Old policy plank diverts in its shiny new moralistic packaging
New Zealand’s governing coalition led by the Labour Party and incorporating minority parties in the form of the centrist New Zealand First and ideological Greens blinded those who challenge it with a dazzling diversion in the form of a public debate on the introduction of a capital gains tax.
This piece of legerdemain had the effect of scattering all the slavering wolves about to board the Labour government sledge and had the effect too of cementing in its own far left wing.
Her Majesty’s Opposition tearing chunks happily out of the government’s collapsed mass house construction scheme took the bait and now chased the tax instead of the government.
So did the mainstream media, never truly at home with tax lore anyway, and which proceeded to tie itself in knots seeking to explain the inexplicable.
Obliterated like footsteps in a snowstorm was the nation’s hydro carbons lobby.
The hapless Petroleum Exploration and Production Association known as PEPANZ chose this very moment to release its report on the effect of the Labour coalition’s major introductory policy which was to impose a sinking lid on oil and gas exploration and production.
PEPANZ pointed out now the many billions of dollars in income the nation would not have available to spend because of the cloture on oil and gas.
The report, a weighty affair, after one or two passing mentions sank like a stone in a forest lake -- and just as fast.
The Labour coalition describes things like debates, consultations and discussions as conversations and with precision it introduced on cue the one scheme designed to repackage and redirect the conversation away from the troubled topics of public housing and the hydrocarbons slapdown.
The diverting issue?
The family home.
Once the capital gains tax “working group” released its deliberations and once it was understood that the family home was exempt from any such tax the conversation about it became just that –a conversation.
Like an upscale dinner party the conversation in Auckland and Wellington’s leafier suburbs now segued into the wisdom or otherwise of excluding art collections from the mooted tax.
Only in the blogosphere was the slickly timed “conversation” evaluated for what it was and is which is a diversion away from the barely graspable reality.
This is that the university-isation of the job market and the resulting student loans indebtedness, coupled with officially encouraged high immigration, and the low wages due to globalisation mean that the family home, taxable or not for so many is an ephemera.
Move to the provinces then, the areas away from the universities and thus part of the nation’s productive backbone.
Taranaki for example?
Here the Petroleum Exploration & Production Association whose timing was as skewed as the governing coalition’s was precise buried its own message which was that the coalition’s own de-industrialisation of the nation’s most economically balanced province would perforce shrivel the job opportunities in an affordable housing region.
The capital gains tax working group and the scheduling of its deliberations deserves rather more than a footnote in any treatise of any scope at all in the proliferating field of political science.
The lesson is this and it deserves to be repeated.
In politics timing is everything.
It is not what you do. It is when you do it.
The Labour government coalition leadership knew that the Opposition, which, like Labour governments had for so long danced around capital gains, kicked it down the road, would be wrong-footed.
It knew too that the mainstream would entangle itself in thickets of detail.
So the well-trodden policy plank now re-emerges and this time repackaged in a moral glitter wrap of equality and kindness.
As a conversation piece it now drowned out the babble from government critics about everything from tree-planting, to public housing, to resources development.
The coalition knew the futility of sinking into factual arguments such as the one about in spite of having capital gains taxes Spain and Ireland’s house prices spiked higher than New Zealand’s in the last bust.
So it keeps to broad uplands, the moral high ground which says “we care.”
As the oil and gas people, the Opposition, and the mainstream are now in the process of re discovering--- in politics simplicity always prevails over complexity.
Especially when it is presented in a framework of contemporary morality.
Deputy Prime Minister foresaw perils of trade fixation on East
AN extraordinary and unforeseen series of global trade crises means that New Zealand foreign minister Winston Peters can return the agrarian products exporter to its original bulk market which is Great Britain.
Chief among these crises are:-
- The United States – China trade war the armistice of which ends this week
- Brexit due at the end of March which hard or soft sees New Zealand as a central beneficiary
- President Trump’s turning his back on collective free trade agreements such as the EU
- The failure in its objectives of the Trans Pacific version of the free trade agreement boycotted by the United States
Mr Peters recalibrating New Zealand trade back toward the United Kingdom has been conducted in stealth.
