Publications

Watching Brief – February 2018

Home Insights Watching Brief – February 2018

Matter of opinion

Labour set to rely on National support

The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership CPTPP, on its face, could present political challenges for the new Labour-led Government in 2018, exposing fundamental policy differences between the Greens and Labour. With the Greens restating their opposition to the CPTPP, Labour will require National's support to pass domestic legislation to implement New Zealand's obligations under the agreement.

Ultimately, however, this issue is unlikely to prove to be a critical one for the Government. Todd McClay, National's trade spokesperson, stated last year that the party would support any domestic legislation required. Labour's lack of bipartisanship on the TPP while in opposition has meant there are noises that the National party's support will now depend on what is contained in the full agreement. Despite this however, it appears unlikely that National would actually pull their support for an agreement they fully supported in Government. NZ First has also committed to support legislation. The Green's opposition, on the other hand, will avoid alienating their support base without disrupting core Government policy or putting stress on its relationship with Labour. The Greens and Labour will have the luxury on this occasion to agree to disagree. 

Arguably, the CPTPP process further signals the maturity of MPP in New Zealand, albeit within the constraints of a Westminster oppositional model.

Implementation process

The CPTPP was agreed in Tokyo in January 2018, and is set to be signed in Brazil in March 2018. The individual countries must then separately ratify the CPTPP, which comes into force once it is ratified by a majority of the signatories.

In New Zealand, only Cabinet approval is required for ratification of the CPTPP. However, the Cabinet Manual outlines a process that must be followed for multilateral treaties or major bilateral treaties of significance, which includes presenting the CPTPP to Parliament and reporting the agreement to the Foreign, Affairs Defence and Trade Committee (Committee). The Committee is likely to seek submissions from the public. Ultimately, this does not impact on ratification or the content of the CPTPP. Rather it ensures a degree of transparency and provides an opportunity for views to be heard.

However, the Government will now have to pass a Bill to align our domestic law with New Zealand's obligations in the CPTPP. National previously passed legislation implementing the former TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement Amendment Act 2016). It may be that this legislation is amended or replaced to reflect the terms of the new agreement.

The Government is also seeking to release to the public the full text of the CPTPP as soon as possible – likely to avoid the same criticism suffered by National that they were not sufficiently transparent. The text can only be made public with the agreement of all countries. MFAT are also currently running a series of public meetings to explain the implications of the agreement. This process will provide Labour with an opportunity to be more transparent on the investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) regime in particular; one of the more controversial issues.

Background and Labour-negotiated changes

The CPTPP replaced the TPP after Donald Trump pulled out of the pact three days into his administration. The agreement was negotiated between the remaining members of the TPP, which are New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Despite the US' withdrawal, the fully negotiated CPTPP promises to bring significant economic benefits to New Zealand. In total, the economies included in the CPTPP account for 13.5% of world GDP – worth a total of US$10 trillion. The agreement will eliminate tariffs on most NZ exports to CPTPP economies. Significantly our exports will no longer be placed at a disadvantage in the large Japanese market, compared to our agricultural competitors such as Australia and Chile, which previously signed free trade agreements with Japan.

While Labour were critical of the agreement in opposition, the party has adopted a pragmatic stance to the CPTPP while in Government. Labour have stated that the changes it negotiated justify its new-found support. These include suspending clauses that would have required Pharmac to make administrative changes for the benefit of the pharmaceutical industry and to extend our copyright term to 70 years. Changes have also been made to the ISDS regime. While ISDS remains part of the CPTPP, it will not apply between New Zealand and Australia. Safeguards have also been inserted that mean New Zealand cannot be successfully sued by investors for measures related to public education, health and other social services (although the efficacy of such safeguards are yet to be seen). Regardless, Labour's change in tact has resulted in some opposition from voices on the left articulating feelings of betrayal. Professor Jane Kelsey, in particular, has been fiercely critical stating that "both Labour and New Zealand First will sell out the principles that led them to reject the ratification of the deal before the election." 

Fast-tracking further restrictions on foreign ownership

The imminent implementation of the CPTPP has required the Government to fast rack progress its policy to restrict the ability for foreigners to purchase New Zealand homes before the CPTPP is ratified. The Overseas Investment Amendment Bill 2018 has passed its first reading and brings "residential land" within the ambit of the Overseas Investment Act 2005. Bringing in new foreign ownership restrictions after the CPTPP is ratified risks New Zealand being in breach of its obligations. Forestry is now also being brought within the scope of the Overseas Investment Act for the same reason. Both changes are likely to be supported by the Greens.

In the news

The Davos World Economic Forum

From 23 – 26 January, the World Economic Forum held their annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. With the theme of 'Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World', leaders from business, government, international organisations, academia and civil society were invited to engage in peer-to-peer working sessions. Hon David Parker, Minister for Trade and Export Growth, attended on behalf of New Zealand and took part in a session examining challenges facing global trade and investment.

The World Economic Forum is a non-profit foundation, founded in 1971 and headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The Forum states it is "committed to improving the state of the world" as the "International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation". The Forum's flagship event is the annual invitation-only meeting in Davos, Switzerland. 

The President of the United States, Donald Trump, the first US president to attend in 18 years, spoke at the meeting and said that his 'America First' agenda will help the world economy. President Trump also used the meeting to publicly soften his views on trade agreements, such as the CPTPPA. He announced he would be prepared to negotiate "mutually beneficial, bilateral trade agreements" with all countries – including those in the TPP – possibly even collectively, provided it was in the United States' best interests.

For more information on the meeting, see here.

Tax working group membership

The Government has commissioned the Tax Working Group to consider possible improvements to the tax system. Its establishment was a key component of the new Government's first 100 Day Plan that the Labour Party campaigned on. The group will consider how to improve the overall structure, fairness, and balance of New Zealand's tax system.

