How we are suckling the sheep-milk industry – Govt invests $7.97m in partnership which involves state-owned Landcorp

Buzz from the Beehive

Damien O’Connor scored twice – he issued one statement as Minister of Trade and another as Minister of Agriculture – while rookie Emergency Relief Minister Kieran McNulty broke his duck, announcing flood relief for the West Coast.

Covid-19 Response Minister Ayesha Verrall put more runs on the board, too, with a statement about Government work to combat new and more dangerous variants of COVID-19.

In his trade job, O’Connor declared he was pleased with the quick progress of the United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement Legislation Bill that was introduced to the House yesterday.

It would  enable New Zealand to implement its obligations under the FTA and was necessary to bring the FTA into force, he explained.

The Bill will align New Zealand’s domestic law with obligations in the FTA, including amendments to the Tariff Act 1988, the Tariff, the Customs and Excise Regulations 1996, the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001, the Overseas Investment Act 2005, the Overseas Investment Regulations 2005, and the Copyright Act 1994. The Bill also creates new regime required to administer a transitional apple export quota. Continue reading “How we are suckling the sheep-milk industry – Govt invests $7.97m in partnership which involves state-owned Landcorp”

Buzz from the Beehive – a spate of spending announcements (but the funding for indigenous-business initiative is unspecified)

IT LOOK LIKE the prospect of a long Easter holiday weekend triggered an unusual burst of energy in the Beehive yesterday.

Newspapers don’t publish on Good Friday, of course, which means those press releases probably won’t generate as many headlines as normal. Perhaps minimum publicity was the objective, in some cases.

Energy Minister Megan Woods had some news that involves drilling, for example. And mere mention of the word “drilling” (unless the work is done by a dentist) is bound to raise the hackles of greenies.

Other ministers were splashing public money around – into an offshore fisheries partnership between New Zealand and the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency ($5 million); a Mayoral Relief Fund to support people and communities most affected by the recent severe weather in Wairoa ($100,000); and support to strengthen the rural advisory sector (more than $25 million).

Then there’s news of New Zealand/Australian government funding of a new initiative to support indigenous business, targeted towards Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Māori communities. The money will provide e-commerce training and business development to help up to 82 indigenous businesspeople.  Alas, the sum involved was not included in the statement from Associate Maori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta

Latest from the Beehive

Geotech investigations to get underway for pumped hydro at Lake Onslow

Drilling is about to get underway for one of the key options of the NZ Battery Project geotechnical feasibility investigations, in what has the potential to be the largest hydro project in New Zealand.

Bill to support the safe operation of courts and tribunals during COVID-19 passes third reading

Legislation to support the safe operation of the courts during the COVID-19 pandemic has passed its third reading in Parliament.

Partnering across the Tasman to lift indigenous business

Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia governments are funding a new initiative to support indigenous business.

Increased support for Pacific tuna fisheries

Increasing employment and economic benefits from the Pacific’s offshore fisheries is the focus of a new NZD$5 million partnership between Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA).

Celebrating an illustrious 50 years of kapa haka and waiata at Te Matatini

The world’s largest kapa haka festival Te Matatini has thrived over its 50-year journey, showcasing the brilliance of Māori performing arts and world-leading kaihaka.

Government support for flood-hit Wairoa

The Government will contribute $100,000 towards a Mayoral Relief Fund to support people and communities most affected by the recent severe weather in Wairoa.

Government taking action to reverse environmental decline

The Environment Aotearoa 2022 report released today shows the Government’s plan to turn around decades of environmental decline and make New Zealand carbon-neutral is more urgent than ever.

Afghanistan humanitarian mission sees more than 1500 people come to Aotearoa New Zealand

The Government had successfully assisted more than 1500 people to travel from Afghanistan to Aotearoa New Zealand since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, as the taskforce set up to lead the mission comes to an end.

Government strengthening farm planning system for farmers and growers

The Government is backing farmers and growers to adapt and innovate with a package of support to strengthen the rural advisory sector.

