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    Letter No.8
    9 January, 1995

    20 December 1994

    Low paid workers are given a $5 per week rise in the minimum wage, beginning next March.

    Hundreds of Justice Department staff face losing their jobs in a government plan to split the department into three main divisions - the Ministry of Justice, Department of Courts, and Department of Corrections.

    Up to 120 Income Support Service positions will become redundant as district offices are restructured early in 1995.

    A revised forecast of the government budget surplus stands at $2.3 billion.

    21 December 1994

    Bill Birch outlines a plan to repay $10 billion of government overseas debt in the next 3 years.

    The OECD's half-yearly economic outlook for NZ says that unemployment will continue to fall but economic growth will slow. Its prediction : an official unemployment rate of 7.5% by 1996, which will be lower than Australia, Britain, Germany and France. Because of skill shortages, the OECD warns of higher wage increases which will lead to higher inflation.

    22 December 1994

    The government announces an extra $16.8 million in funding for Industry Training Organisations to buy off-the-job training for their apprentices from Polytechs and Private Training Organisations.

    70 beneficiaries march through Huntly to protest Income Support's decision not to pay benefits in time for beneficiaries to get their money before Christmas. The march was led by a Santa Claus carrying an empty sack.

    23 December 1994

    The credit rating agency Standard and Poors lifts NZ's credit rating from AA-minus to AA

    Social Welfare says that a sharp rise in domestic purposes beneficiaries may be partly the result of increasing intolerance of domestic violence.

    24 December 1994

    Many banks set records for automatic telling and Eftpos transactions today as beneficiaries with bank cards were able to access their Christmas benefit payments today. Beneficiaries without banking cards have to wait until the 28th for banks to re-open.

    25 December 1994

    Christmas Day

    More than 800 people have a free Christmas lunch for the disadvantaged and the lonely organised by the Auckland City Mission at the Auckland Town Hall - three times the number from last year.

    27 December 1994

    The Employment Service in Queenstown is struggling to keep up with the demand for labour in the area. Most of the jobs are in the hospitality industry, with some in retail and customer services.

    28 December 1994

    Almost 400 people went to Social Welfare for emergency help in special needs grants after Christmas.

    The Economist reports that NZ has the 4th highest taxation rate in the 22-member OECD.

    30 December 1994

    The severe drought along the East of NZ is estimated to cost farmers an average of $30,000 in lost earnings. Freezing works are being kept busy in the Hawkes Bay and East Cape as farmers off-load stock as a quick-fix solution. Farmers are reported to be cutting back on expenditure in readiness for hard times later this year.

    31 December 1994

    Almost all of NZ's $60 million-a-year mussel industry is shut down after the discovery of high levels of potentially lethal toxins in shellfish along the Coromandel Peninsula, the Western Bay of Plenty and Malborough Sounds.

    Employment Taskforce chairman and chief executive of the National Bank, John Anderson, is knighted in the New Year's honours for his contribution to banking, business, sporting and community groups.

    3 January 1994

    CTU Secretary Angela Foulkes warns of rocky times for the government this year unless it acts on a "looming crisis" in housing, the national infrastructure, and employment.

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