shebang:

    The down-side: no-one will be building new wind-farms for a while. But that does give us time to get policy in place to direct new investment solely towards renewables.

    Obviously the shutdown of Tiwai Point would be bad for Southland. But there’s some silver lining to this cloud. And if it happens we are just going to have to make the best of it.

    Personally, I think closing the plant down would be the best option.

  9. ianmac 9

    I bet there will be a last minute compromise reached with Meridian reducing electricity charges.
    No Minister will be involved of course. No pressure involved. No emails. No Records.
    Sorry. The Agreement when reached is Commercially Sensitive.
    The Outcome will be an Operational Matter.

  10. Jane 10

    I agree that it might to be time to shut Tiwai Point down, maybe come to some sort of deal where they keep going for a few years while the grid gets rearranged to make efficient use of the extra capacity, am sure Tranzpower must have some plans stored away they can dust off. Would give us an increase in base capacity and the room to develop alternatives without the need to build more base capacity.

    The price Tiwai Point gets charged is pretty low isn’t it? So wouldn’t Meridian get a better price selling to the main grid? The extra capacity might drop the current overall retail price (I hope!) but if Meridian can get more than they do now wont that be better for Meridian?

  11. tc 11

    Suspicious timing on an issue that’s largely unchanged for years as the deal sucked when muldoon did it and it’s steadily gone south in the decades since.

    Weigh up the subsidies and you probably could’ve paid the entire workforce from it without the polluting smelter always with it’s hand out.

    This is all about getting MRP cheap as for NACT’s backers and JK’s banksta buddies so the card is played to this effect by the recently installed CEO and ex fletcherman Binns.

    Very clever, the nat’s will probably blame the opposition for ‘talking down’ MRP’s value and they’ll give Rio more money as well so their backers get it both ways.

    The con just rolls on and on and on.

  12. Ad 12

    Hoping for the shutdown of Tiwai Point is pretty callous. That’s several hundred direct jobs lost, a massive knockon effect into the Bluff, Invercargill and more broadly the Southland economy and its unemployment lines. It’s far worse than if Solid Energy were to die.

    Sure it may never come to that and there’s plenty more posturing to come. Who wants to take that risk with hundreds of dinners on tables, or not?

    The economic risk of smelter shutdown is to many hundreds of mortgages and small businesses in a highly fragile rural service economy.

    For the foreseeable future, the alternative would be all those skilled manufacturing jobs, and the employees and their skills, would fly off to Australia. Check out how many have already left in Gore or Westport. Almost 20% of those towns.

    For that kind of risk, that kind of defence of manufacturing, the state really should consider intervention.

    So careful what you wish for.

    • lprent 12.1

      Yeah, and I’m expecting to hear from Lyn when she reads my post. She is from there and worked in the smelter for a while.

      But it is the old issue. NZ put in a massive capital investment when I was a kid to get the smelter. More later on to extend it (I was involved in parts of that in the early 80’s). The intent was originally to help build some heavier industry around the smelter and what it produced. But really the return on it for the country is so low as a nation that we’d have been better off not building it.

      You notice the level of heavy industry in Invercargill? It kind of escaped me when I was down there. The usage of aluminium through the rest of the economy is bare to nothing. But we built not only Manupouri but also the Clyde dam at an immense capital cost to support it. Now it is just another dwindling industry. FFS the tech down there has made a bigger impact on the local economy. There are kids in Invercargill again..

      As much as it pains me to say it, the $40 million + making a travesty of our labour laws for the hobbit gave a better rate of return.

      But what could we do with some serious power surpluses. You know that they locate server farms next to old smelters because that way they can use the old power lines…

      • Ad 12.1.1

        Sure ain’t lost on me that one massive intervention, now largely run its course, would require another at least as big to fix. The worst intervention, I hope you’d agree, would be to do nothing.

        Any party up for the Southland ec dev plan yet? No one should encourage destroying the village to save the village.

        Probably a server farm repeats and extends the existing problem. There is no single solution. But New Zealand should protect its workers, plan for employment continuity, partner regional growth, and strengthen the economy. None in isolation. Agree?

