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.