Archive for February, 2012

Green Party flexes its muscle for “partnership”

The Green Party is sounding confident, not to say cocky, in the wake of the publicity coup it scored at the expense of Speaker Lockwood Smith over financial support for profoundly deaf MP Mojo Mathers. It carried this spirit into its conference at the weekend where co-leader Meteira Turei stressed her party’s success in last […]

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Ministers – A sticky patch, but Govt still delivering

The Govt has gone through a sticky patch. The High Court’s criticism of the Crafar farm Ministerial decision, the row over asset sales and public sector reform. The Budget Policy Statement last week underlined the Govt kitty is empty. Yet morale at Govt level has never been higher. Ministers are convinced the country is moving […]

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Steven Joyce – Cabinet’s mover and shaker

Steven Joyce was the big mover up Cabinet rankings when John Key remodelled his Cabinet after the election.Joyce has the prime responsibility to take care of the “revenue side” of the economy, with the challenge to create the very best conditions for NZ businesses to flourish, grow and internationalise.

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Exports, household savings grow as economy re-balances

One of the Govt’s major objectives is to “re-balance” the economy away from debt-fuelled consumption to export-led growth. Reporting “steady progress,” Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce points to a 9.7% growth in exports last year. Although it won’t satisfy those who think it should have discovered, and fired, a silver bullet by now.

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Bollard tackles gap between Aust & NZ

The gap between Aust and NZ may be narrower than we think. Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard says defensible adjustments to NZ numbers could, as a very rough ballpark estimate, push them 10% higher than the official data relative to Aust.

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Improving MMP: Will NZers respond?

NZers have a chance to improve the MMP electoral system through the consultation process launched this week by the Electoral Commission, though 2 issues have been ruled out: Maori representation and the total number of seats in Parliament. Hopefully the review now being undertaken will be more rigorous than the last undertaken by a Parliamentary […]

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Overseas investment: Govt takes hit on Crafar sale

The Govt’s credibility takes a hit after the OIO’s Crafar farms decision is overturned by the High Court. The Overseas Investment Office’s recommendation the purchase could proceed “materially overstated” the economic benefit to the NZ economy. The question now is whether Shanghai Pengxin will renew its bid. For the Govt, the whole controversy over farms […]

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Govt receives report card on economic performance

A UMR research survey this week pinpointed the economy as the most important issue facing the country. So how is the Govt doing? The Budget Policy Statement this week underlines how tight a fiscal strait-jacket the country will have to be laced into to get back to surplus by 2014-15. But economists argued this week […]

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State sector: Finding efficiency “in the cloud”

John Key provoked a bit of mirth among the hacks this week when he came up with the line the answer to building better public services is: “Google it.” But in talking to the global search engine giant, the Govt is exploring the kind of software services which might be the easiest route to cutting […]

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The Frailties Of Forecast

Labour’s David Parker was gunning for the Govt when he asked the Minister of Finance: when his Govt came to office Treasury predicted the economy would grow 7.4% over the following three years but it grew only 1.2%. Was it the fault of Treasury forecasting or of the Govt’s economic management?

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Funding gap for Auckland’s transport projects

Transport briefing papers warn Auckland’s transport woes can’t be fixed by current road upgrades, and even with the completion of the city’s motorway system in the next 4 years and commuter rail improvements, congestion will only be cut by 14% through to 2021. A new draft plan drawn by Auckland Council calls for $22bn of […]

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Politics: Coalition stable, will rule full term

New Ministers have barely settled into their Cabinet chairs and here John Key is having to fend off questions about the Govt’s stability. But Key says his Govt will last the distance co-alition or none.

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Ministers confident asset sales solution can be found

The Govt is confident the row over state asset sales won’t lead to the Maori Party walking from the co-alition. The PM still insists an “elegant” solution can be found in the new legislation for mixed ownership of current SOE’s.

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Economic Debate – Focus on our best industries

Steven Joyce Joyce has chided those who frustrate development by coming up with considerations for saying “you can’t.” A small country like NZ has to stop debating which industries will save us and focus on all industries where NZ has a natural advantage.

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Trade: Ambitious China strategy

The Govt’s newly launched China Strategy has an ambitious target – it aims to double two-way trade with China to $20bn by 2015. It includes growing services trade, education by 20% and tourism by at least 60%.

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FTA with Russia on ambitious timetable

Negotiations for a Russia NZ FTA are expected to accelerate, in time for a deal to be signed up in Vladivostok in November. Ministers concede this is an “ambitious” timetable, but officials are expected to make up time, now Russia’s key trade official who was engaged in Russia’s accession to WTO, confirmed in December, is […]

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Dairy industry proving it’s an economic saviour

Huge volumes of dairy products are being shipped to markets abroad, suggesting the export boom is not yet topping out, despite some forecasts it has passed its peak. Wholemilk powder volumes shipped in December climbed 30%, with the value up 37%. Along with WMP, record high-values for butter and cheese exports pushed NZ into a […]

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Agriculture: Controversy on Crafar farm deal

Political controversy over the sale of 16 Crafar dairy farms to Chinese investment giant Shanghai Pengxin died almost as quickly as it flared, even though the deal may still face a judicial review from a group led by Sir Michael Fay.

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Legal issues delay unveiling of MFAT’s New Business Model

Last-minute legal questions delayed this week’s unveiling of MFAT’s new business model. Diplomats and other staff in Wellington and around the world will now have to wait until the end of February before learning their fate.

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Is Christchurch’s rebuild in danger of stalling?

The Govt has warned rebuilding Christchurch can’t be allowed to stall. John Key says “we won’t hesitate to use the powers we have to clear blockages in the system.”

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Key coalition stumbles over “Treaty principles”

Rather sooner than might have been expected in its second term, the Key coalition is running into trouble. Less than a week out from Waitangi Day, the Maori Party is threatening to pull the plug.

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