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The Failed Estate: Kabuki Economics

Written By: - Date published: 8:56 am, May 13th, 2018 - 19 comments
Categories: australian politics, Economy, International, Media - Tags:

Reprinted with permission from the Failed Estate.

One of the first budgets I covered as a journalist spelt the end of the career of the man who delivered it.

John Dawkins, who had been finance minister in the formidable first Hawke cabinet of 1983, had finally achieved his ambition of taking the treasury portfolio after Paul Keating rolled Bob Hawke for the prime ministership in 1991.

Two years later, Dawkins was gone. He quit politics after the debacle that was the 1993 budget. This is when Keating went back on the L-A-W tax cut promise he had made before his ‘true believers’ election victory against Hewson that year.

In the months after the budget (the last one delivered in August), the program stalled in the Senate. With memories still fresh of the supply crisis of 1974, financial markets became skittish and the Australian dollar sank to around 64 US cents, a then seven-year low. (Recall, Australia was just coming out of recession then).

Having anchored the editing for a US financial newswire inside the lock-up, I recall the real work began in the weeks afterward, filing headline ‘snaps’ to trading screens from our reporters at Canberra doorstops where Keating or Dawkins would be fired questions about budget negotiations. It was pretty shambolic.

These days, it’s hard to imagine financial markets getting anywhere near as excited about an Australian budget. Most of the key measures are flagged well ahead of the event and the bond markets are telegraphed the financing task. In any case, as a ‘AAA’- rated borrower these days Australia finds no shortage of demand among global pension funds for its relatively high yielding bonds. Yes, our public debt has doubled in five years, but it still pales in absolute and proportionate terms to the liabilities of major economies, including the USA.

This means Australia is rarely on the radar of global markets, living off its reputation as a well-run economy with sound public finances, and two major parties broadly committed to the (albeit now shopsoiled) Washington consensus of independent monetary policy, fiscal responsibility, open markets and a commitment to free trade. Put another way, compared to the ‘Breaking Bad’ dramas over Trump, Brexit, the  European monetary union and the fiscal and monetary policy experiments elsewhere post-GFC, Australia (with 27 years of uninterrupted growth) looks like another episode of ‘Law and Order’.

So why is the Australian budget still treated as such a big deal, with hundreds of journalists and analysts flocking to Canberra for a high-security, highly expensive six-hour lock-up? We’ve seen that the markets don’t care much anymore, most of the detail is strategically leaked in the weeks beforehand to sympathetic journalists to maximise coverage and much of the variance in the bottom line from one update to the next is due to exogenous factors beyond the government’s control.

After suggesting the media collectively boycott the whole circus, I had a back-and-forth on Twitter about this with ABC commentator Annabel Crabb, who made the point that it would be hard for her and others to offer an informed opinion about the budget without the lock-up. My response to that is, firstly, why should we be hanging out for their opinion anyway? Sure, share your thoughts by all means but what makes journalists’ insights any more special than anyone else’s, other than the fact they’ve had a six-hour head-start in reading the documents? Keep in mind the entire budget is available online these days within a minute or two of the treasurer getting to his feet. If you know where do look it doesn’t take long to get up to speed.

Understandably, Ms Crabb wants to offer her viewers an informed, considered view, not a “hot take”. But perhaps if the budget was just released without a lock-up (as most countries do BTW),  journalists would go back to the traditional order – first report the facts, THEN offer expert analysis and THEN tell us your opinion once everybody has absorbed the information in real time. The danger with the lock-up is that the coverage expands to fit the investment in the occasion. In other words, it suits the political class to corral the media for a whole day so it can control the message and it suits the media, having made such an investment in the theatre of the budget (like an opening night on Broadway), to preserve the exclusivity of access that the lock-up provides. Disintermediation, digital media and the real-time access that everybody has to the key documents only makes the established insiders more defensive on this score.

I’d also argue that the mutual back-scratching around the budget puts the media at risk of being complicit with the government rhetoric about “running the economy” and “creating jobs”. The depiction of luck as skill suits the insiders. This latest budget, for instance, shows that a $26 billion windfall since the last fiscal update in December is funding another round of the now ritual pre-election tax cuts.  A good chunk of that turnaround was due to a synchronisedglobal upswing in the other developed economies as they finally emerged from the post-GFC slump. The rest was an overdue rebalancing of our domestic economy after the post-mining boom hangover.

So as much as the media wants to personalise the budget process (Scott at the controls like Kirk in the Starship Enterprise), the reality is the government is not ‘in charge’ of the economy. And that’s why this trend of making 10-year projections beyond the four-year forward estimates is just nonsense. This latest three-phase tax cut, culminating in a virtual flat tax regime by 2024, is particularly silly. Imagine Peter Costello, in the midst of the commodity boom of the early 2000s and money coming out of his ears, projecting tax cuts for 2008. What could go wrong?

