Update on new Chinese infant formula rules

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Chinese officials have provided further advice on the introduction of new regulations affecting New Zealand infant formula exports to China, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye.

“In the past 24 hours, New Zealand officials have been formally briefed on the outcome of the Chinese audit of New Zealand manufacturers conducted in March; and given further information in regards to how China will view relationships between brand owners and formula manufacturers,” Mr Guy says.  “This information has been conveyed to New Zealand infant formula manufacturers by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) this morning.”

The new regulations will apply to all countries, alongside strict regulations for China’s domestic producers, as part of a long-planned change to China’s regulatory framework for the manufacture and import of infant formula that will come into effect on 1 May this year. 

Retail-ready infant formula represents about four per cent of New Zealand’s dairy exports to China, or about $200 million per year. The total dairy trade to China was $5 billion last year.

“Based on advice from Chinese officials we expect most if not all of our 13 manufacturers to achieve registration, although all but one manufacturer have some actions they need to undertake before registration will be complete.  MPI has provided details of those changes to the manufacturers this morning and in some cases changes have already been made.  MPI will be working closely with the Chinese to help complete the registration process for manufacturers as quickly as possible,” Mr Guy says.

About 90 per cent of New Zealand’s infant formula exports are controlled by manufacturers who are working through this registration process.

For the remaining approximately 10 per cent of infant formula exports, the changes required will be more complex.

“Chinese officials have made it clear that they will require a close association between the brand owner and the manufacturer.  Yesterday they formally advised that in practice that means the brand owner having clear control over the manufacturing process and the product formulation for their brand,” Ms Kaye says.

“This will impact on those brand-owners who are unable to prove that close association.  MPI will work with those brand-owners to advise them of options that could bring their brands into line with the new regulations.  However the new requirements will have a very significant impact on those exporters that are unable to demonstrate a close association. Our Embassy in Beijing is  seeking transition arrangements to help those brand owners who need to make significant changes.

“We know that all infant formula produced after 1 May 2014 for export to China, from any country, will need to meet the same requirements.  New Zealand agencies including MPI, NZTE and MFAT will continue to work closely with all New Zealand exporters to meet the new regulations.  MPI is sending a senior official to Beijing in the next few days to assist in the transition process.”

Food Safety Assurance Advisory Council established

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Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye said today a Food Safety and Assurance Advisory Council is being set up to provide independent advice to the government on issues relating to food safety.

Establishing this council is one of the 29 recommendations of the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate Contamination Incident, released in December last year.

“At the moment there is no independent group that looks at the whole of New Zealand’s food safety and assurance system and is able to provide high-level independent advice and risk analysis,” Ms Kaye says.

“This council is being set up to do this and will report to the Director-General of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). It will provide a valuable sounding board for new ideas and contribute to raising consumer and market confidence in New Zealand’s food.

“It is my expectation the council will also identify current and future trends, risks and issues that may impact on our food safety and assurance system.

“The council will tap into the highest calibre expertise in food safety disciplines with both national and international experience. It will have up to six members skilled in fields such as food regulation, public health, science, business, and international relations.

“While New Zealand’s food regulatory system is considered among the best in the world, market demands and expectations are changing rapidly. We need to be one-step ahead if we want to maintain our edge as one of the world’s best food producers. This council will be valuable in adding to our knowledge and expertise,” Ms Kaye says.

The council will be set up by MPI’s Director-General Martyn Dunne and will cover operational, policy, and regulatory issues across New Zealand’s entire food safety and assurance regime. It will report to him after each quarterly meeting and provide an annual report to him. MPI has allocated $250,000 per year for the Food Safety Assurance Advisory Council.

“The Director General will keep me informed about the council’s work and I will also receive copies of its reports, including the annual report,” Ms Kaye says.

$2 million for new classrooms at Tai Tapu school

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Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye today announced nearly $2 million funding for new classrooms at Tai Tapu School in rural Canterbury.

“Selwyn district is part of a rapidly growing Canterbury region. The nine new buildings for Tai Tapu School are part of a broader classroom building programme which will address the capacity needs for the region,” Ms Kaye says.

“Three of the classrooms will accommodate roll growth and six will replace older classrooms. All of these will meet modern learning environment standards.”

Tai Tapu School, which takes students from Year 1 to Year 8, received most of the neighbouring Greenpark School’s students when it closed earlier this year. Further growth in the region has also been anticipated in plans for a Stage 2 development at the school.

Ms Kaye says 26 new classrooms for the Selwyn District have been funded in the past 12 months, with a total value of $5.3 million.  The classrooms will help to address changing demographics in the region in the next few years.

