Finance Minister Steven Joyce and the Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Gerry Brownlee have today announced plans to simplify and improve the EQC scheme for New Zealanders.
“EQC has provided huge support to New Zealanders following the Christchurch, Seddon, and Kaikōura earthquakes,” Mr Joyce says.
“This review has provided us the opportunity to consider how the scheme could work more effectively for future natural disasters.
“Everyone with a private insurance policy, that includes fire insurance for their residential building, will continue to receive EQC cover,” Mr Joyce says.
Mr Brownlee says the reforms will have no impact on the handling and outcome of existing EQC claims.
“The reforms we are announcing will simplify the relationship between the EQC scheme and private insurance and help provide faster and smoother resolution of claims following a major event,” Mr Brownlee says.
The reforms are:Increasing the monetary cap from $100,000 (plus GST) to $150,000 (plus GST) for EQC building cover. Clarifying EQC land cover is for natural disaster damage that directly affects the insured residence or access to it. Standardising the claims excess on EQC building cover at $1,000. This currently ranges from $200 to $1,150 depending on the size of the claim. EQC no longer providing any residential household contents insurance. Requiring EQC claimants to lodge claims with their private insurer who would pass the claim on to EQC (if the property is insured).
“Requiring EQC claimants to lodge claims with their private insurer will help EQC and private insurers work better together in future.
“Following feedback from the Discussion Document issued in 2015, changes were made in response to submitter concerns regarding the treatment of land damage affecting residential buildings, the previously proposed $2000 excess and the idea of combining building and land damage cap amount,” Mr Brownlee says.
Further work now needs to be done on the details of a scheme that will incorporate the features announced today.
The Government hopes to release a draft of an EQC reform bill later this year or early next year, with the changes anticipated to be implemented in 2020.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee will today travel to Cuba to meet with his counterpart before attending the Pacific Alliance Summit in Colombia.
On June 27, Mr Brownlee will visit Cuba to meet Foreign Affairs Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla.
“This visit will help to strengthen New Zealand’s interests in the Latin American region, which is home to about 625 million people,” Mr Brownlee says.
“New Zealand works with Cuba on a number of important issues, including agriculture, international development, and regional cooperation.
“Both nations provide support to Small Island Developing States in the Pacific and Caribbean regions. Cuba is an important player in the Caribbean and the visit is a valuable opportunity to engage with one of our larger partners in the region,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Brownlee will then attend the Pacific Alliance Summit in Cali, Colombia on June 29 and 30. Trade Minister Todd McClay is also attending.
The Alliance is a regional organisation, established in 2011 by Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico. New Zealand has observer nation status with the Pacific Alliance.
“The Alliance is looking to begin trade negotiations with some observer countries as a pathway to offering Associate Membership of the group,” Mr Brownlee says.
“New Zealand already has long-standing relationships with the Alliance and each of its constituent nations.
“Pacific Alliance is a growing force for political and economic stability in Latin America, so it’s important for New Zealand to be a voice at the table,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced New Zealand will provide a workshop in Barbados to help upskill the Caribbean in disaster risk management.
“New Zealand knows that having the right people with the right skills in place before an event happens is essential to responding to it effectively, and this is what we will be sharing with the Caribbean,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Like the Pacific, the Caribbean is largely made up of small island states, vulnerable to natural disasters.
“The workshop will focus on what mix of skills and experience the participant agencies need to have in order to manage disasters, and participants will prepare practical plans based on their countries’ specific needs.
“Thirty-five people from disaster response and disaster management agencies across the Caribbean region will attend the two-day workshop later this month.
“The workshop, funded by New Zealand, will be run in partnership with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, and delivered by two emergency management competency experts from GNS Science,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced a significant boost to support Pacific island countries comply with international anti-money laundering standards.
New Zealand is providing $3.6 million to the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering.
“The Group is a collaborative international organisation committed to the effective implementation and enforcement of international standards against money laundering and the financing of terrorism,” Mr Brownlee says.
“In recent years, there has been a global push to tighten anti-money laundering standards, and compliance with the standards has proven complex and costly for most Pacific island countries.
“The group will use the funding to provide Pacific members with technical assistance, including drafting new legislation, training regulators and supervisors of financial and non-financial institutions.
“It will also be used to train law enforcement agencies in investigating and prosecuting financial crime.
“Money laundering diverts essential funds away from the legitimate economy, and is often used to fund further criminal activity, including drug and people trafficking.
“These are trans-national issues, so better compliance with standards across our region is in New Zealand’s best interests. Improved compliance will help enhance international confidence in Pacific island economies.
“This investment will reduce operating risks and encourage banks and other financial service providers to invest in the region. It will also reduce risks in key sectors like remittances, tourism, and trade, on which Pacific island economies depend,” Mr Brownlee says.
The activity will run from July 2017-2022 and will mainly cover the 11 Pacific island countries that are members of the Asia/Pacific Group: Cook Islands, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu.
The Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Gerry Brownlee says settlement offers for the majority of claims from the Kaikōura earthquake are on track to be made by the end of the year.
In the wake of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake in November 2016, the Earthquake Commission (EQC) and private insurers signed a Memorandum of Understanding to help ensure claims were resolved efficiently and in a timely manner.
“Under the agreement, private insurers are acting as EQC’s agents and receive, assess and settle home and contents claims for earthquake damage, even those under the EQC $100,000 damage cap,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The new approach draws from lessons learnt by both EQC and private insurers from the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.
