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  1. A strong economy delivers higher living standards, higher incomes and greater choice and opportunities for New Zealanders and their families. New Zealand needs a strongly growing economy if we want a world-class health system, better education for our kids and the modern infrastructure network we desperately need. New Zealand’s economy is driven by hardworking small business owners. Every Government should do what it can to reduce costs and uncertainty so that our small businesses have the confidence to take risks, invest, hire new staff and lift wages. This document is part of the biggest policy development process by an Opposition in over a decade and provides some new ideas on how we can turn around New Zealand’s slowing economy, restore business confidence, revive our economy and grow the incomes of New Zealanders. national.org.nz
  2. Our country is facing devastating and widespread national bushfires. They have been burning throughout the country for months now but today is shaping up as our most challenging day, with a state of emergency declared in NSW and Victoria while Tasmania and South Australia also face significant threats. We are well prepared, well organised and well resourced, but we are also realistic: These fire conditions are unprecedented, and the challenge is formidable. If fierce conditions prevail, today could be a dark day for our country. The rapidly escalating damage and the heart-breaking human cost calls for nothing less than an all-out response. The task in front of our country today and in the weeks ahead requires us to do whatever it takes; to not only fight the fires and protect lives, but ensure our fire-affected communities are well-resourced and functioning, and evacuations can be affected quickly and effectively. And when the fire threat has finally diminished, that we have the tools and personnel to reopen and rebuild. Following today’s meeting of the National Security Committee, the Morrison Government is: Enacting a compulsory Call-Out of Australian Defence Force Reserve Brigades for the first time in the country’s history, together with specialist personnel, Deploying HMAS Adelaide to support the efforts of HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore, as well as additional Chinook helicopters, C-17 Globemasters, C-130 Hercules and C-27 Spartans, and Leasing a fleet of extra waterbombing planes for the states and territories to deploy It will mean boots on the ground, planes in the sky and ships out at sea all supporting the bushfire fighting effort and recovery. We continue to support the states to run the operational response and we will continue to act on every request we receive for further assistance. In recent months ADF resources have been deployed in response to state requests - from the operational base at Canungra in Queensland in September, to the 2,000 personnel already deployed to support with logistics, evacuations, catering, accommodation and clearing, our Air Force helping transport firefighters, Defence bases being used as refuelling and staging sites and HMAS Albatross assisting with water and fire retardant reloading. We have also been listening to the people on the ground in these fire-affected areas and we are unilaterally changing the posture of the ADF to proactively mobilise and position our resources where we expect they will be needed most. Through the authority of the Governor-General, the Government has directed the Australian Defence Force surge to bring every possible capability to bear by deploying Army Reserve Brigades to fire-affected communities across Australia. Australians have watched with admiration as our emergency services have dealt with the fires and extreme weather events engulfing much of the country. We have their backs. Two-Star Emergency ADF National Support Coordinator Major General Justin Ellwood will have national authority over the ADF Joint Task Forces in each affected state working in cooperation with and to support state emergency authorities. The priority for this deployment is to assist in ensuring the safety of life, support the evacuation of affected people from isolated communities, provide assistance to isolated communities and support State-managed evacuation centres. The ADF surge includes the deployment of up to 3,000 designated ADF Reserve forces including the 4th Brigade from Victoria, the 5th Brigade from New South Wales, and the 9th Brigade from South Australia and Tasmania and specialist logistic elements of the 17th Brigade headquartered in New South Wales to push Defence resources into fire-affected areas progressively, and in coordination with State authorities, from as early as tomorrow. These Brigades will be enhanced with specialist ADF personnel with skills in engineering, medical, logistics and transport support. Following the Prime Minister’s conversation with the Chief of the Defence Force on New Year’s Eve, the HMAS Adelaide, the Navy’s largest amphibious ship, has been readied to join HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore in supporting evacuation of citizens from fire affected areas along our coast line. HMAS Adelaide will sail from Sydney this afternoon, and will be located offshore from the fire affected areas tomorrow afternoon. The Adelaide is fully equipped for disaster relief and humanitarian aid and is able to operate all ADF helicopters, 400 crew including medical staff as well as 300 tonnes of emergency relief supplies. The Government has ordered relevant ADF air lift and reconnaissance capacity to pre-position to RAAF Base East Sale, which will remain the central hub for the Defence response in southern areas. From tomorrow an additional three Chinook helicopters from Townsville, will be deployed over the coming week to support a range of resupply, evacuation and transport tasks across the breadth of the affected areas. An additional C-17 Globemaster, two C-130 Hercules and three C-27 Spartans will also be pre-positioned to East Sale. For people in short term evacuation distress, other Defence bases from Brisbane to Adelaide will provide temporary transit accommodation and support arrangements. This is a major step-up in ADF involvement and assistance and demonstrates our absolute commitment to supporting states to fight the fires, and to immediately swing into disaster recovery operations as soon as the fire-front has passed. Following a request from the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council at 8pm yesterday for one additional waterbombing aircraft, today we have also committed $20 million to lease four extra planes to fulfil that request and to meet any further requests - two long-range fixed wing DC-10s with 36,000 litres capacity and two medium-range fixed-wing Large Air Tankers with 11,000 litre capacity. The Commonwealth will fully fund the leasing costs with operational costs to be shared with states and territories as usual. From the heart-breaking loss of life to the destruction wrought on towns and communities, businesses, farms, livestock, homes and our wildlife, the impact of these bushfires has left deep financial, emotional, mental and environmental scars. We are conscious of the enormous challenge of rebuilding