        Redistributing the electricity benefit nationally is treasury-speak. Southland needs a plan not a plug hole.

        • Colonial Viper 12.1.1.1

          Any party up for the Southland ec dev plan yet?

          I think Shadbolt wanted another 0.5M cows down there.

      • Jenny 12.1.2

        I’m expecting to hear from Lyn when she reads my post. She is from there and worked in the smelter for a while.

        LPRENT

        I wouldn’t worry. Because she would know what a dirty filthy job and a vicious anti-union employer the smelter is. As well as trying to screw down the taxpayer they have been trying to screw down their workforce as well.

        These southland workers would be much better employed improving the grid. And help make New Zealand an example to the world.

        Truth in Advertising

    • Draco T Bastard 12.2

      If we had the manufacturing that used up the greater part of what the smelter uses then it would probably be worth keeping but 90% of what it produces is exported. That’s a great example of inefficiency – we import bauxite, smelt it and then export it again.

      Now, I’ve said that we should be doing as much as we can ourselves with our resources. In the case of aluminium that would mean developing the bauxite deposit in Northland and building a new smelter about a tenth of the capacity of Tiwai Point – also possibly in Northland although there may be efficiency gains enough to sail the bauxite down to Te Wai Pounamu. And the whole damn lot of it would be government owned and run as a cooperative.

    • Jenny 12.3

      @Ad

      I sincerely wish for the smelter to close.

      I also sincerely wish that the workers the workers demand and get the best redundancy and retraining package possible.

      This is where any government subsidy should go.

      (Rather that than paying out $millions of taxpayers money to prop up Sumitomo’ profits)

      • Blue 12.3.1

        I think the workers and their families may disagree with you. It’s likely that they would rather keep their jobs. Your concern for their welfare is truly touching.

        • Jenny 12.3.1.1

          So much faux concern for the workers. When the real issue is the benefit to Sumitomo. Blue, where is your concern for the tens of thousands of other workers dumped from their jobs, there livelyhoods taken from them?

          The workers and their families may disagree with me. However. Their best strategy now, if they care for their families, is to fight for the best redundancy agreementn and exit package they can get. Putting faith in Sumitomo to look after their interests will be a very bad bet.

          Meanwhile the climate debt mounts up and it is one all our grandchildren will be paying for the rest of their lives.

  13. feijoa 13

    I remember the protests to try and save Lake Manapouri from the dam
    Has it been worth it?

  14. jimgreen 14

    Jeanette Fitzsimons did a pretty good write up on this scenario last year

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/energy/news/article.cfm?c_id=37&objectid=10831956

    • lprent 14.1

      That is an excellent article. In fact I want to reprint it because it is exactly what I’m thinking. It is a waste pouring power into te smelter the way that we have been doing.

      Anyone want to send me Jeanette’s email? lprent at primary.geek.nz

  15. Paul Campbell 15

    And ooh look guess who just blinked – of course a pending electricity surplus is just the sort of thing that’s likely to ruin the mighty-river-power float ….. suddenly the Tiwai folks are negotiating directly with the National Party rather than Meridian

    Just think what would happen if Tiwai did shut down …. suddenly we could shut down the coal fired power stations …. we’d be up to out navals in carbon credits …. power prices to ordinary people would drop, especially in the South Island …. local manufacturing industries would be come more competitive

    (and a down side wind energy would stop being viable for a while and we’d stop building it)

    • Draco T Bastard 15.1

      Just think what would happen if Tiwai did shut down …. suddenly we could shut down the coal fired power stations…

      It wouldn’t be suddenly – we’d need to spend a few months building the lines to supply the grid north.

      • Paul Campbell 15.1.1

        Don’t forget that Tiwai itself is is a carbon emitter – every tonne of Al made makes 2.4 tonnes of CO2

        • Draco T Bastard 15.1.1.1

          And how does that removes the need for putting in place the lines to take up the slack as we take down the coal fired stations?

