Buzz from the Beehive: taxpayers to stump up $20m to boost growth of the IT industry (which already outpaces other sectors)

David Farrar, at Kiwiblog, usefully kicked off our coverage of news from the Beehive this week with a post headed Good summary from Joyce.

He was sharing the opinions of Steven Joyce, a former minister of Transport and of Communications and Information Technology, who has written:

There were more datapoints this week suggesting the public of New Zealand and its Government are currently inhabiting different planets.

Going on the statements from the Beehive, ministers are clearly focused on growing the public service, doling out a big climate change slush fund, taking the long handle to the public’s preferred means of getting around, implementing co-governance of public assets, and pouring another massive dollop of borrowed cash into the hungry maw that is their giant new health bureaucracy.

The public, on the other hand, are dealing with a runaway cost of living, shrinking household budgets, rising mortgage rates, diminishing asset values, a surge in aggressive criminal activity, long queues at the local hospital, a declining education sector and the growing realisation that economic activity is being frustrated by an obstructionist political class.

And:

The Prime Minister and the Finance Minister have made it quite clear that it is for everyone else to tighten their belts — not the Government.

One of two new announcements on the Beehive website this morning – a pe-Budget announcement from Digital Economy and Communications Minister David Clark – brings news of more exuberance in the spending department.    

He said Budget 2022 provides “an additional $20 million over four years” towards two key initiatives in the Digital Technologies Industry Transformation Plan (which sounds suspiciously like a programme devised in Stalinist Russia).

The government will support the growth of the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Community and take ‘New Zealand’s Tech and Innovation Story’, a marketing initiative led by industry in partnership with government, to the world.

Clark said the government has been working with industry on this plan to help our tech companies fulfil their huge potential as generators of high-value jobs and export revenue.

But rather than describe a struggling industry, he said:

“In 2020, the digital technologies sector contributed $7.4 billion to the economy. Since 2015 it has, on average, grown about 77 percent faster than the general economy.”

Seriously – is  the private sector unwilling to invest in a sector recording that  level of growth?

The only other new Beehive announcement when we checked is that Trade and Export Growth Minister Phil Twyford has tested positive for COVID-19 and won’t travel to Timor-Leste today.

Twyford was to represent the Government at the 20th Anniversary of Timor-Leste’s independence and the inauguration of Dr Jose Ramos-Horta as Timor-Leste’s next President.  New Zealand’s ambassador to Timor-Leste, Philip Hewitt, will now represent the New Zealand Government at those events.

Let’s look on the bright side: perhaps this will result in some small savings to the taxpayer.

Latest from the Beehive

15 MAY 2022

Budget 2022 invests in tech sector growth

The Government is investing to support the growth of New Zealand’s digital technologies sector in Budget 2022, guiding the country towards a high-wage, low emissions economy.

14 MAY 2022

Phil Twyford tests positive for COVID-19

Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth, Hon Phil Twyford, has tested positive for COVID-19.

Govt orders wages up and urges Kiwis out – or how to heap a burden on bosses while making escape from Ukraine a dilemma

First, there was good news for low-paid workers, although it wasn’t so good for employers.  The government announced it was raising the minimum wage 6 per cent from $20 to $21.20 an hour from April 1.

Next day, the government was issuing something it presumably regarded as good advice for New Zealanders in an overseas trouble spot, but this had a disconcerting dimension to it.

These New Zealanders were urged to get out of Ukraine fast as Russian troops amass on the border.  The snag is that getting back into New Zealand won’t be as easy as getting out of Ukraine.

The rise in the minimum wage was described by Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) chief executive Brett O’Riley as  a “kick in the guts” for many businesses.  This was ironic – he contended – because business groups had been discussing with Treasury what extra support might be available for sectors struggling with constraints imposed by the red-setting response to Covid-19.

But one business sectors probably was mollified by the news it was being given special government help. The Events Transition Support Payment scheme will be extended to 31 January 2023 and expanded to include business events.

Another sector, digital technologies, would have been distracted by the release of a draft Industry Transformation Plan for consultation. Continue reading “Govt orders wages up and urges Kiwis out – or how to heap a burden on bosses while making escape from Ukraine a dilemma”

Whoops – the Medicines Act needs to be remedied (and fast) after judge finds problem with the govt’s Covid vaccination programme

Two ministerial speeches have been posted on the Beehive website since Point of Order’s previous check on what the government is up to.

Not that it posts everything there, of course, and wading through a speech by David Clark on the government’s role in the digital economy is the heavy price we must pay for bringing you the latest from the Beehive on this blog.

But there are nuggets of hard news, too.

For example, the Minister of  Health rushed off to change the law after a High Court judge said:

“It is reasonably arguable that the decision to provisionally approve the vaccine for much wider use is problematic … “

The problem – it seems – relates to the powers of section 23 of the Medicines Act.

But the judge declined to grant interim orders stopping the vaccine rollout on the grounds that the repercussions “are too great, by some very considerable margin”.

Whatever the legalities, another statement from the  Beehive brought news that the 5000th vaccinator completing specialised training to administer the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine. Continue reading “Whoops – the Medicines Act needs to be remedied (and fast) after judge finds problem with the govt’s Covid vaccination programme”