FTA Negotiations – ExportNZ Welcomes Trade Missions and trade focus

Source: BusinessNZ
ExportNZ welcomes Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern’s announcement today that she will be leading a trade mission to Australia in July and that Trade Minister Damien O’Connor will be heading to the UK and Brussels in June to pursue the FTA negotiations with the EU and the UK.
Executive Director of ExportNZ, Catherine Beard said exporters will be very keen to get back into international travel as soon as they can and Australia is a good start.
Ms Beard says there have also been increasing calls from exporters to allow those that have critical outbound travel (e.g. technical installation of complex machinery for an overseas customer) to get an early vaccine, now that most of the critical workers have been vaccinated. “There is a niche group of exporters that have to send staff overseas and they are wanting to protect them as much as they can, so we are asking the Government for some prioritisation for these exporters”.
Catherine Beard says feedback from exporters for the additional support they have been getting from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise is very positive and they are grateful.
ExportNZ also urges Minister O’Connor to negotiate hard for a high-quality free trade agreement with both the UK and the EU, which should include tariff elimination on goods exports and a reduction of non-tariff barriers. “As all our economies seek to recover from a global pandemic, fair and free trade will be a big part of the solution if we do it well.

CoreLogic – Housing construction costs on the rise in New Zealand; up 1.3% over March quarter

Source: CoreLogic

[AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, 13 May 2021] Housing construction costs surged 1.3% over Q1 2021, according to CoreLogic’s Cordell Housing Index Price (CHIP). The CHIP report measures the rate of change of construction costs within the residential market and covers freestanding and semi-detached single and two storey homes.

The March quarterly growth is the highest rate of construction cost inflation since Q1 2019, and far above the 0.6% and 0.4% increases throughout Q3 and Q4 2020 respectively.

CoreLogic’s Chief Property Economist, Kelvin Davidson, says “We may now be seeing the clear impact of a busy construction sector flowing through to faster cost rises. Q1 bounced up to 1.3% growth and early indicators are that we will see a continuation of this growth in our Q2 report. Annual residential construction cost inflation is also back on the rise, up to around 3.3% in the March quarter after falling to under 3% in Q4 2020 from a peak of 6.9% in Q4 2017.

“The construction sector is proving to be a real bright spot in the economy; especially the residential segment. New dwelling consents annually are tracking at their highest levels on record. Our teams are also hearing through their research and conversations about increasing material and labour costs coming down the pipe as there are shortages and substitutions, and the expectation is for this to have a continuing impact on the cost of building in the near future,” says Mr Davidson.

When combined with potential COVID-related shipping problems, and also the recent publicity about shortages of structural timber domestically, the potential for faster and greater cost rises is accentuated.

“The Government’s recent tax policy changes which incentivise investors to target new-build properties could well add further demand to the sector and place more pressure on capacity and costs. Time will also tell if the Government’s budget reveal next week includes other enticements or measures aimed to lift housing supply. After all, any Government-boosted work is in competition with the private sector for scarce resources,” says Mr Davidson.

CoreLogic researches, tracks and reports on construction price data which flows through its Cordell product solutions to help businesses make better decisions, estimate rebuild and insurance quotes easily and, ultimately, appropriate risk effectively.

For more information or to read the report, visit www.corelogic.co.nz/reports/cordell-housing-index-price-chip.

