/////////////////////////////////////////// Dedicated body for fisheries management
The creation of a dedicated body to be known as Fisheries New Zealand marks a major milestone on the way to improved management of this valuable natural resource, says Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash. The reorganisation of the Ministry for Primary Industries will create four new branches with a specific focus on fisheries, forestry, biosecurity and food safety. Mr Nash says the changes strike the optimum balance between enhancing fisheries management while minimising disruption to staff and operations within MPI. “The establishment of Fisheries New Zealand is a tightly focused change which will go a long way towards improving public confidence in the way fisheries are managed. “The reorganisation provides clearer lines of accountability for fisheries management decisions. “It means that as Minister I can have confidence in the way fisheries officials carry out government policy. It means that the many individuals, agencies, iwi and businesses with a stake in fisheries have a clear picture of accountability within the sector. “It also means Fisheries New Zealand can be upfront about its work and its expectations for how the fisheries resource is harvested and protected. “The new body will work to strengthen relationships with iwi, recreational and commercial fishing representatives, the environmental sector and other local communities,” Mr Nash says. “The need to ensure the sustainability of fisheries stocks and to minimise the environmental impacts of fishing are important concerns for all of us. Fisheries New Zealand is expected to lead efforts in these areas. “The changes announced today are an important first step towards ensuring a sustainable and abundant fishery,” Mr Nash says.
/////////////////////////////////////////// Ban on overseas speculators a step closer
Legislation to ban overseas speculators from buying New Zealand homes will be introduced into Parliament tomorrow, Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford and Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage announced today. “This Government welcomes foreign investment in houses to add to our housing supply,” Phil Twyford says. “However, purchases of homes by offshore speculators push first home-buyers and families out of the housing market.” Phil Twyford says the legislative changes demonstrate the Government’s determination to make it easier for New Zealanders to buy their first home. “We expect the law to be passed early next year fulfilling a key pledge in our 100 Day Plan. The previous National government said it couldn’t be done without breaching trade agreements. They just didn’t try and in doing so, they put foreign buyers ahead of New Zealanders. “This Government prioritises home ownership and housing affordability for all New Zealanders. This Bill will ensure that house prices are set by New Zealand-based buyers, not international buyers,” Phil Twyford says. Eugenie Sage says the legislation brings residential land within the category of sensitive land in the Overseas Investment Act. “It will mean, for practical purposes, that foreign buyers will not be able to buy residential property unless they are either increasing the number of residences and then selling them or converting the land to another use. They will need to be able to show that this will have wider benefits to the country. “New Zealand and Australian citizens will be exempt from the regime. “The Bill will be introduced into Parliament tomorrow. It is our intention that it will then be sent to a Select Committee so New Zealanders can have an opportunity to comment on the details of the Bill. “It also gives the Select Committee the opportunity to make sure the regime is set appropriately so that people who want to make New Zealand their home are not discouraged,” says Eugenie Sage.
/////////////////////////////////////////// Clear message on clean energy at OnePlanet Summit
Climate Change Minister, James Shaw, says the message from the OnePlanet Summit on climate change in Paris is clear – invest in clean, renewable energies. “It’s important to recognise the significance of decisions like that from the World Bank to stop financing upstream oil and gas ventures by 2019, barring some exceptions over gas in poorest countries. “And the Bank is to be commended for confirming that it is on track to meet its target of 28% lending to climate action by 2020,” said Mr Shaw. Minister Shaw has also welcomed the New Zealand Superannuation Fund joining other international investors at the OnePlanet Summit to put pressure on big polluters to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. “There is mounting pressure on big polluters to play their part in the global fight against climate change. “A combination of divestment and focused pressure from remaining shareholders has the potential to achieve significant changes to business as usual. “There is a sense that the tide is turning and so-called “dirty” industries understand more sustainable, climate-friendly ways of operating are in their long-term financial and social interests. “Those who fail to understand or ignore this tide of change are likely to pay a high price, including having assets stranded in polluting business activities which are no longer attractive to investors,” said Mr Shaw. New Zealand’s Ambassador to Paris, Jane Coombs, who attended the OnePlanet Summit on this country’s behalf was also able to confirm New Zealand as a founding member a newly formed international Zero Carbon Coalition, to be known as the “Towards Carbon Neutrality Coalition”. Countries in the Coalition pledge to develop long-term strategies for climate neutrality and to build their resilience, in line with the Paris Agreement objective of limiting the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. “The Coalition is a perfect fit with our goal of becoming a net zero emission economy by 2050,” Climate Change Minister James Shaw said. “We want to showcase what we, as a small economy, can do by joining with like-minded countries leading the fight against climate change,” he said.
