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

Week in Review - May 17th

Christchurch Call “first step” in eliminating extremist content online   Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was in Paris last week, where she and French President Emmanuel Macron co-hosted the Christchurch Summit, attended by leaders from 10 countries and major tech companies which committed to a set of collective actions that aim to eliminate terrorism and violent extremist content online. The actions of the Christchurch Call – endorsed by a further six countries not attending in Paris, plus the EU – include developing tools to prevent the upload of terrorist and violent extremist content; countering the roots of violent extremism; increasing transparency around the removal and detection of content, and reviewing how companies’ algorithms  direct users to violent extremist content. The pledge is split into three lists of commitments - one for governments, one for tech companies, and one for the two working together, along with a statement which stipulates that the agreement shouldn't impinge on free speech rights or the openness of the internet. Facebook, Google, Twitter, Microsoft, and Amazon commended the call, saying “… it is right that we come together, resolute in our commitment to ensure we are doing all we can to fight the hatred and extremism that lead to terrorist violence”. Ms Ardern said she was proud of what had been achieved at the summit but that it was only a “first step” towards a shared goal of eliminating terrorist content online. “We have all agreed to ongoing collaborative work aimed at improving our collective security.” New Zealand First supports the action the Prime Minister is leading on behalf of the Government. The coalition partners agree that bold steps must be taken to arrest the propagation of hatred in order to help secure the safety of our communities.     Wellbeing approach to Budget 2019 explained   In a pre-Budget speech to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, Finance Minister Grant Robertson outlined the approach taken in planning for the country’s first Wellbeing Budget. This Government believes it is time to take a fresh look at how we measure economic success. Even when the key economic indicator of Gross Domestic Product has been good, many New Zealanders have continued to struggle. Lowering rates of home ownership, high youth unemployment, poor mental health statistics, and hundreds of thousands of children growing up in poverty are just some of the reasons we need to do better. “A wellbeing approach is about taking a wider view, recognising and weighing up the overall pros and cons of government policy on all of the things that enable New Zealanders to live lives of purpose and value,” Mr Roberston said. There are three fundamental elements to the Government’s wellbeing plan.  A whole-of-government approach. Agencies working together to assess, develop and implement initiatives to improve wellbeing Looking at intergenerational outcomes. Thinking about the long-term impacts on future generations at the same time as meeting the needs of the present The need to move beyond narrow measures of success. The priorities of the Wellbeing Budget 2019 are: Tackling mental health crisis Reducing child poverty and domestic violence Investing in crucial national infrastructure Managing the books responsibly Building a sustainable economy and preparing for jobs of the future. These represent some of the biggest long-term challenges and opportunities that we face as a country and that they will not be solved in one go, but the Coalition Government is determined to confront them head-on. The problems have been ignored for too long. We are doing the right thing now - putting New Zealand and the welfare of New Zealanders first. We are looking to make a positive difference for generations ahead.     Forestry sector to get additional $58 million   In another pre-Budget announcement during the week, Forestry Minister Shane Jones said that a further $58 million would be delivered to allow continued transformation in the forestry sector. “Forestry plays a key role in many of our Government’s priority areas – enhancing regional development, supporting Maori to realise the potential of their land, improving water quality, reducing carbon emissions and creating jobs,” Mr Jones said. The new funding will allow Te Uru Rākau (Forestry New Zealand) to increase its regional presence to ensure foresters and landowners have the support they need, he said. It will also see the agency focus on the Government’s goal of developing a sustainable, domestic forestry workforce. New premises will be built in Rotorua, at the heart of the forestry sector, to accommodate Te Uru Rākau’s growth. It is expected that up to 25 forestry-related jobs will be based there, along with Ministry of Primary Industries staff. Mr Jones said the One Billion Trees programme  - a key New Zealand First policy - was on track, with 61 million trees planted in the first year, and 100 million trees expected to be in the ground every year from 2020. “With forestry worth over $6 billion to our economy, the Wellbeing Budget gives clear and visible leadership to Te Uru Rākau to build a sustainable sector that delivers improved social, environmental and economic benefits for New Zealand,” Mr Jones said.       