KiwiSaver cash is to be kept away from oil and gas industries and tourists are to be kept apart from homeless people housed in motels

A gush of statements and speeches from the Beehive ranges in significance from Damien O’Connor’s trip to London and Brussels to press on with free trade negotiations to  Chris Hipkins dealing with the way schools are organised in Harewa.

Changes to the Kiwisaver scheme include measures to discourage or disallow us from trying to make a buck from the oil and gas industries.

Oh – and change is in the offing in Rotorua for homeless people who are given emergency housing in motels.   One of the consequences will be to separate these motel dwellers from the tourists.

Then there’s a major change for the tertiary education sector – six new Workforce Development Councils have been formally established with an interesting guarantee from Education Minister Hipkins – he said they will “ensure” people graduate with the right skills at the right time to address skill shortages.

Let’s see … 

  Support for drought-stressed regions fills a need

The headline suggests this is an initiative to benefit many if not all drought-stressed regions.

Not so.  Rather, taxpayers will be pumping $8 million into “an iwi-led plan to help maintain water supply to a far North community battered by drought … “

This will buy and install up to 1000 water tanks in Te Hiku for homes and community facilities.

Runanga Nui ō Te Aupōuri will lead the roll out of the project.

Haami Piripi, chair of Te Runanga o Te Rarawa, said the effects of changing weather patterns in the Te Hiku o Te Ika region were devastating, particularly in rural areas

“ … where marae and papakāinga become unusable with no or limited house supply and therefore have little or no ability to host local hui and events.

“Water conservation and traditional ways of saving and reusing water have become for many, well-established practices within whānau. However with recent national emergencies and evacuations, marae and hapū were hosting whānau and holidaymakers through a time of water shortages and restrictions,” he said.

Funding for the Te Hiku water security project is being provided from the National Emergency Management Agency administered drought financial assistance package. 

KiwiSaver default provider scheme improvements slash fees, boosts savings

The Government is pulling Kiwi savers out of the oil and gas business.

Changes to the default KiwiSaver scheme – intended to make hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders significantly better off in retirement – will take effect once the terms of the current providers ends on 30 November.

The number of default providers will be lopped from nine to six: Bank of New Zealand, Booster, BT Funds Management (Westpac), Kiwi Wealth, Simplicity and Smartshares (NZX).

Around 381,000 members are in the default fund, which was automatically allocated to them when they started a new job, because they did not make any active decisions about their fund.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark said the Government went to tender last October signalling the need for providers to demonstrate they would go further to deliver more for default members.

The six default providers were selected “because they offer the best value for money for their members in terms of lower fees and higher levels of service”.

Changes to default provider settings include moving the default investment fund type from a conservative to a balanced setting to increase the likelihood of higher returns over the long-term.

An 18-year-old earning $50,000 a year and contributing three percent of their income to KiwiSaver is estimated to have an extra $143,000 when reaching age 65 and to pay around $3,900 less in fees.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the Government is also ensuring default funds “are invested more responsibly”.

This doesn’t necessarily mean they are being invested to generate better returns.

“We know many Kiwis care about where their money is invested, so we are excluding any investments in fossil fuel production. This reflects the Government’s commitment to addressing the impacts of climate change and transitioning to a low-emissions economy.”

Industry leadership for our training system becomes reality 

Six new Workforce Development Councils have been formally established to ensure people graduate “with the right skills at the right time to address skill shortages”. Now let’s wait to see who lands governance jobs on each of them.

The establishment of these councils was enabled by the passing of the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Act in April last year.

Every industry in New Zealand will be covered by one of the following –

  • Hanga-Aro-Rau – Manufacturing, Engineering and Logistics
  • Waihanga Ara Rau – Construction and Infrastructure
  • Muka Tangata – People, Food and Fibre
  • Toi Mai – Creative, Cultural, Recreation and Technology
  • Community, Health, Education and Social Services, and
  • Services Industries.

The councils

“ … will play a fundamental role in creating a unified vocational education system that will bring together industry and educators to make sure New Zealand’s workforce is fit for today’s needs and tomorrow’s expectations,” Chris Hipkins said.

“They will have a forward, strategic view of the future skills needs of industries and will help industry achieve greater influence over what and how training is delivered, by influencing government investment, setting skill standards and playing a leadership role across their relevant industries.”

