Menu

Significant step to correct miscarriages of justice

Justice Minister Andrew Little has introduced the Bill to establish a Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

Read more
Add your reaction Share

First two expungements granted under Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Act 2018

Justice Minister Andrew Little has announced the first two expungements of unjust historical convictions under the Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Act 2018.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Information sharing to target organised crime

Revenue Minister Stuart Nash and Customs Minister Kris Faafoi are encouraging feedback on a proposal to extend an information sharing agreement designed to crack down on organised crime.

Since 2014 Inland Revenue and Police have worked together under the Serious Crimes Information Sharing Agreement where they have reasonable grounds to suspect a serious offence is being committed. The government proposes extending that agreement to include the Customs Service and the Serious Fraud Office.

“Police and tax authorities work together well when they suspect a serious crime, punishable by a prison term of four years or more, is being committed. We have released a discussion document calling for public submissions on the proposal to include two more agencies under the same framework,” Mr Nash says.

“Under the proposal, the one-way flow of information from the IRD would be extended to the SFO and Customs. Information could be requested from IRD or proactively provided if there are reasonable grounds to suspect a serious offence may be or has been committed.

“Inland Revenue is usually prevented from revealing details of individual taxpayers. However the Privacy Act makes an exception to the general secrecy rule if there is an approved information sharing agreement, or AISA,” Mr Nash says.

Mr Faafoi says an extension to the existing AISA would make it easier for the Customs Service to investigate and track unlawful imports and transactions.

“The IRD could for example share information from tax audits which show significant amounts of money flowing through a bank account which are not related to core business activities. Further investigation by Customs could reveal potential smuggling of drugs or other contraband across our borders,” Mr Faafoi says.

“Government agencies need to work more closely together to disrupt and prevent illicit cross-border activity that not only evades taxes but also leads to harm in our communities,” Mr Faafoi says.

Submissions are open till 30 October 2018. The discussion document is available at taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz.

Question and Answers

1.  What are the main changes proposed by this AISA?

The change is the extension of the original agreement between NZ Police and Inland Revenue, to include two agencies in the sharing of information – NZ Customs Service and the Serious Fraud Office.

The information would be shared with the two additional agencies utilising the same framework that Inland Revenue and the New Zealand Police use to share information for tackling serious crime.

2. How will the new Agreement help agencies prevent serious crime?

The ability to share information held by Inland Revenue with other agencies could open up new lines of enquiry and provide clearer pictures of legitimate revenue streams and illegitimate money, linking individuals and businesses that might be involved in criminal activity.

3. How does this proposed AISA improve information sharing between agencies?

By expanding the AISA to include the Serious Fraud Office and the NZ Customs Service, Inland Revenue would be able to share information with these agencies to help investigations of fraud, corruption and cross-border offences that fit the serious crime definition. Sharing information for this purpose is consistent with the Government’s commitment to making communities safer and reducing crime.

4. What measures are in place to ensure the Privacy of individuals’ information?

The proposed AISA would include controls and processes to minimise any risk of a privacy or secrecy breach occurring. Alongside the protections of the strict secrecy requirements imposed on staff and anyone who receives tax information, the information will be shared on a case-by-case basis and will need to meet a set of criteria to be shared (such as relation to a serious crime and relevance to a case). Information would be available only to authorised staff in each agency to ensure that information is treated appropriately. Staff who knowingly disclose information outside what is legally permitted would face potential criminal liability for breaching taxpayer secrecy.

5. What are the benefits of the extended information sharing?

Information provided by Inland Revenue would assist in providing new leads to an investigation and strengthening serious criminal cases such as fraud, financial crime, money laundering, and drug trafficking. This would support the Government’s objective of giving the NZ Police and the NZ Customs Service the resources they need to crack down on gangs, organised crime and drug trafficking.

6. What will be the cost of setting it up?

For all three agencies, implementation costs would be minimal. The proposed changes do not require any systems or technology changes as the information shared is compiled manually on a case-by-case basis and sent by secure mail.

7. What impact will the extended information sharing / AISA have on individuals whose information is held by the concerned agencies?

The information will only be shared if related to a suspicion of a serious crime, so it won’t affect the majority of individuals whose information is held by the agencies.

