Trade Minister Damien O’Connor addressed the China Business Summit, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta departed for the Indo-Pacific region for a programme of talks on security and economic issues, and the PM announced the launch of a new climate change partnership with Samoa and confirmed support for the rebuild of the capital’s main market.
The PM’s announcements were accompanied by $15 million to support Samoa’s response to climate change and $12 million toward the rebuild of the Savalalo Market in Apia
Ministers with a domestic focus meanwhile were getting on with telling us about their legislative and regulatory agendas and other programmes.
A major item was the launch today of New Zealand’s first National Adaptation Plan, designed to ensure communities have the information and support they need to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
It’s great to have Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods – while “celebrating” the launch of two initiatives for energy decarbonisation in the transport sector in New Zealand – give as an idea of what happens to handouts of government money.
Too often, the handouts are announced – and that’s the last we hear of it.
In this case Woods has drawn the public’s attention to two projects which (she contends) were
“… made possible with the help of Government funding”.
This implies they would have been impossible if Government funding had been denied.
Whatever might have happened without the state’s investments,Woods could boast that the money has resulted in –
New Zealand’s (and possibly the world’s) first electric milk tanker entering Fonterra’s fleet; and
Hyundai and NZ Post getting the country’s first hydrogen truck on the road.
The big news from the Beehive in the past day has been the announcement of the Government’s Emissions Reduction Plan to put the country on track to meet its first emissions budget, securing our environment and economy.
More of that in our next post. For now, suffice to say Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared:
“This is a landmark day in our transition to a low emissions future
In a letter to the Dominion-Post today, a Daniel Smith from Lower Hutt tells us what he thinks of at least one aspect of National Party policy on Covid-19.
He says recent calls by Chris Bishop and Christopher Luxon to immediately withdraw Covid-19 mandates at a time when the majority of New Zealand is still experiencing very high rates of hospitalisation
“… beggars belief and is nothing less than irresponsible.
“Have these people not seen what has occurred in the multitude of other countries with limited pandemic control measures in place? If not, they need to start paying attention.”
“Clearly the opposition parties in New Zealand, which are supposed to be advocating for greater accountability, don’t feel they should be held accountable [for] their own poor-quality policy proposals. We deserve better.”
Whether or not things are better under Jacinda Ardern is open to debate. But they are different.
The PM has resisted the call to immediately withdraw Covid-19 mandates. No, she informed us today – they won’t be withdrawn until April 4 (with some exceptions remaining in place).
ACT staffers were monitoring the announcement, resulting in this press statement:
The Government is intending to force the disclosure of the real owners of companies and limited partnerships with legislation to curb money laundering, tax evasion and terrorism financing.
Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark said the legislation – to be introduced later this year – will make it mandatory for the beneficial owners or controllers of companies and trusts to be identified.
Other announcements from the Beehive deal with …
Mental health: a recruitment campaign has been launched, targetting “the next generation of mental health nurses”.
Horticulture: public funding is being pumped into the trial of a new hydroponic growing technique that aims to have higher yields and a lower impact on the environment.
The war in Ukraine: New Zealand will provide a further $5 million contribution of “non-lethal military assistance” to support Ukraine and are making available a range of surplus defence equipment to share with Ukraine at their request.
Biosecurity: This year’s New Zealand Biosecurity Awards winners have been announced.
First, there was good news for low-paid workers, although it wasn’t so good for employers. The government announced it was raising the minimum wage 6 per cent from $20 to $21.20 an hour from April 1.
Next day, the government was issuing something it presumably regarded as good advice for New Zealanders in an overseas trouble spot, but this had a disconcerting dimension to it.
These New Zealanders were urged to get out of Ukraine fast as Russian troops amass on the border. The snag is that getting back into New Zealand won’t be as easy as getting out of Ukraine.
The rise in the minimum wage was described by Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) chief executive Brett O’Riley as a “kick in the guts” for many businesses. This was ironic – he contended – because business groups had been discussing with Treasury what extra support might be available for sectors struggling with constraints imposed by the red-setting response to Covid-19.
But one business sectors probably was mollified by the news it was being given special government help. The Events Transition Support Payment scheme will be extended to 31 January 2023 and expanded to include business events.
The government has taken further steps to split the country into various camps – first, we will have vaccinated and unvaccinated Kiwis, and second, we are further developing Us and Them racial camps. One split is being explained by the government’s need to protect the nation against the spread of Covid-19, the other is being justified by a debatable interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi.
When something must be done to meet the requirements of the Treaty (according to interpretations adopted by the Ardern government to promote its political agenda), most critics are likely to be silenced. To challenge the dispensation of favours to Maori or whatever has been justified by the Treaty is to risk being accused of racism.
The latest decision to split the country into vaccinated and unvaccinated camps – and to bestow rights and benefits, such as a job, on the vaccinated – affects Police and Defence personnel.
What had become a surge of ministerial announcements this time yesterday had turned into a tsunami at time of writing (around noon today). Frankly, we can’t keep up.
We ended yesterday’s roundup of Beehive announcements with a statement on the PM’s virtual attendance at the East Asia Summit. Since then, ministers have posted 16 new statements. Several were Covid-related.
This was a good time for a smart press secretary to unload news of dubious government spending, hoping it will be buried by the other stuff, including Grant Robertson’s latest boast about how well the government’s finances are being managed.
Sure, core Crown expenses at $31 billion were $3.2 billion above forecast in the three months to the end of September – but, hey, that was all to do with Covid and the payment of wage subsidies and COVID-19 resurgence support payments.
But how well is spending being keep under control?