Buzz from the Beehive – but is a $10.2m investment in a forestry management programme not worth shouting about?

It looks looks like visitors to the Beehive website are  being short-changed today. Point of Order is aware of at least one ministerial announcement that has yet to be posted.

It deals with a government investment ($10.2 million from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund) in  something called Precision Silviculture, a $25.5 million, seven-year programme led by Forest Growers Research Limited.

This is being hailed as an innovative high-tech approach to forestry management that is part of the Government’s wider plan to provide economic security to workers and businesses, with higher skilled and high-wage jobs that support a low-emissions economy.

While this news had not been posted when Point of Order checked this afternoon we did learn that $10 million is being spent on removing all remaining coal boilers in New Zealand schools, to be replaced with renewable woody biomass or electric heating.

We presume, therefore that coal-powered heating will be ruled out in planning for two new schools on the Bay of Plenty’s Ōmokoroa Peninsula.

And public feedback is being sought on proposed changes to improve management planning and concession processes in conservation legislation.

The Treaty of Waitangi, treaty principles and the importance of tangata whenua get plenty of mentions in the discussion paper (www.doc.govt.nz/cmap-2022-consultation for more information on it). Submissions close on June 30.

Latest from the Beehive

6 MAY 2022

Buses take to the road on Northern Busway

Northshore commuters now have access to congestion free travel to and from the city, as far north as Albany, thanks to the completion of the latest Northern Busway extension which was opened today by the Minister of Transport, Michael Wood.

All coal boilers to be removed from schools

Thanks to a $10 million dollar investment, all remaining coal boilers in New Zealand schools will be replaced with renewable woody biomass or electric heating sources by 2025 reducing carbon emissions by around 35,400 tonnes over 10 years.

5 MAY 2022

Proposals aimed at user-friendly, up-to-date conservation processes

Public feedback is being sought on proposed changes to improve management planning and concession processes in conservation legislation.

Next steps for two new schools for Ōmokoroa

Planning for two new schools on the Bay of Plenty’s Ōmokoroa Peninsula is underway as part of the Government’s comprehensive plan to support growth in the fast-growing Otumoetai catchment.

Buzz from the Beehive – exemption cards are to become available (but not for taxes)

Tax Minister David Parker’s speech about his quest for better information about who is paying how much in taxes and the development of tax principles can now be found on the Beehive website.

The speech (yet to be posted when Point of Order reported yesterday) mentions “an important stage of the project”, which will be wide public consultation on the proposed principles and reporting framework. It’s a shame Parker couldn’t persuade his Cabinet colleagues to take the same principled approach to

Parker wants the tax principles enacted in a Bill before the end of the current Parliamentary term, resulting in the Tax Principles Act taking its place alongside the Tax Administration Act and other revenue Acts “to create the tax system that New Zealanders can understand and be proud of”.

The speech was posted alongside news of exemption cards becoming available – no, not an exemption from having to pay taxes.  The card attests to an exemption from having to wear a mask.

And Energy Minister Megan Woods brings news of Auckland harbour ferries being set to get quieter, cleaner and greener, thanks to two new fully-electric ferries for commuters and sightseers to travel on.

The project is a collaboration between the Government, Auckland Transport, EV Maritime and boat builders McMullen & Wing.

Auckland Transport receives a $27 million grant funding from the Government to pay around 75% of the costs of constructing two new electric ferries.

The funding comes from the Infrastructure Reference Group’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

Latest from the Beehive

27 APRIL 2022

Conservation cup win runs in the family

Wetlands expert and advocate Dr Beverley Clarkson was today presented with New Zealand’s most prestigious conservation award, the Loder Cup by Minister of Conservation Kiri Allan.

New mask exemption card to remove uncertainty

People who have genuine reasons for not being able to wear a face mask can access a new personalised exemption card from the end of May.

Shining a light on unfairness in our tax system

Those coming here expecting announcements of new tax policy will be disappointed. None are being made. We have no secret plan to introduce a CGT nor a wealth tax or a deemed income tax, nor others.

26 APRIL 2022

Auckland harbour goes electric

Auckland harbour ferries are set to get quieter, cleaner and greener, thanks to two new fully-electric ferries for commuters and sightseers to travel on.

Buzz from the Beehive: Clark toughens competition law – but can an illegal activity be made more illegal

The government – or, more specially, David Clark – has us wondering about the effect(s) of a  “prohibition”.

No, not Prohibition (with a capital P), the word applied to the 1920-1933 era when the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages was illegal in the USA and gangsters flourished.

We refer to “prohibition” as in “ban”, meaning something has been forbidden, outlawed, disallowed or made illegal.

Once something has been  prohibited, banned, forbidden, outlawed, disallowed or otherwise made illegal – murder, for example – what more can a government do?

It could toughen the penalties, certainly.  But it can’t make murder any more illegal – can it?

