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Werewolf: Ten Myths about Asset Sales

Written By: - Date published: 1:26 pm, September 13th, 2011 - 27 comments
Categories: privatisation - Tags:

Gordon Campbell at Werewolf has an excellent piece pointing out the flaws in Asset Sales. Here’s a quick summary, but it’s worth the read in its entirety (there’s a large pre-amble and conclusion, and an 11th myth!).

1. Asset sales will reduce debt and help the government to balance the books .

Selling all or part of a public asset is one option for raising funds to pay off debt. It provides only a one- off benefit, though. The alternative would be to keep all of the asset, retain the strategic planning advantages this affords, and reap the dividends over time. Unfortunately, the government has never put on a white board the net long term benefits of both options – vis a vis the cost of borrowing to repay debt – so that the public can make informed choices about what they’d like to see done with their assets.

2. Asset sales will create an opportunity for ordinary New Zealanders – the so- called “Mum and Dad investors” – to own a stake in some top notch companies.

The obvious rejoinder is that every New Zealand taxpayer already owns these top notch assets, and that stake will now be diluted and sold off to a mixture of local and foreign buyers. Those New Zealand private investors who can afford to reap the benefits will be anything but ‘ordinary” folk and/or everyone’s typical “Mum and Dad” –given that market analysts estimate that barely 10 % of New Zealanders currently invest in the sharemarket. Even if these new and enticing prospects kick that figure up to 15%, we’re still talking about an elite group of “ordinary” Kiwis – and by and large, they will be the sort of Mums and Dads you’d be more likely to run into down at the tennis club, than on housie night at the RSA.. In sum, a stake currently owned by many will be sold off to the relatively few. On past history (see below) even those anything-but-ordinary Kiwis don’t tend to hang onto their shares for very long.

3. Asset sales will help boost the appeal of the New Zealand sharemarket as a place to invest.

Yet again, one has to query whether existing public assets should be being used for this purpose, to enhance the appeal of investing in shares. Shouldn’t the private sector be creating new enterprises that attract investors? Isn’t that how capitalism is supposed to work?

4. Asset sales will bring private sector disciplines and efficiencies to bear on the performance of these assets.

To some, the superiority of New Zealand’s private sector managers is an article of faith. Not even the real life example of Air New Zealand – which as mentioned, is back in government hands only because of the disastrous foray by the airline’s previous private owners into the Australian airline business – can shake the true believers.

5. The shareholding will stay in New Zealand hands.

No, not if the sale by the previous National government to a prior generation of “Mum and Dad’ investors is anything to go by. In January, Labour leader Phil Goff released figures showing that within six months of the Contact Energy sale in 1999, the number of shareholders had fallen by 34, 845. As of last year, there were only 80,911 shareholders – as compared to 220,000 immediately after the sale. The 51% majority shareholder is now Origin Energy, which is Australian-owned. Just over 75% of the shares are now held by a mere 20 companies.

6. Asset sales will increase the pool of national savings and investment.

Well, not really. A fair chunk of the proceeds from selling the family silver will go – unsustainably – into day-to-day running costs. According to this year’s Budget papers, the sell-down of state energy companies and the reduction of the shareholding of Air NZ is forecast to pay for one third of the spending envisaged on schools, health and government services over the next three to five years. To which many taxpayers would respond….why not retain them and use the entire revenue stream to help bankroll those same social needs for generations to come?

7. This is a good time to sell state assets.

Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that there is ever a good time to sell off stakes in our key publicly owned energy assets. Is next year a really good time to do so? Hardly. When historians look back at this period of economic history they will probably shake their heads in wonder at the counter-intuitive response of governments during the financial crisis. Given the belt-tightening climate, who would expect to get top dollar from a bunch of depressed local and foreign bidders?

8. We have to sell state assets now, to pay off debt.

Not proven. This late in the game, it has still yet to be established that New Zealand’s debt position is so parlous that it is necessary to sell state assets. And as mentioned, it may well be less expensive to borrow to pay the debt until the recovery arrives and those debts are repaid – with the help of the entire profit stream from those assets.

9. Privatisation, either full or partial, is a driver of innovation.

Well no. In fact, Telecom was the poster child for the contrary view that privatization in monopoly or near-monopoly conditions is more likely to create an active dis-incentive to innovate, given that the incumbent will have every reason and opportunity to block the onset of the competition that is the true stimulus for innovation.

