Prime Minister Bill English has announced that Sir Bruce Robertson and Warwick Gendall have been appointed as Commissioners of Intelligence Warrants.
Sir Bruce has also been appointed Chief Commissioner of Intelligence Warrants.
Sir Bruce has had a distinguished career as a High Court and Court of Appeal judge and has been the Commissioner of Security Warrants since mid-2013.
He has also held a range of other legal, public service, academic, community and sports appointments in New Zealand.
Mr Gendall is a former High Court Judge and currently Chair of the Parole Board and of Drug Free Sport New Zealand.
He has had substantial experience as a senior sports administrator, particularly in football, as well as being active on sports, medical and legal disciplinary committees and other community affairs since the early 1970s.
The appointments of Sir Bruce and Mr Gendall were made after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. Their three-year terms commenced on 1 April.
“I would like to thank both Sir Bruce and Mr Gendall for being willing to take on these roles, providing critical oversight of the work of New Zealand’s intelligence agencies and promoting public confidence in them,” Mr English says.
Changes squarely focussed on the protection of children and young people come into effect tomorrow, along with a range of measures to ease the burden on many families, Prime Minister Bill English says.
Working for Families, benefits and Superannuation will all increase on 1 April, while ACC work levies will be further reduced, for the second year in a row.
“The opening of the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, along with the launch of VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai, which is New Zealand’s first independent advocacy service for children, show how very committed this Government is to tackling child abuse, and giving our kids the helping hand many of them need,” Mr English says.
“Low-income working families who are eligible for the minimum family tax credit (MFTC) will receive a small increase, bringing their after-tax annual income to $23,816.
“As well as that, there will be an increase to the adult minimum wage to $15.75 an hour. I’m proud National has increased the minimum wage every year since coming into office.
“A small increase in benefit rates this year comes on top of last year’s move to increase benefits to families with children by $25 a week, the first time in 43 years a government has lifted them.”
The measures coming into force tomorrow also include:Benefit rates will increase by 1.1 per cent. Superannuation rates will increase by 1.4 per cent. ACC levies will fall by $139.2 million with a further $113.2 million reduction on 1 July. In total levies have been cut by $2.25 billion since 2008. The adult minimum wage will increase by 50 cents to $15.75 an hour on 1 April 2017. The starting-out and training hourly minimum wage rates will increase from $12.20 to $12.60 per hour, remaining at 80 per cent of the adult minimum wage.
“The sound economic management of the National-led Government over the past nine years has helped get New Zealand back on track and in a position to start sharing the benefits of our growing economy with Kiwis.
“The changes coming into effect tomorrow are good examples of the benefits our responsible policy programme is delivering,” Mr English says.
New Zealand and China will begin talks on an upgrade of the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries on April 25, Prime Minister Bill English announced today.
The announcement followed official talks between the Prime Minister and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Wellington today.
“The FTA with China has been an enormous success,” Mr English says.
“Since coming into force in 2008 two-way trade between our two countries has tripled to $23 billion, creating jobs and opportunities for people in both countries. An upgrade will ensure this momentum continues and ensure that the FTA remains a modern agreement that tackles barriers our exporters face. It will assist progress towards our target of $30 billion two-way trade by 2020.
“The agreement to commence of negotiations also confirms the commitment of both countries to open trade and economic growth,” Mr English says.
“Trade openness and strong ties in the region are critical to New Zealand’s economic growth, prosperity, and job creation.”
Mr English says today’s meeting with Premier Li provided an opportunity to reflect on the successes achieved since New Zealand established diplomatic relations with China 45 years ago, and to set the agenda for the future.
“Premier Li and I also reiterated the value we see in people-to-people links between our two countries, including the nearly 35,000 Chinese students studying in New Zealand, and the 400,000 Chinese who visit annually.
“Both countries also confirmed their commitment to open trade, sustainable development, and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.