The eleven-member group is comprised of:

  • Hon Sir Michael Cullen (Chairperson), previously Deputy Prime Minister (2002-2008), Minister of Finance (1999-2008) and Minister of Revenue (1999-2005);
  • Professor Craig Elliffe from the University of Auckland;
  • Joanne Hodge, a senior tax lawyer;
  • Kirk Hope, the Chief Executive of Business New Zealand;
  • Nick Malarao, a senior tax lawyer;
  • Geof Nightingale, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers New Zealand;
  • Robin Oliver, director at the tax advisory practice, OliverShaw;
  • Hinerangi Raumati, Chairperson of Parininihi ki Waitotara Incorporation;
  • Michelle Redington, Head of Group Taxation and Insurance at Air New Zealand Limited;
  • Bill Rosenberg, Economist and Director of Policy at the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions; and
  • Marjan Van Den Belt, Assistant Vice Chancellor (Sustainability) at Victoria University of Wellington.

Revenue Minister Stuart Nash notes that the Working Group is a "good mix of people" with wide-ranging backgrounds as tax experts, academics, private sector, unions and the Māori community. For more information on the members, please see here.

Extra funding for electric vehicles announced

On 17 January 2018, Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods announced $3.74 million in funding for 20 projects in the third round of the Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund (LEVCF). The LEVCF offers up to 50% funding (with applicants matching or exceeding the amount granted) towards projects that encourage innovation and investment to accelerate the uptake of electric and other low emission vehicles in New Zealand.

LEVCF is one of a range of initiatives in the Government's Electric Vehicles Programme, established in 2016, which aims to reduce carbon emissions and to double the number of electric vehicles in New Zealand every year to reach 64,000 by the end of 2021.

The funding is limited to projects involving mainstream vehicles and related technologies that operate on roads used by the public. Some of the successful projects in this round include:

  • a 58 tonne fully electric truck which will be used to shuttle Fonterra's dairy goods to the railway;
  • a qualifications framework for technicians working on electric vehicles;
  • tourism opportunities, such as electric campervans and mini-buses;
  • an electric van for delivering produce; and
  • $1.7 million of funding to a range of projects to help fill gaps in New Zealand's charging infrastructure (including installing charging stations in supermarkets, workplaces, parking sites, golf courses and accommodation).

Minister Woods said, “The projects we are funding show there’s an EV (electric vehicle) for almost every job or use in New Zealand, be it delivering fruit and veg or taking a holiday.”

The history and background to the LEVCF can be found here. The details around the latest funding round can be found here. The Minister's press release can be found here.

KiwiBuild programme update

In late December, the Housing and Urban Development Minister, Hon Phil Twyford, announced the establishment of an interim KiwiBuild Unit within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). This is the first step towards the implementation of the Coalition Government's KiwiBuild programme, a $2 billion scheme that aims to build 100,000 affordable houses in a decade.

The programme is designed to boost New Zealand's housing market by delivering more affordable homes, while also generating more jobs in the building sector. The Government has said that MBIE modelling shows the KiwiBuild programme will increase the levels of construction of new homes in line with population growth and not just replace construction that would have otherwise happened.

As part of the KiwiBuild programme, the Government will legislate for a new urban development agency, the Housing Commission. The Housing Commission will be charged with overseeing the progress of KiwiBuild and lead the development of large-scale urban development projects, which are central to achieving the 100,000 homes target. The Housing Commission is expected to take at least a year to formally set up. The interim KiwiBuild Unit was established to allow the Government to undertake further steps towards implementing the KiwiBuild programme in the intervening period, without having to wait for the legislation establishing the authority to be passed.

Inquiry into mental health services announced

On 23 January 2018, the Government announced the details of an Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction (Inquiry). The Inquiry is established as a government inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2013, which provides the authority for the Government to establish inquiries into matters of public importance.

The Inquiry is the execution of a commitment under the Government's 100 Day Plan. The Inquiry was given priority because of the growth in demand for mental health and addiction services – used by 170,000 people in 2016/17, an increase of 71% from user statistics in 2006/07. 

The Terms of Reference for the Inquiry have been set deliberately broad, but centre on equity of access to quality services, especially for Māori. In particular, the key focuses include:

  • understanding mental health problems;
  • preventing, and responding to, issues with mental health and addiction; and
  • identifying opportunities to build on the support of participants in surrounding sectors, including care, education, justice and social services, accident compensation, wider workplace relations and safety, and whanau and communities.

The Inquiry is chaired by former Health and Disability Commissioner, Professor Ron Peterson. Members include Dr Barbara Disley, Sir Mason Durie, Dean Rangihuna, Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath and Josiah Tualamali'I, all of whom work in health services (including community organisations, policy, and academia).

Leader of the Opposition, Rt Hon Bill English, has criticised the decision to launch the Inquiry, framing it as a 'replacement for action', given that any recommended outcomes are unlikely to be implemented until 2020.

Following notification in the New Zealand Gazette on 30 January, the Inquiry has begun considering evidence. It is due to report back to the Government on or before 31 October 2018 and is seeking input from service users, the wider community and the mental health sector. Most of the hearings will be held in public, unless those contributing request anonymity.

More information, including the Terms of Reference, can be found here.

Preparation for the 125th anniversary of women's suffrage

2018 marks the 125th anniversary of women's suffrage in New Zealand and a number of events across the country are planned to recognise the milestone. The right to vote was extended to all New Zealand women on 19 September 1893, with the passing of the Electoral Act 1893. This legislation made New Zealand the first self-governing country to universally extend the franchise to women.

The Ministry for Women is marking the anniversary through an initiative called Suffrage 125. Suffrage 125 encourages all New Zealanders to host and engage with suffrage-related events, and is supported by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Hon Julie Anne Genter, Minister for Women, has said that "This year we have the opportunity to celebrate and be inspired by the wonderful New Zealanders who have worked hard on gender equality for women and girls' lives." The motto for Suffrage 125 is 'Whakatū wāhine — women stand up’.