/////////////////////////////////////////// O'Connor announces stronger focus for MPI
Minister for Agriculture, Biosecurity, Food Safety and Rural Communities Damien O’Connor announced today that the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will reorganise its functions to create a stronger focus on core responsibilities. Mr O’Connor says government will set up four portfolio-based entities, Fisheries New Zealand, Forestry New Zealand, Biosecurity New Zealand and New Zealand Food Safety. “Our priority is to achieve greater clarity and unity of purpose for these areas. We are seeking enhanced visibility of government policy and regulatory activities and clearer lines of accountability and engagement for stakeholders. “We are now looking to the Director General of MPI to work with his team to achieve this, while ensuring prudent and efficient use of taxpayer and industry funds. “MPI will continue to meet the expectations of our international trading partners as the competent authority.’’ MPI will build up its forestry presence in Rotorua, Mr O’Connor says. “Rotorua’s location puts it at the heart of our forestry sector and makes it the most appropriate site for a dedicated forestry presence to support the Government’s ambition in this important sector. “It’s likely further change in the forest space will occur after policy and operational work to deliver the Government’s ambitious goals in this area.” Reorganisation of MPI’s functions will occur in the early part of 2018 and will be in place by April. “I would like to thank MPI staff for their commitment and hard work in the primary sector and assure them that there will be no reduction in staff numbers as a result of these changes. This change is about increasing focus and ensuring greater visibility of fisheries, forestry, biosecurity and food safety,” Mr O’Connor says. The estimated cost to implement the changes is $6.8 million to establish the four portfolio-based business units. Additional ongoing operating costs are estimated at $2.3m per annum. Mr O’Connor says reprioritised money from the Primary Growth Partnership Fund will pay for the changes so there will be no additional cost to taxpayers. “This is a prudent and cost-effective change that can be managed with existing monies.’’ Contact: Sean Scanlon 021 863 138
/////////////////////////////////////////// New chapter for forestry in NZ
Forestry Minister Shane Jones has today welcomed the separation of portfolios within the Ministry of Primary Industries, saying it marks a new era for forestry in New Zealand. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will reorganise its functions to create a stronger focus on core responsibilities. Four new, separately branded portfolio-based branches will be established within MPI – Fisheries New Zealand, Forestry New Zealand, Biosecurity New Zealand and New Zealand Food Safety. Mr Jones says the refocusing of the ministry’s functions will put greater emphasis on forestry, in line with the Government’s dedication to the sector. “This Government has made a commitment to focus on regional economic development and the planting of 1 billion trees to support and grow a sustainable forestry sector,” Mr Jones says. “The planting programme will also increase employment opportunities in the regions and help meet our climate change targets,” Mr Jones says. “New Zealand Forestry will have leading role in meeting our 1 billion tree commitment, as well as in training people, finding land for afforestation and working closely with the sector. “We have a highly motivated forestry sector in New Zealand and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve in partnership over the coming years,” Mr Jones says.