This is because the New Zealand parliamentary Labour government has tilted determinedly toward Asia.
In addition there is the ideological wing of the governing coalition which views Britain as the embodiment of colonialism, and therefore of the evils it believes it bestowed.
Still another factor propelling New Zealand to the Occident is the stalled trade agreement with the Gulf States of the Middle East.
It now lies in a collection of ISO containers in dockside Napier, where it will stay.
The six containers hold the kitset factory promised to Saudi Arabia interests as the final tranche in compensation and appeasement for the start-go-stop policy on live shipments by successive Labour and National governments.
Yet no single event has provided quite the intensity of focus on the re-creation of the imperial preference trade epoch as the emerging perils of the long term strategic trade expectation with China.
When Mr Peters prior to the advent of the coalition government, of which he is also deputy prime minister, toured Britain’s House of Lords several years ago positing the possibility of a return to the preference era the gesture was regarded in New Zealand as quaint rather than purposeful, an exercise in music hall nostalgia rather than mercantilism.
President Trump’s ascendancy caught by complete surprise Commonwealth governments as well as the EU’s, and turned it into something deadly serious.
It now became in practice possible in fact for Britain to implement its referendum and quit the EU simply because there is no United States pressure to stay in it.
Few still recall President Obama’s only partially veiled threat to the UK that outside the EU it would find itself relegated to the “back of the queue.”
At first president President Trump’s raucous invocations about the China – US trade imbalance seemed to governments such as New Zealand’s a higher octane version of the usual rhetoric about China’s ability to filch innovations then implement them in volume standardisation and production scale and then send them back to the West in general and the United States in particular.
All this changed with the detention in Canada of Huawei heir Meng Wanzhou.
North America had awoken to the chilling realisation that Chinese manufacturers were overwhelming their combined high end industry which is telecommunications.
This is painfully so in its process applications such as the one in the underpinning technology in the pending era of driver-less vehicular transport and thus the next step to the new industrial age.
It was now that the Chinese-United States chill made the transition from an ideological contest involving consumer durables and commodities into the industrial survival freeze-over it has just become.
It is in this standoff with its potential collateral damage to United States allies that the UK emerges as the alternate bulk buyer which gives New Zealand the diversification to adjust to and counterbalance its China weighting.
Avant garde panics such as the food miles one, a modish reprise on the old “tyranny of distance” mantra, have evaporated.
Data has demonstrated that the main cost and main contributor to carbon dioxide emissions are those involved with getting the produce on and off the ship and thus remain constant regardless of the distance travelled by the cargo vessel.
In the end it was the belated discovery of the true extent of the inroads by the Chinese into its telecommunications sector (Nortel, a faint memory, and can anyone still remember Research in Motion the Blackberry supplier to Western parliaments and also to Capitol Hill?) that prompted Canada’s government to toss aside its vaunted identity niceties and grab a high flying glass ceiling cracking ethnic Vancouver housewife known to her neighbours as Sabrina.
In just a matter of weeks, days almost, Winston Peters’ long held doubts about the durability and reliability of the Chinese market were starkly visible.
His hedge into the old UK market was there as an exhibition of trade common sense, insurance even.
He shunted his coalition colleagues and the orientalists in the bureaucracy who in common with Kipling’s soldier savoured the mysteries of the East to the exclusion of anything beyond it, toward a comprehension of the scope of the UK re-opening for business again.
Mr Peters always knew that the United States – China trade picture at some stage was going to turn even nastier and that the secondary participants such as New Zealand however they sought to play the two sides were going to get scorched.
He has always viewed his role as more than that of a retail politician cuddling up to voters with things like travel discounts for the ageing.
Now, at this very late stage in his long career a flurry of unforeseeable shifts across the globe throws open the door to his long incubated appointment with destiny.
Brexit, Mr Peters, then in opposition, told his British audience in February 2016 represented “an excellent opportunity to heal a rift dating back to 1973.”
