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Beehive Bulletin - 5 Nov 2004

Beehive Bulletin - 5 Nov 2004

Foreshore and seabed bill returns to Parliament

The government's Foreshore and Seabed Bill was returned to Parliament this week without any amendments. Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen says it was unfortunate but unsurprising that the select committee had been unable to come back with an agreed report. The issues covered by the Bill were complex and contentious, so agreement among the different political parties represented on the committee was never likely. Michael Cullen says a forum had been provided for submitters to be heard and for their views to be communicated to the government.

The committee's inability to come down with an agreed sheet of proposed amendments means that all changes to the Bill will be implemented through Supplementary Order Paper.

Prime Minister congratulates President Bush

Prime Minister Helen Clark has congratulated United States President George Bush on his election victory and looks forward to the New Zealand Government continuing its good relationship with the President and his administration. Helen Clark says she has established a good personal relationship with President Bush, and key ministers have also got to know their counterparts well. She expects those solid ties to be further developed during President Bush's second term. "Our two countries work together on a range of issues and I expect it will now be business as usual."

Helen Clark looks forward to conveying her congratulations to President Bush personally at the APEC leaders' summit in Santiago, Chile later this month.

Resignation from Cabinet of John Tamihere

Prime Minister Helen Clark this week received the resignation of John Tamihere from all his portfolios and had advised the Governor-General to accept it. Helen Clark says the resignation was not sought by her but it was an honourable course of action. John Tamihere wanted to participate fully in progressing the government's agenda and representing his constituents; this was not possible while on leave from ministerial duties awaiting the outcome of investigations into allegations against him.

Helen Clark says she has always seen great potential in John Tamihere and hopes he will be able to contribute at ministerial level again in the future. No new appointments will be made to Cabinet at this time.

Self-defence laws are clear

New Zealand's laws covering self-defence are clear, longstanding and shared by most other common law jurisdiction countries, says Justice Minister Phil Goff. Act MP Stephen Franks, who is promoting change to the law, has got his facts wrong in politicising the issue. Phil Goff says the statutory defence permits the use of reasonable force to defend oneself and against the forcible breaking and entering of a person's house.

That force may include deadly force in certain serious circumstances. Someone being attacked with a knife or a gun would likely be justified in using deadly force to repel the attack. Phil Goff says we don't want an Americanisation of our laws that encourages people to arm themselves and take the law into their own hands by shooting first and asking questions afterwards.

Parliament votes against mandatory parental notification

The overwhelming vote by Parliament this week to retain Clause 37 of the Care of Children Bill without amendment was a victory for commonsense, says Associate Justice Minister David Benson-Pope. Parliament voted 75 to 45, against any change to the current law that would have required parents to be informed when girls under the age of 16 were seeking abortions. David Benson-Pope says Parliament had understood that amendments would have been potentially catastrophic for vulnerable young women. Health professionals working at the frontline had warned that to make parental notification mandatory could mean a young woman being forced to have an abortion or continue a pregnancy against her wishes. Parliament rightly decided that was an unacceptable outcome.

Extra prison beds approved

Cabinet has approved funding for additional construction on existing prison sites that will add 213 beds to the country's prison capacity over the next two years. This is in addition to the four new prisons opening over the next three years that will increase capacity by more than 1500 beds. Corrections Minister Paul Swain says the extra beds at Hawkes Bay, Wanganui, Rimutaka and Tongariro/Rangipo prisons would help manage record inmate numbers.

These sites were chosen because they have the land and infrastructure available to cope with the extra beds. These are needed because inmate numbers are increasing faster than projected due to the government's tougher sentencing, bail and parole laws and improved police clearance rates, says Paul Swain. More information @ www.corrections.govt.nz

Increase in boarding bursaries

The government is to increase the value of the boarding bursary by 16 per cent to $2,725 per student per year to ensure isolated and rural families can continue to access the best possible education. Education Minister Trevor Mallard says the government is committed to ensuring that everyone, regardless of where they live, has the chance to receive high quality education. This increase comes on top of an earlier 17 per cent increase in February which was the first in ten years. All up, the boarding bursary will have increased this year from $1990 to $2725.

ENDS

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