Anne Tolley’s valedictory

July 24, 2020

National MP Anne Tolley delivered her valedictory speech last night:

 

Hon ANNE TOLLEY (Deputy Speaker—National): I stand here as the 74th woman to be elected to the New Zealand House of Representatives, and I want to begin tonight by recalling when I stood to deliver my maiden speech and acknowledging, in particular, my granddaughter Madeleine. She was here then, just months old, and she turns 21 this October. So for her whole life, her grandma has been a member of Parliament.

She came with a busload from Napier, all pretty excited as it was about 50 years since Napier had had a National MP, and she’s here today, with my extremely supportive family. My son Heath and his wife, Cathy, and—I can’t see the little granddaughters; oh, yes—Cassandra and Alexis. My daughter Imogen—mother of Madeleine—and my grandson, Joshua. My husband, Allan, of course—and I’ll come back to him. My London-based daughter, Andrea, who’s watching and is with us in spirit—and goodness only knows how long it’s going to be before I can give her a hug. My mother, who is in a rest home in Havelock North—and I hope she’s got the channel right. My sisters, Kate and Bronwyn; my sister-in-law, Miranda; my cousin; and my niece and nephew. They’ve all put up with years of my political career: the good, the bad, and a little bit of the ugly.

In 2002, as a list MP, I lost my seat. I went out into the private sector, and Tony Ryall and Simon Power convinced me to try to win the East Coast electorate. I was selected as the candidate in late December 2007, and took off for a last Christmas holiday to Lake Waikaremoana with my family. Well, come Boxing Day, and Tony Ryall’s on the phone. He had started a campaign for me to save the eastern bay rescue helicopter, and poor old Robyn Watchorn—who worked for Tony before her 15 years for me—was in the office on Boxing Day, faxing petitions to all the local businesses, and for the younger members of Parliament, faxes are things that look like phones that print out at the end. It was a great introduction to the relentless work ethic expected of an MP, and that family will take second place.

I’ve been very lucky to have support from my husband, Allan. To win the East Coast seat, we had to move to Gisborne. We had to leave Napier, where Allan and I had both grown up, met, wed, and raised our family. All our friends were there, and all the contacts and influence that we’d built up over the years. What an enormous sacrifice that was that Allan was prepared to make for me, and I will always be so grateful.

After almost eight years, he’d just settled down, and I then moved him again as the electorate moved across into the Bay of Plenty. Thank you, Allan—you’ve been a great partner and supporter throughout my political career.

I want to thank also my electorate chairs, Pat Seymour and Wayne Marriott. They ran the local party machine, they kept me out and about, they paid the bills, they kept up the support base and the volunteers, and they play a huge role in the life and times of an electorate MP.

I’ve been fortunate to have incredible staff, both in my electorate and in the ministerial offices, and some of them are here with me tonight. Thank you, Robyn Watchorn. What an extraordinary woman she is. She was recently honoured for her outstanding community work over many years, she is a talented artist who made our commemorative camellia broaches that all the women wear so proudly, and, as I say, she’s worked in my Whakatāne office for 15 years. Caroline Taylor worked in the Gisborne office for over 10 years. Sharron Wilson was in both Te Puke and Gisborne, and Shirley Whitwell in the Kawerau office—I don’t know where they are; they’re in different places—Carolyn Meihana in Murupara; Amanda Hillary in Wellington; and Marie Rolls and Grace Hickson and Wendy Tozer. Thank you for all your help and dedication over the years. I really couldn’t have managed without any of you, and it’s great to have so many of you here tonight.

As a Minister, I was also blessed with great staff, and two in particular were with me almost entirely throughout my ministerial life: Michelle Morehu and Gillon Carruthers. Michelle came first as a receptionist, but took over as my senior private secretary within months and continued almost until the last, and, boy, she ran my life. She was outstanding, and I quickly forgave her for the fact that she had previously worked for Clayton Cosgrove.

Gillon managed my media team and, I guess, presented my life, and his advice kept me out of trouble on more than one occasion. Our greatest challenge was probably the riot and subsequent fire at Spring Hill prison—a corrections Minister’s worst nightmare. But with Gillon’s management, Ray Smith and I stood shoulder to shoulder and dealt with the media and the unions, recognising the enormous bravery of our staff, but never showing for a moment in public how dangerous the situation really was—so much so that many of my colleagues hardly even remembered there had been a riot.

There were several other staff in my office who spent some time in my office, and I was always pleased when they went on to successful careers and I hoped that I had been able to contribute in some small way to their successes. Gareth Richards, Monique Lepine, Stephen Jones, Maggie Beaumont, Antony Harvey, Ashley Murchison, Zach Castles, Cameron Olderfield, and Ashleigh Muir—thank you sincerely. To those who came from the State agencies to work with me, at times I made their jobs difficult, I accept. They were often caught between what a Minister wants and what the agency can or is willing to deliver. But, without exception, I valued their expertise and knowledge and I thank them for all their help.

I’ve had an amazing career as both junior and senior whip, as a Minister, and as a Deputy Speaker, and I want to acknowledge and thank my chief executives: Karen Sewell from the Ministry of Education, Graham Stoop from the Education Review Office, Peter Marshall and Mike Bush—who’s with us tonight—from the New Zealand Police, Ray Smith—who’s also here—from the Department of Corrections, Julie Reid in the Serious Fraud Office, Brendan Boyle from the Ministry of Social Development, and Grainne Moss from Oranga Tamariki. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have worked with you all such highly competent professionals, and I’m delighted that some of you have been able to come tonight. I think we accomplished much together.

Thank you to all the people that make Parliament work: the Parliamentary Service and staff—and I see Raf up the back there—the hard-working House staff, all the people in the Clerk’s Office—David, you and your team that support presiding officers—and especially thanks to the VIP Transport Service men and women, with whom I’ve probably spent more time than with my husband. They’ve all looked after me so well over the years.

But as I consider my life and my time in Parliament in its closing days, I am reminded of the meaning of the word “politics”. From the Greek “polis”, meaning “city”, comes the Greek word “politēs”, meaning “citizen”, and I’m sure that if Chris Finlayson was here tonight, he’d correct my pronunciation. But, in other words, it’s all about people. When I look back on my career, the moments and the highlights that defined my time are the people, and I thought I’d share with you tonight some of those people.

I remember well the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of parents who contacted me about national standards. They talked to me in airports, they talked to me on aeroplanes, they talked to me in cafes and restaurants, they emailed me, they faxed me, and they phoned me, and all with the same story: “If only we had known earlier, if only the school had told us, if only the teacher had said to us that our son or daughter was falling behind, couldn’t read properly, had no grasp of maths, or was really struggling to keep up with the basics, instead of telling us that they added value to the class, were delightful personalities, or were good participants.” They said, “If only we had known, we could have helped them and got them extra assistance. Instead, we only found out that our child was way behind when they started at high school, and then they told us, and then it was way too late.”

As education Minister, I negotiated the trades academies, which enabled young people to begin their trades qualifications while still at high school. Years later, my own grandson raved to me about his own experience with the trades academy. I knew that too many of these kids who learnt by making things—kinetic learners, they call them—were finding school irrelevant and, with the global financial crisis upon us, would struggle and drift into unemployment or, worse, into gang life. I remember taking PM John Key to the Whakatāne-based academy, where we met a large group of excited but very focused young people, and two stood out for John and me. They came from way up the coast. They left home at about 5 a.m. to ride—possibly a horse—down to catch the bus to Whakatāne, which was over three hours away. They told us they were still in school only because of that day, Friday, in the trades academy. Of course, that huge trip was repeated at the end of the day. I know one of those boys. He secured an apprenticeship at the end of that year and is working locally in Whakatāne to this day.

As corrections Minister, I took an enormous risk and OK’d the Rimutaka Prison taking part in Wellington on a Plate. Martin Bosley was the chef who sought that approval and over the years has been joined by a number of well-known chefs, and the prison event is one of the most popular. But I remember going out into the kitchen that first night and talking to a man who, with a real light in his eye, told me that in his whole life he had never been good at anything. But he had found that he could cook, and a famous chef had told him that he was talented and would help him find a job when he got out. Martin and many others did find jobs for some of these men who did have talents and have supported many of them on their release.

I also remember visiting a prison that had just started a puppy training programme where the prisoners took care of the initial training of the puppies. You know, they did the toilet training, the walking on a lead—basic things—before their intensive training started as assist dogs. I remember talking to this enormous man. He was huge. He was covered in tattoos. He was a real fierce-looking dude. He wouldn’t meet my eye, because many of them wouldn’t, of course. But I did ask him had he had dogs previously, and he nodded. I said to him, “Were they fighting dogs?” And he nodded. Then this great big fierce man bent down and picked up this little puppy, this golden Labrador ball of fluff, and with this gooey look on his face tucked it into his neck and told me that Daisy had scratched at the door to go out to the toilet for the first time the night before. That programme was about teaching empathy to people whose past crimes showed little evidence of it, and I saw that in his face that day, and I knew that the programme had made a difference.

Of course, I loved being Minister of Police. We are so lucky in New Zealand with our police because they’re so professional, and they’re not only law enforcers but they’re social workers and mental health workers all at the same time. I was so proud to be their Minister. The work my colleague Amy Adams and I began with the whole-of-Government response to family violence was led by a passionate policewoman, Tusha Penny. I well remember her recounting the story of a woman whose history of abuse was only really uncovered by agencies when they finally sat down together and began sharing her information, especially ACC—because this woman was extremely accident prone. She’d managed to shut her own fingers in car doors on several occasions. She’d had a car engine drop on her feet, breaking toes, twice. She’d spilled boiling water over herself, had fallen down stairs, and walked into doors numerous times. She’d come to the attention of the police and then the family harm group as a low to medium risk of harm. But with the full knowledge of her past injuries and violent experiences, she was immediately moved to extreme risk, with huge support and assistance provided for the first time ever. This woman I remember I never met, I never knew her name, but I know we saved her life.

