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New bills introduced to Parliament

14 December 2017

A number of new bills have been introduced to Parliament.

The Families Package (Income Tax and Benefits) Bill was introduced by Finance Minister Grant Robertson. The bill gives effect to policy changes that form a Family Package of changes to income tax and benefits. The Families Package replaces part of the earlier Budget 2017 Family Incomes Package, which mostly enacted in the Taxation (Budget Measures: Family Incomes Package) Act 2017.

Parliament has agreed to a motion to accord urgency to the passing through all stages of the bill.

The Overseas Investment Amendment Bill was introduced by Economic Development Minister David Parker. The bill amends the Overseas Investment Act 2005 with the intent of ensuring that investments made by overseas persons in New Zealand will have genuine benefits for the country. It has a focus on residential land, but also makes more general changes to the Act, including enhancing the information-gathering and enforcement powers of the Overseas Investment Office.

The explanatory note says the bill will ensure that overseas persons who are not resident in New Zealand will generally not be able to buy existing houses or other pieces of residential land.

The bill modifies the definition of “ordinarily resident in New Zealand” for the purposes of the new residential land provisions. Under that new definition, a person will be ordinarily resident here if they hold a permanent resident visa and have been residing in New Zealand for at least a year and have been present in New Zealand for at least 183 days in the past year. The definition of "ordinarily resident in New Zealand" remains as it is in the current Act for all other purposes.

The bill provides that overseas persons would be able to buy sensitive land that is residential land in certain situations. Conditions must be imposed if an overseas person purchases residential land utilising one of the three exemption.

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Renewal of Licences) Amendment Bill is a private member's bill and was introduced by Labour MP Louisa Wall. It provides that where a local alcohol policy is in place under the provisions of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 any renewal of a licence under the Act must not be inconsistent with the provisions of that local alcohol policy.

The explanatory note to the bill says the process of adopting a local alcohol policy is a consultative process that provides for community input in respect of numbers of licences issued in an community, the location of premises and their proximity to other facilities identified by the Council. Examples have been schools, early childhood education centres, places of worship and public services.

"There is no rational base on which existing off-licence renewals should not be assessed against a local alcohol policy that has been through a rigorous process that takes specific account of the harm caused directly or indirectly to the community by alcohol," it says.

"To not assess existing off-licence renewals against local alcohol policies concerning density and location is to render the basis of a local alcohol policy nugatory and to ignore that existing outlets may have contributed to the identification of areas in a local alcohol policy where there is excessive harm caused by alcohol consumption to the community."

The Electoral Integrity Amendment Bill was introduced by Justice Minister Andrew Little. Foreshadowed as the "waka jumping" bill, its stated purpose is "to amend the Electoral Act 1993 in order to enhance public confidence in the integrity of the electoral system by upholding the proportionality of political party representation in Parliament as determined by electors."

The bill provides for a member to vacate their seat in Parliament if they choose to give notice to the Speaker of their ceasing parliamentary membership of the party for which they were elected.

The bill also provides for a vacancy to occur if the member’s party leader gives notice that the leader reasonably believes that the member’s actions have distorted, and are likely to continue to distort, the proportionality of political party representation in Parliament, as determined at the last general election.

It is not compulsory for the party leader to give the notice that leads to a vacancy under the bill. The giving of notice to the Speaker is at the leader’s discretion, which means the leader can take into account the circumstances and their party’s own rules.

The KiwiFund Bill is a private member's bill and was introduced by New Zealand First MP Fletcher Tabuteau. The bill establishes an independent working group with the objective to set up a government-owned and operated KiwiSaver provider, known as KiwiFund.

The explanatory note to the bill says it is intended that the working group would first examine the accountability of current KiwiSaver providers relating to complaints of charging exorbitant fees, unethical investments, and profiteering in the trading of Kiwisaver providers.

"The working group would be made up of 4–5 specialists across banking, savings, and retirement fields," it says.

The Education (National Education and Learning Priorities) Amendment Bill is a private member's bill and was introduced by Labour MP Jan Tinetti. The bill amends the Education Act 1989 to enable statements about the diversity of education provision to be included in the statement of National Education and Learning Priorities.

The explanatory note to the bill says the amendments proposed "will align the statement of National Education and Learning Priorities more closely with the New Zealand Curriculum and provide an aspirational vision for the future for young New Zealanders".

The Education (Protecting Teacher Title) Amendment Bill is a private member's bill and was introduced by New Zealand First MP Jenny Marcroft. The intent of the bill is to lift the status of teachers by removing the ability of those who have not gained the recognised teaching qualifications from representing themselves as "teachers" by using that title.

"With several amendments to the Education Act 1989 over recent years it is now possible to have individuals standing in front of our students who have no recognised teaching qualification – therefore they should not be able to use the title of teacher," the explantory note to the bill states.

"They may use other titles such as educator, lecturer, tutor, or whatever but the title of teacher must be restricted to those who have completed recognised qualifications. This will also provide a clear message for parents that the individual standing in front of their student has in fact trained and completed that training as a 'teacher'."

Last updated on the 15th December 2017