Simon Bridges accuses Jacinda Ardern of failing to meet Government's 'high bar' of taxpayer spending over Chatham Islands trip

Simon Bridges has accused Jacinda Ardern of failing to meet the self-imposed "high bar" set by her Government when it comes to spending taxpayers money after a trip saw eight ministers sent to the Chatham Islands for the opening of a new wharf last week.

The feisty exchange opened Parliament's Question Time today, with the National Leader attempting to put the Prime Minister on the back foot over the issue.

"Does she stand by her statement that "we have set a high bar when it comes to spending taxpayers money" and if so does the fact that eight ministers flew to the Chatham's to open a wharf last week meet that bar?" Mr Bridges asked.

Ms Ardern was steadfast in her defence of the trip, saying it gave the ministers attending a chance to perform other duties on the islands.

"The honourable Chris Finlayson would be very disappointed to see you relegating the importance of the Chatham Islands.

"It makes more sense for a group of ministers to undertake work at the same time each of them undertook their own work while they were there for the opening of the wharf so it was a productive day for each of them," she countered.

The National leader then delivered a zinger which had his side of the House in an uproar.

"Can she confirm that all eight ministers voted against the new wharf when national put aside funding for it in the budget last year?" Mr Bridges said.

We head to the Chatham Islands with what feels like half of the Government to open a new dock. Source: 1 NEWS

The Prime Minister was quick to reply with a quip of her own: "I think you will find they voted against giving $400 million to the top ten per cent of earners and would stand by that."

The $50 million Chatham Islands wharf is hoping to give the local economy a significant boost.

The Government sent eight ministers to the opening of a new wharf in the Chatham Islands last week. Source: 1 NEWS



Tauranga mussel processing plant ordered to pay nearly $280k after worker loses eye

A Tauranga mussel processing plant has been ordered to pay nearly $280,000 after a worker had to have his eye removed after an incident involving a corrosive cleaning product.

In a statement Worksafe says North Island Mussels Limited was sentenced in the Tauranga District Court today following the January 2017 incident which left their worker with life changing injuries.

The incident saw the worker decanting a cleaning product as a piece of tubing flicked him in the eye. The impact caused so much damage that the eye had to be removed, while the damage inflicted was so significant that fitting a prosthetic became impossible.

As a result, North Island Mussels Limited have been sentenced with a fine of $219,375, and ordered to pay $60,000 in reparation.

An investigation found that the cleaning product in question should not have been made available to be handled, instead should have been hardwired and plumbed for use.

"Protective equipment should not be the go to safety solution for using hazardous substances. If there is a smarter and safer way of doing a job, and it is reasonably practicable for it to be implemented then that is the expectation of the Health and Safety at Work Act" said WorkSafe's Deputy General Manager for Operations and Specialist Services Simon Humphries.

Seafood processing plant staff checking weight of mussels in small plastic container before packing
Mussel factory (file picture). Source: istock.com

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Government to loan $339 million for Auckland housing infrastructure

Auckland Council is getting a $339 million government loan to enable 7000 houses to be built in the north-west of the city.

The interest free 10-year loan will go towards major infrastructure projects in Redhills and Whenuapai.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff said it will deliver new roads, wasterwater infrastructure, bus and cycle lanes.

This will allow developers to quickly build housing on greenfields land.

Housing Minister Phil Twyford said the developments would be near the planned light rail line and be supported by growth at the Westgate commercial centre, providing local services and employment opportunities.

He said the investment promoted one of the city's more affordable areas.

QV estimates properties in west Auckland average $824,000 compared to over $1m city-wide, he said.

rnz.co.nz

Housing Minister Phil Twyford is now weighing up his options.
Source: 1 NEWS

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NZ First bill to give police power to hand out on the spot fines to shoplifters

New Zealand First are in favour of introducing legislation that will see police be able to hand out on-the-spot fines to shoplifters.

A member's bill submitted by Law and Order spokesperson Darroch Ball is aiming to curb the described 'shoplifting epidemic', estimated to cost retailers over $1 billion in 2017 alone.

A 2017 survey from Retail NZ and Otago University found that retailers did not report 68 per cent of shoplifting, because they did not expect an adequate response from authorities.

"Currently, any formal prosecutions for shoplifting are time-consuming and costly as they must go before the courts, where the only punishments available are either custodial sentences or fines handed down by a judge," Mr Ball said in a statement.

"This bill shortcuts the litany of red tape, going straight to a scheme of proportional fines. It also sends the clear message that offenders will not get away with it."

Police would have the power to hand out a minimum $150 instant fine or a fine of "one and a half times" the value of the goods stolen, whichever is greatest.  

The proposed bill would only allow for two infringements, with a third seeing an offender prosecuted in court.

A police emblem on the sleeve of an officer.
A police emblem on the sleeve of an officer. Source: 1 NEWS


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Michael Hill hires new CEO as jewellery chain looks to expand

Jewellery chain Michael Hill has hired Specialty Fashion's Daniel Bracken as chief executive after current CEO Phil Taylor quit to deal with health problems.

Mr Bracken, a former Myer deputy chief executive who oversaw Specialty Fashion's well-received sale of the Katies, Millers, Crossroads, Autograph and Rivers retail brands, will join Michael Hill in November.

Michael Hill said today that Mr Taylor, who has worked at the company for more than three decades, has been diagnosed with a health issue and resigned to focus on treatment and recovery.

Mr Taylor led Michael Hill's recent exit from its loss-making US business and closed most of its ailing Emma & Roe stores to refocus on the core Michael Hill brand.

"Phil's leadership during his period as chief executive has been outstanding in what has been a period of recalibration and repositioning for the company," chair Emma Hill said in a statement.

Ms Hill said Mr Bracken's international experience with Burberry London will be valuable as Michael Hill plans to open a minimum of 10 new stores in Australia, New Zealand and Canada in the current financial year.

"Daniel's global experience and strong commitment to create engaged customer centric brands is aligned with the board's commitment to see Michael Hill become a globally relevant leader in the premium jewellery category," Ms said.

Melbourne, Australia - August 24, 2017: A pedestrian walks past a Michael Hill jewelry store at the corner of Little Collins and Elizabeth Streets in the Central Business District of Melbourne, Australia.
Michael Hill jeweller. Source: istock.com