Cleaning up Christchurch earthquake insurance mess “proactively” could cost the govt (or taxpayers) $313 million

Earthquakes, climate change and terrorism were embraced in press statements that flowed from the Beehive yesterday.

We learned that cleaning up an insurance mess related to the Christchurch earthquakes – it’s being done through a “proactive package” for some Southern Response policyholders – could cost $313 million if all eligible claimants apply.

Another announcement tells us about an initiative to meet the government’s climate change targets:  state agencies which are required to apply Government Procurement Rules must follow the advice in a new Procurement Guide when deciding about new buildings with an estimated value of $9 million or over.

The new Procurement Guide reflects the government’s goal to transition to a carbon neutral public service.

The private sector is being encouraged to follow the guidance for new projects, too.

And then there’s the speech by the PM to a conference on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism, which is being held in Christchurch over two days this week.

He Whenua Taurikura (the name given to it) will become an annual conference

“ .. promoting public conversation, understanding and research on radicalisation. It will look at ways to challenge hate-motivated extremist ideologies and to discuss priorities to address issues of terrorism and violent extremism”.

But let’s dip into that “proactive package”.  What’s it all about?

The Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission, David Clark, harked back to December when he announced what he calls  “a proactive package” for Southern Response Earthquake claimants who settled their claims before October 2014.

This was a response to a court  judgment in relation to Karl and Alison Dodds and offers a top-up payment to other customers in a similar situation.

Southern Response – of course – is the state-owned earthquake insurance settlement company and was responsible for settling claims by AMI policyholders after the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes.

The court found Southern Response had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct that misrepresented the Dodds’ insurance entitlements.

The insurer had produced two differing detailed repair/rebuild assessments, which outlined the costs of rebuilding or repairing their home, and only showed them one that did not include some costs.

The package announced by the government will affect some policyholders who are potentially part of the Ross Class Action.

Based on actuarial advice, Southern Response is including a cost of $242.5 million in its accounts, reflecting an estimate of around 75 percent take-up of the package.

Earthquake insurance

Cost of Government Southern Response proactive package released

The Government has announced the proactive package for some Southern Response policyholders could cost $313 million if all those eligible apply.

 The package will affect some policyholders who are potentially part of the Ross Class Action, Southern Response has applied to the court for confirmation that it can communicate with those policyholders about the package. This application is still making its way through the court.

Southern Response has been working with its actuaries to estimate payments likely to be made under the approved package.

“We are now in a position to release the cost estimate of the full package,” David Clark said.

Based on actuarial advice, Southern Response is including a cost of $242.5 million in its accounts, reflecting an estimate of around 75 percent take-up of the package.

State building projects

New support to reduce emissions from public building and construction projects

Government agencies are getting guidance on how to reduce carbon emissions generated by construction of new buildings.

The new Procurement Guide will help government agencies, private sector suppliers, designers, and construction and industry representatives to make the right decisions.

Agencies that are required to apply Government Procurement Rules must now apply the Procurement Guide to decisions about new buildings with an estimated value of $9 million or over.

Government agencies must now clearly record decisions about the way they choose design options. If they choose a design that is not the lowest possible carbon option to meet their project brief they must identify the reason for this, and have the decision signed off by their Chief Executive.

The new Procurement Guide reflects the government’s goal to transition to a carbon neutral public service.

The procurement practices of public service agencies have the power to influence decisions by private and community sectors when it comes to carbon-neutral and low-emission technologies, the press statement says .

And the new guide is in line with the recommendations of the Climate Change Commission’s final report issued last week.

The Guide to Reducing Carbon Emissions in Building and Construction is available online here:

Terrorism

He Whenua Taurikura: New Zealand’s first Hui on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism

The Prime Minister has opened New Zealand’s first hui on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism, which is being held in Christchurch over two days.

The conference is a response to one of the recommendations from the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain on 15 March 2019.

“He Whenua Taurikura, ‘a country at peace’, will look at how we can all contribute to making our country more inclusive and safe,” Jacinda Ardern said.

