Two members of New Zealand’s firearms community will provide independent advice on the recent Select Committee report into illegal firearms use, says Police Minister Paula Bennett.
Outdoors professional Geoff Thomas and firearms safety specialist Nicole McKee will provide advice on the twenty recommendations proposed by Parliament’s Law and Order Select Committee.
“I come from a family of hunters and fishers so I know how important it is that we get this right. I want to see laws that are tough on gangs and criminals, but don’t unduly burden responsible firearms owners,” says Mrs Bennett.
“I have had an initial look at the report and can already see a number of recommendations that will not be progressed. Police are working on a response, however I think it’s important to also get independent advice directly from the firearms community.”
Geoff Thomas has worked professionally in the outdoors field for more than 40 years. While intimately involved in recreational hunting, Mr Thomas provides an independent perspective and years of experience with the hunting community.
Nicole McKee is the founder of Firearms Safety Specialists NZ Limited, has held national and regional shooting titles and is a New Zealand Representative. Along with being a member of a number of firearms clubs, Mrs McKee has extensive experience in assessing NZ Police volunteer firearms instructors and Range Officer courses.
Plans for a new multi-million dollar cruise ship berth released today by the Lyttelton Port Company will open up new tourism opportunities for Christchurch, says Tourism Minister Paula Bennett.
The $56 million dollar berth funded by the Christchurch City Council through its port company will enable large cruise liners to return to Lyttelton for the first time since the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
“I am applauding the leadership shown by Christchurch City Council and Lyttelton Port Company to recognise the value of the $484 million cruise sector to Canterbury tourism” says Mrs Bennett.
“The cruise industry is incredibly valuable to New Zealand tourism, with the number of passengers growing by 48 per cent in the past five years. Without this long-term solution there was a risk larger vessels would choose to bypass Lyttelton and Akaroa, impacting the wider Canterbury region.
“In 2015 the Government announced the Lyttelton Port Recovery Plan which allows for works that contribute to the recovery of the port to be undertaken quickly and outlined a $45 million dedicated cruise berth facility.
“This news follows Auckland Council giving support in principle to extend Queens Wharf to allow larger cruise ships like the Ovation of the Seas to berth, rather than anchor in the harbour.
“It’s a huge vote of confidence in tourism by our local body leaders and Government will continue to work alongside them to get the most out of our tourism boom.”
Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett says New Zealand and Korea have begun joint discussions on developing carbon markets in the region.
Yesterday’s inaugural meeting of the Environmental Committee, established under the New Zealand – Korea Free Trade Agreement, comes shortly after New Zealand and China signed a Climate Change Action Plan as part of the NZ China FTA.
“New Zealand wants to discuss carbon markets with a range of potential partners,” Mrs Bennett says.
“These developments with Korea and China demonstrate the opportunities trade provides to progress environmental outcomes with our partners.
“Like China, Korea has implemented an Emissions Trading Scheme and our countries can learn a lot from each other’s experiences.
“Korea also shares our interest in developing carbon markets that have environmental integrity, particularly in the Asia-Pacific Region.
“Korea was an early supporter of the NZ-led Ministerial Declaration on Carbon Markets, announced at the Paris climate change conference in December 2015. We will have further opportunity to talk with other countries in June when New Zealand and Korea co-host the next Asia-Pacific Carbon Markets Roundtable in Seoul.”
Minister for Women Paula Bennett and Minister for Social Development Anne Tolley have announced the Government is providing $50,000 over the next year to assist KidsCan supply schools with sanitary products.
“This funding will provide sanitary products to the schools KidsCan supports. It’s expected that over 16,500 packs will be supplied to around 2,000 girls,” says Mrs Bennett.
“This is a practical way we can support young women who come from families in need. Small initiatives like this can make a big difference, and this is a good example of how we’re continuing to provide support to those in need.”
“MSD supports KidsCan which works with schools throughout New Zealand to supply practical items to around 143,000 young people in need,” says Mrs Tolley.
“KidsCan does a great job helping disadvantaged students achieve better educational outcomes by providing food, socks, shoes and raincoats.
“They also provide health items including nit treatment, nit combs, hand sanitiser, band-aids and tissues, as well as dental care for partner schools.”
KidsCan Charitable Trust is funded by donations, business sponsorship, government support, philanthropic trusts and gaming revenue. It supports 621 schools. Almost half of its revenue is made up of in-kind gifts and donated goods.
Today’s announcement by Police about where the additional 880 sworn officers will be stationed means over 200,000 more New Zealanders will be covered by a 24/7 Police presence.
“All New Zealanders deserve to feel safe in their homes and communities. That’s why we’ve committed to having 95 per cent of New Zealanders covered by a 24/7 Police presence,” Mrs Bennett says.
In February the Government announced the Safer Communities package, of 1125 more Police staff over the next four years. The $503 million package includes 880 sworn officers, 140 of them are specifically designated to regional and rural communities.
“The Safer Communities package means that New Zealanders will benefit from knowing there is an officer available around the clock. Police have worked hard since the announcement to work out where the greatest need for these officers is.
“I’m confident having additional resources in these areas will provide a better policing service for regional New Zealand,” Mrs Bennett says.
