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Beehive Bulletin Friday 8 August

Beehive Bulletin Friday 8 August

Jobs Jolt to reduce unemployment and labour shortage

A $104.5 million jobs package was unveiled this week help people get off benefits and into employment. Jobs Jolt will help employers facing skill shortages, the long-term unemployed, people with disabilities, long-term sickness and invalid beneficiaries, mature job seekers, youth, and people who have been made redundant. Changes will be made some benefits to ensure beneficiaries capable of work are active in their search for employment. The initiatives will assist 22,000 people into paid employment over the next three years. Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey says with low unemployment and labour shortages, the New Zealand economy needs as many working age people as possible to be in jobs.

Unemployment hits 16 year low

Continued employment growth, against expectations, has seen New Zealand's unemployment rate fall to its lowest level in sixteen years. Statistics New Zealand's Household Labour Force Survey for the June 2003 quarter shows the official unemployment rate now stands at 4.7 percent (down 0.3 percentage points from the March 2003 quarter). The number of people in work increased by 0.8 percent during the June quarter (15,000 extra people in work). The number of New Zealanders in work has increased by 148,000 since the Labour-led government came to office. Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey says a strong domestic economy was behind the welcome fall in the number of Kiwis out of work and this reinforced the importance of the government's Jobs Jolt package.

Bali bombing verdict welcomed

Foreign Minister Phil Goff has welcomed the guilty verdict handed down in the first of the Bali bombing murder trials. Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, who admitted taking part in last year's attack in which 202 people were killed, has been sentenced to death by a court in Bali. Phil Goff hopes the verdict provides some sense of comfort for those who lost friends or relatives. New Zealand does not support the death penalty but the government will not raise concerns about it being imposed. Phil Goff says last Tuesday's hotel blast in Jakarta was a tragic reminder that the threat of terrorist attacks in Indonesia remains.

Better scrutiny of visitors to New Zealand

Scrutiny of airline travellers to New Zealand will be enhanced through the new Advance Passenger Screening (APS) system, launched by Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel in Auckland. Announced last year as part of the government's counter-terrorism package, APS is designed to improve New Zealand's border security offshore. APS will allow the New Zealand Immigration Service (NZIS) to screen passengers prior to boarding a flight to New Zealand. Travellers who are likely to be denied entry on arriving in New Zealand, can be identified and, if necessary, prevented from boarding the aircraft. APS is already running through Air New Zealand international flights and will be progressively extended to other airlines flying here.

Government's agreement with Toll Holdings

The agreement with Toll Holdings is an exclusive one pending Toll's acquisition bid for Tranz Rail, Finance Minister Michael Cullen has confirmed. The government was prepared to give Toll that status because it has the managerial and financial capacity to restore Tranz Rail to viability. Toll was also able to rebuild the rail fleet, and to pay full access costs for the rail network in the long term rather than rely on a subsidy from the taxpayer. But Michael Cullen says the original Heads of Agreement between the government and Tranz Rail will be reactivated should Toll's bid for Tranz Rail fail. At that stage, the government would be prepared to negotiate a similar arrangement to that with Toll if another company has the required skills and capacities.

Review of Real Estate Agents Act

A first step towards reviewing the Real Estate Agents Act (1976) was made this week with the launch of a public discussion document requesting submissions on the current licensing of real estate agents and salespeople. Associate Justice Minister Rick Barker says the current act is over 25 years old and the real estate industry has changed considerably. Occupational licensing appears to be the most appropriate form of regulation for real estate but Rick Barker says it is important to gauge public opinion. Buying or selling a house was one of the most important transactions for many New Zealanders. The discussion paper would assist in considering how the real estate industry should be regulated and consumers protected.

Civil Defence strategy needs public input

A Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management project launched this week aims to get public submissions on improving New Zealand's ability to deal with natural and non-natural disasters. Disaster strategies have been worked out with local and regional councils, police, fire, ambulance services and volunteer groups but Civil Defence Minister George Hawkins is concerned at the public's lack of involvement. He says New Zealand is at risk from earthquakes, storms, tsunami and other natural disasters and our best protection is our preparedness. Copies of the strategy available at Submissions close on 12 September 2003.

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