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    Letter No.22
    3 August, 1995

    12 July 1995

    New Zealand Employment reports that as well as the 231 overseas-trained doctors and dentists registered unemployed in NZ, there are also more than 100 other immigrant health workers seeking work. Most had migrated under the false impression that their qualifications meant they could automatically find work in NZ, but arrived to find they needed to sit an expensive three-part Medical council registration exam, which most fail at first. - Frances Ross, The Dominion.

    13 July 1995

    Most of the main banks announce mortgage rate cuts.

    The Government Review Office says Government should drop its plans to raise the school leaving age to 17, and give students education vouchers to shop around for courses.

    The Alliance Textile Mills in Mosgiel lays off 35 workers, due, they say, to the rising value of the NZ dollar.

    14 July 1995

    More than 9,000 invalid beneficiaries will have their eligibility reassessed under tough new entitlement procedures which will come into force in September. Sickness beneficiaries will also have to undergo regular checks with officially nominated doctors under the new procedures.

    Annette King points out that while sickness and invalid beneficiaries are being encouraged to re-enter the workforce, the Minister of Social Welfare has cut funding in this year's Budget to disability employment placement, vocational training and support services.

    15 July 1995

    Trade Minister Philip Burdon rules out any intervention to help NZ companies struggling financially because of high exchange rates.

    17 July 1995

    The Prince of Wales Trust is officially launched in Auckland at a gala dinner at the Sheraton Hotel. It has been set up to tap the talent and skills of underprivileged teenagers.

    New Zealand is the least corrupt country in the world, according to a survey by Berlin-based Transparency International.

    18 July 1995

    Wellington City Council plans to axe 132 office positions over the next 18 months. It will also spend $6.37 million on new financial and information database technology in efforts "to help us work smarter and more efficiently..."

    19 July 1995

    The Alliance says it would spend more money on eradicating possums, and control goats, deer and rabbits. They would give DOC and Regional Councils $50 million a year to employ people on eradication and control projects.

    The Privacy Commissioner Bruce Slane reports that Social Welfare spent more than $10m on information-matching programmes in the year to June 1994, and after identifying $16.5m in overpayments, it recovered only $2.2m.

    20 July 1995

    Social Welfare Minister Peter Gresham criticises Bruce Slane's figures, saying that at least $8m in fraud was prevented by the information-matching programmes.

    Lockwood Smith announces details of his plan to place some poor students into private schools. The government has set aside $2.5m to finance the 80 primary and 80 secondary students, who would be chosen by the private schools.

    21 July 1995

    Bruce Slane defends his figures. "It is valid to talk about what cash comes in and what cash goes out..."

    The National Business Review publishes it annual rich list, with Wellington's Todd family becoming the country's first billionaire family. Beer Baron Doug Myers is the richest individual with $275 million.

    22 July 1995

    Social Welfare confirms that it failed to pay some beneficiaries millions of dollars in family support during the last four years because of administrative and computer errors. Catriona Ross of the Wellington People's Centre says that at least 2000 beneficiaries receiving unsupported child or orphans benefits had been unable to claim family support payments worth $24m because the Income Support computer couldn't handle the claims.

    23 July 1995

    Business Roundtable spokesman Roger Kerr criticises the standard of judicial competence in dealing with employment and economic matters.

    24 July 1995

    Mercury Energy is to cut 200 jobs between now and the end of September in efforts to "...improve on our work practices and become more efficient."

    The Alliance announces its Alternative Budget, which promises put an extra $50-100 per week in the hands of poorer families. It would impose a top tax rate of 49% and cut debt repayments in order to finance $13 billion in new spending over the next three years. The Alliance says that 80% of taxpayers would have their taxes cut under their progressive tax scales. The party would also abolish GST and introduce a financial transactions tax on all bank withdrawals.

    Auckland's Sky City Casino is expecting a mammoth turnout next week when it starts its recruiting drive to hire more than 1700 people.

    25 July 1995

    Bill Birch and Michael Cullen both dismiss the Alliance Alternative Budget, querying the reliability of Jim Anderton's figures.

    About 2,000 NZ Employment work schemes went without payment for up to three weeks this month because of bugs in a new computer package. Job Plus, Taskforce Green, Enterprise Allowance, and Community Taskforce projects were effected.

    26 July 1995

    More controversy on the Alliance Alternative Budget and the concept of the financial transactions tax. Bill Ralston : " You could hear the primal scream rise up from Herne Bay, Parnell, Kelburn and Khandallah ..."

    Government calls for a report on the unpaid family support blunder. Annette King demands the government take immediate steps to advise qualifying beneficiaries of their rights to the benefit.

    Income Support reports that beneficiaries and parents owing maintenance are $602m in debt to the government.

    NZ Employment says it will meet the costs of bank loans arranged to bridge the cost of work schemes that had gone without payment this month.

    27 July 1995

    Social Welfare tells a parliamentary select committee that benefit fraud in NZ could be as high as $500m a year.

    The University Students Association says that students were entering into marriages of convenience because they were desperate for money to pay for the high cost of attending university.

    28 July 1995

    Annette King criticises the government's approach to benefit fraud saying the government had failed to provide the incentives to encourage people to make a legal transition off benefits : "Many policies encourage people to stay on benefits rather than declare their change in circumstances ..."

    The Retirement Commissioner Colin Blair says that more than a third of NZers were still not saving for their retirement.

    The interim leader of ACT New Zealand, Sir Roger Douglas, is considering stepping aside.

    29 July 1995

    Labour reveals Police management memos that say the police are considering staff cuts and asset sales to make up for the $12m cut in operating expenses announced in the Budget.

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