Tourism Minister Paula Bennett has thanked Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) for its tourism wish list worth $1.4 billion but rejects that most of these should be funded by Government.
LGNZ yesterday revealed details of a survey commissioned by Tourism Industry Aotearoa, which identified $1.4 billion of local infrastructure projects that might potentially be useful in responding to ongoing tourism growth.
“I absolutely agree that there are some areas of tourism infrastructure that need to be addressed and that some of these will need help from central Government. However, the list the LGNZ has referenced includes things like town halls, council facilities, airport runway extensions, airport upgrades and expressways,” Mrs Bennett says.
“These are either already funded by other areas of Government, are not considered a priority or should be funded by local councils. My priority is to support smaller councils with low rate bases with essential facilities. I am currently working with officials to establish how best to do this.
“Government is working with local councils to help with tourism infrastructure. Today we opened another round of the Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund of $5.5 million to help co-fund things traditionally funded by local councils like public toilets, car parking facilities and freedom camping facilities. This comes on top of the $12 million announced in last year’s budget.
“I think most taxpayers would agree that restoring old council chambers is not a priority in terms of tourism infrastructure,” Mrs Bennett says.
Applications are open for up to $5.5 million in extra funding to help regional communities respond to visitor growth through new tourism infrastructure, Tourism Minister Paula Bennett announced today.
An additional funding round for the Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund has been made available in response to the high quality and number of applications received in round one.
“This initiative was very popular, with forty applications received in the first round of funding, of which 26 were eligible,” says Mrs Bennett.
“With the initial $3 million available we approved 14 projects, like new toilets at Lake Tekapo and parking at Taranaki’s Rotokare Scenic Reserve. As well as our international guests, the new facilities also benefit local residents and domestic tourists.
“The first funding round tested demand for infrastructure support and we’ve responded accordingly. All original eligible applications will be reconsidered, as well as new applications that meet assessment criteria.
“The fund prioritises projects in councils with a low ratepayer base and will assess co-funding on ability to contribute, rather than total size of the contribution. Facilities like these are normally the sole responsibility of the local council but we have recognised the challenges that have come with growth in tourist numbers and are assisting where appropriate.
“With tourism now a $14.5 billion export earner, and 188,000 people working in the industry, these visitors are incredibly important to our economy, particularly in the regions.”
Budget 2016 allocated $12 million over four years for the fund. This $5.5 million additional funding is re-prioritised from underspend in the Tourism Growth Partnership fund. Funding for this financial year was fully allocated to 14 projects in the last round held in 2016.
Applications for the second round of the Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund close on 12 April 2017. For more information visit http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/tourism/regional-mid-sized-tourism-facilities-grant-fund.
The number of people applying to join Police has hit a new high in 2017 following a successful summer recruitment campaign.
In January and February 1351 people applied to join Police, twice the number of applications at the same time in 2016. Police Minister Paula Bennett says the record numbers are a promising start following the Government’s announcement of 1125 new Police staff over the next four years.
“This is a positive first step towards our target of 880 new sworn officers by 2021. Interest in joining Police has been strong following Police’s summer recruitment drive, and the Government’s $500 million Safer Communities investment announced in February,” says Mrs Bennett.
“Along with completed applications, we’re also seeing more New Zealanders interested in joining the Police. More than 50,000 people visited the newcops.co.nz website in January, and there are more people taking steps to begin the recruitment process.
“What’s most exciting is the 61 per cent increase in women who were interested in becoming new cops in January compared with the same time last year. It’s a sign New Zealanders have confidence in our Police and want to play a part in keeping our communities safe.”
The Royal New Zealand Police College is currently preparing to train 220 additional police per year over the next four years and will double the average wing size from 40 to 80 recruits. For more information visit newcops.co.nz.
State Services Minister Paula Bennett has today welcomed the Better Public Services (BPS) results which have delivered improved outcomes for people, families and businesses across every target.
“When we set the BPS targets in 2012, we designed them to be challenging. Five years on they’re driving real improvements in the services government provides to New Zealanders to address complex and long-term issues,” Mrs Bennett says.
