Buzz from the Beehive
New Zealand’s relationships with China, the ASEAN countries and Samoa were embraced by speeches and announcements that flowed from the Beehive after Disarmament Minister Phil Twyford had delivered his Statement to the 2022 Review Conference for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Trade Minister Damien O’Connor addressed the China Business Summit, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta departed for the Indo-Pacific region for a programme of talks on security and economic issues, and the PM announced the launch of a new climate change partnership with Samoa and confirmed support for the rebuild of the capital’s main market.
The PM’s announcements were accompanied by $15 million to support Samoa’s response to climate change and $12 million toward the rebuild of the Savalalo Market in Apia
Ministers with a domestic focus meanwhile were getting on with telling us about their legislative and regulatory agendas and other programmes.
A major item was the launch today of New Zealand’s first National Adaptation Plan, designed to ensure communities have the information and support they need to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
But our lives will also be affected – for better or worse – by:-
- The third and final reading of a Bill which “updates New Zealand’s statistics legislation for the 21st century”.
- The Accessibility for New Zealanders Bill, which passed its first reading in Parliament and aims to improve the lives of disabled people.
- The passage of the Firearms Prohibition Order Legislation Bill through all remaining stages by the end of next week.
- The clarification of the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance (CCCFA) Regulations (“to ensure borrow-ready kiwis aren’t being unfairly penalised when applying for a loan”).
The last item on that list should alert us to Ministers being more fallible than they would want us to believe. When something has to be clarified, then it was flawed when it was thrust upon us in the first place.
Keep a close eye on Three Waters, dear reader (if you weren’t already alert to its many shortcomings).
Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor and Associate Environment Minister James Shaw meanwhile were advising us of a National Pest Management Plan (NPMP) coming into effect to protect kauri.
Here’s a programme where mātauranga Māori – apparently – has been deemed more useful than science because the work will be led by Māori (but taxpayers will provide the readies).
Funding will be provided “to build capacity in iwi, hapu and whanau to deliver operationally, building on the baseline monitoring and surveillance undertaken in Year One of the plan,” Damien O’Connor (as Biosecurity Minister) said.
“That will involve assessing canopy health, extensively increasing baseline monitoring and aerial surveillance to determine where our healthy kauri are to protect, and where our infected kauri are, so we can halt the spread of the disease. It will also allow us to identify areas where we can potentially build kauri protection areas.”
The first tranche of aerial surveys has been completed.
As part of the national plan, Biosecurity New Zealand has established a management agency, Tiakina Kauri, to work in partnership with mana whenua and with councils, central government agencies and NGOs to deliver a co-ordinated kauri protection strategy.
On the same busy day, O’Connor addressed the China Business Summit, discussing the Government’s Trade Recovery Strategy, launched in 2020 and updated in 2022 to best support businesses as they reconnect with partners, customers, and markets overseas.
He also mentioned the Upgrade to the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement, which took effect on April 1 and “modernises” the 2008 Agreement, ensuring it is still fit for purpose for today’s trading environment. It resulted in tariff elimination on 12 wood and paper products, improved customs procedures, and new commitments for trade in services.
O’Connor ticked off a raft of other arrangements with China, such as our Dairy Dialogue (which brings together government and industry representatives every two years to discuss opportunities and challenges for both countries’ dairy sectors) and regular dialogues with China on fisheries and forestry related issues.
He concluded by recognising China’s importance as a partner for New Zealand over the last 50 years and foreseeing it being an important partner for the next 50 years.
Prime Minister Ardern was in Samoa, meeting with members of the Cabinet in Apia, announcing the launch of the Samoa–Aotearoa New Zealand Climate Partnership and committing $15 million to support the delivery of Samoa’s climate change priorities.
Her Government will provide another $12 million for rebuilding of the historic Savalalo Market, which was destroyed by fire in 2016.
“We will be co-financing this project in partnership with the Government of Samoa,” Jacinda Ardern said.
But why (dare we ask) has it taken some six years to make this commitment?
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta is doing her thing for the reconnecting strategy, too. She was headed for the Indo-Pacific region for talks on security and economic issues at meetings of ASEAN and the East Asia Summit in Cambodia, and during bilateral engagements in Malaysia.
Meetings in Phnom Penh will discuss issues such as support for ASEAN’S Five-Point Consensus to help end the violence in Myanmar and return it to civilian rule.
Mahuta will hold a bilateral ASEAN-New Zealand meeting and participate in meetings of the ASEAN Regional Forum and EAS Foreign Ministers.
In Kuala Lumpur her visit will mark 65 years of diplomatic relations.
The objective is to support reconnection with Malaysia and promote the trade recovery agenda, in particular reinvigorating tourism and education links.
Malaysia is also an important security and law enforcement partner as a fellow member of the Five Power Defence Arrangements, and in combatting transnational crime and terrorism threats in the region.
Nanaia Mahuta returns on August 10.
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Reconnecting with ASEAN and Malaysia
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