The Lead Coordination Minister for the Government’s Response to The Royal Commission’s Report into the Terrorist Attack on the Christchurch Mosques, Andrew Little, said the conference will help develop options for the National Centre of Excellence, which will focus on generating research and public discussion to prevent and counter violent extremism, understand diversity and promote social cohesion.

“Our goal is for New Zealand to be a safe country where everyone feels they belong, where all cultures and human rights are valued and celebrated, and where everyone can participate and contribute.”

Speech to inaugural Countering Terrorism Hui

This is the  PM’s speech to the survivors and family of the Shuhadah, along with representatives from our communities, academia, members of civil society, and those from the private sector, NGOs and public sector.

Covid-19 gets into most Beehive spin these days, including the Catalist Market, climate change and predator eradication

While small- and medium-sized enterprises (and many others) were grappling with the massive implications of the Climate Change Commission’s report, more agreeable news has emerged from the Beehive.

The government has granted a licence to a new share trading market, Catalist Markets Ltd, which has been described as a stock exchange for smaller companies.  It is expected to provide a simpler and more affordable ‘stepping stone’ for SMEs to raise capital.

Catalist​ chief executive Colin Magee told Stuff the NZX was only economic for larger companies, not the high-potential smaller companies Catalist would be trying to attract with an initial value of $6million to $60m.

In the first five years Catalist was aiming to get up to 200 companies, Magee said.

In time, he hoped, a portion of some KiwiSaver funds would be invested in shares in companies on the Catalist market. Continue reading “Covid-19 gets into most Beehive spin these days, including the Catalist Market, climate change and predator eradication”

Climate change crusaders press for a Budgetary assault on emissions and pests (but this might stall the Covid recovery)

Radio  NZ   is  reporting  that  climate  change  warriors have  low  expectations  the  budget  will  deliver what is  needed.  Climate lobby groups say that while the need for action to lower emissions and tackle climate change has never been greater, they doubt the government will step up.

It is being pitched as a Covid-19 recovery budget, as the world starts to emerge from 16 months focussed on battling the virus.

 Radio  NZ    quoted Victoria University climate scientist James Renwick as  saying the window for climate action was closing fast. 

“Forget 10 years to sort emissions it’s really only 18 months.  It’s this period last year and this year where governments are making investments, we’ve got to get that right – the pressure is on.” Continue reading “Climate change crusaders press for a Budgetary assault on emissions and pests (but this might stall the Covid recovery)”

Oops – our climate change emissions have risen (at the last count) but we are leading the way with financial reporting legislation

Whoopee – another first for our nation.  According to the headline on a Beehive press statement, NZ becomes first in world for climate reporting.

This drew attention to the announcement that New Zealand has become the first country in the world to introduce a law that requires the financial sector to disclose the impacts of climate change on their business and explain how they will manage climate-related risks and opportunities.

Not so praiseworthy, the latest annual inventory of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions shows that both gross and net emissions increased by 2 percent in the 12 months from the end of 2018.

This prompted an exhortation from Climate Change Minister James Shaw that we must strive to do better.

Those two statements emerged from The Beehive along with news that – Continue reading “Oops – our climate change emissions have risen (at the last count) but we are leading the way with financial reporting legislation”

Young eco-warriors press for change – if they get what they demand, they should brace for a lower standard of living

The latest  cohort of school students  took  to the  streets  last week  to  demand  climate  change action. In  Wellington, several thousand strikers marched to Parliament.

Izzy Cook, one of the organisers, said they had their own list of demands.

“Investing in a just transition to a sustainable future, reducing agricultural emissions, prohibiting the use of fossil fuels nationwide so phasing them out, getting climate education [and] honouring our neighbours in the Pacific Islands.” 

 The demands were handed over to Climate Change Minister James Shaw.

But he said it’s not just him who needs to be listening. Continue reading “Young eco-warriors press for change – if they get what they demand, they should brace for a lower standard of living”

$31 billion for Auckland transport infrastructure but (hurrah) more immediately the city has dropped to Alert Level One

Our Beehive Bulletin

Climate change was high on the day’s Beehive publicity agenda.  Spending of billions of dollars – or should that be “investing”? – were involved, too.