Telecom was never pro-active, and rarely an agent of innovation. By the mid 2000s, its use of its dominant position to delay innovation (and competition) had left New Zealand 22nd out of 30 OECD countries in broadband adoption, with high speed Internet uptake being only half the OECD average, while the cost of high speed business broadband was the second most expensive in the OECD.

10. The asset sales are consistent with the government’s energy planning.

Well no, they tend to negate it. Flimsy as it was, the energy plan eventually released by MP Hekia Parata in late August restated a target of reaching a 90 % renewables energy target by 2025, but without giving any tangible details of how the government proposes to reach it. At the same time it put out the welcome mat for the foreign oil exploration multinationals, and signalled that most of the government’s effort would be going into oil and gas exploration.

In sum, selling the current stake in the four state energy companies and in Air New Zealand makes little economic or social sense. By default, the partial privatizations the government has in mind are merely the latest round of asset-stripping the New Zealand economy, almost entirely for the benefit of local and offshore investors.

It is not as if there are not alternatives on the table. Further borrowing and a strategy to stimulate growth to pay down the costs involved as the business recovery picks up pace is the traditional approach – and one that would be only a little more costly (if at all) than selling down the energy SOEs and foregoing a bigger share of the dividends from them forever more. In the run-up to the election, Labour and the Greens will also be advocating another alternative to asset sales, spearheaded by a capital gains tax and a more progressive top tax rate.

Full article.

27 comments on “Werewolf: Ten Myths about Asset Sales”

  1. Rijab 1

    Well that pretty much does it, now wait for the media to jump up and down at such an in-depth analysis and demand a response from the Government!

    … oh wait.

  2. Bill 2

    Said it before, saying it again.

    We, the general public have no tangible expression of our ownership of SOEs. If the linked article is correct, the four power companies returned dividends last financial year of NZ$732.5 million.

    I’ve no idea how many SOEs there are or what the total $ amount for the government is through dividends collected.

    But if a small set %age of the dividend stream was earmarked for an annual cash payment to all tax payers, then we would have some tangible evidence of our ownership. It might not be much in cash terms, but it would at least be tangible. The government would more or less instantly recoup 15% of such a payout through GST and the economy would experience a boost every 12 months as most of what was paid was spent back into the economy.

    And since the payout from dividends would rise in straight dollar terms in tandem with the profitability of SOEs, it would be natural to give custom to SOEs rather than wholly private entities where a choice existed. Meaning that SOE’s would inevitably do better than they do at present as their market share rose. Meaning more money flowing to government coffers to spend on health, eduction etc.

    Can anyone tell me why such an idea might not be workable? And if there is no fatal flaw I’ve overlooked, why no-one with the potential to be a part of government is making such a proposal?

    I mean, if nothing else it ends this bloody stupid merry-go-round of selling assets and buying them back to sell all over again.

    • Blighty 2.1

      The idea that some of the revenue should go to taxpayers is nice in theory but lets do some sums.

      What’s not a risible amount per person for an annual dividend? $100?

      That’s $440 million, or half the SOE dividend stream. A lot of revenue to replace from somewhere else.

      And then there’s the rights issue. Would you be able to sell your right to the annual dividend? Of course, not directly, I presume. But how can you stop a derivatives market? You sign a contract to annually pay me an amount that just happens to be equal to your annual dividend and I give you cash up front. – You end up with a whole lot of poor people cashing up their dividend stream at a poor price.

      • Bill 2.1.1

        I don’t know what the total revenue stream is. You say it’s $880 million? I wouldn’t know.

        Anyway, 50% is ridiculously high. As I said, even if the dollar amount is small…even peanuts… the psychology of having some tangible mark of ownership is what counts more. And over time, with people being more naturally inclined to give their custom to their SOEs (just because they are theirs) the total revenue stream to government would increase. (I’m not saying that would one day result in fantastic yearly pay outs to tax payers, what with NZ being so small etc, but that’s not really the point…)

      • Lanthanide 2.1.2

        $100 is chump change and won’t make a noticable difference to anyone – who would care if their annual $100 got reduced to only $50 because the SoE was sold?

