No sign of Zero Carbon Bill yet

A Zero Carbon act was supposed to be in force this month, but a draft bill hasn’t even been presented to Parliament yet.

This was the number one item in the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement:

Sustainable Economy

  1. Adopt and make progress towards the goal of a Net Zero Emissions Economy by 2050,
    with a particular focus on policy development and initiatives in transport and urban form,
    energy and primary industries in accordance with milestones to be set by an independent
    Climate Commission and with a focus on establishing Just Transitions for exposed regions
    and industries.

a.   Introduce a Zero Carbon Act and establish an independent Climate Commission
b.   All new legislation will have a climate impact assessment analysis.
c.   A comprehensive set of environmental, social and economic sustainability indicators will be developed.
d.   A new cross-agency climate change board of public sector CEOs will be established.

So an April introduction of the bill is now ‘mid-2019’.

There has been speculation that the Zero Carbon Bill may be progressed as a quid pro quo for NZ First stopping any CGT. James Shaw has denied this – see James Shaw on “do we deserve to be re-elected if we don’t?” – but as Shaw seems to have been shut out of discussions over the CGT he may not know what Ardern and Peters may have agreed on.

 

Ardern a great leader occasionally but otherwise lacking

There were always going to be questions asked about the leadership of the coalition government, with a relatively young and inexperienced Jacinda Ardern at the top as Prime Minister, and the relatively old and experienced Winston Peters as her deputy.

Peters has ruled the roost at NZ First for a long time, since he founded the party. He is used to having disproportionate power in his party, and there was a risk that he would exercise disproportionate power in the coalition. And it appears that that is how things are.

Peters and NZ First certainly wield significantly more power than the Green Party, despite having just 1 more seat in Parliament – 9 compared to 8 (and less than a quarter as many seats as Labour).

Ardern surprised many with how she stepped up and performed as Labour leader after Andrew Little stepped down. And she has shown admirable leadership qualities in her response to the Christchurch mosque massacres. In both cases she acted very well, largely on instinct.

But Ardern has struggled with leadership that involves getting her Ministers to perform, and especially when getting her Cabinet to agree on which policies to implement.

Her capitulation over the Capital Gains Tax has highlighted this lack of effective leadership, and Fran O’Sullivan points out in  PM’s leadership missing on CGT issue

Jacinda Ardern is at the peak of international celebrity yet she can’t — or perhaps more accurately won’t — even try to sell a capital gains tax.

That’s the paradox that now confronts New Zealand.

It might be overstating it to accuse the Prime Minister of being an outright cynic. But not even fighting for a policy she says she believes in — and would not only have made a difference, but introduced more fairness into the tax system — is a total cop-out on her part.

It is also a failure of leadership.

Not just that she failed to get Cabinet approval to proceed with some sort of CGT, but that she showed no sign of leadership in trying to make it happen.

…the reality is that neither Ardern nor Finance Minister Grant Robertson has made a concerted effort to go over the head of Labour’s coalition partner and make a case to the public to support the introduction of a broad capital gains tax regime.

Ardern claimed that it was “time to accept that not only has a Government that reflects the majority of New Zealanders not been able to find support for this proposal, feedback suggests there is also a lack of mandate among New Zealanders for such a tax also.”

She added that in short, “we have tried to build a mandate, but ultimately been unsuccessful.” This is disingenuous.

Capital gains tax regimes have been at the heart of Labour’s policy thinking for at least a decade now. Ardern could have built a mandate from among her own party’s supporters.

But the only mandate that she appears to have sought was that of New Zealand First.

James Shaw has indicated that she virtually ignored the Greens over the CGT.

In fact, there were options. The capital gains tax could have been set at a significantly lower rate than the top personal income tax rate, and carveouts made for businesses and farms under a certain threshold as had been advocated in prior Labour policy. The bright line test could also have been extended for investment properties.

This would have demonstrated a commitment to at least moving towards establishing equity in New Zealand’s tax system.

Instead, Ardern has made yet another of her captain’s calls on tax.

Her captain’s calls on tax have been somewhat flip-flop-flippy, with no sign of leadership.

