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Gareth Hughes: When gaming becomes gambling

Written By: - Date published: 6:15 am, December 6th, 2017 - 62 comments
Categories: capitalism - Tags: , , ,

Cross-posted from blog.greens.org.nz, Green MP Gareth Hughes writes:

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I was really looking forward to playing the new Star Wars: Battlefront 2 game. It looked pretty cool and I liked the first instalment. But when I checked out the reviews online, nobody was talking about the new game; they were debating if the “loot boxes” within the game constituted gambling or not.

In the last week, loot boxes have been defined or investigated as gambling by various regulators in the UK, Belgium, Australia, and Hawaii. Gambling? Gambling in a computer game children at my kid’s school were playing? Gambling in a game rated M, meaning that anyone could play?

Loot boxes are virtual boxes that contain randomised in-game content or upgrades. Games often include a way to bypass time-consuming ways to earn content or upgrades by charging players to open them, despite the fact that you knowing what you’re paying for.

There’s a legitimate argument (some would say a gripe) about paying for in-game content when you’ve already forked out to purchase the game. Loot boxes take this to a whole new level, randomising what you’re buying. When you open a loot box, you’re treated to an array of visual and audio stimuli, very similar to what you would see when winning on the pokie machines.

Loot boxes have opened up a debate about gaming fairness – paying money to get a competitive edge — but more importantly there is a debate whether loot boxes should be regulated by gambling agencies. A big concern is that these games are available to children vulnerable to the addictive consequences of gambling.

Belgium’s Gaming Commission has said “the mixing of money and addiction is gambling.” Koen Geens, who is Belgium’s Minister of Justice, also stated that “mixing gambling and gaming, especially at a young age, is dangerous for the mental health of the child.” Geens wants loot boxes banned not only in Belgium, but in Europe and abroad.

However, our Department of Internal Affairs says:

The Department considers ‘loot boxes’ as a marketing tactic within computer games that use psychology to reward players and encourage them to spend more on the game. While the exact contents of a loot box may be unknown at time of purchase, the payment of the charge does purchase a box. This does not appear to meet the definition of gambling.

You have to ask then if you sold an Instant Kiwi scratch game ticket in a box, could you skirt gambling laws, arguing you’re just selling boxes?

Whether you think loot boxes are gambling or not, I think this an important discussion we should be having. We need to make sure our rules around gambling are flexible enough to cope with changing technology.

At the very least, games containing loot boxes should include labels and further information warning parents and caregivers of the potential risks that lie just inside the box.

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62 comments on “Gareth Hughes: When gaming becomes gambling”

  1. Excellent article Gareth,

    I am very happy you have targeted the “monetisation”or ‘gambling’ evolving of play games.

    It is another crude and vile showing of soft manipulation of the young and old public.

    Just another display of how we are being ‘manipulated’ into becomming ‘gamblers’ rather than loosing our sanity for less pressure in life.

    • greywarshark 1.1

      Interesting point cleangreen – we are all becoming manipulated to gamble.

      At a shop I might be offered a card with an email/web address and if I give comments on the store I get ….or the possibility of a trip to Auckland!

      So often it will be a chance of something for my email. I say no thanks. And the winning temptation crops up often. I might feel that to be offered a special price on something would be a sure winner for me but turn down the other enticing offer.

  2. BM 2

    Christ, what nonsense.

    It’s no different to buying a kinder surprise or lego surprise bag.

    • “soft manipulation of gambling I see it as”
      BM; – you are welcome to your bland dimissals here but someone needs to draw the line somewhere I feel, or at least bring the issue to light.

      We do know that studies are reported as showing that some media systems do ‘influence the mind’ of all viewers as they say movies and other programs do with scenes of extreme violence, and hence they hasve warning captions ahead of those progrms so should they have with these ‘soft gambling porn’ games.

      So how much is enough?

      • BM 2.1.1

        In-app purchases are how many app developers make their money.

        You get a free game and then the user can purchase additional features or add-ons if they want.

        It’s a win for everyone, people try the developers game/app at no cost and if the user likes it they buy stuff and the app developer makes money.

        • dv 2.1.1.1

          Yes an 8 year old ran up $500 in app purchases. She thought she was buying gold with game credit.
          Murky.

        • cleangreen 2.1.1.2

          Money is your god not others BM.
          Leave kids alone here.
          So as said; – you are welcome to your views but we/others don’t see money as our “god” or in other words we dont get hooked or “addicted “on chasing money as gambling addition is known as being “an addiction”.

          All of us do have other views, and that makes our society more vividly alive.

