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Beehive Bulletin For Week Ending 04 July 2003


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New immigration policy focuses on skills

The most significant changes in immigration policy in more than a decade were announced this week. Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel says they are designed to meet government objectives for economic growth and innovation, and to ensure a win-win for skilled migrants and for New Zealand. Those with qualifications and experience matching New Zealand's skill shortages and who have relevant job offers in regions outside Auckland, earn the highest points under the new Skilled Migrant Category. Legislation giving immediate effect to the new policy was introduced to Parliament. Details at www.immigration.govt.nz

Cheaper doctor visits for many at PHOs

More than 800,000 New Zealanders are now paying a maximum of $20 to visit a Primary Health Organisation. From July 1, 13 more PHOs began, bringing the total to 47. Health Minister Annette King says the Government had hoped 300,000 New Zealanders would be enrolled in PHOs in the first year. In total, 1.7 million New Zealanders are now enrolled, more than half of them under the 'access' formula for low-cost doctor visits. Only five of the 21 District Health Boards don't have a PHO in their region, and Annette King expects all boards will have PHOs within six months.

Cervical screening expert's report released

The final report of a British cervical screening expert on implementing recommendations from the Gisborne Cervical Screening Inquiry has been released. Health Minister Annette King says she's pleased Dr Euphemia McGoogan recognises a great deal of work has occurred and a structured National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP) is emerging. Annette King says she's heartened at the assessment that the NCSP continues to mature month on month, but accepts much is still to be done to realise New Zealanders' hopes of having the world's best cervical screening programme.

Big budget screen productions get grants

Large budget film and television productions are to receive 12.5 percent production expenditure grants as part of the long-term development of the New Zealand screen industry. Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton says $40 million could be available next financial year to large-scale film and television productions investing nearly $300 million in New Zealand. The government already provides about $100 million a year to the New Zealand film and television industries through New Zealand on Air, the NZ Film Commission, and other agencies. Jim Anderton expects further measures to encourage the film industry when the government responds to the report of the Screen and Film Production Industry Taskforce.

ERMA review confirms its core competency

A review of the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA) has found it does have the core competencies and capability to carry out its role, says Environment Minister Marian Hobbs. ERMA is the independent decision- making body that controls the introduction into New Zealand of new plants and animals, including genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and hazardous substances. While finding that ERMA does have the capability to do the job, the review team makes 49 recommendations to strengthen the authority's performance. Marian Hobbs welcomed ERMA's commitment to implement the recommendations. Copies of the report available at www.mfe.govt.nz.

No need for expensive Supreme Court referendum

Legislation introducing a Supreme Court for New Zealand to replace the Privy Council in London is an important change, but not a major constitutional change, says Attorney-General Margaret Wilson. Opposition party proposals for referendum would cost $10 million of taxpayers' money and Margaret Wilson says that is not required. The Supreme Court Bill followed two years of consultation and development. Since introduced last December, almost 300 submissions have been made. Parliament is perfectly capable of making decisions on this matter, says Margaret Wilson. Opinion polls have shown the New Zealand public is largely supportive. Australia and Canada both abolished appeals to the Privy Council and neither held a referendum.


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