Putting New Zealanders First

New Zealand First is the third largest party in the New Zealand Parliament. The Party was formed in 1993 to represent those New Zealanders concerned about the social and economic direction of our country, and who were seeking pragmatic, common-sense representation in Parliament.

Following the 2017 General Election, the Party retained 9 seats in the House of Representatives and formed a Coalition Government with the New Zealand Labour Party. Party Leader, Rt Hon Winston Peters, became Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand and the Party secured three other Cabinet positions and an Undersecretary role.

At the core of New Zealand First's policies are our "Fifteen Fundamental Principles", which emphasise accountable and transparent government, common-sense social and economic policy, and the placing of the interests of New Zealand, and New Zealanders, at the forefront of Government decision-making.

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Latest News

Winston Peters Speech to Commemorate the Christchurch Mosque Attacks

Rt Hon Winston Peters, New Zealand First Leader     We acknowledge the Prime Minister speaks for the Coalition Government and indeed, because of that, we would have preferred not to rise and speak. This should not in any way be construed as giving consent or license to the obscene act perpetrated against innocent worshippers last Friday at Linwood and Deans Ave Mosques in Christchurch. The sickening scourge of terrorism imported to Christchurch was the work of a coward. A coward who we reject. That is what we must all say.     New Zealand First rises today in support of the victims of the violent attacks of March 15. The Muslim community in Christchurch have our deepest sympathies for their profound sense of loss and grief. In a country like ours that practices religious tolerance, an attack on one of us peacefully observing their beliefs is an attack on all of our beliefs. Friday, March 15, 2019 is the day everything changed in our country, a day when someone from outside our shores attempted to terrorise us and tear us apart. That, we believe, was his objective - and he has failed. Why? Because violent extremism, whatever its origin or form or creed, is utterly rejected by New Zealanders. His creed, like extremists anywhere and everywhere, seeks only to destroy. It is evil and destructive. The Pakistani Foreign Minister, when expressing his country’s sympathies for New Zealand, told me that 77,000 people in his country had died from terrorist-related violence in Pakistan’s recent history. He truly understood how New Zealanders feel. We’ve had a number of messages in a similar vein from Muslim countries all around the world.   New Zealand is not alone yet the terrorists’ formula always remains the same. Wherever terror strikes it seeks to create or provoke fear and panic. But in New Zealand it has failed. It has failed because our thoughts are not the terrorist’s thoughts and his ways are not our ways.  Why? Because New Zealanders believe in a fair go. We are a practical people. We are a tolerant people. We aren’t scared to lift our heads above the parapet and express our values to the world. And we have the ability to reflect upon ourselves, and how others see us, so we know how to get along with each other. While everything else may have changed since March 15, New Zealand’s essential character has not and will not.  One lesson that we have learned from this national tragedy is that our firearm laws are not fit for purpose, which is why the government is committed to fixing them up. But that is for tomorrow. Today is a day to pay our respects to the grieving families of Christchurch. We here in this parliament stand with them and the people of Christchurch. Once more their lives have been massively disrupted. Once more we see their remarkable resilience. They have suffered more over the past decade than we can say. The people of Christchurch will stay in our thoughts as they reclaim their city. As they and the rest of us rebuild we must remember that only by drawing on our strengths as a people will we prevail against the malevolent forces of intolerance and hate. That is what we must do. Can I close by acknowledging the calm and comforting leadership of the Prime Minister during this moment of national tragedy. Her clarity, empathy and unifying leadership is helping to guide the country through this test of our resolve. We will follow that example.   Winston.Peters@parliament.govt.nz  

