New future for polytechnics and institutes of technology

Source: New Zealand Labour Party

Education Minister Chris Hipkins today released an number of wide-ranging proposals for strengthening our polytechnics and institutes of technology.

These proposals will ensure school leavers get high quality training opportunities and are better equipped for the changing nature of work. They will also ensure employers get the skills they need from their employees. 

Post by chrishipkinsmp.

At a time when we’re facing critical skill shortages, too many of our polytechnics and institutes of technology are going broke.

It’s time to reset the whole system and fundamentally rethink the way we view vocational education and training, and how it’s delivered.

The Coalition Government proposes to establish a unified, coordinated, national system of vocational education and training.

The proposals are:

  • Redefined roles for education providers and industry bodies (Industry Training Organisations (ITOs)) to extend the leadership role of industry and employers;
  • Bringing together the 16 existing ITPs as a one entity with the working title of the New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology with a robust regional network of provision; and
  • A unified vocational education funding system.

The development of courses and programmes would be consolidated, improving consistency and freeing up resources to expand front-line delivery. There will be more sharing of expertise and best-practice, and more use of online, distance, and blended learning.

Our proposals aim to ensure that the system is easier to navigate and provides the skills that employers and employees need.

Read further information on the proposed changes here.

Read Minister Hipkins’ full announcement speech here.

MIL OSI

Prime Minister’s Statement

Source: New Zealand Labour Party

Prime Minister’s Statement presented to the House of Representatives on 12 February 2019.

Fifteen months ago, in the Speech from the Throne, the Coalition Government outlined an ambitious programme designed to build a stronger and fairer country for all New Zealanders. Looking back over that time, we are proud of what has been achieved. There remains much to do.

We have begun putting children and families at the heart of our programme, lifting family incomes, backing the regions, making doctors’ visits more affordable, rebuilding hospitals and schools, and beginning the shift to an environmentally sustainable economy.

As 2019 begins the economy is performing above expectations, with near historic low unemployment, and rising wages and targeted support through the Families’ Package.

It is a programme that represents the shared vision and priorities of three parties – Labour, New Zealand First and the Green Party – dedicated to acting in the best interests of all New Zealanders. Together the Speech from the Throne and the commitments in the Coalition agreement and confidence and supply agreement continue to underpin the Government’s work programme.

The Government has demonstrated a new kind of leadership, proving that it is possible to be responsible stewards of the economy, while advancing concepts like compassion and kindness.

We have strong fundamentals and are well prepared, but we need to be realistic about the risks to the global economy. Now is the time to take the foundations we have and to build on them. Now is the time to ensure we not only build greater resilience into our economy, but that we modernise it too. That is what the Government’s policy agenda for 2019 delivers.

As we enter our second full year we continue to advance the Coalition Government’s long- term blueprint for a better New Zealand built around three key themes:

  • To build a productive, sustainable economy that works for everyone and is fit for the 21st Century.
  • To improve the wellbeing of all New Zealanders and their families.
  • To take a new approach to leadership, focussing on long term issues.

New Zealand today has solid underlying economic fundamentals. The Coalition Government is on track to deliver better outcomes for all New Zealanders through more productive, sustainable and inclusive growth.

Treasury forecasts GDP growth on average of about 3 per cent in the coming couple of years. We have begun to rebalance the economy away from its undue reliance on speculation and immigration. Net migration, previously a key driver of growth, has fallen by more than 20,000 from its peak in 2016. The property speculation market has cooled and this has resulted in a steadier housing market.

We are ensuring New Zealanders are better off. Inflation remains low and steady. Wages are rising faster than the cost of living, but we acknowledge many New Zealanders are doing it tough. More families will benefit from the Government’s Families Package as the Best Start payments are available for the first full year and full entitlement for the winter energy payments will be available for the first time. Raising the minimum wage means those hard- working Kiwis on the lowest incomes will share more in our growth.

Unemployment of 4.3 per cent is the second lowest in a decade, and it is forecast to remain at this low level. But while hiring intentions point to continued strength in the labour market in 2019, the market overall remains tight and some firms are facing challenges in finding both skilled and unskilled workers.

There are economic risks though from beyond our shores. The IMF is warning of an increased risk of a decline in global growth amid international trade tensions, a further slowing in China and the uncertainty caused by Brexit. Global trade growth has eased, with rising trade protectionism having adverse effects on confidence and investment plans around the world.

The Coalition Government is acutely aware of the risks posed by the global economy, and the need to ensure we are well prepared to withstand global uncertainty. The Government’s agenda ensures the country is well positioned to navigate these headwinds. For example, to help safeguard New Zealand against any risks we are continuing to progress an ambitious trade agenda that will benefit all New Zealanders.

Careful management of the government books also helps provide a buffer against any external shocks. We are meeting the Budget Responsibility Rules, which show that a healthy fiscal surplus is being maintained and net debt – which peaked at over 25 per cent under the previous Government is now forecast to be down to 19 per cent of GDP by 2021/22 – is being reliably managed.

Our prudent supervision of the books provides us with the ability to make important investments in vital public services and aging infrastructure. This has been recognised by the rating agencies with S&P recently delivering their strongest assessment on New Zealand since September 2011, upgrading their outlook on New Zealand’s AA foreign and AA+ local currency credit ratings up to ‘positive’ from ‘stable’.

The work of this Government is split into three key themes: a growing economy, the wellbeing of New Zealanders and their families, and the type of leadership we are committed to providing. Each theme is underpinned by four priorities, which this year will continue to provide the focus for our policy and legislative programme.

The Coalition Government wants this country to be smarter in how we work. The aim is an economy that produces and exports higher value goods and that makes sure that all New Zealanders share in the rewards of economic growth.

That is why the first priority of our economic theme is to grow and share more fairly New Zealand’s prosperity.

While wages overall are growing, inequality in incomes persists. The bottom 40 per cent of households earn only around 20 per cent of income, and hold five per cent or less of household wealth.