/////////////////////////////////////////// Government to conduct inquiry into fuel pipe outage
The coalition Government will conduct a wide-ranging inquiry into making New Zealand’s fuel supply more secure following the September outage of the Marsden Refinery to Auckland fuel pipeline, Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods has announced. The Refinery to Auckland Pipeline, which supplies petrol, diesel and jet fuel from the Marsden Point Refinery to the Wiri Oil Terminal in South Auckland, was shut down for 10 days following a leak discovered on 14 September 2017. ”We need to ensure our fuel supply system is resilient and reliable when people need it. The inquiry will help us do that. “The inquiry will investigate not only the immediate causes of the outage, but also the maintenance and operation practices at the pipeline and if they are fit for purpose. “We will also look at how we can make our fuel supply more secure in the future – investigating options for improving resilience. “While this work is undertaken we’ve also instructed officials to investigate short term ways to improve resilience, as well as to ensure all parties involved have effective response plans in place to enable them to respond quickly in the event of any potential future outages. “The Refinery to Auckland Pipeline is a critical piece of infrastructure for our country. It carries the majority of Auckland’s total fuel demand, including for Auckland Airport, and is essential to keeping Kiwis moving. The outage showed how vulnerable this key piece of infrastructure is and how important it is to build more resilience in the system. “We need to get to the bottom of exactly what went wrong in September and how we can help prevent this sort of thing from happening again. This is about making sure important assets like this are protected in the future. “We will conduct a Government inquiry into this outage, under the Inquiries Act 2013. An independent Government inquiry is appropriate given the public importance of fuel supply resilience, and to ensure access to relevant information by requiring the production of evidence. “Early in the New Year we will finalise the terms of reference for the inquiry and we will be appointing independent inquirers. “We’re taking action so that Kiwis can have confidence their infrastructure will be there for them when they need it,” says Megan Woods.
/////////////////////////////////////////// Milestone cycleway opens in Christchurch
Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter today joined Christchurch City Councillors and local Linwood Avenue School students in opening the first stage of the Rapanui to Shag Rock Cycleway in Christchurch. When complete, the full 6.3km cycleway will run from the central city through to Linwood and Ferrymead, connecting to the Christchurch Coastal Pathway. The first stage of the cycleway runs from Linwood Park to the Fitzgerald Avenue/Worcester Street intersection. “Safe cycleways are a key part of making Christchurch a healthy, happy and vibrant city full of people, rather than traffic,” said Ms Genter. “Cycleways, like the Rapanui to Shag Rock route, will make it easier for people of all ages and abilities to cycle to work, school and into town. “Cycling to school is a great way for young people to get more exercise into their day, and that pays off with better concentration in the classroom. “This government is committed in increasing investment in cycling and, in particular, making it safer and easier for young people to cycle to school. “This is good news for people driving too. More people safely cycling to school and work, on alternative routes, mean less morning traffic, said Ms Genter. As a direct alternative to the arterial roads, the Rapanui to Shag Rock Cycleway is designed to offer a more comfortable separated link for commuters and students travelling into the central city and along the eastern corridor. Following the formal ceremony, students led guests on a first ride of the newly opened cycleway with the Cycle Safe team. Cycle Safe is a cycle skills education programme for schools where students learn the benefits of cycling and how to ride with confidence and be road-wise. “I’m now looking forward to opening the next sections of this cycleway and seeing the benefits for Christchurch,” said Ms Genter. The Rapanui to Shag Rock Cycleway is a $15.64 million project co-funded by the New Zealand Government, NZ Transport Agency and Christchurch City Council through the Government’s Urban Cycleways Programme.
/////////////////////////////////////////// Public expects restraint on chief executive pay
Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins says changes to legislation may be required to curb the high pay levels of some State sector chief executives.
The Senior Pay Report, released today by the State Services Commissioner, discloses the total remuneration paid to State sector chief executives in the 2016/17 financial year, from 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017.
The average remuneration increase for Public Service chief executives in the 2016/17 year was 2.0%. The average increase for Tertiary Education Institution and District Health Board chief executives was 2.7%. The average increase for Crown Entity chief executives was 4.1%. Over the same period the average salary increase for Public Service staff was 2.2%.
For the first time the Commissioner has identified Crown entity Boards that chose not to follow the Commission’s advice and gave remuneration increases above recommended levels: Guardians of NZ Superannuation, ACC and Telarc.