these devastated communities. Australians are resilient and want to rebuild - and we will be with them every step of the way. The Government has already processed 20,600 claims for assistance this bushfire season and delivered nearly $25 million in Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance as well as deployed Mobile Service Centres and extended Centrelink’s phone hours including opening them this weekend. But, as with the floods and drought, we can and will ensure communities and businesses have the helping hand they need. The Government will detail further work to aid the recovery in coming days. Our government’s entire focus is on supporting Australians in this difficult time – those facing immediate danger and those who are recovering after the fire-front has passed. The Prime Minister has postponed his state visit to India and his official visit to Japan to stay close to the disaster and recovery operations underway in Australia. We deeply appreciate the arrangements that India and Japan have made to date and look forward to rescheduling the visits at a mutually convenient time in the coming months. Everywhere across the country in the communities we visit we see the absolute devastation and despair these bushfires have wrought. What we have also seen is the best of Australians coming together, supporting one another. We urge Australians to keep informed about the situation in their area and to follow the directions of state and territory authorities and the ADF as they work to keep people safe. We will do whatever it takes to get Australians through these terrible times. liberal.org.au
  3. 4. REBUILDING COMMUNITIES The Australian Government is providing $2 billion over two years, to help rebuild communities and livelihoods. This $2 billion investment is on top of the existing disaster relief payments. It is an initial investment. If more is required, it will be provided. A National Bushfire Recovery Agency, led by former AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin, will co-ordinate the rebuilding effort. These funds will cover things like restocking farms, rebuilding roads and telecommunications, mental health support, attracting back tourists, small business support, protecting wildlife and restoring local environments. While the immediate focus is fighting fires and keeping people safe, we need to hit the ground running when fires have passed. 5. SUPPORT FOR VOLUNTEER FIRE FIGHTERS The Government is funding financial support of up to $6,000 for emergency services volunteers who have lost income as a result of volunteering to fight the fires. Public servants who are emergency services volunteers are being provided with additional paid leave. We thank the Australian companies which have matched this. KEY CONTACTS In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000) Emergency radio broadcasts: ABC and commercial local radio New South Wales NSW RFS: www.rfs.nsw.gov.au and www.fire.nsw.gov.au Twitter: @NSWRFS NSW Bush Fire Information Line: 1800 679 737 NSW Government Disaster Welfare Assistance Line: 1800 018 444 Victoria Victoria Country Fire Authority: www.cfa.vic.gov.au VicEmergency Hotline: 1800 226 226 Twitter: @VICemergency VIC Emergency Relief Assistance Payments:https://emergency.vic.gov.au/relief/#financial_assistance South Australia SA CFS: www.cfs.sa.gov.au Bushfire Information Hotline: 1800 362 361 SA Government Recovery Hotline: 1800 302 787 Twitter: @CFSAlerts Queensland Queensland Fire and Emergency Services: www.qfes.qld.gov.au Twitter: @QldFES Australian Government financial assistance If you’ve been affected by the bushfires and need to claim assistance you can call Services Australia on 180 22 66. For more information, go to: www.humanservices.gov.au/disaster When it is safe, Mobile Services Centres will head into affected regions to assist. liberal.org.au
  4. Our country is facing devastating and widespread bushfires. This requires us to do everything possible to fight fires, protect lives, and ensure communities are getting the support they need. 1. DEPLOYING THE AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE The Australian Defence Force is providing boots on the ground, planes in the sky and ships at sea, to support the bushfire fighting effort and recovery. For the first time in our history, the Government has enacted a compulsory call-out of the Australian Defence Force Reserve Brigades. This will provide up to 3,000 Australian Defence Force Reservists, including personnel with skills in engineering, medical, logistics and transport support. The Navy’s largest ship, HMAS Adelaide, will join HMAS Choules and MV Sycamore in supporting the evacuation of citizens. The Adelaide is fully equipped for disaster relief and humanitarian aid. It can operate all ADF helicopters. It has 400 crew, including medical staff, and 300 tonnes of emergency relief supplies. The Government is deploying additional ADF air lift and reconnaissance capacity. This includes Chinook helicopters, C-17 Globemasters, C-130 Hercules and C-27 Spartans. All Defence bases between Brisbane and Adelaide will provide temporary transit accommodation and support for those displaced by the fires. Call 1800 DEFENCE (1800 333 362) for more information. Major General Justin Ellwood, will have national authority over the ADF Joint Task Forces. The ADF will work in cooperation with and support state emergency authorities. 2. ADDITIONAL WATERBOMBING The Government immediately responded to a request for an additional waterbombing aircraft, by providing $20 million to lease four extra planes. This includes: two long-range fixed wing DC-10s (with 36,000 litres capacity); and two medium-range fixed-wing Large Air Tankers (with 11,000 litre capacity). This is in addition to $26 million already provided to the states and territories through the National Aerial Firefighting Centre, which provides specialised firefighting aircraft. 3. IMMEDIATE FINANCIAL HELP The Government is providing immediate financial support to fire-affected communities. This includes a non-means tested Disaster Recovery Payment of $1,000 for eligible adults and $400 for children. A Disaster Recovery Allowance is available to provide short-term income support for those who have lost income. In the 33 Local Government Areas hardest hit by the fires, the Commonwealth and State governments are providing $15,000 recovery grants for small businesses, community organisations and primary producers and funds for local government to help communities recover. liberal.org.au
