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Beehive Bulletin - Fri, 22 Oct 2004

Beehive Bulletin - Fri, 22 Oct 2004

QC to investigate allegations against John Tamihere

Douglas White QC will conduct an independent investigation into allegations surrounding Cabinet Minister, John Tamihere and the Waipareira Trust. Announcing the appointment, Acting Prime Minister Michael Cullen says Mr White will report back to the government by 26 November at the latest. Dr Cullen released the terms of reference for the inquiry, which were signed off by the Cabinet. He says given the high public interest and the significance of the issues involved, it is important that the matter is dealt with as quickly as possible. John Tamihere has stood down from his ministerial duties during the investigation.

New Zealand's growing ties with India

Business and cultural relations between India and New Zealand will continue to grow strongly, says Prime Minister Helen Clark. She's been visiting India on a four day tour aimed at strengthening business and cultural ties between the two nations and has also highlighted New Zealand's attractiveness as a film making destination. Over 100 'Bollywood' productions have been filmed in New Zealand since 1995. Helen Clark says that as well as being home to a superb line-up of technology companies and a dynamic local film industry, New Zealand offers a host of natural advantages which position it as a first choice for overseas film, television and commercial productions.

Two major employment bills passed

Key changes to the government's employment relations framework completed their final stages in Parliament this week. Labour Minister Paul Swain says the Holidays Amendment Act clears up concerns around payment for work on public holidays and the rules relating to medical certificates. The Employment Relations Amendment Bill (No. 2) strengthens the key objectives of the Employment Relations Act 2000 to promote good faith, collective bargaining and effective resolution of disputes. For information about holiday entitlements and obligations call the Labour Department's Infoline on 0800 20 90 20 or visit www.workinfo.govt.nz

Powerco sale reluctantly approved

Finance Minister Michael Cullen has reluctantly approved the sale of a majority stake in Powerco to Australian company Prime Infrastructure Networks. Michael Cullen says it is not the government's role to interfere in lawful commercial transactions and the buyers clearly meet the criteria of the Overseas Investment Act. But he says the Audit Office found that while the New Plymouth District Council was not required to consult ratepayers before deciding to quit its shareholding in Powerco, consultation would have been desirable. And Michael Cullen says it was unfortunate the Takeovers Panel granted a waiver allowing Prime to structure its offer differently for New Zealand and overseas shareholders.

New tracks and huts under 10-year conservation land plan

New tracks stretching for a total of 625 kilometres will be constructed around the country under a new 10-year plan for recreation on conservation land. Conservation Minister Chris Carter says the plan is the result of a review of recreational facilities managed by the Department of Conservation. It follows a government decision to set aside an extra $349 million over 10 years to fund the revamping and reorganisation of those facilities into a network that more effectively meets modern needs. Chris Carter says extensive public consultation has taken place. The outcome is a final plan in which 435km of the managed track network will be phased out while overall it will grow to a total of 12,900km. Similar changes are planned in the provision of huts. For more visit www.doc.govt.nz

Most regions now have major development initiatives

Over half the regions in New Zealand have now implemented major regional development initiatives. Economic, Industry and Regional Development Minister Jim Anderton says the Eastern Bay of Plenty maintenance engineering training programme is the 14th major regional initiative (MRI) from 26 regions earmarked for the purposes of regional development. The pay off these proactive programmes is that instead of languishing on low growth rates, as under the National government, the regions are now in high growth and people again have a future in their own communities.

Methamphetamine lab analysis improving

More scientists, extra funding for new equipment and better liaison with the courts and police are paying off in the war against methamphetamine. Crown Research Institutes Minister Pete Hodgson says the number of outstanding clandestine methamphetamine (P) laboratory cases being processed has been halved. There are currently 89 cases awaiting processing, down from 180 at the beginning of the year. If current trends continue, the backlog will be down to a normal caseload by next July. Pete Hodgson says this is a great result and reflects the government's determination to get on top of illicit drugs. This was underlined in May when the government announced $39 million over four years to combat P.


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