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News Worthy - 18 July 2008

News Worthy
18 July 2008 - No. 256

A black mark for Auckland

Auckland is a final stopping point for a number of leisure ship cruises and it should be, for those disembarking passengers, a highlight.

It is a wholly unsatisfactory situation that apparently the cruise companies which operate the ships consider their duty done when the ship berths.
When that happens, passengers booked to fly out of New Zealand are bussed to places like the Ellerslie Racecourse grounds and held there pending departure of their homeward flights. One would have thought there was a great opportunity to give those passengers in the remaining short period of their stay a worthwhile New Zealand experience.

Not so it seems.

Surely this is an issue that cruise companies in conjunction with local tourist operators could better organise.

ACC – safer workplaces effective compensation

National supports a comprehensive, 24/7, no-fault accident insurance scheme that delivers certainty of coverage to all New Zealanders. However, the ACC scheme can be improved. Workplace accident figures are high by international standards.
OECD data to the end of 2003 showed New Zealand’s non-fatal injury rate rising when everybody else's except Luxembourg were falling. ACC data shows the number of work-related injury claims increased each year from 2002 to 2005, only declining in 2006.

Incentives for employers to improve safety practices are poor in a scheme in which similar premiums are charged regardless of an employer’s workplace accident record. Where accidents do occur, incentives for quick, high-quality rehabilitation are weak, and entitlements under the scheme for injured people are not of high quality.

What should be put in place is a more flexible scheme that rewards employers with good workplace safety records, penalises those with poor records, and encourages employers to buy more than the basic cover.

So National’s policy is:

• Investigate opening the Work Account to competition.

• Conduct a full stock-take of the various components of the ACC scheme, evaluate progress to full funding, and identify areas of cross-subsidy or cost-shifting and underfunding of newly-legislated entitlements.

• Investigate the introduction of an independent disputes tribunal to end ACC’s dual role of judge and jury on disputed claims.

ACC is highly complex. Any changes to introduce new elements of competition and choice will be made after full evaluation of the benefits to consumers.

The experience of competition in the late 1990s was healthy for ACC. Levy rates are now substantially lower as a result of that experience, and the ongoing prospect of competition.

The creative sector

Our creative sector is a source of pride for New Zealanders and represents our country on the international stage, whether through movies like The Lord of the Rings, or the highly regarded New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Royal New Zealand Ballet. It is essential we continue to support creative New Zealanders and the sector.

National will maintain current levels of arts funding, should it be in the position to form a government following the 2008 election.

The pledge is to retain the Music Commission and maintain the commitment to local music through NZ On Air.
There will be changes in legislative areas such as the Copyright Act and updating the Film Commission Act. The Large Budget Screen Production Grant and the Screen Production Investment Fund will remain.
In a range of initiatives National will also:

• Focus the Ministry of Culture and Heritage on its core responsibilities, and reform the Arts Council to improve service delivery.

• Improve the Creative Communities scheme and strengthen links between the Arts Council, local authorities, and iwi.

• Maintain the PACE scheme and help establish a creative-sector law centre.

• Update the Historic Places Act.

• Support the National Portrait Gallery through the National Library.

• Support the reform of the Authors' Fund.

Political Quote of the Week

“If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success" John D Rockefeller, Jr - major philanthropist - donated over $537 million to myriad causes over his lifetime (1874-1960)

Dr Richard Worth
National Party MP


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