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NZ Super Fund CEO Adrian Orr
NZ Super Fund CEO Adrian Orr

The BulletinMay 16, 2018

The Bulletin: Whacked with an Orr

NZ Super Fund CEO Adrian Orr
NZ Super Fund CEO Adrian Orr

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Another political intervention from new Reserve Bank governor Adrian Orr, government considers shared equity for first home buyers, and the best coverage of the hikoi at Parliament.

Reserve Bank governor Adrian Orr says he “gave up” on trying to invest in the Christchurch rebuild, while he was running the Super Fund. The comments come soon after the Super Fund’s announcement that it will invest heavily in Auckland’s transport infrastructure. Orr said it was frustrating that he couldn’t invest the Super Fund’s billions in Christchurch, as it “became too hard.” The Super Fund is useful for huge projects partly because they have the money to begin with, and also because of their extremely long term investment focus.

However, Orr’s comments have left former Christchurch rebuild minister Gerry Brownlee absolutely fuming, reports Stuff. Brownlee says by criticising the former government, Orr has put himself in a dangerous position, given Reserve Bank governors are meant to avoid commenting on politics. The Reserve Bank itself, and the Super Fund, are staying right out of it. Brownlee also says Orr has mischaracterised their dialogue, and he was under the impression none of the rebuild projects were big enough for the Super Fund to invest in.

When it comes to Orr himself making statements that could be interpreted politically, this from a few days ago from the blog Croaking Cassandra is a useful piece of analysis. Croaking Cassandra is written by former head of financial markets at the Reserve Bank Michael Reddell, and he has some concerns about Orr’s personal style, given the immense (and unelected) power the RBNZ governor wields.

“You can win cheap popularity for a time by going with the mob –  or even with popular elite opinions –  but you safeguard the institution and its important role, over the longer-term, by doing what Parliament asks you to do, in a moderate and responsible manner, and leaving other stuff to other people.”

The state house waiting list has more than doubled in two yearsreports Newshub. It’s up to 7890 households, with another 1805 households waiting for a transfer. Radio NZ is also reporting the story, and has followed it up with an angle about the government’s decision to raise the maximum price of a Kiwibuild house by $50,000 to $650,000 in Auckland, where most of the demand for a state house is.

Meanwhile the government is considering a shared equity scheme to get first home buyers into the market, reports the NZ Herald. It’s not expected to be in tomorrow’sbudget, but the scheme could effectively involve interest free loans from the government, who would need to be paid back if the house was sold. It’s likely any such scheme would be limited to those on low incomes.

Māori TV have provided outstanding context and coverage of the Tauranga Moana hikoi at Parliament yesterday. Here’s Māori TV’s initial story, outlining Tauranga Moana concerns with a treaty settlement with the Hauraki Collective, because there are overlapping claims.

Māori TV also covered the political angles, which are particularly acute for Labour, who now have a large Māori caucus. Crown–Māori relations minister and Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis offered the following, somewhat impenetrable quote to Waatea News. “A lot of this stuff is now being played out in the media which just makes it really difficult because quite often the facts get in the way of the situation.”

And finally, Māori TV have gone to Northland iwi Ngāti Wai, who are offering support to Tauranga Moana, after going through a similar process on overlapping claims. Ngāti Wai spokesman Aperahama Edwards says the current treaty settlement process is about box–ticking, and dangling carrots to get grievances settled quickly.

Two more retail chains have been busted for not paying what employees are entitled to, reports Radio NZ. Briscoes, and footwear chain Hannahs, are the latest to be caught out, after Smiths City and Spotlight were found to be making staff attend meetings unpaid. It’s turning into something of a moment of reckoning for retail, as the practice of not paying staff for required work at either end of a shift is considered to be widespread.

Here’s an absolute must read story from The Spinoff’s Don Rowe, who discovered that online gambling sites were getting through New Zealand’s legal loopholes to target gambling addicts. Most concerning – Don Rowe posed as a gambling addict on the phone with a representative of the company, who continued to push and incentivise Don to keep gambling despite clear protestations. The transcripts of those calls are published in the story, and are utterly shocking.

Air New Zealand’s domestic prices will be going up by 5%, as the airliner tries to absorb extra costs, reports the NZ Herald. It’s partly in relation to the high price of fuel, and Air NZ says they haven’t yet decided whether they’ll need to raise prices on international flights too.

Police have broken the law by accessing customs and immigration data that they should not have been allowed to see, reports Newsroom. The police accessed the CusMod system almost 16,000 times, and individuals whose data was accessed will not be notified. The CusMod system was the same on the SIS were pinged for accessing unlawfully over a 20 year period in December last year.

Gloriavale founder and convicted sex offender Hopeful Christian has died, aged 92. That story is on the front page of The Press today. Stuff spoke to fomer members of the cult, and recent escapee, 19 year old David Ready gave the following quote: “Tonight I will be having my first ever drink. I was saving it for a special occasion, and this is it.”

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Dove Love, a resident of Gloriavale.

Right now on The Spinoff: Cults expert Anke Richter has been getting ready to watch the next season of the TV show about Gloriavale by watching The Handmaid’s Tale. Psychotherapist and host of a very good radio show Kyle MacDonald makes the case for free, universal counselling treatment for mental health. And Rebecca Galloway writes about Tauranga, and why it doesn’t have to be the cultural wasteland that it currently is.

This is a really interesting feature from Noted about the impact that wasps have on both the environment and the economy. They attack weaker bee colonies, and can wreck havoc on both commercial and hobbyist hives. The story also goes into the history of wasps in New Zealand, and the many failed attempts to wipe them out.

“The Catholic Church once excommunicated insect pests including the wasp, though they didn’t seem to notice. In 1948, soon after the German wasp invasion, the Government offered a reward of threepence (about $1.50 today) for every hibernating queen sent to the Department of Agriculture. Some 118,000 queens were sent in – 7000 reportedly caught by one schoolboy – but it wasn’t enough. In the 1950s, the new pesticide DDT killed wasps, but it killed everything else, too.”

Fortunately, new methods seem to hold more promise, including using genetic engineering. But the story also goes into whether exactly we should be trying to get rid of the wasps – who are we to decide their fate as it were. And even well intentioned interventions haven’t always worked, and might not in this case.

NZ Cricket has named their 20 player male central contract list for the next season. Stuff have lead their story on it with a first contract for leg–spinner Todd Astle, who is one of three spinners on the list including Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi. Astle’s also the only newcomer, on a list that excludes formerly promising all–rounder Jimmy Neesham.

And the Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that Football Federation Australia is set to reject a South Sydney consortium bid to by the Wellington Phoenix’s license off them. FFA’s decision isn’t really to save the Nix though, it’s to protect the integrity of their current expansion process. So either way, the Phoenix’s place in the A–League remains unlikely to last many more years.

From our partners, Vector’s Karl Check analyses Australia’s progress when it comes to shifting away from coal and gas fired power plants and onto renewable energy sources.

That’s it for the The Bulletin. If you liked what you read, and know other people who would find it useful, please forward it on and encourage them to sign up here. Thanks for joining us this morning.

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