Rules reduction task force launched

October 21, 2014

Local Government Minister Paula Bennett has launched the Rules Reduction initiative, opening the way for people to submit examples of property regulations and local rules that don’t make sense.

“People can now head to http://www.govt.nz/rulesreduction, to start telling us what bugs them when it comes to loopy rules and regulations,” says Mrs Bennett.

“I’m also pleased to announce the Rules Reduction Taskforce will be jointly chaired by Jacqui Dean MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary for Local Government, and Michael Barnett ONZM, Chief Executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce.

“Both Jacqui and Michael bring with them a strong understanding of the local government and business sectors and will be well placed to guide the Taskforce in its work to cut red tape.

The remaining members of the Taskforce will be appointed within the next month, and will include central and local government experts, and specialists from the building and trades sector, with further announcements to come on the timeline for the Taskforce’s work.

“I’m asking property owners, builders, tradespeople and businesses who have experienced the issues caused by irrelevant or unnecessary regulations, to help draw these to our attention,” says Mrs Bennett.

The information gathered will inform the Taskforce, which will consider submissions and ultimately recommend any necessary changes.

“Central and local government need regulations which are effective, and help get the job done – not get in the way. Regulations that frustrate property owners and business people also suck up councils’ precious resources in administration time and effort.”

“We need to hear from New Zealanders about examples that have got in the way of their building, renovation, landscaping, and home improvement plans, so that we can cut the red tape where it needs to be cut, to help them get on with the job.”

The submission form can be filled out online at http://www.govt.nz/rulesreduction

Facebook (facebook.com/cutredtapenz) and Twitter (twitter.com/CutRedTapeNZ) will be used to spread the word and encourage submissions via the online form to the Taskforce.

When we were altering our home last year, our builder told us he reckoned legislation, most of which was unnecessary had added about $20,000 to the cost of a new home.

Some rules are necessary for safety’s sake and to protect people from shoddy standards.

But this task force should have no shortage of rules which at least need to be simplified and probably could be done away with altogether.

And building won’t be the only area where fewer rules could reduce costs without causing any harm.


New Cabinet announced

October 6, 2014

Prime Minister John Key has announced the Cabinet for his third term:


“There is a lot of work ahead to continue implementing our plans to build a stronger economy, reduce debt and create more jobs,” Mr Key says.

“The new Ministry builds on the experience of the past two terms in office, and combines experience with some fresh talent.

“A number of Ministers have had significant portfolio changes, reflecting the need to give Ministers new challenges as well as providing a fresh set of eyes in some portfolio areas.”

Mr Key says a number of Ministers have been promoted either to the front bench, or further up the front bench, to reflect their strong performance in recent years and their promise for the future.

“Paula Bennett has been promoted to number five in the rankings, and picks up State Services, Social Housing and Associate Finance in addition to retaining her Local Government portfolio.

“Dr Jonathan Coleman becomes Minister of Health, and also picks up the Sport and Recreation portfolio, which will link nicely together.

“Amy Adams and Simon Bridges are promoted to the front bench, both with significant new responsibilities. Ms Adams becomes Justice Minister and Mr Bridges Transport Minister.

“Christopher Finlayson remains Treaty Negotiations Minister and Attorney-General, while picking up significant new responsibilities in the intelligence area. He becomes Minister in Charge of the NZ Security Intelligence Service and Minister Responsible for the GCSB, working closely with me in my new role as Minister for National Security and Intelligence.

“In this role I will continue to be responsible for leading the national security system, including policy settings and the legislative framework. Mr Finlayson will operate within the framework I set and exercise ministerial oversight of the NZSIS and GCSB, including approval of warrants.

“Officials have examined models used overseas and what we are adopting is very similar to what is seen with our closest partners.

“Housing continues to be a key area of focus for the Government, and a Ministerial team of Bill English, Paula Bennett and Nick Smith has been assembled to lead that work. Mr English will have direct responsibility for Housing New Zealand; Ms Bennett will focus on social housing, while Dr Smith will work on housing affordability and construction issues. The Social Housing portfolio will have responsibility for the government’s social housing functions, and for its relationship with the social housing sector.

