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New measures deliver fairness and security

30 June 2004

New measures deliver fairness and security

Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that 1 July would see the introduction of a range of government policies and programmes that would have profound and beneficial effects for New Zealanders of all ages.

Helen Clark said tomorrow marks the introduction of more affordable health care and cheaper prescriptions for those over 65 enrolled in practices in primary health organisations, where the practices comply with the requirement to reduce fees.

Other measures taking effect were increases in paid parental leave, the new Families Commission, and the commencement of the Supreme Court.

“The government’s main focus is ensuring there is fairness and security for everyone, and that is the major thrust of the many new initiatives.

“I am also proud to see the Supreme Court coming into being tomorrow as New Zealand’s court of final appeal, as this represents another step on our own journey as a nation,” Helen Clark said.
Among the government measures introduced from tomorrow are:

Five new Primary Health Organisations start up on 1 July, the second birthday of the first two PHOs being established. The five new PHOs, in Northland (two), Horowhenua, Hutt Valley and Southland, bring the total to 73, caring for about 3.5 million New Zealanders. From tomorrow, all over-65s enrolled in practices in PHOs – where the practices comply with the requirement to reduce fees - should become entitled to more affordable primary health care visits through Budget 2004’s injection of an extra $47 million for primary health care.

The national breast screening programme extension from 1 July begins to be rolled out to cover women from their 45th to 70th birthdays when fully implemented. The extension will cost $13.2 million in the first year.

The Supreme Court marks our judicial coming of age. It improves New Zealanders' access to justice through reduced costs for accessing New Zealand’s final appellate court. Instead of around a dozen New Zealand cases a year heard by the Privy Council, it is expected that the Supreme Court will hear about 50 cases a year.

The paid parental leave maximum payment will increase from $334.75 per week to $346.63 per week from 1 July. The Paid Parental Leave scheme came into effect on 1 July 2002 and 19,000 parents accessed the scheme in its first year. The scheme will be extended from 12 to 13 weeks from December this year, and to 14 weeks in December 2005.

The Families Commission is formally established on 1 July and will act as an advocate for the interests of families. It will encourage informed debate on issues affecting families. It will also commission research into family issues and comment on policies affecting families. Funding of $28.233m has been allocated for the Commission’s first four years.

The Meat Board Restructuring Bill will come into force, bringing into being Meat and Wool NZ, a merger of the Meat Board and SheepCo (remnant of the Wool Board). This fulfils Labour's policy on producer board reform driven by grower demand, being fair to minorities, and in the national interest and working in partnership in response to industry requests. Tyre Track, a government-industry partnered scheme to manage millions of old tyres, begins 1 July. Tyre dealers will contact Tyre Track when they have tyres for disposal. The dealer then selects a Tyre Track registered transporter who will collect their tyres and deliver them to approved storage and disposal points: recyclers, processors and landfills.

New gambling legislation takes effect from 1 July. The Gambling Act 2003 will replace the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1977 and the Casino Control Act 1990. It affects pub and club gaming machines, casinos, remote interactive gambling and community operated gambling like housie and raffles. The Act establishes a Gambling Commission to advise the Minister and hear appeals about Department of Internal Affairs decisions.

ENDS


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