Why I think that Auckland is getting scammed

Written By: - Date published: 12:42 pm, March 12th, 2012 - 69 comments
Categories: auckland supercity - Tags: , ,

I have been looking for an online copy of a article that was in one of the sunday papers (see below), which curiously doesn’t appear to have made it online.   However the important points as far as I am concerned are:

  • It wasn’t a report commissioned by the council, its holding company for the port, or the port itself. It was done for the Hutchinson Port Holdings Trust who are presumably looking for something quite different to Auckland.

    The Group directly invests in hubs that serve large hinterlands and that either already support international trade or which have the potential to become key transport centres. Furthermore, HPH develops and manages all aspects of port operation and trade-related logistics, transferring proven operational practices to ensure an optimum environment for the development of commerce.

    And from what is reported of the report, that is what it compares against for the ‘headline’ 13% ROE. Big ports with massive hinterlands. Not exactly NZ with 4.4 million people with a lot of sheep and cows. Hutchinson do smaller investments as well, but that wasn’t what the report looked at.

  • The 12% that someone assured the council could be achieved was based purely on cherry picking from specialised ports that bear no relationship to the Ports of Auckland operations. Somehow I bet that all of the information about ports that weren’t property companies, coastal shipping ports, or in high volume sea lanes was discarded before anyone in the council saw it.
  • A more accurate comparison comparing like with like would have found that the Ports of Auckland was doing pretty well compared to its actual peers. Even in Hong Kong with one of the most heavily used ports areas in the world, and where Hutchinson seems to be largely based, the return on equity is about 7.7%, only slightly more than PoA’s 6+%.
  • But how was it that this report was being misused for analyzing what Ports of Auckland’s forward strategy?
    Well I find it interesting to look at the current chairman of the Ports of Auckland board – Richard Pearson.

    Mr Pearson has extensive experience in port operations and investment around the world.  He recently returned to New Zealand. His work overseas most recently included Hutchison Port Holdings Group managing director for Hong Kong International Terminals Ltd and managing director for the Europe division of President ECT Rotterdam.

  • A few years ago,  in about 2006, I seem to remember that Hutchinson were sniffing around various ports in NZ looking to see if they could purchase one or more of them. In 2008, they purchased a power supplier in Wellington. In NZ they have a track record of trying to purchase utilities so it isn’t a far stretch of the imagination to detect their interest in purchasing a cheap politically hot asset in Auckland.

But the timing of Richard Pearson’s chairmanship probably explains a lot about where this current obsession and the use of this report came from. Doing strange comparisons with ports that bear about as much relationship to our ports as my iPad has to other aluminium castings. The comparison is  vague and not associated with function.

Waitakerenews has a post about the article that Fairfax don’t have online – “Ports of Auckland is performing better than Auckland Council thinks”

The most important piece of this weekend’s comment on the Ports dispute was a Sunday Star Times article by Greg Ninness in the business section. For some reason it is not online as I type this.  It was also tucked away in the business section, somewhere where most good lefties would never dream of going to.

But the report is really important and raises questions about the advice that Auckland Councillors have been given.

It casts major doubts on the veracity of the analysis that suggested that Ports of Auckland could achieve a 12% return and that its performance was poor.

The SST asked for a copy of the report but states that there was an attempt to keep it secret.  Eventually it was advised that the report was a broker’s research report on Hutchison Port Holdings Trust.  I cannot find the report on the web and the contents suggest that it would not normally be available but the reported contents are fascinating.

The report compared nine different ports from around the world.  These included Ports of Tauranga but also other ports that had little similarity to Auckland.  These included Piraeus Port Authority (mainly passenger ferries, coastal shipping and cruise ships), Mundra Port in India (property development company with a port operation on the side), Oman’s Port Services Corp and International Container services that runs ports in countries such as the Philippines, Brasil, the Cayman Islands and Madagascar.  See any similarity with Auckland’s Port?

But this is the really interesting comment. Swift’s statement apparently failed to state that the report also gave performance benchmarks for groups of ports which have a lower average return on equity than 13.6%.

Chinese ports despite their lower wages return on average 10.6% and Hong Kong listed port operators returned an average of 7.7%.

The results across the ditch are apparently even worse.  Melbourne’s return on equity was 2.6%, Wellington’s was 2.9% and Sydney’s was 6.9%.