        You’d need to be talking >$500 before people would sit up and notice. This is simply an unreasonable amount of money to be giving away to taxpayers though.

        Some possible ways to drive up the $ per person (by reducing the number of people eligible):
        1. Anyone > 18+
        2. Anyone not on a benefit
        3. Anyone who paid net positive income tax towards the government

        #3 probably has the biggest potential to reduce numbers eligible. Say we go from $100 to $500 year, that would cost $2.2b, but if you then reduce the number of people receiving it by 5 by and you’re back at the $440m cost but each person eligible gets $500.

        This might seem unfair, but it is these ‘rich’ people paying positive net income tax who also have the most to gain from SoE sales, so giving them a disincentive to want to hock them off is logical.

        There are of course 3 major problems with this whole thing, though:
        1. Administration overheads make it impractical
        2. Political football choosing who gets it and who doesn’t
        3. The state would be better off privitising the assets because they’re already forgoing the dividend stream, at least that way they’d be able to get a lump-sum payout.

        • Bill 2.1.2.1

          Lanth & Blighty.

          It’s not about the money.

          It’s about generating a sense of ownership. If you want to focus on the quantum of money for the individual, then have the whole bloody lot privatised and buy shares.

          The money is a token – a gesture if you will. And it’s for nothing. It’s a bit like somebody walking up to you in the street and giving you a $20 note….just because ‘you’re in’.

          Or think of it as brand, brand recognition, brand building and brand support. The ABs ‘belong’ to NZers, right? People support them in an emotional sense, even though they are nothing but a business these days due to the professionalisation and corporatisation of sport. But utility companies and all the other SOEs can’t key into that sporting ticket…they can’t offer entertainment and spectacle.

          Odd thing is, the SOE’s actually are ours. The ABs aren’t. And the SOEs do provide us with tangible things, both directly through various services and indirectly through the revenue stream collected by government. The ABs don’t.

          But what sort of reaction do you reckon there might be to a suggestion that the ABs were floated on the stock market? You think there might be an outcry? At least a lot of debate and limelight? A demand from people for information and explanations?

          Yet, the ABs are a wholly private concern offering no tangible benefits to ordinary people. Yes, they are a somewhat useful marketing tool that raises NZs profile and yes, they can engender a ‘feel good’ factor in people due to peoples’ emotional identification with them. But that’s all pretty abstract.

          SOE’s give us real things. But there is no sense of attachment; no identification with them…no projected pride or whatever.

          In a social democratic setup we just aren’t going to get any hands on democratic participation happening with regards these entities that are ours. And most of us don’t consider them to be ours. They are just companies, removed and detached from our every day experience. Hell, who knows how many there are or what they do? Sure. You can look it up, but the fact is you’d have to look it up. (Or at least the overwhelming majority of people would)

          So a token – a gesture, which with the right propaganda (marketing) has the potential over time to engender a sense of ‘belonging’ or of identifying has no down side.

          Adminstratively it would cost minimal amounts. The IRD could simply use it’s existing systems to pass the ‘token of good will’ as it were, on to every NZ tax payer…in tandem with good marketing hammering home the good points of SOEs and the fact that they belong to us in a very real sense.

          And with good amrketing, us customers switch to our companies in preference to the other companies and the governments’ revenue stream increases over time with the increasing market share of SOEs.

          It could even become such (and why not?) that companies spawned from government R&D are set up on similar lines in preference to the fruits of publicly funded R&D falling into private hands for wholly private profit.

          And if you don’t want the $20 or whatever, then pass it to charity. $20 spread across whatever the total number of tax payers in NZ going directly back into the economy means the government recoups 15% anyway and the economy, the private sector, gets a wee bit…just a wee bit of a boost. Which isn’t a bad thing in a market context, is it?

        • Vicky32 2.1.2.2

          $100 is chump change and won’t make a noticable difference to anyone – who would care if their annual $100 got reduced to only $50 because the SoE was sold?

          Lolwut? $100.00 chump change? $100.00 has never been chump change to me, even when I was working… There’s a huge chasm between the way you see the world and the way I see it, obviously. $100.00 is what I earn from a day’s work (when I can get it.) $100.00 pays my power bill and part of my phone bill. $100.00 is 2/3 of my weekly benefit. Chump change? Don’t be absurd. Really, I don’t have the words, but I have to ask, would you light a barbecue with $20.00 notes? Are you one of the people the Reserve bank used to quote as considering that 5c and 10c  should be abolished because “no one” bothers to pick them up in the street… If so, thanks a whole bunch. Obviously you’ve never raised children!