Week in Review - March 8th

Research & Development spending on the rise   The Government has welcomed news that total R&D spending across New Zealand grew by $758 million to $3.9 billion, or 1.37 percent of GDP over the past two years. It is especially pleased to see that R&D spending by businesses increased $548 million in the same period, to more than $2.1 billion in 2018. The Coalition agreement between New Zealand First and Labour set a target to increase R&D spending to 2 percent of GDP over 10 years. Increasing business R&D expenditure is a key driver in meeting this target. The R&D Tax Incentive which comes into effect in April will enable more businesses to undertake R&D, said Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, Megan Woods. “Lifting the amount NZ businesses are spending on R&D will help diversify our economy by encouraging new industries and companies to innovate, move further up the value chain and deliver higher wages for Kiwis,” she said. The tax incentive is part of a wider economic strategy to help improve the wellbeing and living standards of New Zealanders through better productivity, sustainability and inclusive growth.     Government moves synthetics into Misuse of Drugs Act   The Government is stepping up to tackle the escalating issue of synthetic drug use. The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill, introduced on Thursday, shifts two key synthetics - 5F-ADB and AMB-FUBINACA - into the Class A drug category and creates a temporary category, C1, allowing new drugs to be easily brought in under the Misuse of Drugs Act. These changes give police greater powers of search and seizure in order to interrupt supply, and the courts serious sentencing options - up to life imprisonment.  The Bill also reaffirms the discretion police can take in deciding whether to prosecute offenders or refer them for treatment and therapy, and backs community addiction treatment services with an extra $16.6 million in funding. “We endorse this move to toughen up on the suppliers of synthetics with a potential maximum sentence of life in prison, but also back the more holistic approach the Bill takes in providing greater opportunity to rehabilitate users,” says Law and Order Spokesperson Darroch Ball. “Tinkering with the law will not achieve a thing in the fight against these poisons. This Bill takes a much-needed bold but balanced approach to dealing with the scourge of synthetic drug use.”     Tabuteau trip to Gulf States enhances relationships and opportunities   Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Fletcher Tabuteau travelled to the Gulf States this week, continuing New Zealand’s efforts to develop and strengthen the relationship with what is now our seventh largest trading partner. The Gulf is an important market for New Zealand’s high value produce and advanced services exports. In addition, there is significant potential for investment from these countries in New Zealand’s productive industries,” Mr Tabuteau said. He visited the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Qatar. Of these, the UAE is New Zealand’s most significant relationship in the region. While there, he held talks with the Government and business leaders ahead of Expo2020 in Dubai.   In both Kuwait and Qatar, he took the opportunity to reinforce the strong bilateral relationships and enhance growth in trade and investment.     Building activity at 44-year high   Figures released this week show that building consents for new dwellings have reached 33,576 – a figure not seen since 1975. In the year to January, Auckland building consents for new dwellings were up 20 per cent, while Wellington was up 18 per cent. Government-related building consents reached 2065 for the year, the highest number since 1978. Industry forecasts predict continued growth over the next six years, with dwelling consents expected to increase year-on-year to a forecast high at 43,100 in 2023. “This latest data reflects the confidence there is in the Government’s comprehensive housing plan which is focused on building the houses New Zealanders need,” said Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa. “The Government is continuing to push forward to further grow the supply of houses.” The Coalition Government remains committed to getting more New Zealanders into warm, dry homes and will continue to work with the construction sector in order to best support its growth.     NZ extends global reach on tax evasion   The Government is extending its global reach on tax evasion by adding another 30 territories to the current list of 60 jurisdictions where New Zealand has information-sharing agreements. “The addition of 30 new territories reflects increased international cooperation by OECD and G20 countries to crack down on tax evasion,” said Revenue Minister Stuart Nash. The global standard known as the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) enables information sharing about details of accounts at many institutions, including banks, private equity funds, investment advisors and some brokers and trusts. The Coalition Government is determined that our tax system should be fair for all New Zealanders and is determined to find those who try to evade their obligations by hiding their assets offshore.     NZ, Australia reaffirm defence commitment in Pacific   Defence Minister Ron Mark and his Australian counterpart Christopher Pyne reaffirmed the mutual commitment of both countries to defence co-operation in the Pacific. The Joint Statement noted a lift in focus in the region leveraging off Closer Defence Relations and New Zealand’s and Australia’s respective Pacific Reset and Pacific Step Up initiatives. The three focus areas agreed under the Joint Statement are for Australia and New Zealand to: have the collective ability to improve security outcomes in the Pacific; maintain strong, interoperable forces and capabilities to respond to requests for security assistance from the Pacific countries; and enhance Pacific resilience and self-reliance through the two countries’ respective capacity building programmes.    