This was a scant five years before Mr Peters entered Parliament.
He knows as do the Eastern mystics that what goes around, comes around.
North America bickered over dairy tariffs while China swamped their Telecoms manufacturing sector
Canada’s detention of Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the Huawei founder indicates a non-negotiable priority by the United States to exclude the Chinese equipment supplier from any network backbone installations within the Western alliance.
Canada’s own priority on identity and diversity affirmative action would normally have stayed its federal hand in apprehending any such female in any such claim at all.
Meng Wanzhou (pictured) is also said to be the financial supremo of Huawei.
Huawei is the nosecone of the Chinese strategy of installing the nation at the forefront of world telecommunications.
Coupled with China taking over as the pre-eminent global supplier of nuclear power utilities, the rapid emergence of the Chinese in short and long haul telecommunications came as a surprise to the Western alliance which on instructions from Washington has now erected stumbling blocks to China securing this particular advance.
China is pushing out North American suppliers and closely allied ones as Japan’s NEC which has for example dominated New Zealand for a generation, and which used the South Pacific nation as the test-bench for its NEAX series
Britain though has left its door ajar to Huawei (means “can-do”) which operates in the UK as a sincerity of purpose showcase a proving establishment to demonstrate that its equipment is free of taps and the capability of subsequently inserting them.
In networks one organisation’s spyware is another’s customer research analysis tool.
Eavesdropping is a contingency.
Signals interception however is priced into any wide area network from any supplier from anywhere just because its components are drawn from so many sources, notably from the United States.
This includes Huawei’s which however under China’s national plan intends to become totally self sufficient in the medium to longer term.
From a national security point of view and rather more relevant there remains the threat of a wide area network supplier from a potentially hostile nation disabling it should its government call upon it to do so.
Spark is now one of several telcos competing in a deregulated New Zealand.
It is though the inheritor of the old technology-led state controlled sole operator and as such has special value to technology suppliers as a reference site.
The Huawei imbroglio as far as the Western alliance is concerned turns also on China’s known policy of picking up technology tips wherever, and whenever it can and also by whatever means available.
There remain in all this the confusingly unacknowledged linguistic vacuum between China and the West.
The Chinese constant national and avowed purpose of identifying and then lifting western innovation however obtained in order to transfer it into its own technology is often interpreted in a wider espionage context.
A local example of this in an applied industrial lift was during the era in which New Zealand’s Hutt Valley industrial zone was a global leader in digital screen formatting.
Here, the Chinese in the shape of a number of its agencies were very much in evidence as prospective technology acquirers and obtained underpinning technical data under the guise of buying the finished product.
One nation’s pirating is another’s technology transfer.
Japan’s NEC in becoming the central supplier to the former New Zealand state-owned Telecom Corporation established a flourishing local joint venture company developing applications for the then ground breaking NEAX equipment.
The research and development gathered by this local subsidiary will not be discounted by the Chinese in seeking the Spark contract
The intransigence of the United States and its severity of purpose in causing to be apprehended in Canada Meng Wanzhou and its indifference to the inevitable subsequent counter detention tit-for-tat reprisals from China indicates that New Zealand is trapped inextricably in a great power squeeze.
One that occurs at an already strained time.
The New Zealand free trade agreement with China, the signature achievement of the Helen Clark led Labour government, was starting to show signs of fraying at a number of edges and even before the US inspired Huawei fracas.
New Zealand in recent times has acquired a reputation for innocence bordering on cupidity in its dealings with China.
An example was the loss of an approximately half billion dollar dairy processing investment in China.
This occurred when it was discovered that there was no corresponding inward financial investment to counterbalance it and thus no asset to be recovered in the ensuing default.
Regardless of the price performance of the Huawei equipment over anyone else’s it is hard to see the United States easing its pressure on its allies in acquiring it and this especially applies to New Zealand which has already driven the US to distraction in technology terms with its no-nuclear stand.
Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested Dec. 1 last year and who remains under house arrest in Vancouver, is facing U.S. charges related to possible violations of trade sanctions on Iran
Canada’s willingness to antagonise its huge Chinese population in Vancouver along with what many view as the kidnapping, if not the taking hostage, of the heir to a company the size of Huawei indicates that there is a shared North American interest in the warning shot across the bows of Huawei.
China shimmied up the value chain from whiteware and consumer electronics through automotive and machine tools to the point at which it now confronts North America in the key area of telecommunications.
In the past the United States and Canada from a trade point of view have publicly bickered about things such as dairy exports.
While this spat was going on Huawei eased its way past the telecoms technology manufacturing leaders, the ones in Scandinavia, Germany, and France.
Then crossing the Atlantic Huawei became not so much the enemy at the gate, but one securely and even comfortably yet not showily established inside it.
The incursion by the Chinese into mainstream telecommunications in which the United States and Canada have long staked out such huge claims now looks like the common interest, the external threat that caused the two neighbours to bury the trade hatchet.
The arrival of telecommunications in the strategic category introduces a new element in the trade war just because it vaults it over and above the usual tactics, cut-and-thrust, of customs duties, tariffs, quotas and licenses, and even embargos
A mystery in all this is why the two North American nations, United States and Canada, were preoccupied with each other over things like milk filtration quotients while their combined telecom equipment manufacturing sectors were being quietly swamped by the Chinese.
In the meantime smaller members of the Washington-based western alliance, notably New Zealand, are in the helpless position of someone inside a Chinese-manufactured domestic washing machine in full rotation of the type that president Trump wants to keep out of American households.
In the lost in translation sphere there also is the matter of the generalised accusations about this or that Chinese company being close to the government if not actually part of it.
This holds little water as far as China is concerned.
United States EXIM Bank is but one example of government intervention in the West.
Locally, Telecom Corporation, the monopoly supplier within comfortable career memory, is one such governmental example on the New Zealand side, Solid Energy much more recently another example of state participation, and there remain of course the official State Owned Enterprises.
One interpretation is solid though and it is that in 2019 the year in the integration of the free trade agreement between New Zealand and China the unexpected has intervened in the form of the United States.
Huawei meanwhile reinforces its generic status by going straight to the public by proclaiming in folksy vernacular full page adverts (below) that denying the nation the Huawei product line “is like rugby without New Zealand.”
In the ensuing techno-diplomacy the challenge, a real one this time, will be to sidestep any obvious offside position with any of the opponents.
Great Great Granddaughter of slaves says that beyond Beltway, coastal enclaves, there is continuing strong and diverse support for President
President Trump can win a second term in the White House proclaimed United States broadcaster Victoria Gaither speaking to the National Press Club
Miss Gaither who revealed that she was the great great granddaughter of slaves said that historic ties with Democrats were now diminishing and very largely because the Democrats had taken the electoral relationship as being permanent and thus had taken it for granted.
Miss Gaither, speaking in Wellington, New Zealand, cleared up a misconception in the English-speaking sphere to the effect that the ties with Democrats started with the emancipation of the slaves.
In fact she reminded her audience, the Republicans under president Lincoln freed the slaves in the United States.
However, the Democrats had subsequently exploited the situation and forged the ties that the party was currently unable to accept were increasingly wearing thin.
Miss Gaither said that audiences in the Commonwealth were on the receiving end of a distorted picture just because the news and opinion feeds from the United States were usually derived from the US mainstream media which largely ignored a bulk of the population in the nation’s interior.
Instead, it dwelled, almost exclusively on a narrow focus in the form of opinions derived from the coastal enclaves in which dwelled the political classes.
In regard to the Trump ascendancy, the mainstream media, she observed, collectively wrung its hands in a disbelieving chorus of “How did all this happen?”
Emmy award-winning Miss Gaither began her broadcasting career at ABC with Ted Koppel in Washington and then went on to cover the nation, notably in the Midwest.
Describing the Midwest now she observed that in practical media terms it was becoming increasingly “voiceless” due to the closure of daily papers.
