Image: Climate change commission chair Dr Rod Carr (Getty Images)
Image: Climate change commission chair Dr Rod Carr (Getty Images)

Covid-19March 31, 2021

The Bulletin: Climate Change Commission feedback starts coming in

Image: Climate change commission chair Dr Rod Carr (Getty Images)
Image: Climate change commission chair Dr Rod Carr (Getty Images)

Good morning and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Climate Change Commission feedback starts coming in, public housing waiting list hits ugly new highs, and commissioners set out plan for Tauranga

Feedback on the Climate Change Commission’s proposals has started to come in, and it’s worth watching given the importance of how it could shape the country’s response. All up, more than 10,000 people or organisations have had their say, according to a release. And they run across a range of points of view, which will need to be considered by the commission in preparing the advice they then give to the government on emissions reductions. Feedback closed several days ago, with the final days seeing a flurry come in.

Some environmental groups are warning that the plans so far lack ambition, and need to be strengthened if targets are to be met. Radio NZ’s Hamish Cardwell reports those concerns lean towards the transport and agriculture sectors, which between them produce the vast majority of the country’s emissions. One point made by a Generation Zero spokesperson noted that New Zealand’s emissions are very high relative to our size and population. Many climate actions could have wide-ranging benefits, for example in reductions in pollution and congestion on the roads through greater public transport use. The Christchurch City Council have also weighed in with similar thoughts, reports Stuff.

Other views were also canvassed in the RNZ story – and it’s important to note that they did not involve climate change denial, but questioned the how and the how far of the proposals. Farming is particularly concerned, with the likelihood that milk production will fall. Fonterra will be releasing their submission later today. The farming concerns speak to wider noises being made in business, around disruption to business models that will dent earnings. The business-friendly NZ Initiative, for example, argue that existing tools like the Emissions Trading Scheme are already sufficient. The Act party are also getting steamed about the idea of the commission following the “most efficient pathway” – which they say would be better achieved through the ETS than government policy. And because a council was canvassed in the previous paragraph, it’s also worth sharing this story from the Taranaki Daily News, in which the South Taranaki District Council expresses fears over how climate action could hit their economy.

It sets up something of a battle over who can lay claim to realism in this scenario. Pro-business voices say the wrong climate action will cost many jobs, but there’s also a lot of truth to the environmentalist adage that there’s no jobs on a dead planet.

The public housing waiting list has hit ugly new highs, reports Stuff’s Henry Cooke. At the end of January, 22,803 households were waiting for a place to live – some of those will be single people, others will be families. That figure is thousands higher than it was a year previous. Meanwhile, more than a million dollars a day is being spent on motels to use as emergency housing, a policy that existed before this government took office.

The new commissioners running Tauranga’s council have made a rare foray into the public domain, taking questions and presenting their views to a business audience organised by the local Chamber of Commerce. The city faces a huge infrastructure deficit, and there is likely to be a lot of pain in the upcoming Long Term Plan – pain that elected councillors seemed unable or unwilling to inflict on their voters. I went along to the meeting to get a sense of how the commissioners will go about making their case, in their brief window before next year’s elections.

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National’s position on centralising decision-making on fluoridation has evolved to a place of caucus compromise. Stuff’s Henry Cooke (again, somebody stop him) reports they now say they could support the government’s push to put it with the Director General of health, if DHBs get consulted. That also brings it more in line with a previous bill the party had on the subject. Deputy Dr Shane Reti declined to discuss caucus discussions, after a Newshub report that indicated division.

Enrolments at polytechs have increased dramatically over the last year, reports John Gerritsen for Radio NZ. Enrolments in universities are up by a smaller margin, but up all the same. The news is being welcomed by education minister Chris Hipkins, who is confident funding will be available to manage the demand. The gains for universities haven’t quite offset the loss of overseas students, and the income they provide institutions.

Confirmation that searchers will go no further into Pike River mine to try and recover bodies. Newshub reports minister Andrew Little has signalled there will be no further funding for such efforts, a decision which has been reluctantly accepted by representatives of the families – though it isn’t unanimous. That representative says their goal now is to continue assisting Worksafe to prevent future industrial tragedies. But as Radio NZ reports, the father of one of the victims is considering legal action against the government for not going further.

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Right now on The Spinoff: Controversial businessman Jake Millar talks to Jihee Junn in his most wide-ranging interview since his company blew up. Henry Oliver summarises a year since the country’s magazines were shut down. Charlotte Muru-Lanning reports on a deal that could put an end to two years of industrial unrest for Lifewise workers. Teuila Fuatai reports on the lack of clarity around the future of the AUT Pacific Media Centre. Justin Latif reports on the spread of liquor stores across South Auckland, and calls for licensing laws to be reviewed. Sam Brooks writes about the latest phase of the inquiry into abuse in state care wrapping up. And we have a wonderful documentary by Vanessa Patea about Tapu Te Ranga Marae, a remarkable place for Māori culture and identity.

For a feature today, a critical assessment of our country’s quality of life from a socially conservative perspective. Writing on the Anxious Conservatives blog, Joe Ashcroft has taken as his starting point the apocryphal Norman Kirk quote – “people need someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work, and something to hope for”. The post then looks at whether the country is going in the right or wrong direction through that lens. Here’s an excerpt from a thoughtful and interesting read:

Consider the line through a conservative frame. The need for work demands a healthy and stable economy, more than the socialised ownership of capital. Only families can understand where they need to live (not a Minister or Ministry of Housing). The need for love is just as much about healthy and happy families as it is about expanding the pool of those who can marry. And for most people, hope is defined more by the legacy they leave for their children and community and less by persistent macro-social trends that very few of us have any control over.

Examined that way, the line highlights something valuable – that we share common expectations for a good life (across ideological lines) even though all of us might have different views on policy.

In sport, a one off fixture will be played between women’s teams representing the Blues and Chiefs. Stuff reports it is hoped that the game will be the start of something bigger – perhaps a full on women’s franchise competition. Right now the pathway from the Farah Palmer Cup to test rugby is considered a bit too steep a jump. However, quite a bit of investment is going to be needed to get an additional layer off the ground.

And in the cricket, the White Ferns have kept their Australia series alive with a beautiful comeback win. After being well behind in a chase of 130, Maddy Green and Hannah Rowe combined at the death to drag it home. That included not only taking nine off the last over, but winning the game with a French cut down to fine leg off the final ball. Watch it here, how good. Credit also has to go to Frankie Mackay, who starred as both an opening batter and opening bowler. In the men’s game, there were shambolic scenes after Bangladesh’s chase began before they even knew what the rain adjusted target would be.

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