Jacinda Ardern: No more than 'one or two' fair pay agreements this term

Jacinda Ardern today announced there would be no more than "one or two" fair pay agreements in the current term, after saying a "vacuum" had been left as the framework around fair pay agreements was moving at a slow pace.

The Prime Minister made the announcement at the Westpac business breakfast alongside the creation of a Business Advisory Council, which will be chaired by Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon.

Ms Ardern described fair pay agreements, which establish minimum terms and conditions across industries, as the source of "a bit of discussion" for the business community. 

"Going slowly on their design to make sure we get it right, has left a bit of a vacuum. That is why I am confirming today that there will be no more than one or two fair pay agreements concluded during this term."

The Government set up a working group to develop a fair pay framework which would deliver their report in November. 

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says too many people are missing out on the successes of a productive economy. Source: 1 NEWS

"There has been room left for a bit of speculation around what fair pay agreements might do," Ms Ardern said. "I fundamentally believe that fair pay agreements have the ability to be win-win, the chance to create a level playing field.

"But I can also tell you what they are not here to do. They are not here to fundamentally disrupt our employment relations landscape, and they will not for instance be accompanied by the ability to take strike action."

During the speech Ms Ardern attempted to address the "elephant in the room" of low business confidence, referring to it instead as "a flashing great neon sign with giant lights and fireworks going off behind it".

"Certainty shouldn't be confused for stasis and complacency, which are the enemy of progress, and for that matter the enemy of innovation," she said. "The reality is that our economy faces a number of challenges, global in their nature, that by working together we must confront to protect our long term prosperity."

National Party leader Simon Bridges said Ms Ardern instead needed to take "real steps to support businesses, not driving uncertainty through endless working groups and bad policy". 

"This is a Government that believes it can talk its way out of anything, but instead of trying to shout over the conveyor belt of weak economic indicators they should be taking concrete steps to change their anti-growth policies," Mr Brides said. 

The Prime Minister said today she wants to tackle issues with the business community "head-on", and confirmed only one or two fair pay agreements will be concluded this term and announced a new working group. Source: 1 NEWS

Major report finds half of people off the benefit in 2013/14 were back on within 18 months

A new approach is required into the type of work people on benefits go into, after it was found 50 per cent of people who left the benefit in 2013/2014 ended up back on the benefit within 18 months. 

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said the report had given the perception of a higher number of people who were coming off the benefit, following the 2012 welfare reforms. 

The report looked at what happened to people who left the benefit system in 2013/2014. 

"What the biggest finding is… is that actually 50 per cent of people who have gone off benefits, following those welfare reforms, ended up back on a benefit within 18 months," Ms Sepuloni said. 

She said it gave the perception that while there were a number of people coming off the benefit, they were not going into "meaningful, sustainable employment".

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"It's not just about pushing people off benefits into any old job."

Geography was a factor in the findings, with certain areas more likely to see people going back on the benefit within 18 months. 

Māori men, especially those living in the geographical areas, were also a group of people found more likely to go back on the benefit. 

"We've got to do some work," Ms Sepuloni said. 

The Social Development Minister said a new approach was needed, as it wasn’t "just about pushing people off benefits into any old job". Source: 1 NEWS

Crash between car and motorbike in the Coromandel closes section of SH25

A serious two-vehicle crash involving a car and motorcycle this morning has caused part of State Highway 25 to be closed in the Coromandel.

Police are in attendance at the crash between Waihi and Whangamata, which was reported at approximately 11.15am.

As a result, the road is blocked between Golden Valley Road and Whiritoa Beach Road with motorists asked to avoid the area.

More to come. 

Police Source: 1 NEWS


High school students should be taught about pornography and sexual violence, report says

High school students should be taught about pornography and sexual violence so they learn what is healthy, the Education Review Office has said in a report.

Promoting wellbeing through sexuality education is the agency’s first review of sex education in schools in 11 years.

It says sex education has not kept pace with technological changes in the last decade.