Repeal of betting levy   When opening the Karaka May sales auction in Auckland, Racing Minister Winston Peters made a pre-Budget announcement to repeal the betting levy currently paid by the racing industry to the Crown. The levy will be returned to the industry, with a proportion set aside to support the reduction of gambling harm. Redirecting the betting levy was a recommendation of the Messara review of the racing industry, and will help ensure the long-term sustainability of an industry which contributes billions to the economy whilst employing tens of thousands of New Zealanders. “It is important that the industry is revitalised and placed on a sustainable footing for the future.  Redirecting the betting levy funds is only one of a number of steps the government is undertaking,” Mr Peters said.       Senior Ministers on global stage   While Parliament was in recess last week, key senior ministers were overseas representing New Zealand on the global stage. Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters travelled to Fiji with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to attend a Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meeting. During his time in New Zealand, Mr Guterres met Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, visited survivors of the Christchurch attack, and held talks with Climate Change Minister James Shaw. He said New Zealand was on the “front lines” of the world’s climate crisis and was showing extraordinary leadership, for which he was grateful. He praised the Government’s zero carbon legislation, saying the move was “absolutely crucial”. Mr Peters’ presence at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ meeting comes only a few days after Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs Fletcher Tabuteau was in Fiji for the annual Pacific Forum for Economic Ministers where the theme was on building resilience and sustainability. The Government is deeply committed to its role in the Pacific through its Pacific Reset policy - a re-energised approach based on New Zealand values and increased technical and financial support to the region. Meanwhile, Trade Minister David Parker attended APEC and OECD meetings in Chile, Paris, and Brussels focused on the outlook for world trade and the EU-NZ Free Trade Agreement (FTA). “At a time of ever-increasing tensions – both in trade between major players and in the World Trade Organisation – these meetings are an opportunity to build trust and confidence and identify solutions.” On the EU-NZ Free Trade Agreement, Mr Parker said the Government was keen to meet “the ambitious target” of a substantive conclusion by the end of 2019.     PGF invests in future jobs in Bay of Plenty   Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Employment Minister Willie Jackson announced an investment of more than $2.2 million in three skills and education programmes which offer young people extra support to develop the skills they need to get them into work, and which will help to address future employment needs in the Bay of Plenty. The programmes are Kawerau Pathways to Work ($969,000), Eastern Bay of Plenty Driver and Operator Training Centre ($598,000), School of Hard Knocks ($713,740). The programmes will receive funding from He Poutama Rangatahi and Te Ara Mahi initiatives, funded through the Provincial Growth Fund. “The three initiatives predominately target young people not currently in employment, education and training, and who are most at risk of long-term unemployment,” Mr Jones said. Two of the initiatives build on the PGF’s existing $2m investment in the Kawerau-Putauaki Industrial Hub, which underpins a number of promising commercial investments in Kawerau that are expected to bring around 500 jobs to the regions in the next five years. This latest investment meets key goals of the PGF, including lifting the outcomes of those affected by unemployment, building thriving communities by creating job opportunities close to home, and injecting new life and economic prosperity into the regions.       Royal Commission of Inquiry into Terror Attack under way   The Royal Commission of Inquiry into the March 15 terror attack will begin considering evidence next week, following the appointment of the second and final commissioner, former diplomat Jacqui Caine. The Royal Commission will work to fully understand what happened in the lead-up to the Christchurch attack, what could have been done to stop it, and how we can keep New Zealanders safe,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.  “This is a critical part of our ongoing response to the attack. The Commission’s findings will help to ensure such an attack never happens here again.” It is due to report to the Government by 10 December 2019.     Funding boost to tackle homelessness   Budget 2019 will see the Government invest a further $197 million to tackle the challenge of chronic homelessness in New Zealand. It will be used to strengthen the Housing First programme which the Government already funds in Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Rotorua and Tauranga, and will over the next few months extend to many other towns and cities around the country. The programme houses and supports people who have been homeless for a long time or who are homeless and facing other complex social and welfare issues. It recognises that it is much easier to address issues such as poor mental or physical health, substance abuse, or unemployment when people are properly housed. It is a co-ordinated approach which sees the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development bring together local health and service providers, housing providers, local government, iwi, and other agencies locally to turn around people’s lives. The new Budget funding will provide 1044 new places and will raise the number of people the programme can help to 2700. New Zealand First is proud to be part of a Government tackling the tough issues facing many New Zealanders and working to make life better for them. We believe that every New Zealander deserves a warm, dry place to call home and access to quality health and welfare services. Only by taking a co-ordinated approach with local government and social services can these goals be achieved.     