Beehive Bulletin - 22 July 2005
22 July 2005
Govt announces major shake-up of tertiary sector
Education Minister Trevor Mallard this week announced a $160 million shake-up of the tertiary education sector. Significant savings will be made by clamping down on low quality courses and putting the money back into higher quality education and ensuring that regional polytechnics did not collapse financially due to the changes. Trevor Mallard said funding will go towards strengthening regional provision, more apprentices and industry training, literacy and numeracy courses for adults, and into a new streamlined pool for adult and community education. The minister said polytechnics and wananga should not be trying to maintain their viability through low cost, low value education. A number of polytechnics and wananga are already in financial difficulty due to the previous changes and Trevor Mallard said the government was committed to providing tertiary education in all areas it was currently provided in. The government would spend $177.8 million over five years to support polytechs that would struggle due to the changes. Institutions that have problems due to location, high cost courses, small class or regional population size will be supported and be able to access this quality reinvestment fund, the minister said. All press statements relating to these reviews are on www.beehive.govt.nz/mallard. Relevant cabinet papers are on www.tec.govt.nz
Report shows compliance costs falling
Small Business Minister Rick Barker this week released a new report showing that red tape for small businesses has been successfully cut. The minister said the government had listened to small business operators' concerns about compliance costs and done something about them. In 2001 the Government agreed to implement 155 recommendations aimed at making it easier for small businesses to meet government rules. An Economic Development Ministry report showed 94 of the identified compliance requirements had been eliminated. Work was also currently being done on another 45 and would be completed in the next 18 months to two years. The recommendations the government has implemented came out of a ministerial panel in 2000. It suggested changes to the way businesses were billed by ACC, minor tax changes and moves to ensure that potential compliance costs were properly assessed before new laws or regulations were put in place. The World Bank stated in its recent Doing Business in 2005 report that New Zealand is the easiest country in the world to run a business. The report ranks New Zealand as number one for ease of doing business ahead of trading partners Australia, Japan the United States and the UK as well as 140 other nations.
Social report maps solid progress
Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey this week welcomed the findings of the latest Social Report as evidence of solid progress on social issues. But he warned that further investments were needed in core areas such as health, education and family assistance if New Zealand was to continue its strong growth path. The report shows that social wellbeing continues to improve in New Zealand across 16 of 22 measures, in areas like health, education, employment and incomes. Some highlights from the report are; real median hourly wages have increased for young people aged 15-24 since 1997; children starting school are more likely to have had early childhood education; child poverty rates fell from 27 percent in 2001 to 21 percent in 2004; life expectancy has increased, while smoking, road casualties and suicide deaths have declined. Steve Maharey said the good news from this report is that NZ is continuing our climb through the top half of the OECD on two thirds of the measures where there is comparable international data. Copies of the report can be downloaded from the Social report website at www.socialreport.msd.govt.nz.
New trade agreement spans the Pacific
The first multi-party free trade agreement spanning the Pacific and Asia was signed this week in a ceremony at Parliament. The Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership links New Zealand with Chile, Singapore and Brunei, liberalising trade in goods and services between the four countries. Prime Minister Helen Clark hosted the signing ceremony during her weekly post-Cabinet press conference. The documents were signed by New Zealand Minister for Trade Negotiations Jim Sutton, Singapore High Commissioner to New Zealand Ms Seetoh Hoy Cheng, and the Chilean Ambassador to New Zealand Mr Juan Salazar. Brunei will sign early next month. Helen Clark called it a high quality trade agreement of strategic and economic importance to New Zealand. It provides for the elimination of all tariffs among the four countries, a feat not often achieved in trade agreements.
NZ backs fight against pirate fishers
Fisheries Minister David Benson-Pope said this week that New Zealand has signed an international agreement to help combat pirate fishing. The United Nations' FAO Compliance Agreement aims to combat illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing by putting more responsibilities on flag States to control their vessels fishing on the high seas. In particular it deters the owners of fishing boats from re-flagging their vessels to another State, to avoid compliance with international fishing rules.