National will progressively extend Paid Parental Leave to 22 weeks as part of its Parents and Newborns Package designed to support families to grow and stay healthy, while also putting more money into their pockets.
“National will share the dividends of a growing economy, with more support for families with newborns in a new package made possible only by the improving government finances,” Women Spokesperson Paula Bennett says.
National’s Parents and Newborns Package will:
- Progressively extend Paid Parental Leave to 22 weeks over two years, with an initial step of 2 weeks on 1 July 2018 followed by a further two weeks on 1 July 2019
- Add flexibility to Paid Parental Leave, by allowing both parents to take some of the 22 weeks off at the same time so they can be at home with their baby together
- Support women to take care of their own health by offering them one free dental course during pregnancy and up to their baby’s first birthday
- Give more families a chance to have a baby by providing a third free IVF cycle, and speeding up access to fertility treatment for eligible couples
Mrs Bennett says this package which make a huge difference for thousands of families during a vital stage in their lives.
“National’s Parents and Newborns package recognises the role of both parents, and allows families to have the flexibility that suits their circumstances. It is good for parents, good for their baby and will help support women in the workforce,” Mrs Bennett says.
Workplace Relations and Safety Spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says National has always wanted to increase Paid Parental Leave in a responsible way.
“We’ve already increased it to 18 weeks and widened the criteria for those that can access it – the improving fiscal outlook means we can now extend Paid Parental Leave further,” Mr Woodhouse says.
Health Spokesperson Dr Jonathan Coleman says that a growing economy is allowing National to help to grow and support new families.
“All New Zealanders deserve the chance to have a family so we are also pleased to be able to further stand behind people struggling to conceive, through funding for an extra IVF for those who need it,” Dr Coleman says.
“We also want to support pregnant women and new mothers take care of their health.
“As pregnancy can lead to dental problems for some women, we will fund one dental course for all pregnant women and mothers up until the babies first birthday, including a check-up and any resulting x-rays, extractions and fillings.
“National believes in supporting families to have healthy babies who grow up to be healthy kids, and we are making real progress.
“Around 94 per cent of 8 month olds are now immunised and around 800,000 children under 13 are benefiting from free GP visits and prescriptions.”
Mrs Bennett says the Parents and Newborns Package will ensure parents can spend more time at home supporting each other and bonding with their babies in those important and stressful early months, and we will help them stay healthier.
“National will continue to ensure the benefits of our growing economy are passed on to families,” Mrs Bennett says.
The Parents and Newborns Package will come into effect on 1 July 2018. It is expected to cost $88 million per year from 2019/2020 once 22 weeks of Paid Parental Leave is fully implemented.
A re-elected National Government will introduce tougher and more consistent freedom camping rules that will protect public spaces and crack down on poor behaviour, Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley say.
“Lots of Kiwis and many of our international visitors love to camp, and they make a large contribution to our tourism industry,” Tourism Spokesperson Paula Bennett says.
“Freedom campers stay longer and spend more on average than other visitors, but there are now a lot more people freedom camping than there used to be and a small minority don’t treat our roadsides and public spaces with adequate respect.
“Local councils have been asking the government to create more consistent rules and to help them penalise those who break these rules.”
- Restrict all non self-contained vehicles to areas that are within easy walking distance – approximately 200 metres – of toilet facilities
- Continue to allow Councils and the Department of Conservation to ban all freedom camping from certain areas, and extend these powers to LINZ and the NZTA to ensure Crown-owned land can also be restricted. The areas could be as small as a certain street or as large as a whole town centre
- Allow Councils and the Department of Conservation to issue instant fines for those who break the rules. If the fine can’t be paid on the spot, it will be assigned to the vehicle owner, including rental car companies
“We will also create a new smartphone app to show exactly where people can and cannot camp, and ensure consistent public signage across the country to ensure freedom campers know their rights and responsibilities,” Local Government Spokesperson Anne Tolley says.
“Our changes will not affect trampers, campers and hunters who enjoy our back country areas as they are not considered freedom campers.
“We want responsible campers to continue enjoying the best of what New Zealand has to offer and add to the $380 million a year they currently spend in our regions.
“These sensible changes, which build on those we made ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2011, will make the rules much easier to follow, and will still give Councils the flexibility to make rules that suit their communities alongside a simple way to punish those who break the rules with bad behaviour.”
One in three cars in the Government fleet will be electric by 2021.
“We already have an ambitious target of having 64,000 electric vehicles in New Zealand by 2021. We want the public sector to lead by example so we are setting a hard target of 1 in 3 electric or electric hybrid vehicles in the Government fleet by 2021,” Mrs Bennett says.
