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By Newsroom America Feeds at 26 Feb 2018


/////////////////////////////////////////// Justice Minister launches book on the NZ constitution

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 08:22 PM PST

Justice Minister Andrew Little will officially launch a new book, This Realm of New Zealand: The Sovereign, the Governor-General, the Crown at Parliament this evening. The book has been written by Dame Alison Quentin-Baxter, a distinguished public and international lawyer and former Law Commission president, and Professor Janet McLean, a University of Auckland professor of law. “I would like to acknowledge Dame Alison’s and Professor McLean’s valuable contribution to constitutional scholarship and debate in New Zealand. “This Realm of New Zealand: The Sovereign, the Governor-General, the Crown will enhance understanding of our unwritten constitution, particularly as it relates to the Queen, her representative the Governor-General, the institution of the Crown, and how we engage with our government and elected representatives,” Andrew Little said. This Realm of New Zealand: The Sovereign, the Governor-General, the Crown is published by Auckland University Press.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Small business payroll subsidy renewed

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 08:00 PM PST

Support for small businesses through a payroll management subsidy is to continue for a further two years. Revenue and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to extend the subsidy for professional payroll intermediaries who manage an employer’s PAYE obligations, after the previous government decided to end the scheme in early 2018. Inland Revenue currently offers a payroll subsidy of up to $10 per pay-run to listed PAYE intermediaries who manage the income tax obligations of eligible employers. The Taxation (Annual Rates for 2017–18, Employment and Investment Income, and Remedial Matters) Bill currently before Parliament proposed repealing the subsidy on 1 April 2018. However feedback during the Select Committee stage was critical of the move. The announcement today reflects the Committee’s recommendations. “The subsidy was introduced in 2006 as a way to encourage small businesses to use the services of payroll professionals to handle their PAYE obligations. The support from Inland Revenue allows small business operators more free time in order to focus on growing and operating their business,” says Mr Nash. Cabinet has decided to renew the subsidy for another two years, until 1 April 2020. The eligibility threshold for accessing the subsidy will be lowered from 1 April 2019, to businesses with less than $50,000 of income tax and superannuation obligations (PAYE and ESCT). It’s estimated around 24,000 employers who use a payroll intermediary fall into this category. “Small business owners told the select committee the subsidy should remain until PAYE process improvements, such as payday reporting of PAYE information, are bedded in. Small businesses have the least payroll capability. The subsidy allows them to outsource this task and offers a significant benefit. “Small businesses are a vital part of our economy. At a time when those companies will need to get to grips with other changes in the PAYE process, they need this support to allow them to continue to focus on their core enterprise,” Mr Nash says. More information about the bill can be found here:

/////////////////////////////////////////// International resources for visually impaired and blind New Zealanders a step closer

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 07:23 PM PST

The Government today paved the way for the 168,000 New Zealanders with print disabilities to have greater access to copyright works in accessible formats, including Braille and large print. Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi spoke on the Marrakesh Treaty in Parliament today, a requirement in order for the Treaty to progress. “Currently, it is estimated that only 10 percent of written material worldwide are published in accessible formats. This lack of access to copyright works can make it difficult for people with print disabilities to participate in public life and restricts their employment, education, and recreational opportunities. Simply – it does not assist them to live their best lives. “As a Government we want this to change. “There are 168,000 people with print disabilities – and that number will grow as our population ages. All of these people deserve to fully access resources that are available in comparable countries including Australia, Canada, Chile and Singapore who have already signed up. So I am delighted to enable progress today through this treaty.” The Marrakesh Treaty is a multilateral treaty which makes it easier to share copyright works in accessible formats across borders. "New Zealand already has an exception in the Copyright Act 1994 that allows organisations like the Blind Foundation to make accessible format copies of works for the benefit of individuals with a print disability, however producing a Braille copy of a book can cost around $5000. The cost of producing accessible format copies, and the challenges involved in importing such copies from other countries, means that material available in accessible formats is limited. “Enacting the Marrakesh Treaty will make a real difference to the lives of those who use these resources, their family and community.” “I also commend the work that key organisations such as the Blind Foundation and Copyright Licensing New Zealand are doing to bring organisations that represent the visually impaired and organisations that represent the interests of copyright owners together. Through initiatives such as the Accessible Formats Forum they are working alongside Government to improve access and assist in the smooth implementation of the Treaty. Changes to be made to the Copyright Act will enable New Zealand to join the Marrakesh Treaty and allow for the importation of accessible format copies produced in other countries. It will also expand the group of organisations and individuals able to produce and provide accessible format copies works for individuals with a print disability. Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni said she welcomed the Treaty as progress towards this government’s intent to create a fully inclusive New Zealand. “Accessibility is a key focus of the Government’s disability strategy and enacting the Marrakesh Treaty sends a strong signal. “It’s about making information accessible to those with print disabilities so that they can fully participate in society and be involved in decision making. Removing disabling barriers for people with disabilities is crucial to support them to fulfil their aspirations.”

