Communications Minister Simon Bridges today announced a reduction in radio spectrum fees and a simplified regime, to come into effect later this year.
The changes will reduce the average annual fee for a licence from around $200 to $150 (including GST). They will also make the fees regime simpler by reducing the number of fee categories from 47 to four.
“The new regime is much simpler and fairer for licence holders,” Mr Bridges says.
“Since the last fees review was undertaken, radio spectrum management costs have declined due to a move to online systems and a strong focus on efficiency and cost control. We’re now passing those benefits on to licence holders.
“The reduction in licence fees will also help reduce the current surplus in the radio spectrum management account, before fees are reviewed again in three years’ time.
“This reflects the need to remain flexible in how we manage the radio spectrum, given the changing nature of the telecommunications environment. The primary objective is to ensure the regime continues to be equitable and fit for purpose,” Mr Bridges says.
Amateur radio licences will continue to have their own fee category, with annual fees set at $50 (including GST), consistent with the current regime.
The changes will take effect in late 2017, following notification in the Gazette.
More information is available at www.rsm.govt.nz.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges today opened the Western Rail Trail shared pathway, a new link in Hamilton’s growing walking and cycling network.
The $6.7 million, 2.7km path is a key part in Hamilton’s network linking Hamilton’s south-western suburbs of Glenview, Melville, and Deanwell, with Hamilton Girls’ High School, the Wintec City Campus and city centre.
“Now that this dedicated off-road link is complete, commuters, tertiary students and the 1,600 school children who live within 500 metres of this route have more transport choices.
“Hamilton has already built over 150km of its cycling network and the completion of this shared pathway will help to establish cycling as a safe and integral part of the city’s transport network,” Mr Bridges says.
The project has signage and landscaping features that highlight the early rail history of the area.
“This new interactive scenic route will also encourage more walking and cycling in the city and create a fun, healthy way to get around,” Mr Bridges says.
Through the Urban Cycleways Programme, central and local government are working together to deliver $333 million of new cycleway projects nationwide by June 2018, the single biggest investment in cycling in New Zealand’s history.
In total 54 projects are being funded through the programme nationwide.
More information can be found at: www.nzta.govt.nz/UCP.
The Government and New Plymouth District Council have agreed in principle to transfer New Plymouth Airport to local government ownership, Transport Minister Simon Bridges says.
“The Crown will transfer its 50 percent stake in New Plymouth Airport to its joint venture partner, the Council, after they expressed interest in full ownership of the Airport,” Mr Bridges says.
“The Council is responsible for running and managing the day to day operation of the Airport, and transferring the Crown’s ownership will allow it to continue developing the airport’s assets to meet growing passenger numbers.
“Full local ownership will provide some real opportunities for Taranaki and the airport to maximise regional economic growth,” Mr Bridges says.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges broke ground today on the Hutt Road Cycleway upgrade, the first project in Wellington City’s refreshed Urban Cycleways Programme.
“The existing shared path along Hutt Road was installed in 1995 and today is the busiest cycling route into the central city. This $6.5 million investment will increase safety and improve user experience,” Mr Bridges says.
The upgrade will provide a wider dedicated cycleway, alongside a separated pedestrian path, with poles and other hazards being removed. The surface along the cycleway will also be smoother and the Kaiwharawhara Stream bridge widened.
Two bus stops will be amalgamated to increase efficiency and improve safety, as well as layout changes and the installation of bus queue lanes at Ngauranga.
“These improvements will provide safer, more appealing choices for everyday travel and connect cyclists with a wider cycling network,” Mr Bridges says.
The Hutt Road Cycleway is the first of two stages in Wellington’s Northern Connection, running from Bunny Street to Ngauranga and eventually connecting with other projects all the way through to Melling in Lower Hutt.
“It’s exciting to launch the first of Wellington’s refreshed Urban Cycleways Programme projects, and to see work on the capital’s cycling network progress,” Mr Bridges says.
The Hutt Road Cycleway is a part of the refreshed Wellington Urban Cycleways Programme and is jointly funded by Wellington City Council and the Government.