NCEA exam fees scrapped   The Government has announced that NCEA exam fees for secondary students are to be abolished as part of a wider review of the qualification framework. More than 145,000 households are estimated to benefit from the removal of the $76.70 NCEA fee that families pay every year for around 168,000 secondary students. The removal of fees is one of a number of changes being made to NCEA, following a year-long review which 16,000 New Zealanders took part in. Other changes include: Retaining NCEA Level One and dropping the number of credits required to get each level from 80 to 60 Introducing a new externally-marked 20-credit literacy and numeracy benchmark Reducing achievement standards for each subject, but making each one broader Funding the continued roll-out of the NCEA Online programme so students can choose to sit their exams using a PC or laptop Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the changes were needed to address limitations and unintended consequences that had built up in the system over time. The Government wants to reduce the burden of over-assessment for both teachers and students and make the qualification more relevant for students, many of whom leave school with gaps in their knowledge and skills. The changes will be phased in over four years, starting from 2020.  

Week in Review – May 10th

Landmark Climate Change legislation introduced   The Government is taking action on the long-term challenges of climate change with the introduction of the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Bill to Parliament. The critical goal is to reduce global warming by 1.5degC over the next 30 years by setting a net zero target for carbon by 2050. New Zealand First negotiated extremely hard to achieve balance in the policy announced, balance between expressing strong leadership over climate change policy and the need to respect the important role that agriculture plays in the New Zealand economy. With the needs of the agriculture sector in mind, New Zealand First ensured that: The Climate Change Commission will not be granted statutory independence in the manner of the Reserve Bank; The Government will establish and legislate split gas targets for carbon dioxide and biogenic methane. These gases are being treated differently as the lifespan in the atmosphere of CO² lasts for hundreds of years, while methane degrades in around 20 years; The Government will set an initial methane target at a 10 percent reduction from 2017 levels from 2020 to 2030, providing certainty for the agriculture sector as it transitions towards a lower emissions future. Setting the 10 percent biogenic methane target until 2030 also recognises the research going in to the development of methane inhibitors and vaccines which may see significant technological progress by 2030; The 10 percent reduction target for biogenic methane includes 11 percent for waste, making the effective bovine-induced biogenic methane target 26.7 percent, which lands squarely inside a wide range of officials’ advice; The Climate Change Commission will review the 2050 targets against progress, including the 10 percent biogenic methane target not until 2024, providing a predictable transition period for the agricultural sector as it tackles mitigation efforts; The methane target from 2030-2050 will fall within the IPCC range of 24-47 percent, but the pathway set between 2020 and 2030 (i.e., the 10 percent reduction from 2017 levels) will establish a predictable direction of travel and progress against that target ; Unnecessary advisory groups supporting the Climate Change Commission were removed.       Government improves work conditions for New Zealanders   On Monday sweeping employment law changes came into effect, restoring protections for working New Zealanders, strengthening the role of collective bargaining, and promoting fair wages and conditions. “The Government is committed to building a productive, sustainable and inclusive economy that delivers good jobs, decent work conditions and fair wages,” said Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. Key changes which came into effect this week include: Reinstating prescribed meal and rest breaks Strengthening collective bargaining and union rights Restoring protections for vulnerable workers, such as those in the cleaning and catering industries, regardless of the size of their employer Limiting 90-day trials to businesses with fewer than 20 employees. The Government believes everyone deserves a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, and these changes will help achieve that. New Zealand First fought hard to retain the 90-day trial for employers of fewer than 20 staff, securing it as a major concession for small business owners who form the backbone of our economy. These changes strike the right balance, providing strong safeguards and rights to workers, while maintaining certainty and flexibility for employers.     