Still not kind enough

20/04/2021

The government is giving some long overdue relief to migrant families who have been separated for more than a year:

National is pleased a solution has finally been found for some of the migrants split from their families after the Government forced them to endure more than a year of distress and uncertainty, National’s Immigration spokesperson Erica Stanford says.

“News that many migrants, including our critical nurses and health workers, will finally get to hug their children and partners will be an enormous relief to them.

“New Zealand is critically short of nurses and is undertaking the biggest vaccination programme in living memory, so it’s reassuring that migrant nurses caught by a policy anomaly can now stay here and be reunited with their families.

“We can’t afford to lose the highly-skilled migrants who fill gaps in our workforce that we can’t otherwise fill. They are our doctors, our engineers, our tech experts, and our children’s mathematics teachers – we desperately need them in this country.

We need them and they need their families.

“While National welcomes today’s announcement, which is clearly the right thing to do, it is a shame the Government only acted after intense and sustained pressure from the Opposition, the media and split migrant family advocates.

“It should not have taken nurses shedding tears on the 6pm news night after night, having been separated from their babies, for the Government to act after it ignored them for months.

“Today’s move is a good start, but there is more to do. This decision won’t cover many families whose visas were being processed but had not yet been approved.

“Families still left in limbo will be deeply disappointed the Immigration Minister did not give them a roadmap to reunification.

“This overdue announcement, coming after months of pressure, shows the Labour Government does not have a clear plan for our immigration settings.

“National will continue to closely scrutinise the Government’s immigration and border response, and will continue to be the party that values and speaks up for our migrants.” 

The government is acting on its be-kind mantra, albeit belatedly, but it is not yet being kind enough.

Too many families won’t qualify for this and there are a lot of businesses desperate for workers who still can’t get them through the border.

Fruit is rotting on the ground in Hawke’s Bay amid a massive worker shortage and orchardists warn that overworked pickers are suffering more accidents.

The official labour shortage first declared for Hawke’s Bay six weeks ago – with 192 tourists granted approval to work in orchards – expired on Friday.

It was immediately extended, but growers say it’s too little too late.

Phil Paynter from Johnny Appleseed Holdings had to say goodbye to 22 hard-working pickers last week and says that with a little more warning, he could have kept them.

“When the labour shortage expired last Friday, we laid off 22 staff,” he said. “There simply aren’t the tourist numbers by the time you get into April to find those people [again].” . . 

Fruit growers further south are facing the same problem:

Central Otago’s horticulture sector fears fruit may be left to rot if a labour shortage isn’t filled soon.

The region is suffering from a lack of the usual seasonal workers from the Pacific because of Covid-19 border restrictions.

Many locals who filled in for the summer fruit harvest have left for university or jobs elsewhere.

With the borders creaking open with the announcement of the trans-Tasman bubble last week, horticulturists are calling for a Pacific bubble to follow.

Wine grower James Dicey said this year’s vintage would be an expensive one.

“We’ve scrapped through by the skin of our teeth,” he said, of the difficulty of finding workers to pick grapes.

“It’s going to cost us a lot more – not only the minimum wage increase, but the loss of productivity we’ve had has been a double bite. I’ve had to put extra vans on, find accommodation for staff, go to a huge extra level just to make sure we are able to secure the people we need.”

Orchards and vineyards would pay the cost of getting foreign workers into MIQ, if that was an option, but the risk was so low from the Pacific workers should just be let in, Dicey said. 

The five main countries which supplied seasonal workers – known as RSE – had few or no cases of Covid. . . 

It’s not just added stress and loss income for the businesses, less fruit and vegetables picked means less to sell. That will result in less export income for the country and higher prices for households here.

The government needs to reassess its priorities when the cast and crew of The Lion King have been allowed in but the workers needed to pick fruit and vegetables aren’t.

Its current policy is not nearly kind enough.


