Police Minister Stuart Nash says a solid start has been made to the gun buyback and amnesty after the first weekend of community collection events.
“Gun owners will walk away with more than $1 million in compensation after this weekend. The first payments are expected to land in people’s bank accounts over the next few days,” Mr Nash says.
“Police are very encouraged by the response to the first public events at Riccarton Racecourse in Christchurch. More than 250 further events are planned for the first half of the amnesty, and more will be scheduled.
“Today’s efforts surpassed the turnout on Saturday and I want to repeat my praise for both Police and firearms owners who made this happen.
“The feedback to Police has been very positive. Gun owners say the process is easy and straightforward and the compensation they received is fair.
“Provisional figures show that 378 people took part over the course of the weekend. A total of 542 firearms were handed in, along with 578 prohibited parts or accessories. Payments worth $1,022,599 were processed.
“The next collection event is on 17 July at Waipu in Northland. After that every Police District around the country will hold events over the weekend of 20-21 July.
“I encourage firearms owners to prepare beforehand using the online form. Others with firearms or parts they wish to dispose of during the amnesty can also drop them off at the collection days, no questions asked.
“Information about the collection events is being regularly updated on the Police website, and people can also phone the 0800 311 311 number for more details.
“The terror attack on 15 March is the reason we changed our laws. We know the vast majority of gun owners are law abiding and the changes are not aimed at them. They did nothing wrong. But we must act to remove the most dangerous weapons from circulation,” Mr Nash says.
Police Minister Stuart Nash has praised Police and gun owners after the first firearms collection event saw a busy turnout at Riccarton Racecourse in Christchurch.
“Police officers and staff have put a tremendous effort into planning and logistics for the first event in the six month amnesty. More than 250 others are scheduled,” Stuart Nash says.
“Payments worth more than $430,000 have been processed today and should be in people’s bank accounts within the next few days.
“New Zealand has never run a gun buyback and amnesty before. Months of work has been invested and it has paid off.
“Many of those who handed over firearms commented how easy the process is, how the prices are fair, and how Police made the whole event go smoothly. Police say the feedback has been very positive.
“I also want to thank the people of Canterbury who turned up today. Police are working alongside firearms owners to help them do the right thing.
“We have consistently acknowledged the vast majority of firearms owners are law-abiding. They have done nothing wrong. The law changed and now they hold prohibited weapons. This was never aimed at them. It was designed to ensure the events of 15 March in Christchurch do not happen again.
“The results from the first collection are very encouraging. The early figures indicate people were coming through the door faster than one every two minutes. A prohibited firearm or part was handed in at a rate of more than one a minute. Payments were processed at a rate of more than $1400 per minute.
“The government has put aside more than $200 million for payments and administration of the gun buyback and amnesty. We will top up that figure if required.
“Another collection event will be held at Riccarton Racecourse tomorrow and I encourage owners of prohibited weapons, or others who just want to dispose of items during the amnesty, to prepare in advance and go along,” Mr Nash says.
Seventy-eight new Police constables are heading out to the regions following today’s graduation of a new recruit wing from the Royal New Zealand Police College.
Police Minister Stuart Nash says the record high number of new Police officers being recruited, trained and deployed means a new recruit wing is graduating every month.
“In the new era of a heightened threat level we need these new frontline officers as we step up our efforts to keep communities safe and prevent crime,” Mr Nash says.
“Today’s graduation means 1446 new frontline officers have been deployed since the coalition government took office. A further 240 are currently training in other recruit wings in Wellington and Auckland.
“The extra resources help Police expand their work with the most vulnerable in our communities, in line with the coalition government’s wellbeing focus.
“Police are working tirelessly to keep our communities safe. The new officers who graduate today from Wing 327 begin work on 15 July, just as community collections get underway during the firearms buy-back and amnesty.
“In Budget 2019 we invested $168 million to take the most dangerous weapons out of circulation. ACC has also stepped up with a further $40 million dollars for the buy-back, in recognition of the human cost of firearms-related injuries and deaths.
“Today’s new constables will also help tackle organised crime, gangs, and drugs. These are priorities and Police are making inroads as they work to reduce harm from methamphetamine and other drugs.
“Police are also increasingly responding to mental health needs. They were involved in almost 33,000 mental health calls in the year to April, an increase of eleven per cent on the previous year. The Budget increased support for frontline mental health services by $455 million.
