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Nats campaigning with public money

Written By: - Date published: 12:22 pm, November 26th, 2015 - 45 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, corruption, national - Tags: , , ,

Labour pointed this out a week ago – Investigation needed into roadshow promo

Labour’s State Services spokesperson Kris Faafoi is calling for the Auditor-General and the State Services Commissioner to investigate concerns that taxpayer money and departmental resources are being used for political campaigning.

“Documents released to Labour under the Official Information Act reveal Housing NZ staff working with ‘National HQ’ on filtering data for a roadshow to promote the Government’s Homestart scheme.

“The documents were heavily redacted. However in what appears to be an error in editing, a previously blacked out paragraph also shows National List MP Parmjeet Parmar wanted to co-host the event in Maungakiekie as a means of raising her profile.

“These meetings were supposed to have been organised and paid for by Housing NZ – in other words the taxpayer – as a way of explaining Homestart to the public.

“What’s patently obvious is that they have become a vehicle for National Party campaigning, aided by ministerial staff.

“That is a flagrant mis-use of public money and raises questions about the neutrality of the public service.

Yesterday Vernon Small picked it up as part of a broader context – Public watchdogs need to bare their teeth over misuse of OIA, taxpayer events

Let’s hope the Auditor-General, the State Services Commission or even the Ombudsman have a handy tonne of bricks.

Because something ought to be brought down hard on the officials involved in the preparation – and subsequent censoring – of information relating to various KiwiSaver HomeStart “roadshows” held around the country this year.

To recap, the documents released to Labour MP Kris Faafoi show among other things that Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith’s office was coaching MPs on hosting the roadshows – nothing necessarily wrong in that.

But they also show a disturbing willingness to use a taxpayer-funded event to promote a purely political agenda, which reached its low point with the note that list MP Parmjeet Parmar “has also expressed strong interest in hosting a roadshow as she is keen to raise local profile in Mt Roskill in case of a by-election”.

The offending sentence was cut from several of the documents, but left – inadvertently it seems – in one of the email trails released under the Official Information Act.

Also redacted from all but one document as “out of scope” was the advice that: “A condition for hosting the roadshow is for Minister Lotu-Iiga to send a direct mail invitation to constituents who fall with the relevant demographic as we have found this to be a particularly effective method of promotion. National HQ will provide the filtered data (via Brian Anderton cc’d) and we will provide the letter template.”

It also tells MPs they are “welcome to do party-branded advertising, and Brian can supply templates for billboards and newspaper ads that have been used previously”. Anderton is another official in Smith’s office.

Now, there is always a fine line between MPs (and government departments) promoting the government’s programme and what is overtly political. But the reference to Parmar’s political ambitions and the close liaison with National Party headquarters takes the whole thing well outside the bounds of acceptability.

Oddly, it’s almost a year to the day since I wrote in a similar vein after Cheryl Gwyn’s report into the Security Intelligence Service and then director Warren Tucker’s actions. She found that there was “harm to the leader of the Opposition” from the SIS’s blunders, though its actions were not taken “for the purpose” of harming a political party or for “any partisan political purpose on the part of the director and/or the NZSIS”.

This latest saga is by no means as serious, but the issues – and the threats to public service neutrality (or at least the appearance of neutrality) have not gone away.

Campaigning with public money. Politicising the public service. Cabinet club is cash for access. This is a corrupt government.

45 comments on “Nats campaigning with public money”

  1. savenz 1

    Yes. Natz are corrupt.

  2. Rudi can't Fail 2

    Two words
    Phil Goff
    Pot kettle black.

    Get Goff to resign as an MP now and I will concede the point.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1

      Watch, as the “law and order” mask slips to reveal “Labour did it too” playground excuses and no personal responsibility whatsoever.

      National have broken the law, and Phil Goff? Not so much.

