Govt is chuffed as consultations begin on income insurance scheme – but the Nats point out it’s a new tax

A double dose of Covid announcements from The Beehive – regarding rapid antigen tests and booster shots – was accompanied by two spending decisions to help specific groups,  arts and culture and Pacific people, in the name of the recovery from Covid.

There have been announcements regarding the country’s economic wellbeing, one to welcome news that unemployment has fallen to record low levels, the other to tell of a programme to lift Southland’s economic performance.  The Southland Just Transition Work Plan can be downloaded from the Southland Just Transition website: https://southlandjusttransition.nz/

And there has been an announcement to remind us what day it is.  It’s World Wetlands Day today.  Hurrah.

Then there has been news of consultations beginning on an income insurance scheme.  This perhaps belongs among the economic announcements but also qualifies as a “labour market” initiative – and a big one.

But is it a good one?

Not according to the Nats, who are hollering about the tax-gathering and profit-draining aspect of the scheme.    Continue reading “Govt is chuffed as consultations begin on income insurance scheme – but the Nats point out it’s a new tax”

A shakeup for civil defence; more funding for sporting organisations and for projects to improve wetlands

Monitoring the Ministers

We had expected to hear braying from Sports Minister Grant Robertson about funding announced for New Zealand’s high-performance athletes over the next three years.

He must have been busy with balancing the books or some such because High Performance Sport New Zealand chief executive Raelene Castle did the announcing.

High Performance Sport New Zealand will fund 44 of the country’s National Sporting Organisations (NSO’s) to the tune of $131 million over the next three years.

In addition to the $131m, HPSNZ is investing $19m in performance support services such as psychology, strength and conditioning, nutrition, medical, physiotherapy, massage therapy, and athlete life coaching, which support athlete well-being.

Turning our attention back to the Beehive, we did hear – twice – from KiriAllan.

She announced new legislation will ensure the country’s emergency management system

“… is inclusive, modern and fit-for-purpose”.

Inclusiveness – we note  – comes before fitness for purpose in the Minister’s considerations. Continue reading “A shakeup for civil defence; more funding for sporting organisations and for projects to improve wetlands”

Smelter company negotiates deal to get govt money for waste clean-up – Ngapuhi gets $150 million while negotiations drag on

The government is doing things by halves with public money in the south while going all out to set a $150 million precedent to win Ngapuhi favours in the north.

The negotiations resulting in public spending down south were  overseen by Environment Court Judge Laurie Newhook, following legal action brought by the Environmental Defence Society to determine ownership and responsibility for removing toxic waste, called ouvea premix, stored in Mataura.

The Minister for the Environment – good for him, eh? – joined the proceedings to facilitate a solution for removing the material.

The Ministry for the Environment and New Zealand Aluminium Smelters will contribute up to an estimated $500,000 each for clean-up costs.

The government is pumping a much bigger sum – $150 million – into establishing an Investment Fund for the benefit of the Ngāpuhi tribe in the hope (it seems) that this might encourage progress in acrimonious treaty negotiations that have dragged on for years. Continue reading “Smelter company negotiates deal to get govt money for waste clean-up – Ngapuhi gets $150 million while negotiations drag on”

Parker should brace for lobbying from guardians of the swamp after housing project is given fast-track panel’s approval

The Point of Order Ministerial Workload Watchdog and our ever-vigilant Trough Monitor were both triggered yesterday by an item of news from the office of Conservation Minister Kititapu Allan.

The minister was drawing attention to new opportunities to dip into the Jobs for Nature programme (and her statement was the only sign of life in the Beehive, for those who use such statements as a measure of ministerial activity, since last we reported).

Funding of $34 million is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects.

Allan made the announcement at Waikanae, about an hour’s drive up the Kapiti coast from her ministerial office.   During the drive from Wellington – or did she take the train? – she would have passed a wetland known as the Taupo Swamp.

On the other side of the highway from the swamp,  between Plimmerton and Pukerua Bay, is a block of farmland.

The Dominion-Post would have informed Allen yesterday (if she did not already know) that this farmland is the intended site for the Plimmerton Farm development which aims to house as many as 2000 new homes.  The project – more likely to be environmentally harmful than beneficial to the swamp – has been given the approval of an independent panel. Continue reading “Parker should brace for lobbying from guardians of the swamp after housing project is given fast-track panel’s approval”