Watching Brief – April 2015

Home Insights Watching Brief – April 2015

In politics

Not Just a Matter of Theory...

This week’s column grapples with matters that may appear more legal than political. However, it is the kind of legal that is fundamental to the political – indeed.

In 1908, as part of a suite of legislative consolidation undertaken by the government of Sir Joseph Ward, the Judicature Act was passed. The 1908 Act, along with the Supreme Court Act 2003 and the Districts Courts Act 1947, provides the statutory foundation for our courts. Now 107 years later, the Act has been amended over 40 times. The Government is to be lauded, therefore, for updating the law. However, its means of doing so gives some cause for concern. Its current approach does not appear to place sufficient weight on the importance of the rule of law in our liberal democracy. 

The Judicature Modernisation Bill is over 1000 pages long, and contains various administrative and technical updates which needn’t concern us here. What it does do, however, is repeal and replace the 1908 Act and the Supreme Court Act 2003 with a new Senior Courts Bill that will govern the operation of the High Court, Court of Appeal, and Supreme Court. 

The Justice Committee has recently reported back to the House on the Bill. Currently, section 3 of the Supreme Court Act states: “nothing in this Act affects New Zealand’s continuing commitment to the rule of law and the sovereignty of Parliament”. When we severed ties to the Privy Council in 2003, we for the first time (through Parliament) made an explicit statutory commitment to the rule of law. We also made it clear that the New Zealand’s judiciary operates in the context of our particular history, traditions, and conditions (including the Treaty of Waitangi). 

The Judicature Modernisation Bill omits these references to the rule of law and New Zealand’s particular constitutional condition. In its report, the Justice Committee Majority’s silence on the matter is notable. So, why should this worry us? 

New Zealand’s constitution is a peculiar beast. It is not written in one place, it is not a ‘supreme law’ against which legislation can be challenged, and it is ambulatory. It changes as we change. This pragmatic flexibility has enabled New Zealand to lead the world on women’s franchise, the welfare state and independent foreign policy, unburdened by the constitutional straightjacket so proudly worn by Americans. Key to that constitution, alongside the common law, the Treaty of Waitangi, and conventions, are various legislative instruments. The law that governs the operation of the judiciary is one such instrument.

But, while flexibility as to specific developments (eg, MMP) is needed, we must not undermine the core principles of our constitution. The rule of law is such a principle. When the Barons forced King John to sign Magna Carta in 1215 (an elegant 800 years ago), it started the tradition that laws (not people) govern a good society. The Glorious Revolution was a declaration of the rule of law. America and France went through bloody revolutions to reclaim the rule of law. But in New Zealand, we don’t have the long history of the United Kingdom, nor the written documents of America and France. Constitutionalism is not part of our public knowledge or discourse. If it is ever going to be, we must write down our bedrock principles, in law, for all to see. They cannot be assumed. 

For instance, in the Constitution Act 1986, it says that Parliament is supreme. In contrast, with this Bill, New Zealand will be saying that the rule of law is no longer seen as a core constitutional principle. While the Government argues that such constitutional principles should not be in the Judicature Modernisation Bill, but in any reform of the Constitution Act, such arguments are flawed. Parliament’s role is not merely managerial, but fundamentally constitutional. So when it removes references to the rule of law and the Treaty of Waitangi, it is making a constitutional pronouncement that those things don’t matter. This is even more so where the Bill in question governs the judicial branch, and when the Constitution Act is not currently being reformed.

Ensuring all citizens, and the State, are equal before the law is the core constitutional role of the Courts. This is the basis of the separation of power. Yet, Parliament’s proposed legislative change could well be interpreted as intentional by the Courts when they come to interpret their functions under the new Bill. Further, the idea that, in 2015, Parliament would update the principles underpinning our courts and remove references to the Treaty of Waitangi is alarming. 

Supreme Court Justice John McGrath said in his last sitting on the Court that these changes were of concern to him. For a Supreme Court judge to make his personal views known in this manner shows the significance of the issues at stake. 

Jacinda Ardern has put forward Supplementary Order Papers to rectify the situation and keep the provisions of the Supreme Court Act. It remains to be seen whether these will succeed in maintaining our commitment to the rule of law.

In the news

Cabinet approves new air services agreements

Cabinet has recently approved 10 new air service agreements. Ministry of Transport officials negotiated the agreements and arrangements at the International Civil Aviation Negotiation Conference held in Indonesia in November 2014. 

