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    Letter No.54
    31 January, 1997

18 January 1997

The Consumer Price Index shows that inflation increased by 0.7% during the December quarter -- much higher than predicted.

The number of job advertisements continues to fall in Auckland and Wellington. Christchurch is the only major city to record an increase.

A BNZ survey says that NZ families are borrowing money so fast that within 14 months each household will owe almost as much as its yearly income.

Conservation Dept restructuring will cost the government $6.5m and see 56 jobs disappear.

Te Puni Kokiri briefing papers to the new Minister of Maori Affairs Tau Henare report that NZ faces a serious racial problem if the gap between Maori and Pakeha economic performance is not bridged.

19 January 1997

The government has established a 'flying squad' of 40 standby primary teachers available in Auckland to meet possible shortages after the start of the term.

After criticism from opposition parties, PM Jim Bolger orders an investigation into allegations that the government used the SIS to sweep for bugs in the office of Social Welfare Director Margaret Bazley. The Alliance says that the SIS is being used to protect the government from political embarrassment.

Demand by poorer students for government-funded places in private schools has dropped by a quarter for 1997. Only 600 students are taking up the $2.5m scheme.

20 January 1997

Student job search statistics show that the number of students registering for work was up by more than 3,000, while the number of jobs offered by employers dropped by more than 1,000.

The British High Commission warns that young NZ'ers on their "OE" in Britain can continue to work as labourers and nannies, but will be fined or ordered home if caught working in the professions.

21 January 1997

The first coalition cabinet meeting. High on the agenda: The Kiwi dollar which is at an eight-year high.

The dismal job outlook in Germany could have profound consequences for the EU single-currency plan that Chancellor Kohl has been promoting as the key to integration of the continent. The Maastricht Treaty that provides the blueprint for the new euro decrees that a country's budget deficit must not exceed 3 percent of its gross national product.

Germany's present deficit level now stands at 3.9 percent and can only hope to reach the 3 percent threshold if the jobless level drops well below 4 million. Anything above that would mean higher state expenses to pay welfare for the unemployed and lesser revenue from a stagnant economy.

22 January 1997

The Commissioner for Children releases a hard-hitting report saying that the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Service (CYPFS) is underfunded and in crisis, and is at least as dysfunctional as the clients it seeks to help.

Union Shipping's merger of its trans-tasman business with the rate-cutting 'cross trader' Australia New Zealand Direct Line will lead to redundancies.

Schools will have to cope with 16,000 more pupils this year, mainly due to higher birth rates in the past decade.

23 January 1997

In its own briefing papers to the new government, the CYPFS has told the government it desperately needs more money to cope with a tide of child abuse, neglect and crime.

The Survey of Business confidence shows that confidence lifted slightly in the last quarter of 1996.

The NZ Council of Social Services sends its own briefing papers to all new MPs, calling on them to address key issues of housing, poverty and services for the elderly.

The Business Roundtable releases a report criticising the financial transactions tax as proposed by the Alliance. They say it would "hit the minnows and be avoided by whales..."

Restructuring at the BNZ could cost between 220-250 middle management staff in rural, personal and business banking areas.

24 January 1997

A secret appendix to the coalition agreement, released by Max Bradford, shows that NZ First agreed to the sale of the spur lines of Trans Power, a major government asset worth about $750m.

University lecturer Diana Bloor says that School leavers in NZ risk ending up on the scrapheap unless schools provide better career counselling. She told an international careers conference that university students who drifted onto courses without firm career goals would probably drop out before courses were completed. She says that compared to Australian counterparts, NZ secondary school students knew little about the world of work and had greater difficulty making career-related choices.

NZ's child welfare standards are criticised by a United Nations child rights committee. It wants answers from NZ on a range of issues including our high rate of youth suicide, the effect of economic reforms on children, and the absence of an official poverty line.

Reserve Bank governor Don Brash warns NZ'ers against believing that the widening of his inflation target meant he would tolerate 1% more inflation.

The Rotorua-based Ngati Pikiao subtribe is paying ten of its long-term unemployed members to get young people off street corners and back into school. The scheme Hei Manaaki Rangatahi (Looking After Our Children) is believed to be the first time a hapu has set up a scheme paying people to tackle youth problems.

25 January 1997

Alliance employment spokesperson Rod Donald is changing his position on the government's plan for a compulsory work-for-the-dole scheme, saying it is not feasible. Donald, Laila Harre and Pam Corkery will try to meet with Minister Peter McCardle to air their concerns.

21% of working age people are on a benefit -- mainly for unemployment, sickness and single-parenthood, according to Social Welfare. Columnist Colin James : "This means that for every four people in work there is one of working age living off their wages..."

26 January 1997

Police briefing papers to the new government say that the needs of "at risk" youths and their families are not being met, and express concern at the increase in youth offending and the onset of violent offending at an earlier age.

27 January 1997

The government raises the minimum wage rate to $7.50 an hour.

Air NZ is expected to announce drastic job cuts next week as part of Project Save, which aims to shave $100m off operating costs.

ACT NZ party spent $1.65m on its election campaign -- nearly a quarter of a million dollars more than the National Party.

Labour's Steve Maharey calls for the creation of a select committee to look into narrowing the gap between men's and women's pay.

28 January 1997

Benefit fraud on the East Coast is estimated at $5.6m, by the East Coast benefit crime unit.

NZ has a worsening balance of payments deficit, with a deficit of $4.2 billion being recorded for the September 1996 year.

29 January 1997

One in eleven Auckland primary school classes is being taught by an overseas teacher, according to a Ministry of Education survey.

Possum-skin exporters are welcoming a sudden resurgence of the popularity of furs in Europe and the United States, saying that rising prices will be good for jobs with possum-skin exporters in NZ.

30 January 1997

The NZ Dollar starts to fall against the US dollar, bringing some hope to struggling exporters.

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