Our thinking on this question was triggered by a statement from Commerce Minister David Clark which emerged from the Beehive along with news of

  • The arrival this week of the first batch of the 60,000 courses of Paxlovid coming this year to be used from next week.
  • The Government’s support for Air New Zealand (as the majority shareholder)  by committing to participate in the national carrier’s proposal to raise capital and accelerate the recovery for the airline
  • The appointment of Karl Le Quesne as the new Chief Electoral Officer of the Electoral Commission.
  • Grants totalling $154,000 for rural communities in the Waikato, Otago and the West Coast “to develop and drive solutions to local challenges”.

Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: Clark toughens competition law – but can an illegal activity be made more illegal”

Buzz from The Beehive

Two Ministers of the Crown have been busy dishing out money, to improve land management practices in South Waikato and to develop an eco-sanctuary in the Central Plateau.

Two others have been delivering speeches, on public media restructuring and energy policy.

One has been involved in a Customs agreement with the Netherlands.

And one of them has been tidying up the unforeseen (presumably) consequences of legislative attempts to regulate the lending of money.

Latest from the Beehive

11 MARCH 2022

Funding boost for farmer-led catchment group in South Waikato

The Government is investing in a farmer-led catchment group in South Waikato to help its on-the-ground efforts to improve land management practices.

Govt updates responsible lending rules

The Government is making practical amendments to responsible lending rules to curb any unintended consequences being caused by the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (CCCFA).

10 MARCH 2022

Speech

Speech announcing the decision to establish a new public media entity

In February 2020 – at the New Zealand Broadcasting school – I outlined the” in principle” decision the Government had made to ensure New Zealand’s Public Media could face the challenges of the future – to ensure it was strong, sustainable and structured in a way to move with audience, technology and market trends.

 Eco-sanctuary to protect valued species

A new 2700ha “inland island” sanctuary for native plants and animals on the North Island Central Plateau is a step closer with support from the Government’s Mahi mō te Taiao/Jobs for Nature programme.

New public media entity to showcase New Zealand voices and stories

Ensuring New Zealanders continue to have access to reliable, trusted, independent information and local content sits at the heart of the decision to create a new public media entity, Minister for Broadcasting and Media Kris Faafoi has announced.

Customs Mutual Administrative Assistance Agreement between New Zealand and the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Aotearoa New Zealand and the Kingdom of the Netherlands have reached an agreement today, which will enable information sharing to limit harm across our countries.

Speech

BusinessNZ Energy Council (BEC) Breakfast 10 March 2022

You’ll be aware that climate change is a key priority for this Government. It’s a threat to our economy, our environment and our everyday lives, so investing in a sustainable energy system will benefit us all, and see us better placed to deal with future shocks, especially as we accelerate our economic recovery from Covid-19.

And on the 11th day, the govt moved with a sanctions package to show the world what we think of Putin’s war in Ukraine

The flow of news from The Beehive in recent days seems to have been aimed largely at enabling ministers to remind voters of their portfolio responsibilities and duties.

On International Women’s Day, for example, the Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence and Sexual Violence, Marama Davidson, joined with other women “to reinforce the need for collective action to address gender-based violence”.

The Minister for Children, Kelvin Davis, drew attention to the celebration of Children’s Day/ Te Rā o Ngā Tamariki by asking everyone to continue with crucial support for our young people as the fight with Covid continues.

 Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio announced the 2022 Pacific Language Weeks series, highlighting the contribution of those who have provided life-saving Covid-19 messages in the nine Pacific Island languages over the past two years.

Justice Minister Kris Faafoi reassured us the Government is “progressing” legislation to ensure that courts can continue operating safely and effectively as COVID-19 spreads in the community.

And Finance Minister Grant Robertson issued a ministerial statement to serve what looks like the  purpose of putting  down National Party leader Christopher Luxon, who had called for the government to give struggling Kiwis tax relief as the cost of living soars. Robertson rejoined that Kiwis had heard “the same tired old story” from Luxon that “fails to give any new ideas for our future”.

Then came something with a bit more heft. Continue reading “And on the 11th day, the govt moved with a sanctions package to show the world what we think of Putin’s war in Ukraine”

We can be cheered by low unemployment rather than be vexed by rising CPI – but the data need a closer look

Taxpayers are dishing out $633,000 to help a venture described as “a long-running penguin rehab facility which has been hard hit by the tourism downturn” and $2.8 million to restore native forest habitats in the Catlins.

The Jobs for Nature funding for Otago’s Penguin Place and The Hokonui Rūnanga Catlins Biodiversity Project was announced yesterday by Conservation Minister Kiri Allan.

Some readers might wonder about the prudence of this sort of spending but Finance Minister Grant Robertson assured Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking that government spending is not contributing a significant amount to inflation.

