After several years of work the Unit Titles (Strengthening Body Corporate Governance and Other Matters) Amendment Bill to strengthen the management of apartments and townhouses has today been released by National’s Housing spokesperson Judith Collins and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye.
“We see a huge opportunity to strengthen the existing unit titles regime in areas such as pre-contract disclosure, record keeping of body corporates and better management of conflicts of interests and proxy votes”, Ms Collins says.
“The main reason for the change has been concerns around a lack of transparency and inadequacy in long term maintenance plans, and a clearer understanding of the role of a body corporate manager.
“Some estimates have the apartment sector alone worth more than $50 billion. Under investment in long term maintenance plans can result in large unexpected bills for homeowners if defects occur, or sharp rises in body corporate fees.
“Places like Auckland have seen a huge increase in unit titles. The number of multi-unit housing developments in Auckland increased from just over 15 per cent of new houses in 2010 to over 40 per cent in 2017.
“A refined governance, management and planning structure will ultimately lead to more quality housing through improved long term maintenance plans and boost the confidence of first time buyers.
“Nikki Kaye, alongside property and legal experts, produced a report for the last National Government and a discussion paper was subsequently released which forms the basis of this law. National had committed to ensure the legislation would be progressed if we were in Government,” Ms Collins says.
The Bill aims to:
- Improve the information disclosure regime to prospective buyers of units
- Strengthen the governance arrangements in relation to the body corporate, the entity responsible for the management and operation of a unit title complex (owner)
- Increase the professionalism and standards of body corporate managers
- Ensure planning and funding of long-term maintenance projects is adequate and proportionate to the size of the complex concerned.
“The law distinguishes between unit title complexes based on their size so smaller complexes can either be excluded or can opt-out of some compliance obligations. The legislation aims to strike a balance between the benefits of additional compliance requirements with any potential costs,” Ms Kaye says.
“Earlier this year Judith and I met with Housing Minister Phil Twyford where we confirmed we would draft a Bill, and we have now written to the Minister asking the Government to adopt the legislation. If the Government chooses not to adopt the law the Bill will be lodged as a Private Members Bill in Judith’s name.
“As a result of some of these issues, disputes have arisen without accessible and affordable resolutions – the Bill seeks to reduce dispute costs and improve the accessibility of mediation.
“We want to reduce homeowner disputes in multi-unit dwellings and help support easier resolutions.
“For most people their home is the largest asset they have so when things go wrong there can be devastating and life-long impacts.
“Through our discussions with apartment owners, property and legal organisations, including body corporate chairs, we know there is huge support for law reform in this area.
“We will work hard to ensure this law reform is progressed,” Ms Kaye says.
News that the secondary teachers have rejected the Government’s pay offer means that the instability and potential disruption in the sector for teachers, students and parents is far from over, National’s Education spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“After primary teachers overwhelmingly rejected their second pay offer last week and are now pursuing rolling regional strikes it comes as no surprise that the secondary teachers weren’t happy with their first Government offer either.
“I am at the PPTA conference in Wellington today to listen to secondary teachers’ concerns. It is clear to me that they have also not been prioritised by this Government and that it has instead chosen to spend $2.8 billion on an unsuccessful fees free policy for tertiary students.
“For teachers it is not just about pay. The Government has not provided a firm funding commitment for special education coordinators in schools - despite announcing a plan to provide them in each school.
“Smaller class sizes is another priority for many teachers which has not been prioritised by the Labour-led Government. Smaller ratios would help to lessen teachers’ workloads and provide more one on one time with students.
“And now, for both the primary and secondary pay offers, the ability for teachers to get the support of a maternity grant up front has been proposed to be changed, meaning that new parents would have to wait until they come back to work for any support. This is unacceptable and unfair to new mums and dads.
“I am concerned that there has been a lack of transparency around the offer. It is my understanding that despite requests from union organisations the Ministry of Education has not provided the breakdown of the costs of the offer.
“The Minister has failed to deliver multiple promises in education including ending school donations. The Government overpromised to a lot of New Zealanders and has chosen to prioritise other areas.
“This is extremely concerning for everyone involved and it only creates more uncertainty with the situation. The Government needs to front up now and prioritise funding for teachers in an attempt to avoid more strike action.”
National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye is concerned for parents facing potentially multiple strikes over the next six months as a result of the Government’s lack of priority of teacher’s salaries and other funding.
“Primary teachers have today rejected the Government’s latest offer. This is the second offer that was refused and it means that parents may be facing two day primary school strikes.
“This is concerning for parents - strikes mean significant disruptions for families and learning.
“Some secondary teachers have also publicly criticized the Government’s pay offer. The secondary offer will be publicly announced next week but teachers tell me it’s not looking good. If there is no movement parents may face multiple strikes over the next six months.
