State Highway 1 reopened following train incident, Ohau

Source: New Zealand Police (District News)

State highway 1 has now reopened following a fatal train incident in Ohau earlier tonight. 

A scene examination has been conducted. 

Those who were on the train and the victim’s family are being offered support.

ENDS

Issued by Police Media Centre 

Fatal train incident, Ohau

Source: New Zealand Police (District News)

Police can now confirm one person has died after being struck by a train in Ohau, Horowhenua tonight.

Emergency services responded to the scene near State Highway 1 around 5:10pm.

The road is expected to remain closed for some time as we conduct a scene examination.

Police advise commuters to expect delays and take the alternate route.

Those who were on the train and the victim’s family are being offered support.

ENDS

Issued by Police Media Centre 

Road Safety – Survey data shows young passengers react positively to safe road behaviour

Source: Road Safety Education Limited

In a landmark study of over 860 students participating in Australia and New Zealand’s largest road safety education program, RYDA, students have clearly shown the driver behaviours that make them feel safe, and those they rate negatively.

The RYDA program helps turn our next generation of drivers and their passengers into road safety heroes. To mark National Road Safety week, we asked our students to tell us what a road safety hero looks like to them. Tying into the theme of “What’s your Hero move?” we asked students what hero moves they like to see others doing and also what behaviours they don’t like.

The most highly rated road use behaviour from students was pulling over and resting when tired, closely followed by doing simple safety checks such as checking tyre pressure and tread. Other highly rated behaviours include turning the phone off, leaving a sufficient gap behind the car in front, planning ahead to reduce the temptation for speeding, and slowing down in the rain.

On the flip side, the most poorly rated behaviours include driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, using a phone while driving, not wearing seatbelts, and speeding at all levels.

The survey, conducted towards the end of RYDA workshops, reflects some of the many road safety strategies and messages students learn throughout the program. With over 60% of respondents already on their Learner licence, and the rest approaching that stage, the attitudes demonstrated are at a time when passengers are focusing more than ever before on driver behaviour. It builds on research conducted last year with RYDA students on experiences on the road highlighting the need for reducing the level of aggression shown towards our learner and novice drivers.

Maria Lovelock, General Manager New Zealand and Group Engagement, states that “What this shows is that passengers want their drivers to put safety above all else. Road safety ‘hero’ moves included simple measures such as removing the temptation to use phones while driving, leaving enough space between cars, making sure the driver is in the right frame of mind to be behind the wheel, and listening to concerns raised by passengers.”

“During National Road Safety Week, Tuesday is the day we focus on youth road safety, so it is a timely reminder for all drivers on their responsibility to model positive road safety behaviour, especially towards the next generation of drivers.”

This research indicates that young people know what they want to see on the road, and what makes them feel uncomfortable and unsafe. It also shows how important listening to the concerns of passengers’ concerns is to creating a positive environment on the road.

“We are especially pleased to see that the behaviour young road users look for in their peers is so heavily skewed towards safety. The negative view that youths have towards speeding, phone use and driving under the influence is a strong sign that the culture is turning towards seeing road use as a social responsibility.”

Road Safety Education Limited (RSE) is the provider of RYDA, a road safety program comprising workshops and classroom lessons using a whole of school approach targeting senior high school students. RYDA includes a full-day workshop, delivered to approximately 60,000 year 11 and 12 students within their year groups throughout Australia and New Zealand, as well as a range of pre and post workshop individual and class activities. Parents can also participate in Drive Coach, a free information session helping them support teen drivers that is being launched in Tasmania this week as part of National Road Safety Week. RYDA is delivered with support from RSE’s corporate sponsors including BOC, New Zealand Steel, Bridgestone, vtnz and Toyota, as well as support from our community partner, Rotary through their clubs throughout New Zealand.

