Government celebrates raft of new policies coming into force as ACT blasts 'insulting' changes

A raft of new Government policies come into force on Thursday including Healthy Homes standards, benefit increases and employment protection.

Ten new policies will take effect from Thursday and the extensive list is being celebrated by Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni.

She says the Government delivering on the promises made by Labour to lift children out of poverty, improve rental conditions and reduce emissions 

"This is part of this Government’s key priority of laying the foundations for a better future and will also help secure our economic recovery from COVID-19, as this money will be spent in local and regional communities."

But what exactly is changing? Find a full breakdown below.

  • Benefits increase by $20 per week

  • All landlords must provide properties with insulation, a fixed heating device, openable windows in living spaces and extractor fans

  • Paid parental leave increases by 2.5 percent from $606.46 per week to $621.76

  • Ministry for Ethnic Communities begins operating

  • Unsupported Child's Benefit and Orphans Benefit will extend to caregivers of children unable to live with their parents

  • Electric vehicle rebate scheme comes into effect

  • Tourism businesses on public conservation land eligible for six months of waived fees to help them cope with the decrease in tourism due to COVID-19

  • Changes to the rating of Māori freehold land will come into effect 

  • Security guards will be added to Schedule One of the Employment Relations Act, protecting their employment conditions

  • The new Migrant Exploitation Protection Visa comes into effect to protect migrant workers against exploitation. 

While Labour is celebrating the new initiatives, ACT isn't so thrilled. Leader David Seymour said the slew of new policies mark an attack from Labour.

"It's no ordinary Thursday for Kiwi Battlers - it's the day Labour attacks, piling on yet more taxes and regulations.

"The first steps are being implemented to impose the car tax, a tax on trash is coming into effect and benefits are going up. It's hard-working New Zealanders who will be picking up the tab for all of this."

He said the Healthy Homes standards are a "double standard", as the Government has given itself until 2023 to bring its Kainga Ora homes up to scratch - whereas private landlords must comply from Thursday.

The increase in benefits is being interpreted as "an insult" by ACT's social development spokesperson Karen Chhour.

"Middle New Zealanders work hard but they're also taxed hard. This increase isn't fair to them," she said.

"Actions have consequences. If you keep socking it to hardworking taxpayers you'll get less of them. If you keep handing cash to beneficiaries, you'll get more."

But Sepuloni said increases are key to building a better future for Aotearoa.

"From today, 355,000 New Zealanders on benefits will have more money to meet their basic living costs and their children's needs - These changes also directly address child poverty by putting more money in the pocket of parents."