The ongoing modernisation of New Zealand’s justice system took another step forward today with the introduction into Parliament of two Bills aimed at enhancing the work of courts and tribunals.
The Courts Matters Bill and the Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Bill are the latest in a programme of legislative reform to ensure the legal framework for our justice services enables courts and tribunals to move with the times, Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell says.
“New Zealand has a robust justice system which serves us well, but we can and should make the system easier to use and ensure that it keeps pace with people’s expectations,” Mr Mitchell says.
“Consistent, transparent and efficient processes in our courts and tribunals with financial thresholds and levels that reflect the needs of today are important considerations for people accessing justice services. New Zealanders should also expect to feel safe while in a court.”
The new provisions in the Bills include:increasing the financial threshold for the Disputes Tribunal from $15,000 to $30,000 so more disputes can be resolved by the tribunal, which is a cheaper and faster alternative to a court case giving the Real Estate Disciplinary Tribunal power to take stronger action and award compensation of up to $100,000 for financial losses in more cases streamlining processes for lower level offences punishable by community work by allowing defendants to enter a written guilty plea rather than making a physical appearance in court extending the powers of Court Security Officers to deny entry, and to remove and detain troublemakers so that people are safer in court buildings modernising and aligning the powers and procedures of 21 tribunals administered by the Ministry of Justice, making it easier for people to resolve issues. “These Bills build on recent significant reforms to the justice system the Government has initiated including the Criminal Procedure Act, the Judicature Modernisation legislation, and changes to laws dealing with evidence and coroners.
“All these changes share a clear theme of upholding the law while making the system easier for people to understand and to use,” Mr Mitchell says.
KiwiRail and Rail Heritage Trust: Unveiling plaque at Wellington Railway Station in honour of Cpl L W Andrew VC
Family members of Leslie Andrew, KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy, chairman of the Rail Heritage Trust Murray King, Deputy Chief of Army Brigadier Chris Parsons, Willie Apiata VC: good morning, and good morning to everyone here for this very special occasion.
In an action during the Battle of Passchendaele one hundred years ago today, the Wellington Infantry Battalion section led by former railwayman Corporal Leslie Wilton Andrew, aged just 20, was tasked with destroying an enemy machine-gun post.
He and his men duly completed that task but not before attacking and capturing another post, on his own initiative, and afterwards, with a comrade, advancing further to gather useful information about the German positions before returning to his unit.
In honour of his exceptional courage that day, Leslie Andrew was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration awarded for “valour in the face of the enemy” to members of the Armed Forces of Commonwealth countries.
However, it would be a considerable under-statement to say merely that he showed valour in the face of the enemy. The citation for his award refers to “… most conspicuous bravery … cool daring, initiative and fine leadership, and his magnificent example was a great stimulant to his comrades.”
The VC is a very rare award. Although about 100,000 New Zealanders served overseas in the First World War, only 11 VCs were awarded to men serving in New Zealand forces. Leslie Andrew was one, and the only railwayman to be so honoured. But the then New Zealand Railways made an enormous contribution to the war effort, and I am sure that Leslie Andrew, an outstanding leader of men, would also be taking the lead today in recognising those of his Railways colleagues who served.
Those 100,000 Kiwis who served overseas included over 7,500 permanent and casual employees of New Zealand Railways, and at least 450 of them did not return – almost 40 per cent of its total 1914 workforce, and the greatest loss suffered by any New Zealand employer.
And whilst he was the only railwayman to receive the VC, he was not the only New Zealand Railways man whose bravery in that war was recognised. For example, a dozen officers won the Military Cross, 10 soldiers won the Distinguished Conduct Medal and for a staggering 67 men their courage was recognised by the award of the Military Medal. There were many other awards. The contribution made by New Zealand Railways, in a country of a little over a million people in total, was quite extraordinary, and standing here today in one of our country’s iconic railway stations, we honour that service.
Leslie Andrew’s own contribution to his country did not stop at war’s end in November 1918. It would be 35 years after the display of personal courage which earned him the highest possible recognition that his military career finally came to an honourable end.
