The government has been spending money on ridding parts of the country of predators, cleaning up contaminated sites, helping NCEA students and researching cancer.
But ministers of the crown – it’s pleasing to note – are acknowledging big-bucks investments from the private sector, too.
Digital Economy and Communications Minister today welcomed the decision by Amazon’s cloud-computing arm, Amazon Web Services’ (AWS), to establish a Cloud Region on New Zealand shores, further boosting New Zealand’s growing digital sector and providing a vote of confidence in the direction of New Zealand’s economic recovery.
The investment is estimated to be around $7.5 billion, which “demonstrates the high level of confidence the international business community has in backing New Zealand’s economy,” Clark enthused.
We learned more about this project from Stuff,which reports that AWS will spend $7.5 billion over 15 years building “world class computing infrastructure” in Auckland .
Amazon Web Services New Zealand country manager Tim Dacombe-Bird said New Zealand would join 25 other territories in which the company had established cloud computing data centres.
The company would build “a cluster” of at least three data centres in the city, he said.
AWS estimated the investment would create 1000 jobs and contribute $10.8b to New Zealand’s GDP over the next 15 years.
Farm leaders are furious – with good cause – after a report by a panel of scientists found fault with the farm nutrient modelling system Overseer.
The panel cited “overarching structural problems” with the system, which has become one of the country’s main farm pollution-management tools, and concluded it could not be confident in Overseer’s ability to estimate nitrogen loss from farms.
Overseer is a software tool developed in this country to measure farm nutrient dynamics.
It is used by councils all over New Zealand as the basis for granting consents, checking compliance and enforcement against farmers and for estimating on-farm greenhouse gas emissions.
The Overseer intellectual property is jointly owned by the Ministry of Primary Industries, the Fertiliser Association of NZ and AgResearch. The intellectual property is exclusively licensed to Overseer Ltd, which is owned by the Fertiliser Association of NZ and AgResearch.
Now that its usefulness for regulatory purposes and as a nutrient management tool has been undermined, there is an urgent need for a more credible tool to be developed – and the Ardern team is on the case.
Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor have acknowledged the science panel’s findings of shortcomings in Overseer nutrient management tool and say –
The government will support the development of a next generation Overseer alongside a suite of tools to help in the management and estimation of on-farm nutrient loss
Over the next year, Overseer will be supported while a next generation of the tool is developed and/or additional tools are made available
A more accurate way to estimate nutrient loss is important for farmers, the environment and brand New Zealand.
Ministers sometimes can bask in the satisfaction of releasing a press statement which is unlikely to provoke political opponents to find fault with the announcement or anger some sections of the community.
Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson issued such a statement yesterday, when he congratulated New Zealand Olympic kayaker Lisa Carrington on her exceptional performance at the Tokyo Olympics which has led to her becoming the most decorated New Zealand Olympian.
“Lisa is a phenomenal athlete. To win the K1 200m three Olympics in a row, and to add both the K2 500 gold with Caitlyn Regal earlier this week and the K1 500 gold today is an exceptional effort. She is tough, resilient and remarkable, and deservedly the most decorated New Zealand Olympian,” Grant Robertson said.
He also congratulated the New Zealand Olympic Team for its outstanding performance in these Olympics. With a total of 17 medals so far, including a record number of seven Gold medals, they are on the road to a possible record medal haul.
Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan, on the other hand, is bound to have rankled whitebaiters with her announcement that the 2021 whitebaiting season is about to kick off with new regulations in place to help ensure a healthy future for the fishery.
Having announced its plans to further restrict what we may say, the government turned to further restricting the materials used for packaging or for making goods we may buy.
And as part of the plastics announcement, Environment Minister David Parker launched a $50 million trough, enticingly named the Plastics Innovation Fund, to help support projects that reimagine how we make, use and dispose of plastics.
Funding will be available for innovative projects from designing out waste in products and packaging, or adopting and scaling up existing technologies, through to switching materials and developing recycling solutions not currently available.
Another measure with implications for civil liberties and for the wellbeing of the people affected was the extension of Alert Level 2 in the Wellington region.
At time of writing the ACT Party was preoccupied with expostulating against the speech constraints on the Ardern government’s legislative agenda, and had yet to give its views on the proposed plastics prohibitions, but the Nats and the Greens did respond critically.
It’s been a good day for troughers, nicely timed to bring a bit of extra Christmas cheer to the recipients.
A yacht race, the farm sector and Maori communities (in two separate announcements) will share the goodies.
Applications are invited for funding to enable renewable energy technologies to be trialled on Māori housing. Half of the $28 million in the Renewable Energy Fund is available for these projects.
Eighteen initiatives have been announced to support iwi, hapū, whānau and Māori communities “to safeguard at-risk mātauranga Māori, and protect indigenous knowledge from the ongoing threat of COVID-19”. These include a new $5.7 million Mātauranga Māori Marae Ora Fund.
Corporate largess is being distributed in the form of the $25 million Future Ready Farms programme led by Ballance Agri-Nutrients with co-investment of more than $10 million from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures Futures fund. This aims to develop new ways of meeting national environmental targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, agricultural chemical use, and nutrient loss to waterways.
The opening of the America’s Cup Village in downtown Auckland serves as a reminder that the Government is investing $136.5 million in the America’s Cup and associated events and infrastructure. The Auckland Council has allocated $113 million. Auckland ratepayers who also pay taxes are being bitten twice.
The PM’s farmer and grower audience would have been heartened when she said the election success of Labour in rural New Zealand was a huge honour, but with it came huge responsibility and huge opportunities. They would have been braced, too, for her promotion – and defence – of the government’s environmental agenda.
The vote represented both an endorsement of the direction the government is heading and a requirement to work more closely with rural communities, Jacinda Ardern told the Primary Industries Summit.
I have made it very clear to our all our MPs, as well as those in provincial seats, that the primary sector is a key partner and stakeholder for this Government, and I want to see ideas permeate up from the grass roots as well as our engagement at a leadership level.
She then articulated three key objectives for the Government –
continuing to keep New Zealanders safe from Covid,
The government’s economic engineers were hard at work yesterday. One minister was set on establishing a base for film production in Christchurch while – much more critically for the wellbeing of the nation – a cluster of others led by the PM were unveiling their grand design for reshaping the primary sector. If they get it wrong (and we should never be sure politicians will get this sort of thing right), our economy will be dealt a greater mischief than ever was done by a pandemic.
Environment Minister David Parker was busy in the planning business, too, announcing appointments to the newly established Freshwater Planning Process and the Expert Consenting Panels for fast-track consenting.
Wearning his Attorney-General hat he also announced a new Judge of the High Court.
Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway, meanwhile, was announcing immediate short-term changes to visa settings to support temporary migrants already onshore in New Zealand and their employers, while ensuring New Zealanders needing work are prioritised.