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Andrew Little leads NZ delegation on global anti-terrorism taskforce

Justice Minister Andrew Little leaves for the United States today to take part in a global task force that’s tackling terrorism and anti-money laundering.

“I’m looking forward to leading the New Zealand delegation to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Ministerial Meeting in the capital Washington DC on April 12,” says Andrew Little.

 

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Third reading: Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines, and Parts) Amendment Bill

Mr Speaker

We have travelled a long way in eight days, since the bill was read a first time.

It has been a punishing schedule for MPs and submitters and public servants who have played a role in this process.

In that time, we have walked in the shoes of a wide cross section of our communities.

Where we have been

Discussions during the eight days of debate on this bill have taken us to the sanctuary of the mosques.

They have allowed us to witness the supreme effort of trauma surgeons in a hospital emergency department.

We have caught a glimpse of family circles now with an empty chair, or two, in their household.

We know there are widows, many widows. There are children who have been to funerals of a sibling, a parent, a grandparent.

There are elderly members of our community who never got a chance to say farewell to an old friend.

As well as the victims and the bereaved, we have walked through the worlds of the gun users and dealers.

  • Women have talked about their lives on farms.
  • We have been taken through the landscape of a high country sheep station,
  • introduced to the atmosphere on rifle ranges, and
  • heard of the wildlife in the mountains and valleys frequented by recreational hunters.

The Police Association reminded us of the everyday reality for frontline cops, listening to instructions and warnings on the radio as they head to a callout, wearing body armour to enable them to walk into danger.

While Parliament has been to these worlds, many other visits have been happening outside this place.

Mr Speaker, families and friends have been tending to the fourteen people still lying in hospital beds recovering from gunshot wounds and other injuries.

That includes a five year old girl at Starship in Auckland, and her father in the hospital next door.

One patient remains in intensive care in Christchurch Hospital.

Others are at Burwood.

Mr Speaker, this legislation is just the first step of many to make our country safer.

The all-of-government response is ongoing.

What else we are doing

Police are acutely aware of how vulnerable and frightened some communities still feel after the terror attack.

They have established a special operation to reach out to these groups to provide reassurance and advice.

They are also responding to the many questions people have about safety and security.

Police have made almost two-thousand visits to schools.

They have made almost 1400 visits to places of worship. These visits are mostly, but not exclusively, to our mosques.

But I’m also aware of a visit made by Police to a Chinese Christian Church, which normally has 150 people at its Sunday service.

Many had stopped coming because of fears and false rumours about threats. Police were able to reassure this congregation.

Fourteen Police officers with specialist cultural knowledge and skills have been deployed to liaise with ethnic communities in Christchurch.

The diversity of our Police force is growing as we rollout 1800 extra officers which means that Police are increasingly drawn from the communities they serve.

They can speak the languages and know about faith and cultural practices.

Police have also made almost 150 visits to gun clubs. This is an important community for Police.

It is worth repeating the assurances given by government from the earliest days:

There are good people in all of our communities who will find themselves in possession of banned firearms, parts and magazines.

This is because we are changing the law, not because these people have done anything wrong.

The amnesty and buyback

That is why we have an amnesty and are putting in place a buyback scheme.

To date, more than three-hundred weapons have been handed over during the amnesty.

More than 1100 online forms have been completed for more weapons and parts to be handed over

There have been 1900 phone calls to the dedicated Police freephone 0800 311311

The amnesty runs to 30 September but I want to remind the House that there is provision to extend that date, by Order in Council, if necessary.

Alongside that amnesty, the buyback will now be structured within a statutory framework.

The framework will provide certainty for all participants and create a transparent system for compensation.

Police have consulted extensively with Australian officials about their experience with almost thirty amnesties and buybacks since the 1990s.

We want to take the time to get it right to avoid some of the pitfalls and legal risks encountered across the Tasman.

Next legislative steps

Mr Speaker, tonight’s third reading completes the passage of the Arms Amendment Bill.

