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.
Tourism spending over the summer high season continued to grow in most regions, providing jobs for regional New Zealand, Tourism Minister Paula Bennett says.
According to the latest Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the fastest growing region in the year to January 2017 was Nelson, which increased 14 per cent to $344 million, followed by the West Coast up 13 per cent to $495 million, and Otago up 11 per cent to $3.5 billion.
In the month of January 2017, the fastest growing regions were Tasman, up 19 per cent to $62 million, and Northland (up 14 per cent to $152 million) and West Coast (up 14 per cent to $71 million).
“Domestic and international tourism creates immense value for New Zealand, with tourism employing over 180,000 people in 2016,” says Mrs Bennett.
“Tourism operators, employees and New Zealanders should be congratulated for capitalising on the opportunities tourism provides. Last week the International Visitor Survey showed spending reached $10.1 billion in the year to December 2016, confirming that the tourism sector is hugely important to our economy.
“Government will play our part in supporting the sector and managing the challenges that come with a booming industry. If you look at our fastest growing regions, we’ve funded the Grey District Council $500,000 for parking and toilet facilities in the Cobden Aromahana and Foreshore area, Far North District Council has received $120,000 for a stand-alone wastewater system in Broadwood, and we’ve provided Central Otago District Council $250,000 for public toilet and treatment systems.
“Government also invests in infrastructure across the board to support visitors, including $17.2 million for fibre in Marlborough, Nelson and Tasman, and a forecasted $221 million for roading improvements in the top of the South Island.
“There is more work to do. The earthquake last November heavily affected the North Canterbury region, and though we are starting to see tourist spending recover slightly, it’s important we continue to market the area internationally, and encourage New Zealanders to keep visiting.”
Key facts for earthquake affected areas:Tourism spending in North Canterbury, which includes Kaikoura and Hurunui Districts, saw an 18 per cent fall in the month of January 2017 (to $38 million) compared with January 2016. International visitor spending in North Canterbury fell 20 per cent in the month of January 2017, while domestic visitor spending fell 17 per cent over the same period. In areas adjacent to North Canterbury: Marlborough fell 1 per cent in the month of January 2017; Christchurch grew 2 per cent; and South Canterbury grew 17 per cent.
Further information from the Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates can be found here: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/tourism/tourism-research-data/monthly-regional-tourism-estimates
Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett says China and New Zealand have experience and expertise to share about responding to climate change.
Mrs Bennett today met with China’s top official for climate change, Mr Zhang Yong, Vice Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, at Premier House in Wellington.
Mrs Bennett and Mr Zhang held the first Ministerial dialogue under the New Zealand-China Climate Change Cooperation Arrangement Memorandum signed by the two countries’ leaders in 2014.
“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,” says Mrs Bennett.
“Mr Zhang’s extended visit to New Zealand so soon after the Paris Agreement entering into force underscores New Zealand’s standing within the international climate change community and the prospects for greater bilateral cooperation.”
Mrs Bennett says the dialogue built on positive discussions she had last November with senior Chinese representatives at the COP 22 climate change negotiations in Marrakech.
During his stay, Mr Zhang is meeting with the Auckland City Council, visiting the world-leading New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre in Palmerston North, the NZ Forest Research Institute in Rotorua and Te Mihi Geothermal Power Station North of Taupo.
- 20170217 Chinese climate officials meeting (2).JPG (JPG 2.89 MB)
Communities around New Zealand are continuing to benefit from steady growth in international visitor spending, which reached $10.1 billion in the year to December, Tourism Minister Paula Bennett says.
The latest International Visitor Survey results from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) released today shows that visitor spending is up 4 per cent over the same period in 2015.
“Last year we welcomed 3.5 million visitors to our shores. Tourism is our biggest export market and is hugely important to our economy. It’s great to see today’s release of the International Visitor Survey confirming that spending from international tourists remains strong,” Mrs Bennett says.
“International visitors coming to New Zealand for a holiday spent the most for this period with a total spend of $6.4 billion, up 10 per cent compared with the previous year. It was great to see strong growth in visitor spending from South Korea, which increased 82 per cent from 2015 to $299 million.
“It’s positive to see the industry still achieve a 4 per cent increase in visitor spending after record growth in 2015. We want to maintain these numbers while still ensuring these tourists can have a great visitor experience.
“There is a range of work underway to support the tourism sector to attract the right mix of visitors around New Zealand’s regions, and ensuring visitors have a great time. This includes funding for regional infrastructure projects, an education campaign for visiting drivers, and ongoing work to assess options for meeting future infrastructure needs.
