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Beehive Bulletin - Fri, 27 Aug 2004

Fri, 27 Aug 2004

Beehive Bulletin

Reported crime falling

Police Minister George Hawkins this week welcomed the latest official crime statistics, which showed that New Zealand has posted its lowest crime rate since 1983. The minister said the figures, showing a 4.7 per cent drop in recorded crime, or an average of 403 fewer victims of recorded crime each week in New Zealand compared with the year before, were a stunning result.

George Hawkins says the results reflect a supportive government prepared to ensure staff had the resources to do their job, including a police budget at its highest ever at over $1b a year; police numbers at their highest ever level at 9737, including 7450 sworn officers; a $70 million building programme and a new vehicle purchasing programme that would see up to $29.2m spent on around 850 new vehicles in each of the next three financial years. The Counties Manukau, Central and Auckland Police Districts led the way, with falls in reported crimes of 16.5 per cent, 12.8 per cent and 11.8 per cent respectively.

$20m boost for innovation

The government announced this week it is investing $10 million in Auckland University's new Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology to help turn research ideas into business propositions. Prime Minister Helen Clark and Associate Education Minister Steve Maharey also announced a second grant of up to $10 million for Auckland University's Starpath project, an innovative programme to encourage students to enrol in tertiary studies. Funding for both programmes comes from the government's Partnerships for Excellence scheme - a public/private sector tertiary education investment scheme that enables tertiary institutions to seek matching funding from government for large-scale investment projects.

The University is to seek matching funding from private sector donors. Helen Clark says the government is supporting both projects because it wants to ensure the tertiary education sector makes a bigger contribution to New Zealand's economic and social development.

Protection for Motueka River

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs said this week a water conservation order to preserve the natural state of the Motueka River had been approved by the government. It means that parts of the Upper Motueka River and other tributaries are to be retained in their natural state for their wild and scenic features. Sections of the Motueka River, Wangapeka River, the Rolling River and the Skeet River will be protected to retain the natural habitat for blue ducks and the brown trout fishery.

The order also protects specific streams in the Arthur Range because of the scientific and recreational values associated with the Karst geological formations. It also restricts certain activities, including damming and altering river flows and quality, which would have a detrimental effect on the Motueka River. The order was gazetted this week and comes into force on 24 September.

Govt announces tourism research project

Tourism Minister Mark Burton has announced a three-year tourism research programme. It will receive $1.4 million and will be led by Lincoln University. The minister says the research will lead to improved financial performance across the tourism sector. He told the a tourism industry awards gala event this week that it was expected that the outcome would be seen in improved financial performance in the tourism industry, and better strategic alignment of tourism investment.

Tourism has recently taken over from the dairy industry as New Zealand's top export earner. In the year ending June 2004, New Zealand received 2.2 million international visitors-a new high in visitor arrivals, and up 10 per cent from last year. Both Prime Minister Helen Clark and Mark Burton this week addressed the New Zealand Tourism Conference at Wairakei. Helen Clark told participants that ttourism was now contributing 17.8 per cent of export earnings and just over 10 per cent of our jobs, and that the industry's continuing growth in va

Social report welcomed by Govt

Government ministers this week welcomed the 2004 Social Report, released by the Ministry of Social Development. It paints a comprehensive picture of social well-being and quality of life in New Zealand, and makes comparisons with other OECD countries.

The latest report shows economic gains have been reflected in some social areas, but that New Zealand still rates poorly in others. The highest marks are for unemployment, which at 4 per cent is the second lowest in the OECD. Health rates compared well with other countries, and overall 80 per cent of Kiwis are happy with their lives.

Education is good for secondary and average for tertiary, and adult literacy is rated as average. However, child abuse and neglect statistics are poor compared with other countries. Obesity statistics are poor and the percentage of the population who smoke is unchanged from 1991. Social Development Minister Steve Maharey said the report confirmed that overall social well-being was improving. Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson sa

Govt receives first Bioethics Council report

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs this week received the first major report of the Bioethics Council, Toi Te Taiao. The report, The Use of Human Genes in Other Organisms, found broad public support for transferring human genes to other organisms where lives could be saved or human suffering reduced or prevented.

The Bioethics Council, an independent advisory board, was one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification. Its role is to address the big picture issues where new forms of technology pose societal questions. Marian Hobbs said she would consult her cabinet colleagues on the report's recommendations, and said it would be a valuable tool in informing the Environmental Risk Management Authority and herself when applications dealing with such issues arise.

ENDS


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