In addition to agreeing a date for talks to begin on a FTA upgrade, the two leaders also announced a number of other initiatives, including:Access to China for chilled meat from 10 New Zealand meat processors, initially on a six-month trial with a view to later expanding trade. A climate change action plan, to enable closer cooperation as both countries transition to lower carbon economies. Mutual recognition of trusted exporters, which will facilitate faster border clearance times for the recognised New Zealand exporters who already account for nearly half of New Zealand’s $9.4 billion of goods exports to China An increase in the number of direct flights possible between China and New Zealand, from 49 to 59 under the Air Services Agreement. Frameworks to explore new economic opportunities, including on China’s Belt and Road Initiative, aimed at closer cooperation on regional infrastructure projects, and e-commerce, a growing platform that allows New Zealand companies to sell directly to Chinese consumers Enhanced cooperation in a number of areas including agriculture, sustainable fisheries, in the South Pacific, environmental issues, education and training, international development, health research, and intellectual property. Agreement to strengthen cooperation on judicial and law enforcement issues, to jointly fight corruption and transnational crime.
This is the Premier’s first visit to New Zealand as Premier, but he previously visited as Vice Premier in 2009.
“It was a pleasure to host Premier Li in New Zealand once again, together with his wife Madame Cheng Hong.
“I look forward to hosting them both at a China-New Zealand Gala in Auckland tomorrow.”
Can I start by thanking the International Business Forum and the Auckland Chamber of Commerce for hosting this event.
And can I acknowledge your guests and my ministerial colleagues.
In particular I want to acknowledge Trade Minister Todd McClay, who along with Foreign Minister Murray McCully is doing an excellent job of promoting our interests overseas.
I think Todd and Murray would admit that some parts of that job are not too difficult.
After all, we have an enviable reputation around the world.
New Zealand is renowned for its great lifestyle, safe and friendly communities, good public services and a clean and green environment - all underpinned by a stable government and a growing economy.
It's no wonder that we've changed from being a place many wanted to leave, to one Kiwis want to return to.
I’m proud of what New Zealanders are achieving, supported by this Government.
Wages are rising and more jobs are being created every day.
We’ve supported the country through difficult times while continuing to invest in better public services, and in particular helping those most in need.
We’re building more infrastructure like schools, hospitals, housing and roads.
And we’re doing all that at the same time as getting our books back in order.
There’s no doubt we’ve made some very significant strides forward as a country.
But the job is far from done.
We’re now in a position to achieve things we hadn’t even thought possible 10 years ago.
We have a rare opportunity to prepare for the long-term and solve some of the more difficult social and environmental issues that governments have grappled with for decades.
I am determined to do that.
We’ve learnt over the last few years that first and foremost the government must promote and encourage a strong economy.
Everything else flows from that.
The work to improve public services, build infrastructure, and solve social problems is possible only because we have enjoyed sustained, solid economic growth.
A big reason for that is the Government’s consistent agenda of economic reform, and our determination to open up more opportunities for trade with the world.
I cannot over-state how important trade is to New Zealand, and how closely it is linked to our prosperity.
Successive New Zealand governments have built a broad network of high quality free trade agreements.
Our first FTA - CER with Australia - created one of the most seamless cross-border marketplaces in the world.
We have secured high-quality agreements across greater China, including the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as with Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and Korea.
These agreements have delivered real results that have always far exceeded our expectations.
Our goods exports to mainland China are now four times what they were before the FTA.
And just six months into our agreement with South Korea, our wine exports there have increased by 30 per cent.
Together with Australia we have negotiated a trade agreement with the 10 ASEAN nations.
We now trade more with these countries in a week than we did a year in the early 1970s.
New Zealand is at the heart of the ongoing regional integration process in Asia, and we are one of the 16 nations involved in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations.
Those 16 countries represent more than three billion people and a total GDP of around $US23 trillion.
A more open, integrated Asia Pacific is an increasingly important part of New Zealand’s economic future.
It is the world’s fastest growing region, and it is shifting from investment driven growth to consumption that better fits our profile of soft-commodity exports.
ASEAN nations are expected to consume three times more dairy in 2050 than they did in 2007.
Their meat and fruit intake will double.
And beef consumption in China is expected to more than triple in that time.
