So Prime Minister John Key has removed the passports of a few would-be jihadis from New Zealand wishing to join rebel factions in Syria. In doing so, Key is echoing a concern among several European countries that the civil war in Syria has become a training ground for Islamic extremism. The extent of the problem is unclear, and the issue here seems more like a storm in a tea cup – given that there may have been only two people ( a pair of brothers) involved, or so a spokesperson for the Syrian community told RNZ this morning. Read the rest of this entry »
On Wednesday, I reported on a local analysis of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal, which argued, among other things, that the TPP is not primarily a trade deal at all – but more of a package of entitlements for US corporates and financiers. What was missing from Wednesday’s story was the sudden flurry of lobbying activity in recent days by the Obama administration to pressure member countries into concluding the TPP deal, while at home, Obama simultaneously tries to achieve the “fast track” Trade Promotion Authority (aka TPA) that would enable him to steer the final deal through Congress relatively unscathed. Read the rest of this entry »
The fog of secrecy around the Trans Pacific Partnership has always triggered concern about what New Zealand may be willing to give away in these talks, without any substantive Parliamentary debate of these concessions beforehand. The potential losses are one thing. Yet on RNZ this morning, Victoria University economist Geoff Bertram put the spotlight on the other side of the ledger, onto the alleged gains that the TPP will bring in its wake – some $5 billion by 2025 according to Trade Minister Tim Groser. Bertram has discovered that the study on which those gains were based appears to be seriously flawed. Read the rest of this entry »
Two weeks ago, I wrote a column about the involvement of Alastair Thompson, Scoop’s founding editor, with Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party. The errors of judgement made at the time have been amply canvassed in this column and elsewhere. Those mistakes were partly a by-product of one head wearing too many hats – in itself, a reflection of the kind of economic pressures impacting on Internet journalism. Those conflicts of interest have been sorted out, and Scoop’s lines of editorial and business responsibility are now very clear and transparent. Alastair Thompson has resigned from the Internet Party, but will have no further role in the editorial output of Scoop. Instead, Al will be bringing his experience and expertise in Net commerce directly to Scoop via Craig Pellett, the CEO of Sublime Group, Scoop’s new majority shareholder.
The editorial content of Scoop will become my responsibility. From today, I will be Scoop’s Editor. Read the rest of this entry »
If Cameron Slater was a beached whale, the volunteers likely to show up to help him off the beach would almost certainly be limited to close friends and immediate family, judging by the fallout from his latest escapade. On such occasions, it is obligatory for someone to trot out Voltaire’s non-quote about disagreeing with an opinion, but defending to the death one’s right to express it, but not this time…few people would be willing to take a bullet to protect Slater’s decision to be repeatedly obnoxious. For many New Zealanders the logic involved here would be pretty simple: if you don’t want to receive death threats, don’t cheer at a funeral. Chances are, some mourner may feel moved to wish the same six feet under fate on you. Read the rest of this entry »
In the world of thankless jobs, being the Leader of the Opposition is right up there. It involves being the eternal suitor – always trying to look strikingly different on one hand but credibly reliable on the other, while being unable to make a shred of meaningful difference for a year or more. In the world attuned to political speed dating, the election cycle seems like forever. Add in the fact that the media that you’re relying on to convey your love notes to the electorate is more interested in what is good politics rather than what may be good policy, and the process becomes even more daunting. And alas, the more that you earnestly profess the nobility of your intentions, the less enticing you tend to become. Before you know it, the voters start thinking about pinning the poster of another dream date on their bedroom walls. Read the rest of this entry »
It may still be only January, but the first of the election year goodies has just been unveiled.
Hard to argue with an extra $359 million for teacher pay, spread over four years. No doubt, this helps to explain the guarded optimism with which the PPTA has greeted the education reform package announced yesterday by Prime Minister John Key. Thankfully, the government has committed itself to working out the details of the proposed changes with the education sector unions and with school trustee organisations. Good. Because for all the rhetoric of sharing the expertise and creating career pathways for good teachers, the proposed rewards will be very unevenly distributed. If not handled properly, the business of who will get the extra pay now on offer, how the qualifying criteria will be applied, and how schools will cope with the extra consultancy roles envisaged for the education system’s best performers could all amount to a highly divisive process. Read the rest of this entry »
Anyone who felt surprised by yesterday’s announcements about who National sees as being its compatible coalition partners after the last election would have to be either naive, or asleep at the wheel. United Future Act and the Maori Party may be the preferred partners of the Key government but the fortunes of all three have been ebbing away to an extent where each may bring only a solitary MP to the post-election bargaining table later this year. It has long been evident that National needs new partners, and the Conservatives and New Zealand First are its only fallback options. Read the rest of this entry »
On Housing as an Election Issue
According to a recent international study New Zealand is one of the least affordable places on Earth to own a house, given that the study’s authors estimate that house prices in Auckland are running at roughly 8 times a median income of $75,000. As Radio New Zealand has reported :
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The apparent resignation of Alastair Thompson from Scoop – there seems to be some dissent as to whether he has resigned or gone on sabbatical – was triggered by the release of information about his involvement with Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party. If his exit does prove to be permanent, this would be a sad way for Al to end his leadership role at this site. Scoop has been the flagship for alternative journalism in New Zealand for nearly 15 years.