Archive for August, 2012

Economy: unwelcome surprise for dairy farmers

Fonterra’s decision to shave 30c off its opening payout forecast came as an unwelcome surprise to dairy farmers who had seen prices firming in the co-op’s Global Dairy Trade auctions. Fonterra’s board blamed the continuing strength of the NZ dollar for lowering the milk payout down to $5.25kg of milk solids from $5.50. That equates […]

Read more ...

Govt steps up research grants

Where previous Govts paid lip service to innovation, research and development, this Govt has reconstructed the framework, launching the Advanced Technology Institute with $166m in funding over 4 years, and through the Primary Growth Partnership in which the private sector has committed $600m to PGP R&D projects with the Govt injecting a further $250m.

Read more ...

Diplomacy: coming of age for pacific forum

US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s visit to Rarotonga for the Pacific Forum leaders’ dialogue signals the coming of age for the Forum. It also marks the American determination not to be outplayed in the Pacific by China which has stepped up its aid programmes to the region to around $US150m a year.

Read more ...

Politics: Key demolishes opposition attack on inequality

John Key showed his mastery of the political process when, with one verbal swipe in Parliament, he demolished what appeared to be a promising line of attack by Opposition parties on his coalition’s social policies.

Read more ...

Play of the week: the age of entitlement

There is an increasing belief in NZ the Govt is nothing more than a giant ATM, available to all with the right pin number. Last week there was the disclosure Housing NZ had ended 312 tenancies after investigations showed tenants had obtained a state house fraudulently. The same entity also established $9.6m in Crown debts […]

Read more ...

Fresh successes in onshore drilling programme

Fresh successes in high-return, lower risk drilling programme onshore in Taranaki underpin the buoyant mood among oil explorers. London-based Kea Petroleum is the latest to report an encouraging new discovery. Its Puka well has been on test, leading to plans to extend the Puka site, relocating the existing Wingrove production facilities there in order to […]

Read more ...

Nats jockeying ahead of Lockwood Smith’s departure

Internal jockeying is starting within the National Party, ahead of the departure timed for later this year of Speaker Lockwood Smith to the post of High Commissioner in London. Former MP Aaron Gilmore is next on the party list, but says he has yet to make a decision about returning if a vacancy occurs.

Read more ...

Clark -“we didn’t envisage 10 years there”

Former PM Helen Clark said this week she never envisaged NZ troops remaining in Afghanistan for 10 years when her Govt deployed the first provincial reconstruction team in 2003. She told Marie McNicholas, political correspondent of “Newsroom,” Labour would have pulled the troops out if it had won the 2008 election.

Read more ...

Politics: crunch time looms on Govt’s flagship policy

Crunch time looms for the Govt’s asset sale programme. As Trans Tasman sees it, this is the Govt’s flagship policy. So, in a sense, it’s also looming as a make-or-break moment for the coalition.

Read more ...

Play of the week: own goals

A few real oops-a-daisies this week. From the Govt, we had a couple of pamphlets on how well the economy is doing. When any Govt does this sort of thing, its usually a good time to convert any investment funds you have into gold and go hide under the bed for a bit.

Read more ...

Bulk purchasing upsets construction sector

Unease is evident in the building and construction industry at plans of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MoBIE) to enter into bulk purchase of materials for EQC and the Canterbury rebuild, as well as Govt Departments. The industry is concerned a lack of understanding of how the market works will result in decisions […]

Read more ...

SOEs look to Aust for growth

State-owned enterprises are looking to the Aust market for new growth opportunities. This week Kordia won a $A90m contract to build a fixed and wireless network for the massive $A23bn Aust. Pacific LNG project which is to tap coal seam gas in Queensland.

Read more ...

Politics: Shearer tries to “rev up” his caucus

Labour’s troubled Caucus got what its leader David Shearer called a “rev-up” this week. He told his MPs he did not want them to be focusing on side issues. This follows Mangere MP Su’a William Sua warning his colleagues Labour could lose the 2014 election unless it scrapped Louisa Wall’s gay marriage Bill.

