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Beehive Bulletin - 08 April 2004

Thursday, 8 April 2004

Beehive Bulletin

08 April 2004

Foreshore access confirmed for all New Zealanders

The government's foreshore and seabed policy announced this week guarantees access to the foreshore and seabed for all New Zealanders. Prime Minister Helen Clark says the legislation tabled as Parliament rose for Easter ensures the foreshore and seabed is preserved for the people of New Zealand by revesting ownership in the Crown in perpetuity and ensuring that it is full legal and beneficial ownership.

The legislation also provides for recognition of the ancestral connection Maori have with particular areas of the foreshore and seabed, and for the recognition and protection of existing customary rights. Helen Clark says the government is not prepared to see new exclusive private property title created over the foreshore and seabed, nor would such a development be acceptable to most New Zealanders.

The bill fulfils the government's objectives of guaranteeing access to the foreshore and seabed and protecting customary rights. Details of the government's foreshore policy at www.beehive.govt.nz/foreshore/home.cfm >

Bill provides a much clearer framework

The Foreshore and Seabed Bill improves on the proposals released in December, says Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen. The result is a much clearer, more familiar, more transparent and less bureaucratic framework, which is well balanced and will simultaneously guarantee access and recognise Maori customary interests while protecting the environment and safeguarding against any inappropriate profit taking.

Michael Cullen says the processes relating to customary rights have been simplified and streamlined after discussions with the Maori caucus. There is now an opportunity through the High Court to seek redress from the government for territorial rights which claimants might have held but for the fact that the Bill vests the foreshore and seabed in the Crown.

Maori traditional rights protected

Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia says the government's foreshore and seabed legislation will ensure that Maori traditional rights and interests will be guaranteed, protected and enhanced. For Maori, the legislation is about kaitiakitanga or guardianship of the ocean.

Parekura Horomia says it provides a process that allows whanau and hapu to identify areas of significance and to have them recognised by the Maori Land Court, and a mechanism for recognising traditional interests and activities. The government had consulted extensively and now had a framework that is robust and fair. Parekura Horomia says government will continue to listen and remain open minded as the legislation moves through the select committee process.

Low cost prescriptions for all under-18s at PHOs

New lower cost prescription charges from this month ensure all 6-17-year-olds enrolled in a Primary Health Organisation will pay no more than $3 per prescribed item. Health Minister Annette King says the reduction, from a maximum of $15 per prescription, is an important saving for many New Zealand families.

Ten new PHOs came into being on 1 April, meaning 3.1 million New Zealanders are now enrolled, more than one million of them able to get reduced or low-cost fees when they visit their PHO. Annette King says the government strongly believes in providing fair and affordable access for all New Zealanders to primary health care.

Progressive increases in funding to support research

Changes to the science funding system were announced by Research, Science and Technology Minister Pete Hodgson. Some scientists are concerned about developing and maintaining particular research capabilities, of strategic value to New Zealand, when faced with the uncertainty of competitive funding. Pete Hodgson says there will be a progressive increase over several years in institutional funding, initially for Crown Research Institutes, to allow them more make independent decisions about maintaining capacity in research areas where the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology is unable to support funding bids. Details of the first stage of this new funding will be announced in next month's Budget.

Business Law Reform Bill passes

This week saw the passing of the Business Law Reform Bill, which amended 13 business law statutes. Commerce Minister Margaret Wilson says passing the bill is part of the government's commitment to ensuring New Zealand has up-to-date and modern business law to support growth and innovation, by providing certainty to business and keeping compliance costs as low as possible.

The bill amended a number of acts including the Building Societies Act 1965, Commerce Act 1986, Companies Act 1993, Friendly Societies and Credit Unions Act 1982 and Securities Act 1978. Margaret Wilson says the bill was the result of close and on-going consultation with the business community and addressed what it had indicated were some of its concerns with business related legislation.


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