Search for missing trampers resumes

Search for missing trampers resumes

Source: New Zealand Police (District News)

The search for missing trampers Dion Reynolds and Jessica O’Connor resumed at first light this morning.

Six teams were being flown into the search area by the NZ Defence Force.

The search for signs of the missing pair is still centred around the Antori River and the coastline. 

Aerial searching will continue, with support from a commercial and an NZDF helicopter.

Five specialist tracking experts have been brought in from around New Zealand, as well as three search dog teams, to bolster the operation.

Teams entering the bush are expected to stay in overnight. 

The incident management team continues to grow, with more than 30 Police staff and volunteers working on the search operation from a number of different locations.

ENDS 

Issued by the Police Media Centre

Search for missing trampers resumes

Search for missing trampers resumes

Source: New Zealand Police (District News)

The search for missing trampers Dion Reynolds and Jessica O’Connor resumed at first light this morning.

Six teams were being flown into the search area by the NZ Defence Force.

The search for signs of the missing pair is still centred around the Antori River and the coastline. 

Aerial searching will continue, with support from a commercial and an NZDF helicopter.

Five specialist tracking experts have been brought in from around New Zealand, as well as three search dog teams, to bolster the operation.

Teams entering the bush are expected to stay in overnight. 

The incident management team continues to grow, with more than 30 Police staff and volunteers working on the search operation from a number of different locations.

ENDS 

Issued by the Police Media Centre

New research shows current benefits leave families in poverty

Source: Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG)

Recently released research shows families who rely on benefits could find themselves hundreds of dollars short every week of what’s required to get out of poverty.

As thousands are projected to lose their jobs and seek income support over the coming months, more and more children could be locked into poverty due to inadequate benefit levels, making New Zealand’s long term recovery from COVID-19 that much more difficult, says Child Poverty Action Group.

CPAG’s research shows that six model families with children receiving benefits would require an estimated $110 a week on average to reach 50 per cent of equivalised median after-housing-costs (AHC) income, and an extra $215 to reach 60 per cent of the same, meaning income support levels for the 2020/21 year are well below the Government’s official poverty measures+, even when recent benefit increases are included.

As part of its Covid-19 package, the Government increased benefits by $25 a week and temporarily doubled the Winter Energy Payment.

“While these increases are welcome, we find they are still nowhere near enough to unlock all children from poverty and allow them to thrive,” says CPAG’s Georgie Craw executive officer.

“This means many families are forced to rely on temporary top-ups, foodbanks, and high interest loans, just to survive.”

Child Poverty Action Group modelled the effect of latest policies for families accessing core benefits, accommodation supplement and Working for Families in 2020/2021.

The researchers found that after paying lower-quartile rent for a two-bedroom house in a low-income Auckland suburb, a couple on the Jobseeker benefit with two children receiving core entitlements would still need around $195 extra a week to reach the 50 per cent AHC poverty line. They would need $322 extra a week to reach the 60 per cent AHC line – a supplementary Government child poverty measure.

“While people’s income can be topped-up with hardship grants, these are temporary, and Work and Income manuals refer to them as a ‘last resort’,” says researcher Janet McAllister.

“Accessing them can be difficult, particularly when families are already trying to cope with the toxic stress of inadequate support.

“The supplementary systems are complex to navigate and often require people to run down their modest assets before accessing extra assistance.”

The twelve hypothetical households in the report – which include parents on Sole Parent Support with one and three children, parents on Jobseeker with two children, and individuals on Jobseeker, Supported Living Payments and NZ Superannuation – will have, on average, $41 more in the hand every week after they pay their lower-quartile rent in this current financial year than last year, an increase of 17.5 per cent in disposable income from last year.

Susan St John, CPAG’s economic spokesperson, says Child Poverty Action Group is alarmed that the Government did not increase core benefits to adequate levels.

“In the recent budget the Government had an opportunity to fix the inadequate levels of core benefits and to reform Working for Families (WFF) to make it immediately available in full to all low income families including those on benefits – and it is disappointing this opportunity was missed.

“However we will continue to advocate for these changes, as we are looking at an explosion in family hardship and child poverty unless the government takes urgent and meaningful action,” St John says.

+The Government charts how many children are in poverty based on 10 measures, which includes those children living in households with:

– less than 60% median equivalised disposable household income after housing costs (AHC).

– less than 50% median equivalised disposable household income after housing costs (AHC).

The full background paper titled: “The effects of 2020-21 income support changes on After Housing Costs (AHC) incomes for representative households receiving benefits” can be accessed here.