“These new classrooms meet modern learning environment standards which is important to raise achievement for children and young people,” Ms Kaye says. “Our vision is to have schools with flexible learning areas, access to ultra-fast broadband and energy efficient building that will serve their communities for many years to come.”

Govt to establish Food Safety Science & Research Centre

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Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced that expressions of interest have been released for a Food Safety Science and Research Centre.

Establishing a New Zealand centre of food safety science and research is one of the 29 recommendations from the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident, released in December last year.

“The centre will ensure delivery of excellent food safety science and research while also minimising the risks of foodborne illness and maximising economic growth opportunities,” Mr Joyce says.

“When the Government accepted the recommendations of the WPC Inquiry we undertook to make funding available for food safety science and research with a view to having further funding contributions from industry.

“The centre will be funded by at least $5 million per year made up of contributions from Government and industry.

“The first step in establishing the centre is to seek expressions of interest from existing research organisations.”

“The centre will ensure that New Zealand’s food safety system remains among the best in the world,” Ms Kaye says. “It will focus on cutting-edge, internationally recognised research into key aspects of food safety.

“In addition to being able to contribute funding to the centre, key industry people will be asked to be part of an advisory panel to inform the centre’s work. This ensures the centre’s work is directly relevant to industry.

“The new centre is part of an overall Government package of improvements to ensure New Zealand’s food safety system remains at the forefront internationally. It will sit alongside the new Food Safety and Assurance Advisory Council. The council will set the context and provide high-level guidance to the Food Safety Science and Research Centre.

“I believe this investment and the centre will enable an increased level of food safety knowledge and capability across the science sector, industry and government,” Ms Kaye says.

From the expressions of interest, a shortlist of organisations will be invited to attend a workshop to refine the centre’s scope, structure and functions. The outputs of the workshop will be used to design the second step, which is a request for proposal process from organisations which attended the workshop and are interested in hosting the centre.

The centre is expected to be up and running by the end of the year.

The Expressions of Interest (EOI) released today can be found at: www.msi.govt.nz/get-funded/research-organisations/new-zealand-food-safety-science-and-research-centre

High Court says there is a case to answer in relation to leaky school building allegations

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Associate Education Minister  Nikki Kaye said today that legal action will continue in relation to the supply  of allegedly defective wall cladding materials by Carter Holt Harvey (CHH).

This follows CHH failing to  have the Ministry of Education’s product liability claim struck out in the High  Court last week.

“I am pleased with the  recent judgment and support the Ministry continuing to pursue all avenues that  support delivery of the best possible learning environments for our students  and teachers,” Ms Kaye says.

At the start of this year  the Ministry had successfully settled more than 40 claims relating to leaky  buildings and is the first Government agency to lodge a major product liability  claim. The Ministry previously reached successful out of court agreements with  major manufacturer James Hardie, and CSR Building Products Ltd.

Ms Kaye says that the  Ministry remains open to settlement discussions with any party engaged in legal  action but will continue to pursue these matters vigorously.

“The Ministry has been at  the forefront of the leaky building issue on behalf of New Zealand schools and  takes action as needed to protect the Crown’s significant investment in  education infrastructure and promote better building practices in the future,”  Ms Kaye says.

Successful legal action  complements a wide range of other Ministry activities designed to ensure the  leaky building issue does not affect New Zealand schools in the future.

The Ministry has been  influential in lifting quality standards for all school property projects,  including the introduction of mandatory Weather-Tightness Requirements that  work in conjunction with the New Zealand Building Code and include a peer  review of all school designs.

Specific details of  settlements and on-going legal action remain confidential.

Celebrating the electrification of Britomart

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Electrification BritomartIt was fantastic to recently help celebrate the electrification of Britomart with the Minister of Transport, Hon Gerry Brownlee, and National MPs Hon Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga and Simon O’Connor.

The electrification of Britomart is an important element in supporting a better, more efficient transport system for Auckland, and a milestone for three projects, representing a total of $1.7 billion investment in the rail network including:

  • The upgrade of the network to enable 10-minute peak frequencies (Project DART)
  • The Auckland Electrification Project
  • The purchase of 57 new electric trains

It is great to see that Aucklanders made 10.7 million trips by rail across the city in the year to January 2014.  The upgraded and electrified network, along with the new trains, will encourage even more people to take the train instead of driving and help tackle congestion.

The Government is investing around $1 billion a year on roads and public transport to meet the needs of Auckland’s growing population and to improve the transport system’s contribution to economic growth.  The completed Newmarket Viaduct and Victoria Park tunnel are already making a difference.

