While the poll-axed Nats were feverishly engaged in leadership manoeuvres, the Government was spending, appointing and telling us about bullying – in one state agency, at least.
The biggest sum among the day’s announcements involved the Coalition Government’s approval of a business case for $206 million in upgrades to critical infrastructure at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea.
Defence Minister Ron Mark said the investment, to be made in three phases over five years, is part of the grandly named “Defence Estate Regeneration Programme”.
But there’s a strong hint not all of the $206m is a done deal – Cabinet approval will be sought for final project and funding arrangements for each phase.
Deeper down in the statement was mention of Budget 2020 providing $676.5 million of additional Defence Force operating funding and the announcement that $69.9 million (a not immodest sum) is planned for investment into the Defence Estate.
The $69.9 million includes:
- $63.9 million for deferred maintenance across NZDF camps and bases, which will help clear the backlog of deferred maintenance at NZDF bases and camps, which has contributed to 42% of the Defence Estate being assessed as only marginally fit for purpose;
- $6 million for Healthy Homes compliance, which will help NZDF meet the Residential Tenancies (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulations 2019, which established minimum standards for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture ingress and drainage, and draught stopping in rental properties, and come into effect in 2022 for the NZDF.
Whatever happened to barracks?
Somewhat more bemusing was the announcement by Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni of $35m “to build financial resilience for New Zealanders”.
That’s a comparatively small sum for a huge objective.
This $35m boost to financial capability service providers (funded by the Ministry of Social Development, which means “taxpayers”)
“ … will help New Zealanders manage their money better both day to day and through periods of financial difficulty.”
But only some New Zealanders will get a sniff at it. Sepuloni is talking about increased support “to key groups experiencing or at risk of experiencing hardship” by strengthening something called Building Financial Capability (BFC) services.
On Budget Day the government announced money was being invested in building financial capability service providers in support of demand for their services.
Sepuloni yesterday was dishing out some of this money:
- $9.7m will go towards a general funding top up of around 20% to the rate so BFC providers can continue to support the 35,000 clients they see each year.
- Because a significant increase in demand for budgeting services is expected in the economic downturn from COVID-19 with some households living on a reduced income, an extra $25m worth of funding will be rolled out to 131 existing services.
This extra funding will go towards:
- Financial Mentoring – one-to-one support empowering people to achieve their goals, including reducing debt and connecting to support they may need.
- MoneyMates – peer-led support for people to learn and share together as a group.
- Building Financial Capability Plus (Kahukura) service – intensive support for people who are hard to reach or with complex needs.
- Micro-finance services – affordable credit to people at risk of unsustainable debt and hardship.”
On the employment side of yesterday’s ballyhoo from the Beehive (but not without spending implications), we learn that Statistics Minister James Shaw has been engaged in the business of job creation.
He announced the appointments to a new Governance Advisory Board charged with providing strategic advice to Stats NZ to ensure it is meeting New Zealand’s data needs now and in the future.
It is modelled on, and will operate in a similar manner to, the board that advises the Treasury. That’s the outfit whose governance and accountability can be measured – perhaps – by the failure of its top brass to turn up at an Epidemic Response Committee hearing the other day.
The naming of the board follows the announcement in last week’s Budget of $210 million to run the next Census, a hefty increase on the provision for the previous Census – and we all know how well that went, eh?
The statutory responsibilities of the Chief Executive and Government Statistician remain unchanged.
Attorney-General David Parker was hiring, too. He announced the appointment of Dunedin barrister Melinda Broek as a District Court Judge with Family Court jurisdiction to be based in Rotorua.
Then there’s the shabby matter of bullying.
Transport Minister Phil Twyford released the Ministry of Transport’s review of the organisational culture at the Civil Aviation Authority.
He commissioned the review because of concerns he harboured about the culture within the CAA, and in particular, how incidents of bullying and harassment were being handled.
“The report highlights a poor approach to managing employee wellbeing and ensuring a healthy culture. This includes instances where allegations of bullying and harassment were not appropriately addressed. This allowed pockets of poor culture and inappropriate workplace behaviour to persist in parts of the CAA and Aviation Security.
“New CAA Board Chair Janice Frederic has apologised to staff for the failures identified in the review. The Board has accepted the findings and committed to adopting all of the recommendations.
The review involved 120 confidential interviews with past and present staff members, managers, Board members and stakeholders, together with an assessment of organisational culture.
- Review of CAA Organisational Culture
- CAA Board Chair response to the review
- Full terms of reference for the Review of CAA Organisational Culture
Latest from the Beehive
21 MAY 2020
A $35m boost to financial capability service providers funded by MSD will help New Zealanders manage their money better both day to day and through periods of financial difficulty, announced Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni.
21 MAY 2020
Dunedin barrister Melinda Broek has been appointed as a District Court Judge with Family Court jurisdiction to be based in Rotorua, Attorney-General David Parker announced today.
21 MAY 2020
The Coalition Government has approved a business case for $206 million in upgrades to critical infrastructure at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea, with the first phase starting later this year, Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today.
21 MAY 2020
Transport Minister Phil Twyford today released the Ministry of Transport’s review of the organisational culture at the Civil Aviation Authority.
21 MAY 2020
Ensuring that Stats NZ’s direction and strategy best supports government policy decisions will be a key focus for a new Governance Advisory Board announced today by the Minister for Statistics, James Shaw.