The Government is providing extra cost of living support to families and businesses, delivering on new Prime Minister Chris Hipkins’ promise of a greater focus on the issues facing New Zealanders right now.
Since the late 1970s, the term “empowerment” has been liberally applied by academics and aid workers in the English-speaking world, including in social services, social psychology, public health, adult literacy and community development (Simon 1994).
Today the word is even more in vogue and has even entered the worlds of politics and business. From popular psychology to self-help, the infatuation with empowerment in the English-speaking world appears boundless: in 1997 there was even a book published in the United States on “self-empowerment” for dogs (Wise 2005).
The Government is intending to force the disclosure of the real owners of companies and limited partnerships with legislation to curb money laundering, tax evasion and terrorism financing.
Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark said the legislation – to be introduced later this year – will make it mandatory for the beneficial owners or controllers of companies and trusts to be identified.
Other announcements from the Beehive deal with …
Mental health: a recruitment campaign has been launched, targetting “the next generation of mental health nurses”.
Horticulture: public funding is being pumped into the trial of a new hydroponic growing technique that aims to have higher yields and a lower impact on the environment.
The war in Ukraine: New Zealand will provide a further $5 million contribution of “non-lethal military assistance” to support Ukraine and are making available a range of surplus defence equipment to share with Ukraine at their request.
Biosecurity: This year’s New Zealand Biosecurity Awards winners have been announced.
Whose turn is it for funding in the name of Covid-19 relief and the government’s sense of need to help people adversely affected financially by it?
Oh yes. Sport and recreation – but only in some parts of the country.
The Government is providing $4 million of support for sport and recreation organisations in the Auckland, Northland and Waikato regions financially affected by the extended COVID alert level restrictions between August and December last year.
An hour or so after this was announced, Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced New Zealand was providing humanitarian aid to support the people of Ukraine.
This aid will help deliver essential humanitarian assistance, with a focus on supporting health facilities and meeting basic needs (such as provision of food and hygiene items) in a country being mercilessly bombarded and battered by troops unleashed by the despotic Vladimir Putin.
It amounts to $2 million, which is half the amount of financial assistance allocated to support local and regional sport and recreation organisations and providers.
The government’s help for Putin’s victims might also be compared with the $12 million from the Jobs for Nature fund for “a suite of projects” in the Hokianga Catchment area announced last week by Environment Minister David Parker.
Charity palpably beings at home, but fair to say, Mahuta said this is “an initial $2 million”.
Furthermore, New Zealand provides annual funding to the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund, which has announced it has allocated $20 million to help humanitarian agencies scale up their Ukraine response.
On the other hand, it should be noted that – yet again – Mahuta has denounced the Russian invasion of Afghanistan without mentioning President Putin.
In other Covid-19 news from the Beehive, Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio has delivered something headed “Intervention Speech delivered online for UN High-level Thematic Debate on Universal COVID-19 Vaccination”.
Intervention suggests he had to interrupt someone else’s speech, although speech-language pathologists use early speech intervention to tackle problems among children with speech impediments.
Sio told his audience that here in New Zealand,
“… we believe in — and are bound by — the value and responsibilities of whanaungatanga: this value speaks to our deep connections and sense of belonging as human beings and our geneaological ties. We share as whanau, or family, through history, experiences (good, bad & sad), cultures and working together.
“Whanaungatanga underpins our place in the Blue Pacific Continent, as neighbours, and as part of the Pacific family. It also underpins Aotearoa New Zealand’s place as part of a global family. And when our family suffers, we have a duty — a responsibility — to respond. Our elders often say – in times of crisis – we put aside our differences and support one another – for we are one body, we are flesh and blood.”
The team at Point of Order must confess we did not realise we believed in and were bound by something called Whanaungatanga.
We thus have been enlightened on this matter and appreciate that when our global family suffers, we have a duty — a responsibility — to respond.
But Sio wasn’t about to tell us about our response to the suffering being inflicted on Putin’s orders in Ukraine. News of that (as we noted earlier) came from Nanaia Mahuta, who said New Zealand stands by the people of Ukraine impacted by Russia’s unprovoked invasion.
“It is deeply disturbing to hear reports of the growing numbers of deaths and injuries from this conflict. The harrowing and horrific images of displaced, or suffering civilians, in Ukraine speak volumes of this unfolding tragedy, and underlines the consequences of Russia’s unprovoked aggression.”
