Govt lures migrants with millions to invest – but its “rebalanced” policy is still weighted in favour of English speakers

Buzz from the Beehive

The  government’s  immigration  policies  have  come  under heavy  fire  in recent  weeks,  even   though  the  shortages  of  key  workers — nurses  for  example — have  become  acute.

One response to the critics – included among the latest Beehive announcements – is something the government is calling its  “Immigration Rebalance  strategy”.  But one flaw quickly becomes obvious.

More of that later.

For now, let’s note that the Immigration Rebalance strategy is vying for media attention, analysis and debate  along with

  • The latest ministerial bragging about benefits continuing to fall;
  • A message to the biggest polluters that they will have to do more to help meet climate targets because of changes the government is making to decade-old settings (these settings “have allocated far too many free climate pollution credits to New Zealand’s largest emitters”, Climate Change Minister James Shaw said);
  • The launch of the country’s  first nationwide tsunami evacuation map (perhaps to heighten our anxieties as we increasingly observe the impacts of climate change around the world);
  • The provision of $179m of government funding to seven centres around the country for groundwork infrastructure such as  pipes and roads that will enable over 8,000 new homes to be built;
  • A speech from the PM to the Local Government New Zealand conference (our team is struggling to find nuggets of hard news in the contents).

Continue reading “Govt lures migrants with millions to invest – but its “rebalanced” policy is still weighted in favour of English speakers”

Budget unleashes laments from groups that were overlooked or short-changed (including hopes of Human Rights empire-building)

And how did the people react to the boost in spending announced in this year’s Budget to promote our wellbeing?

In some cases by pleading for more; in other cases, by grouching they got nothing.

But Budget spending is never enough.

Two lots of bleating came from the Human Rights Commission, which somewhat draws attention to the potential for a $15 million a year saving by abolishing the agency – a budget-trimming measure advocated by the ACT Party.

One statement – in the name of Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero – said Budget 2022 has pluses and minuses for the disabled community.

On the plus side,there was considerable investment in the new Ministry for Disabled People and other funding which has the potential to benefit the disabled community.  And there was some funding for community-based services which support the disabled community. Continue reading “Budget unleashes laments from groups that were overlooked or short-changed (including hopes of Human Rights empire-building)”

Buzz from the Beehive – but you will need a translator (increasingly) to find out what ministers are saying

You can quickly tell from the headline and/or first paragraph of a press statement – sorry, most press statements – what the government is up to.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta clearly stated in the opening sentence of a statement in the past 24 hours that further sanctions are being imposed on Russian politicians and defence entities supporting Putin’s actions in Ukraine, as part of the Government’s ongoing response to the war.   You can learn more on the MFAT website: www.mfat.govt.nz/Russia-Sanctions

COVID-19 Response Minister made plain in the first few sentences of a statement today the Government is broadening the ability for residence class visa holders to re-enter New Zealand.   Residence class visa holders not vaccinated against COVID-19 will be able to enter New Zealand from 6 May. New Zealand Permanent Residents, and Australian Citizens ordinarily resident in New Zealand then will be able to travel in and out of the country.

Infrastructure Minister Grant Robertson posted a statement headed Strategy highlights pathway to reduce infrastructure deficit. 

So far, so good.  But he proceeded to say the Government has welcomed Te Waihanga/New Zealand Infrastructure Commission’s first infrastructure strategy as a major milestone in building a more prosperous, resilient and sustainable future for all New Zealanders.

Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa – New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy 2022–2052 set out the infrastructure challenges and opportunities facing New Zealand over the next 30 years. It draws on research, consultation and the views of more than 20,000 New Zealanders to set a path for this future.

More detail can be found in something headed Speech to Te Waihanga Symposium.

But if you didn’t know Te Waihanga and the NZ Infrastructure Commission are one and the same – well, you may well have moved on to something more readily digestible.

