New Zealand Zero Carbon Bill Passes

Poor David Seymour. Vehemently opposed to the Zero Carbon Bill, which passed through Parliament yesterday, and in complete denial that man made climate change is a thing, his existence in a Parliament that is slowly awakening to the monster we have unleashed, must be pretty depressing. Sure Mr Seymour can take credit for our attempt to tackle euthanasia, and he might support moves to address cannabis legalisation, but the failure to convince National to pull its support will be viewed as a substantial defeat for the right.

If we put David Seymour aside, this is a pretty encouraging outcome for New Zealand. National’s decision to support the Bill at the Third and final reading was a victory for bipartisan ship and needs to be acknowledged here. If elected Mr Bridges said that his government would make changes, which I expected. No law is perfect either in its design, or implementation. Joe Painter in his 2006 in his 2006 paper “Prosaic geographies of stateness” examined the mundane actions of the state employees who have to give effect to these regulations, such as the police officer who arrests a drunk smashing windows and support diversion, thereby avoiding a conviction. The offender has no criminal record, can still get a passport and hold down a job because those implementing law enforcement did not proceed further.

If we look at this in a climate change context, with our planet understood to be to be in a critical state, how strongly we enforce the regulatory regime will become a major issue. People we call bureaucrats in invisible offices allegedly shuffling paper are actually the ones trying to make sense of our international obligations, our domestic laws, the data being collected by institutions such as National Institute of Water and Atmospherics and trying to turn it into acceptable policy. I have concerns myself, which are quite different from those of National, but they are worthy of mention. I expect that if I entered a word search forĀ  terms such as “biofuel”, “hydrogen fuel cell” or “hybrid”, the results would not be flash. Not because those phrases do not exist – in some form they most probably do, but because they represent a significant departure from this Government’s understanding of what would constitute green technological investment. Context. Aside from the aversion to investing in new technology I have described elsewhere, practical details about how we are going to reconfigure the fuel and energy infrastructure, who will pay for the electrification.

Whilst there is encouragement to be drawn drawn this, there is a long road ahead with obstacles. They include major powers not coming to the party, domestic challenges and potential changes in the science.

David Seymour will be grumpy, as will conservative National members, but there are worse things than having flawed carbon legislation.

Population policy no excuse for Shane Jones’ dog whistling

The comments by Shane Jones that Indians not happy with the Government’s new visa policy should catch the next flight home highlight a wayward Minister, but also remind me that we are still waiting for wholesale policy on population growth. In particular I am concerned that New Zealand has still not worked out a humane, but firm immigration policy and that development of it seems to be hindered by partisan politics.

New Zealand has long struggled to get develop an immigration policy that gets the best out of both sustainable population growth whilst being a forward, progressive looking nation. We are a small nation that needs to ensure that our infrastructure, communities and social policy planning are integrated in a way that keeps the growth at rate that can be maintained without enabling xenophobic attitudes to develop. At the same time skilled workers and those who want to come and contribute proactively to New Zealand society, need to be afforded a realistic chance of doing so.

All too frequently I see articles in the media about employers who have emigrated from other countries and gained Manager certificates here abusing their staff. Much of it happens in the liquor and hospitality sectors. Very often their staff are from the same countries of origin as they are.

But there are also a number of instances of visa fraud in New Zealand. Much of this activity stems from illegal agents in countries overseas who Immigration New Zealand is aware of, but is reliant on their host country to stamp out. In this case, much of it stems from a substantial growth in Chinese visitors to New Zealand, the number of which has nearly doubled in 5 years.

New Zealand First had a population policy advocated for by former Member of Parliament, Denis O’Rourke. However it was a very conservative and in many respects not realistic one that was based on there being only 5 million people in the country. New Zealand will probably reach 5 million people late next decade.

However the kind of dog whistling that Mr Jones involved himself in when commenting on the complaints by the Indian community about his suggestion that they catch the next flight home was combative, boorish and unbecoming of a Minister of the Crown. Nor do I believe that Indians intend to bring “the whole village over” as Mr Jones implied. And historically it is of the nature that helped to get New Zealand First, whom Mr Jones is a List M.P. for, ejected from Parliament at the 2008 election.

I cannot imagine Mr Jones making an apology even if Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern asks him to. But his propensity for making ill judged and in this case inflammatory comments will cost the Government if he is not reined in.





Upgrade to China Free Trade Agreement

New Zealand and China have upgraded the Free Trade Agreement that exists between the two nations. The Agreement which was originally signed by Prime Minister Helen Clark and Chinese President Hu Jintao in 2008, was presented by the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang today as an agreement that deserved to be upgraded.

