Releases -

By Newsroom America Feeds at 28 Feb 2018


/////////////////////////////////////////// Commerce and Consumer Affairs priorities progressed by Australian meetings

Posted: 28 Feb 2018 07:27 PM PST

Commerce and Consumer Affairs priorities will be discussed at key meetings to be undertaken while Hon Kris Faafoi is in Sydney at the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum in Australia tomorrow (Friday). While accompanying the Prime Minister and New Zealand delegation to the forum, Mr Faafoi has identified opportunities to learn from Australian experiences in key areas including open banking. Mr Faafoi will meet with Scott Farrell, chair of the Australian Open banking review. Mr Faafoi says that our neighbours in Australia have completed an Open Banking review, so it is timely to seek learnings that may apply to New Zealand. “The key findings of the Australian review make sense to me and I share the view that open banking has real benefits to offer consumers if it is truly consumer focussed. The review also suggests open banking can encourage competition and create opportunities for other New Zealand businesses but to do that we need an efficient and fair model that enables rather than limits participation. “So there is an opportunity to hear more about how Australia thinks it can do this – and at the same time we also need to ensure privacy and security issues are addressed. It will be extremely useful to hear from the Chair on the recommendations of the Australian review of Open Banking.” Mr Faafoi will also meet with the Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Rod Sims, the equivalent of the New Zealand Commerce Commission. Mr Faafoi says he hopes to hear how Australia is using its misuse of market powers provisions, and its work in exploring market studies powers. Mr Faafoi has indicated he supports provision of market studies powers to the New Zealand Commerce Commission, and this is a useful opportunity to further discuss the costs and benefits given the Australian government has looked at the market studies powers option. Implementation of the cartels criminalisation regime will also be discussed. Australia has had criminal penalties since 2009, but last month laid criminal charges for the first time against individuals and a company using these powers. Mr Faafoi introduced legislation last month to provide criminal penalties in New Zealand, with the aim of protecting consumers and honest business from the worst cartel type behaviours. Mr Faafoi will also meet with Hon Craig Laundy, Australian Minister for Small and Family Business, the Workplace and Deregulation. Topics of interest to Mr Faafoi include Australian unconscionable conduct provisions, and the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (which is being established to provide consumer access to dispute resolution and covers banking, insurance, super funds and some credit providers). Mr Faafoi is also attending scheduled ANZLF events.

/////////////////////////////////////////// MFAT doubles financial contribution to Fulbright New Zealand awards programme

Posted: 28 Feb 2018 06:00 PM PST

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is doubling its annual contribution to Fulbright New Zealand to $1.35 million, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says. “The increased funding from 1 July 2018 reflects the high value New Zealand places on educational and cultural exchanges between New Zealand and the United States, and the promotion of ideas and understanding that come from it. “Fulbright New Zealand award recipients are among the best and brightest scholars New Zealand has to offer and contribute hugely to the intellectual, political, social and cultural fabric of New Zealand,” Mr Peters says. The contribution will fund an increase in the number of educational grants, provide the opportunity for funding a second year of study for Fulbright New Zealand graduate students, and strengthen the financial support to individual Fulbright New Zealand graduates and scholars. Mr Peters is an Honorary Chair of the Fulbright New Zealand board, along with US Ambassador Scott Brown. Fulbright New Zealand is an international educational exchange programme established between New Zealand and the United States in 1948, and is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. “The programme has enabled more than 1,800 New Zealanders to study, research and teach in some of the United States’ most prestigious universities. It is an excellent pathway for the development and strengthening of people-to-people ties between our two countries,” Mr Peters says. For more information on the Fulbright New Zealand awards programme, go to ENDS Contact: Stephen Parker, Chief Press Secretary, 021 195 3528

/////////////////////////////////////////// Consultation to begin on future of student-less school

Posted: 28 Feb 2018 05:56 PM PST

Consultation will begin on the future of Tuturumuri School in rural Wairarapa, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Tuturumuri School is a small rural school that has played an important part in its community, but nonetheless has seen its roll decline to zero over a number of years,” Mr Hipkins says. “In term three last year the school lost its last three students and the small number of other school-age children living in Tuturumuri already attend other schools in South Wairarapa. “New students were expected to enrol at the start of this term, but that did not happen. However, two enrolments from a family returning to the area have recently been received,” Mr Hipkins said. “Despite these new enrolments we need to seriously consider whether keeping this school open is the best use of taxpayer money. I’ve asked the Ministry of Education to begin consultation on the possible closure of the school. “This is a legal process and includes the school’s Board consulting with their community and the Ministry consulting with the Boards of schools whose roll might be affected.” The former Principal and Board Chair resigned at the end of last year, Mr Hipkins said. There are a number of vacancies on the Board and a Limited Statutory Manager was recently appointed to support the Board. This consultation process will take around four weeks, and feedback is due by end March.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Terms of reference for Independent Advisors work released