          • BM 2.1.1.2.1

            You think people should work for nothing? spend months/years creating stuff than give it away for free?

            • Incognito 2.1.1.2.1.1

              When are you going to charge for your contributions here on TS? Do you work for nothing and create these deep insights and gems of intellectual prowess for free? You could make money man!

            • cleangreen 2.1.1.2.1.2

              Everything you say has money threaded through it.

              You are suffering a delussion that money is really everything in life, but as said some dont think you way to place money ahead of life itself.

              Yes we all need to work for life and use money to sustain our live but you seem to be openning the door to every angler to “sqeeze a buck”.

              We dont want young minds to become addicted to money as you apparrently have become now.

              So we want less active monetry values placed on the gaming industry by using the intense systems gareth speaks about here.

              savenz on post 5 has some very good points also BM, worth a read.

              Merry Xmas; – enjoy your addition if you must.

              • Incognito

                Snap 🙂

              • We dont want young minds to become addicted to money as you apparrently have become now.

                It’s not that the young minds are becoming addicted to money but are becoming addicted to gambling so as to make a profit for some far off shareholders.

            • Sanctuary 2.1.1.2.1.3

              BM, Because you are supremely ignorant, I will explain. Games like Battlefront 2 are FULL PRICE retail offerings. Battlefront 2 retails for around $85-130 for the game depending on retailer and platform. To my mind, to have ANY sort of micro-transaction for an in-game enhancement that you can’t grind or to have any component of P2W in a game that you’ve paid full retail price for is outrageous. That these loot boxes also incorporate the most highly addictive aspects of gambling, and are aimed at children, borders on the criminal.

              Now other games – notably the online free to play MMOs like DOTA, WoW, Eve Online or every dad’s favourite World of Tanks – make their money by in-game micro transactions. You download the game, and buy enhancements like fancy skins, camo schemes or premium items. But even these games have to walk a very fine line between micro-transactions and P2W. World of Tanks for example has introduced significant P2W elements this year and it’s US player base in particular has collapsed partially as a result of this.

              Got it? Good. Now fuck off.

              • That these loot boxes also incorporate the most highly addictive aspects of gambling, and are aimed at children, borders on the criminal.

                They do seem to be breaking our laws which would mean that it’s actually criminal.

              • the pigman

                BM is certainly out of his depth but his kinder surprise analogy is not totally irrelevant.

                As someone who plays a heap of games reliant on RNG (random number generator) microtransactions — Guild Wars 2, Battlefield 1, Overwatch — and a wife who works in the gaming industry selling products with RNG microtransactions, it’s true to say you get a toy with the paid content, even if it is not the toy you want.

                The redeeming quality is that (though I’m not up on Battlefront 2) this content is all available freely, just with a much greater time and effort investment, and generally speaking, it doesn’t make the game easier and is merely cosmetic. There is a sense of effort/reward, so I never pay for anything.

                With that said, there are of course people with psychological vulnerabilities (either because they compulsively need to collect EVERYTHING in the game — the developers call these customers “whales” because they eat everything) or because they’re gambling addicts who like flashy lights and sounds and the thrill.

                I’m not sure we have the answers on how to protect them while maintaining the viability of the video gaming industry.

            • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.2.1.4

              WTF did that come from?

              All we’re saying is that they need to work within our gambling laws. Not hard is it?

        • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.3

          There’s a difference between buying what you want and buying a chance to get what you want. The latter is gambling and it’s against the law to sell it to people under age.

        • mpledger 2.1.1.4

          Additional features or add-ons are ok especially if the game was free to start with – and I usually buy *one* extra feature if I like the game. But this was a particular game that had the sticker price of most top of the range games and then it was necessary for people to spend even more money to be competitive.

          I play a few strategy games and it does become apparent that at the higher levels they purposefully make it so hard that it’s almost impossible to get any further without shelling out for special abilities. And when you’re in the moment it can become an impulsive descision rather than a rational one.

          My feeling is that any game that needs a credit card to buy in-game purchases should be rates as r-13 or r-16

          • mpledger 2.1.1.4.1

            I guess the other thing is that most r-13/r-16 game restrictions are pretty much never enforced anyway so that’s kinda moot.

    • Incognito 2.2

      I prefer fortune cookies because then at least I know what I’m getting …

    • One Anonymous Bloke 2.3

      Apart from the flashing lights and music, that is.

    • Gareth 2.4

      Given that Battlefront is the example, it’s more like buying a Lego kit at full price and then discovering that inside is a surprise bag that you have to pay more money to open. The surprise bag may make your Lego kit even better, or it may be a “meh” surprise that doesn’t add anything to your already purchased Lego kit. it’s a gamble….