As Ninness states Auckland’s goal of a 12% return looks “particularly ambitious”.

Given these comments you have to question the advice that Auckland Council has been given suggesting that the return is poor.  Because the return appears to me to be perfectly reasonable.

The sense that the Auckland City Council and me as a ratepayer are getting scammed is fairly screaming in my mind. Quite simply the whole debacle of the management of the ports focusing on illusory labour efficiencies while ignoring the actual capital and market issues has been absurd. And we have all seen this kind of hysterical use of spurious comparisons to try to push politics to offload public assets cheaply to the private sector before.

69 comments on “Why I think that Auckland is getting scammed”

  1. Blue 1

    Of course it’s absurd for Ports of Auckland to return 12%. How in the world can a small port in a small country, in a highly competitive environment possibly be expected to return such a ridiculously high percentage?

    The fact that Len Brown has reiterated that he expects them to do this underlines the fact that he is an idiot and not fit to hold office.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10791460

    • queenstfarmer 1.1

      Of course it’s absurd for Ports of Auckland to return 12%.

      Based on the relatively little I have read, at this stage I agree. Nothing wrong to aspire to it, and the port should constantly be on the lookout for improving its productivitiy, but if it is making massive management decisions on the directive of an unattainable goal (which it may or may not be), then that is totally unacceptable.

      The fact that Len Brown has reiterated that he expects them to do this underlines the fact that he is an idiot and not fit to hold office.

      FTA: “[Brown] reiterated the need for the port, which is 100 per cent owned by the council, to double its dividend from 6 per cent to 12 per cent within five years.”

      Is there any doubt why Brown has taken this view? He needs vast amounts of money to pay for his big spending ideas. He’s already proposed hiking GST and other taxes for Auckland, so naturally he’s going to try to crank up port returns. Just another symptom of the big tax and spend ideology.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.1

        Just another symptom of the big tax and spend ideology.

        Nope.

        Its actually a symptom of 30 years of under taxing and under spending (on the correct things).

        • queenstfarmer 1.1.1.1

          Oh, so it’s not Len’s fault after all. Poor Len’s been forced into big tax-and-spend policies because they weren’t introduced earlier 🙂

          • ghostwhowalksnz 1.1.1.1.1

            Under Banks it was borrow and spend. The amount of borrowing was prodigous

        • mik e 1.1.1.2

          CV also John Banks Cheap sale of Auckland airport Shares at 1/5 th their true value

          • burt 1.1.1.2.1

            mik e

            Can you prove your 1/5th of their true value statement. Perhaps a link to backup that claim.

      • burt 1.1.2

        Just another symptom of the big tax and spend ideology.

        And it seems Len’s stuck between a rock and hard place. ~1m rate payers pissed off or 300 port workers and their union on the skids. He’s a socialist and clearly knows where the other peoples money is coming from for his big tax and spend future.

        I predict a stadium being built where the current container wharf is starting within 10 years. Len’s lasting legacy.

  2. More evidence of bad faith manipulating by POAL management? Could this along with the evidence suggesting that they were only interested in casualising from the get-go be enough to take them to court?

  3. ghostwhowalksnz 3

    I have noticed that Pearson is Chairman of Wellington Electricity Network, where he is the only NZ resident director, all the others are resident in Hong Hong.
    The only shareholder is a holdings company incorporated in the Bahamas, as a shelf company. Using a Caribbean shelf company is usually for tax avoidance.

    As Pearson was appointed just a few months before the Mayoral election, it sounds like it was done under Auckland Council Transition arrangements. ie required Hides approval. he only became a director Dec 2010 again under the transitional arrangements.

