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Cutting Red Tape To Create A Better, Smarter Economy

Posted on 17 Aug 2009

Better and less regulation is essential to boost New Zealand’s productivity growth, international competitiveness and living standards, the Hon Rodney Hide, Minister for Regulatory Reform, and the Hon Bill English, Minister of Finance, said today.

The Ministers released the first Government Statement on Regulation, which contains two key commitments: to introduce new regulation only when the government is satisfied that is required, reasonable and robust; and to review existing regulation to identify and remove requirements that are unnecessary, ineffective and excessively costly.

Mr English said the two commitments responded to the Job Summit’s recommendation that the government delay introducing any new regulation that imposed extra substantive costs on business during the current difficult economic conditions.

"We have a clear plan to make New Zealand a more productive and higher income country and we believe that better and less regulation is essential to achieve that goal," Mr English said. "In our current financial situation the quality of the regulatory environment is even more important."

Mr Hide said businesses were struggling to keep up with the new rules and requirements they were being forced to comply with and all New Zealanders paid a price for that.

"We are committed to addressing the high compliance costs hampering the efforts of businesses to create jobs and support our economic growth," Mr Hide said.

"We have begun to roll back a number of regulatory measures put in place by the previous government. The taskforce set up to recommend changes to the Regulatory Responsibility Bill, which demands that regulators show restraint and respect for private rights and interests, will be reporting back to the Government by 30 September."

Measures supporting the delivery of the Government Statement on Regulation are:
- Departments required to provide annual regulatory plans of all known and anticipated proposals to introduce, repeal or review legislation or regulation
- Departments required to certify Regulatory Impact Statements and provide assurance that all policy options have been analysed and major risks and uncertainties identified
- Departments required to put in place systems for continually and systematically scanning existing regulation to identify possible areas for reform or further review
- Ministers required to certify that new regulation is consistent with the Government Statement on Regulation

GOVERNMENT STATEMENT ON REGULATION - BETTER REGULATION, LESS REGULATION
Released by Hon Bill English and Hon Rodney Hide on 17 August 2009

Every day New Zealanders are affected by regulation in a myriad of ways. We look to regulation to help ensure we live safer lives, get treated fairly, protect and manage our environment, have a competitive and efficient economy, and much more.

But regulation also has costs and can have unintended effects. Outdated, poorly conceived and poorly implemented regulation can significantly hinder individual freedom, innovation, and productivity. Reducing the burden imposed by such regulation will help unshackle our economy and give New Zealanders more ability to shape and improve their own lives.

New Zealand needs to offer a better policy environment than can be found elsewhere if we are to overcome the economic disadvantages of our small size and geographical isolation, and attract and retain increasingly mobile talent, skills, capital, technology and entrepreneurship.

This is why improving the quality of regulation is a priority for this government. We believe that better regulation, and less regulation, is essential to assist New Zealand to become more internationally competitive and a more attractive place to live and do business.

Our Commitments

- We will introduce new regulation only when we are satisfied that it is required, reasonable, and robust.

- We will review existing regulation in order to identify and remove requirements that are unnecessary, ineffective or excessively costly.

How we will deliver on these commitments

We have already:

- Begun a programme of reviews of the effectiveness of important regulatory regimes, particularly those that have a significant impact on productivity;

- Committed to introduce an annual Regulatory Reform Bill to make it quicker and easier to remove or simplify unnecessary, ineffective or excessively costly requirements in primary legislation;

- Established an independent expert Regulatory Taskforce to investigate the case for, and form of, a Regulatory Responsibility Bill.

We will also be looking for significant changes in the approach both Ministers and government agencies take to regulation. To this end we will:

Resist the temptation or pressure to take a regulatory decision until we have considered the evidence, advice and consultation feedback, and fully satisfied ourselves that:
- the problem cannot be adequately addressed through private arrangements and a regulatory solution is required in the public interest;
- all practical options for addressing the problem have been considered;
- the benefits of the preferred option not only exceed the costs (taking account of all relevant considerations) but will deliver the highest level of net benefit of the practical regulatory options available;
- the proposed obligations or entitlements are clear, easily understood and conform as far as possible to established legislative principles and best practice formulations; and
- implementation issues, costs and risks have been fully assessed and addressed;

