web analytics

A belated congratulations

Written By: - Date published: 3:54 pm, May 26th, 2018 - 22 comments
Categories: greens, labour, public services - Tags: , , , , , , , ,

It’s finally happened.

I know I have been harsh on Minister Clare Curran, but she’s actually done something positive, in her portfolio, that might achieve something tangible domestically, however small, and I confess to being just a little bit excited. I am harsh because I genuinely care about the portfolios she has being treated well and delivering for us all, and this is the first news I actually feel like she’s broadly on the right track and has done something substantive.

Together with Greens co-leader and in this case more relevantly, Statistics Minister James Shaw, she has set up a stocktake and review of all government algorithms. I offer no conclusions on who led the initiative, and frankly it doesn’t bother me if it gets claimed jointly even if it was Shaw’s idea- Curran has clearly bought into it either way. This may sound like a technical and bureaucratic change, and in some ways it is, but remember, that dumb Immigration NZ fiasco all came about because a half-arsed spreadsheet model started going into actual use, with no auditing, and no advance transparency of how INZ planned to automate decisions, or internal justification of why or how a spreadsheet model would be an appropriate basis for decision-making, and we probably only ended up stopping it because Golriz speaking out about it embarrassed the government into having another look. Proper automation as a starting point for making decisions, with human review by relevant staff who will be expected to explain why or why not they followed the algorithm’s recommendation in their relevant file notes, can be a good thing.

But only where the model is robust, itself free of both explicit and implicit discriminatory factors, (thus acting to reduce discrimination by making the model’s decision the baseline case for humans to check against) and if the algorithm for the decision is publicly available for free critique, such algorithms can reduce bias, increase consistency, cut red tape, and lower complaint rates when utilized strategically.

Here’s a summary of the salient points:

  • The review defines an algorithm as: “when computer programs search for patterns in relevant data, to help model potential outcomes that could occur given different circumstances.”
  • Stage 1 will finish in August.
  • It is intended to increase transparency and accountability of data usage.
  • It will develop new guidelines for government agencies, setting a consistent standard.

Reviewing all automated decision-making and data analysis throughout government is an excellent step in deconstructing National’s failed social investment model, already embedded in many of the Ministries in the worst state after the last Government, and is clearly necessary to ensure we don’t have any more departments going rogue in how they make decisions.

The definition above is a reasonable starting point, although it ought to explicitly include scripts used inside documents and webpages, so that all departments are clear that spreadsheets or internal websites can be models or contain algorithms with decision-making or advisory powers. Galloway got in trouble precisely because he thought he could get away with claiming that a script is not a “real” program, as if using something you regarded so dismissively was somehow better. In fact programs themselves are nothing more than large chains of scripts, possibly with some user interface thrown in to pad the user from all of the maths and simplify their tasks down a little bit.

I like the goals they’ve included, but I do think there’s an obvious one missing: Why not commit to making all algorithms used in modelling for decision-making publicly available at a deadline to be determined? Ministerial algorithms are going to become something a lot like sub-laws going forward, where they will govern the expected way certain government departments act. I expect Shaw is already onto this with Stats as-is, of course, but Curran can get the rest of government set on the right track.

On this subject, I helped with the design of a calculation spreadsheet for EQC small-claims cash settlement during my time there, (and many other sheets to model or report information that was pertinent to management, rather than customers) and even though it was a spreadsheet we treated the thing very seriously and even had to get managerial sign-off for it afterwards despite them commissioning it in the first place, because we knew if we made any mistakes or left anything relevant out of the spreadsheet, it would potentially guide people into making incorrect decisions. (We still constructed at least a good four or five revisions of that spreadsheet afterwards in my time there, of course, as policy evolved, new needs emerged, or we simply found assumptions being made that real-world claims would break) That is how all design of government algorithms should be approached, and it’s not unreasonable for people to know the maths behind how their decision was made where such a thing applies, (at least so long as that maths doesn’t fall squarely into one of the deniable OIA categories, such as National Security or economic sensitivity) and we would expect under the OIA principle of gradually expanding openness that we will increase the sorts of information released under the OIA or proactively over time anyway, so this is really just getting the public sector’s legal obligations out of the way on the front foot.

And if the objection is around writing a briefing on all of those algorithms… well, if us “techwizards” can’t explain it to ordinary people to some meaningful degree, (which we should be doing anyway for the decision-making type of algorithm, because they need managerial approval) honestly, we probably don’t understand it ourselves well enough to use it to be making decisions.

So, my sincere congratulations to Minister Curran: I hope to see more positive initiatives in the future, and I hope to see positive results on this soon.

