The Bulletin: Shane Jones hungry for more ministerial power

Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Shane Jones wants more power over public servants, NZ banks insist they’re not dodgy, and a former Counties DHB member hits back.

Shane Jones wants ministers to have more control over the public sectorincluding being able to appoint enforcers in top roles, reports Stuff. The regional development minister says public servants needlessly slow down the funding process for projects, and described the system as “treacle ridden.” Jones said it wasn’t government policy, but he intended to campaign on it in future.

This is the same Shane Jones who recently ignored (or forgot about receiving) advice from his officials, that a West Coast waste project he granted $350,000 was a dud – here’s a Radio NZ recap on that blunder which took place less than a month ago. And the Taxpayers Union’s Jordan Williams hit out at Jones’ proposals, saying they would replace a Westminster model of public service neutrality with an American model of cronyism.

The issue of public service neutrality was recently battled out during the Clare Curran/Radio NZ saga, and the union for public servants would likely oppose any moves to increase ministerial power over staffing. In the wake of that story, the PSA’s Glenn Barclay wrote for The Spinoff, saying for public servants maintaining neutrality is a way of maintaining integrity.


Banks in New Zealand have gone on the record saying they can be trusted, amid continuing fallout from the Royal Commission in Australia. Stuff asked our major banks with parent companies in Australia why consumers aren’t facing the same dodgy practices taking place over the ditch. The two markets are repeatedly described as different, but the answers are useful nonetheless, if for no other reason than offering a definitive measuring stick if they’re found to be less than fully truthful.


A former Counties Manukau DHB member is hitting back at claims the board wasn’t up to the job, reports Stuff. That DHB has been under fire recently over serious infrastructure issues at Middlemore Hospital, but Mark Darrow, who was pushed out by minister David Clark, says the board weren’t the ones who dropped the ball.

“Any suggestion that this board didn’t do its job or alert the appropriate authorities is just absolute rubbish. The real question is why the ministry or the Capital Investment Committee did not advise the Minister on the issues that were raised with them in detail on multiple occasions. The briefings and meeting minutes from the DHB are all on file.”


Reading recovery programmes may not actually work, according to a new report covered in today’s NZ Herald. Perhaps unsurprisingly, reading recovery success rates improve the higher the school’s decile, and similar programmes were recently scrapped by New South Wales for being ineffective.


Christchurch is likely to end up with permanently chlorinated water, according to an expert interviewed by Stuff. The issue, in the view of Iain Rabbitts, is unmonitored bores that could pollute the wider water supply. But mayor Lianne Dalziel is dead against permanent chlorination, and that daily monitoring is taking place to prove the water supply was safe.


Local stuntman and instagram star Johnny ‘Danger’ Bennett has died in a motorbike crash. His instagram profile is filling up rapidly with comments from fans mourning his death, and he is being described by friends as being caring and full of life.


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Right now on The Spinoff: Guest writer Greer Berry shares what it’s like to be married to someone in the Defence Force. Alex Casey has a deep-dive investigation into whether Bachelor stars Matilda Rice and Art Green now own Jamie Ridge’s former cats. And I went down to the Auckland Domain yesterday for two very different ANZAC Day ceremonies – here‘s my report.


The scientific paper, in both a literal and figurative form, is no longer fit for purpose. At least, that’s the rather intriguing argument made in this long read from The Atlantic. Because of the way the internet has changed and sped up the dissemination of knowledge, having everything written down on a literal piece of paper (or PDF) doesn’t really make sense any more. Here’s a paragraph that sums up the argument:

“This is, of course, the whole problem of scientific communication in a nutshell: Scientific results today are as often as not found with the help of computers. That’s because the ideas are complex, dynamic, hard to grab ahold of in your mind’s eye. And yet by far the most popular tool we have for communicating these results is the PDF—literally a simulation of a piece of paper. Maybe we can do better.”

If any scientists are reading this, what are your thoughts on it? I was studying pretty recently and am keen to know if this view is widespread. Email me – thebulletin@thespinoff.co.nz.


In sport, everyone off the bandwagon, the Warriors are terrible again. At least, they were last night, losing 50-10 to an admittedly very good Melbourne Storm team. The NZ Herald has a rundown of where it all went wrong, in particular a softness on defence that hasn’t really been seen all season from the Warriors.

And in Auckland stadium news, there’s serious doubt over plans to turn Western Springs into a multi-use oval, after mayor Phil Goff indicated funding the stadium was not a priority. Newstalk ZB reports that Regional Facilities Auckland wants another $27 million from council over 10 years for the project, but are unlikely to get it because of the cash crunch being faced by the city overall.


And 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 renewal 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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