Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Point of Order: Lots of spending, some foreign affairs initiatives and (be nervous, readers) a review of our electoral laws

Just in case the affected voters and constituencies haven’t bothered to check how much funding they are being given in Budget 2022 (or how much they have lost in some cases), ministers have been letting them know in post-Budget press statements.

At least, they have been letting them know when the sums have been increased. They tend not to draw attention to budgets that have been cut.

Today we learn that –

* Whānau Ora Commissioning Agencies will receive $166.5 million over four years “to help Whānau maintain and build their resilience” as New Zealand moves forward from COVID-19

* The Government’s commitment to the growth and development of te reo Māori has continued in Budget 2022, including the largest ever investment in kura property. Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis provided no grand total but did throw figures into some (but not all) of 12 items listed in his statement. These totalled $214.8 million.

* Budget 2022, is allocating $28.5 million over the next two years to strengthen whānau resilience through developing leadership “within key cohorts of whānau leaders, wāhine and rangatahi Māori”. Māori Development Minister Willie Jackson said “the putea” will fund development, leadership, and culturally focused programmes to lift the skills of wāhine and rangatahi, “strengthening their resilience factors, enabling a faster recovery and laying the foundations for the future.”

* Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash drew attention to the Regional Strategic Partnership Fund when announcing a loan of up to $1.25 million for Sustainable Foods Ltd “as part of a wider government strategy to develop a low-emissions, highly-skilled economy that responds to global demands”. He noted that Budget 2022 ensured the RSPF was fully funded, with $200 million for projects identified by the regions as having strategic value for their local economy and community.

But two decisions with profound implications – potentially – for the nation’s wellbeing involve our foreign relationships.

First, New Zealand has joined with partner governments from across the Indo-Pacific region to begin the next phase of discussions towards an Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (see Point of Order’s post here).

Second, New Zealand is providing further support and personnel to assist Ukraine to defend itself against Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion.

Another major announcement – perhaps the most important – concerns the appointments to an independent panel that will lead a review of New Zealand’s electoral law.

“We do have a world-class electoral system,” Justice Minister Kris Faafoi said.

“But we need to make sure the rules remain fit for purpose and meet the needs of our future voters.”

Readers have good cause to feel nervous. This work is being done during the term of a government whose leaders have endorsed democracy-eroding co-governance (some insist co-governance is democratic). They enthuse about the need to “tweak” our democracy and, in the opinion of the prime minister, to make it more sophisticated.

It is being done, moreover under a government with a majority of Labour MPs, all of whom voted in favour of the disgraceful Rotorua District Council (Representation Arrangements) Bill when it was given its first reading.

“Sophistication” and “tweaking – it turned out – meant giving Rotorua’s 55,600 voters on the general roll the same representation as 21,700 voters on the Māori roll.

That attempt at setting an undemocratic precedent for all local authorities was thwarted (for now) only because the Attorney General David Parker’s examination of its ill-considered contents determined it would breach the Bill of Rights Act.

Point of Order is a blog focused on politics and the economy run by veteran newspaper reporters Bob Edlin and Ian Templeton


Unknown said...

Aaaaand by now we are all quite capable of understanding what the Minister means.. "We plan to end universal suffrage, and replace a democratic society with a bastardised voting system that means anyone identifying as even a tiny part Maori won't be subject to the tiresome requirement of a mandate to govern"
Last person to leave-turn out the lights?

Ray S said...

Be afraid, be very afraid.
When a socialist government looks at fiddling with electoral law reform including voting age and term in office, we need to pay strict and close attention to any progress made.
A lower voting age would be a godsend for an environmental party. Youth have been force fed doom and gloom and only they, and little old New Zealand, can save the planet from itself.
A longer term in office could lead to all sorts of problems, particularly if the government was majority socialist like our present government.

The possibility of a longer term has been raised in the past and thankfully not come to pass.