Not all the millions offered by the Ardern govt have been accepted – let’s see how it fares with new law on aversion therapy

Several million dollars have been dished out for projects to build schools, control wilding pine control and what-have-you.

Nurses – on the other hand – have turned down the money they were offered.

In their case,  Health Minister Andrew Little is obviously bemused and frustrated.  

He was advised last night that Nurses Organisation members had voted to reject the latest proposal to settle their collective agreement.

“Let me be clear: the proposal was one they put to the Government. The Nurses Organisation rejected their own proposal,” he huffed this morning. 

We don’t expect the rejection of these announcements:

  • The Government will build on a new school site in West Auckland to cope with rapid population growth in the area.  Initial planning will be funded from Budget 2021 which, overall, set aside $66 million specifically for the design and planning of 11 new schools.
  • Napier Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools are among those set to benefit from a $16.5 million investment in the Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti region.
  • Conservation Minister Kiri Allan has announced more than $20 million of Jobs for Nature funding for 12 projects in Northland/Te Tai Tokerau.
  • Twelve community projects will receive a share of $2 million to carry out wilding pine control.  This looks like a conservation programme but no, it’s a biosecurity one.

There’s more to governing than granting and/or offering money, of course.  There’s the business of legislating, too, and today legislation has been introduced to Parliament to protect against practices intended to change or suppress someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Introducing the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill, Minister of Justice, Kris Faafoi, said the measures proposed were aimed at ending conversion practices which don’t work, are widely discredited, and cause harm to rainbow communities and the wider community.

We shall watch with interest to see if other health programmes which don’t work will be banned.

A particularly bemusing component of the legislation is that the Human Rights Commission will play “an important role” in providing education about conversion practices and the prohibition, and in making “survivors” aware of how to access the support that they may need.

Latest from the Beehive

Biosecurity

Communities backed to tackle wilding pines

Twelve community projects across New Zealand will receive a share of $2 million to carry out wilding pine control, Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor announced as part of of Biosecurity Week.

Community groups and trusts on the ground can play a vital role in preventing the spread and reducing the damage caused by these invasive plants, O’Connor said.

“Local people are passionate about controlling wilding pines and we want to empower them.”

Community groups and trusts had the opportunity to apply for the Community Partnership Projects Fund to support wilding pine control in areas that complement the national programme’s current control operations.

Thirty-four applications from ten regions across New Zealand were received, with proposals totalling over $6 million.

Pay negotiations

Health Minister Andrew Little responding to the New Zealand Nurses Organisation’s rejection of the latest pay offer

Health Minister Andrew Little confirmed the details of the proposal rejected by nurses and reaffirmed the government’s commitments to them – and to all New Zealanders who are dependent on their care – to improve conditions for nurses.

The latest pay offer puts an extra $13,000 over the next year alone in the pockets of every full-time employee covered by the collective agreement, with more to come when the pay-equity claim is settled, he said.

The first part of the proposal nurses voted on was to lift base pay-rates by $1800 a year – plus a lump-sum payment of $1200. These amounts are within the current public sector guidelines.

The second part was an advance on the settlement of the pay-equity claim, a $4000-a-year pay rise and a lump-sum payment of $6000.

Together, that adds up to a $5800-a-year pay rise and a lump-sum payment of $7200 – altogether, $13,000 over the next year.

The government’s offer on pay equity will be worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year

“… and we must get it right.”

Officials from several government departments and agencies are committed to completing the technical work so that Cabinet can confirm a mandate in a few weeks for negotiations to begin.

Little’s statement includes details of a safe-staffing clause rejected by nurses.

Legislation 

Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation introduced to Parliament

Legislation has been introduced to Parliament to protect against practices intended to change or suppress someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

The Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill creates two new criminal offences for either the most serious cases of harm or where there is heightened risk of harm. The Bill also creates a pathway for civil redress.

Under the Bill, it will be an offence to perform conversion practices on a child or young person aged under 18, or on someone with impaired decision-making capacity. Such offences would be subject to up to 3 years imprisonment.

It would also be an offence to perform conversion practices on anyone – irrespective of age – where the practices have caused serious harm, and would carry up to five years imprisonment.

Civil redress will be an option where complaints about conversion practices could be made to the Human Rights Commission and the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

Schools  

New school site for booming West Auckland

The Government will build on a new school site in West Auckland to cope with rapid population growth in the area

The Ministry is working with existing local schools to determine how the 1.5-hectare site at 279 Hobsonville Point Road will be used to support growing demand for schooling in West Auckland.

Initial planning will be funded from Budget 2021. Overall, $66 million was set aside specifically for the design and planning of 11 new schools.

A construction timeframe and opening date for any new facilities will become clearer as the planning and design work is progressed over coming months.

Govt investing millions in Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti schools

Napier Boys’ and Girls’ High Schools are among those set to benefit from a $16.5 million investment in the Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti region.

The Government has set aside money in Budget 2021 to accelerate five projects in Napier, Hastings, Havelock North and Rere, near Gisborne. It also includes a new classroom at Porangahau School in Central Hawke’s Bay as part of the Government’s ongoing short-term roll growth programme.

A summary of all the projects announced today include:

Over $16 million to make projects at five schools shovel ready:

  • Napier Boys’ High School
  • Napier Girls’ High School
  • Heretaunga Intermediate School
  • Rere School
  • Havelock North High School

The delivery of a new short-term roll growth classroom at Porangahau school, at an estimated cost of over $0.5 million.

The Government will announce the allocation of further investments in school property in the coming weeks.

Travel bubble 

Trans-Tasman travel window to close at midnight tomorrow

Further Government actions announced today are balanced to provide more certainty for Kiwis wanting to return from Australia, while continuing to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, acting Minister for COVID-19 Response Ayesha Verrall says.

The actions were foreshadowed last week and as part of the earlier process of managing the return of New Zealand residents from New South Wales.

Managed return flights are continuing as planned from New South Wales, with travellers from the state required to spend 14 days in MIQ.

More than 1500 rooms in MIQ have so far been made available from the first two managed return phases – accommodating an estimated 2100 people, including more than 300 urgent and exceptional cases.

Today, the government is confirming that 500 MIQ additional rooms have been allocated from contingency, between 9-22 August.

 Conservation 

Game changing Jobs for Nature investment for Northland

Conservation Minister Kiri Allan has announced Jobs for Nature funding for a portfolio of projects that will create ‘game changing’ gains for nature and communities across Northland/Te Tai Tokerau as part of the Government’s acceleration of the economic recovery from COVID

The 12 projects will result in more than $20 million being invested into creating jobs and controlling predators in vitally important areas; protecting our forest giants, the kauri, restoring important dunes and wetland systems in the region, propagation and planting of indigenous species, weed control and species protection.

They will generate 324 jobs over a three-year programme, upskilling locals to move into other employment opportunities beyond the life of the projects.

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