But the speech told us something – about the tabling of the document in Parliament – that we had missed (if it’s there) in the press statement:

Today we are tabling in Parliament and releasing Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa, the 30-year New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy from Te Waihanga, the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission. 

Then there was the joint statement from Maori Crown Relations Minister Kelvin Davis and Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Kiritapu Allan headed Mānawatia a Matariki – te whakanui i a Matariki.

Matariki comes to the Manawatu, perhaps?

Maybe the first par will give us a clue.

Then again, maybe not:

I tāpaea i te rangi nei Te Tohu o Matariki ki te iwi tūmatanui e te Minita mō te Kōtuinga o Ngāi Māori me te Karauna: Te Arawhiti, Kelvin Davis rāua ko te Minita Tuarua mō te Toi, te Ahurea, me te Tukuihotanga, a Kiri Allan.

The first 428 words were in te reo, which means they could not be understood by the great majority of citizens.

Were we enlightened when the ministers eventually tried reaching out to an English-speaking audience?

Not immediately.  The first paragraph said:

Te Tohu o Matariki was presented to the public today by Minister for Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti, Kelvin Davis and Associate Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage Kiri Allan.

What exactly was presented?

The linguistically challenged team at Point of Order admits defeat.

Latest from the Beehive

3 MAY 2022

Broadened criteria for returning visa holders

The Government is broadening the ability for residence class visa holders to re-enter New Zealand, Minister for COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins has announced.

Mānawatia a Matariki – te whakanui i a Matariki

I tāpaea i te rangi nei Te Tohu o Matariki ki te iwi tūmatanui e te Minita mō te Kōtuinga o Ngāi Māori me te Karauna: Te Arawhiti, Kelvin Davis rāua ko te Minita Tuarua mō te Toi, te Ahurea, me te Tukuihotanga, a Kiri Allan.

Speech

Pre-budget speech to Rabobank breakfast

I want to thank Rabobank for hosting us this morning, and all of you for making it along for an early start.

Budget 22: New fiscal rules to be put in place

Finance Minister Grant Robertson has unveiled new fiscal rules to ensure New Zealand continues to maintain a world-leading Government financial position.

Strategy highlights pathway to reduce infrastructure deficit

The Government has welcomed Te Waihanga/New Zealand Infrastructure Commission’s first infrastructure strategy as a major milestone in building a more prosperous, resilient and sustainable future for all New Zealanders.

2 MAY 2022

More political elites and defence entities sanctioned, and prohibitions extended

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has today announced further sanctions on Russian politicians and defence entities supporting Putin’s actions in Ukraine, as part of the Government’s ongoing response to the war.

Speech to Te Waihanga Symposium

Today we are tabling in Parliament and releasing Rautaki Hanganga o Aotearoa, the 30-year New Zealand Infrastructure Strategy from Te Waihanga, the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission.

Buzz from the Beehive: NZ is warned to brace for climate warming and its costs

From a self-interest perspective, one of the latest Beehive announcements was warmly welcomed by the veteran scribes in the Point of Order newsroom.  It was the news of the Government’s Older Workers Employment Action Plan, aimed at supporting older people to stay in the workforce and transition their skills as they age and their circumstances change.

Recognising that older workers make up around a third of the New Zealand workforce and almost half of all New Zealanders aged 65 to 69 are employed, the plan focuses on people aged 50 and over.

But the announcement with the most significant nation-wide implications was the invitation to all New Zealanders to have their say on a proposed National Adaptation Plan to help communities across the country adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

The consultation document is HERE. 

The draft plan outlines the actions the Government will take over the next six years in response to the priority climate-related risks identified in the 2020 National Climate Change Risk Assessment, so that all sectors and communities are able to live and thrive in a changing climate. The consultation also outlines proposals for flood insurance and managed retreat policies.

Oh – and Climate Change Minister James Shaw warned that councils and property owners must shoulder some of the costs.