“None of the targets can be achieved by one agency working alone. Every one requires agencies to work together to combine their efforts and focus on what will make a difference in the lives of New Zealanders.
“More young people are getting education and qualifications to improve their employment prospects for the rest of their lives.
“Fewer children are getting rheumatic fever or being physically abused. There is less crime in our communities. More people are getting into work and off benefits. New Zealanders and businesses are spending less time engaging with government and are accessing high quality services online at a time that suits them.
“While not every result has been achieved, there has been progress made for each target that we’ve set. Across the ten results there are eleven targets. Seven targets are on track to be achieved. The remaining four are still making progress but need more work.
“The progress is not just numbers on a spreadsheet or lines on a graph. Every improvement is real, and means real changes for real people that are making a difference in their lives.
“This Government will continue to drive positive results from our Public Service, that’s why we’re working on refreshing the BPS with new challenging targets. We want Government departments to keep striving for positive results. Our new targets will be announced later this year and will give us a new set of priorities through until 2021,” Mrs Bennett says.
More information can be found here: http://www.ssc.govt.nz/node/8893
Result 1 – Reducing long-term welfare dependency: By 2018, reduce the number of people receiving main benefits by 25 per cent
57,000 fewer people on job seeker benefits in September 2016 than in September 2010. 8,000 fewer people on sole parent support from 2014 to 2016. An estimated 10.3 per cent of the working age population receiving a main benefit at the end of December 2016 – the lowest proportion since 2007, before the Global Financial Crisis hit.
Result 2 – Increase participation in early childhood education: By 2016, 98 per cent of children starting school will have participated in ECE
The number of children participating in Early Childhood Education has increased from 94.7 per cent in March 2011 to 96.7 per cent in December 2016. To meet the target of 98 per cent will require only 782 additional children from a typical school entry cohort of 60,000.
Result 3 – Increase infant immunisation and reduce Rheumatic Fever: By 2017, 95 per cent of eight month olds fully immunised and the incidence of Rheumatic Fever reduced by two thirds
There was a 23 per cent reduction in the national rate of rheumatic fever from the baseline period starting in 2009. This is 40 fewer people being admitted to hospital in 2016. There were between 93-94 per cent of 8 month olds fully immunised, an 8 per cent increase since June 2012.
Result 4 – Reduce assaults on children: By 2017, reduce the number of children experiencing physical abuse by 5 per cent
The 10 year rise in children experiencing physical abuse has been stopped and the numbers reduced by around 5 per cent in the year to June 2016.
Result 5 – Increase proportion of 18 year olds with NCEA Level 2: By 2017, 85 per cent of 18 year olds will have achieved NCEA L2 or equivalent
The number of 18 year olds attaining NCEA Level 2 has increased by almost 11 per cent to 85.2 per cent, from 74.3 per cent in 2011.
Result 6 – Increase proportion of 25-34 year olds with NZQF L4 or above: By 2018, 60 per cent of 25-34 year olds will have a qualification at NZQF L4 or above
The number of 25-34 year olds with qualifications above NCEA Level 4 has increased from around 52 per cent in 2012 to 57.2 per cent in December 2016.
Result 7 – Reduce rates of total crime and youth crime: Reduce total crime by 20 per cent (2018): Violent crime by 20 per cent (2017): and youth crime by 25 per cent
Total crime is down 14 per cent since June 2011. Youth crime is down 32 per cent since June 2011.
Result 8 – Reduce reoffending: Reduce the reoffending rate by 25 per cent by 2017
The rate of reoffending has reduced by 4.4 per cent since June 2011. The reoffending rate has proved difficult to reduce, however the total number of re-offenders has reduced by 26 per cent.
Result 9 – NZ businesses have a one-stop online shop for all of government services and support: Business costs (effort) from dealing with government will reduce by 25% by 2017, through a year-on-year reduction in effort required to work with agencies; Government services to business will have similar key performance ratings as leading private sector firms by July 2017
The effort for businesses to deal with government has had a measurable reduction from 100 index points in 2012 to 93 in December 2016.
