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Beehive Bulletin – For The Week

Beehive Bulletin – Friday 1 August

Government's home ownership initiative

A two-year Government initiative with Kiwibank has been launched to make access to home ownership easier for low to modest income earners. Housing Minister Steve Maharey says the new mortgage insurance programme will enable Kiwibank to reduce the risk of lending to people with little or no deposit. From September, people earning up to $50,000 a year, or up to $100,000 in household income, may be able to get a home loan. Steve Maharey says the initiative aims to assist people for whom home ownership is just out of reach. Kiwibank is expected to approve about 1,800 loans as part of the trial.

New power station to be built

A new 155-megawatt power plant will be built before next winter to help provide increased certainty of electricity supply for New Zealand. Energy Minister Pete Hodgson says the new oil-fired plant, likely to be situated at Whirinaki, Hawkes Bay, will provide reserve generation during very dry periods when hydro lake inflows are abnormally low. The plant is expected to cost $150 million to build and the cost will be recovered through a levy on the electricity industry. The cost equates to less than $5 a year for the average household. Pete Hodgson says the power plant announcement reflects the Government's commitment to providing a secure electricity supply for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

First of the Light Armoured Vehicles due

The first batch of seven Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVIIIs) is en route to New Zealand, and should arrive in Auckland on August 10. Defence Minister Mark Burton says the new LAVIIIs were a fundamental part of taking a 1960's equipped Army into the 21st century. LAVIII are widely considered to be the best mix of armoured protection and mobility available and are used by Canada, the USA, Ireland, Denmark and Sweden, says Mark Burton. The delivery of the first of more than 100 LAVIIIs was originally scheduled in February, but was delayed to install latest generation turrets. Deliveries will continue on a bi-monthly basis, and the NZDF expects to take possession of the final LAVIIIs in November 2004.

Programme targets youth offending

The government is piloting a new community-based programme in Christchurch and Auckland aimed at youth offending. Associate Social Development Minister Ruth Dyson says the Reducing Youth Offending Programme is an initiative to cut the rate and severity of youth offending and to stop 14-18 year olds from becoming chronic adult offenders. It focused on the young person, their peers, school, family and the community in which they lived. Ruth Dyson says it has achieved impressive results overseas, with a 20-40 per cent reduction in re-offending. The whole society benefits by reducing the potential number of future victims and the costs of legal processes and imprisonment. The government has committed around $12 million over four years to develop and run the programme.

Solomons aid funding for justice system and schools

New Zealand's aid to the Solomon Islands will focus on getting teachers into every primary school classroom and on re-building law and justice systems. Earlier this month, the government announced New Zealand's overseas development assistance to the Solomons would increase this year from $8 million to $14 million. Foreign Minister Phil Goff, speaking on a visit to Honiara, said it was important to help the Solomons Islands government address the breakdown of law and order and a lack of basic education. New Zealand will provide funding to complete the construction of a prison in Honiara and the training of magistrates. Phil Goff says other funding will ensure qualified primary school teachers are paid, and that classrooms have the necessary basics such as desks, books and chalk.

Report recommends easing Easter Sunday trading

The shop trading hours working group recommends easing Easter Sunday trading restrictions. The working group was established in February by Labour Minister Margaret Wilson to provide independent advice to the Commerce select committee considering a private member's bill to abolish current restrictions. The report recommends either allowing Easter Sunday trading across the board or empowering territorial local authorities to use by-laws to allow shops to open on Easter Sunday. The select committee has decided to call for public submissions on the working group's report, available at http://www.ers.dol.govt.nz/law/working_group_report.html

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