Oh, look – Sepuloni finds some money for the arts has not been spent, but it will be put to use in a trough for cultural “regeneration”

Buzz from the Beehive

News of the PM’s next overseas travel plans flowed from the Beehive along with a fanfaronade of self-congratulation for work coming along nicely, thank you, announcements of fresh projects and programmes for consuming our taxes, and advice aimed at enhancing our wellbeing.

The overseas travel is to Samoa – Jacinda Ardern will lead a Parliamentary and community delegation to Apia from the 1–2 August to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of “the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, between Aotearoa New Zealand and Samoa”

It is government policy, apparently, to  inject the word “Aotearoa” into all ministerial press statements.  The treaty signed 60 years ago was “the Treaty of Friendship between the Government of New Zealand and the Government of Western Samoa”.

The latest spending initiatives include an announcement from Agriculture Minister Damien  O’Connor that the Government is co-investing in a $22 million programme aimed at significantly reducing agricultural greenhouse gases and nitrate leaching.

The Government has committed $7.3 million over seven years to the N-Vision NZ programme through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund. The programme focuses on three technology streams: Continue reading “Oh, look – Sepuloni finds some money for the arts has not been spent, but it will be put to use in a trough for cultural “regeneration””

Buzz from the Beehive: pre-Budget speeches, a border re-opening and a black mark for new Green List

Pre-budget speeches from the PM and her Minister of Finance feature in the latest posts on the Beehive website.  Both speeches mention  the re-opening (hurrah) of the country’s borders.

The re-opening was the highlight of a package of initiatives announced in a press statement in the names of four ministers, Jacinda Ardern (PM), Chris Hipkins (Education), Stuart Nash (Tourism) and Kris Faafoi (Immigration).

“New Zealand is in demand and now fully open for business,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“New Zealand’s international border will reopen to all tourists and visa holders two months earlier than planned on 31 July.”

The package included significantly simplified immigration processes intended to provide faster processing for businesses and a new “Green List” that includes over 85 hard-to-fill roles created to attract and retain high-skilled workers to fill skill shortages.  

Hipkins got a second lick at the border-re-opening with an announcement that international students are welcome back – from July 31 – and the Government is committed to help reinvigorate and strengthen the sector.

This statement further advised that Hipkins will travel to the USA, Chile and Brazil to promote studying here.

In his speech to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce today, Finance Minister Grant Robertson spoke of “our immigration rebalance” and border reopening

“… in a way that embodies our objectives as a Government. A green list will provide a streamlined pathway to residency for workers with skills that are in high demand. This approach will enable us to support the development of high-value industries and to alleviate some of the supply constraints that are present in areas such as construction.”

But the green list has earned the government a black mark from nurses and midwives and sparked an accusation of sexism: 

Nurses and midwives say an immigration shake-up privileges male dominated professions, is “sexist”, and will do little to help fill hundreds of vacancies in New Zealand.

It’s a completely sexist model, all the doctors are in the privileged group,” hospital midwives union co-leader Jill Ovens said.

Latest from the Beehive

12 MAY 2022

New Zealand poised to welcome international students back

New Zealand is fully reopening to international students and the Government is committed to help reinvigorate and strengthen the sector, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

Speech

Pre-Budget Speech to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce

I want to start by thanking our hosts the Wellington Chamber of Commerce who graciously do this every year as we lead into the Budget.

11 MAY 2022

Lower card fees on way for business, consumers

A Bill to help lower the fees charged when credit and debit transactions are made, will save New Zealand businesses around $74 million a year.

Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-ā-Rua Claims Settlement Bill passes first reading – Kua hipa te Pire Whakataunga Kokoraho mō Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-ā-Rua i te pānuitanga tuatahi

I te whare pāremata ngā uri o Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-ā-Rua i tēnei rā kia kite, kia rongo hoki rātou i te hipanga o te pānuitanga tuatahi o te Pire Whakataunga Kokoraho mō Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-ā-Rua.

Poroporoaki: Harerangi Meihana (Harry Mason)

Kua hinga ngā kapua pōuri i runga i Taranaki maunga. Kua wehe atu rā te Tumuaki o te Hāhi Ratana, arā ko matua Harerangi Meihana.

Speech

PM Pre-Budget Speech to Business New Zealand

Thank you to Business New Zealand and Fujitsu for hosting us here today, and I am grateful to be joined by Minister Faafoi, and Minister Hipkins.

Fully open border and immigration changes speed up economic growth

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today announced a major package of reforms, which include an early opening of New Zealand’s border and a simplification of immigration settings, to address the immediate skill shortages in New Zealand and speed up the economic recovery from COVID-19.

