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Beehive Bulletin - 5 March 2004

Beehive Bulletin - 5 March 2004
Also available online at
http://www.labour.org.nz

New Zealand faces clear choices, says Helen Clark

Prime Minister Helen Clark says she does not want New Zealand to return to the unfairness, nastiness and division of the 1990s. In a speech marking the fifth anniversary of the Hikoi of Hope, Helen Clark says she will not stand by and see a cynical and manipulative opposition set out to destroy what the government and New Zealanders have been busy repairing for four and a quarter years. Helen Clark says a debate about the future of New Zealand has been launched. This does not call for a U-turn by the government and there will not be one. It will address the concerns and questions which the current debate has seen genuine people raising. But Helen Clark says Hikois of Hope would become annual events if the forces behind the policies of the 1990s were let loose again. New Zealanders live in a democracy and the choices are clear; we can go forward together – or we can rip ourselves apart, says Helen Clark.

The government will match flood aid dollar for dollar

The government will match dollar for dollar all funds raised by nationwide flood relief appeals by the end of the month. Finance Minister Michael Cullen says the government would commit to funding at least $3.2 million. These matters will be considered further in a fortnight when a clear picture of costs emerges. Dr Cullen says it is most likely to run into tens of millions of dollars because of the severe damage to infrastructure.

New Zealand stuns at the Oscars

Lord of the Rings winning eleven awards at the Oscars was a proud day for New Zealand. Prime Minister Helen Clark says it has been an outstanding year for New Zealand film industry accompanied by the wonderful achievements of Whale Rider and Keisha Castle-Hughes. The awards further illustrate the growing expertise and skill of the film industry in New Zealand, and the profile of these films have given economic spin-offs that will continue for years to come. Helen Clark says Peter Jackson and the Lord of the Rings team deserve our admiration for their amazing achievement.

Kiwibank loans reach more people

More people will be eligible for a Kiwibank, 'In reach home loan' as a result of changes to lending criteria says Housing Minister Steve Maharey. Kiwibank In Reach is a two-year mortgage insurance trial in partnership with Housing New Zealand that makes access to home ownership easier for low to modest income earners. This week's changes mean no deposit mortgages can be approved for homes valued at $150,000, up from $100,000 and the income threshold for one or two people in the same household has been increased from $50,000 to $55,000. Housing Minister Steve Maharey says the changes recognise the housing market has changed since the trial began six months ago.

Making tax easier for small business

Self-employed people who pay provisional tax in their first year of business are now eligible for a 6.7 per cent discount. Associate Revenue Minister David Cunliffe says this is part of a raft of measures to simplify tax for small business. The small business sector is a key driver of economic growth but many struggle to make it past the first couple of years. Because businesses don't have to pay taxes upon first year of business, there can be a huge lump to pay in the crucial second year. The offer for first year self employed people to make voluntary tax payments in the first year will help avoid later strain of paying two lots of tax very close together. And if they take up the offer they'll get a 6.7 per cent discount for each dollar of tax paid in the first year.

Bill makes sexual offences gender neutral

All sex offences will be expressed and applied in a gender-neutral manner under the Crimes Amendment Bill No 2 that had it's first reading in Parliament this week. One of the specific aims of the bill is to ensure all victims and abuses regardless of their gender, are addressed equally under the Crimes Act. Justice Minister Phil Goff says the act includes offences that date back to 1908 and tends to assume that women are not capable of sexual offending. Although the vast majority of sex offenders are male and the victims female, there is widespread expectation that offences should apply regardless of the sex of the offender or the victim.

New Zealand gives aid to Vanuatu cyclone relief

New Zealand is to give $70,000 to help with emergency relief in cyclone affected parts of Vanuatu. The money will be used to put together 3,000 packages for those hit by Cyclone Ivy. The kits contain hygiene supplies, matches, water bottles, kitchen utensils and other items that will help people pick up their lives. The aid allocation follows a request from the Vanuatu Government and based on an assessment by a Royal New Zealand Air force P3 Orion.


ENDS

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