Events to celebrate Suffrage 125 include:

  • Royal New Zealand Ballet commissioned works by international female choreographers.
  • He Tohu at National Library public programmes focused around the suffrage petition.
  • Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision online exhibition of 125 people who have contributed to women’s rights in New Zealand, and a screening series and discussion forum.
  • Te Papa is publishing a book on 12 objects and essays exploring topics such as women’s rights and suffrage.
  • Auckland Museum exhibition exploring suffrage within a contemporary context.
  • Ministry for Education is seeking submissions on Suffrage 125 as part of Ministry in Māori Medium, bringing Māori history to life to Te Reo Māori learners.
  • Ministry for Culture and Heritage's Suffrage 125 web page on NZ History featuring educational content, timeline and an online exhibition juxtaposing women activists today, 1970s women’s liberation and the 1890s suffragists.

For more information about Suffrage 125, see here.

End of Life Choice Bill

The End of Life Choice Bill has now been referred to the Justice Select Committee, after passing its first reading on 13 December 2017.

The End of Life Choice Bill would introduce a regime for medically assisted dying in New Zealand. Parliament previously voted down Members' Bills on assisted dying in 1995 and 2003, and former Labour MP Maryan Street's Bill was dropped at the request of then Labour leader Andrew Little in 2014. David Seymour introduced the Member's Bill following a High Court ruling that any change to allow for legal assisted dying had to be done so through Parliament, and not the Courts.

The End of Life Choice Bill proposes that a person will be eligible for assisted dying if he or she suffers from an illness that is likely to end his or her life within six months, or has a grievous and irremediable medical condition. The person must also be in an advanced state of irreversible decline and be experiencing unbearable suffering, as well as capable of understanding the nature and consequences of assisted dying. The Bill sets out a process whereby two medical practitioners must determine that these standards are met and that there is no coercion involved. The person must also be encouraged to talk to family, friends and counsellors.

The Justice Select Committee is accepting public submissions on the Bill until 20 February 2018. The committee will then report the Bill back to the House for a second reading with recommended changes. The vote in the House will be a conscience one, meaning members are able to vote according to their own conscience, and not in accordance with any official party line. 

The coalition agreement between New Zealand First and Labour suggests that New Zealand First is likely to introduce a supplementary order paper proposing a public referendum on the Bill. 

Speeches of note

Hon James Shaw delivers State of the Planet speech

On 25 January, Green Party co-leader and Minister for Climate Change Issues, James Shaw, gave the Green Party's State of the Planet speech. Since 1999, Green Party co-leaders have delivered the speech, dubbed by Minister Shaw as the eco-centric version of the "ego-centric State of the Nation" address. Throughout the speech, Minister Shaw outlined the need to re-shape the New Zealand economy and finally realise the post-modern 'sustainable economy'. Minister Shaw began the address by outlining the scale and nature of the risks presented by climate change. He then noted that he thought New Zealand is in a unique position to lead the way in terms of sustainability.

The Zero Carbon and Waste Minimisation Acts will be at the forefront of the new Government's push to be an "active government" Minister Shaw called the Zero Carbon Act, which will require governments to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 and set five-yearly carbon budgets, the "most significant piece of legislation to protect our environment in the history of New Zealand". Equally, Minister Shaw envisages that the Waste Minimisation Act will revolutionise how the country produces, packages and uses resources while also improving New Zealand's capture and reuse methods. Other Government initiatives such as a new Policy Statement on Transport, the equal pay project and the Green Investment Bank were touched on briefly as examples of the new and sustainable direction the Government will lead the country toward.

Shaw acknowledged that these are ambitious goals for the smallest party in the current governing coalition. However, he also pointed out that collaboration and a "give and take" attitude should be the aim of the Government. He also pledged to "make friends of our enemies" in pointing out the universalism and generational impacts climate change will have. Shaw ended his speech by noting, "if we succumb to tribalism over inclusion we will continue down the same path we’re currently on", – a path that leads to social decay.

Rt Hon Bill English delivers State of the Nation speech

Leader of the Opposition and the National Party leader Rt Hon Bill English delivered a state of the nation speech in Wellington on 31 January. Mr English centred his speech on New Zealand's strong economic position, which he saw as a benchmark for the Labour-led Government.

In his speech, Mr English said that "New Zealanders have become used to living in the successful, aspirational country that they have worked so hard for" and that "the challenge is to ensure that continues". He cited 3.5 per cent growth in GDP over the last five years, the creation of 10,000 jobs a month for the last two years, and a rise in the average wage by $13,000 since 2008 as signs of a strong economy.

Referring to the Government's new child poverty legislation, Mr English said that, "National shares the Government’s goal of reducing child poverty, but unfortunately the proposed legislation is all intention and no substance". In response to the Government's families' package he argued that "reducing poverty isn’t just about lifting incomes. That’s only half the story. The other half is the social dysfunction that traps people in chaotic lives".

A significant focus of the speech was around the Government's decision to abolish the previous National-led Government's Better Public Services targets. Mr English accused the Government of only getting rid of them "because they were introduced by National" and of having "chosen to throw away the tools" needed to successfully attack poverty. He went on to promise to "regularly request official data to track the Government’s progress in these areas" and to "publish the results so you can go online every six months to track progress, just as we did for the last 6 years under Better Public Services targets."

Mr English also criticised the Government on its intended industrial relations reforms, calling Labour's 'Future of Work' document "the right analysis but the wrong solution". He stated that the next generation workplace would be more about individual "flexibility, agility, resilience and re-skilling", and that Labour's reforms, designed to increase collective bargaining, were "about supporting union officials, not New Zealand workers".

English ended his speech by announcing the launch of the 'Protect New Zealand Jobs' campaign to contest the Government's reforms, and encouraging supporters to scrutinise the Government's policies.

