The Kākā by Bernard Hickey
Jones: 'NZ has to mine its way to the future'

Jones: 'NZ has to mine its way to the future'

20,000 protest Fast-track Approvals Bill; Jones reverses drilling ban and relaxes cleanup rules; Jones says NZ has to 'mine its way to the future'; 64% of $2.9 billion in tax cuts going to top 40%

TL;DR: The six things to note in Aotearoa-NZ’s political economy around housing, climate and poverty in the past day to 8:36 pm on Monday, June 10 were:

  1. 20,000 protested against the Fast-track approval bill on Saturday in Auckland, but PM Christopher Luxon says ‘sorry, but not sorry’ about the need for faster development. Shane Jones says: “We have to mine our way to the future.”

  2. Jones announced a reversal of the Labour-Green ban on offshore oil and gas exploration and plans to water down cleanup rules.

  3. Analysis of official documents on the Government’s $2.9 billion of income tax cuts in Budget 2024 show that 64% of the cuts go to the top 40% of taxpayers.

  4. National has reneged on its promise to fully fund a rollout of 10,000 EV charges, budgeting for just over a third of the promised $257 million over four years.

  5. The Government is likely to announce its finalised policy of keeping agriculture out of the emissions trading scheme ahead of Fieldays this week, BusinessDesk reports this morning.

  6. MSD and Corrections are using some of the 40 boarding houses in Auckland that council inspectors have deemed are operating illegally.

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Six things to note this morning

1. ‘We have to mine our way to the future’

Climate & Politics: An estimated 20,000 marched down Queen Street on Saturday afternoon in protest against the Fast-track Approvals bill deemed a March for Nature. Prime Minister Christopher Luxon dismissed the protest, saying things needed to get built and foreign investment needed to be encouraged, while Resources Minister Shane Jones described the protestors as ‘shrill banshees’ and said: “We have to mine our way to the future.” See more in Quotes of the day and Sign of the day below.

Fiona Goodall/Getty Images.

2. ‘Come back. We’ll make cleaning up cheaper for you’

Climate & Politics: Jones announced yesterday plans to legislate in the second half of this year to reverse the previous Government’s ban on offshore oil and gas exploration and to make it cheaper and easier for foreign investors to clean up messes afterwards. He said gas reserves had fallen and the removal of the ban, as promised in the coalition agreement, was needed to ‘keep the lights on.’

The details in this MBIE document show plans for legislative amendments to the Crown Minerals Act:

  • to make it cheaper for drillers to hold securities against future cleanup costs ‘in a way that is cost efficient and best suits a permit holder’s circumstances’;

  • to limit the ‘trailing liability’ for clean-up costs to the most recent transferor;

  • to remove ‘the requirement to make payments or provide a financial security in anticipation of difficult to quantify, future risks’;

  • to remove the 2018 ban on ‘accessing some Taranaki conservation land for petroleum activities other than minimum impact activities’

  • to change the current competitive tender process for drilling rights to include the option of a non-tender or ‘priority in time’ method used before 2013;

  • to specifying the Minister’s purpose under the amended Act be changed from ‘managing’ prospecting, exploration and mining to ‘promoting and attracting permit applications; and,

  • to introduce a new ‘Tier 3’ mining permit ‘to undertake small-scale non-commercial gold mining sometimes referred to as ‘hobby or recreational mining’.

3. Most tax cut money going to top 40% of income earners

Poverty: Analysis of Treasury and IRD figures in their Regulatory Impact Assessment document for the Government’s $2.9 billion of income tax cuts in Budget 2024 shows that 64% of the cuts go to the top 40% of taxpayers after the inclusion of extra income for rental property investors, University of Auckland tax and poverty researcher Susan St John has found, via The Daily Blog.

The top 2 quintiles (40% of households) gain $1.6 billion or 55% of the total.  But they also benefit by $750m a year from the landlords’ tax reduction. When that is included, they get 64%, by far the lion’s share of the total.  What is so shocking is that the lowest quintile gets just 5.4% of the total.  About 130,000 households get nothing at all and 8000 are slightly worse-off.

No one seems to have worked out how the many spending cuts will be distributed, but increased transport costs, prescription charges, lower quality school lunches will hurt the poor most. We know that rents are rising along with rates and insurance. Cut-backs to budget advisory services and foodbank funding increase the misery along with changes to price indexation for benefits and an inadequately adjusted minimum wage.

Remember, the worst-off families get no tax relief in this budget and miss out on the IWTC (in-work tax credit) because they are on benefits. The IWTC payment (which assist with the costs of raising children) is now nearly $100 per week for 1-3 children with an extra $15 a week per additional child.  In this recession, as low-income families lose work, as they will, they also lose $100 per week (more for larger families) for their children. Susan St John via The Daily Blog. 

Chart from Treasury and IRD figures in their Regulatory Impact Assessment document

4. ‘10,000 EV chargers set to be National’s Kiwibuild’

Another broken promise has emerged from the depths of Budget 2024. 1News’ Jacob Johnson reported last night with confirmation from Transport Minister Simeon Brown and comments from Green MP Julie-Anne Genter that National pledged $257m over 4 years to deliver 10,000 EV chargers, but this year's Budget only allocated $95m over the same time period.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown said a new plan is being developed as part of the coalition agreement with Act.

