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    Letter No.35
    18 March, 1996

    28 February 1996

    National and the United Party sign a coalition agreement. The agreement sees different parties sharing the NZ cabinet table for the first time (in peacetime) in 60 years.

    International credit rating agency Moodys has followed the Standard and Poor's upgrading of NZ's creditworthiness by giving NZ a rating of AA1, just one notch below the world's most secure economies.

    The Salvation Army says it is turning away one family a day from its emergency houses in South Auckland. It is also refusing to pay rent for its four state-owned properties, so it can keep its emergency operation afloat. While the market rentals on its houses have gone up, the Social Welfare financial support for the service has not risen.

    29 February 1996

    The Prime Minister announces a cabinet reshuffle. Employment Minister Wyatt Creech gains the Education portfolio from Lockwood Smith. United MP Peter Dunne gains Minister of Revenue and Minister of Internal Affairs.

    2 March 1996

    Australian voters voted out Paul Keating's Labour Party and delivered the Liberal/National coalition a landslide election night majority.

    3 March 1996

    The Dairy Board reports that the dairy industry missed out on more than $1 billion in earnings in the last two years, due to the rising NZ dollar.

    4 March 1996

    Japan's jobless rate is at a record 3.4%, with the number of unemployed growing to 2.3 million. Because of a lifetime employment tradition, some Japanese manager are urging and sometimes forcing middle managers to take early retirement.

    A legal challenge to Housing NZ's move to market rentals for state houses begins in the High Court today. The case is being taken by former tenant Joan Lawson, who is also a member of the State Housing Action Coalition.

    5 March 1996

    High demand for housing in Auckland means that State House tenants will be facing more rental increases, some of up to $40 a week.

    6 March 1996

    Hawkes Bay MP Michael Laws resigns from the National Party to join the NZ First party.

    7 March 1996

    A report on the economic position of meat and wool industries shows farm profits this year will drop to almost half their average in the decade to 1984-85.

    Police figures show that crime is increasing in NZ and the number of crimes solved has dropped. The police say that although sex offences, burglaries, drugs and anti-social offences had dropped, this positive trend was overshadowed by a rise in dishonesty offences, including fraud.

    8 March 1996

    Good jobs figures in the US leads to a massive sell-off of stocks on Wall St.

    9 March 1996

    The Alliance announces its parental leave policy and says it will guarantee 12 weeks of paid leave for both parents after the birth or adoption of a child. They propose the scheme would be paid for by a levy on employers.

    10 March 1996

    Labour announces its alternative tax cuts package that would leave the average family $100 a week better off and give more cuts to low and middle-income families than the government is promising.

    11 March 1996

    Official figures show that 2,651 children were unaccounted for in the school system. Labour's David Caygill repeats his call for a central database of students.

    Porirua school principals report that families are moving out of state housing in the area because they cannot afford to pay market rents.

    The Auckland City Council plans to privatise 604 of its rental properties. Labour's Helen Clark appeals to Housing NZ to buy them.

    12 March 1996

    The National Bank and the Bank of New Zealand raised their fixed mortgage lending rates.

    Around 60% of the Cook Islands civil servants are likely to be fired as the Cook Islands government faces a financial collapse.

    13 March 1996

    Australia's new Treasurer Peter Costello opened `the books' to the public revealing that the projected starting point for the Australian budget in the 1996/7 year will be a $4.9 billion deficit, rather than the $3.4 billion surplus that the former Keating government was predicting. These figures cast immediate doubt on whether the new government will be able to deliver on its $6 billion election promises.

    14 March 1996

    A Medical Council survey finds that more than 600 overseas doctors have recently immigrated to NZ but are still jobless, largely because of problems with registering their qualifications.

    Hundreds of job losses loom in South Auckland as Ford and Mazda warn of the likely closure of their $100 million vehicle assembly plant because of competition with used imported cars.

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