Word of the day

24/03/2021

Bromide – a compound of bromine with another element or group, especially a salt containing the anion Br or an organic compound with bromine bonded to an alkyl radical;  a drug which used to be given to people to calm their nerves when they were worried or upset; a phrase, cliché, or platitude that is trite or unoriginal; a trite statement that is intended to soothe or placate; a dull person with conventional thoughts; a tiresome person; a bore; a boring, platitudinous person.


Simon Watts’ maiden speech

24/03/2021

National MP for North Shore, Simon Watts delivered his maiden speech yesterday.

 I look forward to my first term in New Zealand’s 53rd Parliament. It is with a sense of humility and awe that I address this House, but it is also with a sense of continuity. I’m keen to pay tribute to my predecessors who have represented Auckland’s North Shore with distinction, the Hon Maggie Barry and the Hon Wayne Mapp. Thank you for all of the support that you have shown me—support, I’m glad to say and honoured to say, that was echoed around the North Shore.

Thanks also to the people of my electorate for the faith that you have placed in me. Without your support, I would not be here today. I see that many of the North Shore team have made their trip down here today. I want to especially acknowledge David, Andrew, Gary, Azita, Judith, Logan, and Bradley. The significant contribution that you made to my campaign is greatly appreciated. I also want to thank the many volunteers who got me here today, members of the North Shore National Party and my friends, who ensured that a candidate campaigning in his first election was always supported. You matched my determination to reach out to everyone who lives on the shore with enthusiasm and agility. Because of you, our campaign benefited from fresh perspectives, and because of your efforts, we enrolled voters across the political spectrum in conversations about things that matter, no matter and regardless of the political party they would typically vote for. You helped to achieve this because you understood that there is a new expectation in this country. New Zealand needs leadership that enrols all of our energies to tackle the tasks facing us. Challenging times demand more than ever that we work together in the interests of all New Zealanders.

When we campaigned on the shore to clean up our beaches now, not in a couple of years, I knew that there were the people on the left, on the right, and in the centre who agreed. They may not have all voted for me, but right now they are demanding action, and quite rightly so. When I stood up in town hall meetings to say that traffic-clogged roads are a nightmare for commuters and the environment, I knew there were people who had never voted National before who nevertheless agreed that we need more ferry services and expansion, not cutbacks. The Harbour Bridge is the bane of the lives of everyone who lives on the shore. The lack of a second Waitematā Harbour crossing stifles business and chews up time that none of us can afford to waste, regardless of where our political loyalties lie.

So I congratulate the volunteers who worked with me to get the important stuff in front of the people, as did the volunteers who supported candidates from all parties across New Zealand. Whatever your politics, you brought a passionate commitment for our democracy, the ideals that make this country exceptional, and I thank you for that. It was certainly an election like no other, and I thank our president, Peter Goodfellow; regional chairs; party office holders; and staff, who rose to the challenge. I especially want to acknowledge the fortitude and tireless commitment of our leader, the Hon Judith Collins.

In fact, there are so many great people who should be thanked for me being here today. So I’m going to acknowledge them by sharing how they and the experiences they provided me informed my opinions and enriched my understanding of the world. I grew up in a typical rural family with parents who had a healthy respect for the benefits of hard work and a genuine love of the land that provided for us. I remember the time well when my two brothers, Tim and Paul, and I sold wind-fallen apples at our farm gate to finance a family holiday, and we roped in our cousins to help, too. You know, kids can achieve a lot with the right encouragement and support. Thanks, Mum and Dad. You are great role models.

I knew then, as I do now, that I am very lucky, and as a member of this Parliament, I am acutely aware that too many children throughout this country and in my own electorate don’t have the advantages I enjoyed. That knowledge stands beside me today. As an ambulance officer for St John, I’ve been into homes with black mould on the walls, treated children with breathing problems in overcrowded housing, self-harm due to mental health, and I’ve been on the roadside with colleagues as we tried to save the life of yet another person blighted by drugs and crime.