"Without the knowledge and skills to navigate this context, young people are at risk of developing unhealthy attitudes toward sexuality, increasing risks to mental and physical wellbeing for themselves and others," it said.

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The report highlighted an upcoming survey from the Light Project which suggests many young people in New Zealand are learning about sex through pornography, which "rarely depicts meaningful consent, and often includes coercion and/or violence, particularly towards girls and women, as a normal part of sexual encounters".

"This creates unhealthy views about sex and relationships, and is leading young people to engage in physically and emotionally risky behaviours. It is therefore of some concern that ERO found pornography was one of the least well covered aspects of sexuality education. ERO therefore recommends further investigation into the impact of pornography on young people."

The report also highlighted several high-profile news stories to highlight the risks to young people of not understanding consent.

"There have been a number of high-profile issues related to sexuality, including the Roast Busters scandal, and the protests sparked by misogynistic language used by some students on social media, as well as the broader #MeToo movement with its focus on exposing the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault."

"These show both the risks young people face when a healthy understanding of consent is not widely held, and the increasing demand from school students for effective sexuality education to address these issues."

Fewer than half of New Zealand high schools were covering pornography and sexual violence with the report recommending 12 to 15 hours of sexuality education for students in years nine and 10.

Only a few schools were found to meet this threshold, the report said.

Sex education is compulsory for students from years one to 10 and is one of one of seven "key learning areas" in the health and PE curriculum.

The ERO also said school boards should provide more support for sexually and gender-diverse students.

The review recommended schools "proactively consider how to promote an inclusive and welcoming environment for sex-, gender- and sexuality-diverse students, including reviewing uniform and bathroom options".

It’s been found most schools are failing to keep pace with social and technological changes when it comes to sex ed. Source: 1 NEWS

Wellington warned of water shortages if usage remains the same

A water management report has warned of future Wellington water shortages if usage and population growth trends remain the same.

A report from council-owned company Wellington Water, which manages water assets for five councils in the region, found if residents kept hosing their gardens and showering like they did now, demand for water would exceed supply in 2040.

The report, discussed by some of the region's mayors and councillors during a Wellington Water Committee meeting on Monday, was a starting point for discussions that would include councils and residents, Wellington Water's group manager for network strategy and planning, Mark Kinvig said.

Wellington Water looked after water assets for the Wellington, Upper Hutt, Hutt City, Porirua and Greater Wellington regional councils.

The report identified three key issues, Mr Kinvig said, the first being that demand for water would exceed supply.

"We know that from our modelling work, and that modelling work takes into account growth and climate change.

"Secondly our water sources and network are vulnerable to earthquakes and climate change as well, in terms of storms, and rising sea levels."

The third was there could be less water available in aquifers and rivers due to tougher environmental rules.

The next step for the organisation is to understand those issues better, then work with councils to come up with solutions. These could include educating the public, a new source of water or more storage, and keeping on top of leaky pipes.

Wellington Water Committee member, councillor Iona Pannett, said potential solutions, like a new dam or water metering, could be contentious.

The committee, which is made up of the region's mayors and councillors, oversees Wellington Water.

"We haven't come up with any definite answer about what needs to be done, but at the very least we do need to start with public education," Ms Pannett said.

Water meters were brought up last year by Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Chris Laidlaw, after an unusually hot summer saw restrictions enforced across the region earlier than usual.

Mr Laidlaw said it was inevitable meters would be introduced and that these would be likely part of a national approach to managing drinking water.

"There's no question that metering produces savings," he said.

"There are some people who say 'well I don't like water metering because in effect this is the first step towards privatisation'.

"There's no link between water metering and privatisation at all."

The debate around water meters needs to be kept open, he said.

In the meantime, with whatever solutions were found, residents would have to do their part, Mark Kinvig said.

"This is not just down to the actions that we take, and our client councils take. Every Wellingtonian has a role to play to use the region's water in an efficient way."

By Laura Dooney

Tap water Source: 1 NEWS