Thursday, March 30, 2023

Point of Order: Buried beneath avalanche of new laws and bills there’s news from the Cyclone Taskforce

Whoa, there – we can’t keep up! Suddenly, the PM’s ministerial team has unleashed a slew of press statements.

Sixteen announcements have been posted on the Beehive website since our last check.

This burst of activity (we wondered) might be the result of them responding positively to having a team member red-carded.

We refer, of course, to Stuart Nash, who happens to have been named in one of the new announcements:

The Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Secretary to conduct a review into communications between Stuart Nash and his donors.

That was yesterday’s news and has generated plenty of headlines in the mainstream media as questions are raised around Nash’s serial breaking of Cabinet rules.

Today, the Greens have declared their dismay at an announcement from Transport Minister Michael Wood which already is being given media attention:

Transport Minister Michael Wood has unveiled five scenarios for one of the most significant city-shaping projects for Tāmaki Makaurau in coming decades, the additional Waitematā Harbour crossing.

Less contentiously, as Minister of Immigration, Wood has announced –

The new Recovery Visa to help bring in additional migrant workers to support cyclone and flooding recovery has attracted over 600 successful applicants within its first month.

Most of the latest Beehive posts bring news of the passage of a raft of new laws or bills.

The new laws deal with fire and emergency levies, the regulating of organic products, subcontractors in the building industry, civil aviation safety rules, the Coroners Court, and a crackdown on gangs.

The Government has passed new legislation amending the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) levy regime, ensuring the best balance between a fair and cost effective funding model.

The Government has passed the Organic Products and Production Bill through its third reading today in Parliament helping New Zealand’s organic sector to grow and lift export revenue.

Changes have been made to legislation to give subcontractors the confidence they will be paid the retention money they are owed should the head contractor’s business fail.

The Government has passed new legislation that ensures New Zealand’s civil aviation rules are fit for purpose in the 21st century, Associate Transport Minister Kiri Allan says.

A Bill aimed at helping to reduce delays in the coronial jurisdiction passed its third reading today.
The Government has provided Police with more tools to crack down on gang offeding with the passing of new legislation today which will further improve public safety.

One new bill deals with the vetting of people who sit on school boards (the people who elect them can’t be trusted to vote for the right persons, apparently) or who work in schools. Another deals with the running of wananga,

Wānanga will gain increased flexibility and autonomy that recognises the unique role they fill in the tertiary education sector.

Bills to ensure non-teaching employees and contractors at schools, and unlicensed childcare services like mall crèches are vetted by police, and provide safeguards for school board appointments have passed their first reading today.

More law-and-order news comes from Police Minister Jenny Andersen:

The Government is backing Police and making communities safer with the roll-out of state-of-the-art tools and training to frontline staff.

Oh – and if you want to know what Nanaia Mahuta is up to, then check this out:

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta will travel to Vanuatu today, announcing that Aotearoa New Zealand will provide further relief and recovery assistance there, following the recent destruction caused by Cyclones Judy and Kevin.

And today:

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta met with Vanuatu Foreign Minister Jotham Napat in Port Vila, today, signing a new Statement of Partnership — Aotearoa New Zealand’s first with Vanuatu.

But at Point of Order, we were fascinated mostly by an item which begged the question: what urgency is being given to cyclone recovery ?

The statement comes from Grant Robertson:

The full Cyclone Gabrielle Recovery Taskforce has met formally for the first time as work continues to help the regions recover and rebuild from Cyclone Gabrielle.

Hmm. Sir Brian Roche was named chair of this outfit back on February 20 and it was given its marching orders a month ago.

The Taskforce includes representatives from business, local government, iwi and unions.

It is advising ministers on the prioritisation and sequencing of needs for each region and is providing assurance that those needs are being met.

Robertson became the minister in charge after the PM announced on 21 February.

The Government has moved quickly to put in place a Cabinet Committee and regional Ministerial leads to help coordinate the Central Government response and recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle.

The new Extreme Weather Recovery Committee would be chaired by Grant Robertson as Minister for Cyclone Recovery, with Barbara Edmonds as deputy. The Prime Minister and Emergency Management Minister Kieran McAnulty also would be members.

The committee would help steer the work needed to get affected regions back up and running again.

The committee was to meet for the first time a week later, then meet regularly to ensure the needs of communities continued to be met and to be responsible for bringing to Cabinet a plan for the recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle.

The taskforce (announced the previous day) would feed into and report back to this committee.

The response to Cyclone Gabrielle would continue to be led by local civil defence and supported by the National Emergency Management Agency.

On March 1, Robertson said the Terms of Reference for the Cyclone Gabrielle Recovery Taskforce had been agreed by Cabinet.

The Taskforce’s primary purpose – he said then – was to align locally led recovery plans with the work of government agencies and the private sector.

“Our response will ensure affected communities are at the centre of the decision making and that local voices are fed back to the Government through the Taskforce,” Grant Robertson said.

“The Taskforce will also oversee specialist groups of experts who will advise the Government on what is required for the recovery and how to improve resilience to climate change and severe weather in the future.”

In his statement today, Robertson said he and Barbara Edmonds joined the taskforce for some of their meeting yesterday.

“I was pleased to see the focus and seriousness with which they are treating the job ahead,” Grant Robertson said.

“The recovery and rebuild from these weather events will take some time, not only in the immediate aftermath – but as we look to the future to ensure we rebuild in a more climate resilient way.

But there was no sense of urgency in the statement:

“We are committed to a locally-led recovery, supported by central government. The work of the Taskforce will ensure not only that local perspectives are included, but that the views of business and communities are understood.”

Indeed, the task force has not completed the establishing of a number of sub-groups that will include the insurance and banking sectors, infrastructure, utilities and telecommunications.

“There’s no doubt that the Taskforce has a big job in front of it, and I am confident that alongside the regional agencies and supported by central government we can successfully recover and rebuild the affected communities and regions,” Grant Robertson said.

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

1 comment:

Empathic said...

Please check the definition of the term 'begs the question', and instead use 'raises the question' when appropriate!