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Defence Review 2009 Public Consultation Document Launch

Posted on 26 Jun 2009

Minister of Defence Wayne Mapp and Associate Minister of Defence Heather Roy will today launch the public consultation document for Defence Review 2009 at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

"The Defence Review is long overdue, with the last major review being last century. Defence Review 2009 will provide the way forward for the next few decades," Dr Mapp said.

"The public consultation document is an important tool of Defence Review 2009 and will assist in gaining the public's views on the direction of our Defence Force," Associate Minister of Defence Heather Roy said.

Launch of the Defence Review 2009 Public Consultation Document; Te Marae, Level 4, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Cable Street, Wellington; 12:30pm, Friday, June 26 2009.

ENDS

ACT Wellington Regional Conference

Posted on 25 Jun 2009

ACT New Zealand will hold its Wellington Regional Conference this weekend at the Museum Hotel, Cable Street.

Conference speakers will include former Rugby League coach Graeme Lowe, former New Zealand Cricketer Richard Petrie, ACT Party President Michael Crozier - as well as ACT Leader Rodney Hide, ACT Deputy Leader Heather Roy, and ACT MP John Boscawen.

ACT New Zealand Wellington Regional Conference; Museum Hotel, Cable Street, Wellington; 10am - 4pm, Sunday, June 28 2009.

ENDS

MVS Amendment Bill

Posted on 25 Jun 2009

Hon Heather Roy speech to the First Reading of the Motor Vehicle Sales Amendment Bill; Parliament; Wednesday, June 24 2009.

Mr Speaker, I move that the Motor Vehicle Sales Amendment Bill now be read for the first time. It is my intention that the Bill be referred to the Commerce Committee.

Section 163 of the Motor Vehicle Sales Act required the Ministry of Consumer Affairs to conduct a review of the Act after two years of its operation.

This Bill is the result of a proactive assessment of the Act - which looked at whether the operation of the legislation is meeting the intended policy goals - and makes a number of amendments in order to improve the legislation's workability and operation.

As an ACT Party Minister in the National-led Government, I am very supportive of such proactive assessments of the relevance and effectiveness of legislation. Legislation should achieve its stated intention without imposing unnecessary and unforeseen side-effects.

The Motor Vehicle Sales Act came into force in December 2003 and introduced a new registration regime for motor vehicle traders. This regime served to make traders more accountable, but also offered more flexibility to participate in the industry.

New information disclosure requirements for used motor vehicles were introduced, and the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal established to offer consumers a forum to hear complaints against traders.

The policy underpinning the Motor Vehicle Sales Act has several core elements: a requirement for motor vehicle traders to be registered; requirements for information disclosure concerning used motor vehicles; and provision for consumer redress through the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal.

The Ministry of Consumer Affair's review of the Act considered how these were operating. The review identified areas where the Act's operation would benefit from amendment and the review report was tabled in the House in March 2008. This was followed by further consultation on the review's recommendations, leading to the amendments set out in this Bill.

Motor Vehicle Trader Registration
The Bill makes amendments to the renewal of annual registration by motor vehicle traders. At present, an individual applying to become a director of a motor vehicle trading company must supply a statutory declaration with their initial application. They are then required to provide an annual statutory declaration as part of the registration renewal process.

This requirement is onerous, costly and serves no purpose if details have not changed. The Bill amends the renewal procedure to allow a company secretary to confirm to the registrar that the information held on the registry about the company is correct. In particular, companies with directors based overseas will benefit from reduced compliance costs as a result of a small legislative change. Acceptance or refusal of a renewal application by the Registrar will remain essentially the same.

People can, however be appointed as directors between annual registrations without any check on their suitability. Accordingly, it is proposed that the MVSA be amended to require that notification of a new director - or of the appointment of an individual involved in the company's management - be accompanied by a statutory declaration as to their suitability for registration. Again, this is a small legislative change, but one that brings added protections for consumers that unsuitable persons are not legally able to become motor vehicle traders.

Further, a loophole in current legislation means that un-registered traders - or those whose registration has lapsed at the time of their conviction or bankruptcy - cannot be automatically banned from trading as a motor vehicle dealer in the future. Such traders can currently continue to sell motor vehicles until the Registrar can take a case to court to ban them - a process that can take some months, incurring costs to the Government.

