Govt braces to spend billions on stormwater projects – a more modest sum is found for Northland flood relief

Latest from the Beehive

Alas, we have a small staff here at Point of Order and a scant travel budget.  Hence we did not plan to cover the Stormwater Conference in Tauranga.

But when the Government earlier this month announced continuing alert levels for Auckland and the rest of the country, the organisers turned Stormwater 2020 into a fully online affair.

 The keynote address was delivered yesterday by a gushing Local Government Minister, Nanaia Mahuta, who mentioned the government’s commitment to job creation and the $3 billion earmarked for ‘shovel ready’ infrastructure projects.

She also mentioned the Infrastructure Reference Group’s work with local councils and businesses in identifying “a pipeline” of projects to support the economy during the COVID-19 rebuild.  Good one, Nanaia.

Then she waded into the matter of water policy and the great Kiwi urge to be able to swim in our rivers, lakes, beaches and gather kaimoana “without worrying about raw sewage seeping into those waters and making us sick”.

But cleaning up our waterways will cost us a bundle:

  • Up to $575 million is needed to upgrade drinking water plants to meet standards;
  • About $3-$4 billion for wastewater plants to meet environmental standards; and
  • Several billion dollars to fix aging storm water pipes and networks.

In addition to the financial hurdles matters are compounded by an ineffective regulatory framework:

  • A framework which is not strong enough to ensure the safety and quality of our drinking water.
  • A framework which does not provide assurances that wastewater and stormwater systems are delivering outcomes that are acceptable for communities, tangata whenua and the environment.

Mahuta had plenty more to say about the Government’s Three Waters Reform Programme and the progress so far achieved.  You can wade through her speech  here.

Another water issue was being tackled by Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin, who announced a $500,000 fund has been allocated to support flood relief activities in Northland.

Not from the Provincial Growth Fund which – unlike Northland – is almost dry.  Last time we wrote to its administrators we received an automatic response headed:

PGF applications almost allocated

Thank you for your email. If your query is related to submitting an application for PGF funding, please note that most of the Government’s $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) has almost been fully allocated.

No, Martin can tap into another source of good spending stuff.

“The Lottery Grants Board recognised the considerable impact that the flooding has had on the communities of Northland and so funding will be available to support impacted community facilities, marae and community organisations that are providing welfare support in the region,” says Minister Martin, who is Presiding Member of the Lottery Grants Board.

Here are the government’s latest Beehive announcements:  

26 AUGUST 2020

Continued focus on Women needed as Gender Pay Gap holds steady

“As we rebuild after COVID-19, our commitment to paying women fairly remains firm,” says Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter, after today’s release of the national gender pay gap from Stats NZ.

Order in Council approved to fast track reinstatement of Christ Church Cathedral

A proposed Order in Council to support the rebuild of the Christ Church Cathedral has been given the go ahead.

Speech to the Stormwater Conference

Thank you for the invitation to deliver the keynote address to this year’s Stormwater conference.

COVID-19 Testing oversight group and terms of reference

The full membership of the COVID-19 Surveillance and Testing Strategy Group and its terms of reference have been announced today by Minister of Health Chris Hipkins.

Lotteries funding for Northland flood relief

A $500,000 fund has been allocated to support flood relief activities in Northland, Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin announced today.