“The Labour Government has not offered smaller class sizes or prioritised salaries and instead have chosen to spend $2.8 billion on an unsuccessful fees free policy for tertiary students.
“One of the issues with the offer is the lack of a firm funding commitment for special education coordinators in schools. Another problem is the reversal of existing rights around maternity grants in both primary and secondary pay offers.
“The Government promised a lot around resolving teacher’s shortages but has only provided two thirds of the funding for what it promised at the election.
“The Government has also sought to put teachers going on maternity leave in a worse position where they lose the ability to get a grant up front, instead they would have to wait until they come back to work for any support. This is really harsh for new mums and dads and we oppose this.
“The Government has raised expectations and needs to get back to the table and prioritise funding for teachers. The Government also needs to work with schools and parents to ensure there are adequate supervision arrangements for children during the strikes.”
National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye has confirmed today that large numbers of primary principals and teachers have contacted the Minister of Education on the eve of the settlement ballot next week.
“The Acting Education Minister confirmed in the House that she has been contacted by over 100 teachers and principals in the last three days raise urgent issues such as teacher’s shortages, relief teacher issues and increased class sizes.
“We are now coming up to a year in of the Labour-led Government and a number of these issues could have been alleviated as part of some short-term supply packages if the Minister had taken some action.
“The reality is that the Government has only provided two-thirds of what it has promised to spend in education and has not adequately prioritised short-term supply issues.
“The National Party has raised questions before about the impact that the teacher shortage is having on class sizes. We have shifted our position and made a commitment to increasing the number of primary teachers to reduce class sizes and giving kids more teacher time.
“Despite Labour MPs campaigning on smaller class sizes during the election they have refused to commit. Labour have no excuse for not being able to keep its promise on class sizes or to significantly increase teacher salaries but has instead chosen to prioritise $2.8 billion for a fees free policy for tertiary students.
“The Government has also said that they care deeply about special education and learning support yet we understand that they are not moving on the issue of a SENCO role for schools as part of the collective bargaining.
“The Acting Minister has confirmed in Parliament today an announcement will be made on additional learning support tomorrow. National is supportive of additional support in this area.
“Moving towards next week there is an urgent need for the Government to get to the table to address these issues so that there aren't future strikes.
“The outcome of the ballot will be next week and if the teachers vote to reject the offer then there will likely be future strike. The Government must find a way to address these issues to avoid another costly strike.”
Chris Hipkins’ latest piece of legislation is yet another attempt to dismantle reforms made by the previous National Government, National’s Education Spokesperson Nikki Kaye says.
“National established Communities of Online Learning (COOLs) to harness rapidly evolving digital technologies and provide more learning options for young people.
“COOLs would have provided huge opportunity for students to learn subjects that teachers in their local area may be unable to teach, but now the Minister has put up legislation that will repeal the system with nothing in its place. At the very least the Minister should provide an alternative regulatory framework for sustainable quality online learning and content.
“This will impact organisations like the Virtual Learning Network who have been so successful that they have grown the number of students accessing their programmes by five times where they were several years ago. At the very least the Minister should be providing a decent replacement system.
“The new bill also makes changes to cohort entry which will see an effective change to the school starting age. For decades, kids in New Zealand have been able to start school at the age of five.
“Now there will likely be thousands of children at schools with cohort entry who will be delayed the opportunity to start school until weeks after their fifth birthday. This is not good enough.
“The Minister has also put up proposals around requiring private schools to be safe physical and emotional places for students. Of course we support ensuring students have access to a safe environment.
“However, the detail and the driver for these changes are completely unclear. While we support this being a criteria for registration – the powers to cancel the registration of a private school appear to be very wide.
“These changes are on the back of other ideological moves such as scrapping partnership schools and National Standards. The Government has not progressed its own agenda because it’s tied up in paperwork and has been immersed in at least 16 Education reviews.
“The Bill also enables the Minister to issue Government policy directions relating to the Education Council’s functions. It requires the Education Council to consult with the Minister prior to making changes to teacher qualification requirements or registration criteria.
“Mr Hipkins is trying to bring the profession under his control, which is hypocritical and contrary to the Government’s wider policy position of a ‘high-trust’ profession.
“The Regulatory Impact Statement by the Ministry of Education notes the ‘risk’ involved and the perceived conflict. The Ministry also acknowledges that this may be seen by the sector as limiting the council’s independence.
“The National Party will oppose the Education Amendment Bill (No 2). The Government is on an ideological crusade to get rid of anything brought in by National, rather than putting up a positive agenda of change.”
It appears Chris Hipkins is taking advantage of his role of Leader of the House to avoid scrutiny in his Education portfolio, National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye says.
“Leader of the House Chris Hipkins has engineered a situation which will see two education bills debated in the House at a time when committee members are obligated to attend Education and Workforce select committee hearings in Auckland.
