Yesterday I launched a survey to engage the Arts, Culture and Heritage sector and develop new and innovative policies, National’s Arts, Culture and Heritage spokesperson Nicky Wagner says.
“I have spent the past year listening to, meeting with, and visiting different individuals and organisations across this diverse, inspiring sector. The sector survey will test some of the ideas I have heard and seek to better understand the opportunities and challenges Arts, Culture and Heritage face in New Zealand today.
“New technology, increasing automation and artificial intelligence are collectively upending our daily lives and changing how we work. But through this change, there is one stable element – a constant demand and growing appreciation of creativity.
“Our bottom line is you. We want to know your needs and aspirations to inform and develop policies that will shape and support the creative sector in the years to come.
“This is a sector with tremendous social and economic value to New Zealand both domestically and in terms of our international reputation.
“Estimates suggest the creative economy is worth around $17 billion to our GDP and provides over 130,000 jobs.
“I welcome anyone who would like to be part of this conversation. You can complete the survey on my website, or come along to one of my meetings, which will take place in Wellington, Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Hamilton, Auckland, Tauranga and Whakatane. Future events will also continue to be held in the months ahead.
“The sector survey is available online at www.nickywagner.co.nz, and will run throughout August.”
The Draft Global Settlement Agreement released today largely follows the plans and work started by the previous National Government, but with an unnecessary dose of delay and indecision, National’s Greater Christchurch Regeneration spokesperson Nicky Wagner says.
“In 2017, much of the work in negotiating the global settlement was nearing completion, but 20 months on we are only now getting a draft agreement. This delay has been knocking business confidence in the central city where people want certainty about the future and how the city will develop.
“The draft settlement sets out how the Crown will wind down its involvement in Christchurch’s rebuild and regeneration after eight years. It largely follows the blueprint and work that was underway by the previous Government.
“The current Government has only contributed delays and indecision to the conclusion of this work.
“A key part of this delay has been the Government’s indecision about the future of the Multi-use Arena. After commissioning a review of the arena in 2017, Minister Woods made little to no changes to the plan when the review came back in mid-2018. And a further 12 months on we still have no decision about how the arena will progress and operate.
“Another disappointment in the draft agreement is the inability for the Government to find someone to either lease or own the Convention Centre and take the liability off the taxpayer. This facility needs an operator that can connect into the international convention market, can bring conferences from around the world to Christchurch, and will add an extra income stream to the local economy.
“The draft agreement has followed the plans and work of the previous Government, but with unnecessary delays and indecision by this Labour-led government.
“I am keen to see what Christchurch thinks and look forward to hearing the feedback of residents and businesses who have until 5 August to make comment through the Christchurch City Council.”
New research that proves that electronic cigarettes are far more effective than existing cessation tools shows the Government must move urgently to make e-cigarettes more available as to smokers who want to quit,” National MP Nicky Wagner says.
“The research tested and assessed the effectiveness of smoking cessation tools and shows that electronic cigarettes are twice as effective at helping smokers quit than the alternatives this Government is offering.
“Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the research found that 18 per cent of those who use electronic cigarettes remain smokefree after the first year, compared to 9 per cent who use other nicotine-replacement tools such as patches and gum, when both products were accompanied by behavioural support.
“Public Health England, an agency of the British Government, has already called for their National Health Service to fund Electronic Cigarettes. They have come out following this research to say that all stop smoking services should welcome smokers who want to quit using e-cigarettes.
“The evidence keeps piling up that electronic cigarettes are effective tools to help smokers quit, but this Government is mixing inaction and proposed regulatory overreach in a way that will make it harder for smokers to access electronic cigarettes.
“There is no reason for the Government to continue encouraging cessation tools that are half as good. Public Health England and others continue to note that electronic cigarettes are around 95 per cent less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.
“When Parliament returns the Government should progress my Member’s Bill to give certainty and access to electronic cigarettes in New Zealand. It must stop wasting time and act urgently to continue progress towards Smokefree 2025.”
The recent increase to cigarettes provides another incentive for smokers to quit but the Government must now ensure that smoking cessation tools are appropriately regulated and able to be used to encourage smokers to quit, National MP Nicky Wagner says.
“Excise taxes have gone up by 10 per cent plus the CPI this month. These year-on-year increases have achieved their purpose in reducing smoking rates and now we must help our most ingrained smokers who are not put off by price by providing an alternative like vaping.
“The Ministry of Health has highlighted the potential for vaping to be used as a smoking cessation tool to help achieve Smokefree 2025, and yet the Government will not move to make e-cigarettes and vaping devices more accessible.
