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Latest Government News
25 November 2017, 11:01 amHousing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford has commissioned three of New Zealand’s leading experts to provide an independent stocktake of the housing crisis. “For too long, the previous Government refused to accept the housing crisis and establish the scale of the problem we face,” says Minister Twyford. “For instance, it was only once the Labour-led Government came to office that we learned MBIE’s official figures show a nationwide shortfall of 71,000 houses and that projections show house building would fall if not for KiwiBuild. “The previous government never acknowledged or accepted the official numbers, and also refused to accept its own official definition of homelessness. “Shamubeel Eaqub, Philippa Howden-Chapman, and Alan Johnson are among New Zealand’s foremost experts on housing. Their insight will be invaluable. “This report will provide an authoritative picture of the state of housing in New Zealand today, drawing on the best data available. It will put firm figures on homelessness, the state of the rental market, the decline of homeownership, and other factors in the housing crisis. “The Labour-led Government is already pushing ahead quickly with initiatives to make housing more affordable and healthy, including banning overseas speculators, passing the Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill, cancelling the state house selloff, and setting up KiwiBuild. This report will help the Government refine and focus that work where it is most needed. “I have instructed officials to provide the experts with any and all information they request. The years of spin and denial are over,” says Phil Twyford. The report will be due before Christmas. Note: Shamubeel Eaqub is a respected independent economist and commentator, and author of Generation Rent. Philippa Howden-Chapman is Professor of Public Health at Otago University. She has led groundbreaking research on the health impacts of cold, damp housing. Alan Johnson is Senior Policy Analyst for the Salvation Army and author of The Salvation Army's State of the Nation report, which highlights effects of the housing crisis.
24 November 2017, 2:23 pmMinister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker has confirmed that United Kingdom Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox will visit New Zealand between 25 and 28 November. “New Zealand and the United Kingdom enjoy a uniquely close and important friendship,” Mr Parker says. “We have long-standing and deep family connections. Our countries promote shared values and respect for international norms. We share extensive defence and security links, as well as significant business and investment ties. “New Zealand and the United Kingdom are both strong advocates for progressive and inclusive trade. We are important trading partners and have committed to laying the foundations for a UK-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement once the UK leaves the EU. “We welcome Secretary Fox’s visit as an opportunity to strengthen our close relationship at a time when the United Kingdom is seeking to reshape its relationships around the world following its decision to leave the European Union,” Mr Parker says. While in New Zealand, Secretary Fox will visit Auckland and Wellington, meeting with senior ministers and engaging with the business community.
23 November 2017, 12:21 pmFinance Minister Grant Robertson and Revenue Minister Stuart Nash today announced the Terms of Reference for the Tax Working Group and that the Group will be chaired by Sir Michael Cullen. “Our 100 Day Plan includes the establishment of a Tax Working Group. The Working Group will consider changes that would improve the structure, fairness and balance of the tax system,” says Grant Robertson. “This Government is committed to a fair and progressive tax system. It is important that New Zealanders have confidence in their tax system and know that everyone is paying their fair share.” “At the moment the tax system appears unfair – for example, it doesn’t treat income from speculation in housing as it does income from work. We want to consider how we can create a better balanced system and can encourage a shift to investment in the productive economy. “Individual wage-earners, businesses, asset owners and speculators should pay their fair share of tax. Right now we don’t think that is happening. This working group is not about increasing income tax or the rate of GST, but rather introducing more fairness across all taxpayers. “The Working Group will also consider how the tax system can contribute to positive environmental outcomes and the impact of likely changes to the economic environment, demographics, technology and employment practices over the next decade. “As former Minister of Finance from 1999 to 2008, Sir Michael’s credentials are impeccable and he will be a huge asset to the Working Group.” “The other members of the Working Group will be announced before Christmas. They will include a diverse range of tax and finance experts and representatives of the business and wider community. The Working Group will be supported by a secretariat of officials from Treasury and Inland Revenue and have an independent advisor to analyse the various sources of advice received,” says Stuart Nash. “Final recommendations to Ministers are expected by February 2019. As promised before the election, any significant changes legislated for from the Group’s final report will not come into force until the 2021 tax year. “It is important to ensure that all sectors of the New Zealand economy can feed into the Working Group’s processes and that all relevant perspectives are considered.” “As we promised during the election campaign, certain areas will be outside the scope of the review, including increasing any income tax rate, the rate of GST, inheritance tax and changes that would apply to the family home or land beneath it,” Grant Robertson says. “We also want to thank our government partners, the New Zealand First and Green parties, for their input and support of the Terms of Reference for this important piece of work on the future of our tax system. "This review is a core part of the government’s programme and I’m confident it will deliver recommendations that will enable us to put in place a tax system that is fair for all New Zealanders,” says Grant Robertson.
23 November 2017, 10:28 amThe New Zealand government is dismayed by the recent decision of Cambodian authorities to dissolve the country’s main opposition party, the Cambodian National Rescue Party, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says. “New Zealand is a long-standing partner of Cambodia, and this latest blow to Cambodia’s democracy is deeply concerning. “There is now a serious question over the legitimacy of Cambodia’s general election next year, in which Prime Minister Hun Sen will stand largely unchallenged,” Mr Peters says. “New Zealand calls on Prime Minister Hun Sen to urgently restore freedom of expression and political choice for the people of Cambodia.” The dissolution of the Cambodian National Rescue Party is the latest in a series of concerning actions in the country, including the ongoing detention of the Cambodian National Rescue Party’s leader, Kem Sokha. Contact: Stephen Parker 021 195 3528
22 November 2017, 2:39 pmHealth Minister Hon Dr David Clark says today’s official opening of a new medical centre in Auckland emphasises the vital role of Primary Care in the New Zealand health system. Dr Clark says the new Beachlands Medical Centre demonstrates the value of keeping healthcare close to the people who use it. Dr Clark grew up in the area, and he and his family were patients of the Beachlands practice. “As a former patient in this practice, I benefitted from the care and expertise of the healthcare professionals who worked there. Now as Minister of Heath, it’s been my privilege to return to open a new facility which will benefit thousands of residents.” Beachlands is a fast growing area of Auckland and the practice currently has an enrolled population of 5900 patients. “The practice has been proactive in anticipating future demand in the area. I want to praise the initiative of the current leaders of this practice for their foresight in taking out a new lease, and then to design and fit out premises around it. “As a result of this forward thinking, today we see a state-of-the-art medical centre, pharmacy, physio practice, lab testing, specialist rooms, podiatrist, psychologist and soon a dentist, all in one place. “It’s making it really easy for people to get to see the range of services they need to.” Dr Clark also praised the role of Beachlands in being a pilot practice for several mental health initiatives with the Counties Manukau District Health Board. It holds a monthly clinical meeting with a DHB psychiatrist and team, along with its own GPs and nurses. The DHB psychiatrist can also consult patients in practice rooms. Additionally, Beachlands is part of a new CMDHB initiative with both Te Rawhiti (adult) and Whirinaki (child and adolescent) mental health nurses being in the practice to consult, advise and integrate care better alternate fortnights. “Beachlands Medical Centre demonstrates the key role primary care plays in both physical and mental health,” says Dr Clark. BACKGROUND The Beachlands Medical Centre facility opened for business in August and represents the merger of two previous practices, Maraetai and Beachlands. It is one of nine pilot practices working in a collaborative model with CMDHB and its four PHOs to redesign the way general practice delivers its services. The practice is a member of East Health Trust Primary Health Organisation and has eight GPs, eight practice nurses, four receptionists and a practice manager.