Welcome home, Nanaia – and it’s good to hear defence, security and trade stuff were discussed with big-wigs in North America

Our Beehive update

Matters in the foreign affairs domain have preoccupied ministers over the past two days.

Ambassadors to Russia and the United Nations have been appointed, $100 million has been given to the Cook Islands and Fiji for COVID-19 economic support and recovery, nine southern African countries have been added to New Zealand’s list of very high risk countries after discovery of the COVID-19 variant Omicron, and Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta has provided a rundown on the North American leg of her 17-day overseas travels.

Mahuta has been busy.  Regardless of jet  lag, she has announced the new ambassadorial appointments and the economic package of $100 million, bringing COVID-19  support to the Cook Islands and Fiji to a combined total of $215 million. New Zealand this time is providing $60 million to the Cook Islands and $40 million to Fiji.

We suppose the press statements were prepared while the Minister was in managed isolation and quarantine, no doubt itching to get back to the Three Waters reforms.

A weekend statement told us the final leg of Mahuta’s travels involved “a number of high-level discussions” in the United States and Canada.

The issues discussed extended beyond the interests of indigenous peoples, the subject of her previous travel report after she meet Canadian ministers.

She mentioned these interests again in her latest statement as a measure of the importance she obviously attaches to them.  But she also brought stuff such as defence, security and trade into her discussions.  Continue reading “Welcome home, Nanaia – and it’s good to hear defence, security and trade stuff were discussed with big-wigs in North America”

Promoting indigenous aspirations and saying “thank you” are among Mahuta’s successes on Middle East visit

The modesty of our Foreign Minister is to be admired.  She announced her departure from the Middle East at the weekend in a statement headed Foreign Minister concludes successful visit to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Some Ministers might have been tempted to describe their latest doings as a triumph.

Mahuta may be keeping that word on hold until four new organisations have been established with 50:50 co-governance arrangements to deliver the highly controversial Three Waters programme without her having to compromise

Mind you, it is tempting to ask by what criteria success (or failure, for that matter) is measured after a Minister visits other countries.

In this case it could be regarded as a success – a year after her being give that portfolio – that our Minister of Foreign Affairs at long last has ventured overseas.

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark’s weekend achievement was to announce the Government’s decision to review the residential building supply market.

The study will enable the Commerce Commission to investigate any factors that may affect competition for the supply or acquisition of key building supplies. Continue reading “Promoting indigenous aspirations and saying “thank you” are among Mahuta’s successes on Middle East visit”

The Treaty gives government a tonic to deal to family violence – but science is called on to deal with Myrtle rust

Vaccine announcements have dominated news from the Beehive over the past few days, but while the vaccine deals to Covid,  the Treaty of Waitangi has been prescribed to deal to family violence.

ACC minister Carmel Sepuloni announced the ACC is investing $44.9 million over four years to establish “a fit-for-purpose sexual violence primary prevention system”.

This is bound to be successful because it is based on the Treaty, a document signed in 1840 comprising just three articles.  But when interpreted by the Ardern governmnent,  this document holds the key to ridding us (apparently) of pretty well anything from warts to citizens’ rights to challenge local authorities’ race-based governance proposals.

And so:

“The new Te-Tiriti-informed primary prevention system announced today, will provide long-term, sustained investment and enhance our Government’s effort to prevent sexual violence.

“The package includes $11.715 million of targeted investment for kaupapa Māori approaches. It will enhance the primary prevention system in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Who provides the money?

Most of us, we imagine, although when it comes  to determining who should be given priority in the spending of this money, the government unabashedly brings race into calculations.

“As Treaty partners, ACC will prioritise Māori and partner with whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori communities,” Associate Minister for ACC Willie Jackson said. Continue reading “The Treaty gives government a tonic to deal to family violence – but science is called on to deal with Myrtle rust”

Reserve Bank gets green light to tighten lending rules for housing (hopefully without impeding first-home owners)

The Reserve Bank has been given the government’s go-ahead to tighten mortgage lending rules to try to take some heat out of the housing market.

An updated Memorandum of Understanding between the Minister of Finance and the Reserve Bank will enable it to implement its proposal to reduce the amount of low-deposit bank lending banks for mortgages.

Announcing the updated MOU, Finance Minister Grant Robertson today said the central bank has proposed reducing the amount of lending banks can do above a high Loan-to-Value Ratio (LVR) of 80 per cent.  This lending will be lowered from 20 per cent to 10 per cent of all new loans.

Consultation will start with banks later this month, with a view to introduce this from 1 October, 2021.

The central bank also intends to start consultations in October on implementing Debt to Income (DTI) restrictions and/or interest rate floors. Continue reading “Reserve Bank gets green light to tighten lending rules for housing (hopefully without impeding first-home owners)”

State servants cool on pay curbs, despite Robertson eschewing the “freeze” tag – but will they warm to a koha-based tax system?

