Defence Minister Mark Mitchell says New Zealanders can be proud of the achievements of the Defence Force in the fight against Isis.
The fifth rotation of Task Group Taji, the combined New Zealand-Australia training force based in Iraq’s Camp Taji, is on the way to Iraq, and Mr Mitchell says the record shows that New Zealanders can have confidence in the professionalism of Kiwi soldiers and the work they do abroad.
Since their training mission began in May 2015, the task group has trained more than 22,000 Iraqi personnel.
“This is critically important work. By training and partnering with the Iraqi forces, our soldiers have helped turn the tide against Isis,” Mr Mitchell says.
“The professional training delivered by the combined New Zealand-Australia training force has built the capability of the Iraqi Security Forces in the fight against Isis. It has created a growing pool of capable fighters who are helping the Iraqi military sustain their campaign against this terrorist group.
“The rotation about to take over in Taji will build on the successes of the New Zealanders and Australians on the mission in the past two years, and make a real contribution to ongoing local security and stability.
“We’re a highly regarded part of the Coalition to defeat ISIS, and I’m certain this latest rotation will build on that reputation.”
Associate Minister of Justice Mark Mitchell travels to Melbourne today to attend the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council (LCCSC).
The LCCSC is a joint-ministerial council which helps maintain an Australian and Trans-Tasman focus on fighting crime and promoting best practice in law, criminal justice and community safety.
“I am looking forward to meeting my Australian counterparts and discussing ways we can collaborate on issues of real importance like family violence, cyber-bullying, and cyber-crime,” Mr Mitchell says.
“This meeting provides a forum to discuss the justice issues both nations face, and allows us to share ideas and learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions that are working hard to keep their communities safe.”
The LCCSC is made up of around 17 Attorneys General and Ministers from across law and order and emergency management portfolios from New Zealand and all Australian jurisdictions. It meets twice a year.
Defence Minister Mark Mitchell will tomorrow travel to Copenhagen to attend the Defeat-ISIS Defence Ministerial Meeting.
The meeting will be on 9 May and is Mr Mitchell’s first international engagement as Defence Minister.
“The fight against ISIS, also known as Daesh, is going well and the global coalition has won significant territory back and continues to degrade Daesh's capability. However, Daesh continue to pose a significant threat to international security and we must continue to work together,” Mr Mitchell says.
“The meeting will include partners who want to end the fight with Daesh and combat violent extremism, and discussions will focus on continued progress in the fight and the next steps going forward.
“It is an excellent opportunity for me to engage with other leaders from around the world and show that New Zealand’s support to the coalition remains firm.
“I travelled to Iraq in April last year and saw first-hand the excellent work our forces were doing to train the Iraqis for their operations against Daesh.”
New Zealand contributes 106 troops to the Building Partner Capacity mission in Taji which, alongside the Australians, provides training to units of the Iraqi Security Forces.
Mr Mitchell will also undertake his first visit as Defence Minister to a defence base in Whenuapai today.
He will visit RNZAF Base Auckland where he will meet personnel and visit a number of units, as well as receive briefings on Royal New Zealand Air Force operations and capabilities.
“I spent my early years living on Whenuapai Air Force Base where my father was a Flight Lieutenant, so it is a privilege to return as the Defence Minister,” Mr Mitchell says.
Land Information Minister Mark Mitchell says a new hydrographic plan will help deliver benefits to New Zealand’s shipping and fishing industries, tourist operators, and marine scientists.
“Today Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) released its HYPLAN, which sets out areas around the country where it will carry out surveys of the sea floor over the next five to ten years,” Mr Mitchell says.
“LINZ will use the latest technology to map the sea floor and update vital information such as nautical charts.
“The plan supports professional skippers and recreational boaties by giving them access to the latest and most accurate navigation information.
“The data collected will also be made available to marine science institutions and environmental management organisations to support the work they do.”
The plan prioritises areas where the latest navigation information will be most beneficial.
“One of the biggest priority areas is from Kaikoura to Port Underwood. Last year’s earthquake had a big impact both above and below water, so it’s important we assess the local sea floor,” Mr Mitchell says.
“Fiordland, Eastern Bay of Plenty, and the East Cape are also high on the priority list due in part to the increasing flow of cruise ships in those areas.”
For these priority areas, work is planned to start later this year, and LINZ will soon go out to the market to find a survey company to carry this out.
Other priority areas include Bluff and Stewart Island, Approaches to Port Taranaki, Banks Peninsula, and the Coromandel, with LINZ set to continually review these areas so it can adjust if the needs of a region change.
To read the HYPLAN priorities for surveys, visit the LINZ website at http://www.linz.govt.nz/sea/charts/annual-work-programme
Two Bills that modernise electoral law have passed through Parliament and will be implemented before this year’s election, Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell says.
“The Electoral Amendment Bill and the Broadcasting (Election Programmes and Election Advertising) Amendment Bill will help make the election process more efficient and fit for purpose,” Mr Mitchell says.
The Bills respond to recommendations made in a review by the Justice and Electoral Select Committee carried out after every election, and were heard together in Parliament as they are closely related.
“It is important New Zealand continues to have a fair and modern electoral system, and these Bills help simplify the election rules well in advance of this year’s election.
“The Electoral Amendment Bill makes a wide range of changes that will collectively improve services to voters, candidates, and parties.
“For example, the Electoral Commission can now begin counting advance votes earlier on election day, and will be able to send information to voters via email in addition to post.
“The changes also increase accountability in the way political parties use their funding. They now have to file an audited return of how their Broadcasting Act allocation was spent, just as they do for their other election expenses,” Mr Mitchell says.
The Broadcasting Amendment Bill modernises party election broadcasting rules by removing the requirement for parties to provide opening and closing addresses on television and radio, and allowing them to use their Broadcasting Act funding to advertise on the internet.