“There is great diversity in the constables who graduate today. Female constables make up 36 per cent of the recruits, 19 per cent are Maori and eight per cent are Pasifika. The youngest is 19 years old and the oldest is 41.
“There is once again a strong tradition of community service and volunteering amongst our new constables. Many are accomplished in sports and cultural fields, including a US-born constable who made a living as a professional skateboarder as a teenager.
“I also want to thank the wing patron, Dr Lance O’Sullivan, who was a great mentor to the new constables and shared advice and encouragement during their four month training course,” Mr Nash says.
Inland Revenue is to gain greater oversight of land transfer information to ensure those buying and selling properties are complying with tax rules on property speculation.
Cabinet has agreed to implement recommendation 99 of the Tax Working Group’s (TWG) final report. It will require most people who buy and sell properties to supply their IRD number on land transfer documentation.
Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says the TWG made the recommendation after hearing submissions on ways to improve the fairness, balance and structure of the tax system.
“Most people already provide their IRD number to Land Information NZ (LINZ) when buying and selling property, but there are some exemptions which are open to manipulation,” says Mr Nash.
“Up to one-third of land transfers are made without a record of the IRD number of the buyer or seller.
“Inland Revenue needs a complete picture of property transactions to determine if tax rules are being manipulated. The requirement for nearly all land transfers to include an IRD number is a small change but improves the overall integrity of the system.
“If a home owner regularly buys and sells their properties in a short time frame it suggests they are engaged in property speculation and are flipping properties with the intention of creating income.
“When the previous government introduced the bright line test in 2015, it made it clear that owner-occupiers with a regular pattern of buying and selling residential properties had to comply with the bright line rule in certain circumstances.
“If an owner-occupier buys and sells properties twice or more in two years, under existing law they are generally considered to be trying to manipulate the bright line test.
“The requirement to provide an IRD number on nearly all land transfers makes the rules easier to understand for everyone. It removes uncertainty around what information people need to provide when buying or selling a property.
“Capturing the relevant tax information for property sales will also help us work with jurisdictions in other countries to combat global tax evasion,” says Mr Nash.
A Supplementary Order Paper has been tabled today to make the change to the Taxation (Annual Rates for 2019–20, GST Offshore Supplier Registration, and Remedial Matters) Bill currently before Parliament. It will apply from 1 January 2020.
A small number of land transfers do not require the provision of an IRD number. Examples include land transfers under a Treaty settlement or by a local authority.
The Government is taking action to expand and strengthen the protection for Māui and Hector’s dolphins with an updated plan to deal with threats to these native marine mammals.
Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Minister of Fisheries Stuart Nash today released proposals for consultation for a revised Threat Management Plan to protect the Hector’s and Māui dolphins.
“These precious dolphins are New Zealand taonga. We need to act now to ensure their populations increase and both species thrive,” says Eugenie Sage.
“Māui dolphins are nationally critical, with only an estimated 63 dolphins remaining. Hector’s dolphins are nationally vulnerable with about 15,000 in New Zealand waters.
“The proposals include options for a significant expansion of the areas of ocean free of set nets and trawl nets to protect dolphins from the risk of bycatch in fishing nets. They are based on best available science, New Zealand and international expertise.”
“This information make it clear that the risks of bycatch to dolphins have reduced in areas where there are restrictions on set netting and trawling,” says Eugenie Sage.
“The Government recently announced that cameras were being placed on commercial fishing vessels operating in the areas of highest risk to Māui dolphins. The proposals in the new Threat Management Plan are part of a wider and ambitious programme of change in fisheries management this year,” says Stuart Nash.
“Together, they provide for the long-term protection of Hector’s and Māui dolphins and address a wide range of threats. The document recognises the need to carefully balance the proposals to protect dolphins, against the impact the changes could have on people and their livelihoods,” he says.
“The scientific risk assessment has been through multiple rounds of peer review, including by an international panel of experts, and it draws on a range of new information. Combining the latest data and expertise means this is the most comprehensive and robust assessment to date of the risks to the dolphins,” says Mr Nash.
The discussion document includes proposals to extend the boundaries of the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary south to Wellington and for the Banks Peninsula Marine Mammal Sanctuary to extend north to Kaikōura, south to Timaru, and offshore to 20 nautical miles.
