Buzz from the Beehive: a reminder of a new ministry (but what will it be called?) and data on the state subsidisation of jobs

It’s always a special week for this, that or something, and this week it’s New Zealand Sign Language Week (NZSL), a nationwide celebration of NZSL as an official language of New Zealand.

This year’s theme is ‘New Zealand Sign Language is essential’, intended to spotlight essential workers who are Deaf, the Minister for Disability Issues, Carmel Sepuloni said.

Her press statement reminds us that last year the Ardern Government announced it will be launching a new Ministry for Disabled People on July 1.

“While the official name has yet to be confirmed, I’m excited by the fact that this will be New Zealand’s first Ministry with an NZSL name,” she said.

What’s the betting the new name will not be the Ministry for Disabled People?

It has been a busy time for Sepuloni’s media team because she also issued a statement as Minister of Social Development and Employment (jointly with Education Minister Chris Hipkins) to advise that Budget 2022 will boost support for trades training programmes.  It will –

  • Extend the Apprenticeship Boost to the end of 2023, supporting 38,000 apprentices
  • Support 1600 Mana in Mahi places to help people into work
  • Continue funding the Māori Trades and Training Fund, building on the 17 established partnerships that are supporting more than 800 people

A third statement in Sepuloni’s name drew attention to data giving a raft of measures of the help provided by government wage subsidies in response to the Covid pandemic.

The Ministry of Social Development’s new report on who received the Wage Subsidy last year shows 47% of jobs in New Zealand protected by at least one of the 2021 wage subsidies.

Sepuloni said 69% of employed men and 54% of women were supported by a wage subsidy in 2020, which fell to 54% and 41% respectively in 2021.

Forty-five per cent of all “unique jobs” held by Māori (excluding sole traders) were supported by at least one of the 2021 wage subsidies, a similar rate to jobs held by NZ Europeans (45%) and Pacific People (43%).

The report explains that the gender mix appears to be a function of industries where males and females tend to be highly represented. For example, males made up the majority of people employed in some industries that had a high proportion of jobs supported such as construction and wholesale trade. Females made up the majority of people receiving support in some industries with very low proportions of jobs supported such as health care, social services, education, and training.

Oh – and on the matter of ethnicity, the report records something which Sepuloni did not mention in her statement:  a greater proportion of Asian employees continued to be supported in 2021 (57%) than other ethnic groups. This was down from 70% in 2020.

One reason is that Asian employees make up a much higher proportion (37%) of jobs supported in the accommodation and food services industry, where nearly all jobs were supported, than they do in any other industry.  Additionally, 64% of all Asian employees supported were in Auckland, the region with the highest proportion of all employees supported.

Latest from the Beehive

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9 MAY 2022

New Zealand Sign Language Week 2022 recognises ‘essential’ workers

This week (9 – 15 May 2022) is New Zealand Sign Language Week (NZSL), a nationwide celebration of NZSL as an official language of New Zealand.

Government’s Wage Subsidies support people in nearly half of NZ jobs

The Government’s swift action to secure our economic recovery in the midst of a pandemic has seen 47 per cent of jobs in New Zealand protected by at least one of the 2021 wage subsidies, Minister for Social Development and Employment Carmel Sepuloni said.

Budget 2022 supports 38,000 apprentices to accelerate recovery

The Government is extending support for trades training programmes that see tens of thousands of New Zealanders in jobs and training, helping accelerate our economic recovery.

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”