Monday, November 28, 2022

Point of Order: Too much fun is coming out of Otago.... the govt has put $2.25m into a trough for other regions to have a lick

It’s a toss-up to decide which is more unnecessary – the investment of $2.25 million of public money in an industry which has almost doubled its revenue over the past year or the drafting and legislating of a bill to have things done that could be done without a statute.

The investment is in the rapidly growing game development sector. The latest data from the New Zealand Game Developers Association shows the total revenue for the industry is $407 million, compared to $276 million a year ago.

But hey. The government can’t stand by and let so much of this development take place in the city of Dunedin.

The public therefore is being called on to chip in to spread the workload to other centres.

This will be done by establishing a new trough: the $2.25 million will help to establish new regional hubs to provide contestable grants and skills development to game development studios across the country.

“We’ve invested in community-led projects across the country to ensure our regions can thrive, grow, and boost local economies,” Minister for Economic and Regional Development, Stuart Nash said.

“We also want to drive innovation and create opportunities in our regions.”

Expanding the Centre of Digital Excellence across New Zealand should pique the interest of burgeoning game developers, and provide them with a foot in the door, Nash said.

Perhaps a similar effort should be made to have the work of legislating spread around the regions – a thought which brings us to the issue of further ACC reforms that may or may not be a necessary job for our legislators.

The Accident Compensation (Access Reporting and Other Matters) Amendment Bill includes a duty for ACC to report annually on how Māori and other population groups are accessing its services, an amendment to the purpose of ACC that broadens it from claimants to all injured people, and bringing forward eligibility for the minimum rate of compensation from the sixth to the second week of incapacity.

During the first-reading debate, National’s Simon Watts said his party would be opposing the Bill because the first two parts are legislating for something that doesn’t require legislation.

The gathering and publishing of information required by the Bill had been done from 1982 until 2006, he noted, but it didn’t need to be in legislation.

“They just did it because it was the right thing to do. So I’m not sure why the Minister has failed to do what the role of a Minister should be, which is to get the department to do the right thing, and that is to publish in-depth information around the cause of injuries in the year so that there is transparency around that.”

Second, Watts said there was no evidence that people were being injured but not getting referred to ACC.

“You don’t need this legislation in regards to implementing these changes. And in particular, it does not need to be legally required to look into aspects around Māori access into the scheme. There’s been no evidence produced by the Government to show that Māori or in fact any other population group struggles to access ACC, nor have they shown how ACC even would be able to find that data in the first place.

“Actually, if you look at Māori men they’re probably one of the highest users of ACC per capita, given their work in higher-risk industries. So the goal, surely, should be focusing on those people that are getting injured in this country and dealing with the issues in trying to prevent their injury.

“Surely that should be the focus: to stop people that are getting injured, getting injured. Not by wondering why other people aren’t getting injured…”

The establishment of the trough for oinkers in the game development caper is recorded on the Beehive website under the heading –

New Zealand’s game developers will receive an immediate funding boost to help support the growth of local studios beyond the current Dunedin centre.

David Clark acknowledged the game development sector has been rapidly growing – but the trouble seems to be that too much development is happening in Dunedin.

NZGDA 2022 data shows Otago accounts for a disproportionate number of studios at 26% of New Zealand’s total, Clark said.

Significant growth has been driven by the Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE) in Dunedin.

But hey – that’s what taxpayers are for – to come up with the readies to have the work shared around the country so everybody can get in on the act.

And so Clark gurgled:

“I’m pleased to announce that the Government will invest $2.25 million a year until 2027 – with $1 million already allocated this financial year – to expand the CODE programme to other centres.”

He reminded us that this is in tune with keeping an election promise.

A 2017 Labour election promise, CODE was established in 2019 to boost the expansion of New Zealand’s growing game development ecosystem.

The game development ecosystem?

Good grief. What next?

As to the National Party claim that we don’t need the latest ACC Bill, the government has other ideas, as was reflected in ACC Minister Carmel Sepuloni’s statement –

  • New reporting requirements on access to ACC
  • Earlier access to minimum rate of compensation
  • Refinement to ACC purpose to focus on supporting all eligible injured people to access ACC
The Accident Compensation (Access Reporting and Other Matters) Amendment Bill which aims to improve access to ACC for all injured people, has passed its first reading in parliament, Minister for ACC Carmel Sepuloni said.

The legislation has gone to the Education and Workforce Committee for consultation and feedback.

Other ministers, meanwhile, have told us they are are –

Thousands of frontline community health workers – including nurses in aged-care facilities – are in for a pay rise as the Labour Government takes action on pay parity in the health sector.

A partnership between the Government and the Cawthron Institute has delivered a breakthrough in the production of a potent microalgal ingredient for the world’s first algae-based pain medication.

Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri and the Crown have signed an Agreement in Principle marking a significant milestone towards the settlement of their historical Treaty of Waitangi claims.

The Government is supporting the Chatham Islands’ resilience to extreme weather events and natural hazards through a grant to secure safe drinking water, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnuly said.

Come to think of it, we could extend this to economic resilience and encourage the Chathams to apply for funding for game development.

Coroner Anna Tutton has been appointed as the new Chief Coroner, Attorney-General David Parker announced today.

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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