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Wellington mayor-elect flip-flops on sale of Wellington Airport

Written By: - Date published: 8:15 am, October 30th, 2019 - 26 comments
Categories: local government, Politics - Tags: , , , , ,

One of the first acts of Wellington mayor-elect, Andy Foster has been to reverse his stance on the council’s 34% holding in Wellington International Airport Ltd (WIAL).

Foster, who has flirted with National, Labour and NZ First in his desire to enter parliament, won the mayoralty in a shock result on his third attempt, with a tiny majority of 62 votes, after getting film magnate Peter Jackson to bankroll a heavily-funded campaign.

It was third time lucky for the former National Party researcher who came a dismal fourth to Mark Blumsky in 2001 and limped into fifth spot in 2016 against Justin Lester, the man he beat this time. Lester has called for a recount.

Foster, who is adamant he isn’t Jackson’s puppet, immediately floated the idea of “recycling” assets, of which WIAL would be the jewel. He has also advocated building a second Mt Victoria tunnel, sending the Let’s Get Wellington Moving project, already stalled for three years, back to the start line.

As well showing more flexibility than Winston Churchill over which party is lucky enough to have him, Foster has a history of equivocating over the council’s holding in WIAL.

He was instrumental in voting against the 1998 sale of the council’s airport stake, an issue that not only ripped the council apart, but split the Jenny Shipley-led National-NZ First coalition.

Then mayor Mark Blumsky and former CEO Garry Poole were certain they had lined Foster up on the sale side despite his many pronouncements against the sale.

But they received almost as nasty a shock as Lester received from this month’s election, when Foster jumped the other way.

Rob Laking conducted a fascinating post-mortem of the council’s proposed sale, titled The family silver: the sale of Wellington Airport

In it, Blumsky states: “Andy tends to sit on the fence and … you were never sure at the end of the phone call with Andy: he wouldn’t say he wasn’t going to support you, he would say ‘well he still needed a bit more information but it was probably going to be okay’ and then out of the blue he doesn’t.”

Laking notes there was extensive public consultation which was dominated by opposition to the proposed sale. Councillor Foster, first elected in 1992, remembered it as being “surprisingly vocal”.

The mayor and myself mainly [attended the public meetings]. The mayor fronted most of it. I can remember the one in the Kilbirnie Community Centre. There were people hanging off the rafters. They were very anti. I don’t think we had a supporter in the room and it was chocker… anything we said, we were talking absolute nonsense as far as they were concerned.”

A council-commissioned poll of Wellington residents conducted by AC Nielsen found 42% had concerns over the sale. Most written submissions opposed selling with many expressing a view that the airport was an investment that generated good income.

Sale proponents argued WCC was only receiving a 2% return on investment but Foster argued that the alternative was worse – selling gold for silver.

In fact, WIAL has been a reasonable earner for WCC and the value of the asset has soared. In the year to March 31, 2019 WCC received a dividend of $12.6 million.

Infratil offered $150 million for the whole company in 1998 so WCC would have received $50 million ($76 million in today’s dollars, adjusting for inflation). Today, the asset would be valued at over $240.5 million, given that Infratil has it 66% stake in its books at $481.5 million.

In a letter to Evening Post on August 22, 1988, Foster said: “I believe most Kiwis don’t want strategic or monopoly assets sold, and the airport sale consultation results, while mixed, reinforced that belief.”

He had a similar track record of flip-flopping on the sale of Wellington lines company Capital Power, now the Chinese-owned Wellington Electricity.

Along with then fellow councillors Jack Reuben and Hazel Armstrong, he was a vociferous critic of that sale. But he managed to absent himself when the vote on the sale was taken and then changed his view. In the letter quoted above, he said selling the second half of Capital Power, “though unpopular, and personally difficult, made financial and customer sense, and subsequent events have proved the sale right”.

An interesting aspect of the WIAL ownership structure is that Infratil gets proportionally more dividends from its 66% stake because of a contentious tax mechanism called “subvention payments”. Infratil is allowed to group tax losses from interest costs in the parent company to offset WIAL’s tax liabilities so it receives disproportionately large returns – $40.5 million this year versus $12.6 million for the council. It’s all pretty legal, but not unlike what the likes of Facebook and Google do on an international scale.

