Sam Lotu-Iiga’s valedictory

August 17, 2017

Hon Peseta SAM LOTU-IIGA (National—Maungakiekie):

O le a ou le toe faloina le afaloloa

pe lalafo foe ole savili,

aua o lea ua taoto le aupeau,

I le e’e papaaao ole paia ma le mamalu

ua ali’itia ai le maota nei,

ma oute fa’atulou atu I lau afioga I le fofoga fetalai,

le mamalu ole saofaiga a le Palemene,

ma lau tapuaiga Aotearoa.

tulou,

tulou,

tulouga lava.

Fakaalofa lahi atu kia mutolu oti

Tau magafaoa,

Moe tau kapisiga

Kua tolotolo mai he aho nei

Kehe higoa he iki

Ko iesu keriso.

[Authorised te reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

[Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

It is an honour to address this House for the last time, as the MP for Maungakiekie and as a proud National Party member. While I have been a public servant for the last 10 years, my first taste of the National Party was in the mid-1990s. I remember being invited along to a meeting by a colleague at Russell McVeagh. I turned up to a regional policy committee meeting and in the time-honoured tradition of political parties, I was co-opted onto a committee. Unlike Ms King opposite I avoided being made the secretary, and I was instead assigned as the events organiser. I was dispatched to organise a guest speaker for the next month, and I thought: “That’s easy.” I would invite my university professor of economics and supervisor of my dissertation—none other than Professor Tim Hazledine. I could not make the presentation, but I was notified that the meeting was a mild success with some robust questioning of the learned professor.

I then thought that, if they enjoyed Tim Hazledine, I could invite another professor from university who supervised my other dissertation, so I notified the committee that Jane Kelsey was next month’s speaker. Well, the reply from HQ was swift and it was abrupt: there are no delegates available for that meeting and the board room is fully booked out next month, anyway. Suffice to say, I was not asked to organise a National Party policy meeting again. But lesson No. 1 in politics: watch the company that you keep.

I left for overseas and I returned to help campaign for my old school friend and current colleague, Mr Paul Goldsmith. Paul ran in Maungakiekie in 2005. It was to be a dress rehearsal for 2008, and I learnt a lot from doorknocking with Mr Goldsmith and, of course, I learnt a lot about canvassing for the party vote. He also learnt a lot from me. I remember telling him on election day that I was scrutineering at a booth in Ōranga, and he asked me: “Where is Ōranga?”. I told him that it was in our electorate, and he mumbled in his Goldie-like way that maybe he had overlooked it on the map. Twelve years on, I am assured by David Seymour that Paul is as scrupulous with that Epsom map as he was with the map in Maungakiekie.

Of course, 2008 was the year of change in New Zealand. A dynamic John Key swept to power on a platform of lower taxes, better front-line services, fiscal discipline, and setting national standards in education. I was grateful to be swept along during that wave of aspirational leadership and positive change, behind a group of committed volunteers and supporters to win Maungakiekie, a traditional Labour seat. I remember that night at Skycity well, and I said to my mum: “Happy birthday, Mum. You’ve got a thousand people at your party and it didn’t cost me a cent.” Mum, I know you cannot be here today; you are watching in Auckland. Get well soon. I love you.

At this point, can I acknowledge the contribution of the many thousands of National Party volunteers who got me here. I want to acknowledge the presidents, Goodfellow and Kirk, and regional chairs, Alastair Bell, Scott Simpson, Alan Towers, and Andrew Hunt. I want to acknowledge Roger Bridge, Peter Kiely—I could go on. You know who you are. Thank you very much for your support of me and the party. Of course, I have also got to acknowledge my electorate chairs Cheryl and Seamus, and also my really good friends Dr Lee Mathias, Graham Malaghan, Mark Nicholson, Mark Thomas, and the hundreds locally who supported me and my campaign.

On 11 November, after the election, I travelled to my first caucus. I remember congregating with other new MPs at the Koru lounge. It was my first time in the Koru lounge. A couple of Pacific women who voted for me came up to congratulate me on my victory. They said: “Well done on your hard work. You’ve made Pacific people proud and you’re going to make a fine MP.” But I quickly learnt as a new MP to try not to let this get to my head. They gave me their business cards and said to call if I needed their help, even for campaigning. Well, I was feeling pretty chuffed, and as I walked away they wished me well and said: “God bless you, Su’a William Sio.” True story—true story.

