Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis is proposing a significant new cost on visitors coming to New Zealand to meet Labour’s election year promise to local government, yet he is woefully short on detail and doesn’t think his tax will make any difference, National’s Local Government Spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.
Councils around New Zealand deserve better from Mr Davis and he needs to start answering questions with detail.
“When questioned in Parliament about whether he agrees with a recent report from Deloitte, saying that international visitors already make a proportionate tax contribution, he responded acknowledging that a visitor levy will contribute less than 0.8 per cent to the cost required to provide tourism infrastructure and said that ‘the international visitor levy isn't going to make any difference.’
“This is ridiculous and confirms that we have a Government who implements policy without proper analysis.
“If the Minister doesn’t think it will make any difference why is he increasing visitor costs with no benefit to them?
“Councils and communities all around New Zealand are counting on this Government to make good on their election promise to provide revenue to fund tourism infrastructure. It is interesting to see the Minister is now discrediting his own policy.
“The Minister is so vague on the costs of implementing the levy, he needs to explain why his Government is bothering with it”.
Small businesses continue to be treated with contempt by the Ardern-Peters Government with the Revenue Minister today exposing the lack of representation of small business owners on the Tax Working Group, National’s Revenue Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith and Small Business Spokesperson Jacqui Dean say.
“Apparently small business owners who are worried that their views won’t be heard at the table of the Government’s Tax Working Group need worry no longer,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“When asked by a member of his own party what input small business had had to the Tax Working Group, Revenue Minister Stuart Nash thought for a moment before telling the Select Committee that one of the members of the group has a wife who owns a pharmacy.
“It would be funny if it wasn’t true or about such a serious matter.
“Mr Nash’s comments are another example of the contempt with which small businesses continue to be held by this Government – the same Government that is adding labour costs at every turn and piling on uncertainty with its plethora of committees and working groups.
“I’m sure all members of the Tax Working Group will do their best for all New Zealanders, including a broad business perspective from Kirk Hope of Business NZ, as Mr Nash noted.
“But the Tax Working Group is simply the cover this Government is using to introduce its capital gains tax.”
Ms Dean says any such tax would be levied on businesses as well as properties.
“So a small business owner can spend their lives building up a business, perhaps have it grow into a medium-sized business, and when they eventually go to sell it, they’ll have to pay a capital gains tax on the value they have worked hard to create.
“It looks as though they’ll have to rely on some home truths being delivered by one of the Tax Working Group’s member’s spouses.”
Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta should show some leadership on funding for councils rather than establishing yet another review to gather dust, National’s Local Government Spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.
“Ms Mahuta needs to get on with her job instead of asking the Productivity Commission to do it for her.
“All this while the public has already been waiting for decisions on local government funding, a flagship policy for this Government, for almost eight months.
“But now the Commission, which is still to receive its terms of reference, could take another year to make any recommendations.
“This is starting to look like a case of déjà vu. The last inquiry into rates that occurred under her watch between 2007 and 2008 resulted in 96 recommendations, but Ms Mahuta didn’t bother to do anything about any of them.
“Councils and their ratepayers are under pressure to provide essential services for their communities, like three waters, roading and housing, along with managing tourism growth.
“They need answers now - they don’t need a minister who seems happy to ride on the coattails of consultants and hide behind reviews which go nowhere and achieve even less.”
Extending the expiry dates on gift cards to three years is the aim of a new Member’s Bill launched by Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean.
“My Fair Trading (Gift Card Expiry) Amendment Bill would see the minimum expiry date of gifts cards extended to three years, so that everyone has a fair chance to use their cards.
“The Bill seeks to prohibit the selling of gift cards with expiry dates of less than three years after the initial sale date, giving the recipient a more reasonable period in which to redeem the card’s full value.
“Many Kiwis use gift cards as a convenient option, but the gift can turn sour if the card is not presented by its expiry date. One in five recipients lose out when they don’t redeem the full value before the card expires and research has found shoppers could be losing $10 million a year on cards that expire before they could be redeemed.
