Buzz from the Beehive – it’s April 1 and billions more will flow in benefit boosts, superannuation rises, and so on…

Ministerial announcements are braying about April 1 triggering a great outflow of money, or the prospect of a great outflow, from the Government’s coffers.

It sounds like most of us will get a slice of the action, although in some cases this action perhaps will amount to no more than furnishing Inland Revenue with our annual returns and coughing up our dues.

Some ministerial announcements, true, concerned comparatively small sums.   

But two separate press statements – one from the PM – drew public attention to the transfers of huge sums of money from the Government  to families, welfare beneficiaries, superannuitants and so on.

The message, palpably, was that Jacinda and her team are aware of the squeeze on the cost of living, but they care deeply for our wellbeing and are determined to ease the burden.

The PM highlighted these effects: Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive – it’s April 1 and billions more will flow in benefit boosts, superannuation rises, and so on…”

Buzz from the Beehive: Enhancing numeracy skills will enable students to work out taxpayers’ share of compensation offer

Taxpayers and Wellington ratepayers will be picking up the tab for yet another political decision that has resulted from the breakdown of law and order and the surrendering of the grounds around Parliament to protesters for three weeks.

Wellington City Council and the Government have agreed to support inner-city Wellington businesses which lost significant revenue during what they described as “the illegal occupation at Parliament grounds”  with a $1.2 million business relief fund.

In line with previous contributions to council-led response funds, the Government is contributing $200,000. The City Council is investing $1 million in the fund.

Wellington Mayor Andy Foster is disappointed.  He says he originally asked for $6 million to bolster central-city businesses which either had to close, or experienced a huge drop in revenue after the protests.

Instead, the Government offered $200,00 for the $1.2m package that will offer any business which suffered a 50 per cent drop in revenue a one-off $30,000 payment.

A more significant announcement tells us of a Government plan to improve how and what our kids are learning at school. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: Enhancing numeracy skills will enable students to work out taxpayers’ share of compensation offer”

Buzz from the Beehive – there’s some help for Ukrainians but charity begins at home (funding spiritual healers, for example)

Further government responses to the cataclysmic events in Ukraine loomed large in the latest Beehive announcements.  A new 2022 Special Ukraine Policy was introduced and more humanitarian aid is being provided to support people in that war-torn nation.

Parents and wider family members offshore of Ukrainians in New Zealand will be able to come here under a policy benefitting around 4,000 people (which at first blush doesn’t seem to be too generous).

And Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced “our thoughts are with the people of Ukraine” while announcing that NZ will be providing an additional $4 million in funding to support Ukrainian communities.

This funding is in addition to the initial $2 million already provided “and will help those immediately on the ground while we continue to look at options for further support,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

Charity plainly begins at home and much more money than that – $22 million- is being channelled through the race-based interim Māori Health Authority to providers of health services. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive – there’s some help for Ukrainians but charity begins at home (funding spiritual healers, for example)”

The health of the oceans is under threat – but RMA reforms (Parker is working on them) should help troubled salmon farmers

More health announcements – concerning state support for farmers and growers affected by Covid-19 and “free” flu vaccinations – have flowed from the Beehive.

More ominously, Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker has drawn attention to the threat to the health of the oceans – and to fish stocks – posed by climate warming.

He didn’t announce anything in particular to counter this threat.  Rather, he mentioned measures he intends to take, such as overhauling the highly contentious Resource Management Act.

His statement was prompted by an announcement to the Stock Exchange by New Zealand King Salmon:  the warming of the sea has been killing the company ‘s salmon stocks enough to cause a significant downwards revision in earnings expectations.

The company has reduced its forecast earnings for the 2022 year by $4 to $5 million.  The higher salmon losses have been recorded most notably in the company’s Pelorus Sound operations.

Parker said this is a sharp reminder that resource management system reforms are needed to deliver better management for aquaculture. Continue reading “The health of the oceans is under threat – but RMA reforms (Parker is working on them) should help troubled salmon farmers”

Check out what is missing from climate reporting law – but Govt has ensured the Treaty plays a part in trade deal with UK

Latest from the Beehive

Press statements and ministerial speeches were flowing into Point of Order’s email in-tray faster than the government’s publicists could post them on the Beehive website this morning. 

The outpouring included news that the parts of Waikato in Alert Level 3 will remain at that alert level till Wednesday.  

More significantly, the PM addressed the nation in Churchillian terms:

 Today I’m speaking directly to all New Zealanders to share a plan that will help us stay safe from COVID-19 into the future.

 A future where we want to continue to protect people’s lives, but also to live our lives – as safely as possible.

This speech was accompanied by other ministerial speeches and announcements dealing with something the PM described as 

 “… the new framework we will use to help us minimise the impact of COVID, and protect ourselves”.

It included an economic support package (especially for supporting Auckland businesses) and a plan (with more money) to accelerate Māori vaccination rates.

Inevitably this did not satisfy the government’s political opponents. Continue reading “Check out what is missing from climate reporting law – but Govt has ensured the Treaty plays a part in trade deal with UK”

Govt contributes $16.7m to breeding partnership to beef up cattle productivity while abating the gas emissions

More spending for science has been announced by the government and another partnership has been established to do the work.  This time the aim is to tackle the climate-change challenge.

The Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund is contributing $6.68 million to a $16.7 million genetics programme, which aims

  • to have productivity benefits, thereby creating a competitive advantage for New Zealand beef, and
  • to lower the beef sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by delivering cows “with a smaller environmental hoof-print”.

Informing New Zealand Beef is a seven-year partnership with Beef + Lamb New Zealand, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

But we wont necessarily see the hoped-for results within that time span.  Rather, O’Connor says this work

“… is expected to result in more efficient cows within the next 25 years”. Continue reading “Govt contributes $16.7m to breeding partnership to beef up cattle productivity while abating the gas emissions”

Damien O’Connor appoints trade advisory group – this one is much smaller than the predecessor appointed by Parker

Oh look – another advisory group to keep its minister and the public up with the play on trade policy matters.

As our Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Damien O’Connor has appointed a Trade for All Ministerial Advisory Group “to help chart the course for New Zealand trade policy”.

This group’s establishment follows on from the work completed by the Trade for All Advisory Board in 2019.

The difference is that the earlier group – appointed in 2018, when David Parker had the portfolio – comprised 23 members.  The new group comprises 13 members, which is good for the budget no matter what else it might accomplish.

Its announcement was included among the latest Beehive press releases:

Latest from the Beehive

The discovery of rare, long-tail bats/pekapeka near Franz Josef for the first time in decades is exciting proof that the Government’s Jobs for Nature and predator free programmes are getting results, Conservation Minister Kiri Allan says.

Significant progress is being made on new infrastructure at Mt Aspiring College for present and future students and teachers, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says.

Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor has appointed a Trade for All Ministerial Advisory Group to help chart the course for New Zealand trade policy. Continue reading “Damien O’Connor appoints trade advisory group – this one is much smaller than the predecessor appointed by Parker”

First came the $2.5bn water package (or bribe?) and then the govt gets behind mayors on employment task force

The government is getting in behind local government leaders, not only to win hearts and minds on the Three Waters reform programme but also in  encouraging job schemes.

Yesterday it announced a $2.5 billion package (critics call it a bribe) to support local government transition through the reforms to New Zealand’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services.  Point of Order has looked at this here.

Today the government has signed a new memorandum of understanding with the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, intended to strengthen the partnership to get more young people into work.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash meanwhile was announcing that five South Island areas have been prioritised in the latest round of decisions from a tourism fund that is supporting infrastructure projects from Cape Reinga to Stewart Island and the Chathams.

Details of 57 nationwide projects to receive support from the fund  have been released.

Nash explained that the Tourism Infrastructure Fund supports local communities under pressure from tourism, especially those with small ratepayer bases Continue reading “First came the $2.5bn water package (or bribe?) and then the govt gets behind mayors on employment task force”

Govt gives battery-swap scheme a funding charge and hopes it will spark greater switching to electric trucks

All sorts of things can excite our politicians while they are busy spending our money.

In this case, Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods has advised us that a battery-swapping station for electric trucks is among exciting new low-emission transport projects to be given government co-funding.

She was referring to a scheme which she believes will result in many more electric trucks joining the few dozen on the road now.

She foresees battery-swapping stations for E trucks saving valuable time for truckies, who will be able to quickly install a fully charged battery to continue their journey, leaving the old battery for recharging later and at off-peak times when electricity is cheaper.

All up, 22 projects will receive $6.5m in round 10 of the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund. Recipients will contribute an additional $12.8m.

Another announcement tells us of the appointment of the first Chair of the Consumer Advocacy Council, one of the myriads of new entities established on Jacinda Ardern’s watch. Continue reading “Govt gives battery-swap scheme a funding charge and hopes it will spark greater switching to electric trucks”

Let’s not quibble about a typo – instead we should admire Little’s readiness to list achievements with mental health spending

We trust Health Minister Andrew Little got his numbers right when he addressed the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists at a Virtual Conference on Equity of Health Outcomes for New Zealand.

One figure in the speech posted on The Beehive website seriously inflates the extra spending earmarked in this year’s Budget for Pharmac (obviously it’s an innocent typo). 

The team at Point of Order long ago learned to be wary, if not downright suspicious, when politicians bandy numbers.  More often than not the figures they brag about will be challenged by political opponents who produce contradictory data or put matters into a very different perspective.   

For example, earlier this week we reported a statement by Jacinda Ardern, Minister in Charge of Child Poverty Reduction:  Continue reading “Let’s not quibble about a typo – instead we should admire Little’s readiness to list achievements with mental health spending”