      • Jenny 15.1.2

        We need to spend a few years building a proper dispersed intelligent grid. (with redundancies built in to protect against black swan weather and geologic events.)

        It is called mitigation and future proofing.

        Which political party would support this?

        • Draco T Bastard 15.1.2.1

          The Alliance
          Probably the Greens
          Wouldn’t be surprised if Mana would
          Democrats for Social Credit probably would to

          That’s about it.

  16. gobsmacked 16

    In an interview with Duncan Garner this afternoon, David Shearer appears to be in favour of giving Rio Tinto the cash.

    Q: “So you would be supporting the government on this?” A: “We need to be hands-on on this …”

    However, the entire interview is the usual Shearer waffle (why can’t interviewers stop and say: “Hang on, what does that actually mean?”). So he could be for or against or just a random noise-generator, it’s hard to tell.

    http://www.radiolive.co.nz/Audio.aspx

    Starts at 5.25 pm approx.

  17. geoff 17

    So after 9 hours of work I come home and find that, LPRENT was right on the money, this fucking corrupt National party is going to use taxpayer money to subsidise the smelter’s electricity price. All to protect the mighty river share price when they flog it off.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/131495/govt-offers-to-top-up-power-cost-to-tiwai-point-smelter
    Here’s the whole thing:

    The Government is offering to subsidise electricity used by the aluminium smelter at Tiwai Point as state-owned electricity company Meridian Energy and the smelter have failed to reach agreement on electricity prices.

    State-Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall says the Government has been in touch with the smelter’s owner, New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS), about the matter and is offering a modest amount to bridge the gap.

    “We’re prepared to help in the short to medium term to bridge a very small gap but I want to give you an absolute assurance this Government is not interested in subsidising a multi-national in the long term.”

    Mr Ryall would not give a dollar figure, saying it would be inappropriate to do so.

    Mr Ryall says the smelter company is a very tough negotiator but it does not have an advantage in negotiations.

    The smelter at Tiwai Point, in Southland, is New Zealand’s sole aluminium smelter. It consumes about 15% of electricity generated in New Zealand and exports more than $1 billion of aluminium each year.

    NZAS has been in talks with Meridian since August last year about renegotiating cheaper power prices to cope with a downturn in the aluminium market.

    Meridian told the stock market on Thursday there remained a major gap between it and NZAS on a number of issues which it believed were unlikely to be resolved.

    “We’ve gone to our bottom line,” said Meridian chief executive Mark Binns, “and we haven’t seen sufficient movement to give me confidence that we are going to reach an agreement. As I say, I hope I’m proved wrong.”

    Pacific Aluminium, the majority shareholder in NZAS, quickly responded by saying it believes a deal can be done and said more progress had been made in the past two weeks than in nine months.

    Mr Ryall said earlier the sticking point was longer-term prices.

    Labour Party leader David Shearer says it’s a desperate move, designed to prop up the Government’s partial asset sales programme.

    The Green Party says the Government’s partial asset sales programme has substantially weakened its hand in negotiations about the smelter.

    Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says it’s very clear the smelter company is using asset sales as a bargaining chip.

    Some analysts say a power price deal is crucial to the success of the Government’s partial privatisation plans, because the electricity freed up from the potential closure of the smelter could flood an already flat market.

    NZAS is 80% owned by Pacific Aluminium, which is owned by Rio Tinto. The other 20% of NZAS is owned by Sumitomo Chemical Company.

    • Draco T Bastard 17.1

      Mr Ryall says the smelter company is a very tough negotiator but it does not have an advantage in negotiations.

      Didn’t National say the same thing before negotiating with Warner Bros? And then gave them everything that they wanted plus use of the governmental limos?

      Labour Party leader David Shearer says it’s a desperate move, designed to prop up the Government’s partial asset sales programme.

      Perhaps he’s started reading the blogs?

      • Jenny 17.1.1

        Maybe Russel Norman should too. So far, the Greens have added nothing to this debate.

        Labour’s David Parker has been far more forthright.

