The Kākā by Bernard Hickey
Bernard’ s Dawn Chorus & Pick ‘n’ Mix for Thursday May 9

Paid episode

The full episode is only available to paid subscribers of The Kākā by Bernard Hickey

Bernard’ s Dawn Chorus & Pick ‘n’ Mix for Thursday May 9

Seymour to save $107m/year by switching ‘woke sushi’ hot meals for $3 packaged sandwiches in Ka Ora, Ka Ake; Bishop upzones Wellington District Plan even more than council
Seymour describes sushi as too woke for school meals. There are no fish sushi meals recommended by the School Lunches programme. Photo: Lynn Grieveson / Getty Images

TL;DR: The Government will swap out hot meals for packaged sandwiches to save $107 million on school lunches for poor kids. MSD has pulled funding to help people restructure loan shark debt. Chris Bishop has delighted YIMBYs by upzoning Wellington City Council’s new District Plan even more than the council wanted.

Wholesale power prices exploded last night to $5,000 per MW/hr hour from $100 as temperatures plummeted and gas shortages (and a lack of renewables investment) forces Genesis to burn coal. Also: Overtime costs for young doctors have doubled, adding to the budget stress for hospitals told to cut $105 million in the next six weeks.

Here’s my top six ‘pick ‘n’ mix’ of links to news, analysis and opinion articles, announcements, official reports, reviews and research in the last 24 hours or so to 8:00 am on Thursday May 9:

  1. Collapses and feedback loops: The cost of junior doctors covering workplace shortages has doubled in a year, adding to the budgetary stress on hospitals already told to cut $105 million from spending in the next six weeks, RNZ Phil Pennington reported this morning. Meanwhile, The Press-$$$’s Joanne Naish reported this morning on critical staffing shortages at Christchurch’s neo-natal unit and 1News Local Democracy Reporting Alisha Evans reported the Te Puke and Ōtūmoetai pathology facilities have closed due to sick staff. Also: There’s an alarming rise in colorectal cancer rates in younger New Zealanders and especially Māori, according to a new study from the University of Otago. The study authors called for the bowel cancer screening age in Aotearoa (currently 60 for non-Māori and 50 for Māori) to be extended and lowered further to at least 45 to help combat inequity. 1News

  2. Upzoned: In a big win for YIMBYs over NIMBYs in the nation’s capital yesterday, Housing and RMA Reform Minister Chris Bishop approved almost all of the Wellington City Council’s recommended zoning changes to allow many more apartments and townhouses in its inner-suburbs. He went even further on densification than the council by allowing six-storey apartments in Kilbirnie, but decided not to strip the derelict Gordon Wilson flats of their heritage status. Beehive, The Post-$$$ Erin Gourley. (See more useful documents below the paywall fold in table and doc of the day)

  3. Downgraded: Associate Education Minister and ACT Leader David Seymour announced yesterday the continuation of the Healthy School Lunches Programme known as Ka Ora, Ka Ako for two years, but with cheaper packaged food for intermediate and secondary school kids at lower decile schools, rather than hot meals. He spoke of swapping ‘woke sushi’ meals for sandwiches, but there’s no evidence the meals include sushi with fish.1 Beehive, 1News Benedict Collins. (See more below the paywall fold in quotes, numbers and food pics of the day)

  4. Targeted spending: Finance Minister Nicola Willis announced in her first pre-Budget speech in Wellington an expansion and renaming of the Social Wellbeing Agency (back) into the Social Investment Agency. It was created as the Social Investment Agency in 2017 under then-National PM Bill English to use data to hyper-target social spending through non-government organisations.

  5. MSD has stopped $2 million of funding for debt solution providers which help people struggling to pay off their loans, raising concerns for people's mental health in a cost of living crisis. The funds were granted to the country's four providers during the pandemic, but they say there is growing demand. RNZ Laura Crimp

  6. Energy: As temperatures plummeted, Electric Kiwi pleaded with customers in an email last night to conserve power as “electricity supply is tight.” Transpower denied there were shortages, but Electric Kiwi CEO Luke Blincoe said the 50-fold increase in wholesale prices showed there were shortages. Meanwhile, Genesis Energy is resuming coal imports because of gas shortages and a lack of investment in the last decade by (mostly) state-owned gentailers who have prioritised high profits, high dividends and capital returns over investment in (already consented) wind farms. Stuff Ryan Anderson

The best of the rest

News links from Aotearoa’s political economy

Listen to this episode with a 7-day free trial

Subscribe to The Kākā by Bernard Hickey to listen to this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.

The Kākā by Bernard Hickey
The latest daily snapshot of the news, detail, insight and analysis on geo-politics, the global economy, business, markets and the local political economy for citizens and decision-makers of Aotearoa-NZ.