In her first flush as Labour leader during the 2017 election campaign, Ardern put them back again, saying it was a captain’s call. But ultimately she took capital gains tax off the table again after Labour lost support in the polls.

She promised not to introduce such a tax in Labour’s first term in Government. Instead, a working group would be tasked with framing options; the Government would introduce empowering legislation. The capital gains taxes would not, however, take effect until 2021.

The upshot is that Labour would have sought its public mandate at next year’s election.

That’s what Ardern promised, but she has now promised to not try anything at all, not just for next year’s election, not just in Labour policy, but forever while she remains leader. This must dismay those in Labour who think that policy is decided by the party, by the members.

It is simplistic to blame New Zealand First for this defeat.

New Zealand First did not rule out a capital gains tax within the Coalition Agreement.

But neither did Labour specifically require New Zealand First to commit to empowering legislation by making it a confidence matter.

The lesson from this is that major parties which get into bed with more muscular junior parties to form Coalition Governments better make sure their own signature policies will be supported.

What we don’t know, but can now suspect more than ever, is that the discussion document that supported the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement ruled out any support from NZ First for a CGT.

Ardern also promised to run the most open and transparent government ever, but she has never lived up to that. Being open and transparent about her family life to women’s magazines isn’t enough.

RNZ (4 December 2017):  Jacinda Ardern on ‘secret’ documents

Ms Ardern and deputy PM Winston Peters have been defending the decision not to make the 33 pages of notes from their coalition negotiations public, with National claiming they now look like they have something to hide.

She said the documents have no directives to ministers, despite Mr Peters initially saying it did, and said she would not describe it as a “document of precision”, as Mr Peters had.

Ms Ardern said the documents were more a record of some of the coalition discussions, and any policy details that had been discussed had already been released.

“When something becomes an official part of our work programme, then that’s the point at which, absolutely, we have to be transparent about that. But when it comes to documents that sit behind a negotiation, that aren’t necessarily going to be pursued, as soon as you release it, that gives an expectation that it is a hard and fast policy, when it might not be at all.”

She said the government was still dedicated to greater transparency.

That’s a classic ‘yeah, right’ statement.

Did keeping this document secret hide an agreement between Ardern and Peters on CGT?

Did it hide a secret  agreement on who was actually in charge, despite the official Prime Minister and deputy Prime Minister designations?

One could say that Labour, with Grant Robertson as Minister of Finance holding the purse strings, was in charge of what mattered the most, but Ardern and Robertson gave Peters a substantial foreign affairs budget boost, and have Shane Jones NZ First a $1 billion per year open cheque, while pressuring Labour and Green ministers to reduce their financial demands, on things like child poverty, mental health, climate change, nurse and teacher salaries.

Effective leadership means saying the right things, which Ardern seems adept at when thrust into challenging situations.

But it also requires managing ministers and managing governing parties and reaching consensus on important policies. Ardern has got a lot to prove on that still. So far the indications are weak leadership, if she is in fact leader in reality.

James Shaw on “do we deserve to be re-elected if we don’t?”

In his opening speech in Parliament this year Green co-leader James Shaw suggested that ‘we’ – the Green Party at least – may not deserve to be re-elected unless a more comprehensive Capital Gains Taax – “tax income from capital the same way that we tax income from work” – is introduced.

Green Party Economic Policy:

Capital Gains Tax

  • In order to treat all income the same, introduce a comprehensive capital gains tax on inflation adjusted capital gains at the time the capital gains are realised.
  • Exempt the family home from capital gains tax.

Now Jacinda Ardern has said that not only will the Government not be proceeding with plans to introduce a CGT, but that it will never happen while she leads the Government, Shaw is left looking silly and impotent, again.

And Shaw has made things worse by they do deserve to be re-elected because of other things they are doing on climate change, tackling homelessness, and cleaning up rivers – but progress on those issues is hardly worthy of self praise.

Shaw was interviewed on RNZ Morning Report: Capital gains tax plan dropped – James Shaw responds

The Green Party co-leader James Shaw has been dealt two hefty blows – not only the confirmation the capital gains tax has been ditched but that Jacinda Ardern has also taken it off the table as long as she is Prime Minister.

