Culture Minister coy about Film Commission appointments – but she must decide on Dame Kerry’s role as leading lady

No appointments or reappointments to the board of the New Zealand Film Commission have been announced by Carmel Sepuloni, Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, and declared in ministerial press statements since early 2019.  Yet the appointments of two board members she announced then (when she was Associate Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage) should have expired on 30 March last year.

Meanwhile the commission has become embroiled in a conflict-of-interest controversy which has resulted in its governance procedures being subjected to an independent review and its chief executive being on “special leave”.

Its website says the commission is governed by an eight-member board appointed by the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage.

Members represent the film industry and the wider business and arts community. The Board meets every two months to set policy and budgets, monitor progress and consider applications for feature film financing. Continue reading “Culture Minister coy about Film Commission appointments – but she must decide on Dame Kerry’s role as leading lady”

Sepuloni is chuffed about reduction in numbers on benefits – but more than 300,000 Kiwis are being succoured by the state

Social Development  and  Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni  was  quick  off  the mark to announce  the government’s  achievement in  getting  more  people off benefits. She  says the government’s response to COVID-19 has helped keep people in work, with March Quarter Benefit statistics showing a further fall in the number of people receiving a main benefit and jobseeker assistance.

There were 19,883 fewer people on a main benefit, compared with December, with near-record numbers of people moving into work, Sepuloni said.

The figures also showed an annual fall of 4.8 per cent in the number of people receiving a main benefit.

She  claims  it  was the government’s quick response to COVID-19  that had worked, with initiatives such as the Wage Subsidy and the economic support packages keeping people in work and delivering record low unemployment. Continue reading “Sepuloni is chuffed about reduction in numbers on benefits – but more than 300,000 Kiwis are being succoured by the state”

Sepuloni (on the cultural side of her duties) creates a new trough while at ACC she finds more work for Steve Maharey

Carmel Sepuloni has triggered two Point of Order monitors – our Trough Monitor and Jobs for the Boys (and Girls) Monitor – in the past 24 hours.

As Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister, she called the hogs to sample the goodies in something she called “The Cultural Activators Pilot”, which implies this is a brand-new trough.

As ACC Minister, she announced the appointment of a former Labour Cabinet Minister as a new member and next chair of the board of the Accident Compensation Corporation. 

But wait.  There’s more. 

As Social Development and Employment Minister, Sepuloni was caring for the wellbeing of more than 1 million New Zealanders in the form of the Winter Energy Payment.

But she wasn’t the only Minister kept busy in the Beehive’s Wellbeing Department.  

The Associate Minister of Health and Foreign Affairs, Aupito William Sio, issued a statement jointly with Fiji Health and Medical Services Minister Ifereimi Waqainabete.  This was to announce New Zealand has offered, and Fiji has accepted, sufficient doses of AstraZeneca for 250,000 people from New Zealand’s domestic vaccine portfolio.

The Ministers “met virtually last week” – does this mean they chatted on the phone or via some internet wizardry? – to discuss New Zealand’s offer, which includes $2 million of Official Development Assistance to support Fiji’s vaccine rollout. Continue reading “Sepuloni (on the cultural side of her duties) creates a new trough while at ACC she finds more work for Steve Maharey”

Beehive beneficence brings some cheer to workers made redundant by Covid-19 – but then comes a chorus of carping

A great deal of disgruntlement was generated by the one press statement to be released from the Beehive yesterday.

The Government announced the COVID Income Relief Payment, a $570 million temporary programme to support New Zealanders who lose their jobs due to the global COVID-19 pandemic – it will help them to adjust and find new employment or retrain.

The good news (but only for eligible residents and citizens) was reflected in headlines such as Covid 19 coronavirus: Kiwis who lost jobs in pandemic crisis to get $490 a week income relief payment.

The announcement of the Covid Income Relief Payment was accompanied by news that work is under way

“ … on the possibility of a more permanent unemployment insurance scheme in New Zealand. The Future of Work Ministers group has commissioned the work following a request from Business New Zealand and the Council of Trade Unions.