Week in Review – March 1st

Funding restored for gifted education   Associate Education Minster Tracey Martin announced a $1.27 million package of support for gifted education, fulfilling a New Zealand First coalition commitment to restore funding which was lost under the previous National government. A key component of the package is increased funding for one-day schools, where gifted children come together one day each week, to engage in different types of challenging and strength-based learning with their peers. Six extra teachers have already joined the one-day school team so far this term, to meet the growing demand and more students will now be able to join the programme. The package also includes funding for a programme of events, experiences and opportunities specifically for gifted learners, strengthened guidance for teachers and kaiako, and expansion of online learning modules. New Zealand First believes all young people deserve an education which meets their needs, and this announcement reflects the Coalition Government’s commitment to restoring support and funding for gifted education.     Latest stats good news for the Government   A range of statistics released this week are good news for the Government and for New Zealanders. The latest Crown accounts show the Government’s financial position and New Zealand’s underlying economic fundamentals remain sound, providing protection from global volatility, said Finance Minister Grant Robertson. The results for the seven months to January 31, show core Crown tax revenue and core Crown expenses were within 0.5 percent and 1.3 percent of the Treasury forecasts, and a $1.9 billion surplus. Net core Crown debt is in line with the half-yearly forecast at 20.7 percent of GDP. The forecasts show the Government is on track to meet the Budget Responsibility Rule of reducing net debt to 20 percent of GDP within five years of taking office,” Minister Robertson said. Also this week, the latest NZIER Quarterly Predictions showed forecast economic growth of around 2.7 per cent over the next five years, the longest stretch of growth in New Zealand since 1992. There was also a noted improvement in business confidence in the December quarter. Trade figures are also positive. New Zealand’s goods and services exports increased 10 per cent in dollar terms to the year ending September 2018. Goods exports grew 7 per cent in the 2018 calendar year. The Coalition Government remains committed to responsible fiscal and economic management and building continued success and resilience in our exports sector.     New Healthy Homes standards released   New healthy homes standards to make rental properties warmer and drier were announced by Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford. The standards set minimum requirements for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture and drainage, and draught stopping in residential rental properties. They reflect feedback from a wide range of public health experts, stakeholders including landlords, tenants and building experts. It is estimated about 200,000 families live in rental homes that do not have ceiling or underfloor insulation. The standards will now be drafted in regulations and approved by Cabinet. They will become law by mid-2019, with a compliance timeline ranging from July 1, 2021 for private landlords to July 1, 2023 for Housing New Zealand homes. New Zealand First believes every Kiwi deserves to live in a warm, dry home and is proud to be part of a Government stepping up and taking responsibility for improving living standards     PGF invests in Far North’s future   The Provincial Growth Fund has announced it is investing $8.2 million in key community-led projects in the Far North. The biggest investment is $4.6 million for Sir Hekenukumai Ngaiwi Puhipi Busby’s Kupe Waka Centre, to be built in Aurere at the southern end of Doubtless Bay, which will draw in both New Zealand and overseas tourists. Kaitaia is to get $3 million for a much-needed multi-use sports centre, and there is support for three local iwi (Aupouri, Ngāti Kahu and Te Rarawa) to investigate the feasibility of major projects, including a water storage scheme and a barge at Te Mingi to transport logs to Whangarei.  “Taken together, the announcements made today reaffirm our determination to unlock the full economic potential of the Far North. It’s also an example of the PGF bringing agencies together from across Government to make a difference for people on the ground,” said Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis. The latest announcements bring total PGF funding to date in Northland to $90.9 million.     Births, Deaths, Marriages Bill deferred   The Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill is to be deferred in order to address problems caused by the select committee process. In making the announcement, Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin said that significant changes were made to the Bill by the select committee around gender self-identification, and the public had not had sufficient opportunity to comment. “We have to ensure that democratic processes are followed,” she said. There were also wider legal implications of changing to a self-identification system that needed further clarification and consideration. Minister Martin said that no-one would lose any current rights from the delay of the Bill and she wanted to make it easier for people to formally acknowledge their identified gender. She said she was committed to initiating work and consultation on mitigating some of the barriers individuals faced in changing sex information on their birth certificates.     Foreign Minister Peters in the Pacific   Foreign Minister Winston Peters is this week leading a New Zealand delegation in the Pacific countries of Fiji, Tuvalu, and Kiribati. The trip is a further reflection of the Coalition Government’s commitment to its Pacific Reset policy. Areas of mutual interest to be discussed in each country will span climate change, development co-ordination, and the building of deeper partnerships. The delegation includes Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio, Associate Minister for Pacific Peoples Carmel Sepuloni, and MPs Poto Williams, Alfred Ngaro, and Darroch Ball.    

