Monitoring the Ministers
Two sets of key public-sector appointments have been announced by the ministers who serve us, since we last reported on our monitoring of the Beehive website.
Old white blokes – by the way – did not get a look-in, when it came to landing these jobs.
Children’s Minister Kelvin Davis announced three additional members have been appointed to the Oranga Tamariki Ministerial Advisory Board to provide representation for the youth, disability and Pasifika communities.
The board, set up in January, provides independent advice and assurance to the Minister for Children as work begins to “reset” the organisation.
Dr Ruth Jones, Mana Williams-Eade and Alfred Filipaina – the new appointees – join board chair Matthew Tukaki, Dame Naida Glavish, Sir Mark Solomon and Shannon Pakura
“… and will work alongside Oranga Tamariki to change our child care and protection system.”
A new action plan to implement the board’s initial recommendations has been put in place and work is well under way in talking to communities about how they see the future of child protection, Davis said.
“I firmly believe the answer lies in Oranga Tamariki taking a back seat and working in true partnership with communities who know best for their young people.”
Readers on the right of the political spectrum should be chuffed. Davis is saying the best place for the state is to get out of our lives.
Health Minister Andrew Little and Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare announced the two chief executives to lead New Zealand’s two new (racially segregated) health agencies. Continue reading “Let’s welcome Mahuta’s zeal for restoring Hong Kong’s democracy – and then let’s hope her thinking extends to NZ governance”
If it’s true that Labour’s great run is now ending, Opposition parties should be vibrating with new-found confidence.
This may be the case with ACT, but so far there has been little sign of it in National. In fact judging by the volume of speculation about National’s leadership among the political cognoscenti in the weekend media, the inner circle of the party is stressed out over its leadership.
A party on top of its game certainly would be scoring some big hits. On the other hand it may be argued that the preoccupation with Covid has stifled interest in other political issues.
Still, as economic uncertainty deepens, and managing the Covid Delta variant exposes the government’s vulnerability, the country is looking again for something different, if only to measure accurately how the government is performing.
Beyond the leadership issue, the problem for National is that it does not speak to all elements of its base. It appears singularly out of tune with the regions and particularly with farmers, who are facing vocal lobby groups campaigning against what they call “dirty dairying”— never mind it is dairy export earnings that are sustaining the country’s balance of payments. Continue reading “Labour is giving opposition politicians plenty of issues to exploit as it is stalled by ‘an end-of-year fug’”
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”
A big hurrah, today, for the first statement from Megan Woods as Research, Science and Innovation Minister since – let’s see. Oh yes: June 1.
On that occasion she announced Project Tāwhaki, a special partnership with two rūnanga in Canterbury that would
“… rejuvenate a nationally unique environment, honour deep cultural relationships, and provide amazing opportunities to tap into the multi-billion dollar aerospace economy.”
Kaitōrete Limited and the Crown had entered into a Joint Venture partnership to purchase critical parcels of land (1,000 hectares) near Banks Peninsula. The Crown contributed $16 million to secure the land. The Crown and the Rūnanga would each own 50 percent shares in the land and project. Continue reading “Woods reminds us she still has science among her ministerial jobs – and she dishes out $244m in grants for good measure”
The Government has dished out public money on two fronts in its mission to reduce inequitable outcomes in health statistics.
On one front, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Andrew Little joined a ceremony to bless the site and workers for Phase Two of the redevelopment of the Bay of Islands Hospital in Kawakawa yesterday,
The Government has invested $14 million in a project intended
“… to help the Northland District Health Board address inequitable health outcomes for Māori, by making services easier to access for communities,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“It is unacceptable that the place you live should determine the sort of healthcare get.”
Does this mean the Point of Order team can move to Stewart Island and be assured of the same health services that are being provided for the people of Kawakawa?
Oh, and let’s note that the local district health board in the Far North is being shunted aside for this development. Continue reading “It’s all about reducing inequities -and so Maori wellbeing is a big consideration in research funding and hospital administration”
The Turks don’t want her, after she crossed the border into that country from Syria.