Posted: 28 Feb 2018 05:11 PM PST

The Independent Ministerial Advisor sent in to speed up EQC’s Canterbury claims be tasked with improving claims management, assessing operational, resourcing, policy and legislative constraints and assessing any constraints caused by processes with private insurers, Minister Megan Woods has announced. “Today I am releasing the Terms of Reference that will direct Christine Stevenson, the Independent Ministerial Advisor’s work to ensure swift and fair settlement of the 2600 outstanding claims from the Canterbury Earthquakes. “She will work with the board and management to identify and report to me operational changes needed to ensure timeliness, fairness and high professional standards in the resolution of these claims. “We want these claims sorted so people can get on with their lives. Yesterday I met with Christine as well as new interim chair Dame Annette King. I’m confident we can work together with EQC senior management to speed things up and make this happen. “In November last year I instigated work through MBIE to bring EQC, Southern Response and the private insurers together to come up with new processes that met my expectations for fair and swift settlement of the remaining claims. “I have asked Christine to link the changes at EQC directly to this work stream. It’s of prime importance to me that we tackle this with a joined up approach. “Seven years is too long to wait and this government is committed to helping people who have been stuck in limbo for far too long” says Megan Woods. EQC - Terms of Reference The independent Ministerial advisor is appointed by the Minister responsible for the Earthquake Commission to work with the EQC Board and Management to provide advice to the Minister to speed up the resolution of outstanding insurance claims to EQC arising from the earthquakes that struck in Canterbury on or after 4 September 2010, including any aftershocks (the Earthquake Claims). The purpose is to report to the Minister on operational changes needed for resolving any residual Earthquake Claims in a manner which ensures timeliness, cost effectiveness and high professional standards. More specifically, the advisor, with input from the EQC Board and Management, will consider and report on, and may make recommendations in relation to: options for possible improvement in the management of the Earthquake Claims by EQC; any constraints faced by EQC that may prevent timely resolution of the Earthquake Claims, whether arising from operational, resourcing, policy or legislative settings, or otherwise; any constraints caused by processes of other government agencies or private insurers to the extent that EQC’s ability to resolve the Earthquake Claims in a timely manner are dependent on those processes; ongoing monitoring of the resolution of the Earthquake Claims; any other related matter. The independent Ministerial advisor will also work with MBIE on any related insurance issues, to coordinate advice to the Minister based on full information. The advisor will not consider or report on, or make recommendations in relation to: any individual entitlement relating to a specific insurance claimant, or resolution of any specific insurance claims; the general governance arrangements of any agency; any individual employment matter or decision taken within any agency; the performance of any specific individual; any matters that are subject to mediation, litigation or arbitration proceedings; the re-opening of settled claims; legal precedents (with regard to actual insurance claims) that have been established by the Courts; any operational matters relating to any insurance claim other than the Earthquake Claims; The timeframe for initial report to Minister will be 6 weeks from the date of appointment.

/////////////////////////////////////////// Government to look at animal welfare issues - but will not ban rodeos

Posted: 28 Feb 2018 04:40 PM PST

There are no plans to ban rodeos in New Zealand says Hon Meka Whaitiri, Associate Minister of Agriculture, responsible for animal welfare.

“I acknowledge that there is public concern about the use of animals in rodeos, at the same time there are number of communities in New Zealand where rodeos are a well-attended annual event.

“It is absolutely essential for those involved in rodeos to have animal welfare at the forefront of their minds at all times.

“I have also asked my officials to see how we can improve animal welfare outcomes for animals used in rodeos. I have asked that the use of calves, electric prodders, flank straps, tail twisting and rope burning be specifically looked at within this work.

“The use of electric prodders, including in relation to rodeos, is already addressed in the animal welfare regulations I am currently considering. Tail twisting is not permitted under the Animal Welfare Act and tail breaking can be prosecuted.”

Rodeos must operate under the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and relevant codes of welfare. A code of welfare for rodeos was issued in 2014 on the advice of the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), the expert group that advises the Minister on animal welfare matters. The code of welfare contains minimum standards that prevent the use of pyrotechnic displays and sheep riding events at rodeos, and sets standards for animal handling and equipment. It is also a requirement to have a veterinarian and animal welfare officer present at every rodeo.