New Zealand was providing an initial $2 million but:
“These are early days and we will continue to monitor events closely as the scale of the conflict, and the resulting humanitarian crisis, becomes clearer. We know the consequences of Russia’s actions will be significant, and tragically many of these will fall on innocent civilians.”
Sio, however, was speaking of New Zealand doing all it can to meet the World Health Organisation’s 70 per cent vaccination target by June, this year.
“And, we will continue to work alongside the World Health Organisation and COVAX to ensure all communities can access the vaccines they need. We encourage all donors and vaccine companies to do the same.”
The only other fresh announcement posted on the Beehive website today (at time of writing) came from Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.
They announced the horticulture and winegrowing sector will have access to 1,600 more workers this season after the Government agreed to increase the Recognised Seasonal Employment Scheme (RSE) cap to 16,000.
“We’ve increased the cap for the 2021/2022 season from 14,400 to 16,000 so employers in the horticulture and winegrowing sector can access more labour to help with planting, maintenance, harvesting, packing and winter pruning. It will also help set the sector up for the next season,” Damien O’Connor said.
Returning to the news which opened this post, Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson announced the $4 million of support for sport and recreation organisations in the Auckland, Northland and Waikato regions financially affected by the extended COVID alert level restrictions between August and December last year.
The new fund, which has been allocated from the $265 million Sport Recovery Package comprises $4 million:
$2.2 million for Aktive Auckland Sport and Recreation
$485,000 for Sport Waikato
$315,000 for Sport Northland.
A contingency of $1 million will also be available across all three regions if required.
The “investment” follows $5.3 million in funding announced last October to support sport and recreation organisations, outdoor education providers and whānau in Auckland and elsewhere financially affected by last year’s lockdown.
The Government is providing more support for sport and recreation organisations in the Auckland, Northland and Waikato regions financially affected by the extended COVID alert level restrictions between August and December last year.
No, this was not another boost for farmers or growers from Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor (although he was busy dishing out $1.12 million from his ministry’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund to a Waikato-based Maori tribe, Ngati Haua).
The Big Boost on which we are focussed was an exercise in vaccination, booster shots and – let’s face it – political hype, if not propaganda.
“New Zealanders have rolled up their sleeves in droves as part of The Big Boost nationwide call to action – but we’re not done yet, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today.
“As predicted, Omicron cases are increasing across New Zealand and it’s critical we get as many people as possible boosted in February to slow the spread of the virus and protect our communities…”
The government delivered a shot in the arm for Maori education nationwide and for Maori enterprise in Wairoa but fired another shot across the bows of gun owners (those who commit certain crimes) in its announcements yesterday.
Press statement headlines summed things up:
A new dawn for Māori education
Government invests in major horticulture project in northern Hawke’s Bay
Government takes next step in tackling gun crime
Associate Minister of Education Kelvin Davis delivered the news that work will soon begin on a revamp of the Māori medium and Kaupapa Māori pathways programme.
Legislation is “likely” to be introduced in early 2023 to provide a regulatory framework for growing the sector.
The declared aim (in general terms) is “to reconnect more Māori young people with their language and culture” and (more specifically) “at seeing 30 per cent of Māori learners participating in Kaupapa Māori/Māori medium education by 2040”.
While Maori Development Minister Willie Jackson was addressing members of the Waitangi Tribunal, the High Court was setting aside a tribunal decision to return $800m in state-owned land to an iwi because it had failed to follow tikanga Māori and breached the Treaty
Crucially, Justice Francis Cooke declared the tribunal had been in breach of the Treaty of Waitangi and not followed tikanga when it decided lands transferred to state-owned enterprises or in Crown forests in the central North Island should be returned to the Ngāti Kahungunu iwi.
The disputed tribunal ruling on the $800m of public lands accordingly has been overturned (although the judgement may be appealed).
Being supportive was the order of the day in the Beehive. Ministers announced support for Papua New Guinea, support for trades involved in rebuilding, and support for the horticultural sector (in the case of fruit growers “wellbeing” came into considerations, too).
The news came on the same day as it was reported that one of the country’s largest strawberry growers – a forthright critic of Government policies keeping the crucial Pacific Island labour force locked out – is calling it a day.
Showing National’s new leader what his front bench should look like, if only he shared Labour’s ideas of a politically agreeable gender and ethnic mix, wouldn’t have been the objective of the Queen’s Birthday honours list. The list would have been prepared long before the place of Maori in Todd Muller’s team triggered widespread criticism.
But the list gives a good idea of Labour’s approach to turning talk about diversification into action.
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.