Our daily check with the Beehive website revealed nothing new until this afternoon, and then we found just one new announcement.
It came from – guess who?
Yep. Shane Jones was again demonstrating his munificence, providing $7.78 million for the Ruapehu District Council to “jump-start” its Housing Options programme.
But a statement with much greater national significance had been made by Housing Minister Megan Woods and despatched to the Point of Order email intray.
Woods advised us the government is reducing its reliance on private security guards and increasing its use of Defence Force personnel, especially in the highest risk facilities, to fortify the Managed Isolation and Quarantine System and maritime border and further bolster (we hope) protections against community COVID-19 spread.
The defence personnel will staff higher-risk security areas such as entry and exit points and public areas.
But the private sector isn’t being forsaken. Woods said:
We will be moving to a model of direct employment of security guards with the appropriate training and paying the living wage.
Explaining what’s happening (she did not acknowledge this is being done belatedly), Woods further said
Around 500 more defence personnel will be deployed taking the total to about 990 defence personnel at our managed isolation facilities following ongoing checks and assessments of the managed isolation and quarantine system as part of a continual improvement process. That will bring the total Defence Force personnel supporting the Covid-19 response to around 1200 – the largest military contingent since Timor-Leste.
There are 32 managed isolation and quarantine facilities.
Since managed isolation started around four months ago, almost 40,000 people have successfully been through managed isolation and quarantine facilities.
Thirty staff will deploy to Auckland tomorrow to staff the first two MIQ facilities. Each week after that 75 people will be provided until each MIQF is staffed by an additional complement of 15 NZDF staff.
Woods provided an “approximate” breakdown of 1200 Defence Force Personnel
- 990 at Managed Isolation Facilities
- 80 at Border
- 70 in Police Traffic Management
- 100 for electoral support.
The statement from Jones explained that the $7.78 million he has dished out will help the Ruapehu District Council to “jump-start” its Housing Options programme, beginning with new homes to be built on council land in Taumarunui.
Yep. Not only is it the famous town on the main trunk line but also the town where the housing shortage we had never heard of is being remedied with injections of government money.
Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare earlier this month announced new emergency and transitional homes to help ease the shortage and officially opened five two-bedroom units at a community celebration. Three more units are due to be completed by December.
The homes are part of a total Te Puni Kōkiri investment of almost $3 million from the Community Development Investment Programme.
“These are the first newly built affordable rental homes in Taumarunui in some years,” Henare said.
Back in April an earlier handout was announced under the heading Taumarunui Community Kōkiri Trust congratulated on housing initiatives.
On that occasion Mahuta was announcing an investment of up to $2.1 million into the Whānau & Community Development Investment programme for Taumarunui and Te Kuiti.
More money was announced today.
In his press statement, Jones said tourism is a big contributor to Ruapehu’s economy.
“While domestic visitors make up the majority, it is important that the region looks for other ways to boost the local economy and get people into work,” Shane Jones said.
“This project will do that, but will also provide the district with a much-needed increase in social housing. It will also add to affordable housing stock for workers in key industries such as manufacturing, agriculture and essential workers like police and teachers.”
This funding will come from the $3 billion set aside for infrastructure projects in the Government’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.
19 AUGUST 2020
A construction project in Ruapehu that will deliver more social and affordable housing in the region while stimulating the local economy and creating jobs will receiving government funding, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones says.