Economy – Monetary Policy Challenges for a Small Open Economy during COVID-19 – Reserve Bank of New Zealand

Source: Reserve Bank of New Zealand

2 December 2020 – The Reserve Bank of New Zealand in responding to the COVID-19 crisis was well served by its legislative mandate and operational independence, said Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr, when delivering the Sir Leslie Melville Lecture, organised by The Australian National University in Canberra.

In his speech Mr Orr discussed how the Reserve Bank's monetary and financial policy decisions supported the economy during the economic shock from COVID-19.

“The Bank was able to act swiftly and with confidence, as a team we could focus on our mandate of low and stable consumer price inflation, contributing to maximum sustainable employment, and promoting financial soundness.  We are confident our work has been welfare enhancing.”

In the speech Mr Orr outlined how the pandemic arrived during a period of low nominal interest rates globally. With official interest rates near an effective lower bound in many countries, including New Zealand, new monetary policy tools were both developed and put to work effectively.  These monetary policy tools are now internationally mainstream.  

Mr Orr went on to outline that while central banks now have additional tools at their disposal, they do not have additional targets. Globally, consumer price inflation and employment remain the mainstay targets for monetary policy.

The impact of monetary policy decisions on wealth and income equality is another important topic discussed in the speech. Mr Orr noted, “There will always be trade-offs when implementing monetary policy, and that these must be identified and managed appropriately, and with the right tools.”

Finally, he stressed the importance of fiscal policy and monetary policy working hand-in-hand.

“Fiscal-monetary coordination will remain important, now and in the future. In New Zealand institutional relationships are strong, resulting in a strong complementarity in fiscal and monetary actions,” Mr Orr said.

More information:

Petroleum Sector – Hard work begins on climate policy now

Source: PEPANZ
The wider energy industry is ready to take a leadership role in the hard work of transitioning following today’s announcement of a climate emergency.
“This is a real challenge that requires change from all of us,” says Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) Chief Executive John Carnegie.
“Everyone wants lower emissions. The real challenge now is how to make this happen in the best way while still ensuring a good quality of life for New Zealanders with affordable and reliable energy.
“That’s what we are focussed on and we want to work with the Government to help lead this transition. It won’t be easy but it has to be done.
“We care about our people, our country and our environment. That’s why our industry is adapting and the way we use energy is changing.
“In the future the world will need more natural gas to replace higher emitting sources and we will see more of new technologies to help achieve these goals. One such possibility is carbon capture and storage.
“This is a global challenge that requires coordinated action. The world needs natural gas to make the transition and New Zealand can make a real contribution here.
“We also need to have a comprehensive ETS applying to all sectors and gases, and linked to our trading partners.”

Education – Ara Institute of Technology teams up with Inde Technology to increase female ICT students

Source: Ara Institute of Canterbury

Growth in innovation, and job opportunities in the STEM sector (science, technology, engineering and math) will increasingly drive economic growth globally, with the UN calculating that by 2025 in Europe alone there will be seven million STEM jobs available. But projections also indicate that there won’t be enough qualified workers to fill them, while female participation in the sector continues to lag.
The 2017 UNESCO report Cracking the Code: Girls and Women’s Education in STEM states that “Not only do girls have fewer initial education opportunities, but there are systemic impediments at every lifestage that push them out of the STEM fields.”

While much needs to be done to ensure that younger girls are encouraged to stick with maths and science subjects, Ara Institute of Canterbury Ltd and Inde Technology plan to improve outcomes within the tertiary space. Beginning in 2021, the two organizations will be working together to encourage women into the technology sector with the provision of scholarships for promising female students studying ICT at Ara.

Inde will be sponsoring a total of four recipients for each year of the agreement, first and second-year learners studying for a degree in tech. The company will also have the option to provide placements for those students during their final capstone project for their last six months of study through work integrated learning.

Ara Institute of Canterbury Ltd is one of New Zealand's leading providers of industry-led applied ICT and computing qualifications, with a range of programmes and courses that have been developed in partnership with industry, which keeps course content highly relevant. Nigel Young, Head of Ara’s Enterprise and Digital Innovation Department says ‘A key component of studying IT at Ara is gaining real-world experience by working in the IT industry as an integrated part of the learning. This new relationship with Inde builds on that solid foundation and provides our learners with support from successful local industry, as well as encouraging much-needed female participation in the rapidly growing area of IT and tech careers’

In 2016 – the same year that CPIT became Ara – Inde was founded in Christchurch. The team has already grown to over 50, and now has offices in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin. Inde’s team of technical experts work directly with customers and consults to some New Zealand’s largest enterprises, which means that its engineers get opportunities usually limited to big organizations while enjoying the culture, support and rapid growth possible in a small close-knit team.

