Govt goes to war against pokies but gambles on Putin keeping his hands off the button and takes a punt with business investments

Buzz from the Beehive

At first blush, our protection and wellbeing was high in the Ardern government’s considerations in the latest batch of statements posted on the Beehive website.

One statement was posted in the name of the Minister of Internal Affairs, who is determined to protect us from the evils of gambling; the other was posted in the name of the Minister of Defence, whose portfolio title implies a commitment to protecting us from a menace much greater than pokie machines..

One other announcement came from the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio.

In this case, the minister is promoting the interests of favoured Pacific business people, rather than protecting the populace generally.

Sio draws attention to $15.5 million in Budget 2022 that is being used

… to meet community demand volumes for services to support Pacific businesses and Pacific social enterprises across Aotearoa.

Point of Order does not know why taxpayers should be called on to meet community demand volumes for services to support Pacific businesses and Pacific social enterprises across New Zealand.

Come to think of it, we are far from sure what that means.

One thing is clear: public money is being pumped into select Pacific businesses, which – no matter what language or ethnicity is employed – amounts to corporate welfare.

Just whose wellbeing is being promoted or protected by the Minister of Defence is not so obvious.

According to our reading of the press statement, Peeni Henare has met with his British counterpart to chat about goings-on in Ukraine and the role our defence forces can play in helping Ukrainian forces and our defen ce relationship with  Britain.

How Russia’s Vladimir Putin might respond to our Ukraine-related activities can only be a matter for conjecture, but his threats to flex his nuclear muscle is more than somewhat troubling.

The Beehive website reports these happenings:

Defence Minister meets with UK counterpart and visits NZDF personnel

The press statement says Defence Minister Peeni Henare held talks in the UK with his counterpart, Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace.

The Ministers reiterated the importance of our defence relationship, and reflected on the strong historical and cultural ties between the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Together, they also visited some of the 120 NZDF personnel training members of the Ukrainian armed forces. Secretary Wallace was formally welcomed with a Powhiri at the training headquarters.

“This was an important opportunity to continue the excellent working relationship between our countries, and discuss pressing security challenges facing us,” Peeni Henare said.

Henare reminds us the UK is a key defence partner for New Zealand, and our Defence Forces maintain close working relationships founded on common operational history, inter-operability and strong people-to-people links.

Again, Ukraine comes into the picture:

Our forces work very well together, as evidenced through recent NZDF support to the UK-led artillery and infantry training programmes for Ukrainian recruits.

And:

The Ministers discussed areas of common security interest including Russia’s illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine, regeneration of the Defence Forces, the global security environment, and respective policy updates.

The visit to the training programme demonstrated the important work NZDF personnel are doing to help Ukraine defend their territorial integrity.

On Monday, the Government announced a series of extensions of defence commitments to support Ukraine’s self-defence efforts, including continuing the infantry training to July 2023. More information on this announcement can be found here:https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/assistance-ukraine-extended-and-enhanced

Jan Tinettti, meanwhile, was gunning against gambling:

Government takes action to reduce gambling harm from pokies

Tinetti announced changes to strengthen the requirements in venues which have pokie machines to reduce the harm they cause people.

The changes focus on making ‘host responsibility’ requirements on pokie venues clearer, stronger, and more enforceable.

The changes to pokies harm minimisation regulations will include:

  • Mandatory annual training for all staff dealing with gamblers, ensuring that staff in pokies venues are better trained.
  • New requirements around the steps venues must follow to identify harmful gambling, such as regular sweeps and recording signs of gambling harm.
  • Two new rules around venue design that will support harm minimisation by ensuring that staff can better monitor ATMs and pokie machines are less visible.
  • A range of new infringement offences to help penalise those who fail to comply with harm minimisation regulations.

Tinetti expects the new harm minimisation regulations for pokies will be in place in the first half of 2023.

A summary of submissions on a public discussion document is now available at https://www.dia.govt.nz/reducingpokiesharm

Point of Order found just one other fresh statement –

The Pacific business village comes to Auckland

Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio announced the Pacific Business Village (the Village) is going to set up in the Auckland region.

He does not explain what “the Village” is all about, but he says it has been well received by Pacific businesses

“…  and we recognize the need to expand the Village to supporting the large number of Pacific businesses operating in Auckland.”

Until now the government’s primary focus in establishing the Village has been on elevating Pacific regional economic development in areas outside of Auckland, Sio said.

“”I am confident that the Pacific Business Trust will continue to play a contributory role in the Auckland business world working with high value Pacific businesses, growing Māori and Pacific business opportunities.”

As part of the support delivered by the Village, Sio’s Ministry has provided capital investment for Pacific businesses through the Tauola Business Fund.

Round two of the Fund launched on 18 November 2022, and Pacific businesses are encouraged to apply.

The Tauola Business Fund aims to support Pacific businesses through the following objectives:

  • Demonstrate capability and capacity to increase productivity and stimulate growth
  • Strengthen Pacific-owned businesses to be more successful and sustainable
  • Improve Pacific peoples’ participation in the labour market
  • Create employment pathways for Pacific peoples
  • Increase resilience through the challenges of COVID-19

A total of 20 businesses received funding of up to $100,000 from the first round of the Tauola Business Fund.

“We know there is still a high need for capital investment and we will continue to deliver this support through the Village,” said Aupito William Sio.

But while there is a high need for capital investment, it seems there is no high need to pitch an attractive business case to private investors. Not when Sio’s ministry is ready to do the investing.

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