“Currently, vaping liquid and devices are treated the same as tobacco products. However, evidence suggests they are around 90 per cent less harmful. My Member’s Bill would create specific regulations for e-cigarettes to ensure they can be employed as a smoking cessation tool and to provide appropriate regulations.
“These regulations would prohibit sales to under 18s, allow the ability to encourage vaping on tobacco products, ensure there are appropriate rules around advertising, set quality standards, require the Ministry of Health to approve products and prohibit vaping in smokefree areas.
“The proposed legislation that will be introduced this year by Associate Health Minister, Jenny Salesa, will be very similar to mine. The Associate Minister should save time and adopt my Bill.
“There are technical differences and issues that are still up for debate which could be worked through in the select committee and wider Parliamentary process.
“If the Minister wants to help encourage smokers to quit sooner she should adopt my Member’s Bill when we return in February. Parliament can then build on this and develop the final legislation through its process.
“This is the time of year when people make choices to better their lives, and we need to give smokers the ability and the options to make those choices when it comes to quitting. The Government must respond to the call for alternatives like vaping.”
An announcement from Regenerate Christchurch that it will give residents just one month to give feedback on the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor is unacceptable, National’s spokesperson for Greater Christchurch Regeneration Nicky Wagner says.
“The development of the Residential Red Zone will drive the liveability of Christchurch for generations and residents deserve to have more time to comment on such an important project.
“We’ve had years of discussions, debate and community meetings to get to this point. Now Regenerate Christchurch is rushing the most important part of the process.
“In its announcement it said that it would normally allow six week for consultation, yet it’s cutting it short for the Christmas break. The people of Christchurch deserve better than this.
“I’m calling Minister Megan Woods to step in so that the people of Christchurch have the time to have a proper say on this important development and the future of their city.”
The Government’s latest announcement of a new earthquake insurance settlement service will be welcomed by homeowners as it expands on the Residential Advisory Service set up by the previous National Government, National’s Greater Christchurch Regeneration spokesperson Nicky Wagner says.
“It’s important homeowners have a place where they can discuss their claims, can find support and move towards resolving any disputes.
“The Residential Advisory Service (RAS) was set up in 2013 and links residents with the correct people for their particular issue and ensures those needing help are given detailed specific advice and guidance by independent advisors.
“The Government recognised the good work RAS does and extended its service to June 2019 with additional funding.
“The RAS has been a highly successful service in Christchurch since its establishment – it has assisted thousands of Christchurch residents with their insurance claims after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes – and the new service will build on the experiences and learnings from the RAS.
“The Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service (GCCR) has the expertise and experience of Darren Wright as the new director, who has been in the thick of the post-earthquake environment and is qualified at resolving claim disputes.
“This gives us confidence that homeowners will be provided with a tailored service that will meet most needs.
“RAS will still be a service available to North Cantabrians affected by the Kaikoura Earthquake, and will be incorporated into the new GCCR.
“GCCR will expand on the support and guidance RAS was providing, and continue to help property owners who are having difficulty with insurance or repair challenges.
“Insurance issues can be extremely stressful and confusing, so we want all homeowners who are going through difficult times to have a place where they know they will receive the support and advice they need.”
The New Zealand Initiative’s report on tobacco harm reduction further highlights the urgent need for vaping legalisation, National MP Nicky Wagner says.
“Smoke and Vapour: The changing world of tobacco harm reduction by Jenesa Jeram shows the need for vaping legalisation in New Zealand by highlighting how current policies are increasingly ineffective in helping long-term smokers kick the habit.
“My Smoke-free Environments (Regulation of Electronic Cigarettes) Amendment Bill currently in the Members’ Bill ballot will allow electronic cigarettes containing nicotine to be sold to people aged 18 years and over.
“The aim of my bill is to assist long-term, daily smokers to quit by improving access to less harmful alternatives and help meet our goal of a Smokefree New Zealand by 2025.
“This is in line with the New Zealand Initiative report, which recommends alternatives like electronic cigarettes.
“This report follows the District Court’s decision to allow the sale of tobacco products except those chewed or dissolved in the mouth. The Court’s decision, and now this report, have opened up the debate around tobacco products and possible alternatives.
“The report recommends ‘light touch’ regulations around the sale of electronic cigarettes and suggests we treat vaping differently to smoking tobacco because of the lower health risks.