We have begun work on an Arms Amendment No. 2 Bill, which we hope to see around June.

That bill will address some long-debated questions around a gun register, the licensing regime, the system of Police vetting, and the ‘fit and proper person’ test, storage requirements and penalties, amongst other matters.

I hope this House can again come together to work collaboratively on the next stage of reforms.

Acknowledgements

Before I conclude I want to specifically acknowledge two people.

The first is the Prime Minister.

Jacinda Ardern has given us the mandate to respond swiftly to the horror attacks of 15 March.

Opinions will vary of course, but I believe this bill is possibly the most important legacy this government will leave for future generations.

Secondly, I want to acknowledge my Ministerial Advisor Barbara, and her family, who have sacrificed much over the past 26 days.

We have asked a lot of our public servants, officials, and their families since the attacks. They have made this country a safer and better place.

Conclusion

Mr Speaker, to conclude, I acknowledge that in just over two weeks we will be marking ANZAC Day, and Police are busy working with RSAs and Councils to make the occasions as safe as possible.

Traditionally this day remembers those we have lost in war, the military and the civilians.

We remember those who have served our country, and who have worked to make it a safer place, where freedoms are protected.

Of course those freedoms include being free from harm and free of the fear of harm.

Those freedoms include making room for diversity, tolerance, and inclusion.

The day marks the historical ties that will forever link New Zealand, Australia, and our friends in Turkey.

It is an appropriate moment to remind the House of the words of the great Ottoman and Islamic leader, Field Marshall Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

He honoured our war dead who lie buried in Turkey with words which are reproduced on war memorials in Wellington, Canberra, and ANZAC Cove overlooking the Aegean Sea.

He noted:

You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.

Therefore rest in peace.

There is no difference to us between the Johnnies and Mehmets, where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.

Mr Speaker, we embrace those who lost their lives at the mosques.

They are us.

 

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Legal framework for gun buyback scheme announced

Police Minister Stuart Nash has announced a legal framework for the gun buyback will be established as a first step towards determining the level of compensation. It will include compensation for high capacity magazines and parts.

Mr Nash has outlined changes to the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines and Parts) Amendment Bill which will be debated during the committee stages of the legislation.

The Supplementary Order Paper reflects changes arising from the Select Committee process. It sets out the framework for dealing with the legal ownership of weapons, magazines and parts and the broad approach for determining payments.  

“The regulations will create a framework to set compensation based on make, model and condition of the items. They will provide for rights of review and appeal,” Mr Nash says.

“Independent advisors will develop the price list for approval by Cabinet. A separate expert panel of advisors will be established to determine fair compensation for high value firearms.

“Police have also consulted extensively with Australian officials to familiarise themselves with the pitfalls and legal risks encountered there. Australia has had almost thirty amnesties and buyback schemes since the 1990s.

“The new measures make it clear that surrendered firearms will be the property of the Crown. Owners will be compensated for them, if the guns were lawfully obtained and the person had the appropriate firearms licence. Price lists will be set out in regulations which are now being drafted.

“This framework provides certainty for all participants in this process and sets out a clear appeal process if the compensation is disputed.

“A number of transitional measures are also being put in place to handle one-off questions.  This includes weapons which were in transit from overseas when the ban took effect. Customs officials may deliver them to Police as part of the amnesty and buyback arrangement.

“Police are already collecting bank account details from people who are taking part in the gun amnesty. They are well placed to begin paying compensation once the scheme is confirmed. I can reassure firearms owners there will be plenty of time for them to hand over their weapons as part of the amnesty and to have their compensation processed under the buyback as well.

“The government has listened closely to official advice about the need to provide statutory authority for decisions and payments under the buyback scheme,” Mr Nash said.

The regulations are expected to be considered by Cabinet in May. If necessary, the amnesty can be extended by a month or so to run alongside the buyback.

 

 

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Second reading: Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines and Parts) Amendment Bill

Mr Speaker, it is Day 25 of the largest criminal investigation in New Zealand history.