The truth is the Australian economy is a tiny cork on a big, heaving ocean. We’re a minor-to-middling political power, which largely outsources its foreign policy to Washington. Our political culture is increasingly a pale imitation of the partisan 24/7 shouting that dominates Washington (minus the guns). Our thinktanks import their spotty libertarian thought-bubbles from across the Pacific and our pop culture is almost entirely derivative. For all the noise and gnashing and wailing of teeth, the budget deficit swings around 1-2% of GDP most years. Our debt of 20% of GDP compares with levels of 80,90, 100% and more in other developed economies. The political argy-bargy and column inches filled is way out of proportion to the global significance of it all.

If there’s a story in this budget it’s connected to a bigger one about the exhaustion of the three-decade neoliberal experiment globally. Once governments have privatised everything and outsourced it all and transferred every single risk to the shoulders of individuals (so they are ‘free’), what’s left? Politicians are reduced to tedious, train-spotting arguments about revenue-to-GDP ratios and “the path back to surplus” (the economic equivalent of waiting for Godot). Outside economics, they are left to fight manufactured culture wars to fuel the permanent outrage machine at News Corp – hence the entirely ideological budget cuts for the ABC and the quarter of a billion dollar ‘chaplains’ program. Even the tax cuts serve an ideological purpose, sold in the American style as “it’s the people’s money and it’s government’s job to get out of their lives”, language that is totally alien to Australia’s social democratic tradition.

With the politics ritualised, so is the media coverage. Panels of talking heads tediously debate the political strategy and whether the tax cuts will shift Newspoll. The images are always the same – the treasurer in shirt sleeves strolling through the lock-up and chumming up with our favourite commentators, the piece to camera above the huddled journos, perched over the books like anxious students in an HSC exam (“pens down, time’s up!) the references to the “centrepiece pitch to middle Australia”, the PowerPoint presentations, the well-rehearsed talking points from the rival political players – it’s beyond boilerplate.

Of course, there are real stories in the effect the budget measures have on people  beyond Canberra. But you don’t hear them beyond the hastily constructed and clumsy family-at-home-in-front-of-the-telly voxpops. As Bernard Keane observed in Crikey, the budget is now a parlour game for the political class, a highly ritualised and abstract exercise totally divorced from the real-world impacts of the taxing and spending decisions. The game is now so airless and artificial that politicians set as their benchmarks for success arbitrary revenue targets that bear no resemblance to anything anyone cares about or connects with, which I guess is the whole point.

In the meantime, it is no wonder people are switching off and searching for a political movement that returns to the public a sense of their own agency, that protects and strengths our social infrastructure and that purges our exhausted political conversation of the dead Hayekian worldview that created this mess.

It’s time to close the curtain on kabuki economics.

19 comments on “The Failed Estate: Kabuki Economics”

  1. lprent 1

    Great post. I love it.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      He is a phenomenally good writer who blogs occasionally. He has a really good grasp of media and also financial issues.

      • dukeofurl 1.1.1

        Doesnt mention that Australias Treasury talks about budgets on a ‘cash basis’ while their Finance department ( which handles the spending side) talks about the numbers on an accrual basis ( the same as we do)

        The previous budget had a deficit of $35-40 bill ( cash) but only a deficit of $8 bill ( accrual)
        Other complications are the GST revenue is distributed to the States for their own spending. For strange reasons people like OECD dont count this as ‘expenditure’

        On top of that the Federal Government runs a sort of ‘off the books infrastructure spending’ ( but not a PPP).
        Maybe we adopt that as well?

        A quirk of their constitution ( like the recent many Mps and Senators who we disqualified for dual citizenship) meant that Federal Government funding for state schools ‘chaplains’ was deemed illegal
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_School_Chaplaincy_Programme
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Williams_v_Commonwealth

        They kept providing the funding ( $250 mill plus) by work arounds rather than curtailing it ( including 100s of other programs) and that first work around was later ruled invalid. Finally the chaplains were funded by the states directly who were then funded by the Commonwealth.

  2. Ad 2

    I would rather have a boring political media together due to a very stable state, flourishing society, strong democracy, and strong economy, than what most other countries in the world have. That in the end is what this writer is complaining about. He may not enjoy the political economy of Kabuki, but I suspect he wouldn’t like the political economy of Sepultra either.

    • mickysavage 2.1

      Does a flourishing society require the continuation of traditional budget customs?

      • Ad 2.1.1

        It doesn’t really require politics as described above, at all.

        It’s definitely up to politicians and political parties to refresh the political order.

        But predictable and well-forecast budgets are far more preferable than massive surprises.

    • greywarshark 2.2

      Ad
      So it’s one or the other is it. TINA – again? What about a handcrafted, fit for purpose economic and political system? Any skilled craftspeople to make this delicious delectable pavlova all of our own, that is craved and enjoyed by the rest of the world?

      • Ad 2.2.1

        You’re confusing your preferred political system, from the focus of the piece which is political media.

