04 May 2017

Policy Update – 4 May 2017

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

Minister releases report showing economic impact of Kaikōura earthquake

Economic Development and Transport Minister Simon Bridges has released a report that assesses the economic impact of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake. The report details the impact on small businesses and tourism caused by disruptions to transport infrastructure and the economic impacts.

The report shows the earthquake caused a loss in New Zealand’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $400 to $500 million over the first 18 months following the earthquake. According to the Minister “Increased freight transport costs and impacts on businesses from infrastructure damage and transport disruptions are the two key contributing factors.”

The Government has responded to the earthquake and its impact by:

  • Getting work underway to fully reinstate the State Highway 1 coastal route. The Government has announced Budget 2017 will provide up to $812 million to enable this.
  • Upgrading the alternate State Highway route between Picton and Christchurch
  • A range of business support packages, and support for the tourism industry and the primary sector
  • A grant to help with the restoration of Kaikoura Harbour; and
  • Temporary accommodation and housing support for residents, including farmers.

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Civil Defence improvements to be highlighted

Civil Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced the establishment of a Technical Advisory Group to identify where improvements in New Zealand’s Civil Defence structure can be made.

The Group’s establishment follows recent emergencies, including the Kaikōura earthquake and Port Hills fires.

Members of the Technical Advisory Group are:

  • Roger Sowry, as Chair;
  • Malcolm Alexander, Chief Executive, Local Government New Zealand;
  • Assistant Commissioner Mike Rusbatch, New Zealand Police;
  • Deputy National Commander Kerry Gregory, New Zealand Fire Service;
  • Major General Tim Gall, New Zealand Defence Force;
  • Sarah Stuart-Black, Director, Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management;
  • Benesia Smith, former Deputy Chief Executive of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority

The Technical Advisory Group is expected to present its recommendations to the Minister by the end of August.

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Fresh water environment report welcomed

Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith has welcomed the release of Our Fresh Water 2017, an independent report on the state of New Zealand’s fresh water by Stats New Zealand and Ministry for the Environment.

The report notes:

  • nitrogen levels are getting worse at 55 percent and getting better at 28 percent of monitored river sites across New Zealand
  • phosphorus levels are getting better at 42 percent and getting worse at 25 percent of monitored river sites across New Zealand
  • of the 39 native fish species we report on, 72 percent are either threatened with or at risk of extinction
  • E.coli levels are 22 times higher in urban areas and 9.5 times higher in pastoral rivers compared with rivers in native forest areas
  • 51 percent of water allocated for consumptive use is for irrigation, and 65 percent of that is allocated to Canterbury.

In response to the report the Minister noted “The report highlights that New Zealand’s fresh water challenges vary significantly across the country and that the problems have arisen due to agricultural and urban development over many decades. The overall picture is that pollution from nitrates is increasing, from phosphates is decreasing, from E. coli is stable and that water clarity had been deteriorating but has improved over the past decade”.

Further, he suggested “The Government’s programme of work includes tighter regulation of nutrients, new provisions for protecting water ecology and the development of good management practice for farmers and other water users, as well as a record $450 million investment in fresh water quality initiatives. Our programme is about openly reporting the problems and a practical plan of initiatives which will improve water management.

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New Zealand supports Viet Nam dam safety

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has announced the launch of a $5.4 million initiative to reduce dam related flooding in Viet Nam. Viet Nam has more than 7000 dams, which are used for irrigation, electricity and drinking water. In the past 10 years there have been 43 unplanned water releases or dam failures, sometimes harming downstream communities.

In his announcement the Minister noted “New Zealand is sharing its expertise in water engineering and natural hazard management to help Viet Nam address its development challenges.” The five year project will focus on dam safety for the 1000km-long Ca River in Viet Nam. It aims to halve the death toll from flooding on the Ca River and reduce associated economic losses by 30% by 2021.

The project is funded by the New Zealand Aid Programme and will be implemented by Viet Nam’s Thuy Loi University, New Zealand’s Damwatch Engineering and GNS Science.

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