Transport Minister Michael Wood, in tandem with Auckland mayor Phil Goff, announced the Government and Auckland Council are investing $31 billion in a package to help Auckland meet long-term challenges of climate change and housing,

And Climate Change Minister James Shaw confirmed Crown financial institutions will be expected to report on their exposure to climate risk.

Aucklanders would have been more chuffed, probably, by the more immediate news that their city moved to Covid-19 Alert Level 1 from at midday today.

This follows six days of Auckland being at Level 2, with seven days prior to that at Level 3, after 15 positive community cases emerged outside managed isolation facilities.

Covid-19 news came, too, in the form of a bit of braying from Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s office.

Continue reading “$31 billion for Auckland transport infrastructure but (hurrah) more immediately the city has dropped to Alert Level One”

Why our dairy farmers should take their own climate-change initiatives rather than wait for govt regulations

Is the  Climate Change Commission’s draft proposals to meet  NZ’s emissions targets  as  radical  as right-wing commentator  Matthew Hooton contends, or entirely “doable”  as  leftie Simon Wilson  suggests?

The  draft budgets call on  the government to ensure  the  country emits on average 5.6% less than it did  in 2018 every year  between 2022 and 2025, 14.7% less for every year between 2026 and 2030  and 20.9% less  for every year between 2031 and 2035.  This is designed to get NZ to  zero net carbon emissions  by 2050 to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Prime Minister  Jacinda  Ardern, who has said dealing with climate change  is her government’s “nuclear  free moment”,  says she will introduce new policies  and a  new international climate target to meet the shrinking carbon budgets set out by the CCC.

For  the  dairy industry the challenge looks daunting:  herd numbers  will have to be  cut by 15% by 2030, assuming selective breeding reduces biogenic methane emissions  by 1.5%  by the same year.  From  2025, 2000 hectares of  dairy land  would be converted to horticulture annually. Continue reading “Why our dairy farmers should take their own climate-change initiatives rather than wait for govt regulations”

Govt’s fancy footwork on climate change will bedazzle you (but critics who want to hear the specifics may be disappointed)

Three Ministers, led by the PM, joined in chorus today to warble about a bunch of measures aimed at helping to meet New Zealand’s 2050 carbon neutral target, create new jobs and boost innovation.

Mind you, the measures mentioned seem to be more matters of decisions yet to be made rather than anything to take effect now or next week – or even next month.

Other Ministers had something more immediate to deliver:

  • The Government is investing up to $10 million to support 30 of the country’s top early-career researchers to develop their research skills. The MBIE Science Whitinga Fellowship will provide each successful researcher with a one-off fellowship worth $320,000 over two years to help them grow and develop their research skills in New Zealand.
  • A $500,000 Waitomo-based Jobs for Nature project will keep up to ten people employed in the village as the tourism sector recovers post Covid-19. The worekrs will undertake local track maintenance and improve the Ruakuri bush walk and scenic reserve “and other culturally significant areas.”
  • Minister for Climate Change James Shaw has spoken with President Biden’s Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. He told Kerry he was pleased that one of President Biden’s first actions was to re-join the Paris Agreement.
  • Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced three diplomatic appointments:  Alana Hudson as Ambassador to Poland; John Riley as Consul-General to Hong Kong; Stephen Wong as Consul-General to Shanghai.

But let’s get back to the PM’s song and dance act, backed by the Beehive Bugle Brigade.

The programme notes brayed Government moves on climate promises.

And – wow – you couldn’t help but be bedazzled by the almost frenzied footwork.  The Riverdance crew could only be envious:

  • The Government’s “is delivering on its first tranche of election promises to take action on climate change”, and
  • “This will be an ongoing area of action but we are moving now to implement key election promises”, and
  • “We will receive further advice and recommendations mid-year from the Climate Commission but we are cracking on with this work now.”

The PM then trilled about transport making up our second highest amount of emissions after agriculture “so it’s important we reduce emissions from our vehicle fleet”.

“Tackling climate change is a priority for the Government and remains a core part of our COVID recovery plan. We can create jobs and economic opportunities while reducing our emissions, so it’s win-win for our economy and climate.