Finance Minister Grant Robertson reminded us – in a speech to Auckland business people – about changes to the Public Finance Act which require him to set out the wellbeing objectives that will guide the Government’s Budget decisions this year.

The Budget will also reflect the te ao Maori perspective that Treasury has been incorporating in the budget process through a framework called He Ara Waiora.

What will this mean in terms of Budget taxing and spending?  We can’t wait to find out.

We recall that one question examined by our Treasury officials a few years ago was how tikanga Māori (in particular manaakitanga, whanaungatanga, and kaitiakitanga) could help create a more future-focused tax system.

Perhaps by relying more on koha and less on IRD demands.

Meanwhile Robertson has spelled out the Budget 2021 wellbeing objectives: Continue reading “State servants cool on pay curbs, despite Robertson eschewing the “freeze” tag – but will they warm to a koha-based tax system?”

We should brace for the boiler ban – but $22.88m has been handed out to help businesses decarbonise

Our Beehive bulletin

The Government’s ban on new low and medium temperature coal-fired boilers and partnering with the private sector to help it transition away from fossil fuels perhaps ranked as the most important Beehive announcement yesterday.

It was the first major announcement to follow the release of the Climate Commission’s draft package of advice to Government in February and was accompanied by the distribution of dollops of corporate welfare to  the successful applicants in round one of the Government Investment in Decarbonising Industry Fund.

Fourteen companies will receive $22.88m in co-funding to help their businesses transition away from fossil fuels.

The ban on new coal boilers used in manufacturing and production will come into effect by 31 December.

A consultation document for other coal proposals can be found on the Ministry for the Environment website.

The energy announcement was one of several to emerge during a busy day in the Beehive, many of them enabling Ministers to bray about the big bucks (or small ones) they were throwing around. Continue reading “We should brace for the boiler ban – but $22.88m has been handed out to help businesses decarbonise”

$31 billion for Auckland transport infrastructure but (hurrah) more immediately the city has dropped to Alert Level One

Our Beehive Bulletin

Climate change was high on the day’s Beehive publicity agenda.  Spending of billions of dollars – or should that be “investing”? – were involved, too.

Transport Minister Michael Wood, in tandem with Auckland mayor Phil Goff, announced the Government and Auckland Council are investing $31 billion in a package to help Auckland meet long-term challenges of climate change and housing,

And Climate Change Minister James Shaw confirmed Crown financial institutions will be expected to report on their exposure to climate risk.

Aucklanders would have been more chuffed, probably, by the more immediate news that their city moved to Covid-19 Alert Level 1 from at midday today.

This follows six days of Auckland being at Level 2, with seven days prior to that at Level 3, after 15 positive community cases emerged outside managed isolation facilities.

Covid-19 news came, too, in the form of a bit of braying from Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s office.

Continue reading “$31 billion for Auckland transport infrastructure but (hurrah) more immediately the city has dropped to Alert Level One”

Oh, look – a trough for creative and cultural Kiwis (but ethnicity considerations might curb a rush of applications)

Latest from the Beehive – 

One of the less challenging jobs for a Minister of the Crown is dipping into a trough within his ministerial gift and hoping for favourable headlines by dishing out grants.

Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford – who has fallen short of counting Kiwbuild and Auckland light rail among his political triumphs – proved to be a dab hand at distributing money from the Creative and Cultural Events Incubator trough at the weekend.

Four Māori and Pasifika events will receive up to $100,000 each in funding.

The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, had the similarly unchallenging task of announcing the inaugural launch of Kiribati Language Week as part of the 2020 Pacific Language Weeks programme.

The government – or rather, taxpayers – will provide “resourcing support” to the Kiribati community in New Zealand to help them run their language week activities for the first time. Continue reading “Oh, look – a trough for creative and cultural Kiwis (but ethnicity considerations might curb a rush of applications)”

More millions are announced for spending on health and wellbeing and the govt strives to get people back into jobs

Two Budget announcements were made at the weekend, ahead of Finance Minister’s big day on Thursday.  First, there’s an increase of $160 million over four years in the Combined Pharmaceutical Budget; second, there will be spending of just over $200 million on family violence services.

The family violence services announcement notably reminded us of the government’s fondness for race-based funding.

“The Budget includes support for services by Māori for Māori … “

What about support – say – for services for Asians by Asians?

Further spending was announced, too, for mental health support for at-risk communities due to Covid-19, but which Budget does this come from? Total funding, about $3 million, covers the period from April 2020 (in the 2019/20 financial year for Budget purposes) to 30 September 2020 (in the 2020/20 financial year).

Continue reading “More millions are announced for spending on health and wellbeing and the govt strives to get people back into jobs”