“Crown entities need to be more accountable and transparent when awarding their chief executives pay rises that go against the advice of the Minister and the State Services Commissioner.
“I support the Commissioner’s approach to this issue, we do need to tighten the reins,” Mr Hipkins says.
“State sector chief executives have big important jobs that carry a lot of responsibility and they deserve to be fairly paid but they are still public servants with an accountability to taxpayers.
“It’s appropriate to have a look at what can be done to put the brakes on escalating salaries.
“I have asked the Commissioner for advice and regulatory options, particularly on how we could change the Crown Entities Act.”
/////////////////////////////////////////// $9.5 million boost for teacher supply
Education Minister Chris Hipkins today announced an immediate $9.5 million teacher supply package to support more teachers into classrooms in 2018.
“Principals have been telling the Government for many months they are desperately trying to plug a major shortage of teachers in locations such as Auckland and in subjects including science, te reo Māori, technology and maths,” Mr Hipkins said.
“After years of ignoring the problem, National’s late and panicked promise to help had zero funding attached to it. This Government, however, has listened and has prioritised funding for a $9.5 million boost to address immediate pressures while the need for further initiatives will be considered for Budget 2018.
“The funding, which is approved by Cabinet, will support more graduates into permanent teaching positions, support experienced teachers back into the profession and recruit new graduates into teaching.
“The package includes: Expanding the eligibility of the Voluntary Bonding Scheme (VBS) to beginning teachers who start in decile two and three schools in Auckland next year, Expanding VBS nationally to new teachers of science, technology, maths and te reo Māori. Expanding the Auckland Beginner Teacher Project to increase the employment of beginning teachers in permanent or fixed-term roles in Auckland primary schools and to support them to become fully certificated teachers. Help to retain experienced teachers whose practicing certificates are about to expire, and attract back teachers who haven’t taught for six years, by covering the cost of the Teacher Education Refresher course. Financial support to schools needing to attract and retain teachers with limited authority to teach in skill areas that are in short supply. Promoting and making it faster, easier and cheaper for overseas teachers from the UK, Ireland, Canada, South Africa and Fiji to come and work in New Zealand.
“Together with a commitment to address teacher workloads and to raise the status of the profession, this is the first stage of a comprehensive programme to alleviate teacher shortages and build a strong and engaged workforce,” Mr Hipkins says.
More information on the teacher supply package is available at: http://www.education.govt.nz/teacher-supply
/////////////////////////////////////////// Maritime Bill will protect crews and coastline
Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter today welcomed the passing of the Maritime Transport Amendment Bill’s third reading by Parliament. “This is a significant piece of legislation that will support maritime safety and tackle pollution,” said Minister Genter. “The Bill will ensure that in the event of an oil spill from a tanker there is significantly more compensation made available to deal with any clean up. “This is about ensuring that those responsible for oil spills cover the cost, not the New Zealand taxpayer. “The Bill increases the potential compensation available for oil spills from around $411 million to just over $1.540 billion. “The new Government also made some changes to the Bill to reflect feedback we heard during the select committee process. “This included removing proposed amendments that would have allowed foreign-flagged vessels to start carrying cargo to the Chatham Islands. “This would have created unfair competition that might have undermined a lifeline to the Chathams. “Foreign vessels aren’t subject to the same conditions as domestic vessels, such as GST and New Zealand labour laws, so would have had an unfair advantage over domestic services. “We also removed the unnecessary requirement in the Bill for all maritime operators to undertake mandatory drug and alcohol testing. “Large industry players are already undertaking drug and alcohol testing. The previous government failed to present evidence that impairment was a big enough problem to justify making all small operators undertake testing. “We’ve instead adopted a more reasonable approach that allows the Director of Maritime NZ to carry out non-notified drug and alcohol testing of people in safety sensitive positions. “The Bill also includes technical amendments that will increase the flexibility of rule-making and improve the serviceability of the Act into the future,” says Minister Genter.
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