Govt highlights benefits for Tauranga in funding deal – but (in smaller type) beneficiaries learn they must repay the debt

Buzz from the Beehive

Geography, ethnicity and your occupation will determine the extent to which you might benefit from the latest hamper of goodies to be distributed by the Beehive.

But be warned. Being a beneficiary may result in levies being imposed.

Roughly interpreting the latest announcements, the beneficiaries are (or appear to be)- 

  • Tauranga people (but there’s a taxing sting in the tail); 
  • Homeless families in Tauranga’s suburbs (but not many and they must be Maori);   
  • Rural people living in just some parts of the country and engaged in the right work;
  • A few favoured food and fibre producers;
  • An even more select group – some Maori businesses in the primary sector;  
  • People needing mental health services (but they must live in the Gisborne area).

The press statements don’t put it quite that  way, of course: 

Tauranga region to benefit from new funding and financing tool

Tauranga will be the first region to use a new Government tool to raise funding for much-needed infrastructure.      

Great – a famous first.

Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson and Housing Minister Megan Woods Housing Minister Megan Woods are enthusing about a Special Purpose Vehicle (or SPV) which will be used to raise finance from private markets – and (here’s the bit the Beehive press statement writer did not highlight in the headline):  

This will be repaid via the levy on those who benefit from the infrastructure.

The finance raised by the SPV will sit outside of Tauranga City Council’s balance sheet constraints.

The first levy to be applied under the innovative Infrastructure Funding and Financing (IFF) Act, will enable Tauranga City Council to raise approximately $175 million towards the construction costs of 13 transport projects across the region.

Crown Infrastructure Partners, which will wholly own the SPV, has secured debt finance from Westpac and Bank of New Zealand to enable the SPV to contribute approximately $175 million towards the construction costs of the 13 TSP projects.

This will be repaid over time by the annual IFF levy which commences in July 2024.

Tauranga City Council Commissioners (this is the government-appointed bunch who replaced the elected councillors who were sacked by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta) are delighted that the proposal is proceeding, and Tauranga is the first council to utilise the IFF Act.

Commission Chair Anne Tolley says the Transport System Plan benefits Tauranga City and the wider Western Bay of Plenty in a number of ways, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions through more public transport, cycling and walking options, and better urban development.

Iwi and Government partnership delivers more rental homes for Pāpāmoa whānau

Associate Minister of Housing (Māori Housing) Peeni Henare attended the official opening of 10 new rental homes built for working whānau of Ngā Pōtiki ā Tamapahore in Pāpāmoa today.

A $15 million funding boost from the Government enabled the Manawa Community Housing Trust to build 10 new four-bedroom affordable rental homes, with a further 20 homes to be delivered by the end of 2024.

The announcement says: 

The houses will be offered to low income earners who have struggled to get into local market rental homes at a much more affordable cost.

Yes, but only if they pass muster in the ethnicity department: 

Manawa Community Housing Trust is the housing delivery entity of Ngā Pōtiki ā Tamapahore Trust. It is a registered community housing provider

… tasked specifically with providing housing solutions for Ngā Pōtiki whanau. 

More rural broadband for regional communities

 Around 30,000 rural homes and communities will soon have access to faster, improved connectivity with an expansion of the Rural Capacity Upgrade programme.

Great news – but whose 30,000 homes are we talking about?

And what are the costs?

Three bullet points emphasise:

  • New contracts will improve around 30,000 broadband connections in rural homes and communities
  • Govt on track to see 99.8% of all New Zealanders receive access to improved broadband as a result of various connectivity programmes by the end of 2023, including those targeting rural regions
  • Applications open for one-off grant up to $2000 under Govt remote user scheme…

With regard to the last point – is that an invitation to slurp from a new trough or from a freshly replenished one?  We have lost count.

Government and sector back innovative regional and wool projects

The Government closes out the National Fieldays week with new investments through the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) to help kickstart sustainable and high-value wool and regional food and fibre.

The bullet points tell us in broad terms who will get how much.

  • $2.17 million for new food and fibre ventures in Taranaki
  • $2.24m to develop high-value, sustainable cashmere industry
  • $233,000 to prototype an acoustic, knitted textile product from strong wool for high-end commercial and residential interiors. 
  • $530 million co-invested with business through the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund 

Government investment to support growth of Māori businesses and jobs in the primary sector

The Government is investing in more on-the-ground support, innovation, and workforce development as part of a new plan to grow Māori businesses and jobs in the food and fibre sector, Associate Agriculture Minister Meka Whaitiri announced today.

The bullet points here are –

  • Total exports by Māori businesses have grown by 38% since 2017 to $872 million, with the majority from the food and fibre sector
  • Launch of Rautaki mo te Taurikura action plan to support the continued growth of Māori food and fibre sector
  • Support for Māori agribusiness innovation and workforce development
  • Co-investment in a trial embedding mātauranga Māori in farming practices to improve soil quality and clean up waterways.

The exact sum of corporate welfare being distributed on this occasion is not clear, but:  

“We’re kick-starting that mahi by co-investing in a $723,200 project led by Māori farming company Ātihau-Whanganui Incorporation, which operates 42,000 hectares of whānau farms in the Manawatū-Whanganui region.

“The project will involve an innovative trial embedding mātauranga Māori into farming practices, delivering measurable environmental benefits around improving soil quality and cleaning up waterways.”

New mental health facility a step closer for Gisborne

Health Minister Andrew Little was at Gisborne Hospital today to mark the next step of Te Tairāwhiti’s new Te Whare Awhiora mental health facility build.

The new Te Whare Awhiora 10-bed Mental health facility project has received nearly $24 million in Government funding

It is one of the five projects funded out of Budget 2019’s $1.9billion investment in mental wellbeing.

 Fair to say, some of the latest Beehive announcements did not focus only on some communities, ethnicities or jobs.  

New committee established to drive better public health outcomes

Some of the country’s most difficult health issues will be tackled by a newly established public health advisory committee, whose members have now been appointed.

Government to address child abuse system failings

The Government is adopting the majority of recommendations from an independent review into the actions of government agencies leading up to the death of 5-year-old Malachi Subecz.

Ministerial talks in Canberra to progress trans-Tasman relationship

The importance of cooperation in the Pacific to support the region’s recovery and resilience will be a focus of formal talks in Canberra tomorrow.

Appointment of Judge of the High Court

Auckland barrister David Gary Johnstone has been appointed a judge of the High Court, Attorney‑General David Parker announced today.

And finally, a well-deserved tribute –

Statement on the death of Sir Murray Halberg

New Zealand has lost one our true sporting icons with the passing of Sir Murray Halberg, Grant Robertson, Minister of Sport and Recreation said today.

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