Point of Order has been keeping an eye on how taxpayers’ money has been spent – or given away – by the Ardern Government over the past few weeks.
Ministers typically get a warm glow from announcing spending decisions, grants or the establishment of new troughs within the authority of their portfolios.
Here’s what our check of their press statements shows they have announced so far this month –
Funding provides employment opportunities for 75 Hawke’s Bay rangatahi – Seventy five young people in Hawkes Bay are being supported into employment through LIFT’s He Poutama Rangatahi Hikina programme, said Minister of Employment Willie Jackson when announcing funding of $375,000 for the programme.
Support for volunteering grants announced – The Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Peeni Henare, announced. the Support for Volunteering Fund will provide $747,000 to 17 regional volunteer centres, to recruit and train volunteers, promote good practice in volunteer management, and provide training and networking for community organisations; $175,000 to Volunteering New Zealand, and $80,000 to 16 organisations focusing on Māori, Pacific, and Ethnic communities.
Racing Safety Development Fund open for applications – Racing Minister Winston Peters announced that applications for funding to improve racecourse safety is now open. The $1m Racing Safety Development Fund has two funding rounds a year.
Funding signed off for Stewart Island Museum – Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni met with Stewart Island locals to confirm $1m of Government funding towards the Rakiura Heritage Centre building.
First stage of Hornby High School’s major redevelopment completed – Hornby High School students are benefiting from the recent completion of stage one of their $26m redevelopment, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. He visited the school for the official opening of their new north and south blocks.
Govt invests a further $3m to tackle Eastern Bay of Plenty youth unemployment – Minister of Employment Willie Jackson announced a further $3.08m investment to tackle youth unemployment in the Eastern Bay of Plenty under a programme launched this year to target regions with a high number of young people not earning or learning.
Government funds innovative EV projects – Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods. announced $3.87m of new funding to support 19 projects under the fourth round of the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.
Government funding to support nature flourishing in a Predator Free Capital – The Government is supporting a project to make Wellington the world’s first predator-free capital city with a $3.27m funding boost announced by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage.
$13.2 million to create Otago cycle trail network – The Government has committed $13.2m to the proposed extension of the NZ Cycle Trail, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis announced. The new Central Otago Queenstown Trail Network is expected to help draw visitors off the beaten track and encourage people to stay longer and spend more in communities beyond the main tourist spots.
First wave of marae get funding boost – Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced an investment of $725,000 in the late Koro Wētere’s whānau marae near Kawhia. Three other marae in Northland have been granted funds totalling $2.9m for rebuilds. The Oranga Marae programme, launched in May, is a combination of Marae Ora Funding from Vote Māori Development ($10m over four years) and Lottery Grants Board funding. In 2018/19 the programme has a combined fund of about $17.5m ($2.3m from Crown and $15.2m from the Lottery Grants Board) to support marae.
PGF invests in Blue Mussel processing plant in Marlborough – Regional Economic Development Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau has announced the Provincial Growth Fund will invest $772,000 for a Blue Mussel processing plant to be established in Marlborough.
Supporting graduate vets in our regions – Associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri is encouraging the next generation of vets to apply for career funding through a scheme designed to support and increase the number of graduate vets working with production animals in our regions.The Voluntary Bonding Scheme for Veterinarians offers 30 recipients who are developing careers in our heartland, $55,000 each over five years.
$8.5 million for freedom camping fixes – The Government will make $8.5m available for immediate actions recommended by the Responsible Camping Working Group, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis announced. This sum is provided for a package of initiatives that will support “responsible camping”.
Ethnic Communities Development Fund now open for 2018 funding round – Minister for Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa announced the opening of the 2018 funding round for the Ethnic Communities Development Fund, which provides $520,000 annually “to support the development of strong, inclusive and resilient ethnic communities” throughout NZ. Salesa encouraged not-for-profit ethnic groups to apply for a share of the fund.
ACC boosts investment in family violence intervention – ACC will invest a further $1.7m over the next three years to support the expansion of Gandhi Nivas, an early intervention service that provides emergency accommodation and counselling for perpetrators of family violence.
$30 million investment for Kura and Manukura – The Government is investing $30m to expand two schools, providing their staff and students with permanent sites to teach and learn from, Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis announced. Manukura, a designated character school in Palmerston North, will receive $20m for a permanent new school. Te Wharekura o Ngā Purapura o Te Aroha will receive $10m. This funding is a part of Budget 2018 investment to support schools experiencing roll growth pressures. Almost $70m to build new schools and add capacity has been announced so far.
