About robglennie000

Kia Ora This blog is my vent for releasing my frustrations with the state of New Zealand, the New Zealand Government and things going on in New Zealand society, as well as around the world. I vent daily NZDT at 0900 hours. Please feel free to leave comments. Please also feel free to follow my blog. Best Regards, Rob

Contrary to National’s belief fossil fuels are not dead – YET


Contrary to the belief of the National Party, the Government has no plans for a ban on coal. Part of this is pure necessity, ensuring that during dry seasons in the hydro-electric catchments where rains have failed to keep the hydroelectric storage lakes of the lower South Island and the Waikato power scheme topped up, the Huntly power station can still be started. It runs on coal and gas.

Part of the absence of a ban also rests on an acknowledgement that there is still a demand for New Zealand coal overseas, especially in China and Japan, with coal mining making up a significant part of the West Coast economy. The railway line from Ngakawau, north of Westport down to where it meets the Trans Alpine line is largely paid for by coal coming out of mines in this area.

There are other things that can be done first before any ban include:

  • No longer mining lignite or sub-bituminous coal which has a higher sulphur conent and releases
  • Focus on bituminous and anthracite coal which burn better

Power stations at Whiranaki in Hawkes Bay and Stratford in Taranaki are diesel fuel and natural gas based operations, respectively, that have installed capacity of 360 megawatts. Like Huntly, these are normally held in reserve unless there is a dearth of hydroelectric power available.

Contrary further to the National Party’s claims of fossil fuels being banned in the near future, Minister of Energy Megan Woods has stated that she can see oil and gas still being used in 50 years time. The reason for this is simple. National has ignored the finer print of the message and claimed that oil and gas will stop quickly, whereas the ban only exists on new exploration.

The claims made by New Zealand Gas have been completely dismantled by economic commentator Rod Oram. Among some of the rebuttals were:

  • Having the right geology – whilst true of Taranaki, it cannot be so easily said for the Canterbury Bight
  • The economics would suit New Zealand – actually the U.S. is becoming a major exporter, and the cost of selling N.Z. product at a price beneficial to both customers and shareholders alike is not likely to suitable
  • The fisheries will be okay – New Zealand has superb fisheries that are the envy of many nations, which is one of our biggest comparative advantages
  • The environment can survive an oil spill – The moves to protect the Southern Ocean fisheries aside, National slacked off in a big way on affording our marine environment the protection it badly needs and did not seem to think our capacity for dealing with an oil spill needed overhauling
  • No need for alternative sources – biomass is slowly becoming more popular; substantial research is going into other alternative energy sources, meaning the decline of gas is in some respects natural

Whilst it is true there is still an immediate future for fossil fuels, the long term outlook strongly suggests something approaching a gradual yet nearing terminal decline. New Zealand and the world are moving on, and at some point, N.Z. Gas will have to accept this.

Prince Charles likely to be New Zealand’s next Head of State


Early yesterday it was announced that Prince Charles would be most likely to become New Zealand’s next head of state. The result, based on a unanimous vote of the Heads of State and Heads of Government assembled at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting  was endorsed by Her Majesty the Queen of England. The Prince, father of William, Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, has been widely viewed as the next successor. But if Charles, Prince of Wales becomes King of England, how will a man viewed as stuffy and pedantic in some quarters be received?

I will be honest now that I support a Republic and a New Zealand Head of State. I do not believe that foreign states should be ruled by a hereditary sovereign, from thousands of kilometres away. Never have and never will.

Much has been written by so called researchers and authors about Prince Charles and Diana, Princess of Wales. His marriage and relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles, subsequent marriage and her gaining of what sounds like a rather begrudging title, appears to have been accepted by Her Majesty rather coolly. Maintaining the tradition and protocol of the Royal  Family, one might have expected Prince Charles to stay loyal to Diana. Make what one will of Diana and Dodi al Fayed, but perhaps with her marriage to Prince Charles collapsing, the resulting affair should not have been surprising.

It is William and Harry that I feel sorry for. But now grown men, the former with two children and the latter about to be married, the endless media scrutiny, rumour and innuendo fuelled by money hungry grubs in the womens magazines shall be used to it by now.

As for how this will affect a Republic of New Zealand? Prince William is widely viewed as a better choice. His maturity, down to earth persona coupled with the graceful way his wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge conducts herself and their children mike him a hit with many. Maybe his time is still coming but many would prefer him to reign.