The Government is investing $333 million nationwide for cycleways projects, the biggest investment in cycling in New Zealand’s history.
More information about the Urban Cycleways Programme can be found at: www.nzta.govt.nz/UCP.
Economic Development and Transport Minister Simon Bridges says significant employment opportunities are being created by construction of the City Rail Link (CRL) in Auckland.
The joint project between Government and Auckland Council is New Zealand’s largest transport infrastructure project. Construction of the early works began in December 2015, with the project expected to be complete by 2024.
“The CRL will provide significant transport benefits in the future, and it is already bringing economic benefits to Aucklanders and New Zealanders through the hundreds of employment opportunities being created during construction,” Mr Bridges says.
“Construction is continuing to expand, with two contracts underway and more to follow. It is estimated that about 600 general construction workers will be needed for the construction of the CRL with an estimated 1600 jobs at the peak of works.”
Labour requirements for the CRL will vary with opportunities for new entrants to the workforce as well as for skilled labour and trades including plumbers and electricians and those involved in specialist rail systems and signalling.
Mr Bridges says major infrastructure projects like the CRL are supporting strong economic growth.
“The construction industry is booming with the national demand for building and construction being heavily driven by Auckland. New Zealand continues to construct more by value than ever before with the total value expected to grow to $37 billion towards the end of 2017,” Mr Bridges says.
Communications Minister Simon Bridges has today welcomed the launch of a digital sector and government alliance to explore the economic and social benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT).
IoT is a concept that involves connecting devices to the internet, enabling them to ‘talk’ to each other and to people. For example, smartphones might prompt people to take a specific route to an event because it has access to their current location and calendar.
Speaking at The Grid, an innovation precinct in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter, Minister Bridges said the Alliance would help harness the potential of IoT.
“IoT is a transformative technology, one that promises to boost productivity across all major sectors of the economy, assist in monitoring our health, make transport and logistics more efficient, help reduce energy consumption and tackle environmental issues,” Mr Bridges says.
“The Government has a key role to play in ensuring that New Zealand can take advantage of what IoT has to offer. The Alliance will provide a forum for enabling us to better understand the benefits and potential issues of IoT, such as privacy and cyber security.
“Initial research by the Alliance, which will provide an evidence base for future work, already suggests potential economic benefits to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars for the New Zealand economy through the deployment of IoT across a variety of sectors.”
The Alliance is one of several new initiatives included in the new Building a Digital Nation report, which Minister Bridges released at the Alliance launch event.
“The digital economy is a key focus of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda. This report sets out how the Government is partnering with New Zealand’s digital sector, with other sectors of the economy and the wider digital community, to enable New Zealand to become a leading digital nation.
“This is the first time the full programme of activity has been pulled together in one place, serving as a focal point for ongoing engagement with the digital community and for shaping and driving New Zealand’s digital transformation,” Mr Bridges says.
The Building a Digital Nation report and further information is available here.
The latest regional growth statistics show 12 out of New Zealand’s 15 regions grew in the year to March 2016, Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges says.
The GDP statistics for New Zealand’s fifteen regions were released by Statistics New Zealand today and show the strongest growing regions in the year were Bay of Plenty (7.7 per cent), Auckland (6.0 per cent), and Otago (4.8 per cent) while Waikato, Wellington, Canterbury and Manawatu-Whanganui grew by more than 3 per cent.
“It’s really encouraging to see strong growth in regions like Bay of Plenty, Otago, Manawatu-Whanganui and Waikato,” Mr Bridges says.
“Bay of Plenty is the highest growing region, underpinned by strong performances across a number of sectors including agriculture industries, primarily kiwifruit.”
Across New Zealand the average growth for the year was 4.1 per cent.
Decreases were recorded in the three regions most affected by the dairy downturn and the drop off in New Zealand’s mining and oil and gas industries – Taranaki, West Coast and Southland.
However Taranaki retains the highest GDP per capita followed by Wellington and Auckland.
“The Government will continue to work intensively with regions through the Business Growth Agenda and the Regional Growth Programme. We are working actively with Southland, Taranaki and the West Coast in particular to help lift their growth rates in the years ahead,” Mr Bridges says.