“In total, 38,000 residential claims are being managed as a result of the Kaikōura earthquake.
“This makes the Kaikōura earthquake the second-largest claims event in EQC’s history. While Christchurch, Wellington, North Canterbury and Marlborough are the primary locations for claims lodged, claims have also been received from Invercargill through to Northland.
“As of May 31, more than 40 per cent of building and land claims have had their initial assessment completed and 21 per cent of claims have been settled.
“Building assessments are progressing well in the worst-affected communities. About 55 per cent have been completed in Marlborough, 75 per cent in Kaikōura and about 50 per cent in the Hurunui district.
“Of the 5,500 claims that are being managed directly by EQC, 50 per cent of customers’ building and land claims have had their initial assessment completed and 39 per cent have been settled. EQC has almost completed 75 per cent of land and building assessments.
“The intention of the MoU was to reduce the double handling of claims and to speed up settlements for earthquake-affected customers and I’m pleased with the progress being made by both EQC and private insurers,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has today announced three senior appointments to oversee New Zealand’s involvement in Expo 2020, being held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Ex-Chairman of Kensington Swan lawyers, Clayton Kimpton, has been appointed as New Zealand’s Commissioner-General to Expo 2020 and prominent business leaders, Dame Julie Christie and Christopher Luxon, have been appointed to a wider steering group.
“Expo 2020 presents a huge opportunity for New Zealand businesses to promote their goods and services into a region that has become one of New Zealand's fastest-growing markets outside China,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The value of our trade with the Gulf States region currently stands at $3.8 billion a year.
“Participating at Expo 2020 gives us a platform to increase this substantially, by positioning New Zealand businesses at the heart of where relationships are made, perceptions are formed and deals get done.
“Bringing Clayton Kimpton, Dame Julie Christie and Christopher Luxon into the fold will bring a wealth of real-world commercial experience.
“This experience will help guide the planning and direction we take with Expo 2020, ensuring decisions are made through a business lens, focused on what New Zealand companies need to maximise the significant economic and entrepreneurial opportunities on offer,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced diplomat Carl Worker as New Zealand’s next Consul-General in Hong Kong, a role he has held previously.
“New Zealand has a close relationship with Hong Kong with thriving trade, investment and finance links,” Mr Brownlee says.
“As New Zealand’s 10th largest export market with total exports of $1.15 billion last year, Hong Kong is an important commercial and investment market for New Zealand companies.
“New Zealand has had over 39,000 visitor arrivals from Hong Kong last year.
“We also have a very successful trade agreement with Hong Kong, the Closer Economic Partnership, which has secured duty-free access for New Zealand goods into Hong Kong. It continues to support growing trade both with Hong Kong and as an important gateway to mainland China for New Zealand firms.
“New Zealand and Hong Kong have strong community links, with long established expat communities,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Worker is currently Principal Business Adviser with a special focus on China at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism.
He served as Ambassador to China from 2009 to 2015 following earlier assignments as Ambassador to Argentina, his first appointment as Consul-General in Hong Kong from 1994-98, and Deputy Head of Mission in Beijing from 1992-94.
Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee has today named diplomat Mark Sinclair as New Zealand’s new Ambassador to Mexico.
“Mexico is an important partner for New Zealand as we look to establish a stronger New Zealand presence throughout Latin America,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Mexico has consistently been one of our largest trading partners in the region, and we share a strong commitment to trade liberalisation and regional economic integration.
“We look forward to further advancing our relationship through trade, economic, agricultural and cultural links,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Sinclair is currently Ambassador for Climate Change and was previously Ambassador to Japan. He has also served as Chief Negotiator, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced diplomat Rupert Holborow as New Zealand’s new Ambassador to Germany.
“New Zealand enjoys an excellent relationship with Germany, with extensive political, trade, scientific and tourism links,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Germany is an influential member of the European Union, and we work together closely at the United Nations on global issues such as human rights, disarmament, security and climate change.
“Germany is also a major trading partner for New Zealand. Two-way trade amounts to over $3 billion per year, and Germany’s ongoing support for a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union is critical to achieving our ambitions.
“Over 96,000 German tourists visit New Zealand each year and around 4000 students travel from Germany to study here annually,” Mr Brownlee says.
Mr Holborow is currently Divisional Manager of the Economic Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Exports Work-Stream Lead for the Government’s Business Growth Agenda, as well as a Vice-Chair of the OECD Trade Committee. He was previously New Zealand High Commissioner to India.
New Zealand's next ambassador to China will be Clare Fearnley, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee announced today.
“New Zealand’s relationship with China is one of our most important. In its 45th year, it encompasses areas as diverse as economic, trade, climate change, defence, legal, cultural and educational cooperation,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Two-way trade reached a new high of $23 billion in 2016, and both sides have set the ambitious target of $30 billion by 2020.
“Our free trade agreement has been an incredible success, with trade between our two countries tripling since 2008. Upgrade negotiations now under way promise to set the foundations for the future growth of the relationship.
“New Zealand’s diplomatic presence in China has grown significantly in recent years.
“A new, purpose-built embassy will open early next year, demonstrating our commitment to supporting high-value business, cultural and government engagement at all levels.
“I look forward to the new Ambassador advancing New Zealand’s relationship with China,” Mr Brownlee says.
Ms Fearnley is currently New Zealand Ambassador to South Korea after serving as Director-General North Asia, Director-General Asia Pacific, and Acting Director-General Legal at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She was also previously Consul-General in Shanghai.