Telecom’s profits first, NZ second

Written By: - Date published: 12:07 pm, August 20th, 2009 - 37 comments
Categories: telecommunications, wages, workers' rights - Tags: ,

You’ve heard about the Telecom dispute. But while a lot of the focus has been on what it means for the lines engineers involved, an equally important issue is what it means for the future of our country’s infrastructure.

Because basically, this whole dispute is a sympton of Telecom’s attempts to increase its profits at the cost of network maintenance.

It works like this. Telecom used to have two big contractors, Downer EDI and Transfield Services, and they managed Telecom’s lines engineers as paid staff with full employment rights. Now Telecom has introduced a third contractor, Visionstream, to take over Auckland and Northland.

Visionstream’s been brought in because they can drive down costs for Telecom. The way they do this is to attack the wages and job security of its worforce by making them redundant, stripping them of their employment status and trying to force them to buy their jobs back as dependent contractors.

The independent analysis on this is clear – the lines engineers would take an income hit of 50-65%, they’d have no guaranteed hours and they’d have to shoulder huge business risks. And all that’s after shelling out up to $60,000 to buy back their own van and tools.

To keep up, the other contractors are having to cut labour costs too. Downer EDI is trying to force its workers onto piece rates while Transfield is doing it the old fashioned way – they’ve just made 154 staff redundant. Obviously these workers were still needed to maintain the network a month ago, the only thing that’s changed is the terms of Telecom’s contract.

The pattern here is a single-minded drive from Telecom to increase its short-term profit at the expense of its workforce and the maintenance of our vital telecommunications infrastructure.

The end result, if it succeeds, will be to force hundreds of skilled engineers to leave for Australia where the Rudd Government’s massive broadband investment policy is creating plnety of new, well-paid jobs. Those that stay here will be forced to work longer hours and quality will be put at risk as workers paid on piece rates have to get through as many jobs as possible.

At a time when the Government is meant to be rolling out its own broadband investment plan, the last thing we need is a diminshed and overstretched workforce. On the immediate level the blame is Telecom’s – they’re the ones calling the shots and they’re the ones with the power to fix it.

Fundamentally though, this is what we get for privatising vital infrastructure. Telecom’s interests are not necessarily same as New Zealand’s interests, and since they own the network what they can do what they want. They’re effectively asset stripping, running down the workforce and, with it, the network, at the same time as we want to be upgrading it.

Telecom needs to get its act together and think of the consequences of its penny-pinching. And if they won’t learn themselves, hopefully its unionised workforce and New Zealand consumers will teach them a sharp lesson.

We need to learn the lesson: privatisation doesn’t work.

37 comments on “Telecom’s profits first, NZ second ”

  1. infused 1

    You have to realise they are shooting themselves in the foot. The copper wire isn’t going to matter in 5yrs. VOIP is taking off. With naked dsl slowing coming in, who gives a shit what Telecom do?

    I understand what you’re saying in regards to the workers but I think you’re trying to argue two different things here to make your first argument sound better.

    • Ianmac 1.1

      What is VOIP?

    • Ianmac 1.2

      Infused: What is VOIP? Fibre optic? Wireless?

    • Draco T Bastard 1.3

      With naked dsl slowing coming in, who gives a shit what Telecom do?

      Naked DSL is still provisioned over Telecoms network which is being run down by Telecom.

      • bill brown 1.3.1

        And what does it run over, physically, magic fairy dust fumes?

        infused is confused as always

    • lprent 1.4

      infused: What are you waffling about?

      What is the physical hardware that the naked DSL runs RELIABLY runs over? Copper or fibre, and that is what we need the techs for.

      Wireless is a technology that has a great record on hype and a pitiful record on delivery (ie it is bloody slow). Doesn’t look to me to be getting any better in a hurry. Fine if you want slow data links and frequent disruptions.

      Besides who uses voice anyway? Txt or data is far more efficient. I’ve had various forms of VOIP for a long time, and I’m still using voice of any kind less and less. Too bloody intrusive into my work day, and I dislike the telephone tag game.

      What we need the techs for is the data. Data is a hell of a lot faster and more reliable over cables. This fibre rollout is supposably for raw data, It isn’t required for 64 kilobit streams required for voice.

    • Falafulu Fisi 1.5

      Infused, I agree with you that I respect what Telecom is doing with what is theirs as long they don’t violate my rights (not my rights to what is theirs).

      Marty G said…
      But while a lot of the focus has been on what it means for the lines engineers involved, an equally important issue is what it means for the future of our country’s infrastructure.

      I didn’t know that I (as a taxpayer) part-own the Telecom communication infrastructures according to Marty G. Telecom infrastructures is own by its shareholders and not me & other NZ taxpayers.

  2. Ianmac 2

    Maybe the Transfield technicians could organise a group plan to negotiate a transfer to Australia. If all else fails of course. 154 as a group would have power both as a concerted threat or as a real option. Funny how we don’t notice them until they are not there. Good luck chaps.

  3. ghostwhowalks 3

    I thought most of the skilled lines maintenance staff went to Aussie years ago. The current staff seem to be all temporary permits/ short term migrants- before they too head to Aussie

    • Rex Widerstrom 3.1

      Well if they did they’re not working for Telstra, who played the same “Surprise! You’re now all independent contractors! Isn’t it great?!” game with their workers long ago.

      Which is why you can wait a week for a fault to be fixed if it requires a callout – and that’s in a metro area. If you’re in the country, forget it… driving to the nearest town and posting a letter will get your message there faster.

      And (not that it’s relevant to this particularly) seems to have further downgraded it’s “helpline” so that not only is it answered in some part of India but it now appears to be conducted over a piece of wet string. I gave up when the trying-to-be-helpful Indian lady was shouting “I am shouting at you now because we cannot hear each other…”

      Just the kind of consumer confidence-building that draws customers away from competitors…

      While Telecom and Telstra are fixated with one side of the ledger, are they paying any attention to the other side?

      • Maynard J 3.1.1

        “While Telecom and Telstra are fixated with one side of the ledger, are they paying any attention to the other side?”

        No, Rex, because it is a monopoly and they do not have to!

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    People forget that it took nearly two decades and a work force of up to 17,000 just to get the digital exchanges in. Most of that had been done by the time the first Rogernomics redundancies had started and Telecom was sold in 1990/1991. Since then the network has essentially stagnated due to underinvestment.

    in 1985 Telecom (Then the Post Office C&M branch) made a profit of $272m all of which was invested back in the network.
    in 1987 Telecom made a profit of $300m all of which was invested back in the network.
    in 2002 Telecom made a profit close to $1b of which $150m was put back into the network

    Just think of what our telecommunications would be if all of the profit had been put back into the network instead of going to the capitalists. There’s no way you’re going to get any competition either (except in a few select places) as it just costs too much and, as more of the needed infrastructure is put in place, the less profit to be made.

    I’m still amazed that the 4th and 5th Labour government didn’t see it. I’m sure the 4th and 5th National government did/does.

    Telecom needs to get its act together and think of the consequences of its penny-pinching.

    Telecom really don’t care. When the network is bad enough the government will have to pay to fix it up the same as what happened with rail so they’ll make an even bigger profit. Their present actions just make them more money at our expense.

    We need to learn the lesson: privatisation doesn’t work.

    What needs to happen is that all the telecommunications in NZ be brought back into public ownership. Considering the profits that it has had since deregulation I don’t think it needs to be bought back.

    • RedLogix 4.1

      Excellent comment Draco. Not a lot of people seem to understand the difference between a privately sector monopoly (or oligopy which more common) and the same enterprise in public ownership.

      In fact Keen’s most recent post includes a fascinating series of Powerpoints for his latest course in Behavioural Economics. In the second lecture he completely demolishes the so called ‘deadweight loss’ of monopolies, conclusively proving that in fact competitive markets are no more efficient than monopolies, and may well produce less total welfare. Radical stuff, and I thoroughly enjoyed working my way through them.

      The real problem with monopolies is not that they lack competition, but that when privately owned they lack accountability.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1

        This one?

        In the second lecture he completely demolishes the so called ‘deadweight loss’ of monopolies, conclusively proving that in fact competitive markets are no more efficient than monopolies, and may well produce less total welfare.

        My nephew is a builder. In Auckland that means labour only contracts which basically means that every builder in Auckland is in competition with every other builder. These labour only contracts are rather interesting because the builders not only have to supply themselves (labour) they also have to supply:

        Drills (2 or 3)
        Nail gun
        Drop saw
        Spirit levels (2 or 3)
        Hammer
        and whatever other tools are needed to put up a building.

        Now, if the firm was supplying all that you wouldn’t see enough to supply every single builder one (or more) of each item but you would see enough supplied to ensure that the job could get done with minimum waiting while also keeping the tools in near continuous use (maximum productivity) so I’m going to go on the assumption that competition not only may cost more but does as a matter of fact cost more and that may be up to several times more.

        Applied to telecommunications true competition (multiple networks) costs far more than anyone is willing to pay and profit decreases as more networks are added. A single network with multiple service providers (LLU) which is what we have now is an illusion of competition. The monopoly network provider (Telecom) is still creaming it with super profits and under investment.

        The real problem with monopolies is not that they lack competition, but that when privately owned they lack accountability.

        Bingo and exactly what we’ve been seeing since the sale (give away) of Telecom.

        • RedLogix 4.1.1.1

          Draco.

          Yes, they should be read in order, but the second one really struck a chord with me. I’d be interested to know what you think sometime.

      • Paul Walker 4.1.2

        Keen does no such thing. As I have noted before you can see both Anti-dismal and TVHE blogs for discussions, in both posting and comments, of the problems with Keens approach. You can also see also Auld, M.C., 2002. “Debunking Debunking Economics’. Working Paper, University of Calgary. Available at http://jerry.ss.ucalgary.ca/debunk.pdf.

  5. vidiot 5

    Those buffoons that were in power in 1990 who sold Telecom must be ruing that decision now. Wow, funny some of them are still on the benches of parliament today.

    @infused: Naked DSL still requires copper to your door, if that link is broken you are up creek without paddle.

  6. Doesn’t matter if your to the left or right, everybody knows what a disgusting company Telecom is, and no amount of having ads with cute little animals or kids with speech impediments can change that.

  7. “We need to learn the lesson: privatisation doesn’t work.”

    Amen to that.

    Does anyone know how much $ Telecom takes out of the country each year?