After completing officer training in 1918, he was commissioned and went on to serve in many roles through to the beginning of the Second World War, in the early years of which he commanded the 22nd Battalion of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force and received another rare award, the Distinguished Service Order, for his leadership in the North African campaign as a brigade commander. After returning to New Zealand in 1942 he served as Fortress and Area Commander Wellington from 1943 to 1946 and also commanded the New Zealand contingent at the Victory Parade in London in 1946. He retired from the Army as a Brigadier in 1952.
We are here today to pay tribute to Corporal Andrew, or Brigadier Andrew if we wish to recognise his final rank and service in uniform, and amongst us are people representing many of the strands of his life. First and foremost, there are family members. The Deputy Chief of Army, Brigadier Chris Parsons, is here, representing not only the Army but all of the New Zealand Defence Force. KiwiRail Chief Executive Peter Reidy and Dr Murray King, representing the Rail Heritage Trust are here. And New Zealand’s only living VC winner, Willie Apiata, is here.
You each provide a unique connection to a man whose military service to his country spanned many decades and took many forms at many levels. He is a great credit to them all.
The unveiling of this distinctive plaque in a few minutes will be the culmination of a piece of work which is a significant service to us. It means that a man who is not well-known in 2017 is receiving well-earned public recognition of his service and commitment to his country over many decades. And it means that the contribution of New Zealand Railways to New Zealand’s war effort is also being honoured, as it should.
We salute Leslie Andrew VC, and I congratulate all involved in this commemoration.
Defence Minister Mark Mitchell was on hand to welcome the Royal New Zealand Navy frigate HMNZS Te Kaha back to the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland today, after nearly six months deployed to Australia and Asia.
“The ship has carried out an extensive and varied programme, much of it in company with HMNZS Endeavour on her final major deployment. The programme began with a major maritime exercise in Australia, and included a number of significant port visits. The two ships also took part in the annual Five Power Defence Arrangements Exercise Bersama Shield and Singapore’s International Naval Review,” Mr Mitchell says.
“Te Kaha undertook an additional task at short notice in late June when she was deployed to support the United States Seventh Fleet after the destroyer USS Fitzgerald and a Philippines container ship collided at sea.
“Te Kaha was in the area and when the Government’s offer of support was accepted by the United States she was able to assist with the security and protection of the USS Nimitz carrier group,” Mr Mitchell says.
“Te Kaha and her crew have performed every task to the highest standards. They have represented New Zealand with distinction, and I congratulate Commander Steve Lenik and his crew on a job very well done. Welcome home.”
Defence Minister Mark Mitchell has held talks today with Japanese State Minister of Defence Kenji Wakamiya, who is conducting an official visit to New Zealand.
“Japan is an increasingly important defence partner for New Zealand,” Mr Mitchell says. “We have a defence relationship underpinned by our common democratic values, and the fact we are both maritime nations vulnerable to natural disasters.
“The New Zealand Government was immensely grateful for the support the Japan Self-Defense Forces provided us after the Kaikoura earthquake last year,” Mr Mitchell says.
New Zealand and Japan are also strongly committed to maintaining regional peace and security.
“In addition to exploring new ways for our defence forces to work together, Minister Wakamiya and I exchanged views on security issues facing the Asia-Pacific region,” Mr Mitchell says.
Minister Wakamiya’s visit to New Zealand follows Mr Mitchell’s meeting with Japanese Defence Minister Tomomi Inada at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June, and Prime Minister Bill English’s counterpart visit to Japan in May. The frigate HMNZS Te Kaha also recently undertook a port visit to Tokyo.
New Zealand’s commitment to the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission (UNCMAC) in South Korea will be extended for a further two years to 31 August 2019, Defence Minister Mark Mitchell announced today.
The New Zealand Defence Force currently has five officers deployed to UNCMAC.
“New Zealand has deployed military personnel to UNCMAC since 1998. The renewal of this commitment reinforces the importance we place on peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” Mr Mitchell says.
UNCMAC is responsible for supervising and monitoring the Armistice Agreement signed at the end of the Korean War and sits under the authority of the US-led United Nations Command.
An additional NZDF officer will also be deployed into United Nations Command Headquarters.
“This additional role underscores our reputation as a credible contributor to regional peace and security efforts. It also reinforces our relationships with regional partners,” Mr Mitchell says.
