Woods scores a new portfolio (apparently) while the Govt gives Wallabies a free pass through our Covid defences

We were reminded yesterday of an article published by The Spinoff on 1 August last year headed Megan Woods, the minister for everything.

The article referred to her “slew of portfolios”.

It kicked off by saying Woods’ public profile

“… has exploded thanks to her new role as the minister in charge of border isolation and quarantine, but Megan Woods has long been known as the most reliable pair of hands in government.”

After the election Woods was appointed Minister of Housing, Minister of Energy and Resources, and Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, as well as Associate Minister of Finance.

As Housing Minister, she was keen to inform us yesterday about how she and her government are keeping people warm.  And today she made an announcement as Minister of …

Well, see for yourself:

 Release

28 JULY 2021

School upgrades and new classrooms for West Coast, Tasman and Canterbury

A funding injection from Budget 2021 to complete four shovel ready projects and new classrooms at six schools and kura will provide a real boost to local communities, Minister Dr Megan Woods announced today.

Hon Dr Megan Woods

Education

Education?

This suggests we missed a Cabinet reshuffle.

But maybe not.   Stuff reported the news by simply describing Woods as “Minister”.

An upgrade to Hillmorton High School will make it one of the fastest growing schools in Christchurch.

During a visit to the school on Wednesday morning, Minister Megan Woods announced four shovel ready projects and new classrooms at six schools and kura across the Canterbury, West Coast and Tasman regions.

Grant Robertson obviously remains Minister of Sport because he announced that Bledisloe Cup rugby will be played in New Zealand after the Australian rugby team was given an economic exemption to enter New Zealand.

The government reckons a test match is worth between $17-20 million in spending for the host region while broadcast rights provide much-needed income for the sport.

“Economic exemption” and Robertson’s numbers imply that the boost to our wellbeing generated by the spending of big bucks and the feel-good factor in a nation of rugby buffs outweighed the threat to our health that will come from lowering the drawbridge to let the Aussies come here from a country where the recent spread of Covid-19 has become problematic.

It was a political decision, in other words, which RNZ reported like this:

A free pass for the Wallabies – the team has been granted an economic exemption to come to New Zealand for the Bledisloe Cup.

But they need to be here by Friday to avoid MIQ. The trans-Tasman bubble is frozen for at least two months. New Zealanders have the same window to come back, with anyone returning from NSW required to go into managed isolation.

The Wallabies will avoid that because they’ve basically been in their own bubble in Queensland, and will fly here on charter.

But RNZ also reported the decision was not such a slam dunk on the streets of Auckland.

Export NZ’s executive director Catherine Beard tells Checkpoint it is a disappointing result for many New Zealand businesses that have had problems with the border.

Latest from the Beehive

Schools

School upgrades and new classrooms for West Coast, Tasman and Canterbury

A funding injection from Budget 2021 to complete four shovel ready projects and new classrooms at six schools and kura will provide a real boost to local communities, Minister Dr Megan Woods announced today.

The Government has committed to providing quality fit-for-purpose learning environments and 100,000 new student places across the country by 2030, she said.

That includes five short-term roll growth classrooms at Hillmorton High School in Christchurch to meet the growing demand for schooling in the area.

Overall, $20 million for West Coast, Tasman and Canterbury regions will result in 17 classrooms and the fast-track of four new shovel-ready projects – which includes:

  • Upgrading and new teaching spaces at Allenton School;
  • upgrading teaching spaces and replacing the library and administration blocks at Golden Bay High School,
  • addressing weathertightness and condition issues at Karamea Area School; and
  • refurbishing the tech block and the hall, plus replacing other Collingwood Area School buildings that are at the end of their life.

A summary of projects–

Over $16 million for four Shovel Ready projects at:

  • Allenton School
  • Karamea Area School
  • Collingwood Area School; and
  • Golden Bay High School

Over $5.5 million for 17 Short Term Roll Growth (STRG) classrooms at six schools:

  • Ferndale School – two Short Term Roll Growth classrooms
  • Rawhiti School – two Short Term Roll Growth classrooms
  • Tuahiwi School – two Short Term Roll Growth classrooms
  • Hillmorton High School – five Short Term Roll Growth classrooms
  • Te Kura Whakapūmau i te Reo Tūturu ki Waitaha – four Short Term Roll Growth classrooms; and
  • Lower Moutere School – two Short Term Roll Growth classrooms.

 Housing

Warmer Kiwi Homes smashes annual target

The Government’s highly successful insulation and heating programme, Warmer Kiwi Homes, is celebrating a key milestone with the completion of more than 38,000 insulation and efficient heater installs in the year to the end of June, smashing its target of 25,000 installs for the year.

Warmer Kiwi Homes, run by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), improves the health and well-being of communities by offering Government grants for insulation and an efficient heater to eligible lower income homeowners, with top-ups from community organisations in some centres making the cost of insulation even lower or no-cost.

Warmer Kiwi Homes has completed 69,000 installs since it started in July 2018.

Thanks to further support for Warmer Kiwi Homes in Budget 2021 an extra 47,700 New Zealand homes will be warmer and energy efficient this year.

Sport 

Exemption granted for Wallabies to enter NZ

Bledisloe Cup rugby will be played in New Zealand after the Australian rugby team received an economic exemption to enter New Zealand.

Travel between Australia and New Zealand was suspended on Friday for at least eight weeks following the worsening of the COVID outbreak across the Tasman. New Zealanders have a seven day window to return home.

At the Cabinet meeting last week the Minister for COVID-19 Response or the Director-General of Health was authorised to consider exemptions on a case by case basis for people not normally resident in New Zealand to travel from Australia to New Zealand within the return window for events which have significant economic impacts.

The Wallabies have been granted an exemption by the acting Minister for COVID-19 Response Ayesha Verrall on this basis.

“This is important economically. A test match is estimated to be worth between $17-20 million in spending for host regions, while the broadcast rights provide much needed income for the sport, which positively effects all levels of the game,” Grant Robertson said.

“Test rugby between the All Blacks and the Wallabies is keenly anticipated by New Zealanders, and I welcome the decision to allow the Australian team to travel given the game was less than two weeks away when trans-Tasman travel was suspended.

“The Wallabies have been operating in their own bubble for some time, and will travel from their base in Queensland on a charter flight to Auckland on Friday morning. They will have to fulfil all normal obligations for travel including negative pre-departure tests within 72 hours of their travel.

“The exemption means the Bledisloe match in Auckland can take place on August 7. Decisions on the other games are dependent on ongoing discussions between New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia.

This decision was not taken lightly by the Government and given the Wallabies use of a charter flight, there is no restriction on public access to a return flight to New Zealand,” Grant Robertson said.

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