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Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending Friday 07 Feb

Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending Friday 07 February 2003

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Waitangi Day

Prime Minister Helen Clark and other ministers attended events at Waitangi on Wednesday and Thursday as New Zealand celebrated its national day, Waitangi Day. On Wednesday evening Helen Clark was welcomed on to the Te Tii Marae at Waitangi. On Thursday morning the Prime Minister hosted a function at the Copthorne Hotel, attended by Ngapuhi elders and local dignitaries, before attending a waka launching beside the Treaty grounds. Helen Clark said the relaxed atmosphere and the fact that the only significant issue of "protest'' was the Ngawha prison in Northland - a regional rather than a national issue - raised the possibility of a new era. She added: "I think overall Maoridom is very much engaged in a renaissance."

PM responds to Powell address

Helen Clark said this week that the evidence presented to the UN Security Council by American Secretary of State Colin Powell ? aimed at showing Iraq is stockpiling weapons of mass destruction ? presented no "smoking gun". The Prime Minister said while no precise evidence was presented, the US had produced "pretty good evidence of a pattern of deception to ensure that the inspectors couldn't find out where anything is". Helen Clark said the United Nations would have to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of a war which would cause massive damage to the country's infrastructure and kill up to 100,000 Iraqis. The PM said New Zealand would consider joining an international effort for humanitarian aid, for medical support and for projects to restore infrastructure, using army engineers.

Govt advice to NZers in Gulf

Foreign Minister Phil Goff said this week the government is advising New Zealanders in the Gulf to take sensible precautions in view of the increased likelihood of conflict in the region. The minister says New Zealanders living in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia or neighbouring Gulf countries have been advised to stay in contact with their local New Zealand warden (network contact-person) as well as with the New Zealand Embassy in Riyadh. All New Zealanders in the wider Middle East region should register with the nearest New Zealand Embassy or Consulate if they have not already done so. Phil Goff said they

should maintain a high level of personal security and ensure that family travel documents are up to date in case urgent travel becomes necessary. The government was also advising that all vital documents such as bank, taxation, insurance and medical records are quickly accessible.

Carter on dog attacks

Local Government Minister Chris Carter said this week that the Dog Control

Act 1996 is to be urgently reviewed following last Friday's attack on a young girl in a suburban Auckland park. The minister said he had written to all district and city council mayors advising them he intended to review the effectiveness of the Act. The minister said he was seeking their help to identify any changes that may be needed to prevent a recurrence of the type of vicious attacks that have occurred recently. He says it unacceptable that young children are unable to enjoy the public amenities of a large metropolitan city like Auckland without fear of dog attack. It was unclear as to what steps were needed to prevent similar tragedies in future. He said the Act already provided quite extensive powers to councils to regulate dog ownership, and to deal with dangerous dogs in particular. It is too early to say whether there is a problem with the legislation or whether the issue is one of policing and resources.

Government addressing youth drug and suicide issues

Recently released OECD figures ranking nations on their youth suicide and drugs figures were misleading, says Jim Anderton, who is leading the government's Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy and is chairing the Ministerial Action Group on Alcohol and Drugs. OECD figures released this

week drew on data from the late 1990s, and New Zealand's youth suicide rate has declined significantly since then. The rate has dropped from 13.6 per

100,000 young people under the age of 25 in 1998, to 7.11 per 100,000 in 2000. In 2000, the lowest number of youth suicides was recorded since 1986. Some of the figures in the OECD report for some countries are nearly 10 years old. The figures on drugs use United Nations' figures which are based on 1998 and 1999 figures which are not youth figures and do not match figures from the New Zealand National Drug Survey's in 1998 or 2001. Mr Anderton said the New Zealand youth suicide prevention strategy and national drug policy are already in place and additional measures are being developed to lessen the impact on young people.

Employment growth welcomed

New statistics show a dramatic drop in the number of people receiving unemployment benefits, says Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey. There were 134,416 people receiving unemployment benefits on 31 January 2003, over 16,000 fewer than the 150,880 on the same benefits on 1 February 2002. Mr Maharey said the fall in unemployment statistics proves the government's decision to focus Work and Income on getting beneficiaries into work is achieving results. "Dramatically lower unemployment rolls vindicate the government's approach to welfare. We have freed up Work and Income front line staff to focus on getting people into paid work."

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