"We're currently working through a new funding model around how we can maximise private sector investment in EV charging so we can grow those numbers."

More decisions on how that will work will be made later in the year.

"There is a role for Government to support, and so we want to make sure we're doing that in the right places and getting value for money for taxpayers," Brown added.

Genter said the Government’s entire climate change policy hinged on getting the chargers installed.

"This might end up being National's KiwiBuild. They've set a very ambitious target, but they're not putting in place the policies to support it or the funding." Julie-Anne Genter

5. National set to tell farmers they can stay out of ETS

The National-ACT-NZ First Government is likely to announce its finalised policy on keeping agriculture out of the emissions trading scheme ahead of Fieldays, BusinessDesk-$$$’s Riley Kennedy reported this morning.

Sources have said the government will confirm agriculture won’t enter the ETS, it will officially kill (He Waka Eke Noa) HWEN and a new pastoral-focused group will be formed as opposed to having other parts of the sector, such as horticulture, involved.

6. MSD using illegal boarding houses in Auckland

Auckland Council’s housing inspectors wrote in their annual report (page 11) delivered to the council last week that 40 out of 44 of the boarding houses it inspected were operating illegally and that several were being actively used by MSD’s WINZ and Corrections. Some were being run by larger commercial operations that were using the courts to block inspections and some were gang-affiliated, the Proactive Boarding House Inspection Programme reported.

Due to the shortage of bed space these agencies struggle to find appropriate accommodation at short notice. With no official register of boarding houses, agencies find it difficult to know whether a property is legal or compliant. We have established relationships with several stakeholders such as Police and the Department of Corrections around housing individuals that may pose a risk to a community. Most agencies try to use established premises that they know, but the shortage of such premises is a challenge.

Several properties were found to be large, converted houses or multi-unit complexes ranging from five to 27 rooms. Whilst the living conditions were satisfactory, the buildings themselves did not meet the required building standards for sleeping accommodation. Primarily this relates to fire safety and building performance requirements.

An increasing number of accommodation providers are involved with a portfolio of properties. These are typically run as a business or commercial enterprise. We have encountered increased resistance from these larger-scale operators. This has ranged from refusal to permit entry or challenging the basis of our assessments, findings, or legislative interpretation.

More often these cases are resulting in applications (initiated by the operator) for determination from MBIE. Determinations are currently taking many months to decide.

We have 14 cases under investigation or that require further corrective action from the property owners / operators. Auckland Council Proactive Boarding House Inspection Programme annual report (pages 11-14)

Quotes of the day

‘Just shrill banshees’

“I just think it’s more of this green banshee-like shrillness that sadly we hear far too much of. The protest is predominantly a Green Party recruitment device. It’s ideological hyperventilation.

“There are always risks in environmental decision-making but we can no longer pretend that saving every bat, every multicoloured skink or Freddy and his whānau is a costless exercise.

“My position is that we have to mine our way to the future.” Resources, Oceans and Fisheries and Regional Development Minister Shane Jones via Waikato Times-SST

‘Sorry, not sorry’

“Sorry, I'm not making any apologies. We are going to get things built in this country, because it's taking way too long. It’s one of the reasons we haven’t received our fair share of foreign direct investment.” PM Christopher Luxon via Waikato Times-SST

‘Goodbye Kauri and virgin native forest’

“When he says that kind of thing, what he’s meaning is we shouldn’t give a shit about the natural world

“Most New Zealanders, regardless of where they sit on the political spectrum, are so proud of our natural resources and environment and won’t stand for mining it, and I’m so proud of us for that.

“Goodbye Freddy Frog? Goodbye Hector’s dolphin, goodbye tuatara, where does it stop? Goodbye kauri tree, and virgin native forest.” Actor and activist Robyn Malcolm via Waikato Times-SST

‘They’re voting with their feet’

“I love our heritage as nation of migrants, and I’ve told a version of that story many times. The problem is, people are now voting with their feet, and they’re not voting New Zealand.” ACT Leader David Seymour in a speech over the weekend.

Sign of the day

M.E. Barker for The Kākā

Chart of the day

How to spook a housing market

Independent economist Tony Alexander released his monthly survey of real estate agents for NZ Home Loans yesterday, showing agents thought ‘Fear Of Missing Out’ among potential buyers was at record lows and that they thought house prices were now falling across the country, in part at least to growing fears about incomes and job certainty, which started as the Government ramped up its rhetoric about job cuts.

Climate chart of the day

Less heat going out, means more heat staying in

Leon Simons via X:”Abrupt reduction in shipping emission as an inadvertent geoengineering termination shock produces substantial radiative warming.”

Cartoon of the day

$50 million shared across 5 million

Rod Emmerson via NZ Herald-$$$ and via X

Timeline-cleansing nature pic

‘I caught it. Again!’

You’re going to get sick of this dog, but I can’t help it. Tim is such a joy for us daily. Bernard Hickey for The Kākā

Mā te wa


The Kākā by Bernard Hickey
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