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Beehive Bulletin - 5 December 2003

Beehive Bulletin - 5 December 2003

Beehive Bulletin - 5 December 2003

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Employment Relations Act reforms

A Bill introduced to Parliament this week by Labour Minister, Margaret Wilson, proposes amendments to the Employments Relations Act to strengthen the ERA's key objectives and bring extra fairness and security. The integrated package will promote good faith, collective bargaining and effective resolution of employment relationship problems. The approach remains one of free choice, flexibility and fairness for all, to reflect the diversity of workplace arrangements, says Margaret Wilson. Amendments are also proposed to protect employees in situations of change of employer, caused by sale, transfer or contracting out of a business, and to update equal pay legislation.

Smoke-free the norm for New Zealand

From December next year three out of four New Zealanders who don't smoke will be able to enjoy 100 percent smoke- free restaurants, bars, cafes and casinos. Workers at these premises will be protected from harmful carcinogenic air. This week's passing of the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Bill brings legislation up to date with overwhelming public opinion. Banning smoking in schools from 2004 also ensures that New Zealand children see smoke-free as the norm. Steve Chadwick MP, sponsor of the bill and Chair of the Health Select committee says she's proud the legislation will reduce deaths, disability and hospital admissions due to passive smoking.

Tough new penalties for objectionable pornography traders

The explosion of Internet child-based pornography has led to more severe penalties for traders and distributors. Changes to the Films, Videos and Publications Classifications Act mean objectionable child-pornography material will be treated as an aggravating factor in sentencing. People producing, trading or distributing such material will face up to 10 years jail rather than a small fine which is clearly inadequate. Justice Minister, Phil Goff, says these tougher penalties reflect the abhorrence of society towards these social pollutants. Material such as, images of 'sexualised' nude images of children, offensive language and behaviour are now classifiable on their own. The bill also creates the offences of exporting and importing objectionable pornographic material.

CHOGM leaders to appoint Secretary General

During the Commonwealth leader's summit in Nigeria Helen Clark says NZ will support Don McKinnon's bid for a second four-year term as Commonwealth Secretary-General. The PM says Mr McKinnon has performed the role well and there is no groundswell for change. Zimbabwe, currently suspended from the Commonwealth, will also be a key issue. President Robert Mugabe has been attacking white Commonwealth nations and rejecting efforts to bring Zimbabwe into line with the Commonwealth's human rights principles. Helen Clark says Mugabe's attacks are designed for domestic consumption and to try and justify why his country is in such a mess. New Zealand is likely to back the proposed formation of an eminent persons group to deal with the Zimbabwean issue.

A Healthy Bunch

This week's release of NZ Health Survey 2002-2003 highlighted many positive aspects about the health of New Zealanders. It reported that over half of the 12,500 adults surveyed were exercising for 30 minutes at least 5 days a week. Health Minister, Annette King says the results are encouraging because while there are still major areas needing improvement such as excessive drinking and eating, the majority have increased their intake of fruit and vegetables. The survey helps measure progress towards the government's goals of better health, reduced inequality, and fair access to health services.

Over-arching framework for Waitaki catchment

Environment Minister Marian Hobbs this week introduced a Bill to create a better decision-making process on the use of water from the Waitaki River catchment. The current application system is inadequate because is doesn't allow for comparison of requests. Marian Hobbs says this Bill is needed to achieve equitable, expedient and a more strategic plan for the catchment.


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