This Bill closes that loophole and proposes that such a person can be automatically banned without being registered under the Act if they meet specific criteria - such as convictions for crimes of dishonesty, or a second bankruptcy within 10 years.

Motor Vehicle Sales Information Disclosure
The current Motor Vehicle Sales Act requires private sellers to display the Consumer Information Notice (CIN) or window card - containing trader, cost, vehicle, registration, Warrant of Fitness, and import details - when selling through a car market. In all other circumstances, private sellers do not have to display a Consumer Information Notice.

These notices are prescribed by regulation under the Fair Trading Act 1986, must be completed and displayed by traders when selling used motor vehicles, and must list a consumer's rights when purchasing from a trader.

The current requirements for private sellers at car markets to display a CIN notice are confusing for private sellers, and for consumers - who are often under the impression they have more rights than they do.

The requirement also creates compliance costs for car market traders, who spend much time ensuring that private sellers complete the forms, and diverts much of the Commerce Commission's enforcement time.

Under this Bill, traders using car markets will still need to display the Notice and car market operators will now have a specific obligation to ensure this happens.

The Bill also removes the requirement to display a Consumer Information Notice for transactions between traders, or between traders and wreckers. This is an unnecessary compliance cost on such traders as it provides no value to either party.

Motor Vehicle Disputes Resolution
The Motor Vehicle Sales Amendment Bill provides for costs to be awarded against a trader who does not attend a Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal hearing without good cause. While the existing legislation already provides for the award of costs against a complainant for non-attendance, this does not extend to non-attendance by a trader.

As many hearings are held near the trader's premises, this creates a perverse incentive for traders to be absent from the hearing as they know that costs cannot be awarded against them, causing inconvenience and cost to consumers. This amendment should lead to consumers having more timely access to redress.

Changes are also made to improve transparency through amendments to the Tribunal's reporting clauses in the Act. This will allow all decisions of the Tribunal to be made public. Through publication of the tribunal's decisions, motor vehicle traders and consumers will both benefit by learning what they can expect under the law.

Consumer advocacy groups will also be better informed and better able to pass this knowledge on to their clients. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs and enforcement agencies will be better positioned to assess the effectiveness of the Tribunal and monitor for any systemic issues within the industry.

Lastly, I bring to the attention of the House that the Bill increases the financial limit operation of the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal from $50,000 to $100,000. This change in the limit reflects consultation with the Tribunal, industry and consumer organisations. It also recognises that motor vehicles - both new and used - may cost in excess of $50,000.

This change future proofs the financial limit and provides protections to consumers who purchase high-end vehicles. Regardless of a consumer's financial means, they can still have difficulty gaining redress from a motor vehicle trader. The change in the limit allows the consumer to have their issue heard in an appropriate forum.

The changes I have outlined will strengthen the operation of the Motor Vehicle Sales Act. They are designed both to reduce unnecessary compliance costs to industry, and to improve consumer protections and allow consumers to have better access to dispute resolution through the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal in relation to vehicle purchases.

ENDS

Bill Signals Improvements To Motor Vehicle Sales Regime

Posted on 25 Jun 2009

Minister of Consumer Affairs Heather Roy has spoken to the First Reading of a Bill designed to improve the Motor Vehicle Sales Act 2003 and make changes to the registration of motor vehicle traders, information disclosure and the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal.

"Following a review of the Motor Vehicle Sales Act 2003, the Ministry of Consumer Affairs recommended amendments to improve the legislation's workability and transparency," Mrs Roy said.

"Changes under the Motor Vehicle Sales Amendment Bill include:

* Amending the process for traders renewing their annual registration, reducing compliance costs associated with making annual statutory declarations as part of registration renewal.

* Closing a loophole preventing the automatic banning of traders whose registration has lapsed, but who are subsequently convicted under the Act for conduct while registered.

* Removing requirements for private sellers at car markets to display a Consumer Information Notice (CIN).

* Eliminating unnecessary compliance costs by removing the requirement for transactions between traders, or between traders and wreckers, to display a CIN.