  5. The Federal Government will establish a new agency with an initial $2 billion for a national bushfire recovery fund to coordinate a national response to rebuild communities and livelihoods after the devastating fire-front has passed. The Prime Minister said the National Bushfire Recovery Agency would be funded with an initial $2 billion to ensure the families, farmers and business owners hit by these unprecedented bushfires would get the support they needed as they recover. “It’s a long road ahead and we will be with these communities every step of the way as they rebuild,” the Prime Minister said. “While the immediate focus for our emergency services and the Australian Defence Force is keeping people safe and defending against the fires hitting so many areas, we also need to be ready to hit the ground in communities where the fire-front has passed to help them rebuild. “The Agency will ensure the work of state and territory governments is being supported and act as a ‘one stop shop’ central team to coordinate the response. We will do whatever it takes.” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the initial $2 billion investment for the Agency and its recovery work would be on top of the existing disaster recovery payments and allowances which have so far seen more than $100 million worth of assistance flowing through to families, small businesses and farmers. “An unprecedented joint effort with the states, territories and local government will be required to assist with the recovery, rebuilding and future resilience of these communities,” the Treasurer said. “Our initial $2 billion investment help to get communities back on their feet by assisting with restocking and replenishing, rebuilding roads and telecommunications infrastructure, mental health support, attracting tourists back to the regions and helping restore the local environment and impacted wildlife.” The Agency will be led by Andrew Colvin APM AOM and will be modelled off the North Queensland Livestock Industry Recovery Agency established following the 2019 North Queensland floods, as well as the experience of the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery Authority created after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. The Agency’s key tasks include: Build on the effective working relationships with state, territory and local governments, including their recovery and reconstruction bodies, and to work with stakeholders in bushfire affected communities, and relevant Commonwealth agencies to inform and integrate recovery and rebuild activities Ensuring affected communities have ready access to meaningful support and all available services Providing advice and recommendations to Government on the economic and social impacts of bushfire on affected communities, in consultation with relevant agencies across all levels of government; Developing and coordinating the delivery of a long-term plan for the recovery, rebuild and resilience of bushfire affected communities Minister for Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud said the Commonwealth would continue to step up to do whatever it takes. "We will continue to respond to changing conditions while these fires affect communities across the country,” Minister Littleproud said. “We will help people on the fire front and people that have been evacuated from affected areas and the ADF is also helping deliver supplies such as food, fuel and medical assistance. “When the rebuilding begins, the Commonwealth will be there to make sure communities are well-resourced.” The Agency will work within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and report to Minister Littleproud. Funding for the Agency is in addition to the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements that have been activated in all bushfire affected areas already with $25 million in Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Recovery Allowance flowing to communities. The Commonwealth and NSW Governments have already committed $86 million for the recovery effort in that state and Category C assistance between the Commonwealth and Victoria is also expected to flow shortly. The funding is in addition to the Australian Government’s support for Volunteer firefighters who are eligible for up to $6,000 per person to provide for lost income. People affected by the bushfires can claim disaster payments by calling Services Australia (Centrelink) on 180 22 66 and find more information at www.humanservices.gov.au/disaster. As soon as it is safe to do so, Mobile Service Centres will head into affected regions to assist with all Government payment services, including disaster payments. liberal.org.au
  6. With devastating fires still burning across many parts of our country, governments both federal and state are doing all they can to save lives and protect property. The heroes in all this are our volunteer firefighters, emergency service personnel and members of the Australian Defence Force who have put their lives on the line to save others. It will take time to rebuild and the affected communities will not be able to do it alone. This is why yesterday the Morrison Government announced a $2 billion initial contribution to the new National Bushfire Recovery Fund. The fund will be administered by the new National Bushfire Recovery Agency under the leadership of former Australian Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin. Based on the experience of a similar agency the government established in response to the North Queensland floods, expenditure could include restocking and replanting; additional support for farmers, businesses and local councils; environmental and wildlife restoration projects; economic and social infrastructure and mental health support. Together with other initiatives the states will undertake, this $2 billion federal government commitment will help communities get back on their feet after the devastation of the fires, rebuilding lives and restoring livelihoods. The government’s focus will be to get this money to affected communities as quickly as possible and, importantly, it is in addition to the various commonwealth disaster recovery payments and allowances made under existing mechanisms. For example, the commonwealth provides a non-means-tested disaster recovery payment of $1000 for eligible adults and $400 for eligible children as well as a short-term means-tested disaster recovery allowance for up to 13 weeks to provide income support. Other commonwealth disaster recovery assistance which is currently provided and is additional to yesterday’s announcement includes funding for the restoration of essential public assets; grants, loans and interest rate subsidies to small business and primary producers and assistance payments to households for emergency accommodation and the cleanup, repair and rebuilding of homes. The commonwealth has also offered the states non-means-tested payments of up to $6000 for each volunteer firefighter who has been called out for more than 10 days this season and who are self-employed or working for small and medium-sized businesses. At this most difficult time, the last thing anyone affected by the fires should be concerned about is their tax affairs. Accordingly, the ATO has instituted an automatic two month deferral of lodgement and payment obligations for those living in affected areas and is providing an emergency support hotline – 1800 806 218 – for those seeking more detail on the options available. The effective response of insurers to this disaster will also be absolutely critical to the recovery. With almost 6000 claims totalling nearly $400 million in losses already lodged, the insurance industry has mobilised teams of assessors and recovery specialists with some already in affected areas. These assessors and specialists will help process claims as quickly as possible. Today I will be meet the Insurance Council, company CEOs, Treasury, APRA and ASIC to discuss the crisis and