Result 10 – New Zealanders can complete their transactions with government easily in a digital environment: An average of 70 per cent of New Zealanders' most common transactions with government will be completed in a digital environment by 2017
The number of people completing their transactions with government online has increased from below 30 per cent in mid-2012 to nearly 60 per cent in 2016. In 2012 a number of the most common digital transactions were not even available. This includes renewing a passport, with over 50 per cent now being renewed online.
Police Minister Paula Bennett has announced that some provisions of the Child Protection (Child Sex Offender Government Agency Registration) Act 2016 will be amended.
“Since the commencement of the register concerns have been raised that the Act may not provide for the registration of some child sex offenders as was intended,” says Mrs Bennett. “There are 107 offenders who have been taken off the register who were intended to be on it.
The amendments are being introduced to Parliament today to make clear that the registration requirements apply to all child sex offenders that were intended to be registered when the Act came into force on 14 October 2016.
“Where the legislation has been challenging is in the situations where offenders who were convicted before the law came into effect but not sentenced, and those sentenced before and on release conditions when the legislation came into effect. To remove any doubt, we’re putting this through parliament under urgency to ensure those that were always intended to be registered are done so as soon as possible.
“Any retrospective law is complicated but we’ve seen a problem and we’re moving to fix it urgently.
“The 107 offenders have been monitored by Police and Corrections during the time they were taken off the register but there are certain additional conditions that they will now be subject to as a result of being placed back on the register,” Mrs Bennett says.
Good afternoon, and thank you for coming along today. I’d like to acknowledge Chris Till and the Human Resources Institute for hosting me.
This is my first major speech as Minister for Women and that seems quite appropriate given that tomorrow is International Women’s Day.
In just about every speech I have given since taking over my new portfolios I get someone from the audience ask me if there is a Ministry for Men. My answer is simple. When we have closed the gender pay gap and women aren’t predominantly the victims of domestic and sexual violence I will look to close down the Ministry for Women.
Today we are going to dig deeper into the gender pay gap – unfortunately there is still a lot of work to be done. I’d like to acknowledge Margaret Retter, the Acting Chief Executive at the Ministry for Women, Professor Gail Pacheco whose research about the Gender Pay Gap I’ll be discussing today.
I asked to be the Minister for Women, it is a privilege to be an advocate for women and I think there’s much we can achieve. And I think that alongside being the Minister for State Services I can actually get a lot done around pay equity and pay equality in the Public Sector. As Minister for Police I work as part of the team working towards reducing domestic violence victims – but that’s another speech for another day.
I want to talk to you today about the Gender Pay Gap. Closing the Gap is one of my top priorities as Minister. I reluctantly accept that it won’t change overnight. But it is simply unacceptable that women who are as productive and contribute so significantly to business and the economy are paid less than men. There are some historical reasons for pay equity where women’s work was simply valued less than men’s contribution to the workforce. I want to thank the unions and business for working with government to design a set of principles that mean we can work our way through some of the claims. As I announced last week we are working with unions to apply the principles in some cases already, and the negotiations on Terranova are ongoing and as such something I can’t talk about.
So let’s talk gender pay. For the past decade the Gender Pay Gap has stayed about the same at around 12 per cent. That’s women earning 12 per cent less than men.
So why is it that for an entire decade we haven’t been able to close the gap?
The Auckland University of Technology, on behalf of the Ministry for Women carried out some research which is being released today. I have to say – the findings of this study are actually really disappointing.
The last time research was done – back in 2003 - it identified a range of factors that contributed to 40 to 80 per cent of the Gender Pay Gap. They’re the traditional factors that we all know about. They include the differences in occupation and industry of employment, differences in the amount of work experience between women and men, and women’s qualifications relative to men. But what this report, in 2017 has found is that those are no longer the biggest factors in why women are paid less than men. In fact – those traditional reasons play a very small role, around 20 per cent can be explained for these reasons. As Professor Pacheco will tell you, between 64 to 83 per cent now can’t be explained.
Over the past decade women have gone away and addressed some of these factors. We’ve become more educated. Fewer girls than boys leave school without any qualification. 50.7 per cent of school leavers with NCEA level 2 or above are girls. Sixty per cent of people who gain tertiary certificates and diplomas are women. Sixty per cent of people who gain bachelors and above are women.