When I decided to complete a Bachelor of Health Science in paramedicine and become a paramedic, I wanted to make a difference, but having spent much of my adult life in banking and in finance, I quickly saw that the system wasn’t working. To deliver change, real change, I’d have to apply all of my skills and experience to the challenge. I set my sights on pushing the health system from within. I became the deputy chief financial officer for one of the country’s largest district health boards while still volunteering on the ambulance after hours. Working simultaneously at both ends of the system opened my eyes to the importance of a bold vision, coordinated approach, and action, not talk. Health and education can’t be siloed from our country’s economic performance, our strategy for affordable housing, or the importance of providing a self-worth for our citizens. It’s all linked, and these challenges need action to sort out not only just the symptoms but the root cause of these issues.

I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic at the age of 21 months old. I’ve had a lifetime association with a system that is blessed with passionate professionals yet plagued by broken decision making. It is time to fix that. We must fix that. We have the people; we undoubtedly have the resources. We must put individuals, families, and communities at the heart of decision making, not existing government structures and ways of doing things.

When I graduated from the University of Waikato with a Bachelor of Management Studies, I, like many New Zealanders, headed overseas to broaden my mind and to gain new experiences. My accounting and finance majors inevitably lead me into banking with stints in Canada and Ireland before moving to London. My OE coincided with the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC). At the time, I had a senior role in one of the world’s largest investment banks, and that experience is with me today. I saw that people in glass towers can be heroes too. They can work around the clock to save the livelihoods of people they’ve never met. They can shoulder the responsibility to find a way through an economic calamity that seems without end. The people I worked with through the GFC brought agility to new challenges, insight to complex issues, and bestowed a valuable education on a business graduate from the Waikato.

The importance of decisive, informed decision making was hammered home to me then, and that experience is with me now. And that experience resonates with the economic challenges that I see in my electorate and as a country as a whole, as we seek a path beyond COVID. An economic rebound that leaves the most disadvantaged behind and that locks young people out of work and home ownership is a mirage. It might look good in the business pages, but if it fails where it counts, in our homes and in our communities, then it’s not worth the paper it’s written on.

Right now, we’ve got a housing crisis in New Zealand, and yet there’s plenty of land to build on. Why can’t Government, in partnership with iwi, community groups, and the private sector build and supply superbly designed and built homes that people are proud to live in? All that is lacking is our willingness to look beyond what we’ve always done and act.

In world terms we are a young country. And we are blessed with enviable resources and creative people. There is no excuse for a lack of vision. My friends and colleagues will tell you that I have little appetite for bureaucracy, excuses, and time wasters. I want action backed by decisive, informed decision making. How do we build an economy that empowers everyone to be all that they can be? An economy that shares the opportunities it is creating? How do we get a health and education system that is eliminating waste so that we can ensure those resources are channelled to the people who are making a difference? The answers and leadership will come from our communities, our entrepreneurs, our workers and, yes, our Government. So that everyone in this country can get on with making their lives better. It is no secret that I believe in limited government, but limited doesn’t mean being constrained in our vision. It means having a laser focus on the stuff Government is meant to be doing. The stuff only Government can do: regulate, legislate, investigate, but also cajole, inspire, and lead.

Sitting on these benches isn’t an opportunity to indulge in our particular and individual interests. Being in Government is about getting the important stuff done and not being distracted from that task. Many, many people throughout this country are capable of making their own decisions. What they want from us is action on the things they can’t influence. Limited government creates laws; it builds frameworks and structures of better governance to support our communities; it is focused on the incentives that will enable the private sector to thrive and generate jobs; and, it takes a leadership role on protecting our environment.

A better Government will focus on a bold, long-term infrastructure plan, ensuring Government spending is not wasteful, spelling out the returns to a nation of that investment, creating an environment that encourages local and foreign investment and ensures incentives align with the outcomes we want as a country. Let’s take on these challenges with the vision and teamwork to drive positive change beyond the next election. Our lives are not governed by three-year intervals, so why is our decision making? New Zealanders expect more of this House than that. We need to put in place the ideas today that will guide this country to 2040 not 2024.