I want to mention two young people from Child, Youth and Family, which is now Oranga Tamariki, and everyone who knows me understands my lifelong determination to make sure that these, the most vulnerable children in our communities, are safe and are able to thrive if they have to be in State care to keep them safe from harm. I finally grabbed the opportunity to address the system that was failing them so badly, despite the very best of intentions. You can only do that by talking to the people who live under that system and experience it. So I set up an advisory group of young people who had either been in State care or who were still in State care.

The first young man’s story didn’t actually have a happy ending. He was just 14 going on 15 when he came into my office. He was sullen. He was cynical of the process, and he was a little over-awed, and all of those three at once. Next thing, he’d run away from his foster home. But he turned up to see me at the Gisborne A & P show. I think he’d been with cousins up the coast. With encouragement, he returned to Wellington and he came alive around the table when we started discussing youth justice services, because he knew about them. He’d had a lot of experience of them. His contribution was invaluable and insightful, and I was so grateful to the officials that listened to him and made changes accordingly. Sadly, I know that this wasn’t enough to make up for everything else that had damaged him.

But one of that group, a bright, intelligent, and determined young woman, took every opportunity to contribute to the redesign process. She came along to Parliament and she sat up here and she watched the lawmaking process when she could, because she was at university studying to be a social worker. I ran into her a year ago at a local school. She had a very successful career. She was highly respected. As we hugged, I knew her eyes were on not only her future but the future of the people she was bringing up behind her. I wish her all the best.

Finally, it’s been a huge honour to represent the East Coast electorate for 15 years—so many wonderful people; such a rich and diverse cultural and social electorate. Many people have crossed my path in that time. I’ve been lucky to work with some great mayors, and we’ve dealt, through the office, with some characters, with some tragedies, but, mainly, with some wonderful, hard-working, innovative, and generous locals.

But my best memory is of Bruce, whose kidneys were slowly dying. He came to me in great distress, not for himself but for his wife. He was still able to have his dialysis at home, but his wife’s health was deteriorating, and the strain on her was overwhelming. In those days, in Gisborne, when it was no longer possible for home-based dialysis, people had to move away. They had to move to Hawke’s Bay or to the Waikato. Bruce was really worried that his wife would have to leave her home, all her family and friends, and all the support and be alone over in Waikato looking after him. So, with the help of a generous Minister of Health, the Hon Tony Ryall, we built a dialysis unit in Gisborne Hospital, and I visited Bruce there several times. In fact, he had a picture of him and I on his coffin. He was always happy to see me, he always had a big smile on his face, and he always thanked me that his wife was able to be well-supported in her home as his health slowly deteriorated. He was a lovely, lovely man and a loving husband, right to the end.

Over these past three years, I’ve met many people from across the world, focusing particularly on increasing the number of women in decision-making roles, especially in the Pacific. Thank you, Mr Speaker, for giving me these opportunities. I also chaired an amazing committee on your behalf developing a code of conduct for the entire New Zealand Parliament, and I met and talked with staff, unions, officials, media, and MPs over the past almost 12 months. Anybody who works here or out in our electorate and community offices has the right to feel safe and respected. It’s a tough environment—we all understand that—but that’s no excuse for some of the behaviour that we know takes place. I spoke with staff who were genuinely frightened to come to work at times. I spoke with MPs who were bullied by colleagues and tolerated sexual harassment as part of the job. None of them had any expectations that something could be done about such behaviour. Well, that is simply unacceptable.

We didn’t manage to negotiate a full code of conduct with consequences—unfortunately, the COVID lockdown impacted on our time. But we did report back to you, Mr Speaker, seven statements of expectations of behaviour. They’re very simple. Let me go through them: to show that bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, are unacceptable; to act respectfully and professionally; to foster an environment where people feel safe and valued; to behave fairly and genuinely, treating others the way we would like to be treated; to use our position of power or influence to help others and avoid harm; and to speak up if we observe unacceptable behaviour. I sincerely hope everyone in the next Parliament commits to these expectations, because—I tell you what—the public expects nothing less.

As I leave this wonderful place, my heart is full of all these people that I’ve had the great privilege to work for and with. I’m confident I, along with all the people I’ve mentioned tonight, have touched the lives of many and made a difference for the better, and that’s what politics is all about.

This is the hard part, because tonight I only have one regret. My father attended my maiden speech after the 1999 election. We sat together every election night, watching and analysing the results, and he came to Wellington every time I was sworn in as a Minister. But he’s not here at the finish, and that’s a big gap in my life. I knew I’d cry, but I couldn’t leave him out, because he’s been such a big part of my political life.

So I say thank you to the National Party and to my caucus colleagues for your friendship and support over the years. As Deputy Speaker—sorry, I can’t read.

SPEAKER: You’re not meant to read anyway!

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: As Deputy Speaker, I’ve got to know and respect MPs right across the House—[Deputy Clerk hands over tissues]—thank you, Suze—and I thank you for the collegiality that breaks out every now and then, and I wish you all the best of luck in the September elections—some more than others, perhaps.

Thank you to my wonderful family for all their support and love, and I know that they are looking forward to not having a mother or a grandmother or a mother-in-law or a cousin or an aunt in politics. Allan, the good news is that I’ve dusted off the bucket list, but the bad news is that I’ve also found a to-do list. Kia ora tātou, everyone.

[Applause]

Waiata


Tania Tapsell Nat candidate for East Coast

June 7, 2020

Tania Tapsell has been selected as the National Party candidate for East Coast.

Tania is replacing current MP Anne Tolley who has held the seat for 15 years and is not seeking re-election but will be on the Party List. Tania is currently the Deputy Chairperson of the NZ Community Board Executive Committee.

“I’m very excited to be chosen as National’s candidate in East Coast. I’m looking forward meeting with the hard-working people across all parts of our electorate and helping to ensure we see a National Government come September 19,” Ms Tapsell says.

“New National Leader Todd Muller said it best – while we should take some pride in the way the country has come through the health crisis, we now face an unprecedented economic crisis that will require a different set of skills.

“East Coast is a diverse, beautiful electorate spanning from Te Puke through to Gisborne with farming, forestry, horticulture, fishing, manufacturing and tourism the backbone industries of our electorate.

“While the Government has talked big about funding from the Provincial Growth Fund, it has struggled to get these projects off the ground and generate the jobs that were predicted and needed. The people of East Coast work hard and they deserve a Government that will deliver on its promises and support it through these uncertain times.

“We need the values and experience of a National Government to help guide the East Coast, and the rest of New Zealand, out of this economic crisis.

“Todd Muller leads a strong, experienced team that can be counted on to deliver. I’m looking forward to campaigning hard to ensure East Coast continues to have strong National representation,” Ms Tapsell says.

Biographical Notes: Tania Tapsell

Tania Tapsell is currently the Deputy Chairperson of the NZ Community Board Executive Committee. She has been an elected Councillor for the past seven years and is Chairperson of the Council Operations Committee which oversees $1.2 billion in public assets. She has a passion for the environment and led the Council Sustainable Living Strategy.

Tania has a Bachelor of Management Studies Degree from the University of Waikato, diplomas in business and marketing, and is completing her Master of Management. 

Tania’s first career was in tourism and iwi organisations before she went on to work for BNZ Business Partners and then Deloitte.

Tania resides in Maketu where her Te Arawa iwi is from. Her great uncle Sir Peter Tapsell was an Eastern Māori MP and Speaker of the NZ House of Representatives.

Tania has achieved national titles in cross country and gymnastics and was selected for the NZ Maori U21 Touch team. Tania is engaged to Kanin and has an 8-year-old stepson.

While some in the media are still fixated on identity politics, Tania has been selected by party members in the electorate because she is the best person for the role.

National currently has five Maori electorate MPs, Labour has only two in general seats.

But what is more important than numbers is that National doesn’t do identity politics or tokenism. It attracts able and talented people of a variety of ethnicities who share the party’s vision of equal citizenship and equal opportunity.


National’s refreshed responsibilities

May 25, 2020

Todd Muller has announced the refreshed responsibilities for his MPs:

He has taken Small Business and National Security.

His deputy Nikki Kaye has Education and Sports and Recreation.

Amy Adams, who had announced her retirement, is staying on with responsibility for Covid-19 Recovery.

Judith Collins:  Economic Development, Regional Development, is Shadow Attorney-General and takes on Pike River Re-entry.

Paul Goldsmith keeps Finance and has responsibility for the Earthquake Commission.

Gerry Brownlee: Foreign Affairs, Disarmament; GCSB; NZSIS and Shadow Leader of House.

Michael Woodhouse keeps Health, is  Deputy Shadow Leader of the House and Associate Finance

Louise Upston: Social Development and Social Investment.

Mark Mitchell: Justice and Defence

Scott Simpson:  Environment, Climate Change and Planning (RMA reform)

Todd McCLay:Trade and Tourism

Chris Bishop has Infrastructure and Transport

Paula Bennett: Drug Reform and Women

Nicola Willis: Housing and Urban Development and Early Childhood Education

Jacqui Dean: Conservation

David Bennett: Agriculture

Shane Reti: Tertiary Skills and Employment,  Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Health

Melissa Lee: Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and Data and Cybersecurity

Andrew Bayly:  Revenue, Commerce, State Owned Enterprises and Associate Finance

Alfred Ngaro: Pacific Peoples, Community and Voluntary, and Children and Disability Issues

Barbara Kuriger: Senior Whip, Food Safety, Rural Communities

Jonathan Young:

Nick Smith:

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi:

Matt Doocey:

Jian Yang:

Stuart Smith:

Simon O’Connor:

Lawrence Yule: Local Government

Denise Lee:  Local Government (Auckland)

Anne Tolley: Deputy Speaker

Parmjeet Parmar:  Research, Science and Innovation

Brett Hudson:  Police, Government Digital Services

Stuart Smith: Immigration, Viticulture

Simeon Brown: Corrections, Youth, Associate Education

Ian McKelvie: Racing, Fisheries

Jo Hayes:  Whānau Ora, Māori Development

Andrew Falloon: Biosecurity, Associate Agriculture, Associate Transport

Harete Hipango: Crown Māori Relations, Māori Tourism

Matt King: Regional Development (North Island), Associate Transport

Chris Penk: Courts, Veterans

Hamish Walker Land Information, Forestry, Associate Tourism

Erica Stanford: Internal Affairs, Associate Environment, Associate Conservation

Tim van de Molen: Third Whip, Building and Construction

Maureen Pugh: Consumer Affairs, Regional Development (South Island), West Coast Issues

Dan Bidois: Workplace Relations and Safety

Agnes Loheni:  Associate Small Business, Associate Pacific Peoples

Paulo Garcia: Associate Justice

At the time of the announcement SImon Bridges was considering his future, he nas subsequently announced he will stay on in parliament and contest the Tauranga seat again.