      • alwyn 2.1.1

        One thing that is consistent is the claim by both sides of politics that “It is OK for us to do it because they did it too”.
        Even MickySavage got in on the act a few days ago.
        He justified Phil not resigning by a classic “But National did it too” in the piece on Phil running for Mayor when he said

        “Leading contender on the right, Mark Thomas has joined in the claims that Goff will be double dipping. Thomas somehow believes that it is appropriate for him to receive a Local Board salary and income from his consultancy and campaign for the Mayoral office but not for Goff.
        If Thomas needs to understand what double dipping then National Cabinet Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga provides a perfect example. He was elected to Parliament in 2008 while also being on the Auckland City Council. Rather than resign his seat he stayed on as a City Councillor. He waited until October 2009 before resigning and the significance of this is that the Council were then able to vote not to have a by election. This option was not available to the Council if he had resigned more than a year before the next election.”

        Yah yah yah yah it goes on.

        • tracey 2.1.1.1

          I think Len Brown resigned from his Law Firm to campaign for the Mayoralty.

          I’m with you, it’s not acceptable whoever does it, it shows a contempt of, and disconnected from, the good folks of NZ

        • Craig H 2.1.1.2

          Goff has stated he will be taking leave without pay while campaigning for mayor. This is the same as the rules for the public service, so I have no issues with that personally.

          • Tracey 2.1.1.2.1

            If he is doing that why not just resign cos the loss of his seat wont bring down a govt? Or is he going to stay an MP if he loses? If he wants to be mayor then want it wholeheartedly with no fall back position?

            • McFlock 2.1.1.2.1.1

              The trouble with no fall back position is that if you lose, you’re screwed. Sure, you look keen, but if it’s genuinely “all or nothing” then the penalty for failure is a bit much, IMO. And in Goff’s case it would just be PR spin because he’d most likely be snapped up by the private sector or NGOs anyway.

              I certainly have no problem with a leave of absence. Public servants need to avoid a conflict of interest, so they take leave. But really, if you can do your current job and campaign at the same time, more power to you.

              • Tracey

                maybe but it’s not like he hasn’t got a pension and perks and employability. I am of the view that when your heart isn’t in something, and you can afford to go, you go…

                I also think he sees his position as MP as giving him publicity and exposure he won’t otherwise get, so he’s staying.

                • McFlock

                  Yes, the exposure might be a consideration, although he has a fair bit of name recognition anyway.

                  Now, if he starts finding excuses to pretend to act as an MP while really campaigning for mayor, I’d be a bit more concerned. But I don’t have a huge problem with taking leave to keep his options open. The vagaries of the electorate and all that.

                  • Tracey

                    Understood. His sudden elevation to the newly created shadow minister for auckland issues was far from subtle tho

              • Nessalt

                but goff is part of the hard right rump of labour that needs to be removed from parliament? now you realise the reality of ejecting them and contemplating who will follow, all the anti-neo liberal rhetoric is largely hollow.

          • Peter 2.1.1.2.2

            … do non-Government candidates resign when running for major?

            • Matthew Whitehead 2.1.1.2.2.1

              Generally Members of Parliament heading into a new role, whatever that role is, don’t resign until it’s certain they’re going to get the new role.

              • Stuart Munro

                It’s a shame really – could’ve seen the back of Groser over the WTO slot. I’m sure we paid enough to be rid of him.

            • Tracey 2.1.1.2.2.2

              Len Brown did, as I said up there ^^^^

              So, yes. And I suspect the number of Mayoral candidates who in one form or another work for themselves is quite high. Mr Goff works for you and I.

          • Nessalt 2.1.1.2.3

            Why doesn’t he resign and really show auckland that he is committed? oh that’s right, if he loses he’ll have to find a real pay cheque.

            it’s not really not double dipping if he only takes leave without pay for the duration of the campaign. what about the work he has to do as the electorate mp for mt roskill? what about parliamentary duties? cop out really.