Cannabis referendum details announced   The Government announced details of how New Zealanders will choose whether or not to legalise and regulate cannabis. A referendum will be held at the 2020 election with a question asking whether or not to adopt draft legislation. The Coalition Government is committed to a health-based approach to drugs, to minimise harm and take control away from criminals and the draft legislation will include: A minimum age of 20 to use and purchase recreational cannabis Regulations and commercial supply controls Limited home-growing options A public education programme Stakeholder engagement New Zealand First has always believed that voters should make the decision on conscience issues, and not temporarily empowered politicians. The voters’ choice will be binding insofar that all of the parties that make up the current Government have committed to abide by the outcome. It is hoped that the National Party will also commit to respecting the voters’ decision.     Minister Jones releases first Infrastructure Pipeline report   Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones released a prototype Government Infrastructure Pipeline report, showing the scope of spending by major central government agencies over the next five years. A Government building programme of $6.1 billion-plus has been revealed, with education and defence taking the lion's share of new infrastructure and building work. Mr Jones said the Government was the construction industry's biggest client and lack of certainty and transparency on new state projects had been an issue, so the report would give much-needed certainty. Developing a long-term and publicly available Infrastructure Pipeline will be a key focus for the new Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga, which is on track to be up and running by the end of the year. “This prototype will allow us to gather feedback on the pipeline’s form and function before it expands to involve all central government agencies, local government, and, in time, private sector projects.” Mr Jones said.       Code of Conduct ensures better financial advice for Kiwis   Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi announced that a new code of conduct will come into effect next year to ensure that New Zealanders receive good quality advice when it comes to investing their money. Serious issues were identified by the Financial markets Authority and Reserve Bank RBNZ in their recent reviews of the banking and life insurance sector. The code, alongside the new financial advice legislation, will help address those issues by ensuring consumers’ interests are much better served. Mr Faafoi said anyone giving financial advice to consumers will need to act fairly and with integrity when they give advice, and to meet a minimum standard of competence. Businesses that provide financial advice will need to be licensed. “We want consumers to have confidence that people advising them about their finances are prioritising their interests, are competent and are following professional standards.”     Taking action to improve life for those on benefits   The Government is committed to offering better support for New Zealanders on benefits. While a number initiatives have already been announced during the term of this Parliament, further changes announced this week include: 263 new frontline staff to focus on helping more people into meaningful and sustainable work The scrapping of the discriminatory sanction that cuts income to women and their children if the name of the child’s father is not declared to the Government Lifting the abatement thresholds for those on benefits who work, in line with minimum wage increases These changes follow the release of the Government’s Welfare Expert Advisory Group (WEAG) report, Whakamana Tāngata: Restoring Dignity to Social Security in New Zealand. It contained 42 key recommendations that call for a systematic overhaul of New Zealand’s welfare system with a renewed focus on support to help those on benefits into sustainable work, and improved income adequacy to ensure families on benefits are not living in poverty. “The Government is taking a balanced approach and is committed to delivering change over the longer term and prioritising areas like housing and mental health which impact on all New Zealanders but especially those in the welfare system,” said Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni. Minister for Children Tracey Martin said the welfare system needed to be fair to everyone and support child wellbeing. The combined investment of today’s three pre-budget announcements is $286.8 million over the next four years.      Government outlines how it will respond to Historical Abuse inquiry   Minister of State Service Chris Hipkins will lead the Crown’s response to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-Based Institutions, the Government announced this week as the scale of the investigation becomes apparent. Eleven government agencies are involved in responding to the inquiry. The six principles guiding the inquiry will be: manaakitanga, openness, transparency, active listening and learning, connectivity between agencies, and meeting Treaty of Waitangi obligations in order to build stronger Maori-Crown relationship. “In setting out the principles, we have taken an important step in the vital task of rebuilding trust between Government and children who were abused while they were in state care,” Mr Hipkins said. “The Government is determined to take action in a transparent, co-ordinated and timely way to ensure such wide-scale abuse over such a long period can never be allowed to happen again.” The Commission’s interim report is due in December 2020, and the final report in January 2023.  