Sara Ebsworth, People & Development Lead at Inde says “Our team is an eclectic mix of different backgrounds, cultures and nationalities but we’ve struggled to find females to fill technical roles – there is a short supply of women in our industry. We wanted to do something positive to change that and creating a partnership with Ara seemed like a great way to encourage and support more young women into our industry while putting us on the radar of the best new talent.”

In an international bid to address the issue, CEPIS has just launched ‘The DiversIT Charter’, an initiative dedicated to increasing the number of women in tech roles in Europe. The Charter was developed by the groups’ ‘Women in IT’ sub-group and will be open to organisations from across Europe including the UK.

Pacific – New Zealand DEFENCE FORCE DELIVERS POWER EQUIPMENT, WATER TANKS TO TOKELAU ATOLLS

Source: New Zealand Defence Force

Tokelauans will have more drinking water on tap and are on the way towards greater use of renewable energy following a major logistical operation by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).

Over the past few weeks the Royal New Zealand Navy ship HMNZS Canterbury has visited Fakaofo, Nukunonu and Atafu atolls, delivering equipment for Tokelau’s development plans.

It wants to generate almost 100 percent of its power from renewable sources and is boosting drinking water collection on the atolls.

Commander Joint Forces New Zealand Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour said the NZDF, working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and people of Tokelau, had delivered key infrastructure for those goals.

“Given the remote location of the atolls and the limited commercial options for getting infrastructure there, we sent a ship, helicopters and personnel from all three Services to move 48 water tanks and tonnes of essential equipment.”

Protocols for preventing any potential spread of COVID-19 were in place throughout the mission.

HMNZS Canterbury Commanding Officer Commander Martin Walker said they had received messages of thanks from Tokelauans.

“The infrastructure delivered will make a real difference, with more to come as they continue with the upgrade of renewable energy sources on the atolls.

“Everyone on the ship was pleased to be doing something useful for our neighbours in Tokelau.”

A Navy Seasprite helicopter and two Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopters were carried aboard HMNZS Canterbury.

During the operation:

·         The helicopters delivered about 105 underslung and 212 internal loads to atolls which could otherwise only be accessed via narrow sea channels

·         Forty-eight 15,000 and 10,000 litre water tanks, 16 for each atoll, were delivered to be installed at schools and hospitals, to ensure clean water is available for community use and as additional emergency storage

·         Tonnes of equipment including solar panels was delivered. The last piece of equipment to go ashore was a new generator for Atafu, where a back-up emergency generator has been running for several months

·         Military hydrographers surveyed narrow channels to the atolls to build on existing knowledge of routes

·         A site for a proposed airstrip on Nukunonu was surveyed to assist the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade with its assessment

·         NZDF technicians carried out maintenance on an automatic weather station on Nukunonu

·         HMNZS Canterbury also sailed to the Kermadec Islands to drop off and pick up six MetService and GNS Science staff who carried out maintenance activities including of a tsunami warning system and automatic weather station on Raoul Island.

Environment – Public servants welcome govt commitment to climate action

Source: PSA
The Public Service Association welcomes the government’s declaration of a climate emergency, and supports the goal of achieving carbon neutrality in the public service itself by 2025.
Requiring agencies to buy electric vehicles and achieve a ‘green standard’ in government buildings is a significant and positive step, and the PSA argues this should lead toward further policies that help all New Zealanders reduce their emissions.
As part of its campaign for universal basic services (the Aotearoa Wellbeing Commitment), the PSA argues free public transport would allow New Zealanders to reduce their carbon footprints.
“With today’s motion to Parliament, the government acknowledges a climate emergency that already exists,” says PSA National Secretary Erin Polaczuk.
“By committing to reduce emissions and achieve carbon neutrality in public sector agencies and SOEs, the government ensures this declaration is more than symbolic.”
The PSA recently held its biennial congress, where the Prime Minister heard an impassionedspeech from the floor by a Pasefika woman delegate about the urgent need to save her homeland from rising sea levels.
Alongside the wider New Zealand and international labour movement, the PSA is committed to the fight for green jobs, clean energy and a Just Transition for workers in polluting industries.
“The PSA takes climate change very seriously, because for thousands of our members it is an imminent threat to their families and their homelands. Through our Pasefika Network and our Eco Network, the need for rapid reduction of carbon emissions is kept firmly at the top of our union’s priority list,” says Ms Polaczuk.
“We are thrilled to see the Prime Minister taking concrete steps to address this emergency. PSA members will do whatever we can to support and implement policies that protect the environment.”