On the other hand, the Government will spend $1.4 billion on infrastructure for five Auckland suburbs.  Around 400 urban renewal projects in Mt Roskill, Mangere, Tāmaki, Oranga and Northcote will receive funding from the Government’s $3.8 billion Housing Acceleration Fund (HAF) to develop build-ready land to enable up to 16,000 homes in the suburbs over the next five to 16 years.

Latest from the Beehive

28 APRIL 2022

Government supports extra housing development

The Government is funding further infrastructure for five Auckland suburbs undergoing regeneration to support new and existing housing for New Zealanders and their families, Housing Minister Dr Megan Woods has announced.  Around 400 urban renewal projects in Mt Roskill, Mangere, Tāmaki, Oranga and Northcote will receive funding from the Government’s $3.8 billion Housing Acceleration Fund (HAF) to unlock more housing.

27 APRIL 2022

Government puts port safety under the spotlight

The health and safety practices at our nation’s ports will be investigated as part of a range of actions taken by the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety in response to two

New Government plan helps support older workers

Supporting older people to stay in the workforce and transition their skills as they age and their circumstances change is a key part of the new Older Workers Employment Action Plan.

Flora, fauna and communities set to flourish through Jobs for Nature

An initiative that has provided tourism workers with alternative employment into the lead up to New Zealand’s borders reopening is being extended to ensure staff are retained.

Supporting communities to prepare for climate impacts

From today New Zealanders can have their say on a proposed National Adaptation Plan to help communities across the country adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

The nation that Jacinda aims to rebuild – and the economy that can’t return to business as normal

Will  these  words  come  back  to  haunt the Prime  Minister?:

 “When we look back on this period in our country’s history, I don’t want us just to reflect on how we weathered the storm of a pandemic, but what we built after”.

Furthermore, she  told Parliament yesterday:

“Our economy cannot afford to return to business as usual, because the status quo is unsustainable”.

And  she concluded her Prime Ministerial statement with this  ringing commitment:

“New Zealand has entrusted the government with the responsibility of bringing this country through our current crisis,  and we will continue to do that. But we will do more than that. We’ll provide stability, a united team, and a singular focus on a recovery that, even after a crisis, leaves New Zealand better than we found it”. Continue reading “The nation that Jacinda aims to rebuild – and the economy that can’t return to business as normal”

Thinking big – Biden’s spending programme signals shift in thinking about role of the state in the economy

Here’s a Think Big project of which even Rob Muldoon would have been proud.  US President Joe Biden has launched a $US2.3 trillion infrastructure plan designed to fix roads and bridges, replace pipes, expand broadband internet access and boost funding for research and development.

Might we need something similar here rather than tinkering with light rail and broadcasting?

The infrastructure plans would water the eyes of an old Minister of Works. There’s $US621 billion to modernise transportation infrastructure, for starters.  But then there’s $US400 billion to help care for the aging and those with disabilities, $US300 billion to boost the manufacturing industry, $US213 billion on retrofitting and building affordable housing and $US100 billion to expand broadband access, among other investments

There are plans to modernise 20,000 miles of roadway, build 500,000 electric-vehicle charging stations, replace the country’s existing lead pipes and service lines, repair aging schools, fix the ten most economically significant bridges in the country in need of reconstruction, repair the worst 10,000 smaller bridges, and provide critical linkages to communities.  And plans to replace thousands of buses and rail cars, repair hundreds of stations, renew airports, and expand transit and rail into new communities.

Home care for the elderly and disabled will be expanded. Billions of dollars will go into semi-conductor manufacturing. More of the country’s electricity will be generated from low-carbon sources, with a goal of eliminating carbon emissions from the power grid by 2035. Continue reading “Thinking big – Biden’s spending programme signals shift in thinking about role of the state in the economy”

Invitations to the racing trough are issued, barbecuers get a gas assurance and Robertson serves alphabet soup

Latest from the Beehive

Self-interest (we confess) triggered our reading of the speech delivered by Energy Minister Megan Woods to a Business New Zealand Energy Council breakfast.  We were rewarded with encouraging news (but it was not so encouraging when we took a second look).