“I have asked NAWAC to fast track further advice on rodeos this year. In the meantime, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) continues to enforce current animal welfare requirements, and investigates any complaints against rodeos.

“I expect all rodeo events and participants to comply fully with their obligations under the Animal Welfare Act, regulations and the code of welfare for rodeos,” says Hon Meka Whaitiri.

Rodeos code of welfare:

/////////////////////////////////////////// Pacific people thrive in their own languages

Posted: 28 Feb 2018 03:03 PM PST

Kia ora, Kia orana, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Malo ni, Talofa lava, Malo e lelei, Ni sa bula vinaka, and Fakatalofa atu. Minister for Pacific Peoples, Hon Aupito William Sio, says Pacific language weeks are about recognising the linguistic abilities of our Pacific peoples and sharing it with the rest of New Zealand as a thing of value that we can all be proud of. “We thrive in New Zealand when we hear our own stories, in our own languages, from our own people,” says Mr Sio. “Celebrating our Pacific language weeks in Aotearoa is an important part of strengthening Pacific languages and cultural identity for the more than 60 per cent of Pacific people who are born in Aotearoa. We also must work collectively to protect and preserve languages for the Pacific communities who call New Zealand home, especially when New Zealand’s three Pacific realm nations of Niue, Tokelau and the Cook Islands are vulnerable and at risk of being lost to future generations. The Pacific language weeks are community-led initiatives that began in 2007 with the Samoan Language Week being first to launch. In addition, Pacific peoples celebrate Fiji, Tonga, Tuvalu and the languages of the realm island nations during the year. “Our Pacific communities continue to find ways to encourage the large Pacific New Zealand-born population to learn, retain and use their languages in their day-to-day lives,” says Mr Sio. The Pacific language weeks offer all New Zealanders a chance to celebrate and experience the value of Pacific languages, culture and identity. “I am proud to announce the official Pacific language dates for 2018 and look forward to joining in with our community. I also look forward to sharing these celebrations with my parliamentary colleagues” The 2018 Pacific Language Week line-up begins with Samoa Language Week in May and ends with Tokelau Language Week in October. Samoa Language Week: Sunday 27 May – Saturday 2 June 2018 Cook Islands Language Week: Sunday 29 July – Saturday 4 August 2018 Tonga Language Week: Sunday 2 September – Saturday 8 September 2018 Tuvalu Language Week: Sunday 30 September – Saturday 6 October 2018 Fiji Language Week: Sunday 7 October – Saturday 13 October 2018 Niue Language Week: Sunday 14 October – Saturday 20 October 2018 Tokelau Language Week: Sunday 21 October – Saturday 27 October 2018

/////////////////////////////////////////// Bureaucratic tertiary funding model scrapped

Posted: 28 Feb 2018 01:13 PM PST

The widely disliked process of competitive funding for some areas of tertiary education will be stopped, Minister of Education Chris Hipkins said today. Mr Hipkins made the announcement at a Vocational Education and Training Forum in Auckland this morning. “The competitive model is another failed ideological experiment of the previous National Government,” Mr Hipkins said. “It forced tertiary education providers to bid against each other for a share of funding across two competitive processes and created needless instability in the sector.” “We don’t do competitive funding for schools or university degrees, so why would we do it for non-degree tertiary study?” Mr Hipkins said the Government will end competitive allocations of funding at New Zealand Qualification Framework levels 1 to 4, to give providers greater funding certainty, and so they can focus more on the students. “From 2019, the up to $135 million of funding will return to being on the basis of student enrolments. “It removes uncertainty and will enable providers to properly plan and develop programmes, build tutor capacity and focus on what they do best – improving the quality of outcomes for New Zealand’s learners. “This is another strong sign of this government’s commitment to a more collaborative approach to tertiary education. “We are developing a genuine network of provision, funded through Investment Plans that are developed, consulted and negotiated with tertiary providers. This will ensure we better meet the needs of our regions’ learners and employers in a rapidly changing world.” Mr Hipkins said. The change affects all Student Achievement Component (SAC) funding at levels 1 and 2, as well as funding at levels 3 and 4 for courses focusing on agriculture, horticulture and viticulture. Funding from 2019 will now be allocated by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) through the 2018 Investment Plan process. The TEC and the Ministry of Education are working on transition arrangements, which will be confirmed following Budget 2018. This will assist providers when they develop their Investment Plans for 2019-2020 funding, Mr Hipkins said.

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