The Infratil directors receive high fees – Chair Tim Brown receives $165,000 which goes back to Infratil. Foster is actually one of WCC’s two directors on the WIAL board but his $87,000 fee goes back to the council. However, WCC’s other board member, Wayne Eagleson, former chief of staff for John Key and now working for controversial lobbying company Thompson Lewis, keeps his $102,000 fee. How the council managed make such a tainted appointment is an interesting question that new the council’s three Labour and three Green members might wish to review.

Brown told me that the directors’ fees are in line with similar companies and based on Institute of Directors’ recommendations. They are set after a rigorous assessment process, he said.

Given the strong opposition to the sale of the WCC stake in 1998, including his own, it seems odd Foster didn’t raise the issue more prominently during the election campaign. In an email response to my query on this, he said he raised it at several meetings, and the main issue is price and risk.

Coincidently, WIAL , last week announced big new spending plans over the next 20 years. It also announced it is buying half of the Miramar Golf Course for $31 million, something it expressly states in its current 30-year plan it would never have to do even if the planned runway extension proceeded. The club has agreed to sell voluntarily under threat of forced acquisition via the Public Works Act.

Many people have questioned how WIAL’s expansion plans that involve a huge increase in flights, dovetail with the council declaring a climate and ecological emergency is anyone’s guess.

WIAL’s grandiose plans for the runway extension are bogged down and unlikely to proceed under the current government. Only subsidies by local, regional and central government would make the $350 million project viable. The subsidies assume benefits to the region beyond the airport and Brown says the extension “couldn’t be justified it on a purely commercial basis”.

The project has been stymied by a pilots’ union legal challenge to safety margins on the runway and all is on hold until the Civil Aviation Authority completes a review.

Neither Brown nor CEO Steve Sanderson are confident the runway plan will proceed while Foster has publicly expressed doubts.

Whether he can get his plan to sell the airport stake past a once hostile public or a leftist-dominated council also seems about as likely as his desire to bulldoze through another tunnel through Mt Vic.

Even before he has been officially confirmed as mayor, ructions in the council emerged in the stoush over the appointment of his deputy. One former councillor told me the two stand-out attributes she remembered of her time on the council with Foster, were that he would often vote on issues opposite to what he promised, and he was never a team player.

We will watch this space.

(Simon Louisson reported for The Wall Street Journal, AP Dow Jones Newswires, New Zealand Press Association and Reuters and later was an adviser to the Green Party. Disclosure: he is a member of Miramar Golf Club and voted against the sale of the course.)

26 comments on “Wellington mayor-elect flip-flops on sale of Wellington Airport”

  1. lprent 1

    Speaking from afar and remembering ancient history, wasn't Winston Peters also pretty damn adamant about about the sale of Wellington Airport.. ummm yep.

    Later, however, tensions began to develop between Peters and the National Party, which only worsened after Jenny Shipley staged a party room coup and became prime minister. After a dispute over the privatisation of Wellington International Airport, Peters was sacked from Cabinet again on 14 August 1998.

    I know that I really shouldn't ignore Wellington (I tend to focus on Auckland a lot these days). But this does appear to be a pretty contentious issue down there. I must read up some more on it.

    This is a good a post to start from.

    Makes it likely that any such proposal will face opposition at the government level as well.

    As a side issue. I also understand that Lester is launching a electoral challenge. With 62 votes in it on a STV election and a lot of disallowed votes, he has a good chance. Both with the appeal, and with the vote.

    The precedent on which Lester’s case hinges is based on Winston Peters’ election to the Hunua ward in 1978.

    On that occasion, Peters won on a recount after it was ruled voting papers not filled out correctly should be excluded, even if those voters’ intentions were clear.

    That ruling was subsequently challenged through the Court of Appeal, and a precedent set that any voting paper which clearly signalled a voter’s intention should be considered.

    Winston – pops up everywhere 🙂

    • Dukeofurl 1.1

      "He was instrumental in voting against the 1998 sale of the council’s airport stake, an issue that not only ripped the council apart, but split the Jenny Shipley-led National-NZ First coalition."

      The issue back then(1998)  wasnt the Councils  stake , it was the Governments 66% share That why the government doesnt have any shares now in the Airport but the Council does.

      Was there another time when The Council was ripped part over  selling its share ?

    • Winston is the gift that goes on giving, the doughty warrior that plans his campaigns well, and knows which way the wind is blowing.    And can't be ignored;  he is the pop-up politician for all conditions.

      • Dukeofurl 1.2.1

        The last electorate seat  Court recount in NZ  was for Waitakere in 2011.

        Paula Bennett overturned the final result and re-gained the seat.