“National knows that electric vehicles are the future. A move from petrol and diesel to low emission transport is a natural evolution, and it is our aim to encourage that switch sooner, rather than later.”
There are approximately 15,500 in the Government vehicle fleet, used by everyone from the Department of Conservation, Corrections, to Housing New Zealand and District Health Boards.
“A new National Government will use the buying power of Government to achieve the target and increase the number of electric vehicles in New Zealand,” Mr Bridges says.
“We already encourage the public sector to purchase electric through the competitive All of Government Procurement process and have a range of incentives in place to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles by the general public.
“Electric vehicles purchased in the Government fleet will flow through to the second hand market, which is essential to increasing uptake and incentivising more charging stations.
“Since we launched our Electric Vehicles Programme in May 2016, the number of electric vehicles registered in New Zealand has grown from about 1,300 to more than 4,200, which shows our approach is working,” Mr Bridges says.
“With over 85 percent of the country’s electricity generated from renewable sources, the emission reduction benefits of electric vehicles in New Zealand are greater than in other countries,” Mrs Bennett says.
“Driving a fully electric vehicle results in 80 per cent less emissions than driving petrol vehicles. Transport makes up around 17 per cent of New Zealand’s emissions so this is an important part of our work to reduce emissions in the transport sector.”
Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett and Finance Minister Steven Joyce have welcomed the release of the Productivity Commission’s issues paper for the inquiry into how New Zealand can maximise the opportunities and minimise the costs and risks of transitioning to a lower carbon economy.
“New Zealand has set ambitious targets to reduce our emissions through the 2030 Paris Agreement Target,” Mrs Bennett says. “Although we’re a small player, we’re globally connected and trade-dependent. This inquiry will help us to meet our targets to 2030 and then look beyond that to address long-term climate change effects.”
“This is an important piece of work that will guide us all on how to maximise the benefits and minimise the costs of a lower emissions economy,” Mr Joyce says. “It’s crucial for New Zealand’s future that we make policy decisions informed by economic analysis so we achieve our climate goals while maintaining and lifting the prosperity of kiwi families at the same time.”
“A big focus of our response will be harnessing the benefits of some rapid technological advances our scientists are making. The Productivity Commission will look at how New Zealand’s regulatory, technological, financial and institutional systems, processes and practices can help to encourage adoption of these new technologies,” says Mr Joyce.
The low-emissions economy issues paper is available HERE.
The closing date for submissions is 2 October 2017.
Tourism Minister Paula Bennett is calling on councils to apply for co-funding from the new $100 million Tourism Infrastructure Fund which opens today.
Budget 2017 invests $100 million over four years for the development of visitor-related public infrastructure such as carparks, freedom camping facilities and sewerage and water works.
“Councils with infrastructure needs caused by high visitor numbers should be getting their applications in,” Mrs Bennett says.
“The first round will focus on supporting communities in most immediate need of assistance, those councils with low ratepayer bases who are facing pressure from increasing visitor numbers.
“Councils have told me they are facing infrastructure needs, so we are providing millions of dollars of co-funding to address this. The fund’s criteria are designed to favour those communities that really need a hand from central government. We need them to help us meet this demand by now spending that money.
“There is a lot of scope for our regional economies to further benefit from the growth in the tourism industry that New Zealand is experiencing. That’s why this fund also takes a longer term view by co-funding infrastructure and feasibility studies that will help unlock that potential.”
Applications will be accepted until 4 September from local councils and community groups with council support. Previous Mid-sized Facilities Fund grants of $8.8 million have funded 42 council projects around New Zealand.
For more information, visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/tourism/tourism-infrastructure-fund
Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett is today announcing a package of changes that the Government will make to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to ensure it puts New Zealand in the best possible position to achieve its ambitious 2030 emissions reduction target.
“In 2015 the Government initiated a review of the ETS to ensure it was fit for purpose going into the 2020s,” says Mrs Bennett.
“Last year, as a result of stage one of the review, we announced the phase out of the one-for-two measure in the ETS. I am now announcing further changes as a result of stage two of the review.”
The proposals announced today will provide businesses with the clarity they need about the direction of the ETS.
Cabinet has made an in-principle decision to implement four proposals and asked officials to work on how they will be developed and implemented in the ETS over the next few years so there will not be immediate changes. The proposals are to:introduce auctioning of units, to align the ETS to our climate change targets limit participants’ use of international units when the ETS reopens to international carbon markets develop a different price ceiling to eventually replace the current $25 fixed price option coordinate decisions on the supply settings in the ETS over a rolling five-year period.