    Looks clear to me POAL , along with Watercare has been set up by Hide and co for privatisation.
    You can see the noises being made by Smith the new local bodies minister about councils ‘borrowing’ is the start of a campaign to get Auckland ( and Christchurch) to sell of their holdings

  4. ghostwhowalksnz 4

    Here is a port that Hutchison can compare Auckland with
    Myanmar International Terminals Thilawa (MITT) is a multi-purpose container terminal located at Thilawa near the mouth of the Yangon River

    5 berths , sounds like a good comparison with Auckland. And its owned by HIT.
    Or the 2 berth terminal at Brisbane which they own. ( just being completed)

    Looks definitely like Hutchison is buying /building container ports in this part of the world

  5. Ahem … Waitakerenews … [Bunji: fixed] [lprent: thought it meant “in the land of the fluffy dice” 😈 ]
     
    As ianmac pointed out there was a fascinating interview this morning with Professor Nigel Haworth from Auckland University.  His take on the issue concerning return was that over the past 12 months the board of ACIL has ramped up expectations of a return.  He thought that it was because of the change in the board.  He says that a study of Australian ports show a 7 % return on equity.
     
    Auckland is ranked in the middle of an international performance ladder and was not a “basket case”.
     
    He also discussed the obligation to negotiate in good faith.  He was surprised at the suggestion that MUNZ should have accepted the first offer.  As he rightly pointed out this never happens.  He also described the mass redundancy as “going nuclear”.  It is clear he does not think good faith bargaining is happening.

  6. Sanctuary 6

    Fascinating bit of third hand news with reasonable provenance so worth repeating – one of my good friends has a neighbour who is an independent contractor with PoAL. My friend says this guy told her on the weekend that ALL the contractors have been told that PoAL plans to offer ALL workers at the port new terms and conditions that are materially worse (reduction/elimination of medical cover, etc) than the current ones.

    Third hand I know, but possibly worth following up by someone more in the know.

    • muzza 6.1

      When I was talking to warfies in Teal Park last weekend, I asked about the contractors who already worked for PoAL. One warfie I talked with said that the contractors had been told they were potentially up for the sack too (this convo was before the actual sackings).
      Your info sounds about right.

  7. Matthew Hooton 7

    Ports of Auckland makes no money once the value of land is taken into account, but don’t trust me on this, Professor Tim Hazledine wrote an excellent piece in the NBR showing it makes an economic loss – see http://voakl.net/2012/03/01/from-the-nbr-poal

    So the idea of a 12% return is ridiculous. The container terminal should be closed, the land developed and Marsden Point and Tauranga expanded, together with rail links to Auckland.

    The good news is that the Prime Minister now appears to be moving towards this position. See http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/auckland/news/nbpol/296948005-NZ-may-have-too-many-ports—Key

    • Tiger Mountain 7.1

      Well, on this rare occasion one can agree with Matthew. Rail to Marsden and hopefully beyond to Kaitaia would finally give the North some hope of economic development in coming years.

      The caveat being that ShonKey is into union busting just like complicit “night Mayor” Lennie.

    • Matthew don’t you think this insistance on the port delivering a profit is very blinkered? It is a transport hub. We don’t expect roads or motorways to make a profit but spend huge amounts of money on them because of the public good. Using your logic we should close down Spaghetti Junction and bui

      • Matthew Hooton 7.2.1

        It may be a transport hub but there is no need for it to be in the heart of the city. Auckland International Aiport started out in the heart of the city at Mechanics Bay. Then it moved to Whenuapai. Then it moved to Mangere. And there is no reason the port can’t make a profit (although not at its current location).

        • Colonial Viper 7.2.1.1

          Air transport is in its death throes. Stagnant passenger volumes with significant declines starting in the next 5-6 years.

        • ghostwhowalksnz 7.2.1.2

          Whangaparaoa sounds like good location.

          Army land isnt used …much. Hutchison could pay for it like they are building there own container terminal in Sydney.
          Even better Joyce lives in the area, so we wont have to worry about NIMBY……hahah

          There was land at Te Atatu for exactly the sort of port we have now , was given away under rogernomics

          • Adele 7.2.1.2.1

            Ghost

            Say you were joking about putting the port at Army Bay, Whangaparaoa. Its a nature reserve and Tiritiri Matangi island is its nearest neighbour.

            If the port is to be moved from the centre of Auckland. Move it to Mission Bay.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.3

      but don’t trust me on this,

      I won’t.

      The container terminal should be closed, the land developed and Marsden Point and Tauranga expanded, together with rail links to Auckland.

      That’s something I could agree with if it wasn’t for Peak Oil and it’s effects upon transport in NZ.

      The good news is that the Prime Minister now appears to be moving towards this position.