Progress of legislation

New Bills

Accident Compensation (Recent Migrants and Returning New Zealanders) Amendment Bill
Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Melissa Lee
This Bill would amend the Accident Compensation Act 2001 by extending Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) weekly income compensation cover to recent migrants and returning New Zealanders once they pass the superannuation age (65). Currently, ACC provides income cover to claimants in the form of weekly compensation, but this ceases once a person reaches the New Zealand superannuation qualification age on the basis they are now receiving superannuation. Recent migrants and returning New Zealanders are not eligible for cover if they do not meet residential qualifications for superannuation. The Bill would make that group eligible for weekly income compensation cover until such a time as they meet the requirements for superannuation.

Child Poverty Reduction Bill
Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
This Bill seeks to reduce child poverty by: facilitating political accountability against published targets; requiring transparent reporting on child poverty levels; and creating a greater commitment by Government to address child well-being.

The Bill would require governments to set three and 10-year targets on child poverty reduction and provide updates in each annual Budget about progress towards reaching these targets. This update will also be required to outline how the budget contributes towards the poverty reduction target. The Government Statistician will independently report on trends in the range of measures specified in the Bill. The Bill does not set out specific targets for each government to meet, but it does set out four primary and six supplementary measures of poverty and material hardship that governments would be required to use.

The four primary child poverty measures are:

  • Low income before housing costs (below 50 percent of median costs in any given year).
  • Low income after housing costs.
  • Material hardship (using the European Union's standard threshold that considers factors such as healthy food, warm clothes, picking up prescriptions etc).
  • A persistent poverty measure (for low income, material hardship or both)

The Bill would also require the responsible minister to adopt, publish, and review a dedicated Government strategy to promote the well-being of all children in New Zealand.

Crimes (Offence of Blasphemous Libel) Amendment Bill
Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Angie Warren-Clark
This Bill would remove the offence of blasphemous libel by repealing section 123 in the Crimes Act 1961. Blasphemous libel is not defined in the Crimes Act and is categorised as a crime against religion with a maximum imprisonment of one year.

Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill (No 2)
Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Damien O'Connor
This Bill would amend the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 by preventing the scheduled expiry of subparts 5 and 5A of Part 2 of the Act which regulate the activities of Fonterra. Subpart 5 promotes the efficient operation of dairy markets in New Zealand, and Subpart 5A provides for the monitoring of Fonterra's farm gate milk price. A statutorily mandated Commerce Commission report found that competition in the New Zealand dairy market was insufficient to justify removing them.

Accordingly, the Bill would:

  • prevent parts of Subpart 5, and all of Subpart 5A, from expiring in relation to the South Island; and
  • remove the automatic expiry provisions, the market share thresholds that would trigger them, and the consequential requirement for a review of the state of competition.

Education (National Education and Learning Priorities) Amendment Bill
Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Jan Tinetti
This Bill would amend the Education Act 1989 to enable statements about the diversity of education provision to be included in the Minister's statement of National Education and Learning Priorities. This Bill intends to align the statement more closely with the New Zealand Curriculum.

The Bill proposes the following changes to section 1A of the Act, regarding the Minister's power to issue a statement of National Education and Learning Priorities including:

  • minor wording amendments to the objectives of the system for education and learning, which a Minister's statement must be consistent with;
  • a list of stakeholders that the Minister must consult before issuing a statement;
  • a clarification that a "minor change" to a Minister's statement means a "technical, short, and uncontroversial amendment that does not change or extend policy of the statement of National Education and Learning Priorities"; and
  • a reversal of the current rule so that a Minister's statement is a legislative instrument which is disallowable for the purposes of the Legislation Act 2012, and must be presented to the House of Representatives.

Education (Protecting Teacher Title) Amendment Bill
Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Jenny Marcroft
This Bill intends to remove the ability of those who have not gained the recognised teaching qualifications from representing themselves as "teachers" by using that title. It amends the Education Act 1989 to make it an offence to do so.

The Bill would amend the Act by including:

  • a definition of "qualified" in the interpretation section that lists the necessary qualifications for someone to represent themselves as a "teacher", those qualifications being either: a 3-year Bachelor of Education (Teaching); a Bachelor's degree and a 1-year Graduate Diploma of Teaching; or a 4-year conjoint degree that combines study in teaching subjects with teacher training; and
  • an offence to represent oneself as a "teacher" if not a qualified and registered teacher.

Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Bill
Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Kieran McAnulty
This Bill intends to amend the Employment Relations Act 2000 by providing that employees who work under the control and direction of a business or organisation that is not their direct employer (known as triangular employment), are entitled to coverage of a collective agreement, and to ensure that such employees are not subject to a detriment in their right to allege a personal grievance against their non-primary employer.

This Bill would achieve this by extending the definition of 'applicable collective agreement' to include any collective agreement binding an employee and a primary employer and inserts two new definitions of primary employer and secondary employer. The Bill would also provide that in certain circumstances an employee of a primary employer may, with the leave of the Authority or court, join a secondary employer to a personal grievance.

Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill
Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Andrew Little
Colloquially referred to as the "Waka Jumping Bill", this Bill seeks to amend the Electoral Act 1993 with the purpose of maintaining the proportionality of political party representation in Parliament as determined by electors. The Bill would require a member to vacate their seat in Parliament when they cease parliamentary membership of the party for which they were elected. The Bill would also require a member to vacate their seat where the member’s party leader gives notice to the Speaker that they reasonably believe the member’s actions have distorted, and are likely to continue to distort, the proportionality of political party representation in Parliament, as determined at the last general election. The giving of notice to the Speaker is at the party leader’s discretion.

The Bill provides measures to prevent against a party leader's abuse of the ability to dismiss members. This includes a "reasonable belief" requirement by the party leader of the distortion of proportionality within Parliament, giving the Member of Parliament 21 working days to provide a written response to the party leader, the support of two-thirds of the party caucus for the MP to vacate their seat, and for the party leader to comply with any other rules imposed by their political party.

