The political payoff is plain but is it smart to borrow $219,512 per job (mostly temporary) to spruce up the Murihiku Marae?

The Point of Order Trough Monitor was triggered today by the announcement of a $9 million handout for Southlanders – sorry, some Southlanders.

The news came from the office of Grant Robertson who, as Minister of Finance, prefers to invest public money rather than give it away – especially when it is borrowed money which taxpayers eventually will be called on to repay.

Accordingly, wearing his “Infrastructure Minister” hat and in the company of Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatane, Robertson announced the Government is investing $9 million “to upgrade a significant community facility in Invercargill, creating economic stimulus and jobs”.

The only other news from the Beehive came from ACC Minister Carmel Sepuloni, who announced the appointments of three new members to join the Board of ACC on 1 February.

“All three bring diverse skills and experience to provide strong governance oversight to lead the direction of ACC” said Hon Carmel Sepuloni.

Of course they do. Continue reading “The political payoff is plain but is it smart to borrow $219,512 per job (mostly temporary) to spruce up the Murihiku Marae?”

The PM congratulates a bloke who (if he turned to blogging) would fail Micky Savage’s age test

Two of three ministerial statements from the Beehive have been released in the name of the PM over the past two days. 

The more important, insofar as it involves political action that will affect the wellbeing of significant numbers of Kiwis, was the release of the government’s Public Housing Plan 2021-2024, which outlines the intention of where 8,000 additional public and transitional housing places announced in Budget 2020 will go.

This was jointly released by Jacinda Ardern and Housing Minister Megan Woods, who says the need for public housing for the most vulnerable members of our communities continues to grow.  Demand is outstripping supply, in other words, which calls for a strong critical focus on  the government’s policies to reverse this trend.  

But at Point of Order we were drawn first to the PM’s second statement, which records her congratulation of a white bloke of our vintage who has just been given a challenging new job.

We were especially heartened by the PM’s remarks because white blokes of our vintage are apt to be disparaged nowadays. Continue reading “The PM congratulates a bloke who (if he turned to blogging) would fail Micky Savage’s age test”

Covid-19 border defences: pre-departure testing is extended (except for passengers from some countries)

The Point of Order Ministers on a Mission Monitor has flickered only fleetingly for much of the month.  More than once, the minister to trigger it has been David Parker, who set it off again yesterday with an announcement that shows how he has been spending our money.

He welcomed the first intake of cadets at the launch of the Bay Conservation Cadets – Tauira Mahi programme in Tauranga, a project supported by a grant of $3.5 million.  It is part of the Government’s Jobs for Nature scheme launched in the 2020 Budget to boost employment, protect and enhance the environment while accelerating the recovery from the impact of COVID-19.

Speaking of the virus, it’s the job of COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins to deal with the threat of a new strain sneaking through our protective defences.  And today he has announced the Government is extending pre-departure testing to all passengers to New Zealand except from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands.

The change will come into force for all flights arriving in New Zealand after 11:59pm (NZT) on Monday 25 January. Continue reading “Covid-19 border defences: pre-departure testing is extended (except for passengers from some countries)”

The PM announces a relaxation of border controls – but only Cook Islanders will be able to benefit

Our kindly PM registered her return to work as leader of the nation with yet another statement on the Beehive website, the second in two days (following her appointment of Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council on Wednesday).

It’s great to know we don’t have to check with Twitter to learn what her government is doing and/or what she thinks about the big issues of the day.

More fascinating, her press statement – at first blush – seemed to conflict with an announcement on Tuesday from COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.

This advised us that the Government is putting in place a new set of measures to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants.

Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that most global air routes will be of critical concern for the foreseeable future, and we must respond strongly to the evolving situation,” said Chris Hipkins.

“New Zealand is currently in a very fortunate position with no community cases – let alone of new variant types – but we take nothing for granted.

“That’s why we continue to take action, with very specific steps to further strengthen our response at the air border.” Continue reading “The PM announces a relaxation of border controls – but only Cook Islanders will be able to benefit”

Parker should brace for lobbying from guardians of the swamp after housing project is given fast-track panel’s approval

The Point of Order Ministerial Workload Watchdog and our ever-vigilant Trough Monitor were both triggered yesterday by an item of news from the office of Conservation Minister Kititapu Allan.

The minister was drawing attention to new opportunities to dip into the Jobs for Nature programme (and her statement was the only sign of life in the Beehive, for those who use such statements as a measure of ministerial activity, since last we reported).

Funding of $34 million is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects.

Allan made the announcement at Waikanae, about an hour’s drive up the Kapiti coast from her ministerial office.   During the drive from Wellington – or did she take the train? – she would have passed a wetland known as the Taupo Swamp.

On the other side of the highway from the swamp,  between Plimmerton and Pukerua Bay, is a block of farmland.

