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Submissions open on workplace savings scheme

Fri, 17 Sep 2004

Beehive Bulletin

Submissions open on workplace savings scheme report

The public and interested parties can now make submissions to the government on savings schemes in the workplace. This follows the presentation of a report prepared for Finance Minister Michael Cullen by the Savings Product Working Group. It proposes all new staff are automatically enrolled in a savings scheme, which they can withdraw from if they choose.

There is a range of options to determine employers who would be covered and timing for employees to opt out. The government is yet to formally consider the report but Michael Cullen says the group has come up with some practical options to address our poor levels of savings. Submissions on the Working Group's report can be made until 31 October. Michael Cullen says he's committed to seeing progress made on workplace savings in his 2005 budget. View the report @: www.beehive.govt.nz/cullen

Changes to Resource Management Act unveiled

The government has announced a comprehensive package of measures designed to improve the working of the Resource Management Act (RMA). Associate Environment Minister David Benson-Pope says key initiatives include greater central direction and consistency through national policy statements and national standards.

Councils, when considering large or complex projects such as important infrastructure initiatives, will be able to seek additional resources from government or even ask it to establish an independent board to consider the case. David Benson-Pope says the government is committed to striking the right balance between our desire for a clean, healthy environment and our expectations for growth and opportunity. Amending legislation will be introduced later this year, with the select committee process providing further opportunity for comment.

Employment law changes strike a balance

The Employment Relations Law Reform Bill, reported back to Parliament this week, recommends changes that Labour Minister Paul Swain says strike a balance between promoting collective bargaining and maintaining the integrity of individual choice. The recommendations also address some concerns that organisations had raised with him about what the bill might mean in practice. The select committee recommended the Labour Minister amend the bill so employers and unions could enter into mutually agreed bargaining fee arrangements allowing collective terms and conditions to be passed on to non-union employees.

Non-union employees would have the opportunity to opt out of the arrangement. Paul Swain said many small employers had concerns about the procedure for dismissals; once the bill is passed (by 1 December) he will give better guidance around these issues. For a copy of the bill go to: www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/Publications

National Rail Strategy released

The government has released its National Rail Strategy for realising the full potential of rail as a properly integrated part of the nation's transport infrastructure. Transport Minister, Pete Hodgson says rail has been neglected for too long, to the detriment of the economy and compounding problems with roading, which faced similar underinvestment through the 1990s. As with roads, the government is committed to fixing the problems and to getting New Zealand business and commuters moving again.

An emphasis of the National Rail Strategy (NRS) is to move more freight and commuters onto rail to help ease road congestion, reduce travel times and benefit the environment. The NRS follows the purchase of the national rail infrastructure assets by the government earlier this year and the injection of $200 million to upgrade the rail network. Copy of strategy@ www.beehive.govt.nz/Documents/Files/NRS

Historic passing of Maori Fisheries Bill

This week's passing of the Maori Fisheries Bill was an historic moment and represents an enduring solution, says Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope. The bill transfers control to iwi of roughly $750million in assets as a full and final settlement of Maori claims to commercial fishing, in accordance with the 1992 Fisheries Settlement.

Approximately half of those assets are being allocated directly to iwi and half are being managed centrally with the creation of the country's largest fishing group, Aotearoa Fisheries Limited. The allocation of quota, cash and income shares will empower iwi to develop their own assets. David Benson-Pope says the bill ends the 12 years it has taken to get agreement and paves the way for economic growth that will benefit all New Zealanders.

Pilot programme to help students plan their careers

Education Minister Trevor Mallard has named 75 schools that will take part in a new pilot programme aimed at helping young people plan their move from school to further education or work. The $5.5 million two-year Designing Careers pilot is part of the government's Youth Transitions Budget package announced earlier this year. The pilot will reach more than 15,000 students in the 75 schools, greatly enhancing existing career information and guidance services. Designing Careers is aimed at getting Year 10 (age 14) school students to develop career plans which will help them decide which subjects or courses to follow at school.

The pilot will also target Year 11, 12 and 13 students who are at risk of not making successful transitions from school. It will start next year and be evaluated before decisions are made about extending it or adapting it further, says Trevor Mallard. More on careers at www.kiwicareers.govt.nz


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