Despite a Coalition Agreement to ‘relocate Government functions into the regions’, the Minister for ACC is doing the exact opposite, National’s ACC spokesperson Tim Macindoe says.
“Iain Lees Galloway confirmed in the Vote Labour Market Estimates Hearing that ACC plans to centralise ACC staff into main city centres, meaning employees in several regional offices are likely to lose their jobs.
“The Minister’s own electorate of Palmerston North will be one of the worst hit by the decision, with 20 redundancies expected.
“Meanwhile Timaru is set to have its staff numbers cut in half and Whanganui will see further cuts as well.
“This is a clear breach of the Government’s Coalition Agreement which stated that a priority for the Labour/New Zealand First Government was ‘a commitment to move Government functions into the regions’. New Zealand First campaigned on that promise in 2017 and people who voted for that pledge have every reason to feel betrayed.
“The Associate Minister’s answers to my questions in the House showed a lack of concern for the many ACC staff and their families who will be forced either to re-locate to a main city or face redundancy if they are unable to do so.
“It’s heartless and another clear example of the Coalition Government failing to deliver on their promises.”
At a time when there are growing calls for measures to encourage New Zealanders to drive safer cars, including within the Labour-led Government, ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has still not explained why he’s moving in the opposite direction, National’s ACC spokesperson Tim Macindoe says.
“Several years ago the previous National Government introduced a Vehicle Risk Rating mechanism to provide an incentive for people to purchase cars with enhanced safety features.
“Under National’s scheme lower registration fees currently apply to the safest cars on our roads. Mr Lees-Galloway has cancelled this incentive despite ACC crash statistics showing that safer, modern cars are significantly under-represented in New Zealand’s serious road trauma costs.
“I applaud NZTA’s current advertising campaign with the tag line ‘the safer the car, the safer they are’ and it’s inexplicable that a Government Minister is undermining it. New Zealand roads can be dangerous, as can other drivers, we should be encouraging Kiwis into safer cars, not the opposite.
“The Minister has been asked on several occasions to explain his decision and what evidence he considered when reaching this conclusion, but Mr Lees-Galloway has repeatedly failed to provide any data.
“It’s hard to see any explanation other than he didn’t request any.
“Mr Lees-Galloway must release any data that he relied upon in making his decision, otherwise his claim that ‘there is no evidence’ that the Vehicle Risk Rating mechanism created incentives for safer vehicle purchases is hollow.
“This lack of attention to detail is becoming a trend for this Minister, who has also made controversial immigration decisions without considering important evidence. It’s time he stopped cutting corners and undermining the road safety campaigns that are making a real difference to the lives of Kiwis.”
At a time when the Government is running a television campaign encouraging New Zealanders to purchase safer vehicles, they have also removed the financial incentive for them to do so, says National’s ACC spokesperson, Tim Macindoe.
“The Government is yet again demonstrating its talent for wasting large sums of taxpayers’ money with its blatantly contradictory move of funding a campaign to encourage people to purchase safer cars while increasing the costs if they do.
“NZTA’s current campaign on our TV screens uses the tag line, ‘The safer the car, the safer they are’, to encourage consumers to protect their children by purchasing vehicles with high safety ratings and features, yet the ACC Minister has just abolished the Vehicle Risk Rating scheme which was introduced several years ago to enhance the safety of our national fleet.
“The Minister has also been disingenuous this week in crowing that overall motor registration costs are not increasing.
“The truth is that 65 per cent of New Zealand vehicle owners will pay more to register their cars next year, and those who have invested in the safest cars - which his own Government pretends to encourage - face the biggest increase, in excess of 150 per cent.
“The Government says its priority is for ‘a safer transport network free of death and injury’ and yet it is placing a higher cost on people who have responded to encouragement to own safer cars. It’s a ridiculously mixed message and road safety campaigners will be justifiably outraged.”
ACC’s plan to shift a proposed petrol tax increase onto the motor vehicle levy doesn’t change the fact that it would hurt Kiwis who are already suffering from the Labour-led Government’s ill-thought out policies, National’s ACC spokesperson Tim Macindoe says.
“New Zealand motorists might have thought ACC’s decision to drop a proposed petrol levy was good news, but it’s far from it. ACC has simply shifted the ratio funding around so Kiwis will still have to pay the proposed increase, just at the time they pay their registration rather than at the pump.
“This is despite the Minister saying that ACC would have to make a ‘very, very strong case’ to increase the fuel levy which he also wouldn’t rule out. It now seems ACC is still looking to claim the tax from motorists by increasing the motor vehicle levy by 12 per cent.