The sense of non-participation in such regions in political terms was compounding with the confusion over what was being broadcast to them.
“You have all these new jobs now creeping into television and there is this uncertainty about what role the people on screen are supposed to be doing.
“Are they real reporters, lobby contributors, or pundits?”
Miss Gaither cautioned policy-makers in countries such as New Zealand when it came to formulating policy around opinions and forecasts emanating from these narrow-focus news sources.
President Trump from the outset, she said, had understood the sense of abandonment in what she described as the “quiet segment” of the United States electorate, the one far away from the Beltway and political classes.
This same segment of the electorate still supported him, she said, and contrary to the widespread belief within the United States and outside it, this segment was diverse.
“Hispanics – you name them – they are solidly behind president Trump,” she stated.
Adding to the confusion, she noted, was the relatively recent compression of the news cycle from days to a mere two to three hours.
President Trump’s focus on MAGA offered clarity within the blur of confusion.
This tectonic shift in attitude had been grasped by the alternate media which detected the emergence of this hitherto unheard segment of the electorate.
But not by the mainstream which, for example, had also wrongly forecast that president Trump would shatter the still very much intact Republican Party.
Miss Gaither, who is a member of the Washington and Wellington National Press Clubs, is involved in developing private radio in Oceania.
Manufacturer British GW Pharmaceuticals dominates world medical cannabis
Specialists have warned about the little-understood health consequences of cannabis and the generalised confusion emanating from New Zealand parliamentary circles about its true effects and even current medical availability.
They specifically cite as one rarely-comprehended danger the vulnerability to addiction of children and adolescents considered “four to seven” times greater than the long term addiction at the same age of tobacco users.
One gap in the information emanating from the Parliamentary Precinct, according to the scientists, was the absence of discussion about the authorised existence of the cannabis by-product the spray called 'Sativex'.
It is available on prescription in New Zealand and many other nations.
It was initially approved under prescription in Canada.
Sativex is derived from actual cannabis. It is made from the whole plant and is not synthetic.
It is made from a concentrate and delivered as a mouth spray. This means that it is chemically consistent in every batch.
Sativex is a whole plant-based mouth spray. It is made by British manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals.
It is currently available in 25 countries, according to the drug’s manufacturer
The British public company’s claim is that it is “the global leader in developing cannabinoid-based medicines.”
GW Pharmaceuticals plc is also listed on NASDAQ.
Bio-scientists question the political mixed message communiques on cannabis and health to the effect that consumption of it carries medical benefits.
They challenge exactly how the beneficial effects of cannabis plants can be touted when from a scientific-medical point of view these vary considerably given the provenance of the plant in its organic, raw material form.
A vacuum both political and medical in the present public debate centred on the pending referendum remains that there is little data regarding the range of potency of the various strains along with the other ingredients needed for the desired medical effects.
The specialists advised that it cannot be predicted how medically helpful any such plant material will be without scientific analysis on each sample.
From a public health point of view they also questioned how a Parliament officially engaged in curbing tobacco consumption can reconcile simultaneously being engaged in anything that increases public access to another such carcinogenic drug.
Reviewing the plethora of bush bio chemistry advice radiating from Wellington, the scientists observed that cannabis can have undesirable effects because:-
• It leads to disorders. Those before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop it. In the US 17% of that age group in the will become dependent.
• The long term effects of cannabis on the developing brain are serious and worrying for this age group, as stated in the US National Institute of Drug Addiction research report in February 2018.
• There are reasons to believe that smoking marijuana is probably much more likely to cause lung cancer than tobacco.
• Why is self-medication with NZ cannabis touted when there is little idea what is in it?
Meanwhile GW Pharmaceuticals has developed an oral formulation of cannabis known as Epidiolex for drug-resistant epilepsy. This is the first cannabis plant-derived medicine, the company claims, approved by the United States Federal Drug Administration.
The chairman of the 20 year old GW Pharma is Lord William Waldegrave former British secretary of state for health.