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Govt approves $5m fund to help small businesses after White Island eruption

Author
Boris Jancic, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 16 Dec 2019, 4:49PM
Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today. (Photo / AP)
Jacinda Ardern made the announcement today. (Photo / AP)

Govt approves $5m fund to help small businesses after White Island eruption

Author
Boris Jancic, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 16 Dec 2019, 4:49PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government has approved a $5 million fund to help small businesses in Whakatane following the White Island eruption.

Speaking to reporters at her weekly, post-Cabinet press conference, Ardern officials and ministers were now finalising the criteria and details of the fund.

Ardern on Monday also announced the Government was waiting on advice as to whether any further probes were needed into the disaster.

"There remain now questions to be asked and questions to be answered," she said.

Any inquiry would try to fill the gaps between an investigation being conducted by workplace safety watchdog Worksafe and investigations by the coroner.

"What I want to make sure is we answer all the questions we need to answer, but that we don't duplicate."

A decision would be made next year, she said.

The Worksafe investigation was now expected to take up to a year, Ardern said.

Ardern would not confirm whether tourism companies being investigated would potentially also be eligible from money from the fund.

"No it's just a question of what else might we look at, to make sure we look at every angle."

The criteria about the fund would be decided by ministers over the summer.

Earlier in the day, Ardern and the Government's top ministers halted their weekly meeting at 2.11pm to join people across New Zealand and Australia in marking the exact moment the volcanic island erupted a week ago.

Of those confirmed dead so far, 10 are Australians and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday called for his nation to also join the moment of silence.

A dozen other people are also still being treated for severe burns in Australian hospitals after being flown home.

Ardern and Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters this afternoon also meet with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, who in a statement said she would be expressing "deep appreciation for the professional and quick response of the New Zealand emergency and medical services and the care they have provided to Australian survivors of the eruption".

 

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