Communications Minister Simon Bridges today confirmed details of the Government’s new approach to regulating fixed line communications services from 2020, and released a consultation paper which seeks feedback on the regulation of the copper network.
“We need a modern communications regime that reflects our increasingly digital world and that delivers better broadband for New Zealanders,” Mr Bridges says.
“The new regime is designed to provide long-term certainty for the sector, and to support ongoing innovation and investment. Ultimately, this will result in better services for consumers, with consistently improving broadband speeds and quality at competitive prices.”
In July 2016 the Government released an options paper which set out the details of the new ‘utility-style’ regime for fixed line communications services provided on the Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) network and Chorus’ copper network.
“We received a range of feedback from industry and consumer groups about how the new regime would work in practice and can now confirm the details of our reform package for the UFB network, which will be implemented from 2020,” Mr Bridges says.
“Following further consideration and analysis we have decided to take a different approach to the regulation of copper services, and focus the new regulations primarily on New Zealand’s fibre network. We’re seeking feedback on this proposal and on changes to the Telecommunications Service Obligation (TSO) through the consultation document released today.”
In areas where UFB or other fibre is available, the Government is proposing to deregulate the copper network from 2020 and remove the TSO obligation.
In areas where UFB or other fibre is not available, the TSO obligation will be retained and Chorus will be required to continue supplying copper services at prices capped at 2019 levels. This will ensure consumers continue to have access to basic services at competitive prices, even when alternative networks are not available.
Submissions on the consultation paper close on 3 March 2017. For more detail and to make a submission visit www.mbie.govt.nz/telcoreview.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the opening of two temporary bridges on the alternate state highway route between Picton and Christchurch will improve safety and reduce travel times while repairs to State Highway 1 are underway.
The new Bailey bridges (temporary steel structures) have been installed alongside permanent one-way bridges at Upper Buller and Homestead Creek west of St Arnaud, allowing traffic to flow safely in both directions at all times.
This will eliminate delays from waiting to use the single-lane bridges at these two locations, keeping all traffic moving.
“The alternate state highway route has been coping with a significant increase in traffic volumes since the November 14 Kaikoura earthquake. This is putting the road under a good deal of strain, and providing duplicate bridges at these three pinch points will help to improve safety and reduce delays for everyone using the road,” Mr Bridges says.
“While work is continuing at pace to restore State Highway 1 between Picton and Christchurch, it’s vital we ensure that people can travel safely on the alternate route through Murchison and the Lewis Pass.
“Installing these new bridges is part of the Transport Agency’s broader programme of work to ensure the alternate route can stay open and safely cope with the extra traffic it is carrying while work continues on State Highway 1.”
A third duplicate Bailey bridge has also been installed at Speargrass Creek, and will open to traffic later this month.
State Highway 1 is expected to be restored within the next 12 months.
For more information, visit: http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/kaikoura-earthquake-response/
Transport Minister Simon Bridges says building better cycling infrastructure remains a priority for the Government as today’s national Go by Bike Day event demonstrates the increased demand.
Mr Bridges joined the hundreds of people who took part in the annual Go by Bike Day event at the Wellington waterfront today with similar events held all over the country.
“Here in Wellington and right around New Zealand demand for cycling is high and growing. For example in the last 10 years the number of people commuting by bike in the capital has more than doubled,” Mr Bridges says.
“Bikes are increasingly the vehicles of choice for a number of New Zealanders and visitors. In response to this demand making cycling a safer and more attractive transport choice is a key priority for Government.
“That’s why we’re investing $333 million through the Urban Cycleways Programme, the single biggest investment in cycling in New Zealand’s history.”
In total, the Programme is funding 54 projects, across 22 local authorities in 16 urban centres. It will deliver approximately 300 kilometres of cycling facilities.
“Since completing the first cycleway in Palmerston North in 2015, we’re over 40 per cent of the way through delivering the Urban Cycleways Programme.
“We’re also investing in Bikes in Schools to enhance delivery of the cycleway programme and make cycling more accessible for school children. So far we have contributed to 30 urban schools, reaching nearly 10,000 students.”