In February he suggested on this programme that the government didn’t deserved to be re-elected if it didn’t follow through with a capital gains tax. Now he’s changed his mind saying they do deserve to be re-elected for their work on climate change, tackling homelessness, and cleaning up rivers.

Suzie Ferguson: New Zealand First pulled this down, didn’t they.

James Shaw: Well as the prime Minister said they couldn’t form a consensus in Cabinet around that um recommendation on the Capital Gains Tax and so the pulled it.

Suzie Ferguson: And so you are outside Cabinet but clearly were supportive.

James Shaw: Well, you know we were consulted on the indecision, um and so you know we just got to a point where we said well, you know this is clearly not going to go any further so Government has to proceed.

Suzie Ferguson: But the Prime Minister ultimately must have buckled under pressure from Winston Peters, because Labour supported it, and the Greens supported it, so who’s left?

James Shaw: Well, I mean that’s a question for her and the Deputy Prime Minister. I wasn’t privy to those conversations. Um, you know our relationship primarily was through Grant, you know we were talking to him on a regular basis about where we were hoping it might go. Um but it is a coalition government and ultimately in coalition governments not everyone gets everything they want all the time.

Labour and NZ First have a coalition agreement, Greens are outside of this arrangement providing ‘confidence and supply’. It sounds hear like Shaw was not a part of the CGT discussions at all, he was merely being informed by Grant Robertson of the lack of progress. So sitting on the sidelines, impotent.

Suzie Ferguson: Indeed, but what is the quid pro quo?

James Shaw: Ah there isn’t a quid pro quo. I think the, um, you know the thing about this government actually is that you actually look at each issue, um, by issue, and and each thing stands or falls on it’s merits.

This issue fell seemingly without Greens having a say.

Suzie Ferguson: Mmm, but you’re having to swallow quite a dead rat on this one, so are you saying you’re not getting anything in return?

James Shaw: Well like, we’re getting to be in government, ah and along with that ah comes a substantial ah set of policy gains that we wouldn’t have if we weren’t in government.

Greens have achieved or are trying to achieve some policy gains, but these are dwarfed by the policy gains that NZ First have been able to achieve – which must be with Green approval. it looks like Greens give a lot, and get little. Word is that Shaw is struggling to get his Climate Change policy past NZ First. These are big impediments to core Green policies.

Suzie Ferguson: Mmm, but what is the point in being in government if you don’t get some of the major wins?

James Shaw: Well we are getting some of the major wins. So I’ll give you some examples. Um we’ve put fourteen and a half billion dollars into a rapid transit um buses, light rail, aah walking and cycling over the next ten years.

That’s proposed, not done. Greens will struggle to be in Parliament let alone Government for anywhere near that long. Recently the Minister of Transport conceded that light rail is likely top be scaled back. And the Auckland City rail loop cost has just jumped by a billion dollars, this must put pressure on other transport spending.

James Shaw: We’ve had the largest funding in conservation in the last sixteen years.

The funding of most things goes up over time, so it is only a gain if funding increases are significantly above inflation (I don’t know in this case if it is).

James Shaw: Um we’re about to introduce the zero carbon bill into Parliament. So you’ve got you know across the whole range of areas huge progress, more progress than we were able to make in  the last twenty years we were in opposition.

Suzie Ferguson: It’s been reported though this morning on Politik that New Zealand First will be folding their opposition to Labour’s climate change policies, and that is the price. Is that not the case?

James Shaw: I haven’t read Politik this morning, sorry.

Suzie Ferguson: But is that something you know about or not?

James Shaw: Look I’m not aware of that report so I can’t comment on it.

Suzie Ferguson: So there is no quid pro quo as far as you know? That’s what that report would seem to indicate.

James Shaw: Well like I said I haven’t seen it so I couldn’t, it’s hard for me to comment on something I haven’t seen.

Suzie Ferguson: Mmm but it’s not anything you’ve heard from the Prime Minister or indeed as these final negotiations have been taking place?

James Shaw: No it’s not.

This is what was said at Politik:

Jacinda Ardern claimed to her press conference yesterday that the decision to dump the tax was made without any sort of a deal with NZ First.