Child Poverty in New Zealand – Government report shows children made to suffer unnecessarily

Source: Child Poverty Action Group
Grim reading: that’s the Child Poverty Action Group’s assessment of the Child Poverty Related Indicators Report released today by the Government.
“The report shows our children are suffering unnecessarily. Polling shows our communities care and want the Government to ensure families have liveable incomes – and that is an obvious, immediate step to stop many of these issues,” says Professor Emeritus Innes Asher, CPAG spokesperson and Welfare Expert Advisory Group member.
“When one out of five children don’t have enough food to eat in Aotearoa New Zealand, that’s a chronic, mass emergency. It’s politically-created distress.”
Due to systemic discrimination, whānau Māori, Pacific families and families with disabled members are more likely than others to be facing the toxic stress of poverty. Nearly half of Pacific children experience food insecurity, due to low incomes.
“That is an upsetting reality. These are urgent issues – children cannot wait – and the Government is moving too slowly. Small steps are not enough,” says Prof Asher. “The Ka Ora Ka Ako food in schools programme will assist – and it’s a good policy – but it is not a magic bullet and doesn’t reach all hungry children throughout the year. Families simply need much more money to cover their essential costs.”
The report shows many children and their families are experiencing damp unhealthy homes, food insecurity, and increasing housing cost stress. A third of families in social and state housing report damp, cold homes.
“The report is mostly using pre-Covid data,” says Prof Asher. “We know that, due to government neglect, Covid-19 hit families in poverty harder than others. We need to see urgent, robust measures such as liveable incomes, so we can all be secure in the knowledge we are supporting families, not making their lives impossible.”

Animal Welfare – SAFE says Greyhound doping and suspicious betting should warrant a police investigation

Source: SAFE NZ
Last week the Otago Daily Times revealed an unidentified punter placed a $10,000 bet on greyhound Zipping Sarah, who won her race at the Addington Raceway in November 2020 before testing positive for methamphetamine. Of the 481 bets placed totalling $23,083, this was by far the most significant bet placed on the dog.
SAFE spokesperson Will Appelbe said given the meth use and dodgy bets, the police should be involved.
“There’s likely more to this case than what’s emerged from the Judicial Control Authority hearing,” said Appelbe. “It should be seriously concerning for law enforcement.”
“The police have investigated doping and race-fixing in the racing industry before. This case should be no different.”
A number of defendants are awaiting trial following Operation Inca, a 17-month investigation into harness race-fixing and doping.
Last month the greyhound trainer Angela Turnwald was fined $3,500 and disqualified for four months after Zipping Sarah tested positive for methamphetamine. After initially failing to investigate, SAFE understands that the Ministry for Primary Industries is now making inquiries.
“We’re seriously concerned about the ongoing suffering of these dogs.”
“While it’s encouraging to see the Government will be reviewing the greyhound industry, if they are genuinely concerned about animal welfare, they must suspend racing until the review is complete.”
SAFE is New Zealand’s leading animal rights organisation.
We're creating a future that ensures the rights of animals are respected. Our core work empowers society to make kinder choices for ourselves, animals and our planet.
– Last month the greyhound trainer Angela Turnwald was fined $3,500 and disqualified for four months after their dog Zipping Sarah tested positive for methamphetamine. The Judicial Control Authority for Racing’s judgement from the case stated that “methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant which poses significant animal welfare issues” and the level of drugs in the dog’s system was “was particularly large.” In the short term, meth can enhance performance, however there are serious longer-term side effects, including increased agitation, aggression, seizures, renal failure and even death. This was the third doping case in the greyhound racing industry in the last six months, and the second to involve meth.
– Last month, the Government announced a review of the greyhound racing industry, following reports from SAFE, the Greyhound Protection League and Grey2K USA Worldwide of ongoing cruelty within the industry. In the announcement, the Minister for Racing Hon Grant Robertson said he was not satisfied the industry was improving animal welfare, and that Greyhound Racing New Zealand had failed to provide sufficient information on changes they are making.
– The Greyhound Protection League is running a petition which asks Parliament to pass legislation to ban greyhound racing and to require all dogs that have been bred for racing be rehomed and rehabilitated.
– Greyhound Racing New Zealand’s 2020 annual report.
– Photos of dogs rescued by the Greyhound Protection League.
– Greyhound racing is legal in only seven countries. A ban in the Australian Capital Territory came into force in April 2018, followed by a ban in Florida, USA, in November 2018. Since Florida is home to 11 of the USA’s 17 active dog tracks, this is a signal that greyhound racing will soon become a thing of the past in the United States.
– Information about greyhound racing in New Zealand.