Week in Review – May 3rd

$95 million to address teacher shortage   With Budget 2019 scheduled for May 30, this week saw the first pre-Budget announcements. On Thursday, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced a $95 million funding boost to address the teacher shortage. It aims to draw more New Zealanders into the profession by offering scholarships and incentives. Budget 19 will fund 2480 additional trainee teacher places through: 1860 TeachNZ scholarships - fees and living costs for trainees studying in hard to staff subject areas  300 Teach First NZ places to recruit graduates and professionals into low decile secondary schools where they teach while completing a postgraduate teaching  240 places in a new employment-based teacher education programme for secondary teachers  80 Iwi-based scholarships. The number of New Zealanders enrolling in initial teacher education (ITE) plummeted by about 40 percent under National. The Government is stepping up to address the chronic teacher shortage which has resulted, and is investing in providing the world-class education which all New Zealand children deserve.     Pike River re-entry delayed   Friday’s long-awaited re-entry of the Pike River mine was delayed by “unexpected and unexplained” readings on atmospheric monitoring systems at the site. Re-entry to Pike River was a bottom-line commitment for New Zealand First which is now entrenched in the Labour-New Zealand First Coalition agreement. Re–entry is about finding out the truth, and it is about doing what’s right for the families of those 29 men who have fought so hard to get to this point. New Zealand First remains committed to re-entry of the Pike River mine, but only when it is safe to do so. “Safety has always been our first priority, and will continue to be. In these circumstances the appropriate precaution is to temporarily suspend operations,” said Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry, Andrew Little. “I back the Pike River Recovery Agency to take the time needed to fully understand the cause and significance of these new readings. The Agency will know more after further testing and investigative work is completed over the next week. A meeting of ventilation experts will then convene later in the month.       Milestone for Research and Development   New Zealand First welcomed the passing of the Taxation (Research and Development Tax Credits) Bill, which introduces a research and development (R&D) tax incentive for New Zealand businesses.                       “New Zealand First has consistently campaigned to introduce such a tax incentive, and increase public spending on R&D to encourage business and economic growth,” said New Zealand First Deputy Leader Fletcher Tabuteau. “Under the previous Government’s failed grant scheme, R&D spending continued to lag behind international competitors. Finding a way forward to close this gap was a priority for New Zealand First during coalition negotiations. This tax credit is an important step towards fulfilling the Coalition Agreement commitment to work towards increasing Research & Development spending to 2% of GDP over ten years, Mr Tabuteau said.     Unemployment down, wages up   Unemployment fell from 4.3 per cent in the December 2018 quarter to 4.2 per cent in the three months to March 31, and wages grew 3.4 percent over the year to March 31, according to official figures released this week. Unemployment is now at its second lowest level in 10 years. With wages also up, this shows that the economy is strong and that the Government is implementing policies that support workers and business. A closer look at the numbers shows more positive trends. The unemployment rate for Māori fell to 8.6 per cent from 9.6 per cent, and the Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET) rate fell to 13.2 per cent from 14 per cent in the December quarter.     Winter Energy Payment starts earlier this year   The Winter Energy payment, a key Government initiative implemented last year to assist superannuitants, veterans, and beneficiaries meet additional winter heating costs, begins again this week. The May 1 seasonal start date is earlier than last year, meaning a longer overall payment period for those eligible. Around one million New Zealanders will be better off with the financial assistance the Winter Energy Payment provides. A single person will get an extra $20.46 a week tax-free, while a couple, or a single person looking after children, will get an extra $31.82 a week tax-free. New Zealand First believes that everyone deserves a warm, dry place to call home and is proud to be part of the Government providing extra support during the winter months.  It's a little bit extra, but it makes a big difference.     Government continues to run surplus   The latest Crown financial statements show a surplus of $2.5 billion in the operating balance before gains and losses for the nine months to 31 March 2019. The result is $329 million higher than the Treasury forecast in December 2018. The surplus demonstrates that the Government is continuing to manage the books carefully in the face of softening global growth and international volatility. The Wellbeing Budget in May will outline the next steps in the Government’s plan to grow and support the economy.  