            • Craig H 2.1.1.2.3.1

              Labour have given him their blessings and will be spreading his work around as much as they are able to. Most electorate MP work is done by staff anyway, rather than the MPs themselves.

              Why are we being so awful about this? We expect fair employment practices, and employers to be good, reasonable employers, but not for MPs, because stuff ’em? If an MP applies for another job, they must resign as soon as they make the application, because reasons? Something we would absolutely decry a private employer for, but MPs don’t count?

              GIven the nature of politics, it’s hardly a great surprise that politicians aspire to other challenges and will move between central and local government from time to time.

        • Pascals bookie 2.1.1.3

          nah.

          Micky was calling Thomas a hypocrite and saying that he didn’t actually believe what he was saying, as could be seen by his own actions. He is saying that what Goff is doing isn’t bad at all by any reasonable standard.

          The Sam example shows what actual double dipping is.

          An actual example of ‘classic you did it too so it must be ok’ is the right defending Carter by pointing to Wilson, ignoring that they complained about her at the time.

          • Tracey 2.1.1.3.1

            Couldnt be clearer than that PB. It is the complaining ONLY when the other team did something exactly the same as your team that is irksome

    • Pascals bookie 2.2

      You just conceded the point.

      Looks like Rudi can’t fail can fail afterall.

      • McFlock 2.2.1

        no, rudi was only offering to make up scurrilous lies about the national party if we made shit up about goff 🙂

    • NZSage 2.3

      Assuming you have to work for a living like the rest of us, I suggest next time you’re looking for a new job you resign first… then start looking?

      Pot kettle black?

  3. Rudi can't Fail 3

    Are you saying he is not going to be on the public teat while campaigning for mayor?

    • McFlock 3.1

      just to clarify, prior to election 2014 no national MPs were still receiving MP or PM paycheques?

      • alwyn 3.1.1

        ???????

        • McFlock 3.1.1.1

          Well, rudi isn’t exactly being specific, but I suspect the “public teat” comment referred to being paid to be an elected official while running for elected office. Just like pretty much every mp does come election time.

          • Craig H 3.1.1.1.1

            Goff will be taking leave without pay, as would any other public servant.

          • mickysavage 3.1.1.1.2

            Yep 13 of them had checked out and were still receiving the pay check even though they were no longer functioning as MPs.

    • Tracey 3.2

      Are you saying someone actually behaving badly is the same as someone yet to behave badly but might?

      Is that what Key meant when he said he would hold his people to higher standards than Clark?

      • Smilin 3.2.1

        How could Key have higher standards than anyone ,he doesnt know the meaning of that and quite a few other things as well that go with having integrity
        He is one of the world’s biggest criminals

    • Tracey 3.3

      And Nick Smith being at new world mt roskill this week

  4. Rudi can't Fail 4

    Now who’s using the “they did it to argument”.
    Not saying you are wrong re Pramjeet Palmer just saying Phil Goff is morally bankrupt as well. So why don’t you point out the faults from both sides?

    • tracey 4.1

      There is NO moral high ground when you are arguing for bad behaviour by everyone, you get that, right?

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      Actually, that would be you who happens to be morally bankrupt. Phil Goff hasn’t done what you’re accusing him of.

  5. madtom 5

    Help from the Auditor General or the Ombudsman? Yeah, right.

    Ask Kaipara ratepayers how much help they got from the AG when their Council’s budgets were passed as okay, year after year, while the law was broken and they were kept in the dark about how many tens of millions of dollars of debt the 14,000 ratepayers were being burdened with.

    Ask what they got when they became suspicious and requested a closer look from the “responsible” officials.

    Ask them how much help they got from the Ombudsman, when they knew they were being stonewalled by their Council and the AG.

    What Kaipara ratepayers actually got was a bill Mike Sabin sponsored (yes, him, JK’s buddy) – an Act of Parliament saying that the Council’s lawbreaking was okay, and their indebtedness was valid. They owed for massive debts they were never even told about, much less consulted about. Despite the clear word of the law over all those years, guaranteed ratepayer protections were retrospectively withdrawn just in time to nullify the ratepayers’ already-in-court case, while the Council’s powers were not just left intact but expanded.

