Editor's note

Nau mai, haere mai - I hope you enjoy this week’s New Zealand newsletter.

The government’s immediate response to the welfare expert advisory group’s report and its more than 40 recommendations was described as disappointing, even pathetic. But Michael Fletcher, who was the group’s independent special advisor, writes that the government won’t be able to ignore it because it showed clearly just how inadequate current benefits are.

Last week’s attempted removal of a newborn Māori boy from his family highlights the issue that indigenous children are much more likely to be taken into state care, in New Zealand and elsewhere, despite evidence that it often fails them. Dominic O'Sullivan explains that New Zealand, Australia and Canada all retain practices that make it difficult for iwi, Indigenous people or first nations to intervene in support of families in difficulty.

And details of New Zealand’s long-awaited zero carbon bill have been released, setting a global benchmark with reduction targets for all major greenhouse gases. Robert McLachlan explores the two-basket approach, which sets a 2050 net zero target for long-lived greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and nitrous dioxide) and calls for a lower target for methane.

You’ll find many more interesting stories in this newsletter and all New Zealand articles on this page. If you know someone who might enjoy this newsletter, feel free to forward this email. They can sign up here. Ngā mihi mahana ki a koutou.

Veronika Meduna

New Zealand Editor

Top stories

One of the recommendations by a welfare advisory group was to raise benefit levels by up top 47%, but the government has rejected it, for now. from www.shutterstock.com

Why New Zealand’s government cannot ignore major welfare reform report

Michael Fletcher, Victoria University of Wellington

Ardern's coalition government promised to overhaul New Zealand's welfare system, but its response to a comprehensive report by an expert advisory group has been disappointing at best.

In 2018, the rate at which Māori babies were removed from their families was four times the rate for the rest of the New Zealand population. from www.shutterstock.com

Racism alleged as Indigenous children taken from families – even though state care often fails them

Dominic O'Sullivan, Charles Sturt University

Last week's attempted removal of a newborn Māori baby from his family highlights the issue that indigenous children are much more likely to be taken into state care, in New Zealand and other countries.

Agriculture – including methane from cows and sheep – currently contributes almost half of New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions. from www.shutterstock.com

NZ introduces groundbreaking zero carbon bill, including targets for agricultural methane

Robert McLachlan, Massey University

New Zealand's government has released a bill that sets targets to bring long-lived greenhouse gases to net zero by 2050 and reduce emissions of the shorter-lived methane by 10% within a decade.

The US, Afghanistan and Taliban are engaged in peace talks to end the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan. Sayed Mustafa/EPA

How to end Afghanistan war as longest conflict moves towards fragile peace

Alexander Gillespie, University of Waikato

A ceasefire and peace agreement in Afghanistan may mean that the Taliban would have to lose their "terrorist" classification and turn from despised outlaws to legitimate powerbrokers.

From The Conversation's international editions

Compare the pair: key policy offerings from Labor and the Coalition in the 2019 federal election

Emil Jeyaratnam, The Conversation; Andrew Donegan, The Conversation

What are the key policy issues on which the 2019 federal election will be fought?

North Korea is firing missiles again. Does diplomacy still have a chance?

Benjamin Habib, La Trobe University

Every time North Korea needles the US with another provocation, it makes it harder for Donald Trump to mobilise the domestic support for a return to the negotiating table.

South Australia’s experience contradicts Coalition emissions scare campaign

Glyn Wittwer, Victoria University

Transitioning to renewable energy will cost us something, but the benefits far outweigh the price.

Drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight would be disastrous for marine life and the local community

Sarah Duffy, Western Sydney University; Christopher Wright, University of Sydney

It would take 17 days to respond to an oil spill in the Great Australian Bight. And that's the best-case scenario.

China-US trade war heats up: 3 reasons it won’t cool down anytime soon

Greg Wright, University of California, Merced

An economist explains why the US and Chinese governments are most likely to dig in their heels rather than find a compromise to end the costly trade conflict.

Measles outbreak: Why are anti-vaxxers risking a public health crisis?

Gregory C Mason, University of Manitoba

An economics risk analysis offers some insight into the modern anti-vaxx movement.