22 comments on “A belated congratulations”

  1. OnceWasTim 1

    @ Mathew.
    I well remember that “dumb” immigration algorithm, and there’s no doubt there are many others spread across our civil service.
    The depressing thing is that those that designed and implemented it see no wrong in having done so. Along with a review, there needs to be a cultural change – whether that’s done by way of the existing framework (such as bloody purchase agreements and KPIs), or whether it’s by way of a complete review a state agencies and the way they operate (or don’t operate)
    Simply reviewing the algorithmic approach is not actually enough. (see OM 1.3 and below)

    • Matthew Whitehead 1.1

      I don’t disagree, which is why you’ll note I say we need humans checking algorithmic results every single time and justifying why they are either appropriate or inappropriate. 🙂

      Over-emphasis on KPIs is indeed insidious. A person who does excellent work but is behind KPI may not improve their work by speeding up, and may be a much better employee than one who meets or smashes KPIs but makes frequent mistakes or causes unnecessary friction within your organization.

      • OnceWasTim 1.1.1

        Ae. In full agreement – it’s just that despite all the evidence, we never seem to learn.

        I’d almost put money on MPI (and MoBIE and WINZ for that matter) having met most of their KPI’s

        Btw, I’ll reread when I find my bloody specs

      • Nic the NZer 1.1.2

        “I don’t disagree, which is why you’ll note I say we need humans checking algorithmic results every single time and justifying why they are either appropriate or inappropriate.”

        I think this is idea runs into a bit of trouble, and would put it differently. First of all we should note that an algorithm does not require a computer. Its just a series of steps (maybe on some data or parameters) to produce a particular result (the result may be as simple as a yes/no answer).

        Probably a reasonable way for the review to conclude is to require algorithms which the government uses to make decisions should be made available to members of the public where an algorithmic decision has been applied to them and that should include the data and parameters required to re-produce the algorithms decision in their circumstances. So concretely, if WINZ denies somebody support they should know when they were denied support due to their income being too high the person should know what income is too high and how much income WINZ believes they received.

        Algorithms implemented on computers can have bugs, hopefully the examples of this are rare and negligible. The problem here is if your algorithm produces some incorrect answers and in those circumstances you expect to detect that and use a wider decision making process then in that case you are simply making a more general algorithm of the same problem. It still matters that there are rules which can be followed in place to make these decisions however. But the staff making decisions still need some framework of rules to decide how they will make decisions even when they don’t have a simple and strict framework of rules to follow.

        Maybe the review could conclude something like a requirement that government algorithms producing a decision should always conclude one one of three cases, Yes/No and Don’t Know. Where the third case indicates that the algorithm did not have sufficient information to conclude Yes or No and conversely Yes and No can only be concluded for examples where the algorithm has enough information to make a decision. Higher level human intervention would happen in the Don’t Know cases, if the algorithm was initially not involving a human then this may be when the case is handed up to a higher level manager.

        The other problem with getting these results is if your algorithm involves a statistical model which is aggregated from data it loses all connection to the real world (statistical mathematical models can’t be proven to be good models of the real world by statistics). A statistical model will have trouble meeting the Don’t Know criteria above (it will always produce a Yes or No answer but if that’s wrong we will have no way to detect that from how its produced), and also the parameters criteria (which could be to some extent mitigated by gathering the statistics and then publishing the aggregates of those so people can find out which category they have been placed inside). This should severely limit the use of such statistical algorithms in government departments. On the other hand I was extremely skeptical of the value of the Social Investment/Big Data initiative amounting to anything of value due to the built in reliance on statistical models.

        • Incognito 1.1.2.1

          Nice comments.

          What do you mean by “[A] statistical model will have trouble meeting the Don’t Know criteria above (it will always produce a Yes or No answer …”?

          Many models put out p-values or (other) coefficients; these can be turned into a simplistic decision-making rubric such as the one you describe, e.g. by using the traffic-light system (Green=Yes; Red=No; Orange=Don’t Know).

          All models need validation/calibration – think of all the red-light cameras that are not operational; they work through algorithms too.

          The description (‘definition’) of “algorithm” used in the Government announcement as pattern recognition does not equate directly to decision-making IMO. For example, in weather forecast big data are analysed in order to make a forecast (e.g. 30% probability of a heavy storm/hurricane that could cause widespread or local damage and/or flooding); it’s up to the people to then plan accordingly and make decisions based on that forecast.

          I believe that Curran and Shaw either don’t have a good idea of what they’re tackling or that the review will be much more limited (‘focussed’) in the terms of reference & scope than one would think (and hope for!).

          • Nic the NZer 1.1.2.1.1

            “What do you mean by” …

            “Many models put out p-values or (other) coefficients; these can be turned into a simplistic decision-making rubric such as the one you describe”

            It’s a bit more fundamental than p-values. Maybe you can use them to some extent to point out the cases which need further review over a decision. But fundamentally a statistical algorithm can never bridge the gap from known cases to the future cases where it’s invalid (maybe even the statistical model never was valid).

            To use a weather forecasting example, maybe my forecast (for some place) says its going to rain 50% of the days over winter. That is my forecast every day has a 50% chance of rain, its based of last winter when half of the days it rained at that location. But this winter it rained 70% of the days. My forecast was wrong by on average 20% (e.g I estimate how wrong it was by averaging (1 – 0.5) when it rained and (0 – 0.5) when it didn’t rain and I was off by 0.2. So the question is, was my model wrong or was I just unlucky?

