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Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending Friday 28 March

Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending Friday 28 March 2003

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New Zealand's statement on Iraq at UN

The New Zealand Government deeply regrets the breakdown of the diplomatic process and the hostilities now underway, our permanent representative to the UN this week told the Security Council. Don Mackay says while we acknowledge the endeavour to avoid civilian casualties, the loss of life on both sides is of deep concern. The common objective must be to end hostilities as quickly as possible, so that the risks to the Iraqi people are minimized. The United Nation's call for humanitarian relief funds deserved broad support. New Zealand has already announced a contribution to relief agencies and was looking at other ways to help.

Review of energy policy

Energy supply in New Zealand is of concern both short term and long term to the Government, says Prime Minister Helen Clark. She says amid dry conditions in South Island hydro catchments, the government is facing the prospect of having to intensively manage power supplies for the second time in four years. This is not satisfactory for a first world country, says Helen Clark. Demand for energy is up and Maui gas is running out sooner than was expected. However, it is also the government's view that the current market model did not provide for longer-term security of energy supply. A Cabinet infrastructure group, headed by Finance Minister Michael Cullen, has been set up in recent weeks and is contemplating change that could be significant, says Helen Clark.

Economic growth at top end of forecasts

Finance Minister Michael Cullen has welcomed the December GDP result, saying it is at the top end of consensus forecasts. The figures show the New Zealand economy grew 0.8 per cent over the December 2002 quarter and 4.4 per cent over the year. The quarterly growth was broad-based with exports rising 2.8 per cent and household spending up 2 per cent. Michael Cullen says this continues what has been three years of healthy growth. However recent consumer and business confidence data suggest activity is now beginning to cool off in response to the Gulf war, the rising dollar, the prospect of power rationing and the threat of drought, says Michael Cullen.

Report on weathertightness welcomed

Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel has welcomed the report of the Government Administration Select Committee on weathertightness as providing further ideas towards comprehensively addressing the issue. The committee received more than 200 submissions and made more than 60 recommendations. Lianne Dalziel says the report adds to the discussion document, Better Regulation of the Building Industry in New Zealand, which she launched a fortnight ago. Weathertightness is a symptom of much wider problems within the building industry and the government will focus on these broader issues in its review of the Building Act, says Lianne Dalziel.

Settlement signed with Ngati Awa

This week's signing of a Deed of Settlement between the Crown and Ngati Awa marks the acceptance of the first comprehensive Treaty settlement in the Bay of Plenty. Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Minister, Margaret Wilson, says iwi in the Bay of Plenty were significantly affected by Crown confiscation of land and the settlement with Ngati Awa makes important progress in addressing historical grievances in the region. The signing signaled an opportunity for Ngati Awa to move forward, develop a wider economic base and play a stronger part in the wider community, says Margaret Wilson. The Deed of Settlement includes a Crown Apology for breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi and its principles, the transfer of seven sites of significance to Ngati Awa and a combination of cash and Crown-owned land of $42.39 million.

Controls tabled on brothels

Amendments were tabled this week to the Prostitution Reform Bill giving police power to prevent criminals from running sex businesses and assisting local authorities to control their location. Justice Minister Phil Goff's amendments ban people convicted of serious or gang- related offences from operating places of prostitution such as brothels and escort agencies. Phil Goff says it is clearly inappropriate for people with serious criminal convictions to have control over sex workers and involvement in the sex industry. Local authorities would also be able to pass bylaws to exclude brothels from inappropriate localities, such as residential areas or near schools, says Phil Goff.

PM's Coach Scholarships

Sports Minister Trevor Mallard has announced 63 sports coaches will receive the annual Prime Minister's Coach Scholarships in recognition of the value and importance of coaches to New Zealand's sporting success. The leading high performance scholarships have been awarded in two tiers. Three coaches, Dunedin-based Craig Palmer, (athletics), Auckland-based Brendon Downey, (triathlon) and Cambridge-based Brett Crowe (rowing) will each receive $50,000 and a further 60 coaches from around New Zealand will receive up to $10,000 for professional development. Trevor Mallard says New Zealand has a lot of talented coaches who are prepared to go the extra mile to improve themselves. The scholarships will help to make our good coaches great, says Trevor Mallard.

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