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By Newsroom America Feeds at 25 Feb 2018


/////////////////////////////////////////// Announcement of Ambassador to Turkey

Posted: 25 Feb 2018 07:59 PM PST

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today announced the appointment of diplomat Wendy Hinton as New Zealand’s next Ambassador to Turkey. “New Zealand and Turkey enjoy a warm relationship, based on our shared Gallipoli heritage,” says Mr Peters. “Turkey is a generous host of annual Anzac Day commemorations and welcomes many New Zealanders each year. “The Ambassador will play an important role in strengthening our relationship with Turkey and exploring opportunities to expand our trade and economic relationship. “Turkey is a significant Middle East regional player, and provides New Zealand with useful insights into current turmoil in the region. Turkey also hosts more than 3 million refugees from the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.” Ms Hinton has held a number of key positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and was most recently Ambassador to Poland and Ukraine. In addition to Turkey, Ms Hinton will be accredited to Israel and Jordan. ENDS Contact: Stephen Parker, Chief Press Secretary, 021 195 3528

/////////////////////////////////////////// Government to provide greater protection of rights under the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990

Posted: 25 Feb 2018 07:43 PM PST

Cabinet has approved, in principle, a move to amend the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 to provide a statutory power for the senior courts to make declarations of inconsistency under the Bill of Rights Act, and to require Parliament to respond. Justice Minister Andrew Little and Attorney-General David Parker today welcomed the decision. Andrew Little says, “Declarations of inconsistency can perform an important function by informing Parliament that the senior courts consider an Act of Parliament to be inconsistent with the fundamental human rights affirmed in the Bill of Rights Act. “The Government supports the senior courts making declarations of inconsistency where there is a legislative power. As there is currently no explicit power in the Bill of Rights Act, amending the Act will allow for this.” David Parker says: “Parliament occasionally passes laws inconsistent with the Bill Of Rights Act. Currently there is no established route for Parliament to revisit the issue. “The change proposed is to amend the Act to confer an express power for the courts to make a declaration of inconsistency. That would trigger reconsideration of the issue by Parliament.” The Courts would not be able to strike down statutory law and Parliament would retain its sovereignty. After reconsideration Parliament could amend, repeal or stick with the law as originally passed. The Government will carry out further work to enable the change proposed, while protecting Parliament’s sovereignty. Background information New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 is one of the most important pieces of legislation in New Zealand for the promotion and protection of human rights. It sets out to affirm, protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms in New Zealand. It also affirms New Zealand's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. What is a Declaration of Inconsistency? A declaration of inconsistency is a formal statement, granted by a court as a remedy, that legislation is inconsistent with fundamental human rights protected by the Bill of Rights Act. The declaration informs the public and Parliament that in the court’s view, an Act is inconsistent with fundamental human rights. A declaration of inconsistency does not affect the validity of the Act or anything done lawfully under that Act. Currently, there is no explicit power in the Bill of Rights Act to issue declarations of inconsistency. The matter of declarations of inconsistency has also been the subject of recent court proceedings. In 2015, in Taylor v Attorney-General, the High Court issued a declaration of inconsistency for the first time. This declaration was that a provision of the Electoral Act 1993 disqualifying all sentenced prisoners from registering to vote is inconsistent with voting rights affirmed by the Bill of Rights Act. The matter of whether the senior courts can issue such a declaration has reached the Supreme Court, which will hear an appeal in March 2018. Previous consideration of Declarations of Inconsistency In 2011, the Constitutional Advisory Panel was appointed to listen to and record New Zealander’s views on constitutional issues. As part of its consultation with the public, it considered amendments to the Bill of Rights Act. Its recommendations, released in 2013, included that the Government explore options for improving the effectiveness of the Bill of Rights Act such as giving the judiciary powers to assess legislation for consistency with the Bill of Rights Act.

/////////////////////////////////////////// NZDF Completes Maritime Surveillance Mission in the Middle East

Posted: 25 Feb 2018 07:42 PM PST

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) completed its year-long maritime surveillance mission in the Middle East yesterday, flying more than 1000 hours and helping an international naval coalition seize heroin with an estimated value of $700 million. The NZDF sent a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft and a 55-member detachment to the Middle East in February 2017 to work as part of the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) for 12 months. The Orion flew a total of 1010 hours on 135 missions. “I’d like to send my congratulations to the detachment,” says Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “Their hard work has helped lead to four CMF drug busts in the Indian Ocean which is a huge blow to the criminal organisations involved. “The profits from illegal drug smuggling in the Indian Ocean, more often than not, are used to finance terrorism. It is important that New Zealand partners with the international community to stem this flow of funding. “I recently had the honour of meeting with the team on my recent trip to the Middle East. I was not only impressed by their professionalism, skill and dedication, but also how much their contribution was valued by the CMF and our international partners. “New Zealanders should be proud of them,” says Mr Mark. The CMF is a 32-nation naval partnership seeking to promote security across 8.2 million square kilometres of international water, which encompasses some of the world’s most important shipping lanes. It includes three combined task forces, which are focused on defeating global terrorism, preventing piracy and narcotics smuggling, and promoting a safe maritime environment. Major General Tim Gall the Commander Joint Forces New Zealand, said New Zealand played its part in maintaining global security and the NZDF’s continued participation in the CMF further demonstrated this. The drug busts supported the CMF’s efforts to stem the flow of funds for terrorist activities in the Middle East region and internationally, Major General Gall said. “Our successes in this mission are a testament to the hard work of our personnel and show what we can achieve by working with other nations.” Squadron Leader Adam O’Rourke, who led the NZDF’s 55-member maritime surveillance detachment, said one of the rewards of being part of this mission was knowing that the work of the team had a direct impact on illegal activity, by taking away terrorists’ income streams. “It’s great to know that our contribution makes a difference,” Squadron Leader O’Rourke said. “Representing our country in a coalition, contributing to the larger team’s success, and showcasing the professional work that our team does every day are the other rewarding aspects.” The aircraft and crew arrive back in New Zealand in early March.

