The Fuel Market Study
I am really pleased by the results from the study into the New Zealand retail fuel market that I requested in my role as Minister of Energy and Resources. The report shows that there are factors that mean the market is not really competitive. In particular fuel costs for aviation and commercial use have dropped but retail margins have gone up quite noticeably. Although before the release of the report, it was pleasing to see fuel prices dropping and the different retailers looking competitive.
It was hard to compare the fuel market information received as some specific information was not able to be obtained but the study concluded that “we cannot definitely say that fuel prices in New Zealand are reasonable, but we have reason to believe they might not be.”
Ministry of Energy and Resources staff are now tasked with assessing the study’s findings and to provide a further report further to me by November. In the meantime I would like to thank Z Energy, BP, Mobil and Gull for taking part in the study.
In addition to this study, the new Market Studies powers announced by the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs will give the Government the option to direct the Commerce Commission to make a competition-specific fuel market study which will be able to insist on comparable data across companies.
More information on the Fuel Market Study can be found on www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/energy
Extending the Warm Up healthy homes insulation grants programme
With the deadline for landlords to insulate their rental houses set at 1 July 2019, the Government has decided to extend the Warm Up Healthy Homes Insulation Grants to landlords as well as low income earners and tenants with high health needs. The Grants provide 50 per cent of the cost of floor and ceiling insulation and as Minister of Energy and Resources, I hope landlords and others eligible will get in quickly and apply for the assistance.
Over the past eight years 300,000 homes have been insulated using the Warm Up Healthy Homes scheme. People with Community Service cards who have used the scheme to insulate their homes save over $850 on medical costs because they stay well in their warmer drier homes. Budget 2016 extended the programme with $18 million more in funding available until June 2018.
For more information see www.energywise.govt.nz
Responding to the need: mental health help on 1737
The Government is launching a new free 24/7 four digit phone and text number -1737- to make it easier for people to connect with mental health and addictions professionals.
Mental health is a key area of focus for the Government, and this phone number -1737- is part of our larger work programme to modernise mental health and addiction services.
Callers will have access to the same trained mental health professionals who currently respond to calls, texts, webchat, and emails across the existing National Telehealth Service helplines.
Existing services provided through the Alcohol and Drug, Depression, and Gambling Helplines will still be accessible through existing phone numbers, but 1737 creates a new front door.
We want to ensure people have access to professional support whenever they need it. So the Government is investing $224 million more over four years to increase support for people to access mental health services and addiction services - including $124 million in new innovative approaches.
Budget 2016 invested $12 million over four years in an Early Mental Health Response service which will be fully implemented across the country by the end of 2017.
Rural Mental Wellness recently received a $500,000 boost that will fund 20 workshops to improve the skills of rural health professionals who treat people at risk of suicide.
Our Cabinet is considering more new approaches for tackling this important issue.
Collecting for Dementia NZ
I have had a number of invitations to participate in interesting fund-raising events recently like the Good in the Hood event and the Quota Antique Fair. I was also very happy to hold a bucket as I collected for Dementia Auckland and it was very pleasing to see the generosity of those passing through Countdown in Takanini.
Dementia Auckland wants to help and inspire people to live well with Dementia and aims to support sufferers and their families with a range of services. These include support programmes, improved environments and connections to the community. If you would like to contact Dementia Auckland for assistance go to www.dementiaauckland.org.nz.
It is good to see people helping each other out as I move through the neighbourhoods and communities in the electorate.
Hon Judith Collins