Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending March 14
Also Available On-Line http://www.labour.org.nz
Regulation of the building industry
Proposals for wide regulation of the building industry are contained in a discussion document launched this week. Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel said the weathertightness issue is symptomatic of a fundamental and systemic problem emerging from changes to the Building Act 1991, which created a 'hands off' environment for the building industry. The discussion paper focuses on creating a regulatory regime, which ensures quality assured designs, methods and products, capable people and reliable information as well as putting things right for consumers. Lianne Dalziel said it was, however, also important not to lose the opportunity for innovation that the less-prescriptive framework had allowed. Copies of the discussion paper at www.med.govt.nz
No support for military action
As long as the weapons inspectors in Iraq report that they are making genuine progress, the New Zealand Government believes their work should continue. NZ's Permanent Representative to the UN, Don Mackay this week told the UN Security Council that the UN weapons inspectors' reports make it clear that while many questions remain to be answered, real progress was also being made. On this basis, the New Zealand Government position remains that it does not support military action against Iraq without a mandate from the Security Council, and no mandate was justified at this time. New Zealand shared the frustration of the long, slow pace of Iraqi disarmament but with the inspection and disarmament process finally gaining traction, this was not the time to abandon it in favour of the use of force.
Police well resourced to deal with crime
Police have the resources necessary to focus on crime prevention and resolution throughout New Zealand, says Police Minister George Hawkins. A 3.2 per cent rise in overall recorded crime in 2002 was disappointing, but had to be kept in perspective. While any rise in crime was unwelcome, crime rates per head of population have been trending down for some years. The country's population had risen by 4.3 per cent in the last six years but recorded crime rates had dropped 7.8 per cent, said George Hawkins. National resolution rates had also kept pace, with police solving 5458 more crimes in 2002 despite a rise in offences. George Hawkins said the government has been determined to support the police and they have never been better off, with an annual budget of just under $1 billion.
Doubling our screen industry
Targets to double New Zealand's screen production industry within five years have been set in a taskforce report launched this week by Industry and Regional Development Minister Jim Anderton. The Screen Production Industry Taskforce is one of four established under the Government's Growth and Innovation Framework. Jim Anderton says the taskforce is an example of the Government working with a sector to chart out a strategy for its long-term growth and success. Key ministers will now await industry comment before responding to the report's recommendations, which include creation of a Screen Council and a new training structure. The ICT Taskforce will shortly issue its final report and the Biotechnology and Design Taskforces release their reports in the next two months. Information on Industry Taskforces at http://www.industrytaskforces.govt.nz
Councils can change speed limits
Councils will be able to change speed limits on local roads under a new rule signed by Transport Minister Paul Swain. Transit NZ will be able to change speed limits on the state highway network. Paul Swain said the changes respond to approaches from local authorities wanting more control over setting speed limits on their roads. Among their new powers, councils will be able to reduce the speed limit around schools at arrival and departure times if they believe existing conditions are unsafe. Councils will be required to consult with community groups and road users who are likely to be affected by proposed changes. Any new speed limit will have to be approved by the Land Transport Safety Authority, said Paul Swain. Further information at http://www.ltsa.govt.nz,
Deal targets jobs and foreign exchange
A significant new partnership with global IT solutions giant EDS is targeted to create 360 new high skilled ICT new jobs. The deal announced by Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton and EDS sees $1.5 million provided by Investment New Zealand to secure the development of a major client contact centre and software applications development centre in New Zealand. Jim Anderton said if EDS doesn't meet its targets the money would be refunded. It expects to generate more than $200 million of foreign exchange earnings over the next eight years. The deal was an international vote of confidence in New Zealand's economic stability and the government's commitment to partnerships with high growth industries, said Jim Anderton.