Last year the Families Package came into effect and by the time it is fully implemented in 2021 it will boost the incomes of 385,000 families by $75 a week. This year we will continue focussing on creating jobs and growing incomes.

In April the minimum wage will rise to $17.70 an hour to ensure 209,200 workers and their families benefit from the growing economy. This is another step towards a $20 an hour minimum wage from April 2021.

The Coalition Government will also pass the Equal Pay Act this year to address historic inequities in pay for women, and will consider the recommendations of the Fair Pay Agreement Working Group, which was set up as part of our commitment to improving the incomes and working conditions of those New Zealanders who earn the least.

We will be addressing structural issues in our tax and welfare systems.

The Tax Working Group, set up to improve the structure, fairness, and balance of the tax system, has delivered its final report. It will be released on 21 February, and the Government will respond in April.

Independent experts have also been looking at reform of the welfare system, with the broad objective of reducing inequalities by ensuring all New Zealanders have an adequate income and standard of living. The report of this Welfare Expert Advisory Group is due shortly and we will carefully consider their recommendations.

We will continue improving the competitiveness and productivity of our economy, by progressing the Reserve Bank Act review, the second phase of reforms to the Overseas Investment Act regime, competition law reform, and regulatory reform of insurance contracts and responding to the recent Reserve Bank of New Zealand and Financial Markets Authority reports on conduct and culture in the banking and life insurance industries.

A review of retail electricity pricing will report back this year with options for reform. The Government is committed to affordable power for families and these options will be a step towards that goal.

The Coalition Government will further stimulate economic growth through the introduction of a research and development tax credit in April, aimed at lifting research and development expenditure. The 15 per cent tax credit will benefit an estimated 2,000 businesses and the wider economy by spurring innovation and fostering new ideas.

A sustainable, clean transport system is essential to supporting a more modern and growing economy.

This year our $4 billion package in public transport, rapid transit and rail will continue to be advanced. We will also complete the Future of Rail review to provide a new vision for rail over the next decade and beyond, and partner with local government to invest $1.4 billion to make more local roads and state highways safer through the Safe Network Programme.

We will keep working to modernise transport services in Auckland, by progressing rail from Māngere to the inner city, to give our largest city a world-class, environmentally friendly transport network. Central government and Auckland Council will maintain their joint efforts to provide vital transport infrastructure through the Auckland Transport Alignment Project.

And we also expect to make further headway on the Hamilton to Auckland commuter rail project and to investigate other regional rail opportunities.

As part of our commitment to industries that contribute significantly to the economy, the Coalition Government will ensure that the future of the racing industry is secured so that it can flourish. After a ministerial advisory committee reports at the end of February on the Messara Report, the Cabinet will consider legislation to modernise the industry.

Our economic theme’s second priority, supporting thriving, sustainable regions, will see us continue to work this year with the regions to help them succeed.

The Provincial Growth Fund, one of Labour and New Zealand First’s coalition agreement commitments, is a game changer for long-neglected parts of New Zealand. It is helping to boost regional economies through the fund’s $3 billion investment in new jobs and opportunities. Currently, the Provincial Growth Fund is investing in 166 projects at a cost of $700 million so far. It is estimated more than 10,000 jobs will be created by these projects.

We will continue to implement our One Billion Trees programme, which is supported by the Provincial Growth Fund. In addition to protecting the environment and mitigating climate change, this programme has other important objectives such as creating jobs, optimising land use and supporting Māori aspirations.

The Coalition Government will continue investing in extending the reach of fast broadband to those on farms and more remote parts. And a recently announced initiative to improve internet connectivity for marae and rural areas will start to be given effect to this year.

Reliable transport routes are critical in our regions, some of which are hampered by difficult terrain. Under the 2018-21 National Land Transport Programme, our neglected regional roads are receiving $5.8 billion of funding over three years, a $600 million increase compared to the last Government. A further $300 million is being invested in other regional transport projects to create new economic opportunities and make travelling safer.

The working group on the Upper North Island supply chain strategy will report back to the Government this year on priorities for investment in rail, roads, ports and other supporting infrastructure over the next 30 years. This report will inform decision-making on the infrastructure needed to support growth in the wider Auckland-Northland region, the country’s most populous.

We will continue to pursue the eradication of Mycoplasma bovis. It is critical that we deal effectively with this devastating disease and protect the productivity of the country’s vital beef and dairy sectors. In the wake of this issue, the Government will continue its efforts to overhaul New Zealand’s biosecurity legislative settings to ensure they are fit for purpose.

The third priority in the Coalition Government’s economic toolbox is to govern responsibly with a broader measure of success.

This year we will continue to manage the books in accordance with our Budget Responsibility Rules. As described above, these rules help to cushion us against any international uncertainty. The rules mean that we will continue to meet our debt, spending and surplus targets.

A key focus this year will be the first wellbeing Budget in May. The objective of the wellbeing Budget is to put people at the heart of government decisions. Economic growth, as important as it is, will not alone guarantee improvements to New Zealanders’ living standards. We want to take a broader approach that uses the full range of factors that affect the quality of people’s lives. We want to ensure the Government is measuring what matters to New Zealanders. It also ensures we are targeting taxpayers’ money to where it will have the greatest benefit.

The wellbeing Budget will require Ministers and departments to change their thinking away from appropriations and outputs, toward outcomes for New Zealanders. For the first time, they will have to work together to show that their Budget bids lead to intergenerational benefits.

It introduces new ways of setting targets and tracking the progress of our country based on what enables us to live fulfilling lives – our material wealth; our capability as individuals, families and communities; the health of our environment; and the strength of our communities.

With this in mind, the five Budget priorities this year are at the heart of embedding a wellbeing focus. They are:

  • create opportunities for transitioning to a sustainable low emissions economy;
  • lifting Māori and Pacific incomes, skills and opportunities;
  • supporting a thriving nation in the digital age through innovation;
  • reducing child poverty, improving child and youth wellbeing, including addressing family violence; and
  • supporting mental wellbeing for all New Zealanders, particularly those under 24.

