The Government has moved to address the labour shortages being felt across the horticulture industry with several new measures revealed this morning.
Up to 2000 Pacific workers will now be allowed into the country between January and March next year, with employers covering the cost of managed isolation.
The workers will be paid the equivalent of a 30-hour week while they complete that isolation and will then be paid at least $22.10 an hour once they get to work.
Additional financial incentives are also being offered to unemployed Kiwis who take on seasonal work.
Horticulture New Zealand says the industry appreciates the Government’s decision, although its timing means spring and early summer crops have already missed out.
They say the exemption is a “positive start” but that plans need to be made now to also address labour issues for spring 2021 and harvest 2022.
Sign up to get the Morning Briefing delivered direct to your inbox – here.
NZ to declare climate emergency
Parliament’s state opening yesterday outlined the Government’s direction for the new term – and one of its goals this time around includes officially declaring a climate emergency in New Zealand.
New Zealand First shot down a motion to do so last term but Labour now has the numbers to push it through next week.
Councils around New Zealand have been declaring climate emergencies since last year. They are generally non-binding commitments to tackle and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
ACT party leader David Seymour yesterday called the Government’s move "a marketing stunt that won’t stop one tonne of emissions".
Greenpeace welcomed the news but also said “the declaration is empty words unless it’s backed by policy that actually reduces New Zealand’s emissions”.
But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says actions will speak louder than words and that while “we've got a lot we're proud of ... we know the work needs to continue".
Govt confirms free vaccine
Last week, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said they hadn’t yet decided if Kiwis would have to pay for the vaccine.
The Government also confirmed that planning for quarantine-free travel zones is underway with the Cook Islands, Niue and Australia.
The news comes as six members of the Pakistan men’s cricket team tested positive for Covid-19 at their Christchurch managed isolation facility yesterday.
Health officials issued all 53 people in the team’s touring party with a “final warning” after some of the squad were also spotted breaching managed isolation rules.
And the Ministry of Health has revealed the Air New Zealand crew member who tested positive for Covid earlier this week likely caught the virus overseas.
Genome sequencing showed it wasn’t associated with any case in New Zealand, however local officials say they’re still taking precautionary measures here.
Protests and standing ovations
The state opening of Parliament also brought its fair share of fireworks in the House.
Māori Party co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer walked out over a stoush around a speaking slot, while Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins traded jabs over housing.
But there were moments of levity and inspiration amongst the bickering, too.
Labour’s deputy leader Kelvin Davis delivered Parliament’s opening address but admitted to stepping away from the microphone for the waiata after his mother’s warning about “how flat you sing”.
And new Labour MP Ibrahim Omer received a standing ovation after delivering a moving maiden speech about his tough journey to New Zealand’s Parliament after fleeing war in Eritrea.
He vowed to fight for those still struggling on a living wage and working hard to realise their dreams.
Answers near for mosque victims?
After 18 months of investigation, the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terrorist attack has finally delivered its findings to the Government.
The commission has been investigating whether state agencies like the police and the security intelligence service could have prevented the mosque shootings.
The report is due to be tabled in Parliament on December 8. However, the shooter’s interview with the commission won’t be made public. Commissioners say his remarks include planning and preparation methods and could enable future attacks if released.
Other news of note this morning:
- As the first anniversary of the Whakaari/White island eruption approaches, the death toll from the tragedy has risen to 22.
- The transport safety watchdog is urging caution over the widely used Robinson helicopters after releasing its findings into a fatal crash in 2018.
- The World Health Organization has updated its physical activity guidelines for the first time in 10 years.
- Wellington’s rental woes have been highlighted with an $815 per week property still generating lots of interest despite its exposed wires and putty around the windows.
- Auckland Council has agreed to ease water restrictions for summer.
- America’s Cup fans have been given a sneak peek at the all-important graphics that will overlay the event’s racing.
- Black Caps star Martin Guptill will be using a one-of-a-kind bat in tonight’s T20 against West Indies as he helps to raise funds for a young cancer patient.
- And a Christchurch boy's heartfelt video appeal to The Rock to help end domestic violence has gone viral.
Nothing says Kiwi summer like a trip to the local dairy to get an oversized ice cream that barely fits on the cone.
But what’s more important when it comes to choosing that delicious treat – size, taste or price?
Seven Sharp’s Laura Daniel looks for answers in what is quite literally the biggest scoop of her journalism career.