Thursday, February 15, 2024

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive 15/2/24

Valentine’s Day went unnoticed on the Beehive website – but it is not “baa, humbug” to celebrate National Lamb Day

None of our ministers – a quick check with the Beehive website suggests – found cause to mention, let along celebrate, Valentine’s Day.

But two ministers – Agriculture Minister Todd McClay and Rural Communities Minister Mark Patterson – ensured that National Lamb Day did not pass unnoticed.

They hosted “bipartisan celebrations” of National Lamb Day with industry representatives at Parliament to mark the anniversary of the first frozen lamb exports that left New Zealand on 24 May 1882 and to announce a series of woolshed roadshows in support of sheep farmers.

Their press statement will be vying for media attention alongside the speech delivered by Finance Minister Nicola Willis to the NZ Economics Forum and an announcement that the Government is tackling high construction costs, aiming (or hoping) to make it more affordable for New Zealanders to build a home.

This will be done by streamlining the building consent process, making product substitutions easier, and clarifying roles and responsibilities within the system.

Health Minister Shane Reti has issued a statement, too, to announce the government has taken the first steps in delivering on its promise to extend free breast screening to women aged 70-74.

It’s not a huge step – the Government has done nothing more than meet with officials to discuss what is needed for the screening to be extended. But it’s a start.

Oh – and you won’t find the announcement on the government’s official website. It was emailed to Point of Order and has been posted on the Scoop website.

The announcement from Chris Penk on the government’s focus on reducing sky-high construction costs reference Stats NZ data which show the cost of building a house has increased by 41 per cent since 2019.

Moreover, building costs are consistently higher in New Zealand than several overseas jurisdictions: comparisons show the cost to build a standalone house is around 50 per cent more expensive than it is in Australia.

“This must change,” says Penk.

He stated the obvious: not only do high building costs make it harder for families trying to purchase their first home, but they have far-reaching economic and social consequences such as higher mortgage repayment costs, higher rents, and increased demand for social housing.

“Tackling out-of-control construction prices is one of the keys to reducing the cost of living and providing Kiwis with the high-quality, affordable housing they deserve.

“Kiwis pay too much for building materials. We will ensure more high-quality building products are approved to increase competition, lower building material costs, and support our resilience to supply-chain disruptions.”

Penk’s data – sourced from the most recent Stats NZ and the Australian Bureau of Statistics data using value of building work consented per square metre for a standalone house ($ NZD) – show:


Australia – $1,743

New Zealand – $2,591

Bringing down costs is a concern to Agriculture Minister McClay, too.

At the National Lamb Day celebrations, McClay said work to reduce the previous government’s regulatory burden on farmers has already started.

The government is focused on getting costs down for our farmers, he said.

“We recognise the challenges sheep farmers are facing in the current climate with the oversupply of Australian lamb flooding the market and driving global prices down; and the ongoing barriers faced across the wool sector,” McClay says.

“At the same time, we back our farmers who produce high-quality products that are sought globally.”

Work to reduce the previous government’s regulatory burden on farmers has already started, Mr McClay says.

Over the next three months Minister McClay will be joined by the Minister for Rural Communities and delegation as Associate Minister responsible for wool on a national woolshed roadshow.

“We will be engaging with small catchment groups from Northland to Southland meeting farmers in the woolsheds, and at the farm gate, to discuss grassroots solutions.

Valentines Day has not been mentioned in ministerial press statements since August 2019, when Grant Robertson, then Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission, advised Canterbury homebuyers about the availability of new data on Environment Canterbury’s website to give people greater certainty when buying a home.

Robertson noted that the database excluded claims made from the Valentine’s Day earthquake in February 2016 and the KaikĊura earthquake.

Latest from the Beehive

15 FEBRUARY 2024

The Government celebrates National Lamb Day (15 February 24) and congratulates sheep farmers on the high-quality products they continue to produce.


15 FEBRUARY 2024

It’s great to be back at the New Zealand Economics Forum.

15 FEBRUARY 2024

The Government is focused on reducing sky-high construction costs to make it more affordable to build a home, Building and Construction Minister Chris Penk says.

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

1 comment:

robert Arthur said...

When it comes to matters maori every day is National Lamb Day for the National Party.