        The writer of the piece is full of the spent and cynical ennui that perpetuates what he is complaining about.

        For the multiple platforms now available to engage the public about politics, his writing shows only that he has no imagination nor any will to imagine any alternatives. He sounds like Bob Dylan in the Time Out Of Mind phase:

        People on the platforms
        Waiting for the trains
        I can hear their hearts a-beatin’
        Like pendulums swinging on chains
        I tried to give you everything
        That your heart was longing for
        I’m just going down the road feeling bad
        Trying to get to heaven before they close the door

        • fender 2.2.1.1

          The verse you quoted from the song Trying Yo Get To Heaven from the album Time Out Of Mind actually goes like this:

          “People on the platforms, waitin’ for the trains.
          I can hear their hearts a-beatin’, like pendulum swingin’ on chains.
          When you think that you’ve lost everything,
          You find out you can always lose a little more.
          I’m just going down the road feelin’ bad,
          Tryin’ to get to heaven before they close the door.”

          Here’s the full song:

          “The air is gettin’ hotter, there’s a rumblin’ in the skies.
          I’ve been wadin’ through the high muddy waters,
          But the heat riseth in my eyes.
          Everyday your memory goes dimmer,
          It doesn’t haunt me like it did before.
          I’ve been walkin’ through the middle of nowhere,
          Tryin’ to get to heaven before they close the door.

          When I was in Missouri, they would not let me be.
          I had to leave there in a hurry, I only saw what they let me see.
          You broke a heart that loved you,
          Now you can seal up the book and not write anymore.
          I’ve been walkin’ that lonesome valley,
          Tryin’ to get to heaven before they close the door.

          People on the platforms, waitin’ for the trains.
          I can hear their hearts a-beatin’, like pendulum swingin’ on chains.
          When you think that you’ve lost everything,
          You find out you can always lose a little more.
          I’m just going down the road feelin’ bad,
          Tryin’ to get to heaven before they close the door.

          I’m goin’ down the river, down to New Orleans.
          They tell me everything is gonna be all right,
          But I don’t know what all right even means.
          I was ridin’ in a buggy with Miss Mary Jane,
          Miss Mary Jane got a house in Baltimore.
          I’ve been all around the world boys,
          I’m tryin’ to get to heaven before they close the door.

          Gotta sleep down in the parlor, and relive my dreams.
          I close my eyes and I wonder, if everything is as hollow as it seems.
          Some trains don’t pull no gamblers,
          No midnight ramblers like they did before.
          I’ve been to Sugartown, I shook the sugar down,
          Now I’m tryin’ to get to heaven before they close the door.”

          Can you please explain how this masterpiece of a song “sounds like” the writer of this article?

          • Ad 2.2.1.1.1

            My quote was taken from the official Bob Dylan website.
            It was that set of lyrics that I chose, rather than the better-known popular version that you quote.

            https://www.bobdylan.com/songs/trying-get-heaven/

            The specific quoted verse I chose speaks of melancholy, longing, resistance, world-weariness, of observing that same tiredness in ordinary people.

            Tell you what, put the song on and re-read the piece at the same time.

            • fender 2.2.1.1.1.1

              Your interpretation of the song isn’t inaccurate. Just don’t see how it relates to an article about the media drama surrounding budget day that resembles a bizarre Kabuki play or the americanised Kabuki dance

              • Ad

                That means you suffer from the same failed imagination that the post complains about. Which is apposite.

                • fender

                  The post doesn’t complain about a failed imagination, it complains about a superfluous media frenzy surrounding budget day.

      • greywarshark 2.2.2

        Yeah I am confused all right. The words that pour out from our mouths or from under our fingers, some of them obviously correct and doable but never acted on, must be a Pavlovian response to the concept of freedom of expression.

        The Russians and Chinese have really nothing to worry about if letting the peeps appear to have the right to air ideas, as the pipeline is blocked along a way where the clamp is out of sight. Is there any meaning in all this – will we ever get results, small significant changes that help us where we are right now?

  3. greywarshark 3

    wow that is a great thinkpiece. And the meaning of kabuki, stylised Japanese theatre mostly performed by males, that is a great analogy.

    We may have to pass everything that happens to us and that we do before a reality checking program to see how well it serves us as humans, and the program will have a call sign of Where is the love? That sounds risible, but only because it cuts through the stolid practicality process to questions of what is our life about, not just as a system that produces statistics that tell us how we are doing while we are being.

    Where is the Love – three different approaches showing our human
    creativity on this important thing
    The Black-Eyed Peas

    or Roberta Flack

    or this is really street stuff ( but is it niceness?)

  4. dukeofurl 4

    What has fascinated me is all the talk of the ‘$1 Bill funding boost’ for Foreign affairs including aid budget.