        Ms Bennett was in the lead by 349 votes on election night but the result was overturned after special votes put Labour MP Carmel Sepuloni ahead by 11 votes. After Ms Bennett filed an application for a recount the Electoral Commission announced that she had won by nine votes.

        Of course it would have   gains and losses on both sides ( and other candidates too) but would be interesting to see the  quantum of votes changed by the court. Perhaps Mickey would know ?

  2. Hooch 2

    I wouldn’t want to presume what Andy Fosters stance is on the sale of the airport but I refer to an article on stuff when it was mentioned.

    Foster said the idea of the council sellings its stake in the airport was nothing more than an "early conversation" after council management asked him to address the issue of "asset recycling".

    So the council management asked him to sound it out rather than his own personal idea. From memory (and I could be wrong) Andy mentioned during the election campaign, on the wellington scoop page, that he preferred to keep the dividend income stream from owning the airport shares.

    LGWM actually called for an additional tunnel through Mt Victoria so it’s hardly sending it backward. It’s a bit hard to run a mass transit route when it has nowhere to go so it would be logical to build the tunnel first with dedicated mass transit lanes? 

  3. Jimmy 3

    Surely with only a 62 vote majority and a re-count in progress, are the council able to make any major decisions until re-count done and dusted?

    • Dukeofurl 3.1

      Yes they are. The Mayor is only one vote around the council table.  The process is the mayor (or any councillor) continues in their position until a court decision is announced either way.

      It wasnt NZ,  but in Western Australia where they have STV type elections for Australian Senate,  a candidate who missed out by a tiny amount requested a court recount, but for some reason not all the ballot papers  were available anymore .  in that instance the  senate election had to be re run.

      Recounts bring up all sorts of gremlins in the vote counting  process, its  not  totally accurate  and done by clockwork as  people might think

      • lprent 3.1.1

        In this case, my understanding is that the council are also using software / machine for the count.

        Speaking as someone who has spent the last 30 odd years as computer programmer, I simply don't trust software or hardware that much. The system engineering tends to have built in presumptions that are always worth reviewing. I seem to spend an excessive amount of time finding those (and my own biases) and fixing them. 

        I'd regard this as an excellent opportunity for the court to review the actual process in an actual election, and to do it in depth.

        • Dukeofurl 3.1.1.1

          The Council uses a contractor , like most other councils, for the whole election process.

          My understanding is the  ballot papers are scanned to digital images when they arrive in the post and that  first  run is to detect those vote images  that are unreadable by the software, for later manual counting. Likely other issues are paper jams during the scanning and that the numbers tally up for  the barcodes read on the unopened envelope windows  with the  digital images barcoding to see that every vote receieved by post  is accounted for.

          Plus the big issue, what the computer decides   between competing digital image of numbers.

          With STV there are issues with not enough candidates numbered ( not really an issue with Mayor)  or numbers repeated which make for an invalid vote. This could be fertile territory for 'what did the voter intend' , which I dont think has been tested by court for STV votes.

          • lprent 3.1.1.1.1

            Lots of scope for systematic errors in there.

            And I don't think that any of this has been tested by the courts here.

            In aussie, they’re still having STV count issues run through the courts.

        • Agora 3.1.1.2

          I agree with the need for a thorough independent review of the election. 

  4. Dukeofurl 4

    Its the Traffic that has no where to go.  An extra  tunnel for cars just means the streets  in the CBD  become grid locked.

    At the moment the tunnel  is a choke point which allows some  free movement in the CBD, removing the choke point doesnt mean you get to the destination quicker, just you spend less of the time in a tunnel.

  5. mpledger 5

    Wellington Airport is a private company (I believe) so I don't know that they can take the golf land via the Public Works Act – just like McDonalds can't force a sale of someone else's land to build a new restaurant via the Public Works Act.   (OK – just checked on wikipedia – it's 2/3 private owned by infratil, the rest owned by WCC – so what does that mean for the Public Works Act?)

    The other thing is that the sewage works has lakes on the golf course which they use to clean the water before it goes into the sea. I don't know if they'll have the room to do that on a 9 hole golf course.

    They should move all the stuff on Freight Drive on to the Western side of the airport – they have a ton of unused land along Titirangi Road – and then they won't need to take golf land for a plane parking lot.

    • Alice Tectonite 5.1

      Public Works Act: Wellington Airport is classified as a network utility operator, same as electricity lines, telecoms, etc.

      Network utility operators are defined in section 166 of the RMA and distribute gas, petroleum, geothermal energy, telecommunications, electricity, water and wastewater, or construct or operate roads, railway lines and airports. 

