Ministers pour $35m into community projects while $30m goes into hydro electricity (but in that case it’s to see if there is a case to invest more)

Latest from the Beehive

Ministers visited Hawke’s Bay and Northland at the weekend to announce distributions totalling $35 million (or “up to $35m”, to be more precise).

A great chunk of that total was a sum “up to $32 million” approved in principle for the Hawke’s Bay Aquatic Centre to be built (although the press statement didn’t say where) in Hastings.  It will house a deep-water Olympic pool and a smaller ‘learn to swim’ and water safety education pool.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson made much of the provincial importance of the project, saying improved recreational water facilities were much-needed by residents of Hawke’s Bay.

“The health and wellbeing of the wider region, from Wairoa to Waipukurau, is … important. The new Aquatic Centre will be used by swimming clubs, a water polo club and the Royston Hospital Health & Fitness Gym at the EIT Institute. The Hawke’s Bay DHB will also use it for exercise and therapy such as aquarobics courses.”

Wearing his “Infrastructure” ministerial hat, Shane Jones announced the government’s investment of $3m into community infrastructure in Mangawhai and Kaiwaka. Continue reading “Ministers pour $35m into community projects while $30m goes into hydro electricity (but in that case it’s to see if there is a case to invest more)”

Chris Liddell or an Aussie? Nominations for OECD chief could present Peters with a dilemma

Here’s another multi-passport challenge for Foreign Minister Winston Peters. The US is proposing former NZ businessman Chris Liddell as the next director-general of the Paris-based OECD, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The current DG, Angela Guria, has been in the job since 2006. There’s word he wants yet another term. He is a Mexican diplomat and former politician and his term ends this year.

Liddell is head of policy coordination at the White House. He has held high rank in Microsoft and General Motors and joined President Donald Trump at the beginning of his presidency.

What worries Wellington is that he retains joint US and NZ citizenship. Continue reading “Chris Liddell or an Aussie? Nominations for OECD chief could present Peters with a dilemma”

Race comes into the govt’s housing policy considerations and Northland again is favoured by govt funding decisions

Latest from the Beehive

Done with legislating – for now – ministers have been busy redistributing the monies the government has gathered from taxes and (increasingly) by borrowing.

Housing Minister Megan Woods dipped into a $400 million fund under her control to launch the government’s Progressive Home Ownership scheme, designed to enable more families to own their own homes.

Race has been brought into considerations.  The fund has a priority to support:

  • locations with severe housing affordability,
  • households unable to otherwise buy, and
  • Māori, Pacific people, and families with children.

The Minister declared:

“The fund will scale up funding for organisations already providing PHO schemes with wraparound support services, such as budgeting advice. As part of this approach, there will be a dedicated iwi and Māori pathway, with a specific focus on better housing outcomes for Māori.” Continue reading “Race comes into the govt’s housing policy considerations and Northland again is favoured by govt funding decisions”

Let’s see how the milk flows – and to whom – after DIRA changes are included in a deluge of new laws

Latest from the Beehive

While the news media have been preoccupied with matters such as the resignation of a National MP and sacking of a Labour minister in recent days, Parliament has been getting on with legislating.  It has passed a tanker-load of bills, since we last posted a Beehive Bulletin, including legislation that government the economically vital dairy industry and Fonterra’s role in it.

The Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill amends legislation passed almost 20 years ago to enable the creation of Fonterra and promote the efficient operation of dairy markets in New Zealand.

But the dairy sector has changed considerably since 2001 and the amendments made to “this very aged legislation” ensure this regulatory regime puts the sector in the best possible position in a post-COVID world, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

The Primary Production Select Committee had recommended removing the requirement on Fonterra to accept all applications from dairy farmers wanting to become shareholders and supply milk to Fonterra, or re-enter Fonterra after leaving the co-operative.  O’Connor agreed on this point.

“This Government is determined to ensure we move milk up the value chain. This change will enable Fonterra to invest in that higher-value end.

“The new and improved DIRA Bill will serve our dairy sector, and New Zealand, well for many years to come.”

