Menu

Media Releases

NZ-China economic ties strengthened

Economic ties between New Zealand and China are being strengthened with the successful negotiation of a new taxation treaty.

The double tax agreement was signed by New Zealand’s Ambassador to China and by the Commissioner of the State Taxation Administration of China, at a signing ceremony in Beijing witnessed by the Prime Minister.

“An update to the existing Double Tax Agreement (DTA) will reduce barriers to cross-border trade and investment,” says Revenue Minister Stuart Nash.

“DTAs provide greater certainty of tax treatment, especially for cross-border investment flows such as dividends, interest, and royalties. The new DTA will reduce the withholding rates on certain dividends and eliminate double taxation.

“The new agreement also enhances the ability of both countries to detect and prevent tax evasion. It will contribute to the overall integrity of the New Zealand tax system.

“China is New Zealand’s largest trading partner in goods and one of our largest investment partners. Anything we can do to cooperate and smooth business between our two nations is hugely valuable.

“The new tax agreement is also significant in the ongoing fight against base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) by multinationals. Significantly, this tax agreement with our largest trading partner will also include new anti-BEPS measures. These include measures to prevent companies structuring their activity to avoid taxation on profits.

“Double tax agreements make it less costly for a business in one country to do business and invest in the other” says Mr Nash.

The new DTA replaces a 1986 agreement with a more modern set of rules and ensures that our bilateral framework for taxing cross-border economic activity remains up to date and fit for purpose. It will be brought into force through an exchange of diplomatic notes with China.

The text of the agreement can be found at https://taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz/tax-treaties/china


Tighter gun laws to enhance public safety

Police Minister Stuart Nash has introduced legislation changing firearms laws to improve public safety following the Christchurch terror attacks.

“Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack will be banned,” Mr Nash says. “Owning a gun is a privilege not a right. Too many people have legal access to semi-automatic firearms which are capable of causing significant harm.” 

“The attack exposed considerable weaknesses in our laws. The firearms, magazines and parts used by the terrorist were purchased lawfully and modified into MSSAs due to legal loopholes. Our priority is to enhance public safety and wellbeing by urgent changes to the law.

“It is important to reiterate the legislation introduced today is not directed at law-abiding firearms owners who have legitimate uses for their guns. Our actions are instead directed at making sure this never happens again,” Mr Nash says.

The Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines and Parts) Amendment Bill will:

  • Ban semi-automatic weapons and military style semi-automatics (MSSAs)
  • Ban parts, magazines and ammunition which can be used to assemble a prohibited firearm or convert a lower-powered firearm into a semi-automatic
  • Ban pump action shotguns with more than a five shot capacity
  • Ban semi-automatic shotguns with a capacity to hold a detachable magazine, or with an internal magazine capable of holding more than five cartridges
  • Exempt some semi-automatic firearms, such as .22 calibres and shotguns, which have limited ammunition capacity
  • Create tougher penalties and introduce new offences
  • Create new definitions of prohibited firearms, prohibited magazines, prohibited parts and prohibited ammunition
  • Establish an amnesty for firearms owners who take steps to hand over unlawful weapons, parts, magazines and ammunition to Police by 30 September 2019

“The misuse of semi-automatic weapons has caused death and injury at our places of worship. It has left a nationwide legacy of harm, pain and grief,” Mr Nash says.

“The men, women and children who died and suffered injuries at the mosques now have their own legacy. We will tighten gun laws to improve the safety and security of all New Zealanders. Their memory is our responsibility.

“The Arms Amendment Bill will have its first reading tomorrow, and be referred to a Select Committee for a swift public submissions process. It will return to Parliament next week to pass through its remaining stages. It is intended to come into force on 12 April, the day after the Royal Assent.

“Further announcements are due shortly on the administration and parameters of the buyback scheme,” Mr Nash says.