Those are hugely significant opportunities for New Zealand producers and we need to be ready to help meet those needs.
Fortunately, we are well placed to take on the world.
We know how to produce high quality products that other countries want.
We have fewer than five million people but produce enough food to feed nearly ten times that.
We have an educated, ambitious and highly skilled workforce.
And we are one of the least corrupt countries in the world.
People like doing business with us, and that’s an excellent starting point.
Free trade agreements have allowed our exporters to diversify into new products and new markets – meaning we are more resilient to international shocks.
Although it remains a hugely important part of the economy, dairy no longer dominates our exports as it once did.
We’re seeing solid growth in tourism, wine, ICT, education and many other sectors.
Between 2014 and 2016, global dairy prices fell markedly, and as a result annual dairy exports fell by $3.3 billion.
But because of our diversified export portfolio, non-dairy exports grew by $5.9 billion over the same period.
I am often bemused by opposition to free trade.
It makes me think that governments have done a poor job of explaining the benefits.
They are indisputable.
Our exports are now worth $70 billion and they continue to grow, supporting hundreds of thousands of Kiwi jobs and households.
The dairy sector alone employs over 40,000 people, and supports the jobs of many more.
The tourism sector employs around 190,000.
And exporting firms employ an average of 20 people compared with just three staff in non-exporting businesses.
Trade is part of the reason why New Zealand is growing more strongly than most developed countries.
It’s part of the reason why the average wage is up 26 per cent since National was elected in 2008.
It’s part of the reason why over 370,000 jobs have been created since the height of the GFC.
And it’s a lot of the reason why the cost of living remains historically low, with things like cars, appliances and cell phones becoming more affordable.
Our lives would be poorer without free trade.
I acknowledge we have seen in the past that free trade can lead to significant change for some industries.
That change can be painful for some people working in those sectors.
But New Zealanders, with support from the Government, have shown an impressive ability to adapt and to thrive.
Ultimately, free trade is why New Zealanders are getting ahead and they now see a country confident in itself, more prosperous - more certain of sustained success.
It’s because we have one of the most open and competitive economies in the world that our farmers are today among the world’s most efficient, our wines among the most sought after, our reputation for ingenuity is respected internationally and why Kiwis are known for their work ethic and can-do attitude.
As Prime Minister, every week I have the honour of meeting these kinds of people.
I see many of you here today.
Leaders, entrepreneurs and risk takers.
I see people who are backing themselves and their businesses on the world stage and succeeding.
New Zealanders who are taking other Kiwis with them and providing jobs and incomes to Kiwi families.
New Zealanders who are creating international connections, growing our global reputation and adding value to our country.
We all recognise you and your success.
And we recognise those who have helped your businesses conquer the world, because as you all know, you haven’t done it alone.
There are many thousands of New Zealanders who can look at businesses like Air New Zealand, Xero, Orion Health, Zespri, Fonterra and Icebreaker, and take pride in the knowledge they played a part in their success.
The challenge now is to sustain that growth and to share it.
We know that when your products are in markets overseas they can compete on quality and cost of production.
As a Government, our job is to help you get your goods on those shelves and compete on price by removing tariffs and other barriers.
So I want to assure you, the National-led Government will continue to forge new trade opportunities and help our businesses take advantage of those opportunities.
While our existing agreements have raised our standard of living, our ability to create new and better ones will determine whether our success is sustainable.
We have our work cut out for us.
While many countries continue to push for open borders and greater integration, the voices of protectionism have grown both internationally and even within our own Parliament.
You may have noticed our political opponents have become increasingly fearful of the world and more inward looking.
We in the National-led Government are outward looking.
Where they lack a belief in the ability of New Zealanders to succeed on the world stage, we look to our horizons and see a platform to greater prosperity.
And where they seek to impose constraints, we choose to stand behind those people willing to put themselves forward.
We know that if we open doors New Zealanders will walk through them, creating opportunities for themselves and others.
But we mustn’t take this for granted.
The biggest threat to our economic success at the moment is disruption of international trade.
New barriers and less integration would do exactly the opposite of what their champions claim.
