World Oceans Day today highlights the Government’s failure to make any progress on the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary in the past 18 months, Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith says.
“New Zealand has responsibility for one of the largest areas of ocean in the world, yet less than one per cent is fully protected. The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary would protect an area twice the size of New Zealand’s land mass, 15 per cent of our ocean area and it would benefit hundreds of unique species, including whales, dolphins, turtles, seabirds, fish and corals.
“It is embarrassing for the Coalition Government that it has made no progress on the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary after 18 months in Government. The Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill, originally in my name but transferred to David Parker with the change in Government in 2017, has sat on the bottom of Parliament’s Order Paper for 18 months.
“Nothing has been done by the Government to progress the Sanctuary, despite commitments in the Coalition Agreement with NZ First and the Confidence and Supply Agreement with the Greens to establish the sanctuary.
“New Zealand is being left behind other Pacific nations in efforts to protect oceans. Australia, the UK, US, the Cook Islands and Samoa have all set aside significant areas of the Pacific for marine conservation. The importance of the Kermadecs is adding to a network of marine protected areas across the Pacific.
“National will continue to push for the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary. There is strong public support and between National and the Greens, there is a clear majority of Parliament in favour of its establishment.
“We support progression of the Government Bill now at second reading stage. I also have a Member’s Bill in the Ballot to make progress if necessary. The Government needs to make progress on this Sanctuary a priority.”
Matthew’s Petition seeking the urgent introduction of roadside drug testing has received more than 8000 signatures, with support increasing fourfold since it re-opened last week, Nelson MP Nick Smith says.
“New Zealanders are appalled by the road carnage caused by drivers off their face on drugs, and want urgent action. This surge of 6000 signatures in a week reflects the heartfelt concern for families that have lost loved ones, anger at Parliament’s Speaker for unusually blocking a bill and frustration at Ministers for a lack of progress.”
Matthews Petition was launched by the Dow family on December 31, 2018 – the first anniversary of when Matthew was killed in Nelson by a reckless driver high on meth and cannabis.
The petition was to be presented on May 8 – on what would have been Matthew Dow’s 25th birthday – when it had 1887 signatures. This did not proceed after MP Nick Smith chided the Speaker Trevor Mallard for blocking a bill on the issue resulting in him being suspended from Parliament.
“The petition was re-opened on the 13th of May with the support of the Porteous, and Keene families. Their parents were among the seven killed in New Zealand’s worst-ever road crash in Waverley on the 27th of June 2018 that was earlier this month found to have been caused by a driver high on drugs.
“The Dow, Porteous and Keene families have done an amazing job with this petition. They have shown the 70 lives lost each year caused by drugged drivers are not just statistics, but real people whose families will forever carry the scar of losing a loved on.
“The importance of this petition is the Government has a blind spot on drugged driving due to its wider policies that liberalize access to drugs. Constant pressure will be needed to make progress.
“It was negligent of Ministers to sit on Police and Transport officials’ proposals for roadside drug testing for 17 months. It was only released when the issue blew up and gives no commitment or timeline for having testing introduced.
“This issue costs more than 70 lives a year. It needs the same sort of urgency applied to the Christchurch mosque attack where 51 lives were lost and gun laws were tightened in three weeks.
“We know roadside drug testing works, as it has been successfully implemented in Australia, Canada, and the UK. We know from the experience of introducing random breath testing for alcohol in 1993 that lots of spurious arguments were used in opposing it, but that within five years it reduced fatal crashes from drunk driving by 80 per cent. We also need to heed the experience of Colorado where fatalities from drivers impaired by marijuana increased by 145 per cent following legalisation.
“The petition will be presented to Parliament at 2pm today with 1958 paper signatures and 6061 on the parliamentary petition website, totaling 8019. It will be referred to Select Committee where the petitioners will present.
“The families behind this petition and I are determined to get random roadside drug testing introduced. We will be relentless in our campaign because it will save the lives of hundreds of New Zealanders.”