Read more ...

Politics: Govt takes high ground on business growth agenda

The Govt has begun to roll out a series of documents on action to build a stronger economy. In the same way it seized control of the political agenda on social welfare reform and getting value for money out of the public sector, it aims to dominate debate on how NZ can achieve higher living […]

Read more ...

Play of the week: day after day

Best news – genuine best news, as opposed to the manufactured stuff – this week was ValerieAdams getting her gold medal. Having been beaten out at the Games by a Belarussian shot putter who bore an astonishing resemblance to the – male- lead singer of 1970s power-pop band Badfinger.

Read more ...

Fishing: what NZ could really earn

Auckland University Business School research shows the NZ fishing industry could earn closer to $2bn in exports rather than the current $330m a year. The researchers say this could be achieved if the industry sold all the wasted parts of fish to markets they identify, ranging from the dried fish-head market in Nigeria to the […]

Read more ...

War memorial: two problems – one solution

The Govt is solving two problems at once in its plan to create a National War Memorial Park in the capital ahead of the 2015 Gallipoli centenary commemoration. It will spend around $70m on a “cut-and-cover” trench through central Wellington.

Read more ...

Politics: fissures in Labour deepen

Deep fissures within the Labour caucus have been revealed this week. Having been kicked out of office for social engineering the electorate didn’t like, the party, with the full support of the leadership, is now engaged in promoting a Bill to legalise same-sex marriage, a move which has deeply offended the Pasifika community in South […]

Read more ...

Politics: hard graft for party leaders

Politics has been hard graft for the party leaders this week. NZ’s troop deployment to Afghanistan brought more pain, with two soldiers killed and six others wounded. For most NZers withdrawal cannot come soon enough.

Read more ...

Play of the week: twice on Chunuk Bair

The Govt chose to announce the National War Memorial on the anniversary of NZ troops going up Chunuk Bair on the Gallipoli Peninsula. For those whose grasp of the minutiae of the Gallipoli battle is a bit sketchy, Chunuk Bair was the commanding height of the peninsula, and crucial to the whole campaign.

Read more ...

Diplomacy: plum jobs for political appointees

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully this week confirmed the report in Trans Tasman (July 19) Mike Moore’s term as Ambassador to the US will be extended for another 3 years. McCully says “there is no-one better placed to represent NZ in Washington as we get to the business end of the Trans-Pacific Partnership process.” He […]

Read more ...

Trade: threat to EU cheese quota

Alarm bells were ringing among senior NZ trade officials as word filtered through to Wellington the EU is considering changing NZ’s quota for cheese. NZ has an annual quota for 7000mT of cheddar cheese and another 4000mT for cheese intended for processing. The move is seen as evidence protectionism is re-emerging in Europe as the […]

Read more ...

Govt steers careful course on Waitangi Tribunal’s call

Property tycoon and onetime political gadfly Sir Robert Jones was probably expressing what many NZers (and some Cabinet Ministers privately) think, when he wrote in the NZ Herald this week the Treaty of Waitangi is redundant, and to argue the Waikato River was vested in Maori in 1840 and to claim water usage money now […]

Read more ...

Politics: Christchurch CBD blueprint test for Govt

The Govt has reached a couple of crunch points in this, its second term, beginning with the delivery of a blueprint for a new CBD in quake-devastated Christchurch. This is the chance to create the world’s first 21st century city, a place reinvented to make it the most liveable in the Asia-Pacific region.

Read more ...

Play of the week: the global financial crisis effect

You could hear the collective gulp around Parliament when the Marriage Equality Bill was pulled from the member’s ballot. While a few MPs relish such issues, they are very much in the minority. Conscience votes are divisive, incredibly time consuming, and have few political upsides.

Read more ...