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Employers Federation Political Update – 12 October

Thur 12 Oct 2000 (No. 36/00)

Super fund smoothes revenue requirements

The Government's super policy basically maintains a pay-as-you-go approach while smoothing revenue requirements. Governments will not be able to raid the superannuation fund for other purposes but may reduce payments going into the fund during economic downturns. The fund will require about $2 billion annually, calling for surpluses of around 3% of GDP. This has not been achieved over the last three decades, apart from 3-4 years in the mid-1990s. Legislation later this year will enshrine the entitlement of 65% of the average wage from 65 years of age. The Government needs the support of either the Greens or NZ First to get the legislation through. National and ACT have concerns about the ability of the government to fund the scheme.

Anderton sees problem in Tranz Rail rationalisation

Deputy PM Jim Anderton says Tranz Rail's proposed rationalisation will be a "monumental problem" for regional development and the Government will have to consider buying parts of the business. He said Tranz Rail was picking the eyes out of the business and handing all the problems over to central or local government. Tranz Rail says it is not asking the government to buy anything back. French operator Trans Dev, Scottish-based Stagecoach and Asian and Australian companies are reported to be interested in Tranz Rail's divisions.

Authority members sworn in today

The Employment Court swore in members of the new Employment Relations Authority today. The Act places primary emphasis on mediation but, where mediation is not successful, employment relationship problems can be taken to the Authority for investigation. This investigatory role contrasts with the role of the former Employment Tribunal (which continues to hear existing, but not new, cases), which acted as both mediator and arbitrator. Cases not resolved at Authority level can be heard afresh by the Employment Court, but before that happens, the Court can ask the Authority to report on how the parties involved in the investigation behaved. If they did not act towards each other in good faith, the Court can decide against a totally new hearing and specify what the nature and extent of any hearing will be. This is particularly likely to happen if the party seeking the new hearing is considered not to have participated in the investigation in a manner designed to resolve the issues involved.

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Jim's not an astronaut

Trade negotiations Minister Jim Sutton says restrictions on selling NZ apples in Australia are unjustifiably restrictive, and if they are scientifically justified, "then I'm an astronaut". Biosecurity Australia has drafted a report recommending onerous restrictions on NZ apples despite the fact that other countries do not require them. It's the latest chapter in an ongoing trans-Tasman dispute which has seen NZ apples excluded from the Australian market for decades. NZ apple growers have been invited to respond to the draft report before a decision is made.

Improvement in job ads encouraging

The number of job ads in Auckland has improved after declining over most of the last year. While job ads are also improving in Wellington, the rate of growth in job ads for Christchurch has eased slightly following very rapid rises earlier this year. There are suggestions the growth in ads may be partly because some jobs are proving harder to fill, requiring readvertising. ANZ also stated that internet job ads continue to exhibit vigorous growth, having risen 42% over the last 5 months.

Jobs machine eats regional development funding

Consultancy firms have so far swallowed up more than $1.3 million from the Government's regional development policies. The costs were incurred selecting directors, recruiting a chief executive and setting up operational groups for Industry NZ.

Internet for marketing more than selling

For many franchise businesses the internet is more useful as a marketing tool than for direct sales, according to the Franchise Association chairman. Without protocols for allocating profits according to franchise regions, selling on the internet could mean competing against your own franchisees.

More new unions

New unions listed on the Employment Relations Service's website as registered or seeking registration since last week include the Support Workers' Society, Defence Operational Technology Establishment Staff Association, Pareora Trades Guild, Grey District Council Union, Pegasus NZ Airline Services Society, Corrections Association of NZ, Amalgamated Stevedores Union, NZ Foreman Stevedores Union, NZ Fishing Industry Guild, Auckland Association of Taxi Drivers, NZ Store & Warehouse Employees Union and the Farmers Mutual Group Staff Association. Applications for registration have been received from 72 groups so far. Aussie union seeking NZ members A 'virtual' union based in Melbourne is also offering services in NZ. The Association of Professional Scientists, Engineers & Managers of Australia (APESMA) offers information and advice or representation in employment negotiations, buying and banking privileges and superannuation benefits.

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