The Aussies don’t want her, even though her family moved to Australia when she was six and she grew up there before departing for Syria in 2014 on an Australian passport. They cancelled her citizenship.
But she had dual citizenship and – we are told – New Zealand is unable to remove citizenship from a person and leave them stateless.
Unable? Or morally disinclined to leave them stateless?
And would a government less committed to wellbeing and kindliness make the same decision?
Never mind. In the upshot, the decision has been made and the woman and her family will be coming to live in this country.
Should we be worried?
The word “ISIS” did not appear in the PM’s press statement, which was blandly headed Cabinet accepts Turkish authorities’ request for the managed return of three NZ citizens.
Nor was the woman named. Continue reading “Oh, look – we can’t find any mention of “ISIS” in PM’s press statement on bringing woman and her children back from Turkey”
Transport Minister Michael Wood is winning a reputation for his bold political initiatives. They include, for example, the announcement of a second Auckland harbour bridge crossing (but only for cyclists and walkers, costing an estimated $780m).
Then came a “feebate” scheme to hasten the transition to electric vehicles.
And earlier there had been a move to “review” the Light Rail project in Auckland, the commitment to which had proved a political disaster for Wood’s predecessor, Phil Twyford.
Wood may regard himself as the chosen one, enjoying the favours of his political seniors. Certainly he appears to have a gift for steering his initiatives through Cabinet.
But to what effect for the political fortunes of the government?
The harbour bridge for strollers and cyclists drew a spectacular response, coming as it did when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was pointing out the government was “strapped for cash” and could not meet the nurses’ demands for a higher wage rise than the 1.38% offered by their state employers. Continue reading “Wood is proving adept at steering major initiatives through Cabinet – but winning public approval for them will be more challenging”
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)”
The screen industry – or some of its more well-heeled operators – today learned the government is keen to improve its wellbeing. This followed several blasts of Beehive trumpeting about initiatives to improve the wellbeing and wellness of we Kiwis.
The announcements yesterday included the heartening news that the Government’s COVID-19 response has meant a record number of people moved off a Benefit and into employment in the March Quarter, with 32,880 moving into work in the first three months of 2021.
We further learned that
- More children will be able to access mental wellbeing support with the Government expansion of Mana Ake services to five new District Health Board areas.
- New measures are being proposed to accelerate progress towards becoming a smokefree nation by 2025.
- Aupito Williams Sio announced Pacific people in New Zealand will be better supported with new mental health and addiction services rolling out across the Auckland and Wellington regions.
This somewhat suggests Pacific people in the Auckland and Wellington regions will be better supported with new mental health and addiction services, rather than Pacific people across New Zealand.
But hey. This was a press statement, right? Continue reading “After a flurry of wellbeing initiatives for Kiwis, the Govt lifts the wellbeing (and profit hopes, presumably) of Amazon movie-makers”
The first highlighted item – in a press statement from Finance Minister Grant Robertson after the release of the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update – is that the economy is doing better than forecast.
Similarly, Robertson today was taking comfort from better-than-forecast GDP figures which show GDP fell 12.2% in the June quarter from March and plunged the economy into recession.
“This result was better than the Treasury forecast of 16% released yesterday and at the lower end of other commentators’ expectations,” Grant Robertson said.
Next in descending order on his list of highlights from the PREFU yesterday were the expectation unemployment would peak at 7.8%, down from 9.8% forecast in the Budget; year-to-June accounts showed tax revenue, debt and OBEGAL better than forecast; global forecasts have been downgraded because of COVID-19 uncertainties; and “balanced plan to support critical public services, manage debt and reduce the deficit caused by COVID-19” (his balanced plan, we presume).
Further down, we learn something about the debt that is being amassed: Continue reading “Robertson is comforted about the state of the economy while his colleagues get on with spending borrowed money”