But nothing comes for nothing in politics.

And NZ First must surely expect there will be a price to pay. Most likely this will be in them folding their opposition to Labour’s climate change policies.

That may just be speculation.

Suzie Ferguson: Can the Government still claim to be transformational?

James Shaw: Yes, I think we can…

Suzie Ferguson: Why?

James Shaw: Well because like I said, on so many areas, and Grant Robertson was talking about that earlier this morning, the work that we’re doing on ending homelessness, on lifting people out of poverty, ending child poverty, on mental health, on climate change, on conservation, on cleaning up our water, those are the areas that really tipped the election in 2017, and those are the areas we are making progress on.

Most of those are being worked on rather than making notable changes. It may take another year (or longer) to judge how successful they have actually been.

James Shaw: Now, I’m not saying that I’m not disappointed about this decision, I am, and Green party policy hasn’t changed on that, but you know as with anything. You’ve got to take it all in the round, and when I said aah that I think that we should you know be questioning ourselves, we should always be questioning ourselves about how transformational our Government is.

And actually I think that we’re doing in fact have done more in the last eighteen months than the previous government did in nine years, and so I would choose it every time.

That’s a tired old comparison that Labour and Greens keep trotting out. It’s rhetoric with no factual basis.

Suzie Ferguson: To achieve targets around lifting children out of poverty and social justice, the only way to achieve those targets now is going to be with borrowing isn’t it.

James Shaw: (deep breath) Ah well that is a question for the Minister of Finance, um and…

Suzie Ferguson: But I’m asking you because it’s Green Party policy as well, so how would you be wanting to achieve those targets. You’re going to need extra money coming from somewhere. Are you going to borrow it?

James Shaw: Yes we are. Um but but I can’t comment on this year’s budget obviously because that’s about to be announced.

This year’s budget has nothing to do with the future plans that will be affected by no longer being able to get on previously relied on tax from a CGT.

Suzie Ferguson: But you’ve been talking about relaxation, or possible relaxation of the fiscal rules you signed up to. Is that how you get these over the table.

James Shaw: I believe so, yes.

Suzie Ferguson: So there is going to be extra borrowing.

James Shaw: I can’t tell you that.

Shaw is Associate Minister of Finance so must be privy to some sort of discussions on how policy promise might be funded without having a CGT.

Suzie Ferguson: But you believe so.

James Shaw: Well well look no ultimately I think that if you look at the long term fiscal strategy ah of ah Government um you know we have said that we think that needs to be reviewed, and we intend to do so.

Um at the moment actually the economy is doing very well, ah and we’ve got revenue coming in, so you know we are able to invest in things we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to invest in otherwise.

Suzie Ferguson: You famously said that the government didn’t deserve to be re-elected if you didn’t follow through with a capital gains tax…

James Shaw: …that’s not strictly true…

Suzie Ferguson: …hang on a minute. Um why did you say that?

James Shaw: What I said was we should be asking ourselves the question of whether or not we deserved to be, and we should be asking ourselves that question al the time, on the basis that at the last election ah you know a majority of New Zealanders voted for change, they voted for bold change.

I don’t see how he can claim that. People vote the way they do for a wide variety of reasons. Some may even have voted for NZ First hoping they would go into Government with National. The party wanting the most radical change, the Greens, got substantially fewer votes than they got in the previous election.

James Shaw: Now you know tax reform was…

Suzie Ferguson: And now you say they’re not getting it as of yesterday.

James Shaw: …well no tax reform is a part of that picture but it’s only a part of that picture. And like I said if you look at everything that we’re doing, whether it’s in the domain of lifting people out of poverty or ending homelessness or cleaning up the environment, ah you know action on climate change.

We have taken some really big calls and we will be taking some really big calls over the course of the coming eighteen months before the next election.

Depending on what Winston allows them to call.

James Shaw: And so in the round yes, I do believe that we deserve to be re-elected, but we should never stop asking ourselves that question.

On the basis of losing the CGT battle, and the big calls to be made over the next 18 months, I think it is premature to claim the Greens deserve to be re-elected.