            Yes, my forecast model here is a very very simplified one based on only a climatology, however these issues still apply to more sophisticated examples. Also I am just saying this can’t be judged from statistics alone, a strong realistic model informed by scientific understanding can draw often answer the above question.

            I also think if they manage to get too clear a definition of algorithm for the review then the conclusions will just become obvious, the government should by and large stop doing it all together. This is because not only can’t the question above “was my model wrong or was I just unlucky” not be answered. Further all the social science models of human behaviour falling out won’t be described otherwise than hopelessly naive and un-realistic.

      • OnceWasTim 1.1.3

        Ekshully @ Mathew, have a listen (or maybe you’ll have listened) to a couple of things on RNZ Sunday Morning today 27/5.
        The first: Media Watch dealing with AI and media, the second,
        Jeremy Heimans: the power of new power.
        http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/mediawatch/audio/2018646179/ai-and-the-media-coming-ready-or-not
        Jeremy Heimans, not yet up
        QI.
        In a political sense – issues around representation and accountbility, and on a human level – human agency and its place in future

        • Nic the NZer 1.1.3.1

          That’s somewhat interesting but I think shows something about what AI means in more old school terms. Its generally just applying a statistical categorization to data, so if its applied to people it’s putting them in categories.

          Sometimes there is an extrapolation mechanism where other members of those categories can be generated from the categorization mechanism. This is how further Mike Hosking esque editorials can be created by AI. But relevantly there has been a history of Mike Hosking esque pieces being generated in the media already, that segment was known as ‘Like Mike’ by Jeremy Wells. Called correctly that kind of piece is known as an impersonation, or maybe a parody.

          The limitations of this should be somewhat obvious however. There as simply things which can’t be captured by a correct categorization of what is being dealt with. So (referring specifically to the INZ example) if you can’t determine, if a particular case will cause harm in NZ, should they not be deported, based on their country of origin and other factors (which you can’t) then this kind of application will always be quite problematic. In a best case, you might be able to accurately estimate the likely-hood that a particular case will cause harm in NZ, should they not be deported, based on their country of origin and other factors. But in fact all we can actually know is the rate of recorded incidents, where harm has been caused in NZ, after particular cases have not been deported based on their country of origin and other factors. This will always be open to accusations of racial profiling because that is what it is.

          Actually in the specific INZ case it seems they didn’t even get that right and effectively just made up the rate and assumed it was correct as a likely-hood estimate. The INZ thing on the other hand looks more like plain discrimination than racial profiling, because they never got far enough into the data to do racial profiling.

  2. Philg 2

    Why do I feel so underwhelmed by this? Sounds like algorithms are the way decisions will be made. Does this apply to medical procedures and end of life treatment? In Algos we trust?

    • Matthew Whitehead 2.1

      Let me put it this way:

      The government was already experimenting with this under National. Right now we have algorithms used in government, some of them that no expert has ever gotten eyes on, and the only thing they have to do is not breach existing legislation and we’ll most likely never hear about them.

      This review will dig all of them up and the government will consider all of them together, and develop guidelines for what’s acceptable and what’s not. If done properly, this could be a huge win, and essentially the start of overturning the “social investment” (ie. we target people through algorithms and statistics in the most stupid way possible) doctrine in government.

      I agree that we shouldn’t blindly trust algorithms, or spreadsheets, or what have you. They can be used to help remind public sector staff of a good consistent way to make decisions, when they’re well designed. But when it’s time for an actual decision to be made there should always be a human staff member reviewing if the algorithm has gotten everything correct and whether we need to consider another way, either for legal reasons or better public service reasons or just plain because we need to consider other, more humanistic values.

      And no, the End of Life Choice Bill, despite my many problems with it, does not allow for an algorithm to make the decision. It requires reviews by doctors. Those doctors could possibly inform their decisions with algorithms, but that seems unnecessary and unlikely at this point in time.

      The thing to realize is that you’re not going to stop the government from using mathematics and conditional logic to help make its decisions. They’ve been doing so before computers existed. What’s new with modern algorithms is that it’s cheap and the skills are relatively widespread. (An organisation with 100 people in it is likely to have at least one or two people who understand how to do this sort of thing, even if they haven’t specifically hired for it) That’s a given.

      So what’s better is to ask them to be transparent about what their formulas are, when they use them, why, and whether the results are reviewed afterwards. If the public service has to proactively release that information, what’s likely to happen is that people will bring up potential problems with the algorithms in public, debate them, and be able to pressure agencies to change if they’ve made an inappropriate decision- something that’s actually quite hard when policies are concealed or are made according to hidden criteria.

      That said, getting that much information isn’t promised at this stage. I’m all for it, and a couple other people have been advocating for it, but it’ll take more than a few of us talking at Shaw and Curran to get it done, as while Shaw may be onside, I can’t see Labour being too keen about more open government given their record so far this term.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      In Algos we trust?

      Better than trusting feelings.

