Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins says the Defence Force and government agencies are stepping up to help minimise disruption resulting from the Marsden Point pipeline being out of action.
Ms Collins says top officials from government agencies have held further discussions today with Refining NZ, which owns the pipeline, the Supply Group, representing fuel companies, airlines and others.
“The latest information I have is that aviation fuel supplies in Auckland remain of most concern, but that fuel supplies are sufficient for Auckland motorists.
“Airlines have already reduced schedules and are looking at what further changes they will need to make over the next week. But for now most flights are going ahead.
“It’s been made very clear to all of those working on this that the Government will commit whatever resources and effort are required to get this sorted out as quickly as possible with a minimum of disruption.
“I’m extremely heartened by the way everyone involved is working together and focused on what’s required. In particular, to those people who’ve had their travel plans disrupted or who face disruption in the days ahead, we understand they are frustrated. I want them to know we’re doing everything possible to get this fixed, but they should understand that it’s going to take a little time. At this stage, we’re a week or so away from the pipeline being restored.
“The nature of the damage means repair isn’t quick and the work has to be done very carefully. But if any additional personnel or expertise from the Defence Force can speed the work up in any way then they’ll be made available.
“To free up industry resources to focus upon Auckland Airport, the Defence Force will be using the naval tanker HMNZS Endeavour to move diesel fuel from Marsden Point to other parts of the country.
“The Defence Force will also be providing up to 20 additional tanker drivers to assist local operators in managing their increased workload, cancelling a major exercise with Singapore to preserve fuel, deferring non-essential training and it’s also investigating options around refueling smaller commuter aircraft at Whenuapai Airforce Base.”
Ms Collins says further work is also being done to get more tankers on the road to carry additional fuel to Auckland.
“We’re looking at what we can do to make that easier in a regulatory sense, whether that’s around hours of work drivers or weight restrictions for tankers. Safety is always paramount, but where we can have some further flexibility then that’s what we will do.”
“I am continuing to work with other Ministers and officials and industry and I’m also briefing the Prime Minister.”
Ms Collins says fortunately any environmental impacts from the pipeline leak appear to be very limited, with the 70-80,000 litres that escaped into a farmer’s culvert now largely recovered and plans underway to treat the soil.
Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins has spoken to Refining NZ and the heads of fuel companies affected by the disruption to the Marsden Point pipeline to Auckland and offered Government support if it is required.
A leak was discovered in a section of the pipeline which runs between the refinery and the storage depot at Wiri, and work is underway to repair it.
“I have spoken to Sjoerd Post, chief executive of Refining NZ, which owns the pipeline, as well as Mobil, BP and Z Energy, which all use the pipeline to supply fuel to Auckland.
“Refining NZ is doing all it can to repair the pipeline and industry is working to minimise any inconvenience to customers and the public.
“Refining NZ has all the expert technical assistance resources it needs, including international expertise. I have also offered them, and the companies supplying fuel, Government assistance, if we are needed.
“There are fuel stocks on hand in Auckland and additional stocks of petrol and diesel are being trucked in directly from the refinery, and from the terminal in Mt Maunganui. The fuel companies are confident that supply of these fuels will be maintained and it is unlikely that motorists will be inconvenienced.
“The pipeline is the only source of jet fuel for Auckland Airport, so precautions have been taken to restrict the amount of fuel being used. Airlines have options to manage their operations and will be looking to minimise any inconvenience for travellers. They will keep their customers informed of any changes to flight schedules, as required.
The Labour Party is misleading New Zealand workers by trying to suggest they won’t increase income taxes, National Party Revenue spokesperson Judith Collins says.
“Labour is simply factually wrong – they would force someone on the average wage to pay $1060 a year more in tax,” Ms Collins says.
“Under the current law in New Zealand, passed by Parliament – including with the support of the Greens – the bottom two tax thresholds will increase from April 1 next year.
“That means annual earnings of up to $22,000 will be taxed at 10.5 per cent, and earnings between $22,001 and $52,000 will be taxed at 17.5 per cent.
“These changes were made in response to rising incomes, and go some way to countering the effects of fiscal drag on low and middle income earners, where they otherwise move into higher tax brackets as their income increases.
“In pledging to reverse the current law, there is absolutely no doubt that Labour is seeking to increase income taxes.
“If they were to be elected and proceed with their changes, people on incomes of $52,000 a year or higher will be paying $1060 more income tax per year from 1 April than will currently be the case.
“National doesn’t believe that someone on the median wage should end up with a tax rate of 30 cents in the dollar. Without our approach, that’s what would happen.
