Feb 2, 2018 - The completion of the Government’s 100 Day Plan today demonstrates its commitment to setting the direction for a stronger and fairer future for New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
Feb 1, 2018 - Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry Andrew Little has welcomed the launch of Te Kāhui Whakamana Rua Tekau mā Iwa—Pike River Recovery Agency in Greymouth today.
“The mining disaster at Pike River was a national tragedy. After seven long years it’s critical that we make every effort to safely recover the Pike River mine drift, to better understand why 29 men never came home.
“The launch of a new agency, dedicated to achieving that, is a major step towards giving the Pike River families overdue closure and peace of mind.
“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made it a priority to establish this agency in the first 100 days of her government. We have achieved that in partnership with the families.
“We will continue to include the families at every stage, and will be transparent with all New Zealanders about the progress we make and the challenges we face.
“Basing the agency in Greymouth, on the West Coast, is appropriate and upholds our commitment to create government jobs in the regions.
“Now we look forward to seeing work on developing a robust plan for manned re-entry progressing at pace. I don’t expect this to be straightforward, but the agency will be running a thorough and transparent process, drawing on expert advice and the families.
“When I make the final decision on whether to re-enter the drift, it will be based on a technical assessment of the risks and advice that risks can be reasonably managed.
“I want to acknowledge the unwavering support for the families and the recovery effort by Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, and the New Zealand First and Green parties,” Mr Little said.
Te Kāhui Whakamana Rua Tekau mā Iwa—Pike River Recovery Agency was established as a single purpose, stand-alone government department today, by Order in Council signed on 11 December 2017.
It is expected that the new agency will execute a plan for recovery of the Pike River mine drift by the end of March 2019.
Jan 30, 2018 - The Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway today announced the establishment of a Film Industry Working Group, facilitated by Linda Clark, to find a fit-for purpose way to restore workers’ rights in the screen industry.
“This Government is determined that all New Zealand workers get a fair go, including film workers,” says Mr Lees-Galloway.
“The 2010 ‘Hobbit law’ meant film production workers were treated as independent contractors, unless they are party to a written employment agreement that states they are employees. This effectively denied them rights enjoyed by other workers in New Zealand. Contractors do not have the right to bargain collectively under the Employment Relations Act.
“New Zealand must have a highly skilled and innovative economy that provides well-paid, decent jobs, and delivers on economic growth and productivity,” says Mr Lees-Galloway. “To achieve these outcomes, working people need a voice in their workplace through collective bargaining.
“The industry has agreed to work collaboratively to find a durable solution to restore collective bargaining rights for film production workers, without necessarily changing the status of those who wish to continue working as independent contractors.”
The Minister says the Working Group is made up of key industry players, as well as BusinessNZ and the Council of Trade Unions.
“I’ve been very impressed so far with the collegiality and progressive thinking across the sector as we seek a solution that is fit for the needs of the screen industry. The Working Group will examine how we can reach the right balance for workers and producers.
“I am also pleased to announce the appointment of Linda Clark as facilitator for the Working Group. I am confident Ms Clark will effectively support the Working Group to achieve its task.”
The group’s recommendations will help ensure the continued growth of New Zealand’s vibrant, strong and world-leading film industry.
The group will meet over the next six months, with its recommendations to the Minister expected by mid-2018.
Members of the Film Industry Working Group
Linda Clark, Facilitator. Ms Clark is a special counsel at law firm Kensington Swan. Prior to her legal career, Ms Clark was a leading political journalist. Melissa Ansell-Bridges, Equity New Zealand Michael Brook, Regional Film Offices New Zealand Craig Dunn, Stunt Guild Richard Fletcher, Screen Production and Development Association Brendan Keys, Weta Digital Alex Lee, Film Auckland Sioux Macdonald, Screen Industry Guild Paul Mackay, BusinessNZ Barrie Osborne, Producer Tui Ruwhiu, Directors and Editors Guild Alice Shearman, New Zealand Writers Guild Erina Tamepo, Ngā Aho Whakaari Richard Wagstaff, New Zealand Council of Trade Unions
Jan 25, 2018 - Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker has welcomed the conclusion of negotiations for the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Negotiators finalised the agreement in Tokyo on Tuesday and the 11 nations in the trade pact are due to sign it in Chile on March 8.
Mr Parker says the CPTPP could come into effect later in 2018.
The Government will now recommend the select committee examining the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill – which will put in place restrictions on foreign buyers of existing homes – allow more time for consideration.
The law must be in place before the CPTPP takes effect.
Mr Parker says the CPTPP represents a fairer deal for New Zealanders than the earlier TPP agreement.
It satisfies the five conditions the Labour-led Government set down for a revised TPP.