“We will be finalising our first three carbon budgets later this year following advice from the independent Climate Change Commission, which the Government receives mid-year.

Must we wait much longer for a chart-topping hit? 

Alas, yes.  

“The Commission’s advice is likely to ask a lot of all of us and require action in all sectors.

“Today’s announcement is a good step towards what needs to be done,” Jacinda Ardern said.

At that juncture Transport Minister Michael Wood stepped up to contribute his solo:

 “We’re making progress to reduce emissions by investing significantly more in public transport, rail, costal shipping and walking and cycling – but there is more to do,” said Transport Minister Michael Wood.

“Our Government has agreed in principle to mandate a lower emitting biofuel blend across the transport sector. Over time this will prevent hundreds of thousands of tonnes of emissions from cars, trucks, trains, ships and planes.”

But an agreement in principle doesn’t actually amount to action – does it?

So what else?

“There are economic opportunities for New Zealand in strengthening our clean green brand, encouraging innovation and creating jobs. It will also help our economic recovery. A biofuel mandate has the potential to create jobs and boost the economy through encouraging a local industry.

“Officials will consult with the public and stakeholders to help the Government decide on a way forward before the end of the year.”

In other words, we haven’t got to the consulting stage yet.

“We’re also committing $50 million to help councils fully decarbonise the public transport bus fleet by 2035. By meeting our target to decarbonise the bus fleet, we can prevent up to 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions, which will make an important contribution towards meeting our climate targets,” Michael Wood said.

Actually, we recall this was announced in October last year.

But let’s hear him out:

“We’re moving quickly to introduce a Clean Car Import Standard to reduce emissions and Kiwis’ fuel costs. Legislation will be passed this year and the standard will begin next year, with the 105 grams of CO2/km 2025 target being phased in through annual targets that get progressively lower to give importers time to adjust. 

“The Import Standard will prevent up to 3 million tonnes of emissions by 2040, mean more climate-friendly cars are available, and will give families average lifetime fuel savings of nearly $7,000 per vehicle.

“The Government will also consider options for an incentive scheme to help Kiwis make the switch to clean cars. The Government will have further announcements on our plan to reduce transport emissions in the coming months,” Michael Wood said.

 So no FIRM action, readers.  Just the promise of action via the passage of legislation.

Never mind. Climate Change Minister James Shaw seems satisfied.

He said today’s announcement (announcement of what, exactly?) is a good first step that needs to be taken on the road towards long-term emissions reductions from transport – and that there will need to be many more steps taken after this one.

The window of opportunity we have to address the climate crisis is closing fast. Reducing emissions from transport will need to be a priority if we are to meet our targets and make sure New Zealand plays its part in keeping the climate stable. 

“For decades governments allowed emissions from transport to increase unabated. Today we begin the work to change that. In doing so I’d like to acknowledge the work of the former Minister for Transport, Julie Anne Genter.

“Together these measures will help to make our communities cleaner and healthier, and ensure the vehicles we use to get around leave a smaller carbon footprint. It is necessary first step towards making sure that the journeys we all have to take are better for the planet. The measures announced today also help advance the commitments in the Cooperation Agreement between Labour and the Green Party to decarbonise public transport and to introduce a clean car standard,” James Shaw said. 

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Oh look – 28 potential good-news stories about young people overcoming challenges (but Stuff has mostly missed them)

The Dom-Post gave front-page treatment today to the government’s declaration of a climate emergency.   This emergency – says Climate Change Minister James Shaw – will be backed with ambitious plans to reduce emissions.

Another of yesterday’s press releases from the Beehive, about an awards ceremony, did not pass muster with the Dom-Post editorial gate-keepers.  This was a statement about 28 young people who have overcome formidable disadvantages – Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis described them as young achievers who have been in the care of Oranga Tamariki or involved with the youth justice system.

Each of them received Oranga Tamariki Prime Minister Awards in recognition of their success and potential.

At the awards ceremony in Parliament, Kelvin Davis congratulated these young people for showing the strength and perseverance to succeed despite facing significant challenges. Continue reading “Oh look – 28 potential good-news stories about young people overcoming challenges (but Stuff has mostly missed them)”