International air services are highly regulated and airlines are only able to operate services between countries where the governments involved have entered into a treaty-like arrangement known as an “air services agreement”. 

Cabinet has approved air service agreements with Bahrain, China, Colombia, Curaçao, Czech Republic, Egypt, Greece, Oman, Serbia, and the Seychelles. Cabinet specifically confirmed arrangements with the Czech Republic and Curaçao to provide opportunities for airlines to offer code-share services, where two or more airlines share the same flight. 

In general terms, these agreements are intended to strengthen global links for New Zealand businesses and travellers. The Minister of Transport noted that airlines from these countries “will have the opportunity to offer services to New Zealand if they see commercial opportunities – unhindered by the regulatory barriers that characterise much of international aviation”. Similarly New Zealand airlines now have the opportunity to offer services in these countries. The Minister also commented that the Government will continue to seek opportunities to open and expand new and existing air links with other countries

A copy of the Ministry’s International Air Transport Policy can be found here.

Consumers to make more informed credit decisions

The Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has announced new consumer credit regulations to give effect to the requirements under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Amendment Act 2014 (CCCFAA). The CCCFAA (which commenced in parts from June 2014) sets out new requirements to ensure New Zealand has a consumer credit market that is both competitive and responsible toward consumers

The Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Amendment Regulations 2015 (Regulations) amend the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Regulations 2004 to provide further consumer protections – the aim being to strengthen consumer access to information and lender responsibility. Specifically the Regulations:

  • require lenders to publicly disclose specific information on fees and interest rates;
  • prescribe the credit card minimum repayment warning which lenders must include on credit card billing statements; and
  • update model disclosure forms

Increased information disclosure requirements on lenders should allow consumers to compare the rates and fees offered by all lenders before making decisions to borrow money or buy goods on credit.

The Regulations come into effect on 6 June 2015.

A copy of the Regulations can be found here.

Food Safety Law Reform Bill subject to consultation

The Ministry of Primary Industries is seeking feedback on proposals for the Food Safety Law Reform Bill (FSLR Bill), directed at addressing recommendations following the Whey Protein Contamination Inquiry (Inquiry). Whilst the majority of the Inquiry’s recommendations have been implemented, some recommendations require legislative change before they can be implemented.

The FSLR Bill aims to amend the Animal Products Act 1999, Food Act 2014 and Wine Act 2013 to strengthen New Zealand’s food safety regulatory system and reinforce New Zealand’s reputation as a reliable supplier of safe and suitable food. Food Safety Minister, Hon Jo Goodhew, comments that modern businesses are multi-faceted and many work under more than one food safety Act. Better aligning these processes will “develop a more consistent approach across the whole food safety system”.

The key proposals for the Food Safety Law Reform Bill cover:

  • improvements and streamlining content in custom risk management programmes and plans;
  • establishing a more explicit framework for traceability and recalls, given its importance to New Zealand's food safety and reputation;
  • applying the compliance and enforcement tools that are in the Food Act 2014 to the Animal Products Act and the Wine Act. The intention is to develop a more consistent and fair approach to enforcement for non-compliance across the food safety system;
  • allowing Government to require businesses and individuals contracted to food operators (for example, research and diagnostic laboratories) to provide information relevant to food safety incidents; and
  • enabling more use of automated electronic systems for functions and activities such as issuing export certifications and providing official assurances

A copy of the consultation document containing the proposals can be found here. Submissions on the proposals are due by 7 May 2015. Further information on the proposals can be found here.

Minister appoints Māori Language Commissioners

The Minister for Māori Development has appointed Hinurewa Poutu and Dr Ruka Broughton to the Board of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (the Māori Language Commission). 

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori is a Crown entity established under section 6 the Māori Language Act 1987. This Act’s key function is to support the implementation of policies and practices designed to promote the Māori language as an official language of New Zealand. Board members of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori are commonly referred to as “Māori Language Commissioners”. Based regionally throughout the country, the function of the Māori Language Commissioners is to promote the use of te reo Māori as a living language and as a means of ordinary communication. Their operations include Māori language services and community initiatives, promotions, policy advice to the minister, and research and development.

In appointing a member to the Board, the Minister must have regard to that person’s personal attributes and knowledge of and experience in the use of the Māori language and other matters likely to come before Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori. Ms Poutu has been appointed for a full three year term, having a strong background in studying, researching and teaching te reo Māori. Dr Broughton, previously a Board member from 1999-2002, joins the Board for six months in place of previous Board member Dr Poia Rewi, recently appointed as interim Chief Executive of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori.