Summary of responses from students

If you were a passenger and the driver was doing any of the following, rate how you’d feel about their actions?(Please tick the box between 1 and 7 where 1 is very negatively and 7 is very positively)

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

 

 

All Negative

Very Negatively

Negatively

Slightly Negatively

Neither Positively nor Negatively

Slightly Positively

Positively

Very Positively

All Positive

Reading a message on a smart phone while driving

93.99%

53.13%

29.63%

11.23%

4.28%

0.81%

0.23%

0.69%

1.73%

Departing late, but making up for lost time by driving just a little bit over the speed limit

79.16%

22.58%

32.83%

23.75%

13.85%

3.61%

2.33%

1.05%

6.99%

Driving over the speed limit, but knowing where all the speed cameras are to avoid getting caught

26.59%

3.48%

7.78%

15.33%

22.07%

17.07%

18.93%

15.33%

51.33%

They don’t wear, or make you wear, a seatbelt if it is just a short trip

59.60%

13.11%

22.13%

24.36%

21.08%

10.66%

5.27%

3.40%

19.33%

Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol

79.11%

35.38%

25.17%

18.56%

11.72%

5.80%

1.39%

1.97%

9.16%

Before departing, calling ahead to let the people at the destination know you are running late

87.23%

53.36%

24.13%

9.74%

8.24%

2.32%

1.16%

1.04%

4.52%

When they are angry or stressed, holding off driving until they have calmed down

95.25%

87.14%

5.79%

2.32%

2.20%

0.70%

0.58%

1.27%

2.55%

Pulling over somewhere safe to rest for 15-20 minutes because they were tired

9.35%

2.92%

2.69%

3.74%

7.25%

8.89%

20.23%

54.27%

83.39%

Doing a quick check of tyre pressure and tread when you’re at the petrol station

12.82%

3.73%

3.26%

5.83%

7.46%

9.91%

19.46%

50.35%

79.72%

Leaving a big gap between your car and the car in front, even if some cars pull into that space

6.87%

1.98%

1.75%

3.14%

6.75%

7.68%

21.89%

56.81%

86.38%

Pulling over when it is raining so heavily that you can’t see more than 50 metres in front

7.68%

1.28%

2.56%

3.84%

8.27%

10.13%

21.30%

52.62%

84.05%

Leaving 1.5 metres between the car and a person on a bicycle when overtaking them

9.82%

2.57%

2.22%

5.03%

11.58%

12.51%

25.26%

40.82%

78.59%

Turning their phone off or onto ‘do not disturb’ mode when they are driving

9.69%

1.75%

3.27%

4.67%

9.33%

10.85%

19.95%

50.18%

80.98%

About Road Safety Education Limited: Road Safety Education Limited is a not-for-profit organisation which runs best practice road safety programs for young people through Australia and New Zealand.  Every year, tens of thousands of young people participate in their RYDA program which aims to change the way they think and act on the roads, both as drivers and passengers. To date, over 775,000 young people have participated RYDA. For more information, visit www.rse.org.nz

Taxation – No Tax Cuts at Cost of Spending Cuts – Voters

Source: Better taxes for a Better Future

20 May 2024 – Aotearoa’s voting public are not keen on massive cuts to public spending and services simply to fund government tax cuts.

That is a key take away from poll findings set to be presented by political scientist Dr Terence Wood tomorrow, Tuesday 21 May at an event hosted by Tax Justice Aotearoa.    

The public opinion poll, commissioned by the Better taxes for a Better Future campaign, surveyed a representative sample of more than 1,000 New Zealanders prior to last year’s election.

Dr Terence Wood, Fellow at Australia National University’s Development Policy Centre, was one of the poll’s designers and is a Tax Justice Aotearoa board member. He has conducted an in-depth analysis of the results, published this week: (ref. https://www.tjanz.org/public-opinion-possibilities?e=d0a43970f752784fb3054f280a9130b4&utm_source=tja&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=public_opinion_poll_analysis&n=2 )

Dr Wood says one clear message from the poll data was that while New Zealanders might not like paying tax, very few wanted tax cuts if it meant cuts to essential spending.

“Only 2% of New Zealanders wanted public spending cut to fund tax cuts. More than that, only 10% of New Zealanders wanted public spending and taxes to stay at current levels,” Dr Wood says.

