Friday, May 24, 2024

Point of Order: Buzz from the Beehive - 24/5/24

Shane Jones has the zeal, sure enough, but is too busy with his mining duties (we suspect) to be available for climate change job

The hacks of the Parliamentary Press Gallery have been able to chip into a rich vein of material on the government’s official website over the past 24 hours.

Among the nuggets is the speech by Regional Development Minister Shane Jones and a press statement to announce the Government’s vision for the future of minerals and the mining industry.

Doubling the value of minerals exports is among the objectives.

Another statement provides an update on the progress of Māori wards legislation. A bill to restore the rights of communities to determine whether to introduce Māori wards has passed its first reading in Parliament.

This one has generated shrieks of outrage from opponents whose idea of democracy is to brandish the Treaty of Waitangi and insist it entitles one ethnic group of people in New Zealand to electoral privileges.

An announcement today at first blush looked like jobs for the boys, with the naming of the Inaugural Board of Integrity Sport & Recreation Commission. But no. The Don Mackinnon who will head the new commission is not the bloke who was Deputy Prime Minister back in Jim Bolger’s day.

But wait. A new job opportunity has opened at the Climate Change Commission.

It’s a shame Shane Jones already has a job. If he tackled the climate change challenge with the same zeal he is investing in digging for minerals – the mind boggles!

Housing Ministers Chris Bishop and Tama Potaka are braying about new social housing funding in Budget 2024 which (they say) will ensure the Government can continue supporting more families into warm, dry homes from July 2025.

Are they projecting themselves as benevolent people who won’t be tossing poor families into the street from that date? Well, good for them.

Oh – and Shane Jones isn’t the only New Zealand First bigwig crying out for attention. Foreign Minister Winston Peters is vying for attention by crowing about what Vote Foreign Affairs in Budget 2024 will provide.

Latest from the Beehive

24 MAY 2024

The Climate Change Commission Chair, Dr Rod Carr, has confirmed his plans to retire at the end of his term later this year, Climate Change Minister Simon Watts says.

Nine highly respected experts have been appointed to the inaugural board of the new Integrity Sport and Recreation Commission.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters confirmed today that Vote Foreign Affairs in Budget 2024 will balance two crucial priorities of the Coalition Government.

New social housing funding in Budget 2024 will ensure the Government can continue supporting more families into warm, dry homes from July 2025, Housing Ministers Chris Bishop and Tama Potaka say.


23 MAY 2024

New Zealand boasts a long and rich history of mining, deeply interconnected with how our country has developed over the last 200 years.

Increasing national and regional prosperity, providing the minerals needed for new technology and the clean energy transition, and doubling the value of minerals exports are the bold aims of the Government’s vision for the minerals sector.

The coalition Government’s legislation to restore the rights of communities to determine whether to introduce Māori wards has passed its first reading in Parliament, Local Government Minister Simeon Brown says.

In his speech on New Zealand’s minerals future, Shane Jones said minerals currently generate export earnings of $1 billion annually, $21 million in royalties and more than 5000 direct jobs for New Zealanders.

But we anticipate accelerated growth, through existing minerals like gold and coking coal, new minerals important to the clean energy technologies, and on top of this we expect increased domestic refining to add value to our raw minerals.

My goal is for the sector to double its export value to $2 billion by 2035, provide more than 7000 direct jobs across regional New Zealand, and support other sectors through the stable supply of essential minerals.

This is not out of reach. The establishment of 10 significant mining operations, each having the potential to generate $100m per annum, can lead this growth pathway.

This Government will develop a long-term strategic approach for minerals that sets clear policy direction, identifying the actions needed to secure and increase minerals supply and their potential for use and export to maximise economic and Crown benefit from our mineral estate.

Jones said he supports sustainable and environmentally approved mining on stewardship land and other categories of DOC land.

A major priority is to clarify access arrangements for mineral extraction.

To allow efficient mining development we need to remove red tape.

The sector is impacted by the revolving list of regulatory barriers which currently exist, because we’ve never had a solid plan that we stick to.

Ultimately, the government wants to enable major projects by improving decision making timeframes and giving greater investment certainty, with well-designed projects having a clear and fast path to consent.