The appointment of Ms Poutu and Dr Broughton take the Board’s total membership to five (the maximum number of members allowed under the Act). The pair joins current Board members: Chair Mr Ērima Hēnare; Dr Kātarina Edmonds; and Te Awanuiārangi Black.

The appointments come at a critical time for Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, due to play a key role in imminent changes to the Māori Language Act 1987.

The Minister's full announcement is available here.

Review of the Radiocommunications Act 1989 – Update

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has decided to hold a series of workshops to discuss the latest key issues arising out of its review of the Radiocommunications Act 1989. 

In July 2014, MBIE announced its review of the Act and later that month released a discussion document examining how the current Act works and what changes are necessary to ensure the most efficient and effective outcomes for radiocommunications in New Zealand. With its last comprehensive review in the late 1990s, the Act is largely out of date with recent technology changes and increases in demand for spectrum.

MBIE has now considered the submissions in response to its discussion document and have decided to hold a series of workshops to discuss the key issues arising out the submissions.

The topic for the first workshop will be on the interference management provisions in the Act. The workshop will be held at various venues across the country:

  • Wellington: Friday 15 May 2015 at MBIE, 15 Stout St, Wellington Central;
  • Auckland: Friday 22 May 2015 at MBIE, Level 6, Tower Centre, 45 Queen Street; and
  • Christchurch: Wednesday 27 May 2015 at Commodore Airport Hotel, 449 Memorial Avenue.

Persons interested in attending must register by 16 May 2015. Feedback on matters raised in the workshop must be submitted by 1 July 2015. For more information on the review process, see here.

2015 tender for oil and gas exploration permits announced

The Energy and Resources Minister announced the opening of the Block Offer 2015 (the annual tender for oil and gas exploration permits) at the Advantage 2015 Petroleum Summit on 30 March.

The “Block Offer” regime was introduced in 2012 with the intent of providing an effective process for oil and gas permitting. The Minister described the process for awarding permits as rigorous – operating as a world-class regulatory framework built to provide economic opportunities whilst ensuring the necessary environmental and safety protections. 

The 2015 tender represents a total area of 429,298 square kilometres, made up of three onshore release areas (one located in the Taranaki Basin and two in the West Coast Basin and four offshore release areas (Northland-Reinga, Taranaki, Pegasus/East Coast and Great-South Canterbury). 

The launch of the 2015 tender follows consultation with 189 iwi and hapū and 54 local authorities. 

Bids are now being invited from companies with a demonstrated ability to explore, develop and produce petroleum responsibly. Bids must include a work programme demonstrating technical understanding of the tender area from operators with financial capability to deliver their proposed programme. Closing date for submissions is 30 September 2015. Permits will likely be granted in December 2015.

The Minister's full announcement can be found here

Progress of legislation

New Bills

New Zealand Business Number Bill
Type of Bill: Government
Member in Charge: Hon Steven Joyce
This Bill seeks to enable certain entities to be allocated, or obtain, a New Zealand Business Number and to be registered on the New Zealand Business Number register. The Bill proposes these include corporate and public entities (including government agencies), and unincorporated entities including sole traders, partnerships and trustees of trusts. The 13-digit number would form the basis of communication between a business and Government, intending to make business transactions easier and more efficient by facilitating interaction. 

Bills awaiting first reading

Electoral (Adjustment of Thresholds) Amendment Bill
Environmental Protection Authority (Protection of Environment) Amendment Bill
Fighting Foreign Corporate Control Bill
Land Transport (Safer Alcohol Limits for Driving) Amendment Bill
Legislation Amendment Bill
Local Government (Auckland Council) Amendment Bill (No 3)
New Zealand Business Number Bill
New Zealand International Convention Centre Act 2013 Repeal Bill
Ngā Rohe Moana o Ngā Hapū o Ngāti Porou Bill
Overseas Investment (Owning our Own Rural Land) Amendment Bill
Remuneration Authority Amendment Bill
SuperGold Health Check Bill
Underground Coal Mining Safety Bill

Bills before Select Committee

Submissions open


Select Committee

submissions Due (2015)

Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill

Local Government and Environment

17 April

Drug and Alcohol Testing of Community-based Offenders and Bailees Legislation Bill

Law and Order

23 April

New Zealand Flag Referendums Bill

Justice and Electoral

23 April

Radiation Safety Bill


22 April

Taxation (Annual Rates for 2015-16, Research and Development, and Remedial Matters) Bill

