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Beehive Bulletin - Friday, 30 April 2004

Friday, 30 April 2004

Beehive Bulletin

30 April 2004

Labour caucus approves abstention on foreshore

Prime Minister Helen Clark says the Labour caucus earlier this week gave Associate Maori Affairs Minister Tariana Turia and Tainui MP Nanaia Mahuta permission to not support the government's foreshore legislation. An abstention or non-vote provided Mrs Turia with a way to continue as a Minister but a vote against the legislation was a step too far.

Helen Clark says she's not in the business of trying to crush the last vestige of spirit out of people but also needed to uphold fundamental principles of government. She accepted there was an agonising decision ahead for Mrs Turia. (An announcement from Tariana Turia was expected mid afternoon Friday.)

New approach to get beneficiaries back to work

New measures to support sickness and invalids' beneficiaries back in to work were launched this week. Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey says beneficiaries in the Manukau region are the first to trial the new service that will be progressively rolled out across the country.

Measures include more active case management of clients by nearly halving the number of beneficiaries a case manager works with; better support for employers to take on or retain staff experiencing illness or disability; and health treatment, including surgery, where this enables beneficiaries to take on paid work.

Steve Maharey says work is fundamental to people's self worth and independence and the government wants to ensure all New Zealanders have an equal opportunity to get and keep paid employment.

Building a Future

Housing Minister Steve Maharey has released a discussion document outlining New Zealand's housing needs over the next ten years. Speaking at the launch of the New Zealand Housing Strategy Mr Maharey outlined a number of pressure points within the housing sector such as rising house prices and rents that have put many households under stress.

He says there are concerns about housing quality, affordability, housing for older people and housing needs for different ethnicities. The discussion document summarises key housing issues facing New Zealand and gives a proposed plan of action. Building the Future can be viewed at local libraries or on line at: www.hnzc.co.nz/nzhousingstrat .

Legal information online

Justice Minister Phil Goff this week launched a new website called LawAccess, which gives the public an extensive range of law-related information. LawAccess - www.lawaccess.lsa.govt.nz - offers people with legal problems or questions quick and easy access to quality information on rights and responsibilities under specific laws, as well as more practical information such as how to contact local community law centres. Phil Goff says online access will ensure the information is more readily available and always up to date. LawAccess has the potential to save people time, money and difficulties in dealing with legal issues. Its development is a reflection of the government's commitment to providing strong public services and ensuring all New Zealanders have access to a fair justice system.

Visitor spending up again

International visitors injected $6.4 billion into the New Zealand economy in 2003 - an impressive 3.9 per cent increase on 2002's record figures. Tourism Minister Mark Burton says in a year where the tourism sector faced worldwide challenges such as SARS, global conflict, and terrorism, New Zealand has emerged as an international success story.

In 1999, the government began to work closely with the industry to develop the New Zealand Tourism Strategy 2010 -- a plan for building a sustainable tourism industry. Mark Burton says he is delighted the industry is growing and has struck a balance between managing the impacts of tourism on this country and maximising its economic benefits.

Legal support for Inquiry participants

Two lawyers will be made available for complainants and police officers involved in the Commission of Inquiry into Police misconduct. The lawyers will not appear before the commission but will be available to complainants and police officers should they have any concerns they feel unable to raise with the counsel assisting the commission.

Attorney-General Margaret Wilson says it is important people understand the inquiry is not an adversarial hearing which means the normal approach applying in a criminal trial is not called for. She says at this stage there seems no need for complainants or police officers to have independent lawyers.


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