Outcome 3: Informed consumers and businesses interacting with confidence
Allowing businesses to operate effectively while protecting consumers from harm.
MBIE aims to make sure consumers and businesses are informed and can interact with confidence. We achieve this by regulating markets, providing critical information to consumers, and supporting businesses to grow and evolve.
As part of being people centred and customer centric (a core part of MBIE’s organisational strategy, Te Ara Amiorangi), we developed Our Promise, Te Kī Taurangi of Simple, Māmā; Safe, Haumaru; Certain, Mārama defining what our customers can expect when they interact with us. This was the result of significant engagement with customers and listening to what is important to them. Sitting alongside Our Promise, Te Kī Taurangi is a reciprocal ‘Customer Expectation,’ outlining what we ask from customers so we can best help them.
Providing core services to New Zealanders
Many people need quick access to accurate information and advice, this includes businesses, landlords and tenants, New Zealanders abroad, and people around the world who want to move, study or work. To help keep people and businesses informed and safe, MBIE runs over 50 public phone lines through its service centre infrastructure.
During the year, over 1.18 million calls were accepted by our MBIE service centres. These voice channels include, but are not limited to, Immigration New Zealand, Tenancy Services, Employment New Zealand, the Companies Office and WorkSafe New Zealand. The highest volumes were related to Immigration New Zealand, Building and Tenancy and Employment New Zealand.
While some calls are simple, we often support people through complex situations. Our service centre people are supported to quickly learn new information as it comes to hand, so they can provide the right information. Callers report feeling supported, and this reflects significant efforts to make our services accessible so people find it easy to do the right thing.
MBIE’s efforts to make sure New Zealanders are informed and protected spans many areas and services. Across 2022/23:
- We published 97 voluntary consumer product recalls and identified 13 high risk consumer products.
- Our national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT NZ) received 7,700 reports of cyber incidents, with phishing attacks, malware, scams and fraud making up most reported incidents. As of 31 August 2023, CERT NZ will be integrated into the National Cyber Security Centre in the Government Communications Security Bureau on the recommendation of the Cyber Security Advisory Committee.
- Over 15,000 total interventions were delivered by MBIE’s Employment Dispute Resolution Services, including over 4,100 mediations and over 1,700 early resolutions, with an 80% customer satisfaction rating of high or very high.
- We delivered multiple consumer awareness campaigns to empower consumers, from consumer rights regarding Christmas holiday purchasing, to scams and fraud, with over 890,000 visits to the Consumer Protection website in 2022/23.
- We updated important tools, such as the Climate Action Toolbox, with a version of the tool providing industry specific guidance for construction businesses. The toolbox includes an emissions calculator and helps businesses develop action plans to reduce emissions. It has had over 25,000 visits since the calculator was released in June 2022.
Supporting business and commercial operations
MBIE also provides a range of foundational services that underpin commercial operations, such as:
- The Companies Office,with 721,819 companies registered at the end of June 2023, and over 55,000 new company registrations and 37,000 removals across the year.
- The Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand: the Office’s registers contained over 12,000 registered designs, 24,000 granted patents, 1,300 granted plant variety rights, 330,000 registered trade marks, along with 27 registered geographical indications as at the end of June 2023.
- The New Zealand Business Number (NZBN): this is a globally unique identifier that enables parties to quickly and digitally access all the basic details of a business and confirm or ascertain whether it is real. As at 30 June, over 950,000 NZBNs were registered and the application programming interface was called, on average, over 28 million times each month, saving people time and ensuring they had correct information.
Following on from efforts during the COVID-19 lockdowns, to support businesses with mental health and wellbeing initiatives, the “Brave in Business e-learning series” was launched. Developed in partnership with Spark Business Lab and the Institute of Organisational Psychology, this is a series of micro-courses that support the mental wellbeing of small businesses.
Ensuring Kiwi companies can operate in the digital era is an ongoing area of focus. The Digital Boost digital enablement programme offers small businesses digital expertise at their fingertips. It supports small businesses that are early on in their digital journey with free education, training and tools to boost their digital capability. This year, the Digital Boost Educate platform hit a milestone, with over 60,000 registered users. Research shows that, after using the platform, 88% felt confident becoming more digital and 57% of users are generating income online.
Our Business Connect platform seeks to make it easier for firms to do business with government. This year we launched FormBuilder.govt, which gives government agencies and councils a way to develop online service forms in days, rather than weeks or months. The tool is easy for non-technical government users to prototype and publish simple services. The forms it creates are designed to work with the latest mobile devices, with guaranteed standards of accessibility, security and privacy built in.
To help in the prevention of retail crime, the Fog Cannon Subsidy Scheme was established in December 2022. It provides a subsidy of up to $4,000 for small retail businesses, such as dairies, bottle stores and service stations, to have fog cannons installed.
This scheme went live on 1 February 2023, as part of the New Zealand Police Retail Crime Prevention Programme, and is administered by MBIE. As at 30 June 2023, over 2,300 applications from retailers have been approved with just over 1,000 fog cannons installed.
Building safety and regulation
MBIE also has a strong focus on improving regulatory systems, such as the Building Code, which is an important way to enhance the safety and quality of future buildings. Recent changes include reducing the maximum allowable lead content for plumbing products that come into contact with potable water, as well as the compliance pathway for hollow core floors, minimising the chance of poorly designed flooring systems.
In October 2022, the updated National Seismic Hazard Model was released. This concluded a rigorous 2 year review led by GNS Science in collaboration with MBIE, Toka Tū Ake Earthquake Commission, and supported by many local and international scientists, engineers, universities and Crown research institutes. The model helps deliver science based estimates that are essential for Aotearoa New Zealand to develop risk assessments and manage risks to safety, security and the economy from seismic events.
This year we released the Building and Construction Sector Trends: Annual Report 2022. The report provides an overview of the sector’s performance in the past year and looks at international trends and innovations that could be adopted to make the industry more environmentally friendly, a safer place to work, more cost efficient and resilient.
Responding to emergencies
Following a temporary jet fuel shortage in December 2022, we supported the Government to strengthen Aotearoa New Zealand’s fuel supply system. This includes initiatives to increase supply resilience, through new minimum onshore fuel stock obligations for fuel importers and wholesalers, along with promoting competition in the wholesale fuel market, sustainability and encouraging more competition.
In December 2022, the sole domestic producer of carbon dioxide (CO2) halted production due to a safety issue, exacerbating a national shortage and increasing prices for commercial users across the country. MBIE played a central coordination role, supporting government agencies to monitor the situation. MBIE worked with CO2 suppliers to make sure medical facilities and water treatment facilities received the supplies they needed and that ongoing plans were in place for their continued prioritisation. Since domestic production of CO2 resumed in June 2023, MBIE has been continuing to explore longer term options to lessen the potential for any future disruption.