Governance roles for each of the inaugural Workforce Development Councils will be appointed around the end of June.

Rotorua Emergency Housing update

At first blush, this announcement suggests Rotorua is a good place to be if you happen to be homeless and must be housed by the state.

On the other hand, the government seems to be aiming to provide motel accommodation for the homeless while ensuring they don’t mingle with tourists.

It also seems to have recognised that not all motels being used to emergency housing are suitable for that purppse.

The Government has announced it will directly contract motels in Rotorua to deliver emergency housing, making it easier for wrap-around support services to be delivered to whanau and tamariki living in motels.

Changes to the provision of emergency housing in Rotorua feature:

  • Wrap-around social support services for those in emergency accommodation to be provided
  • Cohorts like families and young people in particular motels are to be grouped separately from other groups
  • A one-stop housing hub for access to services and support is to be established

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development is taking over responsibility for contracting motels used for emergency housing, and ending the practice of mixed use motels.

“These moves will ensure whanau and tamariki are placed in accommodation with facilities better suited to their needs with support to keep them safe and well, and provide a pathway to more permanent housing,” Housing Minister Megan Woods said.

“These actions also help bring certainty to the Rotorua accommodation sector by having motels used exclusively for emergency housing, and help ensure there is separate suitable accommodation facilities for domestic and international visitors.”

Yes, Woods does recognise that motels are not a long-term answer for housing,

“ … but we need to deal with the immediate crisis we inherited while we build the medium to long term solutions by increasing housing supply.”

HUD and Kāinga Ora are assessing which of the motels being used for emergency housing in Rotorua have facilities suitable for emergency housing for families and young people.

HUD is talking with suitable motels this week about contracts for emergency housing.

Further COVID-19 vaccine and economic support for the Pacific

This statement announces that New Zealand will provide COVID-19 vaccines for rollout in the Cook Islands beginning on 19 May, followed by Niue and Tokelau.

  • New Zealand will be providing protection against COVID-19 to at least 1.2 million people in the Pacific over the coming year
  • $120 million in Official Development Assistance has been reprioritised to support Pacific economies in 2021

Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu have started their vaccine rollouts with doses received from the global COVAX Facility. Each will also be able to receive enough additional doses from New Zealand’s own portfolio to fully cover their population, as well as any further support they might need for their vaccine rollout.

Fiji has taken up the offer of AstraZeneca doses for 250,000 people donated by New Zealand, subject to Medsafe approval.

New Zealand is partnering with Australia and UNICEF to procure further vaccines for the Pacific and providing other targeted support where necessary.

Nanaia Mahuta also announced New Zealand is providing further support to assist economic recovery in the Pacific – $120 million in Official Development Assistance has been reprioritised to support Pacific economies in 2021.

Statement on the escalation of violence in Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Gaza

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has expressed New Zealand’s “grave concern” at the escalation of violence in Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and Gaza.

But the language in the statement is mild: the growing death toll and the large numbers of casualties, including children, from Israeli airstrikes and Gazan rockets “is unacceptable,” Nanaia Mahuta said

Senior officials met with the Israeli Ambassador yesterday to urge Israel to de-escalate to prevent the prospect of a widening conflict and raise their concern at the continued violation of international law and forced evictions in East Jerusalem.

“The launching of rockets towards Israel by Hamas is unacceptable and must stop. At the same time any response from Israel should be restrained and must avoid civilian casualties. All sides have a responsibility to de-escalate, stop the violence and prevent further suffering and loss of life.” 

Trade Minister to travel to UK and EU to progress free trade agreements

While the Brits and Europeans might be braced for the bonus of Kiwi advice on how to deal with China, the main item on the agenda will be trade agreements when Damien O’Connor heads overseas.

Our Trade and Export Growth Minister has announced he will travel to the United Kingdom and European Union next month to progress New Zealand’s respective free trade agreement negotiations.

He said: .

“In recent weeks and months, I have had a number of constructive calls and virtual engagements with UK and EU colleagues. I have been encouraged by the ambition that they share with New Zealand.

“Virtual engagements are useful, but to make significant further progress in both negotiations before the European summer, I am visiting the capitals in person to reinforce New Zealand’s expectations and give these talks every chance of success,” Damien O’Connor said.

The visit will be the first New Zealand Ministerial travel offshore since COVID-19.

