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Beehive Bulletin

Beehive Bulletin

Low fixed power charges a success

Energy Minister Trevor Mallard said this week that low power users are now saving between $25 and $96 a year on their electricity bills, following the introduction in October of regulations that require companies to offer low fixed charge tariffs. Trevor Mallard says the policy, designed to help low power users and low income earners, including pensioners, to save on their power bills, is clearly working. Since the regulation over 30 per cent of domestic consumers are enjoying lower electricity bills. The minister is urging people who don't use much electricity to check whether they can save money by switching to this option. Retailers are required by law to offer it to all domestic customers in their primary place of residence. Customers can check their plan options at www.powerswitch.co.nz

PM welcomes Pakistani leader

Prime Minister Helen Clark greeted Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf when he arrived in New Zealand on Thursday. Helen Clark says the visit by the Pakistani leader and a 55-strong delegation comes at a useful time, ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in Malta in November. Pakistan was suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth after a military coup, meaning it cannot attend key meetings like the summit and ministerial get-togethers. Since the coup which brought Mr Musharraf to power, Pakistan has gone back on a constitutional track, reformed its constitution, elected a Parliament, and formed a government with a Prime Minister. That led the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group to decide, late last year, to reinstate Pakistan to the councils of the Commonwealth. The PM says Pakistan is of great interest to NZ because of its proximity to Afghanistan. Pakistan has also expressed interest in seeing New Zealand's, up-to-date, advanced dairy technology. It also ha
s an interest in the IT s

NZ plays key role in Antarctica treaty

Foreign Minister Phil Goff says New Zealand has played a key role in negotiating an international treaty protecting the Antarctic environment. The treaty, adopted this week at a conference in Stockholm, requires anyone who causes an environmental accident in Antarctica to take action to clean up the pollution, and prevent further environmental damage. If a polluter does not take clean up action, then compensation can be claimed. New Zealand chaired negotiations for the treaty. Phil Goff says the agreement brings an end to 12 years of negotiation, and is a vital step forward in protecting the pristine environment of the Antarctic. He says it reflects the importance we place on its environment. The treaty was negotiated by the 45 member countries of the 1959 Antarctic Treaty, made up by the majority of countries conducting Antarctic activities.

Tax changes good for environment

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs this week welcomed changes to tax legislation, passed in Parliament on Wednesday, as they included tax deductions for businesses cleaning up contaminated sites. The minister says the new tax law will make it easier for businesses to do their bit towards a clean, healthy and safe environment. She says environmental costs, like any other business cost, should be taken into account for tax purposes. The changes update, clarify and expand tax deductions for business environmental expenditure. A key benefit for business is that work towards restoring contaminated sites is now immediately tax deductible. Taxpayers with restoration liabilities can also opt to take part in a site restoration fund, setting aside money for future site restoration. More information is available online at www.ird.govt.nz

Forecasts show NZ will miss Kyoto target

Climate Change Minister Pete Hodgson revealed this week New Zealand is projected to overshoot the targets it had been set under the Kyoto Protocol for greenhouse gas emissions. Projections this time last year were for NZ to have a "surplus" of about 30 million tonnes on the targets that had to be reached under the protocol in the 2008 to 2012 target period. Now they show NZ would miss its target by 36.2 million tonnes. The minister says a number of deliberately more conservative assumptions are partly behind the change. Two principal factors explain the change in the projections on emissions; emissions, particularly from transport, had grown as a result of the high performing economy; and there was a change in the way forest "carbon sinks" were assessed. Forests that were planted in the early 1990s on land covered in scrub, which officials had thought was an allowable sink worth 19.8 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, cannot now be counted as a "Kyoto forest". Pete Hodgson
said NZ remained strongl


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