Beehive Bulletin - 17 October 2003
Beehive Bulletin - 17 October 2003
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All New Zealanders gain final right of appeal
The Supreme Court Bill, passed by Parliament this week, will give all New Zealanders, for the first time, the opportunity to have their case heard at the highest level. Attorney General Margaret Wilson says this has been denied to many New Zealanders until now, with only a privileged few able to afford to take a case to the Privy Council in London. Only Mauritius, Brunei and the Bahamas continue to appeal to the Privy Council and there is now urgency for New Zealand to take responsibility for its final appeals. The rest of the world believes New Zealand is more than ready for its own Supreme Court, and Margaret Wilson believes most New Zealanders agree.
Further safeguards on GM
Legislation passed by Parliament this week adds a series of safeguards ahead of the lifting of the moratorium on applications for GM release on October 29. The Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Amendment Bill and associated bills add to the controls on GM available to the Environmental Risk Management Authority, ERMA. Environment Minister Marian Hobbs says the Royal Commission on GM advised in 2001 that the government could proceed with GM releases straight away, but said that some improvements could be made. The resulting HSNO legislation strengthens the cautious approach being taken by the government, says Marian Hobbs.
Removal of agricultural emissions levy indicated
Significant progress is being made in discussions between the government and the agriculture sector on a science plan and funding for research into agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton and Climate Change Convenor Pete Hodgson say the robust and comprehensive industry-funded research programme that the Government's climate change policy calls for appears to be coming together. Further analysis of the proposed science plan was needed, but the research and funding it involves should be enough to remove the need for a statutory levy. The Government's preference has always been for industry funding of this research, with a statutory levy as an option if the research effort was insufficient.
Another big push for ICT in schools
Information and communications technology (ICT) in classrooms has been being given another significant push with an extra 246 schools joining a nationwide programme. Education Minister Trevor Mallard says by the end of this year about 40 percent of schools will be involved in ICT clusters, with thousands of students and their teachers becoming skilled at using ICT in the classroom. A report out this week, 'ICT in Schools', saw two thirds of school principals reporting that ICT is resulting in major improvements to the quality of curriculum delivery. This week also saw high speed internet access announced for four more regions - Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough, Canterbury, Bay of Plenty and Gisborne/Hawkes Bay - as part of the government's Project Probe initiative to boost education and economic development in regional New Zealand through broadband technology.
Dog control law amendments support key government aims
The Government's key proposals to improve dog control have been supported by Parliament's Local Government and Environment select committee. Local Government Minister Chris Carter says the select committee's report has clearly recognised that a desire to improve public safety was at the heart of the Government's proposals for tightening dog control. Its recommendations will enable dog owners to use a variety of methods, including fencing, to confine their dog to their property, says Chris Carter. The government hopes to have the amendments to the Dog Control Act 1996 passed in to law by Christmas.
Extra funds for road safety works
An additional $47 million of new funding is to be made available over the next two years to improve road safety through engineering measures. It will more than double the funding Transfund had earmarked for minor safety works. Transport Minister Paul Swain says announcements are a key plank in the government's road safety programme, which aims for no more than 300 deaths and 4,500 hospitalisations a year by 2010. The type of projects that may qualify for the new funding are improvements at accident black spots, such as wire-rope barriers, lighting at rural intersections and right-turn bays.