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27 July 2015
PM to attend Cook Islands 50th celebrations

Prime Minister John Key will lead a delegation to Rarotonga next week to celebrate the Cook Islands’ 50th anniversary of self-government in free association with New Zealand.

“Fifty years ago, New Zealand and the Cook Islands entered into a unique bilateral relationship,” says Mr Key. 

“We welcome the opportunity to celebrate that and to reflect on an important partnership that is based on our shared values, history, and the positive contribution that Cook Islanders make to New Zealand.”

Mr Key will meet with Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna and take part in the official Constitution Day Ceremony which will feature a traditional welcome and flag raising ceremony.

The Prime Minister will be accompanied by Pacific Peoples Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga, Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs Todd McClay, Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell and Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne. 

Also in the official party are Opposition Leader Andrew Little, New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters, and a number of MPs from National, Labour and the Green party. 

The delegation will depart on the morning of August 4, returning the evening of August 5.

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08 July 2015
New Zealand and Samoa sign double tax agreement

Prime Minister John Key today joined Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi in signing a double tax agreement between New Zealand and Samoa.

“The signing of this double tax agreement is significant for our countries and will further strengthen the close relationship between New Zealand and Samoa,” says Mr Key.

"New Zealand is Samoa’s second largest trading partner. The agreement will provide a platform for increased trade and investment between our two countries, and will help assist the economic development of our Pacific island neighbour.

“Importantly, the tax agreement represents a further extension of New Zealand’s tax treaty network into the Pacific. Once the agreement enters into force, it will bring New Zealand’s network of tax treaties to a total of 40,” Mr Key says.

Double tax agreements help to reduce tax barriers to two-way trade and investment by preventing cross-border income being taxed twice, therefore giving certainty about how that income will be taxed.

They also lower withholding taxes, making it less costly for businesses in one country to invest in the other, and assist tax administration.

The agreement will replace the existing tax information exchange agreement with Samoa which is more limited in its scope.

The agreement is expected to come into force later this year.

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05 July 2015
PM to attend historic NZ Samoa rugby match

Prime Minister John Key will join Samoa Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi to witness the first All Blacks - Manu Samoa test match to be played on Samoan soil. 

“Samoa and New Zealand enjoy a special relationship, including a shared love of rugby, and I am delighted to be attending this historic event,” Mr Key says. 

“This visit provides an opportunity to not only recognise this huge occasion for Samoa, but also to build on talks Prime Minister Tuilaepa and I had in Apia last year on a range of political and economic issues.”

PM Key and PM Tuilaepa will hold talks in the morning, before visiting the Apia Waterfront — a project being developed with New Zealand’s support — to officially open a playground on the site. 

They will then meet local business representatives at a networking event hosted by Samoa’s Chamber of Commerce and the Small Business Enterprise Centre. The event is an opportunity for New Zealand and Samoan business people to promote trade and to strengthen and build on business partnerships.

The Prime Minister will be accompanied by Sport and Recreation Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse, Minister for Pacific Peoples Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, and Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne. 

Also in the official party is Opposition Leader Andrew Little, New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters, and a number of MPs from National, Labour and the Greens. 

The delegation will depart on the morning of July 8, returning the same day.

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03 July 2015
Further boost for New Zealand Cycle Trail

The Government is investing nearly $400,000 in six new projects to enhance and maintain the quality of the New Zealand Cycle Trail, Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism John Key announced today. 

“This is the second round of funding available through the Maintaining the Quality of Great Rides Fund and brings the total investment under the fund so far to $1.36 million,” says Mr Key.

“Priority has been given to proposals that aim to improve the safety and quality of the Great Rides – the premier rides on the New Zealand Cycle Trail. Three of the successful applications are for repairs to sections of trail that have incurred storm damage.

“The Cycle Trail is a significant tourism asset and it is vital that individual trails are maintained to the highest possible standard so that riders continue to have a safe and enjoyable experience.”

Mr Key says the number of people using the trail is continuing to increase.

“The latest data shows around 125,000 people used the New Zealand Cycle Trail in the month of January, compared to 97,000 in January 2014. 

“The trails which saw the biggest increase in users over the month of January were the Hawkes Bay Trails up from 19,500 to approximately 26,000, the Waikato River Trail up from 3,300 to approximately 4,400 and Tasman’s Great Taste Trail up from 8,600 to approximately 9,600.”

The Government has set aside $8 million over four years to help maintain and enhance the quality of the New Zealand Cycle Trail. Nearly $1 million was invested in thirteen projects in December.

The six projects to receive funding in this funding round are:

  • Tourism Waitaki (Canterbury)  $66,575
  • Mokihinui-Lyell Backcountry Trust (West Coast) $165,910
  • Central Trails Trust  (Otago) $10,744
  • Tasman District Council (Nelson/Tasman) $67,500
  • Queenstown Trails Trust (Otago) $58,774
  • Motu Trails Charitable Trust (East Coast) $25,134

The next funding round will be in August.

More information is available at www.nzcycletrail.com/node/972.

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30 June 2015
Delivering benefits to families - July 1 changes

A number of government policies that come into effect tomorrow will deliver real benefits to families, Prime Minister John Key says.

From tomorrow all children under 13 will have access to free GP visits and prescriptions.  

It is estimated that over 400,000 children will benefit from the scheme, taking the total number of children who are benefitting from free GP visits and prescriptions to over 750,000.

“We’re committed to giving kids the best start in life and that means ensuring they are able to go to the doctor any time of the day or night without their parents worrying about the cost,” says Mr Key.

“Doctor’s visits and prescriptions are already free for children under the age of six and thanks to our careful management of the government’s books we have been able to extend this policy to all children under 13.”

Other changes that come into effect tomorrow include:

  • The average ACC motor vehicle levy, including the annual licence levy and petrol levy, will fall from around $330 to $195 per year.
  • Paid parental leave payments will increase with the maximum weekly rate for eligible employees and self-employed parents going from $504.10 to $516.85 gross.
  • More assistance for solo parents who are studying
  • Additional checks for people working with young New Zealanders
  • More funding will also be made available to hospices to help them expand their community palliative services to better support terminally ill people at home and in aged-care facilities.

“These changes show how a growing and vibrant economy is delivering New Zealanders more money in their back pockets.”