      Of course he is. It will open up more opportunities for privatisation and turning us into serfs for his foreign masters.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 7.4

      Trouble is most of the importers dont want to spend another $600 to ship their containers to Auckland.

      PoT would pay a fortune for some one ..anyone to run a PR campaign just along the lines you suggest….kachingo

    • KJT 7.5

      Shall we close all the roads to and sell them off for housing?
       
       
      Their returns are much worse than the ports.
       
       
      Another hidden subsidy for trucking.  
       
       
      Coastal shipping has absolutely none, even though NZ owned coastal ships would decrease our trade invisables deficit. And carbon footprint.
       
      It is the port that makes the city a place for people to live and work.
       
      I agree we should have one hub port in each island. Before our hub becomes Port Botany! AND. All the fake competition between ports has led to over investment in the wrong things. (One reason for low returns on capital).
       
      Even so, Auckland will still need a port. Even if just as a feeder for Marsden Point. 
       
      The logical hub port. The one which, under our present regime of fake competition, has been bought by POAL and Tauranga to make sure it does not compete with them.

  8. In Vino Veritas 8

    For a start, ROE Port of Sydney as follows:

    2005 17.8%
    2006 10.4%
    2007 9.2%
    2008 12.5%
    2009 7.1%
    2010 6.6%
    2011 7.4%

    All of these figures are based on average equity, if actual equity in each year was used, the numbers would be higher.

    And one of the main reasons ROE is down is because of the servicing costs of debt (POS was given an exemption from paying a dividend since it was considered its debt equity ration of 57.2 in 2011 was way to high.

    POAL’s ROE would have been significantly higher in 2011 for the same reasons.

    • All of these figures are based on average equity, if actual equity in each year was used, the numbers would be higher.
       
      Not necessarily.  If the actual value was higher than the book value then ROE will be down.
       
      And a question, Melbourne’s reported ROE is much lower.  Why didn’t you analyse those figures?

      • In Vino Veritas 8.1.1

        Because I have access to POS numbers.
        I don’t understand what you mean about actual value being higher than the book value. Book value is as reported in the financial statements giving the numbers used as ROE.
        Are you alluding to the revaluation of assets?

      • In Vino Veritas 8.1.2

        And I guess the critical question should be asked around use of capital. Why would, or should, a council be owner of an asset that is only returning 6% when it could be invested in a more diversified portfolio of assets, with less risk, and make the same, or better returns?
        After all, the government 10 yr bond rate over the last 10 years or so has averaged 5 – 6% with very low risk.

  9. s y d 9

    tauranga ROE 7.36 over last 5 years
    http://www.port-tauranga.co.nz/Investors/Financial-Information/Five-Year-Financial-Summary/

    I’d also think that Port of Tauranga would ‘make no money’ if cost of land was taken into account – prime harbourside real estate, ahh imagine all those apartments filled with….ah…with…ummm..yeah.

    • Matthew Hooton 9.1

      Funnily enough s y d, Tauranga values its property, plant and equipment at around $850 million while Auckland values its property, plant and equipment (including its second port at Onehunga) at just $600 million. If you really think that it is plausible the total value of POAL’s property, plant and equipment, right on the waterfront in the heart of the Auckland CDB, is worth less than Tauranga’s, tucked away in the harbour and not on the most expensive beachfront Bay of Plenty land then, well … nobody could really believe that.

      • DH 9.1.1

        That’s the problem with using ROE as a reference to returns on investment. If POAL revalued it’s land assets upwards it would result in an immediate increase in equity and a corresponding fall in the ROE. ROE is too easily manipulated by beancounters playing with the book values of assets.

        • Matthew Hooton 9.1.1.1

          Or it could revalue the property, plant and equipment downwards and claim to be making the 12% already.

          • insider 9.1.1.1.1

            Given that not much can be built anywhere without lots of consultation and largesse, and even then there would still be a big if , that’s probably not a wrong assumption.

      • McFlock 9.1.2

        Depends on how much land they own respectively.
             
        I mean, you’re only alleging systemic errors by valuers,  POAL accountants and auditors. 