Options to reform the State Sector Act and the Public Finance Act will also be advanced to embed the wellbeing approach into the policy process and machinery of government.

The fourth priority underpinning our economic theme is the transition to a clean, green and carbon neutral New Zealand.

A key policy priority will be to support a just transition for workers in industries that need to reduce emissions. Initiatives will continue to be developed to support the creation of jobs in sectors that are carbon-free or carbon sinks, such as forestry.

The Coalition Government is part of a global consensus that ranks climate change as the greatest environmental challenge facing the planet. There is a pressing need to cut our emissions of greenhouse gases, or warming will disrupt the climate which our primary industries depend upon, and sea-level rise will affect our coastal communities as well as other profound changes.

As part of the confidence and supply agreement, this Government will introduce legislation to set a target of a net zero carbon emissions economy by 2050, with legally binding emissions reduction targets and a framework for establishing carbon budgets to keep New Zealand on track to this goal. An independent Climate Commission will be established to provide advice, focusing on policy development and initiatives in transport, energy and primary industries.

We recognise the need to take tangible action now to meet the challenge of climate change so we will also progress work to lower the emissions of our transport fleet, consider including agriculture into the ETS framework and develop options to assist in meeting our renewable electricity target.

The Government will also stimulate new private sector investment in low-emissions industries through the newly established Green Investment Finance Limited, with $100 million start-up capital. More and more investment dollars globally are looking for clean, sustainable ventures to invest in. We want New Zealand to attract its share of that investment capital. The fund will also provide businesses with a pathway to being part of efforts to confront the greatest environmental challenge facing the planet.

This ambitious plan to take real action on climate change will involve all New Zealanders.

This Government will act as a role model, showing leadership by requiring state-owned enterprises and other government organisations to pursue low-carbon options and technologies, including electric vehicles for government fleets.

The Government will continue to progress measures that tackle the other environmental challenges that we face. We are increasing the area of land that is subject to pest control to better protect our native forests and wildlife. We are also focussed on improving the quality of our waterways and this year will progress a freshwater National Policy Statement and National Environment Standard. Cabinet will also consider options to resolve outstanding issues around marine protection for Rangitahua/the Kermadecs, and additional waste minimisation initiatives. The Government will also advance public consultation on our objective of no new mines on conservation land.

From 1 July supermarkets and other retailers are required to stop supplying single-use plastic bags. They are an environmental menace and too often end up polluting our oceans with disastrous consequences for marine life. The Government will also continue to advance proposals to ensure the sustainability of our fisheries.

The work on our plan’s second theme, improving the wellbeing of New Zealanders and their families, is also supported by four priorities. The first of these is to ensure everyone, who is able to, is earning, learning, caring or volunteering.

The Coalition Government believes that everyone should have the opportunity to contribute to their communities in ways that are meaningful to them. We see economic growth as fundamental to social inclusion, and social inclusion as a contributor to economic growth.

Employment in New Zealand continues to be strong. The number of people working has reached an all-time high, and unemployment has fallen to historic lows. Today there are 75,000 more people in work than when we came into Government. But there is more to do to reduce the number of our young people not in employment, education or training, especially those who leave school with negligible or no qualifications.

This year we will continue to expand Mana in Mahi, an innovative training scheme for 18-24 year olds under which wage subsidies are paid to enable employers to take on apprentices.

Alongside this, we will implement changes to ensure that our immigration system recognises that different regions needs different skills. We will work with industry, and education providers in our regions to ensure that we back kiwi workers and use immigration to support local communities.

An important focus will also be ensuring our education system is better prepared for the disruption we are facing from increasing uptake from technology and climate change.

Access to training and retraining opportunities where the skills provided are directly linked to the needs of the economy will be of even greater importance.

We remain committed to further investments in education and to reducing the cost burden and barriers for New Zealanders seeking to train, retrain or upskill. The Government will also be advancing reforms to the vocational sector to arrest the declining state of the industry and also better position the sector to meet New Zealand’s skill needs for the future.

We will continue to work with business and union leaders through the Future of Work Tripartite Forum to develop future options to deal with the challenges in this area.

Early learning will be an area of focus in 2019. A draft plan, He taonga te tamaiti, sets the direction for the next 10 years and is open for consultation until March. The plan provides a vision that puts the focus back on quality, and ensures we are meeting the needs of all children and their families and whanau.

The Tomorrow’s Schools Independent Taskforce has proposed far-reaching changes in the way our schools, are run, governed, and managed. Students, parents and educators have the opportunity to provide feedback until the beginning of April and we will make any decisions mid-year.

The second priority driving our efforts to improve wellbeing is supporting safer, healthier, more connected communities.

We are building a nation where people feel healthy, safe, and happy in their homes and wider communities, by improving access to affordable, quality healthcare, overhauling our mental health services and reducing crime.

Since coming to office the Coalition Government has made the cost of visiting the doctor much cheaper for nearly 600,000 New Zealanders, and we will continue to look at ways of making cost less of a barrier. On 1 December last year up to 540,000 Community Services Card holders saw the cost of visiting the doctor fall by an average of $20-$30. And 56,000 13-year-olds became eligible for free primary care.

Protecting the health of New Zealanders by improving the standard of drinking water is being accorded urgency. Following the inquiry into the Havelock North gastro outbreak, we resolved to work with councils to ensure water in New Zealand is supplied safely. This year we will pass the Health (Drinking Water) Amendment Bill, which is a step toward providing safer water supplies.

Mental health issues in New Zealand are a formidable challenge. A distressing number of young Kiwis struggle with anxiety and depression, which too often tragically ends in suicide. That is why addressing mental health is a Budget priority this year. Last November the Government received the report of the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction, and we intend to release an initial response in the first quarter of the year. Further initiatives will be advanced through the Budget process.

In 2019 we will also develop a regulatory framework for medical marijuana and continue to develop details to support a referendum on cannabis reform. Finally, a wide-ranging review of New Zealand’s health and disability system, designed to future-proof services, began last year and will provide an interim report by July.