From Shaw’s big speech to start the year in Parliament in February:

Now, the Green Party has long been calling for that fundamental imbalance to be addressed, and every single expert working group in living memory has agreed with us, but no Government—no Government—has been bold enough to actually do it. But if we are to be the Government of change that New Zealanders wanted and elected, we must be bold.

The crises that we face on multiple fronts—the wealth gap, climate change, the housing crisis—we cannot solve without fundamental reform. These crises have been allowed to metastasise because generations of politicians have timidly tinkered rather than actually cut to the core of the problem.

And the consequences of that timidity—the consequences of that timidity—are being felt by Karen and by hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders just like her, trapped in “Generation Rent”. So when the commentators pontificate about whether this Government can politically afford to do what no other Government before it has done, I ask “Can we afford not to?”

Can we afford not to?

We were elected on the promise of change. If we want to reduce the wealth gap, if we want to fix the housing crisis and to build a productive high-wage economy, we need to tax income from capital the same way that we tax income from work.

The very last question that we should be asking ourselves is: can we be re-elected if we do this? The only question we really ought to be asking ourselves is: do we deserve to be re-elected if we don’t?

That’s a question that voters will answer in 18 months.

See James Shaw slams tax timidity, calls on Labour, NZ First to be bold with CGT

 

 

NZ First on the Capital Gains Tax capitulation

NZ First have prevented the Government from proceeding with any changes to capital gains taxes, despite a CGT being a core policy of Labour, backed by Jacinda Ardern, and despite it being something Greens have wanted for a long time (and James Shaw stated earlier this year that the Government didn’t deserve to be elected if they didn’t introduce a CGT).

New Zealand First Leader media release:

Tax Working Group Report

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters has welcomed Cabinet’s decision not to implement an extension of capital gains taxation, following the Prime Minister’s statement in response to the Tax Working Group Report.

“This decision provides certainty to taxpayers and businesses. We in New Zealand First wanted first and foremost for New Zealanders to have time to discuss and debate the contents of the report,” stated Mr Peters.

“During that time we have listened very carefully to the public.

“There is already an effective capital gains tax through the Bright Line test brought in by the last National Government and New Zealand First’s view is that there is neither a compelling rationale nor mandate to institute a comprehensive capital gains tax regime,” said Mr Peters.

“We also welcome the announcement that the coalition government will be urgently exploring options with the Inland Revenue Commissioner, in concert with central and local government, for taxing vacant land held by land bankers and reviewing the current rules for taxing land speculators. Tightening these rules was a priority for New Zealand First.

“Current tax policy, rigorously enforced by an Inland Revenue Department properly resourced will by itself 1) improve the administration of existing tax policy, and 2) target those multi-nationals not paying their fair share of tax,” Mr Peters said.

There was nothing about a CGT in the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement. This was the only reference to tax:

  • Increase penalties for corporate fraud and tax evasion.

Peters via Twitter yesterday:

Despite the claimed hearing and listening, Peters has done what he has said he would do for a long time.

During the 2017 election campaign (Politik): Peters ready to throw spanner in Labour’s capital gains tax plans

Peters says he is not ready to support any moves labour might want to make to extend capital gains taxes.

Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson has arrived at a neat compromise. Labour would set up a Taxation review once it got into Government.

Phil Twyford (on The Nation): “In the first three years we’re going to do a taax working group that will redesign the entire tax system”.

Robertson (on NZ Q&A): “We will have a working group that will have a look at getting a better balance into our tax system between how we tax assets and how we tax income”.

Peters though is adamant.

“I am not for an extension of the capital gains tax” he told POLITIK.

Peters is critical of the review and Labour’s plan to provide details on it’s water levy policy after the election.

“How many times can you get away with this sort of nonsense” he said.

So why did Labour insist on going ahead with the Tax Working Group that had an aim of recommending a capital gains tax?

It seems to have been a wasted exercise, unless the intention was to provide Peters with an opportunity to say NO CAPITAL GAINS TAX.

National terrorism threat level reduced to ‘medium’

Immediately after the Christchurch mosque massacres, the national terrorism threat level was raised from low to high. This seemed to be a bit late, after the act, but I presume there were fears of it triggering other attacks, either planned, copycat or some sort of reprisal attack.

