Let’s see how much money ministers can dispense before Covid-19 calls for a tougher govt response

Latest from the Beehive –

The PM provided a disquieting heads-up on what the government will do if a new case of community transmission of COVID-19 is found in New Zealand.  She outlined the cabinet-approved framework designed to give the public and business community as much certainty as can be given on what to expect if new cases inside our borders are found.

Some of her ministers, meanwhile, were getting on with the business of winning public approval by redistributing the money collected by the IRD,

  • Six new projects will be supported by the government’s clean-powered public service fund.  Climate Change Minister James Shaw didn’t include the total cost in his press statement (around $12.7 million by our reckoning), but he did say the projects will reduce state sector carbon emissions by an estimated 14,730 tonnes annually, “the equivalent of taking more than 6,000 petrol vehicles off the road”.
  • Funding of $4m (from the $3 billion tagged contingency set aside in Budget 2020 for infrastructure) was announced for a new Gore public library ($3m) and to enable important remedial works and upgrades at the Gore Multisports Complex ($1m).
  • Around $3.5m from the Provincial Growth Fund was announced for jobs and skills training in Otago and Southland, helping an estimated 1,500 people to become work-ready.  Funding of $1.85m over four years will help establish Workforce Central Dunedin’s construction industry Jobs and Skills Hub, to support the construction of a new Dunedin Hospital. Another $1.86m over two years has been committed to set up a pilot for the NZ Shearing Training Model programme, to develop and deliver a sustainable, integrated training model for the shearing and wool handling industry.
  • Funding of $30m from central government is being invested in flood protection measures in Southland and Otago.  The dosh here forms part of the $210m for shovel-ready climate resilience and flood protection projects being delivered through the aforementioned contingency for infrastructure. Otago will receive $5m; Southland gets $25m.
  • Government funding of $7m has been approved for the Clutha Community Hub, a $17 million project which is estimated to create more than 150 direct and indirect jobs. The new community-owned community, business and visitor hub will provide community services, cultural and serve the arts and business sectors across the Clutha District. Construction is expected to be under way within three months.
  • The government will invest $2m in strengthening and restoration of the Lakes District Museum in Arrowtown. The $3.5 million project involves seismic strengthening, the restoration of the building and an upgrading of the museum’s displays.
  • A Rotorua Maori tribal entity, Te Arawa Lakes Trust, will receive $2.5m from the Government’s Jobs for Nature fund to lead an environmental programme – Mauri Tu Mauri Ora Te Arawa – that will create 40 nature-based jobs, particularly in the tourism, hospitality and services sectors. The project involves wetland restoration, catfish and aquatic weed control, pest eradication, monitoring water takes and discharges, and beehive management work.  Funding comes from the more than $500 million allocated to the Department of Conservation as part of the government’s $1.3 billion Jobs for Nature investment in response to Covid-19.

Defence Minister Ron Mark was not dishing out money.  Rather, he announced the Defence Ministry’s release of an independent review of the New Zealand Defence Force’s progress against its action plan for Operation Respect.

Operation Respect? What’s that all about?

Oh, yes.  It was implemented in 2016 to address inappropriate and harmful sexual behaviours, discrimination, harassment and bullying.

Mark said he is confident the 44 recommendations in the report will be “appropriately addressed” (weasel words which would entitle the ministry to argue that doing nothing is the appropriate action).

The full report can be found on the Ministry of Defence website:   http://www.defence.govt.nz/publications/publication/operation-respect-review

But all those projects which are gobbling up our tax monies  and the measures being taken to change Defence force behaviour will be put on the back-burner if a new case of community transmission of COVID-19 is found.

In her speech, the PM highlighted World Health Organisation figures showing the global infection rate is nearing 13m cases, with over 215,000 cases reported globally on Tuesday.

When New Zealand closed its borders on March 19 there were 240,000 cases in the world in total.

This growth in cases around the world is reflected in the steady stream of New Zealanders returning from overseas, some of whom are bringing the virus back with them.

These are being contained at our borders – but for how long?

Ardern ominously cautioned:

“Experts tell us that even with the best precautions possible, the chances of the virus passing from a surface, or contact with someone who is a carrier are high.

“We must prepare now for that eventuality and have a plan at the ready in the event that it does.”

Ardern proceeded to emphasise that elimination of Covid-19 is the government’s over-riding objective, but in the event of new community cases the government would move immediately to implement our “Stamp it Out” approach again.

Release

16 JULY 2020

Te Arawa Lakes Trust among first to benefit from Jobs for Nature and biosecurity investment

Whenua/land, roto/lakes and awa/rivers in the central North Island will benefit from increased habitat protection with new

Hon Eugenie Sage

Conservation

Land Information

Release

16 JULY 2020

Independent review of the New Zealand Defence Force’s Operation Respect released

An independent review of the New Zealand Defence Force’s progress against its action plan for Operation Respect has been released by the Ministry of Defence today, announced Defence Minister Ron Mark.

Hon Ron Mark

Defence

Release

16 JULY 2020

Clutha and Arrowtown: Govt support for community facilities

Government support for two community facilities will provide a major economic boost for Otago, helping the region’s recovery from COVID-19, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones says.

Hon Shane Jones

Infrastructure

Release

16 JULY 2020

Less flooding, more jobs in Southland and Otago

New investment in flood protection measures in Southland and Otago will keep residents safer and boost their local economies, with funding of $30 million from central Government announced by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones today.

Hon Shane Jones

Infrastructure

Release

16 JULY 2020

PGF delivers more jobs and skills training for the regions

The Coalition Government is again delivering for jobs and skills training in Otago and Southland through the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones said today.

Hon Shane Jones

Regional Economic Development

Release

15 JULY 2020

Condolences on passing of Sir Toke Talagi

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has expressed his condolences regarding the passing of Niue’s former Premier, Sir Toke Talagi, which occurred today in Niue.

Rt Hon Winston Peters

Deputy Prime Minister

Foreign Affairs

Release

15 JULY 2020

Prime Minister extends condolences on passing of Niue’s former Premier

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has extended New Zealand’s condolences following the death of Niue’s former Premier, Sir Toke Talagi, who has passed away in Niue.

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister

Release

15 JULY 2020

Gore community facilities get Government backing

Two leaking and run-down community facilities in Gore will receive Government funding to provide jobs for local contractors and long-term benefits to the Gore community and wider region, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones has announced.

Hon Shane Jones

Infrastructure

Release

15 JULY 2020

Clean energy future for more public services

New Zealand’s state sector has taken another important step towards a clean energy future, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw said today as he announced six new projects that will be supported by the Government’s clean-powered public service fund.

Hon James Shaw

Climate Change

Speech

15 JULY 2020

Next steps in COVID response

Today I am setting out our plan in the event we have a new case of community transmission of COVID-19 in New Zealand.

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister

 

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