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Blasphemous libel law repealed

The archaic blasphemous libel offence will be repealed following the passing of the Crimes Amendment Bill today, says Justice Minister Andrew Little.

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Coalition Government lassos livestock rustling

New rules to crack down on livestock rustling will come into force following the passing of the Crimes Amendment Bill says Justice Minister Andrew Little.

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Medieval law axed

The ‘year and a day rule’ rule will be repealed following the passing of the Crimes Amendment Bill, says Justice Minister Andrew Little.

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Further steps to combat tax evasion

Further steps to combat tax evasion

Revenue Minister Stuart Nash has announced New Zealand is expanding its global ability to combat tax evasion by joining forces with authorities in 30 countries and jurisdictions.

Cabinet has agreed to add another 30 territories to the current list of 60 jurisdictions where New Zealand has information-sharing agreements as part of a global standard known as the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI).

“The addition of 30 new territories reflects increased international cooperation by OECD and G20 countries to crack down on tax evasion,” says Mr Nash.

“It further increases our ability to ensure all New Zealanders pay their fair share of tax, including those who have financial interests in other countries. It shines a spotlight on those who try to evade tax obligations by hiding their assets offshore.

“New Zealand will send financial account information to these territories on an annual basis. These countries have enacted, or are expected to soon enact, legislation that enables them to send the same information to New Zealand.

“The 30 new countries are spread around the globe, from the Caribbean to Europe, Asia, the Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. The list includes jurisdictions such as Panama, Switzerland, Macao, the Cook Islands and Nigeria.

The AEOI enables information sharing about details of accounts at many institutions, including banks, private equity funds, investment advisors and some brokers and trusts.

“Inland Revenue will review the information and verify that correct tax is being paid on offshore investments. New Zealand taxpayers are strongly advised to check they have correctly accounted for their offshore investments. If not, they should make a voluntary disclosure to Inland Revenue without delay.

“The Coalition Government is determined that our tax system should be fair. We will ensure trans-national financial activity does not seek to evade tax obligations. In 2018 we passed legislation to make multinationals pay their fair share of tax, and have recently signalled our intention to ensure providers of digital services also meet their obligations.

“New Zealand supports the growing international consensus about the need to eliminate opportunities for tax evasion. The G20 and the OECD account for 88 percent of the world’s economic activity. We are determined that the tax system is fair,” Mr Nash said.

https://www.ird.govt.nz/international/exchange/crs/aeoi-crs/aeoi-crs.html

 New additions:

 

 

Antigua and Barbuda

Aruba

Azerbaijan

Barbados

Belize

Brunei Darussalam

Cook Islands

Costa Rica

Curacao

Cyprus

Dominica

Ghana

Grenada

Lebanon

Macao

Montserrat

Nigeria

Niue

Pakistan

Panama

Romania

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Lucia

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Samoa

Sint Maarten

Switzerland

Trinidad and Tobago

Turkey

Vanuatu

 

Existing list:

 

Andorra

Argentina

Australia

Austria

Belgium

Brazil

Bulgaria

Canada

Chile

China

Colombia

Croatia

Czech Republic

Denmark

Estonia

Faroe Islands

Finland

France

Germany

Gibraltar

Greece

Greenland

Guernsey

Hong Kong

Hungary

Iceland

India

Indonesia

Ireland

Isle of Man

Israel

Italy

Japan

Jersey

Korea

Latvia

Liechtenstein

Lithuania

Luxembourg

Malaysia

Malta

Mauritius

Mexico

Monaco

Netherlands

Norway

Poland

Portugal

Russian Federation

San Marino

Saudi Arabia

Seychelles

Singapore

Slovak Republic

Slovenia

South Africa

Spain

Sweden

United Kingdom

Uruguay

 

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Largest Police workforce in NZ history

Police Minister Stuart Nash is celebrating a new milestone as the Police workforce reaches the highest figure in its history.

“The total number of frontline officers, support staff, and others in the organisation who work to keep communities safe has now passed the 13,000 mark,” says Mr Nash.

“The number of frontline officers has increased by 595, or seven per cent, since the start of the 2017/18 financial year. The Coalition Government is now a third of the way towards its goal of 1800 extra Police.

“Thanks to increased investment of more than $300 million last year the total number of people who serve within Police is the largest ever. The Police workforce is a crucial part of our efforts to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders.

“The organisation is made up of frontline officers, recruits in training, and non-constabulary support staff. While the workforce of uniformed and plain-clothed officers is often the most visible face of Police, I also want to acknowledge those who work behind the scenes to keep our communities safe.

