Buried beneath avalanche of new laws and bills there’s news from the Cyclone Taskforce (a month after it got terms of reference)

Buzz from the Beehive

Whoa, there – we can’t keep up!  Suddenly, the PM’s ministerial team has unleashed a slew of press statements.

Sixteen announcements have been posted on the Beehive website since our last check.

This burst of activity (we wondered) might be the result of them responding positively to having a team member red-carded.

We refer, of course, to Stuart Nash, who happens to have been named in one of the new announcements:

Review into Stuart Nash’s communications with donors

The Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Secretary to conduct a review into communications between Stuart Nash and his donors.

That was yesterday’s news and has generated plenty of headlines in the mainstream media as questions are raised around Nash’s serial breaking of Cabinet rules. Continue reading “Buried beneath avalanche of new laws and bills there’s news from the Cyclone Taskforce (a month after it got terms of reference)”

Hipkins gets an apology from Davidson for reviling “white cis men” – but if she apologised to the public, we missed it

 Buzz from the Beehive

Yet again, the statement we were looking for could not be found on the Beehive website.  Nor was it on the Scoop or Green Party websites.

But – come to think of it – we are probably wasting our time by searching. 

Our quest is for the public apology from Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson – who is paid a ministerial salary to work for us as Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence – after she demonstrated a feeble grasp of crime statistics and a lamentable lack of a sense of propriety when she said, “it is white cis men who cause violence in the world”.  

Davidson has apologised to the PM for this inflammatory fabrication, but not to the white cis men she maligned, the victims of violence, or the public generally.

This tells us a great deal about her moral compass. Continue reading “Hipkins gets an apology from Davidson for reviling “white cis men” – but if she apologised to the public, we missed it”

Maori caucus – by the looks of things – has had a say in who should benefit from $15m of cyclone relief funding

Buzz from the beehive

Point of Order hasn’t kept count of the millions of dollars the Government has been pouring into cyclone-devastated communities in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.

But we don’t recall the several announcements suggesting there might be a discriminatory element to the way the beneficiaries would be determined. If there was a need for help, then that’s where the money would go, although – fair enough – funding for farmers would probably go to farmers, and funding for horticulturalists would go to horticulturalists. And so on.

The assistance announced today, on the other hand, reminds us that the Maori Caucus still carries a lot of clout within the Government despite the change of leadership and signs given by the new prime minister that he would be easing back on politically ticklish issues such as co-governance.

And the Maori caucus unabashedly sees things through an ethnocentric lens, especially when public funding is up for grabs.

Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson and Minister for Whānau Ora Hon Peeni Henare announced a new funding package while meeting with whānau at Waipatu Marae in Hastings today.   Continue reading “Maori caucus – by the looks of things – has had a say in who should benefit from $15m of cyclone relief funding”

Public service review finds procurement and conflict management practices at four agencies fell below standard

Buzz from the Beehive

The statement we were looking for was not to be found on the Beehive website, when we checked early this afternoon.   But the issue we hoped would be addressed in a statement from the Beehive was publicised on the Public Service Commission website.

Public Service Commissioner Peter Hughes released the findings of a review into how public service agencies managed conflicts of interest while procuring the services of Ka Awatea Services Ltd (KAS) and Kawai Catalyst Ltd (KC).

Hughes’ statement, curiously, made no mention of the names of Nanaia  Mahuta or her husband, Gannin Ormsby.

The report on the review, on the other hand, makes several references to Mahuta and Gannin Ormsby, her husband, as well as to other members of the Ormsby family.  

The Nats found enough in the report to justify issuing a statement headed 

Serious Flaws In Public Service Procurement

The Public Service Commission’s report into contracts linked to Cabinet Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s family has exposed serious flaws in how the public service deals with conflicts of interest, National’s Public Service spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

Brown mentioned both Mahuta and Gannin Ormsby in his statement, which noted that the report

“… suggests the public service has developed a culture of carelessness in how it procures contracts and manages perceived conflicts of interest, undermining public confidence.

