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Beehive Bulletin: for week ending Sept 20 2002

NZ to contribute to UN mission to Iraq

The government has approved a contribution of up to 10 New Zealand Defence Force personnel to the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission. UNMOVIC will ensure Iraq's compliance with Security Council resolutions should inspections resume. Prime Minister Helen Clark said New Zealand's contribution to UNMOVIC, approved this week by Cabinet, is consistent with the Government's disarmament objectives and support for multilateral efforts to bring Iraq into compliance with its obligations towards Security Council resolutions. New Zealand is able to provide up to 10 medical and communications personnel. The deployment will mark New Zealand's first exercise with UNMOVIC since it was established in December 1999 to replace the former UN Special Mission. UNMOVIC's mandate is to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction and to operate a system of ongoing monitoring and verification to check Iraq's compliance with its obligations not to acquire again weapons prohibited by the Security Council.

New Reserve Bank policy targets agreement ========================================= The Finance Minister and the incoming Governor of the Reserve Bank this week signed a new Policy Targets Agreement, which sets out specific targets for achieving and maintaining price stability. The most significant change is that the Reserve Bank is required to take a forward looking, medium-term approach to achieving price stability. This gives the Bank more flexibility to decide how it responds to shocks in the economy and inflation variations around the target. The new PTA raises the bottom of the inflation target to one per cent, while retaining the three per cent upper limit and includes a statement of the government's broader economic goals. Finance Minister Michael Cullen said the new PTA sits well alongside the framework for the improved accountability mechanisms recommended by the Svensson Review and legislated for in the Reserve Bank Amendment Bill currently before Parliament. The bill strengthens the Reserve Bank Board's role within the Bank and enhances the Bank's independence. The bill retains the Governor as a member of the Board but removes him as chairman in favour of a non-executive chair, and requires that the Board issue its own annual report assessing the performance of the Governor.

Immigration advisory group ========================= Nominations for the government's Ministerial Advisory Group on Immigration (MAG) and Refugee sub-group are being called for. The MAG was established in the year 2000 as a forum to discuss issues around the settlement of migrants, and other barriers to achieving the government's immigration policy objectives. Ten members were initially appointed (six were appointed to the MAG and four to the Refugee sub-group) for a two-year term which ends on 31 December 2002. Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel said this representative group of community views has been an invaluable sounding board for her on the government's immigration policy. It has also been a source of feedback on where policy does and doesn't work well. Nominations close on 21 October 2002. Position descriptions are available on the New Zealand Immigration Service's website at http://www.immigration.govt.nz/MAG/.

New Deputy Chief Censor ======================= Nicola McCully is the new Deputy Chief Censor at the Office of Film and Literature Classification. Ms McCully has been with the Office since its inception and is currently the manager of its Classification Unit. She has also held both Classification and Senior Classification Officer positions. Prior to her involvement in censorship areas, Ms McCully worked with special education children. Ms McCully's appointment will be for three years.

New Welfare Legislation Good for Families ========================================= Welfare legislation passed this week by Parliament evening will increase support available for sole-parent and widows beneficiaries to raise their families and move into work when family responsibilities allow. The key provisions of the Social Security (Personal Development and Employment) Amendment Bill come into force on 10 March 2003. A new active case management system will be introduced and sole-parent beneficiaries will be required to draw up annual plans detailing the steps they will take to prepare them to re-enter the workforce when family responsibilities allow. Steve Maharey said the new act recognises three vitally important factors. Firstly, most people receiving Widows or Domestic Purposes Benefits are highly motivated to improve their own and their children's circumstances. Secondly, the Labour-led government recognises that raising healthy successful children is vital nation building work. The new rules assist beneficiaries to move into paid work but being a good parent must come first. Finally, the new rules will provide the support beneficiaries need to move into work to stay there. The government invested $55 million in the Budget to enable Work and Income case managers to spend time with beneficiaries one-on-one goal setting and planning for the time when they are ready and able to work.

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