He says the appetite for spending cuts was low across the political spectrum.

“Only 12% of ACT voters with an opinion on the matter wanted spending on core services to be cut or stay the same.”

Dr Wood said the findings also showed a large majority of poll respondents wanted more affluent New Zealanders to pay more tax than they do at present.

“61% of respondents said they want a more progressive tax system.”

Dr Wood says he was particularly surprised to see support for progressive tax reform across the political spectrum.

“While support was higher for this on the left than on the right, about half of ACT voters wanted a more progressive tax system – and more than two thirds of New Zealand First voters who had an opinion said they wanted those at the top to pay more.”

Dr Wood says the other key point from the poll was just how open New Zealanders were to new forms of tax.

“Nearly 80% of New Zealanders want an excess profits tax – and while there was some uncertainty about a wealth tax, more than half of those surveyed favoured introduction of a wealth tax as part of a tax switch”.

More information on Dr Wood’s presentation and others in TJA’s latest series: (ref. https://www.tjanz.org/events?e=d0a43970f752784fb3054f280a9130b4&utm_source=tja&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=public_opinion_poll_analysis&n=3 )

The Better taxes for a Better Future coalition is a grouping of more than 20 organisations committed to progressive tax reform and co-ordinated by Tax Justice Aotearoa.

Insurance Sector – Tower wins Canstar’s Home & Contents Insurer of the Year Award for its great policies and prices

Source: Canstar

May 20, 2024: Increased building costs, inflation and more frequent extreme weather events have caused the cost of home and contents insurance to spike. Therefore, it’s never been more important for Kiwi homeowners to ensure they’ve the right level of home and contents insurance in place, and that it comes at an affordable price.

So, to assist Kiwi consumers make the right decisions about their home and contents insurance, each year, Canstar compares and analyses all the main insurance players in the New Zealand market, to assess which provide the best value products and levels of customer service.

And this year, Canstar is proud to announce Tower as the winner of its Home and Contents Insurer of the Year Award. Our expert research panel noted the outstanding value offered by Tower’s insurance products, especially its Standard and Plus policy options, which feature comprehensive insurance cover at affordable prices.

Canstar’s panel also noted Tower’s strong performance when it comes to events cover – including floods, storms and earthquakes – which is particularly relevant for many Kiwi households.

Tom Slee, Canstar Group Manager – Wealth, Health & New Zealand said of Tower’s award win, “Over the past year, many Kiwi households have seen the cost of their home and contents insurance increase at rates well above inflation.

“Rising building costs, an industry-wide focus on risk-based pricing and extreme weather events have conspired to push up premiums for many homeowners. So, we hope our research and award informs New Zealanders about which insurance provider offers the best levels of cover, customer service and overall value for money.

“To this end, we commend Tower for its award win. It’s a great result for Tower’s range of insurance products, which help deliver Kiwi homeowners peace of mind in times of great stress.”

Blair Turnbull, Tower CEO said as a Kiwi born and bred business, Tower is committed to helping protect New Zealand communities with insurance now and in the future.

“In the face of climate change insurance has never been more important to ensure our personal and economic resilience. That’s why we’re offering customers innovative products and tools like our hazard

ratings, which give homeowners more information about the risks their homes face, and features such as ‘ways to save’ in My Tower, our self-service digital platform.

“Our teams work hard to deliver fair and transparent insurance products for our customers and are constantly reviewing our pricing to ensure insurance remains affordable and accessible for Kiwi households. We’re absolutely thrilled to be named Canstar Home and Contents Insurer of the Year.”

Canstar’s Home & Contents Insurer of the Year Award

Canstar’s Insurer of the Year Award is based its Outstanding Value Home & Contents Insurance Awards, which utilise a sophisticated and unique ratings methodology that compares both costs and features across insurance policies.

