Latest from the Beehive –
Nine press releases (when we checked this morning) had flowed from the Beehive since we last reported. Eight of them brayed about the money Ministers have been spending and (as they prefer to put it) investing.
The sole exception came from Environment Minister David Parker, who provided a progress report on the passage of “the law to boost the economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 by speeding up resource consenting on selected projects”.
But without putting a dollar sign on it, Parker did have more good news for Queenstown (where the government has been pouring millions of dollars).
His statement advised that the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Bill, crafted to support and accelerate the government’s investment in infrastructure, environment and development projects while maintaining environmental and Treaty safeguards, has passed its second and third readings in the House.
He mentioned that Part 2 of the Resource Management Act, including the recognition of matters of national importance, will continue to apply and reference to it is being strengthened.
The Queenstown Arterials Project has been added to the 11 named projects originally listed in the Bill.
This project would build a new urban route through Queenstown, including road, cycle ways and walkways.
The Queenstown Lakes District Council reckons this project will directly create up to 450 jobs over the two-year construction period. Up to 650 other jobs could be created indirectly.
The 12 substantive projects now on the list include rail upgrades, residential housing, roads, cycle ways and water storage.
The matter given most publicity yesterday was based on the announcement from David Clark, who advised us he had formally tendered his resignation as Minister of Health.
There were no dollar signs in the statement – but he did take pride in the government spending on health on his watch:
“We have made record investments in funding for DHBs, record investments in capital spending to rebuild our run-down hospitals and health facilities.
“We’ve made doctors’ visits cheaper for more than half a million Kiwis and free up to the age of 14.”
Umm. When he talks of “cheaper” and “free” doctor’s visits, please don’t imagine doctors have reduced or abolished their fees.
Clark went on:
“We’ve made historic investments into our mental health services, including sorting out pay for mental health support workers.
“We have hired more than 2000 more nurses – and increased their pay.
“We’ve established the Cancer Control Agency, Te Aho o te Kahu – quite aside from the day to day challenges in managing the system, these are significant achievements.”
Vote Health is the main source of funding for New Zealand’s health and disability system; ACC is its other major source of public funding.
It’s a significant investment – almost $20.27 billion in 2020/21 – in the wellbeing of New Zealanders and their families.
Clark’s successor as Minister of Health, Chris Hipkins, released a statement to advise that schools are being enabled to get additional resources, such as more teacher-aide hours to work with students at risk, funding for home-visits including for people with a history of poor attendance, and social workers to work with refugee families as part of the $50m Urgent Response Fund (URF).
“A further $16m will go to workplace assistance and counselling support services for the education workforce and their families. This will benefit 10,000 additional teachers and other school staff by 2022.
“Teachers, principals, support staff and centre leaders have done a great job during the pandemic and they’ll continue to play a vital in the recovery.”
This $66 million package is in addition to the $32.8 million for new frontline specialists to support the teaching of mental health and healthy relationships to promote the wellbeing of children and young people.”
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced scholarships for 57 early-career agricultural emissions scientists from 20 developing countries (“another example of New Zealand’s international leadership in primary sector sustainability”, he said).
Hundreds of applications were received for the fourth round of the CLIFF-GRADS programme (Climate, Food and Farming Global Research Alliance Development Scholarships) and nearly twice as many scholarships were awarded as in the previous round.
“Supporting these international study programmes is one of many ways New Zealand is contributing to addressing agricultural emissions,” O’Connor said.
In other words, this is one of many ways New Zealand taxpayers are contributing …
New Zealand provides core funding for CLIFF-GRADS as part of its ongoing support of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (GRA).
CLIFF-GRADS scholarship recipients often face a number of constraints to conducting their research in their home countries. This round includes two placements at New Zealand’s Massey University, O’Connor explained.
O’Connor took pride in declaring:
“As part of Budget 2020, I have made a renewed commitment of $34 million over the next four years to continue support of the GRA and its objective to grow more food without growing greenhouse gas emissions.
And the other five statements?
They all came from the Minister of Munificence, Shane Jones:
- A regional freight hub for the lower North Island will be built just northeast of Palmerston North. The Government is investing $40 million through the Provincial Growth Fund to designate and buy land and design the planned intermodal freight hub to deal with growing freight volumes in the lower North Island.
- Five port-related projects in Whanganui will receive a $26.75 million Provincial Growth Fund investment to support local economic recovery and create new opportunities for growth.
- Whanganui’s Sarjeant Gallery will receive an investment of up to $12 million administered by the Provincial Growth Fund to support its redevelopment.
- The Provincial Growth Fund is investing nearly $2.5 million into three Te Ara Mahi programmes to support Manawatū-Whanganui jobseekers and employees to quickly train and upskill.
- A project to help rejuvenate the Horowhenua town of Foxton will receive a Provincial Growth Fund investment of $3.86 million.
3 JULY 2020
The Government has opened an urgent response fund to support schools and early learning services to get children and young people back on track after the Covid-19 lockdown.
2 JULY 2020
A regional freight hub for the lower North Island will be built just northeast of Palmerston North, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced.
2 JULY 2020
The law to boost the economic recovery from the impact of COVID-19 by speeding up resource consenting on selected projects has passed its second and third readings in the House today.
2 JULY 2020
Five port-related projects in Whanganui will receive a $26.75 million Provincial Growth Fund investment to support local economic recovery and create new opportunities for growth, Regional Econ
2 JULY 2020
Whanganui’s Sarjeant Gallery will receive an investment of up to $12 million administered by the Provincial Growth Fund to support its redevelopment, Regional Economic Development Minister Shan
2 JULY 2020
The Provincial Growth Fund is investing nearly $2.5 million into three Te Ara Mahi programmes to support Manawatū-Whanganui jobseekers and employees to quickly train and upskill, Regional Econo
2 JULY 2020
This morning I have formally tendered my resignation as Minister of Health, which was accepted by the Prime Minister.
2 JULY 2020
Scholarships for 57 early-career agricultural emissions scientists from 20 developing countries is another example of New Zealand’s international leadership in primary sector sustainability, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
2 JULY 2020
A project to help rejuvenate the Horowhenua town of Foxton will receive a Provincial Growth Fund investment of $3.86 million, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today.