      [source]

       The golf course is zoned as 'Airport' in the District Plan. I have seen plans (not online) going back decades showing the golf course as future airport expansion. It been an option for along time.

      edit: corrected ‘designated’ to ‘zoned’

      • Dukeofurl 5.1.1

        Yes.  The sale of large block of  Auckland airport shares to an overseas pension fund  was blocked  in 2008  by labour government.

        I think it was because the shares would provide 'control' to an overseas entity that was the problem rather than just the shares themselves 

        • mpledger 5.1.1.1

          (In a round-about way of getting there) It would mean that Wellington Airport couldn't be sold for the same reason.

    • Dukeofurl 5.2

      Airport has offered $31 mill for half the Miramar course and I think the Club has accepted.

      Over the years the airport has encroached on the  course 

      " In the 1950s the government took 5.25 hectares of land from the club, and another 8.2 hectares in the 1970s. Further change was threatened in the 1990s, which led to a redesign of the layout by Graham Marsh design. The 18-hole layout that the 450 club members currently enjoy is a quasi-links with pot bunkers and rumpled fairways."

      Golf is a declining sport and Wellington City has other courses at Mornington and Berhampore and a few others a bit further out from the central city.

  6. Sigurd Magnusson 6

    Am curious what the trend is relating to the future runway requirements of planes. Are plane-makers creating passenger aircraft with much shorter stopping and take-off requirements? I was thoroughly impressed in some of large US airforce transporters with incredibly short distances at Ohakea. (Boeing C-17 Globemaster needs only a 1km runway; our airport is 2km long) Furthermore, domestic planes will likely go electric (otherwise there will be a revolt against plane travel given climate change) and I am curious about their impact on take-off distances also. That's all to say: the future would seem quite uncertain on whether a longer runway is needed given imminent changes to technology.

    • Dukeofurl 6.1

      Airliners need long runways for lift off to carry lots of fuel for long range.

      The long thin wings are best for that , military airlifters  have bigger wing area  so they can use shorter  runways.

      Domestic planes arent going electric any time soon, unless they stay under 12 seats. Batteries that can currently be used in planes and at cold  high altitudes are 1/100 of the energy density of  kerosene. 

      The big killer for batteries is that  drag increases substantially with weight if the plane is otherwise the same.  Added to that fuel is burnt during flight reducing weight, while batteries stay the same weight throughout.

      Cant compare with road vehicles as  they work because  weight doesnt matter so much, can recharge often and electric motors in vehicles are so much more efficient than petrol/diesel  engines.  Much less jump in efficency compared to modern gas turbines in  flight profiles

    • Sacha 6.2

      The future amount of flying people can do seems uncertain. Tourism industry has a big reckoning coming.

  7. Just to clarify – WIAL is what as known as a requiring authority and local authority under the designation and compulsory acquisition processes of the Public Works Act. The golf club was counselled that "assuming that WIAL is able to produce compelling evidence as to the need to acquire and use the land, it is unlikely that WIAL will be unsuccessful in compulsorily acquiring the Club’s land if it wishes to do so".
    ie the club decided it had to negotiate a sale which now has all but being signed off.  The alternative was to fight it via the courts but the club argued it had no financial resources for such a fight and it would get the same result but be worse off. I unsuccessfully argued that WIAL would not wish for such a public battle where all the reasons against the extension would be publicly aired- climate change issues; noise issues for Strathmore residents; WIAL already having sufficient land for plane parking; that actually this is just a land grab in the same way that it was on the eastern side where WIAL now leases land to the big box retailers that are helping kill the CBD; destroying a Wellington green space, destroying Wellington's only proper 18 hole golf course and generally going against WCC's stated aim of making the city the most livable in the southern hemisphere.