Finance and Expenditure

30 April

Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Amendment Bill

Local Government and Environment 

16 April

Submissions closed


Select Committee

Report Due (2015)

Coroners Amendment Bill

Justice and Electoral

29 July

Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) (Transitional Provisions) Amendment Bill

Local Government and Environment

29 June

Gambling Amendment Bill (No 3)

Government Administration

11 May

Health (Protection) Amendment Bill


6 May

Health and Safety Reform Bill

Transport and Industrial Relations

29 May

Māori Language (Te Reo Māori) Bill

Māori Affairs

31 July

Organised Crime and Anti-corruption Legislation Bill

Law and Order

4 May

Policing (Cost Recovery) Amendment Bill

Law and Order

4 May

Regulatory Standards Bill


18 May

Te Hiku Claims Settlement Bill

Maori Affairs

4 May

Te Kawerau ā Maki Claims Settlement Bill

Maori Affairs

4 May

Waitangi National Trust Board Amendment Bill

Māori Affairs

1 May

Bills awaiting second reading

Bills that have recently been reported back to the House from a Select Committee are in bold and the Select Committee reports on these Bills are linked.

Defence Amendment Bill
Environmental Reporting Bill (as reported by the Local Government and Environment Committee)
Hawke's Bay Regional Planning Committee Bill (as reported by the Māori Affairs Committee)
Housing Corporation Amendment Bill
Human Rights Amendment Bill
Land Transport (Admissibility of Evidential Breath Tests) Amendment Bill
New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Amendment Bill
Public Health Bill
Radio New Zealand Amendment Bill
Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill
Reserves and Other Lands Disposal Bill
Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill
Social Assistance (Portability to Cook Islands, Niue, and Tokelau) Bill (as reported by the Social Services Committee)
Spending Cap (People’s Veto) Bill
Standards and Accreditation Bill (as reported by the Commerce Committee)
Taxation (Income-sharing Tax Credit) Bill

Bills awaiting third reading

Animal Welfare Amendment Bill
Appropriation (2013/14 Confirmation and Validation) Bill
Arts Centre of Christchurch Trust Bill
Christchurch City Council (Rates Validation) Bill
Commerce (Cartels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill
Construction Contracts Amendment Bill
Harmful Digital Communications Bill
Immigration Amendment Bill (No 2)
Insolvency Practitioners Bill
Judicature Modernisation Bill
Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill (formerly the Natural Health Products Bill)
Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months Paid Leave) Amendment Bill
Social Security (Clothing Allowances for Orphans and Unsupported Children) Amendment Bill

Acts awaiting assent

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill
Social Security Amendment Bill (No 3)

Acts assented

Accident Compensation (Cover for Mental Injury‒Indecency Offences) Amendment Act 2015
Crimes (Indecency) Amendment Act 2015
Customs and Excise (Objectionable Publications) Amendment Act 2015
Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Objectionable Publications) Amendment Act 2015
Vulnerable Children (Children’s Worker Safety Checking‒Indecency Offence) Amendment Act 2015

These Acts were formerly part of the Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill. The Acts respectively amend the Crimes Act 1961, the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 and the Customs and Excise Act 1996. The Acts increase the penalties for producing, trading, or possessing child pornography.

Taxation (KiwiSaver HomeStart and Remedial Matters) Act 2015
This Act amends the KiwiSaver Act 2006 and the Income Tax Act 2007 in relation to the withdrawal of KiwiSaver member tax credits for purchasing their first home. Its purpose is to allow the withdrawal of contributions by Government. The Act also creates a savings provision to protect KiwiSaver providers who would be in breach of the prospectus or investor statement provisions in the Securities Act 1978, or the product disclosure provisions in the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013, because of the amendment to the rules of KiwiSaver schemes. The Act also corrects elements of the tax, social policy, and Kiwisaver treatment of income replacement payments for certain veteran’s pensions and retirement lump sum payments.

