A Republic of Singapore Air Force flying training exercise hosted by the Royal New Zealand Air Force will take place at the Ohakea Air Force base from 30 August to 25 September, says Defence Minister Mark Mitchell.
Mr Mitchell says the deployment will include six F-16D+ fighter jets, about 110 personnel and associated support equipment. The contingent will be based at Ohakea but will carry out training missions throughout New Zealand, including day and night flying, using New Zealand air weapons ranges, and conducting other training at both high and low altitude.
“Singapore is one of our closest Defence partners. All three Services of the New Zealand Defence Force regularly train and exercise with their Singaporean counterparts, and it will be a pleasure to welcome this group to New Zealand,” Mr Mitchell says.
“Our two countries have an active agreement to explore opportunities for further military co-operation and training and this exercise aligns perfectly with that.”
Mr Mitchell says Singapore has also asked the New Zealand Government to consider accommodating F-15SG fighter jet training at Ohakea long-term.
“At the moment both countries are carrying out a range of studies to enable everyone to make an informed decision on a possible proposal. But we have similar values and it could be a good fit.
“This exercise is timely, in that it will provide valuable data for the process and how basing F15s at Ohakea might work for our Air Force.
“The Government is committed to following a good process and is firmly committed to work closely on this with local communities through their mayors and councils. That engagement has already begun.
“There is a lot of work to be done before the possibility could come to fruition and I look forward to a productive partnership with local government in that work,” Mr Mitchell says.
Defence Minister Mark Mitchell will travel to Sydney tomorrow to meet Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne for the annual Australia New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting.
The Ministers will discuss progress across a range of shared interests, including efforts in support of the global coalition to defeat ISIS, Mr Mitchell says.
“I am looking forward to meeting Minister Payne and sharing views on a number of important issues for us as Defence allies. Australia is New Zealand’s closest partner, and defence and security co-operation is an important benefit of our relationship.
“We will also discuss the shared concerns of our Pacific Island neighbours for maritime security, regional resilience during disasters and events, and our commitment to peace and stability globally.”
I move that the cognate bills, the Courts Matters Bill and the Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Bill, be now read a first time.
I nominate the Justice and Electoral Committee to consider these bills. The two bills are being introduced as cognate bills because they form an integrated package of reform of the courts and tribunals system.
Independent, fair and efficient courts and tribunals are a cornerstone of any healthy democracy. New Zealand has a robust 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 Speaker, the Courts Matters Bill and the Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Bill are the latest in a programme of legislative reform ensuring the legal framework for our justice services enables courts and tribunals to move with the times. This is a process of continuous improvement that is structured around making the system easier for people to understand and to use while upholding the law.
Consistent, transparent and efficient processes in our courts and tribunals that reflect the needs of today are important considerations for people accessing justice services.
These two bills will contribute towards the development of a modern, efficient and effective courts and tribunals system. These bills will:reduce the time it takes to hear and resolve matters and will improve users’ experience of the courts and tribunals system enable greater use of modern technology to further improve efficiency, effectiveness and timeliness simplify and standardise statutory powers and procedures to improve productivity and efficiency; and provide better consumer protection and redress, and greater access to justice.
Mr Speaker, I turn now to the Court Matters Bill. This bill amends 14 acts governing court security, criminal procedure, fines enforcement, and other court processes.
Part One of the Courts Matters Bill amends the Court Security Act to extend the powers of Court Security Officers to deny entry, remove and detain people who possess illegal drugs, or act threateningly or abusively, or commit minor crimes, on court premises. Court Security Officers are currently only authorised to detain people who have committed very serious offences. These increased powers will assist Court Security Officers to provide the safe, secure, and orderly court environment that court users are entitled to.
Part Two of the Courts Matters Bill amends the Criminal Procedure Act to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and timeliness of criminal processes and to address issues that have been identified following the implementation of major criminal procedural reforms in 2013. For example, Category 2 offences with a maximum penalty of community work have been reclassified as Category 1 offences. This recognises that these defendants do not always need to appear in court. Instead, they will be able to plead either guilty or not guilty through a written letter to the court.
Part Three of the Courts Matters Bill amends the Summary Proceedings Act to strengthen the credibility of fines as a sanction and enable more money to be collected sooner. This will include greater use of modern technology to set up time payment arrangements.
Part Three will also simplify the procedures for placing charges on land and forcibly selling land to pay large fines. This will enable the District Court to impose statutory land charges on land owned by defendants who have overdue fines of $5,000 or more and to sell the land of defendants with overdue fines of $50,000 or more. The new simpler processes will enable these tools to be used more often.
Part Four of the Courts Matters Bill amends eleven Acts to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and timeliness of court processes and will also improve users’ experiences. For example, the order of the two judicial inquiries under the Criminal Procedure (Mentally Impaired Persons) Act will be reversed so that victims and other witnesses will not have to attend and give evidence twice.
Part Four also amends the Juries Act. Court staff will be able to communicate with jurors electronically, meaning jurors will receive information more quickly and by a more convenient method.
Part Four will also authorise court registrars to excuse potential jurors who are not confident in their understanding of the English language. This will provide these people with a simpler and quicker process, that doesn’t require the involvement of a judge.
Mr Speaker, I turn now to the Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Bill, which I will refer to as the Tribunals Bill.
The Tribunals Bill will standardise and modernise the powers and procedures of 21 tribunals to improve their productivity, efficiency and timeliness. These tribunals include the Disputes Tribunal and the Tenancy Tribunal, which almost 30,000 New Zealanders accessed in the 2016/17 financial year.
Users of these 21 tribunals will benefit from new standard provisions governing:the summoning of witnesses the awarding of costs when a person has obstructed or unreasonably delayed proceedings; and contempt - so that disruptive people can be removed from a hearing.
Financial thresholds and levels that reflect the needs of today are important considerations for people accessing justice services. The Tribunals Bill will double the monetary limit of the Disputes Tribunal: it will increase from $15,000 to $30,000. This means that more disputes will be able to be resolved by the tribunal, which is a cheaper and faster alternative to a court case.
The Tribunals Bill will also provide better consumer protection and redress. For example, the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal will be able to award compensation of up to $100,000 for financial losses arising from a real estate agent’s “unsatisfactory conduct”. This will also provide a simpler, quicker and cheaper alternative to a court case. In addition, the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority will be able to discipline “unsatisfactory conduct” as well as “misconduct”. This will promote higher standards and increased confidence in this sector.
Users of other tribunals will also benefit from the Tribunals Bill. For example, the Legal Complaints Review Officer will be given the powers needed to reduce the backlog of cases that has developed. More cases will be able to be dealt with on the papers instead of a hearing having to be held. Meritless complaints will be able to be struck out. This will enable other cases to be resolved sooner.
The Government is also taking this opportunity to disestablish the defunct Birdlings Flat Land Titles Commissioner. The Commissioner completed this work some seventeen years ago.
Finally, Mr Speaker, in conclusion, these two cognate bills will:further modernise court processes standardise the powers and procedures of 21 tribunals to improve their productivity, efficiency and timeliness improve users’ experiences of the courts and tribunals system; and help make people safer in court and tribunal buildings.
I commend these bills to the House.
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