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Beehive Bulletin - Friday, 11 March 2005

Beehive Bulletin
Friday, 11 March 2005

Cancer Control Action plan launched

The government has targeted an extra $40 million funding for cancer control in the first phase of the Cancer Control Action plan. Health Minister Annette King says this follows advice from the Cancer Control Taskforce that cancer must be tackled on a number of fronts, with new funding right across the spectrum. The package includes new funding of $8.6 million for prevention initiatives, including an extension of the successful fruit in schools programme, nearly $6 million to top up existing palliative care, support and rehabilitation, and $4 million more for cancer treatment drugs, to fund new drugs and widen current access. Annette King says several other initiatives are also coming close to fruition.

Prince and two Prime Ministers visit

New Zealand is enjoying a flurry of VIP visitors. Prince Charles left this week after a five-day visit that included Dunedin, central Otago, Wellington and Auckland. Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik was due to start a visit on Sunday March 13. His two days of official duties in Wellington and Auckland follow on from Helen Clark's visit to Norway last year. The two Prime Ministers are scheduled to sign a working holidays' agreement at a joint press conference. Helen Clark also announced that Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmed Badawi will make an official visit to New Zealand from 30 March to 1 April. Helen Clark says the two countries have a long history of close and friendly and Dr Badawi's visit provides an opportunity to discuss deeper engagement. It would also enable a sharing of views on developments in Asia, as well as shared global concerns, such as security, economic development and WTO issues.

Prince and minister launch urban design protocol

A protocol that creates and maintains vitality and character in design plans for towns and cities was launched by the Prince of Wales and Environment and Urban Affairs Minister Marian Hobbs. The New Zealand Urban Design Protocol will help create more interesting and user-friendly buildings, places, spaces and transport systems. Eighty organisations across New Zealand have signed up to the protocol - including architects, developers, planners, central and local government. The protocol will get all the sectors involved in urban design working together in a coordinated way for the first time. Marian Hobbs says up to 87 per cent of New Zealanders live in towns and cities and it would be fantastic if they became known for creative, stimulating and successfully design. More info at www.mfe.govt.nz

Debt down, loan repayment time down

Two new reports on student loans show reduced loan repayment times and a decrease in the growth rate of student debt. Education Minister Trevor Mallard says the reports show that those who leave study with higher debt earn higher incomes and repay their loans much more quickly. To help keep repayment times down, the government has introduced more generous interest write-off measures, saving tertiary students more than $250 million in waived interest charges since 2000. The fee stabilisation and the fee and course cost maxima system have also kept fee rises in check, and more students are eligible for allowances. Trevor Mallard says most borrowers owe less than $10,000, and repayment times are reducing.
See the reports at www.minedu.govt.nz/goto/tertiaryanalysis

New prison opens in Northland

A 350-bed Northland Region Corrections Facility - the first of four new prisons that will add more than 1600 beds to the country's prison capacity - was opened this week. About 50 per cent of the 231 Corrections staff will come from Northland and staff salaries in the region alone are expected to exceed $10 million. Corrections Minister Paul Swain says the $133 million facility was a significant step forward in managing increasing inmate numbers due to the government's tougher stance on crime. However, locking more people up is not the only answer in the long-term. Paul Swain says about 25 per cent of inmates return to prison within a year of release. If this can be lowered to 20 per cent, that would equate to about 350 fewer inmates returning to prison - the size of the new facility. The government is working on a plan to give inmates formal training for jobs before they are released.

Increase in funding for election programmes

Cabinet has approved a significant increase of funding for the broadcasting of election programmes for the 2005 election. The total for the broadcasting of election programmes will be $3.2 million. This is an increase of $1.1m from $2.08m, a figure unaltered since 1990. Associate Justice Minister Rick Barker says that Cabinet decided on this increase based on the unanimous recommendation from the Justice and Electoral Committee's inquiry into the 2002 election. Broadcasting costs had gone up significantly since 1990 and extra funding was essential to ensure that the public got information about political party manifestos before the next general election. An informed public is critical to good democratic practices, says Rick Barker.


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