/////////////////////////////////////////// Prime Minister welcomes Obama visit
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today welcomed confirmation of the visit to New Zealand of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States. “I look forward to welcoming Mr Obama to our country and anticipate meeting him once his full programme is finalised,” says Jacinda Ardern. The former President will speak at an event hosted by the New Zealand-United States Council in Auckland on 22 March.
/////////////////////////////////////////// Public media advisory group established
Cabinet has confirmed the establishment of a four-member ministerial advisory group to investigate the establishment of a Public Media Funding Commission. Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Clare Curran says “in all democracies the media has a critical role in holding public and private institutions to account and in reporting on the government of the day. “I believe a well-resourced public media is necessary to tell our stories and inform our democracy and I want to be sure we have the right framework for a resilient and sustainable New Zealand broadcasting system. “A Public Media Funding Commission will be a non-political voice advising Parliament on the state of the media and the resourcing needs of public media agencies. The members of the advisory group - Michael Stiassny, Sandi Beatie, Josh Easby and Irene Gardiner - bring together vast governance, public sector and broadcasting experience. “They’ll report back to me with advice on the potential establishment of the Public Media Funding Commission - its functions, role and scope. I will take these to Cabinet. “Aucklander Michael Stiassny is a highly experienced director and accountant and will be the group’s chair. “Sandi Beatie from Kapiti was Deputy State Services Commissioner from 2013 to 2015 and has an in-depth understanding of Crown-connected organisations. “From 2010 to 2016 Josh Easby of Cambridge was a director and then deputy chair of Radio New Zealand. He is currently the managing director of digital book publisher Hurricane Press Ltd. “Aucklander Irene Gardiner is an experienced television producer, director and consultant and is currently a freelance television consultant. “The Advisory Group was initially planned to have 5 members but one candidate has since withdrawn. I am confident the remaining 4 members have the skills and capacity to provide the required advice. “The Advisory Group will hold its first meeting and meet with me this week,” Ms Curran says. Members’ appointments are until 30 June 2019. The Cabinet paper ‘Ministerial Advisory Group: Allocation of funding and role of a Public Media Funding Commission’ and Terms of Reference are being proactively released and are attached.
/////////////////////////////////////////// New facility for LSV courses at Whenuapai
Construction of the new youth development facility at RNZAF Base Auckland at Whenuapai got under way today, with a sod-turning ceremony attended by Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “The Government is committed to helping our young people achieve their goals,” says Mr Mark. “This new facility plays a key part in our commitment and will support vital youth development programmes, such as Limited Service Volunteer (LSV) courses, Service Academies and NZ Cadet Forces. “I’ve seen first-hand the amazing work done by our Defence personnel in developing young people. Their professionalism, ethos and values are second to none, and inspire young people on these programmes to achieve their goals,” says Mr Mark. The new complex replaces facilities in Auckland that are outdated and inadequate. It will support the new coalition Government’s policy, secured in the agreement between New Zealand First and the New Zealand Labour Party, to double the number of trainees going through LSV courses from 800 to 1600 annually. “Auckland is an ideal location for the new facility because of its proximity to potential employers, educational institutions and the vast support networks that can help young people thrive,” says Mr Mark. “LSV courses have been conducted on Defence Force bases for over 20 years and I am committed to maintaining and expanding the programme so more young New Zealanders can be inspired by our wonderful Defence staff. “The new facility will have classrooms, 120 beds in barracks accommodation, supervisor accommodation, interview rooms and a medical bay. “When the facility is not being used by these youth programmes it will be used by the NZDF for other purposes,” says Mr Mark. The long-running LSV scheme is a successful programme. Based on 2016 figures, 81 per cent of LSV trainees completed the course and 52 per cent were off benefit 16 weeks after the course The NZDF, along with partner agencies – the Ministries of Social Development and Education -- have agreed to a cost-sharing arrangement where the Defence Force will fund the upfront costs and then recover a proportional share from them. The capital cost of the project will be $10.6 million over the next two financial years, followed by through-life maintenance costs totalling $5.5 million over 20 years. The facility will be completed later in the year.
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