Week in Review - February 22nd

Independent tax working group reports   The independent tax working group reported on Thursday, it contains 99 separate recommendations. All of the recommendations are going to be carefully considered. New Zealand First is consulting with its members and the general public before commenting further. New Zealand First will shortly be issuing a detailed questionnaire to members and the public generally seeking their imput.     PGF funding for predator control alternatives to 1080   The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is to contribute $19.5 million towards developing innovative approaches to expand predator control in regional New Zealand. Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage made the announcement jointly, saying that the funding would stimulate the development of more effective traps, lures, remote sensing, and surveillance and data management technologies. The money will be used by Crown company Predator Free 2050, set up in 2016 to eradicate rats, stoats, and possums over the next three decades, and to protect native species.  “This funding signals a necessary and significant shift away from the use of 1080 in New Zealand without compromising our pest control requirements,” said New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters. “New Zealand First has maintained its opposition to 1080 and that with adequate resources, research and development into alternatives, we can replace it.”       Government proposes an end to Tenure Review   The Government is proposing to end tenure review, saying it has resulted in large swathes of iconic high country land being privatised and in many cases, intensively farmed or subdivided. Tenure review is a voluntary process where Crown pastoral land can be sold to a leaseholder and areas with high ecological and recreational value can be returned to full Crown ownership as conservation land. While some land has been protected, more than 350,000ha has been privatised. “Ending tenure review and changing the regulatory system for high country pastoral leases is about thinking long term and the Crown working with leaseholders to achieve sustainable land and water management,” said Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage. A discussion document has been released for public consultation. The changes include: Making decision-making by the Commissioner of Crown Lands more accountable and transparent. Providing more guidance and standards for the Commissioner’s decisions on leaseholder applications for activities such as burning and forestry. Requiring the Commissioner to obtain expert advice and consult as necessary when considering applications for discretionary consents. “It’s vital we ensure that our high country pastoral leases are managed in the best interests of all New Zealanders, now and into the future, Ms Sage said. New Zealand First is proud to be part of a Government which has a long-term plan to protect our iconic landscapes for generations to come. New Zealand First is proud to be part of a Government which has a long-term plan to protect our iconic landscapes for generations to come.     New Infrastructure entity announced   Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones announced the launch of a new independent Crown entity tasked with addressing New Zealand's "unprecedented infrastructure deficit". The deficit is manifesting in housing unaffordability, congestion, poor quality drinking water and lost productivity, Mr Jones said. “That’s simply not good enough.” “The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission (Te Waihanga) will develop a broad consensus on long-term strategy, enable coordination of infrastructure planning and provide advice and best practice support to infrastructure initiatives.” Ministers will retain final decisions on infrastructure investments, but the Commission will have an independent board and the autonomy it needs to provide robust, impartial advice. “It will help hold this government, and future governments, to account and we welcome that.”     Home-based early childhood education overhauled   Home-based early childhood education subsidised by the Government is to be put on a professional footing in order to achieve raise standards and achieve more consistent quality. Currently home-based educators are not required to hold a relevant qualification, and the proportion of services with qualified educators has declined over the last decade.  The Government has decided to move towards a level 4 Early Childhood Education certificate becoming the minimum qualification for home-based educators.  Education Minister Chris Hipkins described the change as a “substantial shift” and said the timeframe for the qualification to become mandatory would be determined in consultation with the sector. The Coalition Government is committed to making New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child. These will ensure that parents can be confident in the quality of education provided for their children.     Member’s Bill to toughen up on fleeing drivers   Darroch Ball entered a Member’s Bill in the ballot aimed at toughening up the law on drivers who flee from police. Under the current law, a fleeing driver usually only faces a fine, or a short period of licence disqualification. “The weak response to this serious issue doesn’t act as any sort of deterrent and limits the effectiveness of police and our justice system in trying to tackle the issue.” Between 2009 and 2018, the number of drivers who failed to stop each year increased from around 2000 to close to 4000, with those drivers causing over 400 deaths and serious injuries. It is expected that when the figures for 2018 are released, it will have been the worst year on record for fleeing driver incidents. The Land Transport (Fleeing Drivers) Amendment Bill proposes to overhaul the legislation and implement a more comprehensive penalty regime to effectively deter fleeing drivers. Penalties would be raised, with drivers who fail to stop for police automatically facing mandatory community service sentences, drivers who ‘flee in a dangerous or reckless manner’ facing an increased maximum prison sentence of up to two years, and a manslaughter-equivalent maximum sentence of life imprisonment for those who flee causing death.  “The penalties are designed to act as a clear deterrent for those who flee from police and specifically targets repeat offenders.”    