    These things are too complicated for the media who dont tell how many years this is over ( 4 years) or even what we are spending now

    National wasnt so shy about its election promises about aid for the pacific
    $644 mill of aid in 2017/18 , most of that for pacific
    and ‘The present three-year $1.7b New Zealand
    Aid Programme ‘

    Its tucked away in their election policy factsheets
    https://www.national.org.nz/foreign_affairs

    Its a classic budget strategy, repackage your opponents programs with a bit of ‘ jiggery pokery’ which shifts money from one area to another and call it an increase but mostly all thats happened is extend for a year.

    Much is made of the Stockhom embassy, but McCulley opened embassys in Dublin (?) , Baghdad and Bogota(?)

  5. Nic the NZer 5

    http://bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/?p=33365

    Explains why the whole AAA thing is an irrelevant cherade.

  6. Tracey 6

    Imagine if the media reported facts first… if only John Lennon had paused

  7. Philg 7

    Yes, the media has become Theatre, Entertainment.RNZ’s Jim Mora describes ‘The Panel ‘ as ‘The News of the day in a different way’ Just give it straight Jim. We don’t need bias, trivia and opinion. Just give us the news, the whole news and not a selective version of it.

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    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Thank Winston
    The Zero Carbon Act is inadequate, with a weak methane target designed to give farmers a free ride. But it turns out it could have been worse: Climate Change Minister James Shaw was so desperate to get National on board, he wanted to gut that target, and leave it in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Illicit markets and Bali Booze
    The Herald reprints an Australian story on a couple of tragic deaths in Bali from drinking cocktails that had methanol in them.  The story argues that methanol is likely the result of home distillation. But what the young tourists were experiencing was far from a hangover. They’d consumed a toxic cocktail ...
    SciBlogsBy Eric Crampton
    1 week ago
  • This is not what armed police are for
    Last month, the police announced a trial of specialist roaming armed units, which would drive round (poor, brown) areas in armoured SUVs, armed to the teeth. When they announced the trial, they told us it was about having armed police "ready to attend major incidents at any time if needed". ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Spain’s failed electoral gamble
    Spain went to the polls today in the second elections this year, after the Socialists (who had come to power in a confidence vote, then gone to the polls in April) rejected the offer of a coalition with the left-wing PoDemos, and instead decided to gamble n a better outcome ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The astroturf party
    National has finally rolled out its "BlueGreen" astroturf party, fronted by an array of former nats and people who were dumped by the Greens for not being Green enough. Its initial pitch is described by Stuff as "very business-friendly", and its priorities are what you'd expect: conservation, predator-free funding, a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • How to cheat at university
    A couple of days ago I attended (and spoke at) the University of Waikato’s “LearnFest” event. There were lots of talks and sessions on very diverse aspects of teaching, mostly at tertiary level. One was by Myra Williamson from Te Piringa Faculty of Law here at Waikato, on Contract Cheating ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    1 week ago
  • How NZ was put on world maps using a transit of Mercury
    There will be a transit of Mercury – the planet Mercury will pass across the face of the Sun – taking place at sunrise in New Zealand on Tuesday, 12th November. It was by observing such an event 250 years ago that James Cook and his scientist colleagues were able ...
    SciBlogsBy Duncan Steel
    1 week ago
  • Georgina Beyer: We need to be able to talk without being offended
    Since becoming the world’s first openly transexual mayor and member of parliament, Georgina Beyer has been recognised as a trailblazer for trans rights. Daphna Whitmore talks with her about where she sees the current trans movement We start out talking about legislation the government put on hold that would have ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • The anti-fluoride brigade won’t be erecting billboards about this study
    If FFNZ really put their faith in “Top Medical Journals” they would now be amending their billboards to recognise new research results. Image from FFNZ but updated to agree with the latest research. ...
    1 week ago
  • Chosen To Rule? What Sort Of Christian Is Chris Luxon?
    National Messiah? Chris Luxon identifies himself as an evangelical Christian. If he is genuine in this self-characterisation, then he will take every opportunity his public office provides to proselytise on behalf of his faith. He will also feel obliged to bear witness against beliefs and practices he believes to be ...
    1 week ago
  • War of the worms
    I'm going to make a Reckless Prediction™ that the Tories have 'topped out' in the 'poll of polls' / Britain Elects multipoll tracker at about 38%, and in the next week we will start to see Labour creep up on them.In fact, we might just be seeing the start of ...
    1 week ago
  • Marvelly shows us how to be a feminist without feminism
    by The Council of Disobedient Women Lizzie Marvelly: “I may have missed this… has @afterellen gone all terf-y? Or am I reading something incorrectly? “ https://twitter.com/LizzieMarvelly/status/1191840059105742849 After Ellen is a lesbian website that is unashamedly pro-lesbian, as you’d expect. So why is Ms Marvelly so bothered about lesbians having their ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Out of the past – Tories to revive racist laws from the 16th century
    Did you know there once was a time when it was illegal to be a gypsy (aka Romani) in Britain?That was between 1530, when the Egyptians Act was passed, and 1856, when it was repealed.Amongst other things, the act forbade the entry of 'Egyptians' into England, ordered those already there ...
    1 week ago
  • 1000 of these now
    Some days I sit and think, “what will I write…?” What do you say when you get to 1000 posts? Maybe you just start where you are, diverge to where this all began, then offer a collection of reader’s favourite posts, and a few of your own? (And throw in ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • Has Shane Jones Just Saved NZ First?
    Counter-Puncher: The “activists” and “radicals” (his own words) from the Indian community who took such strong exception to Shane Jones’ remarks about Immigration NZ’s treatment of arranged marriages, may end up bitterly regretting their intervention. Jones is not the sort of person who turns the other cheek to his critics.SHANE ...
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: As predicted
    Yesterday, when National voted for the Zero Carbon Bill, I predicted they'd gut it the moment they regained power, just as they had done to the ETS. And indeed, they have explicitly promised to do exactly that within their first hundred days in office. What would their amendments do? Abandon ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Let this never be forgot
    In the spirit of Remember, remember the fifth of November, let's keep this in mind FOREVER.