O’Connor will undertake 14 days of MIQ following the visit. He will also be fully vaccinated before departure.

Pre-Budget speech to Business New Zealand

This speech was delivered by the PM.  Readers can check out the contents on the link above.

Te Hurihanganui growing with Nelson community celebration

Nelson has become the fourth community to join Te Hurihanganui, an initiative to tackle racism and bias in education, following Te Puke, Porirua/Tawa and Te Tai Tonga (Eastern Southland).

Speaking at a community celebration, Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis acknowledged the eight iwi in Te Tau Ihu for supporting and leading Te Hurihanganui in Nelson alongside students, whānau and educators.

“The education system hasn’t worked for everyone in New Zealand and one of the biggest reasons for this inequity is systemic racism.  Te Hurihanganui is how we’re learning what works in communities to fix that,” Kelvin Davis said.

“Nelson will be at the forefront of our work to address racism and inequity in education and improve outcomes for ākonga Māori and their whānau not just here, but across the country.”

Budget 2019 included $42 million over three years to put Te Hurihanganui into action across six communities.

Te Hurihanganui Nelson Community Celebration 

This is the full speech delivered by Kelvin Davis to celebrate Nelson’s participation in Te Hurihanganui.

Child wellbeing reports highlight need for ongoing action

The contents can’t be too bad because the PM opted to announce the findings of the first Annual Report for the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy and the second Child Poverty Related Indicators (CPRI) Report.  It seems they highlight improvements in the lives of children as a result of government actions while setting out the need for ongoing action.

The Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy Annual Report establishes baseline data for most of the 36 wellbeing indicators that will help us track progress towards achieving each of the six wellbeing outcomes for children and young people. It also summarises progress on key actions and next steps under each outcome.

The Child Poverty Related Indicators (CPRI) Report, also released today, focuses on a subset of the wider set of wellbeing indicators. They are measures related to the broader causes and consequences of child poverty. This is the second year the CPRI report has been produced.

Some of the key findings highlighted in the reports include:

  • 83.0% of young people rated their family wellbeing as high.
  • 90% of 15-24-year olds reported good, very good or excellent health
  • 36% of households with children spent more than 30% of their disposable income on housing, a slight increase from 35% in 2018/19
  • 7% of children lived in households with a major problem with dampness or mould, a drop from 8% in 2018/19
  • 20% of children reported living in households where food runs out sometimes or often. The rates for Māori were 30% and the rates for Pacific were 46, however these have been trending downward
  • 11 % of children and young people reported experiencing psychological or mental distress in 2019/2020
  • The rate of potentially avoidable hospitalisations in 0-15 year olds was 49 per 1,000. This is a notable drop compared to previous years, which could partly be explained by COVID-19.

Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy Annual Report

https://childyouthwellbeing.govt.nz/resources/child-and-youth-wellbeing-strategy-annual-report-20192020

Child Poverty Related Indicators Report

https://childyouthwellbeing.govt.nz/resources/child-poverty-related-indicators-report-20192020

Formal consultation starts on proposals for Hawera schools

Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced a formal consultation for the future of schooling in Hawera.

An engagement process has been completed and formal consultation will enable schools to have a further say on their preference, before a final decision later this year.

One proposal would involve six local primary schools becoming year 1-8 full primary schools, and the Intermediate school closing. The second would either merge the Intermediate and High School, or close both with the establishment of replacement year 7-13 schooling on the 5.5 hectare site of the current High School.

One thought on “KiwiSaver cash is to be kept away from oil and gas industries and tourists are to be kept apart from homeless people housed in motels

  1. The latest JP Morgan Annual Energy Paper has this to say:
    “We recommend that investors stick with oil & gas for now. World demand for liquid fuels should continue to
    rebound as COVID vaccinations increase and economies reopen. As demand grows, we expect supply to recover
    more slowly. “Big Oil” return on capital fell to single digits by 2016 due to excess competition; we expect these
    returns to rise back to 1990’s levels of 10%-15%. And while publicly traded oil companies only represent 2/3 of
    global production, their trends are notable: 60% decline in reserve lives since 2014, steepening oil cost curves
    since 2017 and declining capital commitments”.
    Investing responsibly does not mean what Mr Robertson wants us to believe it means. If Kiwisaver funds aren’t going to be allowed to invest in good legal companies, does that mean the government will cover the loss in income from reduced investment income?

    Like

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