“I remain cautious about light touch regulation of these products because it could normalise the practice. These products should be used as tools to help smokers to quit, not as an accepted alternative to smoking.
“I look forward to the opportunity at Select Committee to debate the differing points of view on regulation and how best to handle electronic cigarettes and vaping.
“I want to thank Ms Jeram for taking the time to meet with me last week to discuss her report which provides more depth and breadth to the debate around vaping legalisation.”
Questions must be asked about why the proposed East Lake seems to have been removed from the Residential Red Zone regeneration exhibition, and some answers are needed as to the reasons for its exclusion, National’s spokesperson for Greater Christchurch Regeneration Nicky Wagner says.
“The East Lake project is a hugely popular proposal that would provide the city with a flatwater facility for kayaking, rowing, waka ama, dragon boating, yachting, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming, cycling and walking in the Residential Red Zone,” Ms Wagner says.
“It has been included in many of the different proposals put out for consultation so I’m extremely surprised and concerned see it excluded from the final exhibition.
“The proposal has been developed by the East Lake Trust, a community-led project, in conjunction with other community and sports groups after Regenerate Christchurch was specifically asked by the Council and the Government to assess the feasibility of a water sports facility in the area.
“In April this year they reported that such a facility was not feasible because of the lack of a water supply, the impact on storm water and concerns around flooding.
“But at a recent meeting with representatives of flatwater sports, the agency is reported to have said that these were not the real reasons for excluding the facility, but were simply given because people could understand them.
“This project has been anticipated for several years now and many people in Christchurch were excited by the opportunities a facility like this would offer.
“To see the hard work of these community groups now excluded from the exhibition is disappointing in itself. To now have doubt cast on the reasons for this is a source of understandable frustration and confusion.
““For any decision to be credible it must be evidenced-based, and accepted and understood by everyone concerned, even if they disagree with the outcome. This decision has failed that test.
“I’d expect the Minister responsible, Meagan Woods to come out and give a clear, honest explanation as to why the project has been excluded – and I’ll be asking that of her,” Ms Wagner says.
The Labour Government has avoided committing to building a multi-use arena in Christchurch and has instead kicked it for touch into the distant future, National’s spokesperson for Greater Christchurch Regeneration Nicky Wagner says.
“Despite pleas from the public, sporting groups and event operators, the Government still won’t front up with any kind of commitment to replace Lancaster park.
“Instead, the Minister responsible, Megan Woods, has issued a vague statement that some design work will begin, and that any final design will be subject to a business case.
“Christchurch voters should not forget that, during the election campaign, Jacinda Ardern committed $300 million extra to go towards the ongoing rebuild of Christchurch – and that money should be ear-marked for these kinds of projects.
“Notably, this big-spending Government has not committed to any costs for a multi-use stadium – no doubt, leaving future governments and tax-payers to take the financial hit.
“However, what Megan Woods has announced today – with quite some fanfare - is that ‘Ōtākaro has completed the detailed design of the Metro Sports Facility, and is now ready to go to market to confirm the final cost of the project’
“This is disingenuous in the extreme - this was already the case under the National Government until she halted the process in November last year.
“Ms Woods has achieved nothing other than a six month delay on the project,” Mrs Wagner says.
National Party spokesperson for Greater Christchurch Regeneration has welcomed the decision by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta to follow the previous National Governments’ approach to keep the current Environment Canterbury (ECan) board.
“Nanaia Mahuta is making a sensible decision to keep the current ECan Board and returning to a full democracy at the 2019 local body election, as the previous National Government had planned,” Ms Wagner says.
“Labour made plenty of noise about the lack of full democracy in Canterbury whilst in Opposition. Both present Ministers Eugenie Sage and Megan Woods led an aggressive campaign to have full elections immediately.
“Yet again, now that Labour is in Government it has abandoned its policy and is continuing with the plan started by National.
“Our long-term approach whilst in Government was designed to improve the standards at ECan. In 2009, the previous Government appointed commissioners to ECan following repeated poor performance by the council in achieving their regulatory requirements.
“Thanks to the hard work of the commissioners and the strong, sensible leadership of Dame Margaret Bazley and David Bedford, Canterbury now has one of the best performing regional councils in New Zealand.
“This has always been about making good decisions for Canterbury. The commissioners were put in to complete the water management plan for Canterbury which had languished under the leadership of the previous council.
“Nanaia Mahuta’s decision shows that the long-term plan started in 2009 has been effective. Half of the members on ECan were elected in 2016 and the plan had long been for the full council to be elected in 2019.”