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Beehive Bulletin 6 October 2006

Beehive Bulletin 6 October 2006

Government committed to action on climate change

The government outlined its strategic direction on climate change during a keynote speech by Climate Change Minister David Parker this week. Initiatives to combat the significant threat of climate change range across the whole of government and over time will consider a combination of sectoral and economy-wide measures, including voluntary, price-based and regulatory measures.

Current initiatives include a programme to prepare for the impacts of climate change, especially in our coastal areas, and in the farming sector, measures to improve the energy efficiency of buildings, consultation on increased use of biofuels, a commitment to increase the uptake of solar water heating, and the launch of the Permanent Forest Sinks Initiative. Further proposals will be announced by the government in coming weeks, including options to improve the fuel efficiency of our vehicle fleet, and ways in which government agencies can lead the way in sustainable practices.

10,000 extra elective surgery procedures

The government will invest $200 million to provide elective surgery to an additional 10,000 New Zealanders a year. The new four-year funding package approved by Cabinet this week will be available for all District Health Boards who consistently meet the requirements of the government's booking system policy from 1 November. This additional funding, on top of the 1,000 more doctors in our public hospitals since 1999 and the largest hospital building programme in New Zealand's history, means that those who need treatment the most will get it first and where someone who is promised treatment will receive it within six months.

More families can get help with childcare costs

More than 5,000 families stand to benefit from increases to childcare and OSCAR subsidies. From 2 October income limits for eligibility increase by around $5,000, making around 1,250 families eligible for Childcare Assistance for the first time.

In addition, around 3,900 families who are already getting Childcare Assistance will automatically receive a higher rate. These changes mean that 60 per cent of all couples with children and 96 per cent of sole parents will potentially qualify for help with childcare costs. The changes build on the government's Working for Families package, which has already made substantial increases to the number of people eligible for Childcare Assistance and the amounts families can receive.

Incubator programme nurtures high-growth firms

The government is helping New Zealand's business incubators turn bright ideas into successful companies, with 20 high-growth firms graduating from incubator facilities in the past year. A total of 107 companies have graduated since the Incubator Support Programme, run by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, began five years ago.

Data shows that 68 of the companies graduating since 2001 have generated over $50 million in revenue in the past financial year, 23 per cent from exports, and directly employed 544 people. The success of the incubator programme reaffirms the government's commitment to transforming New Zealand into a high value and high wage economy.

New regional FM stations likely

Government decisions announced this week will provide for up to four new FM radio stations in each region, and strengthen the role of local broadcasters. The announcement follows a review of FM frequencies and approval of a new policy framework to promote local broadcasting. In most regions there will be two non-commercial licenses and two community-based commercial licenses available, supporting local broadcasters in establishing stations that reflect the interests and diversity of their community.

ENDS

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