They would mean consumers pay more, have less choice and the world would be less efficient.
There would be fewer jobs, incomes would grow more slowly, and we would make slower progress on the challenges we face as an international community.
That means less confidence and greater instability.
It is a depressingly backward scenario and there would be no winners.
Free trade has helped spur the strong growth we have seen in our region, made it more stable and lifted millions of people out of poverty.
That is part of the reason we were disappointed with the decision of the US to withdraw from the TPP.
TPP would have improved regional trade and it would have ensured the US maintained its influence and leadership in the Asia Pacific.
Instead it has left a vacuum for others to fill – and it is up to the remaining signatories to provide the leadership needed to get some sort of agreement over the line.
Because make no mistake, while the US withdrawal is a set-back, it is not the end of the road.
We will continue to work with our TPP partners to investigate a way forward.
The potential rewards are too great not to try and we have been heartened by the positive response to our efforts so far.
Trade negotiations have never been easy.
The US has said it will focus on bilateral trade deals and Brexit has created some uncertainty around access to two of our largest export markets – the UK and Europe.
But there are many more reasons to be optimistic.
Many of the world’s largest economies remain committed to open trade.
That was made very clear to me on my visit to Brussels, London and Berlin earlier this year and in my recent meeting with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
I am meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday and the Chinese have strongly advocated for the benefits of globalisation and increasingly open trade, as have Mexico and Japan.
We must remain ambitious and continue to make the case for free trade in a world where opposition has become louder.
So today I am pleased to launch the Government’s updated trade strategy.
Trade Agenda 2030 underlines our ambition to remain a champion of free trade.
It will see us work towards more secure and predictable market access, with a focus on eliminating tariffs and addressing non-tariff barriers to trade.
The latter are estimated to cost our exporters nearly $6 billion a year in the APEC region alone.
We’ve set an ambitious target of achieving FTA coverage for 90 per cent of our goods exports by 2030 – up from 53 per cent today.
Those of you experienced in trade will realise just how challenging that target will be.
But I’m sure you also realise the massive potential benefits.
If we have broader coverage of free trade agreements, our exporters will have more flexibility to take advantage of opportunities as they arise and to better adjust to a downturn in any one market.
Trade Agenda 2030 sets out the reasons why further investment is needed to make this happen.
The Government will commit an extra $91.3 million over the next four years through Budget 2017.
We will establish two new diplomatic posts.
A new Dublin Embassy will support an intensified relationship with Ireland and the EU.
This will be especially important following the UK’s departure from the EU, and as we continue our EU FTA process.
And a new High Commission in Sri Lanka will advance New Zealand as a trusted partner in South Asia.
We will also strengthen the public service’s capacity to negotiate new free trade agreements, build on existing ones and to tackle non-tariff barriers.
We will make it easier for exporters to alert the Government to any trade barriers and ensure MFAT and MPI respond quickly and effectively.
We will also provide more intensive support to businesses to help them negotiate access issues, which can be complex.
New Zealand’s trade profile is also changing, with overseas investment, trade in services, and the digital economy all growing parts of our trading future.
So Trade Agenda 2030 will support the development of new businesses so our exporters can make the most of globalisation and technological advances, and NZTE will provide improved support for digital services exporters.
Finally, we want to do a better job of providing more information to the public about trade deals.
So Trade Agenda 2030 comes with a commitment from the Government to engage New Zealanders more on trade and do that job better.
This will be done in part through the establishment of a Ministerial Advisory Group made up of different stakeholders including unions, business leaders, iwi and NGOs.
We will lead on trade – just like we did in instigating the TPP, and just as we are in keeping it going.
The Government will progress existing negotiations and start new ones.
We are on track for a formal launch of negotiations with the EU later this year and we are ready to negotiate with the UK when it is in a position to do so.
We are nearing an agreement with the Gulf States and negotiations with our Pacific neighbours on Pacer Plus are well advanced.
The RCEP negotiation I mentioned earlier has also been making steady progress, and we will continue to push for a commercially meaningful outcome.