/////////////////////////////////////////// Chinese New Year celebrations at Parliament

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 06:28 PM PST

Minister for Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa will host an event at Parliament tonight, to celebrate Chinese New Year, one of the most significant dates on the Chinese calendar. “Chinese New Year is celebrated around the globe wherever Chinese people have settled and started communities and it’s no different here in Aotearoa” says Ms Salesa. “I have thoroughly enjoyed attending many New Year festivities, this month, and I look forward to hosting tonight’s celebrations. “I am honoured to have Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, as one of the guest speakers” says Ms Salesa. The Minister also welcomes Qu Guanzhou from the Chinese Embassy; Meng Foon, President of the NZ Chinese Association; and Kai Luey, Chair of the Chinese Poll Tax Heritage Trust, who will also speak at the event. 2018 is the Year of the Dog. People born in the Year of the Dog are loyal, honest, friendly, faithful, smart, and have a strong sense of responsibility. Minister Salesa along with Kai Luey, will also be launching the book ‘The Fruits of our Labour: Chinese Fruit Shops in New Zealand’, a history of Chinese fruit shops in New Zealand and stories about the families that own them. Chinese New Zealanders account for four percent of New Zealand’s total population and are our third largest ethnic group. “The first Chinese New Year event was celebrated at Parliament in 2002, and has been celebrated annually, since then, and I’m pleased to be able to continue the tradition. “Xian Nian Kuai Le. Happy Chinese New Year” says Ms Salesa.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Making the Environment Count

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 03:59 PM PST

Climate Change Minister James Shaw says Stats NZ’s release of their first combined Environmental Economic Accounts will provide a valuable basis for understanding New Zealand’s transition to a low emissions economy. The System of Environmental Economic Accounts (SEEA) released today measures the interactions between the environment and the economy in a way that hasn’t been done before in New Zealand. As Associate Minister for Finance with responsibility for overseeing sustainability indicators, Mr Shaw says this new environmental economic data will also help explore whether we are sustaining our environmental assets for future generations. “This is a crucial step in gathering together the kind of information government, business and the primary industries sectors need for good decision-making around sustainable low emissions ways of operating,” James Shaw said. “While it’s pleasing to see that New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions have risen more slowly than general economic growth over the past 25 years, our emissions have still increased by 24 percent, and that demonstrates part of the challenge we face if we are to reach our net zero emissions target by 2050,” Mr Shaw said. “And there are gaps in the data; in the area of waste, for instance, but officials are working with stakeholders to fill in those gaps for future environmental economic accounts,” he said. The Environment Minister, David Parker, has also welcomed the release of the new system of accounting. “It’s another way to integrate environmental accountability with the way the economy works,” Mr Parker said.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Poorly focused scholarship funding redirected to improving education for all