The in-principle decisions will:give the Government the tools to align the supply of units in the ETS with our target set up a more predictable and transparent process for decision-making on ETS supply settings such as unit volumes and the price level of any price ceiling allow further engagement and consultation with stakeholders, before the in-principle decisions are implemented make the NZ ETS more similar to emission trading schemes in other countries which will mean that it is more compatible for international linking (accessing international units).
There will be further work to determine how to implement these proposals, including further consultation and engagement over the next 12 to 18 months.
“We are also making no changes to free allocation or to the $25 price ceiling at this point,” says Mrs Bennett.
“We are committed to ensuring New Zealand businesses whose emissions are a big part of their costs are not disadvantaged compared to their international competitors. This means there will be no changes to the current level of free allocation at least until the end of 2020, and any changes would be well signalled and take into account what is happening internationally.
“The $25 price ceiling will also remain in place until auctioning or links with international markets are established.”
More work needs to be done in the area of forestry accounting and operational improvements to reduce complexity for forestry participants and increase the efficiency of the ETS. A package of options will be developed next year with input from the Climate Change Forestry Reference Group.
The Productivity Commission Inquiry into a low emissions economy and work to progress policy options for reducing emissions funded through $4 million committed in Budget 2017 will also help inform future implementation decisions about the ETS.
The ETS review is part of the Government’s investment in a wider programme of work to reduce emissions, and help New Zealanders adapt and build resilience to the impacts of climate change.
More information is available at: www.mfe.govt.nz/nzets/2015-16-review-outcomes
Q & A
Why did we review the NZ ETS?
We were one of the first countries in the world to establish an ETS and we needed to review it to ensure it is fit for purpose to help us meet our new 2030 target under the Paris Agreement. We need to make sure it provides the right incentives to reduce emissions while also ensuring it doesn’t put unnecessary costs on businesses that aren’t faced by their overseas competitors.
Why has the review been done now when we don’t have to reach our target until 2030?
Changes to the ETS need to be well signalled so that businesses have as much certainty as possible.
How does the NZ ETS work?
The NZ ETS puts a price on greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors of the New Zealand economy except biological emissions from agriculture. This creates a financial incentive for businesses and households to invest in technologies or products that have lower emissions. It also gives foresters financial recognition of the carbon their trees remove from the atmosphere, which encourages more trees to be planted. Over the last few months, the carbon price has ranged around $16.00 to $18.00.
Why is the NZ ETS important for reducing emissions?
The NZ ETS is New Zealand’s key climate change policy tool to help us meet our emission reduction targets and reduce our net emissions below business as usual. New Zealand has a 2030 target to reduce emissions by 30 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030. The decisions on the NZ ETS will help improve the operation of the NZ ETS in the 2020s so it can best support us to meet the 2030 target and reduce our emissions.
Is agriculture coming into the ETS?
No. Agriculture was out of scope of the NZ ETS review. The Government and the sector are continuing to invest in research and development for practical ways to reduce biological emissions. This includes the establishment of the Biological Emissions Reference Group, which brings together a wide range of industry stakeholders to collaborate with Government and build a solid evidence base about biological emissions. This will ensure we have the best possible information on what can be done now by the sector to reduce biological emissions, and the costs and opportunities of doing so. The group will report its findings in early 2018.
What is an auctioning mechanism and why does the Government want to put one in the ETS?
Auctioning is a way for the Government to sell New Zealand emission units (NZUs) at the market price through a competitive bidding process. Auctions are a common feature of many emissions trading schemes internationally. The purpose of auctioning in the NZ ETS will be to ensure the amount of NZUs available in the NZ ETS reflects the level of effort required by businesses and households to meet our targets. For NZ ETS participants, the introduction of auctioning will improve the information available about the amount of units provided to the market through auctions and free allocation.
Why will there be a limit on international units?
At the moment the ETS is closed to international units but the Government expects to open it back up to high integrity units in the future. A limit on participants’ use of international units provides the Government with a tool to balance the use of international units with the use of New Zealand Units in the NZ ETS. It will also make the NZ ETS more similar to other emissions trading schemes worldwide, which is important if we are to link with international carbon markets.
When will we know what the limit on international units is?
The exact timeframe cannot be confirmed yet. The decision on where to set the limit on international units will be informed by wider climate change work that looks at how New Zealand can meet the 2030 target. The Government has also announced that it will make decisions about NZ ETS settings using a rolling five-year window and so the international limit will be considered annually as part of this process. The limit may also depend on which international carbon markets New Zealand links with, and how New Zealand links to them.
Is the Government talking to any other countries about buying international units from their markets?