their response. The banking sector also plays an important role in helping communities respond to the crisis with the Banking Association announcing its members will implement a range of measures, including deferring loan and interest repayments, offering additional finance to help deal with cashflow shortages and waiving fees and charges. In addition to the financial support from the commonwealth, there is significant operational assistance being provided. This includes an unprecedented call-out of up to 3000 defence force reservists in addition to 2000 defence force personnel already engaged. The Navy’s biggest vessel, HMAS Adelaide, has been deployed after HMAS Choules evacuated people from Mallacoota. Chinook and Blackhawk helicopters have joined Hercules, Globemasters, Spartan and fixed-wing aircraft ferrying firefighters and emergency service personnel to and from the most difficult terrain. Army medics and engineers are providing support on the ground. The Prime Minister recently announced the leasing, at a cost of $20 million, of an additional four water bombing planes, two large fixed-wing DC-10s, with 36,000 litre capacity and two medium range large air tankers with 11,000 litres capacity. This is in addition to the $25 million the commonwealth provides as an annual contribution to the national aerial firefighting centre. We also have a range of commonwealth agencies such as Emergency Management Australia and the Bureau of Meteorology, which are embedded with state authorities in local control centres. There are challenging times ahead as a result of these devastating bushfires but there is an enormous amount of goodwill across the community. By working together we can deliver the support needed and ensure they recover and rebuild for the future. liberal.org.au
  7. Live from the Whanganui Opera House, on the final day of the 2019 Labour Party Conference, Jacinda Ardern announced the largest investment in school property in 25 years. Q: What is the announcement? A: A cash injection for almost all state schools in the country to upgrade their rundown classrooms and facilities. The announcement is the first part of our new infrastructure package, which we will be rolling out over the coming months. This is the largest one-off injection for school maintenance in at least 25 years, and will have a massive impact on schools and on jobs in the trades. Q: Who will benefit from this? A: Kiwi kids deserve a warm, dry, safe place to learn and grow. This investment will ensure that they no longer have to 'make-do' with rundown classrooms - that their school can be a special place where they reach their full potential. But it's not just our kids and their teachers who will benefit from this infrastructure investment, it will create local jobs too. Upgrading New Zealand's schools after nine years of neglect will take time - and some hard work by our skilled tradespeople. These upgrades are going to create jobs around the country for roofers, carpenters, builders, plumbers and landscapers. Finally, we know that schools stand at the heart of every community. By investing in our schools, we're investing in our kids, our teachers, and our tradespeople, but also the wider community too. Q: What is the funding for? A: A significant portion of school buildings in New Zealand are old and need modernising. Around 68% of New Zealand schools have an average building age over 40 years old and 40% have an average building age that is over 50 years old. Schools spend a significant portion of their property budget on addressing health and safety and essential infrastructure meaning they often have to defer modernisation and upgrade work. This package will allow schools to complete projects sooner, speeding up the provision of improved learning environments for children. The funding is for schools to spend on much-needed upgrades that have been put on the back burner. Examples of upgrades for schools may include: Updating and modernising existing classrooms Opening up classroom space to make it more flexible and usable Replacing rather than repairing roofing and guttering Putting in more energy efficient heating for schools (e.g. removing coal boilers) Resurfacing outdoor courts and paved areas Upgrading the school’s storm water drainage systems Upgrading resource rooms, staff rooms or administration areas. Q: How much will each school get? A: Almost every state school in the country will receive $693 per student, up to a maximum of $400,000, with no school receiving less than $50,000 regardless of how small their roll is. All state schools opened before 2015 (around 2,050 schools), regardless of size, are eligible to receive a one-off capital contribution next year to spend on school property. For most schools this will represent an average funding increase of 40% over a five year period. Special schools will receive a flat rate of $200,000, regardless of roll size, to reflect these schools are usually small but face high property costs associated with special education provision. 25-30% of schools are small and isolated, meaning the package will assist in stimulating regional economies as schools will be able to use their existing contractor relationships and local providers to deliver the works. Q: What will my school get/my kid's school get? A: A full list of every school's funding can be found here. Integrated schools funded through operational funding, schools built through a Public Private Partnership, or schools in leased accommodation are excluded. Q: How long will this take? A: Funding will be spent on property projects to be delivered over the next 12-24 months. labour.org.nz
  8. We're backing our ethnic communities Aotearoa is home to over 200 ethnicities. This week we announced we're increasing the Ethnic Communities Development Fund from $520,000 to $4.2 million each year - meaning we can support more of the community initiatives that help build a stronger, safer more connected and inclusive society. The Fund will now be able to support groups to do more work, including: promoting ethnic diversity and understanding educating New Zealanders about the contribution of ethnic communities developing participation in employment and society supporting our ethnic communities to thrive through the practice and celebration of culture. The Fund will from now on operate as a rolling fund, with applications assessed and decisions made throughout the year, rather than just once annually. We're getting into the festive spirit Premier House was busier than usual this week with the Prime Minister hosting her annual Christmas Party for a group of Barnados New Zealand tamariki, rangatahi and their whānau. A Christmas feast, face painting, card making, a photo booth, and a special gift from Santa, all made this day a day to remember! labour.org.nz
