O’Connor goes to Paris (will they make a movie of it?) while his colleagues spend millions back home and crimp liquor sales

Buzz from the Beehive

Damien O’Connor has been busy with international duties. At the weekend he met with Aussie ministerial counterparts in Queenstown to discuss the advancement of trans-Tasman cooperation under the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement before packing his bags to head for Paris where he will co-chair an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ministerial meeting.

The Beehive website has recorded the thrust of his weekend talks on the bilateral relationship between New Zealand and Australia and his plans to fly to Paris along with posts which tell us how he and his colleagues have been earning their keep.

The website tells us they have been (or, in his case, will be) …

 The latest post on the website when we checked in mid-afternoon tells us Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor will travel to Paris tomorrow to co-chair the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Committee on Agriculture Ministerial meeting on 3-4 November.

It will be the first time the Committee on Agriculture, which oversees the OECD’s work on agriculture and food policy, has convened since 2016 

The meeting is being held at a critical time, when global food supply chains have been disrupted by COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine.  

Apparently, it will provide a forum for political boasting, too.  O’Connor said the meeting is an important forum to demonstrate New Zealand’s global leadership in sustainable agriculture.

“The Committee on Agriculture will enable New Zealand to shine a light on our continuing investment in the development of high-impact technologies and practices to reduce emissions and promote sustainable agriculture,” Damien O’Connor said.

“This includes establishing the new Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions to shift the dial on climate-friendly farm practices. There will be great interest in our world-leading work to incentivise farmers to reduce their methane and nitrous oxide emissions from 2025.”

The Minister for Social Development and Employment, Carmel Sepuloni, is enthusing that the Government’s Training Incentive Allowance has had an overwhelming response with an uptake of more than 600 per cent in the first half of the year, compared with the first half of 2021. 

The allowance was reinstated as part of Budget 2021.

Her data show:

  • A 600 per cent increase in uptake of the Training Incentive Allowance
  • 4,848 people have been supported since the allowance’s reinstatement on 1 July 2021
  • 3,909 people have accessed the Training Incentive Allowance during the period 1 January 2022 to 30 September 2022
  • As at the end of Quarter Three 2022, 42 per cent of recipients identified as Māori, 7 per cent as Pacific, and 90 per cent are female
  • Almost three quarters (71%) of allowance recipients are in courses level 4 or higher (Bachelor’s degrees, Graduate Diplomas and Certificates.

It sounds like the government has been spending money (the sum is not stated) on whipping up interest in the scheme.  And it has been smoothing the pathway for applicants to secure this support: 

“The Ministry of Social Development have been running promotional campaigns on the allowance and working hard to ensure people know where and how to access it. They’ve also sought to make the application process more accessible for clients with processing standards made permanent to create a more seamless interaction for those wishing to access the allowance.”

Immigration Minister Michael Wood said thousands of working holiday makers overseas now have new visas and are set to bring key skills to the New Zealand economy over the next three months, after the Government took action to extend the visas of offshore working holiday makers.

All the new visa holders will have open work rights, can work in New Zealand for 12 months with multiple entry rights and must be in New Zealand by 31 January, 2023.

Over 34,200 working holiday visa applications have been approved, with 14,400 visa holders arriving in New Zealand since borders reopened.

 Associate Minister of Housing (Māori Housing) Peeni Henare has announced a new investment partnership with Te Pouahi o Te Taitokerau to build up to 100 houses in the North.

The government is working with Te Pouahi o Te Taitokerau (a collective of Northland based Māori housing service providers and supported by Northland iwi, hapū and Ahu Whenua Trusts) to fund a prototype delivery model that will produce 80-100 affordable rental homes and up to 110 infrastructure sites by 30 June 2025.

“We know that we cannot tackle this housing crisis alone. The key to success lies in partnership.”

 Government funding is helpful too and Henare announced a $55m package to support Te Pouahi o Te Taitokera.

The Minister for Māori Development, Willie Jackson, chimed in to say the Government has created a new pathway for Māori Housing that relies on a genuine partnership between the Government and Māori to invest in housing opportunities that more widely contribute to the overall wellbeing of whānau, hapū and iwi.

He said last year’s Budget provided $730 million for Māori housing to deliver 1000 new homes, repairs and maintenance to 700 homes, and infrastructure support for 2,700 homes. This investment includes $30 million towards building future capability for iwi and Māori groups to accelerate housing projects and support services  

Damien O’Connor, Minister for Trade and Export Growth, joined by Stuart Nash, Minister for Tourism, hosted Senator Don Farrell, Australian Minister for Trade and Tourism, in Queenstown on 29-30 October to advance trans-Tasman cooperation under the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement (CER).

You can find out what they discussed – or what they are prepared to tell us about what the discussed – in the statement posted on the Beehive website HERE.

Transport Minister Michael Wood said the Government is supporting the transport sector’s efforts to stabilise the public transport workforce with funding from Budget 2022 to help standardise base wages.

This draws attention to $61 million allocated in Budget 22 that will help the sector to standardise minimum base wage rates towards a target rate, as agreed by public transport authorities. The intention is work towards base rates of $30 an hour for urban services and $28 an hour for regional services. Public transport authorities and operators will be able to access a share of funding if they contribute to the wage increases, and continue to apply indexation wage rates in the future.

Justice  Minister Kiri Allan said the Government is “fixing” alcohol legislation that has been used by the alcohol industry and retailers to stop local communities from putting in place rules around the sale of liquor in their area. 

The amendments to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 will remove the ability to appeal local alcohol policies (LAPs). The current appeal process is costing councils and ratepayers millions in legal fees, as alcohol companies and supermarkets have thwarted efforts by local councils to limit the sale of alcohol in their communities.


2 thoughts on “O’Connor goes to Paris (will they make a movie of it?) while his colleagues spend millions back home and crimp liquor sales

  1. All looks like electioneering-Government must be seriously worried to be embarking on this so far ahead of the next election, unless there is consideration of a date earlier than next winter.

    Liked by 2 people

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