Milk and coal in South Canterbury

This week, Fonterra’s application to expand its milk-drying factory and burn more coal at Studholme, in South Canterbury, is being put to the test. The local council is considering the application and hearing from people who’ve asked to make submissions. It might come as a surprise to many people that Fonterra is one of New […]

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Trillion dollars wasted on coal

Huntly Power station - New Zealand's last big coal-fired power plant

If you had a trillion dollars to spend on energy, would you invest it in burning coal for electricity? Well that’s exactly what is slated to happen internationally, according to a new report. The report, published by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, and CoalSwarm, explains that coal-generating capacity equal to 1,500 coal plants is either in […]

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Family violence new measurement raises concerns

Yesterday the Minister of Justice announced a new better public service target to reduce family violence. She has created two new supporting measures of violent crime namely “Violent offences in private dwellings (a proxy for family violence); and Violent offences in public places.” I applaud the Ministers focus on family violence but I have two […]

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TPPA people power protests

The protests against the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) yesterday were an energetic show of people power. It was great to see such a big turnout – at least 15,000 in Auckland by some estimates. That’s a lot of people not buying the National Government’s spin on the TPPA. I was at the Auckland protests […]

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The Old Economy is over, but National hasn’t got the memo

There are many shortcomings a committed climate hawk (of which, I am one) could find with the COP21 Paris agreement. There is no legally binding commitment to reduce climate pollution, for example. But the agreement is nonetheless a landmark event. All the countries of the world have signed up to an agreement to limit global […]

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Blueskin Bay: community wind

New Zealand is famed for its wind and it’s used to power our homes and businesses. Often wind electricity comes from large wind farms and huge turbines, but down south a community has worked together to produce their own power from the wind. Blueskin Bay Community Trust has applied for resource consent for their own […]

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What you need to know about Paris in five minutes

From November 30 to December 11, the governments of more than 190 nations will convene in Paris and try to reach a global climate agreement. The generally agreed aim is for that agreement to limit global warming to 2°C. Paris is the very best chance we’ve got to formalise an agreement of weight and ambition, […]

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Political leadership needed to end rape culture

When Prime Minister John Key shouted that opposition parties “backed the rapists” on Tuesday, he not only tried to distract people from his failure over the Christmas Island detainee issue, he trivialised rape and was deliberately offensive to many MPs. What’s more, the Speaker allowed him to do it. We asked the Speaker to hold John […]

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Why a fair go for solar isn’t hot air

Geoff Simmons, who works with Gareth Morgan, has published a blog post about my Fair Go For Solar Bill. I welcome the debate. I hope tomorrow Peter Dunne will break the 60/60 vote tie in Parliament so we can continue the solar conversation and hear from all those involved around a select committee table. Simmons […]

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New technology and paying for power

The Electricity Authority (EA) has just issued a new consultation report on the implications of evolving technology for pricing of electricity distribution services, in other words how you pay for your local lines. This isn’t some far-away future: new technology like solar is already changing how we use and consume power and I welcome the […]

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Fonterra is waking up to the risks of unsustainable dairy feed

It was good news to hear recently that Fonterra has begun to recognise the potential brand damage from dairy farmers moving away from grass-based milk production to rely on unsustainable supplementary feeds such as Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE). Fonterra are establishing and issuing voluntary  guidelines about PKE for farmers to maintain the competitive advantage that […]

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Bright Line Test is too little, too late

On 1 October, the Government’s Bright Line Test came in to force, despite the fact the legislation has yet to be passed into law. It is still being considered by the Finance and Expenditure Committee. When it is enacted, sometime before the end of the year, it will be retrospective. This is National’s too-little-too-late attempt […]

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Will New York divest from coal before New Zealand does?

New York City is going the way of California, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut by moving to divest from coal and reconsidering its investments in oil and gas. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week called on his city’s $160 billion pension fund to divest from coal. Divesting from coal posed little risk to […]

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Gareth Hughes’ solar tour highlights

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I spent my parliamentary recess looking at roofs. Sounds like an Instagram account, I know. There was one thing that the Christchurch suburban bungalow roof; the fancy new-build in Karaka, Auckland roof; the Waikato dairy shed roof; and the Gisborne orchardists’ family home roof had in common – they all had solar photovoltaic (PV) panels […]

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Coromandel rallies against the TPPA

  On Wednesday, John Key visited the southern Coromandel area with local National MP Scott Simpson and was challenged by citizens who spontaneously organised protests against the Government position on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). I went down to Waihi expecting a handful of people but in fact there were 50 locals, many of […]

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The latest equal pay case – Go the Midwives

Good on the midwives taking their case straight to the High Court. Of course, it’s for the Court to decide if this is a case of gender discrimination, but the public arguments sounds pretty compelling. I’m not sure how anyone would think a midwife, after three years of training, with significant legal and medical responsibilities, […]

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National’s Health and Safety Reform Bill: less safety and fewer rights at work

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions is embarking on a campaign to fight the changes that weaken the Health and Safety Reform bill. As part of the campaign the CTU has organised vigils with the display of 291 crosses signifying the 291 people who have died at work since the Pike River mine disaster […]

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Closing KiwiRail would send New Zealand off the rails

It seems like common sense that we should encourage freight to be moved by train rather than by ever-bigger super trucks that tear up our rural roads. But it turns out that the Treasury, the government’s key economic advisor, actually thinks we should be closing rail lines or even the entire rail freight network because […]

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