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.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee says he’s had productive discussions with lobby group OzKiwi today about the concerns some New Zealanders living in Australia have.
“We discussed a range of issues affecting New Zealanders in Australia and reassured them that the National Government is interested in their concerns and take them seriously,” Mr Brownlee says.
“When I met with my Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in May, we agreed to consult more closely on domestic policies that affect our respective citizens.
“Australia has made decisions to recognise the special status of New Zealanders in Australia by establishing a pathway to citizenship.
“The trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement gives New Zealanders the greatest access of citizens of any country to visit, live, and work in Australia, and the same applies for Australians in New Zealand.
“While both countries allow this freedom of movement, each retains the right to determine requirements for permanent residency, citizenship, social security, and access to social support.
“New Zealanders should understand that New Zealand and Australia are separate countries and the rights and entitlements they enjoy at home do not necessarily translate to Australia.
“I agree with OzKiwi that New Zealanders who have lived in Australia for a long time, or intend to do so, should consider dual citizenship and investigate the pathway the Australian government has opened.
“Taking this action does not, in any way, diminish their citizenship at home in New Zealand,” Mr Brownlee says.
Notes to editors:
New Zealand pathway to Australian citizenship
The New Zealand government has welcomed progress made by Australia towards opening the pathway to citizenship for New Zealanders on 1 July. This is the most significant policy development for New Zealanders in Australia since 2001, offering the majority of long-term residents on non-protected special category visas an opportunity to secure their future.
Prime Minister Turnbull has clarified the pathway to citizenship for New Zealanders will be unaffected by the proposed extension of the waiting time on a permanent residency visa for citizenship applicants.
Tertiary Education Fees
Legislation and regulations for the proposed Australian tertiary education reforms are still being drafted. The New Zealand government will continue to make representations about the material impact of the reforms on affected students, but as previously stated, a full policy reversal is unlikely.
Capital Gains Tax
The Australian government has clarified that New Zealanders living in Australia will continue to be able to claim an exemption from capital gains tax for the sale of their main residence.
State Budgets: Housing
We are aware of proposed changes in the New South Wales budget which would increase the stamp duty and annual land tax surcharge on foreign buyers. The surcharge policy was introduced in last year’s budget. At that time, it was confirmed the policy would only affect New Zealanders and permanent residents who have not been living in Australia for 200 days in the past 12 months.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee is encouraging all New Zealanders heading overseas to register with SafeTravel.
SafeTravel was launched in 2006 and is the official source of advice for New Zealanders living or travelling overseas.
“The site also allows travellers to register their contact details and travel plans so we can reach out to them in case of an emergency or to provide them with updated advice,” Mr Brownlee says.
“While recent terror attacks have occurred in popular destinations for New Zealand travellers – such as London, Manchester and Paris – it’s a sad reality that such unprovoked incidents can happen anytime, anywhere.
“In the event of an incident overseas, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade can easily contact SafeTravel registrants to confirm their safety and wellbeing.
“Trying to find out information about unregistered New Zealanders is often difficult and takes time.
“MFAT was quickly able to contact registered Kiwis in London and Manchester after the recent terror attacks to offer information about consular assistance should they have required it.
“While it may seem obvious, I also want to encourage Kiwis travellers to phone home if they ever find themselves caught up in a major event.
“In the past year, there were almost 67,000 new registrants, bringing the total number to 148,312. Of those, more than 8320 registrants are currently overseas.
“I hope all New Zealanders heading overseas will take 10 minutes to register with SafeTravel and encourage others to do the same,” Mr Brownlee says.
Notes to editors:
In the 2016/2017 year, MFAT has worked on 2,178 consular cases, assisting 2,316 New Zealanders.
These cases have mostly been in South and South East Asian destinations.
Most of MFAT’s consular assistance is largely spent advising New Zealanders who break overseas laws followed by deceased holidaymakers, local immigration difficulties, Kiwis losing property, and those who have been victims of crime.
New Zealand has been providing consular assistance since our first Post opened in London in 1871.
Contrary to an inaccurate Amnesty International press release and subsequent media reports, the New Zealand government has not been ordered to investigate the allegations made in the book Hit & Run, Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
The Government has received a list of issues from the United Nations Committee Against Torture as part of a routine reporting process.
“We’re one of 161 parties to the Convention Against Torture to receive such a list and we have two years to respond to this seventh periodic report,” Mr Brownlee says.
“Unfortunately, the issue raised by the Committee is based on factual inaccuracies. The allegations made by Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson were disproven and the Chief of Defence Force held a press conference detailing the New Zealand Defence Force raid in Afghanistan in 2010.
“I would also like to point out that the findings of the International Security Assistance Force investigation undertaken in 2010 after Operation Burnham were available to the United Nations Assistance Mission – Afghanistan at the time.
“We will be responding to the committee’s request for information but I want to be clear that this is not a criticism of New Zealand, or its Defence Force.
“The committee will make its conclusion about the 33 issues raised after we’ve responded, as required, by 2019,” Mr Brownlee says.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee says it’s a shame the Green Party has chosen to play petty politics over today’s motion in Parliament to mark the 30th anniversary of New Zealand’s nuclear free legislation.
“The Green Party’s insistence that the motion include reference to ongoing United Nations negotiations for a Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is unfortunate,” Mr Brownlee says.
“The Convention is a matter for another day but today was about marking an important anniversary for New Zealand.
“I’m disappointed by the Green Party’s voting against this perfectly reasonable and respectful motion and their childish behaviour in the House today,” Mr Brownlee says.
The text of the motion:
I move that this House marks the thirtieth anniversary of our nuclear free legislation – the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act, which entered into force on 8 June 1987.
The opposition to nuclear weapons symbolised by this legislation has become a defining aspect of this country’s international reputation and New Zealand continues to work for a nuclear weapon-free world.
Whilst recognising the efforts of some countries to reduce their arsenals of nuclear weapons, this House also recognises the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and encourages all States yet to join the Treaty to do so.
The concerns that New Zealand and many other countries have recently expressed over North Korea’s nuclear programme highlight the importance of working to achieve the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.