The Police stations which will now have a 24/7 officer on duty include:Kaitaia Matamata Wairoa Rolleston Kaikohe/Kerikeri* Warkworth/Wellsford Taumarunui Te Kuiti Thames Balclutha Dannevirke/Waipukurau* Dargaville Helensville Stratford Motueka Wanaka Marton Alexandra Southland Rural* Tasman Rural*
* Decisions on the exact location of these police bases are still to be made
Police Minister Paula Bennett has today welcomed an announcement about where frontline officers will be based under the Government’s Safer Communities package.
“In February this year we announced a $503 million dollar package for 1125 more police staff, including 880 more frontline officers over the next four years. All 12 Police Districts will receive more Police,” Mrs Bennett says.
“Police Commissioner Mike Bush today announced the number of staff going to each district across the country. Police and Government have a goal of making New Zealand the safest country and this investment will contribute to that.
“Now that the Commissioner has allocated these staff, it is up to the District Commanders to work through which areas within the district they’ll be based in.”
Police have also allocated a number of new staff to other specialist areas including 80 officers to build on Police’s ability to disrupt and dismantle organised crime.
The Safer Communities package also includes a single non-emergency phone number, 12 mobile police stations, around the clock access to the Eagle Helicopter and funding to support Corrections and Justice.
“I know the Police are a hardworking team and I look forward to seeing more likeminded, hardworking, committed recruits going through Police College over the next four years so we can get these officers on the beat.
“Police recruit applications are at an all-time high with twice the number of applicants over January and February 2017 as there was over the same period in 2016, which is great to see,” Mrs Bennett says.
Bay of Plenty
A potentially life-saving scheme that allows Police to disclose a person’s violent past to a partner or friend has been used 158 times since it was launched, say Police Minister Paula Bennett and Justice Minister Amy Adams.
“Since the scheme’s launch in December 2015, Police have approved 74 per cent of disclosure requests. Preventing family violence is a priority for Police and this scheme gives them another way to help reduce harm.”
A disclosure request can be made to Police by the partner of the potentially violent person or a concerned third party. Police can also proactively release information if they believe someone is at risk of violence from their partner.
“Police have told me about a disclosure they made to a young woman who was in a relationship with a man in his early 20s. He was known to have had multiple relationships with younger women where he became manipulative and used emotional abuse like threatening suicide if his partner left him. Police believed the woman was at risk as his behaviour was escalating towards becoming violent.
“When Police approached her to make the voluntary disclosure, she said she had seen the man’s behaviour deteriorating. As a result she made the decision to leave the relationship and move back in with family,” Mrs Bennett says.
“There have been too many cases where people have been unable to find out whether their partner, or the partner of someone close to them, has a history of violence,” says Ms Adams.
“This scheme allows people to make informed choices about their relationship and safety. We know that it has already helped a number of people to make the decision to remove themselves from a potentially violent relationship.”
Of the 158 requests made in the last 15 months, 117 have been requested proactively by Police while 41 have been by a third party. These requests have resulted in a total of 117 being approved for disclosures to be made.
Once a request has been received, a decision is made as to whether the disclosure can be made to individuals who must meet set criteria under the scheme’s policy.
Minister for Climate Change Issues Paula Bennett has announced details of a climate change action plan to be put in place with China.
The action plan is included in a package of bilateral initiatives announced today by the Prime Minister and visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. It gives practical effect to the broad approach set out in the New Zealand-China Climate Change Cooperation Arrangement signed by the two countries’ leaders in 2014.
“Both our countries are serious about responding to climate change and this arrangement will assist both of us in delivering on our long-term commitments under the Paris Agreement,” Mrs Bennett said.
“China is a key player in the global response to climate change and the implementation of China’s commitments under the Paris Agreement will be critical for its success.
“New Zealand has ambitious climate change targets backed by an emissions trading scheme that we are currently reviewing. China is rolling out its own emissions trading scheme, by far the largest ETS in the world, and is potentially an important future carbon markets partner.”
The action plan is a first step towards greater cooperation between Chinese and New Zealand carbon markets experts to share technical information and expertise on carbon markets and emission trading schemes, as well as agricultural greenhouse gas mitigation.
“Our two countries also plan to cooperate more in the international climate change negotiations,” Mrs Bennett said.
The decision to develop a climate action plan was taken by Mrs Bennett and China’s top official for climate change, Mr Zhang Yong, Vice Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, at the two countries’ first Ministerial dialogue under the 2014 Memorandum of Arrangement during Mr Zhang’s visit to New Zealand last month.
More information can be found here: https://mfat.govt.nz/en/countries-and-regions/north-asia/china#climate
A new international agreement will focus on attracting high-value Chinese visitors who stay longer, spend more and travel independently says Tourism Minister Paula Bennett.
The 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism initiative was announced today by Prime Minister Bill English as part of an official visit from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
“China is our second biggest visitor market and tourism is a driver of economic growth and cultural understanding for both our countries. The agreement has potential to add to the $1.7 billion a year Chinese visitors spend in New Zealand,” says Mrs Bennett.
“Chinese tourist numbers have increased significantly in recent years and that growth is forecast to continue. The China-New Zealand Year of Tourism offers opportunities to build new relationships and foster current ones so both countries can achieve their tourism objectives.
“Our focus now is on encouraging tourists to visit outside of the peak season and to explore our regions, as well as our most iconic destinations. With 409,000 Chinese visiting our shores last year there is an incredible amount of potential to deliver even more benefits to our national and regional economies by pursuing these goals.”
Officials will be working with the China National Tourism Administration to establish a focus for the year that reflects the priorities and interests of both countries. The 2017 China-Australia Year of Tourism was launched in February this year.
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.