Buzz from the Beehive – but is a $10.2m investment in a forestry management programme not worth shouting about?

It looks looks like visitors to the Beehive website are  being short-changed today. Point of Order is aware of at least one ministerial announcement that has yet to be posted.

It deals with a government investment ($10.2 million from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund) in  something called Precision Silviculture, a $25.5 million, seven-year programme led by Forest Growers Research Limited.

This is being hailed as an innovative high-tech approach to forestry management that is part of the Government’s wider plan to provide economic security to workers and businesses, with higher skilled and high-wage jobs that support a low-emissions economy.

While this news had not been posted when Point of Order checked this afternoon we did learn that $10 million is being spent on removing all remaining coal boilers in New Zealand schools, to be replaced with renewable woody biomass or electric heating.

We presume, therefore that coal-powered heating will be ruled out in planning for two new schools on the Bay of Plenty’s Ōmokoroa Peninsula.

And public feedback is being sought on proposed changes to improve management planning and concession processes in conservation legislation.

The Treaty of Waitangi, treaty principles and the importance of tangata whenua get plenty of mentions in the discussion paper (www.doc.govt.nz/cmap-2022-consultation for more information on it). Submissions close on June 30.

Latest from the Beehive

6 MAY 2022

Buses take to the road on Northern Busway

Northshore commuters now have access to congestion free travel to and from the city, as far north as Albany, thanks to the completion of the latest Northern Busway extension which was opened today by the Minister of Transport, Michael Wood.

All coal boilers to be removed from schools

Thanks to a $10 million dollar investment, all remaining coal boilers in New Zealand schools will be replaced with renewable woody biomass or electric heating sources by 2025 reducing carbon emissions by around 35,400 tonnes over 10 years.

5 MAY 2022

Proposals aimed at user-friendly, up-to-date conservation processes

Public feedback is being sought on proposed changes to improve management planning and concession processes in conservation legislation.

Next steps for two new schools for Ōmokoroa

Planning for two new schools on the Bay of Plenty’s Ōmokoroa Peninsula is underway as part of the Government’s comprehensive plan to support growth in the fast-growing Otumoetai catchment.

ACT beats the Greens to support exclusion of radiata pine from ETS subsidies – but it wants the govt to go further

The first expressions of support for a shift in government thinking about carbon farming, radiata pine and the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) came not from the Greens but from ACT.

From 2023, under current rules, a new permanent forest category of the ETS would allow both exotic and indigenous forests to be registered in the scheme and earn New Zealand Units (NZU).

The government is now proposing to exclude exotic species – such as pinus radiata – from the permanent forest category.

Forestry Minister Stuart Nash and Climate Change Minister James Shaw today released a public discussion document that seeks feedback on ideas for better forest management.

Another government press release today announces the handout of government funding for 27 arts, culture and heritage projects across the Taranaki, Bay of Plenty and Manawatū regions.

The amount being given was not specified, but Arts Minister Carmel Sepuloni did say the $374 million COVID recovery package for the sector and the $120 million support announced recently in response to Omicron “underlines the social, economic and cultural value of the sector”.

In the only other press release, Finance Minister Grant Robertson yet again announced that the Crown’s accounts continue to reflect the resilience of the economy and the Government’s balanced financial management and puts the country in a strong position to respond to Omicron.

He was cheered by the Crown Accounts for the seven months to the end of January.

But the most significant news of the day from the Beehive was that a new proposal to better manage carbon farming could result in future permanent plantings of exotic forests like radiata pine being excluded from the Emissions Trading Scheme. Continue reading “ACT beats the Greens to support exclusion of radiata pine from ETS subsidies – but it wants the govt to go further”

Team NZ’s rejection of public funding offer means around $100m won’t be sunk into America’s Cup defence

It’s full steam ahead for the economy, according to the latest GDP statistics and a  Finance Minister who eagerly drew attention to the new data.

Our farm industries, generally, are doing nicely, too, thank you, in spite of head winds which include a growing raft of government regulations.

But prospects of the America’s Cup being defended in this country are in the doldrums.  That’s bad news for yachting buffs (but great news for taxpayers).

GDP increased 1.6% in the first three months of 2021, much better than the Treasury forecast of a modest decline of 0.2% in May’s Budget or (with the benefit of more recent data) economic commentators’ forecast of an increase less than 1%.

Internationally, the OECD average was 0.3%.

The economy was 2.4% above where it was in the March quarter last year.

A measure of the strength of the food and fibres sector – or rather, a measure of the government’s confidence in the sector – can be discerned from two reports released at Fieldays in Mystery Creek. Continue reading “Team NZ’s rejection of public funding offer means around $100m won’t be sunk into America’s Cup defence”

You are wrong, if you thought the One Billion Trees trough had been emptied – but a renamed agency will dish up the remnants

One of the latest Beehive announcements augurs changes in the tree-planting, tree-growing and tree-harvesting business, another will help you change information recorded on your birth certificate and (it is reasonable to suppose) on your family tree.   

The first involves the forestry sector.  Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) will be renamed Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service and shift its operational headquarters from Wellington to Rotorua. 

