Pike River mine settlement is reached – but socialists accuse the govt of a cover-up to protect the culpable capitalists

More money to help Covid-affected business, more money for humanitarian work in Afghanistan, more money to protect kauri …

Ministers have been busy dishing it out over the past two days.

But there’s no hint of a “$” sign or any mention of the word “payment” in a joint statement released today in the names of Bernard Monk, Andrew Little, Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry, and the Attorney General of New Zealand.

A note accompanying the statement says:

“The Parties have agreed on terms to fully and finally settle the proceeding and will jointly issue the below statement.”

At Point of Order, our monitors are programmed to try to winkle out the cost to taxpayers, when the government talks of a full and final settlement.

But money was not mentioned in the statement on this settlement, which is rooted in litigation stemming from the deaths of 29 men in the Pike River mine on 19 November 2010.

We wait with interest to see how the settlement is regarded by the World Socialist Web Site, which last month reported this statement from the Socialist Equality Group (New Zealand):

This statement kicked off:

“New Zealand’s Labour Party-led government has ordered work to start on a final seal at the entrance to the Pike River coal mine. Its aim is to permanently entomb the 29 bodies of the workers who died in a series of underground explosions in November 2010, and to prevent the forensic examination of crucial evidence, including an underground fan, that could establish the precise cause of the disaster.” Continue reading “Pike River mine settlement is reached – but socialists accuse the govt of a cover-up to protect the culpable capitalists”

Invitations to the racing trough are issued, barbecuers get a gas assurance and Robertson serves alphabet soup

Latest from the Beehive

Self-interest (we confess) triggered our reading of the speech delivered by Energy Minister Megan Woods to a Business New Zealand Energy Council breakfast.  We were rewarded with encouraging news (but it was not so encouraging when we took a second look).

Woods reassured New Zealanders that the Climate Change Committee’s recommendations on natural gas would not mean “the imminent end of the classic kiwi BBQ”.  The key word is imminent.

Woods said residential and commercial consumption of gas makes up a small proportion of our overall gas demand – about 9  per cent in 2019.

The question for the Government is how it can best support the phase-out of natural gas while ensuring that consumers get the energy they need.

“This will include considering what the most efficient emissions reductions areas may be within the market.

“For example, our current gas distribution infrastructure provides many opportunities for alternative lower emissions fuels to be used, including the use of biogas and hydrogen. These are all matters the Government will need to consider before making recommendations about the future of natural gas use in commercial and residential applications over the next thirty or so years.” Continue reading “Invitations to the racing trough are issued, barbecuers get a gas assurance and Robertson serves alphabet soup”

More than just a favoured few should benefit from lending and wage subsidy changes to help businesses

 The business sector generally– rather than a few individual companies being favoured with grants or loans from an array of troughs – are the beneficiaries of two new government  pronouncements since Point of Order last checked the Beehive website.

First, the Government is offering to underwrite larger bank loans to businesses through  its Business Finance Guarantee Scheme.

The cap on loans offered under the scheme is being raised (hugely) from $500,000 to $5 million and the scheme is being broadened to enable businesses to use the loans for purposes beyond cashflow.

Second, eligible businesses can apply for a two-week wage subsidy of up to $1,171.60 per worker from today.  This is designed to help cover wages as part of the government’s plan to protect jobs and support the economy.

Applications for the new wage subsidy will be open on the Ministry of Social Development website from 1pm today.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni say the new wage subsidy and the current Wage Subsidy Extension – which is open for new applications until 1 September – will support an estimated 930,000 jobs.

But here’s the thing:  the government has put aside more money for wage subsidies than is being taken up.  Continue reading “More than just a favoured few should benefit from lending and wage subsidy changes to help businesses”

Delay gives Jones a bit more time to distribute public money before Northland voters decide his fate

Latest from the Beehive

Hard on the heels of the PM announcing the delay of the general election, Finance Minister Grant Robertson was announcing an extension of the wage subsidy while the munificent Shane Jones was to the fore in announcing millions of dollars of investments and loans for selected beneficiaries.

A mushroom farm in Hawke’s Bay was among those beneficiaries.

Jones’ New Zealand First colleague, Tracey Martin, meanwhile was announcing another trough for the nation’s oinkers, a new lottery fund worth $40 million. It’s called the Lottery COVID-19 Community Wellbeing Fund, established (Martin said) because the Lottery Grants Board wants to help rebuild and strengthen our communities and help with the recovery.

Martin is the Presiding Member of the Lottery Grants Board.

The Fund will provide one-off grants and is expected to be up and running in the last quarter of the year. Continue reading “Delay gives Jones a bit more time to distribute public money before Northland voters decide his fate”

A billion (or so) will give RNZAF a new Hercules fleet but many more billions are being spent on revised wage subsidy scheme

One press statement  from the Beehive yesterday sounded more like advertising – or a barker’s pitch – than a Government announcement.  Another advised of two diplomatic appointment, one of them – has the woman who landed the post done something wrong? – to protest-troubled and politically volatile Hong Kong.

And yes, as happens almost daily, there was news about the spending of big bucks.  Defence Minister Ron Mark announced the Coalition Government’s confirmation of the purchase of five Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules transport aircraft to replace the existing fleet.

This is part of a $1.521 billion project that also will deliver a full mission flight simulator and other supporting infrastructure.

But bigger bucks are involved in the major announcement of the day.   The Government has lowered the required revenue drop threshold for its wage subsidy scheme from 50% to 40%.  This will allow 40,000 more businesses to become eligible for the new eight-week scheme from 10 June, covering up to 910,000 workers.

Up to 230,000 businesses are forecast to become eligible.

Small businesses are also being given more time to apply for the Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme, with the application date being extended from 12 June to 24 July. Continue reading “A billion (or so) will give RNZAF a new Hercules fleet but many more billions are being spent on revised wage subsidy scheme”