The following 34 Acts were formerly part of the Statutes Amendment Bill (No 4), and each respectively makes small technical amendments to a range of Acts. The new Acts are:
Animal Welfare Amendment Act 2015
Antarctica (Environmental Protection) Amendment Act 2015
Biosecurity Amendment Act 2015
Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Amendment Act 2015
Commodity Levies Amendment Act 2015
Copyright Amendment Act 2015
Forests Amendment Act 2015
Friendly Societies and Credit Unions Amendment Act 2015
Governor-General Amendment Act 2015
Heavy Engineering Research Levy Amendment Act 2015
Judicial Conduct Commissioner and Judicial Conduct Panel Amendment Act 2015
Land Transport Amendment Act 2015
Land Transport Management Amendment Act 2008 Amendment Act 2015
Local Electoral Amendment Act 2015
Local Government Act 1974 Amendment Act 2015
Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Act 2015
Local Government (Auckland Council) Amendment Act 2015
Local Government Official Information and Meetings Amendment Act 2015
Marine Mammals Protection Amendment Act 2015
Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 1978 Amendment Act 2015
National Animal Identification and Tracing Amendment Act 2015
National Parks Amendment Act 2015
Ngāti Manuhiri Claims Settlement Amendment Act 2015
Official Information Amendment Act 2015
Ombudsmen Amendment Act 2015
Pork Industry Board Amendment Act 2015
Reserves Amendment Act 2015
Sale and Supply of Alcohol Amendment Act 2015
Sentencing Amendment Act 2015
Summary Proceedings Amendment Act 2015
Tariff Amendment Act 2015
Tokelau (Territorial Sea and Exclusive Economic Zone) Amendment Act 2015
Trade in Endangered Species Amendment Act 2015
Wildlife Amendment Act 2015

Legislative instruments

Accident Compensation (Motor Vehicle Account Levies) Regulations 2015
Climate Change (Eligible Industrial Activities) Amendment Regulations 2015
Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Amendment Regulations 2015
Commodity Levies (Passionfruit) Amendment Order 2015
Coroners (Salaries and Superannuation) Determination 2015
Corrections (Auckland South Corrections Facility) Notice 2015
Customs Export Prohibition (Toothfish) Order 2015
Customs Import Prohibition (Toothfish) Order 2015
Canterbury Earthquake (Christchurch Replacement District Plan) Amendment Order 2015
Game Licences, Fees, and Forms Notice 2015
Judicial Salaries, Allowances, and Superannuation (Court Martial Appeal Court and Court Martial) Determination 2015
Land Transport (Approved Vehicle Surveillance Equipment) Notice 2015
New Zealand General Service Medal (Counter-piracy) Regulations 2015
Privacy (Information Sharing Agreement Between Inland Revenue and New Zealand Police) Amendment Order 2015
Royal Succession Act Commencement Order 2015
Social Welfare (Reciprocity with Malta) Amendment Order 2015
Taxation (Use of Money Interest Rates) Amendment Regulations 2015

In the week ahead

What’s coming up in the House

The House entered a three week recess from Thursday 2 April. When the House resumes on 28 April, the Government intends to begin the debate on the Appropriation (2013/14 Confirmation and Validation) Bill and progress a number of other Bills on the Order Paper through their second and/or third readings.

In committee

Recent Committee meetings

Select Committees met over the last two weeks.

The Local Government and Environment Committee heard from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on the state of air quality in New Zealand and considered the Report from the Parliamentary Commission for the Environment: On a Pathway to Extinction? An Investigation into the Status and Management of the Longfin Eel, Update Report. The Committee also continued to consider the Report of the Controller and Auditor-General, Water and roads: Funding and management challenges.

The Primary Production Committee was briefed on Te Ture Whenua Maori Act Review.

The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee was briefed on disarmament. 

The Law and Order Committee continued to consider the Policing (Cost Recovery) Amendment Bill and also considered the Report from the Controller and Auditor-General, Response of the New Zealand Police to the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct: Fourth monitoring report.

The Regulations Review Committee was briefed on the Government’s responses to two reports of the Regulations Review Committee: Inquiry into the oversight of disallowable instruments that are not legislative instruments; and Regulation-making powers that authorise transitional regulations to override primary legislation.

The Justice and Electoral Committee continued to consider the Coroners Amendment Bill.

In the courts

High Court disagrees with Electoral Commission over "Planet Key" song

Watson & Jones v Electoral Commission [2015] NZHC 666

The High Court has made the declarations sought by Darren Watson and Jeremy Jones (the plaintiffs) that the song entitled “Planet Key” (song) and accompanying music video (music video) are not election advertisements for the purposes of the Electoral Act 1993 or election programmes for the purposes of the Broadcasting Act 1989. 

In August 2014, leading up to the 2014 general election, Mr Watson released the song on iTunes for paid download and Mr Jones, who had created the music video to accompany it, uploaded the music video to Vimeo and YouTube (video websites) for free viewing.

