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Political Update Thur 5 Oct 2000 (No. 35/00)

Political Update Thur 5 Oct 2000 (No. 35/00)

Sharemarket Falling Fast

The sharemarket had one of its worst days in years as a new low was reached in afternoon trading on the back of a two year low yesterday. The NZSE shed another two percentage points with Telecom suffering the worst of the major companies, losing over five percent value for the day. Fletcher stocks were also hit hard as major international investors trimmed their New Zealand holdings significantly.

PM Calls Herald Ad Sabotage

The PM has accused the Business Roundtable of economic sabotage, saying its support of a Herald advertisement by young NZers overseas was treachery. "They are economic saboteurs...they are talking the whole country down." Business Roundtable executive director Roger Kerr said it was not in the interests of business to talk down the economy; it was a fact that all the economic indicators were negative.

People's Bank Not Forgone Conclusion

At a breakfast briefing in Wellington this morning, Minister of State Services Trevor Mallard said the setting up of the 'People's Bank' was not a forgone Government decision - it was an Alliance policy and would require a proposal from the Board of NZ Post before Government would consider it.

Tax Review Committee Announced

The Government's tax review committee announced today comprises Rob McLeod of Arthur Andersen, David Patterson of Rudd Watts & Stone, Srikanta Chatterjee of Massey University, accountant Shirley Jones and Australian economist Ted Sieper.

New Unions

According to the Employment Relations Service's website, new unions registered or seeking registration with the registrar of unions include the e-union, the National Union of public Employees, the Southland Enterprises Union of Workers, Johnstons NZ Coachdrivers Association, the Taranaki Regional Council Staff Association, and South Pacific Tyres Rubber Workers Union. Under the Employment Relations Act, any group of 15 or more can form a union by first becoming an incorporated society then applying for registration as a union, as long as they operate at arms length from their employer.

Union Access Disputed

The Tiwai Point aluminium smelter may provide an early test of the union access provisions of the Employment Relations Act. The Engineering Printing & Manufacturing Union says when union reps call, management is insisting on accompanying them round the plant. The union's lawyer says it's an attempt at intimidation. The company says visitors are accompanied for health and safety reasons and people will still be able to talk in private.

Singapore Deal Will Force Change In Tariffs Freeze

Ratification of the Singapore Closer Economic Partnership, which requires a vote by Parliament, will mean reversing the Government's policy on freezing tariffs as it relates to Singapore. Earlier this year the Alliance gained agreement from Labour to freeze tariffs at 1999 levels for five years (Labour's previous policy was to hold tariffs at 2000 levels). Labour's support for the Singapore deal will again put it into opposition with its coalition partner on the tariffs issue.

Kiwis Online

'The State of E-New Zealand', a report by the Institute for the Study of Competition & Regulation, says NZ is a world leader in its adoption of electronic commerce. The study compared e-commerce infrastructure and use in OECD countries by measuring the number of secure servers (NZ has the 4th largest number of secure servers per head of population), the number of domains registered and hosted, and other factors. Of concern however was the lack of critical population mass, low levels of relevant patent registration, uncertain policy treatment of R&D and the brain drain of IT skills.

Brain Drain Of IT Skills Apparent In Herald Ad

In the long list of young people who listed their names on today's full page Herald ad: 'A Generation Lost', 457 listed their occupations. Of these, 59 (13%) were listed as IT workers, programmers, web designers or related.

Euro Under Scrutiny

More than 80% of Germans have no trust or limited trust in the euro currency, according to a recent poll. Germans did not get a vote on whether they wanted to trade the mark for the euro, which has lost about 25% of its value since being introduced last year. Germans say the weakness of the euro against the dollar reduces Germany's economic power. Danish citizens recently voted against joining the euro currency bloc, despite official government and media support for it. Their vote may have been influenced by a recent statement by the head of the European central bank that the level of state benefits in Scandinavian countries couldn't be maintained under euro system.

Flexibility, Responding To Employee Needs, The Key To Workplace Loyalty

An international survey has found that the main factor in retaining employees is how employers respond to employee needs. The most important issue was flexible hours. The survey, of 10,000 employees in 32 countries, was by the Hudson Institute and Walker Information Global Network.

Flexibility Appreciated In NZ Too And A Survey Conducted By The Nelson

Marlborough Institute of Technology has also found flexibility to be the most important component of 'family friendly' workplaces. Employees in six large organisations in Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch, known for their family-friendly policies, were surveyed. Survey organiser Dr Linda Liddicoat says flexible hours and flexible leave to manage competing demands on employee time rated even higher than access to childcare.

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