Other changes include:

Gerry Brownlee becomes Minister of Defence, while retaining the role of Leader of the House and his Canterbury Earthquake Recovery and EQC portfolios.

Anne Tolley becomes Minister for Social Development.

Dr Nick Smith becomes Minister for the Environment.

Nikki Kaye becomes Minister for ACC.

Michael Woodhouse becomes Minister of Police. He also becomes Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety – a new portfolio title to reflect the modern focus of what had previously been the Labour portfolio.

Jo Goodhew becomes Minister for Food Safety.

Mr Key says, in announcing his new line up, three new Ministers will be appointed. Maggie Barry is to go straight into Cabinet as Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Minister of Conservation and Minister for Senior Citizens. Louise Upston and Paul Goldsmith will be Ministers outside Cabinet holding a variety of portfolios.

“Two ministers previously outside Cabinet have been promoted to Cabinet. Todd McClay will be Minister of Revenue and Minister for State Owned Enterprises, while Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga will be Minister of Corrections, Minister for Ethnic Communities and Minister for Pacific Peoples.

“Craig Foss remains a Minister, but will now serve outside Cabinet as Minister for Small Business, Minister of Statistics and Minister of Veteran’s Affairs.

“Chester Borrows will not be appointed to the new Ministry. He will, however, be National’s nominee for Deputy Speaker, and I want to thank Chester for his service as a Minister,” Mr Key says.

A number of Ministers continue largely in their current portfolio responsibilities. These include Steven Joyce in Economic Development, Hekia Parata in Education, Murray McCully in Foreign Affairs, Nathan Guy in Primary Industries, Tim Groser in Trade and Climate Change, and Nicky Wagner in Customs.

“The support party Ministerial and Under Secretary roles have already been announced, but I want to acknowledge again their contribution to the formation of a strong, stable National-led Government.”

Mr Key says the National Caucus will meet tomorrow (Tuesday 7 October) to elect its three whips for the coming parliamentary term.

The new Ministry will be sworn in at Government House in Wellington at 11am on Wednesday morning.

The list of names, positions and rankings is here.

 


Nats aim for 25% reduction in beneficiaries

September 18, 2014

A re-elected National Government will reduce the number of people on welfare by 25 per cent, with a series of new initiatives to support beneficiaries into work.

“We’re making a difference with stronger expectations and greater support. The plan we’ve set out today allows us to take the next steps to get more New Zealanders off welfare and into work,” says National Party Social Development spokesperson Paula Bennett.

“National is focused on building a stronger economy and creating opportunities for more jobs and higher wages. Jobseekers are in the best position in years to take advantage of New Zealand’s economic growth. We’ll be supporting them with our investment approach and targeting more resources earlier to those who need the most help.

“We will reduce the total number of people receiving a benefit by 75,000 by 2017, including reducing the total number of young people aged between 16 and 24 on benefit by 40 per cent, or around 21,000 people.

“Our aim is to bring benefit numbers down from 295,000 to 220,000 people over the next three years.

“These are ambitious targets, but they are realistic and achievable. Since December 2010, nearly 60,000 people have come off welfare, and over the past two years 30,000 children have gone from living in a benefit-dependent home to a working one.”

Our plan includes:

Offering incentive payments for beneficiaries who stay in work for a set period of time.

Offering more childcare support by expanding our Flexible Childcare pilot.

Making first-time Work and Income assessments more comprehensive so people are directed to the right sort of support from the very start. 

“Our target of a 40 per cent reduction of young people on benefit is a bold one, but 53,000 young people aged between 16 and 24 on welfare is too many for a country with prospects like ours,” says Mrs Bennett.

“We have already announced the expansion of our Youth Service to all teen parents and many 18 and 19 years olds. We’re going to put a similar focus on young people aged between 20 and 24 with a series of new measures, so they get the same level of attention as younger beneficiaries.”  

