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Beehive Bulletin for week ending 15 November


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NZ frigate and Orion to join international campaign against terrorism

A New Zealand frigate and a P3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft are to be deployed to the international operations campaign against the Taleban and Al-Qaeda as part of the ongoing Operation Enduring Freedom. Prime Minister Helen Clark said Cabinet had approved sending a New Zealand frigate to the Operation Enduring Freedom Maritime Interdiction Operation (MIO), from now until June 2003. The frigate Te Kaha will be
immediately deployed to join the Canadian-led Task Group.
This monitors shipping activity in the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman, escorting coalition vessels through the Straits of Hormuz, gathering intelligence, intercepting and boarding shipping, and identifying and detaining Al Qaeda and Taleban personnel. A P3 Orion will provide maritime surveillance support for six months from next April. Helen Clark said the Royal New Zealand Navy and Air Force personnel would play an important part in the international campaign against terrorism.

Ground-breaking government web portal launched

A "one stop shop" government web portal allowing easy and quick public access to a vast range of central and local government information and services has been launched by the Prime Minister Helen Clark and State Services Minister Trevor Mallard. The portal - govt.nz - is a website designed with people's needs in mind to provide a quick and convenient way of finding government information and services from one place. It operates 24 hours a day, every day, and is available from anywhere in
the world. More than 3,500 government services and resources are available, ranging from what you need to know if you're having a child or renting a house, to information about study, work or recreation in New Zealand. Trevor Mallard said the site development has been based on research focused on what government information and services the public want and need via the Internet. The govt.nz site had been designed to be fast loading, and accessible to people with slower Internet access speeds, people in rural communities, and those with disabilities, said Mr Mallard.

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Release of Maori health strategy

The Government has made a strong commitment to improving Maori health with the release of a Maori health strategy and action plan by Health Minister Annette King and Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia. "He Korowai Oranga: Maori Health Strategy builds on the strengths and assets of whanau, hapu, and iwi Maori. 'Whanau ora' (family health and wellbeing) is at the heart of the strategy, because the whanau is the foundation of Maori society, said Tariana Turia. Ms King and Mrs Turia said the strategy and action plan showed how the Government will meet its commitments under the Treaty of Waitangi, and reduce inequalities between Maori and non-Maori, by empowering whanau to achieve their own health and development goals. The three key themes in the strategy are Maori aspirations for rangatiratanga (control) over their own lives, maintaining and building on gains already made in Maori health, and reducing health inequalities between Maori and non-Maori. Ms King said
DHBs, the Ministry of Health and other funders and providers would be expected to prioritise Maori health within their funding allocations. While some goals are long term, there should be some immediate gains in areas such as better access to primary health care services, fewer diabetes complications and improved immunisation rates, said Ms King.

New tax bill to make law simpler

A 2000-page bill has been introduced into Parliament, which rewrites income tax law to make it easier to use. The purpose of rewriting the Income Tax Act is to make it clear, plainly written and structurally consistent, said Revenue Minister Michael Cullen. The Act is widely
consulted so it is important that people can quickly find the provisions they need and understand them. The bill represents the third stage of the rewrite and covers the first five parts of the Act. Dr Cullen said the re- drafting has been done in a plain language style that seeks to present ideas clearly and directly. A small project team comprising law drafters from the public and private sectors, and tax policy analysts is doing the work. They have consulted with interested parties and tested drafts of rewritten law throughout this ambitious
undertaking, Dr Cullen said. Commentary on the bill is available at http://www.taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz.

Extra $9 million to increase teacher numbers

Education Minister Trevor Mallard has announced an additional $9 million of funding over the next three years to increase the number of secondary teachers. The new funding provides subsidies for student teachers specialising in English and chemistry. It will also help
graduate teachers who can't get teaching jobs in their local regions, to move into teaching positions in other areas of high demand, such as Auckland. The subsidies are worth up to $10,000 each and make a significant contribution to the cost of training as a secondary teacher. As a result, Trevor Mallard said the number of student teachers in the five original target subjects had increased by 51 percent this year.

Hobsonville Housing Plans

Part of the former Hobsonville air base is to be formally sought to use for state housing purposes. Housing Minister Mark Gosche said the site offers a unique opportunity for the government to develop more housing
while also creating economic opportunities. He will soon request that the Minister of Lands make part of a 42- hectare parcel of land available for a mixture of housing, including affordable housing for those on low and modest incomes. This will be the first step towards
the creation of an integrated urban community. The aim is a balanced community development that will provide opportunities for a mix of residential housing, combined with schooling, parks, reserves and commercial use to help create employment, said Mark Gosche.

NZ poised to ratify Kyoto Protocol

New Zealand is ready to ratify the Kyoto Protocol following the passage through Parliament this week of the Climate Change Response Bill. Pete Hodgson, Convenor of the Ministerial Group on Climate Change, said the Bill includes powers for the Minister of Finance to manage New Zealand's holdings of units that represent New Zealand's target allocation for greenhouse gas emissions under the Protocol. It enables the Minister to trade those units on the international market. It establishes a Registry to record holdings and transfers of units. And it establishes a national inventory agency to record and report information relating to greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with international requirements. In ratifying the Protocol, New Zealand will join the majority of developed nations, including many of our major trading partners. Pete Hodgson said this would put New Zealand in a position to make a measured transition to a carbon-constrained economy, rather than acting late and facing the necessity of more drastic and costly change.

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