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Beehive Bulletin 24 June 2005

Beehive Bulletin 24 June 2005

Transport to benefit from unexpected revenue boost

Finance Minister Michael Cullen said this week that motorists, commuters and businesses will benefit from a one-off increase in the government's tax take. New data from Treasury shows the tax take for the 11 months to 31 May was running $544 million ahead of forecasts.

Dr Cullen said company tax was the main driver of the higher tax take, accounting for $368 million of the $544 million variance. The government is using the windfall to put an extra $500 million into improving the transport network, so wiping out a legacy of persistent under-investment in the tax-cutting, expenditure-cutting 1990s. The higher tax take is a result of the financial industry responding to new tax law. Because the extra revenue is likely to be one-off rather than ongoing, sensible fiscal policy dictates that it should be used to fund initiatives which are also one-off, Dr Cullen says.

Govt committed to future of state housing

Housing Minister Steve Maharey said this week that the government remains committed to the revitalisation of state housing in New Zealand. He was speaking at the launch of We Call it Home: A History of State Housing. The minister said the government had already increased the number of state houses by 5700, with another 1000 planned in the coming year.

The provision of the houses coupled with the income-related rents policy was lifting thousands of New Zealanders above the poverty line, the minister said. He told the book launch function that Labour was proud to be the party that introduced state houses for New Zealand families in 1937. He said that for nearly 70 years, state housing has provided New Zealanders with affordable, quality accommodation, and financial security for hundreds of thousands of families.

Govt releases more reviews of targeted programmes

Co-ordinating Minister, Race Relations, Trevor Mallard this week released the second group of reports and results from the government's review of targeted policies and programmes. He said the aim of the review was to give ministers and the public an assurance that policies and programmes are targeted on the basis of need, not race. He says the government will continue to use targeted programmes and policies for specific ethnic groups where they are shown to be effective at addressing their proven needs.

That is the approach also used for other groups of New Zealanders who need specific help, such as the elderly or those in rural communities. The 20-plus review reports issued this week summarise a large volume of work that has been undertaken by agencies and cover a wide variety of programmes, and many government departments, including the Ministries of Education, Health and Social Development. As a result of the final phase in the review process, there will be changes to 20 programmes, 15 require further wo

Cultural sector thriving in New Zealand

Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Helen Clark, said this week that culture is strong and vibrant in New Zealand, as she released two reports on the sector. Helen Clark says the reports show substantial development across the sector including growth in employment and in investment by central and local government. One report showed spending increased 73 percent in the last 14 years, rising to $675 million in 2003/04.

The second showed the number of people in paid cultural employment rose by 17 percent from 1996 to 2001, nearly three times the growth in total employment over the same period. The PM says individuals making their living in the cultural sector, such as visual artists, performers, curators, film-makers, writers, publishers and gallery owners know they are taken seriously as a vital component of our economy.

Govt announces next steps for troubled Wananga

Education Minister Trevor Mallard this week announced that he has taken further steps towards the appointment of a commissioner to Te Wananga o Aotearoa. The minister announced in early May a $20 million loan to bail out the Te Awamutu-based tertiary institute which he said was on the brink of insolvency. He said he had written to the council of the wananga to inform it that his preliminary decision was that the council should be dissolved and a commissioner appointed in its place.

He said that given the wananga's financial and operational situation, he had no choice but to invoke the level of statutory intervention needed to safeguard the interests of the wananga's students. The council has 21 days to make any submissions as to why the minister's preliminary decision should not be confirmed. If the council do not provide convincing evidence or reasons to change the minister's decision, a commissioner will be appointed in July.

Government hails whaling victory

Conservation Minister Chris Carter said from the Republic of Korea this week that the International Whaling Commission's backing of an Australia-New Zealand call to condemn "scientific whaling" was a victory for New Zealand. The decision came after Japan announced plans to more than double its yearly cull. However, despite the 30-27 vote against Japan, the IWC is powerless to stop its accelerated whaling programme.

Chris Carter says that ultimately the best hope for whale conservation is to try and hold the line until public opinion in whaling nations such as Japan, Norway and Iceland builds up, and young people think hunting whales is simply unacceptable in the 21st century. Helen Clark says she is very pleased with the outcome of key votes at the IWC, and hopes it will give Japan cause to reconsider its stance. She adds that the great whales only survive because human beings work to protect them and their habitat, and this is a cause to which New Zealand is committed.


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