Friday, June 30, 2023

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 30/6/23

The PM is busy in China while Andrew Little deals with Five Countries – but for success, check out the Census numbers

The government’s diplomatic balancing act can be admired on two fronts this week.

In Wellington, Andrew Little released a statement headed Five Country Ministerial Communiqué.

This was the culmination of a gathering of political bigwigs from New Zealand, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.

UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman, one of the bigwigs who came here for the occasion, described it as an “important meeting of the closest of allies”.

Immigration (Andrew Little now has that portfolio) was among the issues on the agenda, along with national security, child sex abuse, democratic resilience, cyber security and foreign espionage at universities.

In China, meanwhile, our PM was delivering a speech (Prime Minister Rt Hon Chris Hipkins at Peking University) and Tourism Minister Peeni Henare was announcing a “technology partnership” to connect New Zealand with Chinese travellers.

Those statements can be found on the government’s official website along with other fresh press releases and speeches which tell us what our hard-working ministers have been up to (but not who they might have been shouting at).

Their statements answer vital questions such as
  • How can falling short of a target be declared a success?
Simply by declaring it a success.

Statistics Minister Dr Deborah Russell – noting that collections for the 2023 Census officially close today – said that as at 29 June, 4,560,486 people had returned their individual forms. That indicates an estimated individual return rate of 89% nationally, a significant increase from 82% in 2018.

The first official release of census data will be in May 2024.

The final coverage and response rates will be released through a post census survey later in 2024.

Stats NZ already has work under way to understand how the 2023 results can be improved, including an independent review in the coming months.

In Parliament, Russell went further than she did in her press statement and said she considered this year’s Census a success despite appearing to fall short of the 90 per cent return target.

But let’s not forget the 2018 census was plagued by difficulties, with returns the lowest in 50 years – and that was a slump from 94.5 per cent in 2013.

So if Point of Order has interpreted developments correctly, the target set for the 2023 census was well down from the achievement 10 years ago (before the introduction of online technologies to make things more efficient). Even so, we have not quite hit it – but the Minister is calling it a success.
  • What are they doing for our financial wellbeing?
Two things.

First – under legislation which establishes the deposit compensation scheme, New Zealanders will have up to $100,000 of their deposits in any eligible institution guaranteed if that institution fails.

The $100,000 limit will fully protect around 93 per cent of depositors.

The Deposit Takers Bill passed its third reading yesterday as the third and final piece of legislation in a comprehensive review of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act.

It brings all deposit takers (such as banks, credit unions, building societies and finance companies) under a single coherent regulatory framework and protects New Zealanders’ money through the introduction of a depositor compensation scheme.

It also gives the Reserve Bank the ability to set standards as the main tool for imposing prudential requirements and modernises the regulation and supervision of all deposit takers and strengthens New Zealand’s crisis management framework.

Second – the Government is further supporting businesses, including growers and farmers affected by the North Island weather events earlier this year with a package featuring:
  • The North Island Weather Events (NIWE) Loan Guarantee Scheme, to provide relief to affected firms seeking commercial lending. This scheme leverages the Crown’s financial strength by carrying 80 percent of the credit risk on covered loans, allowing banks to reduce interest rates and offer more flexible terms.
The Government’s underwrite will support loans of up to five years agreed by businesses and their banks of up to $10 million from the scheme, including refinancing of existing loans.
  • The NIWE Primary Producer Finance Scheme, to provide access to capital for affected growers and farmers unable to access lending without further support. The funding will be targeted towards severely affected businesses that have a reasonable likelihood of being commercially viable, but cannot currently access commercial finance.
The Government will provide concessionary loans and equity finance for land-based primary sector producers up to $4 million per business from a pool of up to $240 million set aside in total.
  • What else is being added to the lawbooks?
The Charities Amendment Bill, which has passed its third reading, aims to modernise the charities sector, improving access to justice services, and reducing the red tape that smaller charities face, Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Priyanca Radhakrishnan says.

Reporting requirements will be reduced for very small charities so they can focus on their work and the Taxation Review Authority can now hear Charities Act appeals to make it easier and less costly for charities to appeal decisions.

The passing of the Worker Protection (Migrant and Other Employees) Bill introduces new infringement offences, to target breaches at the lower level.

People convicted of migrant exploitation and people trafficking will also now be disqualified from managing or directing companies in New Zealand, helping prevent people from using corporate structures to exploit migrants.

Latest from the Beehive

The Five Countries stand together in our commitment to promote shared values, and work collaboratively in addressing national and homeland security, and migration challenges.

The Government has taken further steps to protect migrant workers and champion workers’ rights through the passing of the Worker Protection (Migrant and Other Employees) Bill today.


I am delighted to join you today at this critical time of reconnection and re-engagement in the bilateral education relationship between New Zealand and China, following disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Zealanders will have up to $100,000 of their deposits in any eligible institution guaranteed in the event that institution fails under legislation passed in Parliament today.

The Ngāti Tara Tokanui Claims Settlement Bill has been read for the first time at Parliament in recognition of Ngāti Tara Tokanui’s historical Treaty of Waitangi claims.

Ka tanuku ka tanuku
Ka tanuku te tihi o Maunganui a ha ha
E kapo ki te whetū, e kapo ki te marama, e kapo ki te ata
Ko aku raukura ka riro rā e.

New Zealand is tapping into a leading digital platform to attract Chinese tourists to visit New Zealand as the important visitor market recovers.

Returns in New Zealand’s 2023 Census indicate a significant improvement on 2018 figures, Statistics Minister Dr Deborah Russell said.


I’m here today because you’ve asked me to talk about policy directions and opportunities in the areas of mitigation and adaption, in our climate change transition.

The Charities Amendment Bill passed its third reading today, modernising the charities sector, improving access to justice services, and reducing the red tape that smaller charities face.

The Government is further supporting businesses, including growers and farmers affected by the North Island weather events earlier this year.

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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