Employment – Seventy workers losing jobs as Christchurch loses clothing manufacturer Deane Apparel

Source: First Union
Well-established New Zealand clothing manufacturer Deane Apparel have today confirmed their intention to close their manufacturing plant in Russley, Christchurch, which will lead to around 70 job losses among their predominantly female workforce and result in the further loss of vital manufacturing capacity from New Zealand.
FIRST Union’s Southern Regional Secretary, Paul Watson, says that while Deane Apparel workers have known the writing was on the wall since parent company ALSCO NZ opted to import its workwear instead of continuing to manufacture the garments domestically, there are further challenges ahead for the workers and important lessons to be learned from the closure.
“ALSCO’s decision to pull the plug took a lot of work out of Christchurch, and coupled with clients opting for cheaper imported products over quality NZ garments, there was clearly a major problem for the plant’s longevity,” said Mr Watson.
“It’s unfortunate and ironic that Deane Apparel’s own parent company were the ones who ended up sealing its fate by prioritising unit cost over quality.”
“This is a mainly mature and female workforce that are highly skilled, and they’ve been through a brutal year of redundancies, reduced hours and compromises in an attempt to keep the business open.”
“They’re sad to see an iconic business like Deane closing but certainly frustrated about being laid off just before the Christmas season; particularly those women with spouses who may not be eligible for income support if their partners are still working.”
“Additionally, the Government’s income relief package ended last month, so they will miss out on the 13 weeks of income support that was provided by that package in the event of a business closing. Discussions are ongoing about this disadvantage.”
ALSCO’s decision to no longer support the apparel workers in Christchurch was made earlier this year, and staff faced shorter working weeks and an earlier bout of redundancies in June this year as the consequences of that decision began to be felt.
“It’s particularly nonsensical given that elsewhere in our union, we are hearing that employers are having trouble sourcing quality workwear due to Covid-19, so there’s demand and an opportunity there for the taking,” said Mr Watson.
“Poor procurement policies, the erosion of tariff protections, reckless Free Trade Agreements that have downgraded our ability to buy and support local industry – all of these have contributed to this unnecessary closure as well.”
“It is not beyond businesses and Governments to look past the bottom-line and prioritise local jobs and quality products over cheaper prices and ‘convenience’ – Covid-19 has taught us that much.”
FIRST Union will be supporting workers made redundant from Deane Apparel to find alternate employment where possible and desired.

Environment – Unions support declaration of Climate Emergency – CTU

Source: CTU
New Zealand Council of Trade Unions President Richard Wagstaff today supported the Prime Minister’s Announcement of a climate change emergency, saying it signaled a more urgent move to a Just Transition for people working in carbon-based industries.
“Through the Covid-19 response, this Government has already shown what is possible in the face of an emergency – from the magnitude and speed of the Government response, to the level of support available to working people, and proactive transition to a sustainable and fair rebuild. The climate crisis, which threatens all life and livelihoods on earth deserves to be addressed with an equal level of urgency and magnitude of response.
“Unions in New Zealand have long been advocating for a Just Transition for working peoplein affected industries, so they can proactively be skill-matched to new, green jobs as part of the Covid-19 rebuild and a sustainable future of work. We support proactive Government investment in industry transformation, linked to better employment standards so everyone can benefit from New Zealand’s move to a low-carbon economy.
“Everyone has a role to play in reducing our emissions. Employers should be talking to their staff and unions and develop a shared plan about how to lower their carbon footprint and reduce waste in their workplace.
“Declaring a climate emergency is more than a symbolic act. New Zealand’s leadership in acknowledging the grave reality of climate change sets a global path of hope for our people and our planet. In particular, the commitment in the declaration to create green jobs in the low-carbon economy while managing risks for workers and communities currently reliant on carbon-intensive sectors is a meaningful commitment to an urgent and planned transition that leaves nobody behind.”

