23 March 2017

Policy Update – 23 March 2017

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

Kaikoura recovery progressing well, national transition period extended to 1pm, 7 June 2017

Work is well underway on the $60 million programme to upgrade the alternate state highway route between Picton and Christchurch, according to Transport Minister Simon Bridges.

Several sections of the route have been widened, resealed or repaired and new bailey bridges and one-way bridges have been installed. The NZ Transport Agency is now preparing the Lewis Pass route to safely cope with higher volumes of traffic this winter and safety measures such as a new cell site and radars and webcams are being installed.

State Highway 1 along the Kaikoura Coast is expected to be open by the end of 2017.

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Meanwhile, Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced the national transition period has been extended for 90 days, ending at 1pm on 7 June 2017, unless extended or terminated earlier.

“An extension of the national transition period will help Recovery Managers deal with ongoing recovery issues, such as restricting access to places and buildings while further geotechnical and engineering investigations are carried out,” Mr Brownlee says.

“Authorities in Kaikōura, Hurunui and Marlborough have used transition period powers to restrict access to dangerous buildings and areas at risk from natural hazards, close roads and public places, and issue directions. This extension will allow communities to continue their recovery activities,” the Minister said in his media release.

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Government prepared to fund priority tourism infrastructure

Local Government New Zealand has recently revealed details of a survey commissioned by Tourism Industry Aotearoa, which identified $1.4 billion of local infrastructure projects that might potentially be useful in responding to ongoing tourism growth.

In responding to the survey the Tourism Minister Paula Bennett said “I absolutely agree that there are some areas of tourism infrastructure that need to be addressed and that some of these will need help from central Government. However, the list the LGNZ has referenced includes things like town halls, council facilities, airport runway extensions, airport upgrades and expressways. These are either already funded by other areas of Government, are not considered a priority or should be funded by local councils. My priority is to support smaller councils with low rate bases with essential facilities. I am currently working with officials to establish how best to do this”.

The Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund is now open. The fund of $5.5 million aims to help co-fund facilities such as public toilets, car parking facilities and freedom camping facilities.

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Call to action on closing the Gender Pay Gap

The Minister for Women Paula Bennett has expressed disappointment at the findings of new research which shows bias and perceptions about women in the workplace are what’s driving New Zealand’s Gender Pay Gap.

“The Gender Pay Gap has remained static for a decade now at around 12 per cent. This new research shows that the traditional reasons for women lagging behind, including the types of work they carry out, family responsibilities, education and age are not the main reasons,” the Minister says.

The research, undertaken by Auckland University of Technology for the Ministry for Women, shows that traditional factors account for about 20 per cent of the gender pay gap. The remainder of the gap is “unexplained” – likely due to perceptions about behaviour, attitudes, assumptions and bias- both conscious and unconscious.

The Minister encourages firms to look at doing a gender pay audit and implementing solutions to the gender pay gap including rigorous recruitment processes, and clear career progression criteria.

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Resource Legislation Amendment Bill passes second reading

The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill, which aims to improve environmental management, help increase housing supply and affordability, and support jobs and growth, has passed its second reading in Parliament.

Provisions in the Bill include:

  • National planning standards to reduce complexity and cost
  • Streamlined planning process to improve responsiveness
  • Discretion for councils to exempt an activity from consents
  • Strengthening of requirements to manage natural hazard risks
  • New 10-day consent category for minor activities
  • New requirements for council to free up land for housing
  • New provisions to enable stock exclusion from waterways
  • New provisions requiring decommissioning plans for offshore platforms
  • More generous compensation for land required for public works
  • Better alignment with other Acts like Reserves, Conservation and EEZ
  • Collaborative planning process to encourage community-led solutions
  • Improved Maori participation arrangements

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