  8. Putting aside “confuseds” dazed comment.
    What can be practically done to force Telecom to change this?
    On a local front up here in ther Bay of Islands there are telecom engineers/ techs who are facing complete financial ruin. They are effectively being sacked because to take the deal would be stupid.
    It is far worse for the rural staff as the distances required to move from job to job will see them earnign less than the minimum wage.
    This is not a left and right issue. It has been going on for nearly twenty years through different governments. They basically destroyed GDC and anybody who tools up for a multiyear contract undertaking work for Telecom better make sure that their payback and required profit is achieved the day before the contract ends, because these contracts always go to the lowest bidder.

    • IrishBill 8.1

      As I see it the simple answer is resist. There’s bugger all people in NZ (or indeed the world) who can do this kind of work and Telecom are alienating those who can. I figure if these guys can work together to hold out and refuse to buy into this they are going to have a hell of a lot of negotiating power very suddenly once there’s nobody around to make the phones and internet go.

  9. The Voice of Reason 9

    Great comments people. I understand there is going to be some sort of ‘Day of Action’ next week and if you want to put your money where your mouth is you could help out by going here:

    http://epmu.org.nz/telecom-donate/

    Dunno ’bout you, but I reckon a Nationalise Telecom platform would be a vote winner for any party keen to win the next election.

  10. I was surprised that Labour did not move to nationalise telecom last term. That may have been their game plan if they had won another term. They certainly did a fantastic job of driving down the share price.
    I would have supported a renationalisation if only to stop the screeching about Telecom by people who consider all private property to be theft.

    Rather than flushing a billion or so into a fibre network I would support this government moving to buying Telecom back at a fair market price. Creating jobs in tech rather than some early industrial age backward leap like failways.

    Saving these jobs in a form where an adult with skills can earn a fair income should be a priority for all of us. Irrespective of the colours we wear.
    I am already trying to help a couple of local techies personally. Decent men who take pride in their work and who are being crapped on by 20 odd years of failed government policy in an area where we have to be at the forefront of technology and innovation. Our isolation from the rest of the world demands it.

    • IrishBill 10.1

      The last labour govt would never have had the guts to do that Barnsley But it needs to be done. I’m a little concerned about your recent shift to the left though mate.

      • Draco T Bastard 10.1.1

        From reading Red Alert they still haven’t got the guts to say that it needs to be done. They’re still looking to competition to improve things.

  11. @IB. Don’t get too comcerned. My opinions are framed by issues not ideology. This one is a shocker, a genuine abuse by a malignant employer.
    Prior to quitting the rat rtace in 2005 I spent 15 years working in Telecommunications. I have worked with and for them all. From Telecom to Ericsson and callPlus and TelstraClear. Telecom have been working towards moving all the risk to the the techs for at least that long.
    It is right up their with the way Toll has come in and squashed competing tranport companies because of their massive cash windfall and sweetheart access deal to freight yards.
    Toll have bought up companies all over the country, dumped lots of staff and raised freight prices. So they have stripped costs and are effectively creating monopoly profits to send home to Australia.
    You guys need to look at what Toll have done with the money Cullen gave them.
    It has cost at least 10 jobs in Kerikeri already.

  12. Walter K. Jones 12

    I don’t understand your suggestion that they have to come up with “…$60,000 to buy back their own van and tools.”

    These vans and tools are owned by their employer and provided to their staff to use. So it’s NOT ‘…their own…’

    This is nothing new. Instead, those who are clever and have initiative, will see this as an opportunity to open up and run their own businesses, with a substantial cornerstone customer and the opportunity to serve others. There is no shortage of demand for Geeks to fix stuff that us mere mortals can’t comprehend.

    See this as the opportunity that it is – a releasing of the shackles that big corporates put on the creativity and initiative of their staff.

    You should be welcoming this opportunity instead of scolding it.

    • Eddie 12.1

      The problem is with your reading. Currently, the workers’ employers supply the equipment. Now, they will be forced to buy that equipment themselves.

    • Draco T Bastard 12.2

      If it did everything you say it does it would be an opportunity. It doesn’t. It does everything the lawyer says it does which is, basically, screw the person who signs the contract, dropping their pay rate and probably forcing them into bankruptcy.

  13. jason 13

    Walter K jones, you’re an idiot. You dont know what you’re talking about.
    I am in the business and have been for 20 odd years. When telethon comes up with a business model it always, only ever benefits them. I have seen the codes so-called enterprising individuals will have to work under and to put it bluntly they are crap.
    You are expousing individuality as an admirable trait but from where I’m reading, it smacks of simple me-me-me mentality.
    Let me educate you, fool. When a person has to work on codes and they are paid per job it stands to reason the more jobs they do the more money they make. To do this they end up creating the faults by pulling fuses. Only fixing the cable pair they have as the fault. Deliberately doing a half-arsed job so as to deteriorate the network further. I know this because I am now only managing to repair the damage done by fly-by-nighters in areas like Taranaki. Now you may think I’m comrade bashing; far from it, the guys are a decent bunch driven to this end by telebomb design. When telethick do whats called in the industry, “front line closures”, it becomes apparent this model was never intended to work. Front line closures are when customers ring in a fault and the receptionists do all they can not to log the fault. They tell all sorts of lies from, “the faults with our main exchange and will be fixed soon, no serviceman needed”, to informing them,”its all fixed now”, when a technician hasn’t even been sent.
    We get people turning up at our worksite just to get someone to come an look at their problem.
    I’m sorry if I have offended you but when I hear the rubbish your’e talking it frankly insults me. Go and talk to people in the industry and get some insight or shut the fuck up!