“The earthquake last November had a limited overall impact nationwide on tourism expenditure. The effects of lower visitor numbers and spending was limited to the regions that suffered damage, especially Kaikoura. We are continuing to provide support to the North Canterbury region, such as the Employees Support Subsidy scheme and the restoration of the Kaikoura harbour and transport routes.”
Results from the International Visitor Survey are available here: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/tourism/tourism-research-data/ivs
Emitters are now on their way to paying the full cost of their carbon emissions in New Zealand, says Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett.
“As part of our ongoing work programme to reduce domestic emissions we have started the three-year phase out of the one-for-two emissions trading scheme subsidy,” says Mrs Bennett.
“This subsidy allowed some businesses to pay one emissions unit for every two tonnes of pollution they emit. Last year the Government announced we are phasing the measure out over three years to give businesses time to plan and adjust.”
The initial 50 per cent unit cost increased to 67 per cent from 1 January, and will rise to 83 per cent from 1 January 2018. All sectors in the ETS will pay the full market price from 1 January 2019.
“It is vital for businesses that we have certainty in our long-term response to climate change. Following the second stage of the ETS review this year we will set a clear long-term direction on how the ETS will help meet our ambitious emissions reduction targets,” says Mrs Bennett.
“Meeting our Paris Agreement targets will require more than business as usual. Alongside the ETS review, we have established three expert groups to help get more trees into the ground, reduce agricultural emissions, and adapt to the environmental impact of climate change.
“We’re also investing $2 billion on public transport, setting targets to increase the number of electric vehicles year on year until 2021, investing $20 million a year in agricultural greenhouse gas research and providing $200 million for international climate-related support.”
Recommendations from the second stage of the ETS review are expected in mid-2017 when the review is scheduled to conclude.
Police Minister Paula Bennett has today announced a new easy-to-remember phone number will be launched for non-urgent police calls.
“It’s important that people can contact the police at all times of the day and night, whether the matter is life-threatening or less serious. We want our police force to be easily accessible and for the entire community to feel connected to them,” Mrs Bennett says.
“There are currently more than 300 local police phone numbers and some aren’t manned 24/7. More than 1.8 million calls are made to local stations a year and satisfaction levels for those that ring are much lower than for 111 emergency calls.”
The number will be available from next year and will cater for calls that aren’t appropriate for 111 including reporting low-level or historic crime and giving information about suspicious activities. Those with emergencies should continue to call 111.
The number, which will be revealed when the service goes live next year, will be easy-to-remember, such as three digits or an 0800 number.
“A centralised, 24/7 service centre will significantly improve public access to police services no matter where in the country a member of the public is calling from. A non-emergency number has already been successfully introduced in Australia, Canada and the UK.
Non-sworn officers will be recruited and trained to take calls as part of the Safer Communities Package announced by Prime Minister Bill English today. The operators will be based in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch alongside the 111 call centres.
“We know people get frustrated when they can’t easily reach their local station for non-emergencies. This service will improve accessibility for everyone and lead to Police building trust and confidence with the public.
“Having just one number to remember that’s always available will increase public confidence. Staff answering the calls will be able to assist people themselves, divert them to a local police station if appropriate, or put them through to the 111 operators if it is an emergency.”
A $503 million package which includes increasing police staff and resources across the country will reduce crime and make our communities safer.
Police Minister Paula Bennett says the Safer Communities package announced today by the Prime Minister will provide an additional 1125 police staff over the next four years, including 880 sworn police officers.
“We are unashamedly targeting offenders to ensure they’re off our streets by providing additional resources for Police and greater investment in rehabilitation for prisoners,” Mrs Bennett says.
“The 880 extra frontline police officers will work in targeted areas where we know they’re needed. Five hundred will go out on the beat and into community policing. Those officers will strengthen the emergency response, and focus on youth offending, burglaries and community crime.
“Knowing there’s a nearby police presence at all times is something the community expects. We’re making a commitment that people in cities, the regions and rural areas will have officers they can call on 24/7,” Mrs Bennett says. “Our commitment is that 95 per cent of New Zealanders will be within 25 kilometres of patrolling police day and night.
“By focusing on specific areas we will deliver a more responsive police service, prevent crime and victimisation, resolve more crimes, and more effectively target criminal gangs and organised crime.”
Details of the package includes:
- A new national 24/7 phone number for non-emergencies
- 140 more officers for up to 20 regional and rural police stations so that 95 per cent of the population lives within 25 kilometres of a 24/7 police presence
- 140 additional specialist investigators for child protection, sexual assault, family violence and other serious crime (66 of these have been previously announced)
- 80 additional officers to target organised crime, gangs and methamphetamine
- 20 additional ethnic liaison officers to support Chinese, Indian and other ethnic communities
- The Eagle Helicopter will now be available around the clock with the response time of 10-15 minutes, at the moment it’s only available at pre-scheduled times for 1800 hours a year
- 12 mobile policing units to provide policing services on the move where they’re most needed, including in smaller towns, rural areas and community events.