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 02:21 PM PST

The Government today took another step towards making education fairer for all by ending a private school scholarship scheme that offers only a small number of places at exclusive schools. More than $4m a year currently used to fund Aspire scholarships - which National introduced as part of a deal with the Act party in 2009 - will be redirected to boost education in state and state-integrated schools. But Associate Education Minister Jenny Salesa wanted to assure students, already attending a private school on an Aspire scholarship, they would not be disadvantaged. They would receive their full scholarship entitlement, until they decide to leave. “We are committed to delivering equal access to education for every child,” Ms Salesa said: “The scholarships were poorly targeted, often funding private education for those who were already enrolled in private schools. “Subsidising taxpayer-funded access to private education for a small number of children is not fair. Some of these places are funded at more than $16,000 a year – that’s not good value when it comes to per-student funding. “The millions of dollars spent on the scheme each year would be better spent strengthening our state and state-integrated schools. That’s the best way to ensure education works for all children. “Our goal is to make every school an excellent school so that every child gets the opportunity to succeed.” The decision means no new applications will be sought this year for the 2019 school year. However, students who already have a place won’t be affected. Ms Salesa added: “I don’t want to disrupt the education of Aspire students already attending a private school so we will make sure they can continue to attend until they decide to leave.” The Cabinet paper about the Aspire scholarships is available here:

/////////////////////////////////////////// Prime Minister leads delegation to Australia

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 01:20 PM PST

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will lead a delegation to Australia this week for the annual Australia-New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will host the meeting in Sydney on Friday. The delegation will leave early on Thursday evening. “Australia is our largest economic partner and this is a relationship that matters to both our countries,” Jacinda Ardern said. “About 18,000 Australian companies do business here each year. The annual Leaders’ Meeting fixture recognises the significance of the connection between our two countries. “I look forward to discussing a range of topics with Prime Minister Turnbull, building on our meeting in Sydney late last year. “I expect we will use this opportunity to take stock of the trans-Tasman relationship, including our Single Economic Market, and the situation of New Zealanders living in Australia. We will also cover other international issues of mutual interest.” The Prime Minister will be accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, and seven New Zealand Ministers. A delegation of senior business leaders will also travel with the Prime Minister to Sydney and, during the visit, the two Prime Ministers will speak to business leaders from both countries at the Australia-New Zealand Leadership Forum.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Action on disarmanent and arms control

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 12:18 PM PST

Disarmament and arms control are issues we need to take more action on in today’s global climate, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a speech to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs in Wellington this morning. “We will ensure New Zealand’s voice is heard on disarmament and arms control issues by reinstating the Cabinet position of Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control,” says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. “The portfolio responsibility will be given to Rt Hon Winston Peters, and is an acknowledgment of the emphasis this government places on our long held anti-nuclear stance, and the role we must play now and in the future,” says the Prime Minister. The portfolio will include considering the spread of nuclear, chemical and conventional weapons. “The pursuit of disarmament is as vital today as it was when Norman Kirk and David Lange proclaimed New Zealand’s opposition to nuclear weapons and nuclear testing in the Pacific. “Risks to global peace and security are growing. The greatest challenge we have today comes from North Korea, situated right here in our region. “We must recommit ourselves to the cause of non-proliferation and disarmament, and to the norms and rules which support those endeavours,” says the Prime Minister. The government is also looking at the early ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which New Zealand signed last year.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Chronic teacher shortage laid bare

Posted: 26 Feb 2018 12:03 PM PST

New figures out today show how the National Government failed schools and students – with the number of people enrolled in teacher training dropping by a massive 40% under its watch, Education Minister Chris Hipkins says. Between 2010 and 2016 (the latest available figures), those enrolled in Initial Teacher Education (ITE) dropped by 5690, from 14,585 (EFTS) to just 8895. During this period, New Zealand’s population grew by around 400,000. Those who completed ITE dropped from 5010 to 3665. The information is just published on the Ministry of Education’s Education Counts “The numbers are staggering,” Mr Hipkins said. ECE teacher trainees down from 6760 to 3615 Primary teacher trainees down from 5740 to 4065 Secondary teacher trainees down from 1865 to 1120 “In each case, the numbers were going in the opposite direction between 2008 and 2010. “While tertiary enrolments overall declined between 2010 and 2016, the drop is much more pronounced in teacher training. “It’s a shocking failure of planning by the previous National Government that has left an immediate shortage of teachers, but more worryingly, a ticking time bomb for schools as baby boomer teachers retire and too few incoming teachers coming through to take over. “This Government has already picked up the pace to get on top of the problem. We: introduced a $9.5 million teacher supply package before Christmas have removed National Standards – which teachers and many parents strongly opposed have moved to give teachers and principals more say on the way their profession is led and administered, and have started the ball rolling on ways to tackle the long-term strategic issue of making the teaching profession more attractive.”

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