“The findings of the report show the Ministry for the Environment had several opportunities to address issues with their procurement processes into awarding a contract to Ms Mahuta’s husband Gannin Ormsby. Instead of being driven by effective and robust procurement processes, the ministry was driven by its own deadlines.

“Even more concerning, Kāinga Ora did not even ask about any conflicts of interest during its procurement process with Mr Ormsby’s company, a basic requirement for government agencies.”

Brown said Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins needs to step up and explain why agencies are failing to practice effective and robust procurement processes and how agencies deal with conflicts of interest.

But at time of writing, Hipkins had yet to step up and say something about  the report. 

In a nutshell, the review aimed to determine whether public service agencies had appropriately identified and managed any conflicts of interest in their contractual relationships with KAS and KC.

It found:

  • Te Puni Kōkiri and the Ministry for the Environment failed to properly identify and manage perceived conflicts because they didn’t follow what were otherwise sound agency policies and processes.
  • a minor perceived conflict with Kāinga Ora was not identified because the agency failed to ask about conflicts of interest during the contracting process.
  • there were no conflicts of interest in relation to Department of Conservation contracts, but its contract management was poor.

Overall, the review found agency procurement and conflict management practices at the four agencies fell short of the standards expected of public service agencies. It also found tighter processes for assessing perceived conflicts of interest are needed in the agencies, including where conflicts involve Ministers, and that procurement practices need to improve, in particular the way those agencies manage contracts under $100,000.

The review found no evidence of favouritism, bias, or undue influence over agency decisions in relation to KAS or KC due to any connection with a Minister. The actions of Ministers, the directors of KAS and KC, and members of the public, were outside the scope of this review. However, the review did not identify any matter that would require referral to another oversight body.

While Chris Hipkins (we would like to think) is having his media team work on an appropriate statement, his Cabinet colleagues have been –

Hastening to shut down the scallop fishery in the Coromandel

The two remaining open areas in the Coromandel scallop fishery will close, after new information showed scallops are in decline.

Rushing to compensate historical abuse claimants

A phased roll-out of faster claim payments for survivors of abuse in State care has begun, with the first claimants now receiving offers, Public Service Minister Chris Hipkins and Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni say. 

Rapid payments by the Ministry of Social Development are being prioritised for survivors who are seriously ill or unwell, aged over 70, or have waited the longest to get their claims considered.

The first set of rapid payments are being made by MSD, which has about 3000 historic claims – more than 90% of all the current historical claims being processed by four government agencies.

Sepuloni explains that this is an important step which enables survivors to choose whether to go through a rapid payment process, and ensuring survivors can determine the path the works best for them.

Welcoming the delivery of the the RNZAF’s first Poseidon

Minister of Defence Peeni Henare today marked the arrival of the first of Aotearoa New Zealand’s P-8A Poseidon aircraft at the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s Base at Ohakea.

This is the first of four new P-8A Poseidon aircraft bought by the Government “through its historic investment to modernise New Zealand’s defence force”, Henare said.

The Government invested a record $2.53 billion to upgrade our Defence capability in Budget 2018, he recalled, and this included $2.3 billion purchase to replace the aging P-3K2 Orion which had been in service with the RNZAF since the 1960s.

Who was Minister of Defence in 2018?  Oh, yes.  New Zealand First’s Ron Mark.

Thanking retiring Ministers and MPs while (we suspect) hoping certain others will announce their retirements before long, too

Six of the Government’s 64 MPs will retire at the 2023 election, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today.

Three ministers – Poto Williams, Aupito William Sio and David Clark – are to retire, along with MPs Jamie Strange, Marja Lubeck and Paul Eagle. All will stay in parliament until the election.

This is another statement where some members of the Point of Order team hoped to find the name of Nanaia Mahuta. Alas, no.

The PM did say:

“These retirements will have no immediate impact on Cabinet with a reshuffle not scheduled until early next year.”

We can wait patiently until early next year.   

Taking further action against Putin and his croneys

New sanctions imposed as part of New Zealand’s ongoing response to the war in Ukraine are targeting individuals and networks behind disinformation campaigns that support the Putin war effort.

Oh, look – the name of Nanaia Mahuta has come into one of the latest bunch of Beehive statements.