Not only have we risen to the challenge of becoming more educated, women are being encouraged into areas like science, technology, engineering and maths which have traditionally been male dominated, we’re participating more in the labour market, we have the fourth highest participation rate in the OECD. We’ve starting moving more in male dominated occupations.
But despite all of that, up to 84 per cent of the reason for the Pay Gap, that’s right, 84 per cent, is described as ‘unexplained factors.’ That means its bias against women, both conscious and unconscious. It’s about the attitudes and assumptions of women in the workplace, it’s about employing people who we think will fit in – and when you have a workforce of men, particularly in senior roles then it seems likely you’re going to stick with the status quo – whether they do that intentionally or just because “like attracts like”. It’s because there is still a belief that women will accept less pay than men – they don’t know their worth and aren’t as good at negotiating.
You are a very important audience. You are a powerful group of people, you do the hiring. You are involved in setting pay rates. As Chris Till said in his introduction, 80 per cent of your membership are women.
I’m here today to tell you that it’s no longer acceptable to keep ignoring this issue.
I’m not here to tell you off, or put the blame on you. We need to look for solutions. We need to consciously work together to put this right.
It will take a concerted effort to reduce the gender pay gap. Our former Finance Minister, now Prime Minister, Bill English is a good example of someone striving to do better for women. When he was Minister of Finance he had to approve board appointments. He’d receive lists that were mostly, if not entirely men. So instead of taking the attitude “that must be all there was out there” and the word of Treasury that these were the only qualified candidates, he’d send the list back to Treasury and wouldn’t consider making appointments until he had women to choose from. And sure enough – once Treasury was challenged they always found good women candidates. He would still always choose the best person for the job – he just insisted on having the best to choose from. Forty eight per cent of his board appointments as Finance Minister were women.
That’s the sort of attitude we should all be taking. When you go to hire someone – do you put forward a list to your employer that has gender balance? Do you question why women aren’t putting themselves forward for roles that they’re clearly capable of doing? Do you encourage women to have a shot at it? And do you encourage your employer by putting women forward to them. Do you actively seek women out when they’re not coming forward themselves?
As I’ve said, this is about finding solutions. We know that women are less likely to go for a promotion than men, we know that women will look at a job description and will only apply if they meet a hundred per cent of the requirements, men will apply knowing they have skills for 60 per cent of the role. That’s frustrating for me and not good for your business as you may have a potential applicant who can do 80 per cent of the role but you are going to choose from the bloke who can do 60 per cent.
Yes, as women we can do more to help ourselves, of course we can – everyone can, men and women, CEOs, HR managers, teachers, parents and current employees.
When I worked in recruitment I used to challenge women to put themselves forward, to step up. The question I always used to get women to ask themselves when considering a role was ‘why not me?’ When they look at the other male candidate who’s not as qualified but willing to go for it anyway – do they think he will do a better job than them? Does he deserve the promotion, the pay increase?
I’ve been the woman fighting for a promotion – you may have heard I did it quite recently – going for the deputy PM role. In my teens and through my 20’s I was plagued by self-doubt and low confidence. Not anymore. I knew I was the right person for the job. I also knew some would question me about being the Minister for Women. I would be “too something” for just about everyone. Too stroppy, too weak, too old, too young, too feminist, not feminist enough. That one is interesting. Feminism means different things to different people these days. I am very comfortable being a feminist. I don’t judge others who sit in different places on the spectrum – they of course get to judge me, but that is called politics.
I’m now a mentor to some in parliament, and some that want to get into parliament. I believe women should support each other and mentor each other along the way. It might surprise you to know this, but even as Deputy Prime Minister I still sought out a mentor, outside of politics, to provide me with support and advice. Asking for guidance and leaning on others occasionally is not a sign of weakness but in my view a sign of strength.