The Insurer of the Year Award recognises the insurer that provides its customers outstanding value through its product and service offerings, as well as its levels of customer satisfaction. The satisfaction component uses survey responses from home and contents insurance customers who have rated their providers across the five key customer satisfaction metrics of customer service, value for money, comprehensiveness of cover, communication and cost.

As the winner of Canstar’s Insurer of the Year Award 2024, Tower is also a recipient of one of Canstar’s Outstanding Value Home & Contents Insurance Awards.

Social Issues – Public housing advocates warn Government’s review of Kāinga Ora must not usher in new era of privatisation by stealth

Source: Child Poverty Action Group

A review led by Bill English into Kāinga Ora has been described by public housing advocates as a way to reduce the state’s role in public housing, despite overwhelming evidence suggesting we need the state to build more state-owned houses to solve the housing crisis.
The Luxon-led government has said it won’t sell off state houses. However the Bill English report makes recommendations to create community housing associations, which Public Housing Futures and Child Poverty Action Group warn could see the state withdraw from building the public homes we need.
New Zealand has the lowest level of public housing in the OECD with public housing stock just 3.4% of all housing. The OECD average is 7%, and the Netherlands 34.1%.
Under the previous National-led government Mr English was involved in a programme to privatise state housing and shrink Government responsibility through transfers to third party providers, evicting tenants after reviewing eligibility, and selling land to private developers.
“No matter where you look globally, the evidence is clear – public housing is the only lasting solution to our housing crisis, yet successive governments have under-maintained and under-resourced the programme, prioritising private market profits over making sure that everyone has a home,” says Vanessa Cole, spokesperson for Public Housing Futures.
“We need more public housing, not more social housing. The real risk is that the Government will usher in privatisation by stealth by reducing their role in building public housing, and opening up low-income housing to private providers and investors. This will be to the detriment of stable and affordable homes for everyone,” says Ms Cole.
“Increasing the role of private market players in our public housing landscape is effectively the Government subsidising the private market with no guarantee of long-term, stable and affordable housing for people,” says Ms Cole.
Kāinga Ora was forced to borrow and sell off land in state housing neighbourhoods in order to pay for years of neglect.
Kāinga Ora, under the previous government, began to build houses again and it is important to maintain this in order to achieve a greater presence of public rental housing in the housing landscape.
“If we put things into perspective, the debt that Kāinga Ora has is essentially an accounting convention. The government could have funded it as equity. This debt is Government-backed so its current level is unlikely to concern financial markets, and its so-called sustainability dep

Housing Reform – Accessible Properties welcomes Kāinga Ora review

Source: Accessible Properties

Accessible Properties welcomes the Government’s commitment to increase the provision of desperately needed homes by community housing providers.

Chief Executive Greg Orchard says the review’s recommendations provide a pathway to a stable social housing system that will help people build a platform for their future.

“Addressing barriers to delivery and making sure homes are built where they’re most needed are critical for a stable social housing system.

“Implementing alternative delivery models for management of Kāinga Ora stock and providing a level playing field for social housing will also support a system that makes a real difference to vulnerable New Zealanders.

“The need is urgent. Accessible Properties is the largest community housing provider in New Zealand. In a positive regulatory framework we have the resources and the experience to build homes that will also build strong, resilient and sustainable communities.

“In short, this can change people’s lives.”

About Accessible Properties

Accessible Properties is a registered Community Housing Provider, is a charitable organisation and manages a social housing portfolio with more than 2,700 properties throughout the country. We are focused on providing tenancy services that mean greater engagement from tenancy managers and includes connecting people with any community and social support services they may need. Accessible Properties has been in social housing for more than 65 years and is a wholly owned subsidiary of IHC New Zealand.

www.accessibleproperties.co.nz  

Health Investigation – Information about myocarditis risk from Comirnaty vaccine not clearly highlighted or communicated 22HDC02256