National’s refreshed responsibilities

25/05/2020

Todd Muller has announced the refreshed responsibilities for his MPs:

He has taken Small Business and National Security.

His deputy Nikki Kaye has Education and Sports and Recreation.

Amy Adams, who had announced her retirement, is staying on with responsibility for Covid-19 Recovery.

Judith Collins:  Economic Development, Regional Development, is Shadow Attorney-General and takes on Pike River Re-entry.

Paul Goldsmith keeps Finance and has responsibility for the Earthquake Commission.

Gerry Brownlee: Foreign Affairs, Disarmament; GCSB; NZSIS and Shadow Leader of House.

Michael Woodhouse keeps Health, is  Deputy Shadow Leader of the House and Associate Finance

Louise Upston: Social Development and Social Investment.

Mark Mitchell: Justice and Defence

Scott Simpson:  Environment, Climate Change and Planning (RMA reform)

Todd McCLay:Trade and Tourism

Chris Bishop has Infrastructure and Transport

Paula Bennett: Drug Reform and Women

Nicola Willis: Housing and Urban Development and Early Childhood Education

Jacqui Dean: Conservation

David Bennett: Agriculture

Shane Reti: Tertiary Skills and Employment,  Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Health

Melissa Lee: Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and Data and Cybersecurity

Andrew Bayly:  Revenue, Commerce, State Owned Enterprises and Associate Finance

Alfred Ngaro: Pacific Peoples, Community and Voluntary, and Children and Disability Issues

Barbara Kuriger: Senior Whip, Food Safety, Rural Communities

Jonathan Young:

Nick Smith:

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi:

Matt Doocey:

Jian Yang:

Stuart Smith:

Simon O’Connor:

Lawrence Yule: Local Government

Denise Lee:  Local Government (Auckland)

Anne Tolley: Deputy Speaker

Parmjeet Parmar:  Research, Science and Innovation

Brett Hudson:  Police, Government Digital Services

Stuart Smith: Immigration, Viticulture

Simeon Brown: Corrections, Youth, Associate Education

Ian McKelvie: Racing, Fisheries

Jo Hayes:  Whānau Ora, Māori Development

Andrew Falloon: Biosecurity, Associate Agriculture, Associate Transport

Harete Hipango: Crown Māori Relations, Māori Tourism

Matt King: Regional Development (North Island), Associate Transport

Chris Penk: Courts, Veterans

Hamish Walker Land Information, Forestry, Associate Tourism

Erica Stanford: Internal Affairs, Associate Environment, Associate Conservation

Tim van de Molen: Third Whip, Building and Construction

Maureen Pugh: Consumer Affairs, Regional Development (South Island), West Coast Issues

Dan Bidois: Workplace Relations and Safety

Agnes Loheni:  Associate Small Business, Associate Pacific Peoples

Paulo Garcia: Associate Justice

At the time of the announcement SImon Bridges was considering his future, he nas subsequently announced he will stay on in parliament and contest the Tauranga seat again.


Common ground on climate change

16/06/2018

National leader Simon Bridges wants to take the politics out of climate change:

“Today I have written to the Prime Minister and Minister for Climate Change offering to work with them to establish an independent, non-political Climate Change Commission which would support emissions reductions by both advising on carbon budgets and publishing progress reports on emissions,” Mr Bridges says.

“National recognises the importance to New Zealanders – current and future – of addressing climate change and responsibly playing our part in a global response.

“Long-lasting change requires broad and enduring support, so I want to work with the Government to make meaningful bipartisan progress on climate change.

“This will be challenging and require compromises on both sides. But the prize is too great not to try, and the consequences on our economy, jobs and the environment are too serious if we don’t do so responsibly.

“The design of the Commission will be critical, but both the Productivity Commission and Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment have offered a clear steer as to what they see as an enduring model to drive long-lasting change.

“I am confident that we can work constructively together to establish an enduring non-political framework for all future governments when considering climate change issues.