New Bill to counter violent extremism online

New Bill to counter violent extremism online

Source: New Zealand Government

New Zealanders will be better protected from online harm through a Bill introduced to Parliament today, says Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin.

“The internet brings many benefits to society but can also be used as a weapon to spread harmful and illegal content and that is what this legislation targets,” Minister Martin said.

“Our laws need to reflect the digital age and the Government has worked with industry partners to create this Bill, which will ensure law enforcement and industry partners can rapidly prevent and fight harm from illegal online content.”

The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification (Urgent Interim Classification of Publications and Prevention of Online Harm) Amendment Bill amends the current Act which dates from 1993.

Under the Bill:

  • the Chief Censor will be able to more quickly notify the public of objectionable content that could cause high levels of harm;
  • the livestreaming of objectionable content, as happened during the Christchurch terror attacks, will be a criminal offence;
  • the Government will be able to issue take down notices to online content hosts through an Inspector of Publications, requiring the removal of specific links to objectionable online content;
  • social media companies will come within the scope of current laws on objectionable content; and
  • legal parameters will be in place for a web filter to block objectionable content in the future, subject to further policy development and consultation.

The legislation supports commitments under the Christchurch Call, and complements extra funding announced last year to build capability in the Department of Internal Affairs and for the Chief Censor’s office to prevent and counter violent extremist content online. 

“This Bill is part of a wider government programme to address violent extremism,” Minister Martin said. “This is about protecting New Zealanders from harmful content they can be exposed to on their everyday social media feeds.”

The Bill will go through a standard select committee process to allow public participation. If passed, most changes will come into effect in mid-2021.

ENDS

Contact: Richard Ninness 021 892 536

Notes for editors

  • The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 (the Classification Act) governs censorship in New Zealand. Under the Classification Act, it is an offence to make, possess, supply or distribute an objectionable publication (including digital content).
  • Content is deemed to be objectionable if the availability of a given publication or digital content is likely to be injurious to the public good. Examples of content that could be considered include depictions of torture, sexual violence, child sexual abuse, or terrorism.
  • The Classification Act contains mechanisms to deter people from creating or sharing this illegal content, to allow authorities to investigate those who do and to prosecute them where appropriate.
  • Cabinet agreed on 16 December 2019 to policy proposals to amend the Classification Act and to draft the Bill.
  • Further consultation took place with key industry stakeholders on an exposure draft Bill, to ensure the changes would be workable in practice.

Financial system will benefit supporting economic recovery

Source: Reserve Bank of New Zealand

Release date

27 May 2020

Tēnā koutou katoa, welcome all.

The financial system is in a solid position to both weather the significant economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and support New Zealand’s recovery, Reserve Bank Governor Adrian Orr says in releasing the May Financial Stability Report.

“At the outset of the pandemic the banking system had significant capital and liquidity buffers, built up due to both regulatory requirements and several years of favourable banking conditions. These buffers can now be used to support their customers’ long-term economic future. Our economic stress test analysis suggest banks can continue to lend and prosper through a broad range of adverse scenarios,” Mr Orr says.

“Banks have a critical role in supporting customers who are facing short-term income declines. Maintaining the flow of credit to financially sound customers also contributes to the long-term profitability of the banking sector, by avoiding unnecessary defaults and disorderly corrections in asset markets,” Mr Orr says.

Deputy Governor Geoff Bascand says the Reserve Bank and the Government have been working with industry on a number of initiatives to support the flow of lending and functioning of the financial system.

“Our actions have included making bank funding plentiful and cheap, facilitating the deferral of loan payments, and ensuring cash was readily accessible nationwide,” Mr Bascand says.

Outside of the banking system, some parts of the financial system entered this downturn in a vulnerable position. Some non-bank deposit takers (NBDTs) have low profitability and are operating with low buffers. There has been consolidation in this sector in recent years and this is expected to continue. Resilience could also be boosted by seeking operational efficiencies, asset sales, and additional capital.

Some life insurers have also been operating with low solvency buffers, while other insurers have experienced investment losses and/or rising credit insurance claims. We are continuing to work with insurers to see them build better resilience and maintain a strong focus on long-term customer outcomes.

Reserve Bank and Government policy initiatives to support the financial system and lending:

  • Loan Deferral Scheme: Banks have offered household and small business customers a deferral of loan payments for a period of up to six months. This has been facilitated by appropriate capital treatment of these loans by the Reserve Bank.
  • Business Financing Guarantee Scheme: This provides small and medium firms with partially government-guaranteed loans at a concessionary interest rate to manage short-term income disruption.
  • Bank liquidity and funding support: The Reserve Bank has introduced concessional term funding facilities for banks and has eased bank core funding requirements to alleviate liquidity and funding pressure on banks.
  • Regulatory relief: The Reserve Bank has delayed implementation of planned increases to bank capital ratio requirements by at least 12 months, temporarily removed loan-to-value ratio restrictions, and delayed a number of other regulatory initiatives.
  • Cash access: The Reserve Bank worked with banks and their service providers to ensure the functioning of the cash system through the lockdown period in response to a significant increase in demand for cash from banks, retailers and the public.