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    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    4 days ago
  • How Do You Feel? What Do You Think?
    Fortune's Children: Under extraordinary pressure, the leader of the Government and the leader of the Opposition will each show us what they are made of. Have they been blessed with intelligence, grace, wit, poise, toughness, empathy and humour – and in what measure? More importantly, to what extent have they ...
    4 days ago
  • Landlords are NOT an essential service
    If you’ve ever had the misfortune of having to rent a property on the open market in New Zealand, which is one of the most expensive in the entire world, you’ll likely be keenly aware of just how arrogant and entitled landlords and their real estate agents can be.Unfortunately for ...
    4 days ago
  • A “new Society” post-COVID19 will definitely emerge. The question is: on what path?
    Society-wise, aside from the specific morbidity shall we say of the medically-oriented aspects of this COVID-19 crisis, what is unfolding before the world is in more than one way an instructive study of humanity and reactions to a high intensity, high stress environment in real time. Friends, we are at ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    4 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: Everything you need to know about the wage subsidy
    Right now low waged and insecure workers are feeling the economic brunt of the looming #Covid19 Recession. In response legal advocate Toby Cooper* and hospitality and worker’s rights advocate Chloe Ann-King, are putting together a series of legal blogs about your employment rights: In this legal blog we outline some ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    4 days ago
  • The massacre of prisoners in Modelo jail, Bogota, March 21
    by Equipo Jurídico Pueblos and Gearóid Ó Loingsigh (25/03/2020) An escape plan in question On the night of March 21st and the early morning of the 22nd, the forces of the Colombian state stormed into the Modelo prison in Bogotá, murdering 23 prisoners and injuring 83, in response to the ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    4 days ago
  • We are not America
    When the government banned semi-automatic weapons in response to a terrorist atrocity, gun-nuts were outraged. Mired in toxic American gun culture, they thought owning weapons whose sole purpose was killing people was some sort of "constitutional right", a necessity for "defending themselves" against the government. Now, the Court of Appeal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • When will we know the lockdown is working?
    Just before midnight on Wednesday March 25, Aotearoa New Zealand entered a countrywide alert level four lockdown. For at least the next four weeks, everyone who isn’t an essential worker is confined to their bubble. We are doing this to stop the explosive growth in people contracting and dying from ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    5 days ago
  • Lock Down: Day 1
    . . Lock Down: Day 1 – A photo essay with observations . Day one of the Level 4 nationwide lock-down (or, DefCon 4 as I sometimes cheekily call it) started at 11.59PM on 25 March. For a moment, most of the nation held it’s collective breath. In that brief ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • A Compelling Recollection.
    Broad, Sunlit Uplands: How those words fired my young imagination! Or, perhaps, it is more accurate to say: how those words fused, in my young mind, with the image printed on every packet of Fielder’s Cornflour. Always fascinated by history, especially modern history, I cannot hear Churchill’s wonderfully evocative words, even ...
    5 days ago
  • The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus
    . . 24 March 2020 9.46AM Number of covid19 cases in Aotearoa New Zealand: 102 . As of 11.59 on Thursday, most of New Zealand will go into “lock down”. People will be expected not to travel to work; not to socialise; and to stay home. I will not be ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • Aggressive action to address climate change could save the world $145 trillion
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections A respected research group, Project Drawdown, finds that deploying solutions consistent with meeting the Paris climate targets would cost tens of trillions of dollars globally. But crucially, those outlays would also yield long-term savings many times larger than the up-front costs. The new 2020 Drawdown ...
    5 days ago
  • After the Pandemic
    It will pass. What happens next? Not immediately, but longer term. There are many opinions, fewer certainties. Will it “change everything!” as many confidently, and contradictorily predict? In this post I look at how foresight can help bound some of the uncertainties so you can more objectively consider the future. ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    5 days ago
  • Coronavirus – Cuba shows the way
    We’ve been meaning t write something on Cuba and the coronavirus but have just discovered a very good article on the subject in the US left publication Jacobin.  The article looks at how Cuba, a poor country but one where capitalism has been done away with, is leading the way ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    6 days ago
  • Using privacy law to prevent the death penalty
    In 2018, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey - two British citizens who had purportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the British government - were captured while fighting for Isis in Syria. The British government then conspired to hand them over to the US, and agreed to provide evidence ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • It’s Time For Disaster Socialism.
    Transformers: The disaster of the Great Depression was transformed into a new and fairer society by the democratic socialism of the First Labour Government. The disaster of the Covid-19 Pandemic offers a similar transformative possibility to the Labour-NZ First-Green Government. Seize the time, Jacinda! You will never have a better ...
    6 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
    6 days ago
  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
    Associate Prof George Thomson, Louise Delany, Prof Nick Wilson While it is possible that New Zealand can use intense public health controls to eradicate COVID-19 from the country – we must also plan for other scenarios where thousands of New Zealanders are sick – including many urgently hospitalised.1 Better resilience ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    7 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: 10 questions to ask your employer proposing redundancy
