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Phil Goff: Contemporary China Research Centre

Written By: - Date published: 6:25 pm, July 2nd, 2014 - 9 comments
Categories: China, Economy, Environment, exports, farming, farming, food, International, labour, phil goff, Politics, trade - Tags: , ,

phil goffReposted from Labour’s website.

Speech by Hon Phil Goff MP, Labour Trade Spokesperson, Victoria University, 2 July 2014

The Central Committee of China’s Communist Party’s decisions at a Plenary meeting would, two decades ago, have been of limited interest to New Zealand.

The situation today is very different.

China’s importance in the global economy and the size of its trade with New Zealand means that reforms to its economy are now very relevant to us.

China two years ago became our largest trading partner and the largest export market for our goods.

Just last week, two-way trade between our countries passed the $20 billion per annum benchmark.  By 2020, it could easily exceed $30 billion on present growth projections.

Growth in demand for high quality, safe and protein rich food by China’s growing middle class has been phenomenal.

Last year, the sale of NZ dairy products soared from $2 billion to $4 billion in one year.

Trade in New Zealand logs peaked at $1.7 billion though that is reducing sharply as the infrastructure boom in China is wound back.

Sheep meat exports moved from 1 per cent of NZ’s lamb exports in 2009 to 35 per cent last year valued at $670 million.  Beef exports jumped 271 per cent to $190 million.  An astounding $240 million worth of live crayfish, almost all of our exports, went to China last year.

Growth of trade in services has been similarly spectacular.  China has remained our largest source of international students at 24,000.   Tourism leapt to 250,000 a year making China our second biggest source of tourists.

That growth has been incredibly valuable to us.  When Europe and the US markets during the GFC were shrinking, growth in demand from China stopped New Zealand from facing the same depth in economic crisis as other western economies.

The increasing level of dependence by New Zealand on a narrow range of primary sector commodities and one market has at the same time caused some concern.  Having too many eggs in one basket creates risks.

China takes nearly 23 per cent of our total exports, up from 6 per cent in 2010.  That is still a long way from the level of dependence we had on the United Kingdom in the 1950s and 1960s.

However, within 10 years our exports to China could be around 30 per cent of our exports, a similar level to what we had with the UK at the time it entered the EEC in 1974.

Indirectly we are even more dependent on China because of its high level of trade with other important trading partners like Australia.  China is the largest trading partner for some 124 other countries.  If the Chinese economy were to collapse, the direct and indirect effects on New Zealand’s trade and economy would be dire.

The catalyst for the growth in trade was the high quality, comprehensive Free Trade Agreement I signed in the Great Hall of the People with Chen Deming in 2008.

The timing was perfect.

It coincided with the cumulative impact of decades of consistently high growth in the Chinese economy.  That produced an urban middle income group of over 300 million who had disposable income and a hunger for high protein and high quality food.

That demand is likely to be sustained into the future.  While demand for hard commodities like iron ore and coal is diminishing as the boom in infrastructure promoted by the Chinese Government to counter the effects of the GFC is wound back, demand for soft commodities like dairy is continuing to increase.

China is not able to meet this demand internally, with the current state of its agriculture and constraints on water and agricultural land.

When prices are high, however, other competitors are drawn into the market.  It is unlikely that dairy prices will be sustained at their current level.  As recent events have shown, nor can we be complacent about our reputation for high quality safe food.

Real damage was done to our reputation by the DCD and botulism scares.  It could have been even worse.  The New Zealand Government through its restructuring, cost-cutting and understaffing of MFAT and MPI must bear some responsibility for that.  Likewise Fonterra whose communication strategy and quality safeguards fell well short of the mark.

Aside from these issues, what are the risks of an economic crisis or downturn in the Chinese economy that might damage New Zealand given our growing dependence on it?  And will the reforms foreshadowed at the Third Plenum mitigate these risks?

Pessimists point to the slowing rate of growth in the Chinese economy.  They point out that China is no longer increasing its share of the US and European import markets.

They highlight growing debt levels, an appreciating currency where the RMB is 35 per cent up against the US dollar compared to 2005, and that China’s low cost advantage has been blunted by rising wages which have tripled in the past decade.  Internal inefficiencies, bureaucracy and corruption undermine China’s performance.

However, these things should be seen in context.  After 30 years of double digit growth, it is entirely predictable that the rate of growth will slow.  It is also worth pointing out that while growth in 2009 was 9.2 per cent, it produced increased value of 2.7 trillion RMB.  In 2013 growth was lower at 7.7 per cent but because it came from a much higher base, added value was in fact five trillion RMB.