As Foreign Affairs she announced a further round of sanctions on 23 individuals who are supporting the illegal Russian invasion.

Those sanctioned this time include the Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, the CEO of Channel-1 Russia, and key personnel from Russian media outlets including InfoRos, SouthFront, and the Strategic Culture Foundation. 

Since the passing of the Russia Sanctions Act in March, New Zealand has imposed sanctions on more than 1,200 individuals and entities, and has imposed unprecedented trade measures which has seen two-way trade with Russia fall drastically.

More information about sanctions, travel bans, and export controls against Russia and Belarus; as well as diplomatic, military and economic support to Ukraine can be found on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website here.

Expanding the Green List to help fill labour shortages

Immigration Minister Michael Wood today announced a suite of measures to further support New Zealand businesses through the global labour shortage and attract more high skilled workers long term.

The  government has approved over 94,000 job positions for international recruitment, granted over 40,000 working holiday visas, reopened the Pacific Access Category and Samoa Quota, delivered the largest increase in a decade to the RSE scheme, and resumed the Skilled Migrant Category and Parent Category to strengthen our international offering.

And – at long last –  registered nurses and midwives will have an immediate pathway to residence, including those already in New Zealand.

“Since the pandemic 3,474 nurses have arrived in country, but it’s clear we need to do more to encourage nurses to choose New Zealand. Adding these roles will further build on the attractiveness of New Zealand to those looking to set themselves and their families up long term. 

Paying special attention at a special ceremony to Pacific youth at Parliament

A new cohort of Pacific young people have been recognised at Parliament for their excellence across various sectors of New Zealand society at the 2022 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards (PMPYA).

Packing their bags for a flight to Canada to bat for global biodiversity targets

Conservation Minister Poto Williams will lead Aotearoa New Zealand’s delegation to COP15, the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Montreal this week.

 A key negotiation at COP15 will be the long-standing proposal to protect 30% of land and sea areas by 2030. 

New targets on combatting invasive species, reducing harm from pesticides, and eliminating plastic pollution will also be important.


O’Connor goes to Paris (will they make a movie of it?) while his colleagues spend millions back home and crimp liquor sales

Buzz from the Beehive

Damien O’Connor has been busy with international duties. At the weekend he met with Aussie ministerial counterparts in Queenstown to discuss the advancement of trans-Tasman cooperation under the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement before packing his bags to head for Paris where he will co-chair an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ministerial meeting.

The Beehive website has recorded the thrust of his weekend talks on the bilateral relationship between New Zealand and Australia and his plans to fly to Paris along with posts which tell us how he and his colleagues have been earning their keep.

The website tells us they have been (or, in his case, will be) …

 The latest post on the website when we checked in mid-afternoon tells us Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor will travel to Paris tomorrow to co-chair the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Committee on Agriculture Ministerial meeting on 3-4 November. Continue reading “O’Connor goes to Paris (will they make a movie of it?) while his colleagues spend millions back home and crimp liquor sales”

Govt is opening the borders further with its visa policies to (hopefully) attract more workers

Buzz from the Beehive

The Government has announced it is reopening the skilled migrant and parent visa categories as part of its plans for reconnecting New Zealanders to the world. And to help businesses crying out for workers (so long as they don’t need qualified nurses, it seems).

Immigration Minister Michael Wood announced the changes in a speech to members of the business and migrant community in Auckland today.

 “We are listening closely to the concerns of businesses, many of whom have approval to hire migrants but are finding it difficult to recruit internationally in a constrained labour market. Today’s changes work in tandem with the immigration changes already made and will help further relieve labour shortages, and ensure an competitive edge to attract talent to New Zealand.”

Will the new deal help you and your business?

We suggest you check out the press statement, which has been posted on the Beehive website along with news that ministers are …  Continue reading “Govt is opening the borders further with its visa policies to (hopefully) attract more workers”

Ayesha Verrall travel mystery: Australia isn’t on her itinerary but she has written a speech for a health congress – in Adelaide?

Buzz from the Beehive

Just one policy initiative has been posted on the Beehive website since Point of Order last monitored the goings-on and comings and goings of our ministers.