But at that first caucus meeting the advice for new MPs was to work the electorate; you will be measured on those first 3 years—and so will you, son—and especially that first year. And, as you do, I set about attending every school fair, prize-giving, Rotary club dinner, and sports club function on offer. It also allowed me to listen to queries, hear opinions, and receive feedback. I enjoyed the work and I reminded myself that this was what public service was about: dealing with the issues of people in need.

In my maiden speech I spoke of the nature of public service and of servant leadership. My mantra in public service, as many of my staff will attest to, is that I wake up each day asking what I can do and what our team can do to improve the lives of New Zealanders and their well-being, and also how to better serve their needs. I believe that if you help one New Zealander, you have had a successful day; if you help thousands, you have had a stellar day and you can retire. I knew that if I could do that with vigour and compassion that I would be re-elected with an increased majority. Serving in Maungakiekie required a lot of patience, active listening, care, and compassion. I would see some of the pain and suffering and abuse that are sadly a part of our society.

I remember doing human hoardings at Panmure roundabout one morning just before the 2011 election. An elderly woman approached me. She said to come and visit a family who were living in her garage. I visited them that afternoon where I met a teenage mother who was living in a garage with her 1-year-old son. She was heavily pregnant and her son, who had a heart condition, was running around half-clothed on the concrete floor. As I went home to my family that night to celebrate my birthday, that sad family image was burnt into my consciousness and I was determined to do something about it. My staff and I worked with Housing New Zealand and other agencies to ensure that her needs were met. Thankfully, by election day I had increased my majority in my seat and, more importantly, this mum and her two kids had found a new two-bedroom apartment to call home.

I joined the National Party because I believe in the power of families and communities to care for our own, unencumbered by the Government. However, I believe, like many New Zealanders, that, when absolutely required, the Government can and should provide assistance and help. I want to thank my electorate staff at this point—most of you are here: Jenny, Josh, Ali, Pua, and Darrell—and there are literally hundreds more stories where we have improved the lives of the many that we have served through that office. Fa’afetai tele lava.

Looking back over the last 10 years, I was proud to launch the new blue recycling bin service. This initiative was done by our local council when I first got into council and it reduced the waste to landfill by about 20 percent—not bad, I thought, for a few months’ work in the council. I had become a blue-green by accident, but I was proud of what we had done on the council. Then, on the council, I advocated for the restoration of the Onehunga foreshore. This was an example of how, with the cooperation of the Onehunga Business Association and The Onehunga Enhancement Society, both Auckland Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency provided the first significant access to the foreshore since the 1970s. That 7 hectare park now provides beaches, picnic areas, and open spaces for families, and, crucially, it will provide them for generations of New Zealanders to enjoy. After first advancing this project as a councillor, I was finally honoured to help cut the ribbon in 2015 as a Minister of the Crown.

Last year also saw the replanting of trees back on to Maungakiekie, or One Tree Hill. It was an issue that meant a lot to many in my local community and one that I had championed and worked through with our Treaty negotiations Minister—and I salute you, sir. Through those settlements with local iwi and hapū and via the support of Auckland Council we were able to do that. The ceremony was witnessed by hundreds, and I had the honour to plant one of the tōtara trees, which I hope and pray will survive the rigours of the weather to once again stand tall on my maunga, Maungakiekie. Sometimes such public symbols divide, but I believe that these trees will unite my community, our city, and this nation.

Finally, in our local area we have seen the rise of the Tāmaki Regeneration Company. This is the first large-scale transformation project in New Zealand and it will deliver over 7,500 quality homes. But for me it is more than that. Its vision means partnerships with mana whenua, local residents, businesses, and service providers. I tell you these achievements not only because I was involved in a small way but because they involved local people, their views, opinions, and, most importantly, it involved their aspirations.

On 17 January 2014 I received a call that all MPs long to receive, and covet. I got a call from Prime Minister Key that I would be a Minister in his executive. I remember taking it while spending precious time with my daughter, Hope, at Potters Park. Getting an unexpected call from the Prime Minister like that is either one of two things: there is trouble on the horizon and you may be forced to resign or you have done well enough to get promoted. Thankfully, it was the latter.

