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    Letter No.63
    17 July, 1998

    24 June 1997

    The government has back-tracked on a decision to raise the school-leaving age to 17 next year because the National Qualifications Framework will not be ready in time, and more work is needed on suitable programmes for students.

    25 June 1997

    Business confidence is at a five-year low, according to the National Bank.

    26 June 1997

    Budget Day. Treasurer Winston Peters releases his first Budget.

    There is a strong emphasis on Health and Education in the Budget, as the Treasurer starts to deliver on the spending implications of the coalition agreement. The surplus drops to $1.5 billion in the coming year. Economic growth will be 2.4% this year, rising to 4.2% next year. Two State-owned enterprises Government Property services and Vehicle Testing NZ are signalled for selling off. Remaining tariffs will be removed well before the 2010 deadline agreed to by NZ with the APEC group.

    Labour and Alliance leaders today visit a caravan park and soup kitchens to show they believe the budget does little for the unemployed and low-income workers.

    27 June 1997

    Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash eases the Bank's monetary conditions more than expected, in efforts to reverse the downward spiral in business and consumer confidence.

    29 June 1997

    The number of people in industry training has almost doubled to 33,000 people since the new training system was introduced five years ago, according to Skill NZ.

    30 June 1997

    The economy for the March 97 quarter showed a 0.5% decline in GDP, a worse-than expected decline indicating an extremely weak state of the overall economy.

    A Business Herald/Auckland University poll of executives in the Auckland region finds that business leaders believe that the Budget will have a neutral effect on their businesses, and they say that it does not provide the much-needed kickstart to either exports or consumer spending. The executives also rate Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash as more important to their businesses than Treasurer Winston Peters.

    Despite the reports of a weak state of the economy, the NZ sharemarket soars almost 60 points to a six-year high.

    1 July 1997

    The Hong Kong colony is formally handed back to the People's Republic of China.

    Free health care for under six-year olds is introduced today.

    The Government's rent freeze ends and the rents rise in 15,458 of the country's 67,000 state houses. The Accommodation Supplement is being increased from today, but housing groups say that the majority of households will have rent increases in excess of the rise in the Supplement.

    Protests are held in Auckland outside Housing NZ's offices to protest the rent rises.

    As part of the tax and social assistance package launched by National last year, the payment of the Independent Family Tax Credit rises today from $7.50 a week per child to $15. Beneficiaries are excluded from this scheme which the government says is designed to increase the incentives for people to work.

    Coeur Gold expects to announce within a month its plans for closing down the Golden Cross mine, near Waihi.

    Investor's Business Daily reports that US companies now have an average of 14 employees involved in Internet and web site activities, most with salaries at $40,000 and above.

    The lawyer acting for Winston Peters at the Winebox inquiry concedes that the winebox documents contain no evidence of corruption, fraud or conspiracy in the Serious Fraud Office or the Inland Revenue Department.

    2 July 1997

    An estimated 90 jobs are likely to be lost in Inland Revenue's South Island offices as a result of restructuring.

    3 July 1997

    As many as 1000 jobs have gone or will go at Capital Coast Health in Wellington as the cash-strapped CHE struggles to restructure and become financially viable.

    Don Brash tries to call a halt to the rapid easing in the mix of exchange rates and interest rates in the last few days.

    Alliance leader Jim Anderton warns that management of the NZ economy is "falling into chaos".

    4 July 1997

    Internal Affairs is to close its 17 Link Centres throughout NZ, and are opting for 0800 freephone services for many of its existing services. Existing support to community groups will continue to be provided in the regions.

    6 July 1997

    The Institute of Economic Research reports that men are paid on average 20% more than their female counterparts in NZ, and commentators believe that this gap will widen over the next five years.

    The world drug trade has grown dramatically over the last decade and now is bigger than international trade in iron and steel and motor vehicles, according to a UN report. The annual turnover in drugs is now about 8% of international trade.

    7 July 1997

    Treasurer Winston Peters unveils his compulsory Retirement Saving Scheme, which will replace National Superannuation if it is endorsed by a referendum in September.

    8 July 1997

    The European Commissioner for Monetary Union tells the French government that meeting criteria for membership in the union won't penalise job creation efforts. The French intend to create 350,000 new public-sector jobs for young people. The government will emphasise education to the extent that 40,000 new education jobs will be created as part of this package.

    In NZ, the government is promising money for an extra 2,500 teachers to cope with predicted chronic teacher shortages.

    Women MPs across party lines have united to fight the government's compulsory super scheme, saying it is demeaning to women.

    9 July 1997

    The Lotteries Grants is cutting its allocations to community projects this year. The Lottery Welfare Committee has had its allocations slashed by 20%, while Lottery Youth committees has had a 26% cut, Lottery Aged cut by 8%, and Alcohol and Drug Education cut by 17%.

    10 July 1997

    International Paper, the parent company of Carter Holt Harvey, says it will cut 9,000 jobs, or 10% of its worldwide workforce.

    Restructuring and the introduction of new technologies at the Department of Courts may cost as many as 170 jobs.

    11 July 1997

    The Watson Wyatt Renumeration Survey for the Voluntary Sector shows that earnings in voluntary organisations in NZ continue to fall behind the same jobs in the public or private sector. Paid workers in the voluntary sector would earn on average 22% more if they did the same job for public or private employers.

    Minister of Maori Affairs, Tau Henare is warning all government departments that Te Puni Kokiri will be monitoring their performance on delivering to Maori. Henare has put the Ministry of Education on 12 months' notice after a TPK report found the Ministry wanting.

    Money markets shrug off a further warning from Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash that monetary conditions were too loose.

    The Hong Kong Banking Corporation says that the slowdown that started in the NZ economy in the March quarter could now be "deeper and longer than expected".

    12 July 1997

    A private company is setting up "prosecution shops" in NZ to start investigating and developing criminal cases for the Crown, in a move that has drawn sharp criticism from the Police association, who say it is "policing for those who can afford it ..."

    13 July 1997

    Jails in NZ are overflowing as prison authorities try to cope with a booming number of criminals.

    14 July 1997

    Senior cabinet Minister Jenny Shipley attacks Winston Peters' proposed superannuation scheme, saying the social cost will be enormous, and it will increase the gap between rich and poor.

    16 July 1997

    Plunket says that the present epidemic of deadly meningococcal disease in NZ will worsen as long as children live in poverty. Thirteen people have died this year, compared to six at this time last year.

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