Buzz from the Beehive
Just one policy initiative has been posted on the Beehive website since Point of Order last monitored the goings-on and comings and goings of our ministers.
Immigration Minister Michael Wood has announced measures intended to support the hospitality and tourism sectors and a change to the requirements for recruiting chefs.
But we were fascinated more by the travel plans and intentions of Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall.
On Saturday, she advised us she would be departing at the weekend for Europe and Singapore to attend global cancer and mental health meetings and building research, science and innovation connections with the European Union.
Today, she sent us a copy of her speech to the Population Health Congress in Australia.
Headed Public Health – Lessons from New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and opportunities for the future, it comprises some 3540 words, which would take around 30 minutes to deliver.
We were surprised. Her press release on Saturday made no mention of a stop-off in Australia to address this congress.
We consulted the Population Health Congress 2022 Website and learned the congress brings together Australia and New Zealand’s four leading professional population health organisations: Public Health Association of Australia; Australian Health Promotion Association; Australasian Epidemiological Association; and the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine.
Held every 3-4 years, the Congress attracts attendees from a range of population health backgrounds. The Congress provides the opportunity for working across and within organisations on key population health issues as well as unparalleled opportunities for networking.
The theme for the 2022 Population Health Congress is ‘Towards a just, safe and sustainable future for Australasia’.
Then we learned:
The Population Health Congress will be held as a hybrid Congress, combining face to face and virtual components, from Wednesday 21 to Friday 23 September 2022 at the Adelaide Convention Centre, South Australia.
So where and when – exactly – can we find the audience that will hear (and relish, we trust) Verrall’s address?
She is not the only minister to announce overseas travel plans (but she was the only one to send us a copy of a speech intended for an audience which gathered more than two weeks ago).
Finance minister Grant Robertson departs this evening with a business delegation to New York after which he will travel to Washington DC for a round of meetings.
Or is it a junket?
“The New York leg of the trip has been developed by Air New Zealand alongside their new non-stop service from Auckland. It presents an opportunity to continue promoting New Zealand’s Reconnection Strategy and strengthen business ties in the United States,” Grant Robertson said.
“It also provides a valuable opportunity to engage with Kiwi business leaders and highlight New Zealand’s tourism offerings on the world stage.”
Fair to say, Robertson also will attend the World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meetings in Washington DC and will meet with the US Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, senior officials from the Biden administration and Finance Ministers from around the world.
“This trip is a great opportunity to reconnect in person with the US Government, international financial institutions, APEC, and our partners in the Asia-Pacific region as we look to reconnect New Zealand to the world and strengthen relationships with our business and trade partners,” Grant Robertson said.
The Minister will return to New Zealand on October 18.
The statement announcing Ayesha Verrall’s travel plans said she will deliver the keynote speech at the World Cancer Congress in Geneva on 20 October, highlighting the Government’s implementation of its Smokefree 2025 Action Plan “and the world leading legislation currently progressing through the House which will help us achieve our goal of a smokefree future.
Further meetings will take place in Geneva with WHO officials on tobacco control, COVID-19 and the global pandemic treaty.
She will represent New Zealand at the Global Mental Health Summit in Rome as well as acknowledging our scientific collaboration with Italy in Antarctica.
Talks with the European Commission will take place in Strasbourg as New Zealand progresses to become an associate member of Horizon Europe.
Meetings will take place in France to continue advancing our research and science relationship with the EU.
The Minister will visit Callaghan Innovation at the Cleantech forum in Singapore and deliver a keynote address highlighting New Zealand successful work in tobacco control.
The Singapore leg of the trip will include meetings with health officials and experts to share ideas and tactics for pandemic preparedness planning and other health issues.
And what about her speech to the Population Health Congress 2022?
“It is an absolute pleasure to address the Population Health Congress today.”
She does say:
“ I am sorry that I can’t join you in person.
“The invitation I received for this event stated that this Congress is more important than ever, and I fully endorse that statement.”
We would like to know more about the invitation.
Covid-19, inevitably, was mentioned in Verrall’s speech.
Immigration Minister Michael mentioned it, too, in his announcement about relaxing immigration rules for the tourism and hospitality industries.
“As the world recovers from COVID-19, labour shortages continue to be a persistent ongoing global symptom,” Michael Wood said.
Then he said the government is listening closely to the concerns of the hospitality and tourism sectors, and is working with them to take practical steps to help them work towards more productive and resilient ways of operating.
”We agree with the hospitality industry that removing the qualification requirement for chefs to be hired through an Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) will allow those top rated chefs who have trained at the coal face to come to NZ. This will take effect from 18 October.
“The requirement for chefs to hold a New Zealand Certificate of Cookery (Level 4) or equivalent qualification was introduced to reduce risks of wage and job inflation in these roles.
“We have heard the industry’s concerns that this requirement was limiting their options to recruit chefs who do not hold formal qualifications, including some highly skilled or experienced chefs, at a time when labour market conditions are tight.
“Employers hiring chefs will now only be required to meet the median wage and market rate requirement, enabling employers to recruit from a larger pool of migrant chefs.”
Officials will be working closely with the industry to develop a system over the next 12-18 months for identifying and assessing skilled chefs who do not hold formal qualifications.
And many tourism and hospitality businesses will be able to continue hiring migrants “on a lower wage threshold” with the Government’s temporary median wage exception extended for another year.
Any news of a relaxing of the rules to help overcome the shortage of nurses?
Latest from the Beehive
10 OCTOBER 2022
The invitation I received for this event stated that this Congress is more important than ever, and I fully endorse that statement.
Grant Robertson departs this evening with a business delegation to New York, after which he will travel to Washington DC for meetings.
9 OCTOBER 2022
Immigration Minister Michael Wood today announced measures targeted to support the hospitality and tourism sectors and have adjusted the requirement to recruit chefs as requested by industry.
7 OCTOBER 2022
Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall will depart for Europe and Singapore tomorrow to attend global cancer and mental health meetings and building research, science and innovation connections with the European Union.