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Beehive Bulletin - April 7 2006

Beehive Bulletin - April 7 2006

Chinese Premier visits

New Zealand hosted an official visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao this week. During his two-day visit, Premier Wen and Prime Minister Helen Clark discussed progress towards a New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement.

The two leaders also resumed discussions on regional and other issues raised during their last meeting at the inaugural East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpar last December. Premier Wen and Helen Clark witnessed the signing four agreements between the two countries. They were:

An agreement to strengthen cultural ties in arts, culture, heritage, sport, archives, broadcasting and tourism; a treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters for greater co-operation between law enforcement authorities in both countries; a Deer Protocol signed by the two Ministers responsible for food safety, and a Memorandum of Understanding on co-operation in education and training. During the Premier's visit, Helen Clark also announced that New Zealand would participate in the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai. China i

A new Governor-General

Prime Minister Helen Clark this week welcomed the announcement that the Queen has approved the appointment of Judge Anand Satyanand to succeed Dame Silvia Cartwright as New Zealand's Governor-General.

Helen Clark said Judge Satyanand will bring many personal strengths to the role of Governor-General, including a broad knowledge of the workings of government and the law, as well as a deep appreciation of the different groups and communities which make up contemporary New Zealand.

With a multi-faceted career as a lawyer, a judge, and an ombudsman, Judge Satyanand has made a substantial contribution to legal reform and legal education. He has been active in a range of community, cultural and sporting groups, and maintains an abiding interest in international affairs and New Zealand's relationships with other countries. He is of Indian descent and his parents moved to New Zealand from Fiji. Dame Silvia Cartwright will complete her term on 4 August 2006 and Judge Satyanand will later be sworn in as Governor-


NZ Sign Language

New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) was officially recognised as the third official language, after it was made law this week. Disability Issues Minister Ruth Dyson said the new law would give people the right to use and access NZSL in legal proceedings, including in court. Its official recognition represented a monumental achievement for the Deaf community, which has been seeking the change for 20 years. NZ Sign is used by about 28,000 people including about 7000 who are Deaf.

Pandemic legislation

New Zealand's work to prepare for a possible flu pandemic was significantly progressed with the introduction of new legislation in Parliament this week. Health Minister Pete Hodgson said the Law Reform (Epidemic Preparedness) Bill will improve the government's ability to respond to an outbreak of pandemic flu or a similar highly infectious disease.

The bill was an important part of the whole-of-government work programme in this area. While provisions will only be used in a major emergency, it clarifies a number of important issues for businesses, government agencies and the wider community, Mr Hodgson said. Amendments centre on the Health Act, particularly around the need to update and clarify quarantine powers.

Immigration Act review

Immigration Minister David Cunliffe this week unveiled the most comprehensive review of immigration laws since 1987. In releasing the Immigration Act Review Discussion Paper 2006 for public consultation, Mr Cunliffe said the review aims to simplify and streamline the law to facilitate the entry of desirable migrants, and to enhance border security.

The government is now seeking public feedback on the discussion paper, with a view to developing legislation to amend the Immigration Act later this year.

The Minister said major shifts in the international environment and New Zealand's priorities since the 1987 Act meant it was important to review the law. New Zealand needs understandable and efficient legislation that allows firm, fast and fair decisions to be made while at the same time remaining internationally competitive and protecting New Zealand's borders and way of life. Mr Cunliffe said the paper offered only proposals that are not yet government policy. The paper is available online at: www.dol.govt

Kiwis love the arts

A new survey shows that nine out of ten New Zealanders are involved in the arts. Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Judith Tizard welcomed the news as vindication of the government's investment of more than $86 million in the creative sector.

The survey, released this week by Creative New Zealand, found that 87.5 per cent of New Zealanders either participate in or attend arts events. It also found that New Zealanders believe the arts contribute positively to the economy and help define who we are as New Zealanders.

There was also a high level of support for public funding of the arts. The government believes that New Zealand's creative industries can provide international profile, as well as jobs, growth, economic returns and exports. Judith Tizard said she is delighted that the annual Pasifika festival noted as the arts event that makes them most proud to be an Aucklander.

ENDS

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