Require there to be a particularly strong case made for any regulatory proposals that are likely to:
- impose additional costs on business during the current economic recession;
- impair private property rights, market competition, or the incentives on businesses to innovate and invest; or
- override fundamental common law principles (as referenced in Chapter 3 of the Legislation Advisory Committee guidelines)

Ensure that Cabinet’s requirements for assuring regulatory quality are treated as an integral part of policy development, and built into the policy process from the beginning

Ensure that all government agencies are fully aware of the commitments set out in this statement and understand the importance that the government attaches to them

Expect a culture from government agencies that:
- recognises the importance of productivity in enhancing New Zealand’s economic performance;
- respects the value of individual autonomy and responsibility;
- does not see regulation as the first resort for problem solving;
- provides fearless advice on whether a regulatory proposal is consistent with this policy statement and meets appropriate standards of impact analysis and consultation; and
- continually looks for opportunities to make existing regulation more effective, easier to access and understand, and easier and less costly to comply with;

Require greater accountability from government agencies for the quality of the regulatory analysis they undertake, and for the consequences of poor implementation; and

Encourage New Zealanders to hold us to account where they believe we have regulated in a way that is inconsistent with the commitments in this statement.

Heather Roy's Diary

Posted on 15 Aug 2009

'IT Crucial To The Future Of Education
Technology advances continue to gather momentum everywhere at a remarkable pace. I suspect we have become so used to this state of affairs that we take the importance of technological progress for granted and are now somewhat immune to the way it has shaped our daily lives.

Schools are where our young people can most easily learn about IT - they are a captive and captured audience. Have we perhaps become lazy about keeping pace with advances? In doing so we may be losing valuable opportunities to teach our children effectively and equipping them well for the future.

When I visited Invercargill recently the front page of the Southland Times reported the temporary closure of one of the citys high schools. Too many teachers had swine flu to staff the school so students were being asked to stay at home and log in to the schools intranet for lessons. This was reported, almost breathlessly, as a novel new way of teaching. Yet others have been using this sort of model for some time, and not just in the static way that an intranet provides.

This week I was invited to open the new senior school buildings at the Auckland campus of Westmount School. Westmount is a Brethren school with 15 campuses around the country. All students have availability to the full syllabus the school provides, if not on the site they attend, then by video-conference. Likewise, specialist teachers are employed all around the country and deliver their lessons via video-conference.

Westmount is using ‘Moodle to create a virtual learning environment. ‘Moodle is an internet based system for delivering e-learning programmes for educational and training organisations. With a strong learning focus based on a sound style of instruction or teaching, ‘Moodle can be used to present online content for virtual classrooms - as it is at Westmount School - as well as in blended learning environments.

The system is user-friendly and multi-lingual - making it an effective teaching tool and one of the fastest-growing systems of its kind in the world.

Westmount School also places heavy emphasis on self-directed learning. If we expect adults to be self-managing, lifelong learners then encouraging self-directed learning in schools is crucial. Although the technology used at Westmount is impressive, in reality is an enabler to equipping our young people for the future.

The Brethren have received relentless and unfair criticism over the last few years. This wouldnt be accepted by a tolerant and caring society. In many areas the rest of New Zealand could learn lessons from this minority group. Westmount students are achieving significantly above the national average in NCEA and the technology used to educate their young people would be a good place to start.

I also visited the Computer Clubhouse in South Auckland where IT is being used to teach our young people skills that will set them up for the future. The Computer Clubhouse is part of the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network - established in the US in 1993. Today the Computer Clubhouse is an international community of over 100 in 21 different countries.

It is designed to provide a creative and safe out-of-school learning environment where young people from under-served communities - more than 25,000 annually - work with adult mentors to explore their own ideas, develop skills, and build confidence in themselves through the use of technology. The Computer Clubhouse initiative provides these young people with a range of opportunities - enabling them to better establish constructive dialogue, represent information and ideas effectively, and express themselves more clearly.

The Computer Clubhouse is not a place to go and do your homework. It is designed to complement learning and help young people develop skills for the 21st Century, find pathways to success, and build a commitment to community service. It does this by providing free access to high-end technology - including video design, graphic design, web design, music production and more - that these students might not be able to access elsewhere.

In South Auckland, Clubhouse members are predominantly of Maori and Pacific Island descent and all live in low socio-economic areas. There are expansion plans - more Clubhouses in Auckland and others around New Zealand, but all to serve the same demographic.