  14. Ian Howley 14

    Oh poor naive Walter, do you work for any of the Telco’s at the moment? I started in 1979 and all was well until Telecom took over. Do some research on Telecom’s past behaviour then come back and make some comments. You will find that Telecom has an interesting past with other contractors it has kicked to the curb, good luck.

  15. Swampy 15

    This thread is really about cheerleading for the “good guys” (the EPMU) vs the “bady guys” (Telecom, of course, how did you ever guess)?

    Conveniently overlooked:
    1. The political relationship between the EPMU and the Labour Party and resulting ideogical campaign for a party that is seeking traction to win the next election.

    2. The amount of tax that goes into government coffers from the business activity of Telecom which is a tax on their profits and therefore the government is conflicted by the amount of profit Telecom makes.

    3. The way in which the aforesaid Labour Party in Government acted against Telecom in order to lower their market value (Labour should have negotiated to buy back the LL if the objective was so important to them) – typically anti business ideological move.

  16. Swampy 16

    Telecom’s reacted to Labour’s heavy handed interference against its profitability. Hardly surprising to anyone, especially anyone who owns shares in the company, as this is what the shareholders would want.

    You could even argue if you were so minded that the Engineers Union – Labour affiliation is an obvious target.

  17. Swampy 17

    “privatisation doesn’t work.”

    Does anyone still believe we should have a state owned insurance company? THat one disappeared under the radar pretty quickly back in the 80s.

  18. “We need to learn the lesson: privatisation doesn’t work.”

    Marty. Try looking at the evidence. Start with William L. Megginson, “The Financial Economics of Privatization”, New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. You will see that in many cases privatisation works very well.