More information about the Urban Cycleways Programme can be found at: www.nzta.govt.nz/UCP.
The Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway is scheduled to open this month, four months ahead of the original scheduled completion date of June 2017, Transport Minister Simon Bridges has announced.
The Expressway is a $630 million, 18km four-lane expressway along the Kāpiti Coast, and includes 18 bridges and 16km of walking and cycle ways.
“An early opening this month is a great outcome for the Kāpiti Coast community and the wider region as a whole. In just a few weeks’ time this connection will open to deliver smoother and safer journeys for everyone,” Mr Bridges says.
“The Mackays to Peka Peka Expressway will result in faster and more reliable journeys through the region, as well as making this stretch of road safer for all road users, and improving the Kāpiti Coast’s resilience to major weather events like those we’ve recently experienced.
“This modern new road will also support the region’s economy. Reduced and more reliable travel times to and from Wellington will make Kāpiti a more desirable place to live and do business.”
The community will be invited to a Kāpiti Coast ExpressDay which will be a chance for people to experience the Expressway before it is opened to traffic. More details will be available closer to the time.
The Expressway is part of the Wellington Northern Corridor, which stretches from Wellington Airport to just north of Levin. The Wellington Northern Corridor is one of the Government’s Roads of National Significance, identified as key to economic growth.
A completion event will be held on Thursday 16 February with the road opening to traffic later this month.
A new online tool will make it easy for businesses and decision makers to access a rich set of data on the performance New Zealand’s industrial sectors, Minister for Economic Development Simon Bridges says.
Launched today, the New Zealand Sectors Dashboard provides the latest available data on twenty-six different sectors covering the whole economy, from the primary industries, manufacturing and services sectors to government, education and health.
‘The New Zealand economy is diverse and dynamic. Strong GDP and job growth, together with the impact of technology, is driving change in every sector. This tool draws on 53 datasets from Statistics New Zealand and other sources,” Mr Bridges says.
Data includes GDP, productivity and job growth rates by sector, as well as median incomes, capital investment, innovation and research and development rates and much more.
“The dashboard is a comprehensive, easy-to-use interactive resource that unlocks a huge range of data for businesses, entrepreneurs and analysts enabling them to keep track of sector trends and visualise opportunities for new investment and job creation,” Mr Bridges says.
Information is presented using dynamic graphs and data tables so users can easily look at trends in sector performance, with comparisons to the New Zealand average or with other sectors.
The Sectors Dashboard complements the Tourism Dashboard and the Regional Economic Activity Tools.
International Safer Internet Day is a reminder for all New Zealanders to focus on staying safe online,” Communications Minister Simon Bridges says.
Safer Internet Day promotes safe and positive use of technology – particularly for children and young people. It is part of an international campaign involving more than 100 countries, and is coordinated in New Zealand by NetSafe.
“Connect Smart research reveals that one in five New Zealanders have experienced cyber crime. This includes damage from a virus or malware, hacking of a social media or bank account, receiving a phishing email, having your system locked down by ransomware or being the victim of an online scam or fraud,” Mr Bridges says.
Seventy per cent of New Zealanders own a smart phone or Internet connected mobile device and increasingly it is the most popular way for New Zealanders to access the Internet.
“More than 90 per cent of people aged 18-34 have a smart phone. At the start of a new year, it is timely to check that we are using technology safely,” Mr Bridges says.
“There are basic steps that can make a big difference in improving our online security and research shows that New Zealanders are now more inclined to stop and think before clicking on links and attachments in emails. Connect Smart research shows 94 per cent of people are now doing so.
“Safer Internet Day is a reminder to all to continue to be aware of potential cyber risks.”
Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges will attend the opening of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group’s Australia and New Zealand headquarters in Melbourne tomorrow.
“Alibaba Group is the world’s largest online and mobile marketplace and presents an enormous opportunity for New Zealand exporters to sell their products into the huge China market,” Mr Bridges says.