More information:

Media contact:
Brendan Manning
Senior Adviser External Stakeholders
DDI: +64 9 366 2643 | MOB: 021 923 217
Email: Brendan.Manning@rbnz.govt.nz

New Zealand Government Bond Tender Schedule – June 2020

Source: New Zealand Treasury:

The Treasury has announced details of the regular New Zealand Government Bond tender schedule for the month of June 2020. Formal confirmation of each tender occurs on announcement dates.

Tender  Bond Maturity  Volume ($m) Announcement Tender Settlement
727 Nominal 15-Apr-25 500 03-Jun-20 04-Jun-20 09-Jun-20
727 Nominal 15-Apr-27 350 03-Jun-20 04-Jun-20 09-Jun-20
727 Nominal 14-Apr-33 200 03-Jun-20 04-Jun-20 09-Jun-20
728 Nominal 15-Apr-23 500 10-Jun-20 11-Jun-20 16-Jun-20
728 Nominal 20-Apr-29 350 10-Jun-20 11-Jun-20 16-Jun-20
728 Nominal 15-Apr-37 200 10-Jun-20 11-Jun-20 16-Jun-20
729 Nominal 15-Apr-25 500 17-Jun-20 18-Jun-20 23-Jun-20
729 Nominal 15-Apr-27 350 17-Jun-20 18-Jun-20 23-Jun-20
729 Nominal 14-Apr-33 200 17-Jun-20 18-Jun-20 23-Jun-20
730 Nominal 15-Apr-23 500 24-Jun-20 25-Jun-20 30-Jun-20
730 Nominal 20-Apr-29 350 24-Jun-20 25-Jun-20 30-Jun-20
730 Nominal 15-Apr-37 200 24-Jun-20 25-Jun-20 30-Jun-20
  • Tenders will be governed by the official Operating Rules and Guidelines (PDF 574KB). The preference will be to fill tenders according to volumes announced in the tender schedule, to the extent possible.
  • Subject to market conditions, a new 15 May 2024 nominal New Zealand Government Bond is expected to be launched, via syndication, in the week starting 15 June 2020. If this occurs, the scheduled bond tender for that week will be cancelled.  
  • As previously announced, it is expected that a new nominal New Zealand Government Bond will be launched, via syndication, between 30 June and 30 September 2020, subject to market conditions. The maturity will be confirmed ahead of syndication. A syndicated tap of an existing nominal New Zealand Government Bond is also expected to take place within this period.

ENDS

Treasury Contacts

Kim Martin | Acting Director, Capital Markets
Tel: +64 4 890 7274 

Matthew Collin | Head of Portfolio Management 
Tel: +64 4 917 6015

Government protects kids as smoking in cars ban becomes law

Government protects kids as smoking in cars ban becomes law

Source: New Zealand Government

Thousands of children will have healthier lungs after the Government’s ban on smoking in cars with kids becomes law, says Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa. This comes after the third reading of Smoke-free Environments (Prohibiting Smoking in Motor Vehicles Carrying Children) Amendment Bill earlier today.

“This law makes it an offence to smoke in a motor vehicle carrying anyone under 18 years old. We’re doing this because children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of second-hand smoke due to their smaller lungs, higher respiratory rate and more immature immune systems.

“We know that second-hand smoke can accumulate in vehicles, even with the windows down. That presents an unacceptable risk to kids who never asked to be exposed to second-smoke, and deserve a fighting chance at a life of healthy, clean lungs.

“Our Government wants to make New Zealand the best place in the world to be a child. We’re making progress towards that goal by putting the interests of kids first.

“When the bill becomes law, Police will have discretion to issue on-the-spot fines of $50 for those who smoke in cars with children, or to issue warnings or refer people to cessation support services. This is consistent with our health approach.

“New Zealand joins Australia, Finland, the UK, most Canadian provinces and some US states, in banning smoking in cars with kids. This progressive new legislation continues our work towards New Zealand’s aspirational goal of Smokefree 2025.

“It’s been a decade since the Māori Affairs Committee recommended that New Zealand should investigate banning smoking in vehicles carrying children, and it is this Government who delivers.

“Vaping in cars with children will also be banned once the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill is passed by Parliament.” said Jenny Salesa.