The Bill:

  • Removes the requirement for Fonterra to accept applications to become shareholders, and provides guidance on what it should consider when assessing applications.
  • Provides for a regular review of the DIRA on a 4 – 6 yearly basis, to provide regulatory certainty.
  • Limits Fonterra’s discretion in regard to setting a key assumption in calculating the base milk price (the ‘asset beta’).
  • Requires Fonterra to appoint one member of its Milk Price Panel on the nomination of the Minister of Agriculture.
  • Removes the requirement for Fonterra to supply regulated milk to independent processors with their own supply of 30 million litres or more in a single season.
  • Updates the terms on which Fonterra supplies regulated milk to Goodman Fielder for the benefit of domestic consumers.

But our legislators have been frenetically busy on several other fronts.-

The passing of the Public Service Legislation Bill will repeal and replace the State Sector Act 1988.   The new Act:

  • provides a more flexible set of options for how the Public Service can organise itself to better respond to specific priorities
  • allows public servants to move between agencies more easily
  • clearly establishes the purpose, principles, and values of an apolitical Public Service, as well as its role in government formation
  • supports the Crown in its commitment to and its relationship with Māori
  • strengthens leadership across the Public Service and, in particular, provides for system and future focused leadership, and
  • shifts the focus from state services to public services, changing the name of the State Services Commission to the Public Service Commission.

Parliament has passed the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill, intended to provide better information on log supply and build investor confidence in the forestry sector. The Bill was introduced as part of Budget 2020 and supports the predictable and long-term supply of timber. Forestry Minister Shane Jones says it will help build stronger linkages between forest growers, domestic processors and exporters, improved professional standards, and greater confidence in business transactions both domestically and internationally.

The Equal Pay Amendment Bill was passed, aimed at giving people working in female-dominated professions a clearer pathway for pay equity by ensuring that businesses, workers, and unions can bargain more effectively and fairly. It aligns with the bargaining process in the Employment Relations Act 2000.

The Infrastructure Funding and Financing Act – described as a breakthrough for housing developments in high-growth areas – has been passed into law.  It establishes the Infrastructure Levy Model, which the Government has developed in partnership with high-growth councils. A key feature of the model is the establishment of an entity called a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), a financing tool that enables debt finance to be raised from the private sector and ring-fenced from a council’s balance sheet, not affecting their debt levels or credit rating.

The just-passed Rates Rebate (Statutory Declarations) Amendment Act makes it easier for eligible ratepayers to access the Rates Rebate Scheme. This is expected to make it easier for low income ratepayers to get rates support from the Government. In the 2019 rating year, 103,000 people successfully applied for a rates rebate.

The passage of the Urban Development Bill aims to give Kāinga Ora-Homes and Communities the tools it needs to build homes at scale and pace by bringing together councils, communities, mana whenua and private developers .  It will lead projects that will transform communities all around New Zealand, and provide much-needed housing and infrastructure.

The passing of Te Ture Whenua Māori (Succession, Dispute Resolution, and Related Matters) Amendment Bill ensures the legislation works better for Māori land owners and fixes some of the barriers to succeeding Māori land.  The legislation changes the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act to give Māori land owners better support to resolve disputes and build papakāinga housing on their whenua .

The passing of the Taumata Arowai – the Water Services Regulator Bill creates a new regulatory body to oversee, administer and enforce a new and strengthened drinking water regulatory system. It will also have a national oversight role to improve the environmental performance of storm water and wastewater networks.

Law changes to end tenure review and provide for better management of Crown pastoral lands in the South Island high country were considered by Parliament with the first reading of the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill.  Publicly owned Crown pastoral lands comprise 1.2 million hectares of land in the South Island and represent about 5% of New Zealand’s land area. The Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill ends tenure review. It aims to ensure the ecological, landscape, cultural, heritage and scientific values of Crown owned pastoral land are maintained or improved, while at the same time providing for ongoing pastoral farming.

While those bills were being considered, some ministers nevertheless had time to dole out million of dollars of our money.