An international carbon markets project was established in 2016 to identify linking options, with a view to enabling New Zealand to source high integrity international emission reductions in the 2020s. We are in the early stages of discussions with a number of different countries about potential cooperation opportunities.
What is the current $25 price ceiling?
The NZ ETS has a price ceiling in the form of a $25 fixed price option. The $25 fixed price option was introduced as a transitional measure in 2009, and means that $25 is the maximum NZ ETS participants pay per unit to meet their ETS obligations. International carbon prices may rise above $25 in the 2020s, so the $25 price ceiling could be out of step with international prices. Officials will work to develop a different price ceiling for the NZ ETS, but the Government will keep the current $25 price ceiling in place at least until auctioning or links with international markets are established.
When will we know what the different price ceiling is?
The exact timeframe cannot be confirmed yet. The decision on the most appropriate different price ceiling will be informed by input from interested stakeholders, and by decisions about how to meet the 2030 target, any linking agreements with other emissions trading schemes, and the design of the auctioning mechanism in the NZ ETS. The Government is maintaining the $25 price ceiling at least until auctioning or links with international markets are established.
The development of a different price ceiling will look at:the price level, and whether and how it should increase over time whether it should operate in a way that is volume-limited whether certain processes need to be put in place to manage the price ceiling over time
How will the five year rolling period for decisions on NZ ETS unit supply settings work?
The Government has agreed in-principle to announce for five years into the future the details of:NZU limits that determine the volume of units that can be auctioned each year the operation of the price ceiling , for example the price level and/or unit volumes, if applicable the level and other details for the limit on participants’ use of international units
The five-year period will be updated annually to add information on unit volumes and settings for an extra year. We will be doing more work on how this rolling five-year period will operate, including rules or guidelines for how settings may be adjusted and extended. Business and other groups told us that they want a more predictable scheme and better information about the market. A five-year rolling period gives the market more information about future unit supply, while retaining the flexibility needed for the scheme to work effectively.
What is free allocation?
The Government provides NZUs to firms with activities that are exposed to international competition and whose emissions are a big part of their costs. This is to ensure they are not disadvantaged compared to their international competitors.
Why are there no changes to free allocation?
Free allocation plays an important role in ensuring New Zealand businesses are not put at a disadvantage because of ETS costs compared to their international competitors. Officials will continue to look at whether there should be changes to free allocation after 2020, taking into account competitiveness impacts that any potential reductions may have on New Zealand’s industrial sector, and an assessment of global carbon pricing coverage. This advice is expected in 2018.
Why are there no changes to forestry accounting?
There are no decisions on changes to forestry settings in the NZ ETS at this stage as there needs to be further work, including engagement with the sector and interested groups, before advice is provided on an integrated ‘forestry package’.
This forestry package will include advice on potential changes to the forestry accounting approach for post-1989 forests, and operational improvements to reduce NZ ETS complexity for participants and the Crown. This will include aligning the administration of the Permanent Forestry Sink Initiative with the Climate Change Response Act. Making decisions on any forestry accounting changes in the NZ ETS as part of a broader forestry package that includes operational issues means decisions can be made in a coherent way.
Advice on the forestry package is expected by mid-2018.
Women’s Minister Paula Bennett has today released guidance for private sector companies about actions they can take to close their gender pay gap.
“The Ministry for Women has spoken to 26 companies about their experiences and what they’re doing to close the gap. Twelve companies have released their profiles publically while another 14 had off the record conversations. These companies recognise addressing this issue is crucial to their organisation and their employees,” Mrs Bennett says.
“It’s a daunting task for companies when they get started. It’s not until we can all start talking publically about this that things will change. That’s why today I’m launching an employers’ guide, ‘Closing the Gender Pay Gap: Actions for Employers’.
“If New Zealand organisations identify and address their gender pay gaps, we can create fairer workplaces and raise incomes for women, families and communities throughout New Zealand. It’s good for business too, diverse companies are more successful.
“The guide is based on New Zealand and international best practice, and applies to companies regardless of whether they are starting their work on their gender pay gap or have established gender and diversity initiatives.”
In New Zealand the national gender pay gap is 12 per cent and that hasn’t changed for more than a decade.
“We know there are a number of factors that impact on an organisation’s leadership and human resources and remuneration policies. If we are serious about the gender pay gap, each of these needs to be looked at and changes made.
“Companies need a plan to close the gender pay gap in New Zealand workplaces. This is just the first step and the Ministry will soon release guidance to assist employers on how to measure their gender pay gap.
The employers’ guide, ‘Closing the Gender Pay Gap: Actions for Employers’ and the profiles of the company executives who were interviewed can be accessed at www.women.govt.nz/gpg.