Add your reaction Share

Ngāpuhi momentum and progress continues

Andrew Little, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations, is pleased that Tūhoronuku Independent Mandated Authority (TIMA) and Te Kotahitanga o Ngā Hapū Ngāpuhi (TKT) representatives have agreed to hold additional hui next month, so Ngāpuhi can consider a proposal to evolve their mandate and negotiations structure.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Extra police to combat organised crime

The deployment of 500 extra Police to target organised crime will make significant inroads to efforts to reduce victimisation and improve the wellbeing of our communities, says Police Minister Stuart Nash.

“The Commissioner of Police has today revealed details of how the additional frontline officers will be allocated as part of the unprecedented effort to prevent and combat serious and organised crime,” says Mr Nash.

“Areas of focus include disrupting trans-national criminal groups, national and local gangs, cyber-crime, money laundering and child exploitation. The purpose is to prevent crime and reduce the harm to our communities from the supply of drugs, serious violence and other offending.”

“The 500 extra specialist police are part of the Coalition Agreement with New Zealand First to strive for 1800 extra officers. Gangs and disruption of organised crime was also identified as a priority area in the Coalition Agreement. Extra officers at both district and national level will truly make a difference in our communities.

“Organised criminals and gangs are supplying methamphetamine to our communities with no regard for the significant harm it causes, and these extra police will be going after them.

“Police will be targeting our most serious offenders and criminal leaders to take them off the street. We need to cut the head off the snake. But police will also be looking to help others on the periphery of gang life and other vulnerable people to get the help they need to fight addiction, break the cycle, and improve their lives.”

A further 200 district-based officers will support the focus on preventing organised crime. The new investment also provides for the specialist skills and the tools required for effective 21st-century policing, including the latest technology to combat organised crime.

“The Government’s long term plan makes it a priority to improve the wellbeing of families and communities. We are focussing on preventing crime and reducing reoffending in order to keep our communities safe”, Mr Nash says.

Add your reaction Share

Largest Police graduation in over a decade

Ninety-eight new Police constables will be deployed around the country with the graduation today of the largest single Police recruit wing in more than a decade.

Police Minister Stuart Nash has congratulated the new constables who passed through the final stages of their formal training at the Royal New Zealand Police College.

“The ninety-eight new constables of Recruit Wing 318 are the largest single cohort to graduate since 2006. They put a human face to the unprecedented investment in Police in this year’s Budget,” Mr Nash says.

“We set aside $300 million in new operating funding and $18 million in capital funding. It’s the first step towards our coalition commitment with New Zealand First to strive for 1800 extra Police officers and 485 new support staff.

“This is the eleventh recruit wing to graduate since this government took office and 786 new Police officers are deployed as a result. The extra officers will be over and above the attrition of current Police. The attrition rate in Police is around five percent per annum and is one of the lowest in the wider state sector.

“Last month the Commissioner of Police confirmed the allocation of the 1800 extra officers, with a particular focus on ensuring they were deployed to urban, provincial and rural centres around the whole country. The 98 recruits from Wing 318 will be deployed to all 12 Policing districts.

“There’s a great depth of talent and diversity in the new Police officers. Female constables make up 39 per cent of the wing, ten per cent are Maori, seven per cent Pasifika and nine per cent Asian. The youngest in nineteen and the oldest is 50. Sixteen officers were born outside New Zealand and share at least nine foreign languages between them. There are former sporting reps from New Zealand, Samoan and Australian national teams, and a strong tradition of volunteering in areas like search and rescue, firefighting, and supporting victims, youth groups and the elderly.

“The growing number of new officers allows Police to make real inroads into crime prevention in order to reduce victimisation, lower reoffending and bring down imprisonment rates. They help the government fulfil a key priority of its long-term plan outlined at the weekend, by building safer and more connected communities,” Mr Nash says.

 

Add your reaction Share

New catch limits for thirty-two fish stocks

The commercial tarakihi catch in the fisheries areas off the east coast of the North and South Islands is to be reduced by 20 percent in an effort to rebuild the depleted stock.

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash has also signalled further cuts to the tarakihi catch are in store next year unless the commercial fishing industry can develop a plan to rebuild the fishery within ten years.