The families at the centre of a crash which claimed seven lives in Waverley have today joined forces with the Dow family in promoting ‘Matthew’s Petition’ seeking the urgent introduction of roadside drug testing, Nelson MP Nick Smith says.
“The Porteous and Keene families have travelled to Wellington today to meet with the Dow family and ask the Government to take urgent action. It is very brave of these families who have lost loved ones in horrific road crashes to come forward and join forces to get drugged drivers off the road.
“They bring a powerful message that the more than 70 lives lost each year are not statistics but real people whose families will forever be scarred by the recklessness of drug impaired driving."
‘Matthew’s petition’ was launched on the first anniversary of Matthew Dow’s death on New Year’s Eve by his parents Karen and Peter Dow. The petition was to be presented to Parliament last week. This was unable to happen after Nelson MP Nick Smith was suspended by Speaker Trevor Mallard when he questioned the Speaker on blocking the introduction of a bill on the issue.
“I welcome the Dow family’s decision to join forces with the Porteous families, re-open the petition and to invite as many New Zealanders as possible to add their name to this campaign to make our roads safer.
“Ministers have been sitting on proposals from Police and Transport officials for road-side drug testing for 17 months, before both these devastating tragedies occurred. If they can pass gun control laws in four weeks, they can move much more quickly on getting drug impaired drivers off the road that kill more than 70 people a year.
“The Government has a blind spot on the damage of drug impaired driving. Green Ministers have made plain their rejection of official’s advice saying roadside drug testing is too intrusive. Police Minister Stuart Nash has undermined the petition by saying in December that Cabinet had approved a discussion paper when it had not and that the issue could be resolved by the time the petition was presented in May.
“This petition is needed to highlight the issue and to pressure Ministers into making real progress. The Government is being reckless with public safety in liberalising access to drugs while ignoring the real risks for road safety. I will be doing all I can to support these families, promote the petition and get the laws in place to get drug impaired drivers off the road.”
The introduction of roadside drug testing is critical given the escalating road toll and the Government’s liberalization of drug laws, Nelson MP Nick Smith says.
Dr Smith received ‘Mathew’s petition’ on Parliament’s steps today. The petition from Karen Dow seeks the urgent introduction of random roadside saliva testing for drug impairment.
“I commend Karen Dow on her brave advocacy in memory of her son Matthew who would be celebrating his 25th birthday today were it not for the reckless actions of a drugged driver.”
Matthew Dow was killed in a head-on crash on the Appleby straight of State Highway 60, near Richmond, on December 31, 2017. The driver of the car that hit him, Alicia Fulcher-Poole, had been smoking meth and cannabis, and was seen driving recklessly prior to the crash.
Karen Dow launched Matthew’s petition at the site of the crash on the first anniversary of her son’s death last year.
“New Zealand urgently needs to introduce roadside drug testing to address the increasing road toll and to protect motorists from the effects of the Government’s reforms that allow easier access to drugs,” Dr Smith says.
“The current law and enforcement for drug-impaired drivers is ineffective and weak, compared to that for drunk driving. In 2017, drug-impaired driving is cost 79 lives, compared to the 70 deaths caused by drunk drivers, yet there were only 200 convictions for drug-impaired driving compared to more than 16,000 for drunk driving.”
“This petition rightly seeks the introduction of random roadside saliva tests for drugs on the same basis as breath testing for alcohol. These saliva tests are working successfully in Australia, the UK and Canada, and are urgently needed here.”
“The Government’s position on roadside drug testing is compromised and confused. The Minister in charge of road safety, Julie Anne Genter, is opposed because of her Green Party’s liberal approach to drugs.
“Police Minister Stuart Nash has promised action but is yet to deliver on the promise he made to TVNZ at the petition’s launch last year that a discussion document on the issue had been approved by Cabinet and would go out to the public in early 2019.
