Govt announces new transport and rental housing initiatives and enthuses about human rights (but without mentioning voting rights)

Buzz from the Beehive

The big announcement from the Beehive so far today is that workers and public transport users are at the heart of a new approach to public transport branded the Sustainable Public Transport Framework.

This is great news, although when you  take workers and public transport users out of considerations it is hard to find too many other interested parties, besides politicians and administrators.

Oh, wait.  Taxpayers and ratepayers, which accounts for most people, have a stake, too.  Their money funds the system and a major change is to allow councils to own and operate services in-house.

Transport Minister Michael Wood said the current model is causing operators to wind back services and timetables, because they can’t get drivers. Continue reading “Govt announces new transport and rental housing initiatives and enthuses about human rights (but without mentioning voting rights)”

Fetters are slapped on “fast-track” law to ensure the country benefits from forestry conversions by foreigners

Buzz from the Beehive

Some readers might be surprised to learn from Associate Finance Minister David Parker that the law has been changed to ensure forestry conversions by overseas investors benefit New Zealand.

Did the law previously allow forestry conversions by overseas investors that would be to the country’s disadvantage?

Not necessarily.

Previously, overseas investors wishing to convert land, such as farm land, into forestry were required to meet the “special forestry test.”

Parker described this as a “streamlined” test, designed to encourage investment in production forestry.

The Overseas Investment (Forestry) Amendment Bill – which has just passed its third reading – requires overseas investors to show their conversions will benefit New Zealand by meeting the stricter “benefit to New Zealand test.” Continue reading “Fetters are slapped on “fast-track” law to ensure the country benefits from forestry conversions by foreigners”

Govt has dived into Covid-19 recovery funds to help build aquatic centre that – gosh! – may bring world champs to Hastings

Buzz from the Beehive 

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has been busy in the past 24 hours, joining the PM for the opening of a new aquatic centre, enthusing about data from the latest visitor statistics and announcing a new industry strategy.

The Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Priyanca Radhakrishnan was in the business of announcing strategies, too.  She welcomed the Ministry for Ethnic Communities’ release of its first strategy, setting out the actions it will take over the next few years to achieve better wellbeing outcomes for ethnic communities.

In the Education domain, Associate Minister Jan Tinetti was chuffed about the success of the programme for providing “free” period products in schools, while fellow Associate Minister Aupito William Sio announced the recipients of the Tulī Takes Flight scholarships. These were a key part of last year’s Dawn Raids apology. Continue reading “Govt has dived into Covid-19 recovery funds to help build aquatic centre that – gosh! – may bring world champs to Hastings”

McAnulty mentions the important role played by indigenous people in emergency response and recovery – but USA seems unaware

Buzz from the Beehive

Some ministers commemorated historical events in the latest press statements from the Beehive  while others pointed to New Zealand’s role in the space age and to technological developments around the digital economy and data storage in the cloud.

Three statements were related to events in the past – a speech by the PM to mark the 60th Anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship between New Zealand and Samoa,  an expression of condolence after the death of the last-surviving Battle for Crete veteran, and the commemoration of the dropping of atomic bombs on the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima 77 years ago.

Two statements were focused on technological developments with implications for the future – the welcoming of Google Cloud’s decision to make New Zealand a cloud region and the advising of an agreement signed between the New Zealand and United States governments which opens new opportunities for our space sector and closer collaboration with NASA.

Law and order, broadly, were covered by another three statements.  Two of these drew attention to bills that have been enacted, one to combat firearms violence, the other to repeal the ‘Three Strikes’ law. Continue reading “McAnulty mentions the important role played by indigenous people in emergency response and recovery – but USA seems unaware”

When it comes to “good news”, Damien O’Connor is a dab hand at milking the Sustainable Food and Fibres Future Fund

Buzz from the Beehive

Our Foreign Affairs Minister has announced the relationship between New Zealand and Malaysia is to be elevated to the status of a Strategic Partnership, the Minister of Conservation is clucking about the growth in kākāpō numbers in the 2022 breeding season,  the Covid Response Minister has declared that New Zealand will remain at the Orange traffic light setting…

And the Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund again is proving to be a great “good news” headline generator for Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

It’s good news, too, for the beneficiaries of the several million dollars served from the fund, according to ministerial announcements in the financial year that began on June 1: Continue reading “When it comes to “good news”, Damien O’Connor is a dab hand at milking the Sustainable Food and Fibres Future Fund”

Focus on safety and security – Mahuta tackles the Myanmar menace while Wood warns of the danger from more trains

Buzz from the Beehive

Safety and security were the common theme in the latest statements – just two – from The Beehive.