“We continue to be careful with our spending but the reality is if you were to cut health spending that doesn’t change the price of petrol. We have got to be pretty careful of not cutting our nose to spite our face.

“Obviously we are prudent with what we do but there are a lot of things we do need to be investing into in New Zealand. We have got to keep doing those.”

The penguins should be grateful their wellbeing is regarded as an essential investment. Continue reading “We can be cheered by low unemployment rather than be vexed by rising CPI – but the data need a closer look”

Had the money dried up for drought forecasting after runanga were given millions for conservation work?

Two announcements from the office of Kiripatu Allan give us a good idea of the government’s spending priorities.

Our understanding of those priorities is enhanced when we compare Allan’s announcements with the government’s investment in a project aimed to developing a new drought  forecasting tool.

“Improved forecasting will alleviate some of the financial and mental burden that drought puts on farmers and growers. It will also make our primary industries more resilient, productive and sustainable,” Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said of this development.

As Minister for Emergency Management, Kiri Allan says the government will contribute towards a Mayoral Relief Fund to support those most affected by the fires in Waiharara in the Far North.

A few days later, as Minister for Conservation, she announced a boost in funding for six Jobs for Nature initiatives across Canterbury.  These range from establishing coastline trapping in Kaikōura, to setting up a native plant nursery, restoration planting at Lyttelton harbour, and increasing pest control across Banks Peninsula and Christchurch.

The contribution to the wellbeing of the people affected by the Far North fire amounted to $200,000.

The investment in improved drought forecasting is $200,000.

The investments in conservation projects amount to “over $12.64 million”. Continue reading “Had the money dried up for drought forecasting after runanga were given millions for conservation work?”

Sepuloni tackles a matter of gender imbalance – but do women really want a bigger share of payments from the ACC?

 Monitoring the Ministers

We suspect women don’t aspire to gain equality with men in all measures of gender disparities.

Prison musters provide an obvious example.

In September this year males accounted for 94.3% of the prison population. 

This clearly means women were far behind with just 5.7% – and that percentage was lower than the 7% recorded in September 2018.

Elsewhere in our criminal justice system, changes to help women are being effected through the passage of the Sexual Violence Legislation Bill, which will:

  • entitle sexual violence complainants to use alternative ways of giving evidence, including by pre-recording their cross-examination evidence in appropriate cases;
  • ensure evidence about a complainant’s past sex life is off limits, unless it is clearly highly relevant; and
  • require judges to talk to the jury to dispel any misconceptions relating to sexual violence (often called ‘rape myths’) that might be brought into a case.

Mind you, Justice  Minister Kris Faafoi dispelled any impression there is a gender bias in the  legislation.  It includes changes to benefit all witnesses, not just those in sexual cases, he said. Continue reading “Sepuloni tackles a matter of gender imbalance – but do women really want a bigger share of payments from the ACC?”

Govt rushes freedom-crimping measures past close scrutiny – ministers then go spending big bucks to tackle Covid-19

Latest from the Beehive

Fresh from the legislative outrage of rushing the “traffic lights” bill through Parliament, the government poured $504.1 million earlier today into initiatives to help Kiwis deal with Covid-19 in its latest responses to the reality that Covid-19 is something we must learn to live with.

That was the sum when Point of Order first checked the Beehive website this morning.

By the time we were wrapping up this post an announcement from Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall had increased this by almost $1 billion on measures for testing, contact tracing and case investigation

Quicker testing will be among the consequences.

“Delta is here, so we are ensuring we have the tools in place to support the transition to the new framework, and to help minimise the spread of COVID-19,” Ayesha Verrall said.

Yep.  The government has waved the flag of surrender in its efforts to beat the virus and has changed the rules for trying to constrain its spread.

Most controversially,  this is being done by constraining Kiwis freedoms – if they have not been vaccinated – under legislation which has been passed in indecent haste.  Continue reading “Govt rushes freedom-crimping measures past close scrutiny – ministers then go spending big bucks to tackle Covid-19”

Govt aims to keep “three strike” criminals out of the cooler but has increasingly warmed to making race a factor in research funding

Latest from the Beehive

The Government is running hot and cold on crime – in the eyes of its political opponents, at least.  One consequence will be keeping more offenders from being banged up in the coooler for too long.

Less ambivalently, it is turning up the heat in its efforts to tackle the country’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions change while non-Maori and non-Pacifika applicants are feeling the chill when funding is distributed by the Health Research Council. 

On the law and order front, Police Minister Poto Williams is crowing about a Police operation which resulted in the seizure of more than 50 kilograms of cocaine, and $300,000 in cash, cocaine and cryptocurrency wallets.

Is the cocaine in the weight reference the same as the cocaine in the dollar-value reference? It is unclear.

Nine people were arrested. Continue reading “Govt aims to keep “three strike” criminals out of the cooler but has increasingly warmed to making race a factor in research funding”