“National wants roadside drug testing introduced as quickly as possible. We will be supporting Matthew’s petition. My National colleague, Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott, has also relodged his Members Bill to get progress. The Bill was voted down by the Labour, Greens and NZ First parties last October. The Government again blocked the Bill’s introduction today when I sought leave to introduce it following Question Time.
“It was highly unusual for the Speaker to intervene and block the introduction of National’s Bill on roadside drug testing. It was normal for the Speaker to put such leave to the House.
“The Speaker had no business in blocking the introduction of the Bill that would have made out roads safer, particularly with the Government liberalising access to drugs. It is worse that he has named me and removed me from doing my job.”
“National will do everything possible to address this serious problem, and get drug-impaired drivers off our roads.”
Petition request wording:
That the House of Representatives urgently pass legislation to introduce random roadside drug testing to reduce the escalating road toll from drugged drivers, which resulted in 79 fatal crashes in 2017 and exceeds the number caused by those impaired by alcohol.
Stats NZ’s confirmation that the problems with Census 2018 is not just with the record low response rate, but a doubling in the partial response rate compounds the problems for the State Sector, says National’s State Services Spokesperson Nick Smith.
“We now know over 700,000 people or one in seven New Zealanders did not complete Census 2018. This leaves a huge data hole that will create problems for years in allocating tens of billions of dollars in funding for central state services like health and education, as well as affecting electorate numbers and boundaries for Election 2020.
“Stats NZ needs to accept responsibility for the 2018 Census shambles. It cannot blame the funding when it was 36 per cent greater than Census 2013 and when this budget was underspent. It cannot blame the digital strategy when Australia successfully delivered its 2016 Census with a 95 per cent response rate using a similar strategy.
“Stats NZ botched the delivery of Census 2018 by excessively relying on online responses and providing insufficient neighbourhood backup for others. It compounded the problem by dismissing concerns expressed by Census field offices, commentators and the National opposition when the Census could have been retrieved.
“The problems with Census 2018 are so bad that consideration should be given to deferring the electoral boundary changes for 2020 and bringing forward the next Census to 2021.
“It is bizarre that on the same day Stats NZ has admitted major holes in its Census data, it is proposing a raft of new indicators for ‘spiritual health’, ‘sense of belonging’, ‘ability to be yourself’, ‘locus of control’ and ‘sense of purpose’.
“Stats NZ needs to focus on hard data like accurately counting population.”
The Government is compromising public safety and letting down the families and victims of the CTV building in allowing engineers to continue for decades to exploit a legal loophole for fatal design errors, National MP Nick Smith says.
“It was an injustice that the engineers of the CTV building that killed 115 people were able to avoid prosecution for their flawed design due to the loophole of the ‘year and a day rule’.
“The Government is compounding this with its Crimes Amendment Bill that allows this loophole to continue to be exploited for the thousands of buildings designed and constructed since.
“We cannot believe that the Government is going to allow this injustice to be knowingly repeated. If Christchurch has another earthquake in 30 years and one of the newly constructed buildings collapses killing a hundred people, the engineers will be able to exploit this loophole again and walk away without any accountability.
“I urge the Government parties to reconsider this Bill, listen to the families and support my amendments that ensure this loophole cannot be exploited in any future fatalities.
“I tried to get the Government to change the transitional provisions around the ‘one year one day rule’ at select committee to apply to any deaths that may occur after the Bill is passed. Labour members of the Select Committee blocked that change.
“The Government has got itself so caught up in legal knots that it has lost its common sense. No engineer that has previously designed a building expects to avoid accountability from this loophole.
“Nor is it justice for engineers when one gets prosecuted because by chance an earthquake does occur before a year and a day is up when another who makes the same error does not. The fairest way forward is to close this loophole now and for everybody.
“The most significant benefit of removing this one year one day loophole now is that engineers of any previously designed buildings have an incentive to check and correct any designs they might doubt. A key failing in the CTV case was that design flaws were identified, but no one was sufficiently motivated to fix them.
“National will be moving amendments today to fix this Bill. We urge either the Labour, Green or NZ First parties to reconsider.
