New Zealand Labour Party

Week That Was: R&D and rail safety, hospitals and Hobbiton!

Our Week That Was series gives you a round-up of all the achievements, announcements, and other political goings-on around Parliament and across the country over the past week. We're proud of all we're doing to make New Zealand a great place to live - and we want to share it with you!

We're taking stock of all that's happened over the past week! From an R&D tax incentive, a visit to Matamata, and some much-needed upgrades for Auckland's rail crossings, we've got it all rounded up for you, right here, right now. 

Early this week, we headed up to Auckland to announce a boost to our Research and Development Tax Incentive. Following extensive consultation with the business community, the new tax incentive aims to unlock further spending on research and development.

It’s just one way we’re building an economy that is sustainable, productive, and that works for all of us. Read more here. 

Later in the week, the PM was joined by Labour MPs Jamie Strange and Paul Eagle in Matamata to announce new Provincial Growth Fund investment in the Matamata-Piako region.

We're unlocking new opportunities in the Waikato by building on its strategic location between Auckland, Hamilton, and Tauranga. The completion of the Waikato Expressway in 2020 will further enhance opportunities across the region - and we know local people are keen to make the most of the improved transport connections.

While in the area, we also had a fascinating tour of Hobbiton! Check it out!

We're keeping more Kiwis safe with funding of automatic pedestrian crossing gates at 11 Auckland rail crossings. The crossing gates come alongside other safety improvements at all 51 pedestrian rail crossings in Auckland. 

This work is especially important given that there are newer, quieter trains going more frequently, meaning more chances for accidents. In the 12 months to 31 August, there have been 52 pedestrian near misses at level crossings on AT’s network, with a further 51 near misses recorded in the rail corridor. 

Regulations to strengthen our animal welfare system come into effect this week. 

The new regulations mean Animal Welfare Inspectors from MPI and SPCA can now issue fines for certain actions, such as allowing dogs in cars to get heat stressed, or failing to provide tethered goats with access to water and shelter. Some of the regulations are infringement offences, with a set fine, while others are prosecutable offences, which could result in a larger fine and criminal conviction.

While most people care for their animals and are already doing it right, the regulations make it easier to take action against animal mistreatment and target specific behaviours that need to change.

Farmers also need to be aware of the new regulations, which cover on-farm practices and transporting livestock. Farmers and transporters can download the Fit for Transport app or go to the MPI website here where an interactive tool brings together all regulations, guidance and minimum standards in the codes of welfare.

“Whether you are a farmer or live on a lifestyle block, own a pet or petting zoo, transport livestock or ride a horse, the regulations will apply to you,” Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said.

We also head to Hawke's Bay, where the hospital has officially opened a new endoscopy and gastroenterology unit. Health Minister Dr David Clark, who opened the new facility, said the unit means more coordinated and accessible care for those affected by bowel conditions. 

“All the services these patients need will be available in a single purpose building," Clark said. They’ll be able to get the help they need in a much more accessible way.”

David Clark also announced that Hawke’s Bay DHB will be joining the National Bowel Screening programme. he National Bowel Screening Programme is particularly keen to encourage Māori and Pasifika people to participate. Māori are often diagnosed later with symptoms of bowel cancer which can result in worse outcomes.

Lastly this week, we announced two new appointments to the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. Professor Paul Hunt has been appointed as Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced. Mr Little also announced the appointment of Dr Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo as Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner.

That's it for this week! Tune in next week to keep up-to-date on all the latest buzz around the Beehive and everything else happening around the country.