Questions and Answers

  1. What are the new prohibitions?
  • Prohibited firearms include semi-automatics and MSSAs; and shotguns with detachable magazines or internal magazines which hold more than five rounds.
  • Prohibited magazines include those holding more than 5 cartridges for a shotgun; more than ten cartridges for a .22 calibre rimfire weapon; and any other magazine capable of holding more than ten cartridges.
  • Prohibited parts include any component of a prohibited firearm, or any component that can enable a firearm to be used as a semi-automatic or fully automatic weapon. Examples could include bump stocks, free-standing pistol grips and silencers.
  • Prohibited ammunition will include certain types of military ammunition as defined by the Governor General through Order in Council. Examples could include armour piercing ammunition.

 Are any semi-automatic firearms exempted from the changes?

A small number of firearms owners have a legitimate use for weapons with a larger capacity. Semi-automatic firearms which are commonly used for hunting, pest control, stock management on farms, and duck shooting will not be affected. These are:

  • Semi-automatic .22 calibre rimfire firearms with a magazine which holds no more than ten rounds
  • Semi-automatic and pump action shotguns with a non-detachable tubular magazine which holds no more than five rounds
  1. What about licensed owners who have a professional reason for having a semi-automatic or another prohibited firearm?
  • There will be exemptions for specially licensed dealers, bona fide collectors, museum curators and firearms used during dramatic productions, as there are now. They must take steps to disable the weapon and follow other guidelines around security and safety.
  • Authorised pest controllers governed by s.100 of the Biosecurity Act may be permitted by Police to own a semi-automatic
  • There are exemptions for Police and Defence Force personnel.
  • There is no exemption for international sporting competitions. Further advice is needed and it may be considered as part of the second Arms Amendment Bill which is likely later this year
  1. What are the new penalties and offences?

 maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment:

  • using a prohibited firearm to resist arrest
  • maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment:
  • unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm in a public place
  • presenting a prohibited firearm at another person
  • carrying a prohibited firearm with criminal intent
  • possessing a prohibited firearm while committing any offence that has a maximum penalty of 3 years or more
  • maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment:
  • importing a prohibited item
  • unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm
  • supplying or selling a prohibited firearm or magazine
  • intentionally using a prohibited part to assemble or convert a firearm into a prohibited weapon
  • maximum penalty of 2 years:
  • possessing a prohibited part or magazine
  • supplying or selling a prohibited part
  1. How does the amnesty work?

The amnesty means firearms owners who now inadvertently possess a prohibited weapon, magazine, part, or ammunition can hand it over to Police or a licensed dealer without fear of being penalised. Any other firearm, magazine, parts and ammunition not affected by the ban can also be handed over.

Around 200 firearms have already been handed over.

More than 1400 calls have been made to the dedicated Police line 0800 311311

Around 900 online web forms have been filled in at www.police.govt.nz

  1. How will the buyback work?

Police and the Treasury are working on the details of the buyback. The underlying principle is that fair and reasonable compensation will be paid. It will take into account the age and type of weapon, and the market value. It is estimated it will cost between $100 million and $200 million.

 What measures are likely to be included in the next Arms Amendment Bill, later in 2019?

 Several issues require more analysis and advice from Police, other government agencies and affected groups. This will take time to get right. These include:

  • A register of firearms
  • Licensing of firearms owners and the Police vetting process for a ‘fit and proper person’
  • The Police inspection and monitoring regime, such as rules around storage of firearms

 


New Zealand bans military style semi-automatics and assault rifles

  • Military style semi-automatics and assault rifles banned under stronger gun laws
  • Immediate action to prevent stock-piling

Military style semi-automatics and assault rifles will be banned in New Zealand under stronger new gun laws announced today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

“On 15 March our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Cabinet agreed to overhaul the law when it met on Monday, 72 hours after the horrific terrorism act in Christchurch. Now, six days after this attack, we are announcing a ban on all military style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles in New Zealand.

“Related parts used to convert these guns into MSSAs are also being banned, along with all high-capacity magazines.

“An amnesty will be put in place for weapons to be handed in, and Cabinet has directed officials to develop a buyback scheme. Further details will be announced on the buyback in due course.