There will be stronger focus on what works in crime prevention and rehabilitation. We will work hard to tackle organised crime which is a major cause of harm in the community. It is a driver of crimes such as family harm, robberies, and supplying and dealing drugs. At the same time combating suppliers and dealers, our approach to drugs will recognise more clearly that, for many users, treatment programmes are the best way forward to reduce the pain and cost that too many suffer as a result of drug abuse.

Some 7,000 fewer people were victims of crime in the year to last October. One of the most effective crime prevention tools is the visibility of Police in the community, so we are striving toward recruiting 1,800 additional sworn officers who will further safeguard our communities. We expect to have almost 40 per cent of the new officers in place by the end of the 2018/19 year.

A national strategy on eliminating family and sexual violence will be released to guide us in tackling these devastating and persistent problems. We have created a dedicated agency to drive a whole-of-government transformation of the family violence and sexual violence system.

The Coalition Government will this year announce initiatives aimed at improving New Zealand’s criminal justice system, moving away from American-style mega-prisons and approaches towards smarter ways to get offenders the services and support they need to come out of prison less likely to reoffend.

We have had success already, reducing the prison population down below 10,000 which it had exceeded in recent times.

Our third wellbeing priority is to ensure everyone has a warm, dry home.

This government inherited a housing crisis which will take years to resolve. We have begun addressing the national shortfall of 70,000 homes that we faced on taking office, and putting in place measures to provide emergency housing for those who cannot afford rental accommodation.

The Coalition Government strengthened the bright line test for taxing property speculators and introduced a ban on foreign buyers of residential homes. This year we will progress legislation to set up the Housing and Urban Development Authority, a new agency that will bring together land and the necessary infrastructure to increase the number of houses for New Zealanders.

We are seven months into our Kiwibuild programme, with its bold 10-year target of 100,000 homes and already we have over 10,000 homes contracted and committed to be built.

This year more first home buyers will be able to apply for a KiwiBuild home using the HomeStart grant and Welcome Home Loan because house price caps for new builds in areas outside the main centres are increasing by $50,000.

The scourge of homelessness in New Zealand will be further addressed. We have housed 1,900 more families in public homes and we will continue this year. It will take a strenuous effort over many years to end a problem which our predecessors had neglected. There will be further increases in the number of public housing tenancies. And the Government will also make sure that adequate public housing, transitional housing and Housing First places are available for people in need during the winter months.

Finally, we will continue to ensure New Zealanders have access to safe and healthy rentals. We will continue to support people to insulate their homes with the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme, building on the $6.9 million we have contributed to homeowners for 3,612 insulation retrofits. We will also reform the Residential Tenancies Act and implement the healthy homes standards.

The Coalition Government’s fourth wellbeing priority is a commitment to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child.

We are lifting tens of thousands of children out of poverty and making New Zealand an even better place to grow up, and to raise a family.

Now that the Child Poverty Act has passed with near unanimous parliamentary support, the Government Statistician will publish baseline rates of child poverty and we will confirm our short-term and 10-year child poverty reduction targets. Budget 2019 will see the first reporting on the expected impact of the Budget on child poverty, and we will have more robust survey data thanks to our investment in the Household Economic Survey conducted by Statistics NZ.

In February next year we will be able to see the impact that this Government is having, including the impact of the Families Package, on the legislated child poverty measures.

Later this year we will release the first strategy for improving the wellbeing of all children in New Zealand, particularly those in poverty and at greater risk of poor outcomes.

As part of the confidence and supply agreement with the Green Party, the Government’s Welfare Expert Advisory Group will deliver its recommendations to the Government on an overhaul of the welfare system to ensure it is accessible and fair to all New Zealanders, and the Government will respond to those recommendations. Alongside this we will continue our work to transform Work and Income to improve the service it provides to beneficiaries and create a more compassionate and caring approach.

The Government that I lead is committed to building a better country that all New Zealanders can be proud of through modern, compassionate leadership that recognises the value of all our people. This theme has as its first priority an undertaking to deliver transparent, transformative and compassionate Government.

We want to ensure our institutions continue to be free of corruption. It will be a source of pride for all New Zealanders that we have again been ranked as having one of the least corrupt public sectors and judiciaries in the world, according to the latest scorecard of the Corruption Perceptions Index.

We are working to boost trust, transparency and participation in public services. From this month, Cabinet materials will be released proactively, so that people can see how we come to our decisions. Ministerial diaries will also be released proactively and published on the Beehive website, as part of our efforts to build trust and confidence in government and its decision makers.

Last year, we undertook consultation into a shift in the way the Public Service operates. The aim is to break down the silos and barriers and make it easier to access services, and for it to work as one joined up system to tackle the big, complex challenges facing New Zealand. We will advance this by introducing a new Public Service law, to replace the 30-year-old State Sector Act.

Issues of the past are being addressed.

The Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-Based Institutions will begin hearing evidence next month, and will take four years to complete its work.

And we are continuing to prioritise the Pike River re-entry project with the next step being breaching of the 30-metre seal. A safe plan for re-entry and recovery has been progressed because the Coalition Government believes that it is the right thing to do.

We have also made great progress speeding up the Canterbury recovery – we’ve invested

$300 million to kick start the rebuild and solved thousands of outstanding EQC claims, and this year we want to continue the transition back to local leadership – giving Cantabrians power over their own future.

The Government will continue to give older New Zealanders the dignity and security they deserve. As set down in the agreement between Labour and New Zealand First, this year we will continue to develop a new generation SuperGold card, along with other steps to provide a suite of entitlements and concessions. Combined with the new Positive Ageing Strategy we will continue to ensure that our more senior New Zealanders are given the attention from Government they deserve

Our second priority under this theme is to build closer partnerships with Māori.

We will continue this year to work towards a closer, more enduring relationship between Māori and the government by listening and working together, and taking concrete steps to improve services and outcomes for tangata whenua.

Remaining Treaty of Waitangi claims are expected to be completed with those who wish to settle within the next three years.

