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Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending

Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending

Rejection of airline deal expected

Draft determinations from regulatory authorities on both sides of the Tasman declining the Air New Zealand-Qantas deal as currently structured were to be expected, says Finance Minister Michael Cullen. The next step is for the airlines to respond to the concerns raised by the Commerce Commission and the Australian Competition Consumer Commission. Michael Cullen says the airlines need authorisation by both to proceed and clearly have a lot of work to do. The government emphasized in December, when it gave conditional support to the joint venture, that final approval would depend upon clearance by both commissions. That remains the position, says Michael Cullen.

Budget measures on drugs and youth suicide

Support to address drug abuse and prevent youth suicide will feature in Budget 2003, says Progressive Leader and Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton. The Budget includes 15 community action initiatives located in rural and urban centres where the use of drugs is highest. Jim Anderton also announced more assistance in Budget 2003 to families and whanau where there has been a suicide or attempted suicide. The Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy will gain extra funding as well. Jim Anderton says although youth suicide seems to be declining, every suicide is a human tragedy and more support was needed for parents, caregivers and teachers in identifying and addressing youth at risk.

New measures considered for child sex offenders

The government is considering new measures to improve the monitoring of convicted child sex offenders once they are released from prison. Justice Minister Phil Goff says these include significantly extending parole periods and civil restraining orders for offenders considered a danger to the community. Such civil orders could, for example, ban offenders going within 200m of a school, or living or working with children. A register of child sex offenders will also be looked at as a serious option, says Phil Goff.And, CYF's report on sex offenders identifies anomaly Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey is welcoming a report commissioned from Child, Youth and Family (CYF) into the department's dealings with sex offenders. Steve Maharey says the report confirms the department has sound practices in place to manage contact with sex offenders, but it does identify an anomaly in the organisation of family group conferences This anomaly means Youth Justice Coordinators do not have the power to exclude a parent or family member convicted of sex offending, from attending family group conferences. Legislative change will be needed to address the issue, says Steve Maharey.

Building Industry Authority to go

The Building Industry Authority (BIA) will be disestablished and its functions moved into a government department when the new Building Act comes into force. Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel says the public reasonably expects the government to address the regulatory failure highlighted by recent weathertightness problems. A departmental structure will strengthen the accountability of the regulatory body to the responsible Minister and to the public, says Lianne Dalziel. The BIA, currently a Crown entity run by an independent board appointed by the government, has been given significant additional resources and is reorientating itself to become a much more proactive regulator, says Lianne Dalziel.

Veterans pension entitlements improved

Veterans who work will no longer lose part of their veteran's pensions entitlement following the passing of the War Pensions Amendment Act (No 2). Veterans' Affairs Minister George Hawkins says the act reflects war veteran's special status and needs. Veterans will now be able to undertake paid employment to a certain level before their pensions begin to abate. Rates of abatement of 30 cents for every $1 of employment income apply to veterans whose pensions exceed $80 per week. The act raises the floor for veterans pension rates for married couples to not less than 65 per cent of average weekly earnings, compared with 60 per cent previously.

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