        • Matthew Hooton 9.1.2.1

          No, its not an error. The POAL annual report says they value the land as “industrial land values within the wider Auckland area – $150 – $1,350 per m2”. But that is nonsense because it is not South Auckland industrial land. It is prime waterfront land. And for ratings purposes (probably below the market value), the Auckland Council (the owner of the port!) values nearby land at between $2,500 and $10,500 per m2. For example, Britomart, a block back from the waterfront, is valued by the council at $2,892.96 per m2. Portside in Halsey Street, again not as prime land as the port, is valued by the council at $2,684.61 per m2. The ferry building land, right next to the port, is valued by the council at $10,426.77 per m2. POAL’s valuation of its property, plant and equipment at just $600 million can only be achieved by assuming the land is in some South Auckland industrial estate.

  10. DH 10

    Good stuff Lynn. The ROE argument always looked a bit suspicious because it’s not the same as return on shareholder capital and yet it has been portrayed in that vein.

    I think your instincts are right, we are being scammed.

  11. prism 11

    Well This is the sort of news information that illuminates with a high powered beam. The management class screwing around their employer’s business so they can make hay out of it is a type of fraud different from the conventional.

    One comes back though to the point that the return of 12% is a high one. Why would the bums on seats on the port management company just accept this as suitably aspirational and as an appropriate reason excuse) to overturn a satisfactory, functioning labour-management system?

  12. marsman 13

    Looks like yet another NAct Scam.
    Thanks lprent, I knew there was a connection somewhere.

  13. Ad 14

    I wonder if the Minister of Local Government will start to require Councils to sell assets if holding them costs more than the cost of capital. Such as ports, both sea and air.

    We may well see the Minister acknowledge the ports dispute as one of the reasons to re-energize the local government reform process. In particular putting stronger legal constraints on the debt to equity levels that Councils and their entities are allowed to sustain. Delighted to be proven wrong.

    The Minister is clearly in high activist mode and I understand his paper went to Cabinet today for discussion.

    Will also be very interesting to see if the Prime Minister touches on local government as he launches his new model for the New Zealand public service this week, which he will launch on Thursday.

    Spectacular demonstration of the limits of the Mayor’s powers within Auckland’s corporatised model today.

  14. BLiP 15

    Nice work lprent. Thanks.

  15. prism 16

    A new law of ‘general competence’ for local bodies came in on December 2002. It sounds good in the summary below. But the democratic process did not hold Dunedin back from building their fur lined cage with optional moving roof.

    It is argued that the LGA expresses a model of collaboration between central and local government and communities embodied in the ideology of the “Third Way,” a political programme which aims to renew social democracy by including civil society as a partner in managing the economy. Therefore, it is the Act’s features of powers of general competence, participatory democracy and strategic planning that distinguish the Act from its predecessors. However, as strong as these new attributes are, they do not constitute a radical reinvention of local government in New Zealand.

    Comment from ACT about it and Sandra Lee’s enthusiasm for it.
    ACT Local Government Spokesman Gerry Eckhoff said today it appears that ‘general competence’ has arrived at the Auckland City Council – though in a form unintended by this Government.
    “Sandra Lee is determined to enforce ‘powers of general competence’ for local bodies. At the moment councils can’t do anything, or spend money on anything unless they can specifically point to a rule which lets them. The ‘powers of general competence’ will reverse this, meaning that the councils and their officials can make you do anything they want, or spend your money on any pet project – if YOU can’t point to any rule which specifically says they can’t.

    It seems that these powers have opened us up to the possibility of action referred to by Ad above.
    “However Auckland’s new Mayor John Banks is demonstrating that the right attitude is more effective than legislation.
    “His decision to cut unnecessary expenditure comes as a breath of fresh air and contrasts with an often seen attitude from councils of clamouring for more power and more authority to spend.
    “Councils throughout the country should follow Mayor Banks example of intended frugality with ratepayers’ money.
    “We all know of ratepayers’ money wasted on political vanity projects. Under Sandra Lee’s intended powers of competence we will see councillors who could never persuade investors or business people voluntarily to entrust them with management of a business, with new fields in which to squander uncontrolled borrowings and ratepayers’ savings.

  16. Jenny 17

    For those who deny the link between contracting out and privatisation: From Britain.

    This is no ordinary tale of Fat Cattery. These multi-million-pound deals are being paid to the heads of the ‘outsourcers’ – the giant private companies that say they can do a better and more efficient job collecting bins, say, or providing nursing care than the State….

