Confirmation today that New Zealand First has rolled-over to allow the rollout of digital monitoring technology on commercial fishing boats is welcome and vindicates the work of the previous National Government, Conservation spokesperson Sarah Dowie and Fisheries spokesperson Ian McKelvie say.
“It’s good to see that after seven months of delays and stagnation, the Ardern-Peters Government has finally started to address the so-called technical and administrative issues they claimed surrounded electronic monitoring on commercial fishing vessels,” Ms Dowie says.
“However I am deeply disappointed that the Coalition continues to delay making a decision on extending this monitoring to include cameras. That’s despite all the evidence – and support from the Department of Conservation - that cameras will make a difference in protecting our marine mammals.
“This proves that Eugenie Sage has no influence on Stuart Nash and remains voiceless among her Coalition colleagues,” Ms Dowie says.
Mr McKelvie says today’s progress vindicates the earlier work of the previous National Government.
“Given the earlier protestations from New Zealand First, it’s wonderful to see how compliant they have become since the announcement Labour would give them $1 billion to spend on foreign aid.
“However, there must still be some infighting around the Cabinet table as the Coalition still doesn’t seem to have formed a view on whether that monitoring should include cameras.
“If rolled-out fully as we intended, digital monitoring will help revolutionise the way New Zealand’s commercial fisheries are managed and monitored and will help protect their sustainability,” he says.
A Bill designed to deter livestock theft will be introduced to Parliament today under the name of National MP Ian McKelvie.
Mr McKelvie says his Bill intends to introduce stricter measures for sentencing judges to draw on when sentencing thieves caught stock rustling.
“The current law offers no deterrent and the penalties don’t reflect the gravity of the crime or the likely suffering of an animal being slaughtered by a rank amateur.
“These crimes are often committed at night in the more remote parts of New Zealand. Small-scale, opportunistic grabs of half a dozen sheep or cows are relatively common, but police and MPI say sophisticated gangs with links to organised crime are increasingly mounting well-planned raids on farms.
“This Bill will give more confidence to victims of livestock rustling that there is an additional deterrent in place to discourage this type of crime.
“It also aims to give the police a more vigorous tool to take more action.
“Stock rustling is a big issue for farmers. Federated Farmers estimates rustling costs farmers more than $120 million a year. A survey of more than 1000 farmers showed 26 per cent had stock stolen in the past five years but almost 60 per cent of thefts had not been reported to police.
“In one case in 2016 one Whanganui farmer lost 1400 lambs worth about $120,000 between October 25 and November 7,” Mr McKelvie says.
The Bill complements National’s ongoing support for rural communities. The National Government started rolling out 880 new sworn police officers, including 140 dedicated rural officers and a Rural Duties Officer Network. We also funded 12 new mobile police stations and committed to having 95 per cent of New Zealanders live within 25km of a 24/7 police presence.
The world is facing some serious challenges, and for small, open economies like New Zealand's it is vital governments remain open to international trade and investment, and to new ideas.
That was the strong message delivered last week by our prime minister, John Key, to the 71st General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. He talked about those serious challenges and, in particular, the devastating humanitarian crisis that has arisen out of the war in Syria. He also expressed concern about borders closing to people, products and investment, which has left many nation states turning inwards and allowed the politics of fear and extremism to gain momentum.
Mr Key put New Zealand front and centre, describing us as a proudly independent, multicultural trading nation in the Asia-Pacific. We are most certainly a nation for whom the international system matters and he seized the opportunity to reinforce the relevance and standing of the United Nations, and, in particular, the Security Council, in response to today's challenges.
Mr Key acknowledged that parts of the UN system are working, for example there have been significant steps forward on development, climate, financing, humanitarian and disaster risk reduction. But he also emphasised the fact that sustainable economic development is a key driver of global growth, prosperity and stability - and it requires a fair, rules-based trading system that is more open to trade, and the removal of trade barriers.
Last year, New Zealand welcomed an agreement by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to eliminate agricultural export subsidies. It's vital for development, and it will make a real difference for our rural communities. It also represents the first legally binding international trade outcome in agriculture since 1994.
In fact, the types of challenges the UN faces today are similar to those that have hindered more progress in the WTO in recent years. That's why Mr Key reiterated New Zealand's belief that the WTO needs to do more to set global trade rules.
In the Asia Pacific region, closer economic integration through trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will help bring us together. They will make our region and people better off by setting the conditions for more open and transparent trade.
At the same time a more prosperous and integrated region will also be a more secure one. We must guard against creeping protectionism. We can't turn inwards and allow fear or narrow domestic interests to turn us away from an open global trading systema system that has lifted millions out of poverty, and has the potential to do so much more.
Countries that close their borders can't do business.
Mr Key's recent visit to the UN, his chairing of the meeting on issues relating to the crisis in Syria and his promotion of Helen Clark for the roll of UN Secretary General have certainly put the focus firmly on our little country at the bottom of the earth.
We should be extremely proud of the fact that our current and our former prime ministers can walk the world stage together with a very real and worthwhile presence. It is worth noting that together these two prime ministers have led New Zealand for 18 of our 162 years as an independent democracy.
Never before in our history have we been able to create such waves - it opens doors for us all.