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Beehive Bulletin - 25 August 2006

Beehive Bulletin - 25 August 2006

KiwiSaver better for workers & employers

Making KiwiSaver scheme even more attractive for workers and employers is the aim of changes to the KiwiSaver Bill announced this week. Under the voluntary KiwiSaver scheme employees contribute 4 or 8 per cent of their gross salary for long term savings.

To kick start returns for savers, the government is providing a $1000 contribution and paying some scheme fees. The scheme also provides up to $5000 for each KiwiSaver to buy their first home. Employers will find the scheme easy to implement, with extra government support and compliance costs kept to a minimum. The changes announced this week are detailed on Finance Minister Michael Cullen's website, and at www.treasury.govt.nz/kiwisaver.

Health sector improvements: busier hospitals, better teeth and gums

New Zealand's public hospitals have had their busiest year on record, with hospital inpatient activity now 17.7 per cent busier than 1999, when the Labour-led government took office. Hospitals are seeing more medical patients and performing significantly more acute and elective surgical procedures. However, performance would be even better if hospitals were less pressured by preventable demand on secondary services. Avoidable hospitalisations cause pain for families and consumes up to one tenth of the health budget. Also, District Health Boards were on target to increase the number of inpatient elective procedures this past year, but then the junior doctors strike caused thousands of operations to be cancelled. More details are available in Health Minister Pete Hodgson's media statement.

In other Health news, the government's new four-year, $80.4 million, child health package moves away from the current school-based dental service in favour of community based clinics, outreach oral health services and population-based health promotion. Larger, better equipped, longer-opening community-based clinics will provide treatment and oral health promotion. They'll be a visible part of the community - fixed buildings providing a hub of consistently available services in some places, while in harder-to-reach areas are more likely to see a mobile dental unit providing care. For Maori this may mean mobile clinics on site at marae or rural schools. More info is available in Health Minister Pete Hodgson's media statement and on the Ministry of Health website:www.moh.govt.nz/oralhealth.

New Governor-General sworn in

This week the Honourable Anand Satyanand became New Zealand's nineteenth Governor-General. Prime Minister Helen Clark says New Zealand is fortunate that people of such distinction and integrity are prepared to accept this role and carry out its duties and responsibilities ranging from the constitutional and representational to the affirming of NZ's unique identity and of our people's achievements and contributions. Our country looks to the Governor-General to be a unifying figure, playing a role in important national events, celebrating New Zealanders' achievements and service, and undertaking a broad programme in the community.

The Honourable Anand Satyanand is of Indian descent, with close ties to the Pacific; he was born and educated in Auckland, studied law at Auckland University, and has a deep understanding of the workings of government and the law from a multi-faceted career as a lawyer, judge, and ombudsman. "On behalf of the government and people of New Zealand, I welcome you both to your new roles

Tangi of Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu

Te Arikinui, Dame Te Atairangikaahu, passed away last week, only a few weeks after the celebrations for her fortieth anniversary as Maori Queen and then of her 75th birthday. Respect for Dame Te Ata flowed across our communities; she brought New Zealanders together at the time of her passing as she did throughout her life. Dame Te Ata made her presence felt in innumerable ways, involving herself in many activities in her quest for reconciliation between Maori and Pakeha and for a New Zealand that works for all. Over the week, countless thousands flowed to Turangawaewae to pay their respects, and Waikato Tainui were outstanding hosts.

"Dame Te Ata will be greatly missed for her friendship to all, her dignity, and her wise counsel. . To the new King, Te Arikinui Tuheitia Paki, we wish you well as you shoulder the responsibilities of leadership of the Kingitanga," said Prime Minister Helen Clark in her Parliamentary tribute speech. more beehive documents on the passing of Dame Te Ata are grouped together here.

Local government rates: independent inquiry on its way

The Government is to establish an independent inquiry into issues around local government rates funding. This important issue is of concern to central government, local government, and ratepayers. An independent inquiry is the best way to consider these issues; terms of reference and other details will be released after consultation with other political parties.


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