    • Both of which should also come under the gambling laws and the kinder surprise probably needs to come some anti-sugar laws.

      Just because something is done now doesn’t mean that it should be allowed to continue or be expanded upon.

    • Tricledrown 2.6

      Hollow argument BM.
      Everybody knows you get a toy with your sugar transfat load.
      Marketing to kids with addictive substances.

  3. One Anonymous Bloke 3

    I suppose the difference according to the DoIA is that an Instant Kiwi scratch card can be worthless, whereas a ‘loot box’ always contains something of ‘value’.

    They don’t seem to have considered the Belgian view – the combination of money and addiction – at all.

  4. Sanctuary 4

    The Jimquisition sums it up…

  5. savenz 5

    Many applications are free to download and in-app purchases (upgrades) designed for adults are are OK, as developers have to make a living.

    I also don’t have an issue for kids learning products that are free to download but to upgrade to more advanced level with an in-app purchase.

    But in-app purchases like loot boxes for children is a whole different thing – they are designed to be psychologically addictive and hook kids into what is effectively gambling.

    Let’s not allow loot boxes in apps designed for kids – we don’t want a generation of gambling addicted kids.

    The pokies for convention centre deal under National is a moral step too far already for Kiwis – having the addicted pokies clientele subsidise Skycity for the build in a special deal by the National government. (Aside from the moral issue the business case for Skycity is a failure as they ended up building the convention centre 500 seats too small to even hold the conventions they said they would to get the numbers in their business case).

    Addicting kids to make money for developers is not ok.

  6. Stephen Doyle 6

    As someone who has suffered from a family member being addicted to the pokies, I find this appalling.
    The deliberate targeting of those, mainly children, who may have a predisposition to the gambling gene is abhorrent.
    If I was king of the world, there would be NO promotion of any type of gambling, including the TAB.

  7. Gareth 7

    Apps and games need some scrutiny around this area. I think there’s a range of things developers have done to their games, some of which are definitely gambling, some of which are sorta, kinda and others that aren’t gambling but are a kind of grooming equivalent.

    Case in point, Jetpack Joyride is very big at my kid’s school. Even when in-app purchases are disabled, you collect ‘spin tokens’ while playing the game and at the end of the life you spend them on a simulated slot machine and gamble for possible rewards in-game. No money required, but lets get those primary school kids used to playing the pokies eh?

  8. I’m a gamer. Have been so for more than 40 years. Thankfully I’ve never been addicted to them even if i have played a few to excess.

    Within the last 20 years, though, I’ve done a lot of reading into psychology (I self-diagnosed with autism before I went and got an official diagnosis) and some of that reading was into the psychology of addiction and how it was used by the gaming industry to get people to play their games. It’s quite amazing, and disturbing, just how addictive a simple random result is and simple random results are so easy to generate in a computer game as it doesn’t actually produce/deliver anything.

    There needs to be limits on this type of psychological abuse so that it doesn’t damage people and society. I don’t know what those limits should be (obvious to start where our laws already are though) but this type of thing is obviously way beyond those limits.

  9. Roflcopter 9

    This issue isn’t so much about the existence and randomness of loot box rewards, it’s the way they are implemented.

    In most games, the loot box is designed as a “nice to have” where you have a chance to get an item quicker than you could attain via normal game play, or a chance at a vanity item that has no effect on the quality of your character.

    Even loot boxes that have a chance of dropping an item you need to progress, these style of boxes have always been able to be attained through normal game play and in-game currency… no real money required.

    EA overstepped the line on this one, where progression of a character is literally halted unless you buy a loot box with real money, and hope like hell you are lucky enough to get an item that enables you to progress.

    EA are getting roasted, and deservedly so.

    • Bill 9.1

      Thank you for throwing out an explanation that get’s to the root of it.

      …progression of a character is literally halted unless you buy a loot box with real money, and hope like hell you are lucky enough to get an item that enables you to progress.

      So EA are basically scamming people.

      • weka 9.1.1

        That too, but also they’re using structures that are essentially gambling and designed to get people hooked.

        • Bill 9.1.1.1

          The games are fundamentally highly addictive.

          Now I fucking detest gambling and what it can do to people, but…

          Throwing a “lucky bag” component into a game strikes me as being neither here nor there in the scheme of things.

          Charging “in game” credit for advantage or gaming aid? Meh.
          Charging real money for advantage or gaming aid? Meh.

          Charging “in game” credit or real money for a punt on gaining an advantage or gaming aid? Meh.