It is our responsibility to define a clear roadmap for New Zealand, and to put in place the measures that will ensure all Kiwis will get there. Being part of a Parliament that’s going to define this roadmap for our country and act on it is why we are here. All of the people and experiences that informed us on our various paths to these benches in this Chamber are here in this Chamber with us. We owe it to them.

I owe it to my two young boys, Jack and Callum, and to my lovely wife, Shannon. I’m incredibly grateful that they have supported me in my decision to enter Parliament, but they want to see results. There has to be a reason why I spend half the week away from my family in Wellington. We have to deliver outcomes that will resonate beyond this Chamber and continue to resonate for the generations to follow.

I want to finish with a vision mentioned only a few years ago about New Zealand becoming a technology and innovation centre. I’m sure in this Chamber today that there will be members who consider that prediction a fantasy. But is it really so unreal to believe that our future is going to be exceptional? Or is it simply that we don’t have the confidence to go for it? Look at the ideas and innovation created in this country, just as the rest of the world is struggling. See farmers working flat out, factories producing valuable goods, and people from around the world are hammering on our doors to get into a country they know is exceptional even though we don’t sometimes quite believe it. Complacency will condemn us, as will the future generations, if we don’t take this opportunity to lift up this country with both hands. Fellow parliamentarians, let’s make it happen. I thank the people of New Zealand for this opportunity. I am proud—so very, very proud—to be the National member of Parliament for North Shore. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.


Sowell says

24/03/2021


Nicola Grigg’s maiden speech

24/03/2021

National MP for Selwyn, Nicola Grigg, delivered her maiden speech yesterday:

 E te Whare e tū nei, e ngā rau rangatira ma, tēnei tāku mihi atu ki a koutou. Tēnā koutou katoa. I’m thrilled to stand here before this House today, elected by the people of Selwyn in this 53rd Parliament. May I begin by acknowledging them and the National Party members across Selwyn for the generosity they’ve shown me in my journey from candidate to member of Parliament. I acknowledge my National Party friends and colleagues, particularly our leaders, Judith Collins, Dr Shane Reti. I’d particularly like to single out and thank Gerry Brownlee for the unfailing friendship, generosity, and guidance that you’ve shown me over many years. It’s due to your faith in me, Gerry, that I’m here today.

A huge and heartfelt thankyou to my campaign team: James Christmas, Major James Russell, Tait Dench, Bernard Duncan, Murray Smith, and Ben Smith. I’d like to pay particular acknowledgment to my campaign chair and very dear friend, James Christmas. He’s been named in this House by at least two Prime Ministers and an Attorney-General as one of this country’s greatest legal and political minds, yet he is the kind of friend who will deliver pamphlets in a blizzard, babysit your kitten, and turn up with a bottle of Chard at the drop of a hat. James, every day I count my blessings for having you in my life.

I’d also like to pay tribute to my former boss the Rt Hon Sir Bill English, who I had the enormous privilege of working for as a press secretary from 2015 until 2018 when he retired. Not long after I was selected by the National Party, Bill rang me—I thought “What do I do now?”—and he said, “Just be yourself. Let the world see the real Nicola Grigg.” I will always be grateful for the opportunities I was given working in Bill’s office.

Above all, thank you to my friends and family for the love and support that you’ve gifted me throughout my life, particularly in the last year. Mum, Dad, Gemma, Amanda, Arthur, you’ve stood by me through thick and thin. The strength and stability of our family is what guides me and what grounds me. Thank you.