“As we move from the respond and recover phases of our COVID response, and towards rebuilding the economy, we have an opportunity to reset some of the foundations of the safety net for working New Zealanders. Continue reading “Beehive beneficence brings some cheer to workers made redundant by Covid-19 – but then comes a chorus of carping”

Spending monitor seeks better deal for taxpayers but a blogger begs for bigger boost for beneficiaries

Whoopee!  A pay rise.

No – to be precise, a rise in the national super which is paid to some of the team at Point of Order.

Super was mentioned in the boost to benefits announced yesterday by Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni.

Fair to say, this boost did not go down well with the monitors of public extravagance at the Taxpayers’ Union.  The indexation of benefits to wages means taxpayers are treated less fairly than ever, they say.

Martyn Bradbury, on the Daily Blog, is critical too – but his grouch is that the government has been much too stingy.

Point of Order checked social spending as a percentage of total government spending in the latest six-month Crown financial statements.  We were surprised to find it is a smaller portion of than it was 20 years ago.

But first, the announcement. Continue reading “Spending monitor seeks better deal for taxpayers but a blogger begs for bigger boost for beneficiaries”

How taxpayers are pumping millions into the motel business to provide emergency housing

Blogger Lindsay Mitchell has used the Official Information Act to flush out data on emergency housing from the Ministry for Social Development.

The results have been posted under the heading Motel charges premium for emergency housing.

At long last MSD has updated OIA requests, Mitchell writes. Responses up to November 2019 are on-line

“ … and always make for interesting reading. For instance payments made to the Olive Tree Motel for emergency housing.”

Clients are granted an amount which is paid directly to the motel, Mitchell explains.

In the June 2019 quarter the motel was receiving $265 a night.

But nightly charges per unit range from $145 to $165 according to their website. Charges reduce for longer stays.

The response to another request reveals that over 600 accommodation providers  received emergency grants in the June 2019 quarter. Continue reading “How taxpayers are pumping millions into the motel business to provide emergency housing”

It seems more welfare costs will be heaped on taxpayers but Sepuloni is stingy when asked for details

Social Welfare Minister Carmel Sepuloni was far from generous with details, when questioned in Parliament yesterday about her government’s policy intentions regarding solo parents and the burden they heap on taxpayers.

We are not much clearer – as a consequence – about what further changes are likely based on proposals from the Welfare Expert Advisory Group. Or how much more taxpayers will be expected to cough up to care for the children of welfare beneficiaries

But the suggestion that the government should do something to discourage solo-parent beneficiaries from bringing more children into the world was treated with disdain.

In response to a report from the Welfare Expert Advisory Group, the Government in May announced it will remove the benefit sanction which penalised solo mothers by up to $28 a week if they would not name their child’s father.

The amount that beneficiaries can earn through employment before their benefits were cut was increased at the same time. Continue reading “It seems more welfare costs will be heaped on taxpayers but Sepuloni is stingy when asked for details”

It helps to be targeted, when the govt sets out to improve the wellbeing of a few vulnerable citizens

The word “targeted” – when the Government brays about its spending decisions – can camouflage a great deal.

In the case of “targeted social support funding for 450 Manawatū-Whanganui whānau“, announced during the week, it camouflages the government’s emphasis on ethnic considerations. 

The statement was issued in the names of Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni and Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare, who said the expansion of an iwi, community and government initiative will improve the wellbeing “of 450 of our most vulnerable Manawatū-Whanganui families”.

But it appears that non-Maori – no matter how desperate their plight or how vulnerable they might be – aren’t too high on the list of the 450 selected to have their wellbeing improved.

This impression was strengthened when the Ministers said:
Continue reading “It helps to be targeted, when the govt sets out to improve the wellbeing of a few vulnerable citizens”

A Green dilemma – trying to square govt support for families with the degrading environmental consequences

With Green Party support, the Government will remove a disincentive to the population growth that experts reckon is the number one contributor to the degradation of the global environment.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced the removal of the disincentive among changes to the country’s welfare system (but just a few, for now) in response to the report from the Welfare Expert Advisory Group.

The government will remove the benefit sanction which penalised solo mothers who did not name their child’s father, the fellow who should be picking up the tab for raising the child – or his fair share of it – that resulted from a procreative romp in the hay.

Taxpayers – lucky us – will take over this responsibility. Continue reading “A Green dilemma – trying to square govt support for families with the degrading environmental consequences”