Week in Review - February 15th

Prime Minister’s Speech   The first sitting day of the year kicked off with the Prime Minister’s Speech, in which Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern outlined the Coalition Government’s achievements to date and plans for the coming year. She spoke of the programme under three key themes: An economy that is growing and working for all Improving the wellbeing of New Zealanders and their families Taking a new approach to leadership, focussing on long-term issues The Prime Minister said she was pleased with what the Government was already delivering and was excited about the work programme ahead. Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters told Parliament that the Coalition Government was clear on where it was going. “There are going to be many programmes where we set out to rebuild this country's economy, infrastructure, and social structure.” He said the Government was on a mission to deliver improvements for New Zealanders now, like increasing the minimum wage, addressing pay equity and investing in health and education, while also tackling the long-term issues of tomorrow like responding to climate change, investing in public transport, addressing our chronic skills and infrastructure deficit, and ensuring New Zealand’sstability in a volatile international environment.  “New Zealand First will continue its role as a stable partner within the coalition and all of its governing arrangements,” said Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters.   Sweeping overhaul of Vocational Training sector Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced a sweeping overhaul of the vocational training sector as polytechnics and training institutes go broke while the country faces a critical skills shortage. The Government plans to establish a unified, coordinated, national system of vocational education and training. The proposals are: Redefined roles for education providers and Industry Training Organisations to extend the leadership role of industry and employers; Bringing together the 16 existing institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs) as a one entity with the working title of the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology with a robust regional network of provision; and A unified vocational education funding system. Mr Hipkins said the system was no longer geared up for the future economy, where retraining and upskilling would be a regular feature of working life. At the very time when courses were being retrenched and campuses closed, there was a need to expand courses and locations around the country. He described the proposals as a “reset” of the whole system and a fundamental rethink of the way vocational education and training is viewed and delivered. “The world around us is changing rapidly and our education system needs to keep up,” Mr Hipkins said. Public consultation is open until March 27.     Budget Date announced   Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced that Budget Day 2019 will be Thursday, May 30. This year’s Budget will be the first to use the Coalition Government’s new Wellbeing approach, an evidence-based framework used to identify the Budget priorities and then assess which Budget bids should be accepted. The five Priorities for Budget 2019 are: Creating opportunities for productive businesses, regions, iwi and others to transition to a sustainable and low-emissions economy Supporting a thriving nation in the digital age through innovation, social and economic opportunities Lifting Māori and Pacific incomes, skills and opportunities Reducing child poverty and improving child wellbeing, including addressing family violence Supporting mental wellbeing for all New Zealanders, with a special focus on under 24-year-olds Mr Robertson acknowledged the findings of the Salvation Army’s State of the Nation report released this week, which recognised the Government’s efforts to reduce hardship for New Zealand’s poorest and most vulnerable. Referring to the initiatives already delivered including the Families Package, the Winter Energy payment, and extending free doctor’s visits to under 14s, and the passing of the Child Poverty Reduction Act, Mr Robertson said that the Coalition Government was making solid progress on making life better for New Zealanders and that the Wellbeing approach to the Budget would be a“game-changer”.   Heartening house price figures The latest Quotable Value figures released this week show that house price growth has fallen to 2.9 percent nationwide, the slowest increase since 2012. The Auckland market declined 0.9 percent in the past year, evidence that the country’s most overheated market is at last cooling. The Coalition Government is utterly committed to addressing the housing crisis it inherited from National. We are focused on getting more Kiwis into their own homes. We have changed tax settings to discourage speculators and banned offshore investors buying existing houses. And sound economic management is keeping interest rates low. The latest figures show that the Government’s housing policies are beginning to work, which is great news, especially for first home buyers.  