“We’ve all had those instances where the gift card has been misplaced and later found to be expired, or where children treasure their gift cards and spend months deciding how best to spend their present, only to find they’ve left it too late.
“While this might be a windfall for the retailer, it’s frustrating and disappointing for those who’ve received the gift cards.
“Other countries have regulations preventing retailers imposing unfair expiry dates. In Canada expiry dates are banned and in the US a five year expiry date in required, while many New Zealand retailers are still using a six or 12 month expiry.
“My Member’s Bill provides a practical and easy way to ensure that more money stays in the pockets of hardworking New Zealanders.”
Councils around the country have been left on a road to nowhere while the Government delays providing important details on national land transport funding for the next three years, National’s Local Government spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.
“Local authorities are currently in the process of finalising their ten-year plans, but with key roading expenditure details in the Government’s National Land Transport Programme still a couple of months away, councils are working in the dark.
“This is a major slip-up from central government and shows just how little regard they have for councils in the regions, with their main focus being on Auckland and its roading issues.
“Central government should be working in partnership with local government to safeguard economic growth and development in the regions, and yet we can see where the loyalties lie for the Ardern-Peters leadership.
“Roading expenditure is one of the core functions of local authorities. They need certainty from Government now in order to set their rates and make vital decisions on future roading projects, they do not deserve to be left in the dark.
“It is unacceptable to take roading funding from the regions in favour of Auckland, while the Government leaves 78 local authorities to make significant decisions without the information they vitally need.”
It is time for the Government to stop setting up working groups and take some actual decisions to improve the behaviour of freedom campers, National Party Tourism Spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.
“Labour have been casting around for ideas on Freedom Camping for far too long,” Ms Dean says. “There are some ready-made steps that can be taken and they should get on and take them.”
National today released a new Private Members’ Bill from East Coast MP Anne Tolley which will put into law the freedom camping policy announced by the Party at the last election.
“This Bill contains serious practical steps which have already been road-tested with councils and agencies around the country,” Ms Tolley says.
“It will prohibit Freedom Camping more than 200 metres from public toilet facilities, provide more organisations with the right to restrict freedom camping, and provide for instant fines that have been issued to be collected by rental car companies.
“Passing this bill through parliament would have an immediate positive impact on the behaviour of freedom campers. It will also give local authorities, NZTA and LINZ an easier way to collect instant fines.”
Ms Dean says freedom camping is an important part of New Zealand’s tourism industry but it must be managed well.
“The onus is on the Government to take decisions here, but like in many other areas, they are showing their inexperience,” Ms Dean says. “It seems their answer to everything is to set up another working group.
“National is happy to help. We’ve done this work already and we know it will curb some of the worst behaviour of freedom campers.
“Mr Davis should stop just talking about doing something, and pick up this bill immediately as a Government initiative. He should also guarantee that the $100 million Tourism Infrastructure Fund will continue to support local tourism infrastructure and will not be rolled into New Zealand First’s Provincial Growth Fund.
“We don’t hold much hope for him to grapple successfully with the issues. In the meantime we’ll be placing this bill in the next ballot for private members while we wait for them to pick it up.”
The Government needs to move with urgency to address freedom camping issues in communities with high tourist numbers during peak tourism season, National’s Tourism spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.
“National’s $100 million Tourism Infrastructure Fund has helped provide toilets and parking spaces where freedom camping has been an increasing issue, but councils need new powers to better deal with the minority of freedom campers abusing our country.
“Labour’s freedom camping policy is non-existent, so the Tourism and Local Government Ministers must immediately adopt National’s policy of tougher rules for freedom camping.
“This includes restrictions for all non-self-contained vehicles to be within walking distance of a public toilet; allowing councils, the Department of Conservation and Land Information New Zealand to issue instant fines for those who break the rules; and allowing rental companies as the owners of infringing vehicles to collect fines.
“The Government should also start development on a smartphone app to show tourists where exactly they can and cannot camp to ensure freedom campers are aware of their rights and responsibilities.
