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17 December 2014
P- Report shows more people getting treatment

Prime Minister John Key says the latest Indicators and Progress Report for the Government’s Methamphetamine Action Plan shows more prisoners are completing drug treatment programmes.

The report released today shows more than 1000 prisoners a year are starting programmes in a drug treatment unit – more than double the number in 2008/2009. Over three-quarters of prisoners successfully complete their programme.

“We know that two thirds of our prison population have substance abuse problems, so the high completion rate for these programmes is encouraging,” says Mr Key.

“We also know many prisoners find remaining substance-free challenging, which is why National campaigned on rolling out specialist after-care programmes for prisoners who have completed a three - or six-month drug treatment unit programme following release from prison.

“We’ve also increased the treatment options available in the community, with the latest report showing a further reduction in waiting times.”

The report shows the price of methamphetamine remains high – around $100 per ‘point’ and $700 per gram, prices which have been steady since the Methamphetamine Action Plan was launched in 2009.

The prevalence of P in New Zealand has more than halved, from a high of 2.2 per cent of the population in 2009 to 1 per cent in the past year – up slightly from 0.9 per cent of the population a year ago.

“When the Methamphetamine Action Plan was launched, New Zealand had one of the highest P prevalence rates in the world,” says Mr Key.

“The fact that rate has more than halved is testament to the efforts of law enforcement, border and health agencies over the past five years. That effort has to be maintained in order to squeeze the trade in illicit drugs and to prevent New Zealanders becoming addicted to P.”

When the Methamphetamine Action Plan was launched in 2009 it included 21 cross agency actions, including ending the sale of over-the-counter pseudoephedrine, increasing the capacity of alcohol and drug treatment services, and targeting funds forfeited under the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act to rehabilitation and crime-fighting initiatives.

All but one of those actions have now been completed.  The outstanding action, replacing the Alcohol and Drug Addiction Act 1966, is expected to begin next year.

“Around $50 million in criminal proceeds has been forfeited, and about half is directly linked to methamphetamine offences,” says Mr Key. “So far, $11 million has been used to support a range of initiatives, including cash detection training for drug dogs, the Alcohol and Drug Treatment Court Pilot, and rehabilitation programmes.”

Mr Key says since gangs remain a principal source of meth supply and sale the whole-of-government action plan on tacking gangs will be an important part of the next phase in cracking down on supply.

The Methamphetamine Action Plan’s next update will be in 12 months’ time, and will coincide with the next Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act funding round.

The latest report is available at www.dpmc.govt.nz/dpmc/publications/methamphetamine.

News release

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15 December 2014
Government monitoring Sydney siege

Prime Minister John Key says the New Zealand Government is currently monitoring the situation in Sydney as events continue to unfold.

“Our hearts go out to those involved and our thoughts are very much with them and their families,” says Mr Key.

Prime Minister John Key contacted Prime Minister Tony Abbott directly to offer a message of support, shortly after the siege got underway today.

Currently, agencies are unable to confirm the nationalities of those involved, including whether any New Zealanders have been caught up in this situation.

Authorities in New Zealand and Australia will continue to stay in close contact as events unfold and facts become clearer.

Given the situation is still developing, there is currently no further information or comment to add.

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12 December 2014
PM welcomes new Air NZ route to Sth America

Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key has welcomed Air New Zealand’s announcement today that they are opening up a new route to South America.

Air New Zealand will start flying to Buenos Aires, Argentina three days a week from December 2015. The service is Air New Zealand’s first to South America.

“South America offers significant potential for the New Zealand tourism industry so I am pleased Air New Zealand has decided to start flying there,” says Mr Key.

“New Zealand has welcomed 30,000 visitors from South and Central America in the past year -  a 7 per cent increase on the previous year. Brazil is one of the strongest markets, up 21 per cent in the past year.”

Mr Key says Tourism New Zealand has significantly increased its investment in South America, opening an office in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2013.

“Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand work in partnership to market New Zealand as a destination internationally and both are committed to growing the South America market,” says Mr Key.

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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.

News release

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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.”