However, trying to have a conversation with the Prime Minister while doing water play during a gale in a park full of kids was really hard, but having to explain to a 3-year-old why you were interrupting her daddy-daughter date was even more challenging. I want to thank Sir Toalesavili John Key for the opportunity. It was a huge honour to serve with him and other Ministers in this National-led Government.

Taking on the Pacific people’s portfolio and becoming Associate Minister of Local Government were a natural fit. I am particularly proud of the work that was completed by the ministry in implementing the Pacific Employment Support Services scheme. It is a scheme that focuses on motivating, training, and matching young Pacific people to jobs. It had an 83 percent success rate in terms of placement into jobs or further training. That is simply stunning for any job or training scheme.

Later that year I got another call. This time I was on a beach, following the 2014 election. I got the call from Sir John, who told me that I was being elevated to Cabinet. Hope and Jules started dancing in the background, and then Jules asked me: “What portfolios?”. I said “Corrections.”, and she said “Jeepers! What did you do wrong?”.

Some would see Corrections as a poisoned chalice. I believe it was a true honour. To the 10,000 men and women who serve in Corrections, some risking their lives every day—I salute you. It was a privilege to be your Minister, despite the challenges—and there were many—in that portfolio. I was proud of what we achieved. I recall visiting Rimutaka Prison one day. I sat there with six prisoners. They were about to be released, and I asked them—I said: “Look, what one thing would make a difference in your lives?”. One fellow said: “Actually, two things.” I said: “Two—OK.” He said: “Two things—a pack of cigarettes and a chocolate ice cream.” “But seriously”, I said. To a man, they said: “What we really want are jobs—we want jobs.” That was the key to getting out and staying out. That is why it was important to set up four more working prisons, host an employers’ summit alongside the Prime Minister, and double the number of educational learning places in prisons, while launching a secure online learning service.

I was also honoured to be the Minister for Ethnic Communities. I spoke in my maiden speech about the ethnic diversity of Maungakiekie and of New Zealand. This role allowed me to engage with the many faces of New Zealand’s ethnic communities, often through celebrations of culture, language, faith, and heritage. As a migrant to Aotearoa myself, I empathised with their plights and understood many of their issues and their ambitions.

Finally, in my health portfolio I was pleased I was able to pass the standardised packaging legislation. Of course, this was initiated by Dame Tariana Turia. Smoking kills, and it prematurely kills up to 4,500 to 5,000 New Zealanders a year. Standardised packaging is proven to reduce smoking rates, and I am glad that this Parliament supported that bill.

Of course, a ministerial office is a difficult place, where people are expected to serve under the most extreme of conditions. My staff did that, and more. I want to thank my staff for their contributions—and some of them are here today—especially Mark, Margaret, Gay, Lucy, Jess, Gail, Moa, Salote, and Colleen. I also want to acknowledge Caron, Alisi, and Luaipou.

I want to wind up this speech by giving thanks to the people of Maungakiekie for putting your trust in me to serve for the past 10 years. I believe I have left it in a better place, but you will be the judge of that. I know a lot of that progress is due to your resilience, your determination, and your spirit. I know that Peter, Amanda, and Sheryn are in the crowd today—thank you. I also leave knowing you are in capable hands with Denise Lee. She is one of us, a local—compassionate, hard-working, with a heart for people and public service.

From Parliament and all the people who make this institution a paragon of democracy to the over 700 people who serve this nation alongside us, the MPs, who often serve with very little kudos—thanks to the security staff, IT, Parliamentary Service, all the support staff, and, yes, even my favourite people, the press gallery.

To my parliamentary colleagues, this is said to be a caustic and a harsh place, but I have made many friendships across this Chamber. I will not name and shame you today, because I know some of you are seeking re-election. But I do want to wish you and your families well. To my caucus colleagues, you are a team of talented and gifted people whom I am proud to have served alongside.