They included increased market access for exports, upholding the Treaty of Waitangi, protecting the Pharmac model and preserving the right to regulate in the public interest.
It also narrowed the scope to make Investor State Dispute Settlement claims.
“The CPTPP will provide New Zealand exporters with preferential access for the first time into Japan, the world’s third-largest economy and our fifth-largest export market.
“It will also be New Zealand’s first FTA relationship with Canada (our 13th largest export market), Mexico (21st), and Peru (46th),” Mr Parker says.
“The CPTPP is even more important to signatory countries given current threats to the effectiveness of the WTO and rising protectionism in many parts of the world.”
“United States President Donald Trump has just announced a new 30 per cent tariff on imports of solar cells. This is but one example.”
“Before the agreement is ratified, New Zealanders will be given the opportunity to better understand what it means for them, their families and the country. We are committed to ensuring this is done in a fair and accessible way,” Mr Parker says.
The 11 CPTPP countries are New Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore and Viet Nam.
Jan 22, 2018 - Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker leaves for London and Switzerland on Tuesday for a series of meetings on trade and economic issues. In London Mr Parker will hold talks with the Rt Hon David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, and the Rt Hon Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Agriculture.
Jan 18, 2018 - More electric vehicles will be hitting New Zealand’s highways, bus lanes and streets with funding announced by Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods today. Dr Woods announced $3.74 million for 20 projects under the third round of the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
Jan 17, 2018 - Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor travels to Europe today to speak at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture, held during International Green Week in Berlin.
The forum’s theme is “shaping the future of livestock – sustainably, responsibly, efficiently”.
New Zealand’s leading role in the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases was a large factor in the invitation to take part in the forum.
“The global challenge is to produce more food with less emissions intensity – this requires research and innovation and is key to meeting the projected increase in worldwide food demand of 70 per cent by 2050,” says Mr O’Connor.
At the forum, Mr O’Connor will highlight New Zealand’s leadership credentials in sustainable livestock production and build relationships with other agriculture ministers from around the world, including through bilateral meetings with counterparts from Argentina, Brazil, the European Commission, France, Germany, Lithuania, Mexico and Poland.
While there he will also engage with key European and New Zealand stakeholders with interests in the launch of EU-NZ free trade agreement negotiations, and Brexit.
“Rural communities across the world are often the life-blood of our societies and heritage. New Zealand is confident that an FTA between our country and the EU will provide opportunities for farmers in both Europe and New Zealand and facilitate greater agricultural cooperation, benefiting rural communities on both sides.”
He will also travel to Ireland, Denmark and Spain to meet his counterparts and discuss mutual issues affecting agricultural production and trade.
“Speaking of international influences on our primary sector, it’s good to see an uplift in dairy prices in the latest GDT overnight. Farmers will welcome this, especially those doing it particularly tough in our regions in drought.”
Dec 22, 2017 - Changes have been made to the $4.5million Unreinforced Masonry Building Securing Fund (URM Fund) in response to constraints building owners were facing while attempting to secure buildings. “Changes to the initiative will increase the flexibility of the URM Fund and allow it to be used for more activities,” says Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa.
“I am also seeking to extend the time before penalties are applied and I’ll make a further announcement about this and seek feedback on potential changes in the New Year.”
From mid-February 2018, building owners will be able to apply for:
up to $25,000 to secure either a single parapet or façade, or both (instead of $10,000 for a parapet and $15,000 for a façade) funding for work to remove non-heritage unreinforced masonry parapets and facades raising the funding cap to secure large and complex unreinforced masonry buildings.
Building owners can also apply to MBIE for funding towards the cost of an engineering assessment as soon as they receive an invoice from their engineer, rather than once all work has been completed.
The Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquakes Recovery (Unreinforced Masonry Buildings) Order 2017 was introduced in February 2017 in response to heightened earthquake risk following the November 2016 Kaikōura earthquakes.
Earlier this year councils in affected areas identified buildings with unreinforced masonry elements that need to be secured to manage life safety risks. Building owners with unreinforced masonry parapets and facades that face into busy thoroughfares in Wellington, Hutt City, Blenheim and Hurunui were given a year (through to March 2018) to get this securing work done.
At that time, heightened seismic risk was expected to continue until December 2017. Updated forecasting shows that the heightened risk is still present, and is expected to continue for at least another six months. Securing work remains the most effective means of managing the life safety risks during this period.
While the affected councils and engineers have actively supported building owners to get the necessary work done, engineering and contracting capacity is stretched, and some buildings are larger and/or more complex to secure than anticipated.
“There can be no doubt we need to get this work done quickly, to ensure we are meeting our safety requirements, however these amendments respond to the practical constraints building owners and councils are facing. We are looking to give building owners more support to get this vital work done,” says Ms Salesa.