  3. Incognito 3

    I’m puzzled yet intrigued.

    Looking for patterns is ambiguous. Do they mean they look at data for the presence of absence of expected patterns, i.e. a biased analysis. Or will they have an unbiased look at data to find novel patterns and then figure out whether they are real and what they might mean?

    It goes without saying that algorithms cannot be reviewed without the relevant context, which includes the “relevant data” and the “potential outcomes”. The word “outcome” is yet another ambiguous word. Do they mean “impact” or “ consequence”?

    Whatever the reviewers do, I think they first need to sharpen up the definitions of the terminology.

    This is complex stuff and I’d also love to know how they plan “to give New Zealanders confidence that their data is being used appropriately”; to say “trust us” won’t cut it …

  4. ropata 5

    I fully support Minister Curran’s initiative. Half arsed algorithms can kill.

    It is concerning that spreadsheets are treated as a reliable software tool for implementing business logic. Spreadsheets are not usually subject to the rigorous design/development/testing that is needed to deliver reliable information tech.

    Spreadsheets are a half arsed shortcut, and that leads to shit like Novopay

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      Spreadsheets are a half arsed shortcut, and that leads to shit like Novopay

      I suspose that depends upon how much effort went into developing the spreadsheet. Modern spreadsheets are fairly powerful and can do fairly complex stuff if people put the time and effort in.

      Novopay has nothing to do with spreadsheets but poor design and programming by the ‘professional’ software company which was developing it using a database.

    • Matthew Whitehead 5.2

      Spreadsheets are a perfectly reasonable tool for assisting people in doing their maths well, so long as they check their numbers and where they’ve put them. Using a calculator or a webpage is also a shortcut.

      Novopay’s issues were very different to using a spreadsheet, and largely revolved around poor UX and poor compliance in filling out information. (that latter likely being a result of the former)

      What I want is the same level of caution with approving off-the-cuff spreadsheet calculators and models as we use for professionally developed software solitions, where front-line experts and managers review them to make sure that the results are correct and it accounts for the vast majority of cases before it’s approved for usage.

  5. stever 6

    I agree that their algorithms need scrutiny and that they should make them public. But the statement made by the Govt seems confused. (It also falls into the modern, trendy, trap of using the term “AI” to mean only machine learning!!! There’s a lot more to AI, and decades of work on it, than just the area of machine learning.)

    A lot of decisions these days are made using models that are the outputs of machine learning, and though the the machine learning algorithms themselves are standard and algorithmic, the models that they build and which are the things that *actually* get used to identify patterns, make decisions etc. are (and this is the point) not themselves “algorithmic” in the sense of deterministic processes. They are models which classify data–broadly into “yes, this piece of data IS one of these” or “no, it isn’t one of these”…and does it with some calculable error, i.e. we know statistically how often they give the wrong answer. (BTW, getting these models to “explain” their categorisations, rather than merely saying “yes” or “no” is hard, and a focus for research.)

    So, seeing the algorithms in this case misses the point. What we need are the *models that the algorithms build*, the stats around how often they give the wrong answer and so on.

    Will they show us all that too?

    I’m assuming the Govt statement is based on trying to “make things simple” (or perhaps ignorance? I hope not!) but as it is currently worded is misses the main point.

    We don’t need the algorithms that build the decision mechanisms, we need the decisions mechanisms and the data on their reliability.

  6. DB 7

    Spreadsheets sure are getting a bad rap. It’s not the tool, it’s the idiot wielding it.

    I really hope Elon Musk is using his AI think tank to develop AI that ‘outs’ nefarious algorithms. Judging by the way very basic AI devices are already proving to be smart-ass, creepy, racist, and often still working for corporate overlords…

    “Trying to humanise AI and give it more complex tasks [is that] some people end up passing on their subjective views. And the problem of AI bias is nothing new. From 2010, when AI assumed that East Asians were blinking when they smile, to 2015 when Google’s photo service tagged black people as gorillas. In April of this year, Princeton University academics used an algorithm called GLoVe to show how AI can replicate stereotypes in human language.

    Then, in August, research revealed that a selection programme for a UK medical school negatively selected against women and ethnic minority candidates.”

    http://www.wired.co.uk/article/what-happened-in-ai-in-2017

    And then there’s Alexa…

    Spying, reporting, transferring conversation files to contacts… Generally being creepy (corporate design – surprise!). Google it.

    The eggheads have outdone themselves this time. Somewhere, rooms of self-entitled shits who’ve never been laid without their credit cards are writing code to ‘imbue human characteristics’ in AI, namely, to be creepy little wierdos.

    Notice how computers keep updating and adding shit to themselves without your permission, all… the… time… They think they’re entitled to do this. It’s an update! (new apps on desktop too).

    Malicious code, spying code, edging into your conscious uninvited or whatever human rights are infringed upon in code – the employers of coders, and writers of said code should be criminally charged with the offenses. But that’ll never happen because $$. When some corporate shit needs a scapegoat they’ll throw the coders on the fire if and as needed but the clowns in suits will not relent.