Immigration Minister Michael Wood has announced measures intended to support the hospitality and tourism sectors and a change to the requirements for recruiting chefs.

But we were fascinated more by the travel plans and intentions of Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall.

On Saturday, she advised us she would be departing at the weekend   for Europe and Singapore to attend global cancer and mental health meetings and building research, science and innovation connections with the European Union.

Today, she sent us a copy of her speech to the Population Health Congress in Australia.

Headed Public Health – Lessons from New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and opportunities for the future, it comprises some 3540 words, which would take around 30 minutes to deliver.

We were surprised.  Her press release on Saturday made no mention of a stop-off in Australia to address this congress. Continue reading “Ayesha Verrall travel mystery: Australia isn’t on her itinerary but she has written a speech for a health congress – in Adelaide?”

More Russians on the sanctions list – that will punish Putin’s cronies, but what might he do next to express his displeasure?

Buzz from the Beehive

Wow.  The long weekend seems to have been a powerful pick-me-up for our politicians, who have pumped out a raft of statements over the past two days.

Most of their press releases were to alert us to decisions to improve our wellbeing, although we wonder if that’s the case when we retaliate against President Putin for his antics in Ukraine.  He is threatening to up the ante by unleashing some of his nuclear weapons, after all.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta nevertheless has announced the imposition of further sanctions on members of Putin’s inner circle and other representatives of the Russian political elite, as part of the Government’s ongoing response to the war in Ukraine.

Since the passing of the Russia Sanctions Act in March, New Zealand has imposed sanctions on over 1000 individuals and entities,

“… a key part of our efforts to hold Russia accountable and support Ukraine,” Nanaia Mahuta said. Continue reading “More Russians on the sanctions list – that will punish Putin’s cronies, but what might he do next to express his displeasure?”

Govt paves the way for wealthy immigrants to come here – but will this initiative be more successful than efforts to lure nurses?

Buzz from the Beehive

Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash and Immigration Minister Michael Wood have announced the official opening of the new Active Investor Plus visa category, created to attract “high-value” investors.

They described this initiative as a key milestone in the Government’s Immigration Rebalance strategy.

All going well, the wealthy migrants who come here with their millions will be willing to roll up their sleeves and pitch in where help is needed as well as invest where their money is needed.

According to a Stuff report this week, businesses are desperate to attract staff:

The struggle to find and keep staff is repeated all over the country in many industries, and just under 11,000 employers have applied for accreditation to bring in almost 53,000 migrant workers.

It has been  a busy week for Wood.

It was his job as Workplace Relations and Safety Minister to announce the Bill establishing Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day has passed its third reading.

The passing of the Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Day Bill designates 26 September 2022 as a one-off public holiday.  The holiday will coincide with the State Memorial Service, to be held in Wellington Cathedral. This will be televised and live-streamed.

The decision to hold a one-off Public Holiday in the Queen’s honour is in line with similar holidays in the UK and Australia. Continue reading “Govt paves the way for wealthy immigrants to come here – but will this initiative be more successful than efforts to lure nurses?”

Now that regeneration has become important in Govt policy considerations, let’s see it regenerate the health work force

Just a few days ago, RNZ was reporting about frustrated New Zealand-trained migrant nurses planning to leave the country because they cannot find an immediate path to residency, just as the government was trying to entice foreigners to fill thousands of jobs in hospitals, aged care  homes and clinics.

The report reminded us that nurses had been excluded from the government’s new straight-to-residence Green List.  They must work in the profession for two years first.

Sandeep Kaur told RNZ she had spent years separated from her two young sons in India while studying for a nursing degree in New Zealand.

She said she was devastated the profession was excluded from super-fast residency visas under the new immigration Green List, months after her graduation late last year.

She and her husband were preparing to move to Australia where she could gain residency quickly and reunite her family.

Figures released to the National Party at that time showed just 18 migrant nurses applied to come to New Zealand in the first six weeks of the new residency visa, compared to a monthly average of 57 under the previous critical purpose visa. Continue reading “Now that regeneration has become important in Govt policy considerations, let’s see it regenerate the health work force”