Tributes are paid after the death of Queen Elizabeth by Catholic bishops, a Republican, and by NZ’s political party leaders (but not yet by all of them)

Buzz from the Beehive

The death of Queen Elizabeth II and the flow of tributes from party leaders inevitably has dominated the political news this morning.

The critical constitutional consequence of the Queen’s death at the age of 96 is that New Zealand has a new head of state, King Charles III.

This was noted by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, in a statement headed  PM mourns death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The statement concluded:

The new King becomes New Zealand’s new Head of State immediately on the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

New Zealand’s representation at Her Majesty’s funeral service will be confirmed “shortly”.

Flags will fly at half-mast.

Further information about mourning observances will be available on the Governor-General’s website, at www.gg.govt.nz.

The Prime Minister expressed New Zealanders’ deep sadness at the Queen’s passing, describing Her Majesty as a monarch with an unwavering sense of duty. Continue reading “Tributes are paid after the death of Queen Elizabeth by Catholic bishops, a Republican, and by NZ’s political party leaders (but not yet by all of them)”

The case for introducing the Jargon-noughts – a police force to reduce public service jargon and pap to zero

Buzz from the Beehive

Kiwiblog has drawn attention to a bit of legislation proceeding through Parliament which the blog headlines as The stupidest bill this year.

We didn’t learn about this private bill from the Beehive website because it is the work of Labour backbencher Rachel Boyack, who says professionals working in public services and Crown agencies often struggle to write in plain language.

This (Boyack says) acts as a barrier for many – including migrants, the disabled and those with English as a second language – from understanding what society is asking of them.

Her plain language bill, which passed its second reading in the House on Thursday, aims to make all public sector agencies use clear, concise language when communicating with the public.

It would require every public service and Crown agency to ensure they communicate in plain language and have a designated plain language officer.

Kiwiblog references a Stuff report which says:

This sweeping move would impact hundreds of workplaces. Continue reading “The case for introducing the Jargon-noughts – a police force to reduce public service jargon and pap to zero”

NZ deploys troops to the UK and despatches Mahuta to the Pacific (but non-Maori speakers may be puzzled about her intentions)

Buzz from the Beehive

Comings and goings were the common factor in the latest Beehive announcements.

Immigration Minister Michael Wood handled the “inward” movements by regurgitating migrant statistics he presumably wanted to crow about.

The “outward” movements are recorded in three statements – a further deployment of 120 New Zealand Defence Force personnel to the United Kingdom to help train Ukraine soldiers, the naming of a new High Commissioner to Kiribati, and a visit by Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta to Niue and Tonga this week.

Mahuta says her travels are “to engage kanohi ki te kanohi with counterparts”.

We imagine this is a legal form of behaviour among consenting adults and look forward to the television coverage. Continue reading “NZ deploys troops to the UK and despatches Mahuta to the Pacific (but non-Maori speakers may be puzzled about her intentions)”

Mahuta addresses Diplosphere: ours is a liberal democracy, she says, and other nations can learn from our experience

Buzz from the Beehive

Measures to raise eligibility thresholds to help more than 90,000 New Zealanders that currently are denied access to legal aid were announced today

Changes to the Legal Services Regulations 2011 and the Legal Services Act 2011 will give  effect to $148.7 million of funding in Budget 2022.

The changes are:

  • increasing the income eligibility thresholds by 15% from 1 January 2023, making 93,000 more people eligible for civil and family legal aid in the first year,
  • removing the legal aid user charge, payable by most civil and family legal aid recipients,
  • removing interest on repayment of unpaid legal debt,
  • increasing the debt repayment thresholds by 16.5% for debt established from 1 January 2023, relieving financial pressures for around 16,000 low-income and vulnerable New Zealanders, and
  • increasing the civil and family legal aid eligibility thresholds and debt repayment thresholds by an additional 1.9% per year with the last increase on 1 July 2025.

Just one other new item was posted on the Beehive website when we checked this morning, this one a speech – the second in four days – by Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta.

This time she used a word – “democracy” – that had been missing from the speech on space policy which she delivered on July 1. Continue reading “Mahuta addresses Diplosphere: ours is a liberal democracy, she says, and other nations can learn from our experience”

PM condemns disinformation and upholds democracy in speech in Madrid – now let’s see what happens back in NZ

Buzz from the Beehive

Legislation to tighten things, legislation to relax things and a speech which reminds us of threats to our democracy – from the PM, we are delighted to note – feature in the latest posts on the Beehive website.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark has had a busy day, announcing two lots of legislation.

  • Legislation that bans major supermarkets from blocking their competitors’ access to land to set up new stores, to pave the way for greater competition in the sector, is the first in a suite of measures after a Commerce Commission investigation found competition in the retail grocery sector is not working.  The Commerce (Grocery Sector Covenants) Amendment Bill amends the Commerce Act 1986, banning restrictive covenants on land, and exclusive covenants on leases. It also makes existing covenants unenforceable and enhances the Commission’s information-gathering powers.
  • The Financial Markets (Conduct of Institutions) Amendment Bill, which has passed its third reading, will establish a new financial conduct scheme that ensures financial institutions put customers before profits.  This follows reviews by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and Financial Markets Authority which found banks and insurers in New Zealand lack focus on good customer outcomes, and have insufficient systems and controls to identify, manage and remedy conduct issues. The FMA will work with financial institutions to ensure they are prepared for the new regime, and licensing applications are expected to open in mid-2023. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will develop supporting regulations. The regime is expected to come fully into force in early 2025.

Continue reading “PM condemns disinformation and upholds democracy in speech in Madrid – now let’s see what happens back in NZ”

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 – the PM is busy in Singapore and Mahuta is diverted (for a bit) from Three Waters

MINISTERS burst back into action yesterday after the four-day Easter break.

