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Central Control Of Energy Not Wanted


Central Control Of Energy Not Wanted

Businesses are still suffering from outrageously high spot prices and the lakes are still down. There is little that can be done to ease the spot price problem for business this winter. But there are sensible things that can be done for the future (see Electricity – make the demand side work on http:// http://www.businessnz.org.nz). A key issue that’s looming will be to head off any unnecessary lurch towards centralised government control of the electricity industry. The PM signalled from Europe yesterday her “complete dissatisfaction with the nature of the energy market”. It’s important that this level of dissatisfaction does not lead back to the central control structures of the past. Contact mailto: mailto:pwhitehouse@businessnz.org.nz.

DON’T GET TOO STRESSED ABOUT STRESS

Employers should not get too hung up over stress issues in the new Health & Safety in Employment Act that comes into force on Monday. Business NZ’s Anne Knowles says it’s not an issue for employers if an employee just “feels stressed”. An employer would only be liable under the Act if they knew (or ought reasonably to have known) about work-related stressors that they should have taken all practicable steps to manage. These would be work-related stressors ‘at the high end’ causing a harm to the person by way of a medically diagnosable condition. For a brief guide to employer responsibilities under the new Act, go to: http://www.businessnz.org.nz/cgi-bin/businessnz/item.pl?id=498. Contact mailto: mailto:aknowles@businessnz.org.nz.

YES OUR ROADS ARE UNDER-FUNDED

Countries that are hilly, elongated and sparsely populated need to spend more on roads. NZ is all of those things, but our road spend is very low by international standards: we spend less than 1% of GDP on roading, compared with Australia (2.3%), Korea (2.6%), and EU countries (1.3%). Our road spend is like that of EU countries – but they are smaller, flatter, with very high population density and static or negative population growth. With our roads starved of investment it’s no surprise that internal transport costs are such a major factor for business, particularly exporters. It’s also no surprise that despite significant progress over the past 10-15 years, our road toll remains so high compared to other OECD countries.

TRANSPORT BILL WON’T DELIVER THE GOODS

The Land Transport Management Bill would starve roads of funding, says Simon Carlaw. Addressing yesterday’s select committee hearing, Carlaw said investment on roads had to be increased, for safety and for economic growth: “Road transport is the only mode that can service customers door-to-door, so virtually all freight transported by other means also uses road transport. Taking money away from roads harms all the other forms of transport and puts lives at risk.” He said the Bill had to be changed to:

- have economic efficiency and safety as key purposes

- reinstate competitive tendering

- include safeguards against political intervention

- get realistic rules for private investment

- streamline consultation (instead of making it more cumbersome)

Contact: mailto: mailto:nclark@businessnz.org.nz.

WHAT’S YOUR CHOICE?

The Land Transport Management Bill would have the effect of shifting funding (from petrol taxes and road user charges) towards cycleways and public transport subsidies and away from roads. What is your view on this? Please take 10 seconds to answer this question:

Where would you most like the money you pay as petrol taxes and road user charges spent? (choose only one)

(a) walkways and cycleways

(b) public transport subsidies

(c) roads

Please email mailto: mailto:nclark@businessnz.org.nz with your answer, either (a), (b), or (c).

MANUFACTURING DOWN BUT POSITIVE SIGNS

The latest ANZ-Business NZ PMI shows the rate of manufacturing expansion fell slightly in March, but there were positive signs in new orders. Canterbury manufacturing showed a strong rebound in March, the central region improved slightly, while the northern and lower south regions declined. Micro firms (fewer than 10 employees) continued to decline, but larger firms showed continued expansion. The full report is on http:// http://www.businessnz.org.nz. Contact mailto: mailto:ssummers@businessnz.org.nz.

LEARNING ON THE JOB

Business NZ is pleased to join forces with industry training organisations, the CTU and the Government in a drive to increase workplace learning. The Government has pledged around $85m over the next four years to the new Skill NZ development. At yesterday’s launch Simon Carlaw said improving skill levels was critical for boosting productivity, and promoting innovation and growth. The target is a quarter of a million New Zealanders involved in workplace learning by 2007. Contact mailto: mailto:jbaker@businessnz.org.nz.

GROWTH STATS

OVERSEAS MERCHADISE TRADE

The provisional value of merchandise trade imports for March was $2,444m, down 1.9% from March 2002. Vehicles, including parts & accessories, were down $57m; mechanical machinery & equipment were down $48m. Petroleum & petroleum products had another good month, increasing by $96m. The estimated value of merchandise exports for March was $2,790 and the estimated merchandise trade balance was a surplus of $346m, or 12.4% of exports. Trade surpluses are typical for the March month. The March 2003 surplus is higher than the average of 9.4% of exports for the last ten years but lower than that of March 2002, which was 16.7% of exports. Over the March 2003 quarter, imports decreased 2.2%, following a 2.5% fall in the Dec 2002 quarter. Falls in the March quarter were recorded in values of capital goods (down 29.7%), intermediate goods (down 2.5%) and passenger motor cars (down 7.1%). These falls were partly offset by an increase in value for petrol & avgas (up 27.7%). The value of consumption goods stayed relatively flat, rising 0.2%.

BUILDING CONSENTS

Continued strong gains in net migration meant the residential building boom continued with 2,537 new dwelling units authorised during March, the highest March level since 1977. Most regions had increased numbers of consents for new dwelling units, led by Auckland, up 189 from March 2002. There were also significant increases over the year for Canterbury (up 85 units), Bay of Plenty (up 84 units) and Waikato (up 69 units). The Auckland region accounted for 1,088 (43%) of all new dwelling consents issued for March 2003. There were also 476 consents issued for new apartment units during March, compared with only 54 in Feb. There were 5,816 new apartment consents for the year ended March 2003, compared with 2,753 for the year ended March 2002. The total value of consents issued for all buildings

during March was $728m, with non-residential consents contributing $211m. Consents issued for factories and industrial buildings over the month were worth $34m. For the year ended March 2003, the total value of consents for all buildings was $8,041m, up $1,264m from the year ended March 2002.

INJURY STATS

The latest injury statistics report - for the 2001/2002 period - shows males had three-quarters of all work-related injuries. To the year ended June 2002, there were 229,489 work-related injuries, an increase of 0.7% over the previous June year. By industry, mining had the highest injury rate, with 279 injuries per 1000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers. By region, Northland had the highest rate of injuries at 195 injuries per 1,000 FTEs. Falling, tripping and slipping caused 39% of all work-related injuries, with most (19%) affecting the hand or wrist. Ten per cent of work-related injuries were serious enough for the worker to take more than 5 days off work and receive ACC compensation. The average cost per injury was $565 ($600 for males; $460 for females).

(All statistics courtesy of http:// http://www.stats.govt.nz)

WHAT’S NEW on http:// http://www.businessnz.org.nz

Electricity – make the demand side work Get real on roads

Skill NZ: business, unions and Government agree

Manufacturing eases but positive signs

ANZ-Business NZ PMI for March 2003

OCR cut prudent

PPPs unlikely under transport Bill

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