    Rebrand and resurface. That’s the corporate way.

    Excellent work by this Government recognizing that inhuman systems need to be vetted. Thoroughly!

    • Matthew Whitehead 7.1

      Yeah, I’m with you that Spreadsheets are getting a bad wrap. The problem with the INZ one was that it was profiling people in ways that are discriminatory with no reasonable evidence. We are told they were overstayers but there was some information that may have been inconsistent with this about visa status. (this could be INZ considering the status of an expired visa ofc, but it’s not 100% clear that was what happened)

      People would probably have liked the EQC one I helped with because it frequently made sure they didn’t have to ask for extra money by ensuring they got their full cash settlement paid correctly, and in one go. Before we instituted it, we had a lot of problems with maths errors in settlement, or leaving out relevant info, that the settlement aid spreadsheet helped them remember to include and check.

      In short, the INZ spreadsheet was a bad tool that couldn’t bare scrutiny. Bringing the algorithms into the daylight by proactively disclosing them would be ideal and make sure we have good tools that can wherever the full maths can be publicly disclosed, but even having good guidelines produced by DIA and Stats in this review will help.

  7. Antoine 8

    Well

    I think its going to be a lot of work and chew up a lot of analyst time, and at the end of the day, people will still be running bad models in dark corners. Or just making decisions off the cuff without modelling support.

    A.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1

      It’ll make it harder for the National Party to justify.

      Minister: “I want to replace this algorithm with one that’s more hateful”.
      Judicial review: “Fuck off Judith”.