  • A $50 million investment is being made from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to address the backlog of cases across the court system following the COVID-19 lockdown period. It will provide for five District Court judges, four acting High Court judges, one acting Associate judge and around 40 fulltime support staff. The funding also provides for extra Police prosecution staff to support more criminal events in court; two extra Corrections prison officers to support those held on remand and for transport to-and-from court or AVL appearances; further resource for Oranga Tamariki for the increase in care and protection of children applications; and a small investment in Crown Law for increased Crown prosecution work.
  • The Government is putting $8.5 million towards the restoration and strengthening of the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Wellington. The funding comes from the $3 billion tagged contingency set aside in Budget 2020 for infrastructure.  Almost 300 construction jobs will be created.
  • The Government is investing $53.3 million in a variety of projects in the Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman regions. The projects are being funded by a combination of loans and investments from the Provincial Growth Fund and the Infrastructure Reference Group’s shovel ready projects.
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the Government has invested $48 million in seven infrastructure projects in Taranaki to support jobs and the regional economy. The grandstands at Yarrow Stadium get the lion’s share, a $20 million investment, with co-funding from the regional council, to bring the stadium back to full operational use (and create 150 jobs).

Then there were matters we can sum up as “other business“.

  • New rules to help our fastest growing cities make room for their rising populations have been released. The National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) will direct councils – particularly in the five high growth centres of Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, and Christchurch – to free up their planning rules while focusing on well-functioning neighbourhoods and communities.  Later this month an announcement will be made on the timeline for the companion National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land (NPS-HPL), which will ensure highly productive land for food and fibre production is not permanently lost to developments without considering other options.
  • The report back of the Royal Commission into the Attacks on Christchurch Mosques on 15 March 2019 has been further extended due to delays resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Commission will now report back on November 26.
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Energy Minister Megan Woods launched “Ara Ake” in New Plymouth.  That’s the name they have given the National New Energy Development Centre funded (to the tune of $27m) by the Government and established by Venture Taranaki. Are Ake will lead the development of new clean energy technologies and work with businesses to commercialise their innovations creating high-paying local jobs.
  • Australian Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister Simon Birmingham and New Zealand Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker met virtually yesterday to conduct annual Closer Economic Relations discussions between two of the world’s most integrated economies.

Release

24 JULY 2020

Government ensures greater safety for our drinking water

The passing today of the Taumata Arowai – the Water Services Regulator Bill draws a further line under the Havelock North tragedy and will lead to safer and sustainable drinking water for all New Zealanders.

Hon Nanaia Mahuta

Local Government

Release

24 JULY 2020

Whenua law changes help whānau

Māori land owners will be better supported to resolve disputes and build papakāinga housing on their whenua with targeted changes to Te Ture Whenua Māori Act now becoming law.

Release

24 JULY 2020

Better access to rates support

Minister of Local Government Hon Nanaia Mahuta welcomes legislation that makes it easier for low income ratepayers to access rates support from the Government.

Hon Nanaia Mahuta

Local Government

Release

24 JULY 2020

Mosque Attack Royal Commission to report back in November

There has been a further extension to the report back of the Royal Commission into the Attacks on Christchurch Mosques on 15 March 2019, Minister for Internal Affairs Tracey Martin has confirmed.

Hon Tracey Martin

Internal Affairs

Release

24 JULY 2020

Law to help infrastructure financing passes

The Government has passed legislation establishing a new tool to enable infrastructure for housing and urban development.

Hon Phil Twyford

Economic Development

Release

24 JULY 2020

DIRA Bill will serve the dairy sector well for years to come

Legislation to deliver ongoing benefits for New Zealand farmers was passed today, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today.

Hon Damien O’Connor

Agriculture

Release

24 JULY 2020

Over $53m for Top of the South projects

The Government is investing $53.3 million in a variety of projects that will provide a huge boost to the Nelson, Marlborough and Tasman regions.

Fletcher Tabuteau

Regional Economic Development

Release

24 JULY 2020

Sacred Heart Cathedral to be restored and strengthened

Almost 300 construction jobs will be created with work getting underway on the restoration and strengthening of the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Wellington.

Hon Grant Robertson

Arts, Culture and Heritage

 

Finance

Release

24 JULY 2020

Support to clear COVID-19 affected court cases

The Government is taking action to address the backlog of cases across the court system following the COVID-19 lockdown period, Minister of Justice Andrew Little announced today.

Hon Andrew Little

Justice

Release

23 JULY 2020

Equal Pay Amendment Bill Passes with Unanimous Support

New Zealanders working in female-dominated professions will have a clearer pathway for pay equity with the passing of the Equal Pay Amendment Bill at 11:59pm this evening, say Minister for Workplace Relations, Andrew Little, and Minister for Women, Julie Anne Genter.