From the mighty Rakaia River in the south, to Darfield, Sheffield, and Arthur’s Pass in the west, picturesque Tai Tapu, Prebbleton and Lincoln in the east and booming towns like Rolleston at its core, Selwyn represents everything that is so special about New Zealand. We are a region full of ambitious go-getters. Ours is an economy founded in agriculture and food production, well served, might I add, by the infrastructure investment of the previous National Government. Selwyn is powering New Zealand’s economy. We’re a region full of young families and immigrants, innovators and entrepreneurs, a place where people simply want to get on with the job of fulfilling their destinies without the spectre of Government breathing down their necks, and they do so admirably. We have one of the lowest rates of unemployment in the country, one of the strongest local economies, and we’re one of the fastest growing territorial authorities in New Zealand. Selwyn is an exemplar to the rest of the country.

Any newly elected MP for Selwyn will be acutely aware of the expectations set by those who have gone before her. I follow in the footsteps of great New Zealanders like my own forebear, Sir John Hall, Premier of New Zealand at a difficult time in our history, and who later devoted himself to the cause of universal suffrage; and our first female Prime Minister, Dame Jenny Shipley. Dame Jenny is a trailblazer for women in politics. She broke the glass ceiling for the top job in New Zealand. My friend Ruth Richardson is another trailblazer and change agent. Ruth has taught me what having courage of one’s convictions really looks like and how making great change takes great heart. Sir David Carter, a former Speaker of the House, is a long-time source of wisdom and advice to this rookie MP. My immediate predecessor, Amy Adams, served Selwyn for 12 years and was so widely regarded and respected, and made an historic contribution to New Zealand as a Minister of Justice.

There’s another person I want to pay tribute to today: Sir John Hall’s granddaughter, my great-grandmother and National’s first female MP, Mary Grigg. Mary was elected to the mid-Canterbury seat held by her husband, my great-grandfather Arthur, who was killed in action in Libya in 1941. As a total aside and nothing more than evidence of what a small world we live in, our very own Sir Jim McLay’s father was in the field hospital with Arthur when he died. Thank you to Sir Jim for passing your father’s memories onto our family.

Almost 80 years ago this newly widowed mother of three stood in this very Chamber hammering the Fraser Government on some of the very issues that have led me here—farming, rural communities, and women. She spoke fiercely and with deep conviction. In her first eight weeks in the House, she bombarded Ministers with questions on anything from wheat growing, police uniforms for women, maternity benefits, occupational therapy, the need for more radio broadcasts in te reo Māori, car registration, and even the lack of lemons available in Canterbury. She was formidable. In her maiden statement she said: “I was told when I was coming into the House that it was a waste of time to look for common sense in Parliament. I am still hoping to find that is not true.”, and my own personal favourite, “I know I am going to get myself in dreadful hot water, but I should like to say quite honestly that the Cabinet is the cause of weakness and a lack of confidence. No one, even when the Cabinet was originally formed, would have claimed that it was a galaxy of all the talents.” Some might call that 78-year-old prophesy, but I wouldn’t be that ungracious. I can only imagine what she would have made of her eldest great-grandchild standing here today, the 157th woman to enter Parliament. I promise that I will try to bring the same energy to my work in this House as she did, and I too will be looking for more common sense.

I walked out of the parliamentary precinct in December last year, just weeks after arriving, a bundle of nerves, self-doubt, and with a well-advanced case of imposter syndrome. I was quite sure I wasn’t going to be able to handle the hours, the workload, the pressures, the expectations of the role, and, frankly, I dreaded returning. Since then, though, I’ve spent the summer reading American psychologist and researcher Dr Brené Brown. Her book, Daring Greatly, is inspired by Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech at the Sorbonne in 1910. In it, he said this: “It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

It is nerve-wracking and uncomfortable entering the political arena and the public eye. But now we’re in that arena, we cannot be afraid to take risks, make unpopular decisions, confront big issues—and sometimes fail—with all the backlash and embarrassment that might come with that. Any holder of public office must dare greatly, and now more so than ever.

