Supermarkets should check the Treaty – it might entitle them to a place among the decision-makers who shape their future

The Commerce Commission’s draft report into the retail grocery sector is being welcomed by the government as “a major milestone”. It is providing ammunition for Opposition criticisms of government economic and commerce policies, too.

Commenting on the report, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark said the draft findings indicate there are problems in the market and (did he need a special inquiry to find this out?) inform him

“… that New Zealanders would get better prices, ranges and quality if there was increased competition in the grocery sector.”

The Act response is here and the National response is here. 

But supermarket operators were not the only subjects of a statement from the Beehive which portends substantial regulation for some businesses.

The futures  of tourism operators – Ngai Tahu is among the big players – will be affected by plans to address visitor pressures and safety at Milford Sound.

The Milford Opportunities Project (MOP) Masterplan unveiled in Te Anau yesterday follows four years work by cross-agency representatives, mana whenua, commercial interests and the wider community.

The project now moves to stage 3 and a new governance structure will oversee the next steps.

A ministerial group covering Tourism, Transport and Conservation portfolios will oversee the formation of a new Establishment Board to be chaired by the leader of the expert MOP group, Dr Keith Turner.

The board will be supported by a dedicated unit, which will work through the MOP recommendations, assessing them to ensure they are feasible and deliverable.

But whoa – let’s not forget the Ardern government’s contentious if not dubious interpretation of Treaty partnership.

And so …

“Two representatives from Ngāi Tahu will be on the Board, acknowledging the iwi’s role as mana whenua and its significant and enduring connection to Piopiotahi.  

An investment of $15 million from the Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery and Re-set Plan will fund the next stage of the project.

Ngāi Tahu Tourism will be chuffed at being able to help decide what happens at Milford Sound as the government sets about imposing user charges ad what-have-you.

It describes itself as one of the largest tourism operators in New Zealand, hosting customers across a range of iconic businesses.

These include Shotover Jet, All Blacks Experience, Guided Walks New Zealand, Hollyford Track, Dart River Adventures, Franz Josef Glacier Guides, Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools, Hukafalls Jet, Agrodome, and Rainbow Springs. We are also a 50 percent owner in the famous astro-tourism experience Dark Sky Project.

The business is owned by Ngāi Tahu, the biggest tribe by population in the South Island and increasingly a co-governor in anything the government agrees should be co-governed.

We wait with interest  to learn how many decision-making jobs will be filled by representatives of the supermarkets when the rules and regulations for controlling the development of Milford Sound are made.

Health and wellbeing was the focus of four other fresh Beehive announcements –

  • Medsafe has granted provisional approval of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older.
  • More than 1000 New Zealanders have had bowel cancer detected under the Government’s National Bowel Screening Programme.
  • A plan to eliminate hepatitis C in New Zealand, reducing liver cancer and the need for liver transplants, has been released.
  • Construction of New Zealand’s first, purpose-built centre for youth well-being has been given an extra $2.5 million of COVID-19 response funding.

The AstraZeneca announcement was particularly piquant.

The press statement disclosed that Cabinet has yet to consider whether to use the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in New Zealand.

But the approval is an important step towards enabling the donation of AstraZeneca from New Zealand to Pacific countries.

The environment was the focus of one statement (besides the Milford Sound announcement) –

  • Funding has been announced for projects in Auckland and the lower North Island to help reduce construction and demolition waste.

Latest from the Beehive

Covid-19 vaccine

Third COVID-19 vaccine receives provisional approval

New Zealand’s regulatory authority, Medsafe, has granted provisional approval of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 18 years of age and older,

New Zealand secured 7.6 million doses (enough for 3.8 million people) of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine through an advance purchase agreement with the company last year.

The AstraZeneca deal is one of four purchase agreements between the government and pharmaceutical companies for COVID-19 vaccines.

Cabinet has yet to consider whether to use the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in New Zealand.

“However this is an important step towards enabling the donation of AstraZeneca from New Zealand to Pacific countries, where we have made commitments,” Ayesha Verrall said.   

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses and is stored at normal fridge temperatures (2 to 8 degrees Celsius).

Verrall said the Government’s immunisation plan in New Zealand remains focused on rolling out the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are on track to provide two doses of the Pfizer vaccines to everyone in New Zealand who wishes to have one, by the end of this year. No one will miss out,” Dr Ayesha Verrall said.

Health

Bowel-cancer screening programme is saving lives

More than 1000 New Zealanders have had bowel cancer – New Zealand’s second-most-common cause of death from cancer – detected under the Government’s National Bowel Screening Programme, Health Minister Andrew Little said today.

More than 1200 New Zealanders died from bowel cancer in 2017. The screening programme aims to save lives by catching it early, giving patients a greater chance of survival.

New Zealand records 100 deaths a month from bowel cancer, one of the highest rates of the disease in the developed world.

Thirty-nine per cent of the cancers found in the screening programme have been in the early stages, where there is a 95 per cent chance of patients living at least another five years.

Moreover, the programme has led to hundreds of people having pre-cancerous polyps removed, saving more lives.

The National Bowel Screening Programme, which started in 2017, is the first cancer-screening programme offered to both men and women. It targets people aged 60 to 74, the age group most at risk from bowel cancer, and is now offered by 17 of the 20 district health boards.

The government has spent $197 million on the programme and Budget 2021 allocated $50.6 million over four years to bring in the three districts which are not covered.

When fully rolled out, the programme will screen about 700,000 people every two years.

More about the programme can be found here.

Commerce

Govt welcomes draft report on the retail grocery sector

The Commerce Commission’s draft report into the retail grocery sector is being welcomed by Government as a major milestone.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister, David Clark said he asked the commission to look at whether this sector is as competitive as it could be and today.  Its draft report has been released for consultation.

The supermarket study follows on from a report into the retail fuel sector in 2019 which led to action to improve competition and pricing.

The draft report and information on how to make a submission is available on the Commerce Commission’s website. Consultation is open for four weeks, closing 26 August.

The Commission will publish its final report on the study by 23 November 2021 and the Government will then consider what changes may be necessary to bring about better outcomes for consumers.

Youth centre 

Christchurch’s Youth Hub ‘set to go’ thanks to further Government funding

Construction of New Zealand’s first, purpose-built centre for youth well-being is ready to get underway thanks to an extra $2.5 million of COVID-19 response funding, Housing Minister and Associate Minister of Finance, Megan Woods announced today.

The Christchurch Youth Hub aims to bring together all the things young people need in one place, such as counselling, training, catch-up education and safe housing.

The well-being hub in Christchurch’s central city will provide space for about 12 different youth organisations and include facilities for arts, recreation and training as well as providing job opportunities in an onsite cafe and organic vegetable farm. It will also provide transitional housing for 16 to 24-year-olds, where they’ll be given social support from qualified, live-in staff. Most will stay from 3-18 months at a time, providing they are involved in formal education or actively looking for work.

The Government’s $12.5 million COVID-19 response funding, is providing the initial employment of around 40 fulltime tradespeople to build the centre, and – when it is built – will help enable the Youth Hub assist its clients.

Tourism 

Next step to protect Milford Sound Piopiotahi

The government has confirmed that work by an expert group into the future of Milford Sound Piopiotahi will proceed to its next stage.

The Milford Opportunities Project (MOP) Masterplan follows four years work by cross-agency representatives, mana whenua, commercial interests and the wider community.

The project now moves to stage 3, and a new governance structure is required to oversee the next steps.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said:

“Tourism at Milford Sound Piopiotahi cannot return to its pre-COVID state. Significant pressure from the 870,000 visitors in 2019 undermines cultural and environmental values and infrastructure. As a tourist experience, it was crowded, rushed, noisy and unsafe.

“The project is an excellent test case for a self-funded, sustainable tourism system paid for by visitors, with costs and negative impacts priced into the tourist experience rather than shouldered by New Zealand ratepayers and taxpayers,” said Stuart Nash.

An investment of $15 million from the Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery and Re-set Plan will fund the next stage of the project.

More information about the masterplan can be found on the Milford Opportunities website.

Waste management  

Funding for projects to reduce waste from construction and demolition

The Government has announced funding for projects in Auckland and the lower North Island to help reduce construction and demolition waste.

Construction is the main source of waste sent to landfill.  Much of this could be reduced, reused and recovered, Environment Minister David Parker said.

The Auckland Council Waste Management and Minimisation Plan 2018 found that 86 per cent of the 1.6 million tonnes of waste sent to landfill in 2016 came from commercial, construction, demolition, infrastructure, and other activities.

Auckland-based Waste Revolution will receive $1.1 million funding to create a commercial resource and recovery centre for the storage and redistribution of material. The new centre will sort and store waste materials from the construction, demolition and commercial industries which will then be sold to the construction industry and wider public

Waste Revolution is a collaborative initiative between Junk Run and Kiwi Recycling.

Further south, Central Environmental will receive $750,000 to set up a construction and demolition waste processing facility in Feilding. Materials, including concrete, native timber and building materials, will be recycled and reused.

The new facility will be able to process 80,000 tonnes a year and will service the Manawatu/South Taranaki and Northern Wellington region.

The government will provide $164,250 to Porirua City Council to determine if a construction and demolition recycling facility is feasible in Porirua.

These initiatives will be funded through the Waste Minimisation Fund’s 2020 round, administered by the Environment Ministry.

Health

Plan to eliminate hepatitis C as a major health threat by 2030

A plan to eliminate hepatitis C in New Zealand, reducing liver cancer and the need for liver transplants, has been released.

Around 45,000 New Zealanders have hepatitis C, but only around half know they have it because symptoms often don’t appear until much of the damage has been done.

Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplants in New Zealand, and the second leading cause of liver cancer – behind hepatitis B.

The National Hepatitis C Action Plan was unveiled at a mobile, pop-up testing clinic in Hamilton, to mark World Hepatitis Day. It’s New Zealand’s response to the World Health Organization’s global hepatitis strategy, and sets out how Aotearoa will eliminate hepatitis C as a major public health threat by 2030.

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