How to reduce waste and where to go for public funding to finance your project

Point of Order has been sniffing into waste – or, more precisely, the minimisation of waste – since Environment Minister David Parker announced a $20.5m investment to reduce waste going to landfill in the Bay of Plenty

Parker said the $20.5m had been dished out to the Tauranga City Council from the Government’s Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund (CRRF) to support essential waste infrastructure projects in Tauranga that also serve the broader Bay of Plenty region.

“Our support to the Tauranga City Council’s city waste infrastructure project is another example of the Government’s commitment to accelerating regional New Zealand’s recovery from the impacts of Covid-19. 

“The project is a collaboration with private industry. It will create jobs and minimise waste going to landfill in the Bay of Plenty.”

But don’t we have a Waste Minimisation Fund for this sort of thing? Continue reading “How to reduce waste and where to go for public funding to finance your project”

Whee – it’s Whio Awareness Month, folks, but we must wait a while to learn how Kiwis will be cared for in a reformed health system

Our Beehive bulletin

We must wait for Budget 2021 to be delivered on 20 May (the date was announced today) to find how much we will be borrowing to implement initiatives and programmes the government announces almost daily from the Beehive.

Some of those initiatives profoundly and directly affect most if not all of us.  Reform of the health system, for example.

Others – not so much.

Conservation Minister Kiri Allen has announced two of these –

  • Seventeen hand-reared whio (blue duck) will be released into Arthur’s Pass National Park later this week, the first of several whio releases planned across the country over the next few months.  The first release coincides with “whio awareness month” (we confess we were blissfully unaware the calendar included such a month).
  • Philanthropic contributions to save the kiwi are being encouraged. This was announced at the launch of the Kiwis for kiwi Endowment Fund, which aims to raise $20m over the next five years to support kiwi conservation.

While Allen was hailing the kiwi as a taonga, Andrew Little was tidying up the speech in which he described our publicly funded health system as one of New Zealand’s greatest assets.

But it is under serious stress and does not deliver equally for all, Little said. Continue reading “Whee – it’s Whio Awareness Month, folks, but we must wait a while to learn how Kiwis will be cared for in a reformed health system”

Thinking about the threat from Beijing and bringing Cabinet on side may be the explanation, if Jacinda seems distracted

If PM Jacinda Ardern looks more distracted and concerned these days she has good reason.  Housing, child poverty, economic recovery and Covid 19 might be sufficient, but there’s a foreign policy challenge looming: China.

Until very recently, New Zealand’s friends and allies, principally Australia and the US but also Singapore, Japan and South Korea, had reason to believe this country would continue its fence-sitting role with Beijing despite ominous developments in the People’s Republic.

The NZ business community, notably companies with extensive China links such as Fonterra, have hoped this Switzerland-type attitude might continue: you trade with both the good and the bad and you don’t make judgments. You let foreign governments run their own domestic affairs.

This is precisely the line from NZ that China and Russia gladly accept.  Never mind the internal repression, the quashing of democracy, the territorial land and seas grabs – let’s keep business rolling.

Times have changed and now NZ is on the cusp.  China is front and centre for the Cabinet.

Continue reading “Thinking about the threat from Beijing and bringing Cabinet on side may be the explanation, if Jacinda seems distracted”

Covid-19 has helped Kiwi tech companies – but could they become our biggest export sector?

Technology  is  leading  NZ’s  economic  growth and  the  tech   sector could be on track   to  become the  country’s  biggest   export  industry, according  to some  familiar with the  breadth  of the industry here.

Not  surprisingly,  perhaps, Covid-19 travel restrictions levelled the playing field for Kiwi tech companies as companies around the world were forced to communicate online.

Authorities  within  the  sector  say  companies  in the   industry  have been growing faster than ever and profitability which grew three-fold between 2018 and 2019, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), is still  accelerating.

