Week in Review - February 22nd

Independent tax working group reports


The independent tax working group reported on Thursday, it contains 99 separate recommendations. All of the recommendations are going to be carefully considered.

New Zealand First is consulting with its members and the general public before commenting further.

New Zealand First will shortly be issuing a detailed questionnaire to members and the public generally seeking their imput.



PGF funding for predator control alternatives to 1080


The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is to contribute $19.5 million towards developing innovative approaches to expand predator control in regional New Zealand.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage made the announcement jointly, saying that the funding would stimulate the development of more effective traps, lures, remote sensing, and surveillance and data management technologies.

The money will be used by Crown company Predator Free 2050, set up in 2016 to eradicate rats, stoats, and possums over the next three decades, and to protect native species.

 “This funding signals a necessary and significant shift away from the use of 1080 in New Zealand without compromising our pest control requirements,” said New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters.

“New Zealand First has maintained its opposition to 1080 and that with adequate resources, research and development into alternatives, we can replace it.”




Government proposes an end to Tenure Review


The Government is proposing to end tenure review, saying it has resulted in large swathes of

iconic high country land being privatised and in many cases, intensively farmed or subdivided.

Tenure review is a voluntary process where Crown pastoral land can be sold to a leaseholder and areas with high ecological and recreational value can be returned to full Crown ownership as conservation land. While some land has been protected, more than 350,000ha has been privatised.

“Ending tenure review and changing the regulatory system for high country pastoral leases is about thinking long term and the Crown working with leaseholders to achieve sustainable land and water management,” said Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage.

A discussion document has been released for public consultation. The changes include:

  • Making decision-making by the Commissioner of Crown Lands more accountable and transparent.
  • Providing more guidance and standards for the Commissioner’s decisions on leaseholder applications for activities such as burning and forestry.
  • Requiring the Commissioner to obtain expert advice and consult as necessary when considering applications for discretionary consents.

“It’s vital we ensure that our high country pastoral leases are managed in the best interests of all New Zealanders, now and into the future, Ms Sage said.

New Zealand First is proud to be part of a Government which has a long-term plan to protect our iconic landscapes for generations to come.

New Zealand First is proud to be part of a Government which has a long-term plan to protect our iconic landscapes for generations to come.



New Infrastructure entity announced


Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones announced the launch of a new independent Crown entity tasked with addressing New Zealand's "unprecedented infrastructure deficit".

The deficit is manifesting in housing unaffordability, congestion, poor quality drinking water and lost productivity, Mr Jones said. “That’s simply not good enough.”

“The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission (Te Waihanga) will develop a broad consensus on long-term strategy, enable coordination of infrastructure planning and provide advice and best practice support to infrastructure initiatives.”

Ministers will retain final decisions on infrastructure investments, but the Commission will have an independent board and the autonomy it needs to provide robust, impartial advice.

“It will help hold this government, and future governments, to account and we welcome that.”



Home-based early childhood education overhauled


Home-based early childhood education subsidised by the Government is to be put on a professional footing in order to achieve raise standards and achieve more consistent quality.

Currently home-based educators are not required to hold a relevant qualification, and the proportion of services with qualified educators has declined over the last decade. 

The Government has decided to move towards a level 4 Early Childhood Education certificate becoming the minimum qualification for home-based educators. 

Education Minister Chris Hipkins described the change as a “substantial shift” and said the timeframe for the qualification to become mandatory would be determined in consultation with the sector.

The Coalition Government is committed to making New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child. These will ensure that parents can be confident in the quality of education provided for their children.



Member’s Bill to toughen up on fleeing drivers


Darroch Ball entered a Member’s Bill in the ballot aimed at toughening up the law on drivers who flee from police.

Under the current law, a fleeing driver usually only faces a fine, or a short period of licence disqualification. “The weak response to this serious issue doesn’t act as any sort of deterrent and limits the effectiveness of police and our justice system in trying to tackle the issue.”

Between 2009 and 2018, the number of drivers who failed to stop each year increased from around 2000 to close to 4000, with those drivers causing over 400 deaths and serious injuries. It is expected that when the figures for 2018 are released, it will have been the worst year on record for fleeing driver incidents.

The Land Transport (Fleeing Drivers) Amendment Bill proposes to overhaul the legislation and implement a more comprehensive penalty regime to effectively deter fleeing drivers.

Penalties would be raised, with drivers who fail to stop for police automatically facing mandatory community service sentences, drivers who ‘flee in a dangerous or reckless manner’ facing an increased maximum prison sentence of up to two years, and a manslaughter-equivalent maximum sentence of life imprisonment for those who flee causing death.

 “The penalties are designed to act as a clear deterrent for those who flee from police and specifically targets repeat offenders.”



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