Women need to be supported by employers when they try to do this. Research shows that women are no longer afraid to negotiate but it isn’t as well received by their bosses as when men do. They might get a small pay rise but they won’t move as high up their pay band as when men negotiate. Attitudes need to change. Judge her on what she contributes to the business or organisation, not on her gender. I can hear the gasp from some indignant employers. They will staunchly declare that they are not biased and that they actively promote women. They may of course be absolutely right, I tell them they should do a gender pay gap audit within the business and publish the results if they are that confident. The public service recently did this by department. It means we are open and can continue to make positive gains for women.
So let’s take a look at some of the positive examples from employers about what they are doing to change their behaviour and encourage women because there is some really great work being done in both the private and public sectors.
I am really enjoying being the Minister for Police. They’ve set a target of 50 per cent of police recruits being women. They’ve launched a TV show called “Women in Blue” to highlight police as a career for women. They carry out unconscious bias training and a Women’s Advisory Network Steering Group advises the Police Commissioner and Police executive on the best ways to improve the recruitment, retention and progress of women.
Treasury has recognised that it can only deliver a high living standard for New Zealanders by listening to the viewpoints of all Kiwis. So it’s running a gender and ethnic diversity programme. It checks for gender equity during all performance and pay discussions. It runs training for unconscious bias for all staff. And it has blind recruitment in the graduate and internship programme.
Within Government we’re doing things like making Careers New Zealand part of the Tertiary Education Commission. There will be more and better advice to all young people about their career prospects. We’ll make sure girls and women know exactly what they can achieve and encourage them towards careers they might not have thought possible.
In the private sector I’m told that companies like Fletchers, OPUS, Beca, Xero, Vodafone and Dimension Data are all actively encouraging women in their workforce through recruitment and retention policies, flexible hours, apprenticeships and marketing their industry to women. It’s fantastic to hear those stories.
Last month we saw Kate McKenzie become the Chief Executive of Chorus. She’s the only women CE at a company listed on the NZX 50. The only one. Come on New Zealand business – we can do better than that, we need more women CEs.
So what can we do? There are some practical solutions. The first step is recognising where there’s a problem. Organisations don’t set out to create a pay gap. A gender pay audit might be a good way to find if there is a problem. Look at your recruitment processes. Look at whether women are being promoted into positions they deserve, are you shoulder tapping people when they’re worthy of promotion? Often women are being recruited but not retained or progressed to senior management.
I’m here today to set down a challenge. If we’re going to change this. If in another decade we actually want the 12 per cent gap to have reduced – then it starts with all of us, including you and your attitudes. Let’s look at ways of how we can improve the gap.
Our challenge is to hire a person based on merit, to give women as many opportunities as men and to pay them what they are worth.
It’s 2017. So employers it’s time to remember three things.
It’s not about what you can get away with.
It’s not about what she is willing to accept.
It’s simply about paying her what she is worth.
Thank you for hosting me today and now invite you to ask some questions.
Women’s Minister Paula Bennett has today expressed disappointment at the findings of new research which shows bias and perceptions about women in the workplace are what’s driving the Gender Pay Gap.
“The Gender Pay Gap has remained static for a decade now at around 12 per cent. This new research shows that the traditional reasons for women lagging behind, including the types of work they carry out, family responsibilities, education and age are not the main reasons,” Mrs Bennett says.
The research, undertaken by Auckland University of Technology for the Ministry for Women, shows that traditional factors only account for about 20 per cent of the gap. The rest is “unexplained”, which is likely to be perception about behaviour, attitudes, and assumptions about women in work, including bias- both conscious and unconscious.
Over the past decade women have become more educated. Fewer girls than boys leave school without a qualification, they achieve higher in NCEA and 60 per cent of tertiary graduates are women. New Zealand is consistently one of the highest in the OECD for women’s participation in paid work, and more women are working in fields which have previously been dominated by men.
“I engage with businesses all the time and I know employers don’t set out to create a pay gap. They want to treat staff fairly. It would be great to see employers to look at doing a gender pay audit. I’d also encourage them to look at whether women are being promoted into positions they deserve, implementing solutions including rigorous recruitment processes, and clear career progression criteria.
“The Government is leading work to reduce the gender pay gap in the public sector. In November the Government agreed to accept the recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity, Government also publishes Gender Pay Gap data by department. Through our actions we aim to encourage employers to address the issue in the private sector,” says Mrs Bennett.
