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    Letter No.45
    27 August, 1996

10 August 1996

Employment Minister Wyatt Creech announces that the Community Employment Group (CEG) will set up a resource centre to help laid-off workers from the Cedenco closures in Gisborne.

The National Business Review-Consultus poll lists National as "the party best at reducing unemployment" with 27% support compared with 13% for Labour, 9% for NZ First and 7% for the Alliance. The poll represents a sharp decline in public confidence that Labour has the best ability to cut unemployment. In April 1995, the poll reported Labour at 22% for this area, compared to National at 25%.

11 August 1996

Price Waterhouse superannuation consultant Boyd Klap calls for the retirement age to be raised to 72 years or above.

12 August 1996

Jim Doyle, executive director of the Association of Polytechs, and also spokesperson for the Public Tertiary Education Coalition, voices support for the growing student protests over rising fees. He says that government policies of 1% funding cuts do not take into account inflation, zero growth, compliance costs or staff salary increases ... and this is forcing institutions to consider student fee rises of up to 25% for 1997.

13 August 1996

United NZ's MP John Robertson has been angered by the slow efforts of the Social Policy Agency in examining his proposed Social Responsibility Bill --legislation which he hopes will be to social policy what the Fiscal Responsibility Act is to fiscal policy. The Agency took five months to produce a three-page report on the Bill.

A Wellington City Council report estimates that a Wellington casino would create 736 jobs, but existing businesses would lose about 550 jobs as people switched their entertainment dollars to the casino. The 230 extra jobs would add $35m to the Wellington economy.

The report also estimated that there were up to 3,300 problem gamblers in the Wellington region, costing society up to $140m a year. It estimates the total cost of problem gambling for NZ to be up to $3.9 billion a year in terms of lower productivity, stress-related illnesses, lost income, dole payments and prison costs.

14 August 1996

Almost one-third of Auckland state house tenants are paying more than $200 a week for rent, with some South Auckland tenants paying over $400.

The government will contribute $10m into Auckland's America's Cup base, as the taxpayer share of this $57.6m development.

15 August 1996

Housing NZ announces a $81.3m budget blowout for the June year, due mainly to the increased costs of doing 'deferred' maintenance on state houses.

Housing Minister Murray McCully is under attack for appearing to condone overcrowding in state houses as a way of paying the rent.

Tourism is NZ's largest foreign exchange earner, generating $4.8 billion last year.

16 August 1996

The NZ Footwear Association is concerned about plans by Wanganui Prison to sell shoes made by prisoners.

Auckland schools are recruiting dozens of Canadian teachers to plug gaps in the city's continuing teacher shortages.

The government has placed caveats on 1,489 homes owned by elderly people in order to secure loans to pay for their long-stay hospital care.

17 August 1996

The government will spend $442 on expanding and upgrading schools, in one of the biggest school building programmes NZ has seen, according to Education Minister Wyatt Creech. The major share of the budget will go to building several new Auckland schools.

18 August 1996

Six church denominations call to parishioners to help tackle poverty in NZ, and to query parliamentary candidates' plans for acting on this issue. An open letter about poverty in NZ has been signed by 148 prominent church members, including Anglican and Catholic bishops and heads of Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian churches, leaders of social service and church organisations, academics and lay people.

19 August 1996

Student protests against fee rises have spread from the Otago Campus, to now include protests at Auckland University and the Northland Polytech.

A group of Taranaki farmers is lobbying the government to declare the possum a national pest and to reintroduce a possum bounty.

A $7m budget blowout at Auckland University has forced the University to freeze all new staff appointments and launch a cost-cutting drive in every department.

20 August 1996

Violent protests in Canberra as 20,000 people protest against budget cuts in the Howard government's first budget.

Staff at the Waipa forestry mill walk off the job and protest against the impending sale of the Forestry Corporation.

Efforts to create a southern North Island dairy giant stumble as the Manawatu-based Tui Milk Products fails to get shareholder approval for the merger with Taranaki's Kiwi Dairies.

21 August 1996

The Forestry Corporation is sold to a consortium led by Fletchers for $1.6 billion.

Georgie Pie sells half its restaurants to McDonalds, in the beginning of Progressive Enterprises moves to get out of their fast-food business, which employs 800 people.

More than 500 Hamilton City Council workers protest in Hamilton after taking court action against the restructuring moves which have already cost 113 jobs.

22 August 1996

The Forestry Corp sale means the government will completely pay off its remaining foreign currency debts, making it the first time since 1954 that the government has not owed money overseas. Six years ago, foreign currency debt amounted to $16 billion.

Former PM David Lange says goodbye to Parliament with a valedictory speech.

" I want to thank those people whose lives have been wrecked by us. They've been taught for years and conditioned to believe that they had the right to an endless treadmill of prosperity and assurance and we did them ...
" People over 60 hate me and they hate me because I was a symbol of that which caused that assurance of support and growing security to be shattered. That is something that has always been part of my burden.
" There are people around who believe this was a government which became over-rational, over analytical, and did not make the human responses, and I want to leave with my challenge to those who are here now and those who come to it in the future that you bring it back into equilibrium, that you do justice to those who can't foot it..."
-- David Lange, valedictory speech to the House, 22 August 1996

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