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Beehive Bulletin 2 September 2005

Beehive Bulletin 2 September 2005

Government loan to help people into first homes

A $6.7 million interest free government loan to the New Zealand Housing Foundation will help get more people into their first homes in Auckland, Housing Minister Steve Maharey said this week.

The money will allow the Foundation to buy land and build affordable homes for first-time home-buyers. The foundation's home equity programme sees the charitable organisation holding an equity stake in the properties, to ease the transition into home ownership for low-income buyers. Once buyers have built up equity, they can buy the foundation out and the foundation moves onto helping another family.

Steve Maharey said the scheme makes it possible for low and modest income families to finance a loan. The New Zealand Housing Foundation was formed in 2001 and aims to be a catalyst for growth in the community housing sector. Steve Maharey said its work sat well with the government's KiwiSaver and Welcome Home Loans programmes which will help 8000 families into their first homes, every year.

PM sends condolences to US & Iraq

Prime Minister Helen Clark sent New Zealand's condolences to the United States in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and to the Iraqi government following the stampede in Baghdad. Helen Clark sent New Zealand's sympathy to President George Bush and said New Zealand was ready to offer assistance if needed.

She described the deaths of around 1000 people in Baghdad, many of them Shia pilgrims, enroute to a religious festival, as tragic. New Zealand commended the courage of Iraqi people and hoped the new nation would continue to make progress in its path towards establishing a democratic and consititutional government, Helen Clark said.

Small schools to get wired to the world

Around 300 small schools with no computer network infrastructure are set to join the online world thanks to an $11 million initiative to help them build new computer networks, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said this week. Being connected is fundamental to learning in the 21st century and the government's vision is for schools to benefit from information and communication technologies wherever they are located, Trevor Mallard said.

A 2004 survey revealed that small schools faced disproportionate costs in building computer networks. The initiative will help teachers and students in small schools access a wider range of resources, such as digital learning and other rich multi-media materials that help students learn such as the Ministry of Education's Te Kete Ipurangi website. In addition to administrative efficiencies, the built up and improved networks will help schools achieve significant productivity gains. The planned network upgrades complement the recently completed Probe Project, which has brought

Government boosts mobility scheme

A $9.49 million funding increase for the Total Mobility scheme was announced by Transport Minister Pete Hodgson and Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson this week. The scheme, which subsidises taxi transport for people with serious mobility constraints, is operated by local authorities and funded by central and local government.

The extra funding will allow for improved services and a 60 per cent increase in the number of users from 43,000 to 69,000 over the next three years. The scheme's total budget will rise from $9.8 million to $18.67 million.

Government funding helping rural GPs

Government funding of a rural locum scheme, is successfully drawing GPs to small and remote towns, says Associate Health and Rural Affairs Minister, Damien O'Connor. NZLocums, the specialist rural recruitment agency funded by government and managed by the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network, is meeting 85 percent of locum requests according to new figures. Previously, rural GPs found it difficult to take holidays, or to upskill, Damien O'Connor said. NZLocum has attracted around three locums a month to work permanently in small or remote New Zealand towns, and has met all short-term locum requests this year.

New mental health facility for Waitakere

Health Minister Annette King has given the green light to a $15 million purpose-built mental health inpatient unit at Waitakere Hospital. The new 40-bed facility will open in 2007. The existing Te Atarau facility, built in the 1990s, had been the subject of complaints by staff, patients, families and caregivers. When she visited last year, Annette King was impressed by the dedication of staff, but dismayed at the conditions of the facility. She said the project continues the government's commitment to refurbishing and rebuilding the public hospital infrastructure.

Promoting safety around dogs

Safety around dogs is the focus of a new education kit, launched by Local Government Minister Chris Carter this week. The kit includes an animated video for children. The video features children in a variety of common situations with dogs, demonstrating how some understanding of dog behaviour and what to do and what not to do, can help keep them safe.

The education kit is designed to make kids more aware of how to enjoy dogs safely. Although new laws had been passed to help keep communities safe while respecting the rights of responsible dog owners, teachers had asked for classroom resources, which the government was happy to fund, he said.


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