Former High Court Judge Sir Hugh Williams QC has been reappointed as chairperson of the Electoral Commission for a further term of 18 months, Associate Minister of Justice Mark Mitchell announced today.
“Sir Hugh continues to provide the Commission with very able legal and strategic leadership and I’m pleased he has agreed to continue to serve in this important office,” Mr Mitchell says.
Appointment to the role is made by the Governor-General on Parliament’s recommendation. Mr Mitchell says Sir Hugh has been reappointed for 18 months so he can oversee the reporting processes that will follow the General Election.
Sir Hugh was appointed a Judge of the High Court in 1995 and retired from the bench in 2009. He was appointed president of the former Electoral Commission in 2009 and then chairperson of the present Commission in 2011.
The Electoral Commission administers parliamentary elections and referenda, the allocation of time and money for the broadcast of election programmes, conduct of the Māori Electoral Option, and supports the work of the Representation Commission, which sets electoral boundaries, provides advice, reports and public education on electoral matters, and electoral enrolment services for both parliamentary and local body elections.
District Court Judge Colin Doherty has been appointed chairperson of the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA), Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell announced today.
Judge Doherty will succeed Judge Sir David Carruthers, who is standing down after five years in the role. The appointment was made by the Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, on Parliament’s recommendation.
“Judge Doherty has 40 years’ experience in New Zealand’s justice system as a lawyer and judge and I’m confident he has the legal acumen, judgment and administrative skills to equip him well for this important and demanding role,” Mr Mitchell says.
Judge Doherty is the National Executive Judge of the District Court. He was appointed to the bench in 1997, following 20 years in legal practice. He is also an Alternate Judge of the Environment Court and Justice of the High Court of the Cook Islands.
Mr Mitchell also paid tribute to Sir David Carruthers, who has been in the role since April 2012.
“Under his leadership, the Authority has been a rigorous and independent watchdog of police conduct and he has made a great contribution through his considerable wisdom and skill,” Mr Mitchell says.
“His distinguished service in this role matches his achievements in a succession of significant legal appointments over many years.”
The IPCA’s role is to investigate complaints alleging any misconduct or neglect of duty by a member of the Police or any practice, policy, or procedure of the Police affecting the complainant. The Authority is also responsible for investigating any incident involving serious bodily harm or death notified to it by the Commissioner of Police.
Foreign Minister Gerry Brownlee and Defence Minister Mark Mitchell have announced that the Government has decided to bring home the group of New Zealand SAS troops in Tonga for a jungle training exercise as soon as possible.
"Rather than continuing on to do their scheduled training exercise we've concluded this is a time for Tonga to have some clear air, uncomplicated by the coincidental presence of NZDF personnel in the country," Mr Brownlee says.
"Tonga is clearly in a process of political transition and it's best we leave them to manage that without the added complication of a military training exercise going on.
"King Tupou VI has exercised his constitutional right to dissolve Parliament and we look forward to learning more in the days ahead about Tonga's plans for governance ahead of November's elections."
Defence Minister Mark Mitchell says that given the dissolution of government, it is prudent to withdraw from Tonga and carry out the joint training with Tonga at another time.
“The relationship between the NZ Defence Force and the Royal Tongan Defence Force remains strong," Mr Mitchell says.
“This is an annual exercise, with the planning for this year’s event done in November last year, and we will reschedule it for a more suitable time in the future."
Can I start by thanking the New Zealand Security Association for inviting me here tonight. It is great to be here to acknowledge and celebrate with you the great work and professionalism of your industry.
I specifically want to acknowledge Gary Morrison, CEO of the New Zealand Security Association.
In my speech tonight, I’m going to talk about the Private Security Personnel and Private Investigators Act and its modernised regulatory regime, and I will also touch briefly on some of the work the Government is doing in the industry’s area.
Before entering Parliament, I spent quite a few years in the New Zealand Police, and later operated my own security company overseas.
During that time, I have seen the industry become more regulated and professional. The sector provides a wide range of important services, ranging from crowd control and conflict management to technical security installation.
The work of security personnel is highly-valued and they hold a responsible role in our community. Your clients and the public depend on you to protect them and their property. The Act reflects this by setting clear standards for the industry.
Professionalism does not exist in isolation. It is created when the workplace culture that employers create is based on respect, integrity and excellence.
Many in the security industry, including the New Zealand Security Association, were actively engaged in the legislative process and provided valuable input into the development of the current regime.