Education – Southbase Construction leads the way in professional development

Source: eCampus NZ
National commercial construction company Southbase Construction uses internal framework and digital badging to promote and reward professional development.
Southbase Construction introduced a forward-thinking professional development programme in 2017 to support consistency across teams and career progression. The programme gives employees access to 60 micro-learning courses, each designed to help them upskill in a specific area.
Micro-learning courses are bite-sized education opportunities, designed to cut through the jargon and focus on specific industry and workplace skills.
Since introducing their highly structured approach to professional development, Southbase Construction has supported, tracked, and celebrated the achievements of hundreds of employees.
“Our employees are learning and bettering themselves, and we’re able to deliver consistency and a high-quality service to our clients. It’s a win-win situation,” said Southbase Construction’s People and Compliance Manager, Carena Parish.
Recently promoted Project Manager, Tom Quin, who joined the team in 2014, has completed 31 micro-learning modules, or ‘competencies’, since 2017. He credits the consistency across teams at Southbase Construction to their commitment to professional development.
“I could go and work on a job in Auckland, Queenstown, or Christchurch and pick up where the last project manager has left off. Everything is done the same, so we’re all on the same page, heading in the same direction, working towards the same goal,” Tom said.
Daniel Foster, who was also recently promoted from Site Engineer to Project Manager, says the training has helped him transition into his new role.
“As a project manager who is just starting out, I feel that I have the tools I need. There are no real grey areas on procedures and how things are done,” he said.
eCampus NZ, who support the online learning for several Te Pūkenga subsidiaries, has worked with the company to help them design and award digital badges to recognise their team’s achievements.
A digital badge is a visual, online image of a skill or competency earned. These online certifications can be stored in an online profile, allowing learners to instantly share their achievements with employers, colleagues, whānau, friends and professional networks.
The launch of the digital badging has attracted interest from health and safety regulators in New Zealand, who have connected with Southbase Construction on LinkedIn to learn more about their innovative approach to upskilling their workforce.
Members of the Southbase Construction team who have been awarded a digital badge have enjoyed sharing their achievements online.
“They can put these badges on their CV and share them online. Our team have shared their badges on LinkedIn and have had messages of congratulations from people internally and externally. It’s great exposure,” said Carena.
Daniel has received two digital badges to recognise his achievement of Health, Safety and Environment competencies. Last week, Tom was awarded his third Health, Safety and Environment badge, and he was the first in the company to receive his Heath, Safety and Environment Certified badge.
Both Tom and Daniel have shared their digital badges on LinkedIn.
“The badges prove that we know about health and safety in the construction industry,” said Tom.
“They are a really good way to reward people,” said Daniel.
Southbase Construction has now rolled out thirteen digital badges to reward employees for upskilling in a range of areas, from Health and Safety to IT.
Daniel believes that his career progression at Southbase Construction is directly linked to the professional development opportunities they offer.
“One of the keys to keeping your employees is giving them a professional growth path. At Southbase, there’s a huge emphasis on helping us to understand what the next stage of our career may look like, and they’re very proactive at enabling us to get there,” said Daniel.

Infrastructure Investment – Financing New Zealand’s infrastructure and improved social outcomes

