Buzz from the Beehive – it’s all about the Budget and billions being disbursed to buck us up in the wellbeing department

No, we haven’t fully analysed Budget 2022, but we did listen to Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s speech.

He took great pride in announcing his fifth Budget invests $5.9 billion a year in net new operating spending, while introducing multi-year funding packages that also draw from Budget 2023 and Budget 2024 operating allowances.

The government is investing $2.9 billion from the Climate Emergency Response Fund to meet its Emissions Reduction Plan and lay the foundations for the long-term transition to a low-emissions, high-wage economy.

And it is supporting New Zealanders “to meet the rising cost of living caused by global inflation pressures” through a targeted package of support focusing on low- and middle-income New Zealanders, including a short-term Cost of Living Payment for around 2.1 million people.

Interesting language.  He talks of problems caused by “global” inflation pressures.

Perhaps we missed the money he is providing to help us meet the rising cost of living caused by domestic inflation pressures. Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive – it’s all about the Budget and billions being disbursed to buck us up in the wellbeing department”

Labour is giving opposition politicians plenty of issues to exploit as it is stalled by ‘an end-of-year fug’

If  it’s  true  that Labour’s great run is  now  ending,  Opposition parties  should  be vibrating  with  new-found  confidence.

This  may be the   case   with  ACT,  but  so far  there has  been  little sign of  it in National.  In fact   judging  by  the  volume of  speculation  about  National’s leadership  among  the  political  cognoscenti  in  the  weekend  media, the  inner  circle of  the party is stressed  out over  its  leadership.

A  party on top of  its  game certainly would  be  scoring  some   big  hits. On the  other  hand  it  may  be  argued that  the  preoccupation with  Covid has stifled interest  in other political  issues.

Still, as  economic uncertainty  deepens, and  managing the  Covid  Delta  variant  exposes the  government’s vulnerability, the   country  is  looking   again for  something  different,  if only  to  measure  accurately how  the government is  performing.

Beyond  the  leadership issue, the  problem   for  National   is  that it  does  not speak  to  all  elements  of  its  base. It  appears  singularly  out of  tune with  the  regions  and particularly   with  farmers, who are  facing  vocal  lobby groups campaigning  against  what they call  “dirty  dairying”—  never  mind  it is dairy export earnings  that  are sustaining the country’s  balance of payments. Continue reading “Labour is giving opposition politicians plenty of issues to exploit as it is stalled by ‘an end-of-year fug’”

Treasury throws light on the Govt’s balancing trick while Jones tries to tip the scales in his favour

Latest from the Beehive

While Shane Jones, Minister of Munificence, was splashing more millions into his Northland home patch, Finance Minister Grant Robertson was preparing to release Budget documents which (he tells us)  highlight the Government’s strong focus on keeping the balance between responding to COVID-19 and careful economic management.

The documents account for  Budget 2020 and COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund decisions and COVID Fund decisions agreed at Cabinet on 6 July.

Most of the numbers in the Beehive press statement are in millions of dollars but a smaller one without any monetary value invited our curiosity.

Robertson observed:

“We have invested significant resources into supporting New Zealand businesses and workers, and cushioning the blow of this 1-in-100 year economic shock.”

Where (we wonder) does one in 100 come from?

Fair to say, one in 100 is far below the level of electoral support showing for Jones, according to the only polling we are aware of in Northland. Continue reading “Treasury throws light on the Govt’s balancing trick while Jones tries to tip the scales in his favour”

One new trough to hasten housing development and another to equip houses (but only some) with renewable energy

Latest from the Beehive – We had just finished digesting an outpouring of announcements from the Beehive over the previous 24 hours or so when the Point of Order Trough Monitor shrieked an alert.  A new trough had been established.

While we were inspecting the contents of this new trough, another warning was sounded and yes, another trough had been announced.

One of the new troughs is providing $28 million over four years to enable the installation of renewable technology, such as solar panels and batteries, on public and Māori housing.

This financial year $4 million of funding will be available, ramping up to $10 million in the 2023/2024 financial year.

But a question is raised about eligibility:  does “public and Maori housing” mean that privately owned non-Maori housing won’t get a look-in?

If you miss out on one trough, of course, you can always try lining up at another. Continue reading “One new trough to hasten housing development and another to equip houses (but only some) with renewable energy”

The Govt’s books won’t be affected (at least, not directly) by a new ambassadorial job to promote reading

Latest from the Beehive

The public debt is among the victims of the Covid-19 epidemic. According to the 2020 Budget Economic and Fiscal Update, in the current year and the next two fiscal years, operating deficits (operating balance before gains and losses) average around $28 billion while net core Crown debt is expected to increase on average by around $35 billion a year. Net core Crown debt is expected to reach 53.6% of GDP by the end of the forecast period, in June 2024.