The Dominion-Post would have informed Allen yesterday (if she did not already know) that this farmland is the intended site for the Plimmerton Farm development which aims to house as many as 2000 new homes.  The project – more likely to be environmentally harmful than beneficial to the swamp – has been given the approval of an independent panel. Continue reading “Parker should brace for lobbying from guardians of the swamp after housing project is given fast-track panel’s approval”

Let’s further tighten the border and – oh, wait, don’t make it too tough for overseas students to come here

Hurrah.  The PM is back to posting her announcements on the government’s official website, her deputy is back in the business of self-congratulation, Rio Tinto is back in the business of sucking up cheap electricity to produce aluminium at Tiwai Point, near Bluff.  And overseas students (some, anyway) can come back to New Zealand to continue their studies.

The fourth of those announcements is of note because it came from COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins just a day or so after he was banging on about the extra measures being taken to tighten border security against the corona virus in its various guises.   

The PM’s announcement was a simple one:  she has appointed Anna Curzon, Chief Product Officer for Xero and a former member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council, to the APEC Business Advisory Council.

We are delighted to see we don’t have to turn to Twitter to learn what’s going on.  

News of a deal being struck between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years prompted a statement from Grant Robertson (Finance Minister) and Megan Woods (Energy and Resources Minister).  They said the Government was committed to working on a managed transition with the local community.    Continue reading “Let’s further tighten the border and – oh, wait, don’t make it too tough for overseas students to come here”

Seymour is saying the most as the pollies thrust and parry on the pros and cons of Covid policies

The tightening of the border to keep new strains of Covid-19 at bay and demands to hasten the Covid-19 vaccination programme have dominated political debate – at least insofar as press statements provide a measure – in recent days.

Opposition parties have been much busier than the government – or have made much more noise – by releasing several statements on Covid-19 issues since Sunday.

But one of those, posted on both the Scoop and Voxy websites on 11 January in the name of National’s Chris Bishop, perhaps should be discounted because it is a repetition of a statement he released on December 28:

“The announcement today that from early next year all returnees from the UK and US will require pre-departure testing is a sound decision and one that the National Party has been calling for since August when we proposed a Border Protection Agency, National’s Covid-19 Recovery spokesperson Chris Bishop.

This would have made more sense late last year but not early this year, because “early next year” now refers to early 2022.  Moreover, Point of Order could find no government announcement about returnees from the UK and US on January 11 to trigger Bishop’s remarks. Continue reading “Seymour is saying the most as the pollies thrust and parry on the pros and cons of Covid policies”

Trumpian twitter catches on Down Under – our PM and Foreign Minister are tweeting to transmit their thoughts on the big issues

It looks like our government leaders have decided there’s one thing the disgraced US President Donald Trump can teach them.  It’s to turn to the Twitosphere  for communicating with their people.

Press statements have been spurned in recent days and they are tweeting to tell us what they think – for example – on mob rule in Washington and the dismantling of democracy in Hong Kong.

Their disapproval (as it happens) is disappointingly lacking in outrage.

On the positive side, their tweeting means they could dispense with the services of their press secretaries and trim the executive wage bill.

On the negative side, it means their official positions on the big issues of the day are not being recorded at Beehive.govt.nz, a website which claims to be and should be

… the best place to find Government initiatives, policies and Ministerial information

Not any more. Continue reading “Trumpian twitter catches on Down Under – our PM and Foreign Minister are tweeting to transmit their thoughts on the big issues”

It’s great to hear Ardern denouncing mob rule in the US and upholding democracy – maybe this will shape what happens here, too

It was comforting to learn our PM is upholding this democracy caper we hear so much about – in the USA, anyway. 

She released a short statement yesterday in response to the insurrection that blotted Congressional proceedings to officially announce the result of the presidential election in the United States.

“Like so many others, I’ve been watching what’s happening in the United States. I share the sentiment of friends in the US – what is happening is wrong.

“Democracy – the right of people to exercise a vote, have their voice heard and then have that decision upheld peacefully should never be undone by a mob.

“Our thoughts are with everyone who is as devastated as we are by the events of today.

“I have no doubt democracy will prevail.”

Great.  But what sort of democracy does she have in mind? Continue reading “It’s great to hear Ardern denouncing mob rule in the US and upholding democracy – maybe this will shape what happens here, too”

Gangs, gongs and a nasty strain of Covid-19 become the stuff of ministerial statements over the holiday period

Funding of $63 million to help keep New Zealanders safe in the water was the subject of the last item of Beehive news we posted before Christmas.  To kick off 2021, the welfare of tongue-tied infants, digitally disadvantaged oldies and fastidious prison inmates (many of them gang members) was high on the government’s agenda for official statements.

The tightening of our  border controls to keep all of us safe from virulent new strains of Covid-19 was the subject of two press releases.

And three ministers (including the PM) took time out to congratulate  Kiwis awarded New Year gongs.

Oh – and let’s not forget that Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta, on Christmas Day,  welcomed the agreement reached by the United Kingdom and the European Union on their future post-Brexit relationship.

While Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis issued just one statement, he was kept busy over several days dealing with something he called “the prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison”.

The “event” involved 16 belligerent blokes rioting for six days at Waikeria Prison, lighting fires, throwing debris at Department of Corrections staff, and destroying something called the top jail. Continue reading “Gangs, gongs and a nasty strain of Covid-19 become the stuff of ministerial statements over the holiday period”