Just say no

January 27, 2020

If National had ruled out a deal with New Zealand First three years ago, would the latter have got less than five per cent of the vote and the former still be leading the government?

We’ll never know.

But we do know that around half the people who voted for NZ First hoped the party would go with National and that a lot of them are still very unhappy Winston Peters chose Labour and the Green Party instead.

We also know that while Peters was supposedly negotiating in good faith he was also working on legal action against National’s deputy Paula Bennett and then-minister Ann Tolley.

That tells us, once again, that Peters can’t be trusted.

Simon Bridges has said he will announce well before the election whether or not National will rule out New Zealand First.

I hope he does say no to them which will make it quite clear to voters that a vote for that party is a vote for a Labour-led government.

There are risks.

In spite of their many criticisms of National not trying to win Epsom so that Act will get into parliament, Labour and New Zealand First could come to a similar arrangement in another seat in an attempt to secure an electorate for a New Zealand First candidate. If that worked, NZ First would not need to secure five percent of the vote to stay in parliament.

New Zealand First could get back, with or without an electorate,  and National could have too few seats to form a government without it and so be back in opposition.

But there are bigger risks in not ruling out New Zealand First.

It would send the message to voters that New Zealand First might go with National, even though the chances of that are very, very remote.

It would enable Peters to pretend he’ll listen to voters even though last time more opted for National than Labour.

It would give Peters the power he’s had too many times before to play the bigger parties off against each other and extract too high a price for putting them into government.

The worst day in government is supposed to be better than the best in opposition. But if the choice is government with Peters, I’d opt for opposition.

Tracy Martin says this year feels like the beginning of the end for Peters:

. . .So is it time to write Peters off?  Peters has cleverly played up his part as Labour’s handbrake, just as he once pitched himself as a bulwark against National’s extremes.  It’s how he has survived so long in politics – even after the “baubles of office'” fiasco, or Owen Glenn donations scandal.

But you can only play one side against the other for so long and it feels like Peters has played one too many hands.

So is the extraordinary Peters era coming to an end? He is our most familiar face on television; as recognisable as the theme tune to Coronation Street, as well worn as a pair of old slippers.

 But even soap operas eventually have their day.

National ruling out NZ First would make the end of the Peters soap opera much more likely.

Please, National,  just say no.


Political doesn’t have to get personal

December 11, 2019

The first editor I worked for kept telling his reporters, people sell papers.

He was encouraging us to get a personal angle on stories because people like to read about people and relate better to stories with people.

It’s advice that can apply to some aspects of politics. Those making policy should consider the impact it will have on people, not just those at whom the policy is aimed but those who it will affect, including those who will pay for it.

Like the editor, politicians know the power of the personal and use people, real or imagined, to sell their own policies and to criticise those of their opponents.

Personalising politics in that way should always be done with care. It can backfire, as it did when the couple paraded at the launch of one of the first KiwiBuild homes was found to be better off than many would consider in need of government assistance.

It can be tempting to turn a disagreement on issues and policies into personal attacks on the people promoting them, but it is a temptation best resisted, as should criticising people for carrying out their roles just because we don’t agree with their politics.

Regardless of whether we voted for her, regardless of whether we support her, the PM is the PM of New Zealand and acting as such, not as leader of the Labour Party, not as leader of the government, but leader of the country, in her response to the Whakaari/White Island tragedy.

Just as any recent Prime Minister, regardless of his or her political colour would have.

Just as Anne Tolley, is doing all  she can and should as the local MP.

People throwing mud at them over this should remember that it sticks to the hand that throws it and that attacking someone personally means, as Margaret Thatcher said, that the attacker has not a single political argument left.

 

 

 


What a waste

November 14, 2019

WInston Peters has accepted that then-Ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley did not leak the overpayment of his superannuation to the media.

However, his lawyer is still laying blame for the leak on the Ministry of Social Development.

Crown lawyer Victoria Casey QC gave her closing arguments this morning and argued that Winston Peters’ claim his privacy was breached “falls away entirely” when held up against the law. . .

Casey told Justice Venning the only question he needs to consider is whether her clients’ decision to brief their ministers under the “no surprises” convention breached a “reasonable expectation of privacy” and whether it was “highly offensive”.

“The questions is not does the court agree with these decisions to brief, or even whether the court has any reservations about the decisions to brief,” she said. . .

None of them establish whether there was a reasonable expectation in private facts. None of them establish that the communication from the chief executives to the ministers constitute highly offensive publication.

“Winston Peters could not have had a reasonable expectation public agencies with such information would not tell their ministers who have accountability to the House,” she said.

Casey also spoke of the high stakes for her clients, because these allegations go to the heart of their integrity.

She warned that if Peters’ complaints are upheld it would be “catastrophic” and career-ending for them.

“I ask the court to pay due attention to the chilling effect on the public sector and the reputational impact of even a passing comment by the High Court of the judgments exercised by these two senior public servants.

“I submit that it is appropriate that the court should exercise real caution before engaging in a review of matters that are beyond the scope of the pleaded claim,” she said. . .

What a waste of time, and public money this has been.

Peters has breached his own privacy and that of his partner by exposing them to a couple of weeks’ publicity that has done neither of them any credit.

And sadly while might have put some wavering voters off him and his party, it could also have confirmed the views of the deluded who support him that, in spite of the evidence to the contrary that this is a mess of his own making, he is somehow a victim.

The media has given very good coverage of the trail but it’s hard to beat Cactus Kate for pithiness in these posts:

Winston Peters and his reputation for detail

Winston Peters and his reputation for detail II

Tim Murphy v Barry Soper just got ugly

Who knew in advance about WInston Peters’ super stuffup?

The media have been the story for years Barry

Courtroom 13 – the week in review

Respecting WInston Peters

Silence…

Winston Peters and subjudice

And…….Denny Crane


Timing deliberate

June 12, 2018

Soon to-be acting Prime Minister Winston Peters is suing the Government.

Peters is suing the Ministry of Social Development, plus it its chief executive, Brendan Boyle, and State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes for $450,000 for breach of privacy – relating to his belief over how details of his pension overpayment were leaked to journalists.

He is also suing former ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley but that is no surprise. They have always been targets.

The really stunning aspect of the new action is its timing so close to the date he is due to become Acting Prime Minister for six weeks.

Even if he had a water-tight case – and there is no evidence that he has – wouldn’t he delay it for the sake of a peaceful transition? . . 

Quite what Peters expects to achieve by wasting taxpayers’ money on this at all let alone on the eve of his taking over as acting PM is hard to fathom.

But the timing must be deliberate and it comes with his waiting until the last minute to pull support for repealing the three-strikes legislation.

Anyone willing to bet that all will be calm and stable while Peters is acting PM?

 


Rights and responsiblities

September 7, 2017

National is pledging to do more to help young beneficiaries into work:

National will help more young people become drug free, move off the benefit and get a job to help ensure they reach their potential.

“Most of our young people are doing incredibly well. There are more job opportunities and more support than ever in our country, as a result of our strong economic growth,” Social Development Spokesperson Anne Tolley says. 

“But some young people on a benefit need more support. National is committed to helping them into work to ensure they can stand on their own two feet.”

National will invest $72 million over the next four years to support beneficiaries under 25 years of age by:

  • Guaranteeing work experience or training for those who have been on a jobseekers benefit for six months or longer, and financial management training to help them develop financial responsibility
  • Providing rehabilitation services if drug use is identified as a barrier to employment
  • Ensuring all young people under 25 who are on a job seekers benefit receive intensive one-on-one case management to get a job.

“Only 10 per cent of young people who go on a jobseekers benefit stay for more than six months – but for those that do, their average time on benefit is almost 10 years,” Mrs Tolley says. “We want to invest early, and give them one on one support so they can develop the skills they need to move into the workforce.

“We will guarantee them access to work experience or training courses designed specifically to get them ready for work.

 

“In addition, one in five beneficiaries tell us that drug use is a barrier to them getting a job – so we are increasing the support we give them to kick drug use and get work ready.”

People who go from school to a benefit are less likely to be work-ready and more likely to stay benefit-dependent for longer.

Putting this money and effort into helping them become employable will pay dividends for them, potential employers and the country.

National will also place obligations on those who do not take up the significant opportunities available in New Zealand to start work or training.

Job seekers without children who refuse work experience or training or recreational drug rehabilitation will lose 50 per cent of their benefit entitlement after four weeks of not meeting their obligations, with further reductions if that continues. This will also apply to those who continue to fail recreational drug tests, where these are requested by prospective employers.

The lower benefit payments will only be able to be used for essential needs such as rent and food – like we currently do with our Money Management programme for 16 to 19 year olds.

“This significant extra support we are announcing today will come with obligations and personal responsibilities, so those who won’t take the opportunities available to them will lose all or part of their benefit until they take steps to turn their lives around.

“We know benefit sanctions are an effective tool to help people into work, as 95 per cent of people who receive a formal warning meet their obligations within four weeks.”

Any benefit reductions will be made at the discretion of WINZ staff, to take account of individual circumstances. And once individuals decide to meet their obligations, benefits will be reinstated.

“New Zealanders are creating real opportunities for themselves and for New Zealand, through hard work and a commitment to doing better. National supports those efforts and is focused on helping all New Zealanders get ahead, even our most vulnerable,” Mrs Tolley says. 

National will roll out the changes from 1 July next year.