Another objective is domestic resilience

Jones would rather minerals be extracted from our own backyard than be imported from places with lower environmental and employment standards.

The name “Don Mackinnon” (the chairman) is among the nine appointees to the new independent Crown entity, which was established under the Integrity Sport and Recreation Act last year, and will officially commence on 1 July this year.

But the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and secretary-general of the Commonwealth of Nations is Sir Donald Charles McKinnon

Don Mackinnon is an employment lawyer and one of New Zealand’s leading sports lawyers and directors. He currently chairs the Super Rugby franchise The Blues, was a long serving director of NZ Cricket (and chair of its High-Performance Committee) and has served as chair of the Integrity Vetting Panel of World Athletics based in Monaco.
Chris Bishop and Tama Potaka made their latest announcement while visiting Dwell Housing Trust’s social housing development in Kilbirnie.

They said this is a good example of a community housing provider and a development that will be eligible for funding with the new places.

Bishop harked back to an announcement earlier this week that Budget 2024 allocates $140 million to fund 1,500 new social housing places which will be provided by Community Housing Providers (CHPs).

Potaka says the social housing waitlist is over 25,000 applicants “and too many Kiwi families are living in emergency housing motels or sleeping on relatives’ couches while they wait to move into warm, dry, stable housing,”

Today they outlined how the 1500 new homes will be allocated by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development from 1 July 2025 onwards.

This won’t greatly dent a waiting list of 25,000 applicants – but hey, it’s better than doing nothing, eh?

Winston Peters, promoting his budget-negotiating prowess, brought our safety into considerations:

“While Budget 2024 reflects the constrained fiscal environment, the Government also recognises the critical role MFAT plays in keeping New Zealanders safe and prosperous.

“Consistent with the central role of the Pacific in the Government’s foreign policy reset, Budget 2024 provides nearly $60 million in capital and operational investment for the necessary renewal of New Zealand’s diplomatic post infrastructure in the Pacific.

“Given the legacy of exploding debt and budget deficits across the Government’s books under our predecessors, we have found $15 million in savings per year in Vote Foreign Affairs from back-office efficiencies and lower priority activities to play our part in turning around the country’s fiscal position – for a total of $60 million across the forecast period,” says Mr Peters.

“Under new Board leadership, we are also turning around the serious fiscal risks we inherited on the stalled Scott Base Redevelopment project, reducing taxpayer liability for what remains a significant project of national interest,” says Mr Peters.

“The balance struck in this year’s budget is between risk and opportunity and between back-office savings and front-line investment. Its emphasis on fiscal savings and risks is entirely appropriate while we review the Ministry’s overall operations, including our overseas diplomatic network in the coming months to better align it to the Coalition Government’s foreign policy priorities and opportunities to seriously lift our export performance over the coming decade.

“MFAT will also be benchmarking its diplomatic reach against countries we compare ourselves to, as New Zealand more effectively advances our economic and security interests internationally,” said Mr Peters.

We wrap up today’s Buzz with news from Simeon Brown, who says the Local Government (Electoral Legislation and Māori Wards and Māori Constituencies) Amendment Bill will give councils that established a Māori ward without referendum the chance to reverse their decision or hold a binding poll at the 2025 elections on whether to continue with the Māori ward.

Councils that retain their Māori wards will be required to hold a poll alongside the 2025 elections. The results of these polls will be binding on councils and will take effect for the local government term beginning October 2028.

Restoring the right to local referendums on the establishment and ongoing use of Māori wards is a commitment under both the ACT and NZ First coalition agreements with National.

The Bill will reinstate a requirement for 5 per cent of voters to initiate a referendum on proposals for a Māori ward.

Brown explained:

“The coalition Government’s view is that any decision to establish or disestablish a Māori ward is one that should remain with communities. These changes ensure that local communities have a say in their governance arrangements.”

The omnibus Bill will also make broader amendments to the statutory timeframes for local elections, extending the delivery period for voting papers from six days to 14 days, and extending the voting period by ten days.

The Bill will have a shortened committee process to ensure changes are in place to give councils time to make their decisions before the 2025 local elections.

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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