We are also exploring new opportunities, including in Latin America and with India, where our trade ties are currently limited.
We will engage with the new US Administration on opportunities for deepening trade and economic ties with the United States.
And as we expand our network of FTAs, we will look to extract maximum value from the agreements we already have, and to build on them.
The most tangible example of that is the agreement last year to upgrade the China FTA.
And I look forward to discussing this process further with Premier Li during his upcoming visit.
Ladies and gentleman, the evidence in favour of free trade is irrefutable.
It creates jobs, boosts incomes and prosperity, and it puts us on the world stage.
As a Government, we are working hard to help create a level playing field for our exporters.
And we are incredibly proud seeing New Zealanders succeed.
There is so much to gain from advances in free trade.
I am committed to seeing those gains, and on behalf of all New Zealanders this Government will not stop working to achieve them.
Prime Minister Bill English has today launched New Zealand’s updated trade strategy, Trade Agenda 2030, and reiterated the Government’s commitment to free trade.
The Prime Minister has also announced the Government’s ambitious goal of having free trade agreements cover 90 per cent of New Zealand’s goods exports by 2030, up from 53 per cent today, as well as investing $91.3 million over four years through Budget 2017 to help achieve this.
“New Zealand is succeeding and New Zealanders are getting ahead. Wages and employment opportunities are rising, we’re investing in infrastructure like schools and roads and the Government’s books are back in order,” Mr English says.
“A big reason for that is the Government’s consistent agenda of economic reform, and our collective determination to open up more opportunities for trade with the world.”
Mr English says trade is vital to New Zealand’s economic success and while our existing trade agreements have raised our standard of living, our ability to forge new and better ones will play a big part in determining whether our success is sustainable.
“It’s important that we remain an open and outward-facing country focused on creating and embracing trading opportunities, and Trade Agenda 2030 outlines our plan for achieving that.
“It will see us seek to forge new trade agreements, maximise the benefits of existing ones, focus more on tackling non-tariff barriers, put more emphasis on services, investment and digital trade issues, and work even more closely with our exporters to help them create and succeed in new markets.”
The Trade Agenda 2030 package includes:The opening of a new embassy in Dublin, Ireland and a new High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka. $35.3 million to the Ministry of Primary Industries to focus on boosting the value of our primary sector exports, including through targeting non-tariff barriers. $20.3 million to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to enhance the Ministry’s trade work, with a focus on improving market access, maximising benefits from existing FTAs and negotiating new ones, helping business internationalise and tackling non-tariff barriers. $6.7 million to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to strengthen our international networks across the globe and boost the availability of consular services for Kiwis overseas. The establishment of a Ministerial Advisory Group to ensure the public is better informed on trade issues. The development of a single point of contact to allow exporters to alert the Government to non-tariff barriers and to get better information and support.
The new funding is $80.3 million in operating funding over four years and $11 million in capital.
“As a Government, we are working hard to help create opportunities for our exporters to compete successfully on the world stage. And we are incredibly proud to see New Zealanders succeed internationally.
“There is so much to gain from advances in free trade, in terms of jobs and higher incomes for New Zealanders.
“I am committed to seeing those gains, and on behalf of all New Zealanders this Government will continue working to achieve them.”
More information can be found at www.mfat.govt.nz/tradeagenda2030.
Prime Minister Bill English has condemned the terror attack in London today and expressed New Zealand’s condolences to the people of the UK.
“London is a place many thousands of New Zealanders have visited and called home, and where many more have friends and family based, so this attack feels very close to home,” Mr English says.
“We utterly condemn this act.
“Innocent people should never have to fear such violence when going about their daily lives, and New Zealand stands alongside the UK in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
“Our thoughts are with the people of London, and in particular with the victims of today’s shocking attack, and their families and friends.”
National Security and Intelligence Minister Bill English today welcomed the passing of legislation which updates the legislative framework and increases the transparency of the intelligence and security agencies.
Four Acts have been consolidated into a single comprehensive piece of legislation which clearly sets out the agencies’ powers, establishes a new warranting framework and builds on the robust oversight and accountability of the agencies.
