Border sector Ministers have welcomed a new report by the Office of the Auditor-General published today on the use of information at New Zealand’s ports, and say their agencies will continue to work closely to protect our borders.
“This is a positive report which recognises good collaboration between the three border agencies. It finds there are strong relationships and effective processing of passengers,” says Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.
“The agencies are already working on the report’s recommendations, including briefings for new staff on the different agencies’ roles and for an updated Border Sector strategy.”
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says the report shows staff are working effectively and recently updated training programmes are a particular strength.
“Biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister so it is pleasing to see another good report card. This follows a positive Office of the Auditor General report in 2015 showing the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has made very good progress in biosecurity responses and preparedness.
“In this year’s Budget we boosted biosecurity funding to nearly a quarter of a billion dollars. This has helped MPI employ 50 new biosecurity staff and 20 extra biosecurity detector dog teams, along with new x-ray machines, a border clearance levy and the Biosecurity 2025 Direction Statement.”
Customs Minister Tim Macindoe says it is pleasing to see Customs and MPI staff are working together effectively.
“The report acknowledges the recently updated frontline training programmes as a particular strength, and notes improved collaboration between Border Sector Agencies in recent years.
“Initial scoping is underway between Customs and MPI to look at opportunities for joint Border Sector training and recruitment. This will help to improve awareness of and understanding between frontline staff at the two agencies.”
World Refugee Day is an opportunity to celebrate the strength, courage and tenacity of refugees around the world and acknowledge the contribution they make here in New Zealand, says Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.
“It’s important we take the time to recognise the difficult journey refugees have been on and the obstacles they have, and continue to, overcome,” says Mr Woodhouse.
“The Government takes our responsibility to provide protection to refugees extremely seriously which is why last year we announced an increase to the annual refugee quota by a third to 1,000 from 2018/19.
“We are also committed to improving resettlement outcomes for the refugees we do take, which is why we introduced the Refugee Resettlement Strategy in 2012.
The Strategy aims to help refugees adapt to life in New Zealand as quickly as possible and support them to achieve better settlement outcomes and recent data shows it’s working.
“More school leavers with a refugee background with five years or more in the New Zealand education system are gaining NCEA Level 2 and more refugee children are also receiving age-appropriate immunization, with 85 per cent of refugee children receiving one or more scheduled vaccinations within six months of their arrival in New Zealand.
“World Refugee Day is also a time to pay tribute to the scores of volunteers and organisations that play such a vital part in helping refugees feel welcome in their new communities and ensuring they have access to everything they need.
I am always encouraged by the number of volunteers and organisations involved in helping refugees adapt to life here in New Zealand and I have no doubt they will be integral to the success of the community sponsorship category pilot next year.”
ACC Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced a new appointment to the ACC Board.
Leona Murphy joins the board from today for a three year term.
“Ms Murphy will bring valuable skills to the ACC board, she has a strong background in large scale business transformation, digital IT and insurance claims management,” Mr Woodhouse says.
Ms Murphy’s career has been in the Australian insurance industry and most recently as Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Transformation Officer at IAG where she worked across Australia, Asia and New Zealand markets.
Mr Woodhouse thanked departing board member, Professor Gregor Coster for his service and commitment.
ACC is a Crown agent and has an independent board with eight members appointed by the Minister for ACC.
Note for editors:
Ms Murphy who is based in Australia has a background in the Australian insurance industry, most recently as Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer at IAG. She is a director of Liberty Financial Limited, Stone & Chalk Ltd and Chair of the Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital Foundation.
She was previously Chair of the Board for the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Finance Initiative’s Principles for Sustainable Insurance.
ACC and Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced a new Workplace Health and Safety Performance Improvement Toolkit (the Toolkit) to provide businesses with advice and guidance to improve health and safety performance.
“The Toolkit delivers a framework that defines what good health and safety looks like and encourages active involvement and engagement throughout the workplace, from workers and operational managers through to senior leaders and boards,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“The Toolkit delivers a health and safety best practice standard that is nationally recognised, credible and aligned with the New Zealand regulatory framework beyond minimum compliance requirements.
“Businesses will be able to choose how the Toolkit best caters to their needs with access to resources on the WorkSafe website, an onsite assessment delivered by independent accredited assessors or a free online self-assessment.”
The Toolkit will help improve workplace health and safety by:aligning health and safety workforce professional development with best practice supporting behavioural and culture change by fostering more effective worker participation and engagement targeting system weaknesses identified by the Independent Taskforce
“Good health and safety is good for business and leads to a more productive workforce,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“The Toolkit has an important role to play in this and is another step towards achieving the government’s target of a 25 per cent reduction in workplace fatalities and serious injuries by 2020.”