We have had three terms because we have been focused on the things that matter to New Zealanders—jobs, affordable and accessible healthcare, quality educational services, and safer communities. We have been successful because we have been united in our resolve to serve New Zealanders of all hues. To gain a fourth term, you need to maintain that trust and confidence that comes with engaging with people for every hour of every day until 23 September.

May I acknowledge our leader, “the rock”, our Prime Minister Leuluaialii Bill English, or William Simon English—you are someone I admire and are one of my role models in this place, and I want to acknowledge you. You are a rock, and you are more stable and dependable than a rock star, I can say. My distant cousin, the original Rock, Dwayne Johnson—[Interruption] That is right. The Rock had a saying. He said: “Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?”. On 23 September I hope “the rock” is not cooking that pizza, but that you are cooking up a fourth term for the National Party.

May I thank a few mentors—Michael Bassett, John Sax, Tino Pereira, Sir John Graham, and Tim Edney. These people offered me sage advice, as well as caring about me as a person. A special thanks to my church family at Royal Oak Baptist Church. I know some of you are here today. To Edith, Indrani, Erik, and Karen—your prayers are always felt. To my men’s group—Nick, Rob, Steve, and Ben—your support has been immense.

To old friends, Leilua Winston, Lilomaiava Yvonne, Jo, and Ngawati, Malia, and Sailauama—you have all believed in me from the beginning, and you are even more supportive of me at the end.

Finally, to family: my siblings Lolita, Brigitta, Ken, and Julie. Thanks so much for supporting and tolerating me these past 10 years. Thanks to my parents for your sacrifice, your dedication, and your love. We miss you today, Dad, and I know you are watching with Samaria up there. To my Uncle Aiga—after Dad left you stepped up as my go-to guy. Thanks, uncle.

To the Iiga, Sio, Mailo, Kasupene, and Stevenson families, thank you. To Mum Stevo—she is up there somewhere—well, you are the gold standard for mothers-in-law, I can tell you; fakaue lahi for all your love and support. To Luka, my son—ah, my son—you arrived last year. He has only got two speeds, as you have heard. It is either full speed or asleep, and he is due for a sleep. Hope, the apple of my eye and the passionfruit of my heart. I will never forget—I told you last December that I was leaving Parliament. It was priceless. You said: “Gee, thanks, Daddy. It’s about time.” You have taught me that public service starts at home. I love you, Tiges.

To Jules, my eternal love: well, we started this journey together, as you know. I proposed to you at the end of my first Auckland Marathon, and I said I was ready to run the marathon of life with you. Well, today I propose that I am ready to do an Ironman. What does that mean? Well, I suggest one thing. I suggest that we pursue one of your dreams and make it one of ours. I love you, bubs.

Finally, I want to thank God. Yes, it is unfashionable to talk about faith in the public square, but every day I thank God for life, family, friends, and the privilege to serve here and live in this wonderful country that is Aotearoa New Zealand. I thank Jesus for his sacrifice and the Holy Spirit for his counsel.

I want to end my speech with a Māori proverb and a quick Samoan farewell.

[Authorised Te Reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

[Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

It means: “To all members, be a champion for what you believe is right and, in doing so, be strong, but whatever you do, do it with love.” Finally:

Ia alofagia e le atua le moata nei

maua se tofa mai le Atua aua le fofoga fetalai ma sui mamalu o le Palemene,

ae ou ola I le alofa o le Silisili-ese.

Soifua ma ia manuia.

Thank you, and God bless.

Pese


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.


Reduce rules, change culture

July 19, 2016

The government has accepted the majority of the recommendations in the “Loopy Rules” report:

Local Government Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga today released the Government Response to the Rules Reduction Taskforce (RRT) “Loopy Rules” report.

The Taskforce was set up in 2015 to hear from people about what property related rules and regulations stop them from getting on with the job.

“The Taskforce report published in September 2015 provided a wealth of information about rules that New Zealanders found did not make sense or were inconsistently applied,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga.

The report identified 75 opportunities to improve the way rules and regulations are developed and implemented at a local level. Of those, the Taskforce highlighted ‘Top Ten Fixes’ that needed action.

“The Government accepts 72 of those opportunities and work is underway across Government to address them,” Mr Lotu-Iiga says. “The Government Response provides detailed analysis of what actions are being taken now and in the future”.

