Covid-19 gets into most Beehive spin these days, including the Catalist Market, climate change and predator eradication

While small- and medium-sized enterprises (and many others) were grappling with the massive implications of the Climate Change Commission’s report, more agreeable news has emerged from the Beehive.

The government has granted a licence to a new share trading market, Catalist Markets Ltd, which has been described as a stock exchange for smaller companies.  It is expected to provide a simpler and more affordable ‘stepping stone’ for SMEs to raise capital.

Catalist​ chief executive Colin Magee told Stuff the NZX was only economic for larger companies, not the high-potential smaller companies Catalist would be trying to attract with an initial value of $6million to $60m.

In the first five years Catalist was aiming to get up to 200 companies, Magee said.

In time, he hoped, a portion of some KiwiSaver funds would be invested in shares in companies on the Catalist market.

Approval to launch followed the passing of the Financial Markets Conduct (Catalist Public Market) Regulations late last month.

The NZX operated by facilitating continuous trading, with people able to buy and sell shares in the companies listed on it whenever the market was open, but Catalist would use “regular auctions” instead, windows in which shares of individual companies could be traded.

There was good news today, too, for some businesses, farmers and growers and for about 10,000 foreign workers on temporary visas, who are being allowed to stay in the country for another six months to help ease labour shortages while the border remains shut.

Among the effects of the announcement from Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi, workers on a Seasonal Employment visa can now pick up work in any industry, not just horticulture or viticulture.

But the issue which portends the biggest changes by far, not only for businesses but for the whole country, our lifestyle and – dare we say it? – our wellbeing was the Climate Change  Commission’s final advice which sets out the total amount of emissions New Zealand must cut over the next 15 years.

It also provides three different pathways the Government could follow to keep within the proposed emission budgets.

Whichever path we take, the ride will be bumpy.

Latest from the Beehive

  • Conservation

Speech for Predator Free 2050 Conference

Acting Conservation Minister Ayesha Verrall addressed the Predator Free 2050 Summit, marking five years since the setting of the target to rid the country of predators.

We have 29 years  left to be rid of the pests being targeted by the Government.  This is not necessarily the same target list as the one the public would draft, if they were asked which pests should be eradicated. 

Covid-19 – a likely candidate for the public’s list – was mentioned by Verrall: 

I’m excited and encouraged by the momentum that has built across the Predator Free programme and the way New Zealanders have rallied and got stuck in to work towards this goal. Like defeating COVID success depends on community mobilisation.

 A comma after Covid would have been useful.  

  • Investment

New stock exchange to help grow small businesses

The government’s spin doctors have been programmed – it seems – to link Covid-19 to pretty well every new initiative their Ministerial bosses might want headlined.

Another example is the announcement of a licence being granted for a new share trading market, designed as a gateway to the NZX for small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark said Catalist Markets Ltd will provide a simpler and more affordable ‘stepping stone’ for SMEs to raise capital.

“This is a big win for kiwi businesses and it ties in well with the Government’s focus on securing an economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19. Through Catalist, SMEs looking to grow into larger enterprises have a new means of getting there.”

The Catalist market will open for trading on 21 June.

  • Immigration

Visa extensions provide certainty to employers and 10,000 visa holders

Oh look – more mentions of Covid and its impact on businesses and migrant workers.

Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi announced around 10,000 Working Holiday visas and Supplementary Seasonal Employment (SSE) work visas due to expire between 21 June and 31 December will be extended for another six months to help manage ongoing labour shortages while New Zealand’s COVID-19 border restrictions remain in place.

SSE visa holders will also be given open work rights, allowing them to work in any sector.

Essential Skills work visas will not be extended again, but the duration of Essential Skills visas for jobs paid below the median wage will increase from six to 12 months taking them back to pre-COVID settings. The implementation of the stand-down period for these jobs will also be further postponed until July 2022.

From 19 July, visa applications will be assessed against the updated median hourly wage rate of $27. This pay rate will determine whether jobs are treated as higher or lower paid.

The wage rate was set following public consultation.

Employers paying under the median wage can still access migrant workers but will need to check with the Ministry of Social Development to see whether a registered job seeker is available.

Immigration New Zealand will contact all visa holders eligible for the Working Holiday or SSE visa extension by 25 June 2021.

  • Covid vaccine

More freezers and South Island hub to support vaccine roll-out

Fair to say, it’s hard to avoid mentioning the virus in some statements.

Here it comes again, this time mentioned in glad tidings from COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.  He announced a South Island hub and 17 new ultra-low temperature freezers will help further prepare New Zealand for the ramp up of the vaccination programme in the second half of this year.

The new freezers, which arrived in New Zealand on 27 May, are being tested and accredited and will be ready for use by the end of this month.

“This is the next step in getting the country ready to deliver 50,000 vaccinations a day at the peak of our vaccination campaign,” Chris Hipkins says.

Five of the new freezers have arrived in Christchurch, adding to the two already there, to provide a second hub with capacity to deliver vaccines across the South Island and lower North Island.

The others will be based in Auckland, bringing the total number to 26 freezers – 23 operating and three as back-up – across New Zealand.

All shipments of the Pfizer vaccine currently go to Auckland, but as larger shipments start to arrive they will be flown direct to both Auckland and Christchurch for packing and distribution. The freezers cost up to $20,000 each.

  • Climate change

Achievable blueprint for addressing climate change released

The PM and Climate Change Minister patted themselves on the back for the good work they are doing, then warned the country to brace for what is coming in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating a carbon-free (to go with the predator-free) New Zealand…

The Climate Change Commission’s blueprint for addressing climate change has confirmed the Government has made good progress to reduce emissions, but a step up is now required.

The press statement highlighted these points –

  • Report says Government making good progress on emissions reduction, but more action required;
  • Meeting climate targets achievable and affordable with existing technology;
  • Economic cost of delaying action higher than taking action now;
  • Benefits from climate action include health improvements and lower energy bills;
  • All Ministers to help meet climate targets through Emissions Reduction Plan.

And guess what?

Covid-19 was slipped into this lot, too:

“The Commission’s final advice shows that this Government is taking action to reduce emissions in all the right areas,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“The transition to a low emissions future for Aotearoa New Zealand will create jobs and new opportunities for Kiwi businesses, help reduce household energy bills, and secure our recovery from COVID-19. There will also be benefits to health because of warmer, drier homes, more walking and cycling, and less air pollution.”

Speech at the release of Climate Change Commission’s final advice

This is what James Shaw had to say.

Speech to release of Climate Commission final report

And this contains the PM’s speech.

  • Courts

Appointment of Judge of the High Court

Auckland Barrister Michael Robinson has been appointed a Judge of the High Court, Attorney‑General David Parker announced.

We found no mention of Covid-19 in this statement.

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