New rules rolled out to stop dirty vessels entering NZ waters

New rules to halt the admission of dirty vessels into New Zealand waters are being rolled out by the Government to "better protect New Zealand's unique marine environment and other vital industries from biosecurity risk". 

Minister of Biosecurity Damien O’Connor said today in a statement the arrival of about 90 per cent of non-indigenous marine species in Kiwi waters, like the Mediterranean fanworm, Japanese kelp and Australian droplet tunicate, came to New Zealand via international vessels. 

"These incursions harm our aquaculture industries, fisheries and native marine ecosystems," Mr O'Connor said. 

The new rules, which were rolled out yesterday, mean that vessel operators need to prove they have taken steps to ensure a clean hull, with divers carrying out inspections of the hulls. 

"Biosecurity New Zealand officers will take a hard line on vessels that can't provide evidence they meet the rules. 

"Officers will also have the power to direct vessels for cleaning and order the vessel to leave New Zealand if the fouling is severe," he said. 

"Vessel operators will meet the costs of any compliance order. The shipping industry has had four years to prepare for the changes and ignorance of the new requirements will not be accepted."

Container ship

Many NZ air traffic controllers performing roles without certainty of toilet breaks, union tells Select Committee

Many air traffic controllers (ATCs) in New Zealand are completing shifts without the certainty of a regular toilet break, the union representing them has told the Education and Workforce Select Committee today.

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association (NZALPA) represents nearly every air traffic controller in the country and said changes to the proposed Employment Relations Amendment Bill (ERA Bill) were "safety-critical" to allow air traffic control staff a break, the Select Committee has heard.

The NZALPA said proposed legislation could require air traffic controllers to work without any breaks for up to 9.5 hours.

NZALPA President and international airline pilot Tim Robinson said that air traffic is widely recognised as one of the most stressful occupations in the world with the highest need for mental alertness and restricting the ability for air traffic controllers from having "normal" breaks like other workers is irresponsible and unsafe.

He said the lack of breaks could lead to a serious incident or accident.

"Many ATCs, particularly those based at regional airports, are often solo controllers working the shift by themselves. This means that they have the sole duty to ensure that the aerodrome and surrounding airspace remains safe," Mr Robinson said. 

"While many of these regional airports would seem to have relatively low levels of aircraft movement, ATC's must maintain continuous visual watch throughout the duration of their shift, and often have to respond to unexpected and sometimes urgent situations involving the safety of aircraft."

The proposed ERA Bill excludes those employed in "essential service", including air traffic controllers, from mandatory meal and rest breaks.

The proposed ERA Bill reflects the wording of the current legislation, NZALPA is calling for it to be amended to allow ATCs the same meal and rest breaks as other workers.

NZAPLPA pressed the Select Committee to consider the safety impacts of excluding air traffic controllers from mandatory breaks.

"In many comparable jurisdictions such as Canada, every control tower is routinely staffed by more than one person.  In many countries in the European Union it is a legal requirement to have more than one person on duty following fatal accidents in the past."

"Does New Zealand have to wait for a major accident to occur in order to highlight the need for proper rest and meal breaks to be legislated?" Mr Robinson asked.  



'No one is above the law' - Penny Bright's last-ditch effort to prevent sale of home to recover unpaid rates fails

The High Court has this morning dismissed a last-ditch effort by activist Penny Bright to halt the sale of her Auckland home to recover about $69,000 in unpaid rates.

Ms Bright has refused to pay her rates for more than a decade, arguing that the council must be more accountable to their requirements under the Public Records Act 2005 before she is accountable to her responsibilities under the Local Government (Rating) Act 2002.

The council initiated proceedings to sell her home of 25 years, and she asked the High Court for interim relief while she requested a Judicial Review into the procedures leading to Auckland Council seeking to recover the rates - that request was this morning declined.

Bright, who fears she has cancer, is asking for the mortgagee sale of her home to be halted. Source: 1 NEWS

In summary, Justice Mathew Downs said " no one is above the law".

"Ms Bright's circumstances are unfortunate.

"However, those in relation to the Council are entirely of her own making ... Interim relief would not be appropriate even if the threshold for relief had been crossed, which it has not.

"It is not open to a ratepayer to 'boycott; rates or engage in a 'rates revolt' for more than a decade and then argue statutorily envisaged consequence should not follow.

"Other immediate relief is at hand but unexercised through moral choice, not legal grievance."

Justice Down ordered that the sale of her home proceed.

Throughout the process, Ms Bright has been offered alternatives by Auckland Council including the postponement of the payment of her rates, which would have allowed her rates to have been paid after her property was sold, or in the event of her death.

Bright's home is being sold as she has refused to pay rates for over a decade. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Bright revealed last week that she has terminal ovarian cancer.

Penny Bright on the deck of her Auckland home. Source: 1 NEWS