Friday, May 26, 2023

Point of Order: The latest $314.4m. of spending announcements.....

...... include goodies to recognise tourist-sector bosses who are kindly to staff

Point of Order tallied $314.4 million of spending in the latest ministerial statements posted on the government’s official website.

This includes a lump of money to – yes, really – help identify businesses in tourism and hospitality which treat their staffs well and to fund the social engineers who will enhance the industry’s “cultural competency”.

The grand total could be lifted to $338.4 million, if we include a press statement from Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta that was emailed to us but has not been posted on the Beehive website.

That statement involved NZ$7.75 million of aid in response to urgent humanitarian needs in the Horn of Africa.

Each of the officially posted statements – typically but not all from ministers keen to draw attention to Budget appropriations – has mentioned the sums being spent.
  • $132 million
That’s the sum of this years’ investment in Maōri health providers “to strengthen and grow te ao Māori health services, embed mātauranga Maōri approaches, and work with iwi-Māori partnership boards to improve Māori health outcomes”.
  • $81.8 million,
That’s the cost of two new state-of-the-art mental health facilities just opened at the Christchurch Hillmorton Hospital campus.
  • $58.4 million
This is a response to recommendations on redress from the Royal Commission on Abuse in Care. It is intended to resolve a further 1,000 claims of historic abuse of people while in the care of Child, Youth and Family (or its predecessors).
  • $24 million
Another $24 million worth of investment is earmarked for ten diverse regional development projects.
  • $18.22 million
An investment of $18.22 million will help to implement initiatives in the Tourism and Hospitality Better Work Action Plan.

And then there’s this, which has not been officially posted:
  • $7.75 million
New Zealand is providing NZ$7.75 million to respond to urgent humanitarian needs in the Horn of Africa. which is experiencing its most severe drought in decades, with five consecutive failed rainy seasons. At least 43.3 million people require lifesaving and life-sustaining assistance across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

It’s a good thing there’s some small change remaining after the government has pumped money into initiatives such as rewarding kindly tourism operators.

But this aid had not been posted with the other statements when Point of Order checked HERE around noon.

Latest from the Beehive

Strengthening our tourism workers and supporting them into good career pathways, pay and working conditions is why this Government is backing the Tourism and Hospitality Better Work Action Plan.

Greater access to primary care, improved maternity care and mental health support are just some of the ways Māori Health Services will serve communities over the next year.

The Government continues progress on the survivor-led independent redress system for historic abuse in care, with the announcement of the design and advisory group members today.

Health Minister Ayesha Verrall has opened two new state-of-the-art mental health facilities at the Christchurch Hillmorton Hospital campus, as the Government ramps up its efforts to build a modern fit for purpose mental health system.

The Government is continuing to invest in our regional economies by announcing another $24 million worth of investment into ten diverse projects.

The “tourism transformation” which has enthused Peeni Henare has some features which look ominously like state-driven social engineering.

The minister highlighted these –
  • A tourism and hospitality employer accreditation scheme to recognise quality employers
  • Better education and career opportunities in tourism
  • Cultural competency to create more diverse and inclusive workplaces
  • Innovation and technology acceleration to drive satisfying, skilled jobs
“New Zealand continues to be one of the world’s top tourism destinations, and with the borders open, international visitors are returning. We need to support our sector to rebuild a more resilient future that leaves people, communities and the environment better off than before,” Peeni Henare said.

He proceeded to say the $18.22 million

“… will help to implement initiatives like the establishment of a tourism and hospitality accreditation scheme – a voluntary scheme that identifies businesses in tourism and hospitality who are treating their staff well. This investment will also contribute to better education and training and improve opportunities for those who choose tourism as a career.”

Seriously? Taxpayers must reward tourism operators who treat their staffs well?

Wouldn’t it be smarter to spend more money on officials to police our employment laws to ensure that staff are not treated badly?

Apparently not.

Henare gave this rationale:

“Being able to demonstrate you are good employer will go a long way to helping a business attract quality staff and helping workers to find great employers.”

What about good employers in other sectors?

Will the government be providing similar funding to reward them?

Better training looks like a less-contentious proposition.

Henare said:

“Ensuring staff have a pathway to upskilling is also a focus and there will be closer collaboration between industry and education providers so the right skills are being taught to fill the jobs the sector needs. Education and training will look ahead to better prepare workers for the tourism jobs of the future.”

Then there’s this:

“We will also test whether employee-sharing can reduce the unstable and seasonal elements of tourism.”

Next thing we learn is that tourists might not come here to climb our mountains, ski on the ski fields, tramp through our national parks, watch their teams compete in test matches, international sports competitions or the America’s Cup, or check out places that have featured in movies (heavily subsidised by our government because it regards this spending as well justified).

Well, maybe they do.

But we are about to change tack.

“Aotearoa New Zealand has a powerful identity as a tourism destination, shaped by our values of manaakitanga and kaitiakitanga. We have a lot to be proud of and a solid foundation to build on, and post-Covid we have had a unique opportunity to rethink our approach,” Peeni Henare said.

“Our ambition is a tourism industry that gives back more than it takes from people, communities and the environment. The Tourism Industry Transformation Plan is driving the long-term change needed to address systemic issues standing in the way of that aspiration and to make the most of opportunities.

“This change must start with looking after the people at the heart of every tourism experience – our tourism kaimahi. We will deliver better outcomes for employees, businesses and visitors if we offer better experiences within the industry,” Peeni Henare said.

He didn’t elaborate on the cultural competency element of the transformation plan.

But we learned more about this in notes to editors which say:

The Better Work Action Plan is the first phase of the Tourism Industry Transformation Plan and is a partnership between industry, Māori, unions and government. All partners will have a role to play in implementing the actions.

$18.22 million from Budget 2023 will be used for:
  • A tourism and hospitality employer accreditation scheme to identify good employers who meet a voluntary set of standards, shifting the dial towards better pay and conditions across the whole industry.
  • A programme to bring NCEA learning to life and build on the new Tourism NCEA Achievement Standards as part of a move towards education and training that delivers the skills learners, employers and communities need.
  • A pilot programme to develop cultural competency resources, aimed at creating more diverse and inclusive workplaces where cultural values are understood and respected.
  • Systems analysis of barriers to employee-sharing to better understand how the industry can offer long-term stable employment and smooth seasonality challenges, enabling people to more easily move between employers.
  • An expo to showcase existing and emerging technologies that can boost business efficiency and productivity and free up workers to focus on quality customer service and skilled work.
  • An accelerator programme that links business leaders with tourism leaders to generate innovative ideas and provide intensive support so firms are better focused and can grow more quickly.
  • Industry workshops that encourage tourism businesses to learn about and adopt more innovative business models.
  • Funding for MBIE to support the implementation of the Better Work initiatives.
The $18.22 million involved in this comes on top of the $8 million boost to New Zealand Māori Tourism announced earlier this week. But it seems fair to suppose both Māori and non-Māori will benefit from the $18.22 million of investments, but non-Māori might have to struggle to benefit from the $8 million investment.

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

1 comment:

Steve Ellis said...

Words that come to mind - A taxpayer funded grab-bag that is politically - separatist, bigoted, racist, divisive, socially engineered, entitled, tribal - and certainly without mandate. Hopefully this latest example proves to be political suicide for this Administration. Steve Ellis