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    The new Chief Executive of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) yesterday gave a Select Committee a brutally frank outline of the department’s role as the agency right at the centre of power in Wellington. Ben King, formerly a deputy Chief Executive at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    5 days ago
  • Climate Adam: Why we're still losing the fight against Methane
    This video includes conclusions of the creator climate scientist Dr. Adam Levy. It is presented to our readers as an informed perspective. Please see video description for references (if any). Carbon dioxide is the main culprit behind climate change. But in second place is methane: a greenhouse gas stronger than CO2, ...
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: More ETS failure
    A few weeks ago, I blogged about the (then) upcoming ETS auction, raising the prospect of it failing, leaving the government with a messy budget hole. The auction was today, and indeed, it failed. In fact, it was such a failure that no-one even bothered to bid. Its easy to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • The Return of Jacinda.
    Oh, take me, take me, take meTo the dreamer's ballI'll be right on time and I'll dress so fineYou're gonna love me when you see meI won't have to worryTake me, take mePromise not to wake me'Til it's morningIt's all been trueEarly morning yesterday, well before dawn, doom-scrolling.Not intentionally, that’s ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    6 days ago
  • How good is the interim NW busway?
    This is a guest post by Pshem Kowalczyk, a long-time follower of the blog. With great fanfare, just over six months ago (on 12 November 2023), AT launched its interim busway for the NorthWest region, with the new WX express service at the heart of the changes. I live ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    6 days ago
  • Consumer confidence collapses after Budget, in contrast with rest of world
    The first widespread survey of consumers and voters since the Budget on May 30 shows a collapse in confidence. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The belt-tightening and tax-cutting Budget delivered on May 30 has not delivered the boost to confidence in the economy the National-ACT-NZ First Government might have ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • The end for the Air Force 757s
    The Air Force 757 that broke down with the Prime Minister on board in Port Moresby on Sunday is considered so unreliable that it carries a substantial stock of spare parts when it travels overseas. And the plane also carries an Air Force maintenance team on board ready to make ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    6 days ago
  • At a glance – Was 1934 the hottest year on record?
    On February 14, 2023 we announced our Rebuttal Update Project. This included an ask for feedback about the added "At a glance" section in the updated basic rebuttal versions. This weekly blog post series highlights this new section of one of the updated basic rebuttal versions and serves as a ...
    7 days ago
  • It's not New Zealand they've never heard of, it's him
    Sometimes you’ll just be so dog-tired, you can only keep yourself awake with a short stab of self-inflicted pain.A quick bite of the lip, for instance.Maybe a slight bite on the tongue or a dig of the nails.But what if you’re needing something a bit more painful?The solution is as ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    7 days ago
  • Some “scrutiny” II
    Last month I blogged about the Ministry of Justice's Open Government Partnership commitment to strengthen scrutiny of Official Information Act exemption clauses in legislation", and how their existing efforts did not give much reason for confidence. As part of that, I mentioned that I had asked the Ministry for its ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on why the Biden “peace plan” for Gaza is doomed
    After months and months of blocking every attempt by the UN and everyone else to achieve a Gaza ceasefire, US President Joe Biden is now marketing his own three-stage “peace plan” to end the conflict. Like every other contribution by the US since October 7, the Biden initiative is hobbled ...
    WerewolfBy lyndon
    7 days ago
  • Raised crossings: hearing the voice of vulnerable pedestrians
    This is a guest post by Vivian Naylor, who is the Barrier Free Advisor and Educator at CCS Disability Action, Northern Region, the largest disability support and advocacy organisation in Aotearoa New Zealand. She also advises on AT’s Public Transport and Capital Projects Accessibility Groups. Vivian has been advocating and ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    7 days ago
  • Leaving on a Jet Plane
    So kiss me and smile for meTell me that you'll wait for meHold me like you'll never let me go'Cause I'm leavin' on a jet planeDon't know when I'll be back againOh babe, I hate to go“The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    7 days ago
  • Bernard's mid-winter pick 'n' mix for Tuesday, June 18
    The election promises of ‘better economic management’ are now ringing hollow, as NZ appears to be falling into a deeper recession, while other economies are turning the corner. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The economy and the housing market are slumping back into a deep recession this winter, contrasting ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • Scrutiny week off to rocky start
    Parliament’s new “Scrutiny” process, which is supposed to allow Select Committees to interrogate Ministers and officials in much more depth, has got off to a rocky start. Yesterday was the first day of “Scrutiny Week” which is supposed to see the Government grilled on how it spends taxpayers’ money and ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    1 week ago
  • The choice could not be more stark’: How Trump and Biden compare on climate change
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Barbara Grady Illustration by Samantha Harrington. Photo credits: Justin Lane-Pool/Getty Images, Win McNamee/Getty Images, European Space Agency. In an empty wind-swept field in Richmond, California, next to the county landfill, a company called RavenSr has plotted out land and won ...
    1 week ago
  • Differentiating between democracy and republic
    Although NZ readers may not be that interested in the subject and in lieu of US Fathers Day missives (not celebrated in NZ), I thought I would lay out some brief thoughts on a political subject being debated in the … Continue reading ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Bernard's mid-winter pick 'n' mix for Monday, June 17
    TL;DR: Chris Bishop talks up the use of value capture, congestion charging, PPPs, water meters, tolling and rebating GST on building materials to councils to ramp up infrastructure investment in the absence of the Government simply borrowing more to provide the capital.Meanwhile, Christopher Luxon wants to double the number of ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • You do have the power to change things
    When I was invited to come aboard and help with Greater Auckland a few months ago (thanks to Patrick!), it was suggested it might be a good idea to write some sort of autobiographical post by way of an introduction. This post isn’t quite that – although I’m sure I’lll ...
    Greater AucklandBy Connor Sharp
    1 week ago
  • Turning Away – Who Cares If We Don't?
    On the turning awayFrom the pale and downtroddenAnd the words they say which we won't understandDon't accept that, what's happeningIs just a case of other's sufferingOr you'll find that you're joining inThe turning awayToday’s guest kōrero is from Author Catherine Lea. So without further ado, over to Catherine…I’m so honoured ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Dissecting Tickled
    Hi,Tickled was one of the craziest things that ever happened to me (and I feel like a lot of crazy things have happened to me).So ahead of the Webworm popup and Tickled screening in New Zealand on July 13, I thought I’d write about how we made that film and ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand Webworm Popup + Tickled!
    Hi,I’m doing a Webworm merch popup followed by a Tickled screening in Auckland, New Zealand on July 13th — and I’d love you to come. I got the urge to do this while writing this Webworm piece breaking down how we made Tickled, and talking to all the people who ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    1 week ago
  • What China wants from NZ business
    One simple statistic said it all: China Premier Li Qiang asked Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell what percentage of the company’s overall sales were made in China. “Thirty per cent,” said Hurrell. In other words, New Zealand’s largest company is more or less dependent on the Chinese market. But Hurrell is ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    1 week ago