Buzz from the Beehive – or what are they up to now? (besides bruising local body democracy)

We had only just posted our Buzz from the Beehive report yesterday when Nanaia Mahuta banged out an announcement which buttressed her track record as a minister strong on democracy (with her rhetoric as Minister of Foreign Affairs) but lukewarm if not disdainful of it (with her actions as Minister of Local Government).

She said the Tauranga City Council will be run by commissioners until July 2024. This means the citizens and ratepayers of that city won’t get to elect a mayor and councillors to govern them at the next local government elections. 

Two other announcements over the past 24 hours or so deal with issues at the border, deciding who can come into this country as critical or skilled workers to work in manufacturing or tourism. 

Outward travel was the subject of an announcement that New Zealand and Australian public Anzac Day services will return to Gallipoli next month.

Tourism will further benefit from one of three spending announcements.  The other beneficiaries are a seaweed programme and Maori housing. 

And Finance Minister Grant Robertson told us he had hosted a call with his counterparts from Australia and the United States.   Canada and the United Kingdom were represented by deputies.  Did he tell them about this country’s robust economic performance, thanks to his stewardship as Minister of Finance?

Latest from the Beehive

12 MARCH 2022

Workforce pressures eased for manufacturing

Workforce pressures in the advanced manufacturing sector are to be eased with the approval of spaces for 100 critical workers to enter under a special immigration arrangement.

Return of working holidaymakers a boost to economic recovery

The return of working holidaymakers and more skilled workers from this coming Monday will accelerate New Zealand’s economic recovery from COVID-19 by helping to fill workforce shortages and support tourism.

11 MARCH 2022

Anzac Day Services to Return to Gallipoli in 2022

Minister for Veterans’ Meka Whaitiri has confirmed today that New Zealand and Australian public Anzac Day services will return to Gallipoli next month.

Land-based seaweed trial a nationwide first

A land-based seaweed trial aiming to help restore our waterways is about to kick-off with Government investment beside the Firth of Thames wetland, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

10 March Joint Meeting of Finance Ministers

Finance Minister Hon Grant Robertson yesterday hosted a call with his counterparts from Australia and the United States. Canada and the United Kingdom were represented by deputies.

Delivering on our commitment to Māori housing

Today the Associate Minister of Housing (Māori Housing) Peeni Henare released the Implementation Plan for the National Māori Housing Strategy – MAIHI Ka Ora.

Support for new winter festivals in lower South Island Te Waipounamu

Two new winter festivals in the lower South Island are getting government backing through an annual fund that supports start-up events to become internationally significant.

Commission to be appointed to Tauranga City Council beyond October 2022

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has today announced her intention to appoint a Commission to the Tauranga City Council until July 2024.

 

Climate change has Boris wilting

Winter by-elections are rarely kind to governments.  But Boris Johnson’s Conservative party held on to a south London stronghold on a low turnout with a tolerably-reduced majority.

More worrying was that 1,400 voters got out of bed (one presumes) on a bitterly cold day to vote for the relatively anonymous candidate of a rebranded populist Reform party.  That’s about as many as the Greens and Liberals could manage between them.

After two years of setting the agenda, the talk now is of Boris losing his grip. But might it be the change in his agenda?

Continue reading “Climate change has Boris wilting”

How can NZ get the most from immigrants? Teach them te reo and bring the Treaty into policy considerations, report says

If  the government believed   it   would  gain  some profound insights   into immigration  policy  when  it  sought  a  report from  the  Productivity  Commission,  it  may  have  to look  elsewhere.

ACT leader David  Seymour  was one  of  the  first  out of the  blocks  to  give the  report  (and  the  government)  a  whack, saying   the Productivity Commission’s latest report confirms Labour isn’t seriously committed to growing productivity.

The commission has proposed that migrants should learn te reo to gain

“… insights into te ao Māori and tangata whenua […] promote better understanding of New Zealand’s bicultural nature [and] acknowledge the status of te reo as an official language and taonga.”

Seymour said this is a nice-sounding idea, but the purpose of the commission is to lift productivity, not to improve race relations. Continue reading “How can NZ get the most from immigrants? Teach them te reo and bring the Treaty into policy considerations, report says”

Govt should count the deportees sent back from Oz, then phone Canberra for tips on how to be rid of trouble-makers

In a lame explanation for the state’s failure to prevent the stabbings inside Coundown LynnMall on Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson says the government has acted as quickly as it could to bring in changes to terrorism laws that will cover the planning of a terrorist act.

The Crown tried – and failed – to charge Ahamed Aathill Mohamed Samsudeen under the Terrorism Suppression Act because planning to commit a terrorist attack is not an offence under current law.

Robertson said legislation to cover planning a terrorist attack, introduced this year, is well progressed and the select committee is close to completing its deliberations.

Slowly but surely – we are told – is the way to do things.

“In these areas it is important to get this right,” he told Morning Report.