Hon Andrew Little Hon Julie Anne Genter

Women

Workplace Relations and Safety

Release

23 JULY 2020

New legislation to end tenure review and improve management of Crown pastoral lands

Law changes to end tenure review and provide for better management of Crown pastoral lands in the South Island high country were considered by Parliament today with the first reading of the Crown Pastoral Land Reform Bill says Minister for Land Information, Eugenie Sage.

Hon Eugenie Sage

Land Information

Release

23 JULY 2020

Log Traders & Forestry Advisers Registration Bill passed by Parliament

Parliament has today passed the Forests (Regulation of Log Traders and Forestry Advisers) Amendment Bill that will provide better information on log supply and build investor confidence in the forestry sector, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says.

Hon Shane Jones

Forestr

Release

23 JULY 2020

Joint Ministerial Statement: New Zealand-Australia trade talks

Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and Hon David Parker MP, New Zealand Minister for Trade and Export Growth, met virtually on Thursday 23 July to conduct annual Closer Economic Relations discussions between two of the world’s most integrated economies.

Hon David Parker

Trade and Export Growth

Release

23 JULY 2020

Kāinga Ora gets tooled up to build more homes

Legislation to transform our urban areas and create sustainable, inclusive and thriving communities was passed today, Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said.

Hon Phil Twyford

Urban Development

Release

23 JULY 2020

New rules to help our cities grow up and out

New rules to help our fastest growing cities make room for their rising populations has today been released by Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford and Environment Minister David Parker.

Hon Phil Twyford Hon David Parker

Environment

Urban Development

Release

23 JULY 2020

Parliament passes Bill to reform public service

Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins said today’s passing of the Public Service Legislation Bill will deliver the most significant change in the public service in 30 years.

Hon Chris Hipkins

State Services

Release

23 JULY 2020

Grand plans funded for Yarrow Stadium as Govt invests in Taranaki infrastructure

Repairs and redevelopment of Yarrow Stadium in New Plymouth will bring it back to full use while creating economic stimulus and jobs, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced while visiting the region and the stadium today.

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister

Release

23 JULY 2020

Clean energy boost as Ara Ake launched

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Energy Minister Megan Woods launched Ara Ake in New Plymouth today – the National New Energy Development Centre funded by the Government and established by Venture Taranaki.

 

The PM announces a strategic partnership with Vietnam while Sepuloni connects the needy with social services

Latest from the Beehive

Having severed her relations with a wayward member of her ministerial team, the PM turned to foreign affairs and trade and set about strengthening the country’s relations with Vietnam.

She met virtually with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to discuss the importance of the New Zealand-Vietnam relationship and to formally announce its elevation to a Strategic Partnership.

Trade between New Zealand and Vietnam reached more than $2 billion in the year to March 2020, making it our 15th largest two-way trading partner. Vietnam is projected to be one of the fastest growing economies in Asia in the next few years.

Details of the Strategic Partnership are contained in the Joint Statement released by the Prime Ministers following today’s meeting, available here:

Strategic Partnership status indicates the strong growth in the New Zealand and Vietnam relationship and our converging interests. It will enable for improved access and cooperation on matters of mutual interest and benefit.

Improved relationships – or “connections”, in this case – is the aim of an initiative announced by Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni, but there is a jobs element to the announcement, too. Continue reading “The PM announces a strategic partnership with Vietnam while Sepuloni connects the needy with social services”

Lees-Galloway gets his marching orders, the ministerial team gets a shake-up, but NZ First does not get Immigration

Latest from the Beehive

Hot off the press, as we were preparing this Beehive bulletin, came a statement from Iain Lees-Galloway which had not been posted on the Beehive website.   It came hard on the heels of a statement from the PM which announced Lees-Galloway has been dismissed and her ministerial team had been reshuffled.

Carmel Sepuloni will become the Minister for ACC, Andrew Little will become the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety and Kris Faafoi will become Minister for Immigration.

New Zealand First will be disappointed.  Winston Peters at the weekend had declared his party’s special interest in the Immigration portfolio.

But what prompted the ministerial reshuffle?