"We are committed to helping every region in New Zealand achieve its potential by both attracting new investors and investing in the infrastructure for growth, be it ultrafast broadband to 150 more regional towns or key regional roading projects up and down the country."
Communications Minister Simon Bridges has welcomed today’s announcement that the Tasman Global Access cable is up and running, enhancing New Zealand’s telecommunications resilience and global connectivity.
Running between Raglan and Sydney, the new standalone cable will provide an alternative to the trans-Tasman section of the Southern Cross Cable, which is the main international cable that currently carries the majority of internet traffic to and from New Zealand.
“Given New Zealand’s geographic isolation, international connectivity is crucial for growing our economy and for helping us capitalise on opportunities,” Mr Bridges says.
“This cable is another step towards ensuring we’ve got affordable and robust connections with the rest of the world. It also ensures that domestic demands for data are supported by international capacity, setting us up for the future.”
The cable provides greater capacity in the system, reducing the risk of bottlenecks and enabling faster, better internet for consumers, particularly when content is being streamed from overseas. It also provides greater competition in New Zealand’s cable market.
“The Government’s $2 billion investment in the rollout of broadband infrastructure has helped spur demand for faster broadband, which is why complementary investment in cable infrastructure is so important,” Mr Bridges says.
“I congratulate the owners of the TGA cable, telecommunications companies Spark, Vodafone and Telstra, for their investment in this critical infrastructure for New Zealand.”
A third major cable project, the Hawaiki cable, is due to be completed next year. Once the Hawaiki cable is complete New Zealand will have three cable systems providing international connectivity, Southern Cross, the TGA and Hawaiki.
New Zealand has enhanced its air service agreement with China by 20 per cent Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced today.
“New Zealand and Chinese airlines can now operate 59 passenger services per week,” Mr Bridges says.
“We’ve seen strong growth with visitors from China and we expect this to continue. China is our second largest source of visitors after Australia, so it’s important that we have the appropriate agreements in place to support this.
“The amendment will also allow additional airlines to enter the market, ensuring a competitive environment that will benefit New Zealand and Chinese travellers.
“Officials also have the opportunity to further expand the agreement later this year if certain conditions are met.
“Chinese airlines can now operate between airports in New Zealand during the course of their international service, allowing airports that do not receive flights by Chinese airlines the opportunity to do so.
“We have progressively enhanced this agreement. In 2014 the agreement provided 42 offerings per week and was increased in 2016 to 49. We will continue to work towards an open skies agreement with China,” Mr Bridges says.
Five Chinese airlines currently operate to New Zealand and a sixth, Sichuan Airlines, will enter the market in June.
“New Zealand is committed to liberalising air services, allowing for competitive markets, increased air traffic, lower air fares and stronger international trade links,” Mr Bridges says.
New Zealand now has 61 air service agreements with countries and territories with a further 20 awaiting signature.
Arrivals from China in 2016 were 421,000 – an increase 12 per cent (54,000) from 2015.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges has today welcomed a significant decision for Auckland’s future mass transit corridor between Auckland city and the airport.
“Route protection will now begin to provide a mass transit corridor between the airport and Auckland city,” Mr Bridges says.
“This is a significant step for Auckland and will secure better transport options for both Aucklanders and visitors to the city.”
The NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport worked together to develop a joint solution that will progress from bus services to a light rail transit solution.
The study found an advanced bus option could provide a credible solution over the next 30 years that could progress from the current bus-based system to a long term solution.
The study also demonstrated the advanced bus option has the potential to deliver on forecast demand depending on the rate of growth of the city.
“By drawing on international expertise, they have identified a range of opportunities for bus travel through a separated corridor, using innovative technology and customer-focused solutions,” Mr Bridges says.
“In the medium to long term, this will make it possible for a staged, integrated transition to light rail along the preferred ‘Airport to City’ route based on future demand and capacity.”
“This work follows the Auckland Transport Alignment Project that identified the future pressure on mass transit corridors and the need for route protection to ensure future economic growth and productivity,” Mr Bridges says.
Work on route protection will be progressed with urgency to future-proof options for both advanced bus and light rail.