The operative provisions of the Bill are identical to those used in the Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Act 2001, which expired at the close of 17 September 2005.

Employment Relations Amendment Bill
Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Ian Lees-Galloway
This Bill seeks to amend the Employment Relations Act 2000 by increasing collective bargaining powers and unions' rights in the workplace. The Bill also intends to reintroduce certain standards for employee rights, which were removed under the previous parliamentary term.

The amendments to employee rights would include:

  • restoration of statutory rest and meal breaks;
  • restriction of 90-day trial periods to Small and Medium-sized Enterprise employers (specifically those with less than 20 employees);
  • reinstatement of return to work as the primary remedy to unfair dismissal; and
  • These changes: repeal the SME exemption from coverage; provide more time for employees to decide whether to transfer to a new employer; and provide greater safeguards on transfer of inaccurate information.

The modifications to collective bargaining and union rights would include:

  • restoration of the duty to conclude bargaining unless there is a good reason not to;
  • restoration of the earlier initiation timeframes for unions in collective bargaining;
  • removal of the MECA opt out where employers can refuse to bargain for a multi-employer collective agreement;
  • restoration of the 30-day rule, where for the first 30 days new employees must be employed under terms consistent with the applicable collective agreement;
  • repeal of partial strike pay deductions where employers could respond in a proportionate way to partial stoppages or other low level industrial action such as ‘work to rule’ situations;
  • restoration of union access without prior employer consent;
  • a requirement to include pay rates in collective agreements;
  • a requirement for employers to provide reasonable paid time for union delegates to represent other workers (for example, in collective bargaining);
  • a requirement for employers to pass on information about unions in the workplace to prospective employees, along with a form for the employee to indicate whether they want to be a member; and
  • greater protections against discrimination for union members, including an extension of the 12-month threshold to 18 months relating to discrimination based on union activities and new protections against discrimination on the basis of being a union member.

Families Package (Income Tax and Benefits) Bill
This Bill was passed under urgency. See 'Acts Assented' below for a summary of the resulting legislation

KiwiFund Bill
Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Fletcher Tabuteau
This Bill would establish an independent working group to advise on establishing a government-owned and operated KiwiSaver provider, known as KiwiFund. The Bill outlines that the working group would be made up of 4 – 5 specialists, with at least one member having expertise across each area of banking, savings, and retirement. The group would have 12 months to make recommendations. The working group would first examine the accountability of current KiwiSaver providers in relation to high fees, unethical investments, and profiteering in the trading of Kiwisaver providers.

The working group would advise on setting up KiwiFund based on broad principles such as:

  • a lower and transparent fee structure;
  • a government owned and operated KiwiSaver scheme;
  • a requirement that profits stay in New Zealand;
  • preferential treatment given to New Zealand based investments;
  • a requirement that funds are invested in socially and ethically responsible ways; and
  • the new provider be supported by a government guarantee.

Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill
Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Dr David Clark
This Bill was introduced as part of the new Government's 100-day plan, and seeks to improve access to medicinal cannabis, and ensure the safety and quality of both domestically manufactured and imported cannabis products.

The Bill seeks to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 by:

  • granting an exemption and statutory defence to people with a terminal illness (an illness from which they can reasonably be expected to die within 12 months) to possess and use illicit cannabis, and to possess a cannabis utensil;
  • providing a regulation-making power to enable the setting of mandatory standards for products manufactured, imported, and supplied under licence (as most internationally produced cannabis products do not currently meet the benchmark required by regulators such as Medsafe); and
  • amending Schedule 2 of the Act so that cannabidoil (CBD) and CBD products are no longer classed as controlled drugs, and instead classed as a prescription medicine (on the advice of the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs).

The Bill also requires the Ministry of Health to review the operation of the new exception and defence within two years of its commencement. The Ministry must prepare a report for the Minister detailing the implementation of the provisions, and recommend any amendments.

Overseas Investment Amendment Bill
Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon David Parker
This Bill aims to amend the Overseas Investment Act 2005 to restrict the sale of New Zealand residential property to overseas buyers. The Bill's primary focus is on residential land; however, it also proposes to make further general amendments to the Act to enhance the information gathering and enforcement powers of the Overseas Investment Office.

The key proposed amendments to the Act include:

  • Deeming properties classified as either "residential" or "lifestyle" for rating valuation purposes as sensitive land.
  • Modifying the definition of "ordinarily resident in New Zealand", for the purposes of the new provisions, to be those holding a permanent resident visa who have resided in New Zealand for at least a year and have been present in New Zealand for at least 183 days in the past year.
  • Enhancing the information gathering and enforcement powers of the Overseas Investment Office by introducing civil liability for those involved in contravention of the Act.

The Bill would still allow overseas people to buy sensitive land that is residential in certain situations, where they:

  • will be developing the land and adding to New Zealand’s housing supply; or
  • will convert the land to another use and are able to demonstrate this would have wider benefits to the country; or
  • hold an appropriate visa and can show they have committed to reside in New Zealand.

However, the Bill would impose conditions on those exemptions, for example if an overseas person purchases land to build residential houses on it, they would be required to sell that land when said houses are built.

Psychoactive Substances (Increasing Penalty for Supply and Distribution) Amendment Bill
Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Simeon Brown
This Bill would amend the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 to increase the penalty for selling or supplying psychoactive substances that are not approved products. The Bill proposes to amend section 70 of the current Act to modify the penalty from two years' to eight years' imprisonment. This would align the penalty with the penalties for the supply of Class C drugs under section 6(2)(c) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975.

Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Renewal of Licences) Amendment Bill
Type of Bill: Member's
Member in Charge: Louisa Wall
This Bill would amend the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 to provide that where a local alcohol policy is in place under the Act, the renewal of the licence must be consistent with the provisions of that local alcohol policy.