  9. We're rebuilding New Zealand - our transport network, our hospitals, our schools and more... After nine years of neglect there's a lot to fix - but we're getting on with the job. We're rebuilding New Zealand Last Sunday we announced the first part of our new infrastructure package - with a big boost for school upgrades at nearly every state school in the country. This funding means nearly every state school will receive a capital injection next year between $50,000-$400,000 - $693 per student for most schools - to bring forward urgent school property improvements. The one-off cash injection will see some schools receive up to $400,000 to spend on needed upgrades that have been put on the back burner. This investment is the biggest capital injection for school maintenance funding in at least 25 years and will have a massive impact on schools and on jobs in the trades. We're providing better cancer care This week saw the official opening of the independent Cancer Control Agency. Opened by the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister David Clark, the Agency will drive consistent, high quality cancer care across all of our DHBs, so New Zealanders get world-class cancer care – no matter where they live. This builds on the progress we've already made to deliver better cancer care for New Zealanders, including: Launching the Cancer Action Plan Investing in 12 new radiation machines Increased funding for PHARMAC, so it can buy new cancer drugs. Modernising our approach to cancer won’t happen overnight, but with strong leadership from the Agency and a greater focus on prevention, screening and treatment, we're making progress. labour.org.nz
  10. Just after 2pm on Monday this week, Whakaari / White Island erupted. “There is no limit to New Zealand’s capacity to mobilise, to respond, to care and embrace those impacted by tragedy – we are a nation full of ordinary people who do extraordinary things.” We've cut the ribbon on more climate progress in our dairy sector Climate action is about cooperation and innovation – and it was great to see our primary sector embracing both this week. Synlait Milk - a dairy processing company based in Canterbury - was visited by the PM this week, to celebrate the launch of the community environmental programme, Whakapūawai. Synlait has installed a first of its kind electrode boiler, which will generate CO2-e savings roughly equivalent to emissions from 9,600 households over ten years. Process heat is the second-highest source of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions behind transport - so this is a significant step in the right direction. Synlait talked us through its sustainability strategy to reduce off farm greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2028. It aims to have 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packing by 2025. We’re taking action on climate change – and our business leaders are too. We’re getting more Kiwis into homes We have a plan to help people into homes across the board – from helping those in urgent need rebuild their lives with safe, secure housing to better supporting Kiwis into their first homes. After nine years of neglect there is a severe shortage of warm, dry housing and affordable housing for people and whanau – and we're seeing that shortage have a major effect on the people of Hastings. Shortages have been made worse by a population boom as more people move to Hawke’s Bay. Latest estimates by Hastings District Council and Ministry of Housing and Urban Development identified a shortage of around 300 to 500 affordable houses to meet current housing need. That's why, this week, we announced that we’re helping Hastings overcome its housing challenge, and will be building 160 additional Kāinga Ora public houses by June 2021. The houses are being provided in response to the city’s high demand for emergency, transitional and public housing and help reduce the reliance on motels. We’re also tackling homelessness in Napier and Hastings - bringing Housing First to the Hawke's Bay. This programme will offer support for up to 100 people and whānau in Napier and Hastings. We're reforming our justice system We're looking to turn around the long-term challenges of criminal justice by taking a new approach to break the cycle of offending and reoffending to ensure there are fewer victims of crime. Justice Minister Andrew Little released two reports this week, Turuki! Turuki! from Te Uepū Hāpai I te Ora, and Te Tangi o te Manawanui: Recommendations for Reform from the Chief Victims Advisor. Both recommend a fresh approach to the way criminal justice has been approached. We know fixing the problems facing our criminal justice system won't happen overnight, but we're taking important steps in the right direction now - for a better, fairer future for all Kiwis. labour.org.nz
  11. If you are serious about jobs you don’t cut money from TAFE. But that’s exactly what Scott Morrison did – cutting more than $3 billion from TAFE, apprenticeships and vocational education. Since the Liberals came to government, Australia has lost almost 150,000 apprenticeships and traineeships. TAFE cuts are hurting young workers who want to get their foot in the door, and workers who need to reskill. Youth unemployment is now above 20 per cent in parts of the country and thousands of workers lost their jobs after the Liberals and Nationals abandoned the automotive manufacturing industry. More people should get the opportunity to learn a trade and help workers to re-skill – the Liberal and National cuts to TAFE funding must stop. It’s up to us to spread the word, so sign the petition and help us to fight for TAFE. alp.org.au
  12. In their first two terms, the Liberal National Government cut $715 million from Australia’s hospitals – cutting hospital beds, cutting healthcare workers, and blowing out hospital waiting lists. Now in their third term, Scott Morrison is planning to cut another $2.8 billion from public hospitals. When you or your loved one is sick, the last thing you need is to worry about whether your local hospital has enough beds to give you the health care you need. Every day, more than 21,000 Australians will visit an emergency department - with our hard-working doctors and nurses overstretched and under resourced to keep up with demand. It’s time Morrison got the message. His hospitals cuts are hurting local communities right now – but his only answer is even more cuts. Sign the petition now to fight for your local hospital and tell Morrison to fix our hospitals. alp.org.au
  13. Liberal MPs have called for Scott Morrison to reverse the ban on nuclear power in Australia. Over 100 communities have been identified as possible locations for nuclear reactors and nuclear dumps – with many of them being near residential homes. When it comes to nuclear power, there’s a real possibility of catastrophic failure with devastating consequences. And power from a nuclear power station would be around three times more expensive than cleaner and safer renewable energy. Will you sign our petition telling Scott Morrison that Australians don’t want nuclear power? alp.org.au
  14. The Liberals’ school cuts mean our children are missing out – fewer teachers, less one-on-one attention, and less help with the basics like reading, writing, and maths. Labor believes Australian kids deserve the world’s best teaching – not the Liberals’ cuts. Their priorities are all wrong. Sign our petition and tell the Liberals that our schools deserve better. alp.org.au