    Oh dear. Extraordinary interview on PM with Andrew Bridgen and @EvanHD just now. Bridgen was defending Jacob Rees Mogg’s Grenfell comments. Evan asked him if JRM had meant to say he would have left ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Too Late To Change Capitalism’s Flightpath?
    Collision Course? In conditions of ideological white-out, the international bankers’ “Woop-Woop! Pull Up!” warning may have come too late to save global capitalism.WHAT DOES IT MEAN when international bankers are more willing to embrace radical solutions than our politicians and their electors? At both the International Monetary Fund and the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Whooping cough vaccine works well despite its imperfections
    Pertussis (whooping cough) is a conundrum. It is a disease that was described hundreds of years ago and the bacteria that causes it (Bordetella pertussis) isolated in 1906. We have had vaccines for about 80 years but this disease is defiant in the face of human immunity. I wanted to ...
    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Passed
    The Zero Carbon Bill has just passed its third reading, uanimously. In the end, National supported it - but we all know they'll turn around and gut it the moment they regain power. Meanwhile, I guess ACT's David Seymour didn't even bother to show up. I am on record as ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Retailing of vaping products – New NZ Research
    Dr Lindsay Robertson, Dr Jerram Bateman, Professor Janet Hoek Members of the public health community hold divergent views on how access to vaping products or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products should be arranged. Some believe ENDS should be as widely available as smoked tobacco and argue for liberal ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Justice for Bomber
    When the Police were trying to cover up for the National Party over Dirty Politics, they went all-in with their abuses of power. They illegally search Nicky Hager's house, violating his journalistic privilege and invading his privacy. They unlawfully acquired Hager's bank records. They did the same to left-wing blogger ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Britain’s climate tyranny was unlawful
    Last month, in response to a wave of protests by Extinction Rebellion, the British government purported to ban their protests from the whole of London. It was a significant interference with the freedoms of expression and assembly, and another sign of the country's decline into tyranny. But now, a court ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • More crime from the spies
    Last year, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security reported on significant problems with the intelligence warrant system. While they were unwilling to declare any warrant "irregular" (meaning unlawful) due to the recent law change, they were also not willing to give the system a clean bill of health. Now, they've ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Vaccination, compulsion, and paternalism for the lower orders
    The National Party has come out in support of encouraging greater vaccination uptake. But it sure isn’t the way I’d do it. National’s suggested docking the benefits of those on benefit whose kids aren’t keeping up with their vaccinations. Some in National have suggested extending that to payments under Working ...
    SciBlogsBy Eric Crampton
    2 weeks ago
  • Global Protests Rage On: But Slogans Are Not Plans.
    Feeding The Flames: It is simply not enough to demand an end to “corruption”, or “inequality”, or the overbearing influence of the authorities in Beijing. These are just “lowest common denominator” demands: the sort of slogans that pull people onto the streets. They are not a plan.WHERE’S THE PLAN? Across ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 11,000 employed under Labour
    The labour market statistics have been released, and unemployment has risen to 4.2%. There are 115,000 unemployed - 11,000 fewer than when Labour took office. In that time the minimum wage has gone up by $2 an hour, which shows that the right's fears about increases causing unemployment are simply ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Boycott this democratic fraud
    The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee has called for submissions on Andrew Little's tyrannical Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill. Normally I encourage participation in the democratic process. I am not doing so in this case. Instead, I encourage all of you to boycott this submissions process, and to post ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Why Mars is cold despite an atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz If tiny concentrations of carbon dioxide can hold enough heat ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Ban private jets
    Aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and within it, one of the fastest sources is elite travel: billionaires flitting around the world in their private jets, spewing excessive pollution into the atmosphere just so they can avoid mixing with us dirty peasants. But in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Untold Suffering
    That's what we face if we don't stop climate change, according to a warning from 11,000 scientists:The world’s people face “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” unless there are major transformations to global society, according to a stark warning from more than 11,000 scientists. “We declare clearly and unequivocally ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The left and violent misogyny
    by Phil Duncan Here’s just a few of the kind of threats issued day in and day out against gender-critical women – feminists, marxists, etc – overwhelmingly by MEN (albeit men identifying as women). “Kill all Terfs”. “Shoot a Terf today”. “All terfs deserve to be shot in the head”. ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and the iPhone
    This is the third of the synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016). The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Unlike the humble cup of coffee and t-shirt that we looked at in ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The freshwater mussel housing crisis: eviction by invasive weeds?
    Tom Moore Traditionally a food source and cutting tool, freshwater mussels/kākahi are now widely valued as water filters that help clean our waterbodies and maintain ecosystem health throughout Aotearoa. The improvement they provide in water quality can make it easier for other animals to live in streams and rivers, as ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Back it up Luxon: endorsing the destructive past is not actually the way forward
    And to think he gave all the potential goodwill away with that moronic, cult-like statement (repeated ad nauseam by many National hardliners) that Key is quite simply “the greatest PM we ever had”… Installation complete: this was nothing ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago
  • Good riddance
    National MP and former Conservation Minister Maggie Barry will not seek re-election next year. Good riddance. Because in case anyone has forgotten, barry is a bullying thug who terrorised both public servants and fellow MPs. She is one of the people who makes Parliament a toxic workplace, and our country ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: D-Day
    The Zero Carbon Bill is back in the House today for its second reading. While this isn't the final stage, its still effectively D-Day for the bill. Because today, at around 5pm, is when we're going to find out if it has a majority, whether National will support it or ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