    ….They are private companies but they are also the creation of the Government’s drive to outsource services. The lion’s share of their turnover – and of their executives’ enormous pay packages – comes from the public purse. But there is little in the way of public accountability.
    These outsourcers already account for £79 billion of state expenditure every year, a figure which is set to grow if the Government fulfils its pledge to put nearly all state-run services out to contract……

    ……Another big outsourcer is Serco. In some parts of Britain it has taken over so many local services it is virtually indistinguishable from the council.
    In Canterbury Serco collects rubbish, trims trees, maintains road signs, cuts grass and looks after public toilets.
    Surely a company with such close ties to the shrinking public sector is going to be feeling the effect of government spending cuts?
    Not according to the company’s chief executive Chris Hyman. Serco’s profits grew by a fifth last year, and the company reckons to have an order book of £16.5 billion……

    …….Serco’s Chris Hyman, an evangelical Christian with a penchant for racing Ferraris, received a pay package of more than £5 million.
    Paul Pindar, head of Capita, had to rub along on a deal worth a total of £1.6 million.
    But in 2008, his overall pay – including share options – was worth almost £10 million.
    The outsourcers are often criticised as parsimonious employers whose profits grow fat only because they hire staff at the minimum wage, with minimum holiday and pension entitlements.
    Indeed, Capita is involved in a pay dispute with staff who recently stood outside the company’s head office, handing out leaflets detailing their grievances and highlighting the chief executive’s pay.
    A furious Mr Pindar went out to meet them armed with an annual report. Unfortunately for him, it showed his salary was a mere £14,000 a week. That, his employees pointed out, was more than many of them receive in a year.

    The Daily Mail

    FromAustralia

    Liberal opposition leader Barry O’Farrell, the likely next premier, leads a team that openly talks about restructuring the ways in which public assets could be sold.

    It’s possible that O’Farrell will look to Western Australia for inspiration. But the Liberal government of Colin Barnett is facing public opposition to increasingly working with British multinational Serco in its plans to outsource key public services.

    • marsman 17.1

      Hasn’t Bill English just given Serco a contract to run a prison at Wiri? Didn’t Judith Collins concede that private prisons were more expensive than Govt. run ones? Prisons for profit, Serco also does Welfare for profit.

  17. Adele 18

    I agree completely with Lynne’s assessment. 12% in five years is not aspirational – its ludicrous. What metrics did they base their growth forecast on? Recession ending soon? Oil is abundant? Its peace in the middle east?

    I think POAL have also overplayed their hand.

  18. Hami Shearlie 19

    Anyone got any thoughts about using Manukau Harbour – I don’t know much about that area, but some of you may have some useful info?

    • lprent 19.1

      A shallow harbour of mudflats. Sure you can dredge. But why bother when you have a naturally deep harbour on the other side of the isthmus.

      • burt 19.1.1

        Wasn’t Owen Glenn looking at a mega transport hub there a few years back – back when he was a good guy…..

  19. DH 20

    I’ve been wondering why they used return on equity & come to the conclusion it was to intended to confuse people. Most seem to think it as return on investment or return on capital & as such the return is far too high. ROE is explained briefly & quite well here;

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Return_on_equity

    It’s worth noting that equity is not the same as shareholder capital. Equity is the nett worth of the business at a given point in time whereas shareholder capital is the amount shareholders have invested in the business. Shareholders care more about return on capital, I don’t know why Len Brown thinks it will return 12.5% as dividends.

    • lprent 20.1

      In this worldwide industry with its mix of state/city owned (usually with little or no debt) and privately owned (usually with high debt), I suspect that they were looking for a measure that could easily be used as a comparator. However the massive variations between ports that don’t look that different at a cursory glance would tend to indicate that the financial mixes kind of hide actual productivity in a ROE. Not a particularly useful measure.