The initiative appears to be working, with young people involved reporting that they have developed greater competency in problem-solving, collaboration and use of technology. A recent independent survey commissioned by the Museum of Science found that 76 percent of active Clubhouse members have plans to continue beyond a high school education - bucking the trend of poor education outcomes and low tertiary education participation in under-served youth. Many at the group I visited reported that the Clubhouse was the only reason they turn up for school each day - its part of the deal that allows them to attend after school.

Both programmes are examples of the way we should be embracing IT in education. There is much yet to be done and without a focus in our schools innovation will be left behind in favour of a false sense of satisfaction that we are keeping apace of technology.

Lest We Forget - Brigadier Reginald Miles CBE, DSO & Bar, MC
Born in December 1892 at Springston, near Christchurch, Reginald Miles served as an artillery captain and was first wounded at Gallipoli in July 1915. He demonstrated courage and professionalism in France and received the Military Cross for his service as an artillery office at the battle of the Somme in 1916. Just a year later he was promoted to Major and given command of his own howitzer battery. In 1918, he undertook a daring reconnaissance mission at Ploegsteert Wood and was wounded by sniper fire. This earned him a DSO and, after he recovered from his wound, he returned to active service as Brigade Major of the Divisional Field Artillery.

Following the end of WWI, Miles returned to New Zealand and took command of Wellingtons harbour defences. He attended the Staff College at Camberley, England, in 1924 and then took a number of specialist artillery courses - becoming one of New Zealands leading artillery experts in the field.

In 1938, with war again on the horizon, Miles - regarded as an able commander and a capable staff officer - was selected to attend London's Imperial Defence College. He was then attached to the War Office for three months as New Zealand Military Liaison Officer and, upon returning to New Zealand, was appointed third military member of the Army Board and became Quartermaster General - taking a leading role in preparations for war. The following January he was seconded to the 2NZEF as Commander of the Divisional Artillery, with the rank of Brigadier.

In May 1940 he was given command of the United Kingdom Section of 2NZEF, deployed to counter the threatened German invasion. The following year the Divisional Artillery was posted to Greece, where Miles had to determine how best to deploy his stretched resources to defend Olympus Pass. He later organised their withdrawal and evacuation in the face of the German advance and, for his service, was mentioned in dispatches and received the Greek Military Cross (first class).

Hospitalised for exhaustion, Miles missed the Crete campaign but rejoined his division in North Africa. In 1941 he again demonstrated his skill and courage during the campaign to relieve Tobruk. The regiment lost around 275 men - the heaviest casualties suffered by a New Zealand artillery unit in a single action during WWII. Miles, who felt his guns had been needlessly sacrificed due to misunderstandings between the division and corps headquarters, was wounded by shrapnel and taken prisoner.

Interned at a high-security prison for senior Allied Officers in a mountain fortress near Florence, Miles set about devising a way to escape. In March 1943, after five months tunnelling under the castle walls with a kitchen knife and iron bars, Miles - along with fellow New Zealand Brigadier James Hargest - escaped, reaching Switzerland and making their way to Spain with the help of the French Resistance.

This daring escape made Miles a CBE and earned him a bar to his DSO. This week Brigadier Miles' complete set of medals were donated by his family to the National Army Museum.

ENDS

The Gift Of His Tomorrows

Posted on 14 Aug 2009

Hon Heather Roy speech to the ceremony for the handover of the decorations of Brigadier Reginald Miles CBE, DSO & Bar, MC; The National Army Museum, Waiouru; Thursday, August 13 2009.

Lieutenant General Don McIver, Executive Trustee of the National Army Museum Executive Management Committee; Major General Rhys Jones, Chief of Army; Major General Lou Gardiner, Former Chief of Army; Brigadier Graeme Birch, Colonel Commandant Royal New Zealand Artillery; Brigadier John Dennistoun-Wood, HQ NZDF; Colonel Ray Seymour, Director of the National Army Museum; Mr Peter Thorne George and all members of the extended family of Brigadier Miles, official guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Good afternoon

It is a great privilege for me to represent the New Zealand Government today to honour the service of one of our country's most significant military leaders.

It is nearly three years since Peter Thorne George contacted me on behalf of Brigadier Reginald Miles' extended family - represented by the 20 of you here today at the National Army Museum.

