The Green Party’s James Shaw – as Minister for Climate Change – was quick to turn the just-published National Climate Change Risk Assessment to political advantage.
The report identifies 43 risks that could have a major or extreme consequence to New Zealand, 10 of them described as significant risks requiring urgent action in the next six years.
Shaw said the progress the Ardern Government has made to solve the climate crisis is essential to creating cleaner and safer communities across New Zealand.
“Because of this report, we can see clearer than ever that the action our Government is taking to reduce emissions is essential for making sure we pass on a safer planet to our children and grandchildren,” James Shaw said.
“Many of the risks we face can be traced back to the failure of previous governments to take any meaningful action to cut our emissions.”
But the New Zealand First Party knows how to turn things to its political advantage, too, and happens to be skilled in the not-so-subtle art of telling voters in the provinces how it is throwing public money at problems.
Hard on the heels of Shaw issuing his statement, Deputy PM Winston Peters and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones were announcing an investment totalling more than $100 million for regions to protect against and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Six regions will receive funding from the $3 billion allocated to infrastructure projects from the Government’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.
“There is no doubt climate change poses a real danger to our regions through extreme weather events, coastal inundation, and the associated problems such as erosion, flooding and the destruction of infrastructure,” Peters said.
“This has a negative impact on those regional economies and their productivity. It is imperative that we are providing our regions with the resources they need to protect against these issues. And in these uncertain times, this funding will stimulate regional economies and get people into work.
Jones drew attention to the damage extreme weather had done to Northland recently, submerging much of it in floodwaters.
“We have seen first-hand how it has set the region back. That’s why we are announcing $103.7 million for climate resilience measures in six regions. This funding is on top of the $107.2 million we have already announced for six other regions in the past four week,” Shane Jones said.
Oh – and then there are the jobs.
“The projects announced today will also create an estimate 490 jobs, at a time when unemployment looms for many as the economic fallout COVID-19 continues.”
These regions will receive the funding involved in this announcement:
- Tairawhiti – 1 project, $7.5m
- Waikato – 10 projects, $23.8m
- Hawke’s Bay – 4 projects, $19.2m
- Manawatu-Whanganui – 5 projects, $26.9m
- Wellington – 3 projects, $10.8m
- Canterbury – 6 projects, $15.5m
Details of the projects to benefit can be found in the press statement.\
In another pronouncement, Jones said more than 13,000 people have been employed so far thanks to the Coalition Government’s Provincial Growth Fund (which is roughly the same as saying thanks to him, Peters and their New Zealand First colleagues).
The number of jobs created by Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) investments has outstripped the 10,000 jobs target that the Government and Provincial Development Unit (PDU) hoped the fund would achieve, Jones said.
“And it doesn’t stop there.
“There are thousands more jobs to come as some of the longer-term PGF investments are realised and further economic opportunity is catalysed because of our partnerships across New Zealand.”
Point of Order readers will not be surprised to learn National’s Michael Woodhouse has accused Jones of being disingenuous, contending his figures don’t show the true number of jobs created or the breakdown of what was full time or contract jobs.
“They have no idea how many jobs have been created and the reason is they didn’t ask the applicants, so I think it’s disingenuous to say that many jobs have been created and they’re doing random surveys to pluck any sort of job number out of the air to make it look as if they’ve achieved an arbitrary goal,” Woodhouse said.
According to RNZ, Woodhouse said while $2.7 billion of the fund had been committed, only $339 million had actually made it out the door.
He said sustainable job creation was one of the central goals of the PGF and the fact Jones had to commission this kind of stocktake, and so late in the term, was telling.
“The public is paying an extraordinary price for these sorts of initiatives, they need to know they’re getting a return on that investment and at the moment, all they’re doing is seeing Shane Jones wandering around cutting ribbons in places he thinks is going to be good for New Zealand First and as I say, the taxpayer deserves better than that,” Woodhouse said.
Fair to say, Greymouth Mayor Tania Gibson told RNZ the fund had been great for her region and Wairoa Mayor Craig Little agreed the PGF had been a success.
Little could not say exactly how many jobs had been created but said the fund was about more than that.
“Social, economic, cultural and environmental that we’re able to tick off and it makes Wairoa a much better place to live.
“So even if your jobs haven’t been as many as they thought, but I believe Wairoa has been really successful, it’s just people feeling a little bit better about themselves about getting things done,” Little said
But let’s get back to what Jones had to say in his Beehive statement.
Until now, the Provincial Development Unit collected data only about the number of workers who had been employed on a given project over the previous month, he pointed out.
The COVID-19 lockdown provided an opportunity to do a complete stocktake to better understand the cumulative number of workers – past, current and expected future workers – across all of the PGF investments to date.
“Not only has the PGF touched the lives of 13,217 people but it has also shown the public service and governments alike a new way of doing things – working alongside applicants, demonstrating increased flexibility and abandoning the traditional ‘one-size fits all’ approach.
“In addition to the remarkable figure I’m able to announce today, 11,090 people have enrolled in the PGF-funded skills and employment programmes,” Shane Jones said.
The PGF has approved 796 projects and contracts are in place for 658 of them.
About $2.7 billion has been committed to date but the fund I”s on track to be fully committed this month”.
In other words, the trough will have been emptied before the general election.
One of the core tenets of the PGF was to enhance Māori economic aspiration, Jones reminded us.
He referenced a New Zealand Institute of Economic Research study which evaluated the PGF’s $495 million investment into Māori economic development earlier this year and found significant outcomes. These included an increase of GDP by $250 million per annum, the creation of 1257 jobs, and an additional $87 million added to household incomes – benefitting two of our surge regions in particular, the Bay of Plenty and Tai Tokerau/Northland.
“Executing a $3 billion regional development fund – the largest of its kind per capita in the OECD – has been no easy feat and I want to thank all those who have worked tirelessly for the good of our regional communities.
“We’ve been able to help realise the aspirations of some of our long-forgotten provincial towns and the partnerships we’ve put in place will create legacies – I have no doubt about that,” Shane Jones said.
The job figure includes PGF projects, the PGF part of the NZ Upgrade Programme Regional Investment Opportunities and the projects the PDU is responsible for as part of the COVID-19 Worker Redeployment allocation.
The statements by Shaw, Peters and Jones were among these to be released from the Behive –
4 AUGUST 2020
The Government is funding a new separated walking and cycleway path along Napier’s Chambers and Ellison streets to provide safer access for local students and residents across Marine Parade and State
More than 13,000 people have been employed so far thanks to the Coalition Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has today announced.
3 AUGUST 2020
The Government is providing an investment totalling more than $100 million for regions to protect against and mitigate the effects of climate change, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones have announced.
Three major local projects at Te Kuiti and Otorohanga have been given the money to get moving after the impact of Covid 19, says the Minister of Māori Development Hon Nanaia Mahuta.
The Coalition Government has extended three New Zealand Defence Force deployments to the Middle East and Africa by two years, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today.
The release of the National Climate Change Risk Assessment shows that the progress this Government has made to solve the climate crisis is essential to