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Ngāti Hinerangi and Crown initial Deed of Settlement

The Crown and Ngāti Hinerangi have initialed a Deed of Settlement for the iwi historical Treaty claims, Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister Andrew Little announced today.

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Ngāti Tūwharetoa passes third reading

Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, Andrew Little, today welcomed Te Ariki Tā Tumu Te Heuheu and members of Ngāti Tūwharetoa to Parliament to witness the Third Reading of their Treaty Settlement legislation, the Ngāti Tūwharetoa Claims Settlement Bill.

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Milestone in Police recruitment

A milestone in Police recruitment has been achieved with the deployment of more than 1,000 new constables around the country since the government was formed.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters and Police Minister Stuart Nash congratulated graduates of Wing 321 at a ceremony at the Royal New Zealand Police College. The 80 recruits have officially completed training and been sworn in as constables. They will be deployed across all districts and commence duties on Christmas Eve, 24 December.

“The presence of police in our neighbourhoods and towns is one of the most powerful ways to deter crime and build safer communities,” says Mr Peters. “Today’s graduation means 1,022 new frontline officers have graduated and been deployed across all regions since the government was formed.”

“The Coalition Agreement between New Zealand First and Labour strives to increase Police numbers by 1800 extra officers. We are making good progress. The deployment of the new constables is much-needed, especially in our provincial communities outside our largest city.

“Auckland has attracted 41 per cent of the new officers and others have been deployed the length and breadth of the country. For example Northland has 54 new officers, Waikato has 88, Central District has 74, there are 75 new constables in Bay of Plenty, Canterbury has 81, and Southern has 60 new officers. These previously neglected regions were crying out for more Police,” Mr Peters says.

“Now that recruitment and training has stepped up following increased investment, a new recruit wing is graduating every month,” Mr Nash says. The net gain, accounting for attrition in the current workforce, is 483 extra frontline officers since the beginning of the 2017/18 financial year. We are more than a quarter of the way towards our goal of 1800 extra police.

“A new recruit wing graduates every month. In addition there will be 485 extra support staff. Policing is increasingly seen as a worthwhile career option. There is growing diversity in Police ranks too. One third of the new officers are women. Today’s graduation also means the number of fulltime-equivalent female Police officers has passed the 2,000 mark.

 “One of the Government’s top three priorities is to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders. We are building safer and more connected communities. There has been a significant drop in the number of people who have been victims of crime during 2018.

“Today’s graduates will be out on the streets and holiday spots over summer.  They bring diverse skills and experience to their role in keeping communities safe and preventing crime. They range in age from 19 to 52 and many have a strong tradition of volunteering in their communities such as surf lifesavers, firefighters, search and rescue work, sports coaching and mentoring young people. There are 17 born outside New Zealand and they share at least nine foreign languages between them.

“These new officers will help us to meet our goals of reducing victimisation and bringing down offending and imprisonment rates. I also thank the wing patron, Crown Solicitor Brian Dickey, for the support, mentoring and advice he offered during the 16-week training,” Mr Nash says.

 

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Crackdown on synthetic drug dealers

Crackdown on synthetic drug dealers

 The Government is responding to increased drug-related deaths by cracking down on the suppliers of synthetic drugs while making it easier for those with addiction problems to get treatment, Health Minister Dr David Clark and Police Minister Stuart Nash have announced.

“Under current laws synthetics and other dangerous drugs are killing people and fuelling crime while dealers and manufacturers get rich. The current approach is failing to keep Kiwis safe and can’t be continued,” David Clark said.

“It’s time to do what will work. We need to go harder on the manufactures of dangerous drugs like synthetics, and treat the use of drugs as a health issue by removing barriers to people seeking help.”

The Government has today announced a suite of measures to tackle synthetic drugs, the culmination of work initiated by then Acting Prime Minister, Winston Peters, in late July. The measures include:

·         Classifying as Class A the main two synthetic drugs (5F-ADB and AMB-FUBINACA) that have been linked to recent deaths. This will give police the search and seizure powers they need crackdown on suppliers and manufacturers, who will also face tougher penalties – up to life imprisonment.