Subsequently I expect a spike in support for a Republic. The argument for a Republic oof New Zealand has been laid out in other articles. But this is the first time that I have attempted to argue against having Prince Charles as a Head of State. This is further backed up knowledge that Australians favour a Republic, but are more waiting for the Queen to pass on and have a second referendum. Their 1999 referendum asked whether an Australian should be Head of State, but its failure to provide the right to an ELECTED Head of State meant it failed.

 

Moving the New Zealand economy forward


All political parties talk about growing the economy. People need jobs and a source of income. Somehow the materials and technology we need and use each day need to be created and transported. Somehow we have to live. But does growing the economy that we need to do all of this really need to be environmentally irresponsible? But does being environmentally responsible mean being economically irresponsible?

To both the answer is no.

Sometimes the traditional economic development methods simply do not work any longer. Whereas market driven housing might cost $550,000 to buy a 3 bedroom house in northwest Christchurch, compact housing can cost a fraction of the price; whereas coal, gas and oil contribute substantially to carbon emissions world wide, clean burning rubbish in Waste-to-Energy plants such as those in Europe and the United States can create electricity and reduce wastage at the same time.

Contrary to popular belief environmental related industries actually contribute a substantial amount to the economy. The estimated value of fresh water related tourism and recreational pursuits is $1.7 billion. If well known fisheries and fresh water resources are protected, there is no reason why this figure could not grow further. And it is well known overseas how much New Zealand relies on its environmental image to lure tourists. The tourists themselves are not stupid – they observe how we treat our environment and they are quite happy a few have told me to blow the whistle in their countries of origin if we are not clean.

New Zealand has the potential to be a leading nation in scientific research. The nation that split the atom and developed base isolators to protect buildings from the shock waves of an earthquake, has slipped behind in recent years. This is shown in the mathematical and science performance figures for New Zealand released by the O.E.C.D.The unfortunate war on science that started under the previous Government needs to stop because it is misleading and shows an ignorance of how scientific theory works.

New Zealand can be a leader in clean energy. A few examples of how we can improve our energy are below:

  • The country can invest in tidal energy, of which there is an abundance – an estimated 8,800 megawatts of generating capacity if tidal power were fully harnessed. Unlike hydroelectric, wind and solar power, it relies on the twice daily rhythm of the tidal flow..
  • Micro generation units are popular overseas and starting to become known in New Zealand – they include micro hydroelectric power schemes installed in irrigation races; some New Zealanders are also experimenting with small solar panels so that during sunny periods they can reduce their power bill, and hopefully heat their water at the same time
  • Should Manapouri power station no longer be required by Comalco to run the Tiwai Point smelter new Bluff, then the 850 megawatts it would add to the New Zealand grid would increase available power by about 10%
  • In countries such as Denmark rubbish is burnt in combustion units to generate power

So, this idea of National that we will somehow not be able to keep our emissions down because we will be burning more coal is rather absurd. But it is also silly because the two very forms of fossil fuel that Simon Bridges is concerned Labour and New Zealand First are going to cap are in fact themselves serious sources of carbon emissions.

There is one other source of economic development going forward that New Zealand are yet to realize the development potential of. Housing does not need to be the big palatial structures one sees getting built today. Nor do they need to be on life-style blocks, which I believe are actually a misuse of what could be perfectly good agricultural land for growing fruit and vegetables or light grazing. Micro housing is becoming quite popular. Compact housing packages with just a small block of land can retail for less than 1/3 the price of a standard house.

All in all, I believe the age of smart living is here. We have the means and the know how.

Do we have the will?

Government faces challenges on finances


When Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced during last years election campaign that Labour would form a Tax Working Group if elected, many thought that this was a cop out mechanism for avoiding the heat on tax. Whilst not being one of these people, I did wonder how comprehensive Labour’s planning on tax had been. As we approach  the Fiscal Budget of 2018 next month, those concerns remain, but some definitively positive signals are also emerging.

The challenges are significant. Not all of them though, involve raising/lowering taxes, introducing new financial tools that affect taxpayers to prop up the books.