          Rendering the game unplayable without extra payments? See, that’s bullshit.

          • Gareth 9.1.1.1.1

            It’s also not true. The Star Cards could all be crafted without loot boxes. It just took many many many hours to find the crafting parts to do so, OR you could spend money for loot boxes which had random things in them including Star Cards, including the most powerful ones.

            So do you spend 80 hrs of active gameplay to get an Epic Star Card, or do you buy a bunch of loot boxes hoping to get one?

            So your reaction to the EA loot box controversy falls into your Meh category.

            Most people’s reaction to being told to pay $100 – $120 (Std vs Deluxe) for a game and then that they’ll have to play the same parts of the game over and over for a huge number of hours to be any good, or they can pay lots more to sidestep all of that time…. is not a happy one.

    • Matthew Whitehead 9.2

      Yep, I would agree EA went too far.

      It’s also worrying that we’re getting regulation to ban this practice that could, for instance, rule out microtransactions that are actually reasonable and fair.

      For a counter-example, Guild Wars 2 offers packs of dyes to players for real-money transactions. (or for gems, which are mostly but not exclusively obtained through RMTs) These dye packs use the exact same mechanics as a loot box: They offer randomized items, through a package deal where you don’t know exactly what you’re getting, and they cost real money. But there is no analogy to gambling because there’s no huge difference between payoff and not buying: you unlock a few additional cosmetic colours for ingame items, when you probably already have dozens easily without ever spending money in-game. But a half-cocked “loot box ban” might capture mechanics like this, in fact even a good one would struggle to allow perfectly benign models like this that allow buy-to-play and free-to-play online games to maintain a reasonable business model without subscription fees. Instead gamers with money to spare who want to support the developers can get mild bonuses that don’t actually enhance their power: They can buy extra charater slots, bag slots, dyes, or simply buy gems to trade for items that other players are selling so they can buy those same benefits.

      I’m not convinced there is yet a need to regulate the market, even though EA is notoriously evil, as they demonstrably haven’t yet gotten away with it. If someone else starts pulling this crap, then I will concede we need to consider it, but I’m very wary of elected officials being able to sensibly regulate this topic when Gareth is the only competent IT spokesperson in the entire Parliament as far as I can tell.

      I think there is a real need to regulate digital gambling of all sorts, but again, I despair at the idea of current IT spokespeople getting their fingers on the issue.

      • bad regulation is better than no regulation. After all – it can be fixed as more becomes known. No regulation simply leaves immoral practice in place and the businesses, with lobbyists in place, will simply keep saying that things are working now and so they don’t need regulation which is a simple and easily understood position that many fall for (EDIT: Which is BMs position BTW).

      • Gareth 9.2.2

        This all goes back to the idea of “when is a game finished and how much does it cost?”

        If a game is released, and you pay $100 for it, should you get a finished product like a book? Should a developer put further work into an already published game? If they do, what should they charge for it?

        With Early Access or Kickstarters, you can pay a single amount of money and get any further content for free because you’ve “invested” in the game and helped the developer get the funds needed to complete the work.

        With DLC the additional content is charged on top of the initial fee and you can judge whether that content is worth the price. This is commonly used to create many different price points for a single product with varying levels of content. Your standard edition with the least amount of content, your deluxe edition with bonus content, your “Season Pass” which charges one price for all future additional content, and your individual DLC releases, each one adding different sections of content. You could argue that a “Season Pass” is a form of gambling since at least two games to my knowledge offered a season pass and then failed to release any DLCs that they could access. The common theme with DLC is that the base game is playable and enjoyable without needing the DLC. This doesn’t seem to be the case so much with the last type of charging.

        With micro-transactions you get another group of content which ranges from content no-one would miss, through to content which makes game-play easier and more rewarding. In the extreme, they can focus on this additional content to the point of the base game being NOT FUN since the additional content is required to make it fun.

        Micro-transactions seem to be more vulnerable to the gambling problem since developers make more money if they randomise the goods they are selling. Micro-transactions (and especially randomised ones) are a great way for developers to charge money for things that no-one would reasonably pay for otherwise and that are cheap to produce. If you spend a dollar to get a mystery bag and it contains a hat which is the same as the one you already had in every respect except that it’s blue, you don’t tend to ask for your money back because you’ve accepted that you had a CHANCE of getting that cool glowing sword you’ve always wanted. If they get the balance of cool stuff to rubbish right, then maybe you’ll spend another dollar. In the meantime the developer spent 10 mins adding different coloured versions of common items and can get much more money for that work than they can for actually developing the base game in the first place. Hence you end up with developers producing “just good enough” games which are platforms for selling you a few good things and a lot of crappy things because that can make them more money than the game alone ever could.