·         Creating a temporary drug classification category, C1, so new drugs can easily be brought under the Misuse of Drugs Act, giving police the search and seizure powers needed to interrupt supply – an important part of a health response.

·         Amending the Misuse of Drugs Act to specify in law that Police should use their discretion and not prosecute for possession and personal use where a therapeutic approach would be more beneficial, or there is no public interest in a prosecution. This will apply to the use of all illegal drugs, so there is no perverse incentive created encouraging people to switch to a particular drug.

·         Allocate $16.6 million to boost community addiction treatment services, and provide communities with the support to provide emergency “surge” responses, when there is a spate of overdoses or deaths, for example.

“To be clear, this is not the full decriminalisation of drugs recommended by the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry. These are immediate steps we can take in response to the challenge we face with synthetics. We are considering the Inquiry’s recommendations separately,” Dr Clark said.

Police targeting dealers

Police Minister Stuart Nash says frontline Police are targeting dealers and suppliers with an increased focus on organised crime and trans-national crime as a result of extra resourcing in Budget 2018.

“Misuse of drugs remains illegal and people should not be complacent about the risks of getting caught. Whether a drug user ends up getting Police diversion, goes through an alternative resolution process, or is referred for health treatment, they will still come to the notice of Police,” Stuart Nash said.

“However Police currently use their discretion when it comes to drug users who are suffering from addiction or mental health problems.

“Prosecutions for possession are decided on a case by case basis and follow prosecution guidelines from Crown Law. Fifty-two people were imprisoned for drug possession or use during 2017/18.

“I expect Police will continue to prosecute people for possession when appropriate under the guidelines announced today. It is not a black and white exercise to distinguish between users and dealers. Factors include the seriousness of the offence, if there are victims, if safety of others is at risk from the drug use, if there is public disorder, and if the evidence is sufficient to justify a prosecution.

“We are striking a balance between discouraging drug use and recognising that many people using drugs need support from the health system, or education about harm reduction. We don’t want our jails full of people with addiction problems, we want those people getting treatment,” Stuart Nash said.

More support for treatment services, community responses

David Clark says the Government is allocating an additional $16.6 million to bolster addiction treatment services.

A total of $8.6 million has been set aside for an Acute Drug Harm Response Discretionary Fund over four years, and will be available immediately. The fund will:

  • Help communities respond to acute issues such as a surge in overdoses or deaths
  • Help people make lasting change to their lives to tackle issues that might be driving their use of drugs, such as homelessness

Up to a further $8-million (over two years, $4.6 in 2018/19 and $3.4-million in 2019/20) will be used from the proceeds of crime to:

·         Establish a Drug Early Warning System to provide intelligence and data to support the discretionary fund

·         Develop and deliver ‘Addiction 101’ training in communities experiencing harm from synthetic drugs

·         Fund other Ministry of Health drug and alcohol initiatives

“There’s no question that more investment in addiction services will be required over time, but the changes we are announcing today clearly demonstrate this Government’s focus on harm reduction and supporting people to live healthier lives,” Dr Clark said.

 

 

 

Synthetic Drugs Crack-down Backgrounder

What prompted this response?

  • In July the Chief Coroner reported that between 40 and 45 people had died as a result of taking synthetic cannabis type drugs in the previous year.
  • Then Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters asked the Ministers of Justice, Corrections, Police and Health to instruct officials to consult the experts and come up with the solutions proven to work.

Their advice was that the current approach is not working, and that New Zealand needs to shift to a health-based approach designed to minimise harm.

As a result, Ministers now propose a two pronged health-based approach that will interrupt the supply of dangerous drugs, and get help to those who need it.

This approach:

  1. enables a local community-led ‘surge’ response with a public health and prevention focus, linked with appropriate addiction treatment
  2. ensures that enforcement powers and penalties are focused on those who import, manufacture and supply dangerous synthetic drugs, and not the people who use the drugs themselves.

