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Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending 4 October

BEEHIVE BULLETIN FOR WEEK ENDING
FRIDAY 04 OCTOBER 2002
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Also Available On-Line
www.labour.org.nz


Govt takes on Auckland housing stock

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Housing Minister Mark Gosche announced this week that the government has approved an offer by Housing New Zealand Corporation to buy the Auckland City Council housing portfolio for a maximum of $83 million. The corporation will also spend up to $75 million over the next five years to upgrade or replace the existing Auckland City Council properties. The offer involves 1542 pensioner rental units on 50 sites, and 129 residential units. The Auckland City Council is expected to approve the government's offer at its 10 October meeting. The ministers said the decision would provide much needed security of tenure for Auckland City Council tenants. They say housing demand in the Auckland region is high and rising, and if the council had sold the housing into the private market, it would likely result in the loss of these valuable social housing sites in and around inner Auckland. Mark Gosche said the government believes that local authorities have a significant role to play in the provision of housing in their communities. He cautioned that further purchases from other councils was not viable or desirable. Auckland was a special case. There was a high demand for social housing and a low turnover amongst existing stock. The region also has high levels of population growth, the minister said.

Cabinet acts on leaky buildings crisis

The government decided this week to establish a mediation service to help those affected by the leaking buildings problem. Internal Affairs Minister George Hawkins said the government had identified three key areas for action. The first was to ensure that homeowners had somewhere to seek a remedy, which was why a mediation service was being established. The second was the need to ensure that any change to insurance cover for building certifiers does not result in disruption of the building industry. Third, the government needed to make sure the regulatory system under the Building Act was robust enough to ensure these problems were not repeated, George Hawkins said. The Cabinet has asked officials to report urgently on ways to ensure the building certification process worked properly in future. The minister said mediation was a sound, inexpensive first port of call for people with leaking homes.

PM names student essay winners

Prime Minister Helen Clark this week announced the winners of the student essay competition on the Second Battle of El Alamein, and a second competition on the history of the Chinese in New Zealand. The four winners of the El Alamein essay compeition were Adam Allington (Onslow College, Wellington) Lara Markstein (Macleans College, Auckland), Anna Reymer (Sacred Heart Girls College, Hamilton), and Pip Wilson (Otago Girls High School, Dunedin). They will accompany the Prime Minister on a visit to Egypt this month to attend commemorations marking the 60th anniversary of the Second Battle of El Alamein. The three winners of the Chinese settlers' essay competition were Sienna Smale-Jackson (Otago Girls' High School, Dunedin), Christopher Burns (Rosmini College, Auckland) and Bevin Gee (Waitaki Boys' High School, Oamaru). The competition followed the government's formal apology for discrimination imposed by statute on Chinese people in the past. The Prime Minister this week presented the winners with copies of James Ng's Windows on a Chinese Past at a function in Parliament. A further 10 highly commended competition entrants will receive copies of Manying Ip's Dragons on the Long White Cloud.

Govt announces four more public health organisations

Health Minister Annette King this week announced the establishment of four more public health organisations. The government will fund GPs and other primary healthcare providers through the new organisations. Two trials have been running in South Auckland. This week saw the launch of four more ? in Wellington's Hutt Valley, two in Tairawhiti (East Coast) and one on the West Coast of the South Island. The PHOs are being funded from $50 million allocated this financial year to begin implementing the government's Primary Health Care Strategy. Anette King says affordable, quality primary health care is a priority for this government, which is why $400 million dollars has been allocated over a three-year period.

Govt increases migrants' general skills pass mark

Acting Immigration Minister Damien O'Connor announced this week that the general skills category pass mark will increase from 29 to 30 points on 7 October. The new pass mark will set the number of points a person requires to gain New Zealand residence under the General Skills Category (GSC). The pass mark was last changed on 9 September (from 28 to 29 points) to help manage the New Zealand immigration programme. Damien O'Connor said it was no secret that the New Zealand Immigration Service had been inundated with large numbers of residence applications in the GSC since the 2001/2002 year. The pass mark increases announced earlier this year were implemented to help us manage down the number of applications. The points requirement that takes effect on 7 October will allow the government to continue effective management of the New Zealand immigration programme, the minister said.


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