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or being ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    7 days ago
  • An equitable way to support business
    The Herald reports that the government is planning to lend billions of dollars to large businesses to keep them operating during the pandemic. As with mortgage relief, this is necessary: we need companies to stay in business, to reduce the economic damage and help things get restarted again when this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Hard News: Together Alone
    We're about to do something unprecedented as a nation. We hope that by taking this extraordinary action before a single life in New Zealand has been lost to the deadly novel virus we will save tens of thousands of lives. Our  lives. We'll do it together, in households, in isolation ...
    7 days ago
  • Why timing is everything: ‘A time to refrain from embracing’ starts today
    “There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”So writes the author of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Old Testament that’s counted as a ‘wisdom’ book and written as if by an unnamed king of Jerusalem. But who would have thought there would be a time ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    7 days ago
  • Dealing with the Covid-19 Tsunami.
    I was surprised when the prime minister described the Economic Response to Covid-19 package as the ‘largest peacetime government spend in New Zealand's history’. Reflecting – checking through history – I realised that the term ‘spend’ was crucial and the package had no income tax cuts. Even so, it has ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • What about renters?
    The government today announced the latest part of its pandemic relief package: a six-month mortgage holiday for people whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic. Which is great, because these people are going to need help, and that's what the government should be doing. At the same time, it ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Living within our means.
    Years ago the Argentine sociologist Carlos Weisman wrote a book titled “Living within our Means.” It was a critique of Argentine society that focused on the paradoxical question of why, in a land of plenty, there was so much economic instability, inequality, corruption and political turmoil. His conclusion was basically ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Transparency and the pandemic
    Parliament will be leading by example and adjourning tomorrow after a special sitting to consider an epidemic notice and state of emergency. Day-to-day oversight of the government will be delegated to a select committee. But that's not the only overight mechanism. The OIA will still be law, and (so far) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • ‘Overjoyed’: a leading health expert on New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown, and the challengin...
    Michael Baker, University of Otago Overjoyed. That’s not a word epidemiologists normally use, but that’s how I felt after hearing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement about New Zealand’s COVID-19 shutdown of everything except essential services for at least four weeks from midnight on Wednesday. More than anything, I just ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • One way to solve the housing crisis
    How much homelessness is caused by house hoarding? We're about to find out. The pandemic has destroyed tourism, which means that house hoarders who put their hoarded properties up as short-term tourist rentals are now offering them on the ordinary rental market:Property investors are pulling properties from Airbnb to offer ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The pros and cons of planting trees to address global warming
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bruce Lieberman It seems like such a simple, straightforward, empowering idea: plant trees – a lot of trees – all over the world, and watch the planet’s temperature fall. Who doesn’t love a tree or two, even far more – the right ...
    1 week ago
  • Not a grand coalition, but a government of national salvation
    According to Newshub, Simon Bridges is open to joining a “grand coalition” with Labour as we hunker down to go into a month long lockdown. The idea is sound. Before now, the role of the opposition was to scrutinise and oppose. In the context of what almost amounts to a ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • Lifting our game against COVID-19
    We need to be lifting our game against COVID-19. You and I need to help those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they’re trying to lift the testing and treatment efforts. We don’t want to be playing this game running backwards. Best to play it solidly forward, from ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths in NZ
    Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Nick Wilson The NZ Government must do more to clearly articulate its COVID-19 strategy: eradication or ‘flattening the curve’ mitigation. But to do so means understanding the maths and ethics of both these strategies. In this blog, we adapt our work for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • All aboard the Covid Train
    A few days ago I was starting to write something about the pandemic, which now seems unconscionable. It took the form of a letter to an agony aunt:“Dear Deidre, I have an ugly confession. I am quite excited by Covid-19.”This is how the piece went:“I’m not a psychopath, honest. Although the ...
    PunditBy Phil Vine
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #12
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters The likelihood of extreme events ...
    1 week ago
  • We are all socialists now
    Last week, the government announced a $12 billion initial package to support people during the pandemic. Today, the Reserve Bank is buying government bonds - effectively printing money - to keep up the money supply during the crisis. Normally such moves would have the right apoplectic. Instead, the National Party ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A plea to experts: safeguard your role in public life
    I am a pundit, somebody who opines and comments on the news. There are no real qualifications to punditry though having a rudimentary way with words and good general knowledge helps. That is one reason there is a constant oversupply of would-be pundits and why it is quite hard to ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Enlightenment when?
