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By Newsroom America Feeds at 14 Feb 2018


/////////////////////////////////////////// Minister meets top Work and Income case managers

Posted: 14 Feb 2018 06:40 PM PST

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni has today met with some of Work and Income’s top case managers who’ve achieved outstanding results supporting their clients into work. 20 high performing case managers from across the country were brought together for a series of workshops after being identified for their success supporting people from all backgrounds through difficult situations and into sustainable employment. “It’s exciting to hear the methods and practices they’ve used working with people on the front line in need of assistance so that we might use this information to help shape future services and best practice across the board,” Minister Sepuloni said. “I was interested to know the common attributes these case managers share as a group. It is their heart and genuine care for people mixed with a significant knowledge of what’s available to help a person from both MSD and the local community that is key to their success in helping to change people’s lives. “They also expressed the importance of supporting people into training and educational opportunities as a pathway into meaningful employment – an area of key focus for this government. “Given my vision for a culture at Work and Income that is more inclusive, respects all people’s right to dignity, ensures everyone has access to their full entitlements and focuses on people’s potential I am heartened these case managers demonstrate this approach in their interactions with New Zealanders requiring assistance. “It helps form part of the culture change we want to support at all levels of MSD, and across Work and Income offices around the country. It’s important to focus on those doing an exceptional job to showcase how this can be done. “Improving the culture at Work and Income is about both ensuring the best possible outcomes for clients and making sure staff feel supported in their roles.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Bill to make cartel conduct a criminal offence

Posted: 14 Feb 2018 05:15 PM PST

Consumers and business will benefit from legislation introduced to Parliament today which will make it a criminal offence to engage in cartel conduct. Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi has today tabled the Commerce (Criminalisation of Cartels) Amendment Bill, which includes imprisonment as a criminal penalty. “Price fixing and other cartel conduct harms honest New Zealand businesses, consumers and the wider economy. It stifles emerging businesses, impacts on consumers if they are not getting the best deal the market could offer, and limits growth by undermining competition. “I do not believe New Zealand’s existing civil regime provides sufficient disincentives for cartel conduct so we are acting to stop it,” says Mr Faafoi. “My hope is that the risk of imprisonment acts as a strong deterrent and reflects the seriousness of the harm that can be caused. “New Zealand has a well-respected and robust business environment and we are not suggesting there is a significant issue here. At the same time though, I believe there’s a need to provide certainty of operating environment to enable businesses to compete without the intrusion of cartel type behaviours. I have also been clear that I intend to ensure consumers are getting a fair deal across the board.” Mr Faafoi says that his Bill provides clarity and that honest business should have no concerns. “This isn’t about limiting anyone’s ability to run their business and we will retain sound provisions of the current legislation, for example the allowance for collaboration between competitors. I will ask the Commerce Commission to assist by preparing good guidance for business as well as supporting collaborations by providing business with clearances on arrangements.” Changes to the Commerce Act in 2017 enabled wider collaboration between firms, and expanded the range of prohibited conduct to include price fixing, restricting output, and allocating markets, but did not change the civil prohibition regime in the Commerce Act. “However this Government wants to take a strong stance against business people who collude against the interests of consumers. Many of our trading partners, including Australia, have a criminal offence for cartel conduct. “Criminalisation of cartels will also help the Commerce Commission to investigate international cartels, as overseas competition agencies in jurisdictions with criminal sanctions will be able to offer more cooperation to the Commission under their laws.” Mr Faafoi says he hopes the business community and other stakeholders will become involved when the Bill has its first reading in Parliament and moves through the select committee process. “I have been clear that across the Commerce portfolio my aim is to work with the business community to achieve the most robust and efficient New Zealand business environment possible – that is in everyone’s interests.” The Bill has broad support from the coalition partners. Parliamentary Under-Secretary Fletcher Tabuteau, New Zealand First commerce spokesperson says “this was part of the original legislation that should never have been removed”. More information on the Criminalisation of Cartels Bill can be found here.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Bill to reform conservation law enforcement passes first reading

