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Beehive Bulletin -- 5 September 2003

Beehive Bulletin -- 5 September 2003


Farmers urged to contribute fairly to emissions research

Farmers must face up to climate change and help find solutions to agriculture's greenhouse gas emissions. That was the message this week from Pete Hodgson, Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change, as farmers rallied at Parliament against the proposed emissions levy. If the Government really was imposing a 'flatulence tax' on farm emissions the cost to the sector would be almost $1 billion a year. Instead the Government is proposing a very modest levy to raise $8.4 million a year for additional research into agricultural greenhouse gases, says Pete Hodgson. The government has been urging the agriculture sector to fund more research, which would avoid the need for a levy. Its response has been to commit just $800,000. Farmers have a great deal to lose from climate change and they are being asked for a fair and reasonable financial contribution, says Pete Hodgson.

Free birth loophole closed

The Government is closing a loophole, which has given non-NZ residents access to free health care when they gave birth in New Zealand. Health Minister Annette King says in future, ineligible women from overseas will be required to pay for antenatal, postnatal, and delivery costs. Annette King says district Health Boards recently raised concerns with her about the issue. She asked for information and it shows many more non-resident women have been giving birth in New Zealand since a policy change in 1999. Such women will now be required to pay for their healthcare but children born in New Zealand will still be entitled to continuation of free care.

Waitaki River gets special legislation

Special legislation for the Waitaki River catchment will be introduced by the government. Environment Minister Marian Hobbs says the legislation will ensure that the best decisions are made about water use in the Waitaki, where no water allocation plan meant various applications for water use are being considered in a policy vacuum. The government is committed to an outcome that meets all needs – economic, social, environmental – and leads to a more strategic approach, while working closely with local government and the Waitaki community. Water applications are being put on hold and Marian Hobbs will introduce legislation for the Waitaki catchment to allow for enhanced Resource Management Act processes for the applications. An independent statutory body, able to take public submissions, will develop a water allocation framework for the Waitaki. A panel of commissioners will then decide on the applications.

Seabed and foreshore meetings underway

The government consultative process on the seabed and foreshore issue is well underway. Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia, other Ministers and MPs are attending a series of hui, which conclude in Auckland at Orakei marae on September 26. Government MPs are also organising a series of meetings for anyone who wants to learn more or contribute views to the attempt to find solutions to the seabed and foreshore issue. Parekura Horomia says the government wants to ensure public access for all New Zealanders to the seabed and foreshore while also acknowledging Maori customary rights. Written submissions can be sent to Foreshore and Seabed Submissions, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, PO Box 55, Wellington or made on line at http://www.beehive.govt.nz/foreshore. Calls can also be made to the 0508 FORESHORE number for information about the government proposals and for details of the hui and MPs' meetings.

Seafood centre of excellence gets $1.5m

Nelson's proposed seafood centre for excellence is to receive $1.5 million towards the development of education, research and business facilities supporting the seafood industry. The investment will be made under New Zealand Trade & Enterprises' Regional Partnership Programme. Regional Development Minister Jim Anderton says this is a significant step for the future of the seafood industry both in the top of the South Island and nationally. In the long term, it should mean more internationally competitive seafood businesses that increase wealth in the region and help to expand the sector nationally. The centre is estimated to cost $18 million in total and is supported by a group that includes Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough seafood and aquaculture businesses, Cawthron Institute, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, Canterbury University and Otago University.

Desperate beat-up by English

Bill English is getting increasingly desperate in his attempts to create a beat-up around the release of documents related to the November/December 2000 suspected contamination of corn seed. Environment Minister Marian Hobbs says English plumbed new depths in Parliament this week by referring to a list of documents that he said were withheld at the time other documents on this issue were released in July 2002. In fact nearly half of the documents date from after when Nicky Hager's book was published in July 2002. Other documents include duplicates of material that were released in July 2002, and material only indirectly related to the events of November/December 2000. Mr English is the person who is engaging in calculated deceit, says Marian Hobbs.

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