“A tax hike on Kiwis already battling with the rising cost of living is still a tax hike, no matter how the Labour-led Government and ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway try to hide it.
“This might suit the Labour-led Government just fine, as it seeks to avoid the public relations challenge of yet another levy on top of the ones they’ve already piled on at the pump. But it does nothing to alleviate the pain Kiwis are feeling with the rising costs of day-to-day living.
“These moves would begin to reverse the significant reductions made by the previous National Government who brought the motor vehicle levy down from $335 in 2013 to $114 in 2017.
“The ACC Minister needs to front up to New Zealanders on what changes he will make to the ACC levies and refrain from dialling up costs on Kiwi families even further.”
In spite of strike action by ACC medical specialists with at least four more to follow in the next month, we haven’t heard a peep from the ACC Minister as more discontent and industrial action rattles the health sector, National’s spokesperson for ACC Tim Macindoe says.
“Hard on the heels of last week’s nurses’ strike, with those pay claims still unresolved, ACC medical specialists are also striking but like his colleague Health Minister David Clark, the ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway is missing in action.
“Given that he also holds the Workplace Relations portfolio, the Minister should be setting the standard and explaining how he is going to quell widespread industrial disruption in our vital public services.
“He is failing to do so and meanwhile the grievances are increasing rapidly, and New Zealanders are suffering major inconvenience and anxiety as a consequence.
“The under-prepared Minister had very little to say about his ACC portfolio when he appeared in front of the Education and Workforce Select Committee frequently deferring to his Chief Executive and Chairperson to hide his lack of answers.
“Our public services are increasingly being disrupted by strike action while the Government fails to live up to its promises.
“It’s time for the Minister to step up and let the public know what is being done about the five weeks of strike action and for him to give an assurance that things in his portfolio are under control.”
Maniototo Area School in Ranfurly and Lawrence Area School will be redeveloped at a combined cost of around $11 million, says Associate Education Minister Tim Macindoe.
“Both of these schools have buildings which are generally in poor condition and affected by issues such as weathertightness,” says Mr Macindoe.
Around $7 million will be invested into Maniototo Area School to replace the majority of teaching spaces. The remaining $4 million will be invested in replacing, repairing and modernising existing teaching spaces at Lawrence Area School.
Mr Macindoe says these two Central Otago Area Schools are important centres in their respective communities and, as a result, providing access to high quality learning environments will help to achieve the best possible outcomes not only for the pupils of these two schools but also for the wider Lawrence and Ranfurly communities.
“This $11 million investment comes on top of $37 million announced for new classrooms and school redevelopments in the Otago-Southland region last year,” says Mr Macindoe.
“This project is part of ongoing work across New Zealand to upgrade and expand our schools.
“Overall, this Government has invested more in school infrastructure than any previous Government, with over $5 billion committed to address legacy issues such as old, leaky buildings; provide extra capacity to address roll growth pressures within existing schools; and build brand new schools.”
The Ministry of Education and the schools will work closely together over the next two years to develop plans for the new facilities.
Construction work on the site is expected to commence in mid-2019.
The Government is committing more than $50 million to the full redevelopment of Whangarei Boys’ High School, in one of the largest-ever single investments in a New Zealand school.
“The rebuild will see all existing teaching spaces either refurbished or replaced entirely, and the number of classrooms will be increased to accommodate a growing roll,” Education Minister Nikki Kaye says.
“This will equip the school with outstanding modern facilities, ensuring the students who come here will benefit not only from quality teaching but also a quality learning environment.
“The Ministry of Education has been working with Whangarei Boys’ High School for the last two years on this project, and Cabinet approved funding for the redevelopment last month.
“This is great news for the school and local communities, with Whangarei Boys’ High School catering for students from Whangarei and surrounding areas.”
Associate Education Minister Tim Macindoe says the school has faced considerable challenges due to ageing buildings and weather-tightness issues, making this one of the most complex school redevelopments in New Zealand.
“The redevelopment will likely be delivered as a Public Private Partnership (PPP), alongside Scott Point Primary (Auckland), the co-location of Marlborough Boys’ and Marlborough Girls’ Colleges and Pukekohe Belmont Primary,” Mr Macindoe says.
“PPPs can provide significant cost savings and efficiency gains, and these projects could benefit from such a model, should we choose to proceed this way.
“In 2013, the Government committed to redeveloping 30 schools with the most complex infrastructure issues. Today’s announcement represents the 36th school to be redeveloped, with over $700 million invested so far.
“A total of 37 new schools have also been approved or built since 2013.”
The Whangarei Boys’ High redevelopment is expected to commence in 2019 and be complete by 2022.
