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July 23, 2018 | by  | in Politics | [ssba]

Political Round-Up

Pike River Mine Re-entry Concept Plan Presented to Families

The re-entry to the Pike River Mine has been given a tangible plan, which has been presented to the victim’s families.

On 14 July, Minister responsible for Pike River re-entry Andrew Little confirmed that the plan for re-entering the mine has been completed. The “concept plan”, devised by the Pike River Recovery Agency and Minister Little has been given to the families for their approval. He said that the plan gave numerous options for re-entry to the mine and was confident that the plan would receive the approval from the families.
If approval is confirmed, re-entry is expected to commence at the end of this year, with the recovery process continuing until March 2019. Little stated that the running of The Pike River Recovery Agency and the re-entry of the mine is set to exceed the allocated budget by $12 million. This agency devised the plans for sign off by Little, but he had not told Cabinet that some options of re-entry would cost more than others.
“We won’t know exactly what the figures are until more detailed work has been done. I’ve briefed both Cabinet and the relevant Parliamentary Select Committee to expect it will cost more than we originally anticipated,” he said.

Calls for Clearer Information About Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable Household Materials
New research undertaken by the Ministry for the Environment has shown there needs to be more information available to the public regarding compostable plastics.
The information, which was published as an online guide by The Parliamentary Commission for the Environment, highlights the common problems that families face when choosing environmentally friendly plastics.
Currently, there is no regulations that force companies to disclose the materials that contain their products. The Ministry is currently looking into a certification or labelling regime for these products.

Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage stated that the process of “greenwashing” (false claims of environmental benefits) is an unfortunate consequence for New Zealanders wanting to make a difference to the environment. “We need to design waste out of our economic system and create and buy products designed to have a long life, which can be easily disassembled so they can reused, recycled or composted,” Eugenie Sage said.
The Commission has also called for a review into the infrastructure that deals with waste, with a possible reorganisation of the plants that treat waste and recycling to maximise a product’s sustainability.

The Provincial Growth Fund Explained

There is a significant amount of controversy surrounding the way that the “Provincial Growth Fund” is being spent. The $3 billion dollars is set aside by central government to increase productivity in provincial New Zealand. The New Zealand First Party negotiated this initiative when forming a coalition government after the 2017 elections.
When it was launched on the 23rd of February, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones stated that the focus of this fund would be to create more employment opportunity for provincial citizens.

But the nature of the expenditure of this fund has come under scrutiny. On the 12 July it was revealed that Mr Jones had invested money into a private trust and that the government was set to make a significant profit from the investment.

Opposition parties have demanded an explanation by the Minister, stating this investment goes against all principles of the fund. “It’s murky, it’s been lacking in transparency and the basic principles of good governance,” said National MP Paul Goldsmith.


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