  8. Who owns NZ and its infrastructure?    This list of owners of country areas is interesting.   https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/in-depth/401186/nz-s-top-50-private-landowners-revealed

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    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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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
    1 week 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
    1 week 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
    1 week 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
    1 week 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
    1 week ago
  • Winston is right
    Winston Peters is in court today, suing a bunch of former Minister and civil servants over their pre-election leak of his superannuation repayment. He's characterised the leak as malicious, and said that it is repugnant that his information was passed on to Ministers to use for political advantage. And he's ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Media impartiality
    Sky's economics editor, Ed Conway has posted a Twitter thread responding to a claim that - as far as I can see - Labour never made:
    Are NHS operation cancellations at an all-time high? That's the impression you might have been left with if you read this story from the ...
    1 week ago
  • Finish what’s on your plate
    Murray Cox Do I have to finish my favourite genome? That’s an often-asked question. Geneticists generally strive to produce high-quality genomes that sequence every last gene, making full use of the state-of-the-art technologies coming on stream. Sequencing DNA means determining the order of the four chemical building blocks – called ...
    SciBlogsBy Genomics Aotearoa
    1 week ago
  • Gainful Employment: A Cautionary Tale.
    Transformative Politics: The idea is to turn each recipient into an unwitting accomplice in their own transformation. From interested observer to hyped-up activist, sharing our messages promiscuously with ‘friends’. You’ll be part of an ever-expanding circulatory system, Jennifer, for the ideas that will win us the election.”JENNIFER SKITTERED her chair ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand should not fund bigotry
    Two years ago, the Cook Islands government announced that it was planning to join the civilised world and decriminalise consensual homosexual sex between men. Now, they've reversed their position, and decided to criminalise lesbians into the bargain:Two years ago, in a step welcomed by many people including the gay and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • More tyranny in Australia
    The boycott is a fundamental tool of protest. By choosing who we buy from, we can send a message, and hopefully change corporate behaviour. Historically, boycotts have been effective, for example over apartheid in South Africa and Israel, in forcing divestment from Myanmar, and in ending bus segregation in the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Submission for rationality and science against the assaults of pre-modernism and post-modernism
    Jan Rivers spoke at the Abortion Legislation Select Committee in favour of the bill, but in opposition to calls from other submitters to exchange the word ‘woman’ for ‘person’ throughout the bill. Jan is a supporter of the feminist group Speak Up For Women and has recently written an excellent ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • My loyal readership of … Cam girls and Pornbots?
    I checked my traffic stats:I was intrigued by 'monica29' - who was this very dedicated individual?  I clicked on the link, to be greeted with ...Ho, hum.Spreadin' the word, spreadin' the word.  Doesn't matter who hears it, as long as it gets out there. ...
    1 week ago
  • Worth repeating forever
    There have been three polls since the election was announced, and I will shamelessly steal YouGov / UK Polling Report's Anthony Wells' summary of them:Survation – CON 34%, LAB 26%, LDEM 19%, BREX 12%, GRN 1% Ipsos MORI – CON 41%, LAB 24%, LDEM 20%, BREX 7%, GRN 3% YouGov ...
    1 week ago
  • Lutte Ouvriere on the explosion in Chile
    The following article is translated from Lutte Ouvrière, the weekly newspaper of the organisation usually known by the same name in France. When, for the second time this year, Chilean President Piñera announced an increase in the price of Metro tickets from 800 to 830 pesos, students in the high ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Wage theft – I’m fucking over it.
    Today, a worker contacted me asking if she could go to the police over her employer stealing thousands of dollars from her in unpaid wages. The employer also did not pay this worker’s taxes or student loan which amounts to tax fraud. As a workers rights activist, who founded the ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • On The Rebound.
    Signed, Sealed, Delivered, They're Yours: Is there any person more vulnerable than a jilted lover on the rebound? Or, anything more certain than that the charmer, the predator, the glib spinner of lies and promises will seek such broken people out? Yes, of course, he will love every one of ...
    1 week ago
  • Rabbi urges congregation to vote against Corbyn
