Our sanctions rule out Putin and his cronies, but the rest of the world is being assured about safety rules in NZ adventuring

Buzz from the Beehive

We are surely blessed to have a government which – with an ever-widening slew of policies and programmes expertly designed to improve our wellbeing – has thrust itself and its magic into the confidence-building business.

This was proudly proclaimed – it seemed at first blush – in a press statement headed Government provides confidence to those seeking an adventure.

Great, we thought at Point of Order, where members of our team have eschewed the thrill we might momentarily enjoy from bungee jumping because – frankly – we don’t have the bottle to give it a go.

Our spirit of adventure accordingly is somewhat limited.

The editor – for example – reckons its adventurous to ignore the health warnings and sit in front of the telly sipping a gin and tonic that has been stirred with one of those plastic drink-stirrers and – sometimes – to risk ear damage by diving into the ear canal with plastic cotton buds.

But not any longer.… 

Environment Minister David Parker has announced that single-use plastic cotton buds, drink stirrers and most plastic meat trays are among single use plastics banned from sale or manufacture from today.

Our government is discouraging Putin from his adventures, too (although, fair to say, in his case he sits in an office and sends his military forces out to do the adventuring).

The PM popped up today to announce that New Zealand condemns unequivocally Russia’s attempts to illegally annex Russia-occupied regions of Ukraine.

“We do not recognise these illegal attempts to change Ukraine’s borders or territorial sovereignty,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Russia’s sham referenda in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia are illegitimate, and have no legal basis for acquisition of Ukraine’s territory by Russia.

“These are severe acts of aggression in clear violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and a blatant breach of international law. We continue to stand in solidarity with Ukraine in defence of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta signalled that New Zealand will implement further measures in response to Russia’s actions.

These will include imposing further sanctions under our Russia Sanctions Act, including those who support Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine “which has led to these fabricated claims of annexation”.

She has instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to call in the Russian Embassy, to convey New Zealand’s strong opposition to the actions taken by Russia in recent days and to call on Russia to cease its attempts to illegally annex Ukrainian territory.

Environment Minister David Parker, stepping up his war on plastics, said the products banned from sale from today are:

  • Single-use plastic drink stirrers
  • Single-use plastic cotton buds
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pre-formed food trays and containers*
  • Polystyrene takeaway packaging for food and beverages
  • Expanded polystyrene food and beverage retail packaging (such as foam takeaway containers or some instant noodle cups)
  • Plastics with additives that make them fragment into micro-plastics

“This is the first group of the most problematic plastic products to be banned in a progressive phase out over the next three years,” he said.

“Stopping the sale of these plastic products will reduce waste to landfill, improve our recycling systems and encourage reusable or environmentally responsible alternatives.”

Is this part of a fiendish plot to encourage we couch potatoes to go adventuring outdoors, a policy ambition fortified by Michael Wood’s apparent commitment to build the confidence we need to do this?

Confidence (we learned from consulting Psychology Today)

“…  is a belief in oneself, the conviction that one has the ability to meet life’s challenges and to succeed—and the willingness to act accordingly. Being confident requires a realistic sense of one’s capabilities and feeling secure in that knowledge.

Projecting confidence helps people gain credibility, make a strong first impression, deal with pressure, and tackle personal and professional challenges. It’s also an attractive trait, as confidence helps put others at ease.”

Michael Wood seemed to be limiting his confidence-boosting prowess to overcoming the concerns of those unwilling to go bungee jumping, skydiving, zip lining or – well, in our case, to walk too far into a national park.

But it seems we misunderstood what the minister is promising.

He was intending  to assure tourists about safety standards in the operations of this country’s adventure businesses.

His statement begins:

“With our borders opened and tourists returning, those seeking out adventurous activities can do so more safely due to the steps we’ve taken to improve the health and safety regulatory regime for adventure activities, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood has announced.”

International visitor numbers have begun to climb, with over 134,000 visiting here in July alone, he said.

Our adventure activities sector is a major draw card for the prosperity of our regions,

“… and it’s important for our economic security that we maintain high safety standards in the sector so that we can continue to attract tourists to many of the regional based activities.”

Following an extensive public consultation, and targeted sector work, he has confirmed a package of changes to the adventure activities regulatory regime that will support improved safety standards in the sector.

He is not guaranteeing improved standards, we note for the benefit of nervous readers .

The package of changes includes four areas:

  • introducing specific requirements for how adventure activity operators must assess and manage natural hazard risks
  • strengthening requirements for operators to communicate risks to activity participants
  • stronger operator registration and notification requirements
  • reviewing and updating adventure activity safety guidance.

 “Together, these changes are targeted towards the areas the sector has told us will make the most practical difference for safety, while avoiding significant new costs or restricting access to activities,” Michael Wood said.

 “These changes will result in clearer, more consistent standards for what organisations providing adventure activities must do to manage risks. They will also support WorkSafe to take a stronger monitoring and enforcement role.

Most adventure activity operators were already following good practice and would only need to make minor adjustments to their safety systems, Wood said.

The aim of these changes is to help standardise these good practices and spread them across the sector.

“These changes form part of the Government’s response to the Whakaari/White Island tragedy in December 2019. Making improvements to the regulatory regime for adventure activities is one area of change to help prevent injury and loss of life in the future,” Michael Wood said.

 WorkSafe will be working with the sector to implement the changes that are expected to be fully implemented by late 2023.

In the upshot, the Government is boosting the workload of safety regulators more certainly than it is boosting the confidence of would-be adventurers.

Latest from the Beehive

1 OCTOBER 2022

New Zealand condemns Russia’s annexation attempts

New Zealand condemns unequivocally Russia’s attempts to illegally annex Russia-occupied regions of Ukraine, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

Government provides confidence to those seeking an adventure

With our borders opened and tourists returning, those seeking out adventurous activities can do so more safely due to the steps we’ve taken to improve the health and safety regulatory regime adventure activities, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood has announced.

30 SEPTEMBER 2022

More single-use plastics banned from tomorrow

Single-use plastic cotton buds, drink stirrers and most plastic meat trays are among single use plastics banned from sale or manufacture from tomorrow.

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