Hipkins moves from dishing out free lunches to overseeing free health – and $10m is poured into the new “events” trough

There’s no such thing as a free lunch?

Tell that to Chris Hipkins, who is braying about Free lunches served up to thousands of school children in the South Island.

Mind you, he now will be enthusing about free health after landing the Health portfolio after David Clark’s resignation.

While we were tidying up this post, the PM announced she was appointing Hipkins as Health Minister “until the election”.  She said she had full confidence that Hipkins would oversee the portfolio “with the thoroughness and diligence he brings to his other areas of responsibility”.

Earlier this morning Hipkins was announcing that “the Government’s free and healthy school lunches programme” is moving south for the first time, creating jobs for around 30 people in Otago and Southland.

Details are sparse, but we assume Nelson, Marlborough, Canterbury and the West Coast have been bypassed in this push south.

We were told only that:

“Eighteen schools with 3000 students are joining the programme – 11 have already begun serving lunches, and seven are preparing to start during Term 3. This is on top of the 42 schools already taking part,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said.

Hipkins dished up this rationale:

“No one wants to see children go hungry, and a full stomach makes all the difference to a child’s learning.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has added urgency to support like this.” 

And he explained that:

“The programme provides lunches to all students in schools taking part, and is being rolled out in stages. It was hugely expanded in the Budget this year to see around 200,000 more children get a free lunch by the end of 2021.”

He further said:

“Initial feedback about free and healthy lunches has been incredibly positive, with schools reporting improvements in students’ focus in the classroom, learning, behaviour and attendance. The programme is also a way of creating local jobs.

“Several schools already taking part in the programme have employed whānau to help make and distribute lunches on school sites. In some areas, locals have been employed by regionally based suppliers providing lunches.

“It’s a win-win for the students and the community,” Chris Hipkins said.

We may suppose the school kids who benefit from this win-win arrangement will not be told their tucker is not as cost-free as the ballyhoo implies.

Taxpayers’ money is being used, too, to provide the readies for a brand-new trough for eligible oinkers.

Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford injected Covid-19 into the rationale for this spending, too.

Under the heading New fund to help save local events and jobs, he announced the government has established a new $10 million fund

“ … for the domestic events sector to help save jobs and protect incomes as it recovers from the impacts of COVID-19.”

Money from Budget 2020 is going into something called the Domestic Events Fund

“ … to stave off the loss of critical events which contribute to regional economies, and that without support may never return. By saving these events, jobs and the income of sector employees, contractors and freelancers will be protected.”

Funding, thankfully, is being rationed and so:

“This fund won’t save every event…”

It will target events that will not receive support from other troughs – either the $265 million sports, or arts support announced in Budget 2020 and which sits alongside existing support such as the Arts and Cultural incubator funding.

According to the statement:

“ … it aims to support those events that provide the greatest flow-on benefit to regional economies. It has been set up to provide cash-flow within the sector.

“On top of this, sector workers have been able to access the Government’s wage subsidy, which has paid out more than $12 billion, and many will benefit directly and indirectly from the $70 million Creative Arts Recovery and Employment Fund to support rebuilding the creative industries, and the $60 million Cultural Innovation Fund to encourage investment and new thinking in the cultural and creative sectors,” Phil Twyford said.

To be eligible for the Domestic Events Fund, events must be:

  • Existing events that are considered regionally or nationally significant, where support is needed to be able to sustainably re-start or re-scale the event, or
  • Where supporting the event will help retain sector-critical event organisers and suppliers for the long-term viability of the industry.

The fund will open for applications tomorrow and will remain open until the full $10 million has been paid out in support of the events industry.

It will be administered by New Zealand Major Events, which already has responsibility for the existing Major Events Fund and the Creative & Cultural Event Incubator.

But wait.  More money is flowing from Twyford for other purposes.  Along with Associate Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni and Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi, he announced a screen sector support package intended to protect thousands of Kiwi jobs and investment in New Zealand productions.

The package also includes investment in broadcasting through the NZ Film Commission and NZ On Air including a boost for Pacific, student and disability media.

The Screen Production Fund of $73.4 million is intended to ensure more than 230 productions that employ thousands of New Zealanders are not abandoned due to additional costs incurred as a result of COVID-19.

Sepuloni said it also protects an estimated $250 million of public funding already invested in them,

This year’s Budget includes $140 million to cover New Zealand’s ongoing commitments under the New Zealand Screen Production Grant for International Productions. This includes $25 million which we have reallocated to support the funding for New Zealand feature films.

Faafoi said new funding for diverse audiences will provide $25 million over four years to NZ On Air to ensure audiences that are otherwise not well served by broadcast media can get the information they need.

Among other Beehive announcements, we note one dealt with moa (a plan to better protect their bones) and another with motorists (legislation to give them a better deal at the pump).\


2 JULY 2020

Plan to improve protection of moa bones

Moa bones and other sub-fossil remains of extinct species are set to have improved protection with proposals to prevent the trade in extinct species announced the Minist

Hon Eugenie Sage



2 JULY 2020

Free lunches served up to thousands of school children in the South Island

The Government’s free and healthy school lunches programme moves south for the first time creating jobs for around 30 people in Otago and Southland.

Hon Chris Hipkins



1 JULY 2020

Screen Sector recovery package protects jobs, boosts investment

Thousands of Kiwi jobs and investment in New Zealand productions will be protected through a screen sector support package announced today by Associate Minister for Arts Culture an

Hon Phil Twyford Hon Carmel Sepuloni Hon Kris Faafoi

Arts, Culture and Heritage

Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media

Economic Development


1 JULY 2020

New fund to help save local events and jobs

The Government has established a new $10 million fund for the domestic events sector to help save jobs and protect incomes as it recovers from the impacts of COVID-19, Minister of Economic Developmen

Hon Phil Twyford

Economic Development


1 JULY 2020

Bill to improve fuel market competition

The Government has taken another step in its commitment to making sure New Zealanders get a fairer deal at the petrol pump with the introduction of legislation to improve competition in the ret

Hon Dr Megan Woods

Energy and Resources


1 JULY 2020

New Zealand joins global facility for pre-purchase of COVID-19 Vaccine

New Zealand has joined a global initiative that aims to enable all countries to access a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced today.

Rt Hon Winston Peters

Deputy Prime Minister

Foreign Affairs


1 JULY 2020

Right to legal representation in Family Court restored today

From today new legislation takes effect to both restore the right to legal representation at the start of a Care of Children (CoCA) dispute in the Family Court, and allow parties to those proceedings to access legal aid where eligible.

Hon Andrew Little




1 JULY 2020

Transitioning to a fully-qualified home-based ECE workforce

Home-based early childhood education (ECE) subsidised by the government will transition to a fully qualified workforce by 2025 to ensure better and more consistent quality, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

Hon Chris Hipkins



1 JULY 2020

Criminal Cases Review Commission gets to work

The new Criminal Cases Review Commission | Te Kāhui Tātari Ture (CCRC) has started work and can now independently investigate claimed miscarriages of justice.

Hon Andrew Little




2 thoughts on “Hipkins moves from dishing out free lunches to overseeing free health – and $10m is poured into the new “events” trough

  1. First, corporate welfare from Labour to the rich listers in Queenstown, including A.J. Hackett and Sir John Davies. Now, free lunches in Southland and Otago while other areas of the Mainland miss out. Are the generous Labour government hoping to garner votes in the Queenstown area or perhaps even win the National stronghold seat of Southland?


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