          2. Anyone not on a benefit
          3. Anyone who paid net positive income tax towards the government

          Again, thanks a bunch. Marie Antoinette much?

          • Jum 2.1.2.2.1

            You tell ’em Vicky32.

            The reason for SOEs is to not only act as a watching brief on private business in New Zealand but more importantly to provide an income stream for New Zealand public’s welfare and health. Take those assets away and this government removes the security of income and safety for future generations.

            Look at Ports of Auckland, e.g.

            I was told that the income from Ports of Auckland was partly/wholly put towards decent public transport for New Zealanders. With the safeguard of 75% agreement to sell off that asset removed by the sad, bad Rodney Hide, we not only lose that income from 2012 but we lose income directed solely to supporting public transport infrastructure.

            Don’t think it will happen Kiwis? Watch this space if NAct gets in again.

  3. randal 3

    Well if you think you are going to get any change out of the press then you are badly mistaken. The entire media is taken up with stories about standing in queues after a football match, slavish drooling over long forgotten literary anachronisms and other total irrelevancies. The radio is cluttered with manic n*bars using interrogatives at the end of every sentence and playing naff music. The country has regressed into an atavistic state of post bottle feeding euphoria that will not admit any reality whatsoever.

  4. tc 4

    ‘Asset sales will bring private sector disciplines and efficiencies to bear on the performance of these assets.’
    Not gunna happen in the power sector, no competition in generation so it’s a gravy train and there’s little technology innovation that’s not already known to the power generators.
    Like this happened in telecom/rail etc and also if it were true why aren’t contact energy sooo far ahead of the other generators as an efficient model operator eh…..cue the trolls.

  5. Rick Rowling 5

    /not denying anything in the above article, just food for thought

    (1) Are all asset sales (of NZ Gov’t owned assets) bad?

    (2) If so, does this mean that the NZ Gov’t has exactly the right mix of assets now?

    (3) Or does this mean that all assets the NZ Gov’t currently own should be gov’t owned, but there are more that it should own.

    (4) or something else?

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      1. No.
      4. Assets should be sold on a case-by-case basis that carefully considers the importance of the asset to the country, the likely price that will be realised, the reduction in future dividends or costs and the overhead costs of the sale. At the very least.

      • queenstfarmer 5.1.1

        Agreed, I would add a couple of other criteria (to the extent not implicit in the above), such as:
        – opportunity cost
        – ease of renationalisation (an overlooked advantage of publicly floating a minority stake is that the Govt can relatively easily launch a takeover bid if it wants to renationalise the full asset, or even part of it)
        – the likely future capital requirements of the asset
        – market timing
        – sharemarket stimulation (e.g. the Kiwisaver funds will be able to buy into more local assets, instead of boomerang investing the borrowed money back off shore).

        • NickS 5.1.1.1

          One thing you’re missing: – Is it a natural monopoly?

          • insider 5.1.1.1.1

            That can be overcome by regulation. Think lines companies which are owned by a variety of players around the country.

            • NickS 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Regulation only works so far, for one it’s useless in getting private monopolies to properly invest in infrastructure per Telecom and Toll, and there’s also an incentive to under invest in order to boost profit margins in the short term. On top of tending to lead to higher prices on services due to lack of competition.

              Where as SOE’s can be easily built to purposely fully maintain and invest in new infrastructure as needed, and ironically some of those line companies you talk about are SOE’s such as Orion, which owns the lines and distribution infrastructure in Christchurch.

              • insider

                Orion is not an soe its community owned, and it is highly regulated in terms of rate of return and investment. But so is powerco which is private, and transpower which is an soe, and vector which is mixed. Note that vector and transpower have both had special measures imposed by the commerce commission for rorting customers, private ones haven’t.

        • insider 5.1.1.2

          I’d add another – will it limit govt temptation and opportunity to meddle in day to day business.

