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Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending Friday 06 June

Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending Friday 06 June 2002

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Minister makes formal apology to Ngati Ruanui

Treaty Negotiations Minister Margaret Wilson traveled this week to Pariroa Pa in South Taranaki to publicly read out the formal Crown apology to Ngati Ruanui for acknowledged Treaty breaches. The acknowledgements and formal apology were included in the Ngati Ruanui Claims Settlement Bill which passed into legislation on 1 May. Margaret Wilson says by making the apology, returning key sites of significance, and by the payment of $41 million, the Crown has provided some compensation for its past actions.

Road toll in May lowest on record

The May road toll of 32 was the lowest on record. Forty- one people died on our roads during May 2002. Police Minister George Hawkins says New Zealand's road toll was currently at its lowest since 1962 and that's largely attributable to police and LTSA road safety initiatives. Transport Minister Paul Swain says the public must also be given credit, as road safety messages and ongoing campaigns against drink driving and speeding are clearly getting through.

Increase in paid parental leave maximum

The maximum paid parental leave payment will increase from $325 per week to $334.75 per week from 1 July under indexation arrangements. Labour Minister Margaret Wilson says a review of paid parental leave will be undertaken after first anniversary on 1 July. Eligibility for people such as the self-employed is likely to emerge as a key issue. About 3900 people are receiving payments at any given time and the scheme is running to budget. Interested employers and employees can find more information at or call 0800 800 863.

New law for secondhand dealers

Tougher regulations planned for secondhand dealers and pawnbrokers will make it harder for criminals to dispose of stolen goods, says Justice Minister Phil Goff. He's introduced new legislation creating a tougher licensing and certification regime for dealers, pawnbrokers and their staff. Phil Goff says the government is committed to tackling burglary and other property crime and it is vital to make it harder to dispose of stolen property. Penalties for not complying with the new legislation have been sharply increased.

Support for reconciliation in East Timor

New Zealand is giving $500,000 for East Timor's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation. Aid Minister Marian Hobbs says New Zealand has made a huge contribution to peace in East Timor since 1999, and remains committed to helping the Timorese people rebuild their communities. The commission was established in 2001 to inquire into human rights abuses in East Timor. It is holding community reconciliation meetings in every district and provides support to victims of violence and abuse.

Tonga urged to reconsider constitutional changes

Foreign Minister Phil Goff is urging the Tongan government to ensure that proposed changes to its constitution do not breach international human rights requirements. Phil Goff says proposed amendments qualify freedom of the press and removes laws and ordinances passed in the kingdom from judicial review. These changes appear contrary to the spirit of Commonwealth and Pacific Forum declarations of basic rights, says Phil Goff and he hopes the Tongan government will reconsider the proposed amendments, and its ban on the Taimi O Tonga publication.

Say no to plastic bags

The Reduce Your Rubbish Campaign, run by the Ministry for the Environment in conjunction with regional councils, is calling on people to say no to plastic bags. Environment Minister Marian Hobbs says the message is: if you don't need it, don't take it. Recently, Ireland introduced a levy on plastic bags. The Australian government has told the supermarket industry that if it did not adequately commit to targets to drastically reduce plastic bag numbers, there'd be mandatory measures. Marian Hobbs says she's watching these initiatives to see if there are lessons for New Zealand.

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