“All semi-automatic weapons used during the terrorist attack on Friday 15 March will be banned.

“I strongly believe that the vast majority of legitimate gun owners in New Zealand will understand that these moves are in the national interest, and will take these changes in their stride.

“When Australia undertook similar reforms, their approach was to allow for exemptions for farmers upon application, including for pest control and animal welfare. We have taken similar action to identify the weapons legitimately required in those areas, and preclude them.

“Legislation to give effect to the ban will be introduced when Parliament sits in the first week of April. We will provide a short, sharp Select Committee process for feedback on the technical aspects of the changes. We are looking to progress the amendments to this legislation under urgency and expect these amendments to the Arms Act to be passed within the next session of Parliament,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“The Bill will include narrow exemptions for legitimate business use, which would include professional pest control. Police and the Defence Force will also have exemptions. Issues like access for mainstream international sporting competitions are also being worked through,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said.

“We have also acknowledged that some guns serve legitimate purposes in our farming communities, and have therefore set out exemptions for 0.22 calibre rifles and shotguns commonly used for duck hunting. These will have limitations around their capacity.

“While the legislation is being drafted, I am announcing the Government will take immediate action today to restrict the potential stock-piling of these guns and encourage people to continue to surrender their firearms.

Earlier this afternoon, an Order in Council under section 74A(c) of the Arms Act was signed by the Governor-General to reclassify a wider range of semi-automatic weapons under the Act. It came into effect at 3pm today.

“This interim measure will ensure that all of the weapons being banned under amendments to the Arms Act are now categorised as weapons requiring an E endorsement on a firearms licence.

“The effect of this is that it will prevent the sale of MSSAs and assault rifles to people with A category gun licences. The Order in Council is a transitional measure until the wider ban takes effect.

“We are introducing transitionary measures for gun owners to hand in their guns to Police to hold until details of a buy-back are announced. Likewise, the Police continue to accept guns for destruction.

“Again, we encourage gun owners to phone in to Police ahead of time to advise them they are bringing their guns in to the station,” Stuart Nash said.

“The actions announced today are the first step of the Government’s response. We will continue to develop stronger and more effective licensing rules, storage requirements and penalties for not complying with gun regulations. It is the Government’s intention that these amendments will go through the full legislative process,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“To owners who have legitimate uses for their guns, I want to reiterate that the actions being announced today are not because of you, and are not directed at you. Our actions, on behalf of all New Zealanders, are directed at making sure this never happens again.”

Media contact: Andrew Campbell 021 243 8573

 Questions and Answers

 What semi-automatic firearms will be affected by the ban?

The ban will apply to all firearms are now defined as Military Style Semi-Automatics (MSSAs) and will also include assault rifles.

  1. What semi-automatic firearms will NOT be affected by the ban?

There is a balance to be struck between public safety and legitimate use. The changes exclude two general classes of firearms which are commonly used for hunting, pest control, stock management on farms, and duck shooting:

  • Semi-automatic .22 calibre rimfire firearms with a magazine which holds no more than ten rounds
  • Semi-automatic and pump action shotguns with a non-detachable tubular magazine which holds no more than five rounds
  1. What semi-automatic firearms are affected by today’s Order in Council?

Two types of firearms are now defined as Military Style Semi-Automatics (MSSAs):

  • A semi-automatic firearm capable of being used with a detachable magazine which holds more than five cartridges
  • A semi-automatic shotgun capable of being used with a detachable magazine which holds more than five cartridges

 I have an A-Category firearms licence and now own MSSAs. What should I do?

It would normally be an offence for an A-Category licence holder to possess an MSSA, punishable by up to three years in prison or a $4000 fine. However a transitional period gives time for people to comply with the law, if they take certain steps. The transitional period will be confirmed next month. Firearms owners who unlawfully possess an MSSA now have three options:

  • Voluntarily surrender the firearm to Police for safe disposal.
  • Complete an online form on the Police website to arrange for the MSSA to be collected, while details are finalised for compensation under a buy back scheme
  • Sell or gift the firearm to a person who has an E-Category licence and a ‘permit to procure’ the weapon
  1. Are Police geared up to receive large numbers of MSSAs?

