It's the last week of January and things have been heating up both figuratively and literally - thanks heatwave! We've got another week full of announcements and events to catch you up on, so grab some water and shade and dive on in...
First up, this week saw the return of our weekly post-Cabinet press conference.
The Prime Minister was joined by Finance Minister Grant Robertson to announce we will be fast-tracking customer protection measures in the financial sector.
We made this decision based on evidence from a report released by the FMA and RBNZ, which found the New Zealand life insurance industry has a culture that prioritises sales over customer interests. This follows another report on banking conduct and culture released in December.
Customers deserve better.
We need a regime where banks and insurers are focused on good outcomes for the consumer and are not conflicted by sales rewards.
Minister of Finance Hon Grant Robertson said that while the industry has started to address issues raised in the reports it is clear that the Government needs to act on regulation and conduct of financial institutions, including banks.
We want to see:
- Clearer duties on banks and insurers to consider a customer’s interests and outcomes, and to treat customers fairly.
- An appropriately resourced regulator to monitor the conduct of banks and insurance companies, with strong penalties for breaching duties.
- Changes applied to both banking and insurance, since the issues identified in both are similar. There are also overlaps between the sectors, with banks often selling insurance products.
- A strong response to internal sales incentives and soft commissions.
New Zealanders need to have confidence their rights and interests are being protected. We'll consult with the public and industry on these changes, but we are going to move as quickly as possible.
This week, Labour Party caucus was held at Brackenridge in the Wairarapa. It was a great opportunity to come together at the beginning of a new year, to discuss our goals, set out plans, and consider how best to achieve our priorities. It's all in line with Our Plan released last year – you can take a look here.
A guide to designing accessible public buildings was released by Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa and Minister for Disability Issues Carmel Sepuloni this week.
Everyone should be able to access public buildings – it's a basic human right. The Buildings for Everyone guide encourages building owners and designers to consider the needs of all users of public buildings right from the start.
“The Buildings for Everyone guide is particularly relevant for those who own, design, build and manage public facilities. It describes the building user experience for people with a wide range of physical, sensory and cognitive capabilities and shows practical approaches to the design, construction and management of public buildings to meet their needs,” Minister Salesa said.
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters announced this week that New Zealand is to increase funding in the island nation of Nauru by $8 million over three years. This funding will help support economic resilience, human development and good governance.
New Zealand remains committed to development cooperation with Nauru – the wellbeing and security of our Pacific neighbourhood is critical to New Zealand’s own wellbeing and future.
That's all for this week – for those celebrating Lunar New Year over the weekend – stay safe and have fun!