All very well. New Zealand has significant trade with China and has a $5.1 billion trade surplus which Mr Keqiang acknowledged in remarks following the announcement of the new deal, for which negotiations were started by the National-led Government of Prime Minister Bill English and concluded by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Concessions appear to have been made by China. In the previous version of the F.T.A. China permitted 98% of New Zealand exports to have preferential access, whereas this time it is 99%. As the last deal was about making sure that New Zealand had a working agreement with China, this was about enabling business to be more easily conducted.

New Zealand maintains the right to regulate for purposes of complying with Te Tiriti O Waitangi, as it also does for purposes of regulating public policy. China has agreed to allow products to enter and not have to be re-certified on entry, which has been a problem for exporters. New Zealand exporters will also be able to self declare their goods as products of New Zealand.

Notably though, the number of New Zealanders who can get visas each year has not changed.

These are however testing times. China’s growing ambition in the Pacific is expressed in military, foreign policy and economic development. It’s growing interest in the South Pacific should be noted by New Zealand and monitored closely. China’s lack of regard for human rights in a part of the world not known for strong human rights policy is of significant concern to human rights N.G.O.’s in New Zealand.



Asian “El Chapo” drug syndicate on the rise in New Zealand

Meet Tse Chi Lop. The Chinese Canadian man is known as an Asian El Chapo. He is a billionaire who has done exceptionally well out of the drug trade in ketamine, methamphetamine and other Class A drugs. Tse Chi Lop is the boss of a giant criminal network called Sam Gor. It operates in a dozen countries. The drugs, which mules have taken much risk to ship into countries as diverse as New Zealand, Canada, Taiwan, Japan and Myanmar have given fleeting albeit distinct looks into the life of a drug baron considered to be the most wanted man in Asia.

One such mule is Cai Jeng Ze, who was caught at Yangon Airport by Myanmar authorities, his cellphone yielded a plethora of data – it showed what happened to people who did not comply with the syndicate; all the normal data such as contacts, names and social media messages describing activities.

When New Zealand Police intercepted a shipment of methamphetamine earlier this year, it was probably not loss to Tse Chi Lop whose empire would simply ship another consignment over. 1,500 kilogrammes of methamphetamine was intercepted by New Zealand authorities in the first part of 2019, which is just part of a flood of crystal methamphetamine arriving.

How New Zealand is going to manage this burgeoning flood I am not sure. Certainly our customs and police need a long term budget increase to do the kind of work that will be necessary to help their international colleagues to locate Tse Chi Lop and bring him to justice. But of significant concern is that the United Nations representative on the U.N. Agency for Drugs and Crime suggested that the war on drugs paradigm is going to have to change significantly as this is too big to be out policed.

But will political parties come on board with the need to change the paradigm towards what the United Nations representative is suggesting? I am not sure that National and A.C.T. would.

Hydrogen cars for New Zealand?

On the television the other night I saw an advert from Hyundai about a new car that they are working on. It is NEXO. The ad shows a four wheel drive vehicle mounted and claims that the only emissions coming out are water.

If these claims by Hyundai are true then this is quite revolutionary. It offers a potential carbon free fuel cell option for cars. Hydrogen’s volatility is well known – the Hindenburg airship was filled with it and exploded in flames when struck by lightning in Paris – but because hydrogen is lighter than air it will have no problems dissipating, which is important because it to reduce likelihood of the fuel catching fire should the tank be punctured. But, in terms of climate change, hydrogen has NO carbon attached. It is simply H.

This raises a very interesting point to a topic of interest at the moment in New Zealand. What if Tiwai point is shut down because the owners cannot get a satisfactory deal for electricity? Tiwai Point gets its electricity from Manapouri power station deep in Fiordland and that electricity is not minor – Manapouri generates about 850 megawatts, of which about 530 megawatts are used by Tiwai point. All of this is electricity that would flood the market if it were no longer required and – some people honestly hope – will bring down power prices.

But this is not a new problem – it has been threatened before that the Tiwai Point facility will shut at some point and a whole lot of hemming and hawing has gone on about what to do with the electricity should it all be released to the market. I personally think it should be, but I am aware that hundreds of jobs – quite well paying ones at that in many instances – would be on the line.

IBut back to the hydrogen question. Is Tiwai Point actually seriously likely to close? If Tiwai Point aluminium smelter were to close and hydrogen vehicles did become a credible alternative to fossil fuel powered cars, it would be a useful location to establish a hydrogen plant. It would potentially maintain many of the jobs that would probably be lost if the smelter were to close, thereby continuing to provide a large source of employment to the Invercargill/Southland electorates.

With an election not more than 12 months away, supporting the development of hydrogen as a fuel source for cars in New Zealand is a great opportunity for which ever party has the gonads to try something different. Electric vehicles are not only hitting a bit of a stumbling block over price and fuel consumption, but also having to confront the fact that most New Zealanders simply cannot afford one. Could hydrogen fuel cell vehicles fill the void?