Government delivers levy change to support Fire and Emergency

Source: New Zealand Government

The Government has passed new legislation amending the Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) levy regime, ensuring the best balance between a fair and cost effective funding model.

The Fire and Emergency New Zealand (Levy) Amendment Bill makes changes to the existing law to:

  • charge the levy on contracts of insurance for fire damage;
  • calculate the levy on the sum insured in an insurance contract for fire damage;
  • clarify how the levy applies to motor vehicles; and
  • amend the commencement date for the new levy framework to 1 July 2026.

“Fire and Emergency New Zealand provide services that play a critical role in keeping our whānau, communities and whenua safe,” Internal Affairs Minister Barbara Edmonds said.

“With FENZ funded by a 97 percent levy collection on insurance policies, it’s important that we ensure a fit-for-purpose funding model that supports their work.

“These changes will make the current framework more predictable and stable for both FENZ and levy payers. It will also ensure that the administration for insurance companies and brokers is much simpler.

“Under the new provisions, greater clarity will be given to which insurance arrangements will have the levy applied, simplifying levy calculations and avoiding some properties being charged twice.  

“We have also amended the start date of the new levy system which will now come into force on 1 July 2026. This extension will give the insurance sector more time to implement the new system, along with time for associated regulations to be completed.

“By getting this framework right, we are delivering on a more effective and efficient levy regime that benefits insurance holders. These changes will reduce cost pressures on the insurance sector, keeping costs lower for New Zealanders.

“Passing this legislation is a significant milestone towards realising the benefits of the levy regime in the FENZ Act and will support FENZ to continue delivering services when we need them most,” Barbara Edmonds said.

Next steps for New Zealand’s organic regulations

Source: New Zealand Government

The Government has passed the Organic Products and Production Bill through its third reading today in Parliament helping New Zealand’s organic sector to grow and lift export revenue.

“The Organic Products and Production Bill will introduce robust and practical regulation to give businesses the certainty they need to continue to invest in our growing organics sector, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

“Last year, New Zealand’s primary sector hit a record $53.3b in export earnings. The Government is committed to continuing to support our food and fibre businesses to capitalise on the opportunities presented by international markets. That includes the access we have secured in the UK FTA and the EU FTA.   

“In tandem, these regulations will give discerning consumers confidence in their choices and boost the credibility of New Zealand’s organic products on the world stage.

“Consumer demand for genuine and certified organic products is significant and customers around the world are becoming increasingly discerning about how their food is produced.

“Accordingly, our organics sector is a rapidly growing market and was worth an estimated $723m in 2020 with more than half of New Zealand’s organic output being exported overseas.

“It is key that New Zealand has a framework in place to sustain this growth and to give businesses the certainty they need to continue to invest in organic production. This Bill ushers in practical guidelines and regulations for the organics industry and allows businesses to back up their organic status with a standardised system of official certification. 

“Internationally, an increasing number of countries are requiring compliance with their domestic regimes or certification from equivalent regimes. A robust domestic standard for our organic products will help to ensure New Zealand’s continued access in these markets, as well as open doors in new markets for our premium organic exports,” Damien O’Connor said.

A national organic standard for organic food, beverages, plant and animal products is currently being developed. The national organic standard will set the production and processing rules for products labelled as organic, and any requirements that are specific to the products covered by the standard.

For more information on the changes to organic products law see:

Greens celebrate passing of Organic Products and Production Bill

Source: Green Party

Following decades of work by the Green Party alongside the organics sector, people will finally be able to be confident that products labelled organic have met standards.

“Clear, trusted, national organic standards are crucial for giving people confidence in the products they are buying. The Green Party has been working alongside advocates for years to get mandatory organics standards and we are delighted this bill has passed today,” says Green Party agriculture spokesperson Teanau Tuiono.

“Until now, the organics market in Aotearoa has relied on trust, with only voluntary standards in place.

“Despite this, there has been a huge effort in the sector to meet the highest possible standards, but there has not been a universalised and standardised approach to certification.