 

Facts on existing alcohol and other drug treatment (AOD)

  1. More than 50,000 people access addiction treatment services each year. Of these, almost all are treated in intensive outpatient services.
  2. The total cost of addiction treatment services is $150m per annum, of which around $26m is through residential care.
  3. Research indicates that nationally around 150,000 people could benefit from an intervention.
  4. There are a number of reasons why the majority of people do not seek help, including stigma, self-shame, a lack of self-awareness, and fear of arrest.

 

Factsheet: Police

Police discretion to prosecute

  1. The power to arrest a person or to even issue a transport infringement is discretionary. General factors considered by Police include:
  • the nature and seriousness of offence
  • the necessity to maintain public order, i.e. potential breach of the peace
  • evidential sufficiency, based on the Solicitor-General's Prosecution Guidelines
  • the public interest, based on the Solicitor General's Prosecution Guidelines
  • the suspect's behaviour and circumstances
  • any victim considerations

Police officers are also guided by the organisation’s Prevention First operating model, which focuses on preventing crime and harm, and emphasises working with partners.

  1. The changes announced today will build on the current approach to discretion. They will support a consistent Police approach to prioritise a health response over a criminal one when dealing with drug possession for personal use. However, the option will still remain for officers to prosecute when it is appropriate.
  2. The specific factors to consider in prosecution decision-making for the possession and use of drugs will be included in a guidance that Police will develop in partnership with the Ministry of Health and other partners.
  3. Current public interest considerations for prosecution include:
  • Where there are grounds for believing that the offence is likely to be continued or repeated, for example, where there is a history of recurring conduct
  • Where the offender has created a serious risk of harm
  1. Current public interest considerations against prosecution include:
  • Where the loss or harm can be described as minor and was the result of a single incident, particularly if it was caused by an error of judgement or a genuine mistake
  • Where the offence is not on any test of a serious nature, and is unlikely to be repeated

 

Recent examples of Police discretion

  1. November 2018, Operation Garden, MDMA (ecstasy) and LSD

This was a prevention-focused Police operation targeting the importation of illicit drugs purchased on the Dark Net. The National Organised Crime Group worked closely with their Dutch counterparts, and NZ Customs Service, to identify New Zealanders who had been importing drugs. The majority of people identified were buying for their personal use, rather than for the purpose of on-selling for profit. For that reason, the focus was education, encouraging treatment engagement, and harm-reduction, rather than prosecution. Police visited 84 addresses across New Zealand. Some charges may follow but Police also issued a number of formal warnings to most people they visited.

  1. June 2017 to present. Te Ara Oranga pilot programme, Police & Northland DHB

one of the activities of the Police team is to drug test bailees on abstinence conditions. Often these drug users fail (65 percent) the test and are breaching their bail. Sixty percent of those who failed the test were arrested and put before the court while 40 percent were either warned or had no action taken. When deciding whether to arrest or warn, officers consider the individual’s circumstances, their engagement with treatment (provided by health services) and the seriousness of the breach. At the end of September 2018, there had been 208 Police referrals to the DHB for addiction treatment.

  1. October 2017-September 2018, Operation Notus in Bay of Plenty

More than 40 people were arrested on firearms and drug supply charges. Dealers were connected to the Mongrel Mob. Police also identified a large number of methamphetamine users. Not all were arrested and charged. Decisions about these people factored in the level of offending, the best form of resolution, and the resources available to prosecute, as part of the Public Interest Test. During the Police follow up in Kawerau, officers worked to strengthen and build resilience in the community and work with other agencies to support those who have been affected by methamphetamine. This involved contacting all identified users of methamphetamine and providing them with guidance and advice about seeking help. There was a 34% reduction in crime in Kawerau in the three months following the termination of the operation.

 

New search and surveillance powers

Police have greater powers to investigate the use and supply of a substance when it is classified under the Misuse of Drugs Act (MODA). Currently, even when a substance is linked to deaths, Police are limited in their ability to investigate and prevent harm until that substance is classified under the MODA.