New Zealand First on ANZAC day

Across the country New Zealanders took a moment to pause and remember those who served and made sacrifices for our nation. Our New Zealand First MP’s and Ministers were scattered across the country paying tribute and have reflected upon the significance of ANZAC day to them.   Hon Ron Mark   My partner Christine and I spent ANZAC Day in Christchurch, where I was the Government representative at the dawn and civic services. I was posted to Burnham for a long time, and lived in Christchurch for 30 years, so to be back for ANZAC Day as the Minister of Defence and Veterans was an honour. Following the services I visited a few of the local RSAs including Christchurch Central, Papanui, Templeton and Rangiora.  While at Templeton the President surprised me by presenting me with a life membership.  I was a member of Templeton for over a decade, and to be recognised by them in this way was humbling.  I also had some time to call in on 96 year old New Zealand First stalwart Val McMaster ANZAC Day means a lot to so many people, and it was great to see so many people turning out in Christchurch to honour those who have served our nation.  My utmost thanks to all of you who took their time to remember those who gave so much in the quest for peace and freedom.  Lest we forget.       Fletcher Tabuteau   This year I delivered an ANZAC address in Niue to Honourable Premier Sir Toke Talagi, Government Ministers, Church Leaders, President and members of the Niue Returned Services’ Association and Chief and Members of the Niue Police. In October 1915, the people of Niue were in pain having farewelled 150 men whose sense of duty and desire to serve saw them depart from this beautiful island joined by a further 11 who enlisted from Auckland. Many of those did not return and are buried alongside their fellow Kiwi soldiers in New Zealand, Egypt, France and England. We must never change our commitment to honour and remember those who have in the past served valiantly – whether on foreign shores or at home.       Hon Tracey Martin   With travel plans disrupted I took the opportunity to take a quiet moment at the cenotaph in Devonport where later this morning there will be an “unofficial” ceremony.  Some might recognise that as the “ANZAC” spirit. While looking at the faces of those lost in the great wars on the crosses bearing their names the peace and tranquillity, the friendliness of passer-by’s seemed also to bear witness to their sacrifice. As the great great granddaughter, great granddaughter, granddaughter, daughter and sister of those who have served, to mark this day is always important.       Hon Shane Jones   This year I spoke at a well attended dawn service at Kaikohe.  Together, we paid our respects to the people of Kaikohe and other Northland communities who have served their country on the field of battle and paid the price of citizenship. We must never forget their contribution. Kia kaha.       Darroch Ball   ANZAC Day service in Palmerston North was a beautiful morning with a large crowd gathered and a significant number of the younger generations showing their support and remembrance of those who have served, fought and died for our country.  The service is always a humbling experience that honours our ANZAC soldiers and makes me keenly feel the ultimate sacrifices they made for the families they left behind at home.       Mark Patterson   A cancelled last flight out of Wellington meant I attended the Dawn Parade at the National War Memorial in the capital instead of Balclutha and Lawrence as planned. Fortunately a morning flight allowed me to also attend the Milton Commemorations back in Clutha as well and provided me with two different Anzac Day experiences. There was the grand pomp and ceremony of the National Service in Wellington with the New Zealand Army Band, politicians, and the Anzac address from the Governor General. Then there was the quintessential rural commemoration at Milton with its local pipe band, leading a parade of the local fire brigade, St John, Scouts and RSA with an address by the local chaplin, the poignancy of the crosses and the local family names on the Cenotaph. Symbolic of hundreds of such services around the country. New Zealand did the memory of those who sacrificed for our country proud. We haven’t forgotten.       Clayton Mitchell   Three generations of my family and I joined in the ANZAC day Commemoration Service at the Tauranga Queen Memorial Park Epitaph.  We were joined by many other families and dignitaries from around the Bay of Plenty, who also came to remember those who sacrificed so much to protect what is so dear to us all.  It was a beautiful morning and a great service, I particularly enjoyed the speeches given by both the Head Boy and Head Girl from Bethleham College who spoke so well and shared stories and feelings that strongly resonated with the audience. Lest we forget.        Jenny Marcroft   Anzac Day 2019 dawned into a still and solemn occasion. It was a privilege to attend the 61st Dawn Parade conducted by the Patea RSA. My sister Gabriel and her family are locals and I had a proud Aunty moment as I watched my nephew in his Air Cadet uniform march in the parade to the War Memorial. Following the service I was invited to speak to those at the Old Folks Hall on the main street of town. A feature of the commemorations was hearing from retired NZ Army Corporal Charlene Baird who completed two tours to Afghanistan. She attended the service with her father who also served our country in a number of campaigns. They spoke of the choice they made to stand up and although today we are fighting a different type of war, not fascism or communism, but a new kind of terrorism and violent extremism, we need a new generation to make the choice to answer the call to service. As peace is the ultimate goal we will continue to strive for a time when we no longer need to send our young ones to war.      