The decision responds to an advisory opinion by the Electoral Commission published on 14 August 2014 that concluded: the song and music video were election advertisements; and that, if the song and music video were broadcast on television and/or radio, the broadcast would be an election programme.

Justice Clifford, delivering the judgment of the Court, carried out a statutory interpretation exercise to determine the correct meaning of “election advertisement” and “election programme” under the respective Acts. His Honour relied on the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (NZBORA), specifically: the right to freedom of expression; the right to participate in genuine elections; and the section 6 requirement that whenever an enactment can be given a meaning consistent with the rights and freedoms contained in the NZBORA, that meaning is to be preferred to any other meaning.

Ruling in favour of the plaintiffs, Justice Clifford concluded that:

  • The concept of advertisement (under the Electoral Act) is not a blanket term that refers to any form of public announcement. In the context of material broadcast on radio and television, the term “advertisement” should be informed by reference to the word “commercial”. The song and the music video could not be considered commercials; and
  • The section 70(1) prohibition in the Broadcasting Act does not extend to the situation where a broadcaster decides to publish a programme, but has no prior agreement with the person responsible for the programme to do so. Section 70(1) is primarily concerned with the ability of political parties to procure the broadcast of electioneering material. As Mr Watson did not procure the broadcasting of the song (ie it was made feely available to a limited number of broadcasters) its broadcasting would not be captured by section 70(1).

A copy of the judgment can be found here.

Speeches of note

Minister of State Services speaks on future of the public sector

Hon Paula Bennett, Minister of State Services, addressed members of the Institute of Public Affairs New Zealand (IPANZ) in Wellington on 26 March about the future of the public sector.

The address canvassed New Zealand’s growth from what was commonly seen as a “slow and clunky” public sector towards a “fit-for-purpose” operation. Ultimately, Minister Bennett envisioned a high-performing public sector, which, to be achieved, “begins and ends” with changing the way public servants think about their role.

Key points from the address include:

  • Minster Bennett intends to change the way the public sector delivers services, with the help of the Minister of Finance. This will include incentivising change at Chief Executive and leadership levels, a “citizen-centred” approach to delivery and accelerated cross agency/joint-Ministerial work;
  • In the past, the public sector had tended to undergo change based on the immediate, pressing need, without long-term analysis – exposing it to “constitutional renovation”, with parts removed, added and completely rebuilt as the need arose. The results could be inefficient and ineffective – and could ultimately bar the sector from addressing some of New Zealand’s hardest social issues, such as, long-term welfare dependence, high rates of teen pregnancy and poor educational achievement;
  • The public sector needed to move towards a “citizen-centred” approach: currently there was a lack of true engagement with public opinion. The heart of better public services lay with understanding and engaging with the public; and
  • Adopting the Investment Approach was a step in the right direction: for welfare, the “Investment Approach” (looking at when, who, and where to spend) established a Baseline Valuation of the welfare system that represented a shift in the way New Zealand conceptualised welfare. 

Ensuring a strong future for the public sector required strong leadership (not only from high-level leaders, but public servants) and smart action when calling for structural change. Minister Bennett encouraged public servants to bring new and innovative ideas to the table.  

A transcript of the speech can be found here.

In trade

New Zealand and South Korea sign free trade agreement

New Zealand and South Korea signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in Seoul on 23 March 2015 after almost five years of negotiations.

The FTA aims to increase bilateral trade and investment, create more business opportunities and deliver cheaper goods and services for businesses. Accordingly it provides for:

  • Tariff reductions: The FTA will see tariffs phased out between New Zealand and Korea over the next 20 years. Approximately 98 percent of New Zealand’s exports will enter the Korean market duty and tariff free at the end of this period – allowing New Zealand exporters to save an estimated $65 million in duty costs per year;
  • Investment protections for New Zealand and Korean investors: These rules will facilitate free and open flows of investment between New Zealand and Korea. They include rules against discrimination (national treatment or Most-Favoured Nation treatment), nationality requirements imposed on senior managers and boards of directors of foreign companies, and trade distortive performance requirements; and
  • Enhanced trade cooperation: The FTA will foster closer cooperation between the parties in areas such as customs, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, temporary entry for business persons, and intellectual property; and agriculture, education, trade facilitation, science and technology, and film and television

The FTA contributes to New Zealand’s trade policy objective to liberalise multilateral trade. In 2014, two-way trade between New Zealand and Korea totalled $4 billion. Korea is New Zealand’s sixth largest export destination; and currently exporters pay $229 million a year in duties to the Korean market. However, the FTA will not give New Zealand any absolute advantages – rather, it is a case of New Zealand playing “catch up” with other exporters to Korea. Korea already has free trade agreements with many other countries, including the USA, the EU, and Chile.

