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Beehive Bulletin - Fri, 10 Sep 2004

Beehive Bulletin - Fri, 10 Sep 2004

Government condemns Jakarta bombing

Prime Minister Helen Clark says the New Zealand Government is appalled by the apparent car bombing in front of the Australian embassy in Jakarta. Helen Clark says the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade reports no evidence of New Zealanders being caught in the blast. New Zealand embassy staff had immediately begun contacting the 502 New Zealanders registered with the embassy as being in Jakarta to establish that they are safe.

Helen Clark spoke within hours of the bombing to Australian Prime Minister John Howard to convey New Zealand's deep concern at the attack. New Zealanders' thoughts were first and foremost with those caught up in the tragedy and with the people of Australia and Indonesia. Helen Clark says the New Zealand Government condemns all acts of terrorism and will continue to work with the international community to counter such deliberate and cold-blooded attacks.

New Zealand best in the world for doing business

The World Bank's Doing Business in 2005 report, released this week, shows New Zealand top placed among 145 countries in the ease of doing business.

Welcoming the report, Minister for Small Business John Tamihere says the government is working very actively to create a healthy environment for business growth in New Zealand. A key part is limiting the excesses of regulation and streamlining business interactions with government. The World Bank report has New Zealand's ease of doing business followed by the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Australia.

It follows a Business NZ/KPMG Compliance Cost study showing an average reduction in compliance costs of 17 per cent for businesses since last year. John Tamihere says the government can always do better and the recent Small Business Advisory Group's report provides the government with further focus. See the World Bank Report at: http://rru.worldbank.org/doingbusiness/

Support for Paritutu residents following dioxin report

Community support systems are being put in place in the New Plymouth suburb of Paritutu following the release of an interim report showing some residents have had higher-than-normal exposure to dioxin. Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor says this is a very difficult time for locals and former residents, who will have many questions about what the study means for them and their families.

The interim report was carried out in response to community concerns about the former Ivon Watkin-Dow chemical plant in Paritutu. It shows half those tested had higher levels of dioxin in their blood than the national average. Damien O'Connor says it's still unclear what health effects may be linked to dioxin exposure and the study had to be completed before determinations could be made about what to do next. An 0800 helpline (0800555567) has been established for concerned people. The Ministry of Health and the Taranaki DHB will establish an office in the area where people can discuss their concerns with a doctor. The


Further government help for flood-hit Bay of Plenty

The government has allocated $3m to help councils in the Bay of Plenty remit rates for businesses trying to recover from the floods and earthquakes that devastated parts of the area in July. Local Government Minister Chris Carter says the funding will mean that businesses and farmers struggling to rebuild will have one less bill to pay, and at the same time councils won't suffer a loss in the revenue needed to restore their districts.

The initiative is part of a comprehensive package of government assistance for the Bay of Plenty, which totals more than $30m. So far this package has included assistance with agricultural recovery, school and roading repairs, and direct assistance to low income earners and people evacuated from their homes.


Tougher sentencing laws are working

Two years after its introduction, the Sentencing Act's tougher laws are having a strong impact, says Justice Minister Phil Goff. Figures for August 2004 show prison numbers are up 978, or 16.5 per cent, on June 2002, despite record falls in the crime rate; a Parole Board report for the year to 30 June 2004 shows the number of parole hearings being declined have increased eight per cent to 59 per cent; tougher laws that deny bail to recidivist offenders resulted in an extra 1000 people being remanded in custody last year compared to 2000; preventive detention is being more widely used than ever before.

These figures provide clear indications that tougher legislation - as asked for by the public in a referendum in 1999 - is generally working as intended even in its first 12 months, says Phil Goff. The Sentencing Act review can be found at www.justice.govt.nz


Prison inmate number increase is being managed

The Corrections Department is managing the unexpectedly large increase in inmate numbers, says Corrections Minister Paul Swain. The government had introduced tougher sentencing, bail, parole and preventive detention laws and better-resourced police were catching more criminals.

There are now 900 more people in prison than the Ministry of Justice predicted 18 months ago. The department is managing this additional increase and using Police and court cells when needed. Paul Swain says this is not ideal but Corrections staff and police have performed very well in difficult circumstances. The situation will improve markedly when four new prison facilities open in the next few years, the first of these in Northland opening next year.

ENDS


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