Source: MinterEllisonRuddWatts
To grow the economy and improve social outcomes, New Zealand needs sustained and ongoing investment in and improvements to its infrastructure. Last year’s budget did not allocate sufficient funding to address the infrastructure deficit which is estimated to be $75bn. New Zealand must address this to meaningfully improve living standards.
While central and regional authority funding will always be vitally important to improving infrastructure, appropriate private sector finance has a key role to play in advancing these objectives and addressing New Zealand’s infrastructure requirements.
What are the benefits of private sector financing?
Appropriate private sector financing (used prudently) can accelerate the delivery of infrastructure necessary for social and economic development. Many private sector entities, including investment companies, the investment arms of insurers and pension providers, and commercial banks, are actively looking for opportunities to deploy capital and increasingly have wider social objectives at the heart of their mandates. Accelerated delivery brings real improvement to the livelihoods of those connected to the infrastructure. In the public sector procurement of infrastructure, the procuring entity and public sector benefit from:
– greater price certainty and incentivisation to deliver the infrastructure on time and on budget;
– a strong level of risk transfer to those best able to manage them;
– its resources being freed up to focus on core business, rather than asset management; and
– private sector expertise and innovation.
Such financing also brings with it the investors’ and financiers’ oversight of project governance and performance, supplementing the public sector’s due diligence.
Private sector financing of public infrastructure in New Zealand
The New Zealand Public Private Partnership (PPP) model was developed over a decade ago with a focus on achieving better service outcomes for the procuring entity at an equivalent or lower whole of life cost. Earlier this year, the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga released its review of the PPP model to better understand how it has operated in practice and derive lessons that could be applied to the future procurement of major infrastructure projects (which are not necessarily limited to PPPs).
The report found that, while there have been some challenges on some horizontal projects, the model has been generally successful in delivering major infrastructure projects with greater time and cost certainty for procuring entities. Te Waihanga considers that the model should continue to be regarded as a procurement option for major infrastructure projects (the model can still be considered under current government policy for projects outside of the education, corrections and health sectors), and made recommendations designed to improve the costs and complexity of the model. Non-PPP procurements can also benefit from adopting the model’s disciplined approach to risk identification, quantification and optimal allocation, incentivisation and its whole of life considerations.
Last month, Te Waihanga released the findings of its review into the Transmission Gully PPP, making recommendations for changes that could be made by procuring entities in relation to future procurement and PPP policy management. These recommendations build on the lessons learnt by procuring entities from other PPP projects, which Te Waihanga also identified as having been positively applied in subsequent procurement.
Other models are also available which facilitate infrastructure development through the use of private sector financing. The Infrastructure Levy Model, for example, allows the construction of infrastructure for housing and urban development to be financed through private sector debt by levying those who benefit from the infrastructure. This model is based on the structure of a successful development, and councils and other stakeholders are exploring the viability of possible pilot projects.
The establishment unit recently announced by the Government in relation to the proposed City Centre to Māngere (CC2M) light rail project provides further opportunity to refine and improve these models, and/or develop further funding and financing models, to optimise available funding and the broader social objectives.
Key requirements for success
Private investment in public infrastructure must meet the needs of all stakeholders, including the communities benefitting from the infrastructure and taxpayers generally. It must deliver a value for money outcome for those stakeholders. This is reiterated by Te Waihanga’s reviews of the PPP model, and comprises part of the CC2M establishment unit’s mandate.
While different private financing models may be better suited to certain types of projects, to be successful long-term options to address the matters identified in last year’s budget, public support is essential. Identified issues in procurement should be positively addressed. Te Waihanga’s review of the Transmission Gully PPP observes that internal and external stakeholder groups would benefit from the publication of additional information relating to the use of and business case for the model. From the outset:
– public and private sector objectives should be clearly articulated and aligned;
– risks identified and appropriately allocated, acknowledging that the private sector cannot price all risks; and
– the business case for the benefits accruing to the public clearly communicated.
Ensuring public support requires strategic direction and transparency, and for stakeholders to educate and take responsibility, and to remain accountable.
Private sector finance has a key role to play in infrastructure procurement
In last year’s budget the Government committed to closing New Zealand's infrastructure deficit and ensuring the country has modern infrastructure to support a more productive, sustainable and inclusive economy. These objectives remain just as important a year on: the counterfactual offers New Zealanders a lower standard of living. Shortfalls in government funding are often cited as a limitation on our ability to advance these objectives. This need not be so. Improved infrastructure, sustainable growth and improved social outcomes can be achieved successfully through appropriate private investment (utilising both debt and equity) in public infrastructure, coupled with strategic direction, transparency, responsibility and accountability.
Simon Gray is a Special Counsel at MinterEllisonRuddWatts specialising in the financing of infrastructure projects

Environment – Electric vehicles announcement a “baby step” for the climate – Greenpeace

Source: Greenpeace
In response to today’s announcement that the Government will procure 422 new electric vehicles for the public sector, Greenpeace Climate Campaigner, Amanda Larsson, says:
“More electric vehicles for the public sector is a small step in the right direction. But in the face of the climate crisis, it's just a tiny baby step at a time when this Government has both the mandate and the means to move leaps and bounds ahead on clean transport.”
New Zealand’s yearly emissions are around 80 million tonnes. Today’s pledge amounts to cutting yearly emissions by 0.01%.
“Winning slowly on climate change is still losing,” says Larsson. “We need to see a lot more ambition from the Government on fixing the transport system, which is our fastest-growing source of emissions.
“The Government has pledged billions towards infrastructure as part of the Covid recovery and those funds would be really well spent on providing more options for people to get around by making public transport, cycling and walking accessible to more people.
“The Government needs to make it safe and easy for people to ride bikes or walk to work and school. They need to make it comfortable and affordable to choose the train or bus. The benefit is cleaner air, safer streets, a stable climate and more choice.”

Health – International Nurses Day: Whitireia nursing tutor highlights smartphone risks in nursing curriculum

Source: Whitireia

Smartphones are a part of nursing education. Student nurses use smartphones to access textbooks, pharmacology resources, standards for practice and lots of other knowledge as part of their everyday learning. Particularly while they are in practical sessions, and need to quickly fact check what to do next in clinical situations.

Up until now, no-one has researched the downside of this digital reliance.

Belinda McGrath, who has taught first year nursing students at Whitireia for almost 15 years, has published international research with a group from Western Sydney University, Murdoch University and others, on the impacts of smartphones on nursing students.

The research, which looks at wellbeing and proposes a change, is a timely alignment with the International Council of Nurses’ focus for International Nurses Day on nurse wellbeing as part of transforming future healthcare.

Results incorporated from Korea, Turkey, India, Spain, the US, Iran, France, Canada and Egypt, found a concerning level of smartphone addiction among nursing students.

“So while the wonderful world of digital knowledge can be so helpful for students”, said Belinda, “the research found a worrying level of negative impacts that caused stress and anxiety, and adversely affected sleep, learning and academic performance, as a result of a reliance on this learning resource.

“It is essential we have the right policies in place to ensure a positive outcome from smartphone use as part of the nursing curriculum. We are currently doing research into this to inform development of policies and guidelines to address this which can complement the current Whitireia ICT policies.”

Belinda has been integral to developing the unique nursing curriculum at Whitireia over many years and is determined Whitireia stays at the cutting edge of teaching and learning in this sector.

“We were one of the first institutions to develop ‘concept based’ learning which pulled the theory and the practice of nursing together in ways which made sense to students. We were the first to set up a modern simulation lab so that nursing students could work hands-on, we introduced avatar technology, we have a strong focus on wellbeing, kindness, empathy and cultural responsiveness. We have strong relationships with health and medical providers to ensure our students get good and diverse placements. Research, such as the smartphone report, provides us with ways to ensure we continue to stay one step ahead.”

Carmel Haggerty, Head of School for Health & Social Services at Whitireia, added to this: “We are proud to offer three strong nursing degrees – Bachelor of Nursing Māori, a Bachelor of Nursing Pacific, and a Bachelor of Nursing. This is important for our contribution to diversity in the nursing workforce of Aotearoa New Zealand, and provides options for our students to pathway in ways which best suit them.”