This is a place that will make you question everything you ever knew or thought you knew about yourself. You must know your “why”. My why? I am the daughter of six generations of Griggs who have farmed in mid Canterbury since 1864. I come to this House wanting to represent and improve outcomes for rural New Zealand, particularly rural women and families. Campaigning in Selwyn last year, I saw for myself the very real fear and anxiety that farmers across my electorate feel when slapped with whatever new arbitrary regulation or restriction is handed down to them on any given day by Ministers and their officials. I want us to reject ideology and blame in favour of a relentless focus on science and fact. I want us to choose constructive dialogue over condemnation. It’s my hope that one day, New Zealanders will once again appreciate and, in fact, be proud of our farmers and the contribution that we make to an innovative, thriving, sustainable economy and environment. That is my “why”.

I challenge the Government on the paradoxical approach that it’s taking—on one hand, charging the primary production sector with doubling its export earnings in the next 10 years, while on the other ham-stringing farmers and growers with regulations that leave them with little choice but to de-stock. How can productivity possibly increase on those terms? Selwyn is home to some of the country’s leading agritech and agriscience innovators. We have Lincoln University, Lincoln Agritech, AgResearch, Manaaki Whenua—Landcare Research, Plant & Food Research, Ngāi Tahu Farming, Lincoln University Dairy Farms. So given Selwyn, with its university, agresearch centres and incubators, is the epicentre of New Zealand’s agritech and innovation, one would have thought that our producers would meet requirements more easily than most. That they can’t says to me the Government has it wrong.

Have no doubt: New Zealand’s success in the coming decade is going to be powered by our farmers. We are already world leaders in the clean and efficient production of protein and dairy, and the home-grown science and technology coming out of my community is cutting-edge. We need to encourage it and help export it. Sir John Key always used to say we won’t get rich selling to ourselves. Our economic growth must be export-led, and that includes the export of innovation. So let’s dare to build an export empire of intellectual property. Let’s sell to the world our clean-tech and our green-tech. The economic and social impact of the pandemic means we must dare to make some difficult decisions in the next decade. But first, let’s dare to stop deceiving ourselves that Governments can find solutions to every problem, or that throwing public money at a problem will make it go away.

Anyone who talks to people in Selwyn will soon realise that, as often as not, Governments cause as many problems as they seek to resolve. The thing the public most wants from its Government is competence. When it does regulate, or when this House legislates, we should be drawing on the expertise already out there on the ground. If a Government truly wants to make it easier to earn a living, to address environmental problems, or to increase our exports, it needs to listen. As my old boss Sir Bill used to say, nobody has a monopoly on good ideas, and politicians most certainly do not.

Let’s dare to innovate. Now, I know innovation is a popular buzzword around here, but we in this Chamber cannot innovate on people’s behalf. We can, however, provide the conditions for investment, invention, development, and science. Our capacity to innovate begins in our education system. Every child in New Zealand should leave school knowing that he or she can imagine something, create something, build something, develop something, dream something. Innovation will require us to stop this close-minded mentality where we shut ourselves off from foreign investors and foreign capital. We must open our borders and open ourselves up to the world again. We need trade, we need investment, we need immigration, and we need the growth that these will bring. We need to go all out to attract the best and brightest from other countries to come here and make a contribution to New Zealand. This “fortress New Zealand” mentality will only continue to mire us in mediocrity, and it must stop. Mediocrity is the virus that we should be protecting our country against.

Speaking of innovation and innovators, people who aren’t afraid to push boundaries and do things differently, I am proud that the rūnanga of Selwyn is none other than the mighty Ngāi Tahu. Twenty years ago, Tā Tīpene O’Regan and others dared greatly. They showed vision and fortitude and, in my opinion, set the bar for iwi across Aotearoa as to what intergenerational investment should look like. This House should remember that 2040—just under 20 years away—will mark 200 years since the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi. We should all be looking to that milestone with a view of achieving a fair and equitable society. We should ask ourselves: how do we weave our past, our present, and our future together? So I acknowledge Ngāi Tahu as tangata whenua of Selwyn. I look forward to our upcoming kōrero and a future working together.