People who work have the right to get paid and the responsibility to earn their pay.

People who don’t have jobs in New Zealand have the right to receive a benefit and with that goes some responsibilities which include being work ready.

For some people that isn’t difficult. Others need a little help and some need a lot.

This policy recognises that and is putting human and financial resources into ensuring those who need help get it and those who refuse it should face consequences.

It recognises that the best assistance for beneficiaries who could work is to help them get jobs and independence.

It is an investment that will pay financial and social dividends for young people and the country.

 

 


Tougher more consistent rules for freedom campers

August 27, 2017

A re-elected National Government will introduce tougher and more consistent freedom camping rules that will protect public spaces and crack down on poor behaviour, Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley say.

“Lots of Kiwis and many of our international visitors love to camp, and they make a large contribution to our tourism industry,” Tourism Spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

“Freedom campers stay longer and spend more on average than other visitors, but there are now a lot more people freedom camping than there used to be and a small minority don’t treat our roadsides and public spaces with adequate respect.

“Local councils have been asking the government to create more consistent rules and to help them penalise those who break these rules.”

National will:

  • Restrict all non self-contained vehicles to areas that are within easy walking distance – approximately 200 metres – of toilet facilities
  • Continue to allow Councils and the Department of Conservation to ban all freedom camping from certain areas, and extend these powers to LINZ and the NZTA to ensure Crown-owned land can also be restricted. The areas could be as small as a certain street or as large as a whole town centre
  • Allow Councils and the Department of Conservation to issue instant fines for those who break the rules. If the fine can’t be paid on the spot, it will be assigned to the vehicle owner, including rental car companies

Assigning the fine to the vehicle owner will incentivise rental companies to explain he rules and the importance of adhering to them to travellers.

“We will also create a new smartphone app to show exactly where people can and cannot camp, and ensure consistent public signage across the country to ensure freedom campers know their rights and responsibilities,” Local Government Spokesperson Anne Tolley says.

“Our changes will not affect trampers, campers and hunters who enjoy our back country areas as they are not considered freedom campers.

“We want responsible campers to continue enjoying the best of what New Zealand has to offer and add to the $380 million a year they currently spend in our regions.

“These sensible changes, which build on those we made ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2011, will make the rules much easier to follow, and will still give Councils the flexibility to make rules that suit their communities alongside a simple way to punish those who break the rules with bad behaviour.”

This is a very good move.

Freedom campers in self-contained vehicles – providing they use their on-board loos and dispose of rubbish properly – don’t usually cause problems.

But people in vehicles which range from cars to camper vans without loos, do. Wayside parking areas have become littered with human waste and the problem of people defecating where they shouldn’t isn’t confined to the countryside.

A friend in Wanaka stepped in human pooh outside his gate when he went to get his paper in the morning. Another morning he saw someone who’d slept in his car walk out of the garden on the other side of the road, hitching up his trousers as he did so.

Tourism is good for the economy but the environmental and health costs are too high when travellers turn anywhere they stop into toilets.

Our tougher rules for freedom camping will protect public spaces & crack down on poor behaviour #PartyVoteNational #Delivering4NZers


Rural round-up

August 4, 2017

Tool built to stop rogue spray incidents – Adriana Weber:

Winegrowers in Central Otago have developed a new tool to prevent agri-chemicals drifting and damaging their crops.

The Central Otago Winegrowers Association has created a map designed to stop rogue spray incidents.

Its past president, James Dicey, said spray drifting cost winegrowers millions of dollars every year in lost production.

“Grape vines are remarkably difficult to kill but they are ridiculously sensitive to some of these chemicals, so they can take a bit of a hit for a couple of years and that can have a downstream effect on the volume of grapes and the volume of wines that’s produced off those grapes,” he said. . . 

Westland Payout on the Way Up:

Westland Milk Products has reached a milestone in its efforts to offer shareholders a sustainable and industry competitive payout with confirmation of next season’s forecast payout.

Westland is forecasting a net payout range (after retentions) of $6.40 to $6.80 for 2017-18 season – a substantial improvement on the two previous seasons. The industry-competitive forecast comes after ten months of analysis and systems change under its new Chief Executive Toni Brendish and new Chair Pete Morrison, resulting in changes at both managerial and board level to better position the company for success in a changing and challenging global dairy market. . . 

Funding a boost for quake affected farmers says Feds:

Federated Farmers is delighted that a joint application made to the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Earthquake Recovery Fund has been successful.

The Federation led the application towards a Farm Business and Land Recovery Programme, which will give direction to recovery research following the Hurunui-Kaikōura earthquake. . . 

Mid-range option considered for Manuherikia water – Alexa Cook:

A new option is on the table for a water scheme in central Otago.

Crown Irrigation Investments is putting $815,000 funding into the Manuherikia Water Project, which will allow a Falls Dam proposal to move forward.

The dam is about an hour north of Alexandra and, with water permits expiring in the next five years, farmers want reliable irrigation for the future. . . 

Crown Irrigation provides funding for Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora Irrigation Scheme:

Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd (Crown Irrigation) has agreed development grant funding of $339,875 for the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora (OTOP) irrigation conceptual design and costing project, which Environment Canterbury (ECAN) is managing. The South Canterbury area and particularly the greater Opihi catchment has long suffered from water shortages and drought, and numerous water reticulation and supply options have been considered over the years. . . 

New irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed new grant funding of over $1.1 million for two irrigation projects in South Canterbury and Central Otago.

Crown Irrigation Investments Ltd has agreed development grant funding of $339,875 for the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora (OTOP) irrigation conceptual design and costing project, which Environment Canterbury (ECAN) is managing. . . 

Agricultural Aviation Recognises Outstanding Performance:

The New Zealand Agricultural Aviation Association is pleased to confirm the winners of two awards presented at the Aviation Leadership Gala Awards Dinner in Hamilton on Tuesday 25 July.

‘These awards recognise operational excellence and outstanding industry leadership in agricultural aviation,’ said Alan Beck, Chairman of the NZ Agricultural Aviation Association (NZAAA). . . 

Biosecurity heroes recognised at Parliament:

Biosecurity heroes from across the country were recognised in Wellington tonight with the announcement of the 2017 New Zealand Biosecurity Award recipients.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy says the winners of these inaugural awards have shown a real commitment to protecting New Zealand.

“Biosecurity is my number one priority as Minister and crucial in protecting our economy and way of life. These awards recognise that it is a shared responsibility for all New Zealanders, and celebrate the efforts of people who are doing their bit for biosecurity every day. . . 

Extra boost for Bay of Plenty farmers:

Flood-hit farmers in the Bay of Plenty region will have a further opportunity to apply for a grant to help with clean up and recovery, say Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy.

The $100,000 Primary Industries Flood Recovery Fund is part of a package of additional support totalling $295,000 for farms and orchards who suffered damage following the floods. 

“The Government is committed to ensuring communities in the Bay of Plenty have the support they need to recover from the April floods,” says Mrs Tolley. .  .

Zespri wins top award for US trade:

Zespri won the Supreme Award as well as Exporter of the Year at the AmCham-DHL Awards in Auckland last night, recognising the investment made to grow kiwifruit sales across the United States.

Zespri Chief Operating Officer Simon Limmer says the company is growing strongly across North America, with most of this growth coming from the new gold variety Zespri SunGold. . . 

Ngāi Tahu Seafood appoints new directors:

Ngāi Tahu Seafood Limited is pleased to announce the appointment of two new directors, Jen Crawford and Ben Bateman, bringing the total of Ngāi Tahu directors on the board to four out of six.

Ms Crawford has 20 years’ national and international legal experience in project consenting and planning, along with governance experience in the Canterbury region. She has previously worked in leading law firms in New Zealand and the UK, including a partnership at Anderson Lloyd. . . 

Seafood industry congratulates its stars:

New Zealand’s seafood stars have been recognised at the industry’s annual conference in Wellington today.

Chief Executive of Seafood New Zealand Tim Pankhurst said the conference, titled Oceans of Innovation, was a celebration of the exciting developments in the industry over the past few years, most of which were not well known.

“Some of the recipients of the Seafood Stars Awards played a significant part in the world-leading, cutting edge technology that is making a real difference to the way commercial fishing targets what it needs and is lessening its environmental footprint,” said Pankhurst. . . 

One stop source for New Zealand seafood information launched:

A one-stop source for information on New Zealand seafood was launched at the New Zealand Seafood Industry conference in Wellington today.

OpenSeas is a third-party verified, broad-based transparency initiative designed to enable customers of New Zealand seafood, primarily international customers, a single, comprehensive source of information about the environmental, social and production credentials of the New Zealand seafood industry. . . 

Commercial fishing industry worth more than $4 billion to NZ economy – BERL:

A report from economic researchers, BERL shows New Zealand’s commercial fishing industry is worth $4.18 billion.

Chief Executive of Fisheries Inshore New Zealand, Dr Jeremy Helson, says the report confirms the importance of commercial fishing to New Zealand.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries says exports alone are expected to reach $2.3 billion by 2025. Add the contribution to the domestic market through jobs, investment in infrastructure and the sectors supporting the industry and you have a significant contributor to the New Zealand economy,” said Helson. . . 

Name Change for New Zealand’s Top Performing Sector:

The apple and pear industry has a new name, New Zealand Apples and Pears Incorporated, a change from Pipfruit New Zealand.

The unanimous decision was made at the industry’s annual general meeting held in Napier today.

New Zealand Apples and Pears chief executive, Alan Pollard, said the new name tells exactly what the industry is “apples and pears” and takes advantage of the strong global reputation of “brand New Zealand”. . . 

Mataura Valley Milk on track for August 2018 production start:

Southland farmers are expressing significant interest in becoming Mataura Valley Milk shareholders and the company expects to fill its supplier requirements, general manager Bernard May says.

The company is striving to be the ‘World’s Best Nutritional Business’ manufacturing and producing premium infant milk formula mainly for export from its purpose-built nutrition plant at McNab, near Gore, Southland. . . 

