Fetters are slapped on “fast-track” law to ensure the country benefits from forestry conversions by foreigners

Buzz from the Beehive

Some readers might be surprised to learn from Associate Finance Minister David Parker that the law has been changed to ensure forestry conversions by overseas investors benefit New Zealand.

Did the law previously allow forestry conversions by overseas investors that would be to the country’s disadvantage?

Not necessarily.

Previously, overseas investors wishing to convert land, such as farm land, into forestry were required to meet the “special forestry test.”

Parker described this as a “streamlined” test, designed to encourage investment in production forestry.

The Overseas Investment (Forestry) Amendment Bill – which has just passed its third reading – requires overseas investors to show their conversions will benefit New Zealand by meeting the stricter “benefit to New Zealand test.” Continue reading “Fetters are slapped on “fast-track” law to ensure the country benefits from forestry conversions by foreigners”

Govt has dived into Covid-19 recovery funds to help build aquatic centre that – gosh! – may bring world champs to Hastings

Buzz from the Beehive 

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has been busy in the past 24 hours, joining the PM for the opening of a new aquatic centre, enthusing about data from the latest visitor statistics and announcing a new industry strategy.

The Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Priyanca Radhakrishnan was in the business of announcing strategies, too.  She welcomed the Ministry for Ethnic Communities’ release of its first strategy, setting out the actions it will take over the next few years to achieve better wellbeing outcomes for ethnic communities.

In the Education domain, Associate Minister Jan Tinetti was chuffed about the success of the programme for providing “free” period products in schools, while fellow Associate Minister Aupito William Sio announced the recipients of the Tulī Takes Flight scholarships. These were a key part of last year’s Dawn Raids apology. Continue reading “Govt has dived into Covid-19 recovery funds to help build aquatic centre that – gosh! – may bring world champs to Hastings”

ACT could tap into a rich vein of support by pushing for higher education standards and a stronger Defence force

Emerging  from  its  annual conference, the  ACT  Party’s  leadership appears to  regard itself already  as  a key element in  the  next government.

ACT leader  David  Seymour had  the  conference  cheering  as  he  spoke   of  how  ACT  would ensure in the first hundred days of the  next  government,  Labour’s  measures on Three Waters, the Māori Health Authority, the 39c tax rate, and Fair Pay Agreements  would  all be  gone,  just as ACT’s policies on 90-day trials, three strikes, oil and gas exploration and charter schools would be reinstated.

No  surprises  there.

But  ACT   will  need far  more  than  this  if  it is  to  win over  the  thousands  of   additional  votes  to make  certain  it does have  a powerful voice,  rather  than being  just   a  prop  for  National.  It will need  Cabinet  ministers  in  influential   roles.

Most of the issues highlighted by Seymour are likely to get National’s support or are changes which National already has said it will enact.  He admits getting them to repeal the Zero Carbon Act will be harder.

“We’re going to have to push very hard on that one, because they’ve committed themselves so heavily, but I think it’s worth doing,” he said. Continue reading “ACT could tap into a rich vein of support by pushing for higher education standards and a stronger Defence force”

Flexing the state’s muscle: Māori ministers are admiring as the media are mobilised to inform the masses about Matariki

Buzz from the Beehive

The state is flexing its muscle in the building and supermarket industries.

In the building industry the intervention can be criticised as long overdue and unlikely to do much good any time soon to remedy a crippling shortage of plasterboard.

A Ministerial taskforce has been set up to look at what more can be done to ease the  shortage, including the potential for legislative or regulatory change.

In the supermarket business, the muscle-flexing has been announced in robust language – the press statement is headed Commerce Commission empowered to crackdown on covenants.

The Commerce Commission will be enabled to require supermarkets to hand over information regarding contracts, arrangements and land covenants which make it difficult for competing retailers to set up shop.

A much more troubling sign of the state flexing its muscle can be found in a statement jointly released by  Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson and Māori Crown Relations Te Arawhiti Minister Kelvin Davis.  Their lark is the mobilising of the media for an exercise in mass education – or is it indoctrination? Continue reading “Flexing the state’s muscle: Māori ministers are admiring as the media are mobilised to inform the masses about Matariki”

Buzz from the Beehive – and we learn how Zoom helps Nanaia Mahuta stay in touch with the world (or Honiara, at least)

We were pleasantly surprised to catch up on the latest announcement from Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta – jointly issued with Defence Minister Peeni Henare – about the extension of the New Zealand Defence Force deployment to Solomon Islands.

This is being done as part of the Pacific-led Solomon Islands International Assistance Force.

It attests to the marvels of Zoom, because (a) Mahuta has been accused of being out touch with what’s happening in some spots of special interest to New Zealand, and (b) she was saying she has met with Solomon Islands Foreign Affairs and External Trade Minister Jeremiah Manele via Zoom

“… to discuss the depth of our cooperation as well as the extension of our deployment to Solomon Islands.”

A read-out of the Zoom call will (or should) be on the MFAT website here.

The announcement was one of two with implications (more or less) for this country’s links with the world. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive – and we learn how Zoom helps Nanaia Mahuta stay in touch with the world (or Honiara, at least)”

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”