Week in Review – April 19th

No Capital Gains Tax   After months of public speculation it has been announced that there will be no new capital gains tax. There is already an effective capital gains tax in New Zealand through the Bright Line test which applies to rental properties owned for less than 5 years. The Coalition Government was not able to reach a consensus on the Independent Tax Working Group recommendation to extend capital gains tax. The Independent Tax Working Group Report had suggested that the overall tax system was working well, but could be fairer. The Prime Minister has maintained a belief that there should be a capital gains tax in New Zealand, whilst New Zealand First’s view is that there is not a compelling mandate to institute a comprehensive capital gains tax regime. The Coalition Government remains committed to building a fairer tax system, and our priorities will be cracking down on multinational tax avoidance, pursuing property speculators who don’t pay their fair share and closing loopholes.     Racing industry reform   The Racing Minister, Rt Hon Winston Peters, has announced the next steps in response to the ‘Messara Review of the Racing Industry’. Two new pieces of legislation will be introduced this year to amend the Racing Act 2003. The first Bill is due to be enacted by 1 July 2019. “The New Zealand racing industry is in a state of serious decline. The Coalition Government supports the overall intent of the Messara Report and is committed to reforms. We know we have the grass, the race animals, and the people to help the industry achieve its potential,” said Mr Peters.    This legislation will revitalise the domestic racing industry and bring some financial relief for the industry by making offshore betting operators contribute to domestic racing and sports codes from the bets they take from New Zealanders.     Public consultation on reform of Overseas Investment Act   The Coalition Government has launched public consultation on the second phase of the Overseas Investment Act reforms. The reforms aims to reduce the complexity of the Act whilst giving decision-makers the ability to consider the broader impact on New Zealand of potential investments. This consultation also considers whether to introduce a national interest test and hopes to achieve greater flexibility to manage any issues arising from overseas investment. “We’re looking at where we draw the line as to what constitutes a New Zealand owned or controlled company, and what information the government should request from investors to ensure they are of good character.” said Associate Minister of Finance, Hon David Parker. This consultation will include public meetings held by treasury throughout the country.     Gore PGF announcement   Regional Economic Development Minister, Hon Shane Jones, announced $3.7 million in Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) funding to help young people into jobs and support economic growth in Southland. The announcements centred on the Gore district, with $1.6 million of investment towards the Maruawai precinct project, which involves the redevelopment of the Hokonui Moonshine Museum and creation of the Maruawai Heritage Centre. These projects were within the framework of Ready for Growth, a community-led initiative to create a solid foundation for future growth in the Gore district, including developing its tourism potential. There’s also $2.1 million for the Hokonui Huanui programme to provide wrap-around support services for children and rangatahi and support opportunities for those youth at risk of long-term unemployment in the district. Mayor Tracy Hicks heralded the investment from the New Zealand First Minister, saying "It’s the right investment, at the right time, in the right place” for the Gore district.       Missing New Zealand aid worker   This week, Rt Hon Winston Peters confirmed reports that a New Zealand aid worker Louisa Akavi was taken hostage by ISIS in northern Syria 5 years ago and remains missing. Successive New Zealand governments have chosen not to disclose any information about Louisa’s case following advice public disclosure of her situation would place her at even greater risk. The media context has changed this week with Louisa’s situation becoming public via international publications, leading to Mr Peters’ acknowledgement. Sustained, whole-of-government efforts have been made to locate Louisa over the past 5 years, including the deployment of a small, multi-agency team based in Iraq. This has involved members of the NZDF, drawn from the Special Operations Force. Mr Peters confirmed hopes for her survival are still alive after the liberation of ISIS’s formerly held territories, and that efforts to locate her are on-going. Mr Peters also said that the Government is focused on supporting her family, and requested that their privacy be respected.    

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