/////////////////////////////////////////// What rural-urban divide?

Posted: 25 Feb 2018 04:21 PM PST

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has welcomed survey results that show many Kiwis – both urban and rural – hold a similar and positive view of the primary sector. New Zealanders’ views of the primary sector was initiated by the Ministry for Primary Industries last year to measure change against a 2008 benchmark survey. Mr O’Connor says the key finding was that with very few exceptions, the views of rural and urban New Zealanders are very similar across key topics in the primary sector including water quality and expansion through value-add. The findings are contrary to the study’s media literature scan, which suggested there is a growing divide and polarisation of views between the two groups. Respondents said the most significant environmental issue facing NZ was water quality (rural 53% and urban 47%), with recognition farmers were working to do something about this. They agreed expansion through value-add products was good for New Zealand (rural 70% and urban 69%) and were equally concerned about threats to biosecurity from pests and disease (rural 88% and 87%). There was a sharp increase in urban respondents who agreed that everyone should have access to services and most would pay a bit more if it meant rural people could access them at a reasonable cost – 63% up from 52% in 2008. “It was pleasing to see those surveyed felt very strongly that responding to key issues such as climate change and biosecurity were the responsibility of all New Zealanders,” says Mr O’Connor. “There’s overall recognition of the importance of the primary sector to the New Zealand economy, but more remains to be done to address sector impacts on fresh water and the environment. “It looks like we’re getting on the same page and that’s important as we drive a new strategic direction for the New Zealand primary sector towards the production of sustainable, premium food products that meet consumer expectations. “The survey also highlighted very positive views about New Zealand’s animal welfare, and in particular the focus groups felt that New Zealand led the world in animal welfare standards and performance. “While respondents considered the primary sector offers good employment opportunities, they were less inclined to agree they were good employers. Addressing this will need to be an important area of focus going forward.” Both urban and rural Kiwis indicated that better lifestyle, open spaces, population size and clean environment were the positives about living in rural NZ. Lack of infrastructure, lack of amenities and facilities, distance from school/work/friends and isolation were seen as key negatives. “Understanding the values and perceptions of New Zealanders is a critical input to the work of Government and industry,” Mr O’Connor says. The survey was completed by 1,245 New Zealanders and nine focus groups. Find the survey online

/////////////////////////////////////////// Time running out for Antipodes Island wandering albatross

Posted: 25 Feb 2018 12:00 PM PST

The critically endangered Antipodes Island wandering albatross will be functionally extinct within the next 20 years unless the devastating decline in their population is halted, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage says. The population of this rare wandering albatross, which breeds almost exclusively on the remote Antipodes Island in the New Zealand subantarctic, has experienced an alarming decline in the past 13 years, with very high mortality of females and reduced breeding success. Ms Sage, who has just visited Antipodes Island, says at their current rate of decline fewer than 500 pairs will remain within 20 years. “In 1994-96, there were 5,180 pairs breeding each year on Antipodes Island. By 2015-17, there were only an estimated 2,900 pairs breeding there each year. More research is underway to better understand the situation. If nothing changes, at their current rate of decline, their future is very grim.” The decline in numbers coincides with a change in foraging behaviour, with females in particular travelling much further than they formerly did, taking them into international waters north east of New Zealand and as far east as Chile. Females are dying in large numbers, which has led to a very skewed sex ratio in the population, with many males now unable to find a partner. “The main known human cause of adult mortality is bycatch in fisheries. Wandering albatrosses are known to be highly susceptible to bycatch, particularly in pelagic longline fisheries such as those targeting tuna. Reduced food, squid and fish, and alteration in the birds’ foraging locations due to changing ocean temperatures and wind speed may be the cause of reduced breeding success in recent years,” Ms Sage said. New Zealand is actively working with international organisations such as the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP) and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations to highlight the concern for Antipodes Island wandering albatrosses when they leave New Zealand waters and to try and ensure fisheries bycatch risks are appropriately managed, even on the high seas. In New Zealand waters, a National Plan of Action has been developed to reduce seabird bycatch. New Zealand vessels are required to use bird scaring lines and daytime line setting among other methods, to minimise any chance of accidentally hooking and drowning seabirds. “Further research on the diet and foraging patterns of Antipodes Island wandering albatrosses can help better understand what is happening to these birds. “The rapid collapse of the Antipodes Island wandering albatross population means we need urgent international action to prevent this magnificent species sliding into extinction.” “Such action could include protecting important seabird feeding areas to reduce albatross deaths on hooks in pelagic longline fisheries for tuna and swordfish.” “Gaining a better understanding of the birds’ diet will help us identify how fishing may be influencing the availability of prey, and could potentially allow for fisheries management to improve the availability of prey species for the Antipodes Island wandering albatross.”

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