Korea and New Zealand has made other commitments to come into effect concurrently with the FTA. These include a working holiday scheme; temporary employment entry permits; primary sector training visas; and agricultural, forestry and fisheries cooperation. Both parties are yet to ratify the FTA into domestic law.

For further information on the FTA, please see our previous coverage here. A copy of the full FTA can be found here.

Tariff concessions

The following applications for tariff concessions have been made in the past two weeks:


Proposed tariff concession

Tariff item

Closing date for objections (2015)

BEC Feed Solutions (NZ) Limited

Animal feed supplements, being natural lignocellulose made from plant material


14 April

In consultation




By when (2015)

Commerce Commission

Draft determination on potential acquisition of New Zealand Wool Services International’s wool scouring and wool grease by-product business by Cavalier Wool Holdings Limited

21 April

Review of Fonterra Base Milk Price Calculation for 2014/15 season

28 April

Department of Conservation

Intention to grant concession to Chris Jolly Boats Ltd for 5 year concession for a licence for guiding over the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

20 May

Draft Conservation Services Programme Annual Plan 2015/16 containing research proposals subject to cost recovery from commercial fishing industry

17 April

Financial Markets Authority

Investor acknowledgement and warning for the $750,000 minimum investment wholesale investor exclusion from the standard requirements of the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013, and the appropriateness a class exemption

22 April

Inland Revenue Department

Unit trusts – whether more than one unit holder is required for the purposes of definition of “unit trust” in the Income Tax Act 2007

21 April

PUB0219: Income Tax – whether the cost of acquiring an option is part of the cost of acquiring revenue account land

24 April

Goods and Services Tax: Scope of non-profit body's taxable activity and ongoing need to make taxable supplies. Further, input tax deductions available for a non-profit body once registered. under s20(3K) of the Goods and Services Act 1985

24 April

Proposed changes to sections 6, 8, 20 and 57 of the Goods and Services Act 1985 relating to Directors’ Fees

8 May

“Making Tax Simpler” Government Green Paper on Tax Administration. Potential changes to Tax system including possible introduction of business PAYE and greater digital technology. The Green Paper is the first of a number of public consultation documents on proposed tax reforms 

29 May


Guideline on the Regulation of Therapeutic Products in New Zealand. Part 8. Pharmacovigiance. Edition 2.0 – Sponsors responsibilities regarding pharmacovigilance and medicine safety issues

13 May

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Draft Electricity demand and Generation scenarios for future development of electricity sector

15 May

Ministry for Primary Industries

Proposals for policies under Food Safety Law Reform Bill following recommendations from Whey Protein Contamination Injury

7 May

Proposed changes and options for Campylobacter performance target limits used by New Zealand poultry processors or broiler chicken

8 May

Animal Products (Specifications for Products Intended for Human Consumption) Notice 2013

22 May

Ministry of Transport

Proposal for New Zealand to join Cape Town Agreement 2012 and International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel 1995, which seek to improve fishing vessel and crew safety

6 May 2015


Proposal to list nicardipine hydrochloride injection 2.5mg per ml, 10ml vial in Part II of Section H of the Pharmaceutical Schedule

17 April

Standards New Zealand
- Joint standards

Grid connection of energy systems via inverters Part 2: Inverter requirements (Revision of AS 4777.2-2005 and AS 4777.3-2005)

12 May

Explosive atmospheres Part 29:3 Gas detectors – Guidance on functional safety on fixed gas detection systems

14 May

Low-voltage switchgear and controlgear

  • Part 1: General rules (revision of AS 60947.1-2004); and
  • Part 2: Cicruit -breakers (revision of AS 60947.2-2005)

14 May

Low-voltage switchgear and controlgear:

  • Part 3: Switches, disconnectors, switch-disconectors and fuse-combinations;
  • Part 4: Contractors and motor-starters Revision of AS 60947.4.1 and AS 60947.4.2.
  • Part 5: Control circuit devices and switches and elements Revision of AS 60947.5.1, AS 60947.5.2, AS 60947.5.4, AS 60947.5.7
  • Part 6.1: Multiple function equipment Part 7: Ancillary equipment revision of AS 60947.7.1, AS 60947.7.2, AS 60947.7.3; and
  •  Part 8: Control units for built-in thermal protection for rotating electrical machines