  15. The Liberals and Nationals always attack Medicare. In the first term of this Government, the Liberals: Tried to impose a GP Tax. Tried to slash the Medicare Safety Net. Tried to increase PBS co-payments – even for pensioners In their second term, the Liberals extended the Medicare freeze to six years – cutting $3 billion from Medicare – and Tried to abolish Medicare bulk billing incentives for tests and scans. Tried to abolish the Child Dental Benefits Scheme, which provides Medicare dental services to vulnerable children. What will the third term Liberal National Government be like? Scott Morrison cannot be trusted with Medicare. Labor will always fight for Medicare. Labor will make sure it is your Medicare card, not your credit card that determines access to health. Together we can protect Medicare. savemedicare.org.au
  16. Morrison’s Penalty Rate Cuts Leave Australian Workers Thousands of Dollars Worse Off If Scott Morrison and the Liberals get their way, cuts to penalty rates will leave workers up to $26,000 worse off. Cuts since 2017 have left low paid Australian workers under the retail, hospitality, fast food, restaurant and pharmacy awards thousands of dollars worse off. A pharmacy worker will lose up to $7,000 this year (2019-20) and up to $26,000 over the next three years. When everything is going up except people’s wages, the last thing that workers need is another cut to their take-home pay. Scott Morrison has voted in support of the penalty rate cuts eight times. Just imagine how much further these cuts could spread if the Liberals get their way. Penalty rates are not a luxury – they help people put food on the table and petrol in the car. They can be the difference in paying healthcare costs or childcare costs – all of which keep soaring under this government. protectourpenaltyrates.org.au
  17. National's Anne Tolley is not seek re-election as East Coast MP in 2020, and she hopes to replace Trevor Mallard as the next House Speaker. Tolley said she will stand for National as a list MP, and if the party returns to power next year, she will be putting herself forward for the Speaker role. "The role of Speaker would require full-time attention, and given that, it wouldn't be fair to continue to be an electorate MP," Tolley, who currently holds the role of Deputy Speaker, said in a statement on Friday. "While no formal decisions have been made about the role of Speaker should National win Government, I know my experience as Deputy Speaker this term will stand me in good stead." The Speaker position is elected by members of the House in the first session after each general election. He or she holds one of the highest-ranking offices in New Zealand. The current Speaker is Trevor Mallard, who was elected in November 2017. New Zealand's first female Speaker was Margaret Wilson, a former Labour MP, who was elected to the role in 2004 under Helen Clark's Government. Tolley has been an MP for National for 18 years, 14 of those years representing East Coast. "I will continue to represent and advocate for them while I am still the MP for East Coast. I thank the National Party Board for allowing me to go on the list." Tolley is not the only senior National MP not seeking re-election and instead standing as a list MP. Deputy leader Paula Bennett announced in August she will not be seeking re-election as MP for Upper Harbour in next year's election because of another commitment. Bennett was appointed as National's campaign chair for the 2020 election and said being the party's campaign chair will be a "massive commitment" and one that she wants to give "100 percent" of herself to. The National Party has announced some of its candidates standing in 2020, including 31-year-old Jake Bezzant who will stand in Bennett's Upper Harbour seat. National has also put up two candidates under the age of 25: Catherine Chu, 23, who will stand in Port Hills; and William Wood, 17, who will stand in Palmerston North. Tolley said she has "no doubt" National will find a "strong candidate" to take her place, and that person will have her "full support". "I worked hard to win the seat and I've loved every minute of representing such a diverse, hard-working, beautiful area." newshub.co.nz
  18. From midnight, those still in possession of prohibited firearms could face fines and up to five years in jail. The Government's amnesty ends on Friday, with just under 60,000 guns now out of circulation. But there are firearms owners across the country who still refuse to hand them in. One of those owners spoke to Newshub under the condition of anonymity. "They're law-abiding, upstanding people, and the moving of the goalposts has turned them into supposed criminals and it's not their fault," the man said. "It's not fair." He's filed for an exemption to keep the gun as a collectible, but he's worried police may come knocking sooner. "They're more than welcome to come get it," he told Newshub. "That proves to me that a law-abiding citizen who is waiting to hear back if I'm going to be treated unfairly." Since April, more than 56,000 banned firearms have been either professionally modified or destroyed. Around $100 million in compensation has been paid out. But critics are calling the process a failure. "It's difficult to imagine how the police and Government could have screwed up worse," ACT leader David Seymour said. That's something the police minister disputes - he has refused calls for an extension to the scheme. "As of tomorrow, if someone does still possess one of these firearms then they face up to five years in jail and they certainly won't be getting any money for their weapons," Minister Stuart Nash said. He said police will use their discretion whether to prosecute. newshub.co.nz
  19. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand's child poverty rate will be "amongst the lowest in the world" when the Government achieves its targets set by the Child Poverty Reduction Act. The Prime Minister answered the country's burning queries in a question-and-answer with the Guardian's New Zealand readers, covering a wide range of subjects including home-ownership, the climate crisis and immigration. One question from Porirua resident Douglas addressed the Government's work on reducing the rates of child poverty in New Zealand. "When is your government going to make the transformational change to child poverty that you promised?" the 75-year-old asked Ardern via the Guardian. Ardern reiterated the Government's commitment to halving child poverty in a decade, saying the Child Poverty Reduction Act requires the Government "to set targets and report on child poverty" annually. "This is huge as it creates a framework for ongoing action and accountability by this and all future governments. Achieving our targets will mean our child poverty rates are amongst the lowest in the world," Ardern answered. "Every step we take to get closer to our targets represents a tangible improvement in the day-to-day lives and future opportunities of those families and children who are no longer in poverty." Yet the Government's target of halving child poverty within 10 years left campaigners "a little underwhelmed" when the official targets were revealed in May. The Government's aim to lift 130,000 children out of poverty would reduce the rates of impoverished Kiwi kids from 23 percent in 2018 to 10 percent in 2028. "That's not much of a target really, when you think about a decade and half a