The second involves public records.  The government is increasing support for New Zealanders wanting to change their sex marker on their birth certificates.

The statement on the forest service, from Forestry Minister Stuart Nash, served the useful purpose of reminding us about the One Billion Trees programme.  We hadn’t heard much about this, and the goal to have one billion more trees planted by 2028, since New Zealand First’s Shane Jones – remember when he was Minister of Regional Economic Development and of Forestry? – was given the heave-ho by the electorate last year.

Nash noted that in the past three years forestry policies prioritised regional economic development, by supporting extensive tree planting and job creation. Continue reading “You are wrong, if you thought the One Billion Trees trough had been emptied – but a renamed agency will dish up the remnants”

Strong dairy receipts help lift the primary sector’s export growth – and its boost to the economy

The Covid-19  pandemic has  put  enormous  pressure  on  the country’s  primary  sector,  yet it  has  managed to  expand  export  receipts  by  $1.7bn  over  the previous year.

The  government,  or  at   least  several ministers  in it, are  celebrating  the  effort  of  the  primary sector  in  doing so,  and   recognise  the  sector  is a  key  driver  in rebooting  the  economy.

Yet  the  government,  with   its climate  change  measures  hitting    agriculture’s methane  emissions  and  its freshwater  reforms, has  done   little to  encourage  farmers to  expand  production.

When  Agriculture  Minister  Damien O’Connor says the government is focused on creating more demand, pursuing greater market opportunities to generate higher export returns and growing rural communities with new jobs,   the  response  down on the farm may be   no more than a  one-handed  clap.

Farmers  are  more  likely  to  be   grumbling  over the   government’s failure   to  drive down the  exchange rate.  Or  to do  more to build irrigation  schemes. Continue reading “Strong dairy receipts help lift the primary sector’s export growth – and its boost to the economy”

A new trough provides succour only for groups supporting women; another (by worsening an imbalance!) tackles the race mix in forestry

The government has filled a brand-new trough for redistributing our money to people it regards as worthy.

Worthiness – of course – increasingly is being defined by Beehive social engineers by gender and race when it comes to sorting out beneficiaries.

The new trough and its $1 million swill (but not for boars) were announced during the holiday weekend along with an invitation to oinkers to get their snouts into an existing trough.

Oh – and you can forget about slurping into this second trough, too, unless you are a woman or a Maori.  Shane Jones is bothered that Māori make up “only” 22 per cent of the forestry workforce and the Government has given him a big bucket of money to go and lift their numbers.

A third announcement was that the Government will invest $10 million from the One Billion Trees Fund for large-scale planting “to provide jobs in communities and improve the environment.”

Access to the brand-new trough has been designed to ensure boars get neither a look-in, nor a lick-in.

The announcements proclaimed:  organisations that support women are invited to apply to a new $1,000,000 fund as part of the Government’s COVID-19 response.

“We know women, and organisations that support women, have been affected by COVID-19,” said Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter.

It’s hard to  quarrel with this because – unless we have missed something – everyone has been affected by Covid-19.

“This new money will ensure funding for groups that support women and women’s rights,” said Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter.

“Issues related to gender equality can take a backseat during emergencies and crises, and this results in worse outcomes for women and girls. Greater loss of income, increased instances of domestic violence, and increased caring responsibilities all impact on women.

“Many NGOs that support women have reduced income and volunteer numbers due to the impacts of COVID-19, and at the same time, they have many more people needing their support and/or services.”

Can the Green Party’s Genter make this package any more discriminatory (“positive discrimination”, we hear her bleat).  Of course she can.

“I particularly want to encourage groups that work with wāhine Māori to apply.”

Organisations will be able to apply for funding to support the government priorities of healthy and safe communities, reducing family and sexual violence, and improving child wellbeing.

“This funding supports NGOs and women’s organisations to be sustainable and make the difference we need in communities to empower women and girls in Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Julie Anne Genter.

Applications will be available for the fund from the Ministry for Women from now and will close on Monday 15 June.

More information on the fund can be found at https://women.govt.nz/news/covid-19-and-women/covid-19-community-fund

The other big weekend announcement which favours women and Maori (not necessarily in that order) came from Forestry Minister Shane Jones.

He declared that applications have opened for 2021 Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarships, which will support more Māori and women to pursue careers in forestry science.

His bizarre reasoning:

According to the recently released Forestry and Wood Processing Workforce Action Plan, Māori make up only 22 per cent of the forestry workforce …

Only 22 per cent?

Is Jones aiming for a 50:50 ratio to reflect the treaty “partnership” that strongly influences policy nowadays?

Let’s not overlook Maori accounting for “only” 16 per cent of the population  (although we could spend a great deal of time arguing about the criteria applied by Stats NZ to determine this percentage).

There is a labour market issue – Maori comprise just 12.6% of the total workforce.  But Maori participation in the forestry workforce palpably is not an issue in percentage terms.

The same action plan which is guiding Jones reveals that only 17 per cent of the forestry workforce is female.