Yes. They will work with the New Zealand Defence Force to enable safe storage, transport and destruction of MSSAs. Police are establishing an online form which will make it easier for firearms owners to arrange for Police to collect the MSSAs. The online form will go live over the weekend. It will not be practicable for firearms owners to physically return their weapons to Police stations without prior approval. Where extra administrative staff are required they will be hired on fixed-term contracts.

  1. Will this lead to stockpiling of semi-automatics?

No. The changes under the Order in Council take effect immediately. Anyone who now unlawfully has an MSSA, which yesterday was a lawful firearm, needs to take steps to comply with the law.

  1. Will some firearms dealers be breaking the law if they have these MSSAs in stock?

Some firearms dealers only hold A-category licences. In order to comply with the law, they could sell their stock of semi-automatics to a Category E licence holder or return them to their supplier.

  1. What are the statistics for firearms licences and firearms in circulation?
  • There are 245,000 firearms licences
  • Of these, 7,500 are E-Category licences; and 485 are dealer licences
  • There are 13,500 firearms which require the owner to have an E-Cat licence, this is effectively the known number of MSSAs before today’s changes
  • The total number of firearms in New Zealand is estimated to be 1.2-1.5 million
  1. What further issues are being considered?

Cabinet will consider further steps on 25 March. These will include measures to:

  • Tighten firearms licensing and penalties
  • Impose greater controls over a range of ammunition
  • Address a number of other issues relevant to special interest groups such as international sports shooters and professional pest controllers, such as DoC.
  • Future proof the Arms Act to ensure it is able to respond to developments in technology and society
  1. How will the buyback work, and who will administer it?

Police, the Treasury and other agencies are working through the detail. More information will be available when the legislation is introduced next month. The compensation will be fair and reasonable based on firearm type, average prices and the age of firearms.

  1. What is the cost of the buyback likely to be?

That is very difficult to judge, given the limited information about the total number of firearms affected by this change. Preliminary advice suggests it could be in the range of $100m-$200m. The buyback will ensure these weapons are taken out of circulation and that we fulfil our obligations under the law.


Membership: Australia and New Zealand Electronic Invoicing Board

The Governments of Australia and New Zealand have announced the membership of the Australia and New Zealand Electronic Invoicing Board (ANZEIB) today.

This is an important step towards implementing e-Invoicing across both countries to help businesses save time and money by allowing the direct exchange of invoices between suppliers’ and buyers’ financial systems.

The ANZEIB membership comprises:

  • Ramez Katf, Chief Information Officer at the Australian Taxation Office (Australian co-Chair)
  • Stewart McRobie, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment Chief Financial Officer (New Zealand co-Chair)
  • Elizabeth Williamson, the Australian Treasury’s Division Head of the Consumer and Corporations Policy Division
  • Rina Bruinsma, the Australian Department of Finance’s First Assistant Secretary of the Public Sector Transformation Division
  • Paul Helm, the New Zealand Treasury Head of Government Finance Profession and Chief Government Accountant
  • Gary Baird, Chief Technology Officer, the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department
  • Deborah Shepherd, independent New Zealand industry representative
  • Rebecca Schot-Guppy, independent Australian industry representative

The extensive knowledge and industry experience of all ANZEIB members will help contribute to the continued success of e-Invoicing. The ANZEIB will meet for the first time today.

The successful collaboration between Australia and New Zealand to progress e-Invoicing as part of the Single Economic Market agenda was highlighted in the Productivity Commissions’ joint report ‘Growing the digital economy in Australia and New Zealand: Maximising opportunities for SMEs’.

Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Jacinda Ardern announced the creation of the ANZEIB and the intention to adopt the Pan-European Public Procurement Online (PEPPOL) interoperability framework in 2019 in a joint statement in February.


An end to unnecessary secondary tax

Workers who are paying too much tax because of incorrect secondary tax codes are in line for relief with the passage of legislation through Parliament late last night.

The Taxation (Annual Rates for 2018-19, Modernising Tax Administration, and Remedial Matters) Bill passed its third reading and will come into effect on 1 April.

“We promised to eliminate unnecessary secondary tax for workers with more than one job. We are delivering on that promise,” says Revenue Minister Stuart Nash. “I am disappointed that National and Act voted against this measure.

“The changes mean Inland Revenue will more closely monitor the tax paid by wage and salary earners through the year. If it appears the worker is being over taxed, Inland Revenue will suggest a more suitable PAYE tax code tailored to that worker.

“Till now the tax on the second job has often seemed too high. These changes ensure wage and salary earners are only paying the tax they should. Just under 600,000 secondary tax codes are used every year.

“Inland Revenue will also make it easier for individuals to apply for tailored tax codes that suit their earning circumstances, and provide an online process to apply for the codes.

“The legislation also enables automatic tax refunds for about 750,000 New Zealanders every year.

“The simplified tax rules remove the need for people who only earn employment or investment income to file a personal tax summary (PTS) to get a tax refund. Till now, the only way to get a refund was to file a PTS. However 750,000 people failed to do so and miss out on their money as a result. We want refunds to flow automatically.

In other changes, the legislation will:

  • add new KiwiSaver contribution rates of 6% and 10% and make the savings scheme accessible to those aged over 65;
  • allow depreciation roll-over relief for properties affected by the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. This extends the deadline for obtaining the replacement property from the end of the 2018–19 income year to the end of the 2023–24 income year;
  • allow new racehorse investors to claim tax deductions if they purchase a standout yearling;
  • grant overseas donee status to the New Zealand Memorial Museum Trust, Le Quesnoy, to raise awareness of New Zealand’s participation in and contribution to the First World War;
  • clarify how Inland Revenue can collect, use and disclose taxpayer information;
  • introduce a ‘short process ruling’ where small businesses can more easily apply for a binding ruling from Inland Revenue on any tax matter;
  • set the annual tax rates for the 2018-19 tax year, which remain unchanged from previous tax years.
  • address unintended gaps in the current law governing the tax treatment of non-for-profit-entities;
  • exempt directly funded disability support payments from income tax; and
  • ensure that the company demerger rules are effective in providing tax relief for New Zealanders who receive shares because of a demerger by an ASX listed Australian company.

“This Bill represents a significant step in the modernisation and simplification of New Zealand’s tax system, supporting much of Inland Revenue’s Business Transformation work,” Mr Nash says.


Chatham Islands pāua plan approved

Efforts to reverse the decline in the Chatham Islands pāua fishery are the focus of a new plan jointly agreed between government, the local community and industry.

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash says the plan was developed by the PauaMAC4 Industry Association with support from the Chatham Islands community. This includes local iwi and imi (Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri and Moriori) and the Māori Fisheries Trust Te Ohu Kaimoana.

“The new Chatham Islands pāua fisheries plan will see more timely, transparent and localised decisions about how to manage the commercial harvesting of pāua under the quota management system,” Mr Nash says.

“The pāua fishery on the Chatham Islands is the largest commercial pāua fishery in New Zealand. It is an important food source for customary and recreational fishing. It is also a highly valued cultural resource.

“Voluntary management and decision making has been part of the pāua industry in the Chatham Islands for many years. Since 2010 quota owners have voluntarily shelved some annual catch entitlement to reduce the commercial harvest and restore the abundance of the shellfish. The new plan formalises these arrangements.

“The plan covers procedures such as handling, harvesting and landing pāua, biosecurity measures, protecting it from theft, use of underwater breathing apparatus by divers, access to the sea over private property, and even how to report shark sightings.

“During public consultation in mid-2018 all submissions supported the proposed plan and the need for the fishery to be managed on a smaller scale. This approach provides valuable local data about pāua so the rules for controlling the harvest can be adjusted accordingly. It ensures the fishery is sustainable for future generations,” Mr Nash says.

