Beehive Bulletin: for week ending Oct 11
For Week Ending Friday 11 October 2002
Also Available On-Line www.labour.org.nz
Ten cabinet ministers, led by Prime Minister Helen Clark, attended the Business Leaders-Government Forum at Parliament on Friday. The key theme was how to raise New Zealand's economic growth rate through innovation and improved productivity. It built on previous dialogue between the government and business. The 65 participants also included senior officials, and representatives of a cross-section of New Zealand's largest businesses, community and workforce representatives. The forum was hosted by the Growth and Innovation Advisory Board (GIAB) is hosting. The forum is the start of a range of activities that the Growth and Innovation Advisory Board, which was established this year to advise the Prime Minister on the evolution and implementation of the government's Growth and Innovation Framework.
Transport Minister Paul Swain has directed the board of Transfund New Zealand to provide Northland and East Cape with 100 per cent funding for land transport projects that assist in regional development. This is aimed at helping Northland and East Cape develop better transport links to cope with the 'wall of wood' due to be harvested. The minister's direction to Transfund applies to $30 million earmarked for transport-related regional development projects that was announced in February's Moving Forward package. Paul Swain said the direction requires Transfund to provide 100 per cent funding for regional development roads and alternatives to roading to the six councils in the East Cape and Northland regions. Transfund usually funds about half of a project's cost. The ministers said the spin-offs would be increased investment from forestry and transport companies in these regions and more jobs.
A number of important government measures became law as Parliament sat under urgency this week. The Electronic Transactions Bill, which puts electronic transactions on the same legal footing as paper-based transactions, was passed on Thursday. The Minister for Information Technology, Paul Swain, said the Act would help reduce business compliance costs by allowing the use of electronic transactions and the electronic storage of information instead of paper-based processes. Parliament also passed new anti-terrorist legislation this week. Justice Minister Phil Goff said the laws would allow New Zealand to take every step it could against international terrorism, in line with United Nations conventions and Security Council resolutions. The rights of victims will be enshrined in law in legislation due to be passed shortly, Justice Minister Phil Goff said today. Another measure to be enacted was the Victims' Rights Bill, which ensure that the rights and needs of victims are recognized by the criminal justice system.
Finance Minister Michael Cullen this week issued proposals for improving the GST treatment of financial services. Banks, credit unions, life insurers and other financial institutions would be treated more like other enterprises and allowed to recover GST on purchases related to the supply of their services to businesses, under the proposals. Michael Cullen said the simplicity of New Zealand's GST regime derives from its comprehensive coverage. However, when GST was introduced, it was decided that areas such as financial transactions could not be accommodated within normal GST rules, so they were made exempt. The minister said the exemption can penalise the finance sector because it can prevent them from claiming GST refunds. After consultations with the industry the government is now proposing to bring within the GST system financial services that are supplied to businesses.
An expert group to establish a mediation service to help people seeking remedies for leaky buildings began work this week. Internal Affairs Minister George Hawkins announced last week that a mediation service would be established to examine the issue. The expert group will support Internal Affairs in developing a framework and terms of reference for the service. The systems, assessors, mediators and publicity necessary for the service to get underway will be put in place later this month. The group is being chaired by former State Services Commissioner Don Hunn. It also includes Tomas Kennedy-Grant, mediator, arbitrator and legal adviser; Ian Bond, engineer; Brian Roche of Price Waterhouse Coopers; and David Kernohan, an architect.