    Though Jonathan Romain is a fairly high profile Rabbi, writing in several papers and popping up on TV and the radio, this story doesn't seem to have made it to the Guardian yet, so I'll take the unusual step of linking the Stephen Pollard edited Jewish Chronicle:Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain ...
    2 weeks ago
  • My absurdly optimistic prediction
    There's an election afoot, and that is when noted opinion formers such as myself get to make wild fools of ourselves by pretending we have the faintest idea what will happen.So, here is my absurdly optimistic prediction:Labour - 285Conservative - 262SNP - 53Lib Dems - 20PC - 5Ireland - 18 ...
    2 weeks ago
  • October ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image Credit: Increase Social Media Traffic & Website Traffic I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A mountain of a challenge in banning glyphosate
    Belinda Cridge I was reading my son a story last night. A great tale of derring-do of five mountaineers scaling the Matterhorn for the first time. One in the party had tried six times previously and failed, this was the last attempt before winter closed another season. They tried a ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • This government has a problem with secrecy
    As introduced, the Zero Carbon Bill included an expansive secrecy clause, which would have covered virtually all decisions by the Climate Change Commission over our most important policy area. The Ministry for the Environment admitted this was a mistake (or as they put it, an "oversight"), and the select committee ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A small New Zealand songbird that hides food for later use provides insights into cognitive evolutio...
    Rachael Shaw, Victoria University of Wellington When we think about animals storing food, the image that usually comes to mind is a squirrel busily hiding nuts for the winter. We don’t usually think of a small songbird taking down an enormous invertebrate, tearing it into pieces and hiding these titbits ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Referenda on Euthanasia – NZ First’s Victory – or a Major Miscalculation?
    . . NZ First’s success in putting the euthenasia bill to a public referenda may not be the victory they believe it to be. They may even have sounded the death-knell for a second Labour-NZ First-Green coalition. On 23 July this year, NZ First MP, Jenny Marcroft, submitted a Supplementary ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    2 weeks ago
  • Corbyn the Mighty vs BoJo the Clown
    Interesting contrasting pictures in the Guardian:Corbyn gets the classic positive shot - low angle and a clear background, making him look authoritative (of course, being Corbyn, he doesn't do authoritative very well).Where as Johnson gets pictured with children at some sort of mad-hatters' tea party:Begging the question, who is the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Public health, externality, and vaccination
    Paternalism is contentious. Arguments for state action to protect us from ourselves are fraught. I come down pretty heavily on the anti-paternalism side of the argument, but I’ve heard respectable defences of paternalism. But policy around vaccination is hardly paternalistic. There’s a clear market failure that could be pointed to ...
    SciBlogsBy Eric Crampton
    2 weeks ago
  • Happy Halloween
    Its Halloween, so its time for annual pumpkin trepanning and chocolate eating ritual. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Twenty thousand leagues under the sea
    I’ve been reading Jules Verne’s novel Twenty thousand leagues under the sea, considered as one of the very earliest science fiction stories. In brief, Monsieur Aronnax and a couple of sidekicks are taken prisoner by Captain Nemo and his mysterious crew and treated to an underwater voyage around the world ...
    SciBlogsBy Marcus Wilson
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Disclosing the risks
    The climate crisis is going to mean some pretty big changes in our country, both from its impacts and the policies required to address them. Most obviously, whole suburbs are going to be underwater by 2100, meaning people and businesses are going to have to relocate to higher ground. But ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • MPI fails again
    Yesterday a dairy company was fined $483,000 for repeatedly failing to report listeria in its facility. Its a serious fine for a serious crime: listeria is a serious disease, and they were effectively trying to kill people with it. But there's another story hidden in there, and its not a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Gay Men Address Gender Identity
    Gay men see the excesses of trans activism and are increasingly speaking out.  A new Facebook group addressing ‘gender identity’ and contemporary trans activism has been set up for gay men, by gay men. The following is the group’s Statement of Intent, Group Rules, and link to the group for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s Going Gangbusters.
    Criminal Enterprises: Gangs are not welfare institutions. Nor are they a substitute for the family their members never had. They are ruthless, violent, criminal money-making machines. That is all.OKAY, first-things-first. Gangs exist for one purpose – and only one. They are a sure-fired, time-tested institution for making crime pay – ...
    2 weeks ago
