23 June, 2000
29 May 2000
A working group is set up to develop a framework for an agreement between the government and the community and voluntary sectors. Dorothy Wilson, former deputy Mayor of Waitakere will chair the group. Social Services Minister Steve Maharey says the relationship between the government and the community and voluntary sectors has been characterised by mistrust and insecurity. The new agreement aims to change this and ensure these sectors are fully recognised and valued.
30 May 2000
The Alliance-backed policy of providing workers with a paid fourth week of annual leave is now off the government's agenda.
31 May 2000
Women's Affairs Minister Laila Harre says that the government has not backed off its commitment to paid parental leave. She says the legislation is still on track to be drafted by the end of the year.
Up to 30 jobs are expected to be created as part of a new supermarket development in Hastings.
1 June 2000
Finance Minister Michael Cullen says that the government is committed to paid parental leave in its first term but not in the first year. Cullen says that he doesn't see fiscal room for a parental leave scheme this year.
A minimum wage rise for 16 and 17-yr olds will not now go ahead. The Alliance had been pushing to create a transitional category of youth rates at 80% of the adult minimum wage, rather than the current youth rate of 60%.
The first of four Taranaki Territorial Army soldiers to be tried for benefit fraud is acquitted. A judge decided the part-time solder did not intentionally mislead Winz, who alleged Jones had fraudulently accepted $3,328 in overpaidments. The judge also found that the overpayment had been miscalculated and that the amount Jones will be repaying to Winz will be about half of what the agency had calculated.
The second Closing the Gaps report is released quantifying the gap between Maori and non-Maori across all social indicators. (see box, this issue)
Public service chief executives will get pay rises of between 6% and 7% this year, excluding performance bonuses, superannuation contributions and other perks.
Winz spent $2.06m on consultants in the ten months to April this year. Most of the consultants assisted in planning and service development.
4 June 2000
Northland Maori say they will occupy the site of the planned Ngawha Prison to stop or disrupt the building of the new facility. Spokesman for the Ngapuhi group, Kingi Taurua says Ngapuhi are insulted at what the government is offering Maori in Northland. Of his iwi, Taurua says: "They see Westland offered $120m to help that area with its unemployment situation Well, we've been unemployed for years and they've not given us anything. The answer seems to be to build a prison."
Nearly a third of all NZ'ers over 18 yrs receive some sort of benefit. Social Services Minister Steve Maharey says that while about half of those are superannuitants, the government intends to begin to tackle the other half by simplifying the benefit system. He says the government will be introducing a core benefit that offers incentive payments. Maharey: "At the moment we have a highly complicated benefit system that traps people."
6 June 2000
The Maori Affairs select committee drops its investigation into the Waipareira Trust's use of public money. The police, the Serious Fraud Office and the Auditor-General have all held investigations and all cleared the Trust of any wrongdoing.
Increased teleworking would solve a number of problems, according to a survey of businesses by the Wellington Regional Council. The survey says that larger companies could benefit by as much as $3,000 per employee. It calculates that if longer distance commuters stayed away from the city for half the week, traffic would decrease by 15%.
The unemployment rate in the US lifts slightly and is now at 4.1%.
7 June 2000
Only about 3% of the 45,000 people investigated for benefit fraud by Winz are convicted. Winz minister Steve Maharey says the low success rate reflects problems with the department confusing criminal fraud with overpayments. Winz is getting a new recording system that will provide data isolating cases of clear criminal intent from other overpayments.
Massey University's 230 union members say they will fight plans to cut 116 teaching positions.
8 June 2000
A funding package to retrain foreign immigrant doctors is announced by the Minister of Health, Annette King. The programme will fund medical school refresher courses and internships for immigrant doctors who arrived here between 1991 and 1995 but have not been able to pass NZ registration exams. More than 300 immigrant doctors have shown interest in the programme.
National's finance spokesperson Bill English says that the recent rises in interest rates, petrol prices and tobacco products have added nearly $30/wk to the cost of running the average NZ household.
11 June 2000
Growth in rural NZ is much greater than in the three main centres. The National Bank's regional survey shows that the rural areas collectively had 1.4% growth in the first quarter, compared to the cities' growth of just 0.1%. Gisborne and Hawkes Bay both had growth of over 3%.