“It is the eighth anniversary this week of the tragic collapse of the CTV building, the worst engineering failure in New Zealand history. This is the week to listen to the CTV families, properly fix the law and for Parliament to send a clear message about the importance of high standards of engineering for public safety.”
National MPs Nick Smith and Maureen Pugh are calling for the Government to establish a business support fund similar to that used following other disasters to help small businesses and contractors affected by the recent fires and ongoing extreme conditions.
“We have been approached by many small and medium enterprises who need support to get through this disaster,” Dr Smith says.
“These are tourism operators providing biking tours but which are shut out by the ban on access to forests and reserves, agricultural, civil and forestry contractors whose work supply has ceased due to the civil defence ban on such activities and others whose business access has been interrupted by the fires.
“These businesses are still having to pay wages, they are bleeding financially and with the ongoing extreme conditions may have little work or income for many weeks.
“We are recommending to the Government the successful model National used to help businesses get through previous disasters. The wage subsidy package provided after the Kaikoura and Canterbury earthquakes helped thousands of businesses to retain jobs and helped the communities’ wider recovery.
“The subsidy did not fully protect the businesses from the impacts but the $500 per week provided for fulltime employees and $300 for part-time employees helped them get through without dismissing staff,” Dr Smith says.
“We believe this fire, the largest in New Zealand for 60 years, and the uncertainty of when significant rain will occur means this support is needed and justified,” Mrs Pugh says.
“This recovery support will complement the Mayoral Relief Fund and the welfare support available for affected families from the Ministry of Social Development.
“The separate business support is about protecting jobs in an unsettling environment where no one knows how long it will be before full access to the forests and reserves will be restored and the ban on contracting activities revoked.
“We commend the overall effort that local and central Government has put into this emergency in Nelson and Tasman and particularly congratulate Fire and Emergency New Zealand. We’ve got most people into their homes and this proposed business support package is about ensuring we maintain their jobs,” Mrs Pugh says.
An appeal lodged this week against the High Court decision to allow the Institute of Professional Engineers to complete its inquiry into the professional standards of engineering on the CTV building is disappointing and should be dealt with urgently, former Building Minister, Engineering Fellow and Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith says.
“It is disgraceful that eight years after the CTV building collapsed, killing 115 people, the Institute for Professional Engineers has not been able to conclude its investigation.
“These ongoing legal shenanigans are unfair on the families of the CTV building victims and is undermining New Zealand’s confidence in our systems for holding professionals accountable. This case is turning into one of justice delayed resulting in justice denied.
“It is unacceptable that a professional, be they an engineer, doctor, lawyer or any other, can avoid accountability by resigning from the professional body, particularly in a case as serious as this where 115 people died.
“I am appalled as a Fellow of the Institute of Professional Engineers and as a Member of Parliament at the way the disciplinary system has been gamed for years to avoid professional accountability.
“Dr Raey has dumped on his junior engineer, contested the Royal Commissions technical conclusions, challenged the composition of the Institute’s Investigating Committee, questioning the Attorney-General’s standing in bringing the judicial review proceedings and is now appealing the decision of the High Court.
“These years of delays means we need the appeal to be resolved urgently. The appeal only enables the Institute to consider the investigation and decide whether to initiate the Disciplinary Committee process that will still take significant time.
“This investigation and disciplinary process is not just important for justice for the CTV families. The engineering profession needs to ensure every possible lesson is learnt from this tragedy. A particularly important area from this case is clarifying the professional responsibilities and accountability of senior engineers and those working under them to guide and improve future practise.
“I have today written to Attorney-General David Parker, with the full support of the CTV families, encouraging the Government to seek urgency on this appeal. We owe it to the CTV building victims’ families and the wider New Zealand public to get these issues resolved.”
A nationwide petition calling for the urgent introduction of roadside drug testing has been launched in Nelson today by Matthew Dow’s family on the first anniversary of him being killed by driver high on meth, Nelson MP Nick Smith says.