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    The CivilianBy admin
    2 days ago
  • All Blacks unveil boat for Rugby World Cup 2019
    South African coach Rassie Erasmus says he has no idea what they’re going to do about the boat. In a highly anticipated press conference this afternoon, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has finally unveiled the team’s boat for its Rugby World Cup 2019 campaign. In a press conference that went ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 days ago
  • An increasingly shoddy coverup
    The Operation Burnham inquiry continued to question senior NZDF staff today, and their shoddy coverup over their knowledge of civilian casualties continue to fall apart. If you recall, first, we were asked to believe that it was all a series of "mistakes and errors": a senior officer with multiple degrees ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • If we are to avoid making the earth uninhabitable, we need to rapidly decarbonise our civilisation, and cut emissions to zero as quickly as possible. This seems like an impossible task, but its not. Pushing hard on a few technologies and trends will let us halve emissions in a decade:Greenhouse ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • A further attack on transparency
    The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) had part of its committee stage yesterday. its a generally tedious bill about the nitty-gritty of local government reorganisation. But it includes a clause making the Local Government Commission subject to the Ombudsmen Act, and hence the OIA. Great! Except of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Ihumātao and Treaty settlements
    Yesterday Ihumātao's mana whenua reached a consensus that they would like their land back, and asked the government to negotiate with Fletcher's for its return. The government's response? Try and undermine that consensus, while talking about how doing anything would undermine existing Treaty settlements. The first is just more bad ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Protecting our history
    Its Suffrage Day, the 126th anniversary of women winning the right to vote (but not stand in elections) in New Zealand. And to celebrate, the government has bought Kate Sheppard's house in Christchurch:The government has bought Kate Sheppard's former home in Christchurch for more than $4 million. The Ilam villa ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Climate Change: Ostracising the coal-burners
    The UN climate summit is happening in new York next week, and unlike previous years, coal-burners and denier-states are not being invited to speak:Leading economies such as Japan and Australia will not be invited to speak at next week’s crunch UN climate change summit, as their continued support for coal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Jojo Tamihere Salutes Herr Goff.
    Get Back Jojo! The elation in Mayor Phil Goff’s camp may be easily imagined as they watched social media light up in indignation at challenger John Tamihere’s "Sieg Heil to that" quip. Just when JT’s notoriously right-wing, sexist and homophobic stains were beginning to fade back into his ‘colourful’ past, ...
    3 days ago
  • Hard News: A fun but flawed weed documentary
    Patrick Gower is good value when he's high. Not that I've ever, you know, got stoned with him. But in the second part of his documentary Patrick Gower on Weed, he does what you'd expect in a modern weed documentary and immerses himself – first with a doctor, then a ...
    3 days ago
  • Candidate Survey: Western Bay of Plenty – Local Body Elections 2019
    We surveyed candidates on their attitudes to issues facing the Western Bay Region, find out what they think: “Closing the Gap” Tauranga, one of the area groups of Income Equality Aotearoa NZ Inc., has surveyed all candidates in the three local body elections to discover attitudes to some basic issues ...
    Closing the GapBy Tracey Sharp
    4 days ago
  • Project Nettie calls on scientists to defend biology
    Please spread widely, and sign, to support science and rationalism over the new irrationalism sweeping universities and institutions.  PROJECT NETTIE Sexual reproduction, the generation of offspring by fusion of genetic material from two different individuals, evolved over 1 billion years ago. It is the reproductive strategy of all higher animals ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    4 days ago
  • I’m glad I don’t live in Auckland
    Just when I was thinking that Palmerston North's mayoral race (which includes a convicted child molester / public wanker and a convicted child beater) was the worst in the country, Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere opened his mouth:Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere is being slammed for using the words "sieg ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Index of Power Update, 2018-19: China #2
    We reprint below an article from the excellent website the Economics of Imperialism by Tony Norfield This is an update of the statistics for my Index of Power, using data for 2018-19 and discussing what a country’s ranking reflects. The major change is that China’s rank has shifted up and ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    4 days ago
  • Climate Change: A history lesson
    Why is New Zealand climate change policy so crap? The Herald this morning has a long article on the twists and turns of climate change policy in New Zealand [paywalled / depaywall script], which shows where we've been. The short version is that the government first began worrying about this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • What the All Blacks Mean to Us
    The All Blacks have been, for more than a century, arguably the most successful International sports team in the world. But they are more than that; even for those Kiwis who are immune to the charms of rugby (and there are more than a few), the All Blacks are ambassadors ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    4 days ago