“Labour needs to be upfront with New Zealanders. Under Labour income tax is going up.”
The Government will invest $150,000 in stimulating demand for geothermal heat resources in the Bay of Plenty region, Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins announced today.
“Geothermal energy is a global industry estimated to be worth $62.8 billion by 2020,” Mr Bridges says.
“Currently only 5 per cent of geothermal energy is being used in New Zealand. There is significant potential for greater use both across the Bay of Plenty and other regions in New Zealand.”
The investment will be used for a Geothermal Business Development Lead to support work in stimulating demand for geothermal heat resources, including attracting investment from industry and promoting the value proposition and commercial opportunities.
“The costs of renewable geothermal energy are often comparatively cheaper than gas and coal. New Zealand could be at the forefront of this as we have a secure and renewable energy source at our fingertips,” Ms Collins says.
“If used for high value products, geothermal heat could add millions to the local and national economy, growing industries in timber drying, aquaculture/tourism, horticulture and milk drying.”
This work is a significant action from the Start 2 Steam Workshop held in Rotorua in May and also forms part of the Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Action Plan.
The project will be led by the region with central government support from the Regional Growth Programme.
New regulations for New Zealand’s fuel specifications will support the growth of lower-emission fuels that are better for people, the environment and cars, Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins announced today.
The Regulations set out minimum standards for fuel performance, and change incrementally over time to keep up with new technology and international best practice.
“There are four significant changes – three that enable greater fuel supply choice and market-led innovation in the fuel mix; and one to reduce harmful emissions:
· Introducing a total oxygen limit, which potentially allows a wider range of fuel blends;
· Increasing New Zealand’s limit for methanol in petrol from one to three per cent volume;
· Raising the biodiesel blend limit in diesel from five to seven per cent; and
· Reducing the sulphur level allowed in petrol from 50 to 10 parts per million.
“The changes carry multiple benefits for consumers and for our environment.
“Three of the changes – the introduction of a total oxygen limit, increasing the biodiesel blend limit, and increasing the methanol blend limit – could potentially allow more flexibility in fuel mixes, a reduction in harmful emissions and increased diversity and enhanced security of local supply.
“The other change of reducing the sulphur level in petrol is specifically targeted to reduce harmful emissions, which will have health and environmental benefits. This is consistent with the most stringent fuel standards in the world, most notably in Europe, Japan and the United States,” says Ms Collins.
All of the amendments will take effect from 2 October 2017, apart from the change to the maximum sulphur level, which will come into effect on 1 July 2018.
Media contact: Julie Johnston 021 280 3253
Minister for Ethnic Communities Judith Collins has today announced the opening of the next funding round for the Ethnic Communities Development Fund.
The contestable fund provides $520,000 annually for projects that support leadership and social cohesion in ethnic communities as well as cultural events.
“The purpose of the Fund is to support the development of established and emerging ethnic communities. It’s important that all our ethnic communities have a sense of belonging and participation in our wider society.”
The Ethnic Communities Development Fund replaced the Settling-In fund in 2016, and made 62 grants in its first year. A list of recipients is available on the Office of Ethnic Communities website.
The funding round opens today and closes on 27 September 2017.
For more information on the Ethnic Communities Development Fund and how to make a request for funding, visit the Office of Ethnic Communities website www.ethniccommunities.govt.nz/story/ethnic-communities-development-fund
Defaulting student loan borrowers in Australia have stumped up nearly $5 million in payments, thanks to new information received from tax authorities across the Tasman, Revenue Minister Judith Collins and Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith say.
An information exchange between the countries allows the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to provide Inland Revenue with up-to-date contact details for Kiwi borrowers living in Australia.
The first exchange in November 2016 provided new contact details for more than 57,000 borrowers, 38,000 of which were in default. A sample of these was then sent by Inland Revenue to a collection agency.
By May 2017, repayments received were in excess of $4.7m, with some borrowers paying off their debt in full, and contacts from more than 3,000 to set up repayment plans. An additional 12,000 borrowers have voluntarily contacted Inland Revenue since the arrangement has been in place.
“I’m thrilled with the results from the first exchange, now is the right time for defaulting borrowers living in Australia to come to the party and make good on their debt.
“This first round of figures from the information exchange reflects the hard work that’s gone into it by Inland Revenue,” Ms Collins says.
A second exchange recently took place and more repayments are expected as the names and contact details of 10,000 borrowers have been provided to a collection agency.