- All 12 police districts will receive extra officers. Police will decide how many will go where, based on need.
“We’ve set several challenging performance targets to ensure we get real results. We’re already attending 96 per cent of all home burglaries - 86 per cent of those within 48 hours, we plan to get that rate up to 98 per cent. Over the next four years we plan to seize $400 million of cash and assets from gangs and organised crime, up from $230 million. We’re aiming to increase our response time for both answering and attending emergency calls, we’re aiming to reduce the number of deaths from family violence and reduce Maori offending.
“Meeting these targets will not be an easy task. But we’re here to tackle the difficult issues and we’re committed to making our communities safer.
“We are prepared to put more of the worst criminals behind bars. That’s why part of the Safer Communities package is $115 million aimed at supporting the Ministry of Justice and Department of Corrections. This will include a boost for Corrections’ rehabilitation and reintegration programmes and staffing. It also includes more money for supporting courts to handle more cases.
“Police’s mission is for New Zealand to be the safest country in the world, and the Government wholeheartedly supports this goal,” Mrs Bennett says.
- Safer Communities - At a Glance (pdf 263.86 KB)
A new marketing campaign starting this week to attract Australians to Northland is an excellent approach to encouraging tourists to visit the region, says Tourism Minister Paula Bennett.
The campaign – ‘Every day a different journey in Northland’ – is part of Tourism New Zealand’s regional dispersal strategy and acts as a test to refine techniques for marketing less visited regions.
“The tourism industry is going from strength to strength with 3.5 million people visiting a year and spending $14.5 billion while they are here. That’s great to see but there’s more to be done,” says Mrs Bennett.
“We want to spread the benefits of tourism across the country so regions like Northland can benefit more. Tourism New Zealand’s regional dispersal strategy aims to get visitors to travel to less-visited regions and discover their attractions. It’s about making tourism work for New Zealanders.”
It is the first Tourism New Zealand campaign focused on using a single region to test whether it can influence a shift in traditional travel patterns. The campaign will run in Melbourne from late January to mid-March to encourage Victorians to visit Northland in the shoulder season.
“This is just one part of the Government’s plan to support regional tourism. We recently approved $3 million in funding for 14 infrastructure projects as part of the $12 million Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund,” says Mrs Bennett.
“We're also supporting regional tourism as part of the Government’s Regional Growth Programme, including $158,000 for the Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Action Plan and $510,000 for the Southland Regional Development Strategy Action Plan.
“Northlanders will benefit hugely from government support for big projects like the $4 million contribution to the construction of Whangarei's Hundertwasser Art Centre and Wairau Maori Art Gallery as part of the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan.”
The campaign is being run in conjunction with Northland NZ, Facebook, Flight Centre and Air New Zealand.
Nearly every region across New Zealand experienced strong growth in tourism spending this summer, Tourism Minister Paula Bennett says.
According to the Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the fastest growing regions in December were the West Coast and Taranaki.
In the year to December the fastest growing region was Nelson, which increased 15 per cent over the year to $340 million, followed by West Coast, up 13 per cent to $488 million and Otago up 12 per cent to $3.5 billion.
“It’s fantastic to see the regions really benefiting from strong tourism growth. This spending brings a real boost to local economies, benefiting businesses with increased trade and creating jobs,” Mrs Bennett says.
“While the earthquake last November had a limited overall impact on national tourism expenditure, the latest figures show that tourism spending in Kaikoura has been heavily affected. The Government continues to provide wage subsidy support to local businesses that depend on the summer season.
“Tourism spending in the North Canterbury region, which includes Kaikoura, is slowly starting again, though it is still far below what it normally would be in the December month.
“Other regions in the South Island have recovered well from the impact of the earthquakes in November, some have benefited from traffic being diverted due to the closure of State Highway One. International and domestic tourism spending was at similar or higher levels when compared with December 2015.”
Key facts for earthquake affected areas:
- Tourism spending in North Canterbury, which includes Kaikoura and Hurunui Districts, saw a 28 per cent fall in tourism spending in December 2016 (to $27 million) compared with December 2015.
- International visitors’ spending in North Canterbury fell 48 per cent in December 2016 (compared with December 2015), while domestic visitor spending fell 16 per cent over the same period.
- In areas adjacent to North Canterbury: Marlborough grew four per cent in December 2016 (compared with December 2015); Christchurch grew by two per cent; and South Canterbury grew five per cent.
More information can be found at http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/tourism/tourism