  • “Action for Healthy Waterways”: Some big ticket actions that the Government has neglected
    Prof Nick Wilson, A/Prof George Thomson, A/Prof Simon Hales, Prof Michael Baker The NZ Ministry for the Environment has produced a valuable discussion document with many good ideas for improving the health of waterways in New Zealand. But there are important gaps. In this blog we consider three big-ticket items ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • ADHD and fluoride – wishful thinking supported by statistical manipulation?
    Finding reality needs more than wishful thinking. The problem is that statistical arguments often provide a jargon to confirm biases. Image credit: Accurate Thinking Versus Wishful Thinking in Gambling I worry at the way some ...
    2 weeks 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 ...
    4 days 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 ...
    4 days 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 ...
    5 days 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 ...
    1 week 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! ...
    2 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.   ...
    2 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 ...
    2 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 ...
    2 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 ...
    2 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 ...
    2 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 ...
    2 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 ...
    2 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 ...
    2 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 ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Advancing Pacific Partnerships 2019 launched
    Hon Ron Mark, Minister of Defence Minister of Defence Ron Mark will today launch the Advancing Pacific Partnerships 2019 Defence Assessment  during a speech at Te Papa.  The Assessment outlines how Defence will partner with our Pacific Island neighbours and invest in Pacific regional security architecture. The Plan aligns with the Coalition ...
    2 weeks ago
  • PGF funding could transform Gisborne company into “beacon of employment” in two years
    A new Provincial Growth Fund investment could create about 80 new jobs in Gisborne over the next two years, turning a local small business into a “beacon of employment” in the process. Regional Economic Development Parliamentary Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau said the PGF’s Te Ara Mahi funding stream would provide $1.6m ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Week That Was: Two years of progress
    This week, we’re taking action on climate change, expanding trades education – and celebrating two years of progress! ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs to visit the Republic of Korea and Japan
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters will travel to the Republic of Korea and Japan next week. “The Republic of Korea and Japan are two of New Zealand’s closest partners in the region with whom we share common values and ...
    3 weeks ago
  • New Zealand to lead Bougainville Referendum Regional Police Support Mission
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters has announced today that New Zealand is leading a police support mission in Bougainville as the region prepares to vote in a non-binding referendum on its political future. “New Zealand has accepted an invitation ...
    3 weeks ago
  • We’re taking action on climate change
    “I refuse to accept the challenge of climate change is too hard to solve.” – Jacinda Ardern ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Shane Jones annoyed at “elevated sense of entitlement from a lot of immigrant leaders”
    New Zealand First MP Shane Jones is defending Immigration New Zealand (INZ) after it instructed officials to stop granting visas as an exception to instructions. He has also lashed out at immigrant leaders upset with the tightening of the rules, saying they had an “elevated sense of entitlement”. Members of ...
    3 weeks ago
  • New Zealand public likely to vote on euthanasia bill thanks to NZ First
    A change to the End of Life Choice Bill was passed in Parliament, meaning if politicians decide to vote for the law it must be approved by the public first. A binding referendum was a condition insisted on by New Zealand First, and Jenny Marcroft’s supplementary order paper (SOP) successfully ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Tairāwhiti Workforce development projects get $1.6m PGF boost
    Fletcher Tabuteau, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), through its skills and employment programme, Te Ara Mahi, is investing a further $1.6m into Tairāwhiti’s workforce development, said Parliamentary Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau. “This PGF funding follows on from significant PGF investment earlier this ...
    3 weeks ago
  • NZ First welcomes primary sector support for climate change plan
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, New Zealand First Leader New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters says the Government’s steps to reduce farm livestock emissions are necessary and timely. Today the Government and farming leaders announced a plan to measure and price emissions at the farm level by 2025. “Many farmers ...
    3 weeks ago