“Customer service was identified by the Taskforce as an issue for many New Zealanders seeking building and resource consents and generally dealing with property related matters. Many of these customer service issues require culture change at local level and we will work with councils to address this,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga.

“We received valuable feedback from a wide cross-section of New Zealanders. Too many rules and regulations hold our communities back. . . 

The government’s response is here and includes the actions needed to implement top 10 fixes:

Top ten fix #1: Make it easier to get building consents The Taskforce identified building consents as the first of its ‘top ten’ issues. The concerns identified included the speed with which consents are issued, and that the hurdles imposed on minor structures can be disproportionate to the risks involved. The Taskforce considered that submitters would find valuable: progressive building consents; risk-based consenting; a streamlined determinations (dispute resolution) process; and the quick completion of work that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has currently underway to improve building fire upgrade regulations.

3.2. The Government supports all the opportunities identified by the Taskforce to make it easier to get building consents. Unnecessary barriers to consenting should be removed and processes streamlined. A risk-based consenting approach is being explored. The actions underway also include providing councils with guidance about the use of discretion when assessing what work does not need a building consent and the use of staged consents so that structural work can get under way before non-structural work is approved. . .

Top ten fix #2: Get serious about lifting the skills of the building sector The Taskforce considered that the considerable financial risks councils are exposed to through their role as building consent authorities (e.g. from leaky buildings) creates an incentive for them to be risk averse. Council risk aversion is the driver behind many submitters’ complaints such as arguments with designers and builders over, for example, acceptable solutions, as well as detailed and repetitive inspection processes. The long term solution to this suggested by the Taskforce is for the building sector to upskill so that it can eventually carry responsibility for its own work.

3.5. The Government agrees that the capability of the building sector needs development. This is an important objective in its own right. The Government has further increased its investment in the apprenticeship scheme this year, with additional funding announced in Budget 2016. The Government does not consider that the building sector is ready to certify its own work, as there is a great deal of work that needs to take place in the occupational regulation and liability areas before this could happen. Currently no changes are proposed to the ability of the building trades to certify their own work. . .

Top ten fix #3: Make it easier to get resource consents The Taskforce reported that submitters found the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) complex with difficulties in its implementation. Developers, building professionals and the public told of their frustrations in dealing with the complexity of the RMA and the regime of resource consents, district plans, regional plans, national policy statements and national environmental standards.

3.9. Like the Taskforce, the Government is also concerned about the RMA, and has introduced the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill. As introduced, the Bill overhauls the RMA to support business growth and housing development while also ensuring more effective environmental management. . .

Top ten fix #4: Reduce the cost of consenting fees The Taskforce considered that building consent fees are too high, reporting that “Property owners object to the size of the combined fees and levies, regarding them as disproportionate to the cost of projects and to the service received”. The Taskforce recommended that building levies be reviewed and capped.

3.13. The Government agrees that building levies should be reviewed. A review will be completed by MBIE in 2016. A decision on whether the levy will be capped will be made after this. . .

Top ten fix #5: Sort out what ‘work safety’ means and how to do it The Taskforce found that submitters were willing to meet their health and safety obligations but were sometimes unsure how to do this.

3.16. The Government supports the Taskforce’s opportunities identified in the health and safety area. The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, which has come into force since the Taskforce reported, will help address many of the issues the Taskforce identified. . .

Top ten fix #6: Make it clear what the rules are The Taskforce heard that submitters sought clarity about the rules that they must comply with. In the absence of clarity, myths and misunderstandings can spread.

3.20. The Government agrees that rule clarity is important. Actions have been completed already to give guidance to councils in a number of areas. In the health and safety and building areas improved web content is now available. Understanding the rules is the first step to adherence, and work will be ongoing in this area. . .

Top ten fix #7: Establish a new customer focus for the public sector Lack of a systematic customer-centred culture was a key issue for submitters. The Taskforce heard that people experience confusion and frustration when dealing with councils. The Taskforce also heard of the difficulties councils report when working with government agencies, particularly about how to implement new or amended regulations and standards.