“Finally this will change. Not only do minimum standards provide greater certainty for consumers, they also give producers a guarantee that everyone in the market is working to the same standard.

“Organic farming has an important role to play to support a food system that enhances soil and water quality, helping transition Aotearoa to a thriving and sustainable agricultural sector that’s good for people and the planet.

“I would like to acknowledge Organics Aotearoa New Zealand for the huge amount of work they have done advocating for and promoting the organics sector.

“We would not have reached this point without the work of former Green MPs Sue Kedgley, Steffan Browning, and Gareth Hughes,” says Teanau Tuiono.

Parliament Hansard Report – Tuesday, 28 March 2023 (continued on Thursday, 30 March 2023) – Volume 766 – 001094

Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

CHLÖE SWARBRICK (Green—Auckland Central): E te Māngai tēnā koe, tēnā koutou e te Whare. I guess, just to outline for those who are following along this very fast-paced House this morning, that there are three key things that this legislation seeks to do, or three pillars of it.

The first in establishing the framework is for an opt-in Government accreditation scheme, which is, obviously, as outlined by other speakers, for digital identity providers across all sectors. But, notably, it is opt-in. The second thing that is does is establish a Trust Framework Board, that is the governance group that many others have alluded to, with responsibility for developing the rules for the accreditation scheme and running wider education and potentially guidance campaigns. The third thing that it does is set up that Trust Framework Authority to run the accreditation scheme, which involves approving accreditations, enforcement and compliance, and maintaining the registry.

So while I am stoked to see that we’ve support across the House and consensus on this really important framework, what it’s important to note is that this doesn’t quite go far enough to grapple with some of the challenges of our time, which some of the other speakers have also alluded to.

To that effect, it doesn’t look anywhere near as far entrenching digital rights in the form, kind of, a digital bill of rights format. It doesn’t grapple with the likes of people’s identity online and their digital footprint. It doesn’t grapple with, as we’ve sometimes discussed in this House, the issues around deepfakes and utilisation of people’s face or voice or identity in those places and spaces. This simply sets up a framework of accreditation for those who are utilising and providing services and the accreditation of identity to that effect.

So it’s a great start, but there’s so much more to do in this ecosystem. I just want to say that I agree with the sentiment, as expressed by the Hon Judith Collins, that there is so much more to do here. So frequently we see that this House is just catching up five or 10 years after we’ve seen that technological evolution. So perhaps there’s some work to do in a cross-party manner to that effect.

Throughout the committee of the whole House but also through the select committee stage, we’ve heard that there was a number of submissions from those who perhaps didn’t quite understand the purpose of this legislation. To that effect, we did however see that there were some quite substantive submissions from stakeholders who are really involved in this space. We had InternetNZ and the Council for Civil Liberties suggesting that this authority and this board should not exist within the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) as it currently does. This is something which I alluded to in my second reading speech, and I’m stoked to see that the Minister has actually taken that on board, and what we now have here is the potential in the amended legislation that we’re debating at third reading to have this review after two years to ascertain whether it should be that the digital identity agency becomes its own stand-alone Crown entity, because, of course, it’s currently contained within DIA, and this did raise the spectre of concern for some of those stakeholders. I think when InternetNZ and the Council for Civil Liberties is raising those concerns that they are thing that should be paid due notice to.

We also obviously heard from InternetNZ and the Council for Civil Liberties that there should be broader requirements of consultation and appointments of, for example, people with disability or accessibility needs. We also heard from those who were suggesting that perhaps there should be rainbow representation.

I’d note that, as the Minister herself has outlined, there is, of course, the opportunity, or the discretion, for the Minister to appoint people with those skills or those lived experiences to the board. None the less, by virtue of what’s played out at committee of the whole House and the Greens’ proposals to that effect, there’s no guarantee.

