Same sex marriage supported in Australia

Same sex Australian couples may not have to come to New Zealand to get married soon after a referendum that strongly supported same sex marriage looks set to push change there.

Nearly 62 percent of Australians voted in favour of allowing same-sex marriage.



Manus Island refugees

There is a lot of coverage of Manus Island refugees. From RNZ:

PNG govt hints Manus deadline won’t be enforced

13 Nov 2017
101st daily protest 101, 9-11-17.

The Papua New Guinea government is hinting that the deadline for refugees to leave the shuttered Manus Island detention centre will not be enforced.

PNG minister says no to NZ on Manus

13 Nov 2017

Papua New Guinea’s immigration minister says he will not deal directly with New Zealand to resettle up to 150 refugees on Manus Island. AUDIO

To push or not to push Australia over Manus Island refugees

13 Nov 2017
A banner from 104th day of protest on Manus Island

Gerry Brownlee says not to push Australia too hard over Manus Island refugees AUDIO

Manus Island refugees refuse to budge

13 Nov 2017

Personnel from the PNG immigration department inside the detention centre.

None of the refugees occupying the former detention centre on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island left the facility today, despite pressure from authorities.

Manus detainees stay put as new deadline passes

14 Nov 2017<

Another deadline has passed for refugees on Manus Island to leave the detention centre there which was officially slated to close on October 31. But around 300 men are still refusing to leave the… AUDIO

 Listen duration4′ :44

People smugglers see new Govt as easy target – reports

14 Nov 2017
The report says this photo was taken by an asylum seeker and shows a two-deck boat from Indonesia before it was intercepted by Australia in May 2015.

Australian authorities have intercepted four boats bound for New Zealand, run by people smugglers emboldened by the change of government, according to media reports. Jane Patterson reports. AUDIO

Don’t take them – warning from a former Manus Island guard

14 Nov 2017
Don't take them - warning from a former Manus Is guard: RNZ Checkpoint

A New Zealand man who worked at the Manus Island refugee detention facility is warning the government against taking any refugees, saying the ones still at the centre are dangerous men.   VIDEO, AUDIO

PM denies NZ becoming a soft target for people smuggling

14 Nov 2017
NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with her Australian counterpart Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney.

The Prime Minister has hit back at claims New Zealand has become a soft target for people smugglers with the change of government, saying this country is helping to combat the problem on the ground.

Manus detainees reject NZ guard’s claims they’re criminals


Refugees occupying the former detention centre on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island have rejected the claims made by a New Zealander who says he worked at the centre. The man, known as Ian, says he was… AUDIO

NZ to give $3m for Manus refugee aid

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

New Zealand will give Papua New Guinea and aid agencies up to $3 million to help care for Manus Island refugees. VIDEO




NZ-Aus ISDS clause already existed

An interesting point from Politik on a an implied improvement in the CPTPP agreement, regarding Investor State provisions with Australia.

Parker’s statement on Sunday said: “It (the CPTPP) preserves New Zealand’s right to regulate in the public interest.

“We have also retained the reciprocal agreement with Australia, which is the source of 80 per cent of our overseas investment from this new grouping, that ISDS clauses will not apply between our countries.

“We continue to seek similar agreements with the other countries in this new Agreement.”

Strictly speaking, Parker is correct. By using the word “retained,” he acknowledges that the agreement not to use the ISDS clauses has been in existence for some time.

That is confirmed in a little-noticed section in the TPP National Interest Analysis produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in January last year which said: “Consistent with ANZCERTA and the Australia-ASEAN-New Zealand FTA, TPP’s ISDS provisions would not apply between New Zealand and Australia. “

Notice of this was posted as an “associated document” to the TPP on the MFAT website in late 2015.

But speaking in Sydney on November 5, after her meeting with Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared to suggest that the pair had exchanged letters agreeing not to invoke ISDS procedures against each other.

“We discussed a signed letter on the ISDS clauses which we see as being mutually beneficial,” she said.

“That acknowledges our positions on ISDS – at least between each other.”

The exchange of letters (if it was new) was not necessary; MFAT had already established that the ISDS clauses did not apply to Australian investment in New Zealand.

So despite what was implied by Ardern we have never had an ISDS claim in the past, and the TPP already had an exclusion to ISDS applying between Australia and New Zealand, which amounts to 80% of our overseas investment.

Odd that when in government National hadn’t done more to point this out.

ISDS concerns seem to be much ado about bugger all.