A new agency, Te Arawhiti: The Office for Māori Crown Relations, was launched in December. It will help facilitate the next step in our relationship with Maori – moving beyond the settlement of grievances into what it means to work together in true partnership.

New initiatives will be progressed under the Budget 2019 priority of “lifting Māori and Pacific incomes and opportunities”.

The third priority in our commitment to making New Zealand proud is to value who we are as a country.

The Coalition Government will continue its commitment to celebrating our stories and our history by ensuring there is more quality local broadcast content – made by New Zealanders, for New Zealanders – and by securing the future of Te Reo Māori.

This year marks 250 years since the first encounters between Māori and Europeans. A national commemoration for all New Zealanders is taking place. Tuia – Encounters 250 will provide us with a better understanding of our distinctive heritage in the Pacific, traditional navigational history, and the foundations of our nation.

We will continue to promote and support the arts in New Zealand, for the benefit of all New Zealanders, and to provide the means by which we can tell the stories that link our past and present. For example, the launch last year of the digital platform Te Tai Whakaea, means New Zealand’s Treaty settlement stories can now be told more widely – stories that shape our modern identity as a nation.

The fourth priority supporting the kind of government we want to be is to create an international reputation we can be proud of.

New Zealand has a proud tradition of standing up on the world stage and upholding our special values – be it opposing nuclear testing in the Pacific, protesting apartheid in South Africa or demanding and also taking action to halt the catastrophic effects of climate change.

That tradition continues under this Government. New Zealand recently ranked as first by the World Bank as one of the best places to do business and we continue to rank highly in Transparency International results.

This year the Coalition Government will continue to take steps to implement its Pacific Reset policy, aimed at rebuilding New Zealand’s standing in its Pacific neighbourhood, an area of high strategic significance to New Zealand. We have already announced extra staffing for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s posts in the Pacific and an increase in development assistance for Pacific countries.

New Zealand has a long and proud history of involvement in peacekeeping and peace support missions, as part of our commitment to the rules-based international order. Last year the Coalition Government extended deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan to June 2019 and September 2019 respectively. This year we will consider options for these and future contributions.

This Government is continuing to build connections for our businesses, including small and medium enterprises, offshore, to increase prosperity. We will continue to make the case for collective action and multilateralism, and for trade barriers to be dismantled so that the benefits of trade are more evenly shared.

With the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) entering into force 65 per cent of New Zealand’s exports are now covered by free trade agreements. This Government has also announced the completion of negotiations on an upgraded Closer Economic Partnership with Singapore, and we’ve secured regulatory continuity for New Zealand exports to the United Kingdom through veterinary and mutual recognition agreements.

We are working to upgrade our free trade agreement with China, and hope to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership this year. We will also be pushing for additional, progressive free trade agreements to extend our coverage of exports and deliver benefits to all New Zealanders. New quality agreements, including with the European Union, the United Kingdom – when it is in a position to negotiate – the Pacific Alliance of Latin American countries, and Southeast Asian countries, can open up new overseas markets for our businesses and create more jobs at home.

Alongside all of this, we are also working to ensure we share the benefits of trade with all New Zealanders, through our Trade for All agenda.

The three parties that make up the Government believe in the potential of New Zealand. Despite signs of a troubled international outlook, New Zealand starts the year in an enviable position, relative to many.

Our economic fundamentals are strong. More people are in work, earning more for the work they do. We have already begun rebuilding public services, and investing in the social issues that are holding other nations back. And we have a proven economic plan which stands as a buffer against external shocks.

Over the course of the year, more will be put before this House than this statement outlines today.

But everything we do will be designed to fit with Coalition Government’s plan to improve the wellbeing of our people, and our environment, while building a stronger, fairer and more sustainable economy that works for all.

MIL OSI

Week That Was: Commemorating Te Tiriti

Source: New Zealand Labour Party

Kia ora team and welcome to the first week of February. It’s been a busy one – from commemorating Waitangi to responding to a wildfire emergency in the Nelson/Tasman districts.


This week we celebrated Waitangi, travelling to Northland to take part in the commemorations.

In the lead-up to 6th of February, the Coalition Government announced a number of significant investments in our regions through the Provincial Growth Fund. These included helping Māori landowners unlock the economic potential of their land, boosting jobs, upgrading transport links, and connecting maraes to the internet with better access to digital services. You can read more about these announcements here. 


We were welcomed to Waitangi by the official pōwhiri, followed by a speech from the Prime Minister. You can watch the speech and read the full transcript here. 


On the morning of Waitangi (and following a stirring dawn service), our PM, Ministers and MPs hosted a BBQ for everyone. It was a tradition we started last year, and one we hope continues for a long time yet.

New Zealanders spend Waitangi Day in a variety of different ways. For some, it is a moment to reflect on the past, and how we came to be as a nation. For others, it is a chance to look at how far we have to go. 

Kelvin Davis, Deputy Labour Leader and Minister for Crown-Māori Relations: Te Arawhiti, shares his thoughts on Waitangi Day here.


While at Waitangi, we learned of a large-scale bush fire near Nelson.

The fire broke out on Tuesday, and has led to the evacuation of hundreds of residents.

The Prime Minister visited the area on Thursday, pledging an initial $20,000 for the stricken Tasman community as fire crews continue to battle the blaze which started in Pigeon Valley. This funding is going to the Mayoral Relief Fund, set up by the Tasman District Council, to help communities to get back on their feet after an emergency.

At the time of writing there are encouraging signs that the fire is being contained, but it remains a potentially dynamic situation. Fire crew on the ground are doing everything possible and keeping a close eye on conditions.

PM Jacinda Ardern speaking to Tasman District residents in Nelson. Photo: Branden Fastier, Stuff


Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford officially opened eleven new state homes in Whangarei this week. These homes are designed to cater to the elderly and those with limited mobility. 

The one-bedroom homes on Maunu Road, in the suburb of Woodhill, are less than 500 metres from Whangarei Hospital, and have been designed for those with current or future mobility needs. 

