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Beehive Bulletin - Friday 25 October 2002

BEEHIVE BULLETIN FOR WEEK ENDING
FRIDAY 25 OCTOBER 2002
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Also Available On-Line
www.labour.org.nz

Unemployment down in every region

New regional statistics from the Ministry of Social Development show that unemployment numbers have dropped in every region in New Zealand. The Minister of Social Services and Employment, Steve Maharey said unemployment is at its lowest in 14 years, at 5.1 per cent. Decreases in unemployment of up to 75 percent have been recorded in regions since 1999. Mr Maharey also launched the 2002/2003 regional plans for each of the Ministry's 13 regions. Regionalisation of the Department of Work in Income was introduced by the government in 2000 to marry the employment expertise of the Department of Work and Income with the different skill needs of each region. In the coming year Work and Income Regional Commissioners intend giving particular focus to supporting particular groups in their regions such as youth or long term unemployed to get into paid employment. Mr Maharey said getting more people into real paying jobs is the Ministry's biggest challenge.The regional plans gave confidence that it is fully focused on this issue which is a key priority for the government, Mr Maharey said.

Defence Minister pays tribute to SAS

Defence Minister Mark Burton said three members of the NZ SAS injured in Afghanistan when their patrolling vehicle ran over a landmine were doing an important job under demanding environmental and operational conditions. He extended the Government's sympathies to the soldiers and their families. Mr Burton reinforced Chief of Defence Staff Air Marshal Ferguson's message that there are always risks associated with any operational deployment. Mr Burton said the NZ SAS has an enviable reputation and its efforts on this important deployment had enhanced New Zealand's standing with the nations that are cooperating in combating international terrorism.

New Zealand regains top Moody's credit rating

Finance Minister Michael Cullen has welcomed the announcement by Moody's Investors Service that New Zealand has been restored to the highest possible credit rating for foreign currency debt - Aaa. the decision raises New Zealand two notches from Aa2 to Aaa, and returns us to the rating we held in 1983. Dr Cullen said this places New Zealand with top world economies like the European Union and the United States and is a clear sign of international confidence in the current government's fiscal and economic management. The upgrade is not linked to any one particular event. Rather, it reflects Moody's belief that, in the event of an external payments crisis, New Zealand is unlikely to impose a moratorium on debt repayment to ration scarce foreign currency assets - thereby forcing companies to default on their foreign debt payments. Moody's also cited New Zealand's flexible foreign exchange regime as a factor in their decision. Framework for Biotechnology Strategy released A discussion paper released by Research, Science and Technology Minister Pete Hodgson sets out the framework for a New Zealand Biotechnology Strategy. He said the Government is committed under its Growth and Innovation Framework to supporting biotechnology as a key growth sector. Mr Hodgson said New Zealand has a strong track record in adding value to natural products through biological innovation and world-class biological knowledge and skills to build on. A stronger biotechnology sector has the potential to accelerate growth in other sectors, including forestry, agriculture, food production and pharmaceuticals. The discussion paper offers a vision, goals and guiding principles for the development and use of biotechnology in New Zealand, said Mr Hodgson. Development of the Biotechnology Strategy is being led by the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology. The ministry will collect and analyse submissions in response to the discussion paper and the Government aims to have a final strategy in place by early 2003. Mr Hodgson encouraged everyone to have their say.

Government to simplify small business costs

Government is poised to decide on how to simplify financial reporting obligations for small businesses, said Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel. Reporting obligations for small companies are the subject of a discussion document, produced by the Ministry of Economic Development, and released for public consultation, as part of a review of the Exempt Companies Regime (of the Financial Reporting Act). The work follows recommendations by the Commerce Select Committee and Ministerial Panel on Business Compliance Costs. Lianne Dalziel said it is recognised that the Financial Reporting Act was written with large companies in mind. The Government now needs to look at the Exempt Companies Regime, which aims to provide a low cost system for most small companies by limiting reporting requirements to core information. She said the government is committed to reducing compliance costs. Submissions close on 6 December 2002. The government plans to introduce a Financial Reporting Bill to implement any changes to the Exempt Companies Regime in 2003.

New Zealand could become sustainability world leader

New ideas can make New Zealand a world leader in sustainable business practices such as triple bottom line reporting, said Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton. He said a report on business management to be released by the Ministry of Economic Development next month indicates that New Zealand businesses already see they have an important social responsibility to their community. Eighty-two per cent of businesses surveyed, engage in community sponsorship or donations and most saw a 'social good' element as part of the objectives of their sponsorship. However Mr Anderton said for New Zealand to become a world leader for sustainable business practice, businesses will need to see environmental management as an opportunity to lower their costs or improve their value ? not as an annoying expense. He said with the regional growth underway, this is an ideal time to change the way we do business so that we produce less waste and generate new ideas to make production more efficient.

ENDS

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