New initiatives for young people include:

Exploring a trial where iwi administer welfare payments to young people, similar to the Youth Service.

Helping young people get driver’s licences.

Expanding the successful $3k to Christchurch scheme to other regions needing energetic and motivated workers.

Investigating a regional Work Skills scheme to get young people on benefit working in the community.

“We’ve already seen welfare numbers dropping by the thousands, and it’s important to keep our foot on the pedal,” says Mrs Bennett.

“We have a comprehensive and ambitious plan for New Zealanders on welfare who, with the right support from a re-elected National Government, can get into meaningful work that helps them and their families get ahead,” she says.

 The welfare policy is here.

One of the stark differences between National and the parties on the left is the determination to help those who can work to do so.

The facts are irrefutable – getting people from welfare to work is the best way out of poverty.

Reducing welfare dependency pays both social and economic dividends for the people involved and the country.

 


Two killed at WINZ office

September 1, 2014

Two people are dead and another seriously injured after being shot in the Ashburton WINZ office:

 

. . . A balaclava-clad man carrying a sawn-off shotgun entered the Work and Income office on the corner of Cass and Moore streets and fired several shots before fleeing on a bike.

The gunman was last seen heading towards the Ashburton river. Shots have reportedly been heard since coming from the river. 

A source told Fairfax Media that one person was shot dead on site and another died at Ashburton Hospital.

Police confirmed that two people had been killed and the third person was in hospital. . . .

This is firstly a tragedy for those who died, their family friends and workmates.

It is also a shock for the community and other public servants:

Ashburton District Mayor Angus McKay said he felt “weak at the knees” when he heard about the shooting at the town’s Work and Income office.

“Ashburton is not this kind of town,” he said.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett called it “an extreme situation and tragedy”, adding that all resources were going into looking after WINZ staff.

She was travelling down to the town this afternoon.

Public Service Association (PSA) said the shooting was a tragedy and nobody should go to work in fear that they might not return home. 

PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff said “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragedy,”

“We don’t know what the cause is, but we will be supporting our members from Ashburton Work and Income at this terrible time. . . .

This has already been used for political point scoring on Twitter.

It shouldn’t be.

No political views justify killing innocent people at work.

It’s a tragedy.


Work best way out of poverty trap

September 1, 2014

Welfare has a place for people who can never support themselves and others who, for a variety of reasons, need temporary help.

But it’s a safety net that can turn into a poverty trap.

The best way out of that trap, and the best answer to poverty, is work which is why National has put so much effort, and so many resources, into helping those who can help themselves to do so.

The policy is working for the people going off benefits on to work and its working for New Zealand by reducing the long term economic and social costs of welfare dependency and poverty which comes with it.
Clearly, our policies are #working4nz.


Campaign opening the right way

August 25, 2014

The National Party campaign opening attracted around 2,500 members.

John Key asked us to thank all of you who came along to help make our 2014 campaign launch a stunning success today. Over 2500 of you joined us in the heartland of South Auckland to keep #TeamKey working for New Zealand. Thank you.

When I arrived the crowd was enjoying the music of Lapi Mariner and his band and teenage MC Lavana Seuala had us hanging on his every word.

He welcomed Social development Minister Paula Bennett who went through the accomplishments of the last six years which clearly drew the dots between head and heart.

National has taken tough decisions because it cares about improving the lives of the most vulnerable and knows that helping people move from welfare to work is best for them, their families and the country.

Lavana then welcomed Deputy leader and Finance Minister Bill English who reminded us of the importance of careful financial management and paid tribute to Prime Minister John Key.

Then it was the PM’s turn.

Such was the rapturous reception he got, it took him about five minutes to get to the stage and twice that to get back out.

He began his speech by saying how good it was to be in South Auckland.

 Doesn’t it feel great to be launching National’s election campaign here in the heartland of South Auckland?

