72 days ago

Government accused of stealing after taking tourist tax from people denied NZ visas

Brian from New Lynn

A tax levy introduced last year on visitors entering New Zealand to help fund tourism infrastructure is under scrutiny as the $35.00 International Visitor Levy is also being collected from people who never set foot in the country. Foreigners denied visitor visas here are automatically charged the levy, with some calling it theft.
Already close to a million dollars has been covertly collected in just six months. The levy is effectively a tax on tourists to help pay for tourism and conservation infrastructure improvements. But the problem is those who apply to come here as visitors but are turned down are also paying. The levy was introduced last July and figures obtained show in the first six months to December almost 285,000 thousand visitor visa applications were lodged with Immigration New Zealand but more than 24,000 of those were declined. Still, they were charged the $35.00 levy meaning the government pocketed more than $850,000 from people who'll never set foot on Kiwi soil.
Robyn Kurth and her group of friends attempted to bring out two Ethiopian guides to New Zealand as visitors but they were refused entry. She says the Government taking the fee from them amounts to theft. “So where's the $35.00? I want it back,” she says. “It can't be charged to people who are not coming here. How can we charge them if they're not actually going to use the facilities?” Immigration lawyer Ramya Sathiyanathan calls it deception. She says the online application is far from clear about the levy. “It's hidden, I presume quite intentionally in the online application form and it's only when you print a receipt you see it's been taken as part of the overall fee,” she says. The ministry says collecting the levy at time of application keeps admin costs down and confirms there is no provision for refunds. “What I think is important is that it's clear to people up front is that that fee is non-refundable and I think that's something that immigration New Zealand needs to deal with and i understand that they are.
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28 days ago

Replacing the private long-distance bus terminal would cost ratepayers

Todd Niall Reporter from Auckland Stuff

Hi Neighbours, If the long-distance bus terminal moves out of Sky City's complex, ratepayers will probably foot the bill. Ngāti Whātua opposes AT's plan to put it on their land. See below what it would look like, but should it stay where it is ?

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3 hours ago

Health Minister David Clark demoted after driving 20km to beach, breaking lockdown rules...What do YOU say???

Brian from New Lynn

Health Minister David Clark has been demoted after driving his family 20km to a beach to go for a walk in the first weekend of the lockdown - a breach that the Prime Minister says he would normally be sacked for. "At a time when we are asking New Zealanders to make historic sacrifices I've let the team down. I've been an idiot," Clark said in a statement this morning. Jacinda Ardern said he would be demoted to the bottom of the Cabinet rankings and stripped of his Associate Finance portfolio. Clark, who offered his resignation, sounded forlorn as he started a round of media calls this morning, saying he felt "like a complete dick to be honest". And speaking to Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking, Clark said he "wasn't thinking" when he drove to the beach with his family. His wife had asked him if it was within the rules, and he had decided to go because the family would still be within its household bubble. "I make no excuses for it, Mike. I got it wrong," Clark told Hosking. "I've made a fool of myself. I need to be really clear on that and apologise to New Zealanders." He said the Health Minister in the middle of a global pandemic was an incredibly important role, and he had a long way to go to rebuild the trust of New Zealanders. Clark has already come under fire for driving about 2km last week to go for a mountain bike ride.
Ardern said: "Under normal conditions I would sack the Minister of Health. What he did was wrong, and there are no excuses. "But right now, my priority is our collective fight against Covid-19. We cannot afford massive disruption in the health sector or to our response. For that reason, and that reason alone, Dr Clark will maintain his role." But Ardern said he would pay a price for breaking the rules. "While he maintains his Health portfolio, I am stripping him of his role as Associate Finance Minister and demoting him to the bottom of our Cabinet rankings.
"I expect better, and so does New Zealand."
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9 hours ago

Rain is imminent....

Kelly from Drain Ranger

Hi Neighborhood's

Rain has been predicted, to mitigate flooding we would recommend clearing down pipes, gutters and channel drains of leaves and debris.

Keep safe.

Kia Kaha NZ