Again, Covid-19  has   been  a  factor,  particularly  for Fisher  and  Paykel  Healthcare,  whose  technology   has been  in  heavy demand.,  as a  result of  the  pandemic. Continue reading “Covid-19 has helped Kiwi tech companies – but could they become our biggest export sector?”

The Minister of Finance’s tax promise has not been broken (really?) if nobody but him promised it, the PM is saying

Let’s see.  The government is denying it has broken a promise with the housing package it announced today while the Corrections Minister is apologising for the bad treatment of women – some say it was torture – in the prisons for which he is responsible while his colleague, Nanaia Mahuta, is rebuking China for its human rights performance. In other announcements,

  • The Government has extended support to the aviation sector until the end of October to help keep the country connected with its trade partners and maintain international passenger services;
  • Maori Development Minister Willie Jackson paid tribute to Annie Aranui, describing her as “a servant to the people” whose “selfless dedication to Tairāwhiti and the Hawke’s Bay community will be sorely missed”;
  • Arts and Culture Minister posted a speech she delivered at an NZ Opera  performance of  Ihitai ‘Avei’a – Star Navigator, which explores Pacific navigation and the coming together of Polynesian and European peoples.

The big news of the day was the Government’s housing package to support first-home buyers. Continue reading “The Minister of Finance’s tax promise has not been broken (really?) if nobody but him promised it, the PM is saying”

Biosecurity Minister shows signs of a foot-in-mouth affliction – it doesn’t require culling but will he be put out to pasture?

According to his critics, Damien O’Connor may well have contracted a nasty dose of foot-in-mouth disease.

Whether his personal struggle with the condition is good or bad for a bloke who happens to be our Minister of Biosecurity is arguable.  The portfolio requires the Minister and his ministry to ensure against foot-and-mouth disease sneaking into the country (among a formidable list of threatening pests and diseases).

Foot-and-mouth is much more virulent than foot-in-mouth and an outbreak on our farms would be calamitous for the economy.

Foot-in-mouth, on the other hand, is common among politicians and tends to be more damaging to the afflicted politician and his/her party than to the national economy.

Accordingly, when it is detected, the authorities do not declare an emergency and immediately put down the politician and cull every other beast within a certain distance, as would happen with livestock, although a polls-sensitive PM might be tempted to demote the culprit and put him or her out to pasture on the back benches.

Mind you, a politician might be accused by Opposition politicians or media commentators of having foot-in-mouth disease when others think the accused politician’s remarks were eminently sensible.

Damien O’Connor found himself embroiled in a trans-Tasman brouhaha when he suggested Australia could improve its relationship with China by following this country’s lead and showing more respect to the Asian powerhouse. Continue reading “Biosecurity Minister shows signs of a foot-in-mouth affliction – it doesn’t require culling but will he be put out to pasture?”

Davidson tweets her rebuttal (with a “racism” barb) in spat over homelessness and crime but has yet to issue a ministerial press statement

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson’s accomplishments as Associate Minister of Housing (Homelessness) became an issue that aroused our interest during the past week, although mainstream news media seemed more fascinated by Davidson’s playing of the race card when National’s Nicola Willis linked crime with homelessness.

At Question Time in Parliament, Willis asked Davidson:  

Can she confirm that in the five months since becoming a Minister, she has not taken a single paper to Cabinet committee or Cabinet and has not issued a single press release?

Speaker Trevor Mallard let her off the hook by ruling this did not relate to the primary question.

Davidson was given a chance to answer the question outside the House, when reporters asked her about her achievements as minister.  But as Stuff reported –

 … when questioned about what she had achieved as minister she abruptly left the press stand-up mid-question.

And:

She said she had been engaging with the community since being in the job, and had continued to oversee the rollout of a homelessness housing plan. “I have continued to progress the actions for preventing homelessness,” she said.

