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    Letter No.37
    19 April, 1996

    1 April 1996

    Economic growth has slowed in the last year to its lowest level in two and a half years. Statistics NZ says the economy grew 3.5% in the year to December 1995.

    2 April 1996

    NZ's biggest private sector trade union of 60,000 workers is formed with the merger and establishment of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturers Union. The new group ties in workers across 12 sectors of the economy including energy, aviation, forestry, telecommunications and publishing.

    3 April 1996

    More teachers are being recruited in Australia to combat ongoing staff shortages in NZ schools.

    Foreign exchange earnings from overseas students in NZ were about $230m last year, compared with $55m in 1990, according to Associate Education Minister Roger McClay.

    The United Nations is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy and has announced a 10% shedding of staff numbers, as well as efficiency programmes like publications and fellowship cuts.

    Treasury papers, obtained under the Official Information Act, show that the government was considering much larger tax cuts than it eventually opted for, but they drew back because of nervousness about inflation.

    4 April 1996

    Federated Farmers warns that NZ is heading for an economic recession because of inflationary trends and the continued rise of the dollar's value.

    The Westpac McDermott Miller survey of consumer confidence is close to an all-time high for its March quarter. Westpac says that confidence is buoyed by a strong property market and the prospect of tax cuts.

    Police intelligence indicates there have been links between the Asian 14K Triad gang and NZ's Mongrel Mob in a contract being taken out on a NZ police officer.

    Labour MP Jack Elder and National MP Peter McCardle both join up with the NZ First Party. The McCardle defection leaves the National Party without a majority in Parliament.

    5 April 1996

    The number of new immigrants and refugees to NZ receiving an emergency benefit has risen 65% in the last year, to almost 6000 people, according to government figures.

    6 April 1996

    Phil Goff calls for wider powers for police to deal with the gangs. He wants gang members on long-term income support placed under a justice or police-supervised work programme. Goff: "Gang members, who are unemployed because employers wanted nothing to do with them, should have to work rather than simply get long-term handouts from Income Support..."

    7 April 1996

    The USA economy added another 140,000 jobs in March, after the spectacular 624,000 job gain in February. The effect of these figures on the stock market was mild compared to last month when the good jobs news triggered the third largest Dow Jones index drop in the history of the US stockmarket. Investors feared that more jobs meant that inflation could be rising again.

    8 April 1996

    Despite a leaked report to the contrary appearing in Australian newspapers, the Australian government denies that it is considering cutting dole payments to NZers living in Australia. The leaked report said that Australia could not go on subsidising the NZ unemployed, especially as " the NZ economy was performing so well..." The report said its cutbacks would save the Australian government $155.35m over three years.

    10 April 1996

    Labour criticises the Immigration Service for issuing 1000 work permits to foreign fishing crew since last October, without once checking with the NZ Employment Service as to the availability of NZ workers.

    11 April 1996

    A Children's Coalition conference in Auckland hears that more children are growing up hungry, abused and emotionally starved because of poverty in NZ. (see further stories in this issue)

    Government figures show that about a third of the money paid by liable parents towards child support is absorbed in administration costs.

    12 April 1996

    The Australian Minister of Immigration, Mr Ruddock, plans to make migrants to Australia wait two years before becoming eligible for the dole.

    The United Party threatens to use its voting muscle to force government to bring foreign fishing crews under the protection of minimum NZ labour laws.

    Acting Minister of Social Welfare Jenny Shipley rejects claims that a large number of NZers are living below the poverty line.

    13 April 1996

    The Government is letting senior social policy officials work with United MP John Robertson in designing his Social Responsibility Bill a social policy version of the Fiscal responsibility Bill.

    14 April 1996

    Following a parliamentary question by Phil Goff, the government reveals that almost $1 million has been given to gangs through lottery grants and Labour Department grants. Goff: " Members of the public will take some convincing that this is the best expenditure of public funds at a time when money is critically short in areas such as health and education ..."

    The ACT Party announces its modified economic platform which proposes a 19.5% flat tax rate for both individuals and companies, and a commitment to phase out all income tax over 20 years.

    16 April 1996

    Australia's Federal Government plans to clamp down on welfare cheats and dole recipients who refuse to work. Social Security Minister Jocelyn Newman plans to close loopholes which allow beneficiaries to keep money when they are accidentally overpaid, a hot-line will be set up for employers can `dob-in' jobless people who refuse to work, and extra publicity will be given to cases where people are caught abusing the welfare system.

    17 April 1996

    The Reserve Bank breaches its 2% low inflation target for the second time in less than a year. The Bank puts the blame on increased housing costs, and higher government charges including higher school and tertiary fees.

    Trust Bank puts up its home mortgage rates to 10.9%, threatening a chain reaction from other banks.

    Bill Birch call on the Reserve Bank's non-executive directors for an assessment of Governor Don Brash's performance on meeting his inflation target.

    The government wants to get more prisoners working on constructive employment projects in order to reduce the boredom that contributes to vandalism in the prisons.

    PM Jim Bolger says that children do not go hungry in NZ, because there is a welfare system to prevent it.

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