The Toolkit is the culmination of the Safety Star Rating Scheme work undertaken by WorkSafe, ACC and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
For more information, visit www.worksafe.govt.nz/health-and-safety-toolkit.
Budget 2017 provides $36.3 million of additional operating spending over the next four years for WorkSafe New Zealand to build its capability as an effective, risk-targeted regulator, says Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse.
$17.36 million has been reprioritised from within baseline and the remaining $18.97 million is new funding from the Health and Safety at Work Levy.
“Budget 2017 recognises the work required to lift health and safety performance in the workplace,” Mr Woodhouse says.
The $36.3 million over four years will allow WorkSafe to:maintain the High Hazard Unit’s current inspectorate capability and capacity, enabling it to carry out both proactive and reactive activity to support business to manage catastrophic risk. continue to provide effective education, engagement and enforcement activity to manage health and safety issues around the high levels of construction activity in Christchurch and Auckland address operating cost pressures, ensuring WorkSafe can maintain an active presence across New Zealand.
“Budget 2017 also addresses higher regional inspectorate costs by providing WorkSafe with the necessary funding to maintain its local engagement.
“This will allow businesses and workers facing wide-ranging risks to continue to get support from their local WorkSafe office.
“WorkSafe has become a smarter, more targeted regulator and Budget 2017 will help maintain the progress WorkSafe’s been making in improving our workplace health and safety record.”
Budget 2017 provides $8.7 million of operating funding over the next four years for initiatives to support pay equity dispute resolution and Holidays Act compliance, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse says.
“The Government is committed to achieving pay equity in New Zealand and ensuring we have the resources to settle pay equity claims in a timely manner,” Mr Woodhouse says.
The $8.7 million is made up of $6.7 million of new funding and $2 million reprioritised from existing baselines.
“$5.3 million towards pay equity dispute resolution will provide for the adequate resourcing of mediation services for pay equity issues,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“Prompt and effective mediation for pay equity cases will benefit employers and employees by reducing time and costs associated with protracted employment disputes, leading to more productive employment relationships.
“Budget 2017 also supports the effective delivery of the Holidays Act compliance strategy by providing $3.4 million to the Labour Inspectorate.
“The strategy benefits employees by ensuring remediation of historical underpayment for holidays and leave, as well as correct payment in the future,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“The additional funding allows the Labour Inspectorate to continue this important work alongside its other regulatory activities to ensure our employment law is being applied fairly and consistently.”
Budget 2017 invests an additional $59.2 million over four years to ensure all road ambulance call outs are double crewed, Health Minister Jonathan Coleman, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne and ACC Minister Michael Woodhouse say.
“The Government is focused on getting patients the care they need when they need it, and our ambulance services have a key role to play in this,” Dr Coleman says.
“We’re creating 375 new emergency medical and paramedic roles across the country over the next four years to ensure all emergency road ambulance call outs are double crewed by 2021.
“Double crewing all road ambulance call outs will help ensure patients are provided with the best care possible, as well as support the safety and wellbeing of our dedicated paramedic workforce.”
Emergency road ambulance call outs are already almost entirely double crewed within the Wellington region. For the rest of the country, last year nearly 38,500 of the 393,000 call outs were single crewed, that’s around 10 per cent.
The new policy is also expected to create a significant operational efficiency with around 6,000 fewer incidents each year requiring two ambulances to respond.
Budget 2017 is investing $59.2 million over four years to fund the new policy through Vote Health in partnership with ACC. Vote Health has committed
$31.2 million, with the additional $28 million coming from ACC. This cost will be met from a combination of the ACC Non-Earners’ Account, which is funded from general taxation, and from ACC levies.
“Through Vote Health we are also investing $21 million over the next four years which will support a new funding arrangement for emergency air ambulance services and ambulance communications centres,” Mr Dunne says.
“The new arrangement will address financial sustainability issues by ensuring a clearer funding path that providers can work within.
“The additional funding will also maintain air ambulance services as they face significant increases in demand.
“I am advised that this is the single biggest increase that has gone into our emergency ambulance services, and a further commitment by this Government to strengthening core New Zealand infrastructure.
“It is my expectation that ambulance providers will continue to work closely with Fire and Emergency New Zealand to maximise efficiencies and responses to emergencies.”
The ambulance services are funded through Vote Health and ACC. In total the service will receive over $52 million from Vote Health and an additional $82 million from ACC over the next four years.
“The public expects their ACC contributions to be invested wisely,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“Investing in double crewing and other ambulance services will help ensure better outcomes for those Kiwis who are most in need of support.”
Notes to Editors:
Double crewing will create 375 more paramedic and emergency medical roles over the next four years in the following districts
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse is taking steps to improve Immigration New Zealand’s decision making authority for cases involving residence class visa holders convicted of a criminal offence.