At present, the Act deals with the renewal of existing licences through a different process to the application for new licences. While new licences are currently granted within the context of relevant local alcohol policies, licence renewals are specifically required to not consider relevant local alcohol policies. This Bill would replace that requirement with a discretionary ability for a licensing authority or licensing committee to refuse to renew a licence if, in its opinion, the renewal of the licence or the consequences of its renewal would be inconsistent with any relevant local alcohol policy.

Bills awaiting first reading

Accident Compensation (Recent Migrants and Returning New Zealanders) Amendment Bill
Autonomous Sanctions Bill
Child Poverty Reduction Bill
Conservation (Infringement System) Bill
Crimes (Offence of Blasphemous Libel) Amendment Bill
Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill
Dairy Industry Restructuring Amendment Bill (No 2)
Education (National Education and Learning Priorities) Amendment Bill
Education (Protecting Teacher Title) Amendment Bill
Education (Public Good not Profit from Charter Schools) Amendment Bill
Employment Relations (Restoring Kiwis’ Right to a Break at Work) Amendment Bill
Employment Relations (Triangular Employment) Amendment Bill
Employment Relations Amendment Bill
KiwiFund Bill
Local Government (Freedom of Access) Amendment Bill
Ngā Rohe Moana o Ngā Hapū o Ngāti Porou Bill
Psychoactive Substances (Increasing Penalty for Supply and Distribution) Amendment Bill
Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Renewal of Licences) Amendment Bill
Sentencing (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill
Te Pire Haeata ki Parihaka/Parihaka Reconciliation Bill

Bills defeated

Employment Relations (Allowing Higher Earners to Contract Out of Personal Grievance Provisions)
Member in Charge: Brett Hudson
Ayes 57: New Zealand National 56; ACT New Zealand 1.
Noes 63: New Zealand Labour 46; New Zealand First 9; Green Party 8.

Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis and Other Matters) Amendment Bill
Member in Charge: Chloe Swarbrick
Ayes 47
Noes 73
This vote was a conscience vote, meaning MPs' votes were not cast along party lines. For a full breakdown of votes for this Bill, see here.

Bills before Select Committee

Submissions open

Bill

Select Committee

Closing date for Submissions (2018)

Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill

Governance and Administration

2 March

Brokering (Weapons and Related Items) Controls Bill

Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

16 February

Court Matters Bill

Justice

16 February

Education (Teaching Council of Aotearoa) Amendment Bill

Education and Workforce

Not yet called

Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill

Justice

19 March

End of Life Choice Bill

Justice

20 February

Financial Services Legislation Amendment Bill

Economic Development, Science and Innovation

23 February

Legislation Bill

Justice

23 February

Military Justice Legislation Amendment Bill

Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Trade

2 March

Misuse of Drugs (Medicinal Cannabis) Amendment Bill

Health

21 March

Newborn Enrolment with General Practice Bill

Health

16 February

Overseas Investment Amendment Bill

Finance and Expenditure

16 February

Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill

Primary Production

15 March

Statutes Amendment Bill (No 2)

Governance and Administration

23 February

Thames-Coromandel District Council and Hauraki District Council Mangrove Management Bill

Governance and Administration

23 February

Tribunals Powers and Procedures Legislation Bill

Justice

16 February

Trusts Bill

Justice

5 March


Submissions closed

Bill

Select Committee

Report due (2018)

Arbitration Amendment Bill

Justice

29 March

Consumers’ Right to Know (Country of Origin of Food) Bill

Primary Production

29 March

Crimes (Increased Penalty for Providing Explosive to Commit Crime) Amendment Bill

Justice

29 March

Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Bill

Justice

29 March

Domestic Violence — Victims' Protection Bill

Justice

29 March

Education (Tertiary Education and Other Matters) Amendment Bill

Education and Workforce

29 March

Friendly Societies and Credit Unions (Regulatory Improvements) Amendment Bill

Finance and Expenditure

29 March

Heretaunga Tamatea Claims Settlement Bill

Māori Affairs

29 March

Marriage (Court Consent to Marriage of Minors) Amendment Bill

Justice

29 March

Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki Claims Settlement Bill

Māori Affairs

29 March

Ngāti Tamaoho Claims Settlement Bill

Māori Affairs

29 March

Ngāti Tūwharetoa Claims Settlement Bill

Māori Affairs

19 June

Racing Amendment Bill

Primary Production

29 March

Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2)

Governance and Administration

29 March

Social Security (Stopping Benefit Payments for Offenders who Repeatedly Fail to Comply with Community Sentences) Amendment Bill

Social Services and Community

29 March

Social Workers Registration Legislation Bill

Social Services and Community

29 March

Taxation (Annual Rates for 2017-18, Employment and Investment Income, and Remedial Matters) Bill

Finance and Expenditure

29 March

Taxation (Neutralising Base Erosion and Profit Shifting) Bill

Finance and Expenditure

12 June

Telecommunications (New Regulatory Framework) Amendment Bill

Economic Development, Science and Innovation

29 March

Bills awaiting second reading

Family and Whānau Violence Legislation Bill
Health (Fluoridation of Drinking Water) Amendment Bill
Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Bill
Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngā Pōtiki Claims Settlement Bill
Social Security Legislation Rewrite Bill
Tauranga Moana Iwi Collective Redress and Ngā Hapū o Ngāti Ranginui Claims Settlement Bill

Bills awaiting third reading

Customs and Excise Bill
Food Safety Law Reform Bill
Insolvency Practitioners Bill
Iwi and Hapū of Te Rohe o Te Wairoa Claims Settlement Bill
Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2)
New Plymouth District Council (Waitara Lands) Bill

Bills withdrawn

Te Ture Whenua Māori Bill on 20 December 2017

Acts assented

Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Act 2017
This Act creates a legislative mechanism to facilitate the reinstatement of the Christ Church Cathedral. The Act permits the Governor-General to make Orders in Council on the recommendation of the Minister responsible for the administration of the legislation, to grant exemptions from, modify, or extend an enactment in connection with the Cathedral area. The Act places a number of limits on this power:

