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
Wine and spirit producers are now able to register geographical indications, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean says.
“The Geographical Indications (Wine and Spirits) Registration Act 2006 came into force today, allowing wine and spirit makers to protect and associate themselves with particular regions,” Ms Dean says.
“Geographical indications will help to differentiate New Zealand brands locally and overseas. This will also provide a level of assurance that a product is authentic and holds the specific characteristics associated with its origins.
“This is a great example of the Government working closely with an important sector to support further growth of exports and jobs for New Zealand.
“New Zealand wine is a key export in our economy, and now with geographical indications, wine or spirit makers can apply to be recognised by a sign on products to signal their association to the quality, reputation and unique characteristics linked to particular regions, for example, Central Otago.
“Registering a geographical indication differs from a registering a trade mark. Any trader, who complies with particular geographical indication provisions, is able to use it.
“The Register of Geographical Indications is administered by the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ). The register is consistent with IPONZ 100 per cent online model, making the process easier and more efficient,” Ms Dean says.
Information on the registration system, and how to make an application to register a geographical indication can be found at https://www.iponz.govt.nz/about-ip/geographical-indications/
Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean has today released the terms of reference for a review of the Copyright Act 1994.
“Copyright affects how people create, distribute and access information,” Ms Dean says.
“It is important we ensure our copyright regime is fit for purpose in today’s rapidly changing technological environment.
“Launching a review now will also build on the insights of the Government’s Study of the role of copyright and designs in the creative sector, completed last year.
“The Study highlighted a range of opportunities and challenges faced by users, creators and owners of digital content. This review will look into these opportunities and challenges to ensure we have the right settings in New Zealand.”
The terms of reference provide an outline of the objectives, context and process for the review and will be further refined with industry feedback on an issues paper.
“I want stakeholders to get involved in the early stages of the review. In the coming months we will develop the issues paper and will be looking to engage with the wider industry,” Ms Dean says.
The terms of reference and further information on the review and Study are available on the MBIE website: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/business/intellectual-property/copyright/review-copyright-act-1994
New Zealanders will be able to better manage the risks of methamphetamine in residential properties following the release of a new standard, Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean say.
“The new standard is a huge step forward in helping home owners and tenants deal with the risks of methamphetamine contamination. It will give people greater confidence and certainty, will result in hundreds fewer properties having to be vacated and save millions in unnecessary decontamination work,” Dr Smith says.
“The major gain from the new standard is having clear methods for sampling and testing, and competency requirements for samplers and decontamination contractors. The most significant change is the new 1.5μg/100cm2 limit, as compared to 0.5μg/100cm2 under the old guidelines. These were focussed solely on the risks of a clan lab, whereas the new standard results from a better understanding of the health risks.
“This new standard will form an important part of new legislation I introduced to Parliament last month. The Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2) gives landlords the right to test for meth and enables tenancy agreements to be terminated when levels are unsafe. The new standard will be referenced in the regulations and will become legally enforceable when the Bill is passed later this year.”
“It is quite appropriate that this new standard has been funded from the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act 2009. The damage done to residential properties is just a fraction of the social and economic harm methamphetamine is doing in New Zealand. These new contamination standards and residential law change are a small part of the Government’s anti-drug initiatives.”
“These new standards are an important new addition to consumer protections. They will help clean up an industry that has had problems over inconsistent tests and excessive decontamination costs,” Ms Dean says.
“Standards New Zealand follows a robust process in developing all standards, in line with the Standards and Accreditation Act 2015. Twenty-one committee members from the public and private sector contributed to the development of the standard, by offering expertise on the methods and logistics of testing and decontamination of affected properties.
“I’m pleased to see the work put into the development of the standard has resulted in a strong piece of guidance.”
See the new standard, NZS8510:2017 Testing and decontamination of methamphetamine contaminated properties, here: https://www.standards.govt.nz/sponsored-standards/testing-and-decontamination-of-methamphetamine-contaminated-properties
Proposed changes to the Commerce Act will promote better competition in New Zealand, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean says.
Following a review of the Act, the Government is recommending that the Commerce Commission be allowed to undertake market studies.
“These proposals would include empowering the Commerce Commission to undertake market studies and improve its enforcement actions without having to go to court,” Ms Dean says.
“This will allow the Government to be proactive, rather than reactive.
“It will mean Government can direct the Commission to examine markets where there are potential issues rather than just waiting for breaches of competition law to occur.
“A market studies power is often used by competition authorities around the world and introducing one here will bring New Zealand into line with similar jurisdictions.”
Other proposed changes to the Commerce Act include repealing the cease-and-desist regime, as well as allowing settlements to be registered as enforceable undertakings so any breaches can be quickly penalised by the courts.
“These changes will strengthen the ability of the Commission to enforce settlements without the expense and uncertainty of litigation. The cease-and desist-regime is cumbersome and has only been used once since it was introduced in 2001,” Ms Dean says.
The Government has also been considering changes to Section 36 of the Commerce Act, around misuse of market power.
“While the consultation process has demonstrated that Section 36 does not work perfectly for some types of conduct, it is not yet clear whether an alternative test would benefit competition or consumers.
“Officials will continue to look into this and will report back in mid-2018 before decisions are made regarding section 36,” Ms Dean says.
A market study is detailed research by an institution into a particular market, or markets, where there are concerns that the market could be functioning sub-optimally. Market studies can be performed by the vast majority of competition authorities overseas.
The cease-and-desist regime was introduced to the Commerce Act in 2001. Cease-and-desist orders are an alternative to the Commerce Commission seeking interim injunctions from the High Court. They enable the Commission to ask dedicated ‘cease-and-desist’ commissioners to order firms to halt conduct suspected of breaching the Commerce Act.