    I recently encountered the following prescription from a Faculty of Education at a leading New Zealand University. At first I wondered if it was another product of the postmodern generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/), designed to create gibberish in the postmodern form, but I’m told it is real: The “schooled” society: Towards the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Corballis
    1 week ago
  • What the Crisis Can teach Us
    The coronavirus pandemic has of course had a major impact on individual lives and on societies as a whole. But, long after the crisis has passed (assuming it does), we will begin to realise that its real and lasting significance lies in the lessons it has taught us, if only ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Hammering home measures to stop COVID-19
    COVID-19 has plunged Aotearoa New Zealand (indeed, the world) into territory that, while maybe not totally unprecedented, certainly hasn’t been seen during the lifetimes of most of us here today. Our borders are closed to non-citizens, we’re being told not to gather in groups of more than 500 outside/100 inside, ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 week ago
  • What does ‘level two’ mean – and why does it matter?
    For the last few weeks, I’ve been urging you to prepare yourself, your family, business, and community for Covid-19. Now it’s time for real action.  Yesterday the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced another 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, bringing our total to date to 52. ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 15, 2020 through Sat, Mar 21, 2020 Editor's Pick Now Isn’t the Time to Forget About Our Climate Change Efforts   Tasha Tilberg, Lindsey Wixson, and Liu Wen photographed ...
    1 week ago
  • Is the Guardian becoming  a real newspaper again?
    by Jan Rivers The article has been corrected to show that it was Ewen MacAskill, former Guardian journalist and not Luke Harding who travelled to meet Edward Snowden with journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras.  Some of the Guardian’s well-known journalists who did not sign the protest letter are ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Life asserts itself regardless
    by Cultural Worker Late March 2020 amidst the virus. With gigs crashing and burning all around it was without much hope that I called a long standing rest home booking: “ Hi, I’m supposed to be entertaining at your place this afternoon – is it still on?” “”If you don’t ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics, the possible, and the pandemic
    Whenever people demand real change from their politicians, we're told that "politics is the art of the possible". The implication is that change isn't possible, so we'd better just get used to the sucky status quo. But now that there's a pandemic, a lot of things we were previously told ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The Only Way Through This Crisis Is Together.
    Together: In leading New Zealand through the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Prime Minister could do a lot worse than allow herself to be guided by the spirit of collective sacrifice and co-operation that animated the New Zealanders of 80 years ago. Most Kiwis alive today have had no opportunity to prove their ...
    2 weeks ago
  • GFC vs Covid-19
    It is said that generals fight the last war. In the case of the early stages of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) they had learned from the Great Depression of the 1930s and they fought intelligently and successfully. Later their advice would be ignored in favour of the Austerians who ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    2 weeks ago
  • Nobody Left Behind.
    Solidarity Forever: All over the world, the arrival of the Covid-19 virus has exposed the fragility of the walls we erect around ourselves and our loved ones. It has shattered our illusions of autonomy and revealed to us how utterly dependent we all are on other human-beings. Finally, we see ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Rebuilding a truly “Democratic” counter, or a “moderate Republican” bolt-hol...
    Looking across the various arguments for/against the leading candidates to take the Democratic Nomination, you might honestly be very hard pressed to tell. There are a number of things that have now started happening since Amy Klobuchar and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg both threw the towel in and immediately (and ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago
  • Abortion law reform a win for women
    by Daphna Whitmore Abortion is no longer in the Crimes Act in New Zealand. The law reform passed yesterday and now abortion is a medical matter between a woman and her doctor. Many women’s groups and progressive people have campaigned for reform for decades. The women’s liberation movement and some ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • How to spot bogus science stories and read the news like a scientist
    Doug Specht, University of Westminster and Julio Gimenez, University of Westminster When fake news, misreporting and alternative facts are everywhere, reading the news can be a challenge. Not only is there plenty of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other scientific topics floating around social media, you also ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Why New Zealand needs to continue decisive action to contain coronavirus
    Michael Baker, University of Otago and Nick Wilson, University of Otago With some of the toughest border restrictions and a newly-announced NZ$500 million boost to health services, New Zealand is among a small number of countries with a strategy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand is also fortunate in ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Parliament and the pandemic II
    As expected, the government has introduced a sessional order to allow Parliament to operate during the pandemic. You can read it on the Order Paper here, but the short version is that questions and motions can be filed electronicly, select committees can work remotely, and the the Business Committee can ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • When a virus goes viral: pros and cons to the coronavirus spread on social media
    Axel Bruns, Queensland University of Technology; Daniel Angus, Queensland University of Technology; Timothy Graham, Queensland University of Technology, and Tobias R. Keller, Queensland University of Technology News and views about coronavirus has spread via social media in a way that no health emergency has done before. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago

  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
    The Government has tasked a group of industry leaders to seek out infrastructure projects that are ready to start as soon as the construction industry returns to normal to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones say. The Infrastructure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Essential media COVID-19 guidelines refined
    The Government is refining its COVID-19 essential business guidance to include the distribution of news publications for communities which are hard to reach. The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, said the move was in recognition of the importance for New Zealanders who might be harder to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    10 hours ago
  • New Zealand defence personnel conclude mission at Taji
    Following the successful conclusion of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji, New Zealand defence personnel are returning to New Zealand from Iraq, in accordance with the Cabinet decision made in June 2019, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. “New Zealand is very ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    14 hours ago
  • State of National Emergency extended
    The State of National Emergency to help stop the spread of COVID-19 has been extended for a further seven days, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare said. The initial declaration on March 25 lasted seven days and can be extended as many times as necessary. “Since we went into isolation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    14 hours ago
  • Strong Govt books support ‘go hard, go early’ response
    New Zealand’s ability to go hard and go early in the fight against COVID-19 has been underpinned by strong Government finances and the growing economy heading into this global pandemic, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown financial statements for the eight months to the end ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital’s new Hagley building are being fast tracked so they are available for treatment of COVID-19 patients.   The Ministry of Health is working with contractor CPB and Canterbury DHB to enable access to the hospital’s ICU, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
    The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government working to keep air freight moving
    Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has today announced details of the Government’s support package to keep key air freight moving and ensure New Zealanders retain access to essential goods during the four-week level 4 lockdown. “The Government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand’s key ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
    New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict New Zealand to move up to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, in 48 hours Two-staged approach to give people and businesses time to prepare  Level 3, from tomorrow Non-essential businesses must close All events and gatherings must be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
    Good afternoon  The Cabinet met this morning to discuss our next actions in the fight against COVID-19.  Like the rest of the world, we are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus. But, through decisive action, and through working together, do we have a small window to get ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
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