childhood... we're a little underwhelmed," Child Poverty Action Group co-convenor Alan Johnson told The AM Show back in May. "It's not ambitious enough." Ardern also reiterated the addition of the $5.5 billion Families Package in 2017, which comprises of Working for Families tax credit increases, a payment for newborns called Best Start and a winter energy payment for beneficiaries and pensioners. "In Budget 2020, we indexed benefits to wages, and increased the amount that beneficiaries can earn before their benefit reduces. These changes are expected to lift between 42,000 and 73,000 children out of poverty," she said. According to the Child Poverty Monitor 2019, 148,000 children live in households experiencing material hardship - meaning their family is unable to afford six or more items that most people regard as essentials, such as enough food, warm clothes and sturdy shoes. As of 2018, 254,000 children in New Zealand live in low-income households. In 2017, a UNICEF report placed New Zealand 34th out of 41 developed countries for child wellbeing. Johnson said at least $3 billion needs to be spent boosting benefits and Working for Families to fix child poverty - every single year. Despite the price tag, he claimed it would be easier than building 100,000 KiwiBuild homes in a decade. In her answer to Douglas, Ardern said the impact of many of the Government's investments "isn't captured" in current child poverty reporting. "The release of new Statistics NZ data in early 2020 will be the first indication of the progress we're making in reducing child poverty," she said. newshub.co.nz
  20. A new report shows almost half a billion dollars was paid out in hardship grants during the last financial year - with one beneficiary claiming almost $50,000 in 223 grants. Figures released as part of the Ministry of Social Development annual review show over 1.2m hardship grants and payments were made to clients in the 2018 fiscal year, an increase of 49 percent from 2015. "In the last financial year $480 million was paid out in hardship grants, with each client receiving an average of $1500, however in many cases that's higher," says National's Social Development spokesperson Louise Upston. "New Zealanders are doing it tough under this Labour-led Government. Tax after tax is being piled on, petrol prices and rents are increasing. More and more Kiwis are struggling to put food on the table and a roof over their head." The review showed in the year to June 30 2019, one individual received assistance on 89 occasions, resulting in 223 grants with a total value of $49,725. This individual is currently the subject of an investigation. But while grants are increasing, the figures show beneficiaries have fallen deeper into debt under Labour. Latest statistics show loans by Work and Income have skyrocketed by $100 million compared to 2014. And the amount from overpayments also increased to $990m from $739m in 2016-2017. In a response to Newshub, Minister Shane Jones said when people need assistance the Government will provide it. "That need had always been there but under this Government people are more willing to ask for help because they know they won't be judged or turned away," he said in a written statement. "MSD has been told that people should be able to access their full and legal entitlements. These numbers reflect that. "There has been no change in qualification or criteria for hardship grants. People who receive them are entitled to them." newshub.co.nz
  21. Dairy owners want the Government to step in and help fund increased security as another tobacco price rise comes into effect. An automatic 11.46 percent increase will go ahead on New Year's Day 2020, the last of four consecutive excise hikes put in place by the former National Party government. Crime Prevention Group president Sunny Kaushal said aggravated robberies were on the rise because tobacco was so expensive. "This has been a continuing issue as the Government increases the tax year after year and it's not the solution to deter people from smoking, in fact it's doing more damage. "Some of the consumers who cannot afford tobacco are indulging in the black market and the black market is driven by criminals and that includes violence on dairies and shops." The group represents most dairy owners throughout the country. Kaushal said shop owners needed Government help to protect themselves. "The Government is collecting over $2 billion in tobacco taxes but is not even spending a fraction of it [on safety]." The former National Party Government set aside $1.8 million in June 2017 that shop owners could apply for if they wanted to install safety systems like alarms, fog cannons and safes. Kaushal said that fund was a good start but it needed to be topped up. "About 400 or 500 dairies or shops got assistance but then the fund finished and I've been asking the current government, what are the next plans. We have over 3000 dairies and we desperately need those funds. "Dairy owners are not rich people, they are hardly making minimum wage. They cannot spend money protecting their shops and putting in expensive equipment. The Government needs to come in because they are collecting the GST and the tax and so it's also the Government's responsibility to make sure our businesses and communities are safer." Price hikes affecting the vulnerable Independent researcher Marewa Glover said the price hikes were disproportionately affecting vulnerable members of society and they needed to stop. "What we need to be looking at is the very high smoking rates among vulnerable groups. The lower socio-economic, the poorest people have disproportionately high smoking rates, mental health consumers and Māori still have this huge inequity in smoking rates compared to non-Māori, non-Pacific people. "So, these particular groups, the most vulnerable with the highest smoking rates are paying way more than they can now afford." She said high prices had proven a lot of people wouldn't quit even if they could not afford it. "If anything, I believe, it's driving financial stress, causing extra strain and that becomes a driver to smoke. So the policy that was supposed to get people to stop smoking is actually driving people to smoke." She said attacks on dairy owners in aggravated robberies was another unintended consequence of the policy - which she had initially supported. "It's been like the wild wild west here in New Zealand with aggravated robberies and serious harm being done to some shopkeepers. You know, one man lost an eye and another was slashed down their arm with a machete. So these are very, very serious crimes and it's because of the tax increase - cigarettes are now like gold." Glover said it would be better to encourage people to make the move to alternatives like vaping, instead of any more price hikes. newshub.co.nz