  • No one is born into the wrong body
    A short and incredibly powerful speech from a young lesbian woman. No one is born in the wrong body. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Contempt
    Back in June, the UK Court of Appeal ruled that that country's continued arms sales to Saudi Arabia were unlawful. So you'd expect that the UK government stopped approving them, right?Of course not:The government has apologised for breaching a court ruling against the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Covering up the cover-up
    Yesterday NZDF officials were put on the stand about the lies they had told over Operation Burnham, making implausible claims that it was all a big mistake. But along the way, we learned they had already been put on the spot about it by a previous Defence Minister, who had ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Not as important as they think they are
    Farmers have been whining a lot lately, about the methane targets in the Zero Carbon Bill, about Canterbury's proposed nitrogen limits, and about the government's new proposals to stop them from shitting in our lakes and rivers. These policies are "throwing farmers under the tractor", they will force farmers off ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Behind Every Good Woman Should Stand – Another Good Woman.
    Alone, Alone, All, All, Alone: To argue that the Prime Minister is the victim of her advisers’ failure to keep her informed may offer Jacinda some measure of exoneration – but only at the cost of casting her as a hopeless political ingénue. A star-dusted muppet, whose only purpose is to ...
    5 days ago
  • Poor quality, poorly educated kiddie ‘Journalists’ spreading fake news
    In times of hysteria about the “World coming to an end” and “rising sea levels” so-called ‘Journalists’ who can barely spell words longer than four letters are having a ball! Though the majority of the Public have worked out that manmade climate change is nothing short of pseudo-science, and the ...
    An average kiwiBy admin@averagekiwi.com
    5 days ago
  • Chris Trotter on the BFD
    I don't want to give pblicity to certain parts of the internet that are better left to fester in their own irrelevance (I know, a bit like this place) but the listing of Chris Trotter as a 'author' on Cameron Slater's spinoff website, the BFD requires some explanation.Now, I don't ...
    5 days ago
  • Sex is not a spectrum
    The text below is a Twitter thread by Heather Heying that explains the essence of sexual reproduction and it long evolutionary history. She is an evolutionary biologist and a “professor-in-exile” after she and her husband, Bret Weinstein, stood up to supporters of an enforced “Day of Absence” for white staff and teachers ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Climate Change: Trees, aviation, and offsets
    With crunch time for new Zealand climate policy approaching, most of the New Zealand media have got on board with a global reporting effort to cover the issue. There's one strand of stories today about polling and what it shows about changing public attitudes to the crisis, but the strand ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Pissing-Off The Israelis Is A High-Risk Strategy.
    Dangerous Foes: For those readers of Bowalley Road who feel disposed to dismiss any prospect of an Israeli destabilisation of New Zealand politics, the example of the United Kingdom repays close attention. Ever since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party, the Israelis have sanctioned, funded and ...
    6 days ago
  • Something to go to in Wellington
    Make It 16, the youth-led campaign to lower New Zealand's voting age, is holding an official campaign launch at Parliament this Friday from 16:30. If you'd like to attend, you can register using EventBrite here. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • A founding member responds to Peace Action Wellington
    by Don Franks It was a lovely sunny Wellington afternoon with blue skies above  the beaches.  In Courtenay Place, political activists packed out a stuffy upstairs room for an important meeting. The assembled pacifists, anarchists, communists and independent young radicals of Peace Action Wellington felt the need for a mission ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    6 days ago
  • “Mistakes and errors”
    Current and former NZDF top brass are being publicly grilled this week by the hit and run inquiry over their public responses to allegations of civilian casualties. Previously, they've claimed there were no casualties, a position which led them to lie to Ministers and to the public. Now, they're saying ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • “Homosexuality is same-sex attraction and relationships, not heterosexuals with delusions of gende...
    by Rafael D. Quiles (gender-critical gay man from Puerto Rico) The writing on the wall is right in people’s faces and people just don’t see it or don’t want to. What could actually possess a heterosexual male to want to feminize himself and claim that he is a lesbian? Because ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    6 days ago
  • Trump: “Where’s my favourite dictator?”
    From the Wall Street Journal:Inside a room of the ornately decorated Hotel du Palais during last month’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump awaited a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Mr. Trump looked over a gathering of American and Egyptian officials and called out in ...
    7 days ago
  • Magdalen Burns, 1983-2019, fighter for women’s liberation
    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    1 week ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    1 week ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    1 week ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    1 week ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    2 weeks ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    2 weeks ago

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