Kiwis who don't shop around paying more for electricity - report

Information released today shows the problems that have contributed to pushing up electricity prices in New Zealand, which includes the disparity between customers who shop around and those who stick with the same company. 

A review had released a document finding issues "that need to be addressed", said Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods.

"New Zealanders deserve affordable electricity but too many households are struggling to pay their bills."

Residential electricity prices were 79 per cent higher than they were in 1990.

"Over the same timeframe commercial prices have declined by 24 per cent and industrial prices have increased by 18 per cent," Ms Woods said. 

She said a two-tier retail market was developing, with one containing "people who actively shop around enjoy the benefits of competition, and those who don't are stuck with higher prices".

"Some households struggle to understand the various plans and how to choose the one that's best for them, and low-income consumers miss out more often on prompt-payment discounts, which can be as high as 26 per cent of the bill."

Ms Woods said major challenges for the electricity sector could be changing technology. 

"Our electricity market needs to be agile enough to adapt to the challenges that technologies like EVs, solar panels and other forms of distributed generation will pose to affordability.

"It’s clear that if we don't manage these changes well the costs will fall on those least able to afford them."

The review would move into its second stage and develop recommendations on how to address the issues.

For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6. 

An investigation has found more than 100,000 households are in energy hardship, spending more than 10 per cent of their income on their power bills. Source: 1 NEWS

Barbara Dreaver on the Pacific Islands' Forum: 'Da plane, da plane' - if Jacinda Ardern hadn't shown up we would have been penalised for it down the line

Now that the phosphate dust has settled and the shameless self-promoting headlines about the Pacific being "leeches" and a waste of time and money have lost their hysterical edge - let's take a look at some facts.

The song called Jacinda New Star in the Sky clearly delighted the Prime Minister. Source: 1 NEWS

Firstly to deal with the issue of "da plane, da plane" – it seems only appropriate here to bring in Tattoo from Fantasy Island for those old enough to remember this dubious 80s TV progamme.

Yes, it cost money to send up an extra plane to Nauru to make it possible for our Prime Minister to get there.

That is true.

What is also true is there have been several, not just the one, but several multi-flight trips organised by the former National government around the Pacific because some politicians across the political landscape found it uncomfortable to travel on the C-130 Hercules the whole way.

It's not unusual so I'm not sure why this suddenly became a big issue.

It was important for the Prime Minister of New Zealand to be in Nauru for the Pacific Islands' forum for a multitude of reasons.

The geo-political landscape in the Pacific has changed radically in the last couple of years.

The Prime Minister is making a one-day appearance at the Pacific Island Forum. Source: 1 NEWS

At this forum Air Force 2 flew in a US delegation, a high profile Chinese delegation were there, other Asian countries, the European Union all vying for influence.

From a geo-political stance alone it's crucial New Zealand is a player in this.

Just ask Australia which is having kittens over the thought of PNG and Vanuatu giving port power to the Chinese. Then there are serious security issues.

South East Asia and a bigger push since 2016 from South American cartels are pushing drugs through the Pacific to Australia and New Zealand, fisheries are being depleted - these are all issues that affect New Zealand – why wouldn't we be there?

Instability in the region is bad for New Zealand.

Bi-laterals with Pacific leaders are equally important.

New Zealand wants island country votes at regional and world level – the UN security council which we headed at one point is a case in point, the World Health Organisation and many more. Votes are gold and don’t think that NZ doesn't want to tie up Pacific votes any less than the big players.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters could easily have done the job but he's not Prime Minister.

You can throw money around the region as much as you like but to underestimate personal relationships in the Pacific is sheer ignorance.

Mana is quite rightly attached to New Zealand's leader being there and if Jacinda Ardern hadn't shown up for her first Pacific forum we would have been penalised for it down the line one way or another.

New Zealand cannot afford to tread with the same ignorance Australia does as it blunders through the region – incredulous that things are happening that they don’t like.

To suggest that Jacinda Ardern is not tough enough is ridiculous. I’m told by people who know first-hand that she more than holds her own in a bi-lat and so she should – it's the very least we would expect any of our Prime Ministers to do.

While the above is important there is also something else. A palagi friend who I really respect had the following to say and I couldn't agree more.

"For me the importance of the Pacific is much more cultural – we are part of this place and Pacific Islanders are part of us.

"It's who we collectively are. We give to each other and sustain each other with language, music, laughter. And in doing so we are all creating a unique culture that is different – the rest of the world can only wonder and admire us."

As someone who has lived and worked in the region for nearly 30 years I have nothing but contempt for the sheer ignorance I have been reading from those whose idea of the Pacific is lying poolside at Denarau with a pina colada.

New Zealand needs the Pacific as much as the Pacific needs New Zealand. In fact some countries have made it clear they don't need New Zealand at all.

The National government understood this - so does this Government. Let's move on.

Three more Auckland CBD bus lanes are now monitored 24/7 by CCTV cameras

Auckland Transport says it has now installed permanent CCTV camera monitoring of bus lanes on Queen Street, Hobson Street and Khyber Pass Road.

Those three roads are in addition to Fanshawe Street, which has been in place since July last year.

Bus lane infringements have traditionally been monitored by council staff on the side of the road using a camera.

Dressed in high-visibility clothing and toting a large camera, they are typically easy to spot and avoid by motorists.

AT spokesperson John Strawbridge said yesterday that the CCTV monitoring system generates and automated alert when possible infringements take place, reducing workload.

