More detail on gun buyback scheme
The Minister of Police Hon Stuart Nash has announced that a legal framework will be established in relation to the gun buyback scheme. This legal framework will be the first step towards establishing compensation levels.
The price list will be developed by independent advisors with a separate expert panel for high value firearms. The legal framework will include compensation for high capacity magazines and parts. The Minister has confirmed that there will be a process for appealing the level of compensation if the established price is disputed.
Price lists will be set out in regulations which are now being drafted and should provide certainty for law abiding gun owners impacted by this change.
The buyback is to run alongside the amnesty for handing back firearms which is currently set to end at the end of September. If necessary this may be extended.
Gun changes become law
The Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines and Parts) Amendment Bill passed its third and final reading in Parliament on Wednesday. This was supported by New Zealand First, Labour, Greens and National. This follows on from a full week of Select Committee hearings where a total of 13,062 submissions from interested groups and individuals were considered.
The Bill will prohibit from circulation and use in New Zealand most semiautomatic firearms, parts that convert firearms into semi-automatic firearms, magazines over a certain capacity, and some shotguns. It seeks to prevent such an atrocity from occurring again and make communities safer.
This has become law within a month of the Christchurch terror attacks. The Government has taken swift and decisive action on this issue. Further changes relating to firearms that require more extensive scrutiny can be expected later in the year.
Darroch Ball accepts petition regarding St John funding
This week Darroch Ball accepted a petition from St John ambulance worker Dean Brown and FIRST Union over paramedics pay. This petition was supported by over 14,000 signatures.
The petition seeks to institute recognition for night and weekend work and for better recognition of the education and responsibility of ambulance professional roles.
“It’s in the best interests of New Zealanders that we have a well-funded, well-resourced Ambulance service and that our paramedics are able to be fairly compensated,” said Mr Ball
Coalition Government announces new drivers licence initiative
This week sees the Coalition Government delivered a new scheme to assist more young people with getting their drivers licence.
The $5 million investment from the NZTA Community Road Safety Fund and $250,000 from MSD announced by the Prime Minister will pay the cost of getting a drivers licence for young people on youth benefits or in care. The scheme will begin as of the 1st of June.
“The numbers tell us some 2500 young people are expected to get their restricted licence through the scheme, helping them move on into jobs. A driver licence is more than just a licence to drive. It’s a vital tool and opens doors to education and jobs.” Jacinda Ardern said.
In addition to this there is also a commitment in the Coalition Agreement to offer free driver training to all secondary students. The Government is committed to setting young people up with the skills they need to enter the workforce.
New Infrastructure Commission
Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones has introduced a Bill to establish New Zealand’s Infrastructure Commission.
The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga, represents a change in the approach towards infrastructure. The Coalition Government is taking a long-term view that aligns with the goals of developing a productive and sustainable economy.
The Infrastructure Commission will be an autonomous Crown Entity with an independent board and will have two broad ranging functions. It will provide expert advice, planning and strategy, and support the delivery of major infrastructure projects across the country.
“The efficient planning, delivery and maintenance of the right infrastructure is essential to improving New Zealand’s economic performance, and our wellbeing,” Shane Jones said.
Successful uptake of cheaper doctor visits
New Figures released as of April 1 show the positive uptake of free doctor visits to under 14s and cheaper visits for Community Services Cardholders that the Coalition Government launched in December last year.
It is anticipated that as of the 1st of April 2019 94 per cent of practices will be offering low-cost services to their enrolled CSC holders and dependants.
More than 99 per cent of enrolled children under 14 can now access zero fee general practice visits.
Approximately 96 per cent of Community Services Card (CSC) holders and their dependants who are enrolled with a general practice are now able to visit their doctor at low cost. Those not already enrolled with a very low cost access practice will on average pay $20 to $30 less for a consultation. This means almost all Kiwis who hold a CSC won’t be charged more than $18.50 to visit their doctor.