The Act replaced legislation from the 1970s which was clearly out-of-date and in need of reform. The new Act modernised the regulatory regime for the industry, helping to ensure security services are provided in a safe and professional manner and inspire public confidence.
The Act made many changes. It clarified and extended categories of licences and certificates. It significantly increased the penalties for people operating without those licences or certificates. It also set a five-year renewal period, instead of annual renewals, reducing compliance costs.
One of the key changes the Act made was to set clear training requirements to improve safety for both security staff and the people they come in contact with.
The Minimum Training Regulations came into force in 2013, prescribing training requirements for property guards, personal guards and crowd controllers. The requirements recognise that as front-line security personnel, they are likely to encounter situations involving physical confrontation.
The Act requires that registered personnel must demonstrate knowledge of the industry, including the relevant law, and conflict situation management skills. This ensures they are well equipped to address the risk of harm associated with such situations and keep both the public and themselves safe.
The Act also established the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority, which is supported by the Ministry of Justice, and the Complaints, Investigation and Prosecution Unit with the Department of Internal Affairs. Both have been doing good work to administer and enforce the regime.
The Authority processes on average between 3,500 and 4,500 applications for licences and certificates per year. Also, more than 150 matters have been referred to the Complaints, Investigation and Prosecution Unit since its establishment.
The Government is working on making operational improvements. The Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Bill, which was introduced to Parliament on 1 August, will make various improvements to the operation of the Authority. The proposed changes will enable greater use of modern technology, such as allowing hearings by digital technology. This will further improve efficiency, effectiveness and timeliness.
The Bill will also enable the Authority to discipline for unsatisfactory conduct, such as bullying, in addition to disciplining for misconduct. This will help provide better consumer protection and further increase public confidence.
The ongoing engagement with sector representatives like the Security Association is valuable and instrumental in keeping the industry and the regulatory regime functioning properly.
Currently, the Government is also working on making minor amendments to the Minimum Training Regulations to address concerns raised by the association. The Minimum Training Regulations were intended to apply to front-line staff because they have the potential to encounter physical conflict in their work. However, they currently also capture office-based staff who do not have any front-line responsibilities but come under the category of “property guard” or “property guard employees”.
The amendments to the regulations are designed to clarify that staff who do not go out to patrol and guard premises are not required to undertake conflict management training. We will keep you informed as this work progresses.
The roles and expectations of the security industry have changed greatly throughout the years and the public recognises the valuable contribution you make in the community.
You play a huge role in keeping businesses and communities safe and it is great to see the outstanding work, professionalism and excellence that we are all here to recognise and celebrate tonight. I congratulate all the finalists for their outstanding work, and their employers for supporting them to achieve.
Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to be here and be part of this special event.
The New Zealand Defence Force’s 10-person contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan is to be increased by three personnel.
“New Zealand has been contributing to Afghanistan’s stability since 2001, and we remain committed to the international community’s objectives there,” says Defence Minister Mark Mitchell.
“A deteriorating security situation has prompted the international community to refocus its efforts. Countries around the globe are making decisions to increase contributions to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorist organisations.
“New Zealand will continue to stand alongside our partners in supporting stability in Afghanistan and countering the threat of international terrorism,” Mr Mitchell says.
The 10 Defence Force personnel currently in Afghanistan are working as mentors and support personnel at the Afghan National Army Officer Academy in Kabul.
Two of the extra personnel will deploy to positions within Mission Headquarters in Kabul, and one will deploy to the Academy as a physical training instructor.
Resolute Support is a non-combat mission. New Zealand’s contribution is mandated until 30 June 2018.
Regulations governing the education and training of real estate agents have been updated to reflect new qualifications.
Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell says the changes to the Real Estate Agents (Licensing) Regulations followed a review of real estate qualifications by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.
“Since the Real Estate Agents Act was implemented, the law has ensured more consistent training and education for real estate agents along with improved licensing and processes to deal with complaints,” Mr Mitchell says.
“The regulations governing real estate agents need to keep pace with changes in industry training and education. These changes will ensure that the graduates of the new qualifications will be able to apply to the Real Estate Agents Authority for a real estate agent’s licence.”
The changes will come into force on 15 September 2017.
Mr Mitchell also announced that the Government has moved to ensure that New Zealand Institute of Forestry members will be able to continue forestry sector work without needing to be registered real estate agents.
Institute members will be granted an exemption under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008.