Mr Bridges also said that simply getting the institutional arrangements such as carbon budgets right isn’t enough – we also need to address the specific policy choices that will be taken to reduce emissions over time.

“Of course there will be ongoing debate and differing views about what steps are appropriate. National want to see sensible, practical solutions, not extreme policies that would damage the economy and unnecessarily drive up costs for Kiwi households.

“National have a core set of principles that will guide the work we do on climate change:

  • taking a pragmatic, science-based approach,
  • utilising innovation and technology,
  • getting the incentives right to drive long-term change rather than short-term shocks
  • acting as part of a global response, and
  • considering the wider impacts on the economy, jobs and incomes

“Addressing climate change isn’t easy. We all know that.

“But if we are all pulling in the same direction we can help ensure that our beautiful natural environment is preserved for our grandchildren and their grandchildren,” Mr Bridges says.

 

This announcement came in a speech at the Fieldays:

. . . My time as Economic Development Minister underlined for me the importance of the primary sector and regional New Zealand.

There can be a lot of talk from politicians about diversification away from primary industries – moving away from farming into areas like IT and finance.

Promoting other industries is good, but we must remember that you are the engine room of the economy.

Other industries could take lessons from how the primary sector operates.

It is full of people that are outward looking and back themselves.

People who constantly innovate so they can be the best at what they do.

People who care about conservation and the environment.

People who know that if you put in the hard yards, you reap the rewards.

These values are at the heart of what it means to be a New Zealander.

These attitudes are part of the reason why New Zealand is filled with fantastic opportunities right now.

They’re why in the two years before the last election, 10,000 new jobs were being created every month.

Why the average annual income increased by $13,000 between 2008 and 2017 – twice the rate of inflation.

They’re why the proportion of Kiwis in work is the third highest in the developed world.

New Zealand is a successful, prosperous, confident country, filled with people and businesses that can foot it with the best in the world.

I know that as Leader of the Opposition I’m supposed to complain about everything.

But that’s not my style.

I genuinely believe we are doing really well as a country, although we can always do better.

This success wasn’t always the case – ten years ago 30,000 people were leaving New Zealand every year to move to Australia, because that’s where the opportunities were.

As of last year there are more coming the other way.

We’ve made great progress – but we must keep pushing hard to ensure all Kiwis enjoy the gains.

I’m concerned that more and more of the Ardern-Peters Government’s policies will put those opportunities at risk.

While they talk a lot about good intentions, the policies like higher fuel taxes and a reversion to 1970s style pay agreements are anti-growth. They’ll shut down opportunities for our young people to get a job, and they’ll increase costs on New Zealand families.

Almost half of businesses believe the economy will deteriorate over the next six months. Half. That’s not an environment where people are hiring another employee or investing for growth.

I talked about values earlier, and there is one other value that I believe makes New Zealand so special.

And that’s our belief in doing the right thing, in giving a helping hand to those in need.

People like the single parent who needs taxpayer support to help raise their children.

And the worker who has just been laid-off and is trying but struggling to find their next job.

Most recently we’ve seen it in the primary sector too, with the M Bovis outbreak.

This is an extremely challenging time for farmers and the rural community.

These are animals that you have bred and cared for, and now your livelihoods are on the line.

I’m not going to dwell on how we got where we are, but I am pleased that farmers finally have certainty.

I feel for those who are having their stock culled – truly taking one for the team

For National’s part, we’re not going to play politics with this issue. That’s my commitment to you.

Our primary sector team of MPs, led by Nathan Guy, is here to support farming families and to advocate for you through this painful process.

I want to talk about more than just M Bovis today.

You know we always have to look ahead – to next year and the year after, to how you want your farm to be operating in five years’ time, and perhaps even to how your children and grandchildren could take over one day.

Just like you, much of what I do is driven by what I want for my kids when they grow up.

