Friday, January 26, 2024

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 26/1/24

PM announces new jobs for his executive team while CTU leader announces closure of regional skills leadership groups

Just two ministerial announcements had been posted on the government’s official website, when Point of Order made its daily check.

One announcement involved new governmental duties: the Prime Minister announced several additional portfolio allocations of Associate Ministers and Parliamentary Under-Secretaries.
  • David Seymour becomes an Associate Minister of Justice to allow him to manage the Treaty Principles Bill.
  • Mark Patterson takes on the role of the Associate Minister for Regional Development.
  • Jenny Marcroft has been appointed as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary to the Minister for Oceans and Fisheries.
  • Erica Stanford assumes responsibility for matters relating to the Crown’s response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care,
These changes have no impact on the make-up of Cabinet or the size of the executive.

The second statement came from Hunting and Fishing Minister Todd McClay, who enthused about a hunter-led conservation project which has removed hundreds of deer from a remote part of the Kaimanawa Forest Park, helping improve the forest’s health.

“An innovative hunter-led project has seen 776 deer removed from the Kaimanawa Remote Experience Zone (REZ) since 2022, thanks to the Sika Foundation project.”

The project received some funding from the Government’s Jobs for Nature programme and DOC’s Wild Animal Management Programme.

Another culling decision had not been recorded on the Government’s official website because it was announced not by a Minister but by NZCTU President Richard Wagstaff, who said he was disappointed in the Government’s decision to shut down the Regional Skills Leadership Groups (RSLGs).

Wagstaff said this decision (not officially announced, so far as Point of Order can see) was further evidence of the Government’s lack of a strategy when it comes to vocational education and workforce planning.

“Coming off the back of the reckless decision to disestablish Te Pūkenga, this is another example of the new Government’s slash and burn approach. As with Te Pūkenga, the government hasn’t announced what will be replacing the RSLGs. This will only add to the uncertainty facing the vocational education sector and its workforce,” said Wagstaff.

While we were looking for evidence that the government indeed has decided to shut down these groups, OneNews posted a report headed –

40 MBIE jobs to go as Govt pulls plug on regional leaders group

The report said:

Forty jobs are to go at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment as the Government pulls funding for 15 Regional Skills Leadership Groups.

The RSLGs — set up under the previous Labour government in 2019 — are independent advisory groups that include people from business and industry, local government, worker, iwi, community and the public service.

Those members were expected to commit around 16 hours a month.

However, each of the groups — numbering between 12 and 15 members — was supported by staff at MBIE.

The decision to pull funding will remove 40 roles at the ministry.

This report quoted Social Development and Employment Minister Louise Upston.

She said cutting the programme would save $46 million over four years, and was signalled by National before the election as part of the plan to reduce the cost of back-office government bureaucracies and ease cost of living pressures by delivering tax relief”.

“The coalition government remains committed to addressing regional labour market needs, but there are more efficient ways to do this than by throwing taxpayer dollars at expensive advisory groups in every region. Many of the labour market issues these areas face are nationwide problems,” Upston said.

“As set out in our coalition agreements, we will investigate an alternative workforce planning mechanism to plan for skill or labour shortages in the long-term.”

MBIE has opened applications for staff to apply for voluntary redundancy.

Upston has made just two official announcements as Social Development and Employment Minister –

18 JANUARY 2024

Benefit numbers released today paint a grim picture of the previous government’s economic mismanagement, Social Development and Employment Minister, Louise Upston says.

The Government will extend financial support to more displaced homeowners affected by the severe weather events in late 2022 and early 2023, Social Development and Employment Minister Louise Upston says.

But she has nothing to say on the Beehive website today:

Latest from the Beehive

26 JANUARY 2024

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has announced a number of additional portfolio allocations of Associate Ministers and Parliamentary Under-Secretaries.

A hunter-led conservation project has removed hundreds of deer from a remote part of the Kaimanawa Forest Park, helping improve the forest’s health, Hunting and Fishing Minister Todd McClay says.

In his statement, Minister McClay said:

“Managing deer numbers can help improve forest health and resilience to climate change and reduce pressure on native ecosystems.

“A thriving natural environment and fewer high-quality animals creates a better hunting experience.”

We await the statement from Louise Upston in which she provides similar observations about her culling of MBIE.numbers.

McClay went on to say the project he is spotlighting also set up vegetation and deer density monitoring, which will be remeasured in 2025 to track the response in the habitat from management efforts.

New and innovative management tools – such as thermal assisted aerial hunting, thermal drone assisted ground hunting, and app-based data collection and mapping tools to track the herd response to hunting – were all showing huge value for future management in Kaimanawa Forest Park and other sites, he said.

As well as the deer management project, the Sika Foundation has a range of other conservation projects underway, including managing a trapping network to protect whio (blue ducks) and carrying out hut maintenance.

The MBIE website tells us something about the Regional Skills Leadership Groups which Wagstaff says are being shut down.

It says they are independent advisory bodies which identify and support better ways of meeting future skills and workforce needs in our regions and cities.

They are part of a joined-up approach to regional labour market planning which will see our welfare, education and immigration systems working together, alongside demand-side actors, to better meet labour force needs across the country.

To provide coordinated, qualitative information on their local labour market, RSLGs would…

Work with key stakeholders, iwi/hapū and Māori in the region to identify patterns, trends and needs relating to business continuity and labour market attachment in the region, as well as workforce development needs.

Because they have been distinguished from key stakeholders, may we may suppose that iwi/hapū and Māori are not key stakeholders?

The special treatment of Maori was reflected, too, in the requirement that all RSLG members have an understanding of the distinct interests of iwi/hapū and Māori in the region.

And the Wellington Regional Workforce Plan 2022 said:

The Treaty of Waitangi is a promise that we will live in this country as equal partners. Māori are an increasingly important part of the workforce, and bring unique skills, but while the Māori economy is a force whose time has come, we’re still not working as equal partners with Māori and Iwi.

That interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi – it seems fair to suggest – is somewhat out of step with the new government’s approach.

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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