21 May

Amendment 1 to AS/NZS 4505:2012 Garage doors and other large access doors

29 May

Methods of testing bitumen and related road making products. Method 10: Determination of the effect of heat and air on moving film or bitumen

1 June




By when (2015)

Commerce Commission

Transpower TPM operational review initial consultation paper


Department of Conservation

Intention to grant 35 year concession to Vodafone NZ Ltd to establish telecommunications facility at Okiwi

6 May

Intention to grant 30 year concession to Marlborough Marine Radio Association to locate VHF radio and antenna in Paradise Bay Scenic Reserve

14 May

Intention to grant 30 year concession to Sanford Ltd to accommodate staff in hut near Big Glory Bay, Stewart Island/Rakiura

14 May

Review of wildlife, research and collection authorisations undertaken on public conservation land


Department of Internal Affairs

Changes to fees under Gambling Act 2003

24 April

Environmental Protection Authority

Application to release honeysuckle stem-boring beetle Oberea shirahatai – APP202396

16 April

Requirements for importers of hazardous substances to inform the Authority and changes to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996

28 April

Financial Markets Authority

Business Growth Agenda


Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Amendments to National Environmental Standards for Telecommunications Facilities permitting increased range of facilities permitted by the Resource Management Act 1991

17 April

Submissions on property regulations and local rules that are irrelevant or unnecessary


Ministry for the Environment

2015 Green Ribbon Awards recognising outstanding contributions to protecting and enhancing New Zealand's environment

10 April

Proposed Amendments to National Environmental Standards for Telecommunications Facilities

17 April

Proposed mixed-model governance structure for Environment Canterbury following local government elections in October 2016

1 May

Ministry for Primary Industries

Bee import products health standards

28 April

Fishing rules for Marlborough Sounds Blue Cod Fishery

15 June

Ministry of Transport

Proposed regime to manage alcohol and drug related impairment in aviation, maritime and rail sectors

24 April

New Zealand Transport Agency

Guide to the management of reverse sensitivity effects of the state highway network

17 April

Reserve Bank

Asset class treatment of residential property investor loans and changes to capital requirements for reverse mortgages, the qualifying revolving retail exposure classification and the foundation IRB  approach

17 April

Standards New Zealand - Joint Standards







Approval and test specification – Plugs and socketoutlets for stationary appliances (Revision of AS/NZS 3131:2001)

15 April

Respiratory Protective Devices Committee SF-010:

  • Methods of testing Part 3;
  • Methods of testing Part 4, Terms, definitions and graphical symbols and measurement;
  • Human factors part 1, Metabolic rates and respiratory flow rates;
  • Human factors part 2, Anthropometrics;
  • Human factors part 3, Physiological responses and limitations of oxygen and carbon dioxide;
  • Human Factors part 4, Work of breathing and breathing resistance;
  • Human Factors part 5, Thermal effects;
  • Human Factors part 7, Hearing and speech; and
  • Human Factors part 8, Ergonomic factors

23 April

Amendment 1 to AS/NZS 3012:2010 Electrical installations – Construction and demolition sites

24 April

Specification for Radio Disturbance and Immunity Measuring Apparatus and Methods.  Amendments to AS/NZS CISPR 16.1.1:2012, AS/NZS CISPR 16.2.3:2012, AS/NZS CISPR 16.4.2:2013 and AS/NZS CISPR16.4.5:2013

27 April

Amendment to AS2341.2-1993 Methods of testing bitumen and products

28 April

Revision of AS3785.8 – 1994 Underground mining shaft equipment

7 May

Amendment 2 to AS/NZS 3111:2009 Approval and test specification -Miniature overcurrent circuit-breakers

15 May

Amendment 2 to As/NZS 4417.2:2012 Regulatory compliance mark for electrical and electronic equipment

15 May

Luminaries Part 2.3 for road and street lighting (IEC 60598-2-3, Ed.3.1 (2011))

20 May

This publication is intended only to provide a summary of the subject covered. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. No person should act in reliance on any statement contained in this publication without first obtaining specific professional advice. If you require any advice or further information on the subject matter of this newsletter, please contact the partner/solicitor in the firm who normally advises you, or alternatively contact one of the partners listed below.

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