New Zealand, along with 15 other countries that provided combat and medical support during the Korean War, has been a member of the United Nations Command since it was established by the United Nations Security Council in 1950.
Women’s Minister Paula Bennett and Defence Minister Mark Mitchell are congratulating the Royal New Zealand Air Force for an initiative aimed at attracting more young women into the Air Force.
The School to Skies programme highlights the range of technical and aviation careers available in the Air Force to years 12 and 13 girls with an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths.
The first four-day camp was held last week with 24 students at RNZAF Base Auckland at Whenuapai, and it attracted so much interest that a second camp began today. Mr Mitchell visited the initial camp while at the base last week.
“New Zealand needs more women in the Air Force and the aviation industry in general. These students are able to experience life on an Air Force base, plan a flight mission and get hands-on experience fixing a real aircraft,” Mrs Bennett says.
“The camp fits in with the Defence Force’s vison of attracting more women into the military by helping them to understand the organisation’s values and breaking down any barriers that may prevent women from opting for a Defence Force career,” Mrs Bennett says.
“At least half the camp is dedicated to science, technology, engineering and maths, allowing the students to translate key education subjects into real-life careers,” Mr Mitchell says.
“The Air Force wants to make this an annual initiative, and the format of the course is such that the Navy and Army could use it to run courses tailored to their own specialist needs.
“I congratulate the Air Force on a world-leading initiative that could be of benefit to the whole NZDF.
“Its success has not only been shown by the interest it has attracted but also by providing these young women with a real understanding of the Air Force and the wider Defence Force,” Mr Mitchell says.
For the first time, authorities fighting the spread of wilding conifers will have a complete picture of infestations throughout the country, says Minister for Land Information Mark Mitchell.
“Land Information New Zealand has developed the Wilding Conifer Information System, a web-based mapping and monitoring tool, to ensure control of this invasive species is carried out in the most efficient way possible,” Mr Mitchell says.
The Wilding Conifer Information System (WCIS) will underpin the National Wilding Conifer Control Programme - a partnership between LINZ, the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Department of Conservation, the New Zealand Defence Force, regional and district councils, forestry, farming and community groups.
The WCIS will play an integral part in measuring the success of the programme.
“The tool provides for accurate and nationally consistent standards to record data about infestations and control activities,” Mr Mitchell says.
It comes complete with a mobile app for authorities to download on their devices and capture information from the field in real-time.
“This information will be vital at both regional and national levels when it comes to making decisions about where to prioritise funding for control.
“Wilding conifers are a major threat to our ecosystems, native landscapes and farms. Active management is required to tackle invasive conifers, which now affect more than two million hectares of land and are spreading at an estimated rate of five per cent a year,” Mr Mitchell says.
The mapping application can be viewed on the LINZ website: www.linz.govt.nz/wilding-conifer-information-system
Good afternoon everyone. Thank you for coming to the launch of the Wilding Conifer Information System.
I’d like to acknowledge my colleague, the Minister of Conservation, Maggie Barry, who is here today and will be speaking shortly.
I’m honoured to be announcing the official launch of this new system, but first, thank you to the staff at Land Information New Zealand, Dave Mole and his team, for the hard work that has gone into this project.
And a special thank you to everyone on the ground, behind the scenes and out in the community, who are out there every day making a difference to protect our landscapes.
As you saw in the demonstration, this tool will be vital in the fight against wildings far into the future, because this is not a short-term campaign.
Wildings have been a blight on our landscape for decades. Like many of the weeds and pests that we have to deal with in New Zealand, there is a lot of time, effort, and money spent on control.
Unfortunately, a lot of Kiwis aren’t aware of the dire situation we’re facing in some parts of the country. Many of them don’t know what a wilding is, and no doubt there are many people who like them – look at the magnificent view we have here today.
But people do need to understand the effect that the unintended spread of these trees has on our native landscape.
It’s estimated that wildings affect more than 2 million hectares of New Zealand land. And they are spreading, at a rate of about five per cent a year – infesting tens of thousands of hectares.
When not controlled, this silent pest invades our landscapes, smothers our native flora, evicts our native animals, sucks water out of our catchments, and has a huge impact on our economy.
The spread can cost us hugely. Every year millions of dollars are spent on this problem. But management is also complex – there are a range of communities, landowners, authorities and operators affected.
That’s why it’s important to act now – and we have.
We have a National Strategy. We have a National Programme for wilding conifer management.
We have key parties coming together, collaborating, to combat the negative impacts of these trees before it is too late.
We have continued campaigns to promote awareness and best practice.
We have connections with landowners and communities to ensure high-risk wildings don’t spread to create new infestations.
And now we have a system to map and monitor wilding conifer spread and report on control efforts. It will play an integral part in measuring the success of the National Programme.
What’s more, the Programme has added five more operations, or “management units”, to be allocated funding this financial year.
This will see 371,000 hectares of land prioritised for control.
By tackling these areas sooner we’ll save more money over the lifetime of the Programme, and we can engage more people sooner to build support for our work.
We’ll be able to keep the momentum that the Programme needs.
Collaboration is essential for the success of the Programme.
Government agencies, councils, landowners, trusts and communities all have a contribution to make in the effective management of this pest tree.
A lot of hard work is carried out through landowners and trusts.
So it’s fantastic to have everyone on the same page, working together towards the same overall goal.
We all have strengths we bring to the table.
Land Information New Zealand is a key partner in the National Programme, using its strengths to build an evidence base for this work.
In developing the system, LINZ has leveraged its expertise in mapping, operational control on Crown land and relationships across many different sectors, to lead the information project.
The tool will underpin the National Programme in many ways.
It will tell us how well we are doing over time, and what could be done better.
Authorities will be able to look at control costs and effectiveness, and analyse data to inform decision-making – on both national and regional levels.
The system will have a huge impact on securing future funding to control infestations. And the more we can control infestations, the less money we have to spend on this problem down the line.
The ultimate value of this system is that we’ll have the evidence to make the right decisions to protect our land.
And, as you’ve seen, we’re harnessing the power of technology to help us achieve our work.
The Government is very keen to support hi-tech solutions to resolve some of our biosecurity problems.
By using geospatial tools developed in New Zealand, LINZ - along with its technology partners, Eagle Technology and Esri - has been able to create a powerful and innovative solution.
This is a big step forward: it takes us from paper-based to digital workflows and allows us to be more efficient, make better decisions, and be more accountable.
The smart analytics inside the solution allows agencies to understand how and where money is being spent and how this is making a difference to eradicate wilding conifers nationally.
Open data is important to the Government and the data and insights being captured through the use of this solution will be open to all. Open data is an area where LINZ continues to be a strong champion.
LINZ will continue to develop the Wilding Conifer Information System. It will work very closely with our stakeholders, including many of you in this room today. And LINZ is committed to maintaining this system too, so it will really set the foundation for our national and regional strategies for wilding control.
The purpose of any new system or tool is to provide a benefit to the user. The benefit of this tool is that it provides a benefit to the entire country.
As New Zealanders, we care deeply about our land. It’s our treasure. We want to protect and preserve it in the best way possible – I think that’s something we can all agree on.
Part of that is to make the best decisions about our land. And that’s what this new tool will help us do.
Thank you for inviting me here today.
I’d like to start by acknowledging the important role that licensing trusts have and all that you do for our communities. As we all know, the primary focus for all licensing trusts is the well-being of our communities, with all profits being returned to the community. Putting it simply, you do a lot of good!
Today I would like to talk primarily about my role as the Minister responsible for the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act. I’m also going to discuss what the Government is doing to address alcohol-related harm and to support responsible alcohol consumption.
As you are all well aware, the Act provides the legal framework for licensing trusts. Whilst licensing trusts are varied, all have a long history in New Zealand before the current 2012 Act.
As the responsible Minister I have a key role under the Act in relation to licensing trusts. That role includes making recommendations about matters to assist with the smooth operation of licensing trusts, including constituting, varying and amalgamating them if required.
Licensing trusts have been operating successfully in New Zealand for over 70 years. The Invercargill Licensing Trust was the first to be established, in 1944, and remains the largest in the country. Invercargill, and the others that followed, provided a new way of licensing the sale and supply of alcohol. They promoted an alternative to private licensing, based on liquor licensing systems in the United Kingdom.