Week in Review - December 21st

PGF announcements north and south    The political year wrapped up with significant Provincial Growth Fund announcements around the country. In the eastern Bay of Plenty, Regional Economic Development Minster Shane Jones announced support for projects totalling $25 million. They include aquaculture facilities and development, the first stage of Opotiki harbour redevelopment, Whakatane waterfront and town centre regeneration, and a feasibility study into improving visitor access to White Island. “Eastern Bay of Plenty has a clear vision of the future and through the Provincial Growth Fund, the Government is able to work alongside them to progress projects that will strengthen their communities and grow the local economy,” Mr Jones said. He also announced $1.3 million to improve digital connectivity. Only last month, the Government allocated $40 million from the PGF to improve internet and mobile coverage in the regions. In Coromandel, the PGF is investing $924,000 in aquaculture and marine services to accommodate the forecast growth in the green shell mussel and Pacific oyster production. Infrastructure is currently limiting ability to meet demand. In Southland, Under-Secretary for RED Fletcher Tabuteau announced funding of $1.9 million for feasibility studies into the development of Invercargill’s inner city, a commercial salmon and mussel hatchery, and scoping further development of the sheep and goat milk industry with FoodSouth. “It’s great to see the PGF’s involvement in all three projects which demonstrate exciting opportunities to develop Southland’s high value industries, and the revitalisation of Invercargill,” Mr Tabuteau said.       Child Poverty Reduction Bill passes final reading   The Child Poverty Reduction Bill passed its final reading in Parliament this week with near unanimous support from across the party divide. ACT was the only dissenting vote. New Zealand First has long been committed to improving the wellbeing of all New Zealanders and readily supported Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in her pursuit to reduce child poverty through this Bill, which was introduced in the Coalition Government’s First 100 Days. The new law will oblige this Government and all future governments to set targets to reduce levels of poverty and material hardship among New Zealand children. Each government will also develop a comprehensive strategy to promote the overall wellbeing of children and young people, including their education, health and personal safety. It has been greeted enthusiastically across the charities and welfare sector, with Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft describing the Bill's passing as "an historic cause for celebration". New Zealand First believes it is unacceptable that any child lives in poverty in this country. We are proud to be part of a Government working to tackle this issue. Our Families Package is already under way and it will lift the incomes of more than 384,000 families by $75 a week when fully rolled out, GP visits are now free for all children under 14. We look forward to the ambitious child poverty reduction goals set by the legislation being met.     Referendum on personal cannabis use in 2020   The Government will hold a binding referendum on personal cannabis use at the 2020 general election. New Zealand First have maintained that this referendum should be binding in order to reflect the consensus of the nation. The Green Party negotiated the referendum during Confidence and Supply Talks to form the Government. Justice Minister Andrew Little announced Cabinet had made the decision on Monday, but said there was still detail to work through. The news comes just a week after the Medicinal Cannabis Bill passed into law, allowing for a more compassionate approach to the use of cannabis for those in chronic pain and palliative care. An August 2017 Curia poll found 65 per cent of the country supported legalising or decriminalising marijuana for personal possession.     Overhaul of temporary work visa scheme   The Government has proposed changes to the way temporary visas are issued and the public is invited to have its say. The new system is designed to be simpler and more targeted, allowing areas and sectors experiencing genuine labour shortages to get the support they need. It will be employer-led, rather than migrant-led, but will include new employer checks to help combat migrant exploitation. This announcement delivers on a longstanding New Zealand First policy to develop strategies that encourage the regional dispersion of immigration and puts an end to the previous Government’s open borders approach. Public consultation is open until March 18, 2019 via the MBIE website.     Winston Peters in the US   Foreign Minister Winston Peters spent the week in the United States, where he met Vice President Mike Pence, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and National Security Adviser John Bolton. He also held talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other senior members of the US Administration. “The visit was an excellent opportunity to engage with US policy makers on a number of issues important to both our countries,” Mr Peters said.       Plastic bag phase-out date confirmed   The Government has confirmed that retailers will be banned from selling or giving away single-use plastic bags from July 1, 2019, after Cabinet agreed to new regulations. The phase-out marks the start of a significant Government programme to reduce waste, which includes expanding the waste disposal levy to all landfills, investing more strategically in infrastructure and innovation, and a greater focus on product stewardship for problematic waste such as vehicle tyres and e-waste. The ban on single-use plastic bags received strong public support during consultation earlier this year. New Zealand First believes the decision balances the interests of consumers, businesses and the health of the environment. It also demonstrates the Government’s commitment to upholding New Zealand’s clean, green image.     UN Migration Compact   Foreign Minister Winston Peters announced this week that New Zealand will support the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration after being satisfied fears about the document are unfounded. The legal advice from both The Crown Law Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade outlined that: The compact is non-legally binding and does not create legal obligations; It does not establish customary international law; The compact should not be taken to give the legal instruments referred to in the text as having any binding effect that those instruments do not already have in international law; It reaffirms the sovereign right of States to determine national immigration policy and laws and that States have the sole authority to distinguish between regular and irregular migratory status; The compact does not establish any new human rights law, nor create any new categories of migrants, nor establish a right to migrate. The compact in no way restricts or curtails established human rights, including the right to freedom of expression. New Zealand First would not support the UN compact if it compromised New Zealand’s sovereignty or could take precedence over our immigration or domestic laws. New Zealand is voting for the Compact because we support greater efforts in controlling migration issues.  

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