Buzz from the Beehive: pre-Budget speeches, a border re-opening and a black mark for new Green List

Pre-budget speeches from the PM and her Minister of Finance feature in the latest posts on the Beehive website.  Both speeches mention  the re-opening (hurrah) of the country’s borders.

The re-opening was the highlight of a package of initiatives announced in a press statement in the names of four ministers, Jacinda Ardern (PM), Chris Hipkins (Education), Stuart Nash (Tourism) and Kris Faafoi (Immigration).

“New Zealand is in demand and now fully open for business,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“New Zealand’s international border will reopen to all tourists and visa holders two months earlier than planned on 31 July.”

The package included significantly simplified immigration processes intended to provide faster processing for businesses and a new “Green List” that includes over 85 hard-to-fill roles created to attract and retain high-skilled workers to fill skill shortages.  

Hipkins got a second lick at the border-re-opening with an announcement that international students are welcome back – from July 31 – and the Government is committed to help reinvigorate and strengthen the sector.

This statement further advised that Hipkins will travel to the USA, Chile and Brazil to promote studying here.

In his speech to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce today, Finance Minister Grant Robertson spoke of “our immigration rebalance” and border reopening

“… in a way that embodies our objectives as a Government. A green list will provide a streamlined pathway to residency for workers with skills that are in high demand. This approach will enable us to support the development of high-value industries and to alleviate some of the supply constraints that are present in areas such as construction.”

But the green list has earned the government a black mark from nurses and midwives and sparked an accusation of sexism: 

Nurses and midwives say an immigration shake-up privileges male dominated professions, is “sexist”, and will do little to help fill hundreds of vacancies in New Zealand.

It’s a completely sexist model, all the doctors are in the privileged group,” hospital midwives union co-leader Jill Ovens said.

Latest from the Beehive

12 MAY 2022

New Zealand poised to welcome international students back

New Zealand is fully reopening to international students and the Government is committed to help reinvigorate and strengthen the sector, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today.

Speech

Pre-Budget Speech to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce

I want to start by thanking our hosts the Wellington Chamber of Commerce who graciously do this every year as we lead into the Budget.

11 MAY 2022

Lower card fees on way for business, consumers

A Bill to help lower the fees charged when credit and debit transactions are made, will save New Zealand businesses around $74 million a year.

Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-ā-Rua Claims Settlement Bill passes first reading – Kua hipa te Pire Whakataunga Kokoraho mō Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-ā-Rua i te pānuitanga tuatahi

I te whare pāremata ngā uri o Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-ā-Rua i tēnei rā kia kite, kia rongo hoki rātou i te hipanga o te pānuitanga tuatahi o te Pire Whakataunga Kokoraho mō Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Tāmaki nui-ā-Rua.

Poroporoaki: Harerangi Meihana (Harry Mason)

Kua hinga ngā kapua pōuri i runga i Taranaki maunga. Kua wehe atu rā te Tumuaki o te Hāhi Ratana, arā ko matua Harerangi Meihana.

Speech

PM Pre-Budget Speech to Business New Zealand

Thank you to Business New Zealand and Fujitsu for hosting us here today, and I am grateful to be joined by Minister Faafoi, and Minister Hipkins.

Fully open border and immigration changes speed up economic growth

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today announced a major package of reforms, which include an early opening of New Zealand’s border and a simplification of immigration settings, to address the immediate skill shortages in New Zealand and speed up the economic recovery from COVID-19.

Buzz from the Beehive: Clark toughens competition law – but can an illegal activity be made more illegal

The government – or, more specially, David Clark – has us wondering about the effect(s) of a  “prohibition”.

No, not Prohibition (with a capital P), the word applied to the 1920-1933 era when the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages was illegal in the USA and gangsters flourished.

We refer to “prohibition” as in “ban”, meaning something has been forbidden, outlawed, disallowed or made illegal.

Once something has been  prohibited, banned, forbidden, outlawed, disallowed or otherwise made illegal – murder, for example – what more can a government do?

It could toughen the penalties, certainly.  But it can’t make murder any more illegal – can it?

Our thinking on this question was triggered by a statement from Commerce Minister David Clark which emerged from the Beehive along with news of

  • The arrival this week of the first batch of the 60,000 courses of Paxlovid coming this year to be used from next week.
  • The Government’s support for Air New Zealand (as the majority shareholder)  by committing to participate in the national carrier’s proposal to raise capital and accelerate the recovery for the airline
  • The appointment of Karl Le Quesne as the new Chief Electoral Officer of the Electoral Commission.
  • Grants totalling $154,000 for rural communities in the Waikato, Otago and the West Coast “to develop and drive solutions to local challenges”.

Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: Clark toughens competition law – but can an illegal activity be made more illegal”

Buzz from the Beehive: Oh dear, Robertson dents the Nats in a sideswipe about Transmission Gully delays

Communication, in various forms, was a common factor in three of the latest statements from the Beehive.

One of these – released in the names of the PM and two other ministers – declared that Jacinda Ardern has officially opened the Transmission Gully motorway, in time for the Easter break, school holidays, “and the return of tourists to New Zealand”.

Two other statements, dealing with digital-age technologies, advised us of –

  • A new research project which aims to fast-track the delivery of a digital solution for farm environment plans.
  • The latest data which records progress in improving internet connectivity for rural areas across the country.

Oh – and there was some stuff about Covid-19 and how to combat it.

The Government has launched a new targeted rural service of rapid antigen tests for those who live in remote rural areas. And new guidance for businesses and organisations to help them deal with upcoming changes to vaccination requirements has been released.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta popped up, too, with news she has signed a partnership statement.

Not a treaty partnership statement.  This one strengthens this country’s relationship with  Fiji.  Continue reading “Buzz from the Beehive: Oh dear, Robertson dents the Nats in a sideswipe about Transmission Gully delays”

Sepuloni tackles a matter of gender imbalance – but do women really want a bigger share of payments from the ACC?

 Monitoring the Ministers

We suspect women don’t aspire to gain equality with men in all measures of gender disparities.

Prison musters provide an obvious example.

In September this year males accounted for 94.3% of the prison population. 

This clearly means women were far behind with just 5.7% – and that percentage was lower than the 7% recorded in September 2018.

Elsewhere in our criminal justice system, changes to help women are being effected through the passage of the Sexual Violence Legislation Bill, which will:

  • entitle sexual violence complainants to use alternative ways of giving evidence, including by pre-recording their cross-examination evidence in appropriate cases;
  • ensure evidence about a complainant’s past sex life is off limits, unless it is clearly highly relevant; and
  • require judges to talk to the jury to dispel any misconceptions relating to sexual violence (often called ‘rape myths’) that might be brought into a case.

Mind you, Justice  Minister Kris Faafoi dispelled any impression there is a gender bias in the  legislation.  It includes changes to benefit all witnesses, not just those in sexual cases, he said. Continue reading “Sepuloni tackles a matter of gender imbalance – but do women really want a bigger share of payments from the ACC?”

Shaw is focused on climate change but Mahuta (with many more Anzac issues to consider) puts indigenous peoples first

International activities, one way or another, have influenced several ministerial announcements over the weekend.

The best news was that our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nanaia Mahuta, at long last had left the country to engage in the work of being a Minister of Foreign Affairs on foreign soil. She met with Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne, in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains for the biannual Australia-New Zealand Foreign Minister Consultations.

Obviously there was much to talk about (which would have taken the Minister’s mind off Three Waters reform).  The statement mentions:

  • Strategic challenges in the Indo-Pacific, the preservation of “the liberal international order” to underpin stability and prosperity in the region and foster a sustainable regional balance where all countries – large and small – can freely pursue their legitimate interests.
  • Their strong support for open, rules-based trade based on market principles.
  • The role of the Pacific Islands Forum in projecting a strong and unified Pacific voice on the global stage.
  • Their commitment to ASEAN centrality and the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, the importance of regional partnerships to stability, security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, and the role of AUKUS in this network.
  •  Their commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Continue reading “Shaw is focused on climate change but Mahuta (with many more Anzac issues to consider) puts indigenous peoples first”

Govt aims to keep “three strike” criminals out of the cooler but has increasingly warmed to making race a factor in research funding

Latest from the Beehive

The Government is running hot and cold on crime – in the eyes of its political opponents, at least.  One consequence will be keeping more offenders from being banged up in the coooler for too long.

Less ambivalently, it is turning up the heat in its efforts to tackle the country’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions change while non-Maori and non-Pacifika applicants are feeling the chill when funding is distributed by the Health Research Council. 

On the law and order front, Police Minister Poto Williams is crowing about a Police operation which resulted in the seizure of more than 50 kilograms of cocaine, and $300,000 in cash, cocaine and cryptocurrency wallets.

Is the cocaine in the weight reference the same as the cocaine in the dollar-value reference? It is unclear.

Nine people were arrested. Continue reading “Govt aims to keep “three strike” criminals out of the cooler but has increasingly warmed to making race a factor in research funding”

What must be embedded to modernise our research and science system? The treaty, of course (and don’t forget mātauranga Māori)

Latest from the Beehive

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?

We wonder about this after Associate Education Minister Jan Tinetti got to announce the news we were all bursting to hear – that Fifty Kiwi Kidsongs have been launched through the Ministry of Education’s Arts Online website. The project is a collaboration with Music Education New Zealand Aotearoa (MENZA). Continue reading “What must be embedded to modernise our research and science system? The treaty, of course (and don’t forget mātauranga Māori)”

Govt has a senior moment – Verrall announces a pathway (but not too much money) to improve the lot of our older citizens

Amidst a spate of Covid-related announcements, and the third-reading passage of the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill to give enforcement agencies greater powers to protect us from terrorists,  the government has delivered good news – of sorts – for its older citizens.