After CCTV monitoring was introduced on Fanshawe Street, AT said they saw a jump in the number of infringements issued, possibly due to motorists having a false sense of security, but the number soon dropped to normal levels.

Mr Strawbridge said "a bus can move around 70 people, it's much more efficient than clogging the roads with cars.

"The lane on Fanshawe Street currently carries more than 5,000 people during the morning peak hour, compared to approximately 1800 people in cars in the other two lanes."

A bus lane in Auckland.
A bus lane in Auckland. Source: Auckland Council


'Incredibly saddened' - Simon Bridges offers 'solidarity' to family of Kiwi woman Abby Hartley who died in Bali

National Party leader Simon Bridges paid tribute to Abby Hartley, after the New Zealand woman died in Bali after falling ill. 

"I'm incredibly saddened for the family, for Richard and his children. It’s just an awful situation," Mr Bridges said.

"My solidarity and my thoughts to Richard and his family."

Mr Bridges told media today he had only played a minor role organising trying to get Ms Hartley back to New Zealand, but it was "about trying to do the right thing and make sure money wasn’t the prohibiting factor".

Mr Bridges had offered to play a facilitating role after "concerned New Zealanders" approached him, wanting to donate $170,000 to facilitate the medevac which would see Mrs Hartley returned to New Zealand.

The Government would not intervene with a medevac. 

Foreign Minister Winston Peters wrote to the family last month: "I have to confirm that the New Zealand Government is unable to fund the costs of medical care of evacuations for New Zealanders who become ill while overseas," reported NZ Herald. 

Mr Bridges said he did not know if he would have handled the situation different if he were to be in Government.

"I can understand what the Prime Minister and Winston Peters have said about precedents", however he said Labour and National Governments break precedents "all the time".

"But they're really things for the Prime Minister, I don't seek to play politics about this, it's very much about grieving for Abby and for this family to have a bit of space to do that."

Ms Hartley, of Hamilton, was put into an induced coma while on holiday in Bali after she suffered a twisted bowel, went into acute respiratory distress syndrome and then developed a chest infection which led to a collapsed lung.

The National leader had played a “minor” role in trying to get Kiwi Abby Hartley back home. Source: 1 NEWS

Japan proposes ending decades-old ban on commercial whaling

Japan proposed an end to a decades-old ban on commercial whaling at an international conference today, arguing there is no longer a scientific reason for what was supposed to be a temporary measure.

But the proposal faces stiff opposition from countries that argue that many whale populations are still vulnerable or, even more broadly, that the killing of whales is increasingly seen as unacceptable. Japan currently kills whales under a provision that allows hunting for research purposes.

"Science is clear: there are certain species of whales whose population is healthy enough to be harvested sustainably," reads the

Japanese proposal, presented Monday (this morning NZT) at the biannual International Whaling Commission meetings taking place this week in Florianopolis, Brazil.

"Japan proposes to establish a Committee dedicated to sustainable whaling (including commercial whaling and aboriginal subsistence whaling)."

Japan's proposal would also change how the international body operates, reflecting its frustration with an organisation that it says has become "intolerant" and a "mere forum for confrontation."

It says it hopes that new rules - including allowing measures to be adopted by simple, rather than super, majority - would break longstanding deadlocks and allow the countries who prize conservation and those who push for sustainable use of whales to "coexist."

While Japan argues that whale stocks have recovered sufficiently to allow for commercial hunting, conservationists contend whaling on the high seas has proven difficult to manage.

"Time and again, species after species has been driven to near extinction," said Patrick Ramage, director of marine conservation at the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

It's not clear when the vote will happen; the meeting lasts until Friday. It's also possible that the Japanese could pull back the proposal - or attempt to negotiate the inclusion of parts of it in other proposals.

Japan has hunted whales for centuries as a traditionally cheaper alternative source of protein. Its catch has fallen in recent years in part due to declining domestic demand for whale meat and challenges to its hunt.

Its quota is now 333, about a third the number it used to kill before the International Court of Justice ruled in 2014 that its program wasn't scientific in nature. It revised the program and resumed the hunt in 2016.

Some, however, contend the research program remains a cover for commercial whaling because the whale meat is sold for food.

The attempt to reintroduce commercial whaling could be even more contentious. Brazil has submitted a proposal that says such whaling "is no longer a necessary economic activity, has systematically reduced whale populations to dangerously low levels." The United States agrees that the ban is necessary for conservation.

"The Australian people have clearly made a decision that they don't believe that whaling is something that we should be undertaking in the 21st century," said Anne Ruston, Australia's assistant minister for international development and the Pacific, on the sidelines of Monday's meetings.

"The argument that we put forward from Australia is that we don't want to see any whales killed, whether they're killed because (of) commercial whaling or whether it's so-called scientific whaling."

The commission declared a "pause" to commercial whaling beginning in the 1985-1986 season, but it remains in place today. The killing of whales is allowed for research purposes, as in Japan's program, and for indigenous communities who practice subsistence hunting.

Australia says that non-lethal research techniques actually reveal more information about whales than can be learned through killing them.

The United States also opposes lethal research hunts, but both countries support the exception for subsistence whalers.
Japan says that it uses both lethal and non-lethal methods, but that some information can only be gleaned after killing.

A southern right whale in Wellington Harbour.
A southern right whale in Wellington Harbour. Source: 1 NEWS