Woods reassured New Zealanders that the Climate Change Committee’s recommendations on natural gas would not mean “the imminent end of the classic kiwi BBQ”.  The key word is imminent.

Woods said residential and commercial consumption of gas makes up a small proportion of our overall gas demand – about 9  per cent in 2019.

The question for the Government is how it can best support the phase-out of natural gas while ensuring that consumers get the energy they need.

“This will include considering what the most efficient emissions reductions areas may be within the market.

“For example, our current gas distribution infrastructure provides many opportunities for alternative lower emissions fuels to be used, including the use of biogas and hydrogen. These are all matters the Government will need to consider before making recommendations about the future of natural gas use in commercial and residential applications over the next thirty or so years.” Continue reading “Invitations to the racing trough are issued, barbecuers get a gas assurance and Robertson serves alphabet soup”

Woods sticks to her script (a list of what the government has done) after economist rails about housing

As Minister of Housing, she is acutely aware of how decades of under-investment in infrastructure and the building of affordable homes has led us to where we are today, Megan Woods said yesterday.

Great.  But what is being done about it?

Plenty – but nothing that hasn’t been announced already, it seems.

At least, not according to the speech which Woods delivered to the InfrastructureNZ conference.

Woods ticked off a list of programmes already under way and legislation already passed, and she reiterated the Government’s intention to replace the Resource Management Act.  But an audience of infrastructure buffs hoping to be the first to hear of new initiatives would have been disappointed.

Woods’ speech was among the new posts on the Beehive website, since we last checked.

Among the others: Continue reading “Woods sticks to her script (a list of what the government has done) after economist rails about housing”

Hey, we have some influence, but maybe not enough in the right circles to secure a share of $30,000 propaganda job

Because we fancy ourselves as “influencers”, here at Point of Order, we had high hopes of being invited to share some of the $30,000 lolly the government intends spending to publicise its apprenticeship programmes.

It was a very fleeting flight of fancy.  On almost immediate second thoughts we sensed that (a) our influence might not be as great as we like to suppose and (b) we might not be reaching the audience the government hopes to reach with whatever influence we can muster.

Even if we could reach the right audience with the necessary degree of influence, we would be bound to bridle at having to earn our money by getting into the propaganda business.

We would also cop criticism, probably, from a Taxpayers Union that is apt to rail against hypocrites who disapprove of troughers, but then accept goodies from a taxpayer-funded trough.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Education Minister Chris Hipkins yesterday drew attention to the troughing opportunity in question when they announced a campaign to raise the profile of vocational education and training (VET). Continue reading “Hey, we have some influence, but maybe not enough in the right circles to secure a share of $30,000 propaganda job”

Monitoring (or is it oversight?) gets good results in Westland but the Canterbury DHB requires strong medicine

Central government monitoring seems to have done the trick on one side of the Southern Alps.  Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has declared she is satisfied “the close monitoring” of the Westland District Council by an Oversight Committee can draw to a close.

he had written to the council in July and September last year, expressing concerns about poor processes, dysfunctional governance and management, non-compliance with policies, and natural hazard management. Later in the year she established an Oversight Committee comprising key government agencies to support the council as it worked to improve its performance.

But she seemed curiously disinclined to call it monitoring.

In a statement on November 26 she said:

“The Council has heard the extent of the concerns raised and has taken steps to respond. Westland have demonstrated they are establishing governance committees to provide transparency of decision making, putting in systems and frameworks for policies and processes, and learning from pas t experience”.

But she said there was benefit “from a level of oversight” and had tasked an existing group to provide support to the council to support necessary changes.

Continue reading “Monitoring (or is it oversight?) gets good results in Westland but the Canterbury DHB requires strong medicine”