“The non-constabulary workforce includes those who handle demanding roles such as round the clock work in Police communications centres. It includes specialists on the new digital frontline who tackle cybercrime, child sexual abuse, and complex financial investigations. It includes those who work to prevent family harm, support technical and covert operations, research and develop new policy, and who play a vital role handling police exhibits and examining crime scenes.

“The new milestone has been reached with the intake of the latest recruits at the Royal New Zealand Police College this week. The eighty recruits of Wing 326 have just begun an intensive 16-week training course. While training they are paid the equivalent of a $43,747 annual remuneration package.

“I am delighted with the diversity of the latest wing. Forty-three per cent are women, 19 per cent are Maori, six per cent are Pasifika and eight per cent are Asian. The youngest is 19 and the eldest is 51. When finally deployed they will be sent all over the country to urban and rural areas.

“Police data is now consistently showing a drop in the number of people who are victims of crime every month. The addition of extra police over the coming years will further ensure people feel safe in their communities.” Mr Nash says.

Background:

Since the beginning of the 2017/18 financial year the growth in the Police workforce has been as follows:

  • Constabulary: currently 9434 frontline officers, an increase of 595.
  • Recruits: currently 180 recruits in training
  • Non-constabulary: Police staff currently total 3421, an increase of 353.

There is also strong interest from potential applicants who are keen on making a difference with a career in the Police. In the last six months of 2018 more than 2,800 people applied to join Police, an increase of 14 per cent on the same period in 2017.

The previously announced allocation of the 1800 extra Police is as follows:

 

Location (policing district)

Police allocation*

District Growth

Northland

87

25%

Waitemata

107

14%

Auckland City

102

13%

Counties Manukau

137

13%

Waikato

127

21%

Bay of Plenty

125

19%

Eastern

114

27%

Central

116

17%

Wellington

101

13%

Tasman

55

17%

Canterbury

121

14%

Southern

88

16%

National Operations & RNZPC

520

-

TOTAL

1800

20%

*indicative placement of 1800 additional police above October 2017 target staffing levels.

 

 

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Making sure multinationals pay their fair share

New Zealand is to consult on the design of changes to tax rules which currently allow multinational companies in the digital services field to do business here without paying income tax.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Revenue Minister Stuart Nash say Cabinet has agreed to issue a discussion document about how to update our tax framework to ensure multinational companies pay their fair share of tax in this country.

“Highly digitalised companies, such as those offering social media networks, trading platforms, and online advertising, currently earn a significant income from New Zealand consumers without being liable for income tax. That is not fair, and we are determined to do something about it,” Grant Robertson said.

“International tax rules have not kept up with modern business developments. In the longer term this threatens the sustainability of our revenue base and the fairness of the tax system.

“The current tax rules also provide a competitive advantage to foreign companies in the digital services field compared to local companies who offer e-commerce, online advertising, and social networking services.

“The value of cross-border digital services in New Zealand is estimated to be around $2.7 billion. We are determined to ensure that multinational companies involved in this sector of the economy pay their fair share of tax. Our revenue estimate for a digital services tax is between $30 million and $80 million, which depends on how it is designed,” Grant Robertson said.

“New Zealand is currently working at the OECD to find an internationally agreed solution for including the digital economy within tax frameworks,” Stuart Nash said.

“Our preference is to continue working within the OECD, which was also recommended last year by the interim report of the Tax Working Group. However, we believe we need to move ahead with our own work so that we can proceed with our own form of a digital services tax, as an interim measure, until the OECD reaches agreement.

“This is the same approach being considered by Australian authorities, who released a discussion document late last year. The OECD has also released a discussion document on its proposals. Officials will now finalise the New Zealand document which is likely to be publicly released by May 2019.

“The document will make it clear we are determined that multinational companies pay their fair share of tax. We are committed to finding an international solution within the OECD but would also consider an interim option till the OECD finalises a position,” Stuart Nash said.

Background:

Digital services taxes (DST) are generally charged at a very low flat rate of two to three per cent on the gross revenue earned by a multinational company in that country.

A number of countries including the UK, Spain, Italy, France, Austria and India have enacted or announced a DST.

The EU and Australia are consulting on a DST.

DSTs do not apply to goods or services, but to digital platforms who depend on a base of users. These may include, but are not limited to, social media sites like Facebook, content sharing sites like YouTube or Instagram, those that offer intermediary services like Uber, Airbnb and eBay, and others that earn income from online advertising.

