The way is being opened for householders to avoid council poohbahs and revenue grabbers. when they want to do a bit of do-it-yourself building work on their properties. It is being opened, too, for the promoters of projects promising to quickly employ plenty of people to get their snouts into the Provincial Growth Fund.
Both announcements from the Beehive professed to be designed to keep the dole queues as short as possible and help the country’s recovery from Covid-19.
They vied for public attention alongside statements which –
- Expressed New Zealand’s concerns with legislation in China relating to national security in Hong Kong;
- Announced the theme for the 2020 Samoa Language Week; and
- Declared that a programme to protect one of New Zealand’s most critically endangered birds is paying off after almost 40 years, with a record number of adult kakī/black stilt recently recorded living in the wild.
Building and Construction Minister Jenny Salesa announced one of the Covid-19 economy-rejuvenating responses, which she said would allow the construction sector
“ … to fire back up quicker on larger projects to provide jobs and assist the country’s recovery from Covid-19.”
This will be done (we are told) by enabling homeowners, builders and DIYers to have an easier time making basic home improvements.
The need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports will be scrapped when new exemptions are introduced to the Building Act in a move intended to save homeowners $18 million in consenting costs each year, although building work must still meet the Building Code.
“These changes will save New Zealanders time and money and mean councils can focus on higher-risk building work, boosting the building and construction sector in the COVID-19 recovery,” Jenny Salesa said.
Single-storey detached buildings up to 30 square metres – such as sleep-outs, sheds and greenhouses; carports; awnings; water storage bladders and others will now not require a Council-approved building consent, which will result in 9000 fewer consents to process a year.
Most of the new exemptions are expected to take effect at the end of August, after the necessary changes to the Building Act have been made.
The second big announcement at the weekend came from Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones, advising that the Provincial Growth Fund will play a vital role in New Zealand’s post-Covid-19 recovery (did anyone ever doubt it?)
“ … by creating jobs in shorter timeframes through at least $600 million being refocused on projects with more immediate economic benefits.”
The funding is comprised of “repurposed” PGF money and unallocated funding from the Regional Investment Opportunities Contingency.
Jones then announced the first tranche of new projects to be funded, including up to $100m for waterway fencing, riparian planting and stock water reticulation, $60m for road and rail investments and up to $70m for upgrades of marae, town halls, Pasifika churches and war memorials.
The funding is expected (by him, anyway) to create hundreds of jobs throughout the country.
“The refocused PGF has three clear objectives that will drive every decision from now on,” Shane Jones said.
“Number One – jobs. We want to make sure our investments will create immediate redeployment and new employment opportunities and income growth to help those communities and sectors most affected by the COVID-19 crisis. We will invest in skills programmes, sectors and infrastructure to create genuine momentum as some aspects of our regional economies undergo enduring change in the wake of COVID-19.
“Number Two – timelines. Cabinet has given the Provincial Development Unit (PDU) a renewed mandate to get projects underway as soon as possible. We will work hard and use the special Resource Management powers made available during the recovery to see projects progress quickly. Where projects are not meeting deadlines and deliverables, they will be terminated so funds can be freed up for other projects.
“Number Three – visibility. We want the PGF to be visible and active in our regions and we want regional Kiwis to have confidence that our social and economic recovery is underway.”
The PGF will continue with its tiered investment approach, with regional employment and skills programmes, investment alongside key regional firms and sectors and investment in enabling infrastructure.
But there has been a shift in the focus of the PGF’s criteria and greater weight and emphasis is being given to certain sectors.
There have been changes, too, to how the PDU goes about its contracting to speed up the process of getting money from the government “into the pockets of hard-working New Zealanders”.
The focus is on the next two to six months but will be on projects that provide longer term economic benefits, support productivity and strengthen critical infrastructure.
Funding for waterway improvement will encourage more farmers to fence off sensitive waterways from stock.
The $60m for local roading and rail projects will be spread across Bay of Plenty, Manawatu-Whanganui, West Coast, Wairarapa, Taranaki, Top of the South and Waikato. Local roading projects involve constructing footpaths, cycleways, playgrounds, vegetation management and roadside clearing and would create at least 600 jobs. The rail projects will fund deferred maintenance like culvert cleaning and drainage improvements in regional New Zealand, which would create 200 jobs.
Jones also announced PGF funding of $7.5m for another four projects that (he maintains) will make a huge difference to regions recovering from the impacts of COVID-19.
Oh – and let’s not forget the PGF will provide funding for the renovation of town halls, war memorials, marae and Pasifika churches all over the country.
“Renovating these buildings will provide work for local tradies and contractors while regular building and repair work is on hold. It is an opportunity to target Māori, Pasifika and other vulnerable workers who are not able to secure contracts through more substantial infrastructure projects. Funding of $70m will cover salaries and construction costs for these projects,” Shane Jones said.
Latest from the Beehive
24 MAY 2020
The Provincial Growth Fund will play a vital role in New Zealand’s post-COVID-19 recovery by creating jobs in shorter timeframes through at least $600 million being refocused on projects with more immediate economic benefits, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced.
24 MAY 2020
Homeowners, builders and DIYers will soon have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Government scraps the need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports – allowing the construction sector to fire back up quicker on larger projects to provide jobs and assist the country’s recovery from Covid-19.
23 MAY 2020
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says the New Zealand Government has reacted with concern at the introduction of legislation in China’s National People’s Congress relating to national security in Hong Kong.
23 MAY 2020
The Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio, says the theme for the 2020 Samoa Language Week is a perfect fit for helping our Pacific communities cope with the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, and to prepare now for the journey ahead as New Zealand focuses on recovery plans and rebuilding New Zealand’s economy.
23 MAY 2020
A nearly 40-year programme to protect one of New Zealand’s most critically endangered birds is paying off, with a record number of adult kakī/black stilt recently recorded living in the wild, the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced today.