Women’s Minister Paula Bennett and Defence Minister Mark Mitchell are congratulating the Royal New Zealand Air Force for an initiative aimed at attracting more young women into the Air Force.
The School to Skies programme highlights the range of technical and aviation careers available in the Air Force to years 12 and 13 girls with an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths.
The first four-day camp was held last week with 24 students at RNZAF Base Auckland at Whenuapai, and it attracted so much interest that a second camp began today. Mr Mitchell visited the initial camp while at the base last week.
“New Zealand needs more women in the Air Force and the aviation industry in general. These students are able to experience life on an Air Force base, plan a flight mission and get hands-on experience fixing a real aircraft,” Mrs Bennett says.
“The camp fits in with the Defence Force’s vison of attracting more women into the military by helping them to understand the organisation’s values and breaking down any barriers that may prevent women from opting for a Defence Force career,” Mrs Bennett says.
“At least half the camp is dedicated to science, technology, engineering and maths, allowing the students to translate key education subjects into real-life careers,” Mr Mitchell says.
“The Air Force wants to make this an annual initiative, and the format of the course is such that the Navy and Army could use it to run courses tailored to their own specialist needs.
“I congratulate the Air Force on a world-leading initiative that could be of benefit to the whole NZDF.
“Its success has not only been shown by the interest it has attracted but also by providing these young women with a real understanding of the Air Force and the wider Defence Force,” Mr Mitchell says.
The Government is contributing up to $3.2 million to help grow the West Coast visitor economy, Tourism Minister Paula Bennett, Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry announced today.
“Growing the West Coast visitor economy is a priority of the action plan. The region has significant potential to increase the appeal of its natural and heritage assets, adventure-based attractions, and cycling and walking trails,” says Mrs Bennett.
“The Government wants to see our regions benefitting from tourism growth, but this funding is also about supporting the West Coast to respond to demand with quality facilities and infrastructure.”
Mr Bridges says that while the West Coast is experiencing strong growth in international visitor numbers, growth in the domestic market could be stronger and more consistent.
“Challenges in growing the visitor economy include its distance from visitor markets, limited visitor awareness of the range of attractions, a high level of seasonality, infrastructure pressures, difficulty extracting value from many attractions, and a fragmented approach to promoting and developing tourism in the region,” says Mr Bridges.
The Action Plan has identified nine initiatives to support growth of the visitor economy.
“Four initiatives focus on developing and future proofing iconic visitor attractions. The objective is to extend visitors’ length of stay on the West Coast by improving the experience at less popular attractions, while also improving infrastructure at two established attractions – Punakaiki and Franz Josef,” says Ms Barry.
Government funding for the proposed initiatives is as follows:$90,000 for the development of the Oparara Arches near Karamea as an iconic attraction $850,000 for the extension of the Hokitika Gorge walking track and associated amenities, alongside safety improvements to the access road $1.8 million to future proof Punakaiki visitor and heritage infrastructure $225,000 to investigate future proofing Franz Josef infrastructure against flooding and earthquakes $40,000 toward a feasibility study for the upgrade of Croesus Road near Blackball for access to the Pike 29 Trail, which is part of the Paparoa Track Great Walk $50,000 toward a feasibility study for a Kawatiri (Charleston to Westport) Coastal Walking and Cycling Trail The Tai Poutini Māori Tourism Strategy and Action Plan – with $70,000 funding from Te Puni Kokiri subject to meeting the conditions of contestable funding.
Ms Barry added that it is particularly pleasing to note that Development West Coast is contributing a total of $150,000 to the funding of the Oparara, Kawatiri and Croesus Road initiatives.
Police Minister Paula Bennett has today welcomed the first of the 880 additional frontline officers to Police College.
“In February the Prime Minister and I announced there would be an additional 1125 Police Staff, including 880 sworn officers. These Police will be stationed across all twelve Police Districts and will boost the total number of frontline police by 10 per cent,” Mrs Bennett says.
“The first of the new officers started their training today and they’ll be on the beat by November.
“Our $503 million Safer Communities package includes a new national 24/7 phone number for non-emergencies, 140 more officers for regional and rural police stations, 140 additional specialist investigators for child protection, 80 additional officers to target organised crime, gangs and methamphetamine, 20 additional ethic liaison officers and 12 mobile policing units.
“The boost in Police over the next four years will ensure that 95 per cent of the population are within 25 kilometres of patrolling officers around the clock.
“The new recruits come from all walks of life, bringing a range of different experiences with them. They will be deployed in different areas all around the country.
“I’m so excited to see the first recruits start their training and look forward to seeing them out on the beat around the country in the very near future,” Mrs Bennett says.