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!
Starting off the week, we announced at our weekly post-Cabinet press conference that we're expanding the scope of an inquiry into the abuse of children in state care to include faith-based institutions.
We know that we must learn from the mistakes of the past, and take responsibility for them. “Extending the scope so the Inquiry could look into abuse in both state care and in the care of faith-based institutions was one of the most strongly argued issues in the consultation process,” Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin said.
We recognise the seriousness of abuse and affirm our commitment to considering future measures to help protect all children, young people, and vulnerable adults.
On Wednesday morning, Hon Andrew Little announced that we will be re-entering the Pike River Mine Drift.
The Minister Responsible for Pike River Re-entry spoke of the "extensive and robust" process, with "experts from around the world [who] have spent months examining details of all the risks pertaining to each option."
The choice was made out of three feasible options, all of which were subject to rigorous testing and peer view.
The options were:
- single entry using the existing drift design;
- drilling a second tunnel at the end of the drift, closer to the mine workings;
- drilling a large borehole part way down the drift for both ventilation and emergency egress.
The Agency has recommended the single entry approach and has advised that it is safe and appropriate. Work has begun to prepare the mine drift for re-entry, but it is likely to be around February before the re-entry proper gets underway.
The PM left the country for Singapore this week, to attend the East Asia Summit.
While there, she announced an upgrade to our free trade agreement with Singapore, smoothing the way for New Zealand companies to explore further export opportunities in the country, and extending the time New Zealand visitors to Singapore will gain visa-free entry to three months – up from the current one month. The upgraded trade agreement will also extend the time companies with offices in Singapore will be able to send employees to work there for up to eight years (up from five years).
This weekend, the Prime Minister will attend the annual APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
The main priorities of this visit are strengthening and extending our trading relationships and discussing the critical security issues in our region. Now, more than ever, we should be working collectively to address the global and regional challenges we face.
While at APEC, the Prime Minister will also attend a meeting between APEC Economic Leaders and Pacific Island Leaders.
Our Coalition Government made a number of funding announcements for the Provincial Growth Fund this week!
We're investing in:
- The Manawatū-Whanganui region, including supporting KiwiRail to build a new regional freight hub near Palmerston North, establishing a national commercial driver programme, and an Advanced Aviation Hub at Whanganui Airport
- Improving digital connectivity in the regions, to expand the Rural Broadband Initiative Phase Two (RBI2), the Mobile Black Spot Fund (MBSF), and make broadband connectivity available to unserved marae.
- Supporting a new marine travel lift for Oceania Marine Group
- Helping accelerate the TaranakiPine sawmill project from pilot stage to a full commercial operation, which in turn will help retain their 170 staff and generate new jobs.
Last Sunday marked the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. The Government acknowledged the centenary with a number of events at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington.
Former Governor-General and High Court Judge Dame Silvia Cartwright will lead the public inquiry into EQC, Minister Megan Woods announced this week.
The inquiry will be the first of its kind under the Public Inquiries Act 2013 and will have all the powers of a Royal Commission, be independent of Government and make its report directly to the Governor-General.
The aim of the inquiry is to learn from the experience of the Canterbury earthquakes and ensure that the Earthquake Commission is fit for purpose in future events.
The insurance system as a whole, including EQC, needs to be ready to deliver services to those affected by the next big event – whenever or wherever that happens.
Rounding out the week - we celebrate the news that New Zealand will be host to the Womens' Rugby World Cup in 2021.
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.