Sio makes a tierful announcement (with a funding fillip) for Pacifika languages and (with Shane Jones) delivers $10m to Pacifika churches

Churches – or 27 Pasifika churches, to be ethnic-specific – are to benefit from the government largess being distributed in the name of the Covid-19 response and recovery programme.

These churches will receive a total of nearly $10 million in government funding for renovations and improvements, “to improve facilities for the communities they serve and create jobs”, as Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio explained.

Provincial Growth Fund money for the renovation of town halls, war memorials, Pasifika churches and marae were earmarked in May as part of at least $600 million refocused on projects with more immediate jobs and economic benefits as part of the Covid-19 recovery.

The churches that applied are spread throughout the regions – from Balclutha to Oamaru and up to Hamilton, Jones said.

A good question to ask is how many missed out on getting a helping hand from taxpayers and why did they fail to be given the government’s blessing. Continue reading “Sio makes a tierful announcement (with a funding fillip) for Pacifika languages and (with Shane Jones) delivers $10m to Pacifika churches”

Let the record show Seddon House was bought for $400,000 – and then let’s wonder if it will be renamed

It’s great to get prompt feedback – and that’s what we got in response to our raising questions about the Government’s $22 million investment in a bit of real estate in Hokitika.

A Beehive press officer contacted us to question our headline, which said: DOC staff in Hokitika could have been housed for a song a few years ago – now it will cost us $22 million.

The Beehive staffer said this suggests the Govt is spending $22m buying Seddon House when it could have been bought “for a song” some years ago.

But this (he contended) was misleading because: 

“The vast bulk of the $22m is going towards the restoration of building with only $400k on the actual purchase.”

The Beehive staffer acknowledged this  detail wasn’t included in the announcement on the website.

He also sent us the background notes that  accompanied the full press release to the Greystar on Saturday. Continue reading “Let the record show Seddon House was bought for $400,000 – and then let’s wonder if it will be renamed”

DOC staff in Hokitika could have been housed for a song a few years ago – now it will cost us $22 million

“Going for a song” was how the former Hokitika government building known as Seddon House was advertised in 2014.

According to an NBR report at that time, Barfoot & Thompson was listing Seddon House at $295,000, down from $1.2 million in 2008.  It had a rateable value of $340,000 and had last changed hands in 2002 for $90,000.

Its value today?  We can only guess, but Hokitika has been described as “the most affordable” suburb in the Westland district and has a median house price of $274,700.

We checked out those property figures after learning the government has earmarked Seddon House in Hokitika (“once a hub for government on the West Coast”) for government use once again.

A hub for government sounds impressive, although the press statement referred only to DOC staff  working from there.

A brick, timber and corrugated iron construction, Seddon House is a Category 1 historic place on the New Zealand Heritage List Rārangi Kōrero.  It will undergo seismic strengthening and be refitted for use as offices for the Department of Conservation (DOC), which will lease the building.

So how much does it cost to find new office space for around 85 DOC staff?

Brace for a nasty surprise, dear taxpayer. Continue reading “DOC staff in Hokitika could have been housed for a song a few years ago – now it will cost us $22 million”

We know about politicians seeking power – but they could be the source of generating power, too

A press release from the Beehive triggered our recollection of a bit of science about the energy-generating properties of methane.  According to an article in the Journal of Environmental Management a few years ago, livestock manure contributes an estimated 240 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent of methane to the atmosphere and represents one of the biggest anthropogenic sources of methane.

Considering that methane is the second biggest contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide, the article said,

“ … it is imperative that ways and means are developed to capture as much of the anthropogenic methane as possible. There is a major associated advantage of methane capture: its use as a source of energy which is comparable in ‘cleanness’ to natural gas.”

We bring this to readers’ attention in light of

  • The initiative by Parliamentry Services to cut Parliament’s carbon footprint by installing solar and improving energy efficiency, and
  • The power-generating potential of – is there a more delicate way of expressing this? – political bullshit. 

Continue reading “We know about politicians seeking power – but they could be the source of generating power, too”

The sum of $4000 remains a puzzle but the beneficent Beehive is braying about the millions is has dished out

While announcements on new policy or critiques of opposition policies  flow from the Labour Party, the Beehive website in the past day or two has brought news of government spending decisions.

This has drawn attention to some of the array of troughs available for oinkers hungering for a financial lift.

The press officers engaged in this work, alas, have been much too busy to answer Point of Order’s questions to Finance Minister Grant Robertson – or even to acknowledge receipt of our emails.

We sought clarification about a figure Robertson used while mocking the Nats for bungling their fiscal costings …

“On Friday National threw out a desperate economic policy that included $4.7 billion of tax cuts that would give Judith Collins $4,000 at a time when New Zealand needs to be investing in services like health and education for our future.”

Is something missing, we inquired? $4000 of what?

No answer.

We await information, too, about the Treasury’s establishment of a new team to provide a policy costing service to the political parties currently represented in Parliament. Has this team been established, for how long has it been operating, and which parties have used its services?

No answer.