So, once again, what we’re talking about here is a welcome step in the right direction, but it is an opt-in accreditation framework for digital identity. It doesn’t grapple with those far bigger issues of one’s rights online, of one’s digital footprint and the right to be forgotten, for example. So there’s still so much more work to do, and we continue to encourage the form of consensus that we’ve seen break out celebratoriously in the House this morning on this to the future challenges of our time in that technological space and the rights of citizens and Aotearoa New Zealand.

Parliament Hansard Report – Construction Contracts (Retention Money) Amendment Bill — Third Reading – 001093

Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard


(continued on 30 March 2023)


Third Reading

Debate resumed.

BROOKE VAN VELDEN (Deputy Leader—ACT): It’s a pleasure to rise on the third Tuesday morning in this House to speak to the Construction Contracts (Retention Money) Amendment Bill at the third reading. The ACT Party will be supporting this bill at the third reading, and it’s because we want to see a system where subcontractors, who work really hard up and down New Zealand, don’t lose out because of the work they’re doing to help in New Zealand’s residential and commercial building construction work throughout our country.

Retention money is a really interesting area of our law. Currently, a lot of people are involved in building work, commercial and residential, up and down New Zealand. People might contract on a large provider, a building company, but a lot of that work will be subcontracted. Not every single company involved in building can do everything that’s required. You’ve got electrical work, painting, a lot of fitting for gas, for example, a lot of bricklaying, and people involved in the roof infrastructure work. There’s a lot that goes into a building that not every single company can be involved with. So people bring in subcontractors to help with that work.

In many cases, although it’s not a legal requirement, money held for subcontractors to do work is withheld. It’s retention money. So somebody might end up asking for a whole roof to be put on. But part of that contract says that some of that money is withheld until a few months or years after that work is completed to make sure that it’s done at such a high quality that if there are any defects, the subcontractors will come and fix it as part of their contract. Now, this law is to say that we’re reducing the likelihood that some contractors will become insolvent. And because some of that retention money, or money that’s been withheld for that end part of the contract, has been mixed with other money or working capital for other projects—and when they go insolvent, that money doesn’t exist—it’s setting aside that money in a trust, so that when a company does become insolvent, there might be money set aside to continue to pay that subcontractor for that work that they had completed.

We think overall that this is a good idea, because ACT wants to support our subcontractors, who do work hard and are a vital part of our construction industry up and down New Zealand. I talk to them constantly, people who have real pride in their craftsmanship and who have a real pride in knowing that they’re actively participating and helping to grow a thriving New Zealand where everybody can have a good home and everybody can be proud of the infrastructure in which some of our businesses operate.

Now you see some beautiful new buildings and developments being set up around New Zealand for our growing industries and for our growing number of families. And people do have a lot of pride, but they also put in a lot of hard work and want to know that when they are doing this hard work and some money is going to be retained for a few months or years down the track to help pay for any defects, that money will actually be paid out if there is no problem at all.

But we did want to raise one issue which came up in the committee of the whole House last night, which I think is really important for the third reading, and it was that when we questioned the Minister about how much money is currently lost to subcontractors because retention money is withheld and people do become insolvent, the Minister couldn’t answer those questions. She also couldn’t answer how much working capital is currently tied up in construction, which is also money that should be used for retention money. She could not do the breakdown on how much money is currently being used for working capital, and, under this law, how much money therefore would be withheld and taken away as working capital by construction companies. I think it is slightly concerning that we have Ministers putting through bills in Parliament here where we don’t know the true costs and benefits of these proposals and we don’t know therefore what the clear policy benefits and the policy costs will be.

We will be supporting this bill because we do want to have a regime that supports our subcontractors, who do a lot of great work up and down New Zealand and help provide jobs for New Zealanders, help provide food on the table for their families, and help get our construction businesses up and running so that we have more homes and more buildings for our industries to work and live in. But it is concerning that we are having such a low level of scrutiny from this Government about what are the clear policy benefits and costs. We do support it through the House.