  • Wayne Brown hits back at critics: Ports of Auckland has to move
    The chairman of the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy (UNISCS) working group, Wayne Brown, has hit back at critics of his group’s recommendations to relocate the Ports of Auckland cargo operations to Whangarei’s deepwater port of Northport. The working group's recommendation to close Auckland waterfront to all but cruise ...
    12 hours ago
  • Week That Was: Supporting our schools
    We're setting our young people up for success, investing in education around the country.  ...
    18 hours ago
  • Kiwis to have their say on End of Life Choice
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First backs the public to decide on the End of Life Choice Bill via a referendum at the 2020 General Election. The Bill, with New Zealand First’s referendum provision incorporated, passed its final reading in Parliament this evening. New Zealand First Spokesperson for ...
    5 days ago
  • Addressing miscarriages of justice
    Darroch Ball, Spokesperson for Justice New Zealand First is proud that a key Coalition Agreement commitment which will provide for a more transparent and effective criminal justice system has been realised. Legislation to establish the Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body focused on identifying and responding to possible miscarriages of ...
    6 days ago
  • Week That Was: Historic action on climate change
    "Today we have made a choice that will leave a legacy... I hope that means that future generations will see that we, in New Zealand, were on the right side of history." - Jacinda Ardern, Third Reading of the Zero Carbon Bill ...
    1 week ago
  • Tax-free deployments for Kiwi troops
    Darroch Ball, New Zealand First List MP A Member’s bill has been proposed that would provide income tax exemptions for all New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel while on operational deployment overseas. The Income Tax (Exemption for Salary or Wages of NZDF Members on Active Deployment) Amendment Bill proposed by New Zealand First ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A balanced Zero Carbon Bill passed
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, New Zealand First Leader New Zealand First is proud to have brought common sense to the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill, which passed its final reading in Parliament today. Party Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters says months of hard work went into negotiating a balanced ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Paramedics’ status to be recognised
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First has listened to calls to recognise paramedics as registered health professionals under the Health Practitioners’ Competence Assurance Act (the Act). Today, the Coalition Government announced plans for paramedics to be registered as health practitioners under the Act, and the establishment of a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Week That Was: 2,000 teachers in two years
    We began the week by commemorating the New Zealand Wars and celebrating a major increase in the number of teachers. Then, we were busy supporting offenders into work and getting our rail back on track after years of underinvestment. And that's just the start! ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Winning an election one conversation at a time
    In October I was sworn in as the Mayor of Lower Hutt. It’s the privilege of my life to serve Hutt people as their Mayor. There is something really special to be able to serve the community where I was raised, and where I live.   ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Closer cooperation with Korean horse racing industry
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Racing Racing Minister Winston Peters met with Korea Racing Authority Chairperson Nak Soon Kim in Seoul today to discuss closer cooperation between the New Zealand and Korean horse racing industries. As part of the visit to the Seoul Racecourse, Mr Peters witnessed ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Otago to lead digital creativity
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $10 million to establish Otago as the centre of New Zealand’s creative digital industry over the next ten years, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “The initiative will bring us closer to the vision of ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Young Otago students encouraged to take on forestry careers
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF)’s skills and employment programme will help young Otago people into long-term forestry careers, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. Te Ara Mahi will invest $63,000 in the 2020 school year to support eight 17 and 18 ...
    3 weeks ago
  • PGF backing Dunedin’s waterfront ambitions
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will support local plans to revitalise and stimulate economic development opportunities in Otago, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced. The four Regional Economic Development Ministers have approved an in-principle investment of $19.9 million towards the region’s ...
    3 weeks ago
  • M. Bovis eradication progress welcomed
    Mark Patterson, Spokesperson for Primary Industries New Zealand First is pleased to have received the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) report on the Coalition Government’s Mycoplasma bovis eradication efforts, which shows significant progress in the fight against the disease. New Zealand First Spokesperson for Primary Industries, Mark Patterson, says the report’s findings ...
    3 weeks ago
  • PGF boosts Otago’s engineering and manufacturing sector
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development Hon David Parker, Minister for Trade and Export Growth The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing to support economic growth opportunities for Otago’s engineering and manufacturing sectors, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones and Trade and Export Minister David Parker announced today. Almost $20 million ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Minister Peters discusses Pacific challenges and denuclearisation in Seoul
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Foreign Minister Winston Peters and his South Korean counterpart, Kang Kyung-wha, discussed in Seoul today opportunities to work more closely in the Pacific and the situation on the Korean Peninsula. Mr Peters and Minister Kang confirmed New Zealand and the ...
    3 weeks ago
  • PGF supports high speed broadband for marae at Parihaka Pa
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development  Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister for Māori Development The three marae in the historic Parihaka Pa complex in Taranaki have been upgraded to high speed broadband with the support of the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “Connecting the ...
    3 weeks ago

