The Govt is keeping us safer in the water while protecting us from bad drugs – and the PM is talking of a country called New Zealand

Buzz from the Beehive

Our lifestyles have not been unduly constrained by do-gooder cabinet ministers since Christmas Eve, a reflection – presumably – of the Beehive’s inhabitants taking a holiday break.  Hurrah.       

But the Government does have its sights set on reducing the numbers of young people who get their buzz from vaping. 

It also has been reminding us of its concern for the wellbeing of some of us by keeping us safe in the water and enabling us to have our drugs tested before we take a deadly dose of something nasty.  

Oh – and let’s note that the PM is talking of a country called New Zealand while the Minister of Health is doing his thing to make things better in a country called Aotearoa. 

The Beehive website brought us quickly up to date since our previous report, just before Christmas, informing us that ministers of the Crown have been –

Seeking advice about how the war against vaping might be stepped up 

Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall announced the Government is seeking feedback on several proposals to help reduce the number of young people vaping.

There is no intention of reducing the number of older people vaping?

Apparently not.

One proposal is to introduce proximity restrictions for all new specialist vape retailers, to keep them away from schools, for example. 

Another is to restrict flavour names (such as “cotton candy”) to reduce the attraction of vaping products to young people.

“Vaping has a role to play in ensuring smokers who wish to quit smoking can do so using vaping products. However youth vaping rates are too high and we need to strike a better balance.” says Dr Verrall.

A consultation document titled Proposals for the Smoked Tobacco Regulatory Regime, which also seeks feedback on proposals to implement significant reductions to the retail availability, appeal and addictiveness of smoked tobacco products, is available on the Ministry of Health website. Submissions close at 5pm on 15 March.

 Advising international arrivals about the need to test for Covid

This was another statement from Ayesha Verrall.

She said the Government is reiterating its advice to all international travellers to do a Covid test if they become symptomatic after arrival, while also stepping up awareness of free RATs available at airports.

 Rewarding “frontline” Covid workers

The PM delivered the news that the government has confirmed the groups of frontline workers to receive a COVID-19 Response Recognition Award, a specific acknowledgement of the service given by so many to New Zealand during the pandemic.

We double-checked.  Yes.  The country is New Zealand and we found no mention of “Aotearoa”.

Drawing attention to Pasifika people who have been awarded New Year Honours

Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio was chuffed that a former Premier of Niue and a leading Pacific doctor in the fight against COVID-19 had been celebrated in this year’s New Year honours.

Congratulating sports stars and “administers” for their New Year awards

Grant Robertson, as Minister of Sport and Recreation, stepped up to the plate to tell us the New Year Honours List included an array of sporting stars and grassroots administrators.

And the PM said the New Year honours recipients highlight what makes NZ “unique

The PM said the 183 recipients of New Year honours represent the best of New Zealand “and what makes us unique in the world”.

Again, “Aotearoa” was absent from the press statement.

Has she made a New Year resolution on what the country should be called? 

If so, we suspect it will soon be broken 

Taking the credit (some of it, at least) for the good work of lifeguards and the Coastguard

Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Priyanca Radhakrishnan wanted us to know that –   

The Government’s critical support for the water safety sector through the pandemic means lifeguards are better equipped on our beaches and Coastguard is sailing new boats to the rescue.

This “critical support” refers to a $63 million package for water safety initiatives in Budget 2020 – getting on for three years ago.

We are told this

… has been a game changer for our water safety sector, which is run almost entirely by passionate Kiwi volunteers.

 Assuring us that a drug checking boost will keep us safer this summer

No, not a Covid boost.

Health Minister Andrew Little said the Government has made drug-checking services more accessible “to keep young people safe” this summer.

Older people presumably don’t require these services.  

Little said “Aotearoa” now has four licenced organisations to perform drug checking services – KnowYourStuffNZ, New Zealand Drug Foundation, Needle Exchange Services Trust, and the Institute of Environmental Science and Research.

“This is not about condoning drug use, but about keeping people safe. There is clear evidence that having drug-checking services at festivals changes behaviour and reduces harm,” Andrew Little said.

Drug-checking services, in which drugs are checked to see if they are what people think they are, were made legal under the Ardern Government in 2020.

The Government has pledged nearly $4 million over three years towards the costs of delivering drug checking services and delivering harm reduction advice.

Welcoming a stay of proceedings in the High Court ‘501’ ruling

Justice Minister Kiri Allan welcomed the decision by the High Court to issue a stay of proceedings following the ‘501’ ruling.

People deported from Australia to this country are known as 501s, named after a section of the Australian Migration Act that allows the cancellation of their visas.  

In our High Court, a 501 former drug dealer successfully challenged the government’s authority to impose special conditions upon his return to New Zealand.

Judge Cheryl Gwyn declared that such special conditions, including residing at a particular address, supplying fingerprints and DNA, and attending a rehabilitative assessment or treatment programme, amounted to a penalty beyond what the drug dealer had served in Australia and therefore double jeopardy – contrary to the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

The Crown Law Office sought a stay in proceedings, as part of the Government’s efforts to ensure Police and Corrections have the appropriate powers needed to manage 501s living in New Zealand and arriving in the country, until a longer term solution is found.

The application was approved. 

 “The Government will now take immediate action to ensure legislation can be introduced when Parliament next sits, so the law has a retrospective effect. I will be seeking support from parties across the House on this,” Kiri Allan said. 

Crown Law has also filed an appeal against the High Court decision. The matter will be heard in the Court of Appeal in February.


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