My mother is a St Hill-Warren of Porangahau in Hawke’s Bay. Her family worked side by side with local iwi, and one of her aunts eventually married into the Mohi whānau. As a result, I count Ngāti Kahungunu as my cousins. This kahu kiwi—her name is Piata—I wear today was gifted to our family by a wahine rangatira of Ngāti Kere, Ngāti Hinetewai, and Ngāti Pihere of Porangahau in around 1854. I wear it as a mantle to remind me to be fair, equitable, and just—as my forebears were—in all that I bring to this office.

I am a member of the National Party because I believe our principles will put New Zealand in the best position to both meet the challenges and capitalise on the opportunities of the coming decade. I am a member of the National Party because I draw my convictions—my political principles—from the reform and liberal traditions from which the party was founded. I am a member of the National Party because I know that we are not afraid to dare to confront the big challenges. I am proud to join a caucus that I know will dare greatly—to ask the hard questions of itself, to rebuild and repurpose to reflect the ambitions and demands of a modern, multicultural, forward-looking New Zealand in the years to come.

Today, I step into the arena. I enter this Chamber with the firmly held belief that those of us in public office have a responsibility to show up—to bring our whole selves and our whole hearts—and lean into the tough conversations and the big issues. We should not play it safe, but we should dare to make decisions and do the things that mean we will sometimes err and we will sometimes come up short. We must dare greatly, and I will try to do that every day the people of Selwyn send me here. Thank you.


Rural round-up

24/03/2021

Govt ‘naivety’ cause of crisis – Peter Burke:

Johnny Appleseed is one of the largest apple growers in New Zealand; director Paul Paynter says the current worker shortage crisis in the sector can be sheeted home to Government naivety.

He says when Covid-19 first hit the country – with many people losing their jobs and overseas workers stopped from coming to NZ – the Government was quick to claim it would provide an opportunity for Kiwis to take up jobs in the ag and hort sectors. However, he says while there has been some uptake, the reality has fallen well short of the enthusiastic expectations.

“It was just naïve optimism on the part of Government,” Paynter told Rural News.

He says people are not coming to the Hawkes Bay to pick apples for a number of reasons, the major one being the lack of accommodation. Paynter says there is a housing crisis in the region.

Drinking (milk) to economic recovery – The Detail:

When the price of milk surged 15 percent on the global dairy market earlier this month, even the boss of Fonterra was shocked.

“It was extraordinary,” says Jarden’s head of dairy derivatives, Mike McIntyre. “I’ve been following these auctions now for the better part of 10 years and I’ve seen it previously, but only in the past where we’ve been constrained.”

That was 2013 when the whole country was in drought and very little milk was being produced.

This time, says McIntyre, it is being driven by China’s thirst for milk.

“Last year, the Chinese government came out and essentially issued a directive to the public to say, to ward off the ill effects of Covid they should be consuming more than a glass of milk a day.” . . 

Covid-19 vaccine: Concerns over future uptake in rural areas – Riley Kennedy;

The government is being encouraged to think outside the box when rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine into rural communities.

Earlier this month, the government announced its plan to deliver the vaccine to the wider public.

From May, priority populations will be able to get the vaccine and from July, the remainder of the population will be able to get it.

There have been concerns from some health professionals that the uptake among people living in rural New Zealand could be slow – given some have to travel a long way to see their GP and therefore don’t always bother. . . 

Investing in consumers’ trust – Neal Wallace:

Meat companies are using the Taste Pure Nature brand alongside their own brands as they target environmentally-conscious foodie consumers.

Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) market development manager Nick Beeby told the organisation’s annual meeting that this demographic cares where their food comes from and are heavily influenced by digital channels such as food websites and bloggers who focus on natural foods.

They are considered a significant opportunity for NZ red meat sales, and Beeby says during the covid-19 pandemic consumers were increasingly discerning with their purchases, which was underpinned by the message associated with the B+LNZ developed taste pure nature brand.

“Consumers chose meat products that are better tasting, nutritious and satisfy environmental concerns,” Beeby said. . . 

A platform for red meat’s story – Neal Wallace:

A new website selling the virtues of red meat and dispelling some of its myths is being launched.