“China is our second-biggest trading partner after Australia and we have all witnessed the rise of e-commerce platforms globally, but few countries have embraced e-commerce with the gusto shown by Chinese consumers.
“In the last year, China’s e-commerce retail sales have grown 37 per cent versus 11.3 per cent in standard retail; mobile commerce sales have grown 123 per cent; and 50 per cent of the population are yet to access the internet.
“With a population size of 1.4 billion and growing recognition and demand for Western brands, it is clear that e-commerce presents significant opportunities for our exporters. Alibaba is a key gateway to taking advantage of this,” Mr Bridges says.
The opening of the Australia and New Zealand headquarters follows last year’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and Alibaba Group which formalised discussions for strengthening trade between China and New Zealand.
Transport Minister Simon Bridges says the replacement of one-way bridges on Northland’s state highways has moved another step forward, with a contractor being appointed to carry out the works at Matakohe and Taipa.
A contract has been awarded to Fulton Hogan and Aurecon, who will jointly deliver the first part of the Northland Bridges programme, to replace two bridges at Matakohe and one at Taipa with two-way structures.
“These bridge upgrades are part of the Government’s commitment to invest in Northland’s State Highway network to stimulate economic growth throughout the region, improve safety and strengthen connections with the rest of New Zealand,” Mr Bridges says.
“The new bridge at Taipa will provide greater resilience during extreme weather events and improve safety as well as providing better connections along the Twin Coast Discovery route between the Bay of Islands and Doubtless Bay.”
The proposals also provide two traffic lanes as well as a shared path for pedestrians and cyclists.
“The replacement of the two bridges at Matakohe will improve safety for all road users. The narrow width of the current bridges causes delays during the busy visitor season which are linked to driver frustration and risk taking behaviours which can lead to crashes. For example, there were 15 reported crashes on or near the bridges between 2005 and 2014,” Mr Bridges says.
The improvements include a realignment of the state highway to remove the tight bends approaching the bridges. A new intersection for the iconic Kauri Museum will be built and cycling connections provided along the Twin Coast Discovery route.
Public consultation on the preferred alignment for both the bridges will take place in the first quarter of this year. This is in addition to the public feedback already collected following a series of open days in October last year.
Construction is expected to start later this year.
The construction contract also has provision to be extended to include the replacement of the Kaeo bridge. Construction of this bridge is planned to get underway in 2018, subject to consents and property purchase.
The six remaining one-way bridges within the Northland Bridges programme are in the planning stage.
Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have praised the progress of the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan, one year on from its launch.
The action plan has been developed and led by the Northland Regional Governance Group and is part of the Government’s Regional Growth Programme. It identifies over 50 actions to support and enable growth in Northland.
“Significant work has been undertaken in the past year and we are starting to see the economic and social benefits of this across the region,” Mr Bridges says.
“The plan is moving forward in several key areas such as digital technology with more than $33 million being invested Northland’s ultra-fast broadband roll-out and the region’s digital enablement plan complete.
“It has also been successful in supporting young people. The Kaikohe Growth Industries Pathway program has a number of Northland youth on a pathway to employment, and the Tai Tokerau Resort College helping ensure there are skilled people to support the booming local tourism industry.”
Mr Guy says several initiatives that enable Northlanders involved in the primary sector to make the most of their businesses are making headway.
“Extension 350 is well underway. This new initiative sees clusters of dairy farms working together and receiving expert business direction advice.
“The Māori Forestry Collective for Tai Tokerau is now formed and the lessons from a completed prototype planting of 505 hectares will support the next phase of the group’s work.”
Mr Bridges says these are just a few examples of the work being done in the region.
“Now is a good time to take stock and reflect on the achievements made so far and to refresh the plan to ensure it still reflects Northland’s aspirations.”
For more information on the Regional Growth Programme, visit http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/regions-cities/regional-growth-programme.
Prime Minister Bill English and Communications Minister Simon Bridges today announced Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) will be extended to more than 151 additional towns, providing up to 85 per cent of New Zealanders with access to fibre by the end of 2024.Read more