While we patiently hope for enlightenment, we can pass on news of government spending that has been blared from the Beehive. Continue reading “The sum of $4000 remains a puzzle but the beneficent Beehive is braying about the millions is has dished out”

Millions are committed to a Covid vaccine and to Northland’s wellbeing – there’s kindly Crown news, too, for the Dodds family

When we first checked the Beehive website for press statements this morning, we found just one announcement – from the Deputy PM – had been posted since September 19.  His news was that the Coalition Government has committed to invest $27 million in Covid-19 vaccine development through the global COVAX Facility.

This initial investment of $27 million is part of the allocation the Government announced in August from the Cocid-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

Peters grandly declared:

“The agreement will ensure that New Zealand receives enough vaccines to cover up to 50 per cent of the population of New Zealand and the Realm, which includes Tokelau, Cook Islands and Niue.” 

But whoa.  Hadn’t the PM announced that Auckland will be lowered to Alert Level 2 this week while the rest of the country has been lowered to Alert Level 1?

Indeed.  You can hear her deliver the good news here, via RNZ, but there was no written statement.

Since our morning check several more announcements have been posted on the Beehive website, including changes to various Covid-related programmes –  Continue reading “Millions are committed to a Covid vaccine and to Northland’s wellbeing – there’s kindly Crown news, too, for the Dodds family”

Regard for the USA has slipped among its global friends on Trump’s watch

The USA’s reputation among allies and partner countries has declined seriously, according to a poll by the US Pew Research Centre.   Gauging attitudes in 13 countries, Pew reports the share of the public with a favourable view of the United States is as low as at any time it has been polling the topic in nearly 20 years. 

In Britain, only 41% have a favourable view.  In France it is 31% and 26% in Germany. Japan registers 41%, Canada 35% and only 33% in Australia.

Pew says part of the decline over the past year is linked to how the US has handled the coronavirus pandemic.  Of the 13 nations surveyed, a median of only 15% say Washington DC has done a good job of dealing with the outbreak.

Most say the World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Union have done a good job, and in nearly all nations people give their own country positive marks for dealing with the crisis. Continue reading “Regard for the USA has slipped among its global friends on Trump’s watch”

$1.69m goes to Maori landowners for tree planting (and the govt will be hoping for a harvest of votes)

The Government has made another pitch for the Maori vote (presumably with borrowed money) by dipping into the One Billion Trees trough.

It has proclaimed it is backing Maori landowners with this contribution to their wellbeing (and the environment’s) and it is fair to suppose it would appreciate the landowners backing it in return on election day.

Whether such backing might be  expressed in electoral support for Labour or New Zealand First is a matter for conjecture, but the announcement was made by Forestry Minister Shane Jones, a prominent and generous benefactor from the New Zealand First side of the coalition.

He announced up to $1.69 million will be provided through the One Billion Trees programme to Māori landowners to make their land more productive through the planting of forests, “both native and exotic”, and improve economic and environmental outcomes.

Around 1.5 million ha of land in New Zealand is in Māori ownership, Jones pointed out, but large tracts are returning little direct commercial value to Māori landowners, “nor much in the way of positive climate, soil, water or biodiversity outcomes”.

So what have the owners done to this land to rob it of positive climate, soil, water or biodiversity outcomes? Or did the land never generate much of those environmental benefits? Continue reading “$1.69m goes to Maori landowners for tree planting (and the govt will be hoping for a harvest of votes)”

Nanaia Mahuta joins Jones in announcing a $2.96m handout – but the PM signals the plug will be pulled on the PGF

News about the Provincial Growth Fund, which often features in our daily Latest from the Beehive reports, typically involve announcements of the latest grants or loans.

Today Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced a battle site of the 1860s Land Wars will receive $2.96 million from the fund.

But other news about the PGF came not from the Beehive, but from the Labour and New Zealand First Parties.     

First, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern advised that the plug will be pulled on it if she leads the next government (presumably without a New Zealand First partner).

A new trough – with a weak $200 million gruel rather than $3 billion chowder – will be established in its place. Continue reading “Nanaia Mahuta joins Jones in announcing a $2.96m handout – but the PM signals the plug will be pulled on the PGF”

Robertson is comforted about the state of the economy while his colleagues get on with spending borrowed money

The first highlighted item – in a press statement from Finance Minister Grant Robertson after the release of the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update – is that the economy is doing better than forecast.

Similarly, Robertson today was taking comfort from better-than-forecast GDP figures which show GDP fell 12.2% in the June quarter from March and plunged the economy into recession.

“This result was better than the Treasury forecast of 16% released yesterday and at the lower end of other commentators’ expectations,” Grant Robertson said.

Next in descending order on his list of highlights from the PREFU yesterday were the expectation unemployment would peak at 7.8%, down from 9.8% forecast in the Budget; year-to-June accounts showed tax revenue, debt and OBEGAL better than forecast; global forecasts have been downgraded because of COVID-19 uncertainties; and “balanced plan to support critical public services, manage debt and reduce the deficit caused by COVID-19” (his balanced plan, we presume).

 Further down, we learn something about the debt that is being amassed:  Continue reading “Robertson is comforted about the state of the economy while his colleagues get on with spending borrowed money”