An initiative of Beef + Lamb NZ (B+LNZ) and the Meat Industry Association (MIA), the Making Meat Better website will tell the sector’s story, and provide information and data, while reinforcing the merits of red meat.

The 150 people who attended the B+LNZ annual meeting in Invercargill this week were told the site will provide data and statistics about the red meat sector, sell the virtues of being grass-raised, its nutritional attributes, while also extolling the environmental stewardship of farmers.

Data on the site will provide a balance to some of the criticism about red meat and farming by providing information on farming’s carbon footprint, action being taken on climate change and provide infographic resources that can be used.  . . 

 

Showgirls, rural achievers shine the way for ag :

The bush has a wealth of young talent who are turning their fantastic ideas and aspirations into reality.

You only have to look at the pages in last week’s Land to find young people who are ready to act or are acting on their projects.

And they are motivated – either by issues that some members of older generations might not want to confront such as climate change – or value adding to the great contributions of previous generations.

They are doing this despite the enforced isolation of the last year from the pandemic. . . 


Yes Sir Humphrey

24/03/2021


It was always too hard

24/03/2021

Finally the admission that should have come years ago:

Going further into the Pike River coal mine is too hard and too expensive, Minister Responsible for Pike River Reentry Andrew Little says.

The minister’s comments come even though no detailed technical assessment or cost analysis has been done.

Little said the Government was not willing to consider doing a risk assessment and cost analysis of recovering evidence from the mine’s main ventilation fan, which could hold clues about what caused the first explosion in the mine where 29 men were killed in 2010.

He said the mine’s geotechnical strata was “inherently unstable” and the technical challenge of getting past a roof fall blocking the mine workings would be phenomenal. . . 

It was always too hard.

Sometimes when you’re in Opposition you have to back the government when it’s doing the right thing.

Instead Labour and New Zealand chose to do the political thing, promising a re-entry of the mine.

In doing so they exploited the families and friends of the men who were killed, giving them unrealistic hope and stoking their grief.

Ten years and more than $50 million later Little has admitted what they should have accepted from the start – it was too hard, too dangerous and too expensive.


Broken promises and bromide

24/03/2021

Yesterday’s announcement on housing was mere tinkering.

It broke the promise of Grant Robertson that there would be no changes to the bright line test and Jacinda Ardern’s promise there would be no capital gains tax while she was leader.

What makes it worse is that the broken promises will do nothing to solve the housing crisis. It could well decrease the supply of rental accommodation and will lead to increased rents.

That pressure on rents will be compounded by the decision to single property owners out by ending their ability to claim the cost of interest against their income for tax purposes.

This is not as the government asserts, and some in the media parrot, closing a loophole, it’s a change to tax law that has until now applied to every business.

Higher costs for landlords will inevitably be passed on to their tenants.

Increasing income caps and house prices for First Home Grants is a token gesture when house prices are so high and if it does anything it will add fuel to the fire. Anything which makes it easier for people to buy a house without increasing the supply will push up prices.

At first glance the infrastructure accelerator looks good, but will it be effective?

. . .However, Kiwibank chief economist Jarrod Kerr said the policy changes simply “tinkered at the edges”, and were not enough to address the systemic supply issues that have caused New Zealand’s house prices to soar beyond the reach of many.

“It was pretty disappointing to be honest. Some of the ideas are good, but the size is pathetic. It’s a drop in the bucket and it’s a leaky bucket at that.”

Kerr said the tool with the most potential was the $3.8b infrastructure accelerator, which is intended to help local councils create the necessary services infrastructure – plumbing, roads, power – to unlock remote land for property development.

“I think the idea is great; we need to get funding into councils to sort out woeful infrastructure and get it to areas that need to be developed. But the fact that it only got $3.8b means that it’s going to be ineffective – $3.8billion spread across all our councils is a rounding error.” . . 

The whole package is underwhelming, it’s just broken promises and bromide that ignore the root cause of the crisis – a lack of supply and the foundation for that is an unwillingness to cut the red tape that holds back development.

 


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