⏩Fast Forward Aotearoa #33: Towards a national technology portfolio📈safety deposit?💰AUKUS and us🌏#electrifyeverything⚡
Plugging the technology-shaped hole at the heart of government
Welcome to this week’s ⏩Fast Forward Aotearoa from Memia, sifting through recent thinking about the future of Aotearoa New Zealand.
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Thanks to fellow Substacker Bernard Hickey for the shout out this week!
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In this week’s missive:
💰Safety deposit? As banks in the US and Europe fail, how safe are Kiwi bank deposits?
🌏AUKUS and us Looking at how last week’s updated AUKUS announcement affects Aotearoa and early indications of a new bilateral technology agreement with the US
⚡#electrifyeverything Two competing visions of Aotearoa’s electricity system as the proposed Lake Onslow pumped storage comes with a $16Bn price tag just Saul Griffith’s decentralised electrification vision arrives to Aotearoa
📈Towards a national technology portfolio (paid subscribers only) thoughts on how to plug the technology-shaped hole at the heart of government to enable it to keep up with the profound changes that are happening around the world.
Thanks for reading!
(Background: US financial regulators have been struggling to maintain confidence in the overall banking system after Silicon Valley Bank failed last week, Credit Suisse folded into UBS and fears of a cascading global banking collapse grew…).
Bitcoin maximalist @Balajis is even taking bets that US$ hyperinflation is just beginning and that Bitcoin will go above US$1M within 90 days…
What does this mean for us here in Aotearoa?
Nigel Parker (fresh out of an 18-year stint with Microsoft in Aotearoa and internationally, congratulations!) expands his horizons out of tech to take an objective look at how safe are bank deposits in New Zealand?, in particular the new Deposit Takers Bill 2022 (due to come into force in law “mid-late 2023”…), which aims to address the current situation:
“Currently, all OECD countries have deposit insurance except Israel and New Zealand. Globally, there are 92 jurisdictions having deposit insurance schemes in place, according to International Deposit Insurance Association.“
Among the commentary on how safe our Australian banking cartel is, @MusicalChairs14 provides the usual burn:
It’s an outlier case right now, but if the US$-based financial system truly does unravel, Aotearoa won’t be unaffected…
🌏AUKUS and us
The US, Australia and the UK announced more detail on their AUKUS defence pact1, unveiling a decades-long project to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines and creating a longstanding partnership which will bind the hands of future Australian political leaders as they counter China in the Indo-Pacific.
All of which forces uneasy questions about where Aotearoa wants to sit in all of this?
The Economist robustly calls the deal “a model for Western allies”, arguing that pooling talent and resources is the only way to match China’s heft.
(Also this map of “China’s view of regional security” from the Economist From September 2021 when AUKUS was first announced: AUKUS reshapes the strategic landscape of the Indo-Pacific)
“A major submarine deal underscores how the new theatre for great-power competition is maritime”
Should we be in, or out? (Particularly as allowing nuclear-powered submarines into our ports in the foreseeable future is politically unlikely…)
Two pieces of notable commentary:
Robert Ayson is Professor of Strategic Studies at Te Herenga Waka / Victoria University of Wellington: New Zealand’s biggest policy headaches with the AUKUS submarines plan
“The AUKUS submarine agreement turbocharges an existing trend: the chances of Australian involvement in a direct military confrontation with China. That trend is not just a product of the choices that Canberra is making, and the intensification of the Australia-US relationship as both prepare for potential crises and war with the People’s Republic. It is also a result of China’s geopolitical intentions and the intensifying military actions that are going with them.
As Australia gets ready to sends its submariners and engineers to train up with their American and British counterparts (an early part of the AUKUS submarine cooperation), New Zealand has some properly big strategic thinking to do...in the event that Australian forces end up fighting in a war with China, trans-Tasman alliance obligations might spring into action for New Zealand.“
Former Green MP Gareth Hughes (now working with the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Aotearoa) raises the same question in Stuff: Will New Zealand be dragged into a war between Aukus and China?
“Much like the inexorable march to the first and second world wars, offramps aren’t being taken and guardrails seem ineffective.”
The US is perhaps sensitive to Aotearoa’s unwillingness to get off the fence… senior US official Kurt Campbell (who has close ties with the country after being in Ōtautahi during the 2011 earthquakes) this week trailed a bilateral technology agreement between the US and Aotearoa – separate from AUKUS discussions. This would involve military and security technology sharing, as well as “how the United States sees investment in engagements in a range of issues like semiconductors and AI”. Watching this space closely.
Given Aotearoa’s massive maritime area, perhaps an opportunity to co-invest in more peaceful autonomous ocean-patrolling technology may suit both sides…
In light of increasingly warm winters, Aotearoa’s electricity resilience faces a very real “dry year problem”, where low rainfall could result in the hydroelectric dams running low and force fossil fuels to be burned to make up the difference…
Two contrasting visions of Aotearoa’s future electricity system:
The government announced that the Lake Onslow “pumped hydro” scheme (previously covered in Memia 2021.30 and Memia 2022.27) to build a massive grid-scale storage battery is likely to cost over NZ$16 billion… surely making it dead in the water? (How many solar panels and Tesla batteries could you buy with that…?)
(Marc Daalder in Newsroom reported that the government is also looking at an alternative pumped hydro scheme in the North Island. But same difference.)
AUT’s David J Hall has a point:
After Cyclone Gabrielle, Ara Ake’s CEO recently called for a network of independent micro grids generating their own power to ensure resilience for Aotearoa’s electricity network with increasing extreme weather events.
This is in line with what renewable energy guru Saul Griffith recommends. From Memia 2022.38 last year:
Two books from US-Australian energy visionary Saul Griffith which I’ve added to my reading list. His plan for electification of the US economy was influential in the recent US$391M US Inflation Reduction Act to invest in climate and energy technologies.
Aotearoa needs a similar book…
“The great thing about Electrify is that it zeroes in on two of the most urgent issues we face in coping with climate change and dodging the onrushing mass extinction event: how to transform our energy supply to clean renewables as quickly as possible and, crucially, how to pay for that work. The combination, as outlined by Griffith, is an inspiring and even exhilarating experience to witness. Read it and see!”
— Kim Stanley Robinson, author of the Mars trilogy and The Ministry for the Future
Here he is talking recently to TV3’s The Project about Rewiring Aotearoa, a new initiative to bring his vision to our shores…
⏩Fast Forward Aotearoa #33: Towards a national technology portfolio
OK, here’s the next book instalment.
(Thanks to all paid subscribers for supporting my work on this… I feel like we’re getting there!)
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