The Health Promotion Agency will run an education campaign about the new rules.

Name release, body recovered at Cape Farewell

Name release, body recovered at Cape Farewell

Source: New Zealand Police (District News)

Police can now confirm the name of the man whose body was found at Cape Farewell on 24 May.

He was 52-year-old Brett Allan Fleming from Nelson.

Police extend their sympathies to his family during this difficult time.

The death has been referred to the Coroner.

ENDS

Issued by the Police Media Centre
 

Serious Crash – Ngapipi Road, Ōrākei

Serious Crash - Ngapipi Road, Ōrākei

Source: New Zealand Police (District News)

Police are in attendance at a two car crash on Ngapipi Road, Ōrākei.

Emergency services were called to the scene at 6.30am.

Two people have been taken to Auckland City Hospital. One person has serious injuries and the other has moderate injuries.

Ngapipi Road is currently closed between Paritai Drive and Tāmaki Drive while the Serious Crash Unit carry out a scene examination.

This is expected to take some time.

Motorists are advised to plan ahead and expect delays on their commute this morning.

ENDS

Jarred Williamson/NZ Police

Milestone in cash flow support to SMEs

Milestone in cash flow support to SMEs

Source: New Zealand Government

  • Almost $1 billion in interest-free loans for small businesses
  • More than 55,000 businesses have applied; 95% approved
  • Average loan approx. $17,300
  • 90% of applications from firms with ten or fewer staff
  • A wide cross-section of businesses have applied, the most common are the construction industry, accommodation providers, professional firms, and retail
  • 88% of those seeking loans also got support from the Wage Subsidy

A billion dollar milestone is about to be passed as government cash flow support rolls out to small businesses through interest-free loans.

Revenue and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash says small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have reacted enthusiastically to the Small Business Cash flow Loan Scheme in its first fortnight of operation.

“Cash flow is crucial to kick-starting the economic recovery for our small businesses,” Mr Nash said.

“More than 55,000 businesses have applied for around $960 million in interest-free loans. We expect to pass the billion-dollar mark within the next day or so. Around 95% have already been approved and cash usually arrives in bank accounts within five days.

“The interest-free loans have come at just the right time. This is much-needed working capital for small businesses who for a variety of reasons have not been able to approach banks or investors for support. I have received positive feedback about how easy it is to apply online and how fast the loan has arrived. 

“Around 45% of applications are from firms with just one employee; 33% have 2-5 staff; 12% have 6-10 staff; and 7% have 11 to 20 staff. Around half of those taking out loans are mature or long-standing firms that have been trading for more than five years.

“Provincial businesses are making good use of the government lending. Tauranga businesses account for 2,528 applications; there are 1,575 from Palmerston North; 1,482 from Whangarei; 1,240 from Nelson, and 1,181 applications from Napier businesses.

“Loans are interest free if repaid within a year. After that the interest rate is 3% for a maximum term of five years. Repayments are not required for the first two years. SMEs employing 50 or fewer staff are eligible to apply.

“I urge business owners to talk to their bookkeeper, tax agent or accountant, or log onto the MyIR portal, to ensure they take advantage of government support as quickly as possible. Applications are due by 12 June but I am seeking advice on extending the deadline given the substantial demand for the loans.

“We’re also boosting cash flow in other ways to help with fixed costs for SMEs. This includes tax refunds, the wage subsidy, commercial property reform and consultancy support. We now have a substantive package to help these firms and sole traders get through this phase and into recovery,” Mr Nash said.

The global COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis is hitting every nation hard. Outside the $4 billion business support package in Budget20, previously announced support for small businesses includes:

  • Wage subsidies for more than 390,000 businesses to pay 1.6 million staff. More than 210,000 businesses who received direct support were the self-employed, and a further 170,000 businesses employ up to 19 staff;
  • Income relief payments for those who have lost their business or job, up to $490 per week for 12 weeks, tax-free;
  • Tax refunds of up to $3.1 billion through the loss carry-back scheme
  • Tax breaks worth $2 billion for commercial landlords through changes to depreciation arrangements;
  • $25 million for professional consultancy services through Regional Business Partners;
  • Government departments are taking the lead on prompt payments to SMEs, with a target of 95% of invoices paid in 10 working days. Ministers have now asked top-50 listed companies on the NZX to consider doing the same;
  • Other tax measures allow businesses to get tax write-offs for low-value assets like laptops and phones; remove 95,000 taxpayers from the provisional tax regime; and allow interest to be waived on late payments

More information is available here: www.ird.govt.nz/covid-19/business-and-organisations/small-business-cash-flow-loan