Source: Health and Disability Commissioner

Please note, this report involves a prima facie (1) breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (the Code). 
Health and Disability Commissioner Morag McDowell has today released a report relating to the vaccination of a man in his twenties who died from myocarditis found, by the Coroner, to have been directly caused by the Comirnaty (Pfizer/BioNTech) COVID-19 vaccine.
Following his vaccination at a pharmacy, the man experienced chest discomfort and heart flutters. Apparently unaware that myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) was a potentially serious side effect of the vaccine, the man experienced these symptoms for 12 days before making the decision to go to hospital. Tragically, he collapsed and died before he got there.
During his vaccination the man was informed of the common, but not the potentially serious, side effects of the vaccine. In the specific circumstances failing to provide this information was a prima facie breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (the Code).
Ms McDowell was satisfied that the risk of myocarditis was intended by official agencies to be communicated to consumers as part of the consent process and that consumers were also to be given safety-netting advice about myocarditis symptoms following their vaccination.
However, Ms McDowell concluded that, in light of significant mitigating factors, it would be disproportionately harsh to find the pharmacy in breach of the Code, and that an educational approach was more appropriate.
Ms McDowell also noted that that the Comirnaty vaccine was, at the time, relatively new and new information about its use, risk and side effects was still forthcoming.
The broader public context was also relevant for this case, Ms McDowell said. The event took place during the unprecedented international and national response prompted by the pandemic which was accompanied by a concurrent steady flow of information from official sources.
However, she found that none of the sources of official information explicitly required vaccinators to disclose the risk of myocarditis as part of the informed consent process prior to vaccination. She also noted there was evidence that the importance of new information, relative to other information, was not made clear to vaccination providers.
“Given the seriousness of the risk of myocarditis and the information volume, one could reasonably expect that in communication to the providers the risk would be emphasised or highlighted in some way,” she said.
While she did not find the pharmacy in breach of the Code, Ms McDowell was critical that it did not update its standard operating procedure to ensure consumers were given adequate safety netting advice about the risk of the symptoms of myocarditis to look out for.
She also made an adverse comment about the pharmacist who vaccinated the man, but similarly did not find her in breach due to the mitigating factors outlined.
Ms McDowell made an educational comment to Manatū Hauora│Ministry of Health, stating that, in relation to the Comirnaty vaccine it needed to provide clear and unambiguous guidance to vaccinating providers about what and when they needed to tell consumers about myocarditis.
This was particularly relevant following the first death in New Zealand from myocarditis following the Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine, which occurred prior to this event.
Ms McDowell made a number of recommendations, outlined in the report, for both the pharmacy and Te Whatu Ora (given that the National Immunisation Programme is now part of Te Whatu Ora rather than Manatū Hauora). 

Health and Education – TDDA Offers New Advanced Drug Awareness Training

Source: Botica Butler Raudon Partners

 20 May 2024, Auckland, New Zealand – The Drug Detection Agency (TDDA) has released its latest drug and substance training, the “Advanced Drug Awareness Training”. The programme replaces TDDA’s previous Management Training course, and now includes education on the use of and implications of medicinal cannabis, updated testing information, and new risk scenarios covering situations requiring decision making by managers and supervisors.

The Advanced Drug Awareness Training will help businesses stay compliant with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA 2015) and manage workplace risks around the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol.

“We’ve been educating New Zealand and Australian businesses for almost two decades, but recent changes to New Zealand and Australian laws, cartel activity, the availability of highly addictive illicit drugs, and the emergence of powerful synthetic opioids meant our trainings required a real overhaul,” says Glenn Dobson, CEO, TDDA. “Supervisors and managers are having difficulty managing drug and alcohol issues in white and blue collar industries alike. Substance issues affect all industries. From education to manufacturing, decision makers need to be thinking about training.”

Identifying employees under the influence is challenging and fraught with legal pitfalls – especially now that the Medicinal Cannabis Scheme is in full operation. Even when the clues are obvious, many managers and supervisors lack the skills and confidence to deal with delicate and volatile situations that may arise.

The Advanced Drug Awareness Training is a 4-hour drug and alcohol management education programme. It has been designed to provide advanced drug and alcohol training for staff ranging from team members to people leaders. The interactive training is delivered by TDDA’s highly trained drug presenters and gives attendees the confidence and tools to empower them to successfully identify and deal with situations arising from drug and alcohol use and abuse in the workplace.