“Forestry is a key industry for New Zealand’s economy and the exemption will make it easier for Institute consultants to go about their business when it occasionally includes real estate agency work in the sector,” Mr Mitchell says.
“This is the first time an exemption has been granted under the Act. It has been narrowly defined and includes significant protections for consumers,” Mr Mitchell says.
The exemption will take effect on 1 November 2017.
Changes in the law made to enable grocery stores to continue holding liquor licences to sell alcohol despite increases in tobacco taxes will take effect on 15 September 2017.
Associate Justice Minister Mark Mitchell says the changes were made because increases in tobacco excise tax meant some grocery stores’ main source of revenue changed from food to tobacco products, which resulted in these stores losing liquor licences.
Under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, to hold a liquor licence, a grocery store’s principal business must be the sale of food products.
“The increases in tobacco excise tax, which were designed to reduce smoking, were never intended to restrict grocery stores from selling alcohol.
“To address this unintended consequence, the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Regulations 2013 have been changed so the tobacco excise tax will be excluded from a grocery store’s annual sales revenue when determining whether the store can hold a liquor licence,” Mr Mitchell says.
“This is a practical step that supports small grocery businesses and maintains the intended policy that these stores are eligible to hold a liquor licence.”
A bill that will update and better align the military justice system with the New Zealand criminal justice system was introduced to Parliament yesterday.
The Military Justice Legislation Amendment Bill will amend the Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971, the Court Martial Act 2007 and the Court Martial Appeals Act 1953.
“This Bill introduces a number of significant improvements to the military justice system,” says Defence Minister Mark Mitchell.
“One of the most important of these is the incorporation into the military justice system of victims’ rights under Part 3 of the Victims Rights Act 2002.
“This will ensure that victims of specified offences have rights and protections in the military justice system that are equivalent to those that they would receive in the civilian system,” says Mr Mitchell.
“The Bill also repeals a provision of the Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971 that places the onus of proof for defence of a specific charge on to the accused.
“This brings military proceedings into line with those in the civilian courts, where the onus is on the prosecution to prove the accused is guilty.”
The Bill also amends some aspects of the procedure of the Court Martial of New Zealand, such as aligning provisions relating to fitness to stand trial with the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act 2003, and allowing a process for objecting to and substituting military members of the Court Martial.
Good morning everyone.
I'd like to begin by acknowledging Corallie Eagle, founding owner of Eagle Technology Group, and your son Duane, co-owner and Executive Director; Group CEO Mark Allan; Scott Campbell, Head of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology at Eagle; and special guest Martin O’Malley, former Governor of the US state of Maryland and former Mayor of Baltimore.
Thank you for inviting me to this year's ESRI conference – the biggest event on New Zealand’s geospatial calendar in 2017.
Since the open government data movement began in 2008, considerable progress has been made towards getting geographic information, and other types of data, out of the back rooms and into the hands of the innovators and entrepreneurs among us.
Today, Government departments are doing much more with geographic information than simply making it publicly available for re-use.
They’ve been getting creative with their data, joining forces with the private sector to come up with tools and resources to make it useful to New Zealanders.
Whether it’s support for a farmer trying to cut fertiliser or irrigation costs, a developer looking at where to put that next urban project, or a scientist investigating the effects of climate change, tools and resources are available.
The New Zealand Transport Agency is a good example. It’s using smart city technologies around the country to pull together data on traffic volumes and road safety to make transport decisions. That’s geographic information driving future transport decisions – not just to ease congestion on a busy road today, but to help decide whether we’ll need to build a new road tomorrow.
Most of these recent innovations with geographic information are the result of joint efforts. Rather than just going it alone, agencies are now joining forces with others to make data work for Kiwis.
Statistics New Zealand and the Ministry for the Environment recently teamed up on a project to pull together data on things like water and air quality, rainfall statistics, seasonal temperatures and pollution levels. The product was the first ever interactive map giving a complete picture of how the environment has changed in different locations over time.
ESRI software also has a significant presence in my other portfolio, Defence. It is crucial to Defence Force operations, planning and training - most modern command and control systems rely on such software to function effectively.
I recently travelled to Queenstown to launch an app that’s helping authorities fight wilding conifers – an invasive pest tree that poses a threat to our ecosystems. Again, this was a product of a national programme that required collaboration between my department, Land Information New Zealand (LINZ), the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Department of Conservation, regional and district councils, forestry, farming and community groups.