          The electricity market is a shocker for that, with govt appointed lackies to boards and regulators, and managers always having to second guess what the minister may or may not want. It makes planning very difficult around a change in govt, and it makes the industries far more political than they perhaps should be. You don’t see the kind of industry wide game playing in finance, oil, insurance or manufacturing. Getting rid of that is a good thing.

          • NickS 5.1.1.2.1

            lolwut?

            The electricity market is a mess because of Max Bradford’s idiotic reforms based solely on ideology that split up the single power gen and distro SOE into multiple SOE’s that had to compete against each other. And so created multiple inefficiencies via duplication and the need for marketing departments, and so on.

            Though yes, SOE’s are not meant to messed around with by Crown Ministers in order to avoid the funtimes had during the Muldoon era without very solid reasons…

            • insider 5.1.1.2.1.1

              It’s solely ideology and selective memory to say things were better before the reforms. There was large scale cross subsidization of retail consumers and the system was less reliable.

    • Vicky32 5.2

      Rick Rowling

      Never gonna give you up
      Never gonna let you down
      Never gonna run around

      and desert you…


      Sorry, I can’t resist…

  6. Jum 6

    ‘ 3. Asset sales will help boost the appeal of the New Zealand sharemarket as a place to invest.

    Yet again, one has to query whether existing public assets should be being used for this purpose, to enhance the appeal of investing in shares. Shouldn’t the private sector be creating new enterprises that attract investors? Isn’t that how capitalism is supposed to work? ‘

    So now I can add extras to the already dismal characteristics of National and ActU – thieving, selfish, greedy AND lazy.

  7. mik e 7

    well they can’t do that fast enough now because the opportunities in the private sector are laissez fair, No long term projects that would reap a more consistent returns .Short sighted quick buck mentality Brian Gaynor says that I agree with him. Rod Oram New Zealand Is run by bad management Pike river dairying including a very poor investment in R&D surveys showing time after time that we need better trained management . Dairying is one area that would benefit hugely with better training would have a huge lift in productivity and therefore profitability while lowering pollution and carbon tax. Govt leadership on this issue is at lada level when toyota is needed

  8. mik e 8

    Killing the geese that lay golden eggs
    profits of four out of five of these companies are up by as much as 50%
    Ditching your best performing assets is only done in the private sector when a company is going bankrupt or badly managed.

  9. marsman 9

    Privatisation whether total or partial of publicly owned assets is plunder pure and simple. We have plenty of imperical evidence showing this. NAct have NO rational argument for their scam.

  10. Afewknowthetruth 10

    The term ‘Fifth Column’ came out of the Spanish Civil War to describe a group within an organisation who sabotage the organisation from the inside.

    Key and his cronies couldn’t care less about the future of NZ or the future of NZers. Key is working to promote the interests of global corporations.

    If global corporations want a beer swilling contest in Auckland, that is what global corporations get.

    If global corporations want to take control of utilities vital to the functioning of a nation that is what global corporations get.

    Of course, in the case of Bolivia it did eventually backfire: Bechtel had to make a hasty retreat when ‘the natives’ revolted and the governer was forced to flee.

    NZ is quite along way from that point at the moment.

  11. Afewknowthetruth 11

    The entire economic-political system functions by establishing and maintaining myths. And a large portion of mainstream media works frantically to maintain those myths.

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    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
    4 days 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 ...
    4 days 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
    5 days 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 ...
    5 days 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 ...
    5 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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
    6 days 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 ...
    6 days 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
    7 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
    7 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
    7 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
    7 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
    7 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
    1 week 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
    2 weeks 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 ...
    2 weeks 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

  • 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 ...
    27 mins 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 ...
    5 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 ...
    5 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 ...
    6 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

  • Resource management reform options released
    The panel undertaking a comprehensive review of the Resource Management Act has identified the main issues to be addressed and options for reform and is calling for feedback to inform its final report.  In July the Government announced the comprehensive review of the resource management system, including the RMA - ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 hour ago
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission established
    An important safety valve has been added to New Zealand’s criminal justice system with the third reading of the Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill today. The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) will investigate claimed miscarriages of justice. “We’ve seen how our justice system can very occasionally get things spectacularly wrong, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours 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
    18 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
    20 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
    22 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
    22 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
    24 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
    2 days 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
    2 days 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
    2 days 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
    5 days ago
  • Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update
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