Govt action against climate change includes pouring millions into troughs and inviting private sector to line up for a slurp

Buzz from the Beehive

Foreign affairs, agriculture, health and transport are among the burning issues which have been keeping our ministers, their policy advisers and their press secretaries busy in recent days.  Inviting oinkers to new freshly filled troughs was on the agenda, too.

Ministers had issued 13 new press statements when Point of Order checked this morning.  At time of writing the number of new statements had increased to 16, on subjects ranging from the agriculture sector’s agenda for dealing with climate change to the race-fixated restructuring of the health system.

On the foreign affairs front, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta was announcing additional sanctions on Russian state-owned enterprises and defence entities in response to the ongoing brutality in Ukraine, the PM was announcing a visit here this month by Samoa Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataʻafa 60 years after the Treaty of Friendship between the two countries was signed, and the PM was further announcing she will travel to Sydney this week for “an in-person meeting” with new Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.

Oh, and Defence Minister Peeni Henare is departing for Singapore today (has he left already?) to attend the region’s premier defence and security forum, the 19th annual Shangri-La Dialogue.

Further advances in the country’s assault on climate change are reflected in news that the Government has welcomed a report from the He Waka Eke Noa – Primary Sector Climate Action Partnership which makes recommendations to ministers on the partnership’s preferred system to price greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. The Government committed almost $380 million over four years in Budget 2022 to accelerate efforts to lower agricultural emissions

The He Waka Eke Noa partnership has recommended the introduction of a farm-level levy system from 2025 with separate prices for short and long-lived gases, and a shared governance approach to recommending levy rates.

Let’s worry about how that turns out – especially if you happen to appreciate the extent to which the nation’s economy is builts on agricultural and horticultural production.

Climate change considerations underpin ministerial invitations to apply for a helping from two new funds.  One of these is plainly identified as a fund. The other is camouflaged by te reo.

  •  Industrial businesses wanting to switch to clean energy and lower emissions technologies can apply from tomorrow for co-funding through the expanded Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry Fund.  The expanded fund of $650m over four years – let’s call it another trough, eh? – is estimated to deliver projects that will make up around one-sixth or 17 per cent of our total emissions reductions required between 2022 and 2025, and over a quarter, or 27 per cent of our emissions reductions required between 2025 and 2030.
  • The Government is calling for innovators to put forward their solutions to help solve some of New Zealand’s biggest transport challenges – to make the transport system safer, greener, and more efficient – with the opening of Hoe ki angitū: the innovation fund led by Waka Kotahi.  The fund, part of the Government’s comprehensive approach to responding to the climate emergency, dedicates $15 million and other non-financial support to help the private sector “catalyse the actions needed to solve transport problems and enable and accelerate innovation by breaking down barriers and providing them with the capabilities they need”.  Successful applicants will receive funding and other support for a total of 16 weeks “to help them ‘accelerate’ their solution to the next stage of the innovative journey”.

Climate change considerations no doubt come into the picture, too, as the Government welcomes the return of “a stalwart of the New Zealand’s rail sector,” with today’s completed refurbishment of the first electric EF locomotive.

Then there’s health news.

Monkeypox will be added to New Zealand’s schedule of notifiable diseases.  No cases have been detected in New Zealand so far, but the government says it is making sure it is as prepared as possible if any cases do appear here.

Next, the Government is introducing a Bill to amend the Medicines Act, enabling voluntary booster doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be administered to the most vulnerable by all vaccinators without a prescription.

And third – this is the big one – the Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill has  passed its third reading at Parliament.

Health Minister Andrew Little glibly says the Bill  is part of a health system reset.”

Some reset!

As he explains, on July 1 it will establish Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority as permanent entities to replace the DHB system, establish the public health agency within the Ministry of Health, and strengthen the stewardship role of the Ministry of Health.

“All Māori want is an equitable health system that takes care of them. For far too long the status quo has failed to deliver this. That is why this Government is reforming our healthcare system,” Associate Health Minister (Māori) Peeni Henare said.

All everybody wants – dare we suggest – is an equitable health system. Most notably, low-income people regardless of race are apt to have poorer health than high-income people.

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