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Letter No.51
6 December, 1996

22 November 1996

Federated Farmers president Malcolm Bailey was confronted and sworn at by anti-free trade activists at the World Food summit in Rome, earlier this month. He was asked to leave a family farmer's summit meeting after putting the NZ Federation's case against protectionist agricultural trade. The summit was preparing a declaration calling for programmes "... to ensure levels of income for farmers in order to maintain the family farm system." Bailey: "I think we spoiled their party and we're quite happy about it ..."

A survey of banks by Federated Farmers shows that one in three farmers is struggling to stay financially viable, and that a drought could wipe out many farming businesses.

23 November 1996

The Natural Gas Corporation will restructure its gas operations at Kapuni, with the loss of nearly half the workforce.

The APEC meeting in Manila is held against a background of anti-free trade protests on the streets and the threats of strikes by 200 trade unions.

Statistics NZ reports that 19%, or one in five NZ'ers, suffers from the long-term effects of a disability.

24 November 1996

NZ First has lost many of its senior activists and party officials after discontent within the party.

New Zealand will host the APEC Forum in 1999 -- a meeting which could bring an American President to NZ for the first time since 1966. Auckland business and tourist groups are 'delighted' at the news.

25 November 1996

The APEC Summit ends with an agreement which endorses the moves to transform the lives of half of humanity by creating the largest free trade zone on earth.

Caretaker PM Jim Bolger says the APEC summit was "good news for exporters and good news for jobs..."

26 November 1996

The International Labour Organisation releases its report on World Employment for 1996/97. It shows that there are now one billion people either unemployed or under-employed worldwide.

The Investment Agency Moodys has given the NZ economy the thumbs-up, saying that its economic fundamentals were solid under either of the possible coalition government scenarios.

A Taipei immigration consultant says that tighter immigration requirements have cost NZ more than $400m in investment, tourism and education. Jimmy Hong: "A lot of people are angry. They say 'I put my money in NZ and you treat me like this...'"

27 November 1996

A Ministry of Education survey of Wellington children has found that five-yr olds' skills and abilities are linked to their families income and level of education.

The Dean of the Otago dental School reports that less than half of NZ's adult population goes for regular dental checks, and say that it is the cost that it putting them off. Auckland hospitals report that many people are being hospitalised with critical dental problems because they fear -- or cannot afford -- the dentist.

29 November 1996

International Buy Nothing Day. The aim of this international campaign is to "encourage people to be conscious about the difference between wanting and needing..."

Employment activist Sue Bradford is angry about the $1500-a-head conference on benefit dependency, being organised by the Social Welfare Department next March. She says that "it is ludicrous to hold a conference about poverty that the poor could not attend." She believes that one of effects of the conference will be to legitimise work-for-the-dole schemes, and to push people into casual work.

Bosses of the 23 Crown Health Enterprises were paid bonuses of up to $23,000 last financial year, despite some failing to keep within budget.

1 December 1996

Winston Peters tells a Tauranga public meeting that his party is in a no-win situation with the coalition talks. Peters: "We are going to disappoint a great number of our supporters..."

2 December 1996

Caretaker Finance Minister Bill Birch releases the latest Treasury forecasts in its December Economic and Fiscal Update. He points to the projected surpluses as evidence that government spending can increase.

A UMR Insight poll says that more NZ'ers now prefer first-past-the -post rather than MMP, probably due to the long delay in getting a government after the last election.

3 December 1996

The ACT Party says that the high level of the dollar and high interest rates were crippling rural NZ. It predicts that over the next year 8,000 rural families will be in serious financial trouble, with perhaps 30,000 people having to leave the land.

A recruitment fair is held in South Auckland in order to attract new primary teachers into the area. 70 primary school principals sat at promotional stalls while 36 South Island graduate teachers -- flown in by the Ministry of Education -- explored their options in what was clearly 'a graduate's market'.

More than 200 BHP NZ Steel staff have applied for voluntary redundancy, but the company says this is not nearly enough to guarantee that the mill stays open. The mill has been told to slash $60m from its operating costs.

4 December 1996

The Methanex Corporation confirms that it will partially close the Waitara Valley Methanol Plant next year, as well as the methanol-to-gasoline section of the Motunui complex. Both plants will be wound down over the next five years as the Maui gas field is expected to dry up by 2006.

The Department of Conservation will cut 40 head office staff in a proposed restructuring.

The New Zealand Herald says that National has agreed to defer its July 1st tax cuts as the price of its deal with New Zealand First.

The opening of parliament has been delayed until Thursday next week, giving the Labour and National caucuses more time to consider coalition options.

5 December 1996

The Bay Mayd milk plant in Hastings will close at the end of January with the loss of 40 jobs.

The Auckland Primary Principals Association says that the primary teacher shortage in Auckland and Northland may now be worse than the 564 vacancies surveyed last month.

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