My wife Natalie and I have three amazing young children. Emlyn who is six, Harry who’s four, and little Jemima who is a whole six months old.

As a politician sometimes there are sacrifices you make, and that includes spending less time with your children.

But it also means that when I go to Parliament, I’m driven by the desire to make New Zealand an even better place for all our kids when they grow up.

One of the big long-term challenges we face is protecting the environment.

In a hundred years, when we’re all long gone, I want to be sure our grandchildren will be living in a New Zealand that is still the envy of the world because of its stunning natural environment as well as its prosperity.

I want them to live in a pristine New Zealand, where they can take their children to swim at Piha, or tramp in the Waitakere ranges like I did growing up.

I want our grandchildren to know that all of us have done what we can to protect the environment – our most precious natural resource. 

I doubt there are any New Zealanders who don’t think like this.

We can have the best sportspeople, the finest scholars, and the most innovative entrepreneurs.

We can have a world class economy and the prosperity to pay for education, hospitals, infrastructure, social services and care for our vulnerable.

But none of that is worthwhile if we haven’t protected the natural environment as well.

I’ve charged our environmental MPs, led by Scott Simpson, Todd Muller, Sarah Dowie and Erica Stanford with the task of modernising our approach to environmental issues. To run a ruler over our policies. To ask the questions and to push us harder.

And that is also true of climate change.

I know there might be some surprises about a National leader talking about climate change at Fieldays.

But I know this sector is committed to conservation and environmental sustainability.

You don’t get enough credit for that.

We’re not doing anyone any favours if we can’t have a robust conversation about the steps we need to take to protect our natural resources.

New Zealand feeds the world. We produce more food per person than any other OECD country.

Unfortunately being a large food producer means our per capita emissions are high.

But we are also the most efficient food producers. The world needs to be fed and we know how to do it well. 

But simply being the most efficient isn’t enough. We need to do more to reduce emissions further. I know that, and every farmer I talk to knows that too.

Despite our small individual profile of one fifth of one per cent of global emissions, our size does not abdicate us from our responsibility.

National recognises the importance to New Zealanders – present and future – of addressing climate change, and playing our part in the global response.

We’ve made good progress recently, but we need to do more.

We implemented the world-leading Emissions Trading Scheme, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining economic productivity.

When I was Transport Minister I implemented a significant package of measures to increase electric vehicle usage, so that we use fewer fossil fuels.

New Zealand is a great place for electric vehicles, because almost 90 per cent of our electricity is renewable. That’s the fourth highest in the developed world. 

There are now as many new electric vehicles in New Zealand each year as there have been in Australia, ever.

I want us to do more of that.

Since 2008 our greenhouse gas emissions fell, despite a growing economy and growing population.

That is a big deal. In the previous 18 years emissions increased by 25 per cent.

But we now need to wrestle them down further.

I am proud to have been a part of the previous National Government which signed New Zealand up to the Paris agreement with its ambitious challenge of reducing our emissions to 30 per cent less than 2005 levels by 2030.

I was there in Paris as the Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues and I stand by our commitment.

It will be challenging to achieve, and will require an adjustment to our economy. But we must do so.

In order to drive long-lasting change, broad and enduring political support is needed for New Zealand’s climate change framework – on the institutional arrangements we put in place to support a reduction in emissions.

Both the Productivity Commission and Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment were clear about this.

Stability is required to allow people and businesses to plan and respond.

It requires a consensus between the major political parties on the overall framework through which we address climate change issues. . . 

Seeking consensus with a common ground approach to climate change is the only way to make enduring progress.

The principles National wants to guide the process are sensible and sustainable.

  • taking a pragmatic, science-based approach,
  • utilising innovation and technology,
  • getting the incentives right to drive long-term change rather than short-term shocks
  • acting as part of a global response, and
  • considering the wider impacts on the economy, jobs and incomes

The test will be whether other parties will accept them or put politics before progress.

 


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