The Government in Action – July 26th

New Zealand First support on End of Life Choice Bill requires promise of referendum

New Zealand First’s continued support of the End of Life Choice Bill is dependent on a commitment to hold a public referendum on the issue at the 2020 General Election.

New Zealand First Health Spokesperson Jenny Marcroft this week submitted an amendment to the Bill, providing for the conduct of a binding referendum to determine whether the End of Life Choice Bill, if passed through Parliament, may become law in New Zealand.

“New Zealand First believes this issue directly affects the fabric of society, and is one that temporarily empowered politicians alone should not decide upon. This decision requires the direct participation of the voting public,” she said.

The New Zealand First caucus’ continued support of the Bill is contingent on the amendment passing.

“We urge all members of the House, amidst a polarised political debate about assisted dying, to turn to the collective wisdom of the New Zealand public on this matter.” Ms Marcroft said.



Winston Peters attends Pacific Islands Forum meeting


Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters is currently in Fiji, attending the Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

“Key priorities for the meeting will include strengthening Pacific regionalism, responding to climate change, advancing the Boe Declaration on regional security, fisheries and oceans issues, and the Forum’s approach to collective international engagement,” Mr Peters said.

“The Government is committed to advancing security, wellbeing, prosperity and resilience in our Pacific neighbourhood.”



Resource Management Act to get major overhaul


The Government has launched a comprehensive overhaul of the Resource Management Act (RMA) to cut complexity and costs. The changes could see the law broken up into separate parts, with one law dealing with urban planning and another with environmental protection.

The law, which is key to managing our built and natural environments, is almost 30-years-old and amendments made to it over the years have made it unwieldy and less effective.

“Our aim is to produce a revamped law fit for purpose in the 21st century that will cut complexity and cost while better protecting our environment,” said Environment Minister David Parker.

The overhaul will be led by a panel chaired by retired Appeal Court Judge Tony Randerson, and is expected to produce a proposal for reform to be presented to the Government by mid-2020.

New Zealand First backs the decision to overhaul the RMA, agreeing that it is time to reduce the red tape and streamline planning rules, especially those on housing.



Property (Relationships) Act also in the spotlight


Another law likely to get a long-overdue makeover is the Property (Relationships) Act, which determines the division of property when a long-term relationship ends.

The existing law dates back to 1976 and is no longer deemed fit for purpose. Justice Minister Andrew Little this week tabled the Law Commission’s final report on its review of the Act, which makes 140 recommendations and calls for a new Act to be introduced covering relationships ending by separation.

The Coalition Government will now consider the report’s recommendations and the wider impact of its proposals.



Changes to Residential Tenancies Act benefit landlords and tenants


Practical changes have been made to the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 to better clarify liability for careless damage of rental properties.

The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill passed its final reading on Wednesday, with Associate Housing Minster Kris Faafoi saying it would provide greater certainty to landlords, minimise cost and risk, and ensure tenants have the right information when deciding if they will rent a property.

It rolls back the consequences of a 2016 court ruling which saw landlords no longer able to claim back the excess on an insurance claim which arose from accidental damage incurred by tenants. The updated law means landlords will be able to claim back their excess, or four weeks' rent, whichever is lower.

The amendments also strengthen the law for prosecuting landlords who let unsuitable properties, such as illegally converted garages or sleepouts; and brings in a wider definition of contamination of a property, rather than just dealing specifically with methamphetamine.

“This is part of the Government’s comprehensive and ambitious plan for reform in the tenancy space,” Mr Faafoi said. “We are improving our tenancy laws so that tenants and landlords are protected and can have clear expectations before going into a tenancy.”

New Zealand First is proud to be part of the Government tackling the tough issues, none greater than the housing crisis. We must take a multi-faceted approach to ensure more New Zealanders have access to warm, dry and secure housing; and the private rental market plays a crucial role in this. These changes give greater clarity to both landlords and tenants.



KiwiSaver changes for those with shortened life expectancy


Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi has announced a change to the KiwiSaver scheme which will benefit up to 1000 Kiwis who have life-shortening health conditions.

They will soon be able to withdraw their savings in the scheme prior to the current minimum age of 65.

40-year-old Tim Fairhall, who has Downs Syndrome, last year asked a Parliamentary select committee to change the rules for those with life-shortening conditions, because they were unlikely to live until the normal retirement age of 65.

Mr Faafoi said it was “only fair” that any New Zealander who has contributed to KiwiSaver should be able to access their savings to support themselves when they’re ready to retire.

New Zealand First backs the changes, acknowledging that all New Zealanders need fair and equitable access to their hard-earned savings.

The change will take effect following an amendment to the KiwiSaver Act 2006.


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