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”

Parker doubles up on his response to court ruling but the PM has yet to post news of jobs for Simpson and Roche

Latest from the Beehive

It’s there now,  up on the Beehive website – the official pronouncement that the Government is increasing the number of defence force personnel supporting the Managed Isolation and Quarantine System and maritime border.

The statement sits alongside –

  • A typical spending statement from Shane Jones (the Government will invest $14.6 million in upgrades to Route 52 between Central Hawke’s Bay and Tararua District);
  • News from Damien O’Connor that the Government is investing $6.8 million to help upgrade the main road through Motueka;  and
  • News from Winston Peters and Ron Mark (New Zealand will deploy additional personnel to the Republic of Korea, increasing the size of the New Zealand Defence Force deployment there from six to nine personnel).

Around 500 more defence personnel are being deployed closer to home as the government hastens to buttress the Managed Isolation and Quarantine System and more firmly secure the maritime border. This lifts the total to about 990 defence personnel at managed isolation facilities and will bring the total Defence Force personnel supporting the Covid-19 response to around 1200 (the largest military contingent since Timor-Leste, the government wants us to know).

But we can find no official written record of something else announced yesterday:  Helen Clark’s former top adviser, Heather Simpson, is being brought in to lead a new group that will support the Ministry of Health as it ramps up testing at the border. Continue reading “Parker doubles up on his response to court ruling but the PM has yet to post news of jobs for Simpson and Roche”

Fingers crossed about the border being made Covid-tight but let’s salute the further assault on Taumurunui’s housing shortage

Our daily check with the Beehive website revealed nothing new until this afternoon, and then we found just one new announcement.

It came from – guess who?

Yep.  Shane Jones was again demonstrating his munificence, providing $7.78 million for the Ruapehu District Council to “jump-start” its Housing Options programme.

But a statement with much greater national significance had been made by Housing Minister Megan Woods and despatched to the Point of  Order  email intray.

Woods advised us the government is reducing its reliance on private security guards and increasing its use of Defence Force personnel, especially in the highest risk facilities, to fortify the Managed Isolation and Quarantine System and maritime border and further bolster (we hope) protections against community COVID-19 spread.    

The defence personnel will staff higher-risk security areas such as entry and exit points and public areas.

But the private sector isn’t being forsaken. Woods said:

Continue reading “Fingers crossed about the border being made Covid-tight but let’s salute the further assault on Taumurunui’s housing shortage”

Delay gives Jones a bit more time to distribute public money before Northland voters decide his fate

Latest from the Beehive

Hard on the heels of the PM announcing the delay of the general election, Finance Minister Grant Robertson was announcing an extension of the wage subsidy while the munificent Shane Jones was to the fore in announcing millions of dollars of investments and loans for selected beneficiaries.

A mushroom farm in Hawke’s Bay was among those beneficiaries.

Jones’ New Zealand First colleague, Tracey Martin, meanwhile was announcing another trough for the nation’s oinkers, a new lottery fund worth $40 million. It’s called the Lottery COVID-19 Community Wellbeing Fund, established (Martin said) because the Lottery Grants Board wants to help rebuild and strengthen our communities and help with the recovery.

Martin is the Presiding Member of the Lottery Grants Board.

The Fund will provide one-off grants and is expected to be up and running in the last quarter of the year. Continue reading “Delay gives Jones a bit more time to distribute public money before Northland voters decide his fate”

Northland doesn’t reject the millions Jones brings to his home patch – but polls suggests it will reject him

Latest from the Beehive

Here’s hoping the hundreds of millions of dollars pumped into Northland from the Provincial Growth Fund and other government programmes do much more to promote the region’s economic and social wellbeing than they are doing to enhance Shane Jones’ election prospects.

He is bound to be disappointed.  Besides channelling substantial loans and grants into his home patch, Jones has staunchly championed the region in other ways – by promoting the proposal to move Auckland’s port to Whangarei, for example.

But a new Q+A/Colmar Brunton poll suggests Jones is running a distant-third behind the incumbent National MP Matt King and Labour’s Willow-Jean Prime.  It showed King on 46 per cent support for the seat vote, Prime on 31 per cent, and Jones on 15 per cent.

Labour was ahead in the party vote within the electorate at 41 per cent, with National not far behind at 38 per cent, ACT next at 8 per cent, and NZ First at 7 per cent.

How much more money (we wonder) would make Jones a shoo-in? Continue reading “Northland doesn’t reject the millions Jones brings to his home patch – but polls suggests it will reject him”

Algorithm charter (with a Maori perspective embedded) is a world first while banking become NZ’s first sector committed to a living wage

Latest from the Beehive

While Shane Jones was distributing his latest serving of public funds to causes in the Far North, a New Zealand First colleague was showing that veterans haven’t been forgotten in The Great Covid Handout.