Environment – It is a climate emergency, now let’s act like it – Greenpeace

Source: Greenpeace
Wednesday, 2 December: Greenpeace is claiming the Government’s symbolic declaration of climate emergency as a “win for people power”, but is challenging Jacinda Ardern and her Government to follow through quickly with policy and action to cut New Zealand’s climate pollution.
A Greenpeace petition calling for the Government to declare an emergency and act on it has 23,580 signatures. Greenpeace agriculture and climate campaigner, Kate Simcock, says those people will be expecting bold action from the Government.
“From floods to fires, the climate crisis is on our doorstep, and every country has a responsibility to act immediately. For Jacinda Ardern’s climate emergency declaration to be more than just words, that means tackling New Zealand’s largest source of climate pollution: agriculture,” says Simcock.
Simcock highlights the need for climate action to be inclusive.
“We know the climate crisis will most deeply affect already-marginalised groups, and we know states of emergency have, in the past, been used unjustly to override civic participation. That’s why any climate action put forward by the Government in response to this climate emergency declaration must be inclusive and must centre the experiences of historically marginalised groups, including Māori, Pacific and disabled communities.”
Simcock says that in order to cut New Zealand’s climate pollution, the Government must phase out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and fund a widespread shift to regenerative agriculture.
“When applied to land, synthetic nitrogen fertiliser releases more greenhouse gas emissions than New Zealand’s domestic aviation industry. Agribusinesses like Ravensdown and Ballance continue to profit from almost half a million tonnes of this climate-wrecking chemical being used each year,” says Simcock.
“We know there are better ways of farming than the monoculture industrial methods that dominate today. The Government must support farmers to shift to regenerative farming, so we can grow food in a way that’s good for our climate, rivers and people’s health.”
Greenpeace is calling for the Government to use its Covid Recovery Fund to invest in a widespread transition to regenerative agriculture, and has put forward a suite of policy recommendations for the Government to enact if it is serious about addressing the climate and nature crises.
“The Covid Recovery Fund is an unmissable opportunity to make bold changes in New Zealand that can cut climate pollution, restore nature and make Aotearoa a better place to live for everyone,” says Simcock.
“This has been a year of emergencies, from Covid to the climate crisis. Now we need strong, forward-thinking action from the Government to ‘build back better’ from Covid while cutting climate pollution, especially from agriculture.”

Local Government – Hutt City Council seeks early feedback on priorities for ten year plan (2021-2031)

Source: Hutt City Council
Hutt City Council is currently working on its ten year plan and budgets for Lower Hutt. That’s why today Council is launching its early engagement survey to ask residents what they think Council’s priorities should be for the next decade.
Lower Hutt Mayor Campbell Barry says his priority over the next ten years is to get the basics right and increase investment in core infrastructure.
“For me as Mayor, investing in basic infrastructure is a key priority for our ten year plan. It’s about ensuring our city has high quality infrastructure that supports people to move around, protect our basic services like water, and enjoy our community facilities like pools and libraries,” Campbell Barry said.
“As well as this investment, we also think there are a number of other priority areas which should form part of the ten year plan. These include:
– Increasing housing supply – Caring for and protecting our environment – Supporting an innovative, agile economy and attractive city – Connecting communities and supporting them to thrive – Being financially sustainable
“Ultimately though, the ten year plan process is about capturing the aspirations and vision of our people. That’s why we are seeking early feedback from the community about whether we’ve got our priorities right.”
To support this engagement, Council has launched an online survey and will be holding community sessions at our hubs and libraries to discuss the key themes and allow public feedback. Mayor Barry will also be hosting a series of Facebook live forums in December.
Mayor Barry encourages people to complete the survey to provide feedback on what they think Council’s priorities should be for the ten years ahead.
“When it comes to our priorities, I want to make sure that Council and the community are on the same page. This is so we can put together the strongest ten year plan and make the best decisions for our city,” Campbell Barry said.
The pre-engagement phase will run from December to January, and formal consultation on the draft ten year plan will commence in March next year. The final plan will be adopted in June 2021.
To complete the survey, head to: hutt.city/10yearplan.

Culture – Couple’s generosity creates new way of looking in Te Papa’s Toi Art

Source: Te Papa museum

Te Papa Foundation has welcomed a generous donation kindly gifted by Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart, resulting in a more accessible gallery for all.

Glass balustrades have now been put in place across the Toi Art walkway and in front of Tiffany Singh’s Indra’s bow, allowing the public to view a larger section of the artwork from a much more accessible angle.

These balustrades will also complement the visitor experience of the upcoming installationThe Web of Time, the fourth site-responsive commission for Te Papa’s Threshold gallery.

This thread installation will envelop the walkway, with the new glass balustrade creating an accessible view for all gallery visitors.

The previous balustrades were opaque glass, meaning children and wheelchairs users were not able to see through to the artworks in the gallery below.

Philanthropists Andrew Barnes and Charlotte Lockhart were motivated to focus on the aspects on the museum that can often be overlooked, yet make a big difference to visitors.

Andrew Barnes said, “Art is an important part of our culture, and accessibility to art is equally as important. We felt it was important to support the gallery to change frosted glass to clear, to ensure art can be enjoyed by all.”

Te Papa is committed to making all parts of the museums as accessible as possible, and this is also reflected in the newly opened block of visitor friendly, environment-friendly, inclusive, gender neutral toilets on the ground floor of the museum.

The new glass balustrades can now be viewed in level 5 of Toi Art.

Notes: Te Papa Foundation

The Te Papa Foundation is dedicated to supporting the work of Te Papa and its vision of changing hearts, minds, and lives.