Some of them are about making corporate tax evasion more difficult to achieve by working with other nations to ensure corporates like – but not limited to – Apple and Facebook pay what tax they owe. Others are about making sure that tourists who come to New Zealand have some sort of medical insurance to keep the cost to the taxpayer in check.

Not all of these challenges will be or should be addressed in the coming Fiscal Budget. Some will require amendments to tax law and greater oversight.

At the last election Labour said that its plans, which did not signal income or business tax changes, had been costed and found to tally up. Opposition Members of Parliament claim Labour cannot possibly afford their plans for New Zealand without substantial tax increases. Some go so far as to suggest that by cancelling planned tax cuts, the Government has in effect announced a tax increase, something Labour denies.

My own concerns are that Labour, in ruling out business and income tax changes, has left itself open to a budgetary blow out. This would lend credibility to the likes of former Treasurer Steven Joyce’s claim of a budgetary black hole, and Labour being amateurish in budget setting.

However there have been a number of pleasing announcements that suggest to me that a degree of control has been exerted. One of those announcements is that there will be a royalty on the use of water for commercial and irrigation purposes. Another is the introduction of a tourism infrastructure fund. It will take the shape of a N.Z$25 levy placed on non citizens and residents visiting New Zealand. In past articles I have called for a levy to be placed on such visitors, as it is a useful user pays scheme that reduces the pressure on Regional, District and City Councils, whose rates are already subject to considerable pressure.

Of course, all of this said, Labour have yet to actually introduce a Fiscal Budget simply because it is not time. The Fiscal Budget for as far back as I can remember has always happened in May. I accept therefore that it is a work in progress and one not to be judged until the Treasurer Grant Robertson presents his first Budget on 17 May 2018.

 

New Zealand should keep itself at arms distance from U.S., Russia


A while ago Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated that she thought the nuclear moment of our present time is climate change. She said it, stating that New Zealand needs to take a decisive leadership role in reducing our carbon emissions. An admirable thing and certainly something that needs to happen.

But it is not the nuclear moment of NOW. That is playing out in the Middle East and has the potential to become much more immediate than climate change, which – whilst affecting us already – does not (so far as I know)have the ability to usher in a global holocaust in a matter of ours. It does not have the ability to accidentally usher in a nuclear exchange before people even realize what is happening.

I honestly never thought, until about early 2014, when Russia began its military build up in Syria and started testing western resolve over Ukraine that the risk of an East-West military confrontation would revive in my life time. Whilst since 2000 the risk had certainly been growing from one year to the next, the immediacy of the danger was not there. It is now. And the causes of it are dubious to say the least.

Neither the United States or Russia are playing an entirely honest and responsible game in Syria. Both have agenda’s that are more about suiting their foreign policy ambitions than helping to end a bloody civil war that has gone on for much too long. Both have the power and the means to end it today, but the strangulation of their geopolitical objectives mean their peoples are captive to politicians being jerked around – willingly – by the military industrial complex. For this is not about Syria anymore, but about who will be the decisive power in the Middle East. This is about raw ambition.

Perhaps it is telling us something that Russia has used its veto power as one of the Permanent 5 in the United Nations Security Council to block 12 separate resolutions on Syria. Perhaps it is telling us something that none of the N.A.T.O. countries purportedly standing for the rule of international law attacked suspected chemical weapons sites before United Nations personnel could verify that that is what they actually were.

But also the danger level in this conflict brings the world as close to an international incident – an incident that could potentially trigger a nuclear exchange by accident – as any conflict during the First Cold War. An accidental attack by N.A.T.O. forces on Russia, or vice versa could very easily escalate into a world conflict. If it does not do that, at the very least it would result large scale deployment of N.A.T.O. and Russian forces including potential nuclear forces.

What the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Winston Peters should be doing is telling our international partners in no uncertain terms we only abide by international law. If they want our cooperation, they need to abide by it too.

What New Zealand should be doing is four fold:

  1. Demanding all countries comply with international law – and telling them New Zealand will have no participation in anything judged to be against said law
  2. Demanding an immediate cessation to hostilities
  3. Letting United Nations inspectors in with unfettered access to all sites of concern in Syria
  4. Let Red Cross have unfettered access to all victims of war

Our nuclear moment I do not think is climate change. Our nuclear moment is stopping this war turning into a nuclear moment.

I know not what weapons World War 3 will be fought with, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones

ALBERT EINSTEIN