China’s debt has gone up but as a percentage of GDP it is still lower than Germany’s, the least indebted of the G7 countries.

The NZ Treasury last year concluded that there are cyclical risks to China’s economic performance in the medium term but the risks were manageable.

The Reserve Bank in May of this year warned of the build-up of fragilities in the financial sector.  The so-called shadow banking sector runs higher risks than the more regulated and supervised banking sector.

Local government financing vehicles face significant funding and liquidity risks.  There is a risk of a sharp decline in property prices which could reduce household wealth and trigger more widespread asset losses in the financial sector.

The Reserve Bank warned that a contraction in Chinese demand could have a major impact on New Zealand’s exports.

However it reported that reforms in the Third Plenum aimed at liberalising interest rates, reforming local government finances and improving transparency and regulation in the shadow banking sector addressed these risks.

The central government in China holds extensive assets and foreign reserves.  External debts are minimal and central government debt low.  The Chinese Government, it said, therefore has the capacity to intervene to stabilise financial markets and manage the risks.

The Third Plenum and the leadership of Xi Jinping mark a clear commitment by the new Administration in China to address the need for economic, social and environmental reform in China.

Comparing it with the land mark reforms of Deng Xiaoping at the Third Plenum of 1978 may be an exaggeration.

The 1978 reforms marked the abandonment of Mao’s disastrous economic policies and political management and a platform to launch China’s opening up and reform.

The 2013 reforms build on preceding changes and mark an intensification of efforts to address outstanding problems.

The most significant change will be to allow the market to play a more decisive role in the allocation of resources, and to price those resources accordingly.  The power of SOEs will be curbed and new areas opened up for private sector investment and competition.  Unnecessary red tape and regulation will be cut.  Financial markets will be liberalised and improved and the tax system further reformed.

Social reforms are also significant.  Most families will be allowed to have a second child if they choose.  The hukou or household registration system will be reformed to give rural migrants equal access to public services.  Re-education via labour systems will be abolished.

The crackdown on corruption has already seen over 31,000 officials convicted in 2013 and has reached up to the highest levels of the Party.  Importantly the crackdown has been sustained and appears likely to continue to apply pressure to change an entrenched culture.

There is a renewed commitment to addressing the air, water and soil pollution caused by decades of subordinating the environment to rapid economic development.

The reforms, however, don’t embrace political liberalisation.  Media censorship has tightened and the pervasive and dominant role of the Party entrenched.

It remains to be seen whether the intent of reforms can be realised without the accountability that the rule of law, an independent judiciary and free media and upholding of human rights provides in a democratic society.

To conclude, it is too early to judge conclusively what impact the Third Plenum reforms will have on China’s economy and society and on us and the region.  The need for reform is undoubted, the commitment to reform and leadership of it apparently strong and the general direction of the reform positive.

The ability to implement it and whether the extent of necessary reform goes far enough are both less certain.

New Zealand will benefit economically from the successful implementation of reform because of the high level of interaction between our economy and China’s.  So too will the region.

New Zealand should seize the opportunities China offers us as a trading partner and make changes to ensure we are best able to realise the full potential it offers.

At the same time we would be wise to make strenuous efforts to diversify our export markets and the narrow export base our country relies on.

That is a common sense safeguard against the risks that dependency on any one market or narrow range of products involves.

With reform and continuing economic success, China’s influence over us, the region and the world will grow commensurately.  Political and military power grows with economic power.

Our engagement with China and the balancing of our relationships with China and the other super power in our region, the United States, will more and more become front and centre of New Zealand’s foreign and trade policy.

9 comments on “Phil Goff: Contemporary China Research Centre”

  1. ianmac 1

    And of course much bigger countries can up their milk production and out bid NZ. Not sure if this Government will bail out the farmers should there be a significant fall in income.
    And value added of other products like timber might help broaden our base.

  2. AmaKiwi 2

    Thank you, Phil, for a very comprehensive and timely analysis.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Basically, the above covers why the US decided to move an extra carrier group into the Pacific, and why it is supporting the remilitarisation of Japan above and beyond its self-defence mandate (and directly against the will of ordinary Japanese citizens).

    NZ needs a sovereign, independent foreign policy or we will be caught up in the BS of inevitable superpower wrangling in the Pacific over the next 10 years.

  4. greywarbler 4

    I put this in Open Mike earlier but I think it should be noted here too.

    RadioNZ 8:12 am Sunday 6 July: Insight: NZ’s tiptoe relationship with the US and China

    The Prime Minister, John Key’recent trip to New York was focused on lobbying permanent ambassadors at the United Nations to support New Zealand’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council in 2015/1.New Zealand has been selling itself as a sensible and moderate nation that prides itself on taking an independent view.

    But the main reason for John Key’s visit to the United States was to spend time with the President , Barack Obama, reinforcing Wellington’s warming relationship with Washington.
    America’s so-called “rebalance” towards the Asia-Pacific region, a policy thought to be prompted by the rising presence of China in the region. But could that also put NZ in a difficult position as it tries to balance its important relationships with both the US and China?

    Radio New Zealand Political reporter, Chris Bramwell, travelled with Mr Key to the US and explores how difficult that balancing act might be.

  5. geoff 5

    Here’s the tldr….China is important

    The most interesting part for me was the language that Goff used in this paragraph:

    The most significant change will be to allow the market to play a more decisive role in the allocation of resources, and to price those resources accordingly. The power of SOEs will be curbed and new areas opened up for private sector investment and competition. Unnecessary red tape and regulation will be cut. Financial markets will be liberalised and improved and the tax system further reformed.

    Yes that’s what China really needs, liberalised financial markets.
    I don’t suppose Phil looked too closely at why the GFC occurred…

  6. Stuart Munro 6

    In Goff’s universe it seems these deals are a triumph. Oddly enough, NZ seems a much poorer and more desperate place, triumphs notwithstanding. Some analysis of costs and benefits of trade deals is overdue – the more so with the TPP looming. I’m not quite sure that Goff is sufficiently detached to do that analysis either.

  7. greywarbler 7

    This morning Kathryn Ryan RadioNZ 9.20ish Thurs 3/7.

    Professor David Shambaugh is an internationally acclaimed commentator on contemporary China. He is a Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, and the Director of the China Policy Program at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University.

    Professor Shambaugh was the keynote speaker at a conference hosted by Victoria University of Wellington’s New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre on Wednesday 2 July, which contemplated the radical policy reforms that were proposed by the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee at the 2013 Third Plenum.

    His talk is titled: “New policies – has China done enough to secure its future? China at the crossroads.”

  8. DH 8

    I’ve read this a couple of times & still end with the same question. What’s his point?

    • Olwyn 8.1

      I took it as an attempt to soften people’s attitudes toward the TPP, but I may well be reading too much into it. The obvious things I find worrying about it are those expressed by geoff and Stuart Munro: his continued enthusiasm for “financial liberalisation” and his delight in “triumphs” that tend to involve the clobbering of the very section of the population he is supposed to represent.

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    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
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  • Has Shane Jones Just Saved NZ First?
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    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: As predicted
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Let this never be forgot
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    Oh dear. Extraordinary interview on PM with Andrew Bridgen and @EvanHD just now. Bridgen was defending Jacob Rees Mogg’s Grenfell comments. Evan asked him if JRM had meant to say he would have left ...
    1 week ago
  • Too Late To Change Capitalism’s Flightpath?
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    1 week ago
  • Whooping cough vaccine works well despite its imperfections
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    SciBlogsBy Helen Petousis Harris
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Passed
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Retailing of vaping products – New NZ Research
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    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Justice for Bomber
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Britain’s climate tyranny was unlawful
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • More crime from the spies
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Vaccination, compulsion, and paternalism for the lower orders
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    SciBlogsBy Eric Crampton
    2 weeks ago
  • Global Protests Rage On: But Slogans Are Not Plans.
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    2 weeks ago
  • 11,000 employed under Labour
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Boycott this democratic fraud
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Why Mars is cold despite an atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide
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    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Ban private jets
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Untold Suffering
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The left and violent misogyny
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    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and the iPhone
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    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The freshwater mussel housing crisis: eviction by invasive weeds?
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    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Back it up Luxon: endorsing the destructive past is not actually the way forward
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    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago
  • Good riddance
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: D-Day
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    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

  • Wayne Brown hits back at critics: Ports of Auckland has to move
    The chairman of the Upper North Island Supply Chain Strategy (UNISCS) working group, Wayne Brown, has hit back at critics of his group’s recommendations to relocate the Ports of Auckland cargo operations to Whangarei’s deepwater port of Northport. The working group's recommendation to close Auckland waterfront to all but cruise ...
    39 mins ago
  • Week That Was: Supporting our schools
    We're setting our young people up for success, investing in education around the country.  ...
    7 hours ago
  • Kiwis to have their say on End of Life Choice
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First backs the public to decide on the End of Life Choice Bill via a referendum at the 2020 General Election. The Bill, with New Zealand First’s referendum provision incorporated, passed its final reading in Parliament this evening. New Zealand First Spokesperson for ...
    4 days ago
  • Addressing miscarriages of justice
    Darroch Ball, Spokesperson for Justice New Zealand First is proud that a key Coalition Agreement commitment which will provide for a more transparent and effective criminal justice system has been realised. Legislation to establish the Criminal Cases Review Commission, an independent body focused on identifying and responding to possible miscarriages of ...
    5 days ago
  • Week That Was: Historic action on climate change
    "Today we have made a choice that will leave a legacy... I hope that means that future generations will see that we, in New Zealand, were on the right side of history." - Jacinda Ardern, Third Reading of the Zero Carbon Bill ...
    1 week ago
  • Tax-free deployments for Kiwi troops
    Darroch Ball, New Zealand First List MP A Member’s bill has been proposed that would provide income tax exemptions for all New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel while on operational deployment overseas. The Income Tax (Exemption for Salary or Wages of NZDF Members on Active Deployment) Amendment Bill proposed by New Zealand First ...
    1 week ago
  • A balanced Zero Carbon Bill passed
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    2 weeks ago
  • Paramedics’ status to be recognised
    Jenny Marcroft MP, Spokesperson for Health New Zealand First has listened to calls to recognise paramedics as registered health professionals under the Health Practitioners’ Competence Assurance Act (the Act). Today, the Coalition Government announced plans for paramedics to be registered as health practitioners under the Act, and the establishment of a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Week That Was: 2,000 teachers in two years
    We began the week by commemorating the New Zealand Wars and celebrating a major increase in the number of teachers. Then, we were busy supporting offenders into work and getting our rail back on track after years of underinvestment. And that's just the start! ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Winning an election one conversation at a time
    In October I was sworn in as the Mayor of Lower Hutt. It’s the privilege of my life to serve Hutt people as their Mayor. There is something really special to be able to serve the community where I was raised, and where I live.   ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Closer cooperation with Korean horse racing industry
    Rt Hon Winston Peters, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Racing Racing Minister Winston Peters met with Korea Racing Authority Chairperson Nak Soon Kim in Seoul today to discuss closer cooperation between the New Zealand and Korean horse racing industries. As part of the visit to the Seoul Racecourse, Mr Peters witnessed ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Otago to lead digital creativity
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing $10 million to establish Otago as the centre of New Zealand’s creative digital industry over the next ten years, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “The initiative will bring us closer to the vision of ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Young Otago students encouraged to take on forestry careers
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF)’s skills and employment programme will help young Otago people into long-term forestry careers, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. Te Ara Mahi will invest $63,000 in the 2020 school year to support eight 17 and 18 ...
    3 weeks ago
  • PGF backing Dunedin’s waterfront ambitions
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will support local plans to revitalise and stimulate economic development opportunities in Otago, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced. The four Regional Economic Development Ministers have approved an in-principle investment of $19.9 million towards the region’s ...
    3 weeks ago
  • M. Bovis eradication progress welcomed
    Mark Patterson, Spokesperson for Primary Industries New Zealand First is pleased to have received the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) report on the Coalition Government’s Mycoplasma bovis eradication efforts, which shows significant progress in the fight against the disease. New Zealand First Spokesperson for Primary Industries, Mark Patterson, says the report’s findings ...
    3 weeks ago
  • PGF boosts Otago’s engineering and manufacturing sector
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development Hon David Parker, Minister for Trade and Export Growth The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is investing to support economic growth opportunities for Otago’s engineering and manufacturing sectors, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones and Trade and Export Minister David Parker announced today. Almost $20 million ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Minister Peters discusses Pacific challenges and denuclearisation in Seoul
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    3 weeks ago
  • PGF supports high speed broadband for marae at Parihaka Pa
    Hon Shane Jones, Minister for Regional Economic Development  Hon Nanaia Mahuta, Minister for Māori Development The three marae in the historic Parihaka Pa complex in Taranaki have been upgraded to high speed broadband with the support of the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “Connecting the ...
    3 weeks ago

