Week That Was: Action on climate change

This week marked the half way point of the political term.

In Government, Labour has already achieved so much!

Already, we’ve lifted wages, delivered a surplus, helped over one million New Zealanders heat their homes, and put in place plans that will lift tens of thousands of children out of poverty.

Read below for this week’s highlights including:

  • Our climate action plan
  • Breaking the cycle of reoffending
  • Investing in clean energy
  • Have your say on cannabis reform
  • More mental health support

Our climate action plan

This week, the Government introduced the Zero Carbon Bill into Parliament.

This bill will deliver landmark action on climate change – the biggest challenge facing the international community and New Zealand.

We know the climate is changing, people can see that. That’s why it has been so important to build practical consensus across Government. The Zero Carbon Bill makes a start on tackling climate change because the alternative is the catastrophic cost of doing nothing.

We’re one of the few countries in the world to write the 1.5C goal into our legislation. That’s because that’s what it will take to save towns and cities.

This plan for the next 30 years, will provide the certainty industries need to get in front of this challenge and allow New Zealand to stand tall in the Pacific.

Here’s what New Zealanders had to say:

“We are strongly backing 1.5 degrees because this is the limit required to protect nature and people from the worst effects of climate change.” -  Forest and Bird spokesperson Geoff Keey.

“This is fantastic news for all New Zealanders who are keen for real action and progress on climate change. Industry and business have been asking the Government for certainty so they can plan and invest for an economy driven by renewable energy, and this Bill will deliver that certainty.” Meridian Energy, Chief Executive Neal Barclay.

“The Zero Carbon Bill is a crucial step towards establishing a robust road map for New Zealand to unlock investment in the zero carbon economy.” Emma Herd, CEO of the Investor Group on Climate Change.


Breaking the cycle of reoffending

Whānau wellbeing is at the heart of this year’s Budget announcements for Māori.

On Friday, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis, Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare and Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced the Government’s plan to break the cycle of reoffending so there are fewer victims of crime.

Our plan will see Māori, with Whānau Ora (TPK), Corrections, and the Ministry for Social Development (MSD) working together in partnerships with hapū and iwi to tackle the long-term challenge of Māori overrepresentation in the prison system.

This is about acknowledging that our system does not work for Māori. The answer is not simply another programme but a system change. This plan will deliver a culture change inside our prisons to adopt strengths-based approach to rehabilitation – and that starts today.

Working together we will deliver on the government’s promise to reduce the prison population by 30 per cent.

Read the Minister’s press statement here.


Investing in clean energy

This week, the Government announced it will establish a new clean energy centre in Taranaki to help lead New Zealand’s transition to a low carbon future.

The Government will also fund new science research into cutting edge energy production to help tackle climate change.

This is about leading the development of new clean energy technology, backing business and creating jobs. It’s great news for locals too. For decades, Taranaki has been the leading energy producing region in the country, and now in the 21st century, the region can be a leader in clean energy as well.

This week’s announcements will help New Zealand move towards clean, affordable, renewable energy and away from fossil fuels.


Have your say on cannabis reform

This week the Government also announced details of how New Zealanders will choose whether or not to legalise and regulate cannabis.

There will be a clear choice for New Zealanders in a referendum at the 2020 General Election.

Referendums are pretty rare in politics. For the most part, governments themselves carrying the weight of most decisions. But on cannabis, the Government genuinely want New Zealanders to decide.

There will be plenty of time to get your head around the issues. But for now, you can read Justice Minister Andrew Little’s press statement here or take a look at the actual paper considered by Cabinet here.


More mental health support

Access to mental health support got easier this week with Health Minister Dr David Clark and Associate Health Minster Julie Anne Genter announcing they’ve expanded the free youth mental health support pilot Piki.

The Piki pilot supports 18 to 25 year olds with free access to counselling services and other mental health support. It’s all about early intervention and preventing small problems becoming big issues.

Right now the pilot has been rolled out in the Capital & Coast DHB area, and tertiary institutions throughout the Wellington, Hutt and Wairarapa areas.

People can access the pilot through many methods – self-referral, contact through the Government-funded mental health support line 1737, seeking help from DHBs or their GP, school referrals and many others.