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09 December 2014
Foreign fighters legislation passes

Prime Minister John Key has welcomed the passing of the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill in Parliament tonight.

The legislation was passed with the support of the Labour Party, Act and United Future.

The Bill responds to the rapidly evolving threat posed by the issue of foreign terrorist fighters and growing international terrorism, and will enhance the safety and security of New Zealand.

“The threats faced by New Zealand have grown and it is important that we have the ability to respond to that,” says Mr Key.

“The government has a responsibility to protect New Zealanders at home and abroad and this legislation, passed with the support of a range of political parties, will better enable us to do that.”

The Bill will be subject to a sunset clause following a wider review of the intelligence agencies, their legislation and their oversight, which will begin next year.

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09 December 2014
NZ named best tourist destination

Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key says the Government’s investment in tourism is paying off with New Zealand voted the top country in the 2014 Telegraph Travel Awards, for the third year in a row.

Almost 90,000 people responded to the survey, making it the biggest survey of its kind.  New Zealand headed off the Maldives and South Africa to win the “favourite country” category. New Zealand also won the category in 2012 and 2013.

“Tourism forms a significant part of our economy and this award is a great credit to Tourism New Zealand and the work they do,” says Mr Key.

“We believe one of the real strengths of the tourism experience in New Zealand is that it lives up to the hype. Too often people go to a destination where ultimately it is never as good as the brochure, whereas in New Zealand we think people come and get an experience that is better than the brochure.”

Mr Key says tourism is a significant part of New Zealand’s economy, and is a major employer.

“The Government recognises this, and that’s why we have invested an unprecedented $600 million in tourism and tourism promotion since 2008.

“That investment is getting results. Some 2.8 million people visited New Zealand during the last year, spending over $7 billion. Tourism directly employs 4.7 per cent of the New Zealand workforce and indirectly employs another 3.6 per cent.

“We will continue to invest across a wide range of areas in tourism to build both our infrastructure and expand our marketing reach.”

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05 December 2014
Boost for New Zealand Cycle Trail

Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key today announced the Government is investing nearly $1 million in thirteen projects to help maintain the quality of the New Zealand Cycle Trail.

Mr Key says $970,000 will go towards maintaining and enhancing cycle trails from Northland to Southland to ensure they continue to generate economic benefit to regional communities.

“The New Zealand Cycle Trail attracts high-value visitors and helps New Zealand stay on the international map as a top tourist destination.

“A recent report showed the trails are going from strength to strength. Last summer the New Zealand Cycle Trail experienced a 56 per cent average growth rate, with an estimated 97,000 trail users for the month of January 2014 alone.”

The Government is investing $8 million over four years to maintain the quality of the New Zealand Cycle Trail network.

“This contestable funding will assist with maintaining the quality of the trails should they experience significant weather damage or need major changes,” says Mr Key.

The thirteen projects to receive funding in this first funding round are:

  • Motu Trails Charitable Trust  (Bay of Plenty) $15,000
  • Queenstown Trails Trust (Otago) $38,400
  • Queenstown Trails Trust (Otago) $175,200
  • Waikato River Trails Charitable Trust (Waikato) $47,500
  • Nelson City Council (Nelson) $21,000
  • Rotorua District Council (Bay of Plenty)  $14,800
  • Wanganui District Council (Manawatu/Wanganui) $130,000
  • Tasman District Council (Tasman) $212,500
  • Destination Wairarapa (Wellington) $12,000
  • Destination Wairarapa (Wellington) $35,000
  • Far North District Council (Northland) $76,000
  • Otago Central Rail Trust (Otago) $12,500
  • Otago Central Rail Trust (Otago) $ 177,500

The next funding round will be in February 2015.

More information is available at: http://www.med.govt.nz/sectors-industries/tourism/nga-haerenga-new-zealand-cycle-trail

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02 December 2014
PM welcomes report back of security Bill

Prime Minister John Key today welcomed the report back of the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill, which has been strengthened by the select committee process.

“I’d like to thank all of the members of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade select committee for their hard work on the Bill,” Mr Key says.

“The Bill has been significantly improved because of their efforts and because of the efforts of submitters.

“A number of changes have been agreed, particularly in areas where submissions had raised concerns.

“As I said at the start of this process, I am seeking wide-ranging political support for the Bill and we have been working with other political parties in good faith.

“The agreed changes to the Bill reflect feedback from our support parties ACT and United Future, as well as positive negotiations with the Labour Party.

“The Bill responds to the rapidly evolving issue of foreign terrorist fighters, with measures that can add to the safety and security of New Zealand in the short-term.

“A larger review of the intelligence agencies, their legislation and their oversight is required by law to begin by the middle of next year.

The proposals contained in the current Bill will be subject to a sunset clause.

The changes include:

  • The 48 hour emergency surveillance proposal will be reduced to 24 hours, and be restricted to activity that relates to the foreign fighters issue only
  • The new visual surveillance power will be restricted to activity that relates to the foreign fighters issue only
  • The sunset clause has been pulled back by a year to April 1, 2017
  • Additional oversight safeguards and more regular reporting will be required with regard to some of the new powers, particularly the 24 hour emergency surveillance power.

The Bill will come back to the House for debate next Tuesday.

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25 November 2014
Government Inquiry report released

Prime Minister John Key has today released the findings of the Government Inquiry into allegations regarding Judith Collins and a former Director of the Serious Fraud Office, Adam Feeley.

“I would like to thank former High Court Judge, Hon Lester Chisholm, for his work on this inquiry,” says Mr Key.

“I received the report yesterday and wanted to get it out at the earliest opportunity.

“I am pleased the report shows no evidence that Ms Collins acted inappropriately.  I will be recommending to the Governor-General that she be granted use of the title "The Honourable" for life."

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