There was one major project left out of Labour’s hyped up infrastructure announcement this week, a new stadium for Central Christchurch, National’s Greater Christchurch Regeneration spokesperson Nicky Wagner says.
“This is the last Anchor Project to get underway as part of National’s 2013 Earthquake Recovery Plan, but Labour has delayed the stadium because it wasn’t their idea.
“Despite commissioning a review that ended up backing the project, the Government continues to kick the can down the road on starting the stadium.
“After the Christchurch City Council approved an investment plan for $253 million in December 2019 on the promise that Cabinet would deliver the remaining $220 million before Christmas, Labour is yet to fund the Government’s share of the stadium.
“Two months on, this decision, a decision delegated solely to Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Megan Woods and Finance Minister Grant Robertson to make, has yet to be confirmed.
“Why doesn’t Megan Woods take a leaf out of Transport Minister Phil Twyford’s book and just restart the work National did in office and approve the funding for a new stadium in Christchurch?
“It’s not surprising though that Christchurch is still waiting for its Stadium given how the Government seemed to forget the South Island existed when announcing its infrastructure plan.
“This week the Government restarted National’s transport plan for the upper North Island after delaying it for two years. It should now restart National’s Earthquake Recovery Plan after also delaying it by two years.”
Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa has been promising vaping regulation since this Government came into office, but after almost two years in power there’s still no legislation, National MP Nicky Wagner says.
“National has offered to take a bipartisan approach to working with the Government but our offer hasn’t been accepted. I have a Member’s Bill ready to go and I invite the Government to sit down with us so some progress can be made.
“Vaping is considered to be more than 90 per cent less harmful than cigarette smoking and is a valuable tool to help smokers quit. It’s instrumental in helping achieve Smokefree 2025 and we want to ensure those who need to access vapes are able to.
“But vaping shouldn’t be an easily accessible habit for young teens. Many parents are concerned that vapes are increasingly marketed at children, and that those who wouldn’t have taken up smoking are taking up vaping.
“Parents, principals and public health professionals are all calling for progress.
“We need intelligent regulation to control the quality of vaping products, age and availability restrictions, and rules to manage advertising and information sharing.
“The Government is once again failing to deliver on its promises. It’s time Jenny Salesa took action.”
Amid growing public concern over vaping, the Government needs to deliver legislation that clarifies their position, National List MP Nicky Wagner says.
“There has been increased public concern and debate about vaping in recent weeks, yet the Government seems reluctant to address this.
“The Minister needs to finally introduce legislation this week to give the industry, smokers and the general public clarity on how vaping can be used to help achieve Smokefree 2025.
“The Ministry of Health is currently running a website to encourage smokers to switch to vaping, and the body of evidence in favour of vaping as a smoking cessation tool continues to grow.
“Professor Robert Beaglehole, head of Action for Smokefree 2025, noted last week; ‘Vaping and other smoke free products have the potential to reduce the enormous harm of smoked tobacco.’
“We have waited far too long for this Government to pick up the work already done by the previous National Government, and too many New Zealanders are unsure about what is and is not acceptable.
“Any Bill introduced by the Minister must give clarity to vaping companies who have so far acted in good faith to self-regulate. It must protect smoke-free areas from vaping and set guidelines limiting advertising of vaping to point of sale only.
“I hope this week is one of delivery for vapers and smokers, and not another week of inaction from this Government.”
Minister Jenny Salesa’s inaction has allowed vaping advertising and promotion to flourish, National MP Nicky Wagner says.
“This week the Minister expressed concern about the vaping industry not being regulated, as they are able to approach agencies trying to give out free products. These are hollow statements given her inaction these past eighteen months.
“National had already produced a Cabinet Paper on this that outlined the changes needed to regulate the sale, supply and quality of vaping products. She has played politics by choosing to ignore this and not action any of these suggested changes.
“I have since submitted a Members Bill on this issue. It would regulate advertising of vaping products to point of sale only, ban vaping in smoke-free areas and set out a basic framework for quality control.
“Last year Parliament could have read this Bill a first time and start deliberations in Select Committee. This would not have taken up any of the Government’s legislative time and allowed the industry to get a regulatory framework in place. The Minister refused to take up my offer on this.
“We now have an industry without any guidelines on acting legally and in the best interests of their companies. If we want to limit actions by an industry for the benefit of New Zealanders it is only reasonable that we give them clear guidelines.
“The Minister continues to kick the can down the road on vaping because of her own inaction.”
The Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister must take responsibility and act decisively in the wake of the unacceptable data breach at her ministry, National’s Arts Culture and Heritage spokesperson Nicky Wagner says.
“It’s not good enough that 302 people have had their private details exposed online by a so-called ‘coding error’. The public expects better from security systems overseen by the Government, and rightly so.
“The Minister must now ask some tough questions of her officials and act quickly to fix whatever problems exist with the Government’s cyber security, be they human or digital.
“This is not a good look so soon after Treasury officials uploaded sensitive Government Budget documents to the internet for the whole world to find by using a website search bar.
“Public confidence in the Government’s ability to keep their information safe and secure will be disappearing fast in the wake of this latest example of its incompetence when it comes to data protection.”
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.”