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Beehive Bulletin - Fri, 15 Oct 2004

Fri, 15 Oct 2004

Beehive Bulletin

Limited licence option looms for older drivers

The older driver licensing system, which requires people, aged 80 and over to renew their licence every two years is to be reviewed. In announcing the review, Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven supported the option of a conditional licence that would allow older people to drive within a 10km radius of their home. It is anticipated that this and other policy changes will be approved early next year and introduced later in 2005. Harry Duynhoven says the government realises that for many older people the ability to drive is the key to continued independence, and this needs to be balanced with the safety of all road users. Grey Power has welcomed the announcement. Research on older drivers at: http://www.transport.govt.nz/current/issues/

Independent assessor for Wairouru allegations

An independent assessor will examine the alleged abuses at the Waiouru Regular Force Cadet School. Defence Minister Mark Burton who will appoint the assessor says this is a crucial next step in responding to serious and complex issues raised by former cadets of the school. He says the independent assessor will review relevant historical information held by the Defence Force, as well as information received by his office, Defence, and other parties in the period since the allegations were raised. A report will then be presented to Mark Burton, who will consult the Attorney General about the findings, and present the report to Cabinet. Serious criminal offences will be referred to the police for action, where appropriate, says Mark Burton.

Delays to election results unacceptable

Continuing hold-ups to final election results for seven district and city councils and 18 district health boards due to a processing error were totally unacceptable, says Local Government Minister Chris Carter. The discovery of errors in some voting totals came on the back of already lengthy delays to some STV results due to resourcing problems in processing votes. Chris Carter says there needs to be a full inquiry by the Justice and Electoral Select Committee into these problems to ensure they don't happen again. Elections should take place in a country as small as New Zealand without these kinds of issues.

Public access to lakes guaranteed under transfer

The transfer of 13 Rotorua lakebeds to the Te Arawa Maori Trust Board will guarantee continued public access to the lakes, says Treaty Negotiations Minister Margaret Wilson. The Crown and Te Arawa Maori Trust Board have initialled a Deed of Settlement relating to Te Arawa's historical Treaty of Waitangi claims to the 14 Rotorua lakes. The settlement also capitalises the trust board's annuity and settles any remaining annuity issues. A key aspect of the cultural redress is the vesting of title to 13 of the 14 lakebeds in Te Arawa, says Margaret Wilson. Free public access for recreational purposes will be preserved, as will the existing rights of commercial users of the lakes.

Funding boost for rural health

A $10.9 million annual funding boost will help rural areas retain GPs, nurses and other health workers. Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor says the extra funding from next year extends and continues $32 million over three years that the Government committed in 2002/03 to address rural workforce issues. The funding supports primary health care workers such as GPs and nurses to stay in rural areas and allows them to have reasonable on-call rosters. Damien O'Connor also announced seven new scholarships to help rural nurses to bring their qualifications up to nurse practitioner level, with prescribing rights.

State housing stock rises

Over 9,400 households were helped into state housing last year and the number of state rental properties increased by 903 to 65,304. Almost 185,000 people now call a state house home - information contained in Housing New Zealand Corporation's 2003/04 Annual Report tabled in Parliament this week. Housing Minister Steve Maharey says the corporation's main role is still providing services to state house tenants, but it is increasingly working with community groups, Maori and local government to boost the amount of affordable housing for people on low to moderate incomes. The corporation has also lead the formation of the New Zealand Housing Strategy, which will help guide housing policy across the sector over the next 10-years.


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