TPP objection resolved, then talks abandoned

Some bizarre swings in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations in Vietnam.

On Thursday night  apparent agreement was thwarted by a late objection by Vietnam, but that was resolved during the day on Friday with another leaders meeting due to start at 8 pm on Friday evening.

However Canada refused to attend, so the talks were abandoned, leaving little chance of a resolution alongside the APEC conference, and putting the future of the eleven country

NZH: No deal: How the TPP talks collapsed

The future of TPP has been thrown into doubt after Canada’s sudden refusal to attend the final leaders’ meeting in Danang, Vietnam, which was then cancelled.

The 10 other leaders including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern turned up expecting Canada to be present at 8pm NZ time.

Instead they found Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, holding crisis meetings with Canada’s Justin Trudeau over an undisclosed issue.

Abe returned to the room saying Trudeau was not attending and so the meeting was abandoned by the other countries, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, Chile, Peru, Mexico and Vietnam.

The dramas over Canada are not related to the bizarre events of last night in which the TPP deal was declared done by trade ministers, including Canada’s Trade Minister, but Vietnam then objected to a particular issue.

That issue was resolved during the day before the aborted leaders’ meeting.

Trade Minister David Parker said all of Canada’s issues appeared to have been resolved to their satisfaction last night.

“That seemed to change today.”

Parker said New Zealand was surprised at Canada’s sudden change of view and it was not the only country in the room that was. He said Australia was too.

It will be interesting to find out what suddenly turned Canada off the deal after coming close to agreement.

Canada are currently renegotiating the North American trade agreement (NAFTA) with the US and Mexico. Mexico is one of the 11 countries who have been trying to rescue the TPP after President Donald Trump puled the US out of it early this year.

Scathing coverage from Australia. Sydney Morning Herald: Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau sabotages Trans-Pacific Partnership, shocking leaders

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has sabotaged a pact to salvage a multibillion-dollar, 11-nation Pacific Rim trade deal at the last minute, surprising leaders of the other nations, including Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull.

“There were a lot of unhappy leaders left sitting there,” said an official who was in the meeting.

Mr Trudeau’s walk-out is deeply embarrassing for Canada’s Trade Minister Franois-Philippe Champagne, who has agreed to the deal.

Officials expected that the leaders would simply rubber-stamp what had already been agreed by the trade ministers, despite the agreement being unpopular in Canada.

The Australian: TPP: Canada ‘screwed everybody’ after trade talks no-show

CBC News (Canada): ‘Outstanding issues’: Trans-Pacific Partnership faces uncertain future after Trudeau skips leaders’ meeting

A planned meeting of Trans-Pacific Partnership countries was unexpectedly cancelled Friday after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau skipped the event when bilateral talks with his Japanese counterpart ended in disagreement.

A spokesperson for the prime minister said there is simply no consensus between the 11 member countries at this time.

“We made progress but, as we said coming in, there is no rush to conclude. There are outstanding issues for more than one country. One of those countries is Canada. We are working hard for Canadians and Canadian jobs in important industries such as automotive, agriculture, culture and intellectual property,” the spokesperson said.

Trudeau has signalled all week, during his travels in Asia, that Canada is not ready to put pen to paper on the agreement as there are still a number of lingering concerns. “Let me remind everyone Canada will not be rushed into a deal that is not in the best interest of Canada and Canadians,” Trudeau said Wednesday.

I didn’t see that reported here.

Liberal government officials refuted international reports — notably from Australian and New Zealand news outlets — that suggested Canada alone was to blame for delayed TPP talks.

“I can’t really speak for what you might be hearing from other countries,” Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters at the summit Friday. “Certainly, my own understanding, our understanding, is that there are a few countries who continue to have some important issues that they’d like to be addressed. And I think that’s reasonable.”

That’s quite different from Australian and New Zealand reports. And this symbolism:

UPDATE from Stuff:  TPP nations ‘have made good progress’ on deal, no-show ‘a misunderstanding’

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) may not be dead in the water just yet, with Canada’s trade minister denying that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deliberately skipped a leaders’ meeting in Vietnam.

François-Philippe Champagne said the 11 remaining nations, which include New Zealand, had “made good progress” on striking a deal, though there was still work to do.

Reuters reported on Saturday morning that the 11 nations had agreed to the core elements of a deal, but still had details to iron out.

Reuters said it had seen a draft of the nations’ final statement, which was due to be released later in the day.

The statement said a “limited set of provisions” from the original deal would be suspended, while further technical work was needed on areas that still needed consensus “to prepare finalised text for signature”. It did not say when that might happen.

