The way out of Alert Level Four Covid confinement (it seems) is to get arrested and be freed on remand

The Beehive website has been focused on Covid-related news in recent days – each of the last four press statements from ministers is related to Covid-19 issues and, for good measure, we can include a statement which arrived in our email in-tray yesterday from Peeni Henare which has not yet been given “official” Beehive website status.

But none of those statements deals with the question of why a remand prisoner who should have been kept in Alert Level Four lockdown along with all other Aucklanders – preferably in a prison in his case – was allowed to cross the border to the Waikato.

And guess what?

The Minister of Health revealed at the weekend that three household members of the prisoner have tested positive for the virus. Continue reading “The way out of Alert Level Four Covid confinement (it seems) is to get arrested and be freed on remand”

Govt invests in robotics to help harvest the asparagus crop but the Nats are grouching about problems in the pork industry

A flow of Covid-related announcements from The Beehive was interrupted by news of a Government investment in robotics.

The Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (SFF Futures) is contributing $2.6 million to a $5 million project to develop a commercial-scale autonomous robotic asparagus harvester.  

Project partner Robotics Plus Limited (RPL) will build on a prototype asparagus harvesting robot developed by Waikato University researchers, and the New Zealand Asparagus Council will develop a marketing proposition for exporting the asparagus.

 All other Beehive announcements (when Point of Order checked this morning) related to Covid-19.

The best of those told us more Pfizer is on the way.

Another welcome decision related to driver licences, Warrants of Fitness (WoFs), Certificates of Fitness (CoFs), vehicle licences (‘regos’) and licence endorsements that expired on or after 21 July 2021.  Their validity has been extended until 30 November. Continue reading “Govt invests in robotics to help harvest the asparagus crop but the Nats are grouching about problems in the pork industry”

More co-governance – this time it is providing 30 jobs (instead of just 15) as the govt fortifies its role in the labour market

A co-governance system of administration is being introduced to the job-training and employment sector.

Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni has announced a raft of co-chair appointments for the country’s 15 permanent Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLG).

Doubling up on chairs has the great merit of providing more jobs than when you have just one chair:  the groups will be headed by 30 co-chairs rather than 15 chairs.

One co-chair (the Crown’s representative in a Treaty-based arrangement, presumably) is nominated through an Expressions of Interest process, the other is selected in consultation with regional iwi and Māori.

Chairs will be appointed for up to three years.

This initiative seems to be fortifying the influence of central planning in the labour market.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website says Regional Skills Leadership Groups were formed a year ago to identify and support better ways of meeting future skills and workforce needs in our regions and cities.​

“They are part of a joined-up approach to labour market planning which will see our workforce, education and immigration systems working together to better meet the differing skills needs across the country.”

Sepuloni says appointing the co-chairs is the first step in establishing permanent RSLGs and developing Regional Workforce Plans.

These plans will explore the labour supply and demand trends for each region allowing us to better plan for, and address, future skills shortages, she says.

“The groups will focus on planning and addressing labour market issues in our regions, and once they are fully up and running will become a valuable resource for Government as we seek to accelerate our recovery from COVID-19.  

“The RSLGs will identify what change is needed from regional and national stakeholders in order to achieve a high-skill regional labour market.”

More information on RSLGs can be found here https://www.mbie.govt.nz/business-and-employment/employment-and-skills/regional-skills-leadership-groups/

Latest from the Beehive

Covid -19

Wellington to return to Level 1; QFT pause with Australia to lift for some states and ACT from Sunday

Cabinet agreed yesterday to shift the Wellington region to Alert Level 1 from 11:59pm last night.

The pause on Quarantine Free Travel from South Australia, ACT, Tasmania and Victoria will be lifted at 11.59pm (NZT) on Sunday 4 July.

A risk assessment has been completed for each state and territory. New South Wales is currently seen as the most risk, Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory are higher risk than the government is comfortable with, and South Australia, ACT, Tasmania and Victoria are consistent with New Zealand’s green flights category.

Travellers must have a test no more than 72 hours before their scheduled departure time, which means they have to have a sample taken and result returned within the three day time period.

Passengers should also:

  • understand the current public health measures that are in place,
  • wear face coverings on the aircraft and at the airport,
  • make a health declaration,
  • know they are subject to random temperature checks.
  • know the importance of downloading the COVID tracer app, and
  • self-isolate and be tested immediately if they have any symptoms of illness.

Further details of pre-departure requirements can be found on the COVID-19 website.

Child welfare

The Inter-yeti – taking the internet by storm to teach kids online safety

Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti announced an initiative to help children learn about online safety.

Gunther the Inter-yeti and his trusty friend Byte feature in an interactive ebook to help children understand what to do when they come across bullying trolls, scary content, and ‘friends’ who may not be who they say they are.

$2.1 million was granted from the Covid-19 Recovery Fund to develop this phase of the Keep It Real Online, with the help of young Kiwis aged 5-12 years old. The story is narrated by Stan Walker.

Labour market

Co-chairs appointed to Regional Skills Leadership

Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni has announced the co-chair appointments for the permanent Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLG).

Appointing the co-chairs is the first step in establishing permanent RSLGs and developing Regional Workforce Plans.

The process for standing up interim RSLGs was fast-tracked as a result of COVID-19 to support the recovery of labour markets.

Team NZ’s rejection of public funding offer means around $100m won’t be sunk into America’s Cup defence

It’s full steam ahead for the economy, according to the latest GDP statistics and a  Finance Minister who eagerly drew attention to the new data.

Our farm industries, generally, are doing nicely, too, thank you, in spite of head winds which include a growing raft of government regulations.

But prospects of the America’s Cup being defended in this country are in the doldrums.  That’s bad news for yachting buffs (but great news for taxpayers).

GDP increased 1.6% in the first three months of 2021, much better than the Treasury forecast of a modest decline of 0.2% in May’s Budget or (with the benefit of more recent data) economic commentators’ forecast of an increase less than 1%.

Internationally, the OECD average was 0.3%.

The economy was 2.4% above where it was in the March quarter last year.

A measure of the strength of the food and fibres sector – or rather, a measure of the government’s confidence in the sector – can be discerned from two reports released at Fieldays in Mystery Creek. Continue reading “Team NZ’s rejection of public funding offer means around $100m won’t be sunk into America’s Cup defence”

How to get pedallers and walkers off the Auckland Harbour Bridge – by giving them their own bridge (and it will only cost $685m)

Once upon a time Aucklanders were musing on the merits of  a private-sector proposal aimed at satisfying the demands from the  lycra lobby for a tolled pedestrian and cycle path across Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Orewa-based Hopper Developments – with pioneering projects such as canal housing and marina schemes at Pauanui, Whitianga and Marsden Pt under its belt – had signed a heads of agreement to work with a walking and cycling charitable trust on a $16 million pathway over the bridge.

This  differed from a proposal by Transport Agency consultants, rejected by the agency’s board in 2008, for separate paths to be cantilevered at road level off each edge of the bridge for up to $43 million.

The SkyPath project since then has become, first, a privately funded project underwritten by the Auckland Council, and then a project to be paid for by taxpayers – and the costs have burgeoned.

Today we learn of plans for a $685 million dedicated cycle bridge to replace SkyPath, proudly announced by Infrastructure and Transport Minister  Michael Wood.

That statement was followed by another announcement that Continue reading “How to get pedallers and walkers off the Auckland Harbour Bridge – by giving them their own bridge (and it will only cost $685m)”