3.23. Customer service is a key ingredient in service quality in both central and local government. As described earlier in this response, the Government considers that the level of customer service that people experience from council staff is primarily a local government responsibility, supported by central government which must provide fit-for-purpose legislative frameworks. This is why the actions below focus on the measures central government agencies will take. . .

Top ten fix #8: Departments should introduce a stakeholder engagement approach to developing local government policies and regulations The Taskforce heard reports that engagement practices of central government agencies were not consistently good. Councils that submitted were particularly concerned about a lack of involvement when central government agencies consider new or amended regulations that would affect them.

3.25. The Government considers that where possible, people should have the opportunity to express their views on proposed rules. The Government has been encouraging departments to adopt better stakeholder approaches by, for example, promoting greater use of exposure drafts of proposed bills and regulations. The exposure draft process is intended to enable stakeholders to provide feedback on proposed bills or regulations, before they are introduced or gazetted. . .

Top ten fix #9: Reform the Local Government Act 1974 and the Reserves Act 1977 The Taskforce identified that the Reserves Act 1977 and the Local Government Act 1974 need updating. Submissions highlighted, for example, that the Reserves Act is outdated; being overly restrictive, creating duplication, and reducing a council’s flexibility to manage reserve land.

3.27. The Government recognises that the Reserves Act 1977 and the Local Government Act 1974 need to be modernised to address frustrations highlighted by the Taskforce. The Government is working to address issues with some of the provisions in the Reserves Act 1977 and is updating guidance for councils to help reduce other problems that have been identified by the Taskforce. . .

Top ten fix #10: Stop making loopy rules The Taskforce considered that improved collaboration between regulators and stakeholders and greater use of the Code of Good Regulatory Practice would benefit the regulatory framework. A more systematic approach to rule-making, including having greater collaboration with stakeholders, will lead to more robust rules.

3.30. The Government strongly supports the Taskforce’s recommendations in this area. It is giving a high priority to the systematic improvement of regulatory processes, with both further improvements to regulatory systems and practice about to be introduced. . .

Loopy rules cause frustration, reduce productivity, and add time and cost to development and complicate life.

Sometimes the rules are the problem, sometimes it’s the interpretation and implementation of them.

Improvement requires fewer rules, better rules and a culture change at both central and local government level.


Rural round-up

July 4, 2015

 Wendy Avery – strong woman behind the man – Barbara Gillaham:

Doug Avery is well known throughout the farming community as a man who has faced adversity, immense stress and the dark pit of depression.

Battling through all of these, plus ongoing droughts, and other serious setbacks on the family’s South Marlborough farm Bonavaree, today he has successfully turned his farm into a high-performing business.

Now with the farm safely managed by his son Fraser, Doug is busy touring the country presenting his Resilient Farmer plan, reaching out to other farmers in New Zealand suffering from stress and depression.

Although he laughingly describes himself as a “sad bastard” Doug Avery has proven himself a strong man in every sense of the word. . .

50 years with Alliance Group – Brittany Pickett:

Separating faeces and intestines may not be for everyone but for Ian Miller it has been a 50 year long career.

The Invercargill man began his career at the Makarewa Alliance plant in May 1965, at the tender age of 16, after his father, also a long-time Alliance employee, decided it was time for his son to learn a trade.

“He went to the boss and said I’ve got a lad who’s not doing so good at school and then I started there with my father in the gut floor,” Miller said.

Adding to the family tradition, Miller’s two uncles also worked for Alliance. . .

 Corrections land returned to Tuwharetoa:

 Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga today helped celebrate the return of 8500ha of Crown land to Ngāti Tūwharetoa. Some of the land on the Tongariro/Rangipō Prison site will continue to be used by Corrections to help rehabilitate prisoners.  This includes about 700ha for a training farm for prisoners to hone their farming skills, giving them real work opportunities on release. The sale of the land to Ngāti Tūwharetoa was finalised today at a ceremony at Rongomai Marae near Taupō. …

Iwi partnership purchases Crown land and forests:

E ngā mana, e ngā reo o te motu, tēnā koutou katoa. E mihi ana ki a koutou i ngā āhuatanga o te wā.

A Ngāti Tūwharetoa partnership, the Tūwharetoa Settlement Trust (TST) and five other Tūwharetoa entities, have finalised the purchase of 8,500 hectares of Crown land in the central North Island. This includes around 4,000 hectares of timber plantations.

