A survey asking what New Zealanders know about their consumer rights shows 96 per cent of Kiwis are aware that laws exist to protect consumer rights, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean says.
“The National Consumer Survey, run by Consumer Protection, aims to gain a better understanding of what consumers know about their rights when they’ve experienced issues, and how they’ve tried to resolve those issues,” Ms Dean says.
“The good news is that the survey showed 96 per cent of Kiwis were aware that laws exist to protect consumer rights when purchasing goods and services.
“However, when asked about how much they knew about their rights, only eight per cent reported knowing ‘a lot’ and 44 per cent reported knowing ‘a moderate amount’. This leaves many consumers who would benefit from brushing up on consumer knowledge.
“The survey results illustrate how Kiwis respond to consumer problems that arise, with 68 per cent choosing to take action to resolve their most recent issue.
“Consumers should feel empowered to seek a resolution when their rights are not met. This means being able to recognise when there has been a problem and asking businesses to make things right. There are remedies available and consumers need to know how to use them.
“For those who want to brush up on their knowledge, Consumer Protection’s website has a wealth of information to help consumers,” Ms Dean says.
The full National Consumer Survey was completed by more than 1,200 New Zealanders in late 2016 and can be accessed at: www.consumerprotection.govt.nz
Small Business Minister Jacqui Dean today welcomed the launch of a digital assessment tool co-developed by social enterprise Digital Journey and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
“Digital technology brings a world of new opportunities to New Zealand’s small businesses, and as a Government we are focused on supporting them to get the most out of our fast growing digital economy,” says Ms Dean.
“This tool empowers businesses to take advantage of these digital opportunities with a personalised Action Plan of recommendations.
Made available as part of Techweek’17, small businesses using the free online tool will be able to compare their use of technology to other businesses in their sector.
Businesses are assessed on everything from their online presence and digital policies, to their use of social media, with advice and guidance offered on how to improve their efficiency and reduce business costs by using digital technology.
“Digital Journey found in a survey last year that 92 per cent of businesses saw productivity improvements after completing the Digital Journey Assessment tool, currently available on their website.
“The new tool launched today builds on this with more personalised questions, in-depth reporting, up to date resources, and clear recommendations,” says Ms Dean.
In addition to the digital readiness assessment tool, a panel of digital technology experts will feature during Techweek’17 at a free event for small businesses ‘Keeping your business safe online’ on Thursday 11 May.
Information on the Digital Journey Assessment tool can be found at: https://techweekbusinessgovt.digitaljourney.nz/
Information on the ‘Keeping your business safe online’ event can be found at: www.techweek.co.nz
More than 100,000 employment agreements have been completed using an online tool refreshed by Business.govt.nz just over one year ago, says Small Business Minister Jacqui Dean.
“As a Government we are committed to helping New Zealand’s small businesses thrive, and the Employment Agreement Builder is just one way we’re helping small businesses get ahead,” Ms Dean says.
“Using the Employment Agreement Builder you can create employment agreements tailored to meet the needs of your business, with clauses clearly labelled mandatory, recommended, or voluntary.
“Accessible online, mobile-friendly, and with the ability to save users progress, this tool adds up to more time for business owners to work on their business, and less time on compliance.
“Since the tool was refreshed 127,671 people have visited the site to create employment agreements and learn about their rights and responsibilities, with the tool receiving a 95 per cent positive feedback rating.
“An employment agreement is the foundation of a good employment relationship, clearly setting out expectations for both employers and employees, and helping to avoid disputes.
“With the Employment Agreement Builder and other Business.govt.nz tools such as the Workplace Policy Builder we are making it easier for businesses to create positive and productive workplaces,” Ms Dean says.
Associate Minister of Local Government Jacqui Dean today announced that she is withdrawing Crown Manager, Peter Winder, from the Kaipara District Council because of technical uncertainties about his appointment.
