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    Letter No.47
    27 September, 1996

12 September 1996

Bill Birch 'opens the books' in his pre-election economic and fiscal update statement. His expectations: more jobs, continued economic growth, much lower levels of debt and more health and education spending.

Stevedoring companies at Tauranga and Auckland are preparing to sack dozens of staff after losing key shipping contracts.

13 September 1996

The number of jobs advertised has fallen 14.4% over the last year, according to the ANZ Bank survey of job vacancies.

14 September 1996

Australia's government-owned telecommunications giant Telstra has posted a higher net profit for the past year, and announces it plans to cut 22,000 jobs between now and 1999.

Statistics NZ says that labour costs have risen 2.3% in the June quarter this year.

15 September 1996

The Kiwi dollar has risen this week to an eight-year high, defying predictions that it would be undermined by political uncertainty ahead of the first MMP election.

The Ministry of Education is advertising on the internet worldwide to help solve the teacher shortage in NZ.

Australia's unemployment rate has risen to 8.8%.

The Director-General of Social Welfare, Margaret Bazley, warns her social workers who are struggling with heavy caseloads not to "whistle blow" to the media or politicians in the run-up to the election.

The Anglican Archbishop of New Zealand, Brian Davis, defends government policies, saying they should not be criticised for NZ's social ills. Archbishop Davis: "You don't increase employment opportunities by slamming policies that encourage businesses to prosper..."

16 September 1996

150 Auckland University students storm their University Registry and begin a sit-in to protest at a 18% rise in their student fees.

Mike Moore complains that National's lower unemployment figures were 'rigged', with almost 50,000 more people on other benefits such as the youth benefit, the 55 plus benefit, and invalid and sickness benefits.

17 September 1996

The United States unemployment rate is now down to 5.1% with the economy creating an average of 260,000 jobs each month.

18 September 1996

The Mayors of NZ's biggest cities issue a statement to political party leaders calling for a cross-party concensus on cracking down on crime. They want more help for children exposed to violence, a senior minister to co-ordinate the efforts of government agencies, more visible community policing, a return to January 1995 police staff levels, tougher anti-gun laws, and adequate resources to deal with gangs.

PM Jim Bolger says that National will be ready to put the Employment Contracts Act on the negotiating table as part of post-election coalition haggling.

An eleventh-hour appeal to stop the Hamilton City Council's controversial restructuring was rejected by a High Court judge.

David Russell of the Consumer Institute says that consumers were not getting the full benefit of the rising Kiwi dollar in price reductions of imported goods.

Student fees are to increase 16% at Hawkes Bay's Eastern Institute of Technology.

Former Labour leader Mike Moore returns to his party's top ranks as foreign affairs and trade spokesman.

19 September 1996

In launching the Women's Information Network (WIN) Poverty Campaign in Wellington, High Court Judge Dame Silvia Cartwright says it was time all NZ'ers faced up to the poverty issue. Cartwright: "Poverty must be brought into the open and acknowledged before solutions can be found and put in place..."

Many foodbanks announce that they will close during the first week in October as part of a national protest to highlight poverty in NZ. The Salvation Army's Alistair Herring: "The foodbanks are crying halt. It has got to the point now where food banks are seen by government departments as part of the infrastructure ..."

20 September 1996

The United States shows the world's media its first all-female chain gang as fifteen women -- shackled at the ankles and linked by metal chains in groups of five -- work to clean the streets of Phoenix.

PM Jim Bolger criticises Dame Silvia Cartwright for 'straying into politics' with her comments on poverty. Bolger: "If the judge wants to enter the political fray, she should have put her name on to the list before the candidates closed..."

Peter Shirtcliffe, the chairman of NZs biggest company Telecom, warns Australian investors that the value of their investments are at serious risk from the policies of "populist" NZ parties.

Two district court judges are charged in court with 51 fraud charges relating to travel, accommodation and telephone expenses. They will remain on full pay until their cases are decided.

21 September 1996

The Salvation Army reports that swedes and silverbeet were the staple diet for a seven-member Southland family for almost two months after a benefit stand-down. The family had run out of groceries and had become isolated because they could not afford petrol.

Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum says that economic changes since the Rogernomics revolution of 1984 have made big law firms wealthy, but many New Zealanders still had trouble getting access to justice. He criticises rich NZ'ers who wanted their own way within the legal system.

PM Jim Bolger accepts an invitation to view poverty in South Auckland after a senior health official described to him many 'tragic' cases in the area.

22 September 1996

More than 10,000 demonstrators march through Paris to protest against what they say is French government inertia in the face of record unemployment.

Alliance Social Security Spokesman Dave MacPherson predicts that the planned foodbank closure protests is likely to cost Income Support over $2m in special needs grant payments. Macpherson: "Foodbanks provide the Government a very cheap means for sweeping poverty under the carpet. The Foodbanks action in striking to protest the complete inadequacy of government income support policies is fully understandable..."

NZ First says that the buy-back of the Forestry Corporation will be a non-negotiable policy under any post election coalition deals they make with Labour or National.

23 September 1996

NZ First says that prisoners should be given the chance to cut their time in jail by opting for hard labour.

Students at Victoria University begin a sit-in of their registry building, in protest at a fee rise of 10-11% on last year.

Fishing industry leaders say that the high exchange rate has cost them $200m in lost revenue in the past two years.

The country's top Youth Court judge David Carruthers is lobbying the government to lower the age restriction on the Limited Service Volunteer courses so that young offenders can join in order to get their lives back on track.

Stirring up more election controversy, ACT leader Richard Prebble calls long-term beneficiaries "useless has-been tattooed twits..."

24 September 1996

Chief Justice Sir Thomas Eichelbaum says that his criticisms of rich NZ'ers were aimed at the Business Roundtable, and says it was appropriate for the judiciary to draw attention to the imbalances that existed in society.

Business Roundtable chief executive Roger Kerr says that the Chief Justice should address the weaknesses in Employment Court rulings, many of which were being overturned by the Appeal Court. Mr Kerr says that the rulings could be costing NZ 20,000 50,000 thousand jobs.

The Hamilton City Council has sacked a 'whistle-blowing' manager who has released a report which concludes the Council will not save anywhere near $1.9m by closing its own works department. The report says the council will save only $180,000, and was used in a High Court bid last week in efforts to block the restructuring and the 100 job losses.

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