Mind you, the PM accounted for much of the action recorded on the Beehive website with four press statements and a copy of her speech notes after she arrived in Singapore.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta was busy too, announcing a fresh batch of sanctions against Russian banks and financial institutions and naming the new high commissioner to Tonga. This will have diverted her – at least for a while – from her Three Waters programme.

Latest from the Beehive

19 APRIL 2022

Kūwaha unveiled at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay by Prime Minister

A carving celebrating the long-standing friendship between Aotearoa New Zealand and Singapore was today unveiled by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay.

Speech

Opening remarks at joint press conference with Prime Minister Lee

Prime Minister Lee – thank you for the very warm welcome to Singapore.

NZ, Singapore Prime Ministers meet in Singapore

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong discussed global and regional challenges and opportunities, their countries’ responses to COVID-19 and the next steps to enhancing the bilateral relationship when they met in Singapore today.

Russian banks targeted under latest round of sanctions

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has announced new sanctions against Russia’s largest banks and financial institutions, as part of the Government’s ongoing response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Joint Statement by the Prime Ministers of New Zealand and Singapore

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hosted Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern on an Official Visit to Singapore on 19 April 2022.

50 projects fast-tracked under Govt scheme

The Government has approved three more projects under the fast-track consenting process, bringing the number of projects that are eligible to apply for resource consents to 50.

NZ to expand Working Holiday Scheme with Singapore

New Zealand is relaunching and expanding its Working Holiday Scheme with Singapore and will welcome applications from May 5, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

New High Commissioner to Tonga announced

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta today announced the appointment of Matt Howell as new High Commissioner to Tonga.

New Chair to lead Oranga Tamariki Ministerial Advisory Board

Respected Māori leader Tā Mark Solomon has been appointed Chair of the Oranga Tamariki Ministerial Advisory Board, Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis has announced.

Buzz from the Beehive: nine NZ personnel head for Europe while peace-keeping deployment in Solomons is extended

The PM has been focussed on the horrors of the war in Ukraine and on offering Kiwi help while her Foreign Affairs Minister – doubtless with a wary eye on China – has been fixed on helping maintain peace and stability in the Solomon Islands.

Two of their colleagues, meanwhile, were fascinated by the glitz of Hollywood and the pizzaz of the Academy Awards presentation (although this was not without a moment of violence).

On the home front, other members of the Ardern team variously were announcing –

  • The introduction of the Fair Pay Agreements Bill to Parliament.  These agreements are intended to improve wages and conditions for employees, encourage businesses to invest in training, “and level the playing field so that employers who are trying hard to offer fair terms don’t get undercut and disadvantaged”. This means the government aims to reduce a company’s ability to compete.
  • Awards of funding (described as a $3.6 million investment) to 16 national and regional organisations to increase opportunities for young people with disabilities in sport and recreation. Moreover, Sport and Recreation minister Grant Robertson has dipped into “my Ministerial Discretionary Fund” to support Special Olympics with a $44,000 grant.
  • The closure of depleted scallop fisheries in Northland and most of the Coromandel to allow them to recover.

What might have sounded like a bold decision to provide further military support to Ukraine as it defends itself against Russian invaders actually entails the dispatch of nine Defence Force staff to other countries in Europe. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: nine NZ personnel head for Europe while peace-keeping deployment in Solomons is extended”

Govt data tells us the size of bigger Crown debt but Sepuloni is silent about how welfare spending might further lift it

A familiar refrain was warbled among the latest posts on The Beehive website this morning.  It was posted in the name of Finance Minister Grant Robertson, who said the resilience of the economy continues to be reflected in the Government’s financial accounts and puts the country in a strong position to respond to the ongoing pandemic.

But at Point of Order, we have become conditioned to expect Robertson will chirrup about the economy’s resilience each time the financial statements are published, which is regularly.

We were looking out for news of big or dubious spending by a government which (according to the Crown accounts) has lifted the net core Crown debt to 36.8 per cent of GDP.

We are unable to tell if we found such news in a social welfare spending announcement under the heading Government Provides Stability for Whānau Self Isolating. 

The statement said the Government is providing additional support for people and families who must self-isolate, helping them to access the services they need as Omicron cases start to ramp up and more New Zealanders are affected by the virus. Continue reading “Govt data tells us the size of bigger Crown debt but Sepuloni is silent about how welfare spending might further lift it”

Had the money dried up for drought forecasting after runanga were given millions for conservation work?

Two announcements from the office of Kiripatu Allan give us a good idea of the government’s spending priorities.

Our understanding of those priorities is enhanced when we compare Allan’s announcements with the government’s investment in a project aimed to developing a new drought  forecasting tool.

“Improved forecasting will alleviate some of the financial and mental burden that drought puts on farmers and growers. It will also make our primary industries more resilient, productive and sustainable,” Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said of this development.

As Minister for Emergency Management, Kiri Allan says the government will contribute towards a Mayoral Relief Fund to support those most affected by the fires in Waiharara in the Far North.

A few days later, as Minister for Conservation, she announced a boost in funding for six Jobs for Nature initiatives across Canterbury.  These range from establishing coastline trapping in Kaikōura, to setting up a native plant nursery, restoration planting at Lyttelton harbour, and increasing pest control across Banks Peninsula and Christchurch.

The contribution to the wellbeing of the people affected by the Far North fire amounted to $200,000.

The investment in improved drought forecasting is $200,000.

The investments in conservation projects amount to “over $12.64 million”. Continue reading “Had the money dried up for drought forecasting after runanga were given millions for conservation work?”