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Beehive Bulletin Fri, 12 Nov 2004

Beehive Bulletin Fri, 12 Nov 2004

Unemployment down to 3.8 per cent

Unemployment has fallen to 3.8 per cent, with a record 2,022,000 New Zealanders now employed. Statistics New Zealand's Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) for the September 2004 quarter shows New Zealand's official unemployment rate is the lowest since the HLFS began in 1986. The September quarter figure is down 0.2 percentage points from the previous quarter.

The decrease is the result of strong employment growth, with women accounting for 16,000 of the 19,000 increase in people employed in the quarter. Employment Minister Steve Maharey the number of Kiwis in work has now grown by 230,000 since the Labour-led government was elected.

Respects paid to Unknown Warrior

Parliament this week held a special sitting to enable MPs to pay their respects to the Unknown Warrior. Earlier, the Unknown Warrior was brought to Parliament to lie in state, with many people viewing the casket before it was taken to a Memorial Service in Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, and interment at the National War Memorial. Prime Minister Helen Clark says families of those service personnel who died overseas in the past have had no grave of their loved one to visit.

At the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior families have a place of remembrance, and New Zealand has a place to acknowledge the courage and sacrifice made in our name overseas. The Unknown Warrior now lies in front of the National War Memorial. For more details, please see: www.unknownwarrior.govt.nz

Toward a more effective overseas investment regime

Overseas people wanting to buy sites of special heritage or environmental value in New Zealand will be face a tougher screening and monitoring regime under legislation tabled this week. Finance Minister Michael Cullen says the Overseas Investment Bill is designed to recognise that it is a privilege for an overseas person to own sensitive New Zealand assets while also encouraging foreign investment which can make a positive contribution to the New Zealand economy.

Overseas applicants not intending to reside in New Zealand will have to include in their application to buy land how they will manage any relevant historic, heritage, conservation or public access factors. Michael Cullen is confident the bill achieves balance and will win broad public support.

Report confirms stiffer penalities

Conviction and sentencing statistics confirm that the Sentencing Act 2002 is having the intended result of more recidivist and serious offenders being imprisoned, and for longer terms. Justice Minister Phil Goff this week released a Ministry of Justice report which shows that in the first full calendar year of the operation for the Sentencing Act 2002, serious offenders and career criminals were receiving stiffer penalties.

Despite the crime rate being at its lowest level in 20 years, more offenders were imprisoned in 2003 than in any other year in the survey period, and the average length of sentence was 16 months - up from 12.9 months in 1994. As demanded by the public in the 1999 referendum on law and order, New Zealand's most serious offenders are being hit hard by new Act, says Phil Goff. The report is available at www.justice.govt.nz

More ICT clusters for students and teachers

Thousands more students and teachers will get a boost to their ICT skills when they join up to an $11 million nationwide information communications technology (ICT) professional development programme. Education Minister Trevor Mallard says by the end of this year 20 new clusters of 136 schools will join the 63 clusters already involved in a three-year programme of professional development.

This aims at lifting teachers' ICT skills and improving educational achievement for their students as teachers become more familiar with an e-learning environment. Trevor Mallard says the Labour-led government is intent on building an innovative and dynamic economy and is investing heavily in ICT in education with this goal in mind.

ENDS

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