        • Matthew Whitehead 9.2.2.1

          The thing is, it’s not the randomization alone that makes it gambling. It is:

          Real-money investment (investment)
          PLUS
          Randomized reward (chance)
          PLUS
          Large potential for reward utility (potential payoff)

          My fear is that if we regulate this now, we’ll only hit two of those three factors in capturing the regulation. Microtransactions for non “pay to win” items aren’t gambling, even if they award randomized items. While I agree colour tinting may seem like a lazy thing to pay for, it’s actually a far more benign use of microtransactions than giving people new equipment or skills in an online game, for instance.

          We shouldn’t be banning MTs for things like in-game currency, cosmetic rewards, or non-random rewards.

          I also think there needs to be a lot more leeway for microtransactions in games you don’t pay a fee to access but are plainly online worlds, or genuinely free to play compared to games that you actually did buy and only have an online multiplayer component, or use matchmaking or similar bite-sized online presence rather than being always-online.

  10. One Two 10

    Violence, gambling, addiction

  11. mpledger 11

    IA quote
    While the exact contents of a loot box may be unknown at time of purchase, the payment of the charge does purchase a box. This does not appear to meet the definition of gambling.

    I think their point is that if you get something of value then it doesn’t count as gambling.

    But that’s too easy a thing to get around. I could make a gambling game where someone gets a sweet every time they don’t get a bigger prize. But gambling addicted people aren’t going to eat the sweets after the first one or two (or three or four), they are just going to leave them/take them home maybe/give them away/throw them away. The thing of value that they got increasingly becomes of no value to them.

    And that I presume is the same with the loot boxes. People aren’t after the things that give very little competitive advantage once they have got twenty or thirty of them – they are after the big ticket items.

  12. Rosemary McDonald 12

    Excuse me, and I get that this ‘loot box’ thing is an actual thing, but is it the most important thing for the Green Party to be highlighting at this present point in time?

    You guys campaigned (and scored my votes) on the issue of poverty…

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/waikato-times/news/99027132/growing-demand-for-food-parcels-shows-poverty-is-on-the-rise-salvation-army-says

    Gaming is a voluntary activity, a time filler, a hobby.

    Having decent food to eat and a healthy home in which to eat it are not.

    Get back on track Gareth.

    • solkta 12.1

      You would be waiting a long time before Gareth blogs about poverty as it is not and never has been one of his portfolio areas. There is though a very clear and definite link between gambling and poverty. Lots of kids go hungry because a parent has spent too much on the pokies.

      Children may choose to play these games but that does not mean that they or their parents are aware of the long term harm that it could be doing.

    • It is possible for a political party to do more than one thing at a time and there are definite connections between gambling and poverty.

  13. Chris 13

    Personally think the gambling is a bit of a stretch

    Have to say though. It’s a bit arseholey to make people pay more to get through levels after they have forked out a shedload to actually buy the game.

    We aren’t talking some Angry Birds crap where you get it for free or a couple of bucks to start with knowing you can probably spend a few bucks more

  14. Brigid 14

    But having paid more, it’s a gamble on whether or not you actually do gain anything that allows you to continue on with the game.

  15. NZJester 15

    The other thing about these kinds of loot boxes is the secondary black market trading in a lot of these in-game items. I have been in games with people offering to sell hard to obtain items or in-game currency for real cash. These type of things attract the Gold Farmers in droves who cram people into small cubicles on computers to have them farm these items to sell for real cash. They are normally in sweetshop style conditions forced to work long hours for little pay with few breaks. You also hear horror stories about people who have agreed to buy these items only to have more than the agreed amount taken from their credit cards and a lot of the time receiving nothing in return or getting there accounts hijacked and stripped of valuable assets or the account sold to someone else. That normally happens when they get people to sign into a trading website setting up a username and password and stupid people or kids who do not know better use the same password as the one for their game account.