The New Zealand Dairy Group announces plans to lay off 47 workers at its Te Awamutu and Te Rapa factories. The company is centralising its testing services at Waitoa and 30 of the jobs will be relocated there.
Around 10% of NZ's junior doctor positions are currently unfilled and hospitals are concerned about growing staff shortages with applications for next year's positions well down. A worrying trend: 25% of graduating doctors intend to work overseas.
12 June 2000
The ANZ job ad survey shows job ads at about the same level as last month. This is 2% lower than the peak of last November, yet close to the levels recorded in the strong periods of economic growth in 1995 and 1996.
Cabinet decides to double the number of Working Holidays Visas for young visitors to NZ. There will now be 20,000 of these visas available to people aged 1830yrs which will allow them to stay in NZ for up to one year and work. Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel says cabinet is also keen to expand the existing reciprocal working holiday schemes to include a number of additional South American countries, as well as Germany, Italy and Hong Kong.
Winz Hawkes Bay regional commissioner Lindsay Scott says that the placement of 6,000 people into fruit picking jobs is a quantum leap forward. Fruit growers, however, are riled by the fact that many unemployed people do not want picking work. Fruit growers intend to try to attract more backpackers to their area next year by setting up a website with information on Hawkes Bay seasonal work.
13 June 2000
Agriculture Ministry papers, released under the Official Information Act, say the government was warned that a several hundred jobs would be lost with the immediate end of rimu felling on the West Coast. The papers say that most of the job losses would be in the furniture industry but increased pine milling would mitigate job losses on the West Coast itself.
Exports of manufactured goods increased by more than 12% last year. Income earned by manufactured exports hit a new high of $10 billion.
14 June 2000
The Community Employment Group is removed from Winz and returned to its old place in the Department of Labour. The 74 staff will resume its own management structure. (see item, this issue)
15 June 2000
16 June 2000
The number of redundancies at Carter Holt Harvey's Tokoroa sawmill is climbing. In April the company said it would make 19 people redundant. By May the number had increased to 30. Yesterday's announcement of 55 job losses, one third of the workforce, has the local council, workers and their union reeling. Union delegate Megan Jones-Mamanu says the company has not adequately explained the restructuring or where it is leading. Jones-Mamanu: "How many more jobs? None of us believe this is the end."
Goodman Fielder is dropping or relocating more than 100 staff as it closes its Auckland flour mill and its Flemings oat mill in Gore. The Auckland business is being shifted to Mt Maunganui and the Gore capacity is going to Christchurch. Gore District mayor Mary Ogg says locals are shocked and devastated as the Flemings Mill had been an integral part of the district for more than a century.
Steve Maharey offers to mediate between the Palmerston North Winz office and the Poverty Action Group there. Poverty Action spokesman Ian Ritchie says that despite promises, the department continues to make it difficult for beneficiaries to see staff, fails to inform people of their entitlements and makes it difficult for community groups to have face-to-face meetings with the management. Maharey has agreed to convene a series of meetings to resolve the issues.
19 June 2000
Jim Anderton's "Kiwi Bank" plans gets cabinet approval for further investigation. Anderton says he supports a full-service bank, while Helen Clark says she sees scope for a reasonably modest banking service which meets banking needs not delivered by commercial banks.
Technology company Motorola will soon make a decision about whether it will set up a software research facility in New Zealand or in Australia. The plant will initially employ 150 people and Christchurch in is a contender for the facility.
20 June 2000
Steve Maharey announces the government's response to the Hunn Report. Winz is instructed to take more of an employment focus, and there will be decentralisation of Winz by giving wider powers to the thirteen regional commissioners. Winz CEO Christine Rankin keeps her job, but is directed to work more closely with other chief executives.
The World Health Organisation's Report 2000 ranks NZ at 42 out of the 191 members. This is behind most of the countries NZ'ers tend to associate themselves with. The report gives an index of national health systems' abilities to achieve good health status for their populations, to be responsive to people's expectations and to maintain fair financial contribution.
21 June 2000
At the Grey District Council offices, Michael Cullen and Jim Anderton sign up the $120m compensation package for canceling logging contracts on the West Coast.