We’re the party that’s working for New Zealand.

We’re the government that’s delivering results.

The economy’s growing.

Wages are rising.

Benefit numbers are dropping.

Crime rates are falling.

More elective surgery is being done in public hospitals.

And this year, after all we’ve been through as a country, I’m proud to say that the Government’s books will be back in the black.

On top of all that, my sense is that New Zealand has become a much more assured and more optimistic country.

A multicultural and more vibrant country – one that’s increasingly comfortable in its own skin.

I think back to 2008, when every month a net 3,000 people were leaving New Zealand for Australia.

Do you know what that figure was last month?

It was 80.

Rather than a stadium full of people leaving for Australia, it’s now more like a busload.

Because people know in their hearts and in their heads that New Zealand is moving in the right direction.

So the choice in this election is clear.

It’s between strong and stable leadership that’s delivering the benefits of a growing economy.

Or a group of parties that can’t agree with each other.

It’s between policies that are getting real results for New Zealand families.

Or a reversal of everything that’s working.

A choice between a government careful with your money.

Or parties whose election promises already add up to $28 billion and who want to tax you more to pay for them.

I know what I choose.

But I have to tell you that under MMP anything is possible.

Despite being low in the polls, it’s still possible for Labour to cobble together a government with the Greens, Dotcom and others, because that’s how the maths might work.

So everyone who wants National to lead the next government has to get out there on September 20 and party vote National.

They should have total confidence in doing that.

I lead a government that knows what it’s doing, and knows where it’s going.

I’m unashamedly positive for New Zealand.

I back New Zealanders to get ahead.

In the next 27 days I’m going to keep doing what I’ve done for the last six years – be relentlessly focused on what’s best for New Zealand.

I think we’ve got a great future ahead of us but we can take nothing for granted.

In 27 days from now, New Zealanders have the chance to lock in our plan for another three years.

In doing so, they’ll be voting for higher wages, more jobs and more growth.

Today is the official start of our campaign.

We’ve already announced some of our election policies.

These reinforce the approach we’ve always taken – supporting the most vulnerable, helping families, and staying tough on people who don’t follow the rules.

We’re cracking down on gangs that do so much harm.

We’ve set a target to reduce the crime rate even further.

We’ve released a policy I feel very strongly about, because it affects so many families at a difficult time.

We know the anguish people go through when their loved ones are in their final days and weeks – and we want to do our best to support them.

So we’ve made a commitment to increase funding for hospices by $20 million a year.

And let’s not forget – we’re the Party that funded the breast cancer drug Herceptin and, as a result, 1,100 women have got this treatment.

We’re also committing more to education.

We’re putting aside $350 million to build nine new schools in Auckland, with three earmarked for here in South Auckland.

Education is a huge focus for this government, and for me personally.

It’s the real opportunity we have to achieve generational change in the fortunes of New Zealand children and families.

We’re already seeing clear progress.

More kids are leaving school with at least NCEA Level 2, and I’m pleased to say the biggest lift in achievement has come from Pasifika students.

But we’re doing a lot more.

Earlier this year I announced a $359 million package of policies to do two things – to keep the best teachers in the classroom, and to get principals and teachers working together to raise student achievement across the board.

Because that’s what makes the biggest difference for our young people.

That, and getting them into work.

Under this government, the number of teenagers who are not working and not in education is heading towards a record low.

We’re working hard to expand the training opportunities available for young people, including Trades Academies and more apprenticeships.

Teen parents and other young beneficiaries now have a responsible adult alongside them.

That person makes sure they are in education or getting a job, have the support they’re often lacking from a parent, and are paying their bills.

And I can tell you that since 2009, the number of teen parents on a benefit has dropped by 40 per cent.

We’re going to announce more policies this election.

And you know from National that everything will be carefully considered and fiscally prudent.

Taken together, our policies won’t come anywhere near the big spending that Labour and the Greens have committed to.

I think New Zealanders can see that for what it is.