 

  1. Limitations of the Psychoactive Substances Act 2013 (PSA) are:
  • If a person has a controlled drug in their possession, they may have either committed a personal possession offence or, if they have a significant amount of the drug, a supply offence. For drugs controlled by the MODA, the amount of a drug that denotes that a person may have committed a supply offence is specifically listed in Schedule 5. There is no presumptive amount for supply of substances regulated by the PSA, which makes prosecution for supply offences more difficult.
  • If a person is suspected of being in possession of unapproved psychoactive substances for personal use only, there are no powers of search or arrest available. Search and arrest is available under the MODA.
  • Under section 48 of the Search and Surveillance Act 2012 (SSA) an enforcement officer may use an emergency surveillance device if the offence being investigated attracts a penalty of seven years imprisonment or more, such as supply of Class A or Class B drugs under the MODA. Under the PSA, the offence of supplying drugs attracts a maximum penalty of two years, so it is not possible to investigate supply offences using an emergency surveillance device. However, a pre-planned device warrant can be applied for under section 45 of the SSA.
  • Sometimes, during the course of an investigation, if a search of a place is not carried out immediately, evidence relating to a suspected offence may be destroyed. Section 77 of the PSA, ‘warrantless power to enter and search’, specifically excludes private premises from being subject to search. Many activities around supply and use of synthetic cannabinoids, and a number of the related deaths, have occurred in homes, so limitations around search of homes can impede investigation. When investigating offences relating to some drugs classified under the MODA, private premises are not excluded from warrantless entry and search if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe an urgent search is required to prevent evidence from being destroyed.
  • In the PSA there is no provision that facilitates domestic controlled deliveries of drugs, or protections that would enable the deployment of undercover officers against suppliers. These protections are available when investigating many offences related to drugs classified under the MODA, and are often critical to the success of investigations/operations targeting importers, manufacturers and suppliers of illicit drugs.

 

Distinguishing between users and dealers

Distinguishing between users and dealers/suppliers of illicit substances is not a black and white exercise. The complex interplay of a number of factors includes a person’s conduct or behaviour, the context of that behaviour, their intent, and the amount of the drug involved. Making this distinction can be particularly complex when a person is both a user and supplier.

 

  1. Information Police take into account includes:
  • whether there is evidence that the person offered to sell the drug to another person
  • the nature of the relationship with the ‘buyer’ – i.e. is the ‘buyer’ a stranger?
  • whether there is evidence of multiple buyers, multiple suppliers, importation and/or a clandestine lab
  • whether the person obtained profit
  • whether the amount of the drug involved meets the threshold for presumption of supply. There are different amounts for different drugs. For example, 28 grams for cannabis plant; half a gram for heroin. These are found in Schedule 5 of the MODA.

 

 

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Government ropes in livestock rustling

Justice Minister Andrew Little today introduced a supplementary order paper (SOP) on the Crimes Amendment Bill to crack down on livestock rustling.

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Small business the focus of Australian talks

Efforts to progress a seamless trans-Tasman business environment will take another step at a ministerial roundtable meeting in Sydney tomorrow.

Small Business Minister Stuart Nash and Australian Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert will co-host a roundtable meeting of senior government and business leaders. The discussion will focus on ways to advance e-Invoicing and support faster payment times for small business.

“There is a clear opportunity to streamline business-to-business transactions both within New Zealand and in trans-Tasman commerce,” Mr Nash says.

“Every year Australian and New Zealand businesses process about 1.6 billion invoices, but those still using paper and email-based invoices are using labour-intensive systems that are prone to error and delay. Research indicates that the economic savings of e-Invoicing could exceed $30 billion across both countries over 10 years.

“We recognise the benefits of developing a trans-Tasman approach to enhance the direct electronic exchange of invoices between the accounting systems used by suppliers and buyers.

“The round table discussions will give both governments the opportunity to engage with business CEOs and industry and sector leaders on the progress being made. Regular engagements with our Australian partners are crucial to ensure that this joint initiative continues to progress.

“We will discuss achievements to date, the benefits of e-Invoicing for both economies and the role Government can play. We will also set out milestones and timeframes for further work and seek input and ideas from industry leaders about questions such as infrastructure, business readiness, international alignments, and any regulatory issues.