* Increasing the financial limit at which cases may be heard by the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal from $50,000-$100,000.

* Allowing the Tribunal to award costs for non-attendance of either party to the dispute and allowing it to publish its decisions.

"The Motor Vehicle Sales Act promotes and protects consumers' interests, creating an environment in which to make informed choices with confidence. It makes vehicle traders accountable and provides consumers with redress through the Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal. The Motor Vehicle Sales Amendment Bill enhances those functions.

"This Bill is a step toward removing unnecessary red tape and compliance costs from the sale of motor vehicles. This is in line with the Government's tackling of regulatory impediments, as promised by both the ACT and National Parties' prior to the 2008 election," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

Anti-Smacking Referendum

Posted on 24 Jun 2009

Hon Heather Roy - General Debate, Slot One; Parliament; Wednesday, June 24 2009

Violence is not acceptable in any shape or form. It is a plague that haunts our communities, and violence against the vulnerable - against our children - is totally abhorrent.

I say that as a mother, and as a politician. That's why we have laws that are explicit about violent behaviour and which impose punishments on those in our society who choose to inflict violence on others.

The Anti-Smacking Bill - repeal of Section 59 - was promoted as the solution to the terrible abuse suffered by too many children. Details published around these cases - the Kahui twins, Lillybing, Nia Glassie and far too many other children - were so repugnant that I couldn't read them.

But the Anti-Smacking Bill is not the answer to stopping child abuse. The debate has relied on emotion rather than reason, and focussed on rules rather than results. The unintended result of the smacking ban has been to criminalise hundreds of thousands of good parents.

Those who beat children to a pulp have never paid attention to the law and never will. The police have been told to use their discretion when complaints are made, but this makes a farce of the law. Laws must be clear, enforceable and regularly enforced to be effective. This is not the case we have now.

What really surprised New Zealanders during the anti-smacking debate was the flip-flop of the National Party. They did a complete U-turn after opposing the Bill all the way through. National Party MPs didn't even support the excellent amendments of their colleague Mr Chester Borrows, which would have made it clear that a light smack for then purpose of correction would be within the law.

In the final instance it was only the ACT Party that voted in favour of the Chester Borrows Amendments.

And, so, it is only the ACT Party that believes that intrusion of the State into the homes of good parents is unacceptable.

It is left to ACT to re-introduce Chester Borrows' Amendments to this House as a Members Bill in the name of my colleague John Boscawen.

John Boscawen's Bill will NOT take us back to when people could beat children with a weapon, tool or implement without being prosecuted. Under this Bill, parents can give their child a light smack for the purpose of correction so long as the result is no more than 'transitory' or 'trifling' - wording suggested by the Law Commission.

More than 300,000 people signed a petition to hold a referendum on the question: should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand.

It is a question that has divided the country - not 50/50; not even 60/40. It has split the New Zealand Parliament from the rest of New Zealand. A Parliament that voted 113 to eight in support of the Anti-Smacking Bill, but which ignored polls showing public opinion was opposed to the Bill by a ratio of four to one.

It is no wonder the people of New Zealand feel alienated - that the politicians are not listening. ACT supports this referendum; we support the people of New Zealand having a say; we support democracy. We do so because this Parliament has refused to listen to the people.

Prime Minister John Key has dismissed the referendum as an irrelevance and that the result will not change his mind. I'd ask the Prime Minister to reflect on those statements and consider the anguish and confusion that the Anti-Smacking Bill has had around the country.

Proponents of the law say it is working; that it is reducing child abuse - but 13 children have been killed since this law was passed 25 months ago. The long list of names we had before the Bill was passed continues to grow.

This law targets the wrong people. The thugs and bullies, the child abusers, the real criminals - not good parents - will continue to assault and murder children. It won't stop the James Whakarurus, Delcelia Witikas or Tamati Pokaias from being abused and killed.

What it does do is frighten, confuse and prevent loving parents from parenting. The ACT Party is the only Party in this House that opposed the anti-smacking law; we were the only Party to publicly support the referendum to allow New Zealanders to have a say and we remain the only party committed to reforming the law to protect loving New Zealand families.

ENDS

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