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    2 weeks ago
  • Nurses to get more protection, added to ‘First Responders’ legislation
    Darroch Ball MP, New Zealand First Law and Order Spokesperson An amendment to the ‘Protection of First Responders Bill’ is being tabled which will see emergency department healthcare workers included in the legislation. “During this COVID-19 crisis we have seen reports of violence and specifically increased incidents of spitting towards ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Shane Jones: Northland port could be economic haven
    Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones is breathing new life into the proposal to move Auckland's port to Whangārei to help in the economic recovery post Covid-19 pandemic. If New Zealand First was returned in the September general election, Minister Jones said a priority would be development of an "economic haven" at Northport, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • PGF grant for Ventnor memorial
    The plan to build a memorial to the SS Ventnor, and those who were lost when it sank off the Hokianga coast in 1902, has been granted $100,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund. Originally planned for a site near Rāwene cemetery, the memorial will now be built at the new Manea ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 75th anniversary of V.E Day
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, New Zealand First Leader Leader of New Zealand First, Rt Hon Winston Peters said: “Today is the 75th anniversary of VE Day – marking the end of World War II in Europe." Millions died in the six years of war, and families were torn apart. 75 years ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Week That Was: Getting the job done
    From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Government has committed to providing calm, clear, and consistent communication, including regular press conference updates from the Prime Minister. While New Zealand is at Alert Level 3, we're making sure that New Zealanders are kept informed and up-to-date with all the latest ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Winston Peters responds to Simon Bridges’ ‘my sweetheart’ comment
    New Zealand First leader Winston Peters spoke to The Country's Jamie Mackay. A day earlier, National Party leader Simon Bridges was on the radio show and referred to the Deputy Prime Minister as, "my sweetheart Winston". Mr Peters swiftly dismissed the question of whether Bridges had changed his mind about ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time to pay essential heroes a decent wage, says Green Party
    The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed just how much we rely on our essential workers. The Green Party are proposing a package that ensures they are paid a dignified wage so they do not live in poverty. ...
    3 weeks ago