  • Racing Industry destined to be on-track
    Racing Minister Winston Peters welcomes the tabling of the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) 2019 Annual Report in Parliament today. He says the 2019 Annual Report marks the point when New Zealand’s racing industry’s decline was arrested and a turnaround started. RITA’s 2019 Annual Report recorded an industry net profit ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 hours ago
  • New Zealand firefighter support to Queensland
    The New Zealand Government is today sending 21 firefighters to help fight the ongoing catastrophic Australian bushfires. “The fires in Australia are in some of the toughest, most challenging conditions ever,” says Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin.  “As of yesterday morning, there were 100 active bushfire-related incidents across Queensland and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 hours ago
  • Supporting all schools to succeed
      More frontline support for schools through a new education agency, as part of a redesigned Ministry of Education More support for principals and school boards including through a new centre of leadership and local leadership advisor roles New independent disputes panels for parents and students Management of school property ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 hours ago
  • Reform to support better outcomes for Māori learners and whānau
    The Government’s reform of the Tomorrow’s Schools system is a watershed moment in education and an opportunity to create meaningful change for ākonga Māori and their whānau, Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis said today. “Last year through Kōrero Mātauranga | Education Conversation, Māori teachers, parents, ākonga, whānau, hapū and iwi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 hours ago
  • Infrastructure pipeline growing
    Infrastructure Minister is welcoming the first of many updated project pipelines from the newly established New Zealand Infrastructure Commission today. The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga, has released an expanded pipeline of major capital projects – another crucial step towards delivering better infrastructure outcomes. “The first iteration of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Tighter firearms law to further improve safety
    Tougher gun laws designed to improve public safety through firearms prohibition orders are proposed in a new document released for public input. Police Minister Stuart Nash says firearms prohibition orders (FPOs) would give new powers to Police to ensure high-risk individuals come nowhere near firearms. “We have already prohibited the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New TVNZ chair & directors confirmed
    Andy Coupe has been confirmed as TVNZ’s new Board Chair. “Mr Coupe has strong commercial and capital markets experience and TVNZ has benefited from his technical knowledge of business and finance, as well as his extensive governance experience,” the Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Kris Faafoi said.  Andy ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Hutt Road cycle path officially opened
    Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter today officially opened a separated pathway, following the completion of the Kaiwharawhara Stream bridge, which will improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians along Hutt Road.  The $6.8m Hutt Road project provides a separated path for cycling and pedestrians, the replacement of informal parking ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Announcement of new Ambassador to Russia
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today announced the appointment of career diplomat Si’alei van Toor as New Zealand’s next Ambassador to Russia. “I’m pleased to appoint Ms van Toor to this position. She brings a wealth of experience to the role having previously served as Senior Trade Adviser to the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update
    The Treasury’s 2019 Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update (HYEFU) will be released on Wednesday December 11, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Coalition Government will publish the 2020 Budget Policy Statement at the same time, outlining the priorities for Budget 2020. Further details on arrangements for the release will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Giving a Boost to Kiwi small businesses
    A new initiative to better support small businesses through hands-on mentoring and advice has been launched by the Minister for Small Business. The first event in the Kiwi Business Boost series of regional workshops and online tools has been launched in Wairoa by Stuart Nash. “The Business Boost initiative combines ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Nearly three quarters of Rolleston connected to UFB
    The latest Quarterly Connectivity Report shows that more and more New Zealanders are moving to Ultra-fast Broadband (UFB), with Rolleston having the highest uptake at 74 per cent, as at the end of September. “This means that nearly three quarters of Rolleston’s households and businesses have moved to ultra-fast services. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Historic day for landmark climate change legislation in New Zealand
    The passing of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill will help ensure a safe planet for our kids and grandkids, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw said today. The landmark legislation which provides a framework to support New Zealanders to prepare for, and adapt to, the effects ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Release of Oranga Tamariki Practice Review
    The review of Oranga Tamariki practice around the planned uplift of a Hastings baby in May shows significant failings by the Ministry and that the planned and funded changes to shift from a child crisis service to a proper care and protection service need to be accelerated, Children’s Minister Tracey ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Minister wishes students success in exams
    Education Minister Chris Hipkins has wished students the best of luck for this year’s NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship exams which start tomorrow. Around 140,000 students will have participated in 119 NCEA and New Zealand Scholarship exams by the end of the exam period on 3 December. “I want to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New High Commissioner to the United Kingdom announced
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today announced the appointment of Bede Corry as New Zealand’s next High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. “The appointment of a senior diplomat to this important role underlines the significance New Zealand places on our relationship with the United Kingdom,” said Mr Peters. “The United ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Police recruits making Auckland safer
    An innovative approach to boosting the number of frontline Police has seen 20 new officers graduate from one of the uncommon training wings in Auckland. Police Minister Stuart Nash says the graduation of 20 constables today means that 1,765 new Police officers have been deployed since the coalition government took ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Over 1.2 million hours of community work helps local communities
    Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says the 1.2 million hours of community work completed by offenders in the last financial year has helped local communities right across the country. “Community work sentences are a great way for people to pay something positive back to society. There is a massive benefit to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Te Huringa o Te Tai – Police Crime Prevention Strategy
    "A pathway for Police in leadership with Iwi Māori, to achieve the aspirations of Māori whānau." Police launch of Te Huringa o Te Tai, Pipitea Marae,  Thorndon Quay, Wellington Nau mai, haere mai. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, ka nui te mihi, ki a koutou. Hello everyone, warm greetings to you all. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Kiwis getting higher pay
    Working New Zealanders are getting more in their back pockets under the Coalition Government’s economic plan. Stats NZ data today shows average weekly ordinary time earnings are up by $83 since the Government took office. This shows that working New Zealanders are getting higher take-home pay, and that employers are ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • More support for schools to reduce energy consumption and environmental impact
    The Government is supporting schools to cut down their energy consumption and reduce environmental impacts, with a quarter of all schools having their lights replaced with LEDs, a sustainability contestable fund and a plan to improve the environmental sustainability of all schools in the future. Education Minister Chris Hipkins and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • New Zealand’s manaakitanga highlighted in China
    Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis heads to China on Friday to lead the New Zealand Government presence at the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism closing ceremony. The ceremony will take place at Canton Tower in Guangzhou on Sunday 10 November. “The Year of Tourism has been mutually beneficial for both New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Climate change research boost
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