  • Review: The Worm Ouroboros, by E.R. Eddison (1922)
    One occasionally runs into the question of what J.R.R. Tolkien would have thought of George R.R. Martin. For years, I had a go-to online answer: we could use a stand-in. Tolkien’s thoughts on E.R. Eddison – that he appreciated the invented world, but thought the invented names were silly, and ...
    1 week ago
  • 2024 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #24
    A listing of 35 news and opinion articles we found interesting and shared on social media during the past week: Sun, June 9, 2024 thru Sat, June 15, 2024. Story of the week A glance at this week's inventory of what experts tell us is extreme weather mayhem juiced by ...
    1 week ago
  • Sunday Morning Chat
    After a busy week it’s a good day to relax. Clear blues skies here in Tamaki Makaurau, very peaceful but for my dogs sleeping heavily. In the absence of a full newsletter I thought I’d send out a brief update and share a couple of posts that popped up in ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • The Book of Henry
    Now in the land of Angus beef and the mighty ABsWhere the steaks were juicy and the rivers did run foulIt would often be said,This meal is terrible,andNo, for real this is legit the worst thing I've ever eatenBut this was an thing said only to others at the table,not ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • Fact Brief – Is ocean acidification from human activities enough to impact marine ecosystems?
    Skeptical Science is partnering with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. This fact brief was written by Sue Bin Park in collaboration with members from the Skeptical Science team. You can submit claims you think need checking via the tipline. Is ocean acidification from human ...
    1 week ago
  • Happiness is a Warm Gun
    She's not a girl who misses muchDo do do do do do, oh yeahShe's well-acquainted with the touch of the velvet handLike a lizard on a window paneI wouldn’t associate ACT with warmth, other than a certain fabled, notoriously hot, destination where surely they’re heading and many would like them ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • Still doing a good 20
    Hello! Here comes the Saturday edition of More Than A Feilding, catching you up on the past somewhat interrupted week. Still on the move!Share Read more ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    1 week ago
  • Coalition of the Unwilling?
    What does Budget 2024 tell us about the current government? Muddle on?Coalition governments are not new. About 50 percent of the time since the first MMP election, there has been a minority government, usually with allied parties holding ministerial portfolios outside cabinets. For 10 percent of the time there was ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    2 weeks ago
  • Of red flags and warning signs in comments on social media
    Somewhat surprisingly for what is regarded as a network of professionals, climate science misinformation is getting shared on LinkedIn, joining other channels where this is happening. Several of our recent posts published on LinkedIn have attracted the ire of various commenters who apparently are in denial about human-caused climate change. Based ...
    2 weeks ago
  • All good, still
    1. On what subject is Paul Henry even remotely worth giving the time of day?a. The state of our nationb. The state of the ACT partyc. How to freak out potential buyers of your gin palace by baking the remains of your deceased parent into its fittings2. Now that New ...
    More Than A FeildingBy David Slack
    2 weeks ago
  • The looting is the point
    Last time National was in power, they looted the state, privatising public assets and signing hugely wasteful public-private partnership (PPP) contracts which saw foreign consortiums provide substandard infrastructure while gouging us for profits. You only have to look at the ongoing fiasco of Transmission Gully to see how it was ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The Illusion of Power: How Local Government Bureaucrats Overawe Democratically-Elected Councillors..
    The Democratic Façade Of Local Government: Our district and city councillors are democratically elected to govern their communities on one very strict condition – that they never, ever, under any circumstances, attempt to do so.A DISINTEGRATION OF LOYALTIES on the Wellington City Council has left Mayor Tory Whanau without a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Lowlights & Bright Spots
    I can feel the lowlights coming over meI can feel the lowlights, from the state I’m inI can see the light now even thought it’s dimA little glow on the horizonAnother week of lowlights from our government, with the odd bright spot and a glow on the horizon. The light ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    2 weeks ago
  • Weekly Roundup 14-June-2024
    Another week, another roundup of things that caught our eye on our favourite topics of transport, housing and how to make cities a little bit greater. This Week in Greater Auckland On Monday, Connor wrote about Kāinga Ora’s role as an urban development agency Tuesday’s guest post by ...
    Greater AucklandBy Greater Auckland
    2 weeks ago
  • The Hoon around the week to June 14
    Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The podcast above of the weekly ‘hoon’ webinar for paying subscribers features co-hosts and talking with:The Kākā’s climate correspondent about the National-ACT-NZ First Government’s moves this week to take farming out of the ETS and encourage more mining and oil and ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate policy axed in broad daylight, while taxpayer liabilities grow in the dark
    In 2019, Shane Jones addressed the “50 Shades of Green” protest at Parliament: Now he is part of a government giving those farmers a pass on becoming part of the ETS, as well as threatening to lock in offshore oil exploration and mining for decades. Photo: Lynn GrievesonTL;DR: Here’s the ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    2 weeks ago
  • Rage Bait!
    Hi,Today’s newsletter is all about how easy it is to get sucked into “rage bait” online, and how easy it is to get played.But first I wanted to share something that elicited the exact opposite of rage in me — something that made me feel incredibly proud, whilst also making ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    2 weeks ago
  • Bernard's Dawn Chorus and pick 'n' mix for Friday, June 14
    Seymour said lower speed limits “drained the joy from life as people were forced to follow rules they knew made no sense.” File Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: My six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty on Friday, June 14 were:The National/ACT/NZ First ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    2 weeks ago
  • Friendly but frank talks with China Premier
    It sounded like the best word to describe yesterday’s talks between Chinese Premier Li Qiang and his heavyweight delegation of Ministers and officials and Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and New Zealand Ministers and officials was “frank.” But it was the kind of frankness that friends can indulge in. It ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    2 weeks ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #24 2024
    Open access notables Wildfire smoke impacts lake ecosystems, Farruggia et al., Global Change Biology: We introduce the concept of the lake smoke-day, or the number of days any given lake is exposed to smoke in any given fire season, and quantify the total lake smoke-day exposure in North America from 2019 ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Join us for the weekly Hoon on YouTube Live
    Photo by Mathias Elle on UnsplashIt’s that new day of the week (Thursday rather than Friday) when we have our ‘hoon’ webinar with paying subscribers to The Kākā for an hour at 5 pm.Jump on this link on YouTube Livestream for our chat about the week’s news with special guests:5.00 ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    2 weeks ago
  • Geoffrey Miller: China’s message to New Zealand – don’t put it all at risk
    Don’t put it all at risk. That’s likely to be the take-home message for New Zealand Prime Minister Christopher Luxon in his meetings with Li Qiang, the Chinese Premier. Li’s visit to Wellington this week is the highest-ranking visit by a Chinese official since 2017. The trip down under – ...
    Democracy ProjectBy Geoffrey Miller
    2 weeks ago
  • The Real Thing
    I know the feelingIt is the real thingThe essence of the soulThe perfect momentThat golden momentI know you feel it tooI know the feelingIt is the real thingYou can't refuse the embraceNo?Sometimes we face the things we most dislike. A phobia or fear that must be confronted so it doesn’t ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    2 weeks ago

