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Beehive Bulletin 5 August 2005

Beehive Bulletin 5 August 2005

Super Fund Striking Success

Finance Minister Michael Cullen this week congratulated the Board of Guardians and managers of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund on its 2004-05 year. The Fund generated over $726 million in investment income after costs but before tax, representing a return of 14.13 per cent.

The Fund continues to track ahead of its performance target - a credit to those involved and good news for New Zealanders. The government set up the Fund to safeguard the long term viability of New Zealand Superannuation. Dr Cullen is delighted at the striking success achieved in its first years.

Unlisted Decision

Commerce Minister Pete Hodgson has decided that online securities trader Unlisted will not be regulated for now - but he says monitoring will continue. Mr Hodgson says insufficient evidence meant the statutory test of likely harm to New Zealand securities market had not been met. Mr Hodgson noted concerns about mixed messages to investors who could be confused about its status and the protections available.

Of particular concern, was the fact that retail investors trading on Unlisted may not appreciate the difference with NZX trading. Mr Hodgson will continue talking to Unlisted operators about the need to promote buyer beware messages. Regulation might need to be reconsidered in future if trading volumes significantly increase, or if there is concrete evidence of investor confusion.

Dance and Drama School Funding

A $1.8 million funding boost for Te Whaea, the National Dance and Drama Centre in Wellington, was announced by Prime Minister and Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage Helen Clark this week. The additional spending over four years will support Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School and the New Zealand School of Dance, both of which are based at Te Whaea in Wellington. The schools had sought a review of baseline funding and had raised concerns over their future financial viability. Helen Clark says the funding increase, through the 2005 Budget Education contingency fund, underscores the Labour-led government's commitment to building and maintaining a vibrant arts and culture sector. Both Toi Whakaari and the School of Dance have vital roles in supporting the performing arts. The government wants to ensure the schools continue to offer opportunities for New Zealand talent, Helen Clark said.

Independent Review of NCEA

The State Services Commission this week released an independent review into the performance of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and its implementation of the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA). In welcoming the review, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said it showed most people back the system because it improves students' learning and improves teaching.

Mr Mallard said while there were areas that needed work, many issues had been addressed or were about to be addressed. The report found that the variation in external assessment arose because the path of implementation for NCEA was too steep and did not allow for the standards being in early development stages and would be subject to differing interpretations. The report said the system represented an unprecedented change in secondary schooling and the NCEA implementation had been a massive undertaking for which NZQA and the teaching profession deserved full credit for what had been achieved. Mr Mallard was heartened by

Access Consultation Panel Formed

A new panel to lead consultation on improving access along waterways was announced by Associate Rural Affairs Minister Jim Sutton this week. Chaired by South Canterbury farmer John Acland, who headed the original access ministerial reference group, the panel will seek general agreement on implementation measures to improve access to the publicly-owned resources of water and fish. Mr Sutton said the government remains committed to certain, free, practical, and enduring public access along public water and public land of significance but a broad public consensus was needed. For this reason, there is no imposition of a five-metre walkway.

The panel will talk to interest groups and seek common ground on: clarifying existing public access rights along water margins, establishing the location of gaps in the Queens Chain and how these might be remedied, the establishment of a code of conduct and protecting the security of landholders. Other panel members are: John Aspinall, former Federated Farmers' access spokesma

Brunei Trans Pacific Relationships

Trade Minister Jim Sutton announced Brunei's signing of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Closer Economic Partnership agreement in Wellington this week. Singapore and Chile signed a fortnight ago. The Trans-Pacific SEP links New Zealand, Chile, Singapore and Brunei. Mr Sutton said it was a high quality free trade agreement that builds new strategic and economic links between our country, Latin America and Asia.

Currently, 92 percent of New Zealand's exports to Brunei enter duty free, including key exports such as dairy. On entry into force of the agreement, Brunei will bind these tariffs at zero. This is a gain for New Zealand of about $50,000 a year.

ENDS

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