Chris Finlayson appointed two new High Court judges and Careers New Zealand's CEO resigned. Nathan Guy announced a ramping up of biosecurity measures at Auckland Airport to combat Chinese tourists not declaring risky items and the Local Government Commission proposed a 'super-council' for the Hawkes Bay. Craig Foss also proposed new and higher fees for fund managers, advisers and trustees.
Benched - Attorney General Chris Finlayson appointed Buddle Findlay partner Rachel Dunningham and Deputy Solicitor General Cameron Mander as High Court Judges.
New Careers - Education Minister Hekia Parata appointed Patricia Reade, Steve Day and John Ombler to the board of Careers New Zealand and appointed current board member Dale Karauria to chair the board. She also announced the resignation of current Careers NZ CEO Graeme Benny to take up a new position and that the board would look for a replacement as soon as possible. Parata thanked exiting board members Bill Noble, Rob Strathdee and Markerita Poutasi for their contributions.
Not lost in translation - More Chinese visitors means more biosecurity challenges, with Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy saying they were more likely than other visitors to bring in food and agricultural products.
"Research shows that visitors from China tend to be poorly informed about New Zealand’s biosecurity laws and, therefore, are less likely to declare or dispose risk items upon arrival,” said Guy. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has launched a project to encourage more voluntary declarations of biosecurity risk goods at Auckland airport by Chinese passport holders. Initiatives to improve compliance include translators and electronic translating tools at risk assessment and search areas, and a self-search station where passengers check their own luggage before official biosecurity checks. Guy was unveiling a new x-ray machine at Auckland Airport, one of 12 machines that have been installed around the country.
Evidence changes - amendments to the Evidence Act that will make appearing in court less traumatic for victims of sexual violence and child witnesses will be introduced next year, but are not a response to the recent "RoastBusters" sex scandal nor the resulting petition presented to Parliament calling for "justice" for the group's alleged victims. The proposed amendments were recommended in the report of the Law Commission 's review of the Evidence Act, released in March.
A key change is a requirement that the defence in sexual violence cases gives notice before a trial begins of their intention to use evidence about a victim’s previous sexual experiences. Justice Minister Judith Collins said currently it was "too easy in cases involving sexual violence for the defendant to ambush the victim" with such details. Other changes include giving child witnesses the automatic right to a support person in court, providing extra guidance and training for lawyers and judges dealing with child witnesses, and creating a new presumption that child witnesses will give their main evidence through the video of their police interview.
Deep Sea to High Court - Greenpeace 's High Court challenge to the the Environmental Protection Authority 's (EPA) decision to allow Anadarko to carry out deep sea drilling off the Raglan coast is the direct result of poor Government management and shoddy law-making, said Labour's Environment spokeswoman Moana Mackey . She said the claims which form the basis of this court case, that the EPA had not viewed key documents submitted by Anadarko as required under the EEZ Act , were deeply concerning. "Rushing to put a regulatory framework in place is not good practice if the regulator, in this case the EPA, does not have its head around the detail of that framework".
DAD doesn't approve - the Local Government Commission 's Draft Proposal for Reorganisation in Hawke's Bay, which recommends one mayor and one council for the whole Hawke's Bay, will be strongly opposed by the Dedicated and Democratic (DAD HB) group, otherwise known as the Hawke’s Bay Democratic Action Association.
The Commssion proposes one "super Council" to replace Wairoa District Council, Napier City Council, Hastings District Council, Central Hawke’s Bay District Council and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council. It would also include a small area of Rangitikei District.
Licence fees - Commerce Minister Craig Foss sought feedback on proposed licence fees for fund managers and trustees under the new Financial Markets Conduct Act. He also asked for feedback on an increased rate for some of the existing Financial Markets Authority (FMA) fees that fund certain services such as authorising market participants, applications, exemptions and the registration of some documents or schemes.
Submissions on the proposals close on 21 January 2014 and discussion documents are here.