Update on China Infant Formula Registration Process:

Synlait Milk Limited  and The a2 Milk Company Limited  are confident with the progress of their application to export a2 Platinum® infant formula to China from 1 January 2018.

The CFDA requires manufacturers of infant formula to register brands and recipes with them in order to import products from 1 January 2018. . . 

 


Whose job is it to make jobless job-ready?

July 18, 2017

The Opposition’s anti-immigration policies are based on the view that New Zealanders should come first for jobs.

They do under current policy, if they are ready and willing to work.

But what happens when they’re not?

Whose job is it to make the jobless job-ready?

When unemployment is as low as it is (4.9% in the March quarter), too many of those without jobs don’t have what it takes to take on even low skilled or unskilled jobs.

There are plenty of jobs which don’t require specialised skills but none don’t need people with at least basic numeracy and literacy, who turn up on time ready, willing and able to work, and continue to work willingly and ably for the required number of hours.

Not all businesses have the human and financial resources to deal with people who aren’t work-ready.

But the Warehouse is giving some young unemployed people a chance:

The Warehouse’s Red Shirts programme offers unskilled 16 to 24-year-olds the training they need to get a job.

It’s a three-week unpaid programme supported by the Ministry of Social Development.

The Ministry, which chooses who will go on the programme, pays for participants’ shoes and trousers, bought at cost price from The Warehouse.

“At the end of the programme their eyes are sparkling, their posture is up, they are able to hold a conversation with you,” The Warehouse’s Shari French told Newshub.

“It’s incredible, the self-esteem and the growth we see is amazing.” . . .

The programme teaches workplace safety, customer service and confidence.

“It’s absolutely essential we give them that before they turn 20, before they go onto a benefit,” Social Development Minister Anne Tolley told Newshub.

So far 250 young people have been through the course, with 70 percent of them getting jobs within three months and 50 of them working at The Warehouse.

The programme will now be rolled out to more Warehouse stores around the country and will take in a further 1000 young people.

Few if any small to medium businesses could do this without putting too much pressure on other staff but the Warehouse is showing that some bigger business could.

It’s also a reminder that sorting out social problems isn’t only up to the government and its agencies.

But it’s not an argument against immigration when too many employers can’t find locals ready, willing and able to work.


Cabinet changes

December 18, 2016

Prime Minister Bill English has announced changes in and outside Cabinet:

Prime Minister Bill English has today announced his new Cabinet line-up which builds on the success of the last eight years and provides new ideas and energy heading into election year.

“Over the last eight years National has provided a strong and stable Government which is delivering strong results for New Zealanders,” says Mr English.

“This refreshed Ministerial team builds on that success and provides a mix of new people, alongside experienced Ministers either continuing their roles or taking up new challenges.

“This new Ministry is focused on providing prosperity, opportunity and security for all Kiwis, including the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett will remain the Minister of State Services and Climate Change Issues and will pick up the Police, Women and Tourism portfolios.

“I am looking forward to working with Paula as my deputy and I am delighted she is taking on the Police and Women’s portfolios.

“As only the second woman Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Paula is well placed to take on the Women’s portfolio and represent the interests of women at the highest level of the government.”

Steven Joyce will pick up Finance and Infrastructure, while Gerry Brownlee will remain the Leader of the House and retain Supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Defence, and the Earthquake Commission portfolios. He will also be appointed as the Minister of Civil Defence.

“Steven and I have worked closely together in the Finance portfolio over the last eight years, and as Economic Development Minister he has delivered strong leadership of the government’s Business Growth Agenda.

“As Infrastructure Minister Steven will have a key role in overseeing the significant investments the government will be making in the coming years.

“I am delighted to have Gerry continue in his senior roles, including Leader of the House, and also to have him pick up the Civil Defence portfolio in which he has provided such leadership during the aftermath of the Kaikoura earthquake.”

Simon Bridges and Amy Adams have both picked up additional senior ministerial responsibilities.

Simon Bridges continues as the Minister of Transport and will pick up the Economic Development and Communications portfolios and Associate Finance, while Amy Adams retains Justice, Courts and picks up Social Housing, Social Investment and Associate Finance. Amy Adams will take a lead role in driving the Government’s social investment approach.

“Simon and Amy are two high performing Ministers who are ready to take on more responsibility. I am confident they will work well with Finance Minister Steven Joyce,” says Mr English.

At National’s Mainland conference, Amy told delegates she’d asked for money to be directed into social portfolios because that was the way to address the causes of crime.

She is well qualified for the extra responsibility for social investment.

Jonathan Coleman continues in his Health and Sport and Recreation portfolios, and will play an important role on the front bench.

“All New Zealanders care deeply about the health system, and Jonathan’s focus on ensuring that the needs of people young and old in accessing quality health care is a very strong one.”

Michael Woodhouse has also been promoted up the Cabinet rankings, retaining Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety and picking up the ACC portfolio.

“I would like to congratulate Michael on his promotion. He has been a solid performer and I know he still has a lot more to contribute.”

Anne Tolley has picked up Local Government and will also be appointed Minister for Children, where she will continue her work on improving outcomes for children and young people.

Hekia Parata will retain the Education portfolio until May 1, at which point she will retire from the Ministry to the back bench.

“I am keen for Hekia to see through the education reforms which she is well underway on, and she will work closely with other Ministers to ensure there is a smooth transition in May.”

There will also be a transition of ministers in the Foreign Affairs portfolio.

Murray McCully will retain the Foreign Affairs portfolio until May 1at which point he will retire from the Ministry to the backbench. A decision on his replacement will be made at that time.

“I am keen for Murray to stay on for this transitional period to ensure I have the benefit of his vast experience on the wide range of issues that affect New Zealand’s vital interests overseas.”

This ensures there will be no need for a by-election if he leaves parliament when he’s no longer a minister. It also leaves the door open   for another couple of back benchers to get promotion next year.

Judith Collins takes on new responsibilities in Revenue, Energy and Resources and Ethnic Communities, and is well placed to oversee the significant business transformation work occurring at Inland Revenue.

A number of Ministers largely retain their existing responsibilities, including Chris Finlayson, Nathan Guy, Nick Smith, Todd McClay, Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

Paul Goldsmith and Louise Upston have been promoted into Cabinet.

“I would like to congratulate Paul and Louise on their promotions which are all well-deserved,” says Mr English.

There are four new Ministers. Alfred Ngaro who goes straight into Cabinet and Mark Mitchell, Jacqui Dean and David Bennett who have been promoted to Ministerial positions outside Cabinet.

I am especially pleased that Alfred and Jacqui are being promoted.

He was an electrician before entering gaining a degree in theology and has extensive experience in community work. (See more here).

Jacqui is my MP, serving one of the biggest general electorates in the country. She c0-chaired the Rules Reduction Taskforce and was Parliamentary Private Secretary for Tourism and Local Government.

“The National party Caucus is a tremendously talented one, and as Ministers finish their contribution it’s important for the government’s renewal that we give members of our caucus an opportunity. Alfred, Mark, Jacqui and David have worked hard and performed well in their electorates and as select committee chairs, and deserve their promotions.”

There will be 21 positions in Cabinet until May 1 and a further six outside Cabinet (including two support party Ministers) keeping the total number of Ministerial positions at 27 plus the Parliamentary Under Secretary David Seymour.

“I would like to thank our support party leaders Peter Dunne, Te Ururoa Flavell, and David Seymour for their continued contribution to a strong and stable government.”

Mr English said that he expected to make announcements on the two further new Ministers to replace Ms Parata and Mr McCully just prior to their 1 May retirements from the Ministry.

Ministers Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew are departing the Ministry.

“I would like to thank Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew for their service to New Zealand as ministers. I am sure they will continue to be great contributors to New Zealand society in the years ahead.”

The full list of portfolios and rankings is here.


Rural round-up

November 28, 2016

Aiming for better public science understanding – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Interactions between agriculture and the environment have rarely been so much in the face of the public, and finding a path for the future is proving challenging.

Should New Zealand remain GE-free, ban glyphosate and embrace organics, or should it lead in adopting new technologies to increase efficiencies whilst minimising impact on the environment?

The general problem is that decisions have to be made on issues which arouse high public interest, and where knowledge is incomplete and complexity great. These issues are almost always linked to values, emotions and personal experience — what the Prime Minister’s chief science advisor, professor Sir Peter Gluckman, describes as “the political power of the anecdote”. . .

Improved environmental performance to provide long-term strategic value for New Zealand’s agri sector– industry report:

Improved environmental sustainability should provide long-term strategic value to New Zealand’s food and agri sector, according to a recently-released report by agricultural banking specialist Rabobank.

In the report, Sustainable Returns: Finding the value in Environmental Sustainability, Rabobank says two major types of value have been identified for farmers and food & agribusiness (F&A) companies from improved environmental practices – the immediate monetary benefit of these practices (from a price premium) and the long-term strategic advantages that provide growth and prosperity into the future.

Report author, Rabobank rural manager Sustainable Farm Systems, Blake Holgate says the type of value farmers and F&A companies can derive will vary depending on the product they are producing, how they are producing it, where they sit on the supply chain, and who the end consumer is. . . 

Stronger farm partnerships beneficial:

A national programme to increase profitability and productivity of sheep and beef farmers by strengthening farming partnerships is being scaled up to reach 2800 farms.

Since 2014, almost 500 women involved in sheep and beef farming businesses have completed the Understanding Your Farming Business (UYFB) programme, designed and delivered by the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT).  That included 50 women who last month graduated from the similar AWDT programme for Maori women, Wahine Maia Wahine Whenua.

The four-month programme, funded by the Red Meat Profit Partnership , builds business and communication skills, and confidence of farming women, empowering them to view themselves and their farming roles differently and help lift farm performance. . . 

South Island leaders in for Australasian agri-business award

2017 Zanda McDonald Award shortlist announced

Three young agriculturalists from the South Island have made it through to the next stage of the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award. The three – Morgan Easton, a 33 year old farm owner and sharemilker from Oamaru, Jolene Germann, a 32 year old dairy consultant from Invercargill and Henry Pinckney, a 34 year old farm owner from Waiau were selected for their impressive leadership skills, passion for their work and determination to make improvements to the agricultural industry.