“Currently, Immigration NZ has the ability to make decisions on behalf of the Minister on deportation cases for some residence class visa holders convicted of a criminal offence,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“I have made my expectations very clear when it comes to deportation decisions involving offending of this nature and those expectations are not being met. So I am temporarily suspending Immigration NZ’s decision making authority until I have confidence that the decisions being made are consistent with my expectations.
“This course of action follows today’s New Zealand Herald article regarding an individual whose liability for deportation was suspended, despite the severity of the offending.
“It’s important we take the time to review the decision making process to ensure the right decisions are being made.
“I expect to be able to return the decision making authority to Immigration NZ within a fortnight, provided I can be assured the decision making process aligns with my expectations.”
Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse today released an exposure draft of the Pay Equity Bill for public consultation.
“The Government is committed to achieving pay equity in New Zealand and providing a practical and fair process for employees to follow if they feel they are not being paid what their job is worth due to gender discrimination,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“The release of the draft Pay Equity Bill for consultation is an important step towards achieving that and is vital to closing the gender pay gap and ensuring female dominated industries are paid fairly.”
This week, the Government announced a $2 billion pay equity settlement for some of the health sector’s lowest paid workers following the TerraNova pay equity claim.
“The settlement recognises the important work carried out by our aged and disability residential care services and complements the work being done by the Government to implement the Joint Working Group’s recommendations on Pay Equity,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“Today’s release of the draft Pay Equity Bill for public consultation is a key step towards implementing those recommendations and aims to ensure that the wording in the legislation is clear and workable for employers and employees.
“Currently, the Equal Pay Act is not equipped to provide guidance on pay equity claims and needs to be updated to provide for a practical and fair process for employees to follow if they feel they are not being paid what their job is worth due to gender discrimination.
“The draft Bill also provides principles for, and gives guidance on, how to choose comparable jobs and roles to judge Pay Equity claims.
“I want to thank the Council of Trade Unions and Business NZ for providing early feedback on the draft Bill. I look forward to their continued contributions during the exposure draft process to ensure key clauses reflect our goal to provide guidance.
“I encourage everyone to get involved in the consultation process and make sure they have their say on this very important piece of legislation.”
Consultation closes on Thursday 11 May and legislation is planned to be introduced soon after.
For more about the consultation process visit www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/employment-skills/legislation-reviews/exposure-draft-employment-pay-equity-and-equal-pay-bill.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced a package of changes designed to better manage immigration and improve the long-term labour market contribution of temporary and permanent migration.
“The Government is committed to ensuring inward migration best supports the economy and the labour market,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“It’s important that our immigration settings are attracting the right people, with the right skills, to help fill genuine skill shortages and contribute to our growing economy.
“That is why we are making a number of changes to our permanent and temporary immigration settings aimed at managing the number and improving the quality of migrants coming to New Zealand.”
Changes to permanent immigration settings include introducing two remuneration thresholds for applicants applying for residence under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC), which will complement the current qualifications and occupation framework.
“One remuneration threshold will be set at the New Zealand median income of $48,859 a year for jobs that are currently considered skilled. The other threshold will be set at 1.5 times the New Zealand median income of $73,299 a year for jobs that are not currently considered skilled but are well paid,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“The SMC points table, under which individuals claim points towards their residence application, will also be realigned to put more emphasis on characteristics associated with better outcomes for migrants.
“Collectively these changes will improve the skill composition of the SMC and ensure we are attracting migrants who bring the most economic benefits to New Zealand.”
The Government is also proposing a number of changes to temporary migration settings to manage the number and settlement expectations of new migrants coming to New Zealand on Essential Skills work visas.
The changes include:
- The introduction of remuneration bands to determine the skill level of an Essential Skills visa holder, which would align with the remuneration thresholds being introduced for Skilled Migrant Category applicants
- The introduction of a maximum duration of three years for lower-skilled and lower-paid Essential Skills visa holders, after which a minimum stand down period will apply before they are eligible for another lower-skilled temporary work visa.
- Aligning the ability of Essential Skills visa holders to bring their children and partners to New Zealand with the new skill levels.
- Exploring which occupations have a seasonal nature and ensuring that the length of the visa aligns with peak labour demand.
“I want to make it clear that where there are genuine labour or skills shortages, employers will be able to continue to use migrant labour to fill those jobs,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“However, the Government has a Kiwis first approach to immigration and these changes are designed to strike the right balance between reinforcing the temporary nature of Essential Skills work visas and encouraging employers to take on more Kiwis and invest in the training to upskill them.
“We have always said that we constantly review our immigration policies to ensure they are fit for purpose and today’s announcement is another example of this Government’s responsible, pragmatic approach to managing immigration.”
Public consultation on the changes to temporary migration settings closes on 21 May, with implementation planned for later this year.
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