  22. By The Spinoff staff and contributors 2019 is history. Shifting effortlessly into prophesy mode, The Spinoff's gallant politics-watchers plunge headlong into the crystal ball. National and NZ First will shit-talk each other all year and then form a Government after the election. - Alex Braae Judith Collins will defect from the National Party to lead ACT and take that party to 3 percent at the next election. She won’t actually do this but if National wants an electorate partner with more than one vote this would be a plan. Collins would be formidable. - Linda Clark The Māori Party replaces New Zealand First as kuīni maker. - Emma Espiner Chlöe Swarbrick will blaze up in Parliament. The cannabis referendum will win, you see. - Morgan Godfery Simon Bridges will end up Prime Minister. - Liam Hehir International economic woes will bite more directly on NZ. - Stephen Jacobi Gone By Lunchtime is again crowned New Zealand’s most insightful and beloved podcast. - Annabelle Lee Peter Thiel will get dragged into the election. - Toby Manhire Spring will come. Pinkerton will not return. - Danyl Mclauchlan Ardern will bring NZ First into the tent even if Labour and the Greens get over the line on their own. Māori-Labour Caucus will cause problems for the leadership as they fail to get big wins on Māori issues. And Pania Newton to win the seat of Tāmaki Makaurau. - Shane Te Pou It’s going to be one of the most unpredictable elections in years. - Claire Robinson Two of the five parties in parliament will change leader before the election. - Trish Sherson newshub.co.nz
  23. The Government has accepted 22 schools that missed the November deadline for joining its donation scheme into the programme. Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the 22 schools were allowed into the scheme because their decile number had changed or because their board of trustees was not able to meet before the mid-November deadline. The scheme would now cover 1585 schools, more than 90 percent of the schools in deciles 1 through 7 that were eligible, Hipkins said. The donation policy will pay the schools $150 dollars per student if they stop asking children's families for donations. Hipkins said the Government would pay the schools nearly $63.6 million, which was about $20m more than they received in donations last year. "We were very clear that it was going to be voluntary," he said. "The fact that 90-plus percent of schools have opted in is a very, very good sign that this is a policy that is going to make a difference to families and schools up and down the country." Schools expected to keep asking for money However, schools in the Government's donation scheme are expected to keep asking families for tens of millions of dollars to cover trips and course fees. Government figures show the 1585 schools in the scheme will receive $63.6m this year - more than enough to cover the $45m they would normally collect in donations but nowhere near the $94.6m they receive for activities. The schools have agreed to stop asking for donations in return for payments of $150 per student. Hipkins said payments for optional activities and camps would continue under the scheme. "A lot of that activities revenue will be for things that schools will continue to collect funding for, so out-of-school-times trips or different events that schools can charge for and always have been able to charge for." Nearly 300 decile 1 schools in the scheme received about $5.3m from donations revenue and under the scheme they would get $9.1m, Hipkins said. "They're going to be significantly financially better off," he said. newshub.co.nz
  24. The death of a fifth person whose epilepsy medicine was changed has renewed calls for an inquiry into Pharmac's decision to make the switch. The death of an Auckland man in his 30s just before Christmas was linked to a change in his epilepsy drugs just weeks before his death. Pharmac changed to a generic form of epilepsy drug lamotrigine, called Logem, in October. Since then five deaths have been reported to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring as possibly linked to the change. The National Party is calling for a ministerial inquiry into the change, and the head of Epilepsy New Zealand Ross Smith agrees. "The epilepsy community has been saying this right from the start, that they shouldn't be mucking around with the brand changes, so we've basically said it's time to call time on this brand-switch - enough is enough." He said a ministerial inquiry could answer questions about why Pharmac initially ignored warnings from Medsafe that the change was not a good idea. "Overseas lamotrigine is one of those drugs where any changes in brands should only be done in conjunction with the person's primary care physician or prescribing physician. "That's not what happened in New Zealand. As we know people were rocking up to the pharmacy and being told at the pharmacy counter - your medication is changing. It's not international best practice and it's not how people on lamotrigine should be treated." National Party health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said five deaths suggested lives were being put at risk by the change. A joint coronial inquiry will be held into the deaths, but Woodhouse said a ministerial inquiry would have additional benefits. "I think there is a greater level of urgency about this," Woodhouse said. "A ministerial inquiry can have terms of reference that are very very broad, and can also work on a time frame that would give us the answer to that key question of whether there is a causal link between the drug switch and the deaths, much sooner perhaps than a coronial inquiry could." In a statement, a spokesperson for the government said the deaths were being investigated by the coroner, and in the meantime Pharmac had made changes to the way the brand was being managed. The spokesperson said there were procedures for handling reports of possible harm caused by adverse reactions to medicines, and they should be left to clinical experts, not Government ministers. newshub.co.nz
  25. The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) will send support to Australia to help tackle the country's raging bushfires. On Sunday, Minister of Defence Ron Mark announced New Zealand is assisting with three Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 helicopters and crew, two NZ Army Combat Engineer Sections and a command element to support the Australian Defence Force efforts. The NZDF support will be deployed by Australian Defence Force C-17 and New Zealand Defence Force C-10 on a number of flights from Ohakea Airforce base on Monday to Wednesday. "This latest NZDF support is being provided in addition to the latest rotation of five NZDF Firefighters deployed to bolster numbers of emergency responders on the ground," Mark says. "We need to mention and thank those Defence Force spouses, partners and children whose holiday plans are being interrupted as their family members are being called back to assist our Australian cousins in their time of need. "I am truly grateful, and I thank them for their understanding and support." The NZDF contingent will deploy to Royal Australian Air Force Base Edinburgh in Adelaide and will remain in Australia until the end of January, at least. The NH90s will undertake transport tasks. On Saturday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the country's Defence Force Reserves will be deployed to fire zones. The navy's largest ship will assist in coastal evacuations and AU$20 million is committed for four extra planes in case state premiers request their use. newshub.co.nz
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