Cycle tourism riding high as popularity grows

New Zealand’s iconic cycle trails are experiencing a boom in popularity and new research shows they are driving economic activity in the regions as well as benefits for health and

Buzz from the Beehive – and (from our “jobs for retiring MPs” file) look where Louisa is headed …

Here’s what our Ministers have been up to (at least, what they have proclaimed, announced or disclosed in press statements) since we last reported …

8 APRIL 2022

New Zealand to release more oil stocks

New Zealand will release 483,000 barrels from its emergency oil stocks as part of additional action by International Energy Agency member countries in response to the ongoing global impact on energy security after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, says Energy and Resources Minister Dr Megan Woods.

Government takes action to give Arts and Culture sector certainty

The Government is extending the Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme to cover new and recurring events from 15 June 2022 to 31 January 2023.

 7 APRIL 2022

Louisa Wall appointed Pacific Gender Equality Ambassador

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the appointment of Louisa Wall as Ambassador for Gender Equality (Pacific)/Tuia Tāngata.

Enhanced Task Force Green Approved for Tairāwhiti and Wairoa regions

The Government has activated Enhanced Taskforce Green in response to flooding in the Tairāwhiti and Wairoa regions.

Buzz from the Beehive: Nanaia is bound for Fiji (where perhaps she might ask why NZ wasn’t invited to talks with US big-wig)

Fiji must be thrilled – one of our very busy ministers has visited that country in recent days, another is planning to visit, and a third has been involved in a webinar conference. of the New Zealand-Fiji Business Council.

The minister who has been and gone was Peeni Henare, whose mission was defence-focused.

The minister who engaged in the virtual conference was Rino Tirikatane, who delivered a speech at the Fiji Trade Recovery Roadshow Webinar.  We assume he spoke from the Beehive.

And the minister who will visit – the icing on the cake, so to speak – is Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta.  She departs for Fiji next week, her first trip to the Pacific since announcing New Zealand’s Pacific Resilience approach last year.

The announcement was posted on the Beehive website along with news that …

  • Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor has classified the storm that caused significant flood damage across the Tairāwhiti district and Hawke’s Bay region a medium-scale adverse event, “unlocking Government support for farmers and growers”.  The sum of $150,000 is being made available to help the region’s farmers and growers recover from the heavy rain across Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay, bringing total Government support to $325,000;
  • The Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities, Priyanca Radhakrishnan, has launched a plan to boost employment outcomes for former refugees, recent migrants and ethnic communities.  This was her first press statement since October 28, when she announced a new Vaccine Uptake Fund to support COVID-19 vaccination among ethnic communities.   

Nanaia Mahuta announced her plans in the mix of English and te reo that has become the argot of Ardern ministers and (increasingly) mainstream news media:

“This visit is an important step in reconnecting Aotearoa New Zealand with our Pacific whanaunga, and an opportunity to engage on key issues facing our region,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

She did not provide a translation for the uninitiated, but Point of Order took time out to check out what she had said: 

whanaunga

      1. (noun) relative, relation, kin, blood relation.

Mahuta will meet with Fiji’s Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama; attend an event at the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat; participate in a Fijian women leaders’ roundtable; and visit development projects.

She departs on Monday subject to the Fijian Government’s COVID-19 protocols, and will return on 31 March.

During his visit, Peeni Henare met with his Fijian counterpart Minister of Defence, Inia Seruiratu, to, among other things, “secure the Pacific”.

According to RNZ, Henare said New Zealand was concerned about the region’s security, defence capabilities, as well as its post-pandemic economic resilience.

That’s great. But the Point of Order team became uneasy on learning that, on the issue of United States engagement in the Pacific, Henare said it wasn’t clear why the New Zealand government was not part of Pacific talks in Fiji, during the February visit of the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Our Minister of Defence doesn’t know why we weren’t part of those talks?

Did he try to find out?

He proceeded to say he welcomed US military support in the region.