“Updating the election rules helps ensure parties are clear on their responsibilities and supports a smooth delivery of the election.”
Statistics Minister Mark Mitchell has welcomed the transfer of the Government’s open data programme to Statistics New Zealand (Stats NZ), saying it will help boost the Government’s commitment to providing better and more freely available information.
“Stats NZ leads data analytics across Government, and as part of this has been tasked with managing the Open Data New Zealand programme,” Mr Mitchell says.
The programme was previously headed by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and is designed to help agencies make more information openly available.
“This will help improve decision-making across agencies and support the Government’s commitment to invest in better and more efficient public services.
“LINZ set a solid foundation and made great progress in encouraging Government agencies, Crown organisations, and local authorities to make their data more freely available.
“However, Stats NZ is a world-leader in data and analytics, and is best-placed to drive forward with the programme.
“It has expertise in maximising the value we get from data, and will continue working with agencies to raise awareness and increase transparency around their data use,” Mr Mitchell says.
Open Data NZ is also designed to strengthen New Zealand’s private sector and support our communities.
“Access to high-value, non-personal data in the most useful and usable formats helps businesses, families, and individuals make more informed decisions such as where to start a business or where to buy a house.”
Statistics Minister Mark Mitchell today announced Statistics New Zealand will team up with its Netherlands counterpart to strengthen the way both agencies gather and use data.
Statistics NZ and Statistics Netherlands have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and will work together in an ongoing partnership.
“Both agencies are amongst the most modern and innovative institutions of their kind in the world, and this agreement will help ensure New Zealanders are getting the best possible value from data,” Mr Mitchell says.
“The partnership is a great opportunity to leverage off each other’s strengths and skills, and learn about new insights into the creation of statistics.”
Both agencies will share people through staff exchanges, and will consider ways to better analyse data and develop new approaches to producing statistics.
“The collaboration is not about sharing data, it is about improving methodologies and tools that help maximise the value of the statistics we produce,” Mr Mitchell says.
The partnership will also involve experts from businesses, science organisations, and education providers who will help find ways to deliver better official statistics, such as producing real-time data.
“It is important our communities, businesses, Government agencies, and individuals have access to real-time and quality data, and this agreement will help improve the way New Zealanders receive and use information.”
Our justice system has been improved and is now easier for New Zealanders to use, Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell says.
“The Judicature Modernisation Bill is an important law reform that helps modernise our courts, with most of the changes coming into effect today,” Mr Mitchell says.
“Courts are a fundamental part of the justice system, and these changes will help provide a better service for witnesses, court staff, defendants, and our communities who use the courts.
“The changes focus on creating a more people-centred justice system by making it easier to understand and more efficient for people to use.”
One of the most significant improvements is combining the District Courts throughout the country to form the New Zealand District Court.
“This will make it the largest court in Australasia, spanning across 58 court sites and hearing more than 200,000 cases a year. The District Court can now hear cases worth up to $350,000, up from $200,000,” Mr Mitchell says.
“The reform also includes steps to enable the digitisation of court processes. For example, defendants can now appear by audio-visual links for criminal procedural appearances.
“This means fewer defendants will be transported from secure facilities to appear in court, increasing efficiency and improving the safety of witnesses and court staff.”
Other changes include giving judges a wider range of options to respond to meritless civil proceedings, and enabling people to apply to have their fees waived in the Employment Court from later this year.
For more information, visit: https://www.justice.govt.nz/justice-sector-policy/key-initiatives/modern...
Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) has developed a world leading tool for improving shipping safety in New Zealand, says Minister for Land Information Mark Mitchell.
“The Hydrographic Risk Assessment uses the latest technology to identify risks and help update navigation information,” Mr Mitchell says.
The tool combines data from a variety of sources to produce heat maps of New Zealand waters where risks are highest, ensuring updates are given where they are needed most.
“It is important New Zealanders are kept safe at sea, and the Risk Assessment will help ensure skippers have access to the latest and most accurate navigation information.”
LINZ is focused on improving information for areas such as Queen Charlotte Sound, the Tory Channel, the Approaches to Auckland, and Tamaki Strait, which were identified to have higher levels of navigational risk than other shipping routes in New Zealand.
“The tool also helps LINZ provide navigation services for New Zealand’s four million square kilometre Exclusive Economic Zone, supporting our shipping, cruise, and tourism industries.
“As vessels get bigger and shipping routes get busier, it is important we continually map the sea floor and update charts and other information,” Mr Mitchell says.
LINZ is working with Maritime New Zealand, harbour masters, and others to assess results and plan other charting work.
Read the results of the New Zealand Hydrographic Risk Assessment on the LINZ website: http://www.linz.govt.nz/sea/charts/annual-work-programme/new-zealand-hydrographic-risk-assessment
Minister for Land Information Mark Mitchell will represent New Zealand at the World Government Summit in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from February 11 – 13.
“The World Government Summit provides a unique opportunity to showcase the New Zealand Government’s innovative approach in a range of areas,” Mr Mitchell says.
“Prominent world leaders from both the public and private sectors will be in attendance, and it provides a great opportunity to collaborate and exchange new ideas.
“It will also help strengthen New Zealand’s relationship with the UAE, which is our largest market in the Middle East and 14th largest trading partner.
“Annual bilateral trade between the two countries exceeds $1.6 billion, and the UAE is a strong supporter of the Gulf Cooperation Council-New Zealand FTA.”
The Summit, now in its fifth year, will be hosted by UAE’s Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, HH Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
It attracts over 3,000 participants, including senior government, business, international organisation, and civil society representatives.
“The Summit provides a forum to strengthen existing relationships, form new ones, and work together towards stronger global governance,” Mr Mitchell says.