This country’s relations with the Pacific were the subjects of two fresh statements from the Beehive and were mentioned in despatches from Washington, although nothing suggested Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta would be headed to look up our near neighbours any time soon.
Mahuta’s contribution was to announce the appointment of Don Higgins as the next Administrator of Tokelau.
“Aotearoa New Zealand is first and foremost a Pacific nation. We value the strong and enduring relationships that we have with countries throughout the region, and I know these will only continue to grow,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
The Administrator’s role is to support the Tokelau Government to deliver quality public services to the people of Tokelau, and to help manage the relationship between our countries.
Higgins will also oversee New Zealand’s development assistance to Tokelau, which is focused on strengthening Tokelau’s resilience to climate change, and includes “major investments” in education, internet connectivity, and renewable energy.
He is currently New Zealand’s acting High Commissioner in Solomon Islands and has previously served as High Commissioner in Solomon Islands and Kiribati, and as an Adviser to the Tokelau Administrator from 2012 to 2014.
While Mahuta remains at home for now, the Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aupito William Sio, has packed his bags to travel to Fiji this week, from today until 4 June, to meet with Pacific Marine Ministers, and discuss issues of shared importance to the Blue Pacific Continent.
“I will be discussing a range of issues with other large ocean states and aim to build upon and strengthen the relationships and conversations that began at this year’s Our Ocean Conference held in Palau in March,” said Aupito William Sio.
The most important item of foreign affairs news came from the PM in Washington, where she had met President Biden at the White House for discussions ranging from regional and global security to trade and climate change.
“Supporting Pacific resilience was high on the agenda, including the need to work with Pacific countries on climate change, Covid-19 economic recovery, and promoting peace and stability in the region. We welcome increased engagement by the United States in the Pacific, and together we will continue to respond to the Pacific’s own priorities.
“We also discussed the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF). New Zealand is happy to join IPEF, but we do want it to be meaningful. We believe it can assist with the removal of non-tariff barriers and seed greater economic cooperation and integration.”
Pacific people came into considerations in a statement in which Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash announced his launch of the draft Advanced Manufacturing Industry Transformation Plan for public consultation at the EMEX Trade Show in Auckland.
Budget 2022 included $30 million to enable the first stages of implementation of “the Plan”, which has the bothersome whiff of Stalinist-style central planning about it.
Actually, the Government has announced eight different Industry Transformation Plans (ITPs) targeting sectors with significant potential for transformational change, Nash said.
“We are developing these plans in partnership with business, unions and workers, Māori and wider stakeholders to identify both a long-term vision and short-term actions to strengthen the performance of our core sectors.
“The advanced manufacturing sector is not only our largest contributor to exports, accounting for 73.5% of goods exports ($44.5 billion), it also represents the diversity of Aotearoa. It’s the second largest employer of Māori and largest employer of Pasifika and makes up a significant share of employment in regional New Zealand.”
Thus, Nash drew attention to the government’s race-obsessed practice of justifying decisions with reference to the benefits to be bestowed on Māori and Pasfika people.
Actually, manufacturing is the second biggest employers of New Zealanders regardless of race after the health care and social assistance sector.
A fact sheet recording data in the March 2020 quarter says 244,000 people were employed in the sector. Manufacturing sector employment is largest in food product manufacturing, employing 31 per cent of the sector’s workforce.
Six per cent of the manufacturing workforce is made up of temporary migrants.
As for Industry Transformation Plans, readers should get used to government references to ITPs, which Nash describes as “a key mechanism for implementing our industry policy”.
We can only hope the government can deliver results that come somewhere near the promise:
“Ultimately, the final plan will help increase the productivity of advanced manufacturing in New Zealand while transforming it into a sustainable, circular and globally competitive low emissions sector,” Stuart Nash said.
Public consultation on the draft Advanced Manufacturing ITP is open from 1 June to 13 July 2022. There are a range of opportunities for engagement over the next six weeks, including in-person workshops and webinars throughout New Zealand.
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