Speech

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21 October 2014
Speech from the Throne

Delivered by His Excellency Lieutenant General The Right Honourable Sir Jerry Mateparae, GNZM, QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand, on the occasion of the State Opening of Parliament, Tuesday 21 October 2014

Honourable Members of the House of Representatives.

E nga Mema Honore o te Whare Paremata o Aotearoa, tenei aku mihi mahana ki a koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Following the General Election, a National-led Government has been formed with a majority in the House on confidence and supply.

Confidence and supply agreements have been signed between the National Party and, respectively, the ACT Party and the United Future Party. A Relationship Accord and confidence and supply agreement has been signed with the Maori Party. These agreements will enable the Government to operate in an effective, stable and inclusive manner.

Honourable Members, the Government has a comprehensive policy agenda and a substantial legislative programme that it will put before the House in the forthcoming session.

The Government is focused on returning to surplus and its long-term fiscal objective remains to reduce net core Crown debt to 20 per cent of GDP by 2020. Around $1 billion of the operating allowance in each Budget will be used to increase spending, with the remainder set aside for tax reductions and further debt repayment, depending on economic and fiscal conditions at the time.

ACC levies will be reduced in 2015, and more reductions are expected from 2016, as the three levy accounts are now fully funded.

The Government’s plan to build a more productive and competitive economy, supporting more jobs and higher incomes, is set out in the Business Growth Agenda. This contains around 350 individual initiatives. These initiatives will be progressed, and more will be added, in this term of Parliament.

The Government will continue to pursue high-quality trade agreements, including negotiations with Korea and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, while ensuring that New Zealand’s best interests are always served. More investment will be made in New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, to expand the number of businesses it works with and increase its international footprint.

The Government will continue to provide the environment and incentives to increase business-led research and development, with a goal of raising this to 1 per cent of GDP by 2018. More funding will be provided for the R&D grant programme. The Government will also establish a Food Safety Science and Research Centre, as well as four additional Centres of Research Excellence, with one of the Centres focused on Maori research.

The Government will progress legislation to increase flexibility and fairness in the labour market, extend flexible working arrangements and improve collective bargaining. The enforcement of New Zealand’s minimum employment standards will be strengthened, and paid parental leave extended from 14 weeks to 18 weeks by 2016. Legislation to improve health and safety at work will be progressed.

The Government will complete the implementation of the Financial Markets Conduct Act, and will progress legislation to strengthen competition laws, and improve the accounting and audit industries.

The overhaul of Inland Revenue’s business systems and information technology will continue, which among other things will make tax compliance faster and easier for businesses.

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News release

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17 October 2014
New Zealand wins Security Council seat

Prime Minister John Key has welcomed New Zealand securing a place on the United Nations Security Council for the 2015-16 term.

“New Zealand’s success in gaining a place on the Security Council is a victory for the small states that make up over half the United Nations membership,” Mr Key says.

“We have worked very hard on the bid for close to a decade because we believe that New Zealand can make a positive difference to world affairs and provide a unique and independent voice at the world’s top table.

“It has been more than 20 years since New Zealand was last on the Council and we are ready to contribute again.

“It was a tough campaign against Spain and Turkey, two much bigger countries and close friends.

“I would also like to acknowledge all the hard work which has gone into our campaign from across the New Zealand Government and in particular from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“Our win proves small countries have a role to play at the UN and we are determined to represent the perspective of small states at the Security Council table.

“At the moment the Council faces a number of challenging issues. New Zealand is looking forward to serving on the Council and making a positive contribution throughout our two-year term,” Mr Key says.

News release

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13 October 2014
Review of foreign fighters security settings to begin

Cabinet today approved the Terms of Reference for a review of settings in relation to foreign terrorist fighters, says Prime Minister John Key.

“Foreign fighters taking part in, or returning from any sort of conflict zone are a concern for many countries,” says Mr Key.

“Our intelligence agencies are aware of the risk and are focused on addressing it.

“We know that a small number of New Zealanders have travelled overseas to engage in the fighting. We’re also aware of people within New Zealand who have a desire to travel and fight for the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

“Although the number of New Zealanders in these situations is modest compared with the actual numbers of our partners, they are significant relative to New Zealand’s size.

“And they do represent a change in the New Zealand context.

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News release

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07 October 2014
National’s new whips announced

Prime Minister John Key has announced the election of National’s new whips following the National Party Caucus this morning.

Mr Key says the new senior whip will be MP for Hamilton West, Tim Macindoe. He was formerly junior whip and replaces Louise Upston, who is now a Minister outside Cabinet.

The junior whip will be MP for Botany, Jami-Lee Ross, who steps up from third whip.

The third whip will be List MP Jo Hayes.

“Tim Macindoe, Jami-Lee Ross and Jo Hayes will be a great whips team and I congratulate them on their appointments,” Mr Key says.

News release

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06 October 2014
National Security and Intelligence role created

Prime Minister John Key today announced the creation of a new role of Minister for National Security and Intelligence as part of wider changes to the way the security and intelligence area is governed.

“The security and intelligence sector has been undergoing significant change at agency and operational level,” Mr Key says.

“It makes sense for us to also take a fresh look at how the governance of the sector is structured.

“The Ministerial changes I am announcing today will make our structure very similar to that seen in Australia and Great Britain, and further strengthen the governance of what is an absolutely crucial sector for New Zealand.

“As Prime Minister I will take on the new role of Minister for National Security and Intelligence. In this role I will be responsible for leading the national security system – including policy settings and the legislative framework,” Mr Key says.

The roles of Minister Responsible for the GCSB and Minister in Charge of the NZ Security Intelligence Service will be filled by Christopher Finlayson, who is also Attorney-General in the new Cabinet.

“The arrangements mean I will lead the national security sector and set the overall framework it operates within,” Mr Key says.

“I will continue to have regular briefings from the sector’s Chief Executives about the security environment and developments both domestically and internationally.

“The Responsible Minister will operate within the framework I set and exercise ministerial oversight of the NZSIS and GCSB, including approval of warrants.

“Officials have examined models used overseas and what we are adopting is very similar to what is seen with our closest partners.

“Amy Adams will be appointed as Acting Attorney-General to exercise statutory functions where there is a specific role for the Attorney-General under New Zealand’s security and intelligence legislation.

“For example, Ms Adams will have responsibility for appointing reviewers to conduct the periodic review of the intelligence agencies, the legislation governing them and their oversight legislation,” Mr Key says.

The Ministerial changes are part of an ongoing programme of change within the sector, including the strengthened oversight of the agencies and the restructuring of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s intelligence coordination role.

“In addition to this it is my intention to create a new National Security Committee of Cabinet, which I will chair as Prime Minister, and with oversight of the intelligence and security sector,” Mr Key says.

The committee is likely to be made up of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister responsible for the intelligence agencies, the Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers and Amy Adams. Other Ministers would be invited to attend as appropriate.

“Our national security system is well-placed to deal with events and threats in the ever-changing environment we see,” Mr Key says.

“The changes I’m announcing today will further strengthen our structure and ensure we have a clear and practical set-up into the future.”

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