The government – accordingly – is being very careful about its spending.  Isn’t it?

Sure it is,  and at first blush neither taxpayers nor lenders will have to pay for an initiative announced today by the PM and Tracey Martin, Minister for Internal Affairs and for Children.

At Point of Order, we were more than a tad surprised by this  announcement, although – to be fair – it did involve employment opportunities.

One part-time job opportunity, to be more specific.  A new job, New Zealand Reading Ambassador for children and young people, is being established.

We must confess we had not been among those who had been pressing for this vital post to be established.  Come to think of it, we weren’t aware anyone else had been pressing for it. Continue reading “The Govt’s books won’t be affected (at least, not directly) by a new ambassadorial job to promote reading”

The PGF trough managers (we learn) have their own events centre – and some lucky people were invited to watch Winston in action

Take a note of this email address, dear reader. The right approach to Events <PGFEvents@mbie.govt.nz> could result in your being invited to an occasion where Winston Peters, Shane Jones, Fletcher Tabuteau or one of their esteemed and oh-so-generous colleagues announces another handout from the Provincial Growth Fund.

Who knew it? The PGF management bunch have their own Events Centre for organising this sort of thing.

Our attention- and that of the Point of Order Trough Monitor – was drawn to it by a reader who (presumably) had been invited to join the Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters

“ … at an event where Investment announcements will be made for the [Bay of Plenty} region”.

The recipient was asked to please arrive at the Opotiki Golf Club at 11am for a prompt 11.20am start.

Peters did not disappoint.  He came to town with a $26 million investment in Ōpōtiki to upgrade important public amenities and fund further progress on new aquaculture opportunities. Continue reading “The PGF trough managers (we learn) have their own events centre – and some lucky people were invited to watch Winston in action”

Jones (carrying our money) has gone south to enthuse about a rail investment and to seed more tree planting

Moneybags Minister Shane Jones has gone south to dish out more money for tree planting in Canterbury after visiting Greymouth to give an accounting of the goodies being generated by money invested on the West Coast. Southlanders will be blessed with the Munificent Marvel’s presence tomorrow.

West Coasters might have been disappointed that he essentially did no more than bandy numbers to justify the wisdom of a Provincial Growth Fund investment in TransAlpine, announced last November.

You could say he has been counting their blessings and visited Greymouth to let the locals know the good news.

But hey – it’s just over a fortnight since he visited the West Coast as Minister of Forestry to announce more than 70,000 native trees are to be planted over the next three years to help restore the Waimea Inlet.

More than $1 million was committed to the project, the money coming from the $240m grants and partnership fund as part of the Government’s One Billion Trees programme.

Jones was wearing his Forestry hat when he travelled to Canterbury (did he go by train?) to provide support for  native planting and restoration projects from the One Billion Trees Fund.

Here’s what we learn from the Point of Order Trough MonitorContinue reading “Jones (carrying our money) has gone south to enthuse about a rail investment and to seed more tree planting”

PM announces a wellbeing fund for Rainbow people while greenies splash into an established fund

The Point of Order Trough Monitor has drawn attention to the creation of a brand-new fund.  How rich will be the swill is still under consideration, it seems.

In the opening sentence of the announcement, the PM says improving the mental health and wellbeing of young members of the rainbow community is at the heart of the establishment of the Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund.

Further down, she says the government is “proposing” to establish a charitable trust with a one-off endowment of $1 million.

It is unclear from this whether the matter proposed is the establishment of the trust or the size of the endowment.

The monitor was triggered again when Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage announced a handout from the Community Environment Fund, set up “to empower New Zealanders to make a positive difference to the environment”. Continue reading “PM announces a wellbeing fund for Rainbow people while greenies splash into an established fund”

Govt announces more race-targeted budget spending and the further merging of Maori beliefs with science

More post-Budget funding announcements have been trumpeted from the Beehive in the past two days.

Maori beneficiaries are specified in two of the announcements.  We may reasonably suppose Maori have not been excluded from the services to be provided under the third announcement.

Oh, and the government has signalled  the further blending of Maori cultural values and spiritual beliefs in its freshwater policies.   More detail of how those beliefs will be integrated with science will emerge – it seems – in a few weeks.

Environment Minister David Parker said the Government plans to release a new freshwater National Policy Statement and a new National Environmental Standards for consultation in August.