LINZ works with councils and private enterprise up and down the country to gather information about property, the land and even the ocean beds. These partnerships have resulted in all kinds of resources that can be used by anyone – key decision-makers, planners and developers, or techies.
They’ve recently started working with councils and others to make data about the height of regional land features available on the LINZ Data Service. This data can be used by planners and researchers to better understand the impact of natural disasters, such as floods and coastal erosion.
Of course, none of this could have been achieved without strong private/public sector relationships. So, to Eagle, and the other specialists in geospatial software here today, I’d like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the importance of your systems and technical expertise to public agencies.
The examples I’ve shared with you demonstrate the potential of geographic information to transform the physical environments of our towns and cities. But geographic information also has huge potential when it comes to getting better results for communities and solving tricky problems. This is a space with a lot of potential and I’m keen to see more.
The issues that Government are working to address are often complex and span several areas of Government. This is particularly true of social and economic problems.
Again, the formula for success here is agencies such as Ministry of Social Development, Police, Justice and local government coming together to bring their data to life and make a difference for New Zealand.
These are all great ideas and examples of Government doing more with open data. But there are still many more data sets sitting around in public agencies waiting to be released.
All innovation with geographic information – whether private or public – relies on Government continuing to prioritise making their data publicly available.
While some public agencies have good policies for open data, others are still struggling to keep up with the increasing demand for data from a fast-paced and ever-changing digital world.
Early this year I signed off on a proposal to transfer the open data programme to Statistics New Zealand. As world leaders in data analytics, Stats are uniquely qualified to take this work forward, providing agencies with advice and support on how to overcome barriers to releasing their data.
LINZ sets an example by making all its data available via its award-winning LINZ Data Service, LDS. It’s also lending a hand to other public agencies needing help with releasing their data by making the service available under a syndicated contract.
This will be a huge time-saver for government departments who don’t yet have a portal for their data. It means they can pick up the tried and tested platform that supports LDS without having to go through a lengthy procurement and design process. By signing the contract they’ll be able to use the service to publish their own data.
This is a big deal – a major step forward for the public availability of geographic information. It is the first time in New Zealand that a syndicated contract has been applied to a government data portal. I understand it has been a popular move with a lot of interest from LINZ’s colleagues across the public sector.
The LINZ Data Service is a great service. Free of charge and with nearly 30,000 users, it is being used to make all kinds of tools. A few examples that spring to mind are products for monitoring pests that might harm our horticultural industries, planning landscape gardens, and creating map apps.
It’s also used every day by people involved in infrastructural development, such as the planners and developers working to get Kaikoura back on its feet.
They access the data and imagery that LINZ collected shortly after the quake to understand how the land has changed as they repair buildings, roads and other vital infrastructure.
So, looking to the future, I can see a lot more that can be achieved to make geographic information work for New Zealanders.
What’s changed, though, is it’s no longer just a pipe dream or a future state - it’s a reality. Yes, Government has more work to do, and more challenges to overcome. But real progress is being made as agencies and private enterprise team up to get geographic information working for Kiwis.
Thank you, again, for the invitation to attend and thanks for your attention. I’m impressed by the range of presentations and exhibits at this conference and I would have liked to spend a bit more time here, but as the House is sitting I have to go straight back to Wellington.
I wish you the very best for the rest of the conference.
The Government’s planned investment in Defence over the next 15 years represents a huge opportunity for New Zealand companies, says Defence Minister Mark Mitchell.
Mr Mitchell told Defence industry representatives last night that the country needs a Defence Force that is equipped and supported to respond to a rapidly changing strategic environment.
“This requires investment. Over the next 15 years, the Government will invest up to $20 billion in new and upgraded military capability, including replacement of all our major platforms and the regeneration of the Defence estate.
“We have many companies in the Defence sector who are themselves investing and innovating in their areas of expertise. The Government’s investment in Defence promotes growth in the sector, creates jobs and means that the industry will have every chance to build on its achievements.
“While we are not builders of warships or military aircraft, New Zealand companies can support those capabilities with world-class products and systems, and also support them through life,” Mr Mitchell says.
“For every dollar spent on a new capability, four is spent supporting it through life, the bulk of which is spent locally.
“Each year the New Zealand Defence Force spends $600 million on maintenance and repair, training, and other commercial services.
“The Government is committed to ensuring New Zealand companies are given every opportunity to compete for a share of the investment in Defence.
“The products and services New Zealand companies produce are recognised as world-class, and where they can reduce the cost ownership for the Government we need to support them,” Mr Mitchell says.