  • Reform of public service a step closer
    Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins today introduced into Parliament a Bill that will make it easier for the public service to tackle the biggest challenges facing Governments. The Bill represents the most significant change in the public service in 30 years. The State Sector Act 1988 will be repealed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    10 hours ago
  • Donations scheme to relieve pressure on families
    The families of more than 416,000 students will be better off next year as their schools have signed up to the Government’s donations scheme, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. The scheme will see almost $62.5 million in additional Government funding go to schools nationwide next year. “I’m really pleased ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    11 hours ago
  • Further support for Samoan measles outbreak
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced further support as the Government of Samoa responds to a serious measles outbreak. “New Zealand will deploy a further 18 vaccination nurses, bringing the total to 30 working in Samoa over the next four weeks,” Mr Peters said. “A New Zealand Medical Assistance ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Speech to the Child Poverty Action Group 2019 Summit
      Fa’atalofa atu, malo e lelei, Kia ora koutou katoa Thank you to the Child Poverty Action Group for asking me to be here today to provide an update on some of the things that have been happening across my the social development portfolio.  Can I firstly acknowledge the vast ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Speech to the New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Annual Conference
    ***Please check against delivery*** Good morning everyone. It is a pleasure to be with you this morning to open this year’s New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Conference and AGM. Firstly, thank you Dr Alan Jackson, NZTR Chair for your introduction. And let us acknowledge also: The NZTR Board; Dean McKenzie, Chair ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Fairer rules for tenants and landlords
    The Government has delivered on its promise to the over one million New Zealanders who now rent to make it fairer and more secure, Associate Minister of Housing (Public Housing) Kris Faafoi has announced today. Both renters and landlords will benefit from the suite of practical changes to the Residential ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Two decades of marine protection celebrated at Te Tapuwae o Rongokako in Tairawhiti
    A marine conservation milestone - the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve - is being celebrated today at a community event in Tairāwhiti/East Coast attended by the Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage. “The creation of this marine reserve in November 1999 was a game ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Food industry asked to step up fight against obesity
         The Government is asking the food industry to step up work to tackle obesity including reducing sugar, fat and salt in their products, better information for consumers, and tighter restrictions on advertising to children. Health Minister David Clark and Food Safety Minister Damien O’Connor have responded to a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Modern emergency care for Queenstown area
    ew, modern emergency department and outpatient facilities at Queenstown’s Lakes District Hospital mean better emergency care for the growing tourist mecca’s visitors and locals, says Health Minister David Clark. Today Dr Clark officially opened the hospital’s redeveloped Emergency Department and Outpatient facilities. The new facilities include: •    An extended Emergency Department ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Contraception important for New Zealanders
    Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter says today’s release of sexual and reproductive health data reinforces the significance of the Government’s commitment to providing free or very low-cost contraception. The Ministry of Health today published statistics from the Ministry of Health’s 2014/15 Health Survey. “It is important people can make ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • NZ medical staff and measles vaccines going to Samoa
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced that at the request of the Samoan Government, New Zealand will be providing further support to Samoa as it faces a worsening measles outbreak. “In response to a request from the people of Samoa, New Zealand is providing 3000 measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Disability Action Plan 2019 – 2023
    “The new Disability Action Plan 2019–2023 moves us towards the inclusive and accessible New Zealand that this government has committed to,” Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni announced today.  “The Action Plan was designed by disabled people, their family and supporters, the disability sector and government agencies. It will ensure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Joint Statement – Third Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting
    Third Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting 14 November 2019 Joint Statement 1. Defence Ministers Ron Mark and Dr Ng Eng Hen today conducted their third annual Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting in Singapore. 2. Building on the Enhanced Partnership signed between both countries in May this year, this annual meeting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Sexual Violence Legislation Bill has its first reading
    A Bill to improve the court system’s response to sexual violence has passed its first reading in Parliament today. Justice Minister Andrew Little says the Sexual Violence Legislation Bill will reduce the trauma sexual violence complainants experience in court, while maintaining defendants’ fundamental rights and making sure the trial process ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Streamlined business invoicing a step closer
    Streamlined payment practices are a step closer for Kiwi businesses with the formal launch of New Zealand’s e-Invoicing framework. Small Business Minister Stuart Nash says the government has now established the structure to enable automated and direct data exchange between the accounting systems of buyers and sellers. “The move to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • More frontline biosecurity officers protecting NZ