  • Further support for Samoan measles outbreak
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced further support as the Government of Samoa responds to a serious measles outbreak. “New Zealand will deploy a further 18 vaccination nurses, bringing the total to 30 working in Samoa over the next four weeks,” Mr Peters said. “A New Zealand Medical Assistance ...
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  • Speech to the Child Poverty Action Group 2019 Summit
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  • Fairer rules for tenants and landlords
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    1 day ago
  • Two decades of marine protection celebrated at Te Tapuwae o Rongokako in Tairawhiti
    A marine conservation milestone - the 20th anniversary of the establishment of Te Tapuwae o Rongokako Marine Reserve - is being celebrated today at a community event in Tairāwhiti/East Coast attended by the Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage. “The creation of this marine reserve in November 1999 was a game ...
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  • Food industry asked to step up fight against obesity
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    2 days ago
  • Modern emergency care for Queenstown area
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    3 days ago
  • Contraception important for New Zealanders
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  • NZ medical staff and measles vaccines going to Samoa
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    3 days ago
  • Disability Action Plan 2019 – 2023
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    4 days ago
  • Joint Statement – Third Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting
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    4 days ago
  • Sexual Violence Legislation Bill has its first reading
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    4 days ago
  • Streamlined business invoicing a step closer
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    4 days ago
  • More frontline biosecurity officers protecting NZ
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    4 days ago
  • NZ space economy worth $1.69 billion
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    4 days ago
  • New Chair for Royal Commission into Abuse
    Judge Coral Shaw has been appointed as the new Chair of the Royal Commission into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-based Institutions, Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin announced today. "Judge Shaw, who is currently one of the inquiry commissioners, is extremely well qualified for the ...
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    4 days ago
  • Better mental health facilities for Palmerston North
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    4 days ago
  • Bowel Screening hits halfway point
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    4 days ago
  • More vaccines for meningococcal disease
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    4 days ago
  • Fisheries innovation projects supported
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    5 days ago
  • Government fixes culturally arranged marriage visa issue
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    5 days ago
  • Extension for Royal Commission into Mosque attacks
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    5 days ago
  • Terrorism and Trade on agenda as Foreign Minister visits the United States
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    5 days ago
  • Hoiho get extra support alongside 168 community conservation groups backing nature
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    5 days ago
  • New safety measures for modified pistols
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    5 days ago
  • Minister of Defence to visit Singapore and Thailand
    Minister of Defence Ron Mark will travel to Singapore today to conduct a counterpart visit and to co-chair the third annual Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting with his counterpart, Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen. “Singapore is one of our most important defence partners in the region, and our ...
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    5 days ago
  • Future secured for Salisbury School
    Nelson’s Salisbury School is to be rebuilt, creating a modern and suitable learning environment for students at the residential special school, Education Minister Chris Hipkins and Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin announced today. The school for girls aged 8-15, in Richmond, was earmarked for closure by National until the process ...
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    5 days ago
  • Resource management reform options released
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    5 days ago
  • Criminal Cases Review Commission established
    An important safety valve has been added to New Zealand’s criminal justice system with the third reading of the Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill today. The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) will investigate claimed miscarriages of justice. “We’ve seen how our justice system can very occasionally get things spectacularly wrong, ...
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    6 days ago
  • Racing Industry destined to be on-track
    Racing Minister Winston Peters welcomes the tabling of the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) 2019 Annual Report in Parliament today. He says the 2019 Annual Report marks the point when New Zealand’s racing industry’s decline was arrested and a turnaround started. RITA’s 2019 Annual Report recorded an industry net profit ...
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    6 days ago
  • New Zealand firefighter support to Queensland
    The New Zealand Government is today sending 21 firefighters to help fight the ongoing catastrophic Australian bushfires. “The fires in Australia are in some of the toughest, most challenging conditions ever,” says Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin.  “As of yesterday morning, there were 100 active bushfire-related incidents across Queensland and ...
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    6 days ago
  • Supporting all schools to succeed
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    6 days ago
  • Reform to support better outcomes for Māori learners and whānau
    The Government’s reform of the Tomorrow’s Schools system is a watershed moment in education and an opportunity to create meaningful change for ākonga Māori and their whānau, Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis said today. “Last year through Kōrero Mātauranga | Education Conversation, Māori teachers, parents, ākonga, whānau, hapū and iwi ...
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    6 days ago
  • Infrastructure pipeline growing
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    6 days ago
  • Tighter firearms law to further improve safety
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    1 week ago
  • New TVNZ chair & directors confirmed
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    1 week ago
  • Hutt Road cycle path officially opened
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    1 week ago
  • Announcement of new Ambassador to Russia
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    1 week ago
  • Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update
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    1 week ago
  • Giving a Boost to Kiwi small businesses
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    1 week ago