While it is gratifying for me - both as a soldier, and as the Associate Minister of Defence - to see this ceremony come together, I have no doubt that Brigadier Reg would be especially pleased and proud of you all.

You have already heard or read much about Reg Miles' distinguished military career. It is a reality for all servicemen that their military career is summarised, in the end, by a personal file and a set of medals.

I'm pleased, as I'm sure you are, that the medallic record of Reg Miles' long and dedicated service to this country will now be complete and on display for all to see and appreciate.

There have been - and always will be - soldiers, sailors and airmen. There are few warriors. There are even fewer visionary warriors.

To build anything of consequence requires more than just a dream. Reg Miles was one of those who not only had a vision - a dream - he also walked the talk. Through his planning and leadership over several decades, he laid the foundations for today's artillery and operational planning processes.

This day would not have been possible without the work of many and I wish to acknowledge in particular Brigadier (retired) John Dennistoun-Wood, who conducted the research; Major General (retired) Lou Gardiner who, as Chief of Army, approved the findings; and also the Director, Trust Board and staff of the National Army Museum who have worked behind the scenes to bring the detail of Reg Miles' extraordinary life together.

Brigadier Reginald Miles CBE, DSO & Bar, MC saw what tomorrow held. He selflessly gave up his tomorrows so that we - and so many others - could enjoy our todays.

In doing so, he deserves the special remembrance and respect of all New Zealanders. I hope, Peter, that you and Bill Dawson and all the rest of the family will continue the work started through this medals project and record the full story of your ancestor - lest others forget.

ENDS

War Hero To Be Honoured By All New Zealanders

Posted on 13 Aug 2009

Associate Minister of Defence Heather Roy was today delighted to attend, and address, a special ceremony at which the medals of New Zealand war hero Brigadier Reginald Miles were donated to the National Army Museum at Waiouru.

"An artillery officer, Brig Miles received 15 decorations - including the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and the Military Cross - and a nomination for the Victoria Cross," Mrs Roy said.

"Remembered as a great leader and soldier, Brig Miles served with distinction in both World Wars - he undertook daring missions, was wounded several times in the line of duty, and was appointed as the first Commander Royal Artillery during WWII.

"Brig Miles' second DSO was awarded after he and two accomplices made a daring escape from a high-security POW camp in Italy and he crossed half of Europe to reach Spain.

"Today's ceremony is the culmination of a decades-long quest by Brig Miles' family to locate, replace and preserve his medals.

"The Government and the New Zealand Defence Force are honoured that the Miles family have generously chosen to donate these medals to the National Army Museum so that New Zealanders now and in the future will be able to recognise and celebrate the bravery of one of our most gallant and illustrious soldiers," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

Uniqueness And Innovation

Posted on 12 Aug 2009

Hon Heather Roy speech to Westmount School Auckland Campus; Miller Road, Mangere Bridge, Auckland; Tuesday, August 11 2009.

Ladies and gentlemen, students, teachers, parents, grandparents and trustees.

Good morning. I'm delighted to be here to help you mark another milestone in the development of Westmount School. I am honoured that you have asked me to open your new senior school block.

I'm enjoying visiting independent schools around the country - you all represent choice for students and parents, and are part of a strong and dynamic sector that plays an important role in lifting the overall performance of the education sector as a whole.

As Associate Minister of Education, I am pleased to be involved in strengthening the Government's relationship with independent schools - a relationship that achieves ACT and National's aims of enhancing school choice, and which preserves your school's special character.

I know that there are particular values and aspirations dear to the Brethren community, and that your school was established to provide a quality learning environment that upholds those. Like other schools with special character you are unique, and that uniqueness calls for a flexible approach from the Government.

The shape of the New Zealand Curriculum - the document that you've based your teaching and learning programmes on - allows for this much-needed flexibility. Schools decide for themselves the detail of their vision, values and principles.

One attribute that you have chosen to focus on developing in your students is that of self-directed learning, which leads on to lifelong learning. Westmount School is taking this approach and giving senior students the chance to develop initiative, independence and confidence and often puts teachers in a role more like that of a facilitator.

If we expect adults to be self-managing life-long learners, then self-directed learning at an early age is crucial. Your use of technology is very impressive but, in reality, it is an enabler. It is your choice of - and commitment to - self-directed learning that is responsible for your success. You are leaders in this area, and I congratulate you for that.