A Canadian official said: “We’ve agreed to a framework towards the deal, with work programmes to deal with issues.”

It sounds like it is an evolving situation.

Ardern’s Australian visit

Jacinda Ardern had a quick visit to Australia in her first international visit as Prime Minister. It seems to have been little more than touching base with Malcolm Turnbull, who she will see soon at the APEC meeting in Vietnam.

No caption

RNZ: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won’t bypass Australia over Manus

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ruled out negotiating directly with Papua New Guinea over taking Manus Island detainees, despite New Zealand’s offer to Australia to take 150 refugees being turned down.

PNG is now having to deal with the 600 men holed up in the detention centre, which was closed by Australia last week. They have no food, water or health services.

Though Ms Ardern and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull discussed several thorny issues discussed on Sunday, they emerged declaring their relationship to be off to a great start, and joking about her DJing and his attempt at rapping.

Ms Ardern restated New Zealand’s offer to take 150 Manus Island refugees – an offer politely declined, for now.

RNZ:  Ardern doesn’t rule out uni fees retaliation

The Australian government will stop subsidising New Zealanders’ tertiary education from next year – more than tripling the costs for many students.

Australians studying in New Zealand pay the same university fees as locals.

Prior to the election, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand should consider retaliatory measures if the policy was carried out.

Speaking at a joint media conference between the two leaders in Sydney today, Mr Turnbull said he understood the criticism from New Zealand.

“But just as we respect New Zealand’s right to manage its affairs and determine its university arrangements as it sees fit, New Zealand respects our right to do the same on this side of the ditch.”

After the meeting Ms Ardern said Australia would understand if New Zealand made changes in response.

“It’s only fair that if New Zealanders in Australia find that they are incurring higher fees that we would make sure that we respond by at least making sure our system is fair and equitable in the response that Australian citizens, Australians starting in New Zealand would experience as well,” she said.

RNZ: Watch live: Jacinda Ardern in the studio


The Manus mess

The treatment of refugees on Manus Island has long been a festering sore for Australia, and it has become worse. New Zealand has offered to help but that may come to nothing.

RNZ:  Manus stand-off: ‘We need to find a compassionate solution’

The new immigration minister has reassured refugees on Manus Island that New Zealand will do all it can to help ease the crisis.

Up to 700 refugees are refusing to leave the detention centre in Papua New Guinea, which was officially closed by the Australian government on Tuesday.

They fear for their safety if they move to new accommodations in a nearby township and have begged for help from New Zealand.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will meet the Australian leader Malcolm Turnbull Sunday and the Papua New Guinea detention centre is expected to be high on the agenda.

Canberra has so far rejected New Zealand’s offer to take 150 refugees because if they gain citizenship, they would then have the right to live in Australia.

Iain Lees-Galloway, the new Minister of Immigration, told Morning Report the current stand-off was not an ideal situation and a compassionate solution needed to be found quickly.

“That’s ultimately in the hands of the Australian government but our offer to take 150 of the refugees is still on the table.

“I really hope Australia does take up our offer. We’re here to help.”

One refugee on the island said Australia was torturing the men and their only hope was New Zealand.

New Zealand’s first former refugee MP Golriz Ghahraman said she hoped Australia accepted New Zealand’s longstanding offer to take the 150 refugees.

She said 150 was the comfortable number that could be housed at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre.

“My understanding is from that sector is that with bunking we could take it up to 250, and of course they do require wraparound services. The offer is there, so I think if they raise it seriously and it is accepted, that’s 150-250 lives.”

Ms Ghahraman said she was heartened to think Ms Ardern would raise the issue with her Australian counterpart, Malcolm Turnbull, when they meet in Sydney on Sunday.

The Australian Government has a record of being very unsympathetic to the plight of refugees.

“NZ is thrashing Australia in competitiveness rankings”

I’m not sure if anyone believed Winston Peters’ preaching doom and gloom and his claims that the New Zealand was headed in a dire condition. Just after the election from Peters:  Official Cash Rate Shows Complacency:

“Beneath the veneer of stability large risks are lurking in the global economy,” says New Zealand First Leader Rt Hon Winston Peters.

“The prolonged era of ultra-cheap money has created expectations that this unprecedented period will continue forever.

“Fed by cheap money, share and property markets are at record levels and have a long way to fall.  In particular, the US share market has had an amazing run with barely a hiccup. In China, debt levels are staggering.

“Irrational exuberance rules.