“It is a sad day for Parliament when the Leader of the House uses his role to reduce scrutiny in his role as Education Minister. What’s worse is that these bills cover contentious issues such as the removal of partnership schools, National Standards and a bill replacing the Teachers Council.
“Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard criticised the process used to rush through the Education Amendment Bill this week when he spoke about the orchestrated clash and said ‘I do not think it is good practice for that to occur’.
“The select committee also applied for extensions to the process to account for late amendments by the Minister regarding partnership schools. However, Chris Hipkins blocked this extension and Government committee members forced a meeting.
“We acknowledge the courage of NZ First to support National letter to the Business Committee raising concerns about inadequate time for this Bill.
“Chris Hipkins has also come under increasing pressure from respected leaders such as Sir Toby Curtis and Lance O’Sullivan who urge him to listen regarding partnership schools.
“This is a Minister who from the outset has engaged in disrespectful parliamentary behaviour and has opened the Crown up to legal risk by terminating partnership schools prematurely and without contract termination, made late amendments to the legislation regarding schools without giving them adequate time to comment, refused to acknowledge the Waitangi Tribunal claim by iwi leaders despite legal papers being served months ago and was forced to correct Parliamentary answers admitting the Crown’s error.
“The Minister should remove provisions relating to partnership schools in the Education Amendment Bill until the Crown has met with iwi leaders to work through the Waitangi Tribunal claim. The members of the Education and Workforce Committee on both sides of the House deserve the opportunity to be in the Parliament for the full debate on the Bill.
“At the very least there should be an opportunity for all members of the select committee to speak on this legislation. The fact that there isn’t, shows a disregard for these schools, their students and basic parliamentary processes.”
Letter to Business Committee indicating majority support for an extension to Education Amendment Bill available here.
A Bill that will ensure every child in years 1-8 has the opportunity to learn a second language was drawn from the Ballot this week, National MP for Auckland Central Nikki Kaye says.
“Speaking more than one language has enormous cognitive, cultural, social and economic benefits. New Zealand is a diverse country where 160 languages are spoken, and it’s important that what’s being taught in schools reflects that.
“My Bill would require the Minister of Education to set at least ten national priority languages for schools following public consultation and places a requirement on the Crown to resource teaching these languages in primary and intermediate schools.
“It will be up to school boards to decide which of the priority languages will be taught at their school. Every school will be required to deliver at least one second language, but some may choose to offer more than one.
“The Bill makes it clear that Te Reo Māori and New Zealand Sign Languages will, as the official languages of New Zealand, be on the final list of ten or more priority languages schools can choose from. I’d expect that other languages that would be consulted on would include Mandarin, French, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and potentially Hindi.
“There is widespread support for the Bill, with an Asia New Zealand Foundation survey showing 80 per cent of New Zealanders think that school children should learn a language other than English. It has also been great to see a number of language specialists and leaders call on MPs to send the Bill to select committee for wider public debate.
“Having the ability to speak a second language can be the difference in children being able to speak with their grandparents or young businesses leaders being able to better connect to markets like China and India. The Bill, with a comprehensive implementation plan, would also see a lot more young New Zealanders speaking Te Reo.
“I plan to meet with key political leaders from every Party in Parliament to discuss the Bill and ask for their support. I am optimistic that they will support the Bill because they understand the importance of second language learning.
“I do not underestimate the investment and careful planning required to deliver this policy. I am keen to work cross-party on an implementation plan, as this initiative will require the support of successive governments.
“My Bill presents an opportunity to invest in our country’s future. I am looking forward to a national conversation on how we can strengthen second language learning in schools and create smarter, more culturally aware students who are better equipped to succeed in New Zealand and overseas.”
The National Party is continuing to be the Party of ideas and leadership with four Members’ Bills being drawn from the Ballot today.
Members’ Bills from Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye, Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie, Northland MP Matt King and Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker will all be debated in Parliament.
“My Bill is focused on ensuring that all children in years 1-8 have universal access to learn a second language. It requires the Education Minister to set at least 10 priority languages following public consultation, and places a requirement on the Crown to fund these languages,” Ms Kaye says. “It will be up to school boards to decide which languages will be taught in schools but they will be required to offer at least one second language to their students. The Bill makes clear that NZ Sign and Te Reo must be national priority languages and funded by the crown. The benefits of speaking more than one language are huge for New Zealand from a social, economic and cultural perspective.
“The Shark Cage Diving (Permitting and Safety) Bill acknowledges and addresses the risk that is posed by shark cage diving that is carried out in close proximity to beaches. This risk is increased due to the nature of competing activities in coastal waters in the Stewart Island area, where shark cage diving is currently carried out. Water-users, residents and families on Stewart Island have felt endangered by shark cage diving operations that are carried out close to the shore. The decision is timely given yesterday’s Court of Appeal decision which would shut cage divers down,” Ms Dowie says.
