Thursday, April 18, 2024

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 18/4/24

Jones finds $410,000 to help the government muscle in on a spat project

Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones relishes spatting and eagerly takes issue with environmentalists who criticise his enthusiasm for resource development.

He relishes helping the fishing industry too.

And so today, while the media are making much of the latest culling in the public service to pave the way for tax cuts, he has announced how government revenue is being put to good use on his watch.

The fiscally straitened government will be investing $410,000 over three years in a $1.04 million mussel spat project.

Correction. The government will be co-investing in the project, which will be led by the Marine Farming Association in partnership with University of Auckland, Coromandel Marine Farmers’ Association, Aquaculture New Zealand, Greenshell Spat Co and Sanford.

“This project could be key to a more sustainable industry and has the potential to lift the sales revenue of our mussels by tens of millions of dollars per year,” Mr Jones says.

A bit of job creation from this might help some culled public servants.

For the rest, there’s good news for those who happen to own their homes and have become sufficiently impoverished to qualify for relief from rapacious rates demands.

Local Government Minister Simeon Brown has announced an increase to the Rates Rebate Scheme, saying this is aimed at helping low-income homeowners.

From 1 July 2024, the maximum rebate will increase from $750 to $790. The income abatement threshold will rise from $30,100 to $31,510.

The Rates Rebate Scheme, established in 1973, is a partial refund for people who pay rates to their council. It exists to provide financial relief for low-income New Zealanders who own their own home.

But hey – how are the figures worked out?

The changes reflect the 4.7 per cent movement of the Consumer Price Index for the 2023 calendar year.

Maybe someone should apprise Minister Brown of rates increases much, much higher this year.

Application forms are available from your local council. They can also be downloaded from the New Zealand Government website ( and submitted to your council.

If the rebates don’t do the trick for the newly unemployed, Social Development and Employment Minister Louise Upston might cheer them up. She says the Government is focused on getting people into work.

They have been send packing from their public service jobs, in other words, as part of the Government’s plan to rebuild the economy and have 50,000 fewer people on Jobseeker Support.

Upston was prompted to spell out the government’s employment objective after new data showed 187,986 people are receiving a Jobseeker benefit.

The proportion of New Zealand’s working-age population who are receiving Jobseeker Support sits at 5.9 per cent, up from 4 per cent six years ago.

Benefit statistics for the March 2024 quarter can be found here

Climate Change Minister Simon Watts was heartened by new statistics, too.

The data he brandished show clean energy has helped the country reach its lowest annual gross emissions since 1999.

New Zealand’s latest Greenhouse Gas Inventory (1990-2022) published today, shows gross emissions fell to 78.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-e) in 2022, four per cent lower than in 2021.

Watts says:

“We want New Zealanders to benefit from affordable, clean energy. Nearly 90 per cent of New Zealand’s electricity in 2022 came from renewable sources, making us one of the best in the world. But we still have more to do.

“That’s why we have already started work on doubling renewable energy production, ensuring we stay laser focused on continuing this positive trend.

“Transitioning to cleaner energy sources, improving energy efficiency, and ensuring that projects which help to lower emissions are fast tracked is part of our wider plan to rebuild the economy. Transitioning also ensures we have a more sustainable economy for the future.”

Building and Construction Minister Chris Penk has glad tidings, too, for property owners, announcing the government is bringing forward the earthquake-prone buildings review and extending the deadline for remediations.

The current earthquake-prone building system was put in place in 2017, requiring buildings considered to be earthquake-prone to be remediated before set dates with nearly 500 deadlines set to expire over the next four years.

Councils and building owners have told Penk that many buildings will not meet their deadlines due to the high costs involved, further complicated by cumbersome heritage rules and ownership structures.

“Without change, a significant number of buildings could sit empty which would have a devastating impact on the economy in cities such as Wellington and provincial towns across New Zealand.

“While there is already a review scheduled for 2027, the Government has decided to bring this forward to provide greater certainty and this work will begin immediately. Terms of reference will be agreed by Cabinet next month.

“The review will be extensive and consider the appropriate risk settings to protect safety while ensuring the rules are workable to support businesses, increase economic activity and create jobs. The review will also look at the way overseas jurisdictions manage earthquake risk.”

While this review is underway, all current remediation deadlines will be extended by four years.
  • Cabinet will agree to the review’s terms of reference in May 2024.
  • The extension to deadlines will apply from 2 April 2024 but will not apply to buildings that have already passed their deadline.
  • These changes will require an amendment to the Building Act 2004 with the intention that this bill be passed before the end of 2024.
Oh – and let’s not forget the PM.

He has announced that Thailand and NZ have agreed to upgrade their bilateral relationship to a Strategic Partnership by 2006.

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and his Thai counterpart, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, – during their meeting in Bangkok – discussed opportunities to strengthen the relationship across defence and security, education, and people-to-people links, and released the attached Joint Statement.

Another key focus of the meeting was economic cooperation, including setting a shared goal to triple two-way trade by 2045.

Prime Minister Luxon and Prime Minister Srettha also discussed deepening defence cooperation, the challenge of transnational organised crime, the crisis in Myanmar, and other regional and global challenges.

Latest from the Beehive

18 APRIL 2024

Local Government Minister Simeon Brown has announced an increase to the Rates Rebate Scheme, putting money back into the pockets of low-income homeowners.

The Coalition Government is investing in a project to boost survival rates of New Zealand mussels and grow the industry, Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones has announced.

Benefit figures released today underscore the importance of the Government’s plan to rebuild the economy and have 50,000 fewer people on Jobseeker Support.

The Government’s commitment to doubling New Zealand’s renewable energy capacity is backed by new data showing that clean energy has helped the country reach its lowest annual gross emissions since 1999.

The Government is bringing the earthquake-prone building review forward, with work to start immediately, and extending the deadline for remediations by four years.

17 APRIL 2024

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon and his Thai counterpart, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, have today agreed that New Zealand and the Kingdom of Thailand will upgrade the bilateral relationship to a Strategic Partnership by 2026.

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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