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    Letter No.23
    23 August, 1995

    1 August 1995

    Peter Gresham says it has never been intended that those receiving orphans and unsupported child benefits would also receive family benefit, and this had been an oversight in legislation. Catriona Ross of the Wellington People's Resource Centre says that the mistake would entitle 2000 beneficiaries to about $24m for the past four years.

    The Inland Revenue Department dramatically changes it stance at the Cook Islands Tax Commission of inquiry saying that transactions may have involved tax evasion.

    2 August 1995

    Pharmaceutical giant Glaxo is to close its Palmerston North plant, with a loss of 120 jobs.

    3 August 1995

    Annette King says the Income Support Service is stretched to breaking point, causing an overworked and stressed staff to take more sick days off. Figures showed that sick leave had increased by 53% in the last year.

    4 August 1995

    The acting general manager of Income Support Service, Christine Rankin, believes that staff are abusing the use of a provision entitling them to unlimited sick leave. She said that unions had been given notice that the option was up for reassessment in their next wage round.

    A German manufacturer of brake pads is to set up in Auckland in a relocation move which is expected to create 96 local jobs.

    5 August 1995

    Adult NZ'ers are gambling an average of $974 a year, compared to Australians who each spend an annual average of $3,638 on gambling.

    6 August 1995

    About 20,000 people attended the Auckland casino's job expo in Auckland, hoping to secure one of the 1,700 jobs on offer.

    7 August 1995

    Commemoration of the death of San Cayetano, the patron saint of work.

    The Alliance says there is no point in further talks with Labour about the possibility of forming a coalition government after the next election.

    A report commissioned by the core health services committee says that the number of people over 65yrs in NZ will double to nearly 900,000 people by the year 2031 and nothing is in place in the way of health goals or comprehensive planning for this group.

    8 August 1995

    Labour Party trade unionist calls for a truce between the Alliance and Labour Parties so they could concentrate on attacking National's policies rather than each other.

    Staff at Mercury Energy in areas of "safety critical" will have to undergo drug and alcohol tests to keep their jobs.

    9 August 1995

    The Income Support Service apologises for a letter-writing scheme aimed at checking the level of benefits and pensions, and measuring the level of benefit abuse. The programme, called Operation Shrinkage, involves sending random letters to 72,000 beneficiaries, saying that their entitlement to a benefit might be suspended if they did not call the Income Support office to arrange a visit from staff. Many superannuitants have complained.

    10 August 1995

    A survey by the Foundation of Peace Studies shows that a majority of NZ'ers favour the reintroduction of compulsory military training.

    The Alliance backs away from its policy of imposing a 10% tariff on imports from Australia, realising it would be a breach of the CER agreement.

    11 August 1995

    For the first time in two years, Reserve Bank Boss Don Brash tightens monetary policy by cutting its settlement cash target from $20 million to $15 million.

    Peter Gresham defends a Social Welfare decision to buy Belgian and Swedish wallpapers worth $2362 and $1750 a roll, used in the refurbishment of an Upper Hutt warehouse into offices.

    The Manufacturers Federation reports a 28% increase in manufactured exports from NZ over the last decade.

    12 August 1995

    Leslie Max, a campaigner for breaking the cycle of disadvantage among families, has been named one of the NZ Jewish Women of the Year.

    In the Philippines, politicians are calling for an enquiry into the widespread employment of children younger than 15yrs of age. About 700,000 children are estimated to be in child labour, in violation of local and international labour laws.

    14 August 1995

    Murray McCully announces that Housing NZ will sell state houses in areas such as Paeroa, Huntly, Tokoroa, Turangi, Dannevirke and Westport in order to shift resources to areas like Auckland.

    15 August 1995

    ETSA reports that the number of new apprenticeships has risen by almost 20% over the last year, marking a return of apprenticeships to the levels seen in the 1980s. There are 18,344 people in industry training which includes apprenticeships and cadetships.

    TradeNZ reports that exports of fresh and frozen vegetables from NZ have overtaken the export of kiwifruit.

    Labour's Paul Swain attacks Housing NZ plans to sell provincial houses and reinvest in Auckland properties : "They are robbing Peter to pay Paul ..." It is believed about 15% of state houses would be involved, amounting to 10,500 properties, most of which already have low-income tenants. Swain believes Housing NZ should finance a building programme in Auckland from Housing NZ's projected $72m profit in the next financial year.

    An Auckland supermarket has been telling beneficiaries they could not buy luxury items such as lemonade, yoghurt, potato chips or biscuits with their special needs grants.

    16 August 1995

    The Kiwi dollar fell 1% against the US and Australian currencies.

    The chief executive of the Ministry of Education, and architect of many of our education reforms, Dr O'Rourke, is to lead a new education strategy for the World bank aimed at reducing global poverty and improving economic growth.

    Manurewa MP George Hawkins says that the numbers of staff at the Children and Young Person's Service are nowhere near enough to cope with rising social problems.

    The Auckland supermarket apologises to the beneficiary who had items from her shopping trolley removed by an "over-zealous" checkout operator. The supermarket manager said the problem stemmed from Social Welfare's vague guidelines aimed at preventing beneficiaries from buying "non-essential food items" with the special needs grants.

    17 August 1995

    With the improving exchange rate, McKechnie Metals in New Plymouth has taken on new staff. McKechnies laid off 135 staff from May to July.

    Overseas visitors to NZ are up 10% in the June 95 quarter.

    Social Welfare is surveying its district offices to see if supermarket vetting of food bought by people with special needs grants is a widespread problem.

    An editorial in the New Zealand Herald suggests that Social Welfare consider introducing food stamps, such as used in the US, which would be redeemable for only stated necessities.

    18 August 1995

    The management of Auckland's new casino is interviewing thousands of job applicants with teams conducting 50 interviews an hour for 12 hours each day. The interviews are taking 56 human resources staff, and the process will continue for three weeks. In October, the applicants must attend an unpaid, intensive 8-week dealer training programme.

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