  • the Minister must not recommend the making of an order unless it is necessary or desirable for the purpose of the Act;
  • a draft of the Order must be reviewed by the Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Review Panel, and the Minister must have regard to any recommendations made by the Panel;
  • a draft of the Order must be provided to the Committee of the House of Representatives responsible for the review of disallowable instruments, and the Minister must have regard to any comments made by the Committee;
  • the Minister must consult the Minister of the Crown who is responsible for the administration of any Act subject to the draft order;
  • the draft order provided to the Panel and the Committee must be accompanied by a draft of the Minister's reasons for the recommendation;
  • only the joint venture or entity managing the reinstatement of the Cathedral, or the Panel, may propose to the Minister that he or she make an Order under the Act; and
  • the Minister must make a document available to the public and relevant authorities detailing the proposed Order, its purpose and effect, and consider any submissions made.

The Act also provides that any application for judicial review of an order, recommendation or decision under the Act must be made within 28 days after the publication of the Minister's reasons for recommending that the relevant order be made (or within any further time allowed by the High Court).

Electronic Interactions Reform Act 2017
This Act amends a range of legislation with the purpose of enabling digital interactions between individuals, businesses, and government agencies. The Act forms part of ongoing information management and digital transformation work in the state sector. The Act modernises 17 pieces of legislation as part of wider efforts towards a digital transformation across Government to meet New Zealanders' expectations for public services that are easily and readily accessible through digital devices.

The Act's four parts are:

  • Part 1, which amends the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995, the Marriage Act 1955, and the Civil Union Act 2004 to allow electronic application for certain services such as applying for a marriage licence without a written statutory declaration.
  • Part 2, which amends the participating agency can use a photograph for: issuing an identification document to the individual; issuing an electronic license; displaying it in a public register on which the individual is registered, to compare it with a photograph held by another agency in order to verify the participating agency's photograph; or for any other purpose permitted by Order in Council."
  • Part 3, which amends 11 Acts and allows people or businesses, in some circumstances, to appear before government agencies through electronic means. Part 3 also allows for a notice or any other document required or authorised to be served on or given to a person for the purposes of the Act to be provided electronically (via email).
  • Part 4, which facilitates the online sale of game hunting licences, and online voting for Fish and Game Council elections.

Families Package (Income Tax and Benefits) Act 2017
This Act gives effect to parts of the "Families Package" policy that implements changes to income tax and benefits. The "Families Package" replaces part of the earlier Budget 2017 Family Incomes Package, which was mostly enacted in the Taxation (Budget Measures: Family Incomes Package) Act 2017. The new changes will be effective from 1 July 2018.

The Act includes measures to support the Government’s aim of providing more targeted assistance to low and middle income families with children. This Act follows the recently enacted extension to paid parental leave of 26 weeks by 2020.

Measures in the Act include:

  • repealing the tax cuts and changes to Working for Families tax credits announced by the previous government in Budget 2017;
  • increasing the Family Tax Credit and raising the abatement threshold, which will increase from $36,350 to $42,700 with the abatement rate increasing from 22.5% to 25% too;
  • introducing a Best Start payment of up to $60 per week per child;
  • introducing a Winter Energy Payment to help superannuitants and beneficiaries heat their homes over winter. Main benefits include Jobseeker Support, Supported Living Payment, Sole Parent Support, Youth Payment, and Young Parent Payment;
  • reinstating the Independent Earners’ Tax Credit, which was repealed in Budget 2017; and
  • implementing the Accommodation Supplement and Accommodation Benefit increases announced in Budget 2017.

Maritime Crimes Amendment Act 2017
This Act amends the Maritime Crimes Act 1999 by implementing obligations under two maritime counter-terrorism treaties:

  • Protocol of 2005 to the Rome Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Maritime Navigation; and
  • Protocol of 2005 to the Rome Protocol for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Fixed Platforms Located on the Continental Shelf.

The Act creates a number of offences, with a penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years, for persons who threaten to or in fact:

  • discharge weapons or other harmful materials and substances with the purpose of intimidating a population or government; or
  • transport weapons and nuclear material and equipment.

The Act also creates a new offence, with a penalty of a term of imprisonment not exceeding seven years, for those who transport fugitives in contravention of the other new offence provisions.

The Act extends New Zealand's jurisdiction by applying to situations where the foregoing offences are committed aboard or against a New Zealand vessel, or the alleged offender is a New Zealand citizen or resident. The Act expressly does not apply to any act that occurs in a situation of armed conflict and is in accordance with applicable international law.

Maritime Transport Amendment Act 2017
This Act makes several amendments to the Maritime Transport Act 1994. The Act requires designated operators to develop a drug and alcohol management plan (DAMP) that manages risks to the health and safety of workers performing safety-sensitive activities.

A designated DAMP operator is a person:

  • who operates a ship other than a pleasure craft;
  • who holds a maritime document for operating that ship;
  • who has established a prescribed safety system; and
  • the operation of whose ship requires the carrying out of one or more safety-sensitive activities.

The Act requires DAMP operators (and empowers the Director of Maritime New Zealand) to administer random drug and alcohol testing of those workers. The Act also mandates the DAMP contain a process in the event a worker does not consent to or fails a random test. In addition, the Act increases the level of compensation available to meet claims for oil pollution damage caused by oil tanker spills in New Zealand waters.

Finally, the Act amends other matters pertaining to:

  • the retention of various infringement fees by a local authority;
  • amending the definition of 'coastal cargo' to exclude goods carried between a port on New Zealand's mainland and a port on any New Zealand offshore island, in relation to limits currently placed on coastal cargo shopping;
  • transitional measures relating to DAMPs; and
  • renaming of the Maritime Transport (Fund Convention) Levies Order 1996 to the 'Maritime Transport (International Oil Pollution Compensation Levies) Order 1996', and amending the order to apply it to the Supplementary Fund as well as the International Oil Pollution Fund.