    • Matthew Whitehead 8.2

      They might, but if the government has taken reasonable steps to prevent it at least it will be clear who’s at fault when the issue is discovered, and the Minister can reasonably demand that person go.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Hon Shane Jones announces candidacy for the seat of Northland
    Hon Shane Jones, NZ First List MP based in Northland New Zealand First MP Hon Shane Jones has today announced his candidacy for the electorate of Northland. Speaking at a New Zealand First meeting in Kerikeri, Northland, Mr Jones said it was a privilege to be selected by the Party ...
    34 mins ago
  • Foreign Minister announces two diplomatic appointments
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today announced two diplomatic appointments: New Zealand’s High Commissioner to India and Consul-General to Hong Kong. “As New Zealand recovers from COVID-19, our diplomatic and trade networks are more important than ever. That is ...
    2 days ago
  • Week That Was: Recover and rebuild
    We started the week by announcing free apprenticeships to support Kiwis into work and to help get New Zealand moving again - and we ended the week by extending the wage subsidy to 40,000 more businesses, helping to protect businesses and workers alike.  ...
    2 days ago
  • How Budget 2020 is backing businesses
    We’re confident in the ability of Kiwi businesses to succeed in the face of COVID-19, and our Government is committed to doing our bit to enable that success. Kiwi businesses have always been innovative and resilient, and the COVID-19 pandemic has proven this yet again. Many businesses are finding new, creative ...
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand First confirms its first tranche of candidates
    New Zealand First is pleased to release the names of its first tranche of candidates for the 2020 election. The includes all sitting New Zealand First Members of Parliament except Clayton Mitchell MP who earlier today announced he will not be seeking re-election. In alphabetical order they are: MP ...
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell not seeking re-election
    Clayton Mitchell MP, New Zealand First List MP based in Tauranga New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell has decided not to seek re-election in this year’s General Election.  “After serious consideration and discussion with my family, I have decided to pursue other passions in my life and spend a lot ...
    2 days ago
  • Five new Lockheed Martin Super Hercules aircraft to replace ageing fleet
    Defence Minister Ron Mark has announced that new Lockheed Martin Super Hercules aircraft would replace the outdated and costly 1960s Hercules fleet. The $1.521b project will include a flight simulator for staff training and other supporting infrastructure. "This fleet will ensure the Defence Force can continue to support New Zealand's ...
    2 days ago
  • Greens urge police to rule out armed police patrols following George Floyd’s death
    The Green Party is urging the New Zealand Police to rule out the use of Armed Response Teams, following their recent trial in communities around Aotearoa. ...
    2 days ago
  • NZ First fought for changes to “poorly-targeted” rent dispute policy
    New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has described Labour's original COVID-19 commercial rent dispute proposal as "poorly targeted". Justice Minister Andrew Little has announced a temporary law change to force commercial landlords and renters to consider COVID-19 in disputes over rent issues, almost two months after the Government first floated the idea.  But ...
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand First ensures commercial rent dispute clause fairly applied
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First New Zealand First acknowledges that some small businesses have been struggling to meet fixed costs due to the loss of revenue by COVID-19. We also know some businesses are at greater risk of insolvency when they cannot come to a reasonable ...
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand First disappointed that Section 70 spouses won’t get relief
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First New Zealand First is disappointed that the removal of the spousal deductions has had to be delayed by the Ministry fo Social Development, due to COVID19 workload pressures. “New Zealand First has always stood for fairness when it comes to superannuation ...
    5 days ago
  • Winston Peters receives petition demanding more protection for nurses
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First On the steps of Parliament today the Leader of New Zealand First, Rt Hon Winston Peters received a petition from registered nurse Anna Maria Coervers, requesting an amendment to the Protection for First Responders Bill which will ensure the legislation also include registered ...
    5 days ago
  • Week That Was: Getting our economy moving
    It's been a busy seven days as we start to rebuild New Zealand together. From delivering extra support for small businesses, to investing in our artists and arts organisations, to cutting red tape on home DIY projects, we're rolling out our plan to get the economy and New Zealand moving ...
    5 days ago
  • Winston Peters: If protests condoned ‘why are we not at level 1?’
    Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters says alert level 2 restrictions have to be discussed during today's Cabinet meeting. Thousands gathered across the country, including at Parliament, yesterday for Black Lives Matter marches where social distancing and mass gathering rules were flouted. Mr Peters said the breaching of Alert Level 2 rules at ...
    5 days ago
  • Northland rail work to help create regional jobs
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of State Owned Enterprises KiwiRail’s Northland rail upgrade steps up another gear today and will help Northland recover from the impacts of COVID-19, State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters says. The Government is investing $204.5 million through the Provincial Growth Fund to ...
    6 days ago
  • Green Party statement on the death of George Floyd
    “Today and every day we stand in solidarity with George Floyd’s family, friends and community who feel pain and fear about his untimely death at the hands of Minneapolis police”, said Green Party Co-leader and Māori Development spokesperson Marama Davidson. ...
    6 days ago
  • Lake Brunner’s Mount Te Kinga to go Predator Free
    Fletcher Tabuteau, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Hon Eugenie Sage, Minister of Conservation The West Coast forests of Mount Te Kinga at Kotuku Whakaoho/Lake Brunner are the latest predator free project to receive Government funding, announced Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher ...
    1 week ago
  • Green Party welcomes crucial financial support for creatives
    The Green Party says new government support for creatives and artists is a vital lifeline for a sector struggling to survive the COVID crisis. ...
    1 week ago
  • Strongest ever water reforms mean swimmable rivers within a generation
    The Green Party says major freshwater reforms announced today provide the strongest ever protections of our waterways, to help ensure the next generation can swim in the rivers of Aotearoa. ...
    1 week ago
  • Greens work to secure inquiry into Wild West student accommodation sector
    The Green Party has begun the process for a Select Committee inquiry into student accommodation, which has been exposed during COVID-19 as an under-regulated sector that straddles students with unfair debt. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand joins global search for COVID-19 vaccine
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon Megan Woods, Minister of Research, Science and Innovation Hon Dr David Clark, Minister of Health Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters, Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods,  and Health Minister David Clark today announced a COVID-19 vaccine strategy, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Budget 2020: Five things to know
    Budget 2020 is about rebuilding together, supporting jobs, getting business moving and the books back into the black. It’s an integral part of our COVID-19 economic response, and our plan to grow our economy and get New Zealand moving again. Here’s a quick look at the five top things you ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Green Party unveils its candidate list for the 2020 election
    The Green Party is pleased to reveal its candidate list for the upcoming election. With a mix of familiar faces and fresh new talent, this exceptional group of candidates are ready to lead the Greens back into Government. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Coalition Government approves essential upgrades on Ōhakea Air Base
    The Coalition Government has approved $206 million in essential upgrades at Ōhakea Air Base.  Defence Minister Ron Mark said the money would be spent on improving old infrastructure. He said safety issues would be addressed, as well as upgrades to taxiways, accommodation and fresh, storm and waste water systems. "This ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Attributable to the Rt Hon Winston Peters
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Leader of New Zealand First “I am not persisting with this case just for myself, but for all people who have had their privacy breached. Privacy of information is a cornerstone of our country’s democracy. Without it our society truly faces a bleak future. We now ...
    3 weeks ago

