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Beehive Bulletin - Thu, 17 Apr 2003

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Unemployment beneficiaries at 14 year low

The number of people receiving the core unemployment benefit has dropped below 100,000 for the first time in 14 years. Statistics at April 4 show 98,178 people receiving the unemployment benefit. The number of people receiving the unemployment benefit peaked at 176,334 in January 1993. Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey says the figures confirm that New Zealand is continuing to hit the mark in maximising job opportunities and creating the right conditions for employment growth.

New dog control legislation

Four fighting dog breeds are to be muzzled in public under changes to dog control laws announced by Local Government Minister Chris Carter. Further importation of any more American Pit Bull Terriers, Brazilian Filas, Dogo Argentinos or Japanese Tosas will also be banned. Chris Carter says these dogs have been bred for fighting and are internationally recognised as posing a considerable risk if they attack. These initiatives form part of a package of changes designed to bolster existing dog control legislation and improve public safety, says Chris Carter.

Co-existence with GM is possible

Co-existence between genetically modified crops and conventional agriculture crops is possible, say Cabinet papers made public this week. Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton says the Royal Commission had found potential benefits for New Zealand in genetic modification technology and recommended proceeding with caution. The Cabinet papers show that the fundamental principle underlying regulation in New Zealand is that only GM organisms and GM foods that are considered safe will be allowed to be grown commercially or sold here. Jim Sutton says the Cabinet papers were part of ongoing work and Government agencies will continue to consult widely throughout this process.

Review of funding for passenger public transport

The patronage funding scheme to get more people on public transport has been an outstanding success, says Transport Minister Paul Swain. A review of the scheme was this week announced by Transfund. It provides regional councils with more funding for every extra journey taken on buses, ferries and other passenger transport, up by 24.9 per cent since 2000. However, Paul Swain says the funding system was never expected to continue indefinitely. Transfund is now seeking views on a new funding system.

Eco-sabotage penalties to increase

Tough new prison terms and fines are to be introduced for people who sabotage New Zealand's wildlife sanctuaries. Conservation Minister Chris Carter says the penalties are part of efforts to bolster the Department of Conservation's ability to protect New Zealand's natural heritage. Recently someone threatened to release a stoat on Codfish Island nature reserve. The current maximum sentence is one month in prison or a $500 fine. Legislation to be introduced to Parliament before the end of the year will increase this penalty to a maximum of one year in prison or a fine of $100,000, says Chris Carter.

Free advice on power plans and savings

With the onset of winter, Consumer Affairs Minister Judith Tizard says consumers wanting the best power deal or tips on how to save power can use the free Consumer Powerswitch service. This online service www.powerswitch.org.nz) is funded by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. Judith Tizard says the main purpose of Consumer Powerswitch is to provide information about switching power companies, whether there is a plan better suited to consumers' circumstances, and to help them make savings on their power bills. Consumer Powerswitch is also available through local Citizens Advice Bureau and by phoning 0800 367 222.


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