    What they got was a feeble apology from the AG for a staff that had not performed up to her expectations.

    So I had to smile sadly at the idea that these officials should be consulted about apparent corruption. Toothless? No. But reliable public servants? Also no.

    Government officials corrupt? Unlikely. Even with solid evidence, and even if it could be obtained by the victims, no doubt another retrospective legislative stunt could make it all okay, declaring that all the actions questioned are legal and always have been legal, just like the original retrospective bill from Mike Sabin and from every other party except NZ First and Mana.

    If our watchdogs have any teeth at all, they are only shown to us in the lower classes, not to their paymasters.

    • Mike the Savage One 5.1

      Both the Ombudsman (or rather Ombudsmen) and the AG are indeed rather selective in what they bother to “investigate”, and whatever “recommendations” they make, is mostly a slap on the wrist with a wet bus-ticket.

      The present Chief Ombudsman is unconvincing, some would say “useless”, and all these high Officers they have endless discretion re what they can do or not bother to do, so with all of them also having very limited resources, they are weak and not the kinds of “watchdogs” a functioning, robust democracy needs.

      It is no coincidence that the Ombudsmen’s Office, same as some other Offices of Commissioners and the Auditor General, have under this government not been able to do much at all, and the government has a vested interest in keeping it that way. RIP NZ Democracy, it has become a total farce, also with the 3-yearly elections with biased, complicit media, with the vested interest business lobbies having the stronger strings to pull, so any “opposition” is starting with a huge disadvantage, no matter who is leader or has some good ideas or not.

  6. Tory 6

    I told John just go ahead and spend the money, if he gets caught out then introduce retrospective legislation to legitimise what has occurred……, it’s not hard cause it’s been done before.

  7. Tautuhi 7

    They all feed out of the public trough.

  8. RedBaronCV 8

    I am very happy to be spared the cost of a by-election until we know it is neccessary not just highly likely. If Phil Goff is on leave without pay then he is not being funded for his pariamentary role. My only question is – if he is on leave without pay does he still vote in parliament – or does Key get back his extra margin of 1

  9. Peter 9

    …. as David Cunliffe points out the Nats know how to screw the scrum in their favour. Why not, as long as you can get away with it.

    • Stuart Munro 9.1

      Because it breaks the implicit contract of democracy – respect for the wishes of the people. If it becomes generally known that the game is fixed the game becomes very different and less predictable, and the stakes become higher. As high as treason or revolt.

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    3 days ago
  • Govt releases plan to revitalise wool sector
    A plan to revitalise New Zealand’s strong wool sector and set it on a new, more sustainable and profitable path was unveiled today by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. The newly-released report - Vision and Action for New Zealand’s Wool Sector - was developed by the Wool Industry Project Action Group ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Funding for Predator Free Whangārei
    Community efforts to create a Predator Free Whangārei will receive a $6 million boost, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced today. The new funding, through Government company Predator Free 2050 Ltd, will create around 12 jobs while enabling the complete removal of possums over ...
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    3 days ago
  • New Zealand to review relationship settings with Hong Kong
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced that the New Zealand Government is reviewing the settings of its relationship with Hong Kong. “China’s decision to pass a new national security law for Hong Kong has fundamentally changed the environment for international engagement there,” Mr Peters said. “New Zealand remains deeply ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Funding for Whangārei’s infrastructure projects revealed
    Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced details of a multimillion-dollar investment in Whangārei for infrastructure projects that will help it recover from the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 200 jobs are expected to be created through the $26 million investment from the Government’s rejuvenation package ...
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    4 days ago
  • Managed isolation and quarantine update
    Following a second incident in which a person escaped from a managed isolation facility, security is being enhanced, including more police presence onsite, Minister Megan Woods said. “The actions of some individuals who choose to break the very clear rules to stay within the facilities means that more resourcing is ...
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    4 days ago
  • Funding for Kaipara district community waste programmes
    Waste reduction and recycling programmes in Kaipara are set to get a boost with Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage today announcing a $361,447 grant from the Ministry for the Environment’s Waste Minimisation Fund (WMF) Sustainable Kaipara. “The new funding will allow Sustainable Kaipara to partner with local schools, kura, community ...
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    4 days ago
  • Government will support the people and economy of Southland
    The Government will support the Southland economy in the wake of multinational mining company Rio Tinto’s decision to follow through with its long signalled closure of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter. “This day has unfortunately been on the cards for some time now, but nevertheless the final decision is a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New transformational tools for the Predator Free 2050 effort
    New tools being developed to help boost Aotearoa’s Predator Free 2050 effort were unveiled today by Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau. A new rat poison, a camera with predator recognition software to detect and report predators, a new predator lure and a ...
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    4 days ago
  • New Armoured vehicles for New Zealand Army
    The Coalition Government has approved the purchase of a fleet of Bushmaster vehicles to replace the New Zealand Army’s armoured Pinzgauers, Defence Minister Ron Mark has announced today. The new fleet of 43 Australian-designed and built Bushmaster NZ5.5 will provide better protection for personnel and improved carrying capacity. “The age ...
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    5 days ago
  • Community-led solutions to prevent family violence
    The Government’s three prevention frameworks to reduce family violence in Aotearoa were launched this week by Associate Minister for Social Development Poto Williams.   The frameworks were developed in partnership with communities around New Zealand, and build on the work the Government has already begun with its new family violence prevention ...
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    5 days ago
  • Govt confirms investment in better radiology and surgical services for Hawke’s Bay
    The Government is pleased to confirm funding for improvements to radiology and surgical services at Hawke's Bay DHB, Health Minister Chris Hipkins says.     "The Minister of Finance the Hon Grant Robertson and former Health Minister Dr David Clark approved funding for Hawke's Bay DHB’s redevelopment of their radiology facilities ...
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    5 days ago
  • Specialist alcohol and drug addiction services strengthened across New Zealand
    •    New funding for four beds at Napier’s Springhill Residential Addiction Centre •    A new managed withdrawal home and community service, and peer support before and after residential care at Tairāwhiti DHB  •    A co-ordinated network of withdrawal management services throughout the South Island •    Peer support in Rotorua and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Coastal Shipping Webinar
    Introduction, seafarers and POAL Good morning everyone, I am delighted to be online with you all today. Before I begin, I have to acknowledge that COVID-19 has disrupted the maritime sector on an unprecedented scale. The work of seafarers and the maritime industry is keeping many economies around the world ...
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    5 days ago
  • Support for resilient rail connection to the West Coast
    A $13 million investment from Government will create jobs and improve the resilience of the rail connection between Christchurch and the West Coast, Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones and Regional Economic Development Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau say. The funding comes from the tagged contingency set aside in Budget 2020 for infrastructure projects ...
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    5 days ago
  • Major investment in safe drinking water
