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    Letter No.42
    19 July, 1996

2 July 1996

The National Bank's business outlook survey shows that businesses expect another sharp fall in corporate confidence to translate into lower profits and higher unemployment in the coming year. 30% of respondents now expect employment to deteriorate, with agriculture and manufacturing sectors being the most pessimistic about hiring staff.

3 July 1996

More than 2000 state houses were sold in the past year and just 193 built or bought to replace them, according to Housing NZ figures made public today. The Electricity Corporation is to spend $200m on an upgrade of the Manapouri power station.

NZ First is softening its line on foreign investment. Winston Peters told meetings of investors in Edinburgh and London that his party wanted foreign ownership of NZ companies limited to a maximum of 24.9% in "key infrastructural assets".

About 150 students protest at Parliament against rising tertiary fees.

4 July 1996

Doug Graham reports that measures to be included in the new Enforcement of Penalties Bill will mean that the courts will be able to order fines and reparation payments to be deducted from offender's social welfare benefits.

A Westpac McDermott Miller survey shows that consumer confidence fell sharply in the three months ended June 30, recording the largest quarterly fall ever.

5 July 1996

The Conservative Party wants the domestic purposes benefit to be scrapped for women under the age of 18 yrs. It wants a two tiered payment system introduced, with women who name the father getting the higher rate. Similarly, the party recommends that unemployment beneficiaries who report for work or training should receive a larger benefit than those who did not.

6 July 1996

Auckland casino workers have fraudulently claimed $250,000 in benefits over the past five months, by continuing to claim benefits once hey started work. More than 10% of the casino's employees had been caught 'double-dipping'.

7 July 1996

The Alliance announces its green policy package, worth $1.125 billion in extra spending over three years. The Green 2000 policies include $150m for the Department of Conservation, $150m for pest and weed control, and $200m for a Economic Development Fund as venture capital for new sustainable businesses.

8 July 1996

Student loan debts has risen by 45% in the past nine months, according to figures obtained by the Alliance from the Education Ministry.

9 July 1996

Government approves tough new measures to curb gang intimidation and make it easier for authorities to remove gang fortifications.

A report on women in education shows that women continue to be under-represented in senior positions across all sectors of the teaching profession.

A NZ First government would introduce a "citizens' charter" defining the services and quality standards that taxpayers should receive.

10 July 1996

Government and Opposition politicians are meeting with Ruapehu District businesspeople to discuss the economic and employment impacts of the Mt Ruapehu eruptions. A local survey estimates that the eruptions have cost the region's economy more than $10m in lost income, and 372 jobs.

11 July 1996

Cook Islands public servants are angry after the announcement of an austerity Budget by the acting Minister of Finance, Mr Papamama Pokino. The Budget announced that cuts will be made to the health service, education and social welfare and around 2000 of the 3000 public servants will lose their jobs.

12 July 1996

Staff at the Department of Social Welfare are expected to be paid more than $1.7m in bonuses this year, including a bonus payment of $120,000 to be split between the nine highest paid staff in the Department. The average bonus for the nine top staff would be $13,200 -- more than what many beneficiaries receive in a year.

The Income Support Service decides not to prosecute any of the 282 Auckland casino workers who had continued to claim welfare benefits while working.

13 July 1996

Government loses its legal case over the sale of NZ Steel to Equiticorp, and it is ordered to pay restitution of $189m to the Equiticorp statutory managers. The High Court judgement says that The Crown had shut its eyes to the illegality of the funding by Equiticorp which purchased NZ Steel for $137m in late 1987.

14 July 1996

About 1000 GATT watchdog protesters gather in Christchurch's Cathedral Square, to voice their opposition to free trade and foreign investment. The protest was timed to greet the trade ministers gathering in Christchurch for next week's APEC conference.

The Treasury official in charge of the 1987 Equiticorp sale was John Chetwin, who is now the chief executive of the Department of Labour.

15 July 1996

The Asian Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) trade ministers conference starts in Christchurch, with ministers pushing for further liberalisation of trading links. NZ First announces its plans for a compulsory superannuation savings scheme which will work towards saving 8% of a person's

15 July 1996

NZ ranks 14th in the United Nations world index for advanced overall human development, a study that bases its rankings on health, education and purchasing power. Canada leads the index, followed by the US, Japan, the Netherlands and Norway. Other placements include Russia at 57th, China at 108th and India at 135th.

Trade unions in NZ have lost at least 38% of their membership since the passing of the 1991 Employment Contracts Act, according to figures from a Victoria University study.

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