A year ago, as Minister of Economic and Regional Development, Stuart Nash popped up to announce the opening of the America’s Cup Village in downtown Auckland and declare it marked the start of an exciting summer of action on and off the water.
Today he has announced New Zealand has secured a four year deal to bring the new high-tech global sailing competition SailGP to our shores.
Lyttelton Harbour in Christchurch will host the first Sail Grand Prix season ever held in New Zealand. This will be part of Season Three, to be held across ten countries during 2022-23.
Auckland and Christchurch will then host alternate races in following seasons.
And will taxpayers have to chip in as part of the deal?
Matters in the foreign affairs domain have preoccupied ministers over the past two days.
Ambassadors to Russia and the United Nations have been appointed, $100 million has been given to the Cook Islands and Fiji for COVID-19 economic support and recovery, nine southern African countries have been added to New Zealand’s list of very high risk countries after discovery of the COVID-19 variant Omicron, and Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has provided a rundown on the North American leg of her 17-day overseas travels.
Mahuta has been busy. Regardless of jet lag, she has announced the new ambassadorial appointments and the economic package of $100 million, bringing COVID-19 support to the Cook Islands and Fiji to a combined total of $215 million. New Zealand this time is providing $60 million to the Cook Islands and $40 million to Fiji.
We suppose the press statements were prepared while the Minister was in managed isolation and quarantine, no doubt itching to get back to the Three Waters reforms.
A weekend statement told us the final leg of Mahuta’s travels involved “a number of high-level discussions” in the United States and Canada.
What had become a surge of ministerial announcements this time yesterday had turned into a tsunami at time of writing (around noon today). Frankly, we can’t keep up.
We ended yesterday’s roundup of Beehive announcements with a statement on the PM’s virtual attendance at the East Asia Summit. Since then, ministers have posted 16 new statements. Several were Covid-related.
This was a good time for a smart press secretary to unload news of dubious government spending, hoping it will be buried by the other stuff, including Grant Robertson’s latest boast about how well the government’s finances are being managed.
Sure, core Crown expenses at $31 billion were $3.2 billion above forecast in the three months to the end of September – but, hey, that was all to do with Covid and the payment of wage subsidies and COVID-19 resurgence support payments.
But how well is spending being keep under control?
The PM was strutting the international stage (virtually), the Minister of Agriculture turned to pot, the Minister for Emergency Management was limbering up for a shake-up, and the Minister for the Environment was appointing people to speak for a river that (under our laws) is deemed to be a living entity.
The Minister for Local Government – awash with confidence in her infallibility, it seems – declared her intent to force the Three Waters reforms on local authorities that have raised a raft of reasonable objections. The local authorities had better believe her. She has demonstrated in the past her flair for flushing aside the niceties of good legislative procedure.
To counter any impression the government won’t listen to its citizens, on the other hand, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark announced public feedback is being sought on the regulatory safeguards required to ensure consumers and communities receive three waters services that meet their needs.
“The future three waters system needs to promote consumer interests and ensure infrastructure is delivered in a way that is efficient, affordable and resilient. To achieve this, the Government is considering whether economic and consumer protection regulation is needed, and how any new laws could be designed,” David Clark said