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Boost for roading - it's your money

Boost for roading - it's your money..... RMA requests in a nutshell..... Mecas reap many union members..... Business Update attached

RMA REQUESTS IN A NUTSHELL A group of 'core industries' have asked the Government for specific changes to the RMA. They want: 1. A more consistent approach to the consent process by local authorities, especially in complex projects 2. Clarification of the way Part II of the RMA is interpreted, including definitions e.g. of 'environment' 3. A better way of allocating natural resource use e.g. water usage rights

They support the RMA's aim of protecting against negative environmental impacts, but believe development is being held back unnecessarily by the Act. The group includes Air NZ, BP, Business NZ, Contact Energy, Electricity Networks Association, Fletcher Building, Foodstuffs, Major Electricity Users' Group, Meat Industry Association, Methanex, Mighty River Power, NZ Business Roundtable, NZ Refining Co, NZ Seafood Industry Council, NZ Steel, Norske Skog Tasman, Nelson Pine Industries, Pan Pac, Petroleum Exploration Association, Rayonier Asia Pacific, Solid Energy, TrustPower and Vector.

Contact pwhitehouse@businessnz.org.nz .

BOOST FOR ROADING - IT'S YOUR MONEY Last week's announcement of more funds for roads and other transport will be welcome, but let's not forget how it's come about. The funds are largely the result of increased traffic volumes pumping more petrol tax and road user charges into the Government's coffers - so it's your money rather than any new Government largesse. Of course, the Government could help further by making sure that funding is invested efficiently and that road projects aren't held up by the constipated consultation and planning requirements in the RMA and Land Transport Management Act.....

Contact nclark@businessnz.org.nz .

EECA MARK II The Electricity and Gas Industries Bill has finally been reported back from the Commerce Committee and it would appear we now have another EECA - and this time business will pay for it. The principal objective and functions of the Electricity Commission have been amended to explicitly include the promotion and facilitation of the efficient use of electricity. This is to include programmes, "that provide incentives for cost-effective efficiency and conservation". These incentives and associated programmes are, along with the cost of providing for reserve generation, to be funded by way of levy - a levy that will be paid for by consumers in the form of increased electricity pricing. Taxation currently funds EECA and it would appear taxation by another name is going to be used to duplicate that body's work.

Contact pwhitehouse@businessnz.org.nz BIG BROTHER TRYING TO HANDICAP THE PRIVATE SECTOR There's a new word being used by policy-makers, says Business NZ's Simon Carlaw in today's Dominion Post - 'de-privatisation'. 'It explains a number of recent policies. Re-nationalising ACC, buying back Air NZ, buying back the rail track network, increasing Government control of the energy sector via the Electricity Commission - all are examples of a tendency to tilt the playing field against the private sector. Backing off public-private partnerships for roading, imposing levies on private training enterprises, and making importers and exporters bear costs of border security for the whole country - these are also examples of the same tendency....perhaps it's time we started keeping count of all the recent and proposed changes that could be considered partial or full de-privatisations - in transport, resource management, energy,

MECAS CAUSING PROBLEMS A current Employment Court case gives a graphic example of the problems that mecas (multi-employer collective agreements) can cause. There's a meca covering the employees and employers of Tranz Scenic and Toll NZ in the Auckland region that's now in some doubt since Tranz Scenic and Toll NZ are amalgamating, while Connex Ltd is taking over rail services in the Auckland region, along with Toll's employees. The Rail & Maritime Union says those employees should get a redundancy payout, even though the meca contains a technical redundancy clause (which says you don't get a payout if you get a new position as good or better as before) and the employees will continue to be employed. The union wants to preserve the meca at all costs (this is despite the fact that the amalgamation of Tranz Scenic and Toll means the agreement is no longer a multi-employer contract

MECAS REAP MANY UNION MEMBERS The question that arises from the tortuous Tranz Scenic-Toll-Connex case is why mecas are so important to the union movement. The answer is that mecas are seen as the easiest way to get as many employees as possible into collective agreements. The Employment Relations Law Reform Bill, currently before select committee, also comes to the party with several provisions to help the uptake of mecas.

GROWTH STATS

RESIDENTIAL CONSENTS DECLINING; NON-RESIDENTIAL CONSENTS STILL FLAT

* There were 2544 new building consents issued in May, 2.4% higher than May 2003. Over the May 2004 year consents for 31,793 new dwelling units were issued - the highest total for a year ending May since 1975. But the trend, excluding apartments, has been declining since Nov 2003.

* Nine of 16 regions had an increase in new dwelling units, comparing May 2004 with 2003. The largest were in Waikato (+33 units), Northland (+20 units) and Taranaki (+19 units). During May 2004 month Auckland had 33% of new dwelling units.

* The value of non-residential building consents was $243m for May, compared with $239m for April and $322m for March. Factory & industrial buildings ($44m) and shops, restaurants & taverns ($41.5m) had the highest values. Over the May 2004 year consents for factories & industrial buildings were worth $409.1m, compared with $345.4m for the May 2003 year.

* Overall, while residential consents have started to trend downwards, non-residential consents remain flat. DROP IN OIL IMPORTS GIVES HIGHER TRADE SURPLUS

* The overseas merchandise trade (imports) release for May indicated a trade surplus of $656m, up from $104m for May 2003. Surpluses have now been recorded for three of the last four months, contrasting with the prior eight months' deficits. The trade balance surplus was $518b for the May 2004 quarter, compared with a $1,006m deficit for the Feb 2004 quarter.

* The larger trade balance surplus for the May month was due to a 22.7% increase in the value of exports in comparison with May 2003, while the value of imports over the same time period increased only 2.7%. Trade surpluses are typical for a May month, but at 19.5% of exports the May 2004 surplus was at the higher end in terms of percentage of exports that have been recorded over the last 10 years.

* The main contributors to the higher value of imports in May were increased imports of armoured motor vehicles (+$69m), as well as dump trucks, computers and other mechanical machinery, and wind-powered electric generating sets. The volatility of crude oil imports brought a large drop in oil imports during May (compared with April's values), helping to offset the increase in overall imports for May.

* Malaysian and Chinese imports increased in value when comparing May 2004 with May 2003, while lower values were recorded for imports from Brunei Darussalam and the U.S.A. Crude oil was the main reason for changes in value for Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam.

* Over the May 2004 year the value of merchandise imports was $32,790m, 2.6% ($827m) higher than for May 2003. With the estimated value of exports at $29,422m, the estimated annual trade deficit stands at $3,398m or 11.4% of exports.

* Exports for May will be released on 7 July. For more detailed information, visit www.stats.govt.nz

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

* Core industries request RMA changes

* A new word that explains a lot

* Terrorist tax grabs back Budget assistance

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