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Beehive Bulletin 1 September 2006

Beehive Bulletin 1 September 2006

$43 million invested in high need practices

While the government is investing heavily in reducing the cost of seeing the doctor for all New Zealanders, a number of practices are committed to charging even lower fees - and in a number of cases, no fees at all - to make sure their communities can access primary health care.

These practices will receive extra government funding to make sure they can continue to provide services for their often high need communities, Health Minister Pete Hodgson announced this week. $43 million over four years will be invested in practices that voluntarily maintain their fees within a very low threshold - zero fees for children 0-5 years, $10 for 6-17 year olds, and $15 for adults.

It is expected that 15 per cent of practices covering some 615,000 people will be the most likely to take up the new funding - practices that the government feels that are too valuable to the health of New Zealand families to lose.

State Highway plan rolls out for extra year

The guaranteed five-year State Highway Plan announced in the Budget is to become a guaranteed six-year plan, giving the land transport sector even greater certainty. The government wants the roading construction industry to have enough information to make sure it has the capacity and capability to do the work expected of it, particularly given the considerable extra funding the government has provided. This Government is committed to improving New Zealand's transport infrastructure and ensuring that there will be at least three years of certainty for Transit New Zealand, local government and the construction industry at any point will help do just that. The $1.3 billion in additional money provided in the 2006 Budget for state highways, local roads and passenger transport is already flowing, but the government wants to continue to provide greater certainty in the land transport sector.

More work experience for students under Gateway

The government's successful Gateway programme, which gives senior students valuable hands-on workplace experience, will expand next year with another 92 schools joining the programme. The expansion of Gateway is great news for students and businesses.

The scheme helps students to make better career choices and employers to identify the talent of tomorrow. Over 6,000 businesses are already offering workplace learning to Gateway students. 13,000 students have gained valuable skills since Gateway was first introduced in 2001, and next year almost 9,000 students from 298 schools will be on board. Last year 27 per cent of students participating ended up being directly employed while another 57 per cent went on to further secondary or tertiary study.

Budget 2006 provided the additional funding of $8.1 million over four years to expand Gateway opportunities to all decile 7-10 state and integrated secondary schools. Total funding for Gateway will be approximately $21 million in 2008/09.

New smoke test helps reduce vehicle emissions

Warrant of Fitness tests will include a visible smoke from October this year, in an effort to reduce vehicle emissions and clean up air quality. It is estimated that vehicle emissions contribute to the death of nearly 400 New Zealanders annually and the effects cost the country $442 million a year. These emissions harm the young, old and the already sick, make respiratory and heart conditions worse, and damage our resistance to colds and flu."

As part of the warrant or certificate of fitness, inspectors will check exhaust smoke by running the car for five seconds while the engine idles and for another five seconds when engine speed is increased. Vehicles that produce smoke for five seconds or more will need to be repaired before they can be taken out on the road. The new test will be implemented on 27 October 2006.

$8.8 million for new Queenstown Primary School

The government will invest $8.8 million to build a new primary school in Frankton, near Queenstown, Education Minister Steve Maharey announced this week. Catering for year 1-8 students, the new school will open in 2009, with an initial roll of around 300, growing to 700 over the next 10 years. The new school is needed to meet the needs of this rapidly growing area, and has been developed in close consultation with the community to ensure it reflects what the community wants, and provides the best possible environment for local students.


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