“The Kaipara District Council is transitioning well back to local governance, led by the strong leadership of the locally elected Mayor and Councillors. It is unfortunate I have to withdraw Peter Winder from his appointment as Crown Manager to the Council,” says Ms Dean.
“Withdrawing Peter Winder as Crown Manager is not a reflection of his actions but is due to technical uncertainties. Peter Winder was appointed as Crown Manager to support the Kaipara District Council transition to elected governance in 2016 and was responsible for managing certain outstanding legal actions relating to past issues.
“Following an evaluation of assistance to the Council, there are concerns about potential technical flaws with the Crown Manager’s appointment and Terms of Reference. This does not bring into question prior actions of the Crown Manager, but if the role continued there would be uncertainty about the legality of future actions.
“The withdrawal of the Crown Manager is not a reflection on the performance of the Council, nor was this issue created by the Council. The Council is performing well and in an effective manner. However, there is still a need for ongoing support to address the issues of the past.
“I want to assure the Kaipara community that the Government is committed to supporting the Council. My officials are working with the Council to explore options for providing ongoing support.
“The Crown Observer, who was appointed in October 2016 will continue to support the Council by providing governance advice and guidance,” says Ms Dean.
The Government has approved grants to 32 territorial authorities to subsidise neutering for menacing dogs, Associate Minister for Local Government Jacqui Dean has announced today.
An $850,000 pool of Government funding to subsidise neutering is part of the national action plan to reduce the risk and harm of dog attacks which was announced in late 2016.
“These neutering programmes will help make our communities safer by reducing the risk of dog attacks,” says Ms Dean.
“Neutering is linked to decreased roaming and aggression. Neutering will also reduce the number of menacing dogs in our communities in the long term.
“This subsidy will help the many dog owners who want to neuter their dog but cannot afford to do so,” says Ms Dean.
The campaigns are being carried out by territorial authorities, often in coordination with local veterinarians and SPCAs. Many territorial authorities are also combining this neutering offer with their own offers of subsidised microchipping and/or registration.
“It is great to see territorial authorities making use of central government support to reduce the risk of harm from menacing dogs in their communities,” says Ms Dean.
Other aspects of the national action plan launched last year will be progressed in 2017. This includes a bill to require the licensing of high-risk dog owners, which is expected to be introduced later this year.
The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) has been ranked number one in the world for its online capabilities by the World Trademark Review says Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean.
“We are focused as a Government on providing an environment and the tools to help kiwi businesses get ahead, and it is great to have the efforts of IPONZ recognised on the international stage,” says Ms Dean.
“Whether registering for a patent, trade mark, design or plant variety right, it is easy for New Zealand businesses and entrepreneurs to apply for intellectual property (IP) rights online.
“In today’s global marketplace, IP can be a business’s greatest asset. Protecting brands, ideas and innovations help businesses to compete and stand out from the crowd.
“IPONZ was the first IP office in the world to move to a 100 per cent online model, making it simpler and cheaper for its clients to secure IP rights and get on with doing business,” says Ms Dean.
For these rankings, World Trademark Review compared IPONZ to the top 40 trade mark offices around the world. IPONZ was praised both for its online model, and as the only office in the world to offer third party access to its Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), allowing businesses to plug into the IPONZ system directly, reducing administrative effort, and increasing their access to information from the IP registers.
“These innovations from IPONZ are part of what makes New Zealand such a great place to do business, as highlighted by New Zealand’s number one ranking in the World Bank Ease of doing business report,” says Ms Dean.
Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean today welcomed the release of FMA guidance intended to make basic advice about KiwiSaver available to more New Zealanders.
“Some of the most important financial decisions kiwis make are joining KiwiSaver, and working out what type of fund to invest in,” says Ms Dean
“The guidance makes it clear that a lot of simple advice about KiwiSaver falls within the category of ‘class advice’ that can be provided by any person permitted to give financial advice.
“The new guidance will give confidence in the industry to provide key information and basic advice to help consumers make more-informed choices about KiwiSaver.
