A Message from Judith Collins
Happy New Year I hope that 2024 has started well for all of you and your families and communities.
As you may know in the last weeks before Christmas our new National-led government got cracking with the review and reform of many pieces of legislation that are required to get our country back on track.
Of great importance was taking the positive steps to address inflation and control costs for New Zealanders. We have stopped work on the Labour government’s Income Insurance Scheme, Industry Transformation Plans and Lake Onslow pumped hydro scheme as part our election promises to cut unnecessary government spending. As a priority, to control the cost-of-living increases, we have passed the legislation that requires the Reserve Bank to focus solely on reducing and controlling inflation.
We have scrapped ‘Fair Pay Agreements’ which could have brought back the days of 1970’s nation-wide pay agreements and industrial action. People who have care-giver responsibilities or who have more than one job need flexibility. This also applies to Kiwi workplaces and employers who need to improve their productivity, grow their businesses and then reward their employees with higher wages, while maintaining their workforce and building profitability.
We have also re-introduced the 90-day trial periods for employers and employees and we have full support from our coalition partners – Act and NZ First to do these as well as the support of New Zealanders who voted with the expectation we would deliver on the things we campaigned on.
As Minister of Science Technology and Innovation, I announced the provision of $21.4 million in co-funded grants to businesses set to forge innovation pathways.
The first Ārohia Innovation Trailblazer grants are part of a new Callaghan Innovation fund supporting innovative New Zealanders with big ideas to take to market world-leading innovations.
Ārohia Innovation grant co-funding can be used for a wide range of non-R&D, go-to-market activities including product and process development, and new business models.
The first Ārohia Innovation grant recipients span diverse industries and sectors from new space¬ bound vehicle manufacturing and in-orbit technology development, to innovative, high-tech healthcare solutions and novel carbon-reducing clean-tech development.
From the first long-haul refrigerated ship equipped to transport meat from New Zealand to our biggest export markets, to local development of low-orbit satellite launch vehicles, New Zealand has a proud tradition of world-leading innovation.
Late last year I attended the Technology Investment Network (TIN) Awards in Auckland, which saw many small innovative tech companies recognised for their work in many IT areas ranging from health and the development like the “Molemap” technologies to Gallagher which provides fencing innovations for property security and animal management to Xero the superstar of New Zealand’s Fintech sector.
The companies recognised in the TIN awards all grew their worth in 2023. Some by a million or more and a few by over a billion dollars. These achievements have great potential for growth and for bringing wealth and expertise into this country that will rival traditional wealth generators in agriculture and tourism as well as enhancing development within these existing valuable export-earners. It’s a win-win.
Deployment of NZ Defence personnel in the Red Sea
The decision to deploy six defence force personnel to help with the defence of commercial shipping navigating the Red Sea was announced on Tuesday last week by the Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, Rt Hon Winston Peters and myself.
As a nation, New Zealand has contributed to maritime security in the Middle East for over 10 years through the Combined Marine Forces (based in Bahrain) in order to protect our national interest and international rules-based order.
Going back further, New Zealand Defence forces have been contributors to international security efforts in the Middle East since 1954 and this latest deployment will continue to have the same goals of defending lives, de-escalating tensions where possible and restoring stability to the Red Sea.
Regarding the current action, the Houthi have been given numerous formal warnings to end their attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. In December 2023 a warning was sent to them from the UN Security Council. The US State Department and the White House with support from partner nations including New Zealand, have issued joint statements condemning attacks since December and again in early January this year.
The Houthis have been urged to immediately cease all violence that sets back the political process to end the war in Yemen and they have been publicly warned that there will be consequences for continued attacks in recent days.
Our decision is to deploy six highly trained people to provide precision targeting on specific sites through intelligence gathering. Our people will not be entering Yemen nor will they be directly involved in conflict. They will be part of an international coalition providing “collective self-defence of ships in the Middle East.” It is envisaged that this will support international security and the free flow of trade to all countries including New Zealand.
There is no intention that this deployment will have the effect of dragging New Zealand into Middle East conflicts and our Coalition government remain committed to protecting New Zealand’s supply chain and best interests for peace and prosperity.
With best wishes for growing and continuing success in 2024,
Hon Judith Collins KC
MP for Papakura
As a priority, to control the cost-of-living increases, we have passed the legislation that requires the Reserve Bank to focus solely on reducing and controlling inflation.