“Those doing the hiring and carrying out pay negotiations should know that it’s not about what you can get away with. It’s not about how much she’s willing to accept. It’s about what she’s really worth.”
The full gender pay gap research is available on the Ministry for Women’s website at http://www.women.govt.nz.
Tourism Minister Paula Bennett today announced $2.49 million in Tourism Growth Partnership funding for new tourist attractions in Rotorua and Southland.
“These initiatives will provide real benefit to their regions, creating new tourism offerings and more local jobs,” Mrs Bennett says.
“Tourism is now our biggest export earner, delivering $14.5 billion and an estimated 188,000 jobs to communities around New Zealand. The industry has experienced strong growth over the past few years and we will continue to help the sector attract high value visitors to explore our regions year round.
“Funding for new projects is complemented by the Government’s $12 million tourism infrastructure fund, providing support to districts that have a limited ability to respond to visitor growth. We expect a new infrastructure funding round to open soon.”
The successful projects are:$810,000 to Skyfly Limited for a zip-line canopy tour through native forest in Rotorua $630,325 to Rainbow Springs Kiwi Encounter for a new state-of-the-art kiwi facility in Rotorua $550,000 to for stage 2 development of Classic Motorcycle Mecca in Invercargill, including a new exhibition space and experiential components $500,000 toward the Curio Bay Tumu Toka Natural Heritage Centre and Experience in the Catlins in Southland.
A total of $23.54 million has been invested in 33 projects since the inception of the Tourism Growth Partnership in 2013.
State Services Minister Paula Bennett has welcomed an agreement with unions which will see the Government’s new pay equity principles applied for the first time.
In November the Government announced it had accepted the recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity. The Principles were developed by the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity to make it easier for women to file pay equity claims with their employers, and assist employers in addressing those claims, rather than having to go through the courts.
These legal changes are not yet in effect but the State Services Commission, on behalf of the government, and the Council of Trade Unions on behalf of unions, have agreed to apply the principles to current pay equity claims.
The first claims that will be progressed are:the PSA’s claim for social workers employed by the Ministry of Social Development (and from 1 April 2017, the Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki); and the NZEI claim for education, behaviour and communication support workers employed by the Ministry of Education.
“It’s great to see the principles being used in this way and I would like to thank the unions for the pragmatic and collaborative approach they are taking to progressing these claims,” Mrs Bennett says.
The Government will amend the Equal Pay Act and the Employment Relations Act to implement recommendations and a Bill is expected to be introduced this year.
“There will no doubt be things we learn as we apply the new principles in a real life negotiation process. This experience will help to refine and improve the changes to legislation that will be required to formally give effect to the principles.
“Pay equity is a priority for this Government. Occupations that are mostly made up of a female workforce shouldn’t be lower paid just because this work is and has been mainly undertaken by women,” Mrs Bennett says.
An $870,000 support package will promote tourism in Kaikoura and other upper South Island districts impacted by last November’s earthquakes.
The funding will help bring in more international visitors for the 2017/18 peak season following a challenging summer, Tourism Minister Paula Bennett says.
“We remain 100 per cent committed to the people of Kaikoura and the top of the South Island following last year’s devastating earthquakes,” says Mrs Bennett.
“Kaikoura District saw a fall in visitor spending after the earthquake, and though it recovered somewhat in December 2016, it was still only at half normal levels and has remained relatively flat since then.
“Funding of $650,000 will go to Kaikoura to enable a strong and early marketing push for the 2017/18 peak season. It will also support work to attract more domestic visitors now, with the majority of the region’s tourism, retail and hospitality establishments open for business.
“Marlborough’s tourism industry is also expected to take a hit during the autumn and winter months, with State Highway 1 remaining partly closed south of the region. Funding of $150,000 will be used to encourage domestic visitors to continue to visit the region.
“A further $70,000 will be made available to promote common Top of the South touring routes to the international travel trade, as these have changed following the earthquake.”
The funding sits alongside a $350,000 tourism relief package for Hanmer Springs and the Hurunui District announced in late 2016.