PM announces a wellbeing fund for Rainbow people while greenies splash into an established fund

The Point of Order Trough Monitor has drawn attention to the creation of a brand-new fund.  How rich will be the swill is still under consideration, it seems.

In the opening sentence of the announcement, the PM says improving the mental health and wellbeing of young members of the rainbow community is at the heart of the establishment of the Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund.

Further down, she says the government is “proposing” to establish a charitable trust with a one-off endowment of $1 million.

It is unclear from this whether the matter proposed is the establishment of the trust or the size of the endowment.

The monitor was triggered again when Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced a handout from the Community Environment Fund, set up “to empower New Zealanders to make a positive difference to the environment”. Continue reading “PM announces a wellbeing fund for Rainbow people while greenies splash into an established fund”

Cabinet reshuffle is promised but the PM is limited in which cards to play

Prime Minister   Jacinda  Ardern is  promising  a  Cabinet  reshuffle  later this  month.

Not  before  time,    given the   piles of   deadwood    revealed   so far in the  ministry’s make-up.

Or,  more significantly,  in the failure to  deliver  “transformation”, as   with  KiwiBuild.

With  the  high  poll ratings  of the government, largely as a  result  of her  own  performance,  Ardern in  theory  should  be  able to deliver, without any  political  qualms,  rejection  slips to  those  who  are  a  drag  on the  coalition

Yet  she  is  severely  constrained in  any changes   she contemplates. Continue reading “Cabinet reshuffle is promised but the PM is limited in which cards to play”

Govt announces more race-targeted budget spending and the further merging of Maori beliefs with science

More post-Budget funding announcements have been trumpeted from the Beehive in the past two days.

Maori beneficiaries are specified in two of the announcements.  We may reasonably suppose Maori have not been excluded from the services to be provided under the third announcement.

Oh, and the government has signalled  the further blending of Maori cultural values and spiritual beliefs in its freshwater policies.   More detail of how those beliefs will be integrated with science will emerge – it seems – in a few weeks.

Environment Minister David Parker said the Government plans to release a new freshwater National Policy Statement and a new National Environmental Standards for consultation in August.

“At the heart of our work on fresh water sits Te Mana o Te Wai – the mana of the water – which is a concept that encompasses the integrated and holistic health and well-being of a water body which can sustain the full range of environmental, social, cultural and economic values held by iwi/hapū and the community.”  

Te Mana o Te Wai provides the values, principles and practices required to maintain healthy freshwater, while the Ministry’s Te Mana o Te Wai fund helps local iwi realise their aspirations for freshwater, Parker explained.

With World Environment Day’s focus on air quality, he noted that  air quality is not the biggest environmental issue New Zealand faces but the Environment Ministry is reviewing the National Environmental Standard that sets limits on air pollution.

The latest announcements were:

New funding to improve water quality

Environment Minister David Parker announced Government funding  to help iwi in Whanganui, Gisborne and Omapere improve the health of their local waterways.

The $750,000 in total funding comes from the Ministry for the Environment’s Te Mana o Te Wai Fund, which is used to support the aspirations of local tangata whenua. It will be used to support three projects.

The announcement coincides with the United Nation’s World Environment Day.

The Whanganui-based Te kinakitanga o Ngati Tuera rāua ko Ngati Hinero will use its $250,000 to repair the health and wellbeing of the Whanganui awa, by improving water quality in the catchment, protecting and restoring habitat and ensuring biodiversity and ecosystems are sustainable for current and future generations.

In Northland Te Mana o Roto Omapere Me Ona Awa is developing a strategy to restore Lake Omapere. This will include engagement with those who have an interest in the lake and the development of a monitoring programme to measure lake health.

In Gisborne, Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou Trust will work with council to develop a Joint Management Agreement. The agreement will establish the decision-making processes and planning processes to recognise Ngāti Porou hapū rights and interests in freshwater management.

Parker said that the Government plans to release a new freshwater National Policy Statement and a new National Environmental Standards for consultation in August.

The purpose of the Te Mana o Te Wai Fund “is to help Māori play an active role in improving the water quality of freshwater bodies (including lakes, rivers, streams, estuaries and lagoons) that are of importance to them in their rohe”. 

Minister congratulates Auckland communities for housing initiatives

Māori Development and Associate Housing Minister Nanaia Mahuta congratulated two community organisations, Te Whanau o Waipareira and Te Hononga o Tamaki me Hoturoa, for their commitment to improving housing in the Auckland region.

The government invested $1.98m with Waipareira to enable the completion of 49 urgent housing repairs and 20 DIY workshops, she said.  It also invested $520,000 with Te Hononga to complete 23 urgent housing repairs and 15 DIY workshops.

And there’s lots more money where that came from:

“In last week’s Budget we announced an additional $40 million towards Māori housing over the next four year. This will ensure more whānau will access healthy, affordable, secure homes.”

Better mental health and addiction support facilities for Tairāwhiti

Health Minister Dr David Clark has confirmed funding for a new in-patient mental health and addiction unit at Hauora Tairāwhiti Gisborne Hospital.

The project will receive between $15m and $20m in funding from the $1.7 billion set aside in last week’s Wellbeing Budget for investment in hospitals and other health infrastructure over the next two years.

“The people of Tairāwhiti who require these services don’t have local access to a residential drug treatment facility or any dedicated residential treatment beds. This will now change as a result of our Wellbeing Budget,” said David Clark. 

