Friday, 9 April 2021

Morning roundup

The morning's worthies, from the accumulated browser tabs:

  • A Manhattan Institute roundup, from last January, on the problems with rent control. What would be a fair price on iPredict for a contract paying $1 if Labour brings in rent controls. $0.60? Higher?

  • Otago's tallying of the border system failures as at 30 March. Add to it this week's case of a border worker who caught it, and had somehow managed to miss vaccination appointments due to personal reasons. Minister Hipkins could issue a Public Health Order prohibiting unvaccinated workers from being at the front lines. DG Health Bloomfield could issue the same order, covering workers in Auckland. Neither has done it. They don't know which border workers are unvaccinated. The data systems are still being developed (they had to have known that they would need one since at least May of last year) and are currently a bit of a mess. Oh - and they're still not considering daily saliva-based PCR testing of everyone in MIQ, even though the capacity to do it is ready to go, right now. Instead, they're cutting down the number of MIQ spaces to reduce risk. Fundamentally, I think the problem is the one Jo Moir points to: lots of Kiwis are very happy for the country to turn into a hermit kingdom.

  • NZ's unaffordable housing makes Bloomberg.

  • NZ has a travel bubble coming with Australia - finally! Remember though that Taiwan has even fewer cases than NZ or Oz. We could add Taiwan to the bubble. Why aren't we adding Taiwan to the bubble? But keeping the bubble requires better practice at the border to keep the virus out.

  • Jacques Steenkamp at BusinessDesk says that the government isn't bothering to process hundreds of investor visas, with billions of dollars consequently not making it here. Australia is making a better fist of it, as you'd expect. 

  • I've seen a lot of snark about what counts as skilled in the skilled migrant immigration category. Brittany Keogh notes that NZ's Barista of the Year had a very hard time getting her skilled migrant visa - INZ had a hard time appreciating her skills. The result was that her employer had to go to market locally and prove that nobody local could do the job she could. It's a terrible way to run a system. It would have to be tempting to bring the award over to INZ HQ and wave it around saying "I told you!".  

  • The government banned oil exploration at Taranaki. MBIE warned them that doing so would have consequence well before new fields would have started proving up. MBIE said, "any material change to the exploration side of their business may have an impact on how they view their existing producing assets, and vice versa. Should exploration opportunities be removed, it may have an impact on how oil and gas companies consider their overall presence in New Zealand, potentially incentivising them to either sell their existing producing assets or not to invest further in extending its production life." The government banned it anyway. Now, in a dry year, we're having production issues in the existing fields and gas shortages. That means old coal generators are being brought online and the cost of power has skyrocketed. And Minister Woods is shocked! that power prices are high and wants an enquiry into why. Would an official be fired for telling her that she caused it, that they warned her it would happen, and that uncertainty over the whole sector caused by this kind of policymaking combined with the potential effects of Onslow are hindering the investment in new generation that might possibly get us out of it? 

  • After the government banned Taranaki, they held an utterly tone-deaf "Just Transitions" conference in New Plymouth. There, film subsidy mogul James Cameron said that Taranaki's dairy industry also needed to end, while highlighting his own more enlightened approach to farming - where he grew flax, industrial hemp, and vegetables. He now has hundreds of cows grazing in his paddocks, because what he was pitching at the conference doesn't stack up. 

  • And now they're banning coal boilers. Recall that coal boilers are in the Emissions Trading Scheme. Every tonne emitted by one of those boilers is a tonne that cannot be emitted elsewhere. They're also suggesting banning other fossil-fuel boilers. Meanwhile, there's an electricity shortage caused by the Taranaki ban. So they're loading more pressure onto the power grid at the same time as they've screwed up electricity supply. The ban is in response to the draft recommendations from the Climate Commission. The Commission will barely have had time to start reading submissions on its proposals. If this government's last term includes mandating electric ambulances in the middle of power blackouts, it wouldn't surprise me. 

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