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Beehive Bulletin 1 July 2005

Beehive Bulletin 1 July 2005

Transport spending hits record $20 billion

Transport spending over the next decade is set to top $21 billion under Land Transport New Zealand's latest National Land Transport Programme, Transport Minister Pete Hodgson announced this week. The spending is up from $18.7 billion last year and does not include the $500 million announced for transport last week, nor the major transport packages planned for Wellington, the Bay of Plenty and the Waikato. The allocation for the building of state highways is up nearly 30 per cent over 2004-05 to $518.2m in 2005-06.

Spending on passenger transport, traffic demand management, and rail and sea transport, is also up nearly 46 per cent to $249.7m.

More New Zealanders getting life-changing surgeries

The government kicked off a week of health announcements with a progress report on the orthopaedic project that has seen more major hip and knee operations performed than planned for its first year. Health Minister Annette King said that after 11 months, the project had delivered 6277 major joint operations, well on track to meet the year's target of 6643, including an extra 1890.

Six of New Zealand's 21 District Health Boards have already exceeded or met their target number of extra operations. The project aims to improve quality of life, by relieving pain and restoring independence, particularly for older New Zealanders. The project is costing $30 million in the 2004-05 year, and up to $70m a year when fully implemented in 2007/08.

Mental Health Plan

Ms King also launched a new 10-year plan to address New Zealand's mental health needs. That plan - Te Tähuhu - Improving Mental Health 2005-2015: The Second New Zealand Mental Health and Addiction Plan - is a strategy for delivering mental health and addiction services for the next decade.

One in five New Zealanders reports a mental illness, including addiction, and five of the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide are psychiatric disorders. Depression will become the second leading cause of disability in the world by 2020. It is essential to continue improving mental health services to meet New Zealanders' needs, Ms King said.

Government is spending $885m on mental health services in the next year, up more than 50 per cent since 1999. The challenges ahead include areas such as promotion, prevention, workforce development, primary health care services, and strengthening transparency and trust.

Primary Health Care Strategy rolls out to 18-24 year olds

The latest phase of the government's Primary Health Care Strategy was rolled out this week, providing access to lower cost doctor fees and capped presecription charges to more people. From 1 July, the lower cost primary health care benefits are extended to those aged 18-24 years and enrolled in a Primary Health Organisation (PHO).

Ms King said more than a quarter of a million New Zealanders in this age group are now eligible to access the higher subsidy. This year's phase is costing $17.2 million and is part of the government's $2.2 billion programme to roll out the Strategy over seven years, starting in 2002/03.

Funding boost for hospices and cancer treatment drugs

Regional allocations of a $10 million hospice and cancer drug and treatment package, were released this week. New Zealand's 21 District Health Boards are being allocated money to fund hospices for 100 per cent of their essential services, Ms King says. The DHBs all get a population-based share of the $5.9 million in 2005-06 for hospice services and a share of $4m to buy new cancer drugs and widen access to already-subsidised treatments. The initiatives are part of a $40 million package of initiatives as the first phase of the government's Cancer Control Strategy. The funding is for each of the next four years.

More milestones marked on 1 July

Prime Minister Helen Clark says that 1 July is another important milestone date for the government's policy programme. A number of measures came into effect today including: the Closer Economic Partnership trade agreement with Thailand; first stage to phase out asset testing, increases to paid parental leave entitlements; revamped laws, in the Care of Children Act 2004, resolving disputes over care arrangements for children; a pay increase for people delivering Home Help services; $800,000 funding increase for elder abuse and neglect prevention services; thousands more Kiwis are eligible for the Mortgage Insurance Scheme.

They reflect our commitment to building a nation which offers fairness and opportunity, by making investments in health, education, security for older New Zealanders and infrastructure, and by meeting new challenges in areas such as trade policy.

Government committed to improving access

Associate Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton announced the government is beginning another round of consultation among major stakeholders to seek greater consensus on a way forward in enhancing public access. He believed there was sufficient goodwill to make this possible. The government is still committed to achieving free, practical, and certain access to publicly owned rivers, lakes and beaches for all New Zealanders, he said.

However, drafting complications has meant time is running short to initiate the Parliamentary process to make this law. It is important not to whittle away what is left of the wonderful, 150 year-old tradition of the Queen's Chain, he said.


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