“It is crucial our agencies operate within a legal framework which maintains both the security and the rights of New Zealanders,” Mr English says.
“This legislation ensures that the agencies remain effective against complex security threats while safeguarding the privacy, human rights and democratic freedoms we expect in our society.”
The legislation implements the majority of the recommendations made in the first independent review of intelligence and security, carried out by Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy.
“I would like to acknowledge the almost unanimous support this Bill received in the House. It recognises that national security is a fundamental responsibility of any government and reflects the cooperation across political parties on this legislation.”
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will visit New Zealand next week.
Prime Minister Bill English announced today that he and Premier Li will hold official talks in Wellington, and that he and the Premier will also meet business leaders in Auckland during his visit from 26 to 29 March.
“The visit is an important opportunity to set the agenda for the next stage of our strong relationship and demonstrates our shared commitment to open trade and economic growth,” Mr English says.
Premier Li’s visit marks the 45th year of diplomatic relations between China and New Zealand, and comes three years after China and New Zealand declared a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership during a visit to New Zealand by President Xi Jinping.
Li Keqiang previously visited New Zealand in 2009 as Vice Premier, at the invitation of Mr English in his then-capacity as Deputy Prime Minister.
“Premier Li knows New Zealand well, and I look forward to discussing with him opportunities for our two countries and the region.”
The Premier will be accompanied by his wife, Professor Cheng Hong, as well as a large official and business delegation.
China is New Zealand’s second-largest trading partner. Two-way trade reached a new all-time high of NZ$23 billion in 2016. More than 400,000 Chinese tourists visited New Zealand last year, spending over $1.6 billion. In addition nearly 35,000 Chinese students are studying in New Zealand.
Prime Minister Bill English today announced the appointments of Phil O’Reilly and Tenby Powell to the APEC Business Advisory Council, through to December 2019.
The Prime Minister also confirmed the extension of Katherine Rich’s appointment through till March 2019.
“Mr O’Reilly and Mr Powell both bring important skills to the organisation and will strongly represent the interests of New Zealand businesses on important trade and economic issues in the Asia Pacific,” Mr English says.
“I am also pleased to extend Mrs Rich’s term. She is leading important work on addressing non-tariff barriers, including in the food sector, which is a key priority for New Zealand, and this will allow her to continue in that role.”
Mr O’Reilly is the Founder and Director of Iron Duke Partners Ltd, a former CEO of Business New Zealand, and the current chair of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Mr Powell is the co-founder of Hunter Powell Investment Partners Ltd and has been an active champion of small business issues, in particular by founding the NZ SME Business Network, and has been the Chair of the Small Business Development Group since 2012.
ABAC is a network of business representatives from each of the 21 APEC economies. It provides advice from a business perspective to APEC Leaders each year on the implementation of APEC’s work towards economic prosperity in the Asia Pacific region.
The Government will progressively lift the age of eligibility for NZ Superannuation from 65 to 67, starting in 20 years’ time, Prime Minister Bill English announced today.
“New Zealanders are healthier and living longer so adjusting the long-term settings of NZ Super while there is time for people to adapt is the right thing to do,” Mr English says.
The changes will be phased in from 1 July 2037 and will not affect anyone born on or before 30 June 1972.
Even after the change, someone who retires at age 67 in 2040 is likely to receive NZ Super for longer than someone who retires at age 65 today. That is because average life expectancy is increasing by about 1.3 years each decade.
The change will be legislated for next year.
“This Government has a strong track record of supporting older New Zealanders. Since 2008 weekly payments to superannuitants have increased by 35 per cent after tax while inflation has increased by 14 per cent.
“Gradually increasing the retirement age from 2037 will more fairly spread the costs and benefits of NZ Super between generations, ensure the scheme remains affordable into the future and give people time to adjust,” Mr English says.
“It will also bring New Zealand into line with other countries like Australia, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany and the United States which are all moving to a retirement age of 67.”
There will be no change to the universality or indexation of NZ Super.
Mr English says the Government is announcing the change now so that political parties can debate superannuation transparently in the lead-up to the election.