We want to build homes not just for today, but for future generations. That means building for different family sizes, stages of life and needs. 

Five of the houses are fully accessible with ramps, wide hallways and wet-room showers, among other specifications. The other six homes have been designed to be able to be modified, if needed, in future.

Around a third of the demand for public housing comes from areas outside the main centres. The homes are part of Housing NZ’s Regional Housing Programme; the biggest state house building programme outside the main centres in more than a decade.


The Prime Minister delivered a significant speech to business at the close of the week.

While the speech was her first economic speech of 2019 in New Zealand, she has made similar speeches internationally, most recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In the speech, she lays out our economic plan, which includes:

  • Doubling down on trade and broadening our trading base to protect our exporters and economy
  • Reforming skills and trade training to address long-term labour shortages and productivity gaps in the New Zealand economy, and to make sure we are prepared for ongoing automation and the future of work
  • Making changes to tax to make the system fairer
  • Addressing our long-term infrastructure challenges
  • Transitioning to a sustainable carbon-neutral economy
  • Investing in wellbeing.

Read the full speech here.


MIL OSI

Provincial Growth Fund continues major investment in regions

Source: New Zealand Labour Party

The Coalition Government made a number of significant announcements about new investments through the Provincial Growth Fund this week. These investments join numerous others made through the Fund that will create jobs and boost economic development throughout New Zealand’s regions.

1.

Supporting Māori landowners and driving regional growth

To date, the biggest barrier to land development has been access to financial capital. The special status of Māori land means commercial banks are less willing to lend to them. This makes getting access to capital a challenge.

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will invest up to $100 million to assist landowners in overcoming this obstacle and obtaining the capital required to progress projects which are investment-ready. It also ensures there is now end-to-end support for Māori landowners – from capability building, feasibility work, and the completion of capital projects.

Research released in 2013 found about 80 per cent of Māori freehold land was underutilised or unproductive. This funding will ultimately support moves towards higher-value land use. 

Māori landowners can apply for funding through the PGF website. Applications will be assessed through existing Provincial Growth Fund processes. As the administrator of the fund, the Provincial Development Unit will work with the Ministry for Primary Industries and Te Puni Kōkiri to support Māori land owners develop business-ready PGF applications.


2.

Strengthening infrastructure and paving the way for future economic growth in Kaipara

There has been a long history of underinvestment in Northland, particularly in infrastructure. 

The Government is committed to investing in the public services and infrastructure that are the basic foundation for a working society. 

The $20.39m investment in Kaipara from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will help strengthen the district’s transport infrastructure and food and horticulture sector, and create the building blocks for future economic growth.

The investment includes much-needed upgrades to transport links, and exploring upgrades to Kaipara wharves and water transport, helping the district leverage more benefits from the Kaipara Harbour, the biggest in New Zealand.

The full breakdown of this investment, and all Northland Provincial Growth Fund investments to date can be found here.


3.

Boosting employment in the regions

We want to support people to learn the skills needed for local jobs while also helping employers meet their growing labour force needs. That’s why we’ve announced the creation of a new skills and employment initiative – Te Ara Mahi (Pathways to Work) – to support workers and employers in regional New Zealand.

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will provide an investment of up to $82.4 million towards initiatives to boost skills and employment.

Funding will be allocated specifically to programmes in five of the PGF’s surge regions (Northland, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti, Hawke’s Bay and Manawatū-Whanganui), which face particular challenges including high unemployment, low wages and lower productivity compared to the rest of New Zealand. Additional funding will be allocated to non-surge regions.

The PGF is investing in two specific programmes that support Māori and Pasifika – He Poutama Rangatahi and the expansion of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ successful Pacific Employment Support Service. Both programmes target rangatahi who are Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET).


4.

Connecting everyone through better access to digital services

While many of us take digital services for granted, the reality for people based in the regions is that these services are not universally available. In remote communities there are not always locations where local business people can access the internet or where local and visiting business people can come together, or where tourists can access the internet. 

This investment will connect marae to the internet and establish Regional Digital Hubs (RDHs) in towns enabling local people and businesses to access digital services.

The RDHs will offer services such as free WiFi connectivity, co-working spaces and guidance on use of the internet for business purposes. The first RDHs will open in Northland with the next regional locations to follow within the funding available.

Connectivity is an essential part of doing business while also enabling education opportunities and enriching community and family relationships. This investment will mean more communities will be able to enjoy the benefits of a digitally-enabled economy.

This builds on $80 million in funding already announced from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) – including the expansion of the Rural Broadband Initiative Phase 2 (RBI2) and Mobile Blackspot Fund (MBSF) programmes, as well as projects to boost connectivity in Southland and on the West Coast.  

MIL OSI

Prime Minister’s Waitangi Day Speech

Source: New Zealand Labour Party


Post by NZLabourParty.

I want to acknowledge all of the words that have been spoken before me, and also acknowledge all of the taniwha who have walked here with me today from your Houses of Parliament, and each leader from each party, including the Greens, the National Party and of course the Deputy Prime Minister and New Zealand First.

I want to also acknowledge that this is the first Waitangi I can remember without Kingi [Ngāpuhi elder Kingi Taurua]. I remember fondly last Waitangi – perhaps this moment captured Kingi the best. I was at Karetu Marae, and sat alongside Kingi, and we spoke and exchanged warm words in an embrace.

Two days later he led a march against the Government here at Waitangi.

Perhaps that was his last message for us all.

That protest was about mental health and wellbeing. 

And so I say, ka rongo tō reo.

Your voice is heard Kingi.

It has been one year since I stood on this veranda. It’s been one year since I talked about the importance of this place to all of Aotearoa. It’s been one year since I talked about the distance between the two houses, and it’s been one year since I asked all of you to hold all of us, and myself, to account.

And so, here we are today. And the words that I share with you I share not out of politics but for accountability. And they’re words, I hope, that should not be words of any single political party – but when I speak of how far we’ve gone and how far there is to go, those should be words for every political party. We should all have an aspiration to reduce unemployment, to increase education, to get rid of the inequality between Māori and Pākeha.

