The NZ Herald’s podcast network digs into some of the biggest stories in the country. Here’s a rundown of what was covered this week. We look into the economic challenges facing the new Government, whether the country needs a Minister for Space, a deep-dive on the Tangiwai train disaster and whether anything will be left of Labour’s legacy.
The Reserve Bank sent a strong message this week that the fight against inflation was far from over.
Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr pushed out any prospect of rate cuts to mid-2025, driving home the stark reality facing Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and Finance Minister Nicola Willis.
The Herald‘s Wellington business editor Jenée Tibshraeny told The Front Page podcast this week that fixing the economy will take much more than a nip here or a tuck there.
“The economy is off-kilter,” she said. “Before Covid, we had some systemic issues, we had an infrastructure deficit and house prices were too high. Then Covid comes along, we shut the borders and pump a whole lot of stimulus into the economy. Everything comes to a standstill. People can’t come in and prices go up. That Covid hangover is still with us.”
So what do Luxon and Willis need to do?
A Minister for Space, really?
Judith Collins will be taking on the position as Minister for Space in the new Government.
It’s a role that may have caught a few people off-guard, but business consultant Kevin Jenkins told The Front Page there are some good reasons for including this ministerial role in the mix.
“In 2019, the space sector in New Zealand was estimated to directly contribute around $900 million in GDP and more than 5000 jobs in New Zealand. Indirectly, it supported another $790m and about another 7000 jobs.”
Jenkins says that based on global averages, average annual GDP growth in the space sector has been rising by about 5 to 10 per cent annually.
With those numbers, Aotearoa could be well placed to capitalise on this growing opportunity – particularly given we are only one of 11 countries with launch-to-orbit capability.
A forgotten tragedy
Today, the NZ Herald has launched a new podcast, Tangiwai: A Forgotten History.
It’s a six-part series to mark the 70th anniversary of the Tangiwai rail disaster on Christmas Eve, 1953, when 151 people died after a lahar from Mt Ruapehu fatally weakened the railway bridge at Tangiwai.
Host and producer Hamish Williams looks at what happened that night and the lessons we’ve learned and forgotten about coping with natural disasters.
Labour’s disappearing legacy
New governments will always go about cutting the policies of those that came before. This is simply how politics works.
On the campaign trail National and Act, in particular, spoke at length about cutting big ideas that had been put forward by the Labour Party.
While the prolonged coalition discussions have delayed some of these plans, Newstalk ZB political editor Jason Walls told The Front Page that Luxon will get moving rapidly.
“I think Chris Luxon is actually going to demonstrate to New Zealand how much Parliament can get done if they put their mind to it,” says Walls.
“Parliament doesn’t just have to sit between the hours of 2pm and 10pm from Tuesday to Thursday – the usual cut-off for Thursday is actually about 6pm. But you can go into urgency to get things done. The last government basically used the last three weeks, and every day was in urgency. That’s one element of this, and that’s how it could work.”
A busy year of four World Cups has left New Zealand teams empty-handed.
While this failure comes with obvious disappointment, there were also a few examples of Kiwi teams punching well above any of the expectations set for them by the critics.
The Herald‘s online sports editor Luke Kirkness told The Front Page it’s a bit harsh to refer to the performances of the teams as a failure.
“It’s difficult, because in the world of sport, you’re either a winner or a loser, but I don’t think they’re quite failures,” says Kirkness.
“The All Blacks and the Black Caps weren’t expected to go as far as they did. Especially with the cricket, it’s quite hard for teams that aren’t from the subcontinent to thrive there. And for the Black Caps to go so far and make it to the semifinal against India is impressive.”
So what else can we take away from this tough year in sport for the country? And where to next for the rugby and cricket, amid the changing tastes of modern audiences?