The Chatham Islands pāua plan will operate within wider management settings overseen by Fisheries New Zealand. It remains subject to the regulatory constraints of the total allowable commercial catch, and shellfish must still be of a minimum legal size. A number of performance measures will be monitored on an ongoing basis and the plan will be reviewed in five years.

It is the first localised management plan approved by a Fisheries Minister since 2007.


Bill introduced for synthetics crackdown

The Police will get stronger powers of search and seizure to crackdown on synthetic drugs under new legislation, which makes the two main synthetics (5F-ADB and AMB-FUBINACA) Class A drugs.

The Government has today introduced the Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill which targets suppliers of synthetic drugs, while at the same time affirming that Police should consider whether a health-centred or therapeutic approach would be more beneficial when deciding whether or not to prosecute for possession and use (of all drugs).

“Our current approach has failed. Since June 2017 as many as 50-55 deaths have been provisionally linked to the use of 5F-ADB and AMB-FUBINACA,” Dr Clark says.

“We need to treat drug use as a health issue – and that’s exactly what this Bill does.

“Interrupting supply is a key part of a health response. Classifying these synthetics as Class A drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act (MoDA) gives Police the powers they need to target the criminals that are getting rich from peddling them. We want to get these synthetic drugs off our streets.

“We also want people caught up in the web of addiction to get the support they need to get off drugs. We don’t want to ruin lives by putting people in jail at a cost to taxpayers of $110,000 a year when we can help them to get the treatment they need.

“Fear of prosecution can deter people from seeking help to deal with addiction issues. This Bill reaffirms in law the existing Police discretion about when to prosecute and explicitly requires consideration of whether a health-centred or therapeutic approach would be more beneficial,” Dr Clark says.

Police Minister Stuart Nash says the law change reaffirms the approach currently used by Police, who already exercise discretion about whether to prosecute.

“Every day, frontline Police make decisions about whether to prosecute in areas like road policing, shoplifting and possession of drugs for personal use. Police supports these changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act, which affirm a practice already in place.

“For example, an organised crime operation during 2019 has resulted in 32 referrals to addiction services in the greater Auckland area. The ongoing Te Ara Oranga programme in Northland has seen Police refer 257 people to the DHB for addiction treatment.

“Police are now developing comprehensive training for officers to enable them to successfully implement the changes and are drawing up guidance for health-based referrals. They are also preparing for greater search and seizure powers to target dealers, manufacturers and importers of any new drugs classified as Class A under the MoDA.

“A health-based approach recognises we cannot arrest our way out of our drug abuse problems. Many of those with addictions or dependence issues need treatment or education about harm reduction.

“However, people should be under no illusion about the risks of getting caught. Misuse of drugs remains illegal and drug users will still come to the attention of Police, irrespective of whether they go through an alternative resolution process or are referred for treatment.

“Prosecutions for drug possession are decided on the merits of each case and follow prosecution guidelines from Crown Law. Police will continue to prosecute people for personal possession and use when appropriate,” Mr Nash says.

In 2017/18, 52 people were imprisoned for drug possession and/or drug use offences as their most serious offence from a number of charges they faced, while a further 25 people were imprisoned for drug possession and/or drug use alone.

During the 2018 calendar year, Police and Customs seized 280 kg of methamphetamine; 216 kg of cocaine; more than 21,000 MDMA tablets; 37 kg of synthetic cannabis plant material and two kg of synthetic cannabinoid powder; as well as 45,000 cannabis plants, amongst other drugs detected.

The legislation will also help Police stay one step ahead of drug dealers by creating a new temporary drug classification category. This will mean emerging drugs can easily be brought under the Misuse of Drugs Act in future, making it easier for Police to target dealers.


Blasphemous libel law repealed

The archaic blasphemous libel offence will be repealed following the passing of the Crimes Amendment Bill today, says Justice Minister Andrew Little.

Continue reading →