The three will head to Brisbane next month for the interview round for a place in the finals. They will be up against Australia’s Anna Speer, CEO of AuctionsPlus, Will Creek, a Stud Manager at Stanbroke and Airlie Trescowthick, a business analyst and managing director of The Farm Table. . . .

In the running for agribusiness award – Sally Rae:

Papakaio dairy farmer Morgan Easton has been shortlisted for the 2017 Zanda McDonald Award.

The Australasian agribusiness award was launched by the Platinum Primary Producers (PPP) Group in 2014.

It was in memory of Australian beef industry leader and PPP foundation member Zanda McDonald, who died in 2013 after an accident at his Queensland property.

Mr Easton (33), along with Invercargill-based dairy consultant Jolene Germann (32) and Waiau farmer Henry Pinckney (34), have made it through to the next stage of the award.

The trio were selected for their “impressive leadership skills, passion for their work and determination to make improvements to the agricultural industry”. . . 

New plan to target Mackenzie wilding conifers:

A new strategy for tackling wilding conifers in the Mackenzie Basin has been announced today by Conservation Ministers Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

“Currently, wilding conifers impact on almost a quarter of land in the Mackenzie Basin, and without further control they will spread and take over large areas of farm and conservation land,” Ms Barry says.

“Wilding conifers are a major threat to our ecosystems, land and farms. These invasive self-sown trees spread fast and are very hard to eliminate once established.

“Prevention is the best form of management. Removing young seedlings now, before they start producing seeds, costs less than $10 per hectare, but removing mature trees can cost $10,000 per hectare.” . . .

National milk production down 1.5%:

Despite New Zealand dairy farmers receiving the lowest milk prices in 20 seasons, milk production dropped just 1.5%.

That was one of the New Zealand Dairy Statistics 2015-16 released on November 14 by DairyNZ and LIC. They revealed there were 52 fewer herds and 20,522 fewer cows than in 2014-15.

Dairy companies processed 20.9 billion litres of milk containing 1.86 billion kilograms of milk solids in 2015-16. The previous season, they handled 21.2 billion litres of milk, with 1.89 billion kilograms of milk solids. . . 

Increase in seasonal workers for RSE:

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced an increase in the number of seasonal workers who can come to New Zealand to work in the horticulture and viticulture industry under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

The current cap will be increased by 1,000 from 9,500 to 10,500 RSE workers for the 2016-17 season.

Mr Woodhouse says the horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, producing almost $5 billion in exports. . . 

Kiwifruit industry welcomes Government decision on seasonal workers:

• 1000 additional seasonal workers for horticulture

• RSE workers support New Zealanders who remain primary workforce

The kiwifruit industry has welcomed the Government’s announcement of an additional 1000 seasonal workers for the coming season.

New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI) Chief Executive Nikki Johnson says the extra workers in the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme are essential to support the kiwifruit industry’s strong growth. . . 

Crown Irrigation Invests up to $3.4m in North Canterbury – some good news for the region:

Crown Irrigation Investments will invest up to $3.4m in the Hurunui Water Project, an irrigation scheme that will be capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury.

The scheme infrastructure includes water intakes from the Hurunui and Waitohi rivers, with both on plain and dam storage, and a pressurised piped distribution system. The current project cost estimate is approximately $200 million. . . 

Hurunui irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming an investment of $3.4 million into the Hurunui Water Project by Crown Irrigation Investments.

“This is fantastic news for North Canterbury after the recent earthquakes and severe drought they have suffered through,” says Mr Guy.

The Hurunui Water Project is a $200 million irrigation scheme capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares within an area of around 60,000ha on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury. . . 

New Zealand Bloodstock – a victim of its own success:

The record turnout for last week’s New Zealand Bloodstock’s (NZB) Ready to Run Sale at Karaka shows our bloodstock industry is still punching well above its weight says Crowe Horwath’s bloodstock specialist Hayden Dillon. As interest from Australian and Asian buyers continues to grow, the sale saw a record number of entries with 552 horses offered, however, this was tempered by a low clearance rate of 60% compared to the 81% of last year’s record-breaking sale, which left a number of vendors taking their horses back home. Dillon, says “the industry should take comfort that this is not a structural issue for the sale, rather growing pains, and NZB and the vendors will be making adjustments as necessary for the 2017 sale.” . . .

The Cambodian farmers paid to protect birds:

Rice farmers in Cambodia are battling falling regional rice prices and a black market that’s been undercutting them.

The Wildlife Conservation Society, together with a firm called Ibis Rice, is offering to pay above market price for the rice.

In return, the farmers must help protect Cambodia’s national bird – the Giant Ibis. . .


Rural round-up

November 24, 2016

SPCA the voice of reason in farm animal welfare debate – Jon Morgan:

To many North Island farmers it must seem like yesterday that they were watching their animals struggle to deal with facial eczema. But now the warnings are here again.

With NIWA’s seasonal weather outlook signalling warm, wet conditions across the island, farmers will be doubly cautious. So far, there’s been an increase in demand – and prices – for rams that have been bred to be FE tolerant.

No farmer likes to see their stock suffer and no farmer likes to lose money, which is what facial eczema means. . . 

Avocado crops thrive under different systems – Anne Boswell:

The phrase ‘chalk and cheese’ has been bandied about when referring to Katikati avocado orchardists Barry Mathis and Bruce Polley.

It is true that the neighbours have a fair amount of differences in both their personalities and the way they grow their fruit, but it must be said that there is also a number of similarities at play. . .

Increase in seasonal workers for RSE:

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced an increase in the number of seasonal workers who can come to New Zealand to work in the horticulture and viticulture industry under the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme.

The current cap will be increased by 1,000 from 9,500 to 10,500 RSE workers for the 2016-17 season.

Mr Woodhouse says the horticulture and viticulture industry is New Zealand’s fourth largest export industry, producing almost $5 billion in exports. . .

Great white butterfly eradication success:

The invasive pest great white butterfly has been eradicated from New Zealand in a world-first achievement, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Conservation Minister Maggie Barry say.

“This is the first eradication of an unwanted butterfly population in the world and is another impressive example of New Zealand’s innovation and skill in removing pests,” Ms Barry says.

Great white butterflies posed a major threat to native plant species and primary sector economy.

“They were first seen in Nelson in 2010 and the DOC-led joint agency eradication effort ran for three and a half years. It’s now been two years since any have been seen, and we’re confident we can declare them eradicated,” Mr Guy says.

Biosecurity 2025 direction statement launched :

The newly launched Biosecurity 2025 Direction Statement will shape the long-term future of biosecurity in New Zealand, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.

The long term plan was launched today at the 2016 Biosecurity Forum in Auckland and follows widespread public consultation earlier this year.

“Biosecurity 2025 will guide New Zealand’s biosecurity system over the next decade. It provides a shared direction to ensure we can cope with increased challenges such as increasing trade, more complex markets and supply chains, and rising tourist numbers. . . 

Masterclass had lessons for all sectors:

Despite being the only winegrower in the Rabobank Master Class this year, New Zealander Duncan McFarlane says there’s been plenty to learn from the other sectors.
McFarlane, of the Indevin Group in Marlborough, says one issue that everyone is focused on is sustainability.

“We are very fortunate in the wine industry in New Zealand that the economy of the industry is in a strong phase with good growth prospects,” McFarlane told Rural News at the Rabobank Farm2Fork summit at Cockatoo Island in Sydney yesterday. . . 

Showing the boys how it’s done:

Helen Slattery is the rural contracting sector’s first woman to gain a national certificate in infrastructure works supervision Level 5.

A Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) board member and partner in the Matamata firm Slattery Contracting, Slattery has penetrated the ‘glass ceiling’ to be the industry’s first woman to gain a national certificate in infrastructure works supervision Level 5.

The qualification covers core management skills including scheduling infrastructure works project resources, health safety and environment, monitoring project quality assurance and documenting infrastructure works projects. . . .

Hurunui irrigation funding welcomed:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy is welcoming an investment of $3.4 million into the Hurunui Water Project by Crown Irrigation Investments.

“This is fantastic news for North Canterbury after the recent earthquakes and severe drought they have suffered through,” says Mr Guy.

The Hurunui Water Project is a $200 million irrigation scheme capable of irrigating up to 21,000 hectares within an area of around 60,000ha on the south side of the Hurunui River in North Canterbury.

 


Home should be safe

September 13, 2016

Sweeping reforms to our laws will build a better system for combatting abuse and will reduce harm, say Justice Minister Amy Adams and Social Development Minister Anne Tolley.

The Government is proposing a broad overhaul of changes to family violence legislation, stemming from the comprehensive review of the 20-year old Domestic Violence Act.

“New Zealand’s rate of family violence is horrendous. It has a devastating impact on individuals and communities, and a profound impact that can span generations and lifetimes,” Ms Adams says.

“Our suite of changes are directed to earlier and more effective interventions. We are focused on better ways to keep victims safe and changing perpetrator behaviour to stop abuse and re-abuse.

“This is about redesigning the way the entire system prevents and responds to family violence. The reforms are an important part of building a new way of dealing with family violence.

“For many, family violence is an ingrained, intergenerational pattern of behaviour. There are no easy fixes. Our reforms make extensive changes across the Domestic Violence Act, Care of Children Act, Sentencing Act, Bail Act, Crimes Act, Criminal Procedure Act and the Evidence Act.”

Changes include:

  • getting help to those in need without them having to go to court
  • ensuring all family violence is clearly identified and risk information is properly shared
  • putting the safety of victims at the heart of bail decisions
  • creating three new offences of strangulation, coercion to marry and assault on a family member
  • making it easier to apply for a Protection Orders, allowing others to apply on a victim’s behalf, and better providing for the rights of children under Protection Orders
  • providing for supervised handovers and aligning Care of Children orders to the family violence regime
  • making evidence gathering in family violence cases easier for Police and less traumatic for victims
  • wider range of programmes able to be ordered when Protection Order imposed
  • making offending while on a Protection Order a specific aggravating factor in sentencing
  • enabling the setting of codes of practice across the sector.