“The consequences of getting it wrong are large, and from the government’s perspective we think the policy work has been done, the bill is in and the public have now had their say we now get on with passing that law.”

Oh, and let’s not forget the Immigration Act.

Robertson said work was under way with this legislation, too.

But could he and his government try picking up the pace?

At Point of Order, we say yes, it could – and if it wants to find out how, then a quick phone call to Scott Morrison across the ditch should provide some ideas. Continue reading “Govt should count the deportees sent back from Oz, then phone Canberra for tips on how to be rid of trouble-makers”

First came the $2.5bn water package (or bribe?) and then the govt gets behind mayors on employment task force

The government is getting in behind local government leaders, not only to win hearts and minds on the Three Waters reform programme but also in  encouraging job schemes.

Yesterday it announced a $2.5 billion package (critics call it a bribe) to support local government transition through the reforms to New Zealand’s drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services.  Point of Order has looked at this here.

Today the government has signed a new memorandum of understanding with the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, intended to strengthen the partnership to get more young people into work.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash meanwhile was announcing that five South Island areas have been prioritised in the latest round of decisions from a tourism fund that is supporting infrastructure projects from Cape Reinga to Stewart Island and the Chathams.

Details of 57 nationwide projects to receive support from the fund  have been released.

Nash explained that the Tourism Infrastructure Fund supports local communities under pressure from tourism, especially those with small ratepayer bases Continue reading “First came the $2.5bn water package (or bribe?) and then the govt gets behind mayors on employment task force”

Covid-19 gets into most Beehive spin these days, including the Catalist Market, climate change and predator eradication

While small- and medium-sized enterprises (and many others) were grappling with the massive implications of the Climate Change Commission’s report, more agreeable news has emerged from the Beehive.

The government has granted a licence to a new share trading market, Catalist Markets Ltd, which has been described as a stock exchange for smaller companies.  It is expected to provide a simpler and more affordable ‘stepping stone’ for SMEs to raise capital.

Catalist​ chief executive Colin Magee told Stuff the NZX was only economic for larger companies, not the high-potential smaller companies Catalist would be trying to attract with an initial value of $6million to $60m.

In the first five years Catalist was aiming to get up to 200 companies, Magee said.

In time, he hoped, a portion of some KiwiSaver funds would be invested in shares in companies on the Catalist market. Continue reading “Covid-19 gets into most Beehive spin these days, including the Catalist Market, climate change and predator eradication”

The Aussies are aiming for economic growth but the Ardern Govt (clucking about wellbeing) seems to prefer Zombification

Is the  reality  of the  Ardern  government’s  policies   beginning  to  hit  home?  A slow, tentative  return  to  what might be regarded  as pre-Covid   normality  is  coming  into  sharper   focus as  government  fumbling, particularly  over the Covid  vaccination rollout, stirs  anger in  communities.

Just  as  Finance  Minister Grant  Robertson  extols the performance  of  the  economy  under his  stewardship, Kiwis are waking up  to  how  much better Australians  are  doing. We  shrank by 1% in  the  last  quarter of 2020 while  Australia grew by 3%.

The  international tourism  industry,  which pre-Covid had become NZ’s top foreign exchange earner,  is  virtually dead, and the  absence  of  international students  is  dealing  a  body blow to educational  institutions, even  down  to  primary  schools.

Even  more  concerning are ominous signs that things may  get  worse. A  headline  this  week pointed  to  the fact  that exporters  can no longer make forward freight bookings between Australia and NZ as international shipping companies abandon the relatively remote and marginal trans-Tasman routes in favour of profitable routes between China, Europe and the United States. Continue reading “The Aussies are aiming for economic growth but the Ardern Govt (clucking about wellbeing) seems to prefer Zombification”

Immigration reset (reflecting the govt’s tourism strategy) includes scheme to favour foreigners flush with dosh for investing here

The government has announced its preference for immigrants with money, much the same as its tourist industry strategy favours tourists with plenty of spending stuff.

This policy was contained in a lengthy rundown on immigration issues which emerged from the Beehive as “the immigration reset”.

The PM will be able to chat about this reset with her Australian counterpart soon.  A trans-Tasman leaders meeting  – in the Queenstown area, which is benefiting hugely from government initiatives to lift what are supposed to be its flagging fortunes – will be held at the end of the month.

We imagine the PM sought oodles of expert advice to enable her – if asked – to demonstrate the enormous contribution that flying two PMs with their entourages to Queenstown will make towards creating a carbon-free nation.

We say this because the other big statement of note in the past day or two came from Climate Change Minister James Shaw. He was chuffed that Budget 2021 helps deliver on the Government’s commitment to a carbon-neutral public sector by 2025. Continue reading “Immigration reset (reflecting the govt’s tourism strategy) includes scheme to favour foreigners flush with dosh for investing here”