Ron Mark, Minister for Veterans Affairs, announced the Coalition Government has approved a one-off grant of $2.53 million for the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association (RSA) and – in a separate statement – said 11 further declarations of operational service have been made. This means those who took part in those deployments will qualify for support and services from Veterans’ Affairs.

While the money-dispensing ministers were focused on different constituencies, another minister was announcing world-breaking news.

Our government became the first in the world to outline a set of standards to guide the use of algorithms by public agencies when Statistics Minister James Shaw launched the Algorithm Charter for Aotearoa New Zealand. The aim is to give New Zealanders confidence that data is being used safely and effectively across government.

The charter has been signed by 21 agencies, including the Ministry for the Environment, Ministry of Education, the Department of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Justice, and Inland Revenue. Continue reading “Algorithm charter (with a Maori perspective embedded) is a world first while banking become NZ’s first sector committed to a living wage”

Mandatory liquor warnings and a military posting to Tonga make a change from redistributing NZ’s wealth

Latest from the Beehive

Damien O’Connor, as Food Safety Minister, has moved into the business of dispensing advice rather than redistributing millions of dollars.   Or rather, he intends requiring the liquor industry to dispense the advice by putting pregnancy warning labels on alcohol products.

New Zealand shares a Food Standards system with Australia and this mandatory labelling was agreed at a meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation.

The official communique by the Australia and New Zealand Ministerial Forum on Food Regulation can be found here.

We aren’t sure if Ron Mark, as Minister of Defence,  gets too many chances to dole out millions of dollars to businesses, local authorities or community groups deemed worthy of funding.  But he has lined up a comfortable overseas posting for someone within his ministerial bailiwick.

He announced yesterday that New Zealand is deepening its Defence relationships in the Pacific by establishing a resident Defence Adviser in the Kingdom of Tonga. Continue reading “Mandatory liquor warnings and a military posting to Tonga make a change from redistributing NZ’s wealth”

While colleagues are dishing out largess, Peters serves Meridian (belatedly) with a rebuke and demands an explanation

Latest from the Beehive

Police Minister Stuart Nash climbed on the diversity bandwagon at the same time as he was enhancing his government’s law and order credentials with a press statement highlighting the increase in police numbers on Jacinda Ardern’s watch.

Winston Peters, as Minister of State Enterprises, was sounding tough on another front.  He expressed “an equal measure of shock and concern” at the recent Electricity Authority Board’s preliminary finding that Meridian Energy was involved in an ‘undesirable trading situation’ during December 2019 .

His statement suggests Peters has a very slow fuse. Citing a preliminary ruling by the Electricity Authority, Stuff reported on June 30 that Meridian Energy had pushed up power prices in December by unnecessarily spilling water from its South Island dams that could have been used for generation.

It has taken more than a fortnight for Peters to huff and puff and declare:

“The Meridian Board Chair and Chief Executive have been told to front up to my office and explain themselves before the House rises on August 6.” Continue reading “While colleagues are dishing out largess, Peters serves Meridian (belatedly) with a rebuke and demands an explanation”

Let’s see how much money ministers can dispense before Covid-19 calls for a tougher govt response

Latest from the Beehive –

The PM provided a disquieting heads-up on what the government will do if a new case of community transmission of COVID-19 is found in New Zealand.  She outlined the cabinet-approved framework designed to give the public and business community as much certainty as can be given on what to expect if new cases inside our borders are found.

Some of her ministers, meanwhile, were getting on with the business of winning public approval by redistributing the money collected by the IRD, Continue reading “Let’s see how much money ministers can dispense before Covid-19 calls for a tougher govt response”

Sage feeds the Green Gorilla while announcing how the govt will more tightly squeeze us when we dump our trash

Latest from the Beehive

The government announced more funding for this and that – along with bigger levies for trash disposal – while the Nats were arranging for Crusher Collins to vie with Kindly Jacinda when voters determine who will lead the next government.

Mind you, the Greens aren’t averse to Crusher-like imagery.  Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage turned up at an outfit called the Green Gorilla – a waste service provider in Auckland – to announce plans to put the squeeze on citizens with new levies aimed at reducing trash.

Green Gorilla did nicely, thank you, from hosting this event.  It was given $3.1 million for a new commercial and industrial waste line, which is able to process mixed commercial and industrial waste and divert it from landfill.

Generosity Jones had gone further north  – into a patch where he will be hoping to harvest enough votes to make him MP for Northland – to announce “a package of wellbeing infrastructure investments in Kaipara”.

Phil Twyford and Stuart Nash, meanwhile, were rolling out more support for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from the COVID Response and Recovery Fund. As Ministers for Economic Development and Small Business respectively, they announced a further $40 million for the Regional Business Partners (RBP) Network, on top of $15 million invested since March. Continue reading “Sage feeds the Green Gorilla while announcing how the govt will more tightly squeeze us when we dump our trash”