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Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending Friday 13 June

Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending Friday 13 June 2003

Government offer for stake in Tranz Rail

The government has signed a Heads of Agreement to buy the rail network for $1, take out a 35 per cent stake in Tranz Rail and rescue it from insolvency through an immediate cash injection of $44 million. Finance Minister Michael Cullen and Transport Minister Paul Swain say the transaction would ensure trains keep running and secure vital infrastructure in the national interest. Tranz Rail approached the government last month under pressure from its banks. The Tranz Rail board will recommend the 35 per cent shareholding, at 67 cents a share, to shareholders for approval on 11 July. The government also intends to invest $100 million over five years to improve and upgrade the rail network.

Fisheries quota model accepted

Fisheries Minister Pete Hodgson has reviewed and accepted Te Ohu Kai Moana's quota allocation model. He says it is fundamentally sound and provides a just and workable framework for the future. Pete Hodgson says this is a huge step towards the completion of the Fisheries Settlement and the advancement of Maori interests in the fishing industry. The Ministry of Fisheries will now work with Te Ohu Kai Moana to develop a bill to implement the allocation model, for introduction to Parliament later this year.

New legislation on sex offenders

Legislation to significantly extend the monitoring and control of high-risk child sex offenders is proposed for introduction by the end of the year. Justice Minister Phil Goff says the continued management of child sex offenders beyond their parole period after release from prison is of major concern to the government. The preferred option would be to have high-risk offenders subject to an extended supervision regime for up to 10 years after release. The Government is also considering what advantages a register of sex offenders would provide over current information systems.

Support for Iraq's reconstruction

New Zealand will contribute support to humanitarian and reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Prime Minister Helen Clark says the UN Security Council has appealed to UN member states to assist the people of Iraq. A New Zealand Defence Force engineering group of up to 60 personnel will work for up to 12 months with a UK unit on reconstruction tasks in southern Iraq. A contribution of NZ$1 million will help rehabilitate the Iraqi Agriculture Ministry building in Baghdad and there will be agricultural scholarships and training in New Zealand for Iraqis. Helen Clark also announced the government would contribute personnel to Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan as part of New Zealand's continuing support for Operation Enduring Freedom.

A fair day's pay for trainees

The Minimum Wage Amendment Bill has been passed by Parliament and ensures trainees receive a fair day's pay. They will soon have to be paid at least $6.80 an hour, the same as the minimum youth rate. Acting Labour Minister Trevor Mallard says trainees are the backbone of tomorrow's workforce and the legislation is another way of encouraging people to pursue new skills, needed for New Zealand to prosper. It also prevents employers who offer fair wages from being undercut by competitors who employ cheap labour. Trevor Mallard says many trainees are already paid decent wages, but the legislation protects the minority who are not. Industry surveys showing hairdressing, panel beating and some horticulture trainees to be particularly vulnerable. More information at www.ers.dol.govt.nz or 0800 800 863.

Care of Children Bill introduced

Legislation to reform guardianship law has been introduced to Parliament. The Care of Children Bill replaces the Guardianship Act 1968 and modernises the framework for resolving ongoing care arrangements for children within families, especially when the relationship between the parents breaks down. Associate Justice Minister Lianne Dalziel says family structures and patterns, as well as attitudes towards children have changed significantly over the last 35 years. The Bill ensures a stronger focus on the rights of children and recognises a wider range of family arrangements.

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