Nothing happened that suggested the risk was any worse than it had been – there had always been a small risk of someone doing something terrible. It had already happened in Aramoana (I drive through there a bit and still think about what happened there), but that wasn’t terrorism, it didn’t seem particularly planned or deliberate but it was probably a terrible crime waiting to happen, otherwise the mass murder wouldn’t have been armed as he was.

Yesterday, just over a month after the Christchurch attacks, the threat level has been reduced to ‘medium’. I think that’s more like medium level worries rather than actual chances of something else bad like that happening again.  But the authorities have to be careful to reduce the chances of a terrorist or terrible act catching them unaware.

The reality is that the chances of a repeat of something like what happened in Christchurch are low. There are very few people in out population who would even consider doing something as bad as that.

We are at far greater risk of violent death on our roads. There is on average one road death per day in New Zealand, and may more injuries.

We have a far bigger problem with death by suicide than terrorism or even murder. We should be more concerned about the reasons and risks for that.

Of course there are risks that a terrorist could strike here again, and eventually it’s likely, but it is likely to be years if not decades before this sort of thing happens again here. We are best to carry on with our normal lives without being paranoid or fearful.

Government media release:


National terrorism threat level moves to medium

New Zealand’s National Terrorism Threat Level has moved from high to medium following review by the Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG) Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

CTAG is an independent multi-agency group with the primary task of continually assessing New Zealand’s threat environment. Their assessment undergoes rigorous peer review before a final decision is made to maintain or change the threat level. 

Medium is defined as a terrorist attack is assessed as feasible and could well occurThe new level remains higher than it was before the 15 March terrorist attack when the threat level was low. 

“New Zealanders’ safety is the highest priority for the Government. Following review and peer review of the current threat environment CTAG have concluded this change accurately reflects our current status,” Jacinda Ardern said.  

“While the threat level has been revised to medium, and there is no current specific threat agencies are responding to, people will continue to notice a clear Police presence at public events, including on ANZAC Day.  

“Government organisations, including Police, are required to assess their own security settings and ensure they are appropriate when there’s a change to the National Terrorism Threat Level and they will make operational decisions accordingly.  

“Behind the scene there remains an extensive cross-agency response to counter any potential threats. A number of agencies, including the Police and NZSIS, continue to work hard to understand, mitigate and manage threats and I am receiving regular briefings on that work.  

“New Zealanders should go about their daily lives as normal, but remain vigilant. If you see something suspicious or behaviour that concerns you, then speak up and call the Police. 

“I’m very heartened that people have been doing this since the Christchurch attack, while also continuing to show their support and solidarity with the Muslim community across the country.” 

The following agencies contribute to CTAG:

  • New Zealand Security Intelligence Service
  • Government Communications Security Bureau
  • New Zealand Defence Force
  • Civil Aviation Authority/Aviation Security Service
  • New Zealand Police
  • Department of Corrections
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

How CTAG sets NZ’s National Terrorism Threat Level:

  • The national terrorism threat level is under continual review.
  • CTAG uses a wide range of intelligence and information to analyse the intent and capability of potential terrorist actors
  • The result is a probabilistic statement of likelihood of a terrorist attack, using New Zealand’s national threat level framework
  • Similar groups in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom are responsible for setting their respective national terrorism threat levels; their threat language and frameworks differ.

Government’s 100% renewable energy target would be very expensive

This shouldn’t be a surprise, but an Interim Climate Change Committee report due out on 30 April is expected to point out that getting to 100% renewable energy could be very expensive – and i think the estimate of boosting power prices by up to 39% could be conservative.

New Zealand currently has about 80% renewable electrical energy.

From the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement:

3. Request the Climate Commission to plan the transition to 100% renewable electricity by 2035 (which includes geothermal) in a normal hydrological year

Green naivety has always been questioned on energy policies.

RNZ:  Government’s energy policy could drive electricity prices up 39 percent

A government body is poised to announce that a core of the country’s energy policy will be prohibitively expensive to implement.

The Interim Climate Change Committee (ICCC) will make this announcement on 30 April.

But a preview of the announcement was presented to a conference on agriculture and the environment in Palmerston North last week.