  • Great Walks bookings open next week
    This summer presents a great opportunity for New Zealanders to get out into nature with bookings on Great Walks for 2020/21 set to open next week, says Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.  Bookings for the Great Walks will open between 9 and 11 June, excluding Milford and Routeburn tracks which ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Ministerial Diary April 2020
    ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Govt extends support schemes for businesses
    Extra 40,000 businesses to be eligible for wage subsidy extension Small business cashflow support application period extended The Government is today announcing further support for businesses that continue to be affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, as the broader economy becomes one of the most open in the world following ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Five new Super Hercules to join Air Force fleet
    The Coalition Government has confirmed five Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 Super Hercules transport aircraft will be purchased to replace the existing fleet, Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today.  “Last year, Cabinet selected these aircraft as the preferred option to replace the current Hercules fleet. Procurement of the Super Hercules has been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Wairarapa Moana seeks international recognition as vital wetland
    The Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage is celebrating World Environment Day with an announcement of a major step towards Wairarapa Moana being recognised as an internationally significant wetland. “Wairarapa Moana is an ecosystem of 10,000 hectares of wetland and open water that provides a home for indigenous fish, birds and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New public housing sets standard for future
    New public housing that will save tenants money in energy bills, and provide warmer, healthier and more comfortable homes, is setting the standard for the Government’s future public housing programme, Housing Minister Megan Woods said. Dr Woods opened the new Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities complex, which has a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • First Police wing to complete training post lockdown
    A new-look Police graduation ceremony to take account of COVID19 health rules has marked the completion of training for 57 new constables. Police Minister Stuart Nash attended this afternoon's ceremony, where officers of Recruit Wing 337 were formally sworn in at the Royal New Zealand Police College without the normal support of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government makes further inroads on predatory lenders
    Mobile traders and truck shops must adhere to responsible lending requirements Interest rate cap on high-cost loans Lenders prohibited from offering further credit to an applicant who has taken two high-cost loans in the past 90 days The Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Kris Faafoi, has signalled an end ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New survey shows wage subsidy a “lifeline” for businesses, saved jobs
    94% of firms say wage subsidy had positive impact on cashflow 62% of firms say support helped to manage non-wage costs like rent A survey of business that have received the Government’s wage subsidy show it has played a significant role in saving jobs, and freed up cash flow to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Tax changes support economic recovery
    New legislation introduced to Parliament today will support growth and assist businesses on the road to economic recovery, said Revenue Minister Stuart Nash. “The Taxation (Annual Rates for 2020-21, Feasibility Expenditure, and Remedial Matters) Bill proposes that businesses can get tax deductions for ‘feasibility expenditure’ on new investments,” said Mr ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • $4.6 million financial relief for professional sports
    Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson has welcomed the first release of funds from the $265 million Sport Recovery Package announced as part of Budget 2020. Sport NZ has announced that $4.6 million in funding will go to the Wellington Phoenix, NZ Warriors, Super Rugby teams and the ANZ Premiership ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Critical support for strategic tourism assets
    An iconic New Zealand tourism attraction and the country’s 31 Regional Tourism Organisations are the first recipients of support from the $400 million Tourism Sector Recovery Plan, to help position the sector for recovery from COVID-19, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis announced today. The plan includes a Strategic Tourism Assets Protection ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Supporting Kiwi businesses to resolve commercial rent disputes
    The Government will legislate to ensure businesses that suffered as a result of the COVID-19 response will get help to resolve disputes over commercial rent issues, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced today. A temporary amendment to the Property Law Act will insert a clause in commercial leases requiring a fair ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Prompt payments to SMEs even more urgent
    The Minister for Small Business says new data from Xero highlights the urgency of prompt payment practices to small and medium enterprises as we move into economic recovery. Last month Government ministers wrote to significant private enterprises and the banking industry to request they join efforts by government agencies to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Free period products in schools to combat poverty
    Young people in Waikato will be the first to have free access to period products in schools in another step to support children and young people in poverty,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.  During term 3, the Ministry of Education will begin providing free period products to schools following the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Response to charges in New Plymouth
    The Minister of Police Stuart Nash has issued the following statement in response to charges filed against three Police officers this morning in the New Plymouth District Court. “Any incident involving a loss of life in Police custody is taken very seriously. The charges today reflect the gravity of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Govt boosts innovation, R&D for economic rebuild
    $196 million for Crown Research Institutes $150 million for R&D loan scheme $33 million for Māori research and development opportunities $12 million for the Nationally Significant Collections and Databases $10 million to help maintain in-house capability at Callaghan Innovation New Zealand’s entrepreneurs, innovators and crown researchers will benefit from a ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Temporary changes to NCEA and University Entrance this year
    Further temporary changes to NCEA and University Entrance (UE) will support senior secondary school students whose teaching and learning have been disrupted by COVID-19. “The wellbeing of students and teachers is a priority. As we are all aware, COVID-19 has created massive disruption to the school system, and the Government ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Extended terms for the directors of the Racing Industry Transition Agency
    Minister for Racing Winston Peters today announced that the terms for the directors of the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) have been extended to 30 June 2021. Due to the COVID-19 crisis the transition period has been extended to ensure that the Racing Industry Bill can complete its progress through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Healthy Homes Standards statement of compliance deadline extended
    The deadline for landlords to include detailed information in their tenancy agreements about how their property meets the Healthy Homes Standards, so tenants can see the home they are renting is compliant, has been extended from 1 July 2020 to 1 December 2020.  The Healthy Homes Standards became law on 1 July 2019. The Standards are ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission board appointments announced
