Our taxes are to be used to look for gold, reduce waste, restore wetlands and help businesses hurt by a rahui

Oh dear.  A former Green MP has been ired by the government’s decision to lend $13 million from the Provincial Growth Fund to a gold mining project under DOC land on the West Coast.

Now the chairperson of Coromandel Watchdog, Catherine Delahunty said she and her group are appalled that the PGF

” … is being used to subsidise a dinosaur industry at Reefton.

“The old Blackwater Mine at Reefton cost the Government $3 million to clean up and now they are being funded to create more toxic waste.”

“ What is worse is that the proposal is to mine under DOC land .”

We can find no record of Delahunty’s reaction to Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage’s announcements of government handouts for environmental projects. 

Sage’s announcements – and the funding to help the gold mining venture – were among those detected by the Point of Order Trough Monitor in recent days.

We imagine Sage also supported the Government ‘s approval of a $5 million fund to help small businesses in Whakatane following the White Island eruption and to support those affected by the recent flooding in Westland.

But at Point of Order we are bothered by many PGF allocations and by a raft of other spending decisions.

We also wonder about who really should pay – if anybody – for the drop in business in and around Whakatane. 

Demand for the wares and services of several businesses have shrunk not because of the tragic volcanic eruption but because of the unchallenged  iwi response to it.  

This was affirmed by a Radio New Zealand reported headed Whakaari / White Island: Fishing and tour operators struggling with rāhui

Anusha Bradley reported:  

Whakatāne fishing and tour operators are losing thousands of dollars a day due to restrictions put in place following the Whakaari/White Island eruption.

She went on to explain:

Soon after the eruption happened, Ngti Awa and neighbouring iwi placed rāhui on their coastlines.

Currently, while two bodies are still missing they remain in place and were bestowed to respect those who lost their lives and their whānau as well as protecting the mauri or life-force of the area where their bodies are at rest.

But the restrictions were having an impact on local businesses that relied on the sea.

The owner of a bait and tackle shop, Fishing and More, said sales had slumped because

” … so many people can’t go fishing.  At this time of year I buy in so much product, and it’s all just sitting here.”

He said he was losing around $1,000 a day in  sales and hoped he would be eligible for some of the relief funding announced by the government.

“The biggest thing is that rāhui. I can understand it being on, and I respect that, but now it’s probably time to lift it for the local coast and leave it at White Island,” he said.   

Could businesses feeling the pinch take civil action against the people who imposed the rahui to recover their losses, rather than expect the government to help them?

Perhaps – but it would be costly and we don’t fancy their chances.

So taxpayers should brace to pick up the tab, along with the costs of the other announcements detected by the Point of Order Trough Monitor.

13 DECEMBER 2019

New funding to support Environment Centres working for sustainable local solutions

The Associate Minister for the Environment, Eugenie Sage, announced in Hawkes Bay the Ministry for the Environment’s Community Environment Fund is dedicating $243,101 to growing the capacity and capability of the Environment Hubs Aotearoa’s (EHA) network.

Local environment centres in the network help New Zealanders to take practical action in their homes, communities, and workplaces to protect nature and live more sustainably.

Environment centres such as the Environment Centre Hawke’s Bay enable people to come together to share information on living well while reducing waste, reducing energy use and living more sustainably as well as creating attractive neighbourhoods and stronger, more resilient communities, Sage said.

Environment Centre Hawke’s Bay has a new building offering more space to dismantle e-waste – more than 660 TVs have been diverted from landfill since April and community education has ramped up with 46 free events and workshops on sustainability held for people in the region.

13 DECEMBER 2019

Government provides more funding for major community wetland restoration project

The Associate Minister for the Environment, Eugenie Sage, announced an extra $462,000 is being invested in restoring nature in the Hawke’s Bay as part of the Government’s wider plan to restore wetlands and improve freshwater quality.

The project to restore the Lower Taipo Stream wetland will be extended thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Ministry for the Environment’s Community Environment Fund to Hohepa Hawke’s Bay.

And a $250,000 grant from Te Uru Rākau’s One Billion Trees fund will enable Nga Kaitiaki o Hohepa Nursery to grow 90,000 native seedlings to support the restoration of Taipo Stream and other sites around Te Whanganui a Orotū /Ahuriri Estuary.

$12,000 from the DOC Community Fund has been awarded to develop a pest management strategy to create a predator-free habitat for Te Whanganui a Orotū /Ahuiri Estuary wetland.

13 DECEMBER 2019

Blackwater gold mine gets PGF boost

Rural Communities Minister and local MP Damien O’Connor announced the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) has approved a $15 million loan to help re-establish a gold mining operation at Blackwater Gold Mine, near Reefton. 

The loan will enable Tasman Mining Limited to build 3.3km long twin decline tunnels at the former Blackwater Gold Mine site and complete a three year drilling programme to see if gold mining will be viable there again.

Private funding was difficult to raise for gold mining and PGF funding would  accelerate the project for the community, as well as lift the confidence of private investors to back the project, O’Connor said.

Parliamentary Undersecretary for Regional Economic Development, Fletcher Tabuteau, said the project builds on a pre-existing mine operation with known gold resources and the skills and experiences of local people and businesses.

 13 DECEMBER 2019

Discounted electric-bikes offered to public sector workers

Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter officially launched an initiative  whereby discounted electric bikes will be offered to public sector staff across the country as part of the Government’s work to reduce transport emissions and support healthier transport options.

The Government has negotiated bulk-purchase discounts on e-bikes which will be made available to interested workers in public sector organisations including district health boards, councils and state sector agencies.

The discounts on e-bikes will range from 10 to 50 percent, or $300 to $1200, off the cost of an e-bike.

Having public sector staff bike to work will take pressure off car parking in places like Wellington Hospital,  reduces congestion and improve health, Genter said.

The initiative is expected to be offered up to around 50,000 public sector workers over the next year.  

16 DECEMBER 2019

Government approves $5m fund to help small businesses in Whakatane 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the Government has approved a $5 million fund to help small businesses in Whakatane following the White Island eruption.

Speaking to reporters at her weekly, post-Cabinet press conference, Ardern said officials and ministers were  finalising the criteria and details of the fund.

The fund will also support those affected by the recent flooding in Westland.

 

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