It showed one aspect of government policy would push electricity prices by 39 percent for hardly any environmental gain.

At stake is a plan to transition to 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035.

This was agreed in the confidence and supply agreement between the Labour Party and the Greens after the 2017 election.

But the chairperson of the ICCC, David Prentice, told the Palmerston North conference the cost of the final stages of that proposal would be exorbitant.

“(Prices would rise) 14 percent for residential electricity, 29 percent for commercial, and 39 percent for industrial electricity.

“The emissions abatement cost of getting the last one percent of renewable electricity is prohibitively expensive … at a cost of over $1200 per tonne of Co2 or equivalent.”

He said the reason for pushing up electricity prices would be the cost of what he called the “overbuild” – a the need to have far more power stations available for a crisis.

Electricity experts have long produced several scenarios to illustrate this. One would be a need for wind turbines in remote corners of New Zealand, straining to catch the lightest of breezes. Alternatively, it could be solar panels residential roofs.

I wonder if this report could have been leaked in advance of the report to soften the impact of reality.

Of course availability of effective cheap alternative energy could change all of this, if nit eventuates.

Government – Construction Sector Accord

Announced by the Government on conjunction with the construction industry today, to try to deal with problems in building and construction:


Government and industry sign Construction Sector Accord

Government commitments
• Better procurement practices and improved pipeline management
• Improved building regulatory systems and consenting processes
Industry commitments
• Enhanced industry leadership, collaboration and organisation
• Better business performance
• Improved culture and reputation
Shared by Government and Industry
• Grow workforce capability and capacity
• Better risk management and fairer risk allocation
• Improved health and safety at work
• More houses and better durability

Government and construction industry leaders have today signalled a shared commitment to transform New Zealand’s construction sector.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Construction Sector Accord is a new way for Government and industry to work together to create lasting, positive change in the sector.

“The wellbeing of New Zealanders is intrinsically linked to safe, durable and affordable homes, buildings and infrastructure. To meet the future needs of New Zealand, both Government and industry recognise that we need to work differently,” says Jacinda Ardern.

Jenny Salesa says, “The Construction Sector Accord sets out an agreed vision, the outcomes we want to achieve and the priority work areas we will be focusing on to address many of the challenges the sector is facing.”

Jointly developed by Ministers, Government agencies and industry leaders from across the construction sector, the Accord offers up a unique opportunity for industry and Government to partner on a range of commitments and initiatives to transform the sector. It also includes a pledge to hold each other accountable to the Construction Sector Accord.

“Together we have identified the priority areas we need to work on. The Government will lead where it can have maximum impact such as better procurement practices, improved Government construction pipeline management, and stronger building regulations. Government agencies already have a significant programme of work underway to support these aims,” says Jacinda Ardern.

“Industry representatives have identified the need for enhanced leadership and collaboration within the sector. Better alignment will support the other industry-led priority work areas of improving businesses performance and promoting a culture of trust between all parties in the construction eco-system,” says Jenny Salesa.

“Industry and Government will work together on a further four priorities which are to expand workforce capability and capacity, rebalance risk, improve health and safety and boost the supply of affordable and durable housing.

“Strengthening the partnership between industry and Government will help us make that step change towards a more productive, innovative and resilient construction sector,” says Jenny Salesa.

In the next stage of the Accord process, industry will work with Government to develop a more detailed plan for commitments to transformation.

Details of the Construction Sector Accord here: www.constructionaccord.nz

Consultation on our ageing population

This should be popular here – it must concern all of us as we are all ageing.

RNZ: Consultation opens on govt strategy for aging population

Seniors Minister Tracey Martin opened a consultation to a new strategy that is going to “help older New Zealanders live well”.

The draft strategy, Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumātua 2019 to 2034, has been designed to ensure New Zealand is prepared for and makes the most of our aging population.

The strategy incorporates feedback from nationwide consultation last year about what people what for the future.

The key areas of the strategy are supporting seniors in the workforce and how business can better recruit and retain older people; and promoting housing options appropriate for older people, Ms Martin said.

