'Nobody is comfortable' with NZ having worst homelessness record in OECD - Finance Minister

A move to measure well-being, alongside GDP, will "paint a full picture" of the success of New Zealand, says Finance Minister Grant Robertson. 

Grant Robertson told the Debt Capital Markets Summit this morning that he wants to see Kiwis, "no matter where they live, given the opportunity to flourish". 

"GDP alone does not paint a full picture of New Zealanders' wellbeing or living standards," he told the audience. 

He was asked if it was a "hard-sell" to the business community, to put emphasis on measuring well-being alongside GDP. 

"No, not really," he answered. "My interactions with business have shown me that actually they want to see a wider set of success measures."

"Business people are members of society and nobody is comfortable if the OECD is telling us we've got the world's worst homelessness. 

"We will still measure and use GDP, but we'll have a much wider range of success measures for the country. 

He did not think it related to business confidence. "Those surveys are sentiment surveys and some of that I acknowledge in the speech." 

During the speech, Mr Robertson spoke about developing infrastructure, transitioning New Zealand to a "sustainable economy" and for the desire for an "inclusive economy"

The Government will deliver its Wellbeing Budget next year. Success measures will include the state of New Zealand's health, the environment, and the connectivity of communities. 

Grant Robertson was asked if a focus on well-being, instead of GDP growth was a “hard-sell” to the business community. Source: 1 NEWS

Air NZ cancels flight to Tokyo as Japan buckles down for massive typhoon

Air New Zealand decided to cancel today's flights to and from Tokyo as Typhoon Shanshan continues to gather strength while barrelling towards Japan.

The storm is expected to hammer parts of the nation with up to 450mm of rain later this week, prompting numerous airlines to have cancelled flights in preparation, The Japan Times reports.

Air New Zealand customers whose flights have been cancelled can apply for new tickets through next Wednesday without having to pay a penalty fee or pay the difference for the new fare, the company said. They can also receive a credit with the airline to be used in the next year.

Big waves are already hitting Japan’s eastern coastline, with the tropical storm expected to make landfall tomorrow. It is the thirteenth such storm to have hit Japan this season.

Sue Chetwin says the five per cent rise in domestic fares taking effect this week should be a reminder to people that alternatives exist.
Source: 1 NEWS


Iwi leaders say they will go to court over Māori freshwater rights

Iwi leaders have told the government they'll see them in court over Māori rights to freshwater.

The leaders met Cabinet ministers in Ngāruawhāhia on Friday, where the politicians made it clear those rights were not up for debate.

Now the iwi leaders say they have no choice but to go to court, given the Government's unwillingness to negotiate with Māori on freshwater rights.

The Waitangi Tribunal and the Supreme Court have both acknowledged Māori have first rights to freshwater, but that has not been backed up by Government policy.

Ownership rights are at the heart of the debate about water allocation and management, but successive governments have failed to reach a position that satisfies Māori.

On Friday the Iwi Chairs Forum and government ministers met for the first time following a Cabinet decision not to pursue any water ownership rights for Māori.

While Environment Minister David Parker describes that meeting as amicable, his office has since been informed by senior forum leader Willie Te Aho that iwi are going back to court.

Mr Parker said he had no issue with any group using the courts to settle disagreements.

"As I said to the iwi chairs on Friday in New Zealand, any critic of any Government policy is always free to use the court process, so we're not going stop people doing that. We disagree with him but that's his right."

In the lead-up to the election the Labour Party campaigned on a royalty on the commercial consumption of water, which would include working with iwi to resolve Treaty water claims.

That policy died when Labour went into coalition with NZ First, which is vehemently opposed to Māori ownership rights.

NZ First leader and deputy prime minister, Winston Peters, said the Government was working its way through the issues.

"Well it's an ongoing discussion we're having, in wide consultation with the Labour Party and the Greens, and indeed the country.

"Look we're all part of this country, Māori, European, everyone from any other country who happens to be here legally, is all part of this issue and when we have decided what's in the best interests of every New Zealander, we'll let you know."

Co-chair of Labour's Māori caucus, Willie Jackson, said while the previous National-government held the view nobody owns the water, that is still a live debate for this government.

"No that's something that still needs to be discussed and it's been a big issue for the last couple of years, so it's certainly something we haven't come to at the moment."

Mr Te Aho is also criticising Mr Parker's proposed structure of Kahui Wai Māori - a wide-reaching Māori advisory group to consult the government, primarily, on water issues.

In his email to ministers he said the Forum wanted to appoint half of the group's representatives, and the Crown the other half.

Mr Parker has yet to respond to that proposal but does want to consult more widely than the last government.

Asked whether it was ever going to be possible to satisfy the iwi leaders on freshwater issues, Mr Parker said: "time will tell''.

This is yet another issue where coalition partners Labour and New Zealand First have to consider their original positions and try to reach a compromise that not only keeps faith with their supporters but is enough to seal the deal with Māori.

The previous government failed to make any ground in the last decade - Māori will now be looking to the courts for a favourable outcome, and an opportunity to break the political deadlock.

Aerial view of Huka Falls, Taupo / New Zealand
Aerial view of Huka Falls, Taupo / New Zealand. Source: istock.com