The country has yet to post a surplus but already our opponents are promising the earth to get elected.

They haven’t learnt from the past.

In its last five years, the previous Labour government increased its spending by 50 per cent.

The pressure this put on the economy helped drive mortgage rates up to almost 11 per cent.

That was tough for home owners.

But that’s not all.

Under the previous Labour government, house prices rose faster in New Zealand than in any other developed country.

In fact house prices doubled over Labour’s nine years.

No wonder home ownership is now more difficult for young Kiwis.

National values home ownership.

That’s because it provides stability for families, strength for communities and security in retirement.

So it’s important for young people to get their foot on the ladder, and into their first home.

We’ve been tackling this issue head on.

For a start, can I tell you that one of the best ways the Government can support more New Zealanders into home ownership is by helping to keep interest rates lower for longer.

We’re doing that by carefully controlling our spending and sticking with sensible monetary policy.

We are also working to increase the amount of land available for new houses, and to get those houses built.

We’re setting up housing accords with local councils to free up more land.

We’ve already signed accords with Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Western Bay of Plenty and Tauranga.

And the latest figures show building activity up 16 per cent over just one quarter.

There are also other things the Government is doing to help people get into their own home. . .

The PM then went on to announce policy to help more first-home buyers onto the property ladder.

Home ownership provides stability for families, strength for communities and security in retirement, that’s why I’ve just announced that we’re going to help 90,000 first home buyers into a house of their own over the next five years. ntnl.org.nz/1BQ94dK #Working4NZ

Details of the policy are here.

We’re doubling the support for first home buyers with KiwiSaver HomeStart Grants of up to $10,000 – or a total of $20,000 for a couple – for those purchasing a newly-built home. ntnl.org.nz/1BQ94dK #Working4NZ

When the alarm went off at 5am yesterday I wondered why I was going all the way to Auckland for such a short time.

On the 3 1/2 hour drive to Christchurch I wondered again.

But once there, any doubts I had were dispelled.

It was amazing to be part of such a positive and buoyed up crowd of people who are in the party for the right reasons and are working with the MPs and candidates to help return National for three more years so it can keep working for New Zealand.

It was good to be reminded of what matters and that National has such a strong caucus and line-up of candidates who are focussing on that.
Campaign launch

And it’s not only members who recognise the party’s strengths.

The taxi driver who took me from the airport was a Pacific Islander.

He said his people had traditionally voted Labour but that was changing as they recognised that National’s values and policies were better for them.


Budget Advice boost

August 22, 2014

A lot of people don’t know how to budget and it’s not only those on low incomes who find their expenditure is too close, or even in excess, of their income.

That’s what makes budget advice such an important service and thanks to a boost in funding, more people will be able to get help.

Budgeting services now have the opportunity to apply for extra funding to support their work with low income New Zealanders, with a $2 million funding round open for applications. 

“Budgeting services work alongside some of the most vulnerable people in the community, providing the advice and financial skills they need to get ahead, and stay out of debt,” says Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

“The Government is committed to supporting this work, and in Budget 2014 we announced a $22 million boost for budgeting service providers over the next four years.”

The application process is now open for $2 million in funding, which is intended to support groups who are unfunded or facing demand pressures, and will include organisations not currently supported by the Ministry of Social Development.

Of the funding, $500,000 will be targeted at providers focused on helping people get access to early intervention and using innovative techniques in the work they do.

“Non-government organisations understand communities and the challenges they face like no one else, and budgeting services do an incredible job helping people managing on low incomes get the tools and support they need,” Mrs Bennett said.

“This funding also complements last week’s launch of the Community Finance lending scheme, which will provide low and no-interest loans to people at risk of unethical lending by loan sharks.”

“The Government is standing alongside vulnerable New Zealanders, and the extra funding for budgeting services will help people and families most in need access advice and information to help them build better lives.” 

More information and application details are available here.

This is another example of helping people help themselves and will be money well-spent.

 

 

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,401 other followers

%d bloggers like this: