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Beehive Bulletin 02 July 2004

Fri, 2 July 2004

Largest ever transport programme announced

The biggest ever state transport spending programme, announced this week, underlines the government's commitment to transport infrastructure and sustained economic growth. Over ten years, $18.7 billion, will be spent on integrated transport, including $2.8 billion in regional spending.

The government will spend $1.42 billion on integrated transport over the next year -20 per cent more than the previous year, and over 50 per cent more than actual NLTP spending by the last National government in 1999/00. There will record amounts of regional money available from April next year.

Lower health costs for older New Zealanders

More than 305,000 older New Zealanders belonging to a Primary Health Organisation can now look forward to paying less when they visit their family doctor. An extra $47 million for Interim-funded PHOs will help lower the cost of visiting a doctor for people aged 65 and older, and they will be eligible to no more than $3 for a subsidised prescriptions, as long as it is from their family doctor PHO practice. Also from 1 July, five new PHOs were launched - two in Northland, and one each in Hutt Valley, Horowhenua and Southland. There are now 73 PHOs, providing health care for 3,570,000 New Zealanders, of whom almost two million enjoy low or reduced cost visits to family doctors. Finally another important PHO milestone today is the introduction of the new called Care Plus service at 18 PHOs, aimed at people who need to visit their family doctor or nurse often because of significant chronic illnesses, acute medical or mental health needs or a terminal illness.

Extending the BreastScreen Aotearoa programme

The BreastScreen Aotearoa programme will include younger and older women for regular two-yearly screens. It already provides more than 100,000 mammograms a year to women aged 50 to 64. From 1 July, women aged between 45 and 69 became eligible to join the programme. Over the next few years, this extension to the programme will effectively double the size of BreastScreen Aotearoa. Women newly eligible for the programme will be invited for thier screening as soon as possible, given the substantial planning and infrastructure required for a successful programme.

"Early detection through regular mammograms offers the best chance of successful treatment, and women of any age should be aware that if they have suspicious signs or symptoms of breast disease, have previously been treated for breast cancer, or have a close family history of breast cancer, they already qualify for publicly-funded mammograms," said Health Minister Annette King.

Rail upgrade can now begin

New Zealand's rail network came back in public ownership on 1 July, bringing to an end one of the country's most disastrous privatisations. Having paid $1 for the track, the government will soon start unrolling a investment programme worth $200 million over four years, upgrading the track and replacing worn out parts of the network. Toll Rail will invest $100 million in rolling stock. Finance Minister Michael Cullen said the infrastructure was seriously run down and the government was likely to need to invest more money in the future. "The government's objective is to shift people and freight on to rail to ease traffic congestion on the roads and as a cost competitive and environmentally sustainable alternative to road transport," said Dr Cullen.

New Department of Building and Housing

The government this week announced the intention to improve and streamline building and housing services for the public. The Ministry of Housing will acquire elements of the Ministry of Economic Development, Department of Internal Affairs, and Ministry of Social Development, and will be renamed the Department of Building and Housing.

The decision from the housing sector review will see a 'one-stop-shop' for regulatory issues and standards affecting building and housing, and for dispute resolutions. It will provide a much more integrated approach to policy, compliance and enforcement. The new department will: do the present work of the Ministry of Housing; administer the Weathertight Homes Resolutions; the new Building Act and occupational licensing; Retirement Villages legislation; and regulate housing standards, swimming pool fencing, and electrical workers licensing.


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