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Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending - Friday 19 July

Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending - Friday 19 July 2002


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Crime trends down

Provisional Police figures show crime has fallen overall in New Zealand for the ten months to 30 April this year. Overall crime fell 2.4 percent nationwide compared to the 10 months ended April 2001. Crime has fallen in the categories of violence (-1.7 percent), sexual offences (-10.8 percent), drugs and anti-social crimes (-5.6 percent), dishonesty - which includes burglary (-2.5 percent), property damage (-1.1 percent) and administrative crimes (-0.5 percent). The only rise came from property abuses (+3.5 percent). There has been a 4 percent decrease in the range of offences of homicide, kidnapping, robbery, grievous assault, serious assault and sexual attacks. Overall crime has fallen in 10 of the 12 police districts. The two districts with increased crime rates were Auckland and North Shore/Waitakere. However, in the worst violent offences category Auckland showed no change while North Shore/Waitakere was up three percent.

Ohakea runway to be upgraded

The Government has approved the reconstruction of the Ohakea Air Force Base runway. The rebuilt runway will allow for use by civilian as well as military aircraft. Last year the government announced its commitment to Ohakea as the NZ Defence Force's primary air base, and to an upgrade of the runway at Ohakea for military purposes. Defence Minister Mark Burton said the runway would be upgraded to Pavement Classification Number (PCN) 65. (Ohakea currently has a PCN of 42. By comparison, Wellington Airport has a PCN of 60 and Auckland Airport PCN 65.) While an upgrade to PCN 50 would have been sufficient for current and anticipated military purposes, the higher standard 'future proofs' Ohakea for economic development opportunities. The estimated total project cost remains within the $23 million estimated in the Defence Long-Term Development Plan. A competitive tender process will determine the final cost and tenders are now being called. The reconstructed runway would be able to cater for regular use by most commercial aircraft ? other than fully laden Boeing 747s, which would require a runway extension. The upgrade approved by the government allows for a possible future extension of the runway, if demand is shown to exist. Final Cabinet approval will be sought once the tenders have been evaluated, and it is expected the runway upgrade will proceed this summer.

Work stoppage numbers low

Latest work stoppage figures released by Statistics New Zealand record a continuing low level of industrial action. There were seven work stoppages in the first three months of 2002, consistent with the pattern seen since the Employment Relations Act (ERA) came into force in 2000, Labour Minister Margaret Wilson said. The number of stoppages under the ERA has been relatively low, ranging from between five to nine per quarter. There was the one exception, the September 2001 quarter, when 19 stoppages occurred. Wilson said these peaks and troughs are to be expected, and the important factor is we have not seen an increased number of stoppages overall. The March 2002 quarter recorded a significant reduction in the number of person-days of work lost and losses in wages and salaries. More than 23,000 person- days of work were lost in each of the previous two quarters and losses in wages and salaries were more than $3 million per quarter. These figures returned to relatively lower levels of 4,505 and $798,000 respectively in the March quarter. The number of employees involved also reduced to 4,258 from almost 15,000 in the December 2001 quarter.

Taranaki community broadband project launched

The Taranaki Broadband Community Partnership was launched this week with the first of 15 Taranaki telephone exchanges, upgraded to handle broadband Internet, being switched on. All 15 exchanges will be upgraded in the next few months, giving 83 per cent of the community access to broadband services, up from the current 27 per cent. The upgrade will give broadband access to all secondary schools and 75 per cent of primary schools. Taranaki was one of five regional pilots launched last year to come up with innovative ways to extend broadband in regional New Zealand, which is poorly served by telecommunications companies. A total of $300,000 was allocated between the five pilots. Minister of Communications Paul Swain said the five pilot projects have provided information about the impact of access to broadband and possible technology options. Following the pilots, the Minister of Finance announced that tens of millions of dollars have been set aside to introduce broadband technology throughout New Zealand in the next two years. The project, now known as PROBE, is funded
jointly through the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Economic Development and will build on the regional experiences.

Social policy investment continues

The government is investing an additional $2.5 million in the next four years to improve social policy research and advice. The funding will establish a permanent secretariat for the Social Policy Research and Evaluation (SPEaR) committee, scholarship and exchange programmes and a new website to act as a clearinghouse for social policy information available on the web. A major social policy conference, postponed because of the early election, will also take place next year. The major conference planned for this month to develop ways of producing an effective evidence base for social policy decisions will be held next March.


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