Buzz from the Beehive
Money was profusely flowing or generously being committed in a raft of ministerial announcements and speeches over the past 24 hours.
If we tallied all the dollar signs in all the new press statements on the government’s official website, billions would be involved.
But in some cases, the ministers didn’t bother to tell the public how much their projects are costing. Maybe they don’t know.
In another case, the hundreds of millions involved will fund the racing industry by cocooning the TAB against overseas competition.
Regional Development Minister Kiri Allan said the opening of the Matawii reservoir was the first of three significant water security projects being delivered in Northland, to boos regional business and climate resilience. A $68 million Government investment supported the construction of the reservoir, along with two other water storage and distribution projects being developed by Tai Tokerau Water Trust in Kaipara and the Mid North.
Small Business Minister Ginny Andersen announced the launch of a “a new tool to help small business owner-operators manage and improve their mental wellbeing”.
Can this be tax relief?
Don’t be silly. Andersen was referring to something drolly branded “The Brave in Business e-Learning series”. Developed by business.govt.nz in partnership with Spark Business Lab, this includes two courses, each featuring short videos, resources, and a check-in survey.
Written by two of New Zealand’s top organisational psychologists, the courses are designed to help small business owners manage their time and the demand of their businesses more effectively.
“This means they can enjoy the time they have when they’re not working on their business.”
The price tag for this uplifting initiative has not been declared.
Social Development and Employment had the joyous task of announcing the start of construction on the new Building Futures Training Facility in Hawke’s Bay (the exact location wasn’t mentioned) where the Jobs and Skills Hub will be “co-located” to support local people into local jobs. The Hub will find job seekers to help build $1.1billion worth of homes in the Hawke’s Bay and help with the build and construction of a new hospital for the region.
But how much will it cost?
The press statement doesn’t say.
Health Minister Ayesha Verrall announced about 6,100 more GP, community nurses and kaiāwhina (what do they do?) will be eligible for pay rises of 8% on average to reduce pay disparities with nurses in hospitals.
The top-up comes from a $200 million fund established to remove pay disparities between nurses working in different parts of the health system and is the latest action taken by the Government to boost nurses pay.
Hundreds of millions of dollars were spattered through a speech delivered by Housing Minister Megan Woods. In that case, taxpayers are the source of the money.
Racing Minister Kieran McAnulty was thinking in the hundreds of millions, too, when he announced the approval of a 25-year partnership between TAB NZ and UK betting company Entain. But he will be tapping punters’ money.
The deal delivers at least $900 million in guaranteed funding for the racing industry over the next five years, he said.
It also ensures a monopoly for the TAB by protecting it from the overseas competitors.
The minister’s reasoning? The racing industry is worth $1.6 billion to the economy and directly employs 14,000 New Zealanders.
It is reliant on TAB NZ distributions. If the TAB fell, the industry would lose jobs and revenue.
The protection of gamblers came into his considerations, too.
Latest from the Beehive
8% pay boosts for GP & community nurses
About 6,100 more GP, community nurses and kaiāwhina will be eligible for pay rises of 8% on average to reduce pay disparities with nurses in hospitals, Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today.
Govt turns the sod on new Jobs and Skills Hub for Hawke’s Bay
The Government were in the Hawke’s Bay today, ‘breaking ground’ to mark the commencement of upcoming construction on the new Building Futures Training Facility where the Jobs and Skills Hub will be co-located and will support local people into local jobs.
Community Housing Aotearoa Conference Speech
Thank you for the invitation to be with you here at the Community Housing Aotearoa Conference.
New mental health tool launched for small business owner-operators
The Government has launched a new tool to help small business owner-operators manage and improve their mental wellbeing, Small Business Minister Ginny Andersen announced today.
TAB partnership helps secure future of racing industry
Minister for Racing Kieran McAnulty has announced the approval of a 25-year partnership between TAB NZ and UK betting company Entain that delivers at least $900 million in guaranteed funding for the racing industry over the next five years.
Government project delivers more reliable and resilient water source to Northland
The Government has delivered the first of three significant water security projects in Northland, boosting regional business and climate resilience, with the opening of Matawii reservoir today.
Trade Minister to US to attend Ministerial meetings
Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor will travel to Detroit tomorrow to represent New Zealand at the annual APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade meeting from 24 – 29 May.
Kieran McAnulty’s announcement looks likely to be paid the most media attention in a nation keen on the gee-gees.
He explained that Entain, a UK based group that operates multiple sports betting providers globally, will use its economies of scale and significant technology and capital capabilities to deliver TAB NZ’s betting, wagering and broadcast operations.
“This is one of the most significant days in New Zealand racing history. This deal will reverse falling revenues for racing and provides certainty over the coming years,” Kieran McAnulty said.
“This partnership will also allow TAB NZ to use Entain’s expertise and economies of scale to make necessary upgrades and invest extensively in infrastructure and technology. It will be an improved offering for customers.”
“I’m confident this agreement will help secure a solid future for the racing industry and sports in New Zealand through increased financial distributions to national sports organisations.”
McAnulty reminded us that TAB NZ has been facing “increasing financial challenges” over recent years and was facing an uncertain future, largely due to competition from offshore gambling websites.
So – let’s nobble the competition.
The Agreement provides an upfront payment of $150 million upon its approval.
There will be a 50% revenue share from day-one with guaranteed payments of at least $150 million per year for the first five years.
McAnulty said he had received confirmation from TAB NZ of a $5 million allocation for harm minimisation measures upon approval of the agreement.
“Entain has better harm minimisation technologies, such as facial recognition tools that can be rolled out in TAB venues.
“The partnership between TAB NZ and Entain does not prevent the Government from putting in place further harm minimisation regulation, and I have been clear with TAB NZ that I intend to do so. “
Then McAnulty explained how competitors will be nobbled:
“I am also pleased to announce that Cabinet has decided an in-principle agreement to extend TAB NZ’s monopoly for sports and racing betting to the online environment, subject to further work being done.
“The TAB was set up as a monopoly to fund New Zealand racing and sports. But the onset of unregulated online gambling changed the game and our racing and sports industry has been losing money ever since.”
Regulating this environment offered a significant new revenue source for local racing and sport while addressing the inherent risks in unregulated online gambling, McAnulty said.
By prohibiting online gambling outside of the TAB, the Government could place greater controls over the betting environment.
“We would expect to also see much more money allocated to harm minimisation, a fairer deal for Kiwi punters and sports codes and a greater focus on animal welfare,” Kieran McAnulty said.
Almost as an afterthought, his statement drew attention to the public release of the Racing Integrity Board’s report into the future of the greyhound racing industry.
He said he originally intended to publicly release the report for stakeholder discussions early this year but this was delayed due to extreme weather events.
He could now share the report publicly and engage with key stakeholders to ensure the work can move forward.
Big changes are portended – but whatever they might be, they won’t be announced until after the election:
“It is clear to me that the status quo is no longer viable and we are faced with two options: continue under strict conditions or closure. I will continue to progress this issue over the coming months, but unfortunately the delay has meant I’ve likely run out time to bring a decision before Cabinet before the election.”
McAnulty said he has instructed the Racing Integrity Board to continue working closely with Greyhound Racing New Zealand throughout the interim period to ensure animal welfare is prioritised and improvements made.