    Justice Minister Andrew Little today announced details of further appointments to the Criminal Cases Review Commission. “I am pleased to announce Paula Rose QSO OStJ as Deputy Chief Commissioner for a term of five years commencing on 15 June 2020,” said Andrew Little. “I am also pleased to announce the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Release of initial list of supported training to aid COVID-19 recovery
    The Targeted Training and Apprenticeships Fund (TTAF) will pay costs of learners of all ages to undertake vocational education and training The fund will target support for areas of study and training that will give learners better employment prospects as New Zealand recovers from COVID-19 Apprentices working in all industries ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Emission trading reforms another step to meeting climate targets
    The Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) will finally start to cut New Zealand’s greenhouse gas pollution as it was originally intended to, because of changes announced today by the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw. The changes include a limit on the total emissions allowed within the ETS, rules to ensure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Queen’s Birthday Honours highlights Pacific leadership capability in Aotearoa
    Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says the Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List provides an abundance of examples that Pacific people’s leadership capability is unquestionable in Aotearoa. “The work and the individuals we acknowledge this year highlights the kind of visionary examples and dedicated community leadership that we need ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Govt backing horticulture to succeed
    The Government is backing a new $27 million project aimed at boosting sustainable horticulture production and New Zealand’s COVID-19 recovery efforts, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. “Our horticulture sector has long been one of New Zealand’s export star performers, contributing around $6 billion a year to our economy. During and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Applications open for forestry scholarships
    Applications have opened for 2021 Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarships, which will support more Māori and women to pursue careers in forestry science, says Forestry Minister Shane Jones. “I’m delighted Te Uru Rākau is offering Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau – Forestry Scholarships for the third year running. These ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Excellent service to nature recognised
    The Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List once again highlights the dedication by many to looking after our native plants and wildlife, including incredible work to restore the populations of critically endangered birds says Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. Anne Richardson of Hororata has been made an Officer of the New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Wetlands and waterways gain from 1BT funding
    The Government will invest $10 million from the One Billion Trees Fund for large-scale planting to provide jobs in communities and improve the environment, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Forestry Minister Shane Jones have announced. New, more flexible funding criteria for applications will help up to 10 catchment groups plant ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New fund for women now open
    Organisations that support women are invited to apply to a new $1,000,000 fund as part of the Government’s COVID-19 response. “We know women, and organisations that support women, have been affected by COVID-19. This new money will ensure funding for groups that support women and women’s rights,” said Minister for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt supports King Country farmers to lift freshwater quality
    Healthier waterways are front and centre in a new project involving more than 300 King Country sheep, beef and dairy farmers. The Government is investing $844,000 in King Country River Care, a group that helps farmers to lift freshwater quality and farming practice, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. “Yesterday ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Libraries to help with jobs and community recovery
    A major funding package for libraries will allow them to play a far greater role in supporting their communities and people seeking jobs as part of the economic recovery from COVID-19. “Budget 2020 contains over $60 million of funding to protect library services and to protect jobs,” says Internal Affairs ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Support for arts and music sector recovery
    A jobseekers programme for the creative sector and four new funds have been set up by the Government to help our arts and music industry recover from the blow of COVID-19. Thousands of jobs will be supported through today’s $175 million package in a crucial economic boost to support the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Legislative changes to support the wellbeing of veterans and their families
    Minister for Veterans Ron Mark has welcomed the First Reading of a Bill that will make legislative changes to further improve the veterans’ support system.  The Veterans’ Support Amendment Bill No 2, which will amend the Veterans’ Support Act 2014, passed First Reading today. The bill addresses a number of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Christ Church Cathedral – Order in Council
    Views sought on Order in Council to help fast track the reinstatement of the Christ Church Cathedral  The Associate Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Hon Poto Williams, will be seeking public written comment, following Cabinet approving the drafting of an Order in Council aimed at fast-tracking the reinstatement of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealanders’ human rights better protected in new Bill
    The law setting out New Zealanders’ basic civil and human rights is today one step towards being strengthened following the first reading of a Bill that requires Parliament to take action if a court says a statute undermines those rights. At present, a senior court can issue a ‘declaration of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Deep concern at Hong Kong national security legislation
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters today reiterated the deep concern of the New Zealand Government following confirmation by China’s National People’s Congress of national security legislation relating to Hong Kong. “New Zealand shares the international community’s significant and long-standing stake in Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability,” Mr Peters said. “New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government invests in New Zealand’s cultural recovery
    Thousands of artists and creatives at hundreds of cultural and heritage organisations have been given much-needed support to recover from the impact of COVID-19, Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Jacinda Ardern announced today. “The cultural sector was amongst the worst hit by the global pandemic,” Jacinda ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Better protection for New Zealand assets during COVID-19 crisis
    Key New Zealand assets will be better protected from being sold to overseas owners in a way contrary to the national interest, with the passage of the Overseas Investment (Urgent Measures) Bill. The Bill, which passed its third reading in Parliament today, also cuts unnecessary red tape to help attract ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Cleaning up our rivers and lakes
    Setting higher health standards at swimming spots Requiring urban waterways to be cleaned up and new protections for urban streams Putting controls on higher-risk farm practices such as winter grazing and feed lots Setting stricter controls on nitrogen pollution and new bottom lines on other measures of waterway health Ensuring ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Record year for diversity on Govt boards
    The Government is on the verge of reaching its target of state sector boards and committees made up of at least 50 percent women, says Minister for Women Julie Anne Genter and Minister for Ethnic Communities Jenny Salesa. For the first time, the Government stocktake measures the number of Māori, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago