/////////////////////////////////////////// Investigation into former Waikato District Health Board CE
Health Minister David Clark has directed the State Services Commissioner to launch an investigation into the circumstances surrounding allegations of wrongful expenditure by the former Chief Executive of the Waikato District Health Board.
On 5 October, the District Health Board announced the resignation of Dr Nigel Murray with immediate effect. This followed the resignation part-way through an independent inquiry into alleged financial breaches during his tenure, which was not completed.
“I have written to Commissioner Peter Hughes today to request this action because such issues or allegations, especially relating to senior leaders in the public sector, risk damaging confidence in the public sector,” Dr Clark says.
“It is critical that transparency in and accountability for these processes and outcomes is maintained.”
Dr Clark has directed the SSC to exercise its functions and powers under section 11 (4) of the State Sector Act 1988 to investigate:
a) The circumstances of any alleged unauthorised or unjustified expenditure by Dr Murray of DHB funds;
b) Any related or similar conduct by Dr Murray or any related person identified during the course of its inquiry;
c) Any processes undertaken or decisions made by the DHB relating to any matters identified under a) and b).
"I expect that this investigation may involve considering whether appropriate standards of integrity and conduct have been maintained by Dr Murray and the DHB.”
The Minister will be briefed on the findings and any recommendations of the investigation.
/////////////////////////////////////////// Statement on Manus Island
Posted: 02 Nov 2017 07:09 PM PDT http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/beehive-govt-nz/releases/~3/w9kX_qqGoB0/statement-manus-island?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reconfirmed New Zealand’s offer to Australia to take 150 refugees who have been subject to the offshore processing legislation.
“New Zealand’s offer comes from within our existing refugee quota and applies to refugees on both Manus Island and Nauru.
“I expect that the situation on Manus Island will be discussed in my meeting with Prime Minister Turnbull on Sunday. I intend to reaffirm our offer when we meet.
“I acknowledge that, while New Zealand has not had to contend with these issues on our shores, it’s hard to ignore the human face of this situation and nor should it be ignored.
“New Zealand will also maintain its right to use its robust screening processes for the Refugee Quota programme, regardless of the origin of the refugees. This will safeguard against any security concerns.”
/////////////////////////////////////////// Prime Minister welcomes Venice Biennale artist
Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Jacinda Ardern has today welcomed the announcement that Dane Mitchell is the artist selected for the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in 2019.
“The Venice Biennale is a wonderful opportunity to showcase New Zealand’s art on the world stage.
“I congratulate Dane Mitchell on being selected as the artist representing New Zealand. Dane’s art is thought provoking and original. His work will represent New Zealand’s diverse talent at this important international event.
“I also congratulate Dr Zara Stanhope and Chris Sharp who will act as the curators for New Zealand’s presentation.”
The Venice Biennale is the largest and most prestigious contemporary art event globally. It attracts the best creative talent from around the world.
“The Venice Biennale will provide New Zealand with the opportunity to present our unique and innovative art to the international community.
“I also thank the Selection Advisory Panel and Creative New Zealand for their role in selecting the artist for this event.”
/////////////////////////////////////////// Faster action required on pay equality, says Minister
A new international report reinforces that faster action is needed to address the gender pay gap and bring benefits to women, both in New Zealand and globally, says Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter.
“New Zealand can and should be a world leader in ending women being paid less.
“Our goal is to work to further close the gender pay gap for women and focus on pay equality. New Zealand organisations need to be more proactive about closing their gender pay gap.
The latest World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index shows New Zealand has held its position of 9th out of 144 countries.
“However, we have not improved over the last year and the news globally is not positive. The World Economic Forum states that the parity gap across health, education, politics and the workplace on a global scale is widening. Politicians, businesses, community leaders, and families have to consciously take action to end this unfairness. I will,” Ms Genter said
“This report also shows that 56 percent of all work New Zealand women do is unpaid (compared to 29 percent of men’s) and mean monthly earnings of women in New Zealand is 70 percent that of men”
“There is much more we can do to improve the lives and incomes for New Zealand women.
“It’s 2017, I think most people in New Zealand would say that people should be paid fairly for their work and they should not be paid less because they are a woman.
We should be ambitious and be a global leader in our work to achieve gender equality,” said Ms Genter.
/////////////////////////////////////////// Fees-free tertiary study on fast track
Students are a step closer to a more affordable future as the new government fast-tracks work on its free-fees tertiary education promise.
Cabinet has given the go-ahead for detailed implementation planning for the introduction of one year of fees-free tertiary education and a $50 a week boost to student allowances and loan entitlements. Officials have already started work on both changes, which will come into force from 1 January 2018.
“Investing in education and the future of our young people is an absolute priority for this Government,” says Education Minister Chris Hipkins.
“A key part of that is improving affordability and access to tertiary education. Students and parents have told us that the cost of study is a real issue. Making the first year of tertiary education fees-free will mean more young people can go on to study after school and gain qualifications with less debt.
“That’s not just a win for students and their families, it’s a win for the future of our economy. If New Zealand is to be wealthy and successful we must make it easier for our young people to study at our universities, polytechnics, other tertiary providers, and through industry training such as apprenticeships.
“Officials are working on the details of how these policies will be implemented and to determine who will be eligible to benefit from them, and we are on track for 2018.
“Students, schools and tertiary providers are understandably keen to know full details. We will make sure they get the information they need in a timely way. In the meantime they can rest assured that the first year of fees free study will kick in next year and should plan accordingly.
“Prospective students and tertiary education organisations should continue to make arrangements for study and enrolments for next year as they normally would. This includes starting, or continuing, any applications for study and/or for student loans or allowances.
“StudyLink is encouraging prospective students to apply by 16 December and to provide their supporting documents promptly to ensure their applications are sorted for the start of the 2018 academic year.
“The Government is committed to life-long learning to help better equip our people for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century economy.
“We are also committed to rolling out our full programme of three years’ fee-free tertiary education for New Zealanders by 2024 alongside better support for living costs,” Mr Hipkins says.
/////////////////////////////////////////// $84.6m in Marsden funding for NZ researchers
New Zealand’s top researchers have been awarded $84.6 million in grants through the 2017 Marsden Fund investment round, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods announced today.
One hundred and thirty three (133) successful proposals will receive funding over the next three years and represent a diverse range of research topics from climate change, volcanic eruptions, to the lifecycle of galaxies.
“The Marsden Fund supports our top researchers to conduct excellent research across science, mathematics, engineering, social science and the humanities,” says Dr Woods.
“Through this Fund, the recipients will undertake research of the highest quality in their fields of expertise and raise the standard of research in New Zealand. The Marsden Fund is integral in growing New Zealand as an innovation-led society and economy, and boosting our R&D investment.
“The diversity and strength of the research funded will have many flow-on effects for New Zealand’s science and innovation system, as well as the potential for long-term benefit for our environment, society and the economy. I congratulate all of the recipients announced today.”
The Marsden Fund is administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand. Proposals are evaluated by independent assessment panels and the final recommendations for funding are made by the Marsden Fund Council, which is chaired by Professor Juliet Gerrard.
Read more about the Marsden Fund and the recipients here
/////////////////////////////////////////// Unemployment trends down, but still more to do
Minister of Employment Willie Jackson has today welcomed the release of the Household Labour Force Survey, which shows unemployment falling to 4.6 per cent.
“It’s good to see the rate of unemployment continue to trend down, but with 126,000 people unemployed in New Zealand, we can do better,” says Mr Jackson.
“However, the high level of unemployment for Maori and Pacific Peoples is completely unacceptable. It is currently around three times higher than that of New Zealand Europeans, and this must improve.
“I will be talking to all the relevant organisations, such as Business New Zealand, Unions and Iwi, over the next few weeks. Partnering with them will be a key component in shaping a forward focused employment policy which improves outcomes for all New Zealanders.
“One of this Government’s other priorities is higher wages for all New Zealanders and it’s great to see wages lifting due to the recent care and support worker pay equity settlement.
“This shows that by working hard to create pay equality for women, we will raise New Zealand’s wages and living conditions. I’m looking forward to seeing more progress made in this area,” says Willie Jackson.
/////////////////////////////////////////// Cocaine seizure in Tauranga will reduce harm in our communities
Posted: 31 Oct 2017 10:29 PM PDT http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/beehive-govt-nz/releases/~3/Xt4QiZluP1U/cocaine-seizure-tauranga-will-reduce-harm-our-communities?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email
The seizure of 46 kilograms of cocaine in Tauranga today following a joint operation between New Zealand Police and the New Zealand Customs Service will make a real difference in our communities and prevent further harm.