Mr Nash has reviewed Total Allowable Catch and other management controls for 32 stocks as part of the regular twice yearly sustainability round.  “The decisions follow public consultation and take effect for the fishing year which starts on 1 October,” Mr Nash says.

“These decisions are based on the best available scientific information and show the effectiveness of the Quota Management System. It is flexible and responsive to change. Where a stock is below expected levels then we will act to protect it.

“The tarakihi fishery is of great importance to commercial inshore trawlers and for recreational and customary fishing. I have decided a package of measures is required to get this important fishery back to where it needs to be, which in technical terms is 40 percent of the unfished spawning stock biomass. It is currently at less than half this target.

“I have decided on a phased approach, beginning with a 20 percent reduction in the first year. The industry has eight months to develop a plan to rebuild the stock. If the plan is not sufficiently robust then further cuts of up to 35 percent of current catch will be introduced for the October 2019 fishing year.

“Other changes include increases in catch limits for fish stocks that are doing well, such as southern bluefin tuna, orange roughy and scampi, and a decrease in catch limits for stocks that need help to rebuild, such as longfin eels and Northern flatfish. There will be increases to catch limits for 11 stocks, and decreases to catch limits for 12 stocks. The catch limits for the rest of the stocks will remain the same this fishing year.

Stocks reviewed this year include those of cultural importance to tangata whenua such as longfin and shortfin eels, as well as some shared fish stocks that are important to commercial and recreational sectors, such as tarakihi, flatfish, pāua, and red gurnard.

“I have also decided to close the Kaipara Harbour scallop fishery to recreational scallop fishing under section 11 of the Fisheries Act to allow the stock to recover. This means the Kaipara Harbour scallop fishery will be closed to both commercial and recreational fishing,” Mr Nash says.

These decisions come into effect 1 October 2018, except for the Kaipara Harbour scallop closure, which will come into effect later in October.

For more detailed information on the changes visit www.fisheries.govt.nz/news-and-resources/consultations/review-of-sustainability-measures-for-1-october-2018/

Add your reaction Share

Next steps in digital monitoring

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash has confirmed the next stage of digital monitoring across the wider commercial fishing fleet will begin in January 2019.

“Electronic catch and position reporting is already in place for trawl vessels over 28 metres in length that make up most of the deep-water fleet. They account for 70 per cent of the catch,” Mr Nash says.

“The remainder of the fleet, the smaller vessels who predominantly work the inshore fisheries, will now report their catch and position under the modernised system as well.

“The rollout will begin in January 2019 with those who have the highest total holdings of annual catch entitlement (ACE). It will be introduced progressively and end with operators who have the smallest or no holdings. It will be in place across the whole fleet by December 2019.

“It replaces the current paper-based catch reporting system that is slow, error prone and time consuming. The wider introduction of electronic catch and position reporting will give us more accurate and timely information about what is being caught, how it is being caught, and where it is being caught.

“The modernisation of the fisheries monitoring system will provide better information and improve the understanding of what fish are being legally returned to the sea, including fish below minimum size. It will provide real time information and evidence about the commercial catch that will enable better decisions around setting catch limits.

“I put the rollout on hold late last year after challenges around technology and specifications. We have arrived at solutions to these issues. After consultation with the industry and others we are in a better position to make sure it works. The industry had concerns in a number of areas, such as frequency and timing of reporting, how to deal with equipment failures at sea and how to protect commercially sensitive information such as the location of fishing spots.

Fisheries officials also used the consultation to consider how they could better facilitate innovative trawl technologies that have the potential to reduce bycatch and minimise damage to fish. Officials will continue to work with the fishing industry for the remainder of this year to resolve any other technical questions.

“These changes will allow Fisheries New Zealand to make more informed and faster decisions about managing our fisheries to maximise their recreational, cultural, commercial and environmental value. It will also give increased confidence to New Zealand and international consumers that fish from our waters are being managed and caught sustainably.

“The introduction of electronic catch and position reporting is part of a wider Digital Monitoring Project. I am still considering options around the introduction of cameras on board commercial fishing vessels and no Cabinet decisions have yet been made about this additional technology. Decisions around on-board cameras would require Cabinet approval and wider public consultation,” Mr Nash says.