Motorists will now be able to travel up to 110 kilometres per hour on some of New Zealand’s key expressways, made possible by the Government’s significant investment in new and safer roads.
“The Government has invested heavily in our roads, with a focus on making them safer and cutting travel times for motorists and freight,” Associate Transport Minister Tim Macindoe says.
“With our initial seven Roads of National Significance – with enhanced safety features – either complete or under construction, we can begin rolling out faster speed limits in certain areas.”
Mr Macindoe says faster speed limits will initially be rolled out to the Tauranga Eastern Link, and parts of the Waikato Expressway.
Other roads currently under construction, such as Pūhoi to Warkworth and the southern section of the Christchurch Motorway (once the second stage is completed) will be considered in future.
“Our investment in the national roading network means we are already significantly improving travel times while also ensuring our roads are safer, and the new speed limit will build on that,” Mr Macindoe says.
“This will allow New Zealanders to get to where they need to be faster.
“The faster 110 kilometres per hour speed limit will only apply to stretches of roads built to a standard where the higher speed limit is both safe and appropriate. This includes having at least two lanes in each direction, a median barrier, no significant curves and no direct access to neighbouring properties.
“Our new Roads of National Significance are our safest roads – with no fatalities to date. This change strikes the right balance between ensuring the safety of road users and faster travel times for our motorists and freight.
“The Government is committed to providing the infrastructure New Zealand needs as a growing country, and that’s why we’re spending over $30 billion over the next four years on schools, hospitals, roads and other public infrastructure.”
The 110km/h speed limit will be in effect on roads that already meet the criteria before the end of the year.
Around $6 million will be invested to build more new classrooms in the Tauranga area, say Education Minister Nikki Kaye and Associate Education Minister Tim Macindoe.
Mr Macindoe visited Tauranga Boys’ College today to make the announcement.
“On top of the $33 million already announced through Budget 2017 in the Bay of Plenty region, we are investing a further $6 million to provide 12 new classrooms to two schools/kura in the rapidly growing Tauranga area to accommodate their growing rolls, both now and in the future,” says Ms Kaye.
The schools receiving new classrooms are:Tauranga Boys’ College – 9 classrooms Te Kura o Matapihi – 3 classrooms.
“A school’s physical environment can support and inspire students’ success, and enable them to achieve. The new classrooms will feature high-quality lighting, acoustics and ventilation, as well as the latest digital infrastructure to support digital learning,” says Ms Kaye.
“This significant investment in the Bay of Plenty region is keeping true to our commitment to invest in areas of New Zealand experiencing high growth.”
“Today’s announcement means that Budget 2017 has provided the Bay of Plenty region with a new school and a school expansion in Papamoa and 27 new and replacement classrooms at six schools,” says Mr Macindoe.
“This investment also builds on the $23.2 million provided for through Budget 2016 for 14 roll-growth classrooms and a brand new school. This takes the total Bay of Plenty investment over the past two Budgets to over $60 million.
“Overall, Budget 2017 is investing $456.5 million in education infrastructure which takes our total commitment to school property nationwide to over $5 billion in recent years,” says Mr Macindoe.
Work gets underway next month on safety improvements on a stretch of State Highway 1B between Taupiri and Hamilton, Associate Minister of Transport Tim Macindoe has announced.
Mr Macindoe visited the site today to make the announcement.
Rumble strips, side barriers, shoulder widening in high-risk areas and high performance road markings will be added between the Ballard Rd and Taylor Rd intersections. The project excludes the 1.3km section through Gordonton Village.
Overall $4.6 million dollars is being spent making the highway safer. Safety improvements have already been added to the 1.2km section of SH1, between Taupiri and the Ngaruawahia section of the Waikato Expressway and the road between the Gordonton interchange through to Ballard Rd.
“These safety improvements will help prevent the most common cause of crashes on this highway, namely motorists losing control and running off the road, vehicles crossing the centreline and people making incorrect decisions at intersections,” says Mr Macindoe.
Mr Macindoe says that there have been nine deaths and 20 serious injuries on the highway between Taupiri to Gordonton between 2006 and 2015. Of these, four deaths and 13 serious injuries were between Ballard Rd and Taylor Rd.
The safety improvements will be completed in the 2017/2018 summer period.
“This announcement is part of the government’s Safer Roads and Roadsides programme which will see $600m invested over six years to prevent deaths and serious injuries on high-risk rural state highways over the next decade,” says Mr Macindoe.
The Safe Roads and Roadsides programme aims to prevent people from dying or being seriously injured on our rural roads. Around 1500km of rural state highways throughout the country will be made safer through relatively simple measures, such as rumble strips, shoulder widening, safety barriers, better signage and changes to speed limits.