  • New payment to support Kiwis through COVID
    Further support for New Zealanders affected by 1-in-100 year global economic shock 12-week payment will support people searching for new work or retraining Work programme on employment insurance to support workers and businesses The Government today announced a new temporary payment to support New Zealanders who lose their jobs due ...
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    10 hours ago
  • PGF reset helps regional economies
    The Provincial Growth Fund will play a vital role in New Zealand’s post-COVID-19 recovery by creating jobs in shorter timeframes through at least $600 million being refocused on projects with more immediate economic benefits, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced. The funding is comprised of repurposed Provincial Growth ...
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    1 day ago
  • Government exempts some home improvements from costly consents
    Government exempts some home improvements from costly consents Homeowners, builders and DIYers will soon have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Government scraps the need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports – allowing the construction sector to fire back up quicker ...
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    1 day ago
  • Concern at introduction of national security legislation for Hong Kong
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says the New Zealand Government has reacted with concern at the introduction of legislation in China’s National People’s Congress relating to national security in Hong Kong.  “We have a strong interest in seeing confidence maintained in the ‘one country, two systems’ principle under which Hong ...
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    2 days ago
  • Samoa Language Week theme is perfect for the post-COVID-19 journey
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio, says the theme for the 2020 Samoa Language Week is a perfect fit for helping our Pacific communities cope with the unfolding COVID-19 crisis, and to prepare now for the journey ahead as New Zealand focuses on recovery plans and rebuilding New ...
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    2 days ago
  • Adult kakī/black stilt numbers soar
    A nearly 40-year programme to protect one of New Zealand’s most critically endangered birds is paying off, with a record number of adult kakī/black stilt recently recorded living in the wild, the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced today. “Thanks to the team effort involved in the Department of Conservation’s ...
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    3 days ago
  • Waikato-Tainui settlement story launched on 25th anniversary of Treaty signing
    The story of the Waikato-Tainui Treaty process and its enduring impact on the community is being told with a five-part web story launched today on the 25th anniversary of settlement, announced Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni. “I am grateful to Waikato-Tainui for allowing us to help capture ...
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    3 days ago
  • Taita College to benefit from $32 million school redevelopment
    Taita College in the Hutt Valley will be redeveloped to upgrade its ageing classrooms and leaky roofs, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. “The work is long overdue and will make a lasting difference to the school for generations to come,” Chris Hipkins said. “Too many of our schools are ...
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    3 days ago
  • Redeployment for workers in hard-hit regions
    The Government is allocating $36.72 million to projects in regions hard hit economically by COVID-19 to keep people working, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. Projects in Hawke’s Bay, Northland, Rotorua and Queenstown will be funded from the Government’s $100 million worker ...
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    3 days ago
  • $35m to build financial resilience for New Zealanders
    A $35m boost to financial capability service providers funded by MSD will help New Zealanders manage their money better both day to day and through periods of financial difficulty, announced Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni. “It’s always been our position to increase support to key groups experiencing or at risk ...
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    4 days ago
  • New District Court Judge appointed
    Dunedin barrister Melinda Broek has been appointed as a District Court Judge with Family Court jurisdiction to be based in Rotorua, Attorney-General David Parker announced today. Ms Broek has iwi affiliations to Ngai Tai. She commenced her employment in 1996 with Scholefield Cockroft Lloyd in Invercargill specialising in family and ...
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    4 days ago
  • $206 million investment in upgrades at Ohakea Air Force Base
    The Coalition Government has approved a business case for $206 million in upgrades to critical infrastructure at Royal New Zealand Air Force Base Ohakea, with the first phase starting later this year, Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. The investment will be made in three phases over five years, and ...
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    4 days ago
  • Review of CAA organisational culture released
    Transport Minister Phil Twyford today released the Ministry of Transport’s review of the organisational culture at the Civil Aviation Authority. Phil Twyford says all employees are entitled to a safe work environment. “I commissioned this independent review due to the concerns I had about the culture within the CAA, and ...
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    4 days ago
  • New Board appointed at Stats NZ
    Ensuring that Stats NZ’s direction and strategy best supports government policy decisions will be a key focus for a new Governance Advisory Board announced today by the Minister for Statistics, James Shaw. The new Governance Advisory Board will provide strategic advice to Stats NZ to ensure it is meeting New ...
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    4 days ago
  • New Principal Environment Judge
    Environment Judge David Kirkpatrick of Auckland has been appointed as the Principal Environment Judge, Attorney-General David Parker announced today.  Judge Kirkpatrick was appointed an Environment Judge in February 2014. From December 2013 to July 2016 he was Chair of the Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel. Prior to appointment he ...
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    5 days ago
  • Digital connectivity boost for urban marae
    A programme to connect marae around the country to the internet has received $1.4 million to expand to include urban marae in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister Kris Faafoi and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. The funding for the Marae Connectivity Programme ...
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    5 days ago
  • Govt increases assistance to drought-stricken Hawke’s Bay farmers
    The Government will provide $500,000 to the Hawke’s Bay Mayoral Drought Relief Fund to help farmers facing one of the worst droughts in living memory, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. “Yesterday afternoon I received a letter from Hawke's Bay's five local Government leaders asking me to contribute to the Fund. ...
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    6 days ago
  • Investment in New Zealand’s history
    Budget 2020 provides a major investment in New Zealand’s documentary heritage sector, with a commitment to leasing a new Archives Wellington facility and an increase in funding for Archives and National Library work. “Last year I released plans for a new Archives Wellington building – a purpose-built facility physically connected ...
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    6 days ago
  • Driving prompt payments to small businesses
    Government Ministers are asking significant private enterprises to adopt prompt payment practices in line with the state sector, as a way to improve cashflow for small businesses. The Ministers of Finance, Small Business, Commerce and Consumer Affairs have written to more than 40 significant enterprises and banking industry representatives to ...
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    6 days ago
  • Rotorua tourist icon to be safeguarded
    Maori Arts and Crafts will continue to underpin the heart of the tourism sector says Minister for Maori Development Nanaia Mahuta.  “That’s why we are making a core investment of $7.6 million to Te Puia New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, over two years, as part of the Government’s ...
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    6 days ago
  • $14.7m for jobs training and education
    The Government is funding more pathways to jobs through training and education programmes in regional New Zealand to support the provinces’ recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Employment Minister Willie Jackson have announced. “New Zealand’s economic recovery will be largely driven by ...
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    1 week ago
  • Is it time to further recognise those who serve in our military?
     Minister for Veterans Ron Mark has announced the launch of a national conversation that aims to find out whether New Zealanders think there should be a formal agreement between service people, the Government, and the people of New Zealand. “This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World ...
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    1 week ago
  • Paving the way for a fully qualified early learning workforce
    The Government’s drive to improve the quality of early childhood education (ECE) is taking another step forward with the reintroduction of a higher funding rate for services that employ fully qualified and registered teachers, Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced. “Research shows that high-quality ECE can improve young people’s learning ...
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    1 week ago
  • Sport Recovery Package announced
    The Sport and Recreation sector will receive a multi-million dollar boost as part of the COVID-19 response funded at Budget 2020.  Grant Robertson says the Sport and Recreation Sector contributes about $5 billion a year to New Zealand’s GDP and employs more than 53,000 people. “Sport plays a significant role ...
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    1 week ago
  • Major boost in support for caregivers and children
    A major increase in funding and availability of support will improve the incomes and reduce the pressure on 14,000 caregivers looking after more than 22,000 children. Children’s Minister Tracey Martin says that caregivers – all those looking after someone else’s children both in and outside the state care system – ...
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    1 week ago
  • Great Walks recovery on track for summer
    Vital conservation and visitor infrastructure destroyed by a severe flood event in Fiordland earlier this year is being rebuilt through a $13.7 million Budget 2020 investment, announced Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage.   “This investment will mean iconic Great Walks such as the Routeburn track and the full length of ...
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    1 week ago
  • Māori – Government partnership gives whānau a new housing deal
    The Government is investing  $40 million in a partnership with Māori to get more whānau into warm, dry and secure accommodation, Associate Minister for Housing (Māori Housing) Hon Nanaia Mahuta says.. “We are partnering with Māori and iwi to respond to the growing housing crisis in the wake of COVID-19. ...
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    1 week ago
  • Keeping New Zealanders Safe In The Water
    Keeping New Zealanders safe in the water Our lifeguards and coastguards who keep New Zealanders safe in the water have been given a funding boost thanks to the 2020 Budget, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector Poto Williams has announced. The water safety sector will receive $63 million over ...
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    1 week ago
  • Legal framework for COVID-19 Alert Level referred to select committee
    The COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020, which set a sound legal framework ahead of the move to Alert level 2, has been referred to a parliamentary select committee for review.  Attorney-General David Parker said the review of the operation of the COVID-19 specific law would be reported back to ...
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    1 week ago
  • New Zealand condemns shocking attacks on hospital and funeral in Afghanistan
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand condemns the targeting of civilians in two terrorist attacks in Afghanistan earlier this week. “The terrorist attacks on a hospital in Kabul and a funeral in Nangarhar province are deeply shocking. The attacks were deliberate and heinous acts of extreme violence targeting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government to close tobacco tax loophole
    The Government will close a loophole that allowed some people to import cigarettes and loose leaf tobacco for manufacturing cigarettes and ‘roll your owns’ for sale on the black market without excise tax being paid, says Minister of Customs Jenny Salesa. The legislation, which doesn’t affect duty free allowances for ...
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    1 week ago
  • $62 million package to support families through the Family Court
    The Coalition Government has made a significant $62 million investment from the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to start the reform of the Family Court and enable it to respond effectively to the increased backlog caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Today Justice Minister Andrew Little introduced the Family Court (Supporting ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Tailored help supports new type of job seeker – report
    The Government’s expanded services to support people into jobs will help an emerging cohort of New Zealanders impacted by COVID-19. The impacted group are relatively younger, have a proportionately low benefit history and have comparatively higher incomes than most who seek support, as captured in a report published today from ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • A modern approach to night classes
    New funding to boost Government-funded Adult and Community Education (ACE) will give more than 11,000 New Zealanders more opportunities to learn, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This includes a modern approach to rebuilding night classes, which were slashed in the middle of our last economic crisis in 2010,” Chris Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Christchurch Call makes significant progress
    Significant progress has been delivered in the year since the Christchurch Call to Action brought governments and tech companies together in Paris with a single goal to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardent says. On its first anniversary, Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron as ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Christchurch Call: One year Anniversary
    Joint statement: the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern Prime Minister of New Zealand and His Excellency Emmanuel Macron President of the French Republic. One year since we launched, in Paris, the Christchurch Call to Action, New Zealand and France stand proud of the progress we have made toward our goal to eliminate terrorist ...
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    1 week ago
  • Budget 2020: Jobs and opportunities for the primary sector
    $19.3 million to help attract and train recently unemployed New Zealanders and grow the primary sector workforce by 10,000 people. $128 million for wilding pine and wallaby control, providing hundreds of jobs. $45.3m over four years to help horticulture seize opportunities for future growth. $14.9 million to reduce food waste ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New registration system for forestry advisers and log traders
    A new log registration scheme and practice standards will bring us one step closer to achieving ‘value over volume’ in our forestry sector, Forestry Minister Shane Jones says. New legislation introduced as part of Budget 2020 will require forestry advisers, log traders and exporters to register and work to nationally ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Finance Minister’s Budget 2020 s Budget Speech
    Mr Speaker, I move that the Appropriation (2020/21 Estimates) Bill be now read a second time. From its very beginning this Coalition Government has committed to putting the wellbeing of current and future generations of New Zealanders at the heart of everything we do. There is no time in New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Finance Minister’s Budget 2020 Budget Speech
    Mr Speaker, I move that the Appropriation (2020/21 Estimates) Bill be now read a second time. From its very beginning this Coalition Government has committed to putting the wellbeing of current and future generations of New Zealanders at the heart of everything we do. There is no time in New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago