Goldsmith Update - February 2016
This week my colleagues and I have returned to an unusually sunny and warm Wellington for the start of the 2016 Parliament. The capital is abuzz with tourists and cruise liners, as part of New Zealand's best-ever tourism season.
Trans Pacific Partnership
The political year for me really kicked off several weeks ago, when I joined the Prime Minister's party to Ratana Pa. As we drove through the streets we saw a handful of people waving placards against the TPP, and similar sentiments were expressed on the Marae. 'What's in it for Maori?' we were asked. Well, most Maori I talk with, like most New Zealanders, want to have a good job and want access to quality health and education services. These things rely on a strong economy, which in a small, trading nation such as ours, depends on access to international markets for our exports.
TPP, quite simply, improves our access to global markets, which will help New Zealand exporters, who are employers and taxpayers, compete more effectively. Just today, listening to the rural news, I heard about the bumper year our cherry growers have had. A spokesman cited a big lift in sales to Korea this year, following the axing of a long-standing 25% tariff on New Zealand cherries. Suddenly we are in the game in that country. That was a result of the NZ-Korea free trade deal. These sorts of opportunities will open up for countless Kiwi businesses with TPP countries, such as the USA, Mexico, Japan and Canada.
New Zealand governments over the past 20 years have striven for trade deals, such as TPP, for the basic reason that they have the power to improve New Zealand's prospects. I spoke on this topic in the debate at the opening of Parliament on Tuesday.
The year ahead
The Prime Minister’s Statement outlined the agenda for another busy year. We now have Parliamentary support to advance reforms to the Resource Management Act, which are designed to reduce costs and delays for homeowners and businesses, and improve our planning and environmental controls. A simpler, quicker consenting process will ensure consistent resource management standards across the country, and will enable the construction of more affordable housing in areas that need it, like Auckland.
On the housing front, we will also progress legislation to introduce a withholding tax on some sales of residential property by people living overseas. It’s all very well having tax liabilities on housing speculation, but if the liable person has disappeared offshore before paying the tax, the problem is not resolved. A withholding tax will help.
In my own Commerce and Consumer Affairs corner there is plenty of legislation before the House. This week, the Patents (Trans-Tasman Patents Attorneys and Other Matters) Amendment Bill passed its first reading and is off to the Commerce Select Committee for consideration. The modern economy depends on an effective and efficient IP framework. The Bill establishes a single trans-Tasman patent regime, and represents another step towards the creation of a seamless business environment between Australia and New Zealand.
Everyone in the Epsom electorate will, by now, be well and truly aware that schools are back and with them heavy traffic. We live in a growing and successful city, but that demands on-going investment in transport infrastructure. So, naturally, I was very pleased with the summer announcement from the Prime Minister advancing work on the City Rail Link, which will enable the system to cope with rapidly growing rail patronage, and the East-West connection, which will provide a link between the Southern motorway, around Mount Wellington, and the Southwest motorway around Mangere Bridge. When completed, the East-West connection will greatly improve access to and from the airport for the Eastern Suburbs, as well as freeing up the important Neilson Street freight corridor.
On Tuesday night, around 800 residents from the Eastern Suburbs attended a public meeting to voice their concerns about the significant and last minute zoning changes made to the proposed unitary plan. I encourage you to have a look at the maps to see what’s going on. The new changes will affect you and your community. If you have specific concerns please let me or your local councillors and local board members know.
Wishing you all the best for a great 2016.
Hon Paul Goldsmith
National List MP based in Epsom
P: (09) 524 4930