Henare made it clear that NZ defence regional support would focus on maritime surveillance and humanitarian assistance.

So far, so good. But:

He also hinted that the United States was an important ally to have, when issues arose over Chinese interests in the Pacific Region.

Here’s hoping the reporter misinterpreted his remarks and that he did something more than just hint about our relationship with the US.

Fair to say, what followed was clear:

“We always welcome the US engagement in the Pacific because we can’t do it alone but we want to be very clear that it is our priority. They’ve made it clear their position on China,” Henare said.

“I’ve said to them as a defence minister, and as a country, that while we’re mindful of what’s happening in the South China Sea, in order for us to be a key part of security in this region, we must be able to secure the Pacific, we must be able to show with our limited capability that we can be responsible for our own backyard.

“For example, New Zealand only has two frigates, sending them to the South China Sea means that we leave a particular hole in the Pacific.”

“So we need to be quite smart about the way we engage but we welcome the US. I’ve spoken with Secretary Austin, their Defence Secretary on a number of occasions, and he’s committed to the Pacific too and I look forward to that relationship,” he said.

Latest from the Beehive

Government supports flood-affected Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay farmers and growers

Rural Communities Minister Damien O’Connor has classified the storm that caused significant flood damage across the Tairāwhiti district and Hawke’s Bay region a medium-scale adverse event, unlocking

More fulfilling jobs for our Ethnic Communities

Minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities Priyanca Radhakrishnan has today launched a plan to boost employment outcomes for former refugees, recent migrants and ethnic communities.

Foreign Minister to visit Fiji

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta departs for Fiji next week, her first trip to the Pacific since announcing New Zealand’s Pacific Resilience approach last year.

Reserve Bank gets green light to tighten lending rules for housing (hopefully without impeding first-home owners)

The Reserve Bank has been given the government’s go-ahead to tighten mortgage lending rules to try to take some heat out of the housing market.

An updated Memorandum of Understanding between the Minister of Finance and the Reserve Bank will enable it to implement its proposal to reduce the amount of low-deposit bank lending banks for mortgages.

Announcing the updated MOU, Finance Minister Grant Robertson today said the central bank has proposed reducing the amount of lending banks can do above a high Loan-to-Value Ratio (LVR) of 80 per cent.  This lending will be lowered from 20 per cent to 10 per cent of all new loans.

Consultation will start with banks later this month, with a view to introduce this from 1 October, 2021.

The central bank also intends to start consultations in October on implementing Debt to Income (DTI) restrictions and/or interest rate floors. Continue reading “Reserve Bank gets green light to tighten lending rules for housing (hopefully without impeding first-home owners)”

It’s all about reducing inequities -and so Maori wellbeing is a big consideration in research funding and hospital administration

The Government has dished out public money on two fronts in its mission to reduce inequitable outcomes in health statistics.

On one front, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Andrew Little joined a ceremony to bless the site and workers for Phase Two of the redevelopment of the Bay of Islands Hospital in Kawakawa yesterday,

The Government has invested $14 million in a project intended

“… to help the Northland District Health Board address inequitable health outcomes for Māori, by making services easier to access for communities,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“It is unacceptable that the place you live should determine the sort of healthcare get.”

Does this mean the Point of Order team can move to Stewart Island and be assured of the same health services that are being provided for the people of Kawakawa?

Oh, and let’s note that the local district health board in the Far North is being shunted aside for this development.  Continue reading “It’s all about reducing inequities -and so Maori wellbeing is a big consideration in research funding and hospital administration”

Arming the police: Police Minister’s explanation about her stance triggers questions about representation

It has been a quiet week in The Beehive, since the Minister Responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau Andrew Little expressed New Zealand’s condemnation of malicious cyber activity by “Chinese state-sponsored actors”.

Ominously quiet.

What are they hatching now (we wonder) and when will they announce it?

Mind you, when we say it has been a quiet week in The Beehive, we don’t mean Ministers have been quiet.