I'm impressed at the way in which your school has expanded since opening in 2004 with 450 students to the 1,450 attending 15 campuses around the country today.

Parents in your community want the best for their children and choice is key to achieving this. You provide them with that choice, and it's clear that a growing number of parents in the Brethren community are selecting your school as the education option that best suits their children's needs to provide quality education.

Furthering school choice is a key part of the ACT-National Confidence & Supply Agreement. ACT has always campaigned for school choice, and National has said it will:

"work, over time, to increase the education choices available to parents and pupils so families have more freedom to select schooling options that best meet the individual needs of their children."

National and ACT in Government are well aware that there is no such thing as a 'one size fits all' education model to suit all children, and we are committed to providing parents with more freedom make the decisions around what schooling is best for their children.

The uncertain economic climate has meant that everyone has had to tighten their belt. This brings challenges to all organisations, but it is often in tough times that innovative thinking occurs and this is an area in which independent schools can - and are - taking a lead.

What I have seen here today is a prime example of innovative thinking in action. I am impressed by the way in which you have risen to the challenge of providing your students with a full syllabus across your 15 campuses.

I have no doubt that this was an undertaking that had the potential to adversely stretch your resources, but you've developed innovative solutions to this. I've heard a little about the use of your virtual learning environment using 'Moodle', and I'm looking forward to seeing your video conferencing lessons in action today.

I know that you have a strong business focus and that senior students from Year 12 take part in the Young Enterprise Scheme. Not only are you being innovative with your provision of a quality education, but you are nurturing and encouraging innovation in your students.

In the short time that I have been here today, I have also seen very clearly just how well your curriculum works when put into action. Congratulations on your impressive academic record - your NCEA results at Westmount are well above the national average across all levels. This is a great feat for a school that has only been in existence for five years.

Over the next four years, the Government has committed to spending over $8 million to ensure that NCEA is robust, fair, and builds credibility with employers. It is imperative for parents and students to be able to rely on worthwhile qualifications.

Aligning the NCEA to the revised curriculum is an important part of this work. Our goal is to develop a broad range of pathways so that you can all leave secondary school ready for work, training or further study. That's what our Trades in Schools policy is about, and why we are introducing Trades Academies and investigating school-based apprenticeships.

This Government has moved to make independent schools more affordable for more parents by increasing the funds available to them - something schools like yours have waited some time for.

Budget 2009 included a $10 million per annum boost to Government funding of independent schools - the first increase the Independent School sector has received since 2000. Last week I announced that the additional $10 million per annum would be split two ways - $7.4 million will go directly to schools to increase the current subsidy per student by 21 percent. The other $2.6 million will provide scholarships for students from low-income families - 150 starting next year, with 50 at each of the Year 9, 10, and 11 levels, increasing to 250 in total by 2012.

This is an important step toward honouring ACT and National's pledge to widen the education choices available to students and their parents. The success of these scholarships will be dependent on the support of schools like yours and I would be delighted to see some scholarships at Westmount school.

As well as this boost in funding, the Government is also helping to ease the burden on independent schools by freeing you up from government regulation. Independent schools already enjoy some freedom from this, and I'd like to see that freedom extended. It is important that schools focus on the needs of their students and parents, rather than the demands of central government.

With such high aspirations and a full syllabus for your students, it is vital that this school - and all others like it - are able to focus on the needs of students and parents, rather than on the demands of Government.

I want principals and teachers to lead learning; I want schools to be able to concentrate on teaching and Boards to be able to focus on providing proactive governance. Valuable time and energy should not be wasted on satisfying an over-powering and needless bureaucracy. Our sole aim needs to be that of delivering the best education outcomes for all children and young people to ensure that they have the tools and opportunities with which to reach their full potential.

We need to place high trust in leaders at the front-line, and encourage and promote self-managing schools. This means encouraging and fostering strong educational leadership in every school - be they State schools, integrated, independent, Rudolph Steiner, or Westmount School, whatever the philosophy. This leadership is critical to ensuring the achievement of education goals.

Thank you for inviting me to open your new senior school buildings. I am sure this project that has been a focus for your community for some time will be enjoyed by students and teachers alike. Congratulations again on your impressive teaching programme but more importantly your focus on self-directed learning. I believe this is the future for our country and I look forward to watching your progress in the years to come.

ENDS

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