Pregnant smokers offered $300 vouchers to quit

A quit smoking programme that promises gift vouchers to expectant mothers who kick the habit is being hailed a success.

A Northland health provider is giving Kiwi mums up to $300 to spend on things like petrol and groceries - provided they blow clean during a weekly lung function test.

With one in six New Zealand women and and just under half of Maori women still smoking during pregnancy, doctors have been looking at new ways to bring the figures down.

So now they're being offered the extra incentive in the hope it can keep their addiction at bay permanently.

The vouchers can't be redeemed for cash, alcohol or cigarettes.

The Kaitaia programme runs for 12 weeks. After its first course it says it has got a 44% success rate.

Counties Manukau has been trialling a similar scheme for the past year and is looking to expand.

Sixty-four percent of women had quit after a month on the programme and just over half of them were still smokefree at the end of the three-month course.

The programme promises gift vouchers to expectant mums who kick the habit. Source: 1 NEWS


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Auckland Business Chamber boss says 'ineffective' fuel tax the 'tipping point' in sky-high prices

Auckland Business Chamber's chief executive has slammed the Government for fuel taxes, as Kiwis feel the pain of rising prices at the pump. 

Michael Barnett said in a statement today margins identified are less than most retailers would seek and have not changed.

"The tipping point for fuel consumers has been the blunt and ineffective fuel taxes imposed by local and central government," he said.

"The currency and additional Government taxes have created a price point consumers find unacceptable."

The National MP says the coalition are in a panic about fuel prices. Source: Breakfast

Mr Barnett added that major fuel companies are "welcoming" a proposed investigation from the Commerce Commission and that, "of the 1,500 service stations in New Zealand, over 1200 are mum and dad running their small businesses".

The statements come after both sides of Government argued the issue earlier today on TVNZ1's Breakfast.

The Prime Minister says the Government is now undertaking work to get a basis for their plans. Source: Breakfast

Judith Collins says the Government is in a panic about the fuel price crisis and has called for them to cut the regional fuel tax.

"If the Government wants to do something right now, it could cut that tax, say we're not going to have that regional fuel tax, 11.5 cents a litre in Auckland plus everything else that’s going on," she said.

However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government is moving quickly to look into the root causes of high fuel prices.

"Enough is enough here - even with the Regional Fuel Tax in Auckland, you see higher pump prices in Wellington and we've got to ask questions around what is going on."


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Drone footage shows huge cloud of smoke billowing from Christchurch fire

Drone footage captured this morning shows the huge cloud of smoke coming out of a fire at the Ravensdown fertiliser plant in Hornby, Christchurch.

The fire was reported this morning, and burned through a large portion of the facility.

Quick action by Christchurch’s firefighters prevented the flames from reaching the factory’s sulphur store. Source: 1 NEWS

A large trail of smoke was released, and Fire and Emergency New Zealand has asked people to close doors and windows if they are nearby, and to avoid the smoke if possible.

Firefighters are currently bringing the fire under control and there were no injuries.

View more images and video here.


Government posts $5.5 billion surplus, numbers employed up, average wages rise

The Government has delivered a $5.5 billion surplus, the Finance Minister has announced today.

Grant Robertson says a strong surplus and falling net debt reflect a growing economy and show the Coalition Government is managing the books responsibly.

"The books show we are meeting the Budget Responsibility Rules. A headline $5.5 billion surplus operating balance before gains and losses is $2.4 billion above the Treasury’s Budget 2018 forecast," Mr Robertson says in a statement today.

"A number of factors contributed to this result being ahead of Budget 2018 expectations. A number of one-offs led to core Crown expenses coming in 1.4 percent below forecast at 30 June 2018. The Treasury says that this was largely due to timing issues, meaning much of this variance is set to reverse out in the 2018/19 accounts. Core Crown expenses were stable at 27.9 percent of GDP.

"A strong economy contributed to core Crown tax revenue coming in 0.9 percent higher than expected in the year to 30 June 2018. Corporate tax revenue was up, due to profits for both large and small businesses being higher than the Treasury had forecast at Budget 2018. This result indicates the strength of the growing economy.

Mr Robertson says employment rose by 3.7 per cent over the year and average wages rose three per cent.

"Net capital investment of $5.9 billion in the year was the highest since 2009 and an increase of $2.2 billion from the previous year," Mr Robertson says.

"This included investments in hospitals, schools and state highways, while also reflecting the Coalition Government’s move to resume contributions to the NZ Super Fund. 

"We are committed to a balanced approach by adopting a responsible debt reduction track. At 30 June 2018, net core Crown debt was 19.9 percent of GDP, compared to the 20.8 percent forecast in Budget 2018.

Mr Robertson says the Government is committed to the Budget Responsibility Rule that net debt will be 20 per cent of GDP in 2021/22.

The Government’s books revealed a $5.5 billion surplus, well up on what was predicted. Source: 1 NEWS