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Beehive Bulletin – 28 June 2002

BEEHIVE BULLETIN FOR WEEK ENDING - FRIDAY 28 JUNE 2002


Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update outlook strongly positive

Finance Minister Michael Cullen this week said the outlook in the 2002 Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update shows a robust economy, a robust Crown balance and is testimony to the quality of the government's management. The Prefu has growth averaging about three per cent over the next four years, unemployment remaining at its current low levels, employment increasing steadily, and wages growing ahead of inflation without triggering an inflationary spiral. Michael Cullen said this news was good for New Zealand households. He said the fiscal position is equally positive showing operating surpluses sufficient to make contributions to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund while also keeping gross debt below the government's target of 30 per cent of GDP. Prefu forecasts were prepared within five weeks of the 2002 Budget forecasts being signed off. Revisions between the two sets of figures were minimal and were driven almost entirely by a rise in the exchange rate.

Government responds to Thames-Coromandel disaster

The Thames-Coromandel District Council will receive an ex-gratia payment of up to $330,000 in response to last week's civil emergency. The payment comes on top of a $20,000 contribution announced by Prime Minister Helen Clark on Saturday, to the Thames-Coromandel District Council Mayoral Relief Fund, as well as enhanced Taskforce Green assistance. A once in a 150-year rainfall hit the area's catchments on 21 June, damaging or destroying more than 100 homes. Civil Defence Minister George Hawkins said a report will be prepared on more appropriate ways to assist councils to respond to future natural disasters.

Cullen welcomes talks on Young Nick's Head

Finance Minister Michael Cullen welcomed the agreement by the vendor and the potential purchaser of the Young Nick's Head Station to extend their offer by six weeks to allow for negotiations with local iwi. Because of the sensitivity attached to the site, the Overseas Investment Commission has referred the application to Dr Cullen and Associate Finance Minister Paul Swain for decision. Dr Cullen said the government was likely to impose conditions on any sale. These were a commitment to restore the property through erosion control and by fencing off sensitive environmental areas; a guarantee that the public will have continued access to sites of historic and archaeological interest; and the establishment of a joint trust with Ngai Tamanuhiri to preserve and promote the historic and spiritual values associated with the property. Dr Cullen is optimistic talks can succeed provided there is good faith on both sides, as the applicant has already indicated a willingness to address all these issues. If the sale is approved, the public could be assured any conditions attached to it would be honoured as the Commission is responsible under the Overseas Investment Act for monitoring approvals after consent had been granted and for reporting any breaches to the Ministers.

NZ sends stark message to people smugglers and potential boat people

Three thousand pamphlets have been distributed to potential illegal migrants in Indonesia, warning them of the perils of undertaking a journey to New Zealand. Foreign reports from Jakarta reveal the pamphlets are making an impact, with potential illegal immigrants becoming doubtful about travelling to New Zealand after seeing the pamphlet. These reports suggest potential boat-people take the pamphlet seriously and see the journey as too dangerous. There is also concern the attention New Zealand is giving the issue means any such venture could be jeopardised because of the likelihood of their departure being detected. A further 25,000 pamphlets ? entitled Avoid A Tragedy -will be circulated in Indonesia and other countries such as Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam. They are written in English, Arabic, Bahasa (Indonesian) and Farsi (Iranian).

More Police on the way for Auckland

Auckland will receive forty-three more police officers following this week's graduation of 66 new officers from the Police College. Within the Auckland region, 16 officers are destined for Auckland city, 14 for Counties- Manukau and 13 for North Shore, Waitakere and Rodney. Of the remaining graduates, seven will go to Wellington and the Central area, three to the Bay of Plenty, two each to the Eastern and Southern regions and one to both the Canterbury and Tasman areas. There are currently 126 recruits undertaking the Police basic 19-week training course, with another 60-80 recruits due to begin training within a fortnight and further intakes planned in August, October and November. George Hawkins said the Auckland region will receive a further 55 officers after the August and October intakes have graduated. George Hawkins said the new Police cadet scheme had also generated high levels of interest. Police have already received more than 400 enquiries about the yet to be advertised scheme. Under this government, 445 sworn and non-sworn officers have boosted Police numbers.

Land transport investment welcomed

Transfund this week announced a record $1.1 billion will be spent on roading and other land transport projects in the new financial year. This is the largest annual injection of funding ever made into land transport, the result of the major boost to land transport funding announced by the government earlier this year. The new spending is $150 million more than allocated last year. The increase in planned spending includes $348.6 million for new roading construction projects, up $34 million on last year's allocation. Key roading projects likely to proceed as a result of this new funding include improvements to Auckland's central motorway junction, at a total cost of $156.5 million; a second upper harbour bridge between Hobsonville and Greenhithe in Auckland; improvements to State Highway One in Wellington, between Plimmerton and Mana; and completion of the four-laning of the Main North Road in Christchurch. While roading continues to be the main focus for funding, the amount available for alternatives to cars, such as passenger transport and cycling and walking is at an all time high.

ENDS

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