“We know that hospitals and other health facilities play a key role in ensuring New Zealanders have access to high quality services, and that they get the care they need and deserve. 

“The DHB’s eight bed facility, Te Whare Awhiora, is not fit for purpose, particularly the seclusion rooms and outdoor areas. 

“This new funding will support Hauora Tairāwhiti to develop a new in-patient mental health and addiction unit. 

Funding for this project is subject to confirmation of the DHB’s detailed business case and final approval by joint Ministers, Clark said.


Ministers are braying about the dispensing of budget goodies (and highlighting how your taxes are being spent)

The Point of Order Trough Monitor was seriously overheated on Budget Day and we switched it off.

Readers eager to learn who got their snouts into the rich swill dished up that day – and which troughers had their state-funded nourishment reduced  or withdrawn – will find it here.

Budget at a Glance 2019 (at-a-glance summary).

Budget Speech 2019

Summary of Initiatives in Budget 2019

The Estimates of Appropriations for the Government of New Zealand for the Year Ending 30 June 2020

Summary Tables for the Estimates of Appropriations 2019/20

 Supplementary Estimates of Appropriations for the Government of New Zealand for the Year Ending 30 June 2019

Summary Tables for the Supplementary Estimates of Appropriations 2018/19

We suspect few readers can spare the time required to exhaustively scrutinise a myriad of spending decisions and work out whose wellbeing is being better served than others.

But the Trough Monitor has been reactivated this week and almost immediately registered a bundle of post-Budget press statements by Ministers who are keen (we may presume) to let their constituents know about their generosity with our money.

Two of the statements draw attention to race-based spending intended to benefit specific ethnic communities.  Continue reading “Ministers are braying about the dispensing of budget goodies (and highlighting how your taxes are being spent)”

Bhutan was into well-being long before NZ – and the bureaucrats could be an obstacle here

As  the  dust settles   after   last week’s  budget   (or should that be  on last week’s  budget),  it  has been  hard to  find   any  commentators  who  thought it   was  “transformational”.  Those  who  might be  identified as  Left-leaning didn’t  break into raptures;   some who claim to be  independent (Duncan  Garner,  for  example) were  critical  (“what should have been a  triumph  became a nightmare”);  and on the right  a   headline over a  Matthew Hooton  essay (“Well-being  just  Wellington BS”)   was  fairly  typical.              

Of  course, there  were  some  like  Audrey   Young   in the  NZ  Herald who  thought it  was  a  “marketing triumph  for  Ardern and  Robertson so far”,  although   she  sensibly applied  a  caveat   that  slow growth   “could  nix feel-good  factor of the  well-being  Budget”.

Across  the  Tasman,    commentary  on  the  NZ  budget   was  highly  laudatory,  particularly  from those pundits   who  were still red-faced from predicting  a Labour shoo-in   at  the  Federal  election. Continue reading “Bhutan was into well-being long before NZ – and the bureaucrats could be an obstacle here”

Taxpayers Union frets at social spending – but look who is in the queue to complain about being short-changed

The Taxpayers Union was unlikely to see much merit in the Wellbeing Budget and has issued a bundle of statements to complain –

  • The Government’s ‘wellbeing’ focus is just an excuse for billions of dollars of poorly-targeted spending (here),
  • Between 2018 and 2021, social security and welfare spending is expected to sky-rocket from $26 billion to $32.4 billion a year, a 25 percent increase in just three years. (here).  “Fiscal discipline has been jettisoned in favour of a classic Labour welfare spend-up.”
  • Pouring another billion dollars into KiwiRail shows terrible business acumen (here).  “As a State Owned Enterprise, KiwiRail is required to be as profitable as possible, yet it has never paid a single cent in dividends to the Government – despite receiving more than $5 billion of Government funding since 2008. Pouring an additional billion dollars into KiwiRail will not change reality – KiwiRail will never be a profitable company.”
  • Race-based spending initiatives announced in the Wellbeing-Budget (such as an extra $80 million for Whanau Ora) will lead to wasteful and unfair outcomes (here).  Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says many Maori and Pasifika spending initiatives are either vague or over-ambitious. For example, “why is the Government spending taxpayer money to ‘strengthen personal identity and connection to the community’? Is it even capable of achieving that?”
  • With business investment growth expected to fall from 6.8 percent in 2018 to 0.7 percent in 2019, the Government needs to reconsider its economic strategy (here). “Tax cuts for businesses and individuals would be a great start.”

But The Maori Council’s disappointment that Maori have been short-changed can be found in their post-Budget statement, headed Government has failed Maori across the board.

Continue reading “Taxpayers Union frets at social spending – but look who is in the queue to complain about being short-changed”

Setting a suicide-reduction target might have been detrimental to the govt’s wellbeing

The headline on a statement released from the PM’s Office on the eve of the official release of the Wellbeing Budget tells us the government is Taking mental health and addiction seriously.

To demonstrate this, the government has accepted, accepted in principle, or agreed to further consideration of 38 of the 40 recommendations in the report of the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction.

This raises an obvious question:  which two recommendations have been rejected?

The press statement gives the answer:

  • The Directing the State Services Commission to report on options for creating a ‘locus of responsibility’ for social wellbeing within Government; and
  • Set a target of 20% reduction in suicide rates by 2030.

Continue reading “Setting a suicide-reduction target might have been detrimental to the govt’s wellbeing”