Newsroom Pro's 8 things at 8: Ardern talks tough on education in Australia; Twyford on Kiwibuild; Paradise Papers leak

Jacinda Ardern and Malcolm Turnbull met up in Sydney. Photo by Philippa Wood

In today's email we detailed the latest in politics and the economy, including Jacinda Ardern's meeting with the Australian PM.

1. Turnbull rebuffs Manus offer

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern held her first meeting with a foreign leader yesterday, meeting Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in Sydney to discuss a range of issues.

Ardern re-made the Labour-led Government's offer for New Zealand to take 150 Manus Island refugees, but Turnbull again turned down the offer.

Australia fears the refugees will re-enter Australia through the back-door of New Zealand once they are New Zealand citizens.

Turnbull said he was proceeding with his plan to get America to resettle 1,250 of the refugees. There are now 600 men stranded in the Manus Island facility in Papua New Guinea without food and water after Australia shut the centre.

However, he was reported as saying Australia would still consider the New Zealand offer after the US deal was settled.

Ardern also ruled out negotiating directly with Papua New Guinea, saying she did not need to while the offer remained before Australia. (RNZ)

2. Ardern eyes tit-for-tat fees

Ardern also stuck fast to her pre-election position of looking to impose tertiary fees on Australian students in New Zealand in retaliation for a move by Canberra earlier this year to dramatically increase fees on New Zealand students in Australia.

Ardern told reporters in Sydney she raised the issue with Turnbull in the meeting, saying the Government would move to make the situation more "equitable" between Australia and New Zealand.

"My view is we have a situation that is inequitable and Australia would absolutely understand if we responded," Ardern was reported as saying.

"If we see a diminishing of access and rights for our students in tertiary education, we would make sure we didn't have an uneven access to tertiary education in New Zealand, particularly given the generous policy we are about to implement. I've reiterated that," she said. (Stuff)

3. Kiwibuild ballot confirmed

New Housing and Transport Minister Phil Twyford was interviewed by Lisa Owen on The Nation on Saturday and covered much of the infrastructure funding ground covered in our interview on Monday.

He confirmed the push for targeted rates to capture value uplift on land around new light rail routes and a move to infrastructure bonds.

However, he also confirmed Labour's plan to offer ballots for Kiwibuild buyers, as happens with the Hobsonville project, and that he was reviewing the long-delayed Penlink road project for the Whangaparaoa peninsula north of Auckland. See the full transcript here.

4. India FTA stalled

Newsroom's Shane Cowlishaw reports from India that the prospects for a free trade agreement (FTA) between India and New Zealand have stalled, with one official describing the deal as surviving on “life support”.

Dairy is the issue, with Indian businesses wary of letting New Zealand into the market and little chance of a change in stance.

A more plausible scenario was working towards a bilateral or multi-country deal involving Sri Lanka, and sending New Zealand goods to India through the close neighbour which had its own FTA with India.

Speaking to Newsroom in New Delhi, New Zealand’s High Commissioner to India, Joanna Kempkers, said there had been 10 rounds of negotiations between the two countries but admitted the deal was a “slow boil”.

“It would be fantastic for New Zealand and it’s one of our key objectives but we’re realistic to the difficulties of that because, while New Zealand ourselves, might not be a problem we do have some sensitive sectors, dairy being one of them.”

See Shane's full story here on Newsroom Pro, where it was first published.

5. Briefly in the political economy...

Another major New Zealand success story on the global stage is heading into overseas ownership. US-based VF Corporation announced on Friday it was buying merino wool clothing retailer Icebreaker for an undisclosed sum. Nearly 90 percent of Icebreaker's annual retail sales of $220 million were in overseas markets.

Founder Jeremy Moon said the deal was a "once in a lifetime opportunity for our global Icebreaker team and for our New Zealand wool suppliers to introduce a whole new universe of consumers to the benefits of sustainably farmed, ethically sourced, New Zealand Merino wool."

Chairman Rob Fyfe said it was an opportunity to create a $1 billion brand. Moon and Fyfe have committed to ongoing roles with Icebreaker. (BusinessDesk)

Despite talk of falling business confidence and a cooling economy, new car sales are going gangbusters. The Motor Industry Association reported on Friday that 15,530 new cars were registered in October, a record high for an October and up 5.6 percent on a year ago. Registrations in the first 10 months of the year were up 9.8 percent from the same period a year ago. New and used car registrations are running at close to 24,000 a month, meaning over 270 cars a day are going onto the roads in Auckland.

In another sign the new Government is reviewing many of the deals and plans agreed recently by the National-led Government, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said over the weekend he had asked officials for advice on how to reduce the prison muster to avoid spending $1 billion on new prisons, including a new 1,800 bed prison at Waikeria. Avoiding the prison build would also take pressure off the construction industry in and around Auckland as it gears up for Kiwibuild and three massive light rail projects.

Barfoot and Thompson, which is Auckland's largest real estate agency chain, reported a slight increase in sales and listings in October from September. ASB (below) measured the increase in sales in seasonally adjusted terms at 8.7 percent and the listings increase at 1.4 percent. However, sales remain near seven-year lows and almost half their early 2015 peak, while listings are also more than 40 percent below their 2008 peak.

6. Briefly in the global political economy...

Reporting on a massive new leak of papers from offshore tax providers known as the 'Paradise Papers', the Guardian, the BBC and others reported links between the Queen and tax havens, and links between US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Vladimir Putin.

There was turmoil in Saudi Arabia over the weekend. Its future king launched an anti-corruption purge to solidify his own power base by arresting dozens of other princes, ministers and major investors. They included Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who is a prominent investor in Citigroup, 20th Century Fox and Twitter. (Reuters)

President Donald Trump began a 12-day five-country trip through Asia with a campaign-style rally at a US airbase in Japan. Dressed in a leather bomber jacket, he said America would fight to over-power its adversaries. He told reporters he would ask Russian President Vladimir Putin at the East Asia summit for help to deal with North Korea. (NY Times)

Republicans tucked a 20-percent tax on cross-border transactions they routinely make between related business units in its 429 page rewrite of America's tax code. If voted through Congress, the tax could disrupt the global supply chains of large multi-national countries that pay little tax on their US profits and breach multiple international treaties, Reuters reported.

China is expected to announce the creation of a national carbon trading scheme at climate talks in Germany later this week in an attempt to claim global leadership in the area as America withdraws from the Paris Climate Accord. (FT)

7. Coming up...

The new Government will hold its second full cabinet meeting today. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is expected hold a post-cabinet news conference in the afternoon.

The new Members of Parliament will be formally sworn in and the new speaker (expected to be Trevor Mallard) elected on Tuesday. The Parliament for the new three year term will formally be opened on Wednesday when Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy reads the speech from the throne outlining the Government's plans.

Ardern, Trade Minister David Parker and Foreign Minister Winston Peters are expected to travel late on Wednesday to the Apec and East Asia Summits in Vietnam and the Philippines respectively from November 11 to 14. Newsroom's Sam Sachdeva is travelling as media with the New Zealand group.

The Reserve Bank is scheduled to release its next Official Cash Rate decision and publish its next quarterly Monetary Policy Statement at 9am on Thursday. Economists expect it to leave the OCR on hold at 1.75 percent and make few changes to its outlook for interest rates remaining unchanged until late 2019.

8. One fun thing

Guy Body's cartoon on the resurrection of Judith Collins has a certain Halloweenish tone to it.