It transpires the PM had been given cause to question the hapless Lees-Galloway and her Minister of Workplace Relations and Safety had confirmed a consensual relationship with someone who had previously worked in his office and had been based in one of the agencies in his ministerial bailiwick. Continue reading “Lees-Galloway gets his marching orders, the ministerial team gets a shake-up, but NZ First does not get Immigration”

PM counts the blessings of being on good terms with China while her Finance Minister counts billions of Covid Fund handouts

Latest from the Beehive

China’s relations with the United States and Australia (as Point of Order readers know) are seriously strained and now we can add Britain to the list of countries that are turning up the heat on the authoritarian government in Beijing.   Britain will suspend its extradition treaty with Hong Kong in an escalation of a dispute with China over its introduction of a national security law for the former British colony.

But our PM – in a speech to the China Business Summit – emphasised three points:

  • Our important relationship with China, New Zealand’s largest trading partner, is in good shape.
  • While we have different perspectives on some issues, we continue to manage these well.
  • And there continue to be many opportunities for New Zealand to develop with China.

But perhaps a more  significant announcement from the Beehive yesterday came from Finance Minister Grant Robertson, who said the remainder of the COVID Response and Recovery Fund “is being set aside to make sure New Zealand is in a strong position to fight whatever COVID-19 throws at the economy”.

It was comforting to hear it hasn’t all been spent yet, contrary to the impression created by the daily flow of spending announcements recorded here.  Continue reading “PM counts the blessings of being on good terms with China while her Finance Minister counts billions of Covid Fund handouts”

NZ’s David Walker is in the thick of it (but not as a candidate) as the WTO selects a new director-general

A New Zealander is in the thick of the campaign to select a new director-general of the World Trade Organisation in Geneva – but not as a candidate.   NZ’s WTO ambassador, David Walker, chairs the general council, the WTO’s highest-level decision-making body in Geneva, which will select the candidate.

The present director-general, Brazilian diplomat Ricardo Azevedo, leaves the WTO on August 31, a year before his mandate was due to expire. He cites personal reasons for leaving but also said it would be good for the organisation to have a different leader to face “the new post-Covid realities.”

Timing is critical as many question the future of the WTO as an advocate for international trade.  The WTO has been scarred by the United States’ decision in December to block the appointment of two new members to the appellate body. Continue reading “NZ’s David Walker is in the thick of it (but not as a candidate) as the WTO selects a new director-general”

Peters abjures pixie dust (while saving us from the nanny state) but he might need some to win seats at this year’s election

So  what’s  the wily  old  master  up  to now?   In  his  opening  campaign  speech,  Winston  Peters attacked   his  coalition   partners.  His  party,  he  says,  is   sick  of  “woke pixie  dust”  from  them:

New  Zealanders  need to know what’s out there,  and what they have been  saved  from.”  

 Surely  he is not talking   about  Jacinda Ardern  and her  party?   Haven’t  they  been  our  saviours from  the  coronovirus   pandemic?

Peters  then  spells    out   what he has  saved  us from:  NZ   First has  been  the  handbrake   on  the  “nanny state”.

We’ve used  commonsense  to hold  Labour and the  Greens to account. We’ve  opposed   woke pixie  dust. We’ve defended  socially  conservative  values, like the right to believe in  God. We’ve focussed  on the wisdom of sound  economics”.

 Will   voters  on  September   19   show  their  gratitude? Continue reading “Peters abjures pixie dust (while saving us from the nanny state) but he might need some to win seats at this year’s election”

Britain’s Battle of Brexit has an internal dimension

One of the chores of the Brexit process is the repatriation of powers from Brussels to Westminster.  Simple as making a list you might say.  But one aspect – bringing home the state’s economic regulatory powers – is causing a spat.

When the UK joined the European Economic Community (as it then was) in 1973, these powers were held at the national level.  But since then, in addition to ceding further powers to Europe, the central government has devolved substantial retained powers to regional administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.  And the local politicians – seeking to advance their localist and autonomist agenda – are clamouring for a share of the handback.

So Westminster’s mandarins and politicians have come up with a plan, with a refreshingly deep foundation in history, economics and – yes – politics. Continue reading “Britain’s Battle of Brexit has an internal dimension”