A number of changes to New Zealand laws began on Monday, 1 July 2019, along with some changes to taxes and payments.
The Family Violence Act 2018 and most of the provisions of the Family Violence (Amendments) Act 2018 came into force on 1 July. One of the major changes is to Protection Orders. From 1 July, all Protection Orders – including ones granted before then – will have extra standard conditions.
The Family Violence Act also expands the definition of "family violence" to include coercion or controlling behaviour and dowry-related abuse (section 9).
The definition of a child is amended to a person under the age of 18 to align with the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 and the term ‘minor’ is removed from the legislation (section 8).
Amendments made by the Family Violence (Amendments) Act 2018 to the Care of Children Act 2004 come into effect on 1 July. Judges can make a temporary Protection Order when considering applications under CoCA if they have concerns about the safety of a child or an adult (section 57A).
Judges will be able to take more factors into account when considering the safety of a child under CoCA applications, including family violence offences (section 5A).
Oranga Tamariki changes
A number of major changes to the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 made by the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Act 2017 came into force on 1 July.
The Youth Court jurisdiction has been extended to include 17-year-olds up to their 18th birthday.
The Oranga Tamariki (National Care Standards and Related Matters) Regulations 2018 came into effect. These set out national care standards for children and young persons in the care or custody of the Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki and other organisations approved under section 396 of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989 with the care or custody of children or young persons.
Oranga Tamariki is now required to improve and report on outcomes for Māori.
The Waste Minimisation (Plastic Shopping Bags) Regulations 2018 came into force on 1 July. They prohibit retailers from selling plastic shopping bags in New Zealand for the purpose of distributing goods sold by retailers. "Sold" covers both providing for a monetary consideration or given free of charge.
The regulations define plastic as including any plastic material that is manufactured from any source, whether or not it is designed to degrade in a particular way. This definition includes plastic that is compostable or biodegradable. They apply to any bag wholly or predominately made of plastic less than 70 microns in thickness; and new or unusued; and with handles.
Regulation 5 is the key. It defines what sale for the purpose of distributing goods covers and section 5(1) of the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 defines sale for the purposes of that Act (and any regulations made under that Act) as including an offer for sale; and distribution or delivery, whether or not for valuable consideration (including delivery to an agent for sale on consignment).
Section 65(1)(d) of the Waste Minimisation Act 2008 provides that a person who knowingly contravenes the regulations commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $100,000.
Insulation in rental homes
From 1 July, all rental homes in New Zealand must meet ceiling and underfloor insulation standards. The Residential Tenancies (Smoke Alarms and Insulation) Regulations 2016 set out the requirements. Landlords will also have to provide an insulation statement on new tenancy agreements.
Earthquake damage coverage
Changes to the Earthquake Commission Act 1993 came into effect on 1 July, increasing the cap on damage to a residential building caused by a natural disaster from $100,000 (plus GST) to $150,000 (plus GST).The new cap still excludes property cover in storms or flooding events where EQC only provides cover for land damage.
Another 1 July change means that EQC will no longer cover home contents damaged as the result of a natural disaster event.
The changes are not retrospective and apply to events from 1 July 2019.
Petrol Excise Duty and Road User Charges
The rate of petrol excise duty was increased from 63 cents per litre to 66 cents per litre from 1 July. This continued changes announced on 28 June 2018. Part 1 of the Excise and Excise-equivalent Duties Table (Budget Measures - Motor Spirits) Amendment Act 2019 brought the excise duty into effect, with Part 2 implementing a further increase on 1 July 2020.
The Road User Charges (Rates) Amendment Regulations 2019 were made on 13 May 2019 to amend the Road User Charges (Rates) Regulations 2015 and to increase the prescribed rates of road user charges payable under the Road User Charges Act 2012.
The Specification of Road User Charges Notice 2019 was published in the New Zealand Gazette on 1 July, meaning it came into effect on 2 July.
Paid parental leave
The Government has announced an increase in the parental leave payment from $564.38 per week to $585.80 per week before tax from 1 July.
Rates rebate scheme
The Government has announced an increase in the maximum rates rebate from $630 to $640. The income abatement threshold increases from $25,180 to $25,660 from 1 July.