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Beehive Bulletin 11 June 2004

Friday, June 11, 2004

Beehive Bulletin

Families would not benefit from tax cuts

The government's $2.75 billion Working for Families package boosts the incomes of working families more than any tax cuts package ever could. Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey says it's time for political parties advocating tax cuts to admit that slashing taxes would benefit single people and couples without children on high incomes - and make no real difference to the weekly earnings of low-and-middle income working families.

For example, a two-parent single-income family with four children earning $55,000 will gain an extra $150 per week from the Working for Families package. Steve Maharey says to boost their income by the same level, tax rates would have to reduce to a flat rate of 9.5 cents in the dollar - about half what even ACT is promoting - funded by cuts to essential family services.

New version of assessment tool

Students' literacy and numeracy skills are to get another big boost through the development of a new version of the groundbreaking asTTle (Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning). Education Minister Trevor Mallard says the government is spending $700,000 on a multi-user version of the asTTle tool that can be networked across a school from the beginning of next year.

At the push of a computer button all teachers in the school will be able to see students' results, track their progress and immediately address any problems. AsTTle and a wide range of other literacy initiatives are targeting students who need the most help, because as a government we are determined to lift the education standards for ALL our students, says Trevor Mallard.

Conservation means jobs on West Coast

Public conservation lands and the activities of the Department of Conservation (DOC) on the West Coast support more than 1800 full time jobs in the region, says a new economic study. Regional Economic Impacts Of West Coast Conservation Land was prepared by independent Christchurch-based economists, Butcher Partners, and released by Conservation Minister Chris Carter.

It calculates that economic activity dependent on DOC and public conservation land totals $221m a year and supports about 1814 full time equivalent jobs, most of them derived from tourism and outdoor recreation using conservation land or dependent on its appeal. Chris Carter says the study explicitly demonstrates that the protection of natural environments does not prevent significant economic activity arising from them. A copy of the economic study is available from www.doc.govt.nz

New strategy on youth reoffending

A package of initiatives will bolster and improve residential services for young people. Child, Youth and Family Minister Ruth Dyson announced the new strategy in Rolleston where work on the new 32-bed Christchurch residence has just started.

These additional beds will meet immediate needs but Ruth Dyson says easing pressure on residences is not just about having more beds. The new strategy looks at initiatives that support young people in the community, reduce the need for residential placements, and takes a therapeutic approach with people who are in residences to better prepare them for their discharge back into the community, reducing the likelihood of reoffending.

Pilot forum on drugs in Tauranga

A pilot "P, alcohol and other drugs" forum in Tauranga is being held and others may follow. Jim Anderton, chair of the Ministerial Committee on Drug Policy, who will chair the June 17 forum, says the public needs to be informed of what the Labour Progressive government is doing to combat the problem of drugs.

He will lead a panel of agency representatives to outline what is being done to secure our borders, how police are working to enforce the law and what prevention strategies can be used. If the forum is successful, Jim Anderton intends to attend further forums around the country.

Legal impediment remains for Dobson Dam

The legal impediment to the Dobson Dam power proposal remains the same as when the scheme was first mooted four years ago, says Conservation Minister Chris Carter. The proposal requires giving a large part of Card Creek Ecological Area to a private company in exchange for another piece of land with lesser conservation value. Card Creek was given a very high legal status when first protected by a previous National government.

Economic use of conservation land is permitted but must not destroy the values of the land itself. Chris Carter says he cannot exchange an ecological area for another piece of land unless he can first revoke the ecological area's legal status - and that requires the land to no longer holds the values for which it was originally protected. If anything they have increased at Card Creek, says Chris Carter.

Seafood Centre of Excellence site

Nelson's Seafood Centre of Excellence has secured a waterfront site. Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton, in Nelson to mark the establishment of the new Nelson Economic Development Agency, says the centre will be located on Nelson Port Company land, with sea frontages and sufficient space to house a museum, offices and auditorium along with the New Zealand School of Fisheries and the Cawthron Institute.

It will be the main national centre for all aspects of training, education and research for the seafood industry and will significantly increase the global opportunities of our seafood industry. The centre of excellence, which is gaining a $1.5m government grant, is an example of the difference the government can make in unlocking the potential of our regions, says Jim Anderton.


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