Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 27/6/23

Govt seemed satisfied with Budget funding for universities just a few weeks ago – but today it has announced a rescue package

We are waiting patiently for the statement from Education Minister Jan Tinetti about another dollop of funding – or a rescue package – for our financially struggling universities.

News of a $128 million rescue package has been reported by RNZ and had been portended in many media reports over the past day or so.

Clearly, a “rescue package” is a response to widely publicised news of staff cutbacks in the offing, most notably at the Universities of Otago and Wellington.

While news of the package had not been posted on the government’s official website when Point of Order checked around 1pm, there were plenty of other government announcements which help answer the question…

How our ministers spending (or misspending) our money today?

They are spending it on
  • Corporate welfare – $5 million for a ski field business, $3 million for the onion industry and several million dollars for the fishing industry.
  • Food banks – $6 million for community organisations which are providing food to people facing cost of living pressures.
There was news, too, which suggests the government has reacted to the National Party’s recently announced commitment to ease the regulatory curbs that are stifling research involving genetic editing and genetic modification.

Environment Minister David Parker has announced the Government wants public feedback on changes to regulations for genetically modified organisms that will foster research and improve health outcomes.

Consultation on proposed changes to the legislation and regulations for GMOs used in laboratory settings and for biomedical therapies will open on 3 July and close on 25 August 2023.

This and other new announcements can be found here

Latest from the Beehive

The Government is seeking feedback on changes to regulations for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that will foster research and improve health outcomes.

Communities hit by severe weather events would be allowed to establish temporary accommodation and additional waste disposal under two proposed interim law changes.

A report released today by the Ministry of Social Development shows that for those receiving a Main Benefit, total incomes after housing costs are 48 percent higher than at the end of 2017 after adjusting for inflation.

Tourism Minister Peeni Henare recently met his Chinese counterpart, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Hu Heping to reaffirm the 2019 Tourism Cooperation Arrangement between Aotearoa New Zealand and the People’s Republic of China.

Further funding is going to community organisations on the frontline who are providing food to people and whānau facing cost of living pressures.

The Government will provide up to $5 million to the liquidators of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) to ensure the mountain’s 2023 ski season can go ahead.


Thank you, Lee Rauhina-August, Mark Fenwick, Professor Louise Dixon, the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society, and the conference organisers for the invitation to speak today.


Tēnā koutou, and a pleasant evening to all those here tonight

With regard to further funding for food banks, Social Development and Employment Minister Carmel Sepuloni gave these figures:
  • To date, the government has provided over $150 million in emergency funding to support community food providers.
  • It announced $24 million in Budget 2023 to invest in longer-term solutions to tackle food security and as we transition away from the emergency COVID-19 relief and support.
  • $6 million will be available for community food providers across New Zealand, but priority will be given to those working in high demand regions such as Auckland, Tairawhiti and Hawkes Bay.
That’s just a morsel more than the sum mentioned by Regional Development Minister Kiri Allan, who said the Government will provide up to $5 million to the liquidators of Ruapehu Alpine Lifts (RAL) to ensure the mountain’s 2023 ski season can go ahead.

This is intended to provide workers on the mountain with job security and ensure businesses dependent on activities on and around the mountain have the certainty they need for the season ahead, she said .

In her speech to the Marine Sciences Society, Oceans and Fisheries Minister Rachel Brooking said the government is providing $100 million in funding for environmental work through the Jobs for Nature programme, to fence stock out of waterways and to fund riparian planting.

She also said that in the 2021/22 year, the Government supported marine science with more than $27 million through avenues like the Strategic Science Investment Fund and the Endeavour Fund and invests more than $20 million a year in fisheries science as part of the annual stock assessments and surveys.

Associate Agriculture Minister Jo Luxon, at the launch of the Sustainable Food and Fibres Future Project: Humble to Hero, said the Government is committed to supporting onion growers – it recently established a Waikato On Farm Support team that has built relationships with growers this year in Pukekohe, offering support throughout the emergency response and recovery from Cyclone Gabrielle.

On Farm Support has now appointed a horticulture expert who can offer even more expertise in this field, which I hear has been welcomed on-the-ground.

Through this programme, it will invest close to $3 million over six years, which will work to deliver sustainable returns to onion growers and exporters. This includes discovering new opportunities to increase our access to diversified global markets.

On the tertiary education front, there was no hint of universities needing a rescue package on Budget Day.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson made no mention of universities in his Budget speech but in a press statement that day (Budget delivers support for tertiary education and training) Education Minister Jan Tinetti said Budget 2023 extended the Apprenticeship Boost initiative to the end of 2024, at an expected cost of $77.1 million, including new funding of $17.1 million.

It increased tertiary subsidies, with additional increases for te reo Māori and mātauranga Māori provision.

It provided $521 million over four years, which includes an across-the-board five per cent increase from 2024 to help tertiary institutions manage increases in delivery costs and maintain the quality and accessibility of tertiary education and training. This was the biggest increase in at least 20 years.

“This funding ensures tertiary education and training remains relevant to students’ and employers’ needs, whether it be at a wānanga, a university, through an apprenticeship, or to learn foundational literacy and numeracy skill”

It also included a phased increase of 15 per cent for Level 3 and above mātauranga Māori provision (including te reo Māori), phased in over four years.

“This increase will help tertiary organisations support the wider goal of growing Māori medium and kaupapa Māori education across the education sector and support language revitalisation efforts. It will particularly help wānanga, which deliver 75 percent of te reo Māori and other courses that promote the learning of mātauranga Māori,” Jan Tinetti said.

Tinetti noted that provider-based enrolments had decreased from 2021 levels, total enrolments across provider-based and work-based tertiary education (including apprenticeships) were expected to remain higher than pre-COVID levels in 2024 and 2025, requiring additional baseline funding.

The Government therefore was committing $180.7 million in Budget 2023 allowing the Tertiary Education Commission to fund 16,000 more full-time equivalent students in 2024 and 13,000 more in 2025 than previous funding levels would have allowed.

In her post-cabinet press conference yesterday, the Acting PM was asked if universities around the country could expect further Government support

Acting PM: Certainly had a conversation, as Cabinet Ministers, and I don’t want to pre-empt any announcements. I think that media and the general public will just need to wait to hear directly from the Minister of Education on that.

RNZ this afternoon has reported a $128 million rescue package over two years.

The news had not been posted on the government’s official website when this was being written but has been posted since then.

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

No comments: