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Beehive Bulletin - 24 October 2003

Beehive Bulletin - 24 October 2003
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End of GM moratorium

The moratorium on applications for the general release of genetically modified organisms ends at midnight on October 29. Environment Minister Marian Hobbs says Parliament has enacted new laws to ensure there are the systems and processes to deal carefully with applications, while protecting our environmental health and safety and preserving opportunities for the benefit of coming generations. Marian Hobbs says New Zealand has one of the strictest systems in the world for assessing and monitoring genetic modification work. The Environmental Risk Management Authority will assess each application case-by case, and will be open for public submissions. By law the work can only go ahead if the benefits outweigh the risks. The health and safety of New Zealanders and their environment remains the primary consideration, says Marian Hobbs.

Foreshore legislation expected by Christmas

A clear and detailed government policy statement on the foreshore and seabed issue is expected to be released before Christmas. Legislation is not likely to be introduced until early next year. Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen says the government recognises the need for certainty but it cannot be dogmatic about timing, as consultation will continue even as the bill is being drafted. The Waitangi Tribunal has this week been advised of the indicative timetable and assured it can feed into the deliberative process. But in the end, the foreshore and seabed issue will be resolved in the legislative arena so any solution must be able to attract a Parliamentary majority, says Michael Cullen. The government's thinking continued to reflect the principles of open access and that Maori customary interests should be acknowledged and protected.

President Hu visits New Zealand

A three day visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao over Labour weekend enables him to see first-hand some of the drivers of innovation in the New Zealand economy. Prime Minister Helen Clark says President Hu leads a new generation of Chinese leaders and she is delighted he is visiting New Zealand so soon after assuming office. Earlier this week Helen Clark met President Hu at the APEC Leaders' summit in Bangkok. His visit takes in Auckland, Wellington and Hamilton. Links between New Zealand and China are growing rapidly. Last year 30,000 Chinese students studied in New Zealand, and 76,000 Chinese tourists visited, double the number in 2000. China is New Zealand's fourth largest trade partner, with total trade of over $4 billion this year.

Review of CYFS provides opportunities

A review of the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services has revealed systemic problems, unclear outcome priorities and variability in the quality of service. Child, Youth and Family Minister Ruth Dyson says the department's immediate priorities are to employ additional front-line social work staff, develop a strategy for managing demand, and give greater support for regional delivery of services. Since 1999, the government has increased the department's baseline funding by more than 50 per cent, strengthened the social work profession by introducing formal registration, and improved relationships with the community sector. Child, Youth and Family helps thousands of New Zealand children, young people and families every year, and the review provides an opportunity to build on these achievements, says Ruth Dyson. Copies of the review and summary of CYF's implementation plan, available on www.cyf.govt.nz

Government won't intervene on Air NZ/Qantas

The government will not over-ride the normal competition tests in relation to the Air New Zealand-Qantas deal. Finance Minister Michael Cullen reaffirmed this after the Commerce Commission rejected the proposed strategic alliance on the grounds that it was anti-competitive. The government had made it clear that it supported the proposal going to the Commerce Commission and its Australian equivalent, that final approval would depend on clearance by both authorities and that the government would not intervene in that process. Whether Air New Zealand and Qantas exercise their right of appeal is entirely to them to decide, says Michael Cullen. The challenge now for Air New Zealand was to carefully consider its range of options as it seeks to protect its long-term viability as a domestic and international carrier.

New law on DNA assists battle against crime

Overhaul of DNA profiling laws will greatly enhance the police's ability to catch serious criminals and to resolve burglaries, says Justice Minister Phil Goff. The Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Amendment Act, passed by Parliament this week, gives police the power to obtain samples from burglary suspects, an important extension to the existing law. Many of the country's worst offenders currently behind bars will now have their DNA included in the database. This may help police to resolve some unsolved crimes. The act allows police to take mouth swab samples as technological advances meant these now provide the same quality profile as blood. Phil Goff says the new law will greatly enhance police investigative powers without unreasonably interfering with personal rights.


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