“Both Governments are committed to e-Invoicing. We’ll also highlight our intention to drive action that will ensure faster payment times for small businesses and the importance of establishing the right technological infrastructure.

“The New Zealand Government is committed to growing our economy and working with businesses to encourage productivity. The roundtable meeting on e-Invoicing is another step toward this. It continues the commitments made by both Prime Ministers at the trans-Tasman leaders’ meeting in March. The Single Economic Market agenda is about a seamless business environment through collaboration on key economic initiatives and co-ordination of regulatory measures,” says Mr Nash. 

Mr Nash and Mr Robert will be joined by Australian and New Zealand CEOs from industry bodies and software providers, and senior leaders from the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, Inland Revenue, the Australian Treasury and the Australian Taxation Office.

The e-Invoicing initiative was announced as part of Budget 2018 and the formal trans-Tasman e-Invoicing Arrangement was signed in October 2018. It formalises the commitment of both countries to work together on a framework to ensure inter-operability for e-Invoicing frameworks.

The round table discussion at Sydney’s Sofitel Hotel will involve about 30 participants including some who will take part via video link from Wellington. 

While in Sydney Mr Nash will also meet the New South Wales Commissioner of Police Mick Fuller for discussions around mutual cooperation on organised crime.

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Andrew Little - Speech to Amnesty International event to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on World Human Rights Day, Parliament, Wellington

ANDREW LITTLE - SPEECH TO AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL EVENT TO MARK THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ON WORLD HUMAN RIGHTS DAY, PARLIAMENT, WELLINGTON

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Tax reforms focus on fairness

New tax legislation has been introduced to Parliament to ensure greater fairness in the way the tax system shapes commerce, investment decisions and social policies.

Revenue Minister Stuart Nash has introduced the Taxation (Annual Rates for 2019-20, GST Offshore Supplier Registration, and Remedial Matters) Bill.

“The bill implements two major policies which went through public consultation earlier this year, as well as picking up on smaller issues which have been the source of some frustration and complaint for those who deal with the revenue system,” says Mr Nash.

“The legislation establishes a framework to collect GST on low-value imported goods. The changes put local retailers on a level playing field with foreign firms who have taken advantage of the tax break. There are 26,000 small businesses in the retail sector employing more than 62,000 people. They are required to collect GST on all sales, and now the same requirement will apply to offshore retail giants.

“The new GST collection system applies to imported goods valued under $1000 and will come into effect on 1 October 2019. GST on goods valued above $1000 will continue to be collected by Customs when the goods enter New Zealand. 

“The internet has opened up more markets for global companies but if they want to do business here they must follow the rules like everyone else. We’re not the first to introduce such a rule and eventually this will be the new reality of doing business. 

“The second major change will mean residential property investors no longer get a tax break by using losses on rental properties to offset the tax payable on other sources of income such as salary and wages.

“Currently investors with loss-making rental properties can subsidise part of the cost of their mortgages through reduced tax on other income, helping them to outbid owner-occupiers for properties.  Yet these investors often make tax-free capital gains when these properties are sold. 

  “In conjunction with the extension to the bright-line test, ring-fencing losses from rental properties would make property speculation less attractive and level the playing field between property investors and home buyers. The new rules will not apply to a person’s main home or a property that is rented out and used privately such as a bach.

“The legislation also recognises the growing use of te reo Māori as an everyday language, including by many businesses. Inland Revenue has allowed taxpayers to keep records in te reo Māori for more than 20 years but this has never been enshrined as standard practice through legislation.  The right to use te reo Māori should be officially recognised in the law, rather than at the discretion of a Government department. 

 “Another wrong that is righted by this bill is the situation where a person who is the victim of a sex offence becomes liable for child support payments for a baby born as a consequence of that offence.  

“Although an exemption is available to prevent this liability, it has only been granted twice in twelve years. In order for a victim to qualify for the exemption, the offender must have been prosecuted. Sadly, all too often sex offences are not reported and even once reported, few result in a conviction. The law change will mean the Commissioner of Inland Revenue can use her discretion in such cases when deciding whether an exemption should be granted. Not only do we want a fairer tax system, we also want a humane and effective justice system, and this change will help to achieve that. 

“The bill also tidies up a somewhat confusing situation where domestic student loan borrowers are eligible for interest-free loans, but find they are charged interest which is then written off at the end of each year. This has been required as a technical workaround because of the IRD’s aged technology platform. Now with the transition to a new platform, we can finally clear up that confusion and not charge interest for these borrowers in the first place.” 

“Our revenue system enables the funding of our vital public services but it also needs to operate fairly in the way tax is administered and collected. These changes achieve those objectives and create a fairer system,” Mr Nash says.

The bill is expected to have its first reading on 12 December 2018.

For more information see taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz.

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Preventing death and injury on our roads

Police Minister Stuart Nash and Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter are encouraging road users to be alert to a new safety campaign launched today by Police and the NZ Transport Agency in the lead up to the Christmas.

“Too many people are dying on our roads and we want to support our agencies in getting the message out to drivers and riders to be safe,” says Mr Nash.

“However, everyone using the road needs to take responsibility. It’s up to all of us drive to the conditions and to not treat the speed limit as a suggestion.

Everybody needs to pay attention to what they’re doing and when you’re socialising over summer, don’t drink and drive.”

Today Police and the NZTA kicked off the summer season with their annual impairment prevention operation, which will be followed by a Police social media campaign focusing on the four main contributors of trauma on our roads.

These are people not wearing seatbelts, driving too fast for the conditions, driving drunk, drugged, or tired, and being distracted by things like cell phones.

Ms Genter says reducing the number of deaths and serious accidents on our roads is her top priority as the Associate Minister of Transport.

“These crashes impact families and communities across New Zealand,’’ she says. “I don’t want to see more people facing the festive season without their loved ones.’’

“Police will be out on the roads working hard to keep everyone safe. But they can’t do it alone. We all need to be responsible every time we get behind the wheel.”

Mr Nash and Ms Genter say the summer campaign by Police and NZTA has a simple and clear message: drive safely.

 

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New comms centre improves public services

A new digital services and communications centre opened on the Kapiti Coast will help transform the way Police connect with the public and work to make communities safe.

Police Minister Stuart Nash has officially opened the Police Digital Services Centre, Te Whare Torotoro Waea Pirihama in Paraparaumu. It will eventually house over 200 staff.

“The new digital services and communications centre is much more than just a major new Police building,” said Mr Nash. “The specialist services made possible by this new facility signal a transformation in the way Police connect with the public.

“Along with the unprecedented investment in frontline Police numbers in this year’s Budget, we provided additional funding to modernise tools and resources. We are offering new channels through which the public can connect with Police.

“This week Police launched a trial where for the first time, people can go online to make a report via the Police website. Till now this was only possible through a phone call or visit to a local station, or a Police visit to their property. The online crime reports cover all the questions a Police officer would ask and will be managed by a dedicated digital team at the Kapiti centre. Police will monitor feedback on the online trial and make improvements if needed. 

“The trial will initially focus on lost property and property damage such as vandalism, which account for over 78,000 reports to Police each year. Online reporting will not only make it easier to report a crime or other issues, it could also reduce inappropriate use of channels such as the emergency 111 number.

“Police are working on a single non-emergency number to minimise inappropriate use of the 111 service. This is planned to go live in 2019. A virtual service point is being piloted where a digital portal connects the public to a Police staff member. Of 150 front counters that were closed due to health and safety or accessibility problems, 82 have been refurbished and reopened and upgrades are underway to the remaining 68 sites.

“The Coalition Agreement with New Zealand First commits the government to strive for 1800 extra Police over three years. Frontline Police numbers have grown by around 450 above our June 2017 baseline, through a combination of strong Police recruitment, deployment of 941 new constables, and low attrition. We have more work to do to lift Police numbers and improve public services, but we are making good progress as we build safer and more connected communities,” Mr Nash said.

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