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Beehive Bulletin 12 May 2006

Beehive Bulletin 12 May 2006

Budget boost for the environment, . . .

Government ministers this week announced significant Budget 2006 funding for a package of initiatives aimed at boosting biosecurity, enhancing biodiversity and cleaning up the environment. Biosecurity Minister Jim Anderton said the Labour-Progressive government is investing an extra $20 million for major biosecurity response preparedness and $13.2 million for pest management and invasive ant species surveillance, over the next four years.

Research, Science and Technology Minister Steve Maharey and Environment Minister David Benson-Pope jointly announced $20.5 million to clean up contaminated sites ($4.5m over three years), and fund new research to enhance biodiversity and protect biosecurity ($16m over four years). The ministers said that protecting and enhancing the environment were vital to transforming the economy and preserving New Zealand's way of life.

. . . for heritage sites . . .

In another pre-Budget announcement, Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Helen Clark said New Zealand's ability to protect and preserve its heritage sites is to be strengthened significantly.

The government is allocating $12.8 million of additional operating funding to the Historic Places Trust over the next four years, and an additional $600,000 in this 05/06 financial year in supplementary funding. The Trust's baseline operational funding rises from the current $7.153 million to $9.9 million in 2006/07 and to $10.5 million in 2007/08 and subsequent years.

The Trust will also receive new capital funding of $3.2 million during the period 2005/06 to 2007/08 to support its capital plan, such as refurbishing its heritage buildings.

Helen Clark said this was a very significant funding increase for the Historic Places Trust with a 2007/08 operational budget 47 per cent higher than now. The additional funding will help build capability and capacity within the organisation, better equippin

. . . and, preventing family violence.

A twenty per cent increase in government funding will see $9 million invested in family violence prevention services as a key part of the government's commitment to strong families. Child Youth and Family Services Minister Ruth Dyson said the money, spread over four years, will go towards non-government community service providers such as 24-hour crisis lines, counselling, social work support, safe-house accommodation, advocacy and information. The extra money is one of the Labour-led government's responses to increasing demands on organisations which provide crisis response to family violence, the Minister said. It is the first funding increase for the sector in more than a decade.

New law extends Paid Parental Leave

Self-employed parents will be eligible for 14 weeks paid parental leave from 1 July this year, under new legislation passed by Parliament this week. Labour Minister Ruth Dyson said the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Paid Parental Leave for Self-Employed Persons) Amendment Act brings greater flexibility and equity to the workplace and additional support for working parents.

The new law extends paid parental leave to a range of self-employed people including farming families - it was previously available only to employees. Women's Affairs Minister Lianne Dalziel, who is also Minister for Small Business, said the decision would be welcomed by over 2000 self-employed women or their partners who are expected to benefit from the new Act each year. Like employees, self-employed women will be able to transfer part or all of their paid parental leave to eligible partners. The scheme currently pays up to $357.30 a week.

Graphic warnings on smoking

Images of rotting gums and teeth, throat cancer and gangrenous feet may be used on cigarette packets to warn against the health risks associated with smoking. Associate Health Minister Damien O'Connor this week unveiled a discussion document with the proposal.

The pictorial warnings are designed to inform people of the risks of smoking and minimise the uptake by young people. Canada, Australia, Brazil and Thailand already have pictorial warnings on cigarette packets and many other countries are considering it. In Canada, the smoking rate dropped from 22 per cent to 20 per cent between 2001 and 2005. The use of pictorial warnings played a large part in that remarkable drop and it is time to introduce the concept to New Zealand, Mr O'Connor said. In New Zealand, 24 per cent of people smoke with 19 per cent in Australia. As a party to the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, New Zealand is obliged to increase the size of health warnings within the next few years. The Health M

Can you save on fuel?

A new internet site giving New Zealand drivers up-to-date information on vehicle fuel consumption was unveiled by Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven at Parliament this week. Fuelsaver will help people make informed choices about the fuel efficiency and running costs of their vehicle or one they are thinking about buying. The website provides: a 'cost calculator' to estimate the fuel running cost of a vehicle and comparable vehicles; a function to compare fuel running costs vehicle to vehicle; and information and advice on fuel-saving driving techniques. Visit online www.fuelsaver.govt.nz.


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