That should not be political. It should be for all of us.

And so here I am to be held to account on behalf of the Government.

How far have we come?

Last year I shared my aspiration that more should have the dignity of work. And in the last 12 months we have seen unemployment drop. Māori unemployment is the lowest that it has been in a decade, and yet the distance between us is still too high. We have more to do.

I said I wanted the potential of rangatahi to be fulfilled, and we have seen more young people going to work and to employment and these are not just numbers. Yesterday in Kaikohe a young man said to me: this year, this year I go to University, and that’s not something that the child of a beneficiary is usually expected to do. I’d like to think we might have made that possible by taking away that barrier to education with fees-free. 

But there is still more to do.

We know that even if you are in work now, it still doesn’t guarantee you’ll be able to put food on the table – that inequality still exists, that poverty is still too high. We brought in a package that we hoped would make a difference and I hope that it has.

150,000 Māori families now access the Winter Energy Payment, and yes, in part, that was driven by our desire and our love of older New Zealanders, and to care for them. 50,000 Māori families saw Working for Families go up, and we’ve lifted the minimum wage. And yet, there is still much, much more to do.

On child poverty, children who should never carry the burden of the lack of income – on that, we said that we would finally, properly measure what was happening in our country, and we would take action to make sure that we were meeting expectations. And we just didn’t do that as a Government – we did that as a Parliament. Every single parliamentarian – bar one which we don’t talk about – supported that Child Poverty Reduction Bill and I acknowledge all the parties for that.

And when you look at those numbers, there’s a message that it tells us, and it tells us the cost of housing is still a drain on our families. Yes, the accommodation supplement went up, yes we’ve increased the number of public houses, yes we’re putting extra money into Puni Kōkiri’s Māori housing programme, but there is still more to do. And I didn’t learn that looking at numbers on a page, I learnt that visiting the City Mission. I can see that there is still more to do.

I stood before you and said that we wanted the prison numbers to go down, and they have. There are fewer Māori in prison now than when we came into Government. But there is still more work to do.

We know that we need to create more opportunities – Shane Jones has been quite busy in that regard – and he’s been here in Northland alongside Ministers, many, many times, and that’s just one example. Projects from wharves, to roading, to tourism – we’ve invested in everything from kauri to tōtara to kanuka, but we know there is still more to do.

We invested in te reo in schools, we put money aside for Māori whenua, we’ve invested in mental health – but so long as we lose any life, there will still be more to do.

And so the past twelve months have taught me what a journey we have to go on together. But it’s also taught me what a privilege this job is. It’s taught me the joy of being a mum. This year has taught me that we may make progress on inequality, we may reduce poverty, we may reduce unemployment, education, the prison population, but there will still, for all of that, be distance between these two houses.

Equality is our foundation, but it is not our bridge.

I was at a marae in Tairawhiti when a speaker stood at the end of our meeting where we had been talking about the new work that was being done to invest and telling the stories of Te Tiriti – the process that iwi were going through for treaty settlement – to tell the story of what had happened. Both before and after the signing of Te Tiriti.

And she stood on the marae and said that, for a long time, there has been rhetoric about Māori and Pākeha meeting in the middle and yet how often did we truly walk that bridge together. And rather how often did we expect Māori to come all the way over to the other side. 

Yes, equality matters. Making progress on all of the things that every politician should commit to together – all of that matters, but it will never replace the need to understand our shared history.

Our shared heritage. The culture of Aotearoa. Te reo Māori – nothing will replace the need for that understanding. And on that we still have more to do.

But I am an optimist – I was born one and politics has not beaten it out of me yet.

I believe if we can make the progress that we have made in 12 months, imagine, imagine what we could do in 10 years. (That wasn’t a pitch for me personally for 10 years.)

But we need to do it together, and we will not be perfect.

There’s a quote from Michael Joseph Savage that he made the first time that state houses began to be moved into. He said: we don’t claim perfection, but what we do claim is a considerable advance on the past. 

Perhaps that sentiment was actually best captured by Kawiti, one of the signatures that sits at the top of Te Tiriti. He said this:

“Me he kino whakairo au e hurihia ki te toki mata iti.”

“I would be a poor tattoo indeed if I flinched at the first tap of the chisel.”

I will not give up on the challenges that we face together. We will keep building the foundations to bring our two houses together and that ultimately will be the foundation for which Te Arawhiti will be formed. The bridge between our two houses.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.

MIL OSI

What is the Wellbeing Budget?

Source: New Zealand Labour Party

Last week, the Prime Minister attended the World Economic Forum at Davos. 

She used the opportunity to represent New Zealand on the world stage – and to promote our upcoming Wellbeing Budget 2019.

With this Budget, we’re doing things differently. 

We don’t think you can measure the success of a country through dollars and cents alone.

So – we’re widening our focus. 

Alongside GDP, we will measure ourselves against five key priorities that will make real improvements to the lives of New Zealanders. We’ve used evidence to identify the five areas we can make the greatest difference.

Boosting innovation

Supporting a thriving nation in the digital age through innovation, social and economic opportunities.

Creating opportunities

Assisting productive businesses, regions, iwi and others to transition to a sustainable and low-emissions economy.

Backing Māori & Pasifika

Lifting Māori and Pacific incomes, skills and opportunities.

Supporting Mental Health

Supporting mental wellbeing for all New Zealanders, with a special focus on under 24 year-olds.

Improving Child Wellbeing

Reducing child poverty and improving child wellbeing, including addressing family violence.

Post by NZLabourParty.

We will continue to measure economic growth, balance our books responsibly, run a healthy surplus, and spend well within our means. 

However, this widened focus will require any Minister that wants to spend money to prove this investment will improve inter-generational wellbeing.

It’s an approach led by kindness and compassion – and it’s simply the right thing to do.