Speaking as Minister of Police (for example), Poto Williams said she will not be backing down on her strong stance not to support the general arming of police because the Māori and Pacific Island communities she represents do not want it.

We kid you not.

And there we were thinking she was the MP for Christchurch East, a community of many ethnicities.

The graph we found on Parliament’s website suggests Maori and Pacific Islanders comprise a minority in the electorate and the substantial numbers of “European” residents comprise a bigger percentage of the total population (around 70,000 people) than they do nation-wide.

Source: Parliamentary Library using data from Stats NZ

Continue reading “Arming the police: Police Minister’s explanation about her stance triggers questions about representation”

Govt to contribute $600,000 to recovery from weekend storms in South Island – Pacific businesses will be given $2 million

On the home front, the Government has pitched in $600,000 to help the recovery  for people affected by the weekend’s violent weather and welcomed the New Zealand Nurses Organisation’s decision to take the Government’s improved pay offer to members and to lift strike notices.

Internationally, the PM has had a chat with President Biden and chaired an APEC leaders’ meeting on Covid-19 and conference.

And her government is providing $2 million (more than has been committed so far for the relief of weekend weather victims) to help Pacific businesses.

At the weekend we expanded on the PM’s chat with Biden (see HERE).

Now, at Point of Order,  we are braced for this week’s news from the Beehive. Continue reading “Govt to contribute $600,000 to recovery from weekend storms in South Island – Pacific businesses will be given $2 million”

Hate speech law proposals aim to create a safe and inclusive society – but discrimination is unlikely to be discouraged if it is positive

The government has declared its intention to make hate speech a Crimes Act offence and to increase the penalties for inciting hatred or discrimination.

It has announced a public consultation on proposed changes to the Human Rights Act 1993

“… to strengthen protections against speech that incites hatred and discrimination; and seeking New Zealanders’ views about how they would make New Zealand more socially cohesive”.

Writer George Orwell would have relished the language applied by Beehive spin doctors to describing the objective. The government is launching a “social cohesion programme to address incitement of hatred and discrimination”.

We imagine this is not intended to discourage or eliminate discrimination of the sort that bestows favours or privileges when the government promotes an “us” and “them” society through the increasing development of Crown-Maori partnerships.

Treating Maori and non-Maori separately is reflected in a raft of policies, as evidenced  (for example) in the latest announcement on the Infrastructure Acceleration Fund.

Final decisions had yet to be made on how the full Housing Acceleration Fund would be used, Housing Minister Megan Woods said this week, but $350 million has been ring-fenced for a Māori Infrastructure Fund.

So where is a fund that has been ring-fenced for other ethnicities?

The government and its supporters will insist this is “positive” discrimination which makes it an acceptable arrangement – a necessary one, even – under the Treaty of Waitangi, although it seems to be at odds with today’s announcement of a significant programme of work to create a safer, more inclusive society. Continue reading “Hate speech law proposals aim to create a safe and inclusive society – but discrimination is unlikely to be discouraged if it is positive”

Police budget was trimmed but $70m will be invested in scheme to let some offenders be dealt with by iwi panels

The Nats made political hay from the government’s treatment of the Police in this year’s budget.  The Police Budget was trimmed by around $90 million

“ … despite record growth in gang membership,” National’s Police spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

The government – inevitably – defended its numbers, saying some funds are still under negotiation, and the police are still better off than they were under National.

Today Police Minister Poto Williams made a fresh Budget announcement of new spending of $70 million in new operating funding.

It’s for Te Pae Oranga Iwi Community Panels, to provide more panels and ensure they are available to people across New Zealand.

This time the ACT’s Justice spokesperson Nicole McKee has rejoined that the Government will spend $70 million to go even softer on crime.

Te Pae Oranga Iwi Community Panels give police an option for dealing with people with underlying issues who need help to get their lives back on track. This includes helping them overcome problems like addiction, abuse, financial stress and difficulties getting employment or education. Continue reading “Police budget was trimmed but $70m will be invested in scheme to let some offenders be dealt with by iwi panels”