“As well as making it easier for people to access basic advice about KiwiSaver, the Government is also making changes to ensure people receive key information about their KiwiSaver investment through their annual statement.
“From next year all KiwiSaver providers will need to include fees in dollars in annual statements, state the total amount the investor’s fund has grown or decreased by, and a summary of the money that has gone into and out of the investor’s account over the year.
“For any other service you would expect to know the fees you’re paying – KiwiSaver investments should be no different,” says Ms Dean.
For more information on the Financial Advisers Act 2008 and to read the draft Bill see www.mbie.govt.nz/faareview
The FMA guidance document is here: https://fma.govt.nz/assets/Guidance/170309-Guidance-note-KiwiSaver-sales-and-advice.pdf
An infographic with the 5 pointers for consumers on what to consider before transferring their KiwiSaver is here: https://fma.govt.nz/assets/images/Consumer-section/170306-5-Qs-Before-Moving-Your-KiwiSaver.pdf
Small Business Minister Jacqui Dean has announced today she will travel throughout New Zealand in 2017 for Small Business Roadshows, starting with Kāikoura, Blenheim and Wellington.
“This is particularly important in Kāikoura, whose businesses may need added support following the devastating earthquake. Therefore we’ll be in town on 27 March to meet with businesses and help them navigate all the support that is available in the region,” says Ms Dean.
“The aim of our roadshows is to get to the regions and work with local business to navigate the support and information available to them.
“Ensuring small businesses have access to information and support they need to thrive is essential.
“Other centres to host events are Blenheim and Wellington Central on 29 and 31 March respectively. Over the coming months I will also be traveling to Cromwell, Oamaru, West Auckland, and Whanganui.
“We are also holding two roadshows specifically for Māori Business and Enterprise in Kaitaia and Whakatane as well as an Auckland event specifically to help the Chinese business community.
“Last year’s roadshows reinforced how important it is to continuously engage with small business and increase the visibility of support they can access.
“Listening to small business is vital, as small tweaks in policy can have an impact. It is important to make sure their voices are taken into account during the decision making process.
“I am looking forward to meeting with small business owners throughout New Zealand,” says Ms Dean.
Knowing how to avoid common consumer pitfalls when buying a vehicle has been made simpler, with Consumer Protection’s new motor vehicle information programme launching today, says Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean.
“Buying a motor vehicle is a significant purchase. This programme will help people thinking about buying a motor vehicle avoid problems and, if things do go wrong, to know their consumer rights,” says Ms Dean.
“These include tips such as arranging a mechanical car inspection to help uncover any problems – a WOF doesn’t mean it’s mechanically sound for the future.
“People will also be advised about checking if there’s any money owing on the car, because if there is you could be at risk of it being repossessed.
“The campaign is intended to get people to go to www.consumerprotection.govt.nz/cars to learn more about their rights if things do go wrong.”
“The new online and radio Consumer Protection campaign will initially focus on helping young people looking to purchase a motor vehicle for less than $10,000.
“It pays to take the time to ensure the vehicle you are purchasing will put you on the road to success,” says Ms Dean.
Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Jacqui Dean has today announced that John Kensington, a Partner with KPMG, and Michael Bradbury, a Professor of Accounting at Massey University, have been appointed as members of the External Reporting Board (XRB) for a five-year term.
“I am pleased to welcome John and Michael to the XRB. They are both outstanding additions who will bring significant knowledge and experience to the Board,” says Ms Dean.
The Minister also appointed Bill Edge, Chair of the Australian Financial Reporting Council (FRC).
“I am pleased to announce the cross-appointment of Bill Edge,” says Ms Dean.
“Mr Edge brings to the board his experience in risk management, quality control and corporate governance. His appointment revives the cross-appointment arrangement between the FRC and XRB as there has been no Australian representative on the XRB for the past several years.”
“The External Reporting Board is responsible for setting the strategy for financial reporting in New Zealand, and issuing financial reporting standards and auditing and assurance standards,” says Ms Dean.