Buzz from the Beehive
Oh goody – an invitation to a trough which has been laden with twice as much largess this year because it was not available last year.
Inviting potential applicants to slurp at the $9.2 million swill, Acting Conservation Minister Meka Whaitiri described it as a fund for community-led efforts to protect threatened species and at-risk cultural heritage.
It has opened for applications today.
The Department of Conservation’s Community Fund this year is aligned with achieving the outcomes of the New Zealand Biodiversity Strategy and is divided into two streams:
- $7.2 million for biodiversity projects that reduce the extinction risk of priority threatened species or protect priority ecosystems
- $2 million to protect cultural heritage sites and maintain visitor infrastructure in the backcountry.
There was no DOC Community Fund round last year because of the focus on the department’s Jobs for Nature programme and COVID recovery, so $9.2M is available this year as a double funding round.
The 2022 funding round closes on 31 January 2023.
Community groups, iwi and hapū, as well as private landowners throughout the country can apply for the funding. Government departments and local authorities are not eligible.
Successful applications will be announced from late April 2023.
The DOC Community Fund (DOCCF), established on National’s watch in 2014, provides contestable funding for community-led conservation projects on public and private land.
It has an annual appropriation of $4.6 million and, since 2014, about $39 million has been awarded to over 711 community conservation initiatives around the country.
DOCCF grants typically range in size from $5,000 – $100,000 for localised projects.
The opening of the trough was announced on The Beehive website today along with posts that tell us our hard-working ministers have been –
· Proclaiming their intent to make our fuel markets more resilient, sustainable and competitive
Energy and Resources Minister announced the Government is strengthening New Zealand’s fuel sector through a suite of initiatives to increase supply resilience and sustainability, and to encourage more competition. This announcement has been addressed in an earlier post (here).
· Chipping in $20m to help other countries deal with climate-change impacts
Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced a dedicated allocation of NZ$20 million climate funding to address loss and damage in developing countries. This delivers on commitments to deal with the impacts of climate change that are not covered by funding for adaptation measures.
Dedicated funding for loss and damage places New Zealand at the leading edge of wealthy countries which are supporting action to address loss and damage from climate change and strongly signals support for Pacific priorities, Mahuta said.
James Shaw said:
“As one of only three countries in the world to dedicate such funding – and with loss and damage on the agenda for the first time at global climate negotiations in Egypt – today’s announcement sends an important signal about this Government’s commitment to global action to support communities to build a safe and fair future.
“Comparatively wealthy countries like Aotearoa New Zealand have a duty to support countries most at-risk from climate change. The best way to do that is to cut climate pollution, but so too must we support communities to cope with the unavoidable impacts of the climate crisis.”
The dedicated loss and damage funding is allocated from the scaled-up climate finance commitment made in October 2021. Support to deal with loss and damage was identified as a priority in Tuia te Waka a Kiwa, New Zealand’s international climate finance strategy announced in August.
Shaw will leave on Friday for the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, being held in Egypt.
· Legislating to spur companies to pay their bills
Small Business Minister Stuart Nash drew attention to the Business Payment Practices Bill – aimed at helping small businesses get paid on time – passing its first reading in Parliament.
The Business Payment Practices disclosure regime that is being established will require large businesses – those with turnover of $33 million a year – to publicly disclose information on their payment practices, particularly late payments.
Having access to this information will help small businesses to identify and avoid firms which are slower to pay than others.
· Easing the pathway into NZ through Customs
Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri (enthusing about “a safer and smarter border experience”) noted the Customs and Excise (Arrival Information) Amendment Bill passing its first reading in Parliament.
The Bill amends the Customs and Excise Act 2018 to clarify the obligations for arrival information and supports moves to a digital arrival card, enabling traveller information to be provided online before arrival. This will help frontline officers to focus on potential risks and enable border agencies to assess arrival information more efficiently beforehand.
The Customs and Excise (Arrival Information) Amendment Bill also creates two new offences if people do not comply with Custom’s requirements.
One requires information to be provided within the regulated timeframe, the other makes it an offence to provide incorrect or false information which is not merely trivial or inconsequential.
· Enthusing at strong wool being turned into fire-resistant panels
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor advised us that T&R Interior Systems Limited, with government funding, has successfully developed a world-first fire resistant, acoustic wall panel for commercial interiors made entirely from New Zealand strong wool.
The company has spent the past two years refining its wool panels to ensure they meet New Zealand’s strict building and fire compliance standards, O’Connor said.
The new product, Floc Panels, was launched in Wellington today.
T&R was awarded $303,200 from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund to accelerate pre-commercial development of the wool panels.
Most existing acoustic products are imported from overseas.
· Pitching in with ASEAN colleagues to shape a better trade agreement
The Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth, Phil Twyford, will travel to Cambodia today for trade negotiations with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
In Phnom Penh, he will meet with his ministerial counterparts for negotiations on the upgrade to the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand FTA (AANZFTA),
“… to continue negotiations to secure a high-quality outcome that will further support New Zealand businesses trading and investing in the ASEAN region”.
South East Asia is the third largest market in the world and the ASEAN bloc is New Zealand’s third largest two-way trading partner. In 2021 almost 10 per cent of our total exports went to ASEAN countries.
In the 12 years since the AANZFTA’ took effect, our goods exports alone to ASEAN have grown by 44 per cent to $7.37 billion in the year to June 2022.
Twyford will return to New Zealand on 12 November.