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Beehive Bulletin - 31 October 2003

Beehive Bulletin - 31 October 2003


Also available online at
http://www.labour.org.nz


Helen Clark visits defence personnel in Middle East


Prime Minister Helen Clark is visiting New Zealand Defence Force personnel deployed in the Middle East. She travelled this week to Afghanistan with the Secretary of Defence Graham Fortune and Chief of Defence Force Bruce Ferguson. For security reasons it was not possible to release any advance programme. Helen Clark says she was pleased to be able to travel to the region to see the conditions in which New Zealanders have been deployed, and she will report to the Cabinet and publicly, on her return. Helen Clark's visit was underway as Captain Hayden Gardner, part of engineering detachment of 61 New Zealand Defence Force personnel in Iraq, was injured when an explosive device was detonated close to his vehicle. He received non life-threatening injuries and underwent surgery in a British field hospital.

Improved access for meat into Chinese market

New market access protocols signed New Zealand and China are significant for the meat industry and New Zealand, says Trade Negotiations Minister Jim Sutton. The two protocols were signed at Ruakura during the visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao. Jim Sutton says the protocols are a major breakthrough, paving the way to expand New Zealand's $130m meat trade to China, with the opportunity to sell higher value cuts into more lucrative segments of the market. Jim Sutton says the protocols highlight the trust and faith the Chinese place in New Zealand's food safety systems.

Lift of GM moratorium won't open floodgates

Amendments strengthening the main legislation covering genetically modified organisms came into effect on October 30 as the moratorium on applications for releases of GMOs expired. Environment Minister, Marian Hobbs says the changes to the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996 underpin the government's policy of proceeding with caution with GM while preserving opportunities for different systems of production. Marian Hobbs stresses that the end of the moratorium on release applications does not mean a rash of GM releases, as anyone proposing to release a GMO has to go through a rigorous assessment process, which includes public submissions.

No change on cannabis legal status

The Labour Progressive coalition government will not change the legal status of cannabis, says Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton. He was making the government's formal response to the Health Select Committee's inquiry into cannabis use, its health implications and legal status. The committee did not make a recommendation to the government on the legal status of cannabis, which Jim Anderton says acknowledged there is neither any public or Parliamentary mandate for change. Jim Anderton says in line with the committee's recommendations on advising young people not to use cannabis, the government was working comprehensively on drug use prevention and education, enforcement and treatment.

The Brash agenda provides a clear divide

Privatisation and welfare ideas espoused by National's new leader Don Brash are totally out of step with New Zealanders, says Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey. In his first day in the job, Don Brash suggested the sale of Television New Zealand, power companies and Air New Zealand. He confirmed the party will reinstate compulsory work-for-the-dole and looks certain to confirm other previously floated ideas such as raising the qualifying age for national superannuation to 70 and privatising the education system. Steve Maharey says the plans confirm National's move to the right and provide a very sharp and clear divide between the government and National.

Campaign launched on workplace learning

An $800,000 campaign to get more employers and workers involved in industry training kicked off this week. The first of five meetings around the country was held in south Auckland as part of the skill new zealand campaign to discuss the barriers and solutions to accessing workplace learning and industry training. The campaign is joint initiative between government, Business New Zealand and the New Zealand Council of Trade. Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey says addressing skill shortages is absolutely essential if New Zealand is to return to the top half of the OECD. Other meetings will be held in Wellington (12 November), Christchurch (26 November), Dunedin (27 November) and Hamilton (5 December).

ENDS

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