First came the $2.5bn water package (or bribe?) and then the govt gets behind mayors on employment task force

The government is getting in behind local government leaders, not only to win hearts and minds on the Three Waters reform programme but also in  encouraging job schemes.

Yesterday it announced a $2.5 billion package (critics call it a bribe) to support local government transition through the reforms to New Zealand’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services.  Point of Order has looked at this here.

Today the government has signed a new memorandum of understanding with the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, intended to strengthen the partnership to get more young people into work.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash meanwhile was announcing that five South Island areas have been prioritised in the latest round of decisions from a tourism fund that is supporting infrastructure projects from Cape Reinga to Stewart Island and the Chathams.

Details of 57 nationwide projects to receive support from the fund  have been released.

Nash explained that the Tourism Infrastructure Fund supports local communities under pressure from tourism, especially those with small ratepayer bases

This (we imagine ) is not the same as the pressure caused by a lack of tourism which prompted Nash to announce yesterday:

Mental wellbeing support is being rolled out to five South Island communities most affected by the absence of international tourists.

Latest from the Beehive 

Jobs schemes

Renewed partnership creates jobs for New Zealand youth

The Government has signed a new memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, strengthening the partnership to get more young people into work.

The taskforce is a nationwide network of all Mayors in New Zealand, who are committed to making sure all young people under 25 are engaged in appropriate education, training, and work.

In the past 12 months it has delivered 1326 jobs for young people,.

The memorandum was signed at the Local Government New Zealand Conference by Ministers, the Chair of MTFJ Ōtorohanga Mayor Max Baxter and Local Government New Zealand Chief Executive Susan Freeman-Greene.

Tourism

South Island areas prioritised in tourism fund

Five South Island areas – Fiordland, South Westland, Queenstown Lakes, Mackenzie District, and Kaikōura –  are prioritised in the latest round of decisions from a tourism fund that is supporting infrastructure projects from Cape Reinga to Stewart Island and the Chathams.

This was emphasised when Tourism Minister Stuart Nash announced details of 57 nationwide projects to receive support from the Tourism Infrastructure Fund (TIF).

Tourism projects in the five regions will receive $10 million from a total pool of $18 million in this funding round.

Nationwide, the 57 projects being funded in this round range from wifi-connected smart bins along Paihia and Russell waterfronts, to a new toilet block at Tokomaru Bay Wharf, a new cycle hub in Alexandra, and the development of the Hokitika beachfront.

The Tourism Infrastructure Fund supports local communities under pressure from tourism, especially those with small ratepayer bases.

The full list of recipients is attached, and at the MBIE site here.

Education

New code sets clear expectations for learner safety and wellbeing in tertiary education

A new code of practice for the pastoral care of domestic tertiary and international students will be in place from January next year, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced.

The code builds on the existing Interim Code and International Code by strengthening the requirement for a whole-of-provider approach with learners at the centre. There are no changes to requirements for schools in New Zealand that host international students.

Officials continue to work on a new dispute resolution scheme to resolve financial and contractual disputes between domestic tertiary learners and providers which will be in place by 1 January 2022.  This scheme will sit alongside the scheme already in place for international students.

The new code of practice for the pastoral care of domestic tertiary and international learners sets out the expectations that tertiary providers must meet for learners’ safety and wellbeing.  It brings together the current codes for domestic and international learners with separate parts of the code for:

  • student accommodation
  • tertiary providers enrolling international students
  • schools enrolling international students (this part restates existing requirements for schools).

The revised Code can be downloaded at Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021 – Education in New Zealand.

  TAB

First TAB New Zealand Board appointments announced

The members of the first TAB NZ Board come with experience in racing and sport administration, business and governance, the betting industry, broadcasting and gambling harm minimisation.

The Board was created under the Racing Act passed in 2020. The Act outlines a process for appointing the board through the establishment of a selection panel to make recommendations to the Minister of Racing.

The TAB NZ Board comprises Mark Stewart (Chair), Anna Stove (Deputy Chair), Bill Birnie, Paul Bittar, Jason Fleming, Wendie Harvey, and Raewyn Lovett.

Immigration

Extended Essential Skills visas being rolled out

The Government is increasing the duration of some Essential Skills visas and streamlining the application process to provide more certainty to employers and visa holders while COVID border restrictions remain in place.

From Monday 19 July, the maximum duration of Essential Skills visas, for jobs paid below the median wage, will increase from 12 months to 24 months. The maximum duration of Essential Skills visas for jobs paid above the median wage is already three years.

The application process for Essential Skills visas will be simplified for workers remaining in their current roles.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the changes acknowledged feedback he had been getting from the primary sector where employers were desperate to hang onto migrant staff, like dairy farm managers, who had often worked for the same employer for several years on an Essential Skills visa.

Essential Skills visas are available to anyone who is offered full-time employment (30+ hours) in New Zealand and can meet other eligibility requirements. The majority of Essential Skills visa holders work in the service sector which includes tourism, hospitality and retail.

 Travel bubble

Pause to Quarantine Free Travel from Victoria to New Zealand

Quarantine Free Travel from Victoria to New Zealand was paused from 1.59am (NZT) Friday.

The decision followed updated public health advice from New Zealand officials and a growing number of cases and locations of interest.

The pause will run for at least four days from 1.59am (NZT) Friday 16 July and be subject to further review on Monday.

Singapore

Hydrogen agreement signed with Singapore

An Arrangement of Cooperation on low-carbon hydrogen between New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry and the National Climate Change Secretariat has been signed.

The arrangement builds on the Singapore-New Zealand Enhanced Partnership signed in 2019 and involves collaboration on the production, deployment and research into a new hydrogen economy.

Local government

Speech to LGNZ Conference

This is the PM’s speech to the Local Government NZ conference, focused on Three Water reforms.

 Water reforms

Government to provide support for water reforms, jobs and growth

The Government announced a $2.5 billion package to support local government transition through the reforms to New Zealand’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services.

The package will also stimulate local economies while creating jobs and unlocking infrastructure for housing.

It will set aside $500 million to support local authorities through the transition process, and to ensure the financial impacts of reform will be managed.

To acknowledge the significant change that the shift in water infrastructure assets means for Council balance sheets, $2 billion will enable councils to invest in the future for local government, urban development, and the wellbeing of their communities,  Jacinda Ardern said.

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