The discussion document identifies other threats that need to be dealt with to protect the dolphins; including toxoplasmosis and sub-lethal threats such as seismic surveys and seabed mining. It includes options ranging from requiring compliance with the Department of Conservation code of conduct for seismic surveying in New Zealand’s five marine mammal sanctuaries set up to protect Hector’s and Māui dolphins to prohibiting seismic surveys and seabed mining within the sanctuaries.
The proposals also include the Department of Conservation developing an action plan to deal with toxoplasmosis, a disease that can affect dolphins and other marine mammals, by targeting research to answer knowledge gaps, enhancing education for cat owners and advocating for riparian and wetland restoration.
A moratorium on commercial tourism permits targeting Māui dolphins is also proposed to minimise the disturbance to the dolphins from boats.
“There’s keen public interest in protecting the dolphins, with many articulate letters from young people coming into our offices. Now there’s a chance for public feedback to help us improve these proposals,” Stuart Nash says.
“We know people are passionate about marine mammals and there are a wide range of views out there about the best way to protect them. I encourage everyone to share their thoughts and make a difference,” Eugenie Sage says.
To find out more about the options, and how to have your say, go here.
Commercial fishing vessels at greatest risk of encountering the rare Māui dolphin will be required to operate with on-board cameras from 1 November, as the next step to strengthen our fisheries management system.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash have announced new funding in Budget 2019 will ensure our fisheries are managed sustainably, compliance is encouraged, and monitoring and verification are increased.
Jacinda Ardern says one of the priorities of the Wellbeing Budget is to support regions and businesses adjust to long-term environmental challenges facing our economy. “Enhanced fisheries management helps secure a sustainable future for our marine species.”
“Māui dolphins are critically endangered. It is estimated just 63 adults remain in our waters. Their habitat stretches from Northland to Taranaki and overlaps the inshore fishery where commercial vessels catch species like snapper, tarakihi, gurnard and john dory.
“It is crucial we act to protect this fragile population of marine mammals. On-board cameras will give us independent, accurate information about the impacts of commercial fishing in this area. It will encourage compliance and ensure fishing practices are sustainable and verified.
“Enhanced fisheries management sits alongside other efforts to deal with long term environmental challenges. This includes a proposed network of marine protected areas off the Canterbury and Otago coast, legislation to tackle greenhouse gases, phasing out single-use plastics, greater funding for predator and pest control, and support for sustainable tourism growth.
“The on-board camera programme encourages our fishing industry to meet expectations from consumers and overseas regulators about how seafood is caught and how we protect species such as Māui dolphins.” says Jacinda Ardern.
Stuart Nash says the Budget sets aside $17.1 million over four years for purchase, installation and maintenance of the cameras, as well as the costs of storage, review and analysis of the footage.
“It is a significant investment and allows us to move quickly alongside industry to implement change,” says Mr Nash.
“Commercial trawlers and set netters working in Māui dolphin habitat will be required to carry cameras because their fishing methods pose most risk to dolphins.
“It will affect up to 28 vessels although the final number requiring cameras will depend on whether they continue to fish in the area using trawl or set nets. The final number may be fewer as some of these vessels may choose to fish elsewhere.
“Other vessels that work the area use methods like long-lines, purse seine nets and potting that pose a lower risk and they will not be required to carry cameras at this stage.
“The roll-out of cameras in the Māui dolphin habitat allows time to refine systems and processes before a wider camera programme is considered across more of the commercial fleet.
“Currently many vessels in the affected area carry an independent Fisheries NZ observer on board to monitor activities. This monitoring will continue after cameras are installed while we test and refine the system.
“It is important to emphasise that cameras by themselves will not stop a dolphin being caught in a net. But international evidence from Australia, the U.S., Denmark and the U.K. shows cameras drive positive change and greatly improve the quality of fishing data.
“In Australia 75 vessels have operated with government-funded cameras since 2015. Other jurisdictions, such as British Columbia, ran four-year camera trials with the government working alongside the commercial fleet to take the time and effort to get it right.
“Overseas experience has demonstrated the value of on-board cameras, but also made it clear we need to invest time, effort and resources for the greater public good.
“On-board cameras are the latest step in an ambitious programme to protect the marine environment and support sustainable fisheries. By December 2019 all commercial fishing vessels will be reporting their catches and positions electronically and in close to real time. This will give us better data about what they catch and where.
“Legislation is also likely to be introduced later this year after public consultation on the rules that govern commercial fishing. We sought feedback on practices around what fish can be brought back to port and what fish can be returned to sea, as well as penalties and offences.
“Greater protection for Hector’s and Māui dolphins will be achieved through a review of the Threat Management Plan (TMP) to be released for public consultation shortly.
“A renewed TMP will give us better information for fisheries management. It will drive cultural and behavioural change to ensure our marine environment is managed effectively, now and in the future,” Mr Nash says.
A new record for the number of Police officers deployed to the regions in a single year has been created with the graduation today of Recruit Wing 326.
Police Minister Stuart Nash says the graduation of 78 new constables means a total of 831 new frontline Police have been deployed to communities around the country during the 2018/19 financial year.
“The previous highest number of new Police in one financial year occurred 21 years ago when 683 officers graduated during 1997/98,” says Mr Nash.
“Since the Coalition Government was formed 1,367 new recruits have graduated from the Police College at Porirua and from two innovative training wings in Auckland. It is the first time since the 1970s that recruits have trained in Auckland.
“During the next financial year there will be a record five Police training wings in our largest city. We are stepping up training there in response to feedback from aspiring recruits. The course is non-residential so recruits can return home every day.
“Following the events of March 15th we are responding to unexpected new demands for national security, crime prevention and community safety.
“The Wellbeing Budget contains more than $260 million in new initiatives for Police. Thanks to this new investment, Police can strengthen controls on the use of firearms. They will be able to take the most dangerous weapons out of circulation and begin the next stage of reforms to reduce the risk of firearms falling into the wrong hands.”
The new initiatives for Police include:
$168 mill for payments and administration of the gun buyback scheme;
$41.8 mill to tackle family violence;
$5.86 mill for victim video statements;
$37.19 mill to provide all emergency services (Police, Fire, Ambulance) with state of the art new digital communications capabilities and to ensure the integrity of the current system in the interim;
$8.778 mill for other initiatives across the wider justice sector, such as mental health, addiction and alcohol and drug programmes.
“In addition we are making a substantial investment of $455 million in frontline mental health services. Police officers have been under pressure because a lack of health resources meant they were the first line of response to mental health needs. Improving mental health care is one of our long-term challenges,” Mr Nash says.
New Zealand is pushing on with efforts to ensure multinational companies pay their fair share of tax, with the release of proposed options for a digital services tax (DST).
In February Cabinet agreed to consult the public on the problem of multinational digital companies which do substantial business in this country but pay no tax on income or revenues.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Revenue Minister Stuart Nash today proposed two broad options to ensure offshore digital companies no longer enjoy tax breaks which are not available to local businesses.
“Our number one preference remains an internationally agreed solution through the OECD,” says Mr Robertson. “However if the OECD cannot make sufficient progress this year we need an interim solution. Other nations have already taken this step.”
“The UK has announced it will introduce a two percent DST from April 2020. Austria, the Czech Republic, France, India, Italy and Spain have also enacted or announced DSTs.
“We need to protect our economy and the integrity of our tax system. Modern business practices, digitalisation in particular, mean that a company can be significantly involved in the economic life of a country without paying tax on income or turnover.
“Multinational companies like social media platforms and e-commerce sites generate income through cross-border digital services rather than face-to-face retail,” says Mr Robertson.
The DST outlined in a discussion document released today would apply to:
platforms which facilitate the sale of goods or services between people, such as Uber and Airbnb and eBay;
social media platforms like Facebook;
content sharing sites like YouTube and Instagram; and
companies which provide search engines and sell data about users.
“A DST would be narrowly targeted at certain highly digitalised business models. It would not apply to sales of goods or services, but to digital platforms who depend on a base of users for income from advertising or data.
“The value of cross-border digital services in New Zealand is estimated to be around $2.7 billion. The estimated revenue of a DST is between $30 million and $80 million, depending on the design,” Grant Robertson said.
Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says the Tax Working Group concluded New Zealand should continue to participate in the OECD discussions but also stand ready to implement a DST if a critical mass of other countries move in that direction.
“The OECD is seeking approval for its digital economy work programme from the G20 group of large economies at a meeting in late June. The progress made at the OECD to date has not been sufficient to allay the concerns of several countries, who have announced or introduced DSTs as unilateral interim measures.
“Any DST in New Zealand would be an interim measure. The Government would look to repeal it if and when the OECD’s international solution was implemented,” says Mr Nash.
The two options are:
Changing the current international income tax rules, to allow more taxation in market countries. This option is currently being discussed by the OECD and the G20 group of large economies.
Applying a separate DST of three per cent to certain revenues earned by highly digitalised multinationals operating in New Zealand. The discussion document seeks feedback on how a DST might work in practice.
“The Government is committed to future-proofing the tax system to ensure it can handle changes to how people work and how business is done,” Mr Nash says.
“The significance of the digital economy is only going to grow over the coming decades. We need to keep adapting to ensure multinationals who do business here are paying their fair share of tax.
“We’ve passed legislation to collect GST on remote services, and to ensure multinationals pay their fair share of tax if they have a physical presence in New Zealand, and we have legislation before parliament to ensure we collect GST on low-value imported goods,” says Mr Nash.
The discussion document can be found at taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz. Consultation closes on 18 July 2019.
Improving the safety of all road users is the focus of a new public consultation document on the issue of drug driver testing.
Plans for public consultation on options to improve the drug driver testing process have been announced by Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter and Minister of Police Stuart Nash.
Julie Anne Genter said: “While drug drivers already face serious criminal penalties if caught, the current law makes it hard for Police to carry out higher numbers of tests that could deter drug driving.
“And unlike with alcohol testing, drug testing comes with some unique challenges, which is why we want expert and public input into the design process. For example, unlike alcohol breath tests, drug tests can only detect the presence of drugs or medication. They cannot test if a driver is impaired.
“We know the public wants to be involved in the development of legislation that will impact them. Consultation will ensure changes to the current system incorporate the needs and wishes of New Zealanders.
“A considered approach to developing enhanced drug driver testing will mean we can develop a robust testing system that’s grounded in evidence and best practice. We need to do this thoughtfully,” says Julie Anne Genter.
“Irrespective of whether someone is impaired by alcohol, medication or recreational drugs, they shouldn’t be behind the wheel,” says Stuart Nash.
“Last year, 71 people were killed in crashes where a driver was found to have drugs or medication in their system which may have impaired their driving. That compares to 109 deaths where a driver was found to have alcohol in their system.
“We need to do more to stop dangerous drivers getting behind the wheel and enforcement on our roads is a key part of this. However Police cannot do this on their own. Every one of us must challenge dangerous driving behaviours when we see them,” Mr Nash said.
Consultation will take place over the next six weeks, concluding on Friday 28 June. The Government will be looking to confirm its options at the end of this year.
The Government is looking for feedback on:
the methods that could be used to screen and test for drugs
the circumstances in which a driver should be tested
what drugs should be tested for
how an offence for drug driving should be dealt with by Police.
The consultation document is attached. Further details will be available on the Ministry of Transport website.
Police Minister Stuart Nash says calling a cop suddenly got a whole lot easier with the launch of a ground-breaking new service for non-emergency calls.
“The single non-emergency number ‘ten-five’ is designed to provide better service for the public and to take pressure off the iconic 111 phone number,” Mr Nash says.
“Police receive more than two million calls a year. Almost 900,000 are to the 111 service. There are around 1.2 million non-emergency calls to other Police numbers.
“Just 20 percent of 111 calls result in an emergency response, known as priority one. Another 20 per cent are priority two. This means at least sixty per cent of calls to the 111 number could be better dealt with on other channels. Some involve complaints about parking or noise or cheeky children.
“Calls to 111 should be limited to cases where an emergency is happening now or just happened and there’s a threat to life or property. If it’s already happened and there’s no immediate danger, call 105.
“We hope the introduction of the three-digit ‘ten-five’ number will make it easier for callers to get in touch with the right part of the Police service for the right reasons.
“There are many other ways people can get help with community safety and crime prevention. The *555 number is for urgent road issues. There are online forms, the anonymous CrimeStoppers 0800 line and the 1737 mental health support line.
“The police workforce has never been larger, and earlier this year passed a record high number of 13,000 frontline officers and support staff. It is a crucial part of the Coalition Government’s efforts to improve the wellbeing of communities.
“The new non-emergency number ‘ten-five’ now makes it so much easier to get the right help from these extra Police,” says Mr Nash.
More information is available at: 105.police.govt.nz.