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.



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