“New Year’s Eve should be a time of celebration and hope, but for the Dow family it is the day their son was robbed of his life by a reckless meth user driving like a maniac. The launching of this petition by Matthew’s family, retired Nelson Bays Highway Patrol Sergeant Terry Richards and myself is about getting drugged drivers off the road.
“23 year old Matthew Dow was tragically killed at 9pm on 31st December 2017 in Appleby on SH60 by Alicia Fulcher-Poole. Ms Fulcher-Poole had been smoking meth earlier that day and was witnessed driving erratically and passing recklessly prior to the accident. She was convicted for drugged driving and sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
“Matthew’s tragic death was just one of seven fatalities in the Nelson Bay Police District last year where meth or cannabis was identified as a cause or contributing factor, accounting for a third of our region’s fatal road deaths.
“Nationally there were 79 deaths from drug drivers, exceeding for the first time the number killed by drink drivers, which last year was 70.
“It is becoming increasingly more important that we introduce random drug testing with the Government liberalising access to drugs like cannabis.
“National MP Alastair Scott’s Members Bill would have allowed police officers to perform roadside drug testing on any driver who they suspected was driving under the influence of drugs.
“I was very disappointed Labour, NZ First and the Greens opposed the introduction of National’s Bill in October to empower police to introduce random saliva testing. The Government is ignoring the evidence on how much drugs are contributing to New Zealand’s rising road toll.
"It does not have a hope of achieving its zero road death target unless it changes its position on drug testing. This petition is about building momentum for reform.
“Drug drivers are just as dangerous as drink drivers. We need saliva testing to discourage this reckless behaviour.”
The passing of the Tasman District Council (Waimea Water Augmentation Scheme) Bill has cleared the way for the construction to begin on the largest dam to be built in New Zealand for more than 20 years, Nelson MP Nick Smith says.
“The Bill passed by 112 – 8 votes and clears the way for a sustainable solution to the regions long standing water problems.
“The passage of this Bill concludes a 17-year tortuous process for developing and gaining approval for a sustainable solution for the regions water problems. This Bill resolves the last issue of access to the conservation and LINZ land.
“The resource consents were approved in 2014 by the Environment Court and the funding agreements between the Tasman and Nelson councils, Crown Irrigation Ltd and Waimea Irrigation Ltd previously agreed were signed today.
“The $105 million Waimea Water Augmentation Scheme involves construction of a 53m high concrete faced, rockfill dam in the Lee Valley 20km south east of Brightwater. The 5km reservoir will store 13.4 million cubic metres of water to be released during dry periods for irrigation, town water supplies, industry and for maintaining new minimum river flows.
“The Tasman and Nelson regions do not have an overall water shortage problem with less than two per cent of the total resource used. This scheme takes a common sense approach by storing some of the massive volumes of water available in winter for release in summer.
“I acknowledge the support of the Labour, NZ First and ACT parties alongside my National colleagues for enabling the passage of this Bill. I also acknowledge the Mayor and Councillors of the Tasman District Council, the board and staff of Crown Irrigation Ltd, the team from Waimea Irrigators Ltd and local iwi for their support over many years in enabling this project to proceed.
“The practical dividends of this scheme are a cleaner and healthier Waimea River that can be swum, kayaked and fished in during summer. It means the region will be able to produce thousands of additional tonnes of valuable crops like apples, hops, wine and berryfruit. It means the thousands of additional homes being built on the Waimea plains will have a secure water supply.
“This project will enable the Tasman and Nelson regions to be the first to fully comply with the new national standards for minimum river flows and water quality standards that I introduced as Environment Minister under the previous Government. It illustrates that water infrastructure is, alongside tighter regulation, stream planting and fencing, an important part of the solution to New Zealand’s national water challenges.
“My disappointment is that this project is the last to receive funding with the new Government cancelling any further financial support for water infrastructure. My hope is that the future success of this Waimea project will help convince future government’s water storage can deliver both environmental and economic benefits to regional New Zealand.”