    Another 51 quarantine officers and four new biosecurity detector dog teams will help protect New Zealand from invasive pests and diseases this summer, says Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor. “The Government is delivering on its commitment to strengthen New Zealand’s biosecurity system and support our valuable primary sector “New Zealand’s flora, fauna ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • NZ space economy worth $1.69 billion
    A new report has found New Zealand’s space sector contributed $1.69 billion to the economy in the last financial year and employs 12,000 people, Minister for Economic Development Phil Twyford announced today. The report by Deloitte was commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and shows New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New Chair for Royal Commission into Abuse
    Judge Coral Shaw has been appointed as the new Chair of the Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions, Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin announced today. "Judge Shaw, who is currently one of the inquiry commissioners, is extremely well qualified for the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Better mental health facilities for Palmerston North
    The Government has confirmed its third major mental health facility upgrade since the Budget, this time at Palmerston North Hospital. The Prime Minister and Health Minister today visited MidCentral DHB to announce that $30 million has been allocated to upgrade its acute mental health facility. It follows earlier announcements in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Bowel Screening hits halfway point
    The roll out of the National Bowel Screening Programme has reached the halfway mark, with 10 out of 20 District Health Boards now part of the programme. MidCentral DHB, which covers Palmerston North, Manawatu and surrounding districts, this week became the latest to DHB to offer free bowel screening to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • More vaccines for meningococcal disease
    The Government welcomes PHARMAC’s decision to fund a vaccine to protect young people from meningococcal disease from 1 December this year. “Meningococcal disease is a serious threat which people at higher risk should be protected from,” says Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter. “The combined pharmaceutical budget was increased by ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Fisheries innovation projects supported
    Groups involved with innovative fisheries research projects are encouraged to apply for government support in the latest funding round from the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures programme. Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash says the SFF Futures funding is designed to be flexible enough to support small or large projects across a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Government fixes culturally arranged marriage visa issue
    The Government has fixed an issue affecting how Immigration New Zealand has processed visa applications for culturally arranged marriages, which will now see a consistent process applied which ensures people with legitimate arranged marriages can visit New Zealand while also preventing any rorting of the system. Earlier this year Immigration ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Extension for Royal Commission into Mosque attacks
    The Royal Commission into the Attacks on Christchurch Mosques will report back on 30 April 2020 to give it more time to hear submissions and consider information, Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin announced today. The Royal Commission was originally scheduled to report back to Government by 10 December 2019. “There has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Terrorism and Trade on agenda as Foreign Minister visits the United States
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters will travel to Washington DC today to attend a ministerial meeting focused on defeating ISIS, and to continue pursuing New Zealand’s trade opportunities. Mr Peters will participate in a meeting of Foreign and Defence Ministers from key countries contributing to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Hoiho get extra support alongside 168 community conservation groups backing nature
    The recently crowned Bird of the Year, the hoiho/yellow eyed penguin, is getting a much needed helping hand alongside more than 168 other community conservation projects announced Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage today. 168 community conservation projects throughout New Zealand are benefiting from $8 million in government grants, including $500,000 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New safety measures for modified pistols
    Controls on assault rifles and semi-automatic firearms are to be broadened to include some types of pistols, under changes to a bill currently making its way through Parliament. Police Minister Stuart Nash has tabled a Supplementary Order Paper to the Arms Legislation Bill, which is currently before a Select Committee ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Minister of Defence to visit Singapore and Thailand
    Minister of Defence Ron Mark will travel to Singapore today to conduct a counterpart visit and to co-chair the third annual Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting with his counterpart, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen. “Singapore is one of our most important defence partners in the region, and our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Future secured for Salisbury School
    Nelson’s Salisbury School is to be rebuilt, creating a modern and suitable learning environment for students at the residential special school, Education Minister Chris Hipkins and Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin announced today. The school for girls aged 8-15, in Richmond, was earmarked for closure by National until the process ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Resource management reform options released
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