“So far we haven’t seen any commitment from this Government to make strong policy decisions on freedom camping and support communities like Lake Hayes and Queenstown where freedom camping is an issue.
“I would now expect this to be a priority for the Tourism Minister following his recent inaugural visit to Central Otago. It’s certainly time he started doing his job properly.”
The Government needs to move quickly and provide certainty on future funding for the Tourism Infrastructure Fund, National Party Tourism Spokesperson Jacqui Dean says.
“At the height of the tourist season, the Government is not prioritising decisions on the infrastructure funding the industry needs,” Ms Dean says.
“They have made no decisions on the future of the Tourism Infrastructure Fund, or whether Councils will have access to the multi-billion dollar Provincial Growth Fund for investing in tourism infrastructure.”
Ms Dean says the previous Government’s fund is already proving its worth.
“Recent announcements from the fund include car parking and walkway enhancements to Lake Tekapo’s Church of the Good Shepherd, safer access to Omanawa Falls near Tauranga, car parking around Gisborne tourist attractions and assistance for Great Rides of Nga Haeranga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail.
“These sorts of investments in partnership with local councils help us sustain the growth in New Zealand’s biggest export earner. Yet Minister Davis admits he hasn’t yet met Local Government New Zealand to discuss the future of tourism infrastructure.
“Tourism is one of the biggest industries across regional New Zealand. Its growing 8 per cent year on year. It’s a logical candidate for money from the Provincial Growth Fund.
“But there is no need to re-invent the wheel. The previous Government’s tourism infrastructure model is working well. It just needs more of the available funding to keep doing the job.
“The Minister should act now to provide certainty to the industry and to local Government.”
The Government has today outlined new measures to promote a more competitive economy, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean says.
“Competition is one of the key drivers of economic success which is why the Government is focused on creating a competitive economy which delivers results and choice for New Zealanders,” Ms Dean says.
“The Business Growth Agenda Paper, Promoting Competition, which I am releasing today sets out what actions we’re taking to lift competition for the benefit of New Zealand’s consumers.”
The Government has agreed on three broad areas of focus:Maintaining the effectiveness of New Zealand’s competition laws and institutions. Identifying barriers to competition, and opportunities to promote competition, in specific sectors and across the economy. Actively seeking open trade and investment policies which can mitigate the disadvantages of New Zealand’s small size and distance from major markets.
“New Zealand’s competition law and our Commerce Commission are important contributors to domestic competition, and are well regarded internationally and we are continuing to build on that.
“Other recent measures include passing the Commerce (Cartels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill last week which deters anticompetitive cartel behaviour.
“And following a review of the Commerce Act, the Government is progressing legislation to allow the Commerce Commission to undertake market studies to ensure markets are operating effectively,” Ms Dean says.
Read Promoting Competition here: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/business/business-growth-agenda/pdf-and-image-library/2017-documents/promoting-competition.pdf
Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean today welcomed the passing of a bill that will benefit businesses and consumers by providing greater certainty for firms to collaborate and compete.
The Commerce (Cartels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill allows for a wider range of collaboration between firms to help them to produce new products at lower cost.
“Joint ventures are a great example of collaboration. They can help businesses innovate and help exporters tap into overseas markets,” Ms Dean says.
“A new clearance regime will be established so that firms can test their proposed collaboration with the Commerce Commission and get greater legal certainty before they enter into the arrangements.
The Bill also provides further protection from anticompetitive behaviour. New legislation now expands the range of prohibited conduct to include price fixing, restricting output, and allocating markets.
“The changes in the Bill make it easier to take enforcement action against international cartels and provide further protection for consumers from anticompetitive collusion.
“Other changes include bringing competition oversight of international shipping into the Commerce Act.
“We’re working hard to grow the economy in a number of ways - promoting competition in markets so Kiwi consumers have a range of choices is just one of them,” Ms Dean says.
Most of the changes will come into effect straight away and will be enforced by the Commerce Commission. The new provisions dealing with international liner shipping will come into effect in two years.
There’s more information on the Cartels Bill at: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/business/competition-policy/cartel-reform