Parliament Hansard Report – Digital Identity Services Trust Framework Bill — In Committee – 001092

Source: New Zealand Parliament – Hansard

A party vote was called for on the question, That Chlöe Swarbrick’s amendment set out on Supplementary Order Paper 260 be agreed to.

Ayes 10

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand 10.

Noes 103

New Zealand Labour 64; New Zealand National 31; ACT New Zealand 8.

Amendment not agreed to.

The result corrected after originally being announced as Ayes 10, Noes 106.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Jacqui Dean): The question is that Chlöe Swarbrick’s amendments set out on Supplementary Order Paper 261 be agreed to.

A party vote was called for on the question, That Chlöe Swarbrick’s amendments set out on Supplementary Order Paper 261 be agreed to.

Ayes 10

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand 10.

Noes 103

New Zealand Labour 64; New Zealand National 31; ACT New Zealand 8.

Amendments not agreed to.

The result corrected after originally being announced as Ayes 10, Noes 106.

Parts 1 to 7, Schedule, and clauses 1 and 2 as amended agreed to.

The result corrected after originally being announced as Ayes 105, Noes 10.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Jacqui Dean): I will report this bill with amendment.

MAUREEN PUGH (Junior Whip—National): Point of order, Madam Chair. We wish to adjust the previous two votes, please.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Jacqui Dean): Is there any objection? There is none.

MAUREEN PUGH: Can we adjust them to 31 votes, please? Thank you.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Jacqui Dean): I will go back and I will report this bill with amendment.

House resumed.

CHAIRPERSON (Hon Jacqui Dean): Madam Speaker, the committee has considered the Digital Identity Services Trust Framework Bill and reports it with amendment. I move, That the report be adopted.

Motion agreed to.

Report adopted.

Number of new homes consented down in February – Stats NZ media and information release: Building consents issued: February 2023

Number of new homes consented down in February – Media release

30 March 2023

There were 2,972 new homes consented in February 2023, down 29 percent compared with February 2022, according to figures released by Stats NZ today.

“The decrease in the number of homes consented in February 2023 is large when compared with February 2022, which had the highest number of homes consented for any February month on record,” construction and property statistics manager Michael Heslop said.

“The number of homes consented in February 2023 is at a similar level to what it was two years ago in February 2021.”

Visit our website to read this news story and information release or to download CSV files:

CategoriesMIL-OSITagsMIL OSI

Our indigenous species are at risk of extinction – Stats NZ media release

Our indigenous species are at risk of extinction – Media release

30 March 2023

More than 75 percent of indigenous reptile, bird, bat, and freshwater fish species groups are threatened with extinction or are at risk of becoming threatened, according to figures released today by Stats NZ.

“Loss of many of our indigenous species is a real possibility,” environmental and agricultural statistics senior manager Michele Lloyd said.

“Ninety-four percent of our reptile species, 82 percent of bird species, 80 percent of bat species, 76 percent of freshwater fish species, and 46 percent of vascular plant species are either facing extinction or are at risk of being threatened with extinction.”

The indicator Extinction threat to indigenous species reports on the extinction threat (an assessment of extinction risk) for groupings of indigenous, resident, and living species in Aotearoa New Zealand, as assessed by expert panels under the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). Data and findings are as of November 2022 and do not capture the impacts of the recent weather events.

Visit our website to read this news story and indicator:

CategoriesMIL-OSITagsMIL OSI

Health News – ProCare welcomes extended funding for flu vaccine ahead of 2023 ‘flu season’

Source: ProCare

With ‘flu season’ fast approaching for 2023, ProCare welcomes the announcement from Pharmac to extend funding for a second consecutive flu season to include tamariki aged 6 months to 12 years and Māori and Pacific people aged 55-64 years old.

Bindi Norwell, Chief Executive at ProCare says: “It’s been a tough start to the year for many with the floods, cyclone Gabrielle and the uplift in covid cases. Preventing whānau from getting sick with the flu will help ensure children can attend as many school days as possible throughout winter, will help keep parents at work and ultimately take away some of the stress of juggling sick family members during the winter period.

