The modesty of our Foreign Minister is to be admired. She announced her departure from the Middle East at the weekend in a statement headed Foreign Minister concludes successful visit to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Some Ministers might have been tempted to describe their latest doings as a triumph.
Mahuta may be keeping that word on hold until four new organisations have been established with 50:50 co-governance arrangements to deliver the highly controversial Three Waters programme without her having to compromise
Mind you, it is tempting to ask by what criteria success (or failure, for that matter) is measured after a Minister visits other countries.
In this case it could be regarded as a success – a year after her being give that portfolio – that our Minister of Foreign Affairs at long last has ventured overseas.
Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark’s weekend achievement was to announce the Government’s decision to review the residential building supply market.
More than one announcement from the Beehive yesterday has the potential to affect the country’s health and general wellbeing in one way or another.
Justice Minister Kris Faafoi – for example – was chuffed about the the Three Strikes Legislation Repeal Bill passing its first reading in Parliament.
But critics fear this legislation will put several of the worst criminals in New Zealand back on our streets over the next four years.
ACT Justice spokesperson Nicole McKee said:
“Three Strikes offenders make up just one per cent of all convictions, they have an average of 75 convictions, they are the worst and most violent offenders New Zealand has seen. They aren’t behind bars for petty theft or minor crimes. They have beaten, raped and murdered people.
Border controls have been eased in two government announcements over the past day or so. Megan Woods, meanwhile, has been busy issuing statements variously as minister of Housing, of Research, Science and Innovation, and of Energy and Resources.
But she announced yet another government initiative – the National Māori Housing Strategy – which is grounded in the government’s highly political interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi, an interpretation which has given rise to a spate of race-based “partnerships”.
The place of non-Maori in the Ardern government’s policy-making pecking order is plain from the language in Woods’ press statement:
“The housing crisis we inherited is a challenge the Government can’t tackle on its own.
“We need to pursue meaningful partnerships with iwi and Māori as Te Tiriti o Waitangi partners to make progress.
“We also need to cement resilient relationships with community housing providers and other non-government organisations, local government, the private sector, and communities.”
The Minister in charge of the country’s Covid-19 response, Chris Hipkins, was wrong to say former PM John Key’s description of New Zealand as a “smug hermit kingdom” is an insult to New Zealanders.
The Point of Order team – for starters – are much more inclined to weigh the merits of what Key said in a newspaper column than feel insulted, take offence, or complain about racism, as too many people do nowadays rather than engage in a robust discussion.
Key’s column set out five suggested strategies to get vaccination rates up and end a reliance on managed isolation at the border.
Hipkins said these are generally already being enacted or looked at.
We do admire the wellbeing-focused Ardern government’s readiness to announce “free” services, even as the public debt comes under pressure from policy responses to the latest Covid-19 lockdown.
Education Minister Chris Hipkins today announced a counselling service that – he hooted – is free for teachers and support staff across all early learning services, kōhanga reo, kura, and state and state-integrated schools.
It was among the latest press releases posted on the Beehive website.
Teachers and support staff across all early learning services, kōhanga reo, kura, and state and state-integrated schools can now access free COVID-19 Employee Assistance Programme support, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.
Young Maori should do nicely, thank you, from funding numbers bandied today by Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni.
And non-Maori young people?
Sorry. They don’t loom so large in the distribution of Sepuloni’s largess.
The Minister announced that more than 800 jobseekers will be supported on pathways into employment, education and training through funding into the Māori Trades and Training Fund (MTTF) and He Poutama Rangatahi projects.
The numbers she bandied in dollars terms add up to $24.2 million.
But ethnicity will be the critical factor in determining who benefits. The lion’s share of the investment, almost 77%, is going into the Māori Trades and Training Fund.
Sepuloni said this will support over 500 Māori job seekers into employment and training opportunities, with $18.576 million committed to a range of new and existing projects.
The rest of the nation’s young people can’t complain they have been overlooked.
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.
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?
While questions were being raised about a longer-term issue – the sustainability of the government’s debt – the government was busy (a) spending more money on Auckland schools and (b) foregoing some of the income it collects from road user charges.
It was also introducing legislation that will establish new co-governance arrangements, enabling a Maori tribe to sit with local government leaders in deciding on this, that and the other for the community.
The Ngāti Maru (Taranaki) Claims Settlement Bill, the legislation that will settle Ngāti Maru’s historic Treaty of Waitangi claims, provides for Taranaki Regional Council and Te Kāhui Maru Trust: Te Iwi o Maruwharanui (the Ngāti Maru post-settlement governance entity) to enter into a joint management agreement in respect of the Waitara River and its catchment.
This will include a role for the tribe in the environmental monitoring of the Waitara River, emulating a raft of treaty settlements which include co-governance entitlements.
A press statement announcing the first reading of the bill was among the latest statements and speeches posted on The Beehive website since we last reported on the doings of our ministers.