Local Government New Zealand has welcomed the Government's housing announcement, saying it is a necessary intervention to cool the "out of control" housing market while longer-term and more sustainable policy fixes are put in place.
The Government will pour close to $4 billion into a scheme to accelerate the pace of new house builds, which is expected to help see "tens of thousands" of new properties built.
It is also doubling the capital gains tax-esque bright-line test from five to 10 years - meaning any gains on a residential property that is not a family home will be taxed if the property is sold within 10 years of purchase.
First home buyers have also been given a lifeline – the First Home Grant caps have been lifted from $85,000 to $95,000 for single buyers, and from $130,000 to $150,000 for two or more buyers.
LGNZ president Stuart Crosby said the announcement will be welcomed by communities across New Zealand, who have been locked out of the homeownership by property speculators taking advantage of historically low interest rates.
"It also addresses a broader issue, of a generation of renters who are at risk of being pushed out of their accommodation and into social and emergency housing, by shifts in the market. There is no community in New Zealand that finds this acceptable."
Crosby said LGNZ also welcome the announcement of a $3.8b Housing Acceleration Fund.
For councils, he said infrastructure is key to releasing land for development, but the rates-based funding system has never been up to the task in the face of high population growth.
"This no-strings-attached fund has the potential to break that deadlock in the short to medium term, while longer-term measures to address housing affordability, such as the resource management reforms, are put in place and bedded in.
"LGNZ and our members are working proactively with the Government to advance other policy fixes and quick wins in the housing space, recognising that we can't continue to operate in a siloed local government versus central government fashion as we have in the past."
Tourism industry to wait for Australian travel date confirmation
Thousands of keen travellers and the tourism businesses ready to welcome them must wait another two weeks for guidance on when quarantine-free transtasman travel might begin.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said an announcement would be made on April 6 regarding the commencement date for the transtasman travel bubble.
Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts says the industry was desperately keen to be given a date this week. He remains hopeful that the bubble can be operating before the end of April.
"Our success in dealing with Covid, matched by Australia's success, gives us this opportunity to reconnect our two nations.
"However, until they have a firm date, tourism operators cannot take bookings with confidence or scale up in terms of staff and services. It also delays marketing campaigns to the Aussies."
Roberts said TIA and its members accept that our borders must be opened safely and acknowledge that complex processes were involved but any delay was frustrating.
"Separated families want to know when they can be reunited, sporting teams when they can travel, and Kiwi tourism businesses when they will be able to welcome back Australian visitors."
This week's announcement leaves them all in limbo until after Easter, he said.
Apprenticeship Boost extension a welcome boost for tradies
The Government's extension of the Apprenticeship Boost initiative until August 2022 will support trades and trades training and keep Kiwis employed, BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope says.
Through Apprenticeship Boost, employers can access a subsidy of $1000 per month for first-year apprentices and $500 per month for second-year apprentices.
"Businesses have responded positively to Apprenticeship Boost with record signups of apprentices in critical industries like construction.
"The extension keeps more people employed and learning important vocational skills that will help provide the necessary skilled workforce for New Zealand's economic recovery from the pandemic.
"Given an apprenticeship can take four years to complete, there is a long pipeline for skills. This initiative needs to be in place permanently to make sure businesses have the confidence to continue building the skills pipeline and help address the skill shortages New Zealand faced before Covid.
"This is a great example of Government and business working together to address our workforce challenges," Hope says.
Tauranga City Council commission's CBD decisions praised
During the past week, the newly appointed Tauranga City Council Commission has made a number of key decisions for the city.
These decisions include a $20 million investment to overhaul waste services (in partnership with Central Government), a commitment to lease a purpose-built Civic Administration building on Devonport Rd, a $47m investment in a new Library & Civic Amenities Building in the CBD and the proposed redevelopment of the Memorial Park pools.
Priority One has watched this progress with interest and wishes to congratulate the newly appointed Commissioners on making bold, early and swift decisions on these key matters for Tauranga.
Priority One chairman Simon Clarke says: "We recognise that these decisions are significant, and they need to be made after careful consideration including canvassing community views and it is inevitable that in some cases the outcomes will not suit everyone.
"However, the Commissioners need to be congratulated for acting swiftly and decisively.
"Tauranga City Council Elected Members have been kicking around a number of options for the last five years. Indecision over that period has driven uncertainty into the CBD property market which has sent the CBD into a downward spiral.
"The decisions made this week illustrate leadership and helps create certainty for other potential developments and downtown retailers. The commitments will also hopefully have a cascading effect for others to invest".
Priority One expects that Tauranga City Council will continue to make good progress in the coming months, leading to higher standards of living across our community in the future.
Zespri fundraiser for Whakaari/White Island
The kiwifruit industry will be raising funds to support and honour the victims of the Whakaari/White Island tragedy, their families and first responders on March 27.
The fundraiser will involve a community day held at Rugby Park in Whakatāne where a Kiwifruit Industry Invitational Team will take on the Parliamentary Rugby Team.
All gate takings will be donated to the Eastern Bay Community Foundation's Whakaari Fund and there will be plenty of activities for children and the community.
Kickoff is at 2.15pm, following the 12.30pm curtain-raiser between Whakatāne Marist and Ōpōtiki.
The focus for the day will be on bringing the Eastern Bay community together and honouring those affected by the Whakaari/White Island tragedy.
Zespri was expecting a strong turnout from the kiwifruit industry and the wider community.
Covid-19 workplace recovery opens up job opportunities in healthcare
A growing demand for skilled people to care for New Zealand's ageing population is providing job opportunities and new careers for people who have lost their jobs because of Covid-19.
According to stats.govt.nz 25,000 Kiwis lost their jobs in the December 2020 quarter; 15,000 were women.
Māori, Pacific Island and older women were most affected by Covid job losses.
General manager of training provider MySkill, Anita Guthrie says while job-loss is a devastating side-effect of Covid it does present an opportunity for the healthcare industry to train and employ women who are now looking for a new job.
"MySkill offers a free online Community Health course with NZQA Unit Standards, which is a great stepping-stone into a rewarding job with career progression potential in the healthcare sector."
Entry-level jobs start with a support worker role and then ongoing training can lead to other careers in the healthcare sector, including nursing, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
Rotorua student wins Myers scholarship to Cambridge
Rotorua's Ishan Nath has been awarded the prestigious Sir Douglas Myers scholarship to study at Cambridge University in England.
The 18-year-old was deputy head boy, academic captain and leader of the academic committee at Rotorua's John Paul College last year.
Ishan plans to apply to study the Mathematical Tripos at Cambridge, due to the breadth of content - including number fields, logic, quantum mechanics, quantum computing and general relativity.
The late Sir Douglas Myers set up this scholarship 18 years ago for academically gifted students intending to return to New Zealand to become leaders in their chosen fields.
Sir Douglas was a well-known businessman and former leader in the brewing industry, who graduated with a BA in History from Gonville and Caius College.
The scholarship provides tuition and college fees and a living allowance and is worth approximately £34,000 or NZ$60,000 per annum.
Universities New Zealand, formerly the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors' Committee, administers this scholarship in addition to around 40 other undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships.
Applications for the 2022 Sir Douglas Myers Scholarship close on December 1, 2021.