20 October 2016

Policy Update – 20 October 2016

Our fortnightly policy updates keep you up-to-date with the industry.

Government invests in Digital Technology

The Government has announced the nine successful applicants to a $1 million contestable fund for projects that will engage students in digital technologies. According to Education Minister Hekia Parata 74 proposals were received and the projects being funded are from “providers who have innovative and smart projects that will capture teachers’ and students’ imagination and help them get skilled in using and developing digital technologies”. The projects are part of a broader package of support for schools when the digital technologies curriculum content starts to be rolled out in 2018.

Find out more here

Applications are now being called for the Māori Digital Technology Fund. The Fund has three priorities:

  • improving digital skills and pathways for Māori in digital technologies
  • growing digital technologies businesses
  • enhancing new Māori language and culture initiatives through digital technologies.

The Fund is a joint programme between Te Puni Kōkiri and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

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Investments in roading and road safety continue

Investments in New Zealand’s roading network are continuing, with Transport Minister Simon Bridges recently noting that funding has been approved for the construction of Queenstown’s $21.8 million Eastern Access Road. The Eastern Access Road is a critical link in Queenstown’s transport network which will help to relieve congestion through the Frankton Flats area, bypassing the airport and connecting Remarkables Park to Frankton-Ladies Mile.

The work programme includes construction of a two-lane bridge over Kawarau Falls, addition of a second lane at the roundabout at the junction of SH6 and 6A and improvements to SH6 from the Grant Road roundabout through to the Kawarau Falls.

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Minister Simon Bridges also recently turned the sod on the seventh and final section of the Government’s $2.1 billion Waikato Expressway. The $115 million Longswamp Section involves widening and upgrading State Highway 1 between Hampton Downs and the Rangiriri Interchange to four lanes, with improved local road connections and a new local road overbridge.

According to the Minister, “When the Expressway is completed in 2020 it will reduce congestion and unlock economic potential by providing stronger links between the business and agricultural centres of Auckland and the Waikato, as well as the Bay of Plenty.” The Longswamp Section is expected to be complete in late 2018.

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Road safety is also set to be a priority over the summer, particularly in the South Island. According to Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss a $15 million road safety engineering programme will be delivered over the 2016/17 and 2017/18 summer periods. The programme will involve signage and marking improvements, barriers, intersection treatments, hazard removal, shoulder widening and sealing on state highways in Otago, Southland and on the West Coast.

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Major agreement reached to phase down greenhouse gases

New Zealand has signed up to an amendment to the Montreal Protocol according to Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith. The amendment will see the phase down of the use of hydrofluorocarbons, a harmful greenhouse gas commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning. For New Zealand, this will mean an 85 per cent phase down of hydrofluorocarbons by 2036, once the amendment is ratified. The first step of the phase down will happen in 2019, with a reduction of 10 per cent compared to 2011-2013 levels.

“Once implemented, the agreed phase down will avoid significant global warming of potentially up to 0.5degC, and that is a significant step towards meeting the objectives of the Paris agreement, which comes into force on 4 November”, the Minister said.

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Government announces changes to New Zealand Residence Programme

On 11 October Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse announced changes to the Government’s New Zealand Residence Programme for the next two years.

“Migrants make a valuable contribution to New Zealand both culturally and economically, and the Government periodically reviews all our immigration settings to make sure they are working as intended,” the Minister said in his media release.

The changes to the programme include:

  • changing the planning range for residence approvals for the next two years to 85,000 – 95,000 (down from 90,000 – 100,000)
  • raising the number of points required for residence from 140 to 160 points under the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC)
  • reducing the number of places for the capped family categories to 2,000 per year (down from 5,500)

Find out more here