Point of Order is keeping an eye on how taxpayers’ money is being spent – or given away – by the Ardern Government.
Ministers typically get a warm glow from announcing spending decisions, grants or the establishment of new troughs within the authority of their portfolios – and from the consequential photo opportunities.
Troughers aren’t the only recipients, it’s fair to say. But separating the spending of the sort which all taxpayers expect from a good government from the more questionable sort can be very much a matter of opinion. We’ll leave it to readers to decide.
Another way of consuming our tax monies is to create new agencies, commissions or what-have-you.
One of those has been spotted during our monitoring in a week which otherwise was light on announcements, perhaps because our Ministers were otherwise engaged watching TV reportage of the PM strutting her stuff on the New York stage.
Here’s what our check of the Beehive press statements shows –
24 SEPTEMBER 2018
Further PGF investment to unlock Rotorua’s potential
Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau announced the Provincial Growth Fund will invest $27.4 million to redevelop the Rotorua Lakefront and Whakarewarewa Forest. This builds on earlier support from the fund in June to develop final business cases for the two Big Moves projects led by Rotorua Lakes Council. These projects are now “investment-ready“. The total redevelopment will be co-funded by the PGF and the Rotorua Lakes Council at a total cost of $55 million.
24 SEPTEMBER 2018
More thermal upgrades for homes in the Hutt
Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford announced 200 more Housing NZ homes in the Hutt Valley will receive a thermal upgrade. The retrofit programme follows an initial pilot of upgrading existing Housing NZ properties in Lower Hutt. Sixty homes have been completed as part of the pilot and a further six will be completed next month. The Housing NZ programme is making the homes warmer through insulation, double glazing, improved air-tightness, ventilation and new heating to ensure a healthy indoor living environment, help the homes achieve an indoor winter temperature of 20 degrees in the living area, 18 degrees in the bedrooms and 16 degrees elsewhere (in line with World Health Organisation recommendations). No sum was mentioned.
25 SEPTEMBER 2018
New Zealand increases climate finance commitment to Pacific
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (pitching to a global audience) announced New Zealand will increase its global climate finance commitment to $300 million over four years. She was a key speaker at the launch of Climate Week NYC, in New York, where she was a keynote speaker. The increased investment is being made from New Zealand’s Overseas Development Assistance, which was increased by nearly 30% ($NZ714 million) in Budget 2018 to support the Pacific Reset.The funding will focus on practical action that will help Pacific countries adapt to climate change and build resilience, such as providing support for coastal adaptation in Tokelau to reduce the risks of coastal inundation and strengthening water security across the Pacific, building on initiatives such as NZ’s work in Kiribati to provide community rainwater harvesting systems and invest in desalination.
25 SEPTEMBER 2018
Pay equity near for Oranga Tamariki social workers
The Minister for Children, Tracey Martin, announced Cabinet has agreed to fund a pay equity settlement for Oranga Tamariki social workers. An agreement in principle has been reached between Oranga Tamariki and the PSA on a settlement worth $114.6m over five years. The settlement applies to more than 1300 Oranga Tamariki social workers and will lift their salaries an average of 30.6% over two years.
27 SEPTEMBER 2018
Significant step to correct miscarriages of justice
Justice Minister Andrew Little introduced a Bill to establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body that will review convictions and sentences where there is a suspected miscarriage of justice. It will refer cases back to the appeal courts but will not determine guilt or innocence. The CCRC will replace the referral power currently exercised by the Governor-General under section 406 of the Crimes Act 1961. Given the resources the state puts into securing a conviction, Little said, “I believe there is good reason for it to put adequate resources into correcting mistakes that may have been made”. No sum was mentioned.
28 SEPTEMBER 2018
A step forward for Bay of Islands healthcare
Health Minister David Clark officially opened the new Bay of Islands Hospital’s new Accident and Medical Centre this morning. Its suite of rooms includes four acute bays, a procedure room, an x-ray room, two resuscitation bays and a new 20 -bed medical ward. No sum was mentioned.
28 SEPTEMBER 2018
Onehunga development shows future of state housing
Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford announced a new public housing development to be built in Onehunga has been designed with disabled people in mind “and will cater for any sort of tenant“. The site of the 71-unit, two-block complex in Galway Street, Onehunga, was officially unveiled by the Minister with Housing New Zealand Asset Development Group General Manager Patrick Dougherty. Seven units on the ground floor will cater to tenants with mobility issues, requiring accessible designs including ramps, wider doorways, and other specifications. The design also includes a community room and space for on-site staff, to cater to “a more intensive level of tenant support”. Galway Street will be completed in mid-2020 and will be among the 6,400 state houses to be built over four years.