Rates Rebate (Retirement Village Residents) Amendment Act 2018
This Act amends the Rates Rebate Act 1973. The Act rectifies an anomaly within that legislative scheme, and recognises retirement village residents as ratepayers under section 2(1). Residents of retirement villages who pay rates, directly or indirectly, in connection with an occupation right agreement with the operator of their retirement village are now expressly included as ratepayers under the Act. This is implemented by providing an alternative definition of a ratepayer, alongside persons who meet the definition provided in the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002.

Legislative instruments

Note: Some amendments have not yet been incorporated

Financial Markets Conduct (Financial Statements for Schemes Consisting Only of Separate Funds) Exemption Notice 2017
Financial Markets Conduct (Irrigation Companies) Exemption Notice 2018
Financial Markets Conduct (Shares in Investment Companies) Designation Amendment Notice 2018
Fisheries (Notification of Tāngata Tiaki/Kaitiaki for Mātaitai Reserves at Kaihoka Point and Anatori) Notice 2017
Governor-General (Salary) Determination 2017
Health Practitioners Competence Assurance (Designation of Oral Health Therapy as Health Profession) Order 2017
Inquiries (Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care) Order 2018
Student Loan Scheme (Repayment Threshold) Regulations 2017

In the week ahead

What’s coming up in the House

On Thursday 1 February, the House adjourned until Tuesday 13 February. When the House resumes, the Child Poverty Reduction Bill will have its first reading. Other bills to be considered in that week will include the Dairy Industry Restructuring Bill (No 2) and the Customs and Excise Bill. Bills that implement reforms in education and in the state sector will be introduced and will receive their first readings.

In trade

Tariff concessions

Applicant

Proposed tariff concession

Tariff item

Closing date for objections (2018)

Chubb New Zealand

Structural level two firefighting personal protective equipment (PPE), meeting Australian/New Zealand Standards

6203.33.02

13 February

In consultation

New

Who

What

By when (2018)

Commerce Commission

Price setting event 3 for Auckland and Christchurch Airports draft report.

31 March

Department of Conservation

Intention to grant a concession to Fish & Game Council Eastern Region.

1 March

Consultation on the current and future management of Molesworth Station.

14 April

Electricity Authority

Multiple trading relationships for consumers.

27 February

Code Review Programme 2018.

6 March

Environmental Protection Authority

Application to introduce rust fungus to control Chilean needle grass.

13 March

Standard for zoo containment facilities.

27 February

Water Conservation Order for Te Waikoropupū.

28 February

Food Standards Australia New Zealand

To seek approval for food derived from a genetically-modified insect-protected cotton line (A1154).

14 February

To consider varying certain maximum residue limits (MRLs) for residues of specified agricultural and veterinary chemicals that may occur in food commodities (M1015).

26 February

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Intention to amend the Seismic Assessment of Existing Buildings: Technical Guidelines for Engineering Assessments.

26 February

Ministry for Primary Industries

Proposed new phytosanitary measure (additional option) for fresh table grapes from Australia.

21 February

Draft Import Health Standard for Oncidium cut flowers.

22 February

Draft risk management programme template for micro abattoir.

23 February

Proposed guidance document for animal product processing.

9 March

Proposed fisheries bylaws for Te Arawa Lakes fisheries area.

16 March

New transitional facility standard for zoos.

23 March

Draft important health standard for zoo lizards and zoo lizard hatching eggs.

1 April

Proposal to establish halal export assurance framework for the dairy industry.

1 April

Standards Australia New Zealand

Revision to NZS 3602:2003 timber and wood based products for use in buildings.

2 March

Amendment to NZS 4243.2:2007 performance requirements for large buildings to achieve an adequate level of energy efficiency.

14 February

Revision to NZS 3640:2003 chemical preservation of round and sawn timber.

9 March

Revision to ISO / IEC 17025:2017 general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.

15 February

Current

Who

What

By when (2018)

Commerce Commission

Review of Transpower's management of Waikato and Upper North Island voltage due to the closure of Southdown and Otahuhu Power stations in Auckland and the proposed closure of the Huntly Power Station in Waikato.

1 November – 30 November 2018

Department of Conservation

Intention to grant a 5-year concession to Manawatu Marine Boating Club Incorporated at Foxton Harbour Improvements Reserve.

15 February

Intention to grant a concession to The Otago Central Rail Trail Charitable Trust.

19 February

Submissions sought on Multiple Trading Relationships consultation paper.

27 February

Call for submissions on any changes to the status of New Zealand fresh water invertebrates, to inform a revision of the assessments for this group in the New Zealand Threat Classification System.

28 February

Ministry of Justice

Māori Land Court customer survey.

30 June

Reserve Bank of New Zealand

Review of the capital adequacy framework for registered banks.

19 March

Standards New Zealand

Feedback sought on draft amendment to NZS 4243.2:2007 Energy efficiency – Large buildings – Part 2: Lighting.

14 February

Feedback sought on general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories, applicable to all organisations performing laboratory activities, regardless of the number of personnel ISO/IEC 17025:2017.

15 February

Seeking feedback on the draft revision to NZS 3602:2003 Timber and wood based products for use in buildings.

2 March

WorkSafe

Comments sought on draft Electric Vehicle Charging Guidelines.

27 February


This publication is intended only to provide a summary of the subject covered. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. No person should act in reliance on any statement contained in this publication without first obtaining specific professional advice. If you require any advice or further information on the subject matter of this newsletter, please contact the partner/solicitor in the firm who normally advises you, or alternatively contact one of the partners listed below.

Read more:
Watching Brief
Talk to one of our experts:
Related Expertise