But instead of answering a further question, her press secretary said: “Thanks, guys – that’s enough.” Continue reading “Davidson tweets her rebuttal (with a “racism” barb) in spat over homelessness and crime but has yet to issue a ministerial press statement”

Government is supportive at home and abroad but the help for horticulturalists comes too late for one grower

Our Beehive bulletin

Being supportive was the order of the day in the Beehive. Ministers announced support for Papua New Guinea, support for trades involved in rebuilding, and support for the horticultural sector (in the case of fruit growers “wellbeing” came into considerations, too).

The support for horticulturalists, alas, seems somewhat meagre in dollar terms and has come too late for one grower. 

The news came on the same day as it was reported that one of the country’s largest strawberry growers – a forthright critic of Government policies keeping the crucial Pacific Island labour force locked out – is calling it a day.

Stuff understands that Francie Perry of Perrys Berrys has chosen to walk away from forty years in horticulture after repeatedly calling on the Government to give growers a break and let more Registered Seasonal Employers (RSE) scheme workers into the country.

One other statement from the Beehive advised that a Deed of Settlement has been signed between the Crown and Ngāti Paoa settling the historical Treaty of Waitangi claims of the iwi.

The money dished out in this case was compensation rather than support.  Continue reading “Government is supportive at home and abroad but the help for horticulturalists comes too late for one grower”

Widening gap between the “haves” and “have nots” is the burning issue for Ardern’s government to tackle

When  a  journal   as influential  as  “The Listener” flags  the  great  divide between  the  “haves”  and  the “have nots” as the  legacy of the Covid pandemic, it’s an issue  which should be  consuming   the  attention  of every politician — especially  the politicians in a government  with  ministers  who see  themselves wearing  the  mantle  of  Michael  Joseph  Savage.

The Ardern government has not  hesitated  to  throw money  at  the problem, as  other  governments  have done,  and  massive  stimulus  from  the Reserve  Bank  has helped  get the economy   back  on track. 

But, as  economist Cameron Bagrie points out  in “The Listener’s” study,  not  everyone has been a  winner. He  says  the  K-shaped  recovery has exposed pre-existing tension points  such as race  and gender  and  who bears the brunt of a  lift in unemployment.

“There’s  the perceived gap between the haves and the have-nots,  with  soaring  house prices at the epicentre. And  at the  very time we  are dealing  with that, the  financial cost of  our  ageing population is rising rapidly. By 2035, a  massive two-thirds of  welfare  benefit spending is projected to be spent on NZ Superannuation—and that’s not  counting  the growing  health costs”, says Bagrie.     

Covid  has exacerbated  inequality and driven  holes in the social  welfare   safety  net. Continue reading “Widening gap between the “haves” and “have nots” is the burning issue for Ardern’s government to tackle”

Communities to lose their voice in decision-making on fluoridation – the job will be centralised under the D-G of Health

The government has struck another blow against the rights of communities to decide what is best for local citizens, but with a stronger case in support of its intervention than when it wiped out the entitlement of citizens to challenge local government decisions to change their electoral procedures.

This time the intervention is science-based:  changes to a Fluoridation Bill are aimed at  ensuring a safe, effective and affordable approach is taken to improving children’s oral heath.

Decision-making would sit with the Director-General of Health.

Another statutory change affecting the wellbeing of children is the amendment of the Child Support Act “to reduce the scheme’s complexity, improve fairness and increase compliance”.

The aim is to prepare the child support scheme to transition to Inland Revenue’s new technology platform and to further simplify the scheme’s administration.

Down south, Tourism Minister Stuart Nash set out his tourism priorities in a speech at the Otago University Tourism Policy School conference in Queenstown this morning, telling his audience that planning is under way “for a new-look tourism sector” post the COVID19 vaccination programme and when international borders re-open.

The $400 million Tourism Recovery Package in 2020 was an emergency intervention, he said. Further, structural support will be needed this year, “before we make changes to prepare for a new landscape in 2022 and beyond”.

Other Beehive releases tell us – Continue reading “Communities to lose their voice in decision-making on fluoridation – the job will be centralised under the D-G of Health”