For technical details and more background information about digital monitoring, see the Fisheries New Zealand website  

 

Questions and Answers

  1. What is wrong with the way commercial catches and fishing positions are reported now?

The paper-based reporting process can be slow and time consuming, and prone to errors.

The paper reports are mailed in by the 15th of the following month and the process can result in long delays before fishing information is verified. If an error is made in the forms, the commercial operator is notified and must provide an amended report or indicate that they stand by their original report. This requires operators to recall events that happened two months earlier unless they have kept their own separate records.

  1. What will the changes look like in practice?

By using digital technology the commercial fleet will record activity in real time while fishing. The reports will in most cases be completed and submitted daily. The new regime will require the fleet to report more than previously, including fish caught that are below the minimum legal size.

Electronic catch reporting will require an e-logbook where fishing boat operators complete and transmit their catch reports electronically, most of them daily. The upgrade to electronic reporting will reduce human error and make reporting easier and more efficient.

Electronic position reporting is a new requirement for most of the commercial fleet. It will see the location of vessels and land-based fishers reported frequently through automated geospatial position reporting (GPR) devices.

  1. What is the expected impact of electronic catch and position reporting on the commercial fleet?

There will be a cost to purchase the electronic catch and position reporting equipment from technology providers. Fisheries New Zealand will support this process with guidance material and is preparing for meetings across the country to provide information and answer questions. 

There will also be some changes to past practice and familiar processes. This will affect what is reported, how it is reported, and when it is reported. However, these changes will improve the timeliness and quality of information provided to support industry decision making.

Precise cost estimates are difficult because technology providers have not yet publicised their pricing. As with any product, prices will also vary depending on the vendor chosen; the hardware and software already in place on commercial vessels; and whether catch and position reports are transmitted using cellular coverage or satellite-based systems.

The modernisation of the fisheries management system is a crucial step towards improving the sustainability of our fisheries and our marine environment.

  1. How will electronic catch and position reporting be rolled out?

 It will be rolled out over 11 months, starting with those who had the largest annual catch entitlement (ACE) holdings at 23:59pm on 30 September 2017. In general, the largest operators are more likely to have the necessary infrastructure in place to support electronic reporting. This staggered approach will also enable Fisheries New Zealand to better support commercial operators as they transition into the new regime.

The table below sets out an example of what the rollout might look like.  The stages will only be finalised once the regulations have been amended. .

 

Stage

Permit holder’s ACE holding at 30.09.17

Can start reporting from

Must report by

1

2,000 tonnes and over

14 January 2019

1 May 2019

2

180 - 1,999.99 tonnes

1 May 2019

1 June 2019

3

45 - 179.99 tonnes

1 June 2019

1 July 2019

4

24 - 44.99 tonnes

1 July 2019

1 August 2019

5

11 - 23.99 tonnes

1 August 2019

1 September 2019

6

4.50 - 10.99 tonnes

1 September 2019

1 October 2019

7

1 - 4.49 tonnes

1 October 2019

1 November 2019

8

All other permit holders

1 November 2019

1 December 2019

 

 

  1. How will you deal with concerns about privacy or commercial sensitivity?

 We have listened to concerns that vessel operators will be forced to publicly reveal commercially valuable information, such as lucrative fishing spots or places where they enjoy an abundant catch.

There are cases where the fishing operator is not the permit holder for that species but is catching it on their behalf. Some skippers do not want to reveal their precise fishing locations to the permit holder.

Skippers or designated fishing operators will still be required to record their fishing location in fine detail, to the equivalent of 11 metres, when they report to Fisheries NZ. But they will only be required to share the same information with the permit holder with a precision equivalent to eleven kilometres.

 

 

Add your reaction Share

Andrew Little to visit Ahitereiria (Australia) for Ngāpuhi hui

Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little will hui with members of Ngāpuhi in Ahitereiria (Australia) next week to continue discussions on the Ngāpuhi Treaty settlement progress. It is estimated that more than 25,000 Ngāpuhi are currently living in Australia.

Read more
Add your reaction Share

Reducing family violence harm top priority

Minister of Justice Andrew Little has today announced amendments to the Family and Whānau Violence Bill, designed to strengthen the legislative foundations of the family violence system.

Read more
Add your reaction Share