This raises different questions. We must wonder if the percentage of women in forestry science isn’t much higher than 17 per cent, and that the overall industry percentage results from just a few women venturing out with forestry gangs to topple trees with chain saws.

Conversely, there may be few Maori in forestry science.

Whether the imbalance is imagined or otherwise,  Jones is sure the Forestry Scholarships will help address it.

 “Whether these graduates become forestry scientists, forest engineers or pursue the range of other careers in forestry, the scholarships are making the sector more diverse.”

Eight scholarship recipients will receive $8000 a year for four years to help with tuition and living costs while studying forestry science degrees at the University of Canterbury – either a Bachelor of Forestry Science or Bachelor of Engineering with Honours, majoring in Forestry Engineering. Scholars will also gain experience through paid annual summer internships in the forestry sector.

More information can be found on Te Uru Rākau’s website

 Jones popped up again yesterday to join Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor in announcing the Government will invest $10 million from the One Billion Trees Fund for large-scale planting to provide jobs in communities and improve the environment.

New, more flexible funding criteria for applications will help up to 10 catchment groups plant landscapes at a whole of catchment scale, enabling them to achieve the greatest environmental outcomes.

The funding changes are designed to increase planting and improve waterways.

Catchment groups will also be able to apply for funding for associated costs such as land preparation, labour and pest control.

The revised funding criteria have been expanded to include suitable plants such as grasses and shrubs, and planting of areas of less than 1ha, to support planting along waterways and in wetlands.

The funding is in addition to the sum up to $100m from the Provincial Growth Fund which Jones announced recently for waterway fencing, riparian planting and stock water reticulation.

Alongside this work, the Ministry for Primary Industries is working with a wide range of catchment groups around New Zealand to support their work to lift freshwater quality and farming practice, Damien O’Connor said.

“We have a goal to reach up to 2200 farmers over the next three years.

“Catchment groups provide wonderful opportunities for famers to support and learn from each other. They also provide an avenue for collaborative, grass-roots action to resolve local issues, including improving sustainability and improving water quality.

MPI’s extension work is funded through the $229m Productive and Sustainable Land Use package announced in Budget 2019, which includes more than $35m for on-the-ground support via extension services.

This package has supported a group of 1000 Southland farmers and growers through funding the Thriving Southland project and 300 King Country farmers through funding to King Country River Care.

More are in the pipeline.  Watch this space.

 Latest from the Beehive

Release

1 JUNE 2020

Applications open for forestry scholarships

Applications have opened for 2021 Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarships, which will support more Māori and women to pursue careers in forestry science, says Forestry Minister Shane Jon

Hon Shane Jones

Forestry

Release

31 MAY 2020

Wetlands and waterways gain from 1BT funding

The Government will invest $10 million from the One Billion Trees Fund for large-scale planting to provide jobs in communities and improve the environment, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor

Hon Damien O’Connor Hon Shane Jones

Agriculture

Forestry

Release

31 MAY 2020

New fund for women now open

Organisations that support women are invited to apply to a new $1,000,000 fund as part of the Government’s COVID-19 response.

Hon Julie Anne Genter

Women

 

Marae at Parihaka Pa to get better broadband while engineering projects are pampered down south

Fresh from sprinkling fairy dust in Taranaki – or rather, redistributing taxpayers’ hard-earned money – Shane Jones headed south and announced a plethora of handouts and investments in Otago.

The three marae in the historic Parihaka Pa complex in Taranaki were the beneficiaries of the first of the latest handouts from the Provincial Growth Fund.  They have been upgraded to high speed broadband with PGF support *.

It has taken a while, but this much-denounced colonisation thing at last is showing glimpses of having a positive side.

Down south, Jones pumped a much bigger sum – almost $20 million – into re-establishing KiwiRail’s Hillside workshop and  almost $8 million into a raft of engineering projects.

Oh, and with a billion trees in mind presumably, $63,000 will be spent on supporting eight 17 and 18 year olds to enter careers in forestry.

And then there’s a $10 million spend “to establish Otago as the centre of New Zealand’s creative digital industry over the next ten years … ”  ** 

But what does this intervention by central government do for the aspirations of other regions which might hope to become the centre of the country’s creative digital industry?

The announcements were all registered by the Point of Order Trough Monitor, which reports: Continue reading “Marae at Parihaka Pa to get better broadband while engineering projects are pampered down south”

Before foreigners pass the buck, new investment law will require a quality check

The bill stopping foreigners from buying houses in NZ has emerged from select  committee study with   significant   amendments.  Associate  Finance  Minister  David Parker   says the  new law will ensure the  market  for homes  is a  “NZ  market  not  an international  one”.  He  contends  Kiwis  should not be outbid by  “wealthier  foreign buyers”.

But the same bill now includes a move to encourage  “foreign direct  investment”  in forestry.   Forestry Minister Shane Jones says the legislation –  by bringing forestry rights into the overseas investment regime – will help promote high-quality foreign investment  which puts more emphasis on genuine benefits for New Zealanders.

So – foreign money  for  NZ homes  is  dirty but  foreign money for  NZ  trees is clean? Continue reading “Before foreigners pass the buck, new investment law will require a quality check”