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Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending May 9

Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending

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Smart Growth Day 9 May

Smart Growth Day, celebrating growth through new ideas, was marked by 38 Ministers and Government MPs visiting more than 50 businesses, schools and skills training organisations around New Zealand. The visits are part of the lead up to Budget 2003 on May 15, which provides continued support for the government's framework of growth and innovation policies. Smart Growth Day announcements included $2m towards a Bio Commerce centre in Manawatu and assistance for a world-class electronics cluster of companies in Christchurch. Innovative businesses around the country also benefited from $1.2 m in Enterprise Awards from Industry New Zealand.

Government moves to discourage underage drinking

The Government has increased the excise duty on some alcoholic beverages to promote safer communities by discouraging underage drinking. Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton says the law change increases the excise duty on beverages containing from 14% to 23% alcohol by volume. The products that mainly fall into this category are the very cheap light spirits often used by young people. This important legislation addresses a serious challenge being faced by far too many New Zealand families, says Jim Anderton.

Six Centres of Innovation for early childhood

A new early childhood education initiative will create six Centres of Innovation, to build a strong research base for models of best teaching practice. Education Minister Trevor Mallard says $2.102 million will be provided over three years to support the six centres - · A'oga Fa'asamoa, Roskill South Kindergarten, Te Kohanga Reo o Puau Te Moananui a Kiwa (all in Auckland), Wycliffe Nga Tamariki Kindergarten, Napier, Wilton Playcentre, Wellington and New Beginnings Preschool, Christchurch.

Pay increase for defence

Uniformed defence personnel are to receive their third pay rise in as many years. From 1 July 2003 pay rises will equate to an increase of between $1,000 and $5000 per annum for the majority of personnel. Defence Minister Mark Burton says the Defence Force's greatest asset is its people, and the government continues to invest in their future. The increases represent another significant step towards aligning defence pay rates with comparable occupations in the private sector, says Mark Burton.

Budget funding for Radio New Zealand

Radio New Zealand is to receive new funding of $14.58m over four years to set up a nationwide FM service and meet the rising costs of its core services. Broadcasting Minister Steve Maharey said the package, part of Budget 2003, will enable National Radio to contribute more to national and cultural identity and is the first boost in resources for core services since 1997. The FM service will be progressively rolled out over the next three years, starting with the four main centres by the end of 2004. National Radio will continue to be simulcast on the AM band for those unable to tune in to FM, says Steve Maharey.

Team New Zealand investment possible

The government is prepared to invest up to $33.75 million in an America's Cup challenge if certain conditions are met. America's Cup Minister, Trevor Mallard says Team New Zealand must, decide it will mount a challenge in Europe and whether it can raise substantial funding from the private sector. If and when the Government receives a final proposal from Team New Zealand, an analysis of the potential trade and tourism benefits for New Zealand will be carried out, before the Government makes its final decision on any contribution to Team New Zealand. The 1999/2000 challenge is estimated to have brought an additional $640 million to New Zealand in jobs and economic growth, says Trevor Mallard.

Biotechnology Taskforce report released

The Biotechnology Taskforce has this week delivered a high-quality report with bold recommendations for accelerating the growth of the sector, says Research, Science and Technology Minister, Pete Hodgson. The report, "Growing the Biotechnology Sector in New Zealand ? A Framework for Action", highlights the importance of biotechnology to New Zealand and outlines actions for building the sector and removing barriers to its growth. Pete Hodgson says developing New Zealand's biotechnology sector is critical for the competitiveness and productivity of our primary industries and brings significant advances in health care, forensics and biosecurity.

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