“These changes are the beginning of a new integrated system but on their own have the potential to significantly reduce family violence. Changes to protection orders and the new offences alone are expected to prevent about 2300 violent incidents each year,” Ms Adams says.

The package makes changes to both civil and criminal laws, and provides system level changes to support new ways of working. It will cost $132 million over four years.

“Legislation is part of but not the whole change required. These legislative reforms are designed to support and drive the change underpinning the wider work programme overseen by the Ministerial Group on Family and Sexual Violence. The work is about comprehensive and coordinated system change with a focus on early intervention and prevention,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Social agencies and NGOs I’ve been speaking with are desperate for a system-wide change so we can make a real shift in the rate of family violence.”

“Laws alone cannot solve New Zealand’s horrific rate of family violence. But they are a cornerstone element in how we respond to confronting family violence. It sets up the system, holds perpetrators to account, and puts a stake in the ground,” Ms Adams says.

The full pack of reforms are set out in the Cabinet papers and are available atwww.justice.govt.nz/justice-sector-policy/key-initiatives/reducing-family-and-sexual-violence/safer-sooner

In a speech announcing the changes Prime Minister John Key said:

For most children, New Zealand is a great place to grow up.

We have a high quality education system, easy access to the outdoors and a strong culture of participation.

Most children can rely on the adults in their house, family and whanau for nurture, encouragement and support.

This helps those children to grow, flourish and be ready as adults to take advantage of all the opportunities that today’s world offers.

But we know that, unfortunately, that does not describe the growing-up that every child experiences.

For most New Zealanders, home is a sanctuary.

But for some, home can sometimes be the opposite.

It can be a place of fear, anxiety and danger. . . 

Today I want to focus on how we intend to address the harm in our society caused by repeated family violence.

This is usually, though not exclusively, perpetrated by men on their partners or former partners, and on one or more of their children.

Family violence isn’t only a problem for women and children, although it is less common, men can be victims too.

The issue isn’t one of gender or age. Violence is violence and it’s unacceptable no matter who is the perpetrator and who is the victim.

All New Zealanders wish family violence did not happen.

Many wish that those involved might just fix it themselves.

Some families do manage to improve their circumstances, but some do not.

They need help to stop the violence and repression so they can lead healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives.

Obviously, the most important reason to help is to protect victims from the pain, fear and consequences of living in a violent household.

The sooner we stop it, the better the chance of lives being saved and of injuries being avoided; and the better the chance of adults and children living with the confidence, security and opportunities that most New Zealanders take for granted.

In addition, the greater the reduction in family violence now, the greater the chance of it not blighting another generation.

New Zealanders generally resist government interference in their private lives, and I get that.

But let me say straight up that in households where anyone is being assaulted, threatened, intimidated, belittled or deprived, the perpetrator has no right to expect privacy so they can go on being a bully.

If they won’t stop that behaviour, and the victims can’t stop it, then we must ensure that someone else stops it.

Home should be the safest place for children and family the people who make and keep it that way but there are far too many children for whom home isn’t a sanctuary which is why the state and its agencies must step in.

We know the effects of this type of offending are cumulative and profound.

Children subjected to family violence, and those who witness it, are at risk of serious problems with their physical and mental health, poor educational and job outcomes, drug and alcohol abuse, and homelessness.

None of this will surprise any of you here today.

This audience knows that police respond to 110,000 family violence call-outs a year.

And you know that kids are present at nearly two-thirds of these incidents.

You also know that, tragically, nearly half of all homicides are acts of family violence.

We are all aware of terrible cases where a woman has predicted, “my ex is going to kill me”, and he has.

Victims, mostly women, are often trapped because their spouses or partners have isolated them, cut them off from support and finances, and undermined their confidence.

It’s easy to think this is someone else’s problem.

But it is not someone else’s problem if you are a New Zealander who cares.

That’s why Ministers have been working together to come up with a different and better approach to family violence to get different and better results.

Everyone knows there is no single answer and the Government cannot be all of the solution.

However, we have a key role.

We have resources when victims often do not.

And we have the ability to make laws laid down by Parliament and enforced by police.

That is quite different to the laws laid down by some guy in his own home, and enforced by him.

Today I am announcing an overhaul of the family violence prevention system.

Our new approach will revolve around intervening sooner, and more effectively.

That is because the sooner we can identify problems and get victims and perpetrators the help that they need to change their lives for the better, the fewer serious assaults there will be.

We have already started with a new Integrated Safety Response pilot that is running in Christchurch, and soon to get underway in the Waikato.

This has brought in the widest range of agencies to work together, share information, and assess and plan responses for every family violence notification to police.

It involves daily case triage, specialist high-risk case management, and help for perpetrators to get the services they need to change their behaviour.

We know we have developed a better way of working on behalf of the people who need us most.

It’s early days but we also know that at least one life has been saved.

The feedback so far gives us hope that with the dedication of those in the sector, and a new way of working together, we can reduce family violence across New Zealand.

That is our aim.

Justice Minister Amy Adams has been carrying out a legislative review over the past two years that has led to the changes I am outlining today.

We will create a legislative regime that is built on best practice and ensures high-risk domestic abuse can be recognised, recorded and responded to properly. . . 

 

These changes are by no means the end of creating the effective, prevention-focused system that we aspire to — but they will provide its essential building blocks.

It will take time for services to be redesigned to appropriately meet the needs of the range of victims and perpetrators of family violence, and for the necessary capacity to be built.

We also need to ensure these services are integrated with existing initiatives like children’s teams.

These changes have the potential to significantly reduce family violence.

The increase in protection orders alone is expected to lead to 1200 fewer violent offences each year.

The increased imprisonment of violent offenders is expected to prevent a further 1100 violent offences per year.

These will be significant gains.

We know that half of all young people exposed to family violence will themselves be on a benefit before they turn 19.

We know that boys who witness family violence are twice as likely to grow up to abuse their own partners and children.

We know the cost of such violence to individuals, families, neighbourhoods and our country.

So we also know that every step we take to reduce this level of harm is worthwhile.

I want to personally make a couple more points, very plainly.

First, I want to say to victims: you are not alone.

You deserve and are entitled to a life free from fear, and your children deserve and are entitled to that too. Help is available.

Secondly, to the perpetrators of this misery I say this: recognise what is going on in your home and take responsibility for it.

A good father, a good step-father and a good man does not hit, intimidate or control his spouse, partner, ex-partner or her children. The same goes for women who are abusers.

You do not create a better family by hitting them, belittling them, or by making them live in fear of you.

You do not own your spouse, your partner, your ex-partner, your children or your step-children.

If you act in a violent and controlling way, you can change that behaviour.

Own the problem.

Nothing will get better until you do.

Ask for help. There is no shame in that.

This audience knows that family violence is not restricted to the poorest communities, or only to violence by men against women.

A quarter of women who live in a home that earns over $100,000 a year have experienced physical or sexual violence from their partner.

Around one in four women with a university education have been assaulted.

20 per cent of all adults experience violence at the hands of their partner at some point in their lifetime.

Kids from abusive homes are three times more likely to end up in violent juvenile offending and three times more likely to try to take their own lives.

Just as the effects of family violence are widely felt, so is the challenge of reducing family violence widely shared — by the Government, the police, social agencies, families and by everyone who knows that violence is occurring, including those who are inflicting it.

None of us should be deterred by the difficulty of the problem. Rather we should be motivated by the positive difference we can make. . . 

 

So, increasing support in practical ways for those who need a hand has been a consistent theme of this Government and has been well supported by New Zealanders since we were first elected.

If this focus has surprised some commentators, it should not have.

In 2007, I stood up in the Burnside Rugby Clubrooms in Christchurch and made a speech about defining the sort of country I wanted New Zealand to be.

At the heart of that speech was the belief that every New Zealander deserves a fair chance in life.

A belief that all kids should have the kind of start that will enable them to make the most of their potential, and the most of the opportunities out there in the world today.

That does not mean that kids need to have everything.

No kid needs everything.

But they all need love, care and encouragement in order to flourish, and those can only be provided in homes where children feel safe and secure, because they are safe and secure.

Ministers in this Government are united in condemning abuse in the home.

All kinds of abuse.

Nothing justifies it. Nothing excuses it.

Succeeding in reducing family violence will save lives, and transform lives.

For some, it will feel like a new life.

There is so much to be gained.

This Government intends being part of the solution. I am sure you do too.

We have moved a long way from the bad old days when violence in the home was only a domestic but there are still homes which aren’t safe and families who live in fear of at least one of their family members.

Changing the law won’t make a difference by itself but it is part of the chain of change which must happen to help everyone whose homes aren’t the safe havens they should be.

 


Five pathways to poverty

June 13, 2016

In the annual Sir John Graham lecture in 2011, Iain Duncan-Smith identified five pathways to poverty: family breakdown; poor education; debt; addiction, and welfare dependency and worklessness.

These pathways to poverty feed on each other in powerful ways, and can push families into damaging, downward spirals from which it is almost impossible to retrieve themselves.

Let’s have a look at a few of these. Take family breakdown—evidence is that those growing up in a broken home are:
– 75 percent more likely to fail at school;
– 70 percent more likely to become addicted to drugs; and
– 50 percent more likely to have an alcohol problem.

When it came to addiction we found that almost one third of young people who have been excluded from school have been involved with substance abuse. And so often these pathways had a knock-on effect on further destructive behaviour, particularly criminal activity. We found that 70 percent of young offenders were from lone parent families, and we estimated that something like half of the UK’s prison population were
problem drug users.

And, even more interesting, we found that as many as half of all young people going through the youth justice system had been in government care or had substantial involvement with social services.

When the government looked after them, the government failed them.
Even more, in some senses, than their own families had failed them. . .

The radical overhaul of child protection and care announced by Social Development Minister Anne Tolley aims to make sure that children whose families fail them will not be failed by those charged to look after them.

But what about the parents who should be looking after them?

