Foodbanks get a boost as the govt continues to keep northern parts of NZ under Alert Level Three constraints

Uh, oh.  Chris Hipkins , the Minister in charge of the response to Covid-19, had nice things to say about the good people of Northland and the Waikato but the announcement that mattered was bad news.

His press statement declared:

“It’s … great to see Northlanders coming out to get vaccinated. There have been 19,691 vaccinations in the past seven days – that’s more than double the previous week.”

And:

“The Waikato has done a phenomenal job in getting tested and getting vaccinated…”

But you were right if you were expecting a “but” was on its way before Waikato people could celebrate that cheering observation:

“However, this morning we were informed of two new cases that are as yet unlinked to the existing cluster.”

Health authorities believe the risk from these two cases is low and there will be few locations of interest.  Great ….

“However we need to assure ourselves that there is not undetected transmission before lowering alert levels. Genome sequencing is underway and will hopefully shed new light on these cases.”

Moreover,

“…we still don’t have confidence we have a full enough picture of the situation in Northland.”

Thumb screws, water-boarding, stretching on the rack and other techniques for extracting information from people who don’t want to explain themselves or dob in their companions are not being made available to our authorities, apparently.

And so:

“Getting information from the two cases who travelled around the region while infectious and are now in quarantine, remains slow going.

“We may not get any further information from contact tracing interviews so are now relying on other sources of information to piece together their movements.”

In the upshot, the parts of Waikato that have been in Alert Level 3 and Northland will remain in Alert Level 3 for a few more days.  Auckland remains at Alert Level 3, Step 1.

“Based on the latest public health information, ministers have decided that maintaining the status quo in Northland and parts of the Waikato is the safest course of action,” Chris Hipkins said.

“This will be reviewed by Cabinet on Monday, 18 October.”

Good luck, northern readers.

There was some solace – to be fair –  in news that the Government has approved $13.55m from the Covid Response and Recovery Fund to support foodbanks and social sector agencies.

“Foodbanks and social agencies across Auckland are doing a great job supporting their communities and the Government is today providing them with more funding,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“The response to Delta has meant there has been additional demand for social services, particularly from vulnerable families who need to self isolate.”

Many of the stores and resources of foodbanks have been depleted over recent weeks and additional support is now required.

The funding announced today includes $5.5m to support foodbanks, food rescue and community food organisations across Auckland, including the New Zealand Food Network, Pacific food hubs and the Māori collective.

In response to an increased demand, today’s announcement will provide $8.05m to support 34,700 individuals and families who use the Community Connector Service,

The Government has provided $24.6m in additional funding for foodbanks and support services since the response to the Delta outbreak began in August. Today’s announcement takes that support to $38.15m.

While the immediate challenge is related to theCovid pandemic, the Government is awake to the longer-term and more ominous issue of climate change.

Today it announced an invitation  to New Zealanders to inform the country’s first Emissions Reduction Plan with the release of a consultation document containing a range of policy ideas to decrease the country’s emissions.

The Emissions Reduction Plan will set the direction for climate action through to 2035. It will set out action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across a range of areas, including energy, transport, waste, agriculture, construction and financial services.

But at this stage, the announcement was a portent of more talk , in the short term, rather than more action – or more consultation, if you prefer:

 “We are putting forward for discussion a range of ideas that that would reduce our emissions and can also create jobs and new opportunities for Kiwi businesses and our economy,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“We also want to prioritise ideas that save people money, like cleaner energy that leads to lower power bills.

“We have the opportunity to build back differently after COVID-19 and the Emissions Reduction Plan will be a key component of our recovery.”

Minister of Climate Change, James Shaw said the discussion document released today is not a draft of the Emissions Reduction Plan. Rather it is an opportunity to hear feedback on what should be included in the plan.

“Since the final advice of the independent Climate Change Commission was published in June, conversations have been underway across Government about how Ministers and agencies can support emissions reductions in their portfolios – and what can be included in the final Emissions Reduction Plan,” James Shaw said.

“Some of the ideas that have come from these conversations form the basis of the consultation document we are releasing today, and are inviting feedback on. Other ideas have already been consulted on – either through previous policy development, or the Climate Change Commission’s consultation – and are not included this consultation.”

The Plan scheduled for release next year will need to set out future policy and regulatory change, as well as actions that can be taken by businesses, towns and cities, and every community. It will also set out how we make the transition in an inclusive and equitable way, Shaw said

“The consultation marks the next phase in this work.”

Consultation on the emissions reduction plan is open until 11.59pm, 24 November 2021.

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