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Beehive Bulletin - 9 December 2005

Beehive Bulletin - 9 December 2005

Investigation into Wananga tabled

Issues raised in the Auditor-General's investigation into Te Wananga o Aotearoa are serious and highlight government concerns, Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen said after the report was tabled in Parliament this week. Dr Cullen said the wananga's achievements had been masked by governance and management failures within the organisation.

Dr Cullen pointed to the poor management of perceived conflicts of interest in the awarding of contracts to family members; the lax accounting for credit card and international travel expenses and the frequent failure to prepare proper business cases for property development and purchase decisions.

He said some of the problems - reflecting the wananga's rapid expansion between 1999 and 2003 under an old funding framework - have been addressed through the establishment of the Tertiary Education Commission; the new emphasis on ensuring quality and relevance in courses and the leverage created by the requirement that institutions develop charters and profiles to ju

Paid Parental Leave for self-employed

Self-employed mothers will be eligible for the government's Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme from July 2006 under legislation referred to the transport and industrial relations select committee this week. In announcing the extension of the scheme, Labour Minister Ruth Dyson said more than 52,000 working parents had benefited from PPL since it was introduced in 2002.

The legislation reflects the government's commitment to support working families by expanding the programme to a range of self-employment activity including the working arrangements of farming families.

Around 2170 self-employed women are expected to benefit each year. The Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Paid Parental Leave for Self-Employed Persons) Amendment Bill provides for 14 weeks paid parental leave for self-employed mothers who have been working an average of 10 hours a week or more for either six or 12 months immediately before the birth or adoption of a child. Like employees, the leave is transferable to eligible partners, i

Nurse practitioner rights to prescribe

Nurse practitioners are able to prescribe a range of medicines under new regulations that came into effect this week. Health Minister Pete Hodgson says the regulations are part of the government's work towards a more flexible and responsive health system.

The regulations give qualified nurse practitioners - who have met rigorous requirements set by the Nursing Council - the right to prescribe a range of prescription medicines and controlled substances. Mr Hodgson said this would improve access to services, patient education and reduce secondary illnesses. Previously only nurse practitioners in aged care and child family health had limited prescribing rights.

They will now be able to prescribe medications in a range of new areas including treatment of chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardio-vascular disease. There are currently 17 nurse practitioners in New Zealand. Two nurses have already obtained prescribing rights and about 100 are actively preparing to apply to the Nursing Council for approval.

More frontline police

Police Minister Annette King and New Zealand First law and order spokesperson Ron Mark this week confirmed a joint commitment to providing an extra 1000 sworn police staff over the next three years. They said the government's confidence and supply agreement with New Zealand First to provide funding over the next three budgets for 1000 more police staff means '1000 more sworn frontline staff'.

This includes 250 community constables who will be working as frontline officers. Further work with the Police Commissioner's office and with the Police Association is being undertaken to redefine policing with the community in the 21st century. Communities want to see police out and about on their streets, but in some places around New Zealand this works extremely well and in others it is not so effective.

The government and New Zealand First wanted to ensure the role is defined in such a way that it is effective around the country. They were confident that higher police visibility would increase the public's sense of security.

ENDS

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