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Beehive Bulletin – Friday 19 December

BEEHIVE BULLETIN – FRIDAY 19 DECEMBER

Foreshore and Seabed to be held by all the people of New Zealand

The government has announced proposals for public ownership of the foreshore and seabed. They offer greater certainty of public access, protection of Maori customary rights and better input mechanisms for Maori. Prime Minister Helen Clark says the current framework is not the final word on the issue. " We will continue to engage with interested parties, Maori and non-Maori, so that we get wide and lasting agreement on how two sets of people can more forward in harmony." Maori Affairs Minister Parekura Horomia is urging whanau, hapu and iwi to continue dialogue with the government. Sixteen regional working groups, comprising Maori, central and local government will be established as a matter of urgency.

Extra spending on the way

A Future Directions package to assist low and middle income families will be the centrepiece of next year's budget, says Finance Minister Michael Cullen. The December Economic and Fiscal Update forecasts increased annual surpluses of around $6 billion through to 2007-08, growth of 2.8 per cent in the next two years and unemployment remaining below 5 per cent. Budget 2004 will commit $1 billion in new operating spending. Health, education and the Growth and Innovation Framework will receive spending increases similar to last year's budget. Michael Cullen says government will continue a cautious fiscal stance as a buffer against future economic shocks and because, with the domestic economy running close to capacity, too great a spending stimulus could place undue pressure on monetary policy.

Te Arawa and Crown agree on lakebed

Te Arawa Maori Trust Board and the Crown have this week agreed to commence drafting a deed of settlement for all historical claims relating to 14 Rotorua lakes. A key aspect of the cultural redress is the vesting of title to the lakebeds in Te Arawa. Free public access for recreational purposes will continue as will the rights of existing commercial users of the lakes. The offer proposes a financial redress totalling $10 million for historical claims and to buy out the annuity paid to the board.

Government commits $36m to Lake Taupo

The government is committing up to $36.7 million to a joint fund to reduce nitrogen inputs to Lake Taupo, with the aim of protecting water quality. Environment Minister Marian Hobbs says the package is a sustainable development option for the Lake Taupo region. "We need to preserve our economic and social opportunities in Taupo, while ensuring the environment continues to support and meet our needs."

New Zealand's largest farm to be protected

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Conservation Minister Chris Carter have announced that the Molesworth Station in South Marlborough will be a high country park managed by the Department of Conservation. Molesworth is in Crown ownership but decades of farming needs have restricted access to the beautiful region, which spans an area the size of Stewart Island. Chris Carter says the region is a biodiversity hotspot with a high proportion of species found nowhere else in the world.

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe in NZ

Directing and filming the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe here is a vote of confidence in New Zealand as a location says Industry Development Minister Jim Anderton. In July, we announced that the government had adopted a Large Budget Screen Production Grant which gives an added incentive to film producers to work here. "The production of the film is expected to qualify for expense grants under this scheme and I am delighted that Kiwi director Andrew Adamson will be at the helm."

Proposals for new Coroners Act

The government is to update the Coroners Act of 1988. Associate Justice Minister Margaret Wilson says the new system will improve the quality, consistency and timeliness of coronial investigations and decision-making. Ms Wilson has confirmed that one of the key proposals is to establish the role of Chief Coroner. And there will be a specific regime for body part retention and release.

ENDS

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