The first – headed Call for New Zealanders to get on-board with rail safety – tells us this is Rail Safety Week.

Transport Minister Michael Wood grabbed the opportunity to maintain there is a need for a renewed focus on rail safety because …

Wait for it

Because additional trains are operating across the network,

“… powered by the Government’s investment in rail.”

We trust this is an environmentally friendly power source.

The second announcement came from Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, thankfully – but all too briefly – focussing on matters other than Three Waters and local government electoral rearrangements. Continue reading “Focus on safety and security – Mahuta tackles the Myanmar menace while Wood warns of the danger from more trains”

More money for musicians (but Sepuloni isn’t saying how much) because they say the last lot was successfully spent

Buzz from the Beehive

Ministers were dishing out money to musicians and Māori farmers over the past day or so while also  announcing awards for women and – in the case of our Minister of Defence – travel plans for a  a trip to the Solomon Islands.

The announcement of goodies for musicians was warbled by Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni under the heading The beat goes on as Government renews support for musicians:

The Government is hitting a high note, with the extension of the successful Aotearoa Touring Programme which will further support the recovery of Aotearoa’s music industry.

 The key points are –

  • Extension of Aotearoa Touring Programme supporting domestic musicians;
  • The Programme has supported more than 1,700 shows and over 250 artists;
  • New Zealand Music Commission estimates that around 200,000 Kiwis have been able to attend shows because of the programme.

The costs incurred so far?

And the costs of extending the programme?

Alas, these are missing. Continue reading “More money for musicians (but Sepuloni isn’t saying how much) because they say the last lot was successfully spent”

Provincial Growth Fund is still giving Ministers the chance to score a photo opportunity

Buzz from the Beehive

Remember the Provincial Growth Fund?  This Government got rid of it, on being elected in 2020 without the need to take New Zealand First on board as a coalition partner.

But Ministers in the current Cabinet can still delight in turning up for ceremonies to mark  progress on projects funded by the PGF. All going well, this provides a photo opportunity and will score favourable headlines in the local press.

Two Ministers have been busy showing off what has happened to the money previously distributed by their predecessors, one of them benefiting from PGF spending.

Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash turned the sod for the new Whakatāne Commercial Boat Harbour, cut the ribbon for the revitalised Whakatāne Wharf, and inspected work underway to develop the old Whakatāne Army Hall into a visitor centre, noting that all of these are part of the $36.8 million Government-funded Whakatāne Regeneration Programme.

The new boat harbour received $19.6 million and the first stage of remediation work at Whakatāne Wharf received $9.6 million from the from the Provincial Growth Fund,  and the new visitor centre to be built by Ngāti Awa has received $7.6 million from the Government’s NZ Upgrade Programme. Continue reading “Provincial Growth Fund is still giving Ministers the chance to score a photo opportunity”

Whoa there, before saluting the Ardern government for keeping so many people in work

Stats  NZ  figures  this  week indicated the  country’s  unemployment  was  3.3%  of  the  workforce  in the  June quarter, or 0.1% less  than in the  March  quarter.

So  should we give  three  cheers to the Ardern  government for sustaining employment at   such  a  high  level    through  the  Covid  pandemic?

Given  how wages have increased – for  example,  in the manufacturing sector by  8%  over the  past year – surely  you have to concede  the  economy  is  ticking along very nicely under  this  government?

First, let’s check out  the  number  drawing  benefits.

In  March  there  were 278,238  people  drawing  a  main benefit.  That’s 11.1% of  the  working  age  population. Continue reading “Whoa there, before saluting the Ardern government for keeping so many people in work”