Whoa.  Maybe we should call them (and ourselves, here at Point of Order)  “seniors”, because the announcement was made by Dr Ayesha Verrall in her capacity as Minister for Seniors.

We fondly recall Verrall being described – just after the 2020 general election – as an infectious diseases expert who

“ .. has been parachuted straight into Cabinet after only being elected last month. Indeed she will be sworn in as a minister before even being sworn in as an MP. New Zealand hasn’t had a first-term MP go straight into Cabinet since Steven Joyce joined John Key’s first Cabinet in 2008.”

Thus looking after our best interests (Point of Order speaks on behalf of all seniors here) was put in the hands of the least experienced Minister.

More interesting, those best interests were put in the hands of a minister of uncertain vintage, although we can confidently declare she is less than half the age of some oldies.

We say this because Wikipedia records Ayesha Jennifer Verrall being born in

1979/1980 (age 40–42)

Invercargill, New Zealand

The Southlanders on your Point of Order editorial team are surprised to find this element of flexibility in the birth records in the country’s southern-most city.

Whatever her exact age, our Minister for Seniors has launched the Better Later Life Action Plan at the virtual Vision for Ageing in Aotearoa conference.

The intention is to set out a pathway for a better future for older New Zealanders.

Mind you, this could be a crafty way of putting our ageing faculties to the test.  Try saying “Better Later Life Action Plan” rapidly three times after sinking a couple of G and Ts in the evening.

Verrall went on:

“Better Later Life – He Oranga Kaumātua is our strategy for ensuring New Zealanders can lead valued, connected and fulfilling lives as they age.”

Commendable, we say. Continue reading “Govt has a senior moment – Verrall announces a pathway (but not too much money) to improve the lot of our older citizens”

The debt isn’t an issue et, so let’s spend more on Auckland schools and forego some income from road user charges

While questions were being raised about a longer-term issue – the sustainability of the government’s debt – the government was busy (a) spending more money on Auckland schools and (b) foregoing some of the income it collects from road user charges.

It was also introducing legislation that will establish new co-governance arrangements, enabling a Maori tribe to sit with local government leaders in deciding on this, that and the other for the community.

The Ngāti Maru (Taranaki) Claims Settlement Bill, the legislation that will settle Ngāti Maru’s historic Treaty of Waitangi claims, provides for Taranaki Regional Council and Te Kāhui Maru Trust: Te Iwi o Maruwharanui (the Ngāti Maru post-settlement governance entity) to enter into a joint management agreement in respect of the Waitara River and its catchment.

This will include a role for the tribe in the environmental monitoring of the Waitara River, emulating a raft of treaty settlements which include co-governance entitlements.

A press statement announcing the first reading of the bill was among the latest statements and speeches posted on The Beehive website since we last reported on the doings of our ministers.

One of the statements advised that $6.5 million is being earmarked to help schools meet unexpected costs arising from the February 2021 regional Alert Level 3 restrictions. Continue reading “The debt isn’t an issue et, so let’s spend more on Auckland schools and forego some income from road user charges”

Woods protects taxpayers from oil and gas decommissioning costs – but she invites applications to dip into a $3.8bn housing trough, too

One Beehive announcement from Megan Woods steers the public to around $1 billion sloshing around in a $3.8 billion trough in her Housing bailiwick by announcing  eligibility criteria. Partnership with Maori will be helpful for those who are keen to line up for a slice of the action.

Another announcement from Megan Woods, Minister of Energy and Resources this time, shows the Government wants to ease the burden on  taxpayers by

“… preventing taxpayers picking up the bill for the decommissioning of oil fields”.

Whether legislation can “prevent” taxpayers from picking up the bill seems to be a moot point.

But Woods wants to give it a go through a Bill introduced to Parliament today which imposes an explicit statutory obligation on petroleum permit and licence holders to carry out and fund the decommissioning of petroleum fields.

There was a double dose of health stuff on the Beehive website.

First, New Zealand’s Quarantine Free Travel from New South Wales to New Zealand is to be paused while the source of infection of new cases announced in Sydney is investigated.

Second, Health Minister Andrew Little delivered a speech in which he spoke of the government’s vision to create a smarter, fairer health system and its examination of every aspect of our system structure, services, workforce and infrastructure to find “how can we do better?” Climate change loomed large in the matters he discussed. Continue reading “Woods protects taxpayers from oil and gas decommissioning costs – but she invites applications to dip into a $3.8bn housing trough, too”