National also continues to be the Party of law and order, with Bills increasing penalties for coward punches and high-power laser pointer offences.
“My Bill would create a new offence of Assault Causing Death, which would be easier to prove than manslaughter. It would apply to those who throw cowardly punches at unsuspecting victims who later die from their injuries and has a maximum penalty of 20-years imprisonment. This will send a clear message to offenders that thuggish and violent behaviour won’t be tolerated,” Mr King says.
“The High-Power Laser Pointer Bill will double the term of imprisonment available and the fines, up to six months and $4000. The safety of our pilots and their passengers is paramount and anyone who interferes with that should be punished appropriately,” Mr Walker says.
National is the Party of ideas and action – and these four Bills prove that.
Last night Chris Hipkins was forced to correct a Parliamentary answer which confirms the Crown was served papers regarding the Waitangi Tribunal partnership school claim (Wai 2770) back in early July, National’s spokesperson for Education Nikki Kaye says.
“While it is embarrassing enough that for several months the Crown has failed to seriously consider the Tribunal claim, more questions remain regarding Crown Law’s ‘email error’ and the Government’s disrespectful treatment of the claimants over the last few months.
“Education Minister Chris Hipkins has been denying that a claim has been formally served against the Crown and using this as a reason to avoid responsibility for the matter. This has also caused the Education and Workforce select committee to have an incorrect view of the status of the claim.
“Mr Hipkins repeatedly claimed that ‘the Crown has not yet been formally served with the claim’ when, in fact, a Statement of Claim was served on the Crown by Sir Toby and Dame Iritana via its solicitors, Crown Law, on the 3rd of July.
“The select committee was forced by the Government to deliberate on the Education Amendment Bill during recess, despite repeated requests to extend the timeline. The day after the select committee met and deliberated on the Bill removing partnership schools from law, Crown law discovered their error in not formally recognising the claim.
“The Minister’s ignorance of the Waitangi Tribunal claim calls into question his decisions on this matter since the claim was lodged. Mr Hipkins has shown no leadership on this issue or any care for iwi leaders and other submitters who have genuine concerns about potential treaty breaches.
“The Minister now needs to seriously consider the Tribunal claim and reflect on the appropriateness of proceeding with legislation to remove the partnership school model at this time.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the serious issues of process and fairness surrounding the Government’s termination of partnership schools and their model.
“The Minister should remove provisions relating to partnership schools in the Education Amendment Bill until the Crown has done the decent thing and met with iwi leaders to work through the Waitangi Tribunal claim.
“If the Government continues to push ahead and pass legislation removing the partnership schools model it will be demonstrating its arrogance and further disregard for iwi leader’s concerns.”
The Minister of Education’s mishandling of partnership schools deserves a ‘not achieved’ and proves he needs to stop his ideological crusade, National’s Education spokespeople Nikki Kaye and Jo Hayes say.
In the latest in a series of blunders, Education Minister Chris Hipkins has denied being served with a claim his treatment of partnership schools breaches the Treaty of Waitangi, despite confirmation from Crown Law such a claim has indeed been filed and served.
“It is not credible that Mr Hipkins didn’t know a Waitangi Tribunal claim had been lodged and served. The Minister is so blinkered New Zealand First will be offering him his own all-weather track soon”, says Ms Kaye.
“This is just the latest example of the Minister’s mismanagement of partnership schools and contempt for the whole process - he has already terminated 10 out of 11 partnership schools, most of which are in a state of limbo about whether they can open next year under another model.
“The Villa Education Trust is still waiting on the Minister to make a decision about the future of its school. It is clear the Minister has received a report and he needs to act swiftly to ensure the school and the students certainty for the Future.
“Prominent Māori leader Sir Toby Curtis has reported schools are fearful of the Minister, saying they have been muzzled and have felt the Minister’s foot on their throats”, National’s spokesperson for Māori Education Jo Hayes says.
“He is arrogantly pressing ahead with legislation to axe partnership schools, tabling amendments to bypass the select committee process and remove the ability for the public and schools to have their say.
“And Kelvin Davis, the Minister responsible for protecting Māori education, has removed himself entirely from the process claiming a conflict of interest and abandoning his responsibilities to young Māori learners. In reality, the only conflict Minister Davis has is his promise to resign when those schools close.
“In the next fortnight it is likely Labour will be bringing this Bill to scrap the schools back to Parliament.”
“The Ministers response to my Parliamentary question indicates another level of incompetence by him and potentially other agencies. Mr Hipkins needs to seriously consider the Tribunal claim and reflect on the appropriateness of proceeding with the legislation to remove the partnership model,” Ms Kaye concludes.