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Fewer victims of crime during 2018

New data shows a significant drop in the number of people who were victims of crime in the past year. Police Minister Stuart Nash says the number of victimisations recorded by Police during 2018 fell by 2.7 per cent.

“This means 7240 fewer people were victims of crime than the previous year,” Mr Nash says.

“One of the Coalition Government’s top priorities is to improve the wellbeing of New Zealanders. There is a particular focus on community policing and on tackling organised crime, which is a driver of crimes such as burglary and assault.

“The Police statistics for 2018 show the drop in victimisations involved 1393 fewer crimes against a person and 5847 fewer crimes against property.

“This decline has been led by a drop of 4706 burglaries, representing a 6.8 per cent decrease. This is really pleasing given the invasive nature of the crime and its effect on people’s feelings of safety in their own home.

“Another pleasing result is 570 fewer robberies last year. After spiking to more than 4000 robberies in 2017, recorded robberies dropped by 14 per cent, following significant effort by Police and investment from Government to provide fog cannons and other prevention advice to at-risk shop owners.

“But while the trend is heading the right way in these categories, there are still too many victims and families suffering the trauma and other effects of serious crime.

“While there were 1000 fewer victims of assault, a fall of two per cent, Police recorded 119 more victims of sexual assault, an increase of two percent. Sexual assaults are internationally recognised as under-recorded and Police advise that the increased number may mean more victims are coming forward.

“The addition of extra police over the coming years will further ensure people feel safe in their communities. Today an additional eighty new constables officially graduate from the Royal New Zealand Police College.

“The graduation of Wing 323 means 1190 new frontline officers have been deployed around the country since the Coalition Government took office. I am also delighted with the diversity and range of skills of today’s new graduates. The youngest is 18 years old and the oldest is 48. One third are women, 14 per cent are Maori, and they share at least 12 foreign languages between them.

“I also want to pay special tribute to the 37 new constables who have just returned from supporting other emergency service personnel during the Tasman fires. After passing their final exams last week, they took their oaths as constables and headed to the South Island to assist with community safety and crime prevention efforts. It has been a brave and commendable introduction to their new career as frontline officers,” Mr Nash says.

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Hearing victims/survivors of crime

A new survey is allowing victims/survivors of crime to be heard, in their own words, about how our broken criminal justice system can be fixed, says Justice Minister Andrew Little.

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Joint effort on organised crime in the Pacific

New Zealand Police are to work more closely with their counterparts from Australia, Tonga and Fiji in a multinational effort to tackle organised crime.

Police Minister Stuart Nash says an agreement signed today in Sydney by the New Zealand Commissioner of Police Mike Bush will formalise the already strong relationship between Police forces across the Pacific.

“The new Memorandum of Understanding demonstrates the commitment of New Zealand Police to tackling the scourge of organised crime. The MoU establishes a new Transnational, Serious and Organised Crime Pacific Taskforce,” Mr Nash says.

“The Taskforce will make it easier for Police from the four nations to jointly investigate and disrupt criminal groups like gangs, to target criminals using small craft to transport illicit drugs, and to share operational intelligence.

“Drug trafficking, cybercrime and child exploitation occurs across borders. These crimes cause harm to our communities. We need to deter these offences and bring organised criminal groups to justice. 

“The Pacific Taskforce sends a very clear message to New Zealand-based offenders, criminal gangs and transnational networks – you will be pursued in this country and across the Pacific region.

“A commitment to go hard on organised crime was a key part of the Coalition Agreement with New Zealand First.  Extra Police are being deployed for crime prevention and ensuring safety of our homes, neighbourhoods and businesses. This is central to our efforts to enhance the wellbeing of families and communities.

“We will continue to engage closely with our Pacific counterparts to develop their capability to combat transnational crime. This not only improves our national security, but also security of the region,” Mr Nash says.

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Next phase in fisheries management reform

The next phase of reform of the fisheries management system has been launched with a call for public input into new rules for the commercial industry.

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash has released a discussion document on proposed changes designed to improve commercial fishing practices.

“I have been told by tangata whenua, the commercial fishing industry, recreational fishing groups and environmental organisations that they all want a better fisheries management system,” Mr Nash says.

“Some of the current rules for commercial fishing are complex, open to interpretation, offer few incentives to adopt innovative practices, and may lead to lost economic value and wasted resources.

“We are asking for public feedback across four main areas of reform:

  • amending the rules for what fish must be brought back to port and what fish can be returned to the sea. This includes options to tighten the rules so fewer fish are returned to sea, or increasing flexibility so more fish can be returned;

  • reviewing the offences and penalties regime to ensure it’s fair and effective;

  • streamlining and updating the ministerial decision-making process for setting catch limits; and

  • technical changes to the Fisheries Act.

“I would like to hear a wide range of views. Fisheries New Zealand officials will travel the country to hold consultation meetings across ten centres, from Whangarei to Invercargill. Submissions can be made via the website, or by email or post. I anticipate decisions arising from this exercise will result in the development of new legislation later in 2019.

“This new phase of fisheries management reform follows the introduction of electronic reporting of commercial catches and of vessel positions to identify what fish are being caught and where. The first commercial vessels began electronic reporting in 2017 and it is being further rolled out this year.

“I can also confirm I am committed to considering on-board cameras once these policy questions are addressed. Previous regulations were unrealistic and were developed without adequate engagement. I expect to soon provide an update to Cabinet.

“There is a process to follow before on-board cameras can be considered and I need to first ensure the regulations are practical to implement, the technology is operationally ready to go, the systems are in place, and the fisheries management framework is clearly understood. Any proposal for on-board cameras would go through a public consultation process.

“The lessons from Australia, where it took 10 years to get 80 cameras in place, demonstrate that considerable time and effort should be invested in getting it right before the cameras are rolled out.

“Our fisheries management regime is underpinned by the Quota Management System (QMS) which has been in place for thirty years and is not affected by these proposed changes. But we are always looking for ways to improve the management of our fisheries. We want commercial fishing practice to align with our goals of sustainability. We also want to encourage innovation and new technology and to promote premium fisheries products as part of New Zealand’s global brand.

“The rules being discussed in today’s document set the framework for the next steps in fisheries management reform. They are designed to encourage a culture change so that every fish is valued by the commercial industry.  This needs to be driven by clear and easily understood rules that further incentivise the industry to adopt good fishing practices. That will require the industry to be more accountable, maximise the value of the catch, report accurately, and verify what is caught,” Mr Nash said.

The discussion document and information about the public meetings and how to make a submission can be found here: www.fisheries.govt.nz/haveyoursay . Consultation is open until 17 March 2019. 

Background: Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why are you proposing to change rules for landing and return of fish to the sea?

    We’re looking to simplify the rules in commercial fisheries around what fish must be landed and what can be returned to the sea, and ensure that these rules incentivise good fishing practice.

    In some places, the commercial fishing rules are unclear, hard to understand and can be open to interpretation. This can contribute to catches not being accurately reported or accounted for.

    For example, some commonly caught fish have minimum legal sizes, while others do not, and some fish can be legally returned to the sea regardless of size. For commercially caught fish which do have a minimum legal size, all undersize fish are currently required to be returned to the sea, alive or dead.

    The current rules also provide few incentives to fishers to avoid catching small or low value fish, because many fish can be legally returned to the sea. As a result, the rules do not effectively incentivise good fishing practice, or innovation in more selective fishing methods and practices.

  2. What’s the problem with being able to return a large range of fish to the sea?

    Many of these fish may not be currently reported, so the number of fish being returned to the sea is difficult to quantify. This information is an important factor when making fisheries management decisions, such as setting catch limits for a fish stock. We need reliable and more complete information on catches to support better fisheries management.

  3. How could commercial vessels avoid catching small or unwanted fish?

    We want to ensure that all fish caught under the QMS are accounted for. We know that given the right incentives, the industry can reduce the number of small or unwanted fish they catch by changing their fishing practices, such as modifying fishing gear setup, fishing at different times, or in different places.

  4. Why aren't you proposing changes to minimum sizes for recreational fishing?

    Recreational fishing methods by and large have a relatively low impact on the marine environment. Individuals are often able to return undersized fish to the sea unharmed.

    While the survival chances of released fish will depend on the method used to catch the fish, the depth at which they are caught and how they are handled before release, individuals largely have a choice over which fish to take home and which to return to the sea.

    A recreational minimum legal size limit, in combination with a daily bag limit, is the most effective and sustainable way to control a recreational catch allowance.

  5. Why do you want to introduce new offences and penalties?

    Fisheries offending has historically been hard to detect because it typically occurs out at sea, well away from the public eye. As a result we have strong penalties in place for when it is detected.

    The introduction of electronic catch and position reporting will increase the likelihood that breaches of commercial fishing rules are detected. As a result, we need to ensure flexible penalties are available and that we can respond in a commensurate way to the level of offending.

    Having a graduated range of offences and penalties based on the number of fish and how often breaches are made would offer a more balanced regime. It would also encourage good fishing practices if authorities had the ability to issue infringements for low-level offences.

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