MIL OSI

MIL-OSI UK: In office but not in power – Jon Trickett responds to Institute for Government report – The Labour Party

Source: Labour Party UK

Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, responding to a report by the Institute for Government which details the disruption to the day-to-day business of government caused by the uncertainties of Brexit, said:

“In office but not in power, the Conservatives are failing to govern.

“Theresa May’s botched negotiations and nearly a decade of public sector cuts have forced the regular business of government to grind to a halt, placing at risk the public services on which everyone relies.

“Labour is the only party advocating a sensible Brexit that can bring the country together and end the uncertainty, and the only party prepared to properly support our civil service at a time of unprecedented challenges.”

MIL-OSI UK News

MIL-OSI UK: Labour tables amendment to break Brexit deadlock – The Labour Party

Source: Labour Party UK

Labour has today tabled an amendment to tonight’s government motion to break the Brexit deadlock and protect the UK from a No Deal outcome.

The amendment would instruct the government to rule out a disastrous No Deal and allow parliament to consider and vote on options to break the impasse. 

 

That would include:

·       An alternative Brexit deal that protects jobs, living standards and workers’ rights and environmental standards, including through a comprehensive customs union with a UK say and strong single market deal.

·       The option of a public vote on a deal or proposal on the UK’s future relationship with the European Union

The amendment reflects Labour’s existing policy of a Jobs First Brexit, along with the unanimously agreed conference policy of keeping all options on the table to avoid a No Deal exit, including the option of a public vote. 

 

Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party, said:

“Theresa May has shown today that she has no Plan B after the comprehensive rejection of her botched Brexit deal by MPs last week. 

“The prime minister is both refusing to change her red lines or take the threat of a no deal exit off the table. MPs must now act to break the deadlock.

“Our amendment will allow MPs to vote on options to end this Brexit deadlock and prevent the chaos of a No Deal.

“It is time for Labour’s alternative plan to take centre stage, while keeping all options on the table, including the option of a public vote.”

MIL-OSI UK News

MIL-OSI UK: Jeremy Corbyn responding to Theresa May’s Brexit Statement in the House – The Labour Party

Source: Labour Party UK

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

Mr Speaker, I thank the Prime Minister for an advance copy of her statement.

 

I join the Prime Minister in condemning the car bomb attack we have seen in Londonderry and commend the emergency services and local community for their response.

The huge achievement of the Good Friday Agreement in reducing violence in Northern Ireland must never be taken for granted.

The government still appears not to have come to terms with the scale of the defeat in this House last week.

The Prime Minister seems to going through the motions of accepting that result, but in reality is in deep denial.

The logic of that decisive defeat is that the Prime Minister must change her red lines because her current deal is undeliverable. So can she be clear and explicit to the House: which of her red lines is she prepared to move on?

The Prime Minister’s invitations to talks have been exposed as a PR sham.

Every opposition party politician came out of those meetings with the same response. Contrary to what the Prime Minister has just said, there was no flexibility; there were no negotiations; nothing had changed.

But Mr Speaker, I welcome the commitment that the fee for EU citizens to apply for Settled Status will be waived.

Mr Speaker, the Prime Minister was fond of saying: “this is the best possible deal on the table, it is the only possible deal on offer”.

But our EU negotiating partners are clear and I quote:

“Unanimously the European Council have always said that if the UK chooses to shift its red lines in the future … and to go beyond a simple free trade agreement, then the EU will be immediately ready to give a favourable response.”

This House voted to hold the referendum. It voted to trigger Article 50. There is a clear majority of this House to support a deal in principle and to respect the referendum result.

But it requires the Prime Minister to face reality, and accept her deal has been comprehensively defeated.

Instead, we now understand the Prime Minister is going back to Europe to seek concessions on the backstop.

Can I ask the Prime Minister, what is the difference between legal assurances and concessions?

What makes her think that what she tried to renegotiate in December will succeed in January?

This really does feel like Groundhog Day.

 

So the first thing she must do is recognise the clear majority in this House against leaving without a deal and to rule out ‘no deal’. Stop the colossal waste of public money planning for an outcome.

Questions too must be asked of the Chancellor. He reassured businesses that ‘no deal’ would be ruled out by the Commons, yet he is sanctioning £4.2 billion to be spent on an option he believes will be ruled out.

The Foreign Secretary last week said it was “very unrealistic” to believe that the House of Commons would not find a way to block ‘no deal’.

Mr Speaker, can I ask the Prime Minister to meet first with her Chancellor and Foreign Secretary to see if they can convince her to do what is in her power and rule out ‘no deal’?

If she will not do that now, will she confirm to the House that if an amendment passes that rules out ‘no deal’ she will implement that instruction?

The Prime Minister agreed the backstop because of her pledge to the people of Northern Ireland to avoid a hard border. But ‘no deal’ would mean a hard border in Ireland and break the Prime Minister’s commitment. Is she seriously willing to accept a hard border?

But today heralds the start of a democratic process, where this House will debate amendments that will determine how we navigate Brexit.

Of course, the government tried to block us ever getting to this stage, they wanted to have no democratic scrutiny whatsoever.

Labour has set out and I believe there may be a majority in this House for such a proposal. For a new comprehensive customs union with the EU; a strong single market deal that delivers frictionless trade; and ensures no race to the bottom on workers’ rights.

We will, as we have said consistently from the beginning, back amendments that seek to rule out the disaster of ‘no deal’.

And as we have said, we will not rule out the option of a public vote.

So Mr Speaker, no more phoney talks. Parliament will debate and decide.

And this time the government must listen.

MIL-OSI UK News

MIL-OSI UK: 5 million ‘no deal’ airline cancellations – Andy McDonald responds – The Labour Party

Source: Labour Party UK

Andy McDonald MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, commenting on reports that a no-deal Brexit could lead to 5 million airline tickets having to be cancelled, said:

“A no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for the UK aviation sector.

“The Government must immediately reassure the aviation industry that its operating environment will not change after 29 March.

“Theresa May has to listen to the majority of MPs, as well as members of her own cabinet, and take ‘no deal’ off the table.”

MIL-OSI UK News