Posted: 14 Feb 2018 04:00 PM PST

Department of Conservation staff will be able to issue infringement notices and reduce the number of costly prosecutions under a bill that passed its first reading last night. “The Conservation (Infringement System) Amendment Bill updates eight separate Acts to allow the Department of Conservation to issue infringement notices instead of prosecuting for minor offences.” Ms Sage says. The bill was introduced under the previous Government. Currently all conservation offences under the Acts and regulations have to be dealt with either as a formal warning or through the courts. “Our national parks, public conservation lands and indigenous plants and wildlife need to be kept safe from illegal human activities, but I don’t want to see people prosecuted and get a criminal conviction for a minor breach of the whitebaiting regulations, or dropping litter in a park.” Ms Sage said the offences in the current law covered a wide range of offending. “Someone who fishes in a marine reserve inadvertently, and does not catch any fish or do any harm, may now get an infringement notice. Someone who deliberately flouts the rules, and poaches fish is still likely to end up in court. “The bill has been drafted so serious offences such as using a firearm unsafely or harming threatened species will not be given infringement notices but will be prosecuted. “These changes bring DOC’s powers in line with how low level offences are dealt with in fisheries management, biosecurity, dog control, resource management, traffic and parking.” The Bill has been referred to the Environment Select Committee for consideration and public submissions. “I welcome the unanimous support received in the House last night and look forward to receiving the Select Committee report in due course.”

Editor’s Note: The eight Acts amended by the Bill are the Conservation Act 1987, Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978, Marine Reserves Act 1971, National Parks Act 1980, Reserves Act 1977, Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989, Wild Animal Control Act 1977 and the Wildlife Act 1953.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Tax changes dampen property speculation

Posted: 14 Feb 2018 03:02 PM PST

Revenue Minister Stuart Nash has confirmed the bright-line test on residential property sales will be extended from two years to five years in legislation currently making its way through Parliament. Mr Nash will introduce a Supplementary Order Paper to the Taxation (Annual Rates for 2017–18, Employment and Investment Income, and Remedial Matters) Bill to give effect to the changes, which were signalled prior to the election. “The extension of the previous government’s bright-line test will help dampen property speculation and make homes more affordable,” Mr Nash says. “The previous government required income tax to be paid on any gains from residential property sold within two years of acquisition, with some exceptions. “The extension means that profits from residential investment properties which are bought and sold within five years will generally be taxable. “This proposal will ensure that residential property speculators pay income tax on their gains and makes property speculation less attractive. We need investment which grows the economy and creates jobs, not the sort of investment which distorts the residential housing market. This measure will bring fairness back into the tax system. “Reducing speculative demand will also help improve housing affordability for owner-occupiers. Current exemptions from the bright line test will remain. This includes the exemption for the main home of owner-occupiers of residential property. The extension to the bright-line test will apply to residential investment properties purchased from the date on which the bill receives the Royal Assent, which is expected in March. The passage of the bill will also enable the Tax Working Group to factor the change into any consideration of a comprehensive capital gains tax. For more information on the Bill, see

/////////////////////////////////////////// Further Cyclone Gita help

Posted: 13 Feb 2018 10:00 PM PST

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand will contribute a further $1.5 million to help with the emergency response and early recovery efforts in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Gita. “This additional funding will be directed to Tonga, Samoa and Fiji which have all felt the impact of the cyclone,” said Mr Peters. “A picture of the extent of damage caused by Cyclone Gita is emerging and it is clear a big response and clean-up job lies ahead. We are here to help our neighbours get through this,” he said. This latest funding will be used to replenish New Zealand Red Cross relief supplies in Tonga and provide up to $750,000 for New Zealand NGOs to deliver ongoing emergency relief and early recovery activities in Samoa and Tonga. This announcement brings the total funding allocated for the New Zealand response to Tropical Cyclone Gita to $2,250,000.

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