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Beehive Bulletin Friday 22 August


BEEHIVE BULLETIN FRIDAY 22 AUGUST

Foreshore and seabed proposals

Proposals for protecting public access and customary rights in the foreshore and seabed were released by Prime Minister Helen Clark, Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen and Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia. They say it is a 'win-win' solution for all New Zealanders.

The proposal involves clarifying legislation to ensure that the foreshore and seabed are not subject to private rights of ownership and the recognition and protection of Maori customary rights. The government's approach is based on four principles:

Access –

The foreshore and seabed should be public domain, with open access and use for all New Zealanders.

Regulation –

The Crown is responsible for regulating the use of the foreshore and seabed, on behalf of all present and future generations of New Zealanders.

Protection –

Processes should exist to enable the customary interests of whanau, hapu and iwi in the foreshore and seabed to be acknowledged, and specific rights to be identified and protected.

Certainty –

There should be certainty for those who use and administer the foreshore and seabed about the range of rights that are relevant to their actions. The government is seeking comments over the next six weeks, and asks for submissions by Friday 3 October 2003. Details and on-line submissions at: www.beehive.govt.nz/foreshore; fax, (04) 473-2508; or telephone 0508 Foreshore or 0508 367 374.

Changes to maximum fees system

Tertiary students and the institutions they attend both benefit from government changes to the maximum fees system. Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education), Steve Maharey announced changes to fee maxima, unveiled as part of the May budget before opening to public submissions. Maximum fees had been proposed for all courses offered at tertiary institutions next year, creating problems for providers offering courses with higher costs. Steve Maharey says courses which cost more than the scheduled maxima will still be funded by government next year, if the cost to students does not increase. Where the overall cost of a course is under the maximum, tertiary institutions will be limited to a maximum fee increase of five percent a year. This shows the Labour-led government is keeping its word on ensuring that tertiary education remains affordable, says Steve Maharey. More information at minedu.govt.nz/step

New Zealander injured in Baghdad bombing

A New Zealand Defence Force officer was injured in the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad. Defence Minister Mark Burton is thankful that the injuries sustained by Major Todd Hart are not life threatening. Major Hart, who was working with the UN de-mining team, sustained two broken arms, lacerations and shock. Mark Burton and the government are also grieving the loss of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN Special Representative in Iraq, who had earlier helped bring East Timor into independence.

Credit upgrade for New Zealand

A credit upgrade for New Zealand from British-owned rating agency, Fitch Ratings, represents a solid endorsement of the government's economic and fiscal management says Finance Minister Michael Cullen. Fitch, the third of the 'big three' international rating agencies along with Standard and Poor's and Moody's, has up-graded New Zealand's foreign-currency rating from AA to AA+, putting it on par with Standard and Poor's but one step behind Moody's AAA rating. Fitch identifies the economy's increasing resilience to external shocks, sustained improvements in the public finances and a clear sense of private sector external debt risk management. Looking ahead, it believes New Zealand should be well- placed to benefit from global recovery. This represents a strong vote of confidence in the policy direction of this government, says Michael Cullen.

Work-life balance programme

The government will establish an integrated work programme to develop family-friendly and other policies promoting work-life balance. Labour Minister Margaret Wilson says a number of different government agencies are carrying out research and policy and an inter-agency steering group chaired by the Department of Labour will now co-ordinate the integrated work programme. Margaret Wilson says work-life balance policies and practices could help individuals to improve well-being and more fully use their potential both in work and outside of work. Work-life balance practices could also help employers to increase retention, reduce absenteeism and improve productivity and profitability.

ENDS

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