Super Seniors (MSD):  Strategy for an ageing population


Draft new strategy

The draft new startegy, and a summary, Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumātua 2019 to 2034, takes a fresh look at what is required to ensure New Zealand has the right policies in place and is prepared for an ageing population.

We would like to hear your feedback about the draft strategy. Please:

Feedback closes at midnight on 3 June 2019.

Summary of submissions report

This report summarises what people told us was important and what the new strategy for an ageing population should cover. The report highlights the significant themes raise by submitters during the public consultation that occurred between June and August 2018.

Our population is ageing

Population growth

We have developed short snapshots on key topics:

We’ve asked some experts to tell us what they think that future looks like. We’ll be publishing these over the coming weeks. The following are available now:

If you have any questions, queries or feedback, contact us at ageing_population@msd.govt.nz

Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill

Submissions close on Thursday on the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill.


Public submissions are now being called for the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill

The closing date for submissions is Thursday, 11 April 2019

The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill aims to:

  • classify two synthetic cannabinoids, AMB-FUBINACA and 5F-ADB, as Class A drugs​
  • affirm in legislation the discretion for Police to prosecute for possession and use of all drugs
  • specify that, when considering prosecuting for possession and use, consideration should be given to whether a health-centred or therapeutic approach would be more beneficial
  • enable temporary drug class orders to be issued for emerging and potentially harmful substances.

The bill intends to address the harm being caused by synthetic drugs, and others, by ensuring that legislation focusses on those who import, manufacture, and supply the drugs and not those who use them. The bill’s explanatory note states that “Addressing drug-related harm requires a health-based response, rather than a punitive one, so that people can access the health and social support services they need.”

The proposed temporary drug class orders would allow for substances to be immediately treated as though they are classified as Class C controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. These measures are intended to address the rapidly adapting synthetic drug market and to continue disrupting the supply of new synthetic drugs.

Read the bill on NZ Legislation website

Auckland light rail may be scaled back

Minister of Transport Phil Twyford says that the Government may scale back plans for light rail in Auckland.

Auckland light rail projects were a big deal for Labour. They campaigned on it for the 2017 election, and it was included in their policy on Auckland transport.

Labour will:

  • Build light rail from the CBD to Auckland Airport. This will be part of a new light rail network that will be built over the next decade with routes to the central suburbs, the airport, and West Auckland, and will later be extended to the North Shore

It was included in their Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Green Party:

2. Reduce congestion and carbon emissions by substantially increasing investment in safe walking and cycling, frequent and affordable passenger transport, rail, and sea freight.

b. National Land Transport Fund spending will be reprioritised to increase the investment in rail infrastructure in cities and regions, and cycling and walking.

d. Work will begin on light rail from the city to the airport in Auckland

Now from NZ Herald:  Auckland’s $6 billion light rail programme could be scaled back, says Transport Minister Phil Twyford

The Government may have to scale back its $6 billion light rail programme for Auckland by scrapping a line from the city centre to west Auckland, says Transport Minister Phil Twyford.

The MP for Te Atatu said it was his strong preference to see light rail built from the city centre to the west and to the airport, but if it is not possible to fund and finance both lines, then light rail to the airport will get priority.

If that happened, a rapid bus network – along the lines of the Northern Busway – would be considered along State Highway 16 to the north-west, he said.

Along with KiwiBuild, light rail is one of Labour’s flagship policies. It was announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at her first public appearance as Leader of the Opposition in August 2017 where she called it a “game-changer” and a solution to the city’s congestion.

Ardern promised to build light rail to Mt Roskill within four years, followed by light rail from Mt Roskill to the airport and to Westgate in west Auckland within 10 years. Labour later said it would extend the western line a further 9km to Kumeu.

Last month, the Herald reported work on light rail, or modern-day trams, is making slow progress as bureaucrats grapple with the complexities of one of the biggest projects in New Zealand’s history.

“It’s only a contingency. If we weren’t able to fund and finance it, there are many, many calls on the transport purse, then with that corridor (to west Auckland) we would need to look at some other options. It could be bus rapid transit or other things,” he said.

“Obviously money does not grow on trees,” Twyford told the Herald.

It looks like light rail from central Auckland to somewhere near the airport may still go ahead, but other projects may be ditched.