The session includes:

Duties under the HSWA 2015 and how to actively manage your company’s drug and alcohol policy
Drugs tested for, including prescription medicines and illicit substances
Identifying risks and establishing reasonable grounds
Understanding drug and alcohol testing in the workplace, when is it warranted and who participates
New and emerging drug tr

Weather News – Heavy Rain Watches and Warnings Paint the North Island – MetService

Source: MetService

Covering period of Monday 20th – Thursday 23rd May

MetService has issued a swathe of Heavy Rain Watches and Warnings for northern and eastern parts of Te Ika-a-Māui/North Island, with the rain expected to continue in the east for most of the working week.

MetService Meteorologist Dom Barry says, “A complex low pressure system – a ‘Tasman Sea Special’ – is currently approaching Aotearoa/New Zealand, with an extended band of rain already affecting parts of Northland.”

Rain is forecast to continue southwards as the low pressure system approaches, bringing the possibility of heavy rain to many northern and eastern parts of Te Ika-a-Māui/North Island throughout Tuesday. Heavy rain Watches and Warnings have been issued by MetService as a result.

An Orange Heavy Rain Warning has been issued for Hawke’s Bay where 120 to 160 mm of rain can be expected to fall through to Wednesday evening, with the biggest accumulation likely south of the Napier-Taupō Road (SH5). Peak hourly rain rates of 15 to 25 mm/h are likely. Heavy Rain Watches have been issued for Northland, Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau, Coromandel Peninsula, Gisborne/Tairāwhiti and Wairarapa and the Tararua Districts. Some of these may be extended in the future.

Strong easterly winds will be felt across Northland and Tāmaki Makaurau while this system passes today (Monday). There is also a risk of thunderstorms for the likes of Northland today and tomorrow, then Coromandel Peninsula, Bay of Plenty and Tairāwhiti tomorrow only.

Barry continues, “As the low moves southeastwards across the Motu, we can expect areas such as Marlborough and Northern Canterbury to encounter some wet weather from Tuesday, with the rain mainly remaining in the eastern Te Ika-a-Māui/North Island.”

“As always, please stay up to date with the latest forecasts, Watches and Warnings on the MetService website at bit.ly/AllWarnings or on the app,” says Barry.

Meanwhile, in Te Waipounamu/South Island, west of the main divide is becoming fine tomorrow and is the place to be – now’s the time to soak up some sunshine! In the east, it’s the opposite with low cloud and drizzle to most places.

Understanding MetService Severe Weather Warning System

Severe Thunderstorm Warnings (Localised Red Warning) – take cover now:

This warning is a red warning for a localised area.
When extremely severe weather is occurring or will do within the hour.
Severe thunderstorms have the ability to have significant impacts for an area indicated in the warning.
In the event of a Severe Thunderstorm Red Warning: Act now!

Red Warnings are about taking immediate action:

When extremely severe weather is imminent or is occurring
Issued when an event is expected to be among the worst that we get – it will have significant impact and it is possible that a lot of people will be affected
In the event of a Red Warning: Act now!

Orange Warnings are about taking action:

When severe weather is imminent or is occurring
Typically issued 1 – 3 days in advance of potential severe weather
In the event of an Orange Warning: Take action.

Thunderstorm Watch means thunderstorms are possible, be alert and consider action

Show the area that thunderstorms are most likely to occur during the validity period.
Although thunderstorms are often localised, the whole area is on watch as it is difficult to know exactly where the severe thunderstorm will occur within the mapped area.
During a thunderstorm Watch: Stay alert and take action if necessary.

Watches are about being alert:

When severe weather is possible, but not sufficiently imminent or certain for a warning to be issued
Typically issued 1 – 3 days in advance of potential severe weather.
During a Watch: Stay alert

Outlooks are about looking ahead:

To provide advanced information on possible future Watches and/or Warnings
Issued routinely once or twice a day
Recommendation: Plan.