  • Transformative investment in cancer treatments and more new medicines
    The coalition Government is delivering up to 26 cancer treatments as part of an overall package of up to 54 more new medicines, Health Minister Dr Shane Reti and Associate Health Minister David Seymour announced today. “Pharmac estimates that around 175,000 people will benefit from the additional treatments in just ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • More support for drought-affected communities
    The coalition Government is providing more financial support to drought-stricken farmers and growers in many parts of the country to help with essential living costs. “Rural Assistance Payments have been made available in 38 districts affected by dry conditions to help eligible farmers and growers whose income has taken a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    21 hours ago
  • Job seekers to report on progress after six months from today
    A new requirement for people on Jobseeker Support benefits to meet with MSD after six months to assess how their job search is going gets underway today. About 20,000 Jobseeker beneficiaries with full-time work obligations are expected to attend MSD’s new ‘Work check-in’ seminars over the next 12 months, Social ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    22 hours ago
  • New cops means more Police on the beat
    The decision to deploy more Police on the beat in Auckland CBD has been welcomed by Police Minister Mark Mitchell and Associate Police Minister Casey Costello. Starting from 1 July, an additional 21 police officers will be redeployed in Auckland City, bringing the total number of beat police in the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government takes action to address youth crime
    The Government is introducing a new declaration for young offenders to ensure they face tougher consequences and are better supported to turn their lives around, Children’s Minister Karen Chhour announced today. The establishment of a Young Serious Offender declaration delivers on a coalition Government commitment and supports the Government’s target ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Reserve Bank chair reappointed
    Professor Neil Quigley has been reappointed as Chair of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Board for a further term of two years, until 30 June 2026.  “Professor Quigley has played a key role in establishing the new Board after the commencement of the new RBNZ Act on 1 July ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • School attendance increases
    School attendance data released today shows an increase in the number of students regularly attending school to 61.7 per cent in term one. This compares to 59.5 per cent in term one last year and 53.6 per cent in term four. “It is encouraging to see more children getting to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Record investment in public transport services
    The Government has announced a record 41 per cent increase in indicative funding for public transport services and operations, and confirmed the rollout of the National Ticketing Solution (NTS) that will enable contactless debit and credit card payments starting this year in Auckland, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.“This Government is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • GDP data shows need to strengthen and grow the economy
    GDP figures for the March quarter reinforce the importance of restoring fiscal discipline to public spending and driving more economic growth, Finance Minister Nicola Willis says.  Data released today by Stats NZ shows GDP has risen 0.2 per cent for the quarter to March.   “While today’s data is technically in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Women continue to make up over 50 per cent on public sector boards
    Women’s representation on public sector boards and committees has reached 50 per cent or above for the fourth consecutive year, with women holding 53.9 per cent of public sector board roles, Acting Minister for Women Louise Upston says. “This is a fantastic achievement, but the work is not done. To ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government supporting Māori business success
    The Coalition Government is supporting Māori to boost development and the Māori economy through investment in projects that benefit the regions, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Tama Potaka say. “As the Regional Development Minister, I am focused on supporting Māori to succeed. The Provincial Growth Fund ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Better solutions for earthquake-prone buildings
    Building and Construction Minister Chris Penk has announced that the review into better managing the risks of earthquake-prone buildings has commenced. “The terms of reference published today demonstrate the Government’s commitment to ensuring we get the balance right between public safety and costs to building owners,” Mr Penk says.  “The Government ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Prime Minister wraps up visit to Japan
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has just finished a successful three-day visit to Japan, where he strengthened political relationships and boosted business links. Mr Luxon’s visit culminated in a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio followed by a state dinner. “It was important for me to meet Prime Minister Kishida in person ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Major business deals signed on PM’s Japan trip
    Significant business deals have been closed during the visit of Prime Minister Christopher Luxon to Japan this week, including in the areas of space, renewable energy and investment.  “Commercial deals like this demonstrate that we don’t just export high-quality agricultural products to Japan, but also our world-class technology, expertise, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Strategic Security speech, Tokyo
    Minasan, konnichiwa, kia ora and good afternoon everyone. Thank you for the invitation to speak to you today and thank you to our friends at the Institute for International Socio-Economic Studies and NEC for making this event possible today.  It gives me great pleasure to be here today, speaking with ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • National Infrastructure Pipeline worth over $120 billion
    The National Infrastructure Pipeline, which provides a national view of current or planned infrastructure projects, from roads, to water infrastructure, to schools, and more, has climbed above $120 billion, Infrastructure Minister Chris Bishop says. “Our Government is investing a record amount in modern infrastructure that Kiwis can rely on as ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Making it easier to build infrastructure
    The Government is modernising the Public Works Act to make it easier to build infrastructure, Minister for Land Information Chris Penk announced today. An independent panel will undertake an eight-week review of the Act and advise on common sense changes to enable large scale public works to be built faster and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • NZ enhances North Korea sanctions monitoring
    New Zealand will enhance its defence contributions to monitoring violations of sanctions against North Korea, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon announced today.  The enhancement will see the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) increase its contributions to North Korea sanctions monitoring, operating out of Japan. “This increase reflects the importance New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Speech to Safeguard National Health and Safety Conference