“The message to all borrowers, particularly those who are overseas, is to keep in contact with Inland Revenue so that they can help keep you on track or sort out any problems you may have meeting your repayments,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“New Zealand’s student loan system has provided the opportunity for a tertiary education to hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders. But it will only continue to work if borrowers repay their share.”
Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins today announced funding for 15 projects to increase charging facilities for electric vehicles and switch more trucks, buses and vans to electric power.
The projects are the latest to be funded under the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund, administered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).
Ms Collins announced projects that were conditionally approved under the second round of the fund to receive $3 million.
She also announced the opening of the next funding round with a further $3 million available.
“The projects we announced today show there’s an electric vehicle for almost every job, be it rental cars, waste trucks or courier vans. These options make more sense because of how cheap electric vehicles are to run and maintain and how easy they are to charge,” Ms Collins said.
“We are investing nearly $1 million in charging infrastructure with projects on key tourism routes including Christchurch to Picton, Dunedin to Queenstown, and Queenstown to Invercargill.
“Also in the mix are exciting developments such as installing street charging for Wellington residents who don’t have a driveway or garage, and chargers that give buses a boost as they stop for passengers.
“The fund projects will add further momentum in New Zealand where more and more people and businesses are making the switch to electric vehicles.”
The fund is one of 14 initiatives in the Government’s Electric Vehicles Programme, which has a target of doubling the numbers of electric vehicles every year to reach 64,000 by the end of 2021.
Projects from the first round of funding are underway with some charging stations already in public use, Green Cabs offering free EV taxi rides and seven Foodstuffs supermarkets delivering groceries in the community in electric vans.
Applicants for the third funding round have until Wednesday 27 September 2017 to submit their proposals to EECA.
“The first two rounds of the fund were all about high visibility projects to get the electric vehicle story out to the New Zealand public,” Ms Collins said.
“For the next round we are looking for projects that can be replicated across the country. We want to see projects that support practical, sustainable ways to increase uptake particularly in the light fleet market, close gaps in charging infrastructure and demonstrate the uses of heavy electric vehicles across the economy.”
The fund will offer up to 50 per cent funding towards projects. Applicants must match or exceed the amounts granted.
For more information about the fund visit and for https://www.eeca.govt.nz/funding-and-support/electric-vehicles-programme/
For general information about electric vehicles, see www.electricvehicles.govt.nz
Revenue Minister Judith Collins has welcomed a second round of negotiations between China and New Zealand tax officials aimed at updating the current double tax agreement signed between the two countries in 1986.
“The aim is to agree a new treaty, adopting modern treaty language and concepts, including agreed measures to deal with base erosion and profit shifting,” Ms Collins says.
New Zealand tax officials will meet with Chinese officials in Beijing next week for the second time since 2014, to discuss a new treaty.
Double tax agreements are an important facilitator of trade and investment between countries because they ensure businesses don’t get taxed twice.
They provide greater certainty for both taxpayers and tax administrators about how cross-border investment income will be taxed. They reduce compliance costs and lower tax on some income.
Tax agreements are also used in the global fight against tax evasion, with signatories agreeing to share more tax information under the global standard set by the G20 and OECD.
China is New Zealand’s largest trading partner in goods and second largest overall including trade in services.
“In this context, it is vital to ensure our double tax agreement with China is up to date and follows best practices,” Ms Collins says.
Revenue Minister Judith Collins has today welcomed the release of a tax officials’ paper, seeking feedback on options to reduce the cost to employers of administering PAYE information.
“We are aware that certain aspects of PAYE, such as correcting simple errors and sending that information to Inland Revenue, are still largely manual. This can impose excessive compliance costs on business.
“The Government is looking to reduce some of these costs as part of Inland Revenue’s Business Transformation programme, so business owners can concentrate on the job of growing their businesses,” Ms Collins says.
A tax bill currently before Parliament contains proposals for reducing employers’ PAYE compliance costs by integrating the PAYE process into normal business activity.
Further proposals released today would make the task of correcting PAYE information errors easier by allowing employers to use payroll software to make corrections to already filed returns, or in some circumstances, to make corrections in a subsequent return. However, the proposals would not mean that all employers would need to shift to digital services.
“It’s important that all businesses should benefit from simplified PAYE error correction processes. For that reason, employers who currently file through Inland Revenue’s website or on paper could continue to do so. Employers would be able to access their filed returns through myIR to correct their records, and paper-based error correction forms would continue to be available to employers for the foreseeable future,” Ms Collins says.
The paper, PAYE error correction and adjustment, is available at: www.taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz Submissions close on 15 September 2017.