Other projects include the Auckland Manukau Eastern Transport Initiative (AMETI) which is a 30-year, $1.5 billion strategy aimed at dealing with traffic congestion, poor traffic options and growth in key areas; the green light for a second harbour link and the City Rail Link business case; design and construction of the Auckland Domain Road Corridor Upgrade; and the planned SH16 Central Auckland connection cycle-way.

Recorded crime continues to drop in Auckland central

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The latest police crime statistics for 2013 show recorded crime dropped 21 per cent in the Auckland central police area says Nikki Kaye, MP for Auckland Central.

Nationally, recorded crime is down 20.2 per cent.  Locally, in Auckland central, burglary and break and enter crime is down 23 per cent, and drug offences down 28.7 per cent.

“Last year’s results reflect the hard work of our local Police, with a large increase on 2012’s results – when recorded crime dropped by 3.8 per cent” says Nikki Kaye.

“This is great news for our local community, and reflects our commitment to preventing and tackling crime.

“A 189 per cent increase in Police foot patrols over two years across the Auckland City police district, Neighbourhood Policing Teams, and the 58,000 additional frontline hours for our district’s officers delivered by the use of smartphones and tablets, is contributing to our falling crime rate.”

“National has worked hard to ensure our frontline Police are able to spend more time on the streets preventing crime and building safer communities, and we will continue to do so.

“The Auckland central CBD staff have been working hard to reduce crime. This includes providing Crime Prevention Advice through a number of institutions, including Unisafe (Auckland Uni), AUT, and some key public and commercial locations including Auckland Library and some food proprietors. This is making a difference locally.

“I have met with local Police staff and community groups on a number of occasions in recent years, and I am aware of the improved responsiveness by Police to a number of community groups and their issues.

“Delivering better public services for New Zealand families is one of our priorities, and we are well on our way to reaching our targets to reduce crime, meaning 45,000 fewer crimes in our communities every year from 2017”.

New Youth Citizenship awards announced

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Youth Affairs Minister Nikki Kaye is today asking New Zealanders to recognise outstanding young community members and nominate them for a Youth Week 2014 Award.

“I am creating these awards for this year’s Youth Week to recognise and celebrate young people aged 12-24 who have contributed to their community in a significant way,” Ms Kaye says.

“I know there are thousands of young people out there making valuable contributions in their communities both individually and as members of groups. I would like to encourage people to take the time to nominate those young people to be formally acknowledged for what they are doing.

“As Minister of Youth Affairs, I am always impressed to hear about the young people who undertake and often lead significant projects. Encouraging them to be active in their communities helps them to become confident and creative leaders.”

Young people can be nominated for one of four awards: the Leadership Award, Change Maker Award, Giving Back Award and Working for Young People Award.

“The awards will be judged by representatives of the Ministry of Youth Development’s Youth Advisory Group. It is important to me that these awards can be judged through the lens of young Kiwis. The group will be looking for the ability to motivate and engage others, leadership skills, commitment and perseverance,” Ms Kaye says.

Award winners will be announced during Youth Week 2014 which runs from 17 to 25 May.

Youth Week 2014 Award nominations open today and close at 9am on 28 April 2014. For further information on the Youth Week 2014 Awards or to nominate a young person go to http://www.myd.govt.nz/news/2014/youth-week-2014.html

$1.7 million paid to Nelson and Tasman Councils for flood response and recovery

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Civil Defence Minister Nikki Kaye today announced the Government will pay $1.46 million to Nelson City Council and $317,000 to Tasman District Council for civil defence emergency response and recovery costs arising from the flood event in the Nelson-Tasman region in December 2011.

“Each council has the responsibility for an initial civil defence response in its area, and then for recovery. I would like to acknowledge the important and significant work done by the Nelson and Tasman Councils and thank all the individuals involved,” Ms Kaye says.

“It is important for local authorities to know that central Government is here to support them in major events with direct financial assistance. The aim is to cover the response costs and support the community as it focuses on recovery. These funds mean that ratepayers do not have to meet the full costs of such an event.”

The payments are a contribution to the costs the councils incurred responding to the flooding on 14 December 2011, after Takaka experienced one-in-500 year rainfall and Richmond-Nelson region experienced one-in-250 year rainfall.

“The payments include a contribution to the on-going costs of restoring river management systems, which were severely damaged by the flooding,” Ms Kaye says.

The financial assistance for the response period pays for essential civil defence costs incurred in accommodating, transporting, feeding and clothing displaced people, and for repair of essential infrastructure, and other response costs.

Financial support for recovery contributes to repair or recovery of essential infrastructure assets, river management systems, and other community assets damaged following failure of flood protection schemes.