Not a day, or a moment, has been wasted as we respond to the atrocity that is testing us all.

That is true also of the Select Committee.

I particularly acknowledge the members of the Committee who met under great time pressure to help speed this legislation through Parliament.

I thank the chair Michael Wood and I thank the other MPs who have all played their part.

I thank the 13 thousand or so who made submissions, and the tens of thousands of others who participated in this process by signing online petitions.

I thank the expert Police advisors and officials.

I thank the teams of public servants and policy analysts from multiple government agencies who assisted.

At least ninety extra people were drafted in to work late at night and through the weekend to consider, analyse and report on the submissions.

But perhaps the biggest debt of all is owed to the families and friends of those who fell at the mosques.

They came to Parliament to speak for those who could not.

Their bravery and dignity, their grief and their despair carry meaning that no paper submission or petition can convey.

Their eloquence and compelling truths gave weight to the memory of those we have lost.

There is one more submission I wish to single out, and in doing so I mean no disrespect to the others.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons took us to a very confronting place.

The family and friends of those who died gave us their memories.

The surgeons gave us the bodily presence of those who survived.

Mr Speaker, specialist James McKay saw 48 terribly injured men, women and children arrive in less than an hour in the Canterbury Hospital Emergency Department. 

At the Select Committee, his description of the injuries to their chests, lungs and abdomens, their skin and tissue and bone was, quite simply, horrifying.

Four hundred years ago The Merchant of Venice also confronted the effects of religious and cultural intolerance, for another group.

If I could paraphrase for a moment Mr Speaker.

Do we not have the same hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions;

fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is?

If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?

Mr Speaker, we are hurt with weapons.

Unlike that speech, we are not seeking revenge.

We are seeking safety.

We have to stop this happening again.

There is an A to W list of government agencies wrapping around the survivors and the bereaved, from ACC to Work and Income.

We have a responsibility too, here in this Chamber.

This Parliament is acting, near-unanimously, to take these firearms and associated parts out of circulation.

They cause deadly harm. They are designed to kill quickly and at scale.

There is no good reason to have them outside extremely tightly defined circumstances.

Exemptions – wild animal and pest control

Mr Speaker firearms are an important tool to help prevent damage to the environment.

There is an exemption in the bill for legitimate users to have access to prohibited firearms – semi automatics - for the sole purpose of pest eradication.

These commercial operators will need to demonstrate a genuine need for the firearm and that they cannot do the job with another type of weapon.

Rural Women NZ made a strong case that there is no need for assault rifles and military style semi-automatics on farms.

The Committee heard a range of views about the place of semi-automatics on farms and large landholdings.

Members of the committee believed that the exemption for commercial wild animal control or animal pest control businesses should be kept narrow.

The exemption does allow commercial businesses specialising in pest control to use a prohibited item for such purposes on private land or non-conservation land.

This will allow private land owners to engage a legitimate pest control business to assist in protecting our environment.

I am aware that there are some in the community who believe this does not go far enough.

The fact is Mr Speaker we must ensure that we do not create gaping loopholes that can be exploited. The right balance must be struck and I believe this provision does just that.

Other exemptions

Mr Speaker the select committee has made a number of recommendations which I believe should be included in the Bill.

Earlier I spoke of the need to ensure that we get the balance right between protecting our communities and allowing the tools to effectively protect our environment.

The select committee has given extensive consideration to the conditions placed upon a bona fide collectors.

Currently collectors must remove a key component of a firearm, rendering it inoperable.

The committee has recommended that the bill is amended to prescribe further precautions that must be taken to prevent the theft or misuse of these vital parts.

The committee has also recommended the ability for people to apply for an endorsement on their licence to keep a prohibited firearm if that item is an heirloom or memento. 

This will hopefully reduce the risk of people continuing to unlawfully possess a prohibited firearm. 

The Committee has agreed with the Government that there is no need for an exemption for sporting competitors or competitions.

