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Leading Advocacy Group Launches Campaign For Ministry Of Green Works In Aftermath Of Cyclone Gabrielle

Leading advocacy group ActionStation has today launched a campaign for a large-scale government-led housing and infrastructure programme to address the impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle.

The group, which led a campaign to raise benefit levels ahead of Budget 2021 and has released a series of other research reports, has released a public petition and will begin building a coalition for a Ministry of Green Works.

The Ministry of Green Works concept was detailed in a 2021 report by FIRST Union, which proposed a new public agency to focus on green infrastructure and public housing. The Ministry would build at scale, like New Zealand’s historical Ministry of Works, and would provide apprenticeships and training to young builders, engineers, and architects. The Ministry would also provide necessary institutional expertise and coordination to drive Aotearoa-wide transition to low-emissions and environmentally-friendly spaces.

ActionStation campaigner India Logan-Riley (Ngāti Kahungunu) says: “The disasters of recent weeks have shown that our current approach to infrastructure and public services is inadequate. A Ministry of Green Works will bring stability and coordination to disaster recovery and will also help all regions and cities across Aotearoa prepare for future storms and droughts.“

The call comes amid political interest in Queensland’s Reconstruction Authority model, and other possible public interventions to provide support for families and communities affected by the floods.

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ActionStation’s plan, modeled on the FIRST Union report, also features a strong focus on resourcing Māori communities as part of best practice disaster response

India Logan-Riley adds: “It is important to acknowledge Māori governance and disaster response have always shone through. A good Ministry of Green Works should support that by resourcing tino rangatiratanga so that hapū can lead in this space as well. It will not be able to take land and we propose that a Ministry of Green Works could also play a role in recommending that land be transferred to Māori supervision as part of good environmental management.”

FIRST Union Researcher and Policy Analyst Edward Miller said that impacts of Cyclone Gabrielle on top of the housing and cost of living crises together underscore the need for public intervention in housing and infrastructure delivery.

“High interest rates are killing off housing construction, while firms are being put into liquidation, construction workers terminated and plant and equipment being sold off.

“The Government has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into worker trades training but a collapsing housing market could see us losing trained workers offshore.

“A Ministry of Green Works would allow us to redeploy workers in Aotearoa, stockpile building materials when demand cools and begin addressing the housing and infrastructure deficits where the free market has failed.”

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