“Belinda is a highly respected senior nursing tutor, who is passionate about ensuring the highest quality evidence is incorporated into her and her team’s educational practice,” says Carmel.

“I feel excited for aspiring nurses,” says Belinda. “‘There is so much opportunity out there with such a strong focus on healthcare due to the pandemic, an increasingly diverse range of professional pathways opening up, and a real emphasis on preventing stress and burn-out, the future is bright.”

Sport – Rugby League Preview | Rd 3 Farrelly Photos Women’s Competitions

Source: Auckland Rugby League

Premiership leaders Manurewa face a big test this Sunday on the road to the representative-laden Ponsonby Ponies, as they seek to make it three wins on the trot to start 2021.

The top tier's newest team, Pakuranga, are home to undefeated Pt Chevalier and Richmond head to Te Atatu in search of their first win of the year.

In the second division there's a double-header at Escotts Road in Tuakau, with ladder-leaders Taniwharau taking on Otara there at 1.00pm before Tuakau play host to Marist at 2.30pm.

Undefeated Manukau are home to Glenora and Manurewa play Howick at Victoria Park in the remaining games.


Rd 3 (May 16) Farrelly Photos Women’s Premiership game details:

Click here to view team lists (click on the club's name)

Pakuranga v Pt Chevalier | 2.30pm at Ti Rakau Park

Te Atatu v Richmond | 2.30pm at Jack Colvin Park

Ponsonby v Manurewa | 2.30pm at Victoria Park


Rd 3 (May 16) Farrelly Photos Women’s Championship game details:

Click here to view team lists (click on the club's name)

Manurewa v Howick | 1.00pm at Victoria Park

Taniwharau v Otara | 1.00pm at Escotts Road

Manukau v Glenora | 2.30pm at Moyle Park 

Tuakau v Marist | 2.30pm at Escotts Road

Health and Employment – NZNO insists on good faith bargaining in light of pay restraint

Source: New Zealand Nurses Organisation
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) says it’s ironic that, on the eve of the International Day of the Nurse, it had to attend a meeting with Government to defend its members’ right to be treated in good faith while negotiating their multi-employer collective agreement with the district health boards.
NZNO Industrial Services Manager Glenda Alexander said this flies in the face of the massive contribution nurses, midwives, health care assistants and kaimahi hauora in Aotearoa New Zealand and around the world have made during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We applaud each and every one of these workers who has helped keep the country and our people safe,” she said.
Yesterday, alongside the NZ Council of Trade Unions and other public service unions, NZNO met with Public Service Minister Hon Chris Hipkins to discuss the recent Public Service Pay Guidance that appeared to signal three years without a pay increase for most NZNO members.
Ms Alexander said members could not believe the Government would take this approach particularly after the sacrifices they have made and that many say they now plan to leave the profession or the country that values them so poorly.
“This is particularly galling given we are part way through pay negotiations that have been underway for a year and a pay equity claim that was agreed to be in place by the end of 2019. We are frustrated and angry that we honour the agreements reached in good faith but that this good faith is not reciprocated.”
She said NZNO was very frank about its concerns at the meeting and that the Government did listen. It acknowledged that bargaining must be conducted in good faith and that the priority is to lift the wages of the lowest paid.
“We agreed the latter could be achieved by speeding up settlement of the equal pay claims. This needs to happen now and the settlements achieved must be maintained so similar male occupations in the private sector, who are not subject to pay restraint, don’t leave us behind and widen the gender pay gap again.”
She said NZNO has gone into negotiations before where attempts have been made to set the bargaining parameters from ‘outside the room’.
“We have always put forward our own expectations about what is fair and reasonable and have been prepared to fight for that in the past. We believe these circumstances are no different.
“Members care deeply about wellbeing, workload and equity issues. These were discussed and we expect that these issues will be addressed by the Government and that there should be no predetermined outcomes in bargaining so the parties can find agreeable solutions, working in good faith.”