“Illegal drugs have no place in our communities. The great work of Police and Customs staff to stop these drugs entering the country and causing havoc is to be applauded.
“Based on the Drug Harm Index, the seizure has stopped $62 million of additional social harm to New Zealand communities.
“The termination of the operation and the resulting arrest of four foreign nationals shows the power of an all-of-Government approach, and how working together means our Government agencies can make a real difference.
“The drugs seized today will cause a significant dent in the supply of the drug across the country and also sends a strong message that New Zealand authorities are actively working to stop the importation of illegal drugs,” says Hon Stuart Nash Minister of Police.
Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri says this is excellent work by Customs and Police.
“This operation shows the importance of partnerships in protecting New Zealand through border security, and highlights the work our people do every day,” says Hon Meka Whaitiri.
/////////////////////////////////////////// Statement on Equal Pay legislation
The Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway and the Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter have today reaffirmed the new Government’s commitment to halting the Employment (Pay Equity and Equal Pay) Bill that was introduced by the previous Government.
“All three Government parties were clear during the Bill’s first reading that we were opposed to the legislation, and that we would not rest until New Zealand workers have genuine opportunities for pay equity,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.
“While both sides of the House seemed united in lauding the TerraNova decision in favour of care and support workers and Kristine Bartlett, the previous Government immediately introduced legislation that fundamentally changed the ability of anyone else to achieve the same result.
“The current legislation diminishes the opportunity for people to make a pay equity claim, and we were clear that if we were elected then it would be the end of the line for this Bill. We were, and it is.
“The Government will stop progress on the Employment (Equal Pay and Pay Equity) Bill and start work on new legislation that adheres to all the principles of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.
Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter says National’s legislation was deliberately designed to put barriers in the way of women who wish to make a pay equity claim.
“Women in New Zealand should know this Government is committed to women getting a better deal, that’s why we are halting the National Government’s legislation,” says Ms Genter.
“The care and support workers settlement would not have gone ahead if National’s legislation had been in place. It put significant hurdles in the way of women trying to achieve pay equity. This is not acceptable in New Zealand in 2017.
“This Government commits to valuing women in the workplace and valuing vocations that have traditionally been women’s work: the work that provides for others, cares for people who need care – the work that for too long has been mostly around minimum wage standards.
“The existing Bill aimed to apply retrospectively, which would have been unfair to the up to eight groups of women currently making pay equity claims. We will do better by all women,” says Julie Anne Genter.
/////////////////////////////////////////// Foreign speculators house ban
Foreign speculators will no longer be able to buy houses in New Zealand from early next year, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“We are determined to make it easier for Kiwis to buy their first home so we are stopping foreign speculators buying houses and driving up prices. Kiwis should not be outbid like this.
“That is why we are introducing an amendment to the Overseas Investment Act to classify residential housing as “sensitive”. This means non-residents or non-citizens cannot purchase existing residential dwellings. Australians will be exempt as New Zealanders are in Australia.
“We expect legislation to be introduced before Christmas and take effect immediately once passed early in 2018. This will fulfil one of our key 100 Day Plan pledges.
“The previous National government chose to put foreign speculators ahead of Kiwi families, but we have chosen to protect Kiwi families and New Zealand’s best interests.
“That government claimed this could not done without breaching other free trade agreements and that a stamp duty would be the only effective tool.
“The advice we have had from officials is that we can give effect to the ban by a simple amendment to the Overseas Investment Act without breaching any agreement except the Singapore Closer Economic Partnership. The options with Singapore will be worked through.
“The proposed change means we can move our focus away from land issues at the negotiating table at APEC when negotiations on the TPP reach their final stages, and focus on Investor State Dispute Settlement clauses.
“We are concerned by ISDS clauses in the proposed agreement. These confer greater rights on multi-national companies investing in New Zealand than a New Zealand company has.
“We remain determined to do our utmost to amend the ISDS provisions of TPP. In addition, Cabinet has today instructed trade negotiation officials to oppose ISDS in any future free trade agreements.
“The change we have announced today are supported by all parties to the government.
“New Zealanders should be assured that the government I lead will have their best interests at heart when negotiating any free trade agreements.”
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