Sunday, August 9, 2020

Point of Order: Govt books won’t be affected by new reading ambassador

The public debt is among the victims of the Covid-19 epidemic. 

According to the 2020 Budget Economic and Fiscal Update, in the current year and the next two fiscal years, operating deficits (operating balance before gains and losses) average around $28 billion while net core Crown debt is expected to increase on average by around $35 billion a year. Net core Crown debt is expected to reach 53.6% of GDP by the end of the forecast period, in June 2024.

The government – accordingly – is being very careful about its spending.  Isn’t it?

Sure it is,  and at first blush neither taxpayers nor lenders will have to pay for an initiative announced today by the PM and Tracey Martin, Minister for Internal Affairs and for Children.
At Point of Order, we were more than a tad surprised by this  announcement, although – to be fair – it did involve employment opportunities.
One part-time job opportunity, to be more specific.  A new job, New Zealand Reading Ambassador for children and young people, is being established.
We must confess we had not been among those who had been pressing for this vital post to be established.  Come to think of it, we weren’t aware anyone else had been pressing for it.
According to the press statement, the Reading Ambassador, announced at a Celebration of Reading event at the National Library in Wellington, will advocate for and promote the importance of reading in the lives of young New Zealanders, their whānau and communities, helping create a ‘nation of readers’.
“We know from research that reading for pleasure makes a huge difference to a child’s wellbeing and their potential for life-long success – in personal relationships, education, health and employment,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“The most recent OECD Programme for International Students assessment (PISA) results also show a marked decline in reading for pleasure, with nearly half of New Zealand 15-year olds never reading for enjoyment.
“This makes it important for us to find ways to support educators, families and whānau to build and sustain reading cultures in their communities, at the same time contributing to the Government’s wider efforts on child wellbeing and poverty reduction,” Jacinda Arden said.
The establishment of the New Zealand Reading Ambassador for children and young people is another step to creating a ‘nation of readers’, something that is widely agreed as important across the literary, education, library and cultural sectors, Tracey Martin said.
“Just as importantly, though, it simply promotes reading and we all know what a difference the right book can make in the life of a child or young person,” Tracey Martin said.
The inaugural NZ Reading Ambassador will be appointed part-time for two years.
And the burden on taxpayers (either now or when we get around to debt repayment)?
Ah, it will be funded by Te Puna Foundation and supported by the National Library in collaboration with key partners, including Creative NZ and ReadNZ.
The Te Puna Foundation  is an independent charitable trust, launched in 2016 as the fundraising body for the National Library of New Zealand.
Air NZ supports the Foundation’s He Tohu campaign to help bring school children from all around New Zealand to participate in a learning programme focused on the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Waitangi, and the Women’s Suffrage Petition.
So – if we correctly understand what is going on here – taxpayers have been pouring millions of dollars to keep Air NZ from crashing, and Air NZ is (or has been) supporting the Te Puna Foundation, which will provide the readies for the new reading ambassador.
When we have worked out how this affects the public debt, we will let you know.
Full article HERE.
Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton.

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