    The Government is investing $761 million to assist local government upgrade under-pressure water services across the country, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today.  The announcement was made at the site of the water bore that was found to be the source of the fatal ...
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    5 days ago
  • Supporting stranded seasonal workers to keep working with more flexible options
    Recognised Seasonal Employers and migrant seasonal workers stranded in New Zealand will be able to continue working and supporting themselves with more flexible hours and roles, says Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. The time-limited visa changes are: Stranded RSE workers will be able to work part-time (a minimum of 15 hours ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Relief for temporary migrants, employers and New Zealanders who need work
    The Government is making immediate short-term changes to visa settings to support temporary migrants already onshore in New Zealand and their employers, while also ensuring New Zealanders needing work are prioritised, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. We are: Extending temporary work visas due to expire by the end of 2020 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Freshwater commissioners and fast-track consenting convenor appointed
    Professor Peter Skelton CNZM has been appointed as Chief Freshwater Commissioner and Alternate Environment Court Judge Craig James Thompson as Deputy Chief Freshwater Commissioner for the newly established Freshwater Planning Process (FPP). Environment Minister David Parker today also announced the appointment of Chief Environment Court Judge Laurie Newhook as the ...
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    6 days ago
  • Appointment of Judge of the High Court
    Auckland Queen’s Counsel Neil Campbell has been appointed a Judge of the High Court, Attorney‑General David Parker announced today. Justice Campbell graduated with a BCom and LLB (Hons) from the University of Auckland in 1992. He spent two years with Bell Gully Buddle Weir in Auckland before travelling to the United ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Feedback sought – Commercial Film and Video Production Facilities
    The Associate Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Poto Williams, is seeking feedback on a proposal to better enable the development and operation of commercial film and video facilities in Christchurch. The Proposal, developed by Regenerate Christchurch in response to a request from Christchurch City Council, asks that powers under section ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Govt launches bold primary sector plan to boost economic recovery
    The Government has launched a bold plan to boost primary sector export earnings by $44 billion over the next decade, while protecting the environment and growing jobs. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today released Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential, a 10-year roadmap to unlock greater value ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Wellbeing of whanau at heart of new hub
    A new approach to prevent family harm that encourages greater collaboration across government and community groups is being celebrated at the opening of a new facility in Auckland. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today opened the Multi-Disciplinary Family Harm Prevention Hub Te Taanga Manawa in Lambie Road in Manukau. The facility ...
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    6 days ago
  • New Report on Auckland Port Relocation
    The Government has released a major new report on the options for relocating the Port of Auckland’s freight operations while deferring any decision on the issue. “That decision needs to be informed by policy analysis that is still to be completed. As a result it will be up to a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Dual place names for Te Pātaka-o-Rākaihautū / Banks Peninsula features
    The history of Rāpaki is being restored through the inclusion of te reo in thirteen official place names on Te Pātaka-o-Rākaihautū / Banks Peninsula and around Lyttelton Harbour/Whakaraupō, the Minister for Land Information, Eugenie Sage, announced today.   “I am pleased to approve the proposals from Te Hapū o Ngāti ...
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    6 days ago
  • Government and Air New Zealand agree to manage incoming bookings
    Bookings for seats on Air New Zealand flights into New Zealand will be managed in the short term to ensure the Government is able to safely place New Zealanders arriving home into a managed isolation or quarantine facility, says Housing Minister Megan Woods.  “Last week Air Commodore Darryn Webb and I ...
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    6 days ago
  • $80 million for sport recovery at all levels
    Grant Robertson has today announced the first major release of funding from the $265 million Sport Recovery Package announced at Budget 2020.  “Today we’re setting out how $80 million will be invested, with $54 million of that over the 2020/2021 financial year for organisations from community level through to elite ...
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    6 days ago
  • Keeping ACC levies steady until 2022
    The Government is maintaining current levy rates for the next 2 years, as part of a set of changes to help ease the financial pressures of COVID-19 providing certainty for businesses and New Zealanders, ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. “New Zealanders and businesses are facing unprecedented financial pressures as a ...
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    7 days ago
  • Extended loan scheme keeps business afloat
    Small businesses are getting greater certainty about access to finance with an extension to the interest-free cashflow loan scheme to the end of the year. The Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme has already been extended once, to 24 July. Revenue and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash says it will be ...
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    1 week ago
  • New investment creates over 2000 jobs to clean up waterways
    A package of 23 projects across the country will clean up waterways and deliver over 2000 jobs Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Environment Minister David Parker announced today. The $162 million dollar package will see 22 water clean-up projects put forward by local councils receiving $62 million and the Kaipara ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago