It's been a big week for us! Some of the things we've been involved with include:
- A livestreamed chat on climate action between the Prime Minister, Minister for Climate Change, and representatives of the School Strike 4 Climate Movement
- An end to unnecessary secondary tax
- A date announced for Pike River Mine drift re-entry
- Support for farmers post-Tasman drought extended
- A boost to Whangarei's tourism through the Provincial Growth Fund
- and more...
At the top of our agenda for the week was addressing our young people's call for action on climate change. We wanted to show that we are taking these concerns seriously, and that climate change is a top priority for our Government.
That's why, on Wednesday 13th this week, we held a round-table at Wellington College, attended by our Prime Minister, Minister for Climate Change James Shaw, and representatives of the School Strike 4 Climate Movement. The Live Chat for Climate was livestreamed to thousands of viewers around the country - and the world - who participated in the discussion by posing questions through a live chat, fed back to our panelists in real-time.
The chat was a chance to acknowledge the urgency around climate change, and address all the things our Government is currently doing.
Like these students, the Government is focused on taking action to address climate change.
We’re committed to provide lasting solutions to the long-term challenges facing New Zealand, including climate change.
The Government has an ambitious goal of being carbon neutral by 2050 and has already started taking action to get there:
- We’ve stopped permitting of new offshore oil and gas exploration
- We’re planting 1 billion trees
- We’re setting up a $100 million green infrastructure fund to back clean energy projects
We know workers who are paying too much tax because of incorrect secondary tax codes. That's why we passed a Bill this week eliminating unnecessary secondary tax for workers with more than one job. It was something we promised to do - and we are delivering on this promise.
The changes mean Inland Revenue will more closely monitor the tax paid by wage and salary earners through the year. If it appears the worker is being over taxed, Inland Revenue will suggest a more suitable PAYE tax code tailored to that worker.
Until now the tax on the second job has often seemed too high. These changes ensure wage and salary earners are only paying the tax they should. Just under 600,000 secondary tax codes are used every year.
Inland Revenue will also make it easier for individuals to apply for tailored tax codes that suit their earning circumstances, and provide an online process to apply for the codes.
The legislation also enables automatic tax refunds for about 750,000 New Zealanders every year.
We announced that, all things going to plan, our Pike Rive Re-entry Agency will be able to begin the re-entry and recovery operation by May 3rd this year.
We’re hopeful that work in the drift will enable the Agency and Police to thoroughly investigate what can be found there and find clues to what caused this dreadful tragedy.
"This is about looking for clues to what caused the explosion that killed 29 men on 19 November 2010. The recovery operation is led by the Agency and supported by Police, who will be on site managing forensic work from the start of the re-entry,” says Minister Responsible for Pike Rive Re-entry Andrew Little.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Communities Damien O'Connor announced this week that we are extending the drought classification of the Tasman drought to include Tasman's neighbouring regions Marlborough and Buller.
The initial funds have not been exhausted so there is still significant financial support available for those affected by drought in Nelson and Marlborough. As well as extending the drought classification, $30,000 has been allocated to West Coast Rural Support Trust for recovery support for the Buller region.
This will initiate some much needed support for these regions.
These funds will bolster recovery activities such as:
- Local groups such as the Rural Support Trusts and industry organisations running information sessions, technical transfer activities, and other events to help support the rural communities.
- One-to-one and group pastoral care and referrals from the Rural Support Trust.
- Coordination of help, resources and information for recovery.
Other support available includes the Federated Farmers feedline. They have also put out extra requests to members to offer grazing in the area, given that water is a greater issue than feed.
The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing over $2 million in two tourism initiatives which will further enhance Whangarei as a tourist destination and support the region’s economic growth, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis announced this week.
“The PGF will invest $1.3 million towards investigating the development of the Riverside Hotel and Entertainment Precinct. If the project goes ahead, it’s estimated that it will create upwards of 100 jobs and inject $7.75 million into the Whangarei economy each year.
“Funding of $750,000 will help build a full scale version of an operational rolling ball clock promoting Clapham’s National Clock Museum in Whangarei. A prototype built by local volunteers gained interest as a potential cultural and educational tourist attraction.
Finally, a group of our Ministers and MPs attended Pasifika celebrations on Friday - including Phil Twyford, Carmel Sepuloni, and Anahila Kanongataá-Suisuiki.