Funding for Ngāpuhi hapū hui – Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Andrew Little announced funding support for Ngāpuhi hapū to consider their Treaty settlement progress.
Commemorating Waitangi Day Fund supports nationwide events – Jacinda Ardern, as Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, is encouraging communities to apply for funding to help with hosting local events commemorating the signing of Te Tiriti. The Ministry for Culture and Heritage is now accepting applications for the Fund for events taking place in 2019. The Fund is open until 1 October 2018. Past events supported by the fund include kai festivals, marae open days, workshops, and public performances.
Concrete solutions to Auckland’s construction waste – Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced a Waste Minimisation Fund grant of $3.1m to enable Auckland recycling firm Green Gorilla to divert waste from landfills and allow materials to be reused. The WMF provides financial support to projects that reduce environmental harm and provide social, economic and cultural benefits. It is funded from a levy charged on waste disposed of at landfills to discourage waste and to support waste minimisation initiatives. More than $92m has been awarded to more than 150 projects to date.
Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures launched – Growing NZ’s food and fibre sectors sustainably and supporting a thriving economy are the hallmarks of a new investment programme announced by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. The best of two Ministry for Primary Industries investment programmes – the Sustainable Farming Fund and the Primary Growth Partnership – have been taken to create Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures with a budget of $40m a year “to provide a single gateway for farmers and growers to apply for investment in a greater range of projects that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits that flow through to all Kiwis”.
Government announces new red zone payment – The Government will pay former residential red zone owners 100% of the 2007/08 rateable value for uninsured homes, Minister Megan Woods announced. This payment is for property owners who have not already received a payment for their uninsured improvements. ““The previous Government’s offer of nothing for uninsured homes left many people significantly out of pocket,” Woods said. The new Crown offer would be on the basis of 100% of the 2007/08 rateable value for land and improvements, regardless of insurance status.
New Dive and Hydrographic Vessel for the Navy – The Government approved the purchase of a dive and hydrographic support vessel for the Royal New Zealand Navy. The project budget for the purchase, modifications and introduction into service of the dive and hydrographic capability is $103m . This has been funded through an existing appropriation.
New service a helping hand for farmers – A helping hand for busy farmers is at the heart of a new service launched to spread skills and knowledge across the primary sector, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Climate Change Minister James Shaw said. The Extension Service Model will be rolled out over four years by the Ministry for Primary Industries, with $3m from Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures. “There are a range of good extension programmes under way, but there is opportunity for us to play a stronger role in partnering with industry to support better coordination and targeting of services that focus on sustainable and profitable farming,” O’Connor said.
Government to fully fund SkyPath as part of $390m investment in walking and cycling – Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Acting Associate Transport Minister James Shaw announced the Government intends to fully fund SkyPath, the walking and cycling link across Auckland Harbour Bridge, as part of a $390m investment in walking and cycling projects nationwide over the next three years. The NZ Transport Agency Board has confirmed $67m of National Land Transport Fund investment to progress SkyPath as part of a larger $390m walking and cycling investment package in the 2018/21 National Land Transport Programme. The full 2018/21 NLTP, including details on specific transport projects, will be announced on August 31.
PM unveils $305m investment to upgrade Auckland hospitals – The PM announced a $305m investment to upgrade and repair essential infrastructure at Auckland District Health Board. Budget 2018 set aside $750m of new funding for capital projects. Ardern said $275m of this will be spent at Auckland City Hospital, Starship Hospital and the Greenlane Clinical Centre. Auckland DHB will invest a further $30m over the next three years.
Dozens of new classrooms for Auckland and Northland schools – The PM and Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced around $82.5m is to be invested in two major redevelopments and 66 new roll growth classrooms at 14 schools across Auckland and Northland. Nearly $28m will be spent replacing 18 teaching spaces, a gym and a library at Onehunga High School.
Government support for Unitec and Whitireia – The Government will provide Unitec with a $50m loan and Whitireia with a capital injection of $15m to support them while they work towards securing their long-term financial stability. Whitireia will require $15m in 2018 to meet its cash shortfall and operating costs. Further support may be required in 2019 unless urgent action is taken, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.