The sale and purchase by Hautu-Rangipo Whenua Limited (HRWL), valued at $52.7 million, was marked at Rongomai marae today by Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, Ta Tumu te Heuheu, CNI Iwi representatives, and representatives of the iwi partnership.

TST Chairman, Dylan Tahau, said the deal has significant strategic and commercial benefits for the iwi partnership. . .

Tourism opportunity on burgeoning cycle trail:

A former regal Waitaki homestead that has been run as a commercial enterprise with links to the famous Scottish whisky Glenfiddich, has been placed on the market for sale.

Craigellachie was built by a Scottish migrant in 1899, who chose the name as it fondly reminded him of a place in Northern Scotland. Meaning ‘rocky hill’, Cragellachie is at the heart of Scotland’s malt whisky trail. The village sits above the Rivers Spey and Fiddich, whose valley or glen gives its name to arguably the country’s most famous whisky, Glenfiddich.

The New Zealand namesake is located at 399 Otiake Road in the Waitaki Valley settlement of Otiake. . .

 

Kiwi Consumers Pay Dearly for Manuka Honey Goldrush:

New Zealand honey consumers are being forced to pay dramatically higher retail prices for everyday honeys as exporters buy up all available table honeys to blend and sell as authentic manuka honey in global markets.

“There’s a goldrush mentality out there. Overseas demand is rapacious for manuka honey or a blend that can be labelled as manuka honey,” says industry leader and long-time advocate for transparent and internationally credible manuka honey quality standards, Peter Bray, managing director of Canterbury­-based Airborne Honey. Recognised world standards require a honey to be “wholly or mainly” made from the named source on the label yet a high proportion of honey sold as manuka fails to meet this threshold. . .

 

Unification the hot topic at the Conference of the National Beekeepers Association attended by Waikato Based SummerGlow Apiaries:

Unification has been one of the major topics at last week’s annual Conference of the National Beekeepers Association and Federated Farmers Bee Industry Group held at Wairakei, attend by Waikato based Manuka Honey producers SummerGlow Apiaries.

“This year has been the biggest event yet in terms of attendance as we have had over 830 registrations from all areas of the industry attend this year’s conference which is up from last year when 500 people attended,” says John Hartnell, Bees Chairperson of Federated Farmers Of New Zealand. . .

 

honey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hat tip: Utopia


Quote of the day

June 8, 2015

But sometimes having the book smarts, how that applies in practice, that doesn’t always convert. The smartest financial minds aren’t necessarily the most savvy financially. – Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.


New Cabinet announced

October 6, 2014

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other changes include:

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

Anne Tolley becomes Minister for Social Development.

Dr Nick Smith becomes Minister for the Environment.

Nikki Kaye becomes Minister for ACC.

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

Jo Goodhew becomes Minister for Food Safety.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The list of names, positions and rankings is here.

 


Taxi driver test

August 4, 2014

The taxi driver who picked me up at Wellington Airport last week asked why I was in the city.

When I said I was up for valedictory speeches at parliament discussion turned to politics and he said he’d always voted Labour until the last election when he’d voted National.

He planned to vote National again this time because he didn’t think Labour is on the right track and John Key and National are.

He  said Samoans like him had traditionally voted Labour and his decision to change wasn’t taken lightly but he wasn’t the only one who was thinking blue rather than red.

The taxi driver who took me back to the airport was also Samoan.

He said he always voted Labour but last time he’d voted New Zealand First. He wasn’t sure how he’d vote this time but he wasn’t happy with Labour.

The views of two taxi drivers doesn’t have statistical validity but these conversations confirm a trend of change in political allegiance among Pacific people.

The work of National MPs Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga and Alfred Ngaro has helped as has the enthusiastic campaigning by Mangare candidate Misa Fia Turner.

But there is also a recognition by more Pacific people that National values are more like theirs than those of other parties.

One of those is Jonah Lomu:

Some of the comments left in response to Lomu’s tweet contained an unfortunate level of vitriol.

But like it or not, National is working for all New Zealanders and no party can take the support of any people, individuals or groups, for granted.


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