Lance O”Sullivan, Northland GP and New Zealander of the Year, says this in his autobiography. He argues that if children are fed and their health problems addressed they will be more likely to do better at school and there’s a greater chance of them being able to break out of the cycle of poverty.

He says we cannot hold children responsible for their parents’ failings, and he’s right.

But that begs the question of what is done for the adults?

If they are on benefits or low wages they will be getting money for their children.

It’s not fair on the children not to help them, but is it fair on the taxpayer to pay twice – first to the parents and then when they fail, whether or not that failure is through circumstances beyond their control, to pay again to ensure they are well fed and healthy?

That is a difficult question to which there are no simple answers and the simplest of all – more money to perpetuate what hasn’t worked in the past and isn’t working now,  – won’t work in the future.

That is merely treating the symptoms, not addressing the causes.

As we looked at these issues more carefully we unearthed the immense costs of this breakdown. We put the costs of educational underachievement at £18 billion per annum;27 the costs of family breakdown at over £20 billion per annum and rising,28 and the cost of crime—so often a product of these pathways to poverty—at some £60 billion per annum.29 Almost £100 billion, every year, spent on simply treating the symptoms of social breakdown because we never got to the causes.

These eye-watering figures were a result, at least in part, of the damaging culture I spoke about before. A culture of short-termism had set in which was more focussed on chasing headlines than on changing lives. So, instead of investing in fundamental changes to the system—changes which may have taken a number of years to bear fruit—governments resorted to reactive but eye-catching tweaks around the edges.

These tweaks were expensive and often ineffective, but because they were funded by debt it was possible to push the burden of the cost of them further down the line, onto the next generation.

Tax credits

A prime example of this is the system of tax credits introduced by the previous Government, ostensibly with the goal of making work pay. More often than not these tax credits made things more confusing for claimants, and they created perverse incentives which encouraged work at just sixteen hours—no more and no less.30 But they played another role as well. Because there was a child element, paid in and out of work, tax credits became a useful tool for tweaking child poverty rates. Add a few more pounds to tax credits at the annual budget and you could triumphantly announce that you had pulled thousands of children out of poverty, as incomes would suddenly jump just above the poverty line. But had this changed anyone’s life? Had it made it any more likely that these children would go on to succeed in school, hold down a job, or form a stable and loving relationship?

In the case of a family troubled by addiction you may only have made things worse, with more money simply fuelling the family’s addiction problems. I know of too many households with addiction that get enough money, but the money only makes the situation worse because it drives them deeper into their problem and the children have to make do with even less. Because you haven’t made a permanent change in those parents’ lives, you’ll find that before long they will have cycled back below the poverty line, and you will be back where you started. Even more subtly, this policy had a longer-term effect, creating what a friend of mine, Frank Field, from the Labour Party, referred to as the “couple penalty.”31 This is where you earn more through benefits if you live apart than if you live together as a family. In essence, government money, far from being ambivalent, has actually ended up incentivising families to break up, with all the attendant consequences for children that I have already mentioned.

Perhaps worse, it has also created an intention to criminal behaviour. Families who— realising they would be better off apart—declare themselves as apart, even if they are together. This is a criminal act and they do that for a while until they realise just how serious that is and they either change their declaration, or they do actually break apart. It can’t be right that a system like ours drives people to that kind of behaviour. . . 

Welfare that was designed with the good intention of helping people, usually but not always women, out of abusive relationships, can have the perverse result of incentivising solo parenting.

This isn’t an argument for no welfare.

But the right to receive help must come with the responsibility for people, if necessary with support and time, to do what they can for themselves and their children.

 


Quote of the day

June 16, 2015

“The government currently invests $331 million each year in this sector, and we need a structured plan to ensure this funding is making a difference for our most vulnerable Kiwis, and that it is being invested in the right places,” says Mrs Tolley.

“At the moment there is little evidence of the effectiveness, or not, of funding in this sector, because up until now most contracts have focused on the numbers of clients receiving services, rather than the effect that the service has on improving the lives of vulnerable people.

“We need to address this so that future contracts are built around positive results and evidence of what is working.”  –  Anne Tolley

Hat tip: Lindsay Mitchell


Too high but falling

January 23, 2015

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has welcomed latest child abuse statistics showing that the number of children abused in the year ended June 2014 fell by 2,306 or 12 percent on the previous year.

“Let there be no doubt that our child abuse figures remain appallingly high but it is pleasing to see the numbers going down for the first time in 10 years,” says Mrs Tolley.

During the year to June 2014, 16,289 children had 19,623 findings of abuse substantiated compared to 18,595 children with 22,984 findings of abuse in the previous year. 

Of the 146,657 notifications made to Child, Youth and Family in 2014, 54,065 reports required further action involving 43,590 children.  This compared to 148,659 notifications in 2013 where 61,877 reports required further action in relation to 48,527 children.  A drop of 4,937 children.

In 2014, there were 9,499 children who were emotionally abused, 3,178 children who were physically abused and 1,294 children who were sexually abused.  In 2013 the corresponding figures were 11,386 children emotionally abused, 3,181 physically abused and 1,423 sexually abused.

“Good progress is being achieved in implementing the Children’s Action Plan.   With 30 specific measures designed to prevent abuse and neglect, it will make a real difference in reducing child abuse in this country.

“New Zealanders are becoming increasingly intolerant of abuse and neglect in their communities, and the more people willing to report their concerns, the better chance we’ll have to keep our children safe and protected.” says Mrs Tolley.

The number of people on benefits is also declining.

Could there be a link between that and the decline in child abuse?
While New Zealand's child abuse statistics are still far too high, we're making significant progress in preventing abuse and neglect.<br /><br />
ntnl.org.nz/1zxtVU7

 


Declining benefit numbers best way to counter poverty

January 19, 2015

Benefit numbers continue to decline, about which Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says:

There were 309,145 people on benefit at the end of the December 2014 quarter.

“Compared with last year there are more than 12,700 fewer people on welfare. This is the lowest December quarter since 2008 and the third consecutive quarter (June, September, December) with such record lows.” Mrs Tolley says.

Numbers on the Jobseeker Support benefit have decreased by over 5,500 since last year and have been consistently declining since 2010, even as the overall working age population has increased.

Performance is strong around the country with only two regions, Wellington and Taranaki, registering a slight increase compared with the same period in 2013.

“Sole parents continue to move off the benefit and into work, confirming that welfare reforms have been successful.

“There are more than 5,300 fewer people on the Sole Parent Support benefit compared to last year, a drop of 6.8 per cent, and every region around the country recorded a reduction.

“Both Canterbury and Nelson’s Sole Parent Support numbers declined by more than 9 per cent, while Waikato and East Coast reduced by more than 7 per cent,” Mrs Tolley says.

“This Government’s welfare reforms are continuing to support New Zealanders into work. The reductions we’re now seeing will mean fewer people on benefit in the years to come which means we’re going to see healthier, more prosperous households.” Mrs Tolley says.

Benefit numbers are now back to levels recorded before the Global Financial Crisis.

That’s still too high but the downward trend is encouraging.

Moving people from benefits and work is one of the best ways to reduce poverty and the poor health, education, and other social and financial outcomes which go with it.


Continuing investment approach

November 5, 2014

The Government remains committed to its social investment approach to improve services for those most in need, Finance Minister Bill English says.

“The Prime Minister has made clear that in this third term the Government will further focus on issues influencing children in material deprivation and hardship. Just as there are many and sometimes inter-related causes of hardship, there must also be multiple and sometimes inter-related strands to the solution. 

“The Better Public Services programme, reform of the social housing sector and the investment approach that we have developed to improve services for the people who need them most, are all part of the Government’s ongoing programme. 

“In another step, The Treasury will issue a Request for Information inviting submissions from people who work with vulnerable New Zealanders as well as others whose input might help us invest to get better results.”

The Request for Information will focus on:

Effective ways of identifying and engaging the children and families most at risk of poor education, criminal justice and employment outcomes.

How existing services or support could be improved to deliver better outcomes for the most at-risk children and their families.

Issues not currently being addressed that affect at-risk children and their families.

New interventions, services or arrangements that could deliver better outcomes.

This approach builds on initiatives like Whanau Ora, Children’s Teams and Social Sector Trials, which focus on the needs of individual citizens.

Information collected will be used to identify where existing government services can be improved, or where new localised or citizen-centred services can be trialled as part of Budget 2015. Initiatives could be funded through new spending or reprioritising existing expenditure. . .

An investment approach is not necessarily less expensive in the short term, but careful, targeted spending that will make a positive difference to the lives of people in need pays social and financial dividends in the medium to longer term.

An example of this is the incentive for people on benefits who are willing to move to Christchurch for work.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says the Government’s 3K to Christchurch scheme is a winner with 633 unemployed people taking up the offer.

“Since the scheme began in July a total of 523 men and 110 women have received the $3,000 payment as an incentive to move off benefit to Christchurch for a fulltime job.  204 of these are aged between 16 and 24 years.

“It is transforming lives.  A Northland father in his 40s who has been on benefit since 2007 has been working in asbestos removal since July and has since been promoted to Supervisor.  He loves the work and the money.  While he’s missing his family, his employer is paying for him to fly home for weekends because he has become so crucial to the business.

“A 23 year old man who had been unemployed since May has impressed an employer so much that he has been offered an Air Conditioning apprenticeship.

“Unsurprisingly the greatest take-up has been in the construction sector with 350 positions, followed by transport, warehousing and manufacturing.

“The Government is currently exploring extending the scheme beyond Christchurch to other parts of the country with high labour demands and low unemployment.

“It is fantastic that 3K to Christchurch is playing a vital part in attracting people to help with the rebuilding of the city, says Mrs Tolley.

When there’s a mis-match between the jobless and the jobs, a financial incentive which covers the cost of moving and getting established is a good investment.

The short term cost of the payment will be more than compensated for by medium and longer term savings in benefit payments.

Moving people from benefits to work is one of the most effective ways to tackle poverty and the problems that go with it.

Our $3k to Christchurch initiative is helping beneficiaries back into work and is addressing skill shortages. ntnl.org.nz/10w2r2n


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