No-one competing in shooting disciplines at the Olympic or Commonwealth Games will be affected by this Bill.

In addition, people who compete in the 3-gun discipline will continue to be able to compete using a .22 or lower calibre semi-automatic.

This Bill strikes the right balance.

Process

Mr Speaker, before concluding I want to briefly touch on the process.

In addition to the 13,000 submissions referred to in the Committee’s report, there were petitions signed by thousands of others.

For comparison, the comprehensive Thorp Inquiry more than twenty years ago considered just under three-thousand submissions.

Simon Mount QC, who was special counsel advising the Thorp Inquiry in 1997, has supported this process.

He made a submission stating:

“There are exceptional circumstances that require swift action, and this is one.

The arguments for immediate action seem compelling…the Committee will be well aware of the main arguments for and against.”

Conclusion

Mr Speaker, the survivors and the bereaved have a lifetime of physical and emotional trauma ahead.

For them, day 25 will blur into day 26 and day 27 and every day will be a struggle.

We have the responsibility to make every moment count.

That is why Mr Speaker, I commend this Bill to the house.

ENDS

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First reading: Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Magazines and Parts) Amendment Bill

Mr Speaker, as we meet today New Zealand is under a terror threat level of HIGH.

As we meet today, Police are routinely carrying firearms, Bushmaster rifles and Glock pistols, in a significant departure from normal practice.

As we meet today, mosques around the country require heightened security measures and a visible Police presence to ensure safety of worshippers.

As we meet today, the largest criminal investigation in New Zealand history is underway.

Dozens of specialist Police investigators, supported by Australian Federal and State Police, are following up concerns about a number of high risk individuals.

As we meet today, a number of people are before the courts for trying to promote hateful publications and videos of death; for unlawfully possessing weapons; for making threats against our citizens, and, for murder.

Mr Speaker, as we meet today we are driven by one objective.

We are driven by the need to ensure public safety is as strong as it can be.

We are also driven by the memory of fifty men, women and children who were taken from their loved ones on 15 March.

Their memory is our responsibility.

We don’t ever want to see an attack like this in our country again.

We are compelled to act quickly.

The Prime Minister announced the morning after the attacks that gun laws must change.

That now falls to us as individual MPs, and to the whole Parliament.

I am grateful for the support of colleagues across the Chamber.

The attacks in Christchurch exposed the considerable weaknesses in our current firearms law.

The most critical weakness in our firearms law is that too many people have legal access to too many semi-automatic firearms capable of causing significant harm. 

The current Act is not fit for purpose

The current Arms Act has a legal definition for military style semi-automatics or MSSAs that is easily circumvented and is difficult in practice to apply.

There are 7,500 firearms licence holders who between them possess approximately 14,000 MSSA firearms. 

Many more have semi-automatic firearms in a so-called sporting configuration and are easily converted to a MSSA.

Far too many people in this country have access to these dangerous firearms for no legitimate purpose, but at significant risk to the public.

However, more broadly than this, too many people have legal access to the parts and magazines that, in a single change, can easily convert a semi-automatic firearm into a lethal MSSA, which then has the capacity kill many people very quickly.

So today, we are debating legislation that will substantively tighten the current open and easy access to semi-automatic firearms, to make our country a safer place.

Our current firearms legislation came into force 35 years ago.

It dates from the 1980s, a time when New Zealand was more isolated from the rest of the world.

There were strong import controls and no internet market place or social media.

Since this time, firearms technology has shifted, the weapons market has become global and there is a significant online community and trading environment.

To bring the firearms legislation more up to date and substantially reduce loopholes and risk, major change is needed.

This Bill takes the first steps to modernise the Act.

Banning of assault rifles and MSSAs

It will restrict access to the number of assault rifles and MSSAs, associated parts, and large capacity magazines in New Zealand.

We want to remove firearms that are capable of causing the death and devastation we witnessed on 15 March.

We are also banning parts of a prohibited firearm, or any part that can enable a weapon to be fired as a semi-automatic or fully automatic firearm.

There are legitimate uses for firearms

It is important to reiterate the legislation is not directed at law-abiding firearms owners who have legitimate uses for their guns.

Our actions are instead directed at making sure March 15 never happens again.

Semi-automatic firearms which are commonly used for hunting, pest control, stock management on farms, and duck shooting will not be affected.

People can still use .22 calibre rifle with a maximum 10-round magazine, and semi-automatic and pump-action shotgun with a maximum 5-round magazine.

These firearms are widely and safely used amongst our farming and hunting communities.

Indeed today the Game Animal Council has confirmed that recreational and commercial hunting of large game animals, such as deer, pig, tahr and chamois, will be largely unaffected.

There will be a small number of tightly controlled exemptions for professional animal cullers and licensed firearms dealers.

Those groups or individuals identified as “management agencies” in section 100 of the Biosecurity Act, can apply to the Commissioner of Police for a permit to possess a prohibited firearm. 

This will include the sort of pest control work undertaken by contractors for the Department of Conservation or a local council.

Those applying will need to demonstrate they will only use the firearm for that purpose stated, and must demonstrate that they cannot do the work with any other firearm.

I know already that Federated Farmers and professional animal control groups would like to ensure that applies to pest control on private land too, and the Select Committee will take advice on that.

While these types of semi-automatics do not present the same level of risk to the public as MSSAs, nevertheless they can cause harm.

We have already signalled that we will be doing further work on strengthening the Arms Act in a future Amendment Bill, including the criteria around who can get a firearms licence.

The Bill also proposes an exemption for bona fide collectors, including Museums, and for film and theatre companies.

They must take steps to disable the weapon and follow other guidelines around security and safety, including storage.

Mr Speaker, the exemptions I have described come with considerable checks and balances around them.

Owning a firearm is a privilege, not a right.

We need to remove the most dangerous weapons from our community.

New offences

The Bill proposes the introduction of a number of new offences.

This includes possessing, using, presenting, supplying, selling, manufacturing and assembling a banned firearm.

The offences attract penalties ranging from up to 3 years imprisonment to 10 years imprisonment, depending on the nature and seriousness of the offence. 

We know this law change will have an impact on law-abiding firearms licence holders.

That’s why we have confirmed details of the amnesty, and are working on fair and reasonable compensation through a buyback scheme.

Amnesty

There are good people in all of our communities who will find themselves in possession of banned firearms, parts and magazines.

This is because we are changing the law, not because these people have done anything wrong.

Given this, the Government is putting an amnesty in place.

This will allow people to let the Police know if they are in possession of newly banned firearm, part or magazine.

The Amnesty also means any other firearm, magazine, parts and ammunition not affected by the ban can also be handed over.

Police are already working with the NZ Defence Force around storage, transport and safe destruction of these weapons.

The Government recognises that people have invested money in these firearms.

Running alongside the amnesty, the Government will implement a buyback scheme for the newly banned firearms which are surrendered.

The Government is currently working on the details of the buy-back scheme and will make announcements shortly.

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.

This range is wide because we do not have an accurate picture of how many of these weapons are out there.

We recognise it is a substantial amount of money but we are committed to doing this.

We will find the money to do this because it’s about making New Zealanders safe.

We will remove these guns from our communities

The Government is taking action

Mr Speaker, the primary duty of Government is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its citizens; and to allow them the ability to go about their lives free from harm and free from the fear of harm.

The select committee process will be used to ensure we have got the balance right between legitimate use of firearms, and tightening gun laws to improve the safety and security of all New Zealanders.

Just before I close I also want to pay tribute to the brave, compassionate and dedicated women and men of the New Zealand Police service.

Over the past few weeks they have shown why we have one of the best Police services in the world.

Our thoughts remain with our Muslim communities and the people of Christchurch.

We are doing this for them. We are doing this for our future generations.

It is our responsibility.

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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

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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

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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