“At the heart of our work on fresh water sits Te Mana o Te Wai – the mana of the water – which is a concept that encompasses the integrated and holistic health and well-being of a water body which can sustain the full range of environmental, social, cultural and economic values held by iwi/hapū and the community.”  

Te Mana o Te Wai provides the values, principles and practices required to maintain healthy freshwater, while the Ministry’s Te Mana o Te Wai fund helps local iwi realise their aspirations for freshwater, Parker explained.

With World Environment Day’s focus on air quality, he noted that  air quality is not the biggest environmental issue New Zealand faces but the Environment Ministry is reviewing the National Environmental Standard that sets limits on air pollution.

The latest announcements were:

New funding to improve water quality

Environment Minister David Parker announced Government funding  to help iwi in Whanganui, Gisborne and Omapere improve the health of their local waterways.

The $750,000 in total funding comes from the Ministry for the Environment’s Te Mana o Te Wai Fund, which is used to support the aspirations of local tangata whenua. It will be used to support three projects.

The announcement coincides with the United Nation’s World Environment Day.

The Whanganui-based Te kinakitanga o Ngati Tuera rāua ko Ngati Hinero will use its $250,000 to repair the health and wellbeing of the Whanganui awa, by improving water quality in the catchment, protecting and restoring habitat and ensuring biodiversity and ecosystems are sustainable for current and future generations.

In Northland Te Mana o Roto Omapere Me Ona Awa is developing a strategy to restore Lake Omapere. This will include engagement with those who have an interest in the lake and the development of a monitoring programme to measure lake health.

In Gisborne, Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou Trust will work with council to develop a Joint Management Agreement. The agreement will establish the decision-making processes and planning processes to recognise Ngāti Porou hapū rights and interests in freshwater management.

Parker said that the Government plans to release a new freshwater National Policy Statement and a new National Environmental Standards for consultation in August.

The purpose of the Te Mana o Te Wai Fund “is to help Māori play an active role in improving the water quality of freshwater bodies (including lakes, rivers, streams, estuaries and lagoons) that are of importance to them in their rohe”. 

Minister congratulates Auckland communities for housing initiatives

Māori Development and Associate Housing Minister Nanaia Mahuta congratulated two community organisations, Te Whanau o Waipareira and Te Hononga o Tamaki me Hoturoa, for their commitment to improving housing in the Auckland region.

The government invested $1.98m with Waipareira to enable the completion of 49 urgent housing repairs and 20 DIY workshops, she said.  It also invested $520,000 with Te Hononga to complete 23 urgent housing repairs and 15 DIY workshops.

And there’s lots more money where that came from:

“In last week’s Budget we announced an additional $40 million towards Māori housing over the next four year. This will ensure more whānau will access healthy, affordable, secure homes.”

Better mental health and addiction support facilities for Tairāwhiti

Health Minister Dr David Clark has confirmed funding for a new in-patient mental health and addiction unit at Hauora Tairāwhiti Gisborne Hospital.

The project will receive between $15m and $20m in funding from the $1.7 billion set aside in last week’s Wellbeing Budget for investment in hospitals and other health infrastructure over the next two years.

“The people of Tairāwhiti who require these services don’t have local access to a residential drug treatment facility or any dedicated residential treatment beds. This will now change as a result of our Wellbeing Budget,” said David Clark. 

“We know that hospitals and other health facilities play a key role in ensuring New Zealanders have access to high quality services, and that they get the care they need and deserve. 

“The DHB’s eight bed facility, Te Whare Awhiora, is not fit for purpose, particularly the seclusion rooms and outdoor areas. 

“This new funding will support Hauora Tairāwhiti to develop a new in-patient mental health and addiction unit. 

Funding for this project is subject to confirmation of the DHB’s detailed business case and final approval by joint Ministers, Clark said.

 

The Trough Monitor is stretched as Ministers dispense (or squander) more millions of our money

Wow – the Point of Order Trough Monitor struggled to keep count of the money being thrown around today and the goodies being dispensed to the government’s chosen industry groups in a flurry of Beehive announcements.

Not all the announcements related to money being dished out.  To the contrary, Deputy PM Winston Peters brought news of revenue being foregone:  the betting levy is being repealed.

The racing industry will benefit from having more money to invest in its revitalisaion.

Peters’ colleague, Shane Jones, meanwhile was dipping into the Provincial Growth Fund to find goodies for a few lucky beneficiaries.

Here’s what we learned from the Trough Monitor, which does not distinguish between good and bad investments of our tax monies. It’s your money they are spending (or squandering).  You decide the merits… Continue reading “The Trough Monitor is stretched as Ministers dispense (or squander) more millions of our money”