Beehive Bulletin - 4 Feb 2005
Beehive Bulletin - 4 Feb 2005
The Labour-led government this week reaffirmed its commitment to lifting economic performance further, building a healthy and well-educated society, and ensuring a sustainable and better quality of life for all New Zealanders. In the Prime Minister's Statement to Parliament, Helen Clark identified priority areas to include improving productivity; getting more people into work, particularly women with more childcare and in work-life balance policies; initiatives to help save people for retirement, home ownership and tertiary education; further infrastructure development, and boosting trade. Helen Clark says New Zealand must keep moving ahead to become an even better place in which to live, work, bring up children and invest - and above all a place of which we are proud. Among other measures being considered to grow our skills base was looking at how to encourage migration home by expatriate New Zealanders, says Helen Clark.
The number of major joint replacements in the first five months of this financial year has increased 33 per cent on the same period in 2003-04. Health Minister Annette King says she is delighted at the enthusiasm with which District Health Boards and orthopaedic specialists are implementing the orthopaedic initiative she and Helen Clark announced last May. The project is set to double the number of major hip and knee replacement operations within four years, when funding will reach an extra $70 million each year. In the first five months of this financial year, 2893 major joint replacements were delivered, compared with 2182 in the same period the previous year. Annette King says current progress confirms that within four years New Zealand will have an intervention rate that can stand proudly alongside any country in the world.
A comprehensive analysis of New Zealand's economic performance benchmarked against the OECD was released this week. Prepared by the Treasury and Ministry for Economic Development, Economic Development Indicators 2005 shows the economy's relatively strong growth in the last few years has seen New Zealand now overtake Spain to move to 20th place among the 30 nations in the OECD in terms of per capita income. Finance Minister Michael Cullen says there is still some distance to go to restore New Zealand to the top half of the OECD league table but the direction of change identified in the data is virtually all positive and in some cases markedly so. That achievement was not primarily the government's but reflected the initiative of thousands of New Zealanders and New Zealand enterprises. But Michael Cullen says it does indicate that the government's policies are well-designed and appropriate. See www.gif.med.govt.nz/aboutgif/indicators-2005/
All Black captain Tana Umaga has been appointed as an education ambassador to front a new long-term information programme aimed at encouraging and helping parents to get more involved in their children's education. Education Minister Trevor Mallard says like many parents, Tana is passionate about the importance of education for our young people and for our country as a whole. Research clearly shows that parents involved in their children's education can make a positive difference to how children learn. Trevor Mallard says the government had invested heavily in supporting teachers and quality teaching and now there's a $15.9 million project over five years to help parents to get more involved.
Associate Education Minister David Benson-Pope has asked the New Zealand Qualifications Authority for a report on 2004 scholarship results. NZQA had made him aware of an early trend in data that the number of scholarships achieved is lower than in previous years and concerns have been raised by some school principals about the results achieved by students. David Benson-Pope says he's asked NZQA to undertake a full analysis of the 2004 results and for it to be given priority. If the report identifies an issue, he will take action to resolve it. Final scholarship results will be published in April, as in previous years
The government is to pass a new taxation law that will clarify the deductibility of grassing and fertilizer costs. Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton says the new law would minimize compliance costs and the complexity of tax laws for farmers. The new legislation will confirm the immediate deductibility of grassing and fertilizing expenditure that is not part of a significant capital activity on a farm, such as a dairy conversion; and provide that grassing and fertilizing expenditure that is part of a capital activity is capitalized and amortised based on both having a useful economic life of three years. Jim Sutton says the law changes were a welcome solution to justifiable concerns among rural tax practitioners and in the farming community.