    Good afternoon everyone. It’s great to be with you all today before we wrap up Day One of the annual Safeguard National Health and Safety Conference. Thank you to the organisers and sponsors of this conference, for the chance to talk to you about the upcoming health and safety consultation. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Ōtaki to north of Levin alliance agreements signed
    Transport Minister Simeon Brown has welcomed an important milestone for the Ōtaki to north of Levin Road of National Significance (RoNS), following the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) signing interim alliance agreements with two design and construction teams who will develop and ultimately build the new expressway.“The Government’s priority for transport ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Improvements to stopping Digital Child Exploitation
    The Department of Internal Affairs [Department] is making a significant upgrade to their Digital Child Exploitation Filtering System, which blocks access to websites known to host child sexual abuse material, says Minister of Internal Affairs Brooke van Velden.  “The Department will incorporate the up-to-date lists of websites hosting child sexual ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New vaccine research aims to combat prevalent bovine disease
    A vaccine to prevent an infectious disease that costs New Zealand cattle farmers more than $190 million each year could radically improve the health of our cows and boost on-farm productivity, Associate Agriculture Minister Andrew Hoggard says. The Ministry for Primary Industries is backing a project that aims to develop ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Making it easier to build granny flats
    The Government has today announced that it is making it easier for people to build granny flats, Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters and RMA Reform Minister Chris Bishop say. “Making it easier to build granny flats will make it more affordable for families to live the way that suits them ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • High Court Judge appointed
    Attorney-General Judith Collins today announced the appointment of Auckland King’s Counsel Gregory Peter Blanchard as a High Court Judge. Justice Blanchard attended the University of Auckland from 1991 to 1995, graduating with an LLB (Honours) and Bachelor of Arts (English). He was a solicitor with the firm that is now Dentons ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health workforce numbers rise
    Health Minister Dr Shane Reti says new data released today shows encouraging growth in the health workforce, with a continued increase in the numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives joining Health New Zealand. “Frontline healthcare workers are the beating heart of the healthcare system. Increasing and retaining our health workforce ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government to overhaul firearms laws
    Associate Justice Minister Nicole McKee has today announced a comprehensive programme to reform New Zealand's outdated and complicated firearms laws. “The Arms Act has been in place for over 40 years. It has been amended several times – in a piecemeal, and sometimes rushed way. This has resulted in outdated ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government delivers landmark specialist schools investment
    The coalition Government is delivering record levels of targeted investment in specialist schools so children with additional needs can thrive. As part of Budget 24, $89 million has been ringfenced to redevelop specialist facilities and increase satellite classrooms for students with high needs. This includes: $63 million in depreciation funding ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Major health and safety consultation begins
    A substantial consultation on work health and safety will begin today with a roadshow across the regions over the coming months, says Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Brooke van Velden.  This the first step to deliver on the commitment to reforming health and safety law and regulations, set out in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Growing the potential of New Zealand’s forestry sector in partnership
    Forestry Minister Todd McClay, today announced the start of the Government’s plan to restore certainty and confidence in the forestry and wood processing sector. “This government will drive investment to unlock the industry’s economic potential for growth,” Mr McClay says. “Forestry’s success is critical to rebuilding New Zealand’s economy, boosting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government cancels forestry ETS annual service charges for 2023-24
    Annual service charges in the forestry Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will be cancelled for 2023/24, Forestry Minister Todd McClay says. “The sector has told me the costs imposed on forestry owners by the previous government were excessive and unreasonable and I agree,” Mr McClay says. “They have said that there ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Speech to the LGNZ Infrastructure Symposium
    Introduction Thank you for having me here today and welcome to Wellington, the home of the Hurricanes, the next Super Rugby champions. Infrastructure – the challenge This government has inherited a series of big challenges in infrastructure. I don’t need to tell an audience as smart as this one that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government boosts Agriculture and food trade with China
    Trade and Agriculture Minister Todd McClay and Food Safety Minister Andrew Hoggard welcomed outcomes to boost agricultural and food trade between New Zealand and China. A number of documents were signed today at Government House that will improve the business environment between New Zealand and China, and help reduce barriers, including on infant formula ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • NZ and China launch Services Trade Negotiations
    Trade Minister Todd McClay, and China’s Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, today announced the official launch of Negotiations on Services Trade between the two countries.  “The Government is focused on opening doors for services exporters to grow the New Zealand’s economy,” Mr McClay says.  As part of the 2022 New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement Upgrade ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister Luxon meets with Premier Li
    Prime Minister Christopher Luxon met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang at Government House in Wellington today.  “I was pleased to welcome Premier Li to Wellington for his first official visit, which marks 10 years since New Zealand and China established a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” Mr Luxon says. “The Premier and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government and business tackling gender pay gap
    The coalition Government is taking action to reduce the gender pay gap in New Zealand through the development of a voluntary calculation tool. “Gender pay gaps have impacted women for decades, which is why we need to continue to drive change in New Zealand,” Acting Minister for Women Louise Upston ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Funding Boost for Rural Support Trusts
    The coalition Government is boosting funding for Rural Support Trusts to provide more help to farmers and growers under pressure, Rural Communities Minister Mark Patterson announced today. “A strong and thriving agricultural sector is crucial to the New Zealand economy and one of the ways to support it is to ...
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