“It is impossible to predict when, but something will go wrong and New Zealand should be prepared,” says Mr Peters.

Things can always go wrong with economies, and New Zealand should always be prepared. But at the moment things are looking fairly good.

Stuff: Unemployment falls to eight-year low as job creation surges

On Wednesday Statistics New Zealand figures showed unemployment fell to 4.6 per cent, the lowest in almost nine years. The survey showed that the economy added more than 100,000 in a year.

Covering the three months to the end of September, marking the final weeks of National’s nine years in office.

Participation in the labour force rose to 71.1 per cent, while the employment rate rose to 67.8 per cent, both record highs.

The number of people unemployed stood at 126,000, which is actually slightly higher than the number unemployed back at the end of 2015, but now the workforce is substantially larger with another 221,000 people employed

That’s a good recovery after the combined impact of a local recession followed by the Global Financial Crisis, and on top of that the very costly Christchurch earthquakes.

And from across the ditch: Kiwis ‘thrashing’ Australia in competitiveness

MAJOR economic reforms over more than a decade have dramatically increased New Zealand’s global competitiveness at the same time as Australia plunged down the rankings.

While New Zealand’s new prime minister Jacinda Ardern claims capitalism has been a “blatant failure” for the country’s poor and homeless, “nothing could be further from the truth”, according to the Institute of Public Affairs.

In a parliamentary research note distributed to Federal MPs, the free-market think-tank compares how the two countries fare in the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Competitiveness Report, released at the end of September.

“New Zealand is thrashing Australia in the competitiveness rankings because they substantially liberalised their economy with welfare, industrial relations, and tax reform,” IPA research fellow Daniel Wild said.

In 2004, Australia was the ninth most competitive country, based on 114 indicators including macroeconomic health, quality of infrastructure and labour market efficiency. Today Australia ranks 21st.

Over the same period, New Zealand has improved its ranking from 18th to 13th.

“Kiwis clearly have the upper hand in the economic competitiveness stakes,” Mr Wild said.

“Australians have become complacent about their economic prospects following years of economic growth. However, growth is not automatic, and serious economic reform is required to ensure prosperity and opportunity for future generations.”

So the new Government has a very sound economic base to build on. It gives them some financial flexibility to implement some reforms. Providing they don’t take too many risks or commit to too much increased spending the New Zealand economy should continue to relatively well.

All Blacks lose to the Wallabies

The All Blacks have lost their second test of the season 23-18 (the also lost one to the British and Irish Lions), in the third of the year against the Wallabies, in Brisbane. The ABs had won easily in the first test in Sydney but only just came out in front in Dunedin a week later.

This was a ‘dead rubber’, the Bledisloe Cup had already been won for the season, but it will have (or should have been) a severe blow to All Black pride. But overall it shouldn’t do them any harm, being reminded of the hurt of losing can help drive teams to win.

It was a big win for the Aussies, who have been under a lot of pressure this year but are improving. Good on them.

This is obviously an excellent result for the Wallabies and for Australian rugby. It is also good for the game worldwide.

I didn’t watch the game so I won’t comment on specifics of the game. It was too late for me to be bothered going out and watching it, and I’m still refusing to pay Sky exorbitant amounts for single games and also won’t pay a subscription for a lot of crap I don’t want just to be able to watch what I do want to see.

I see that the All Black business is going to offer pay-per-view internationally for the tour of Europe, starting shortly. Sky will supply the feeds via streaming. I could be tempted, but at $24.95 a game that’s still a bit steep. The Maori All Black games are more reasonable at $14.95 but I’m not as interested in watching them – with so much rugby on these days I’m a lot more selective in what I watch.

All Blacks and Black Ferns

Last night in Dunedin the All Blacks had a shocking first 15 minutes with Australia scoring 3 tries, one within a minute of the kick off through an AB mistake and leading 17-0,

The All Blacks played their way back into the game and took the lead mid way through the second half. Australia snatched the lead back with a late try, but the AB responded with a superb try under pressure to win by 35-29.

It was a very good come back by Australia from their performance last week, and it was great to have an exciting game down to the wire.

Black Ferns

The Black Ferns are currently playing England in the final of the women’s world cup. England led 17-10 at half time.

England seem to be tiring and the Black Ferns have put the after burners on, to jump out to a 41-25 lead late in the second half.

A late try to England but it looks to be too late for them to come back now.

The Black Ferns have won 41-32!

An electrifying end to the match captured here:

Did Australian politicians get lazy?