Licensing trusts have made, and continue to make, all kinds of positive contributions to our communities – from providing education grants, to promoting tourism, to helping to run important community services.
New Zealand’s modern alcohol law is also about communities. It’s about encouraging responsible drinking, reducing alcohol-related harm and recognising that we all have a part to play in those things.
The Government recognises that for most New Zealanders, alcohol provides positive and safe social experiences. Most New Zealanders don’t drink to excess. But for some, their experiences of alcohol are far from positive. There is clear evidence showing that problem drinking can cause harm in New Zealand’s communities.
We are making some progress. For example, we know that drink-driving charges have halved since 2009. However, there is further progress to be made, particularly in the areas of crime and health.
The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act was the largest reform of alcohol legislation, and largest legislative attempt to reduce alcohol-related harm, in a generation. The Act was the outcome of the Law Commission’s comprehensive review of New Zealand’s alcohol law. It came into force in 2013, replacing the Sale of Liquor Act 1989.
The Act provides a strong legislative framework for reducing harm, without unfairly restricting alcohol use by responsible drinkers, and allows for a thriving hospitality sector.
One of the key concerns of communities has been the effects of alcohol on young people. While the reforms did not change the purchase age they made a number of changes to limit the harm of alcohol on young people.
For example, the Act makes adults’ responsibilities clear and provides them with control over their children’s drinking. Anyone who supplies alcohol to minors must have consent from the minor’s parent or guardian.
It also places strong controls on advertising and the promotion of alcohol to limit the harm of advertising. It prohibits advertising or promoting alcohol in a way that appeals to minors.
The Act promotes community involvement and decision-making. It encourages communities to decide what’s best for them by creating their own local alcohol policies. Local alcohol policies give people more say about where and when alcohol can be sold in their area.
Communities are able to restrict or extend trading hours of licensed premises, or impose other conditions on licensed premises, for example one-way door policies. Through local alcohol policies, communities can also limit the location and density of licences.
Communities also have greater control over licensing because applications for licences are decided locally, by District Licensing Committees. There are also broader criteria for objecting to licence applications.
The Act made a number of other important changes. There are tighter restrictions on the types of premises that can sell alcohol and when they can sell it. For example, there are national maximum hours for alcohol sales.
We have a risk-based licence regime where licence fees reflect risk factors. This takes into account things such as venue type, venue capacity, trading hours and the previous conduct of a licence.
Furthermore, licensees have a new set of obligations that require them to demonstrate they’re providing responsible drinking environments and are complying with the law.
The Government is also investing in services to reduce alcohol-related harm. For example, as part of Budget 2016, Government provided $12 million to expand an alcohol and drug support programme for pregnant women. The Minister of Justice, Amy Adams, also announced this year that the Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Court pilot has been extended for a further three years.
The Alcohol and Other Drug Treatment Courts operate in the Waitakere and Auckland District Courts. They aim to help reduce alcohol and drug dependencies by referring them to treatment under the supervision of the Court.
While safe and responsible drinking cannot be achieved by law alone, the law provides many parts of society with the tools to do this. It’s everyone’s responsibility to use these tools to make it happen.
Again, thanks for the invitation to speak to you here today. I’ve enjoyed meeting and chatting with many of you, and I hope the rest of the Conference goes well for everyone.
New legislation just passed in Parliament ensures New Zealand’s land transfer system will continue to be modern and world-leading, says Land Information Minister Mark Mitchell.
“The Land Transfer Bill reflects the fact that the majority of property transactions are now done online,” says Mr Mitchell.
“The land transfer system secures people’s ownership of land and provides certainty and fairness.
“This legislation provides for improvements in redress in the rare situation that a property owner suffers as a result of mistake or fraud.
“There are also extensions to the ability to withhold personal information to protect the personal safety of landowners and their families.
“The Bill introduces improvements to modernise transactions, which will make the system more efficient.
“New Zealand is a great place to buy, own and sell property, and this Bill will make sure our property transaction system continues to be modern and safe,” says Mr Mitchell.
The new legislation is expected to come into force in late 2018.