Suddenly, Judith Collins is everyone’s new best friend. It isn’t an election year, but the Corrections/Police Minister is treating 2016 as an opportunity for a political makeover. The former stern-faced law and order toughie (and dodgy Oravida scandal survivor) has been cuddling up to the public all year. Getting pinged by traffic cops for driving a wee bit over the speed limit ? Hey, JC sympathises. Its not something she believes in, really. Don’t like having former sex offenders back in the community ? She’s on your side, she understands. She wouldn’t either. Feel that the Police don’t attend burglaries often enough, or assiduously enough? She’s the peoples’ champ on that one, too. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the issues to do with the Fairfax/NZME media merger proposal is the decline in (a) news gathering and in (b) news analysis likely to follow in its wake. That decline is already pretty evident not only in the lack of coverage of the enduring social problems(eg. poverty, inequality, sexual violence, unmet needs in public health) that exist beyond the spinning news cycle. The coverage of international news is in an even worse state. It seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight.
In that same spirit of randomness – but hopefully, with a pinch of context – here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. Read the rest of this entry »
The plan to strip out the educational support for older “special needs” children in order to meet the existing shortfall in funding for special needs in early childhood education is so miserly and relentlessly stupid as to defy belief… and that’s even before you get to the news that the “consultation” on this draconian change will be so token and/or rushed, the reported timetable is for this change to be up and running by March of next year. Read the rest of this entry »
According to the spin merchants and others with an interest in whipping up an audience, these have been our most successful Olympics ever. Huzzah! Yet given that the public spent more money (circa $215 million since the London Olympics) to send our biggest team… you could put those Rio results another way. Namely, that our haul in Rio cost more per medal and fewer were earned per athlete than ever before. What with Sky tying up the broadcast rights for the Olympics, you could also say that fewer New Zealanders were able to watch their investment – in tax dollars and in patriotic emotion – on screen, than ever before. Whoopee. Read the rest of this entry »
Guess who isn’t taking any visible action to ensure New Zealand isn’t damaged by China dumping its state-subsidized steel glut cheaply here? Here’s what the European Union has put in place:
The EU on August 4 slapped five-year tariffs on cold rolled steel products [from China]ranging from 19.7 percent to 22.1.
Here’s what the Australians did in April:
Import duties will be imposed on “unfairly priced” Chinese steel products by the Federal Government in a bid to help embattled South Australian steelmaker Arrium remain competitive. Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said duties of between 37 per cent and 53 per cent of the export price would apply to “rod in coil”, and between 11 per cent and 30 per cent on reinforcing bar. The move is intended to drive down oversupply of Chinese steel, and is based on recommendations by the Anti-Dumping Commission.
Here’s what the Americans did in June:
The U.S. International Trade Commission found cold-rolled steel products from China and Japan, which the United States imported $431.6 million of last year, were unfairly subsidized and sold for less than fair value. As a result, the U.S. Department of Commerce will slap tariffs of as high as 522 percent on cold-rolled steel from China that’s used to make cars and appliances.
Record volumes of cheap Chinese steel caused a global import crisis that the United Steelworkers union blames for more than 14,500 steelworker layoffs in the United States. The Asian nation exported an unprecedented 112 million tons of steel last year as demand there slowed, flooding world markets and driving down prices in an industry with high fixed costs.
Yet here in New Zealand? Read the rest of this entry »
Having belatedly advised the people of Havelock North about the pollution of their water supply, the local authorities seem to be prematurely claiming to see light at the end of the tunnel.
Reportedly, health authorities are reasonably sure “as far as we know” that campylobacter were responsible for the illnesses caused to thousands of residents and thus, the subsequent chlorination should make the tap water safe to drink. Although hey, boiling the water for drinking is still a great idea in the meantime. If only because….well yes, hmmm, there’s still a chance that cryptosporidium might also be involved. Can’t be ruled out, and chlorination won’t kill that. In which case Houston, and Havelock North, still do have a problem. Read the rest of this entry »
Ironically, the media coverage of the Olympics has been a sterling example of the rabid nationalism that the Olympics were supposed to transcend. So far, its been all about us and our medals and/or our ninth or 27th or 39th place effort. Still, even nationalism can sometimes be fun, as these Irish brothers and their ‘podium pants’ have proved.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. Initially, Klishina was the only member of Russia’s original 68 strong track and field team cleared to compete in Rio. That’s because she has been training for three years in the US, and has passed every drugs test throughout her career – in Russia, at international meets, and within the United States, where she now resides. Read the rest of this entry »
If the Reserve Bank has seemed this week like a ghost of the 1990s trying to re-discover its interest rate mojo, the Electricity Authority seems to be hellbent on a 1980s revival. You know, the days when the New Wave Monetary Romantics like Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble would force their loony ideas on the rest of us, regardless of the social consequences – just because it looked like a more “efficient” way of doing things. Everyone, back then, was inhaling the amyl nitrate of free market economics. It was so exciting.
Similarly, the Electricity Authority has decided that its not a good idea in a small country like New Zealand, for all of us to contribute a small but equal amount to the cost of the national grid, for the general good. No, no… far more ‘efficient’ to break these costs down into regional formulas in terms of proximity to the power sources and transmission lines. That way, you will always create winners (who surely deserve to be rewarded by the gods of the market) and losers, who just as surely deserve to be cast into the outer darkness. Literally, in this case. Read the rest of this entry »
If anyone is keen on us having a 90s revival – ASAP – it would have to be Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler. Back in the 1990s, central bankers were like kings. They were Emperors of influence. When the likes of Don Brash clicked their fingers and pushed up interest rates – always up, always tightening – our exporters trembled, and would beg for mercy.
Now however, central bankers seem to be entirely impotent. The ol’ time religion of austerity has failed us all. Around the world, it is now seen to be central governments with their neo- Keynesian economic policies and their quantitative easing and their massive infrastructural spending projects who have to try and restore some life to the economy, and thereby undo the damage done by central bankers of yore. Read the rest of this entry »
Surprise. So we have a new round of revelations about the Key government’s handling of the threats to our exports by China – if we should proceed to investigate the reports of them dumping their excess steel in this country. Apparently, we’ve been in formal discussions with the Chinese on this issue since May.
Walking that back, you’ll recall that when the story first broke the response from Todd McClay – the sock puppet otherwise known as the New Zealand Minister of Trade – was to call the media reports ‘extremely hypothetical’. Then McClay suddenly remembered that actually he’d been briefed by MFAT about the Chinese threats the previous week. He’d not only forgotten all about being briefed on these threats – even after he read about them again in the newspaper – but had also (allegedly) neglected to inform Prime Minister John Key, whose façade of plausible deniability (“I know nothing about this”) must of course, be maintained by his Cabinet colleagues at all times. Read the rest of this entry »