“A simple flu vaccine can give you some peace of mind going into winter that you are protected and will also help to ease some of the pressures on an already stretched health sector so we can continue to deliver care for those who need it,” continues Norwell.  

Dr Allan Moffitt, Clinical Director at ProCare, says: “Influenza can spread quickly and easily through children, particularly when they’re in classrooms with closed doors in the cooler weather. Offering free flu vaccines for tamariki not only protects them, but also protects their wider whānau against what can be a serious illness.

“Funding these priority populations to receive a free flu vaccine means that approximately 835,000 children, including 370,000 who are of Māori or Pacific ethnicity, will benefit from this,” he continues.

“General practices across Aotearoa have been preparing for the flu season for some weeks now and will be able to start vaccinating patients from 1 April. We really encourage our communities to protect themselves and their whānau against the flu, particularly those with diabetes, asthma, other respiratory issues such as COPD, cardiovascular issues or if they are currently pregnant,” concludes Dr Moffitt.

About ProCare

ProCare is a leading healthcare provider that aims to deliver the most progressive, pro-active and equitable health and wellbeing services in Aotearoa. We do this through our clinical support services, mental health and wellness services, virtual/tele health, mobile health, smoking cessation and by taking a population health and equity approach to our mahi. As New Zealand’s largest Primary Health Organisation, we represent a network of general practice teams and healthcare professionals who provide care to more than 830,000 people. These practices serve the largest Pacific and South Asian populations enrolled in general practice and the largest Māori population in Tāmaki Makaurau. For more information go to

Employment News – Corrections staff vote to walk off the job after nine months of bargaining

Source: PSA

1900 Community Corrections workers have voted to strike three times over April, after nine months of negotiations between the Public Service Association Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi, and the Department of Corrections.
The strikes will involve PSA Community Corrections members walking off the job for three 2-hour strikes, three weeks in a row. This will leave residential facilities managed by Corrections unstaffed, Courts will not have Corrections representatives, programmes will cease to run in Prisons, Community Work crews will not be able to operate, electronic monitoring will not be monitored and sentences and orders such as Parole and Release Conditions will not be managed.
“Members are insulted by the Department’s offer. The most recent proposal and the Department’s pay system is rooted in the past and ignores the realities of today with inflation at 7.2%, where burnout is ‘just part of the job’ and covering for constant staff vacancies means holding dangerously large workloads,” said PSA lead organiser for Community Corrections, Josephine O’Connor.
“Our members know that the Department cannot recruit new staff on the current pay rates, and many are considering their options. Staff who have been with the Department for more than 20 years, managing the most intensive risk that Corrections has responsibility for, are being offered a wage cut when adjusted for inflation.
“We have members relying on food parcels, living off multiple credit cards and needing secondary employment, via night shifts at supermarkets. It’s devastating for people who should be respected public service workers.
“These are people performing what is often regarded as invisible work. You won’t see them featured in Corrections TV advertisements chatting at BBQ’s, they don’t wear uniforms, they are mostly women, and they manage 75% of people under the care of Corrections. There are 31,000 sentences and orders being managed by PSA members at Community Corrections on any day of the week and this includes approximately 7,000 people on Electronic Monitoring. This is a vital, 24/7 operation and the pay is appalling.
“PSA Community Corrections members are subject to pay that sits just above the minimum wage and a pay system which discriminates against Māori staff and Corrections does not appear to care about this.
“Investing in Public Service pay is investing in public services. The PSA will continue to push for wage increases that close the gap with the private sector and offset the inflationary pressures on our members’ household budgets,” said Josephine O’Connor.
Note: PSA Community Corrections members work with more than 31,000 people who are in the care of Corrections in the community; they work in District Courts, Electronic Monitoring, specialist residential services, and with those coming out of prison. If you are serving a community sentence or you have been released from prison on parole or with special conditions, you are “on probation” and managed by Community Corrections.