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    Letter No.127
    14 July, 2000

    20 June 2000

    Steve Maharey announces the government's response to the Hunn Report (the Ministerial Inquiry into the Department of Work and Income). He wants an increased focus on employment from Winz and a greater regional flexibility in the department's approach and culture. Maharey: "This is the start of a fundamental change for the Department." (See feature in this issue)

    21 June 2000

    A programme has been launched in Hamilton aimed at using the unemployed, particularly young unemployed Maori, to "go on the beat" to encourage them to join the police force.

    Student leaders are disappointed to learn that the government has earmarked only $209,000 in extra funding for Student Job Search. They say that this "small grant", combined with a failure to restore the Emergency Unemployment Benefit (EUB), will see many students returning to campus foodbanks. APSU President David Penney says that the extra money will create some employment opportunities, but it falls well short of the money needed to assist the 20,000 students affected by the restrictions on eligibility to the EUB.

    A group calling itself the Christine Rankin supporters group has announced its formation by sending an email to Radio New Zealand's Kim Hill show. The group says it will take a range of initiatives aimed at deflecting public criticism from Ms. Rankin. The group has adopted the Siouxsie and The Banshees song "Christine" as it's anthem.

    22 June 2000

    The Ministry of Youth Affairs is to expand the Youth Services Corps programme, with an injection of $180,000. The Youth Service Corps is a 20-wk development programme that combines community projects with practical education and challenging recreational activities. It caters for 16-20-yr olds who have been registered as unemployed for over three months. The extra money will fund additional programmes in Auckland and Rotorua.

    The Christine Rankin Impoverished Survivors' Independent Society (CRISIS) has been formed in Otago, in response to the Christine Rankin supporters group announced yesterday. The support group is aimed at students dealing with the fallout of Winz bungles. CRISIS spokesperson Ayesha Verrall : "Many of our members have had their loans or allowances delayed, had debt collectors set on them and struggled to make ends meet this year. So we also know that sometimes people just need support… "

    23 June 2000

    The consulting firm Morgan and Banks has found that practically all unemployed Chinese and Korean immigrants with IT skills could get jobs in NZ ... if employers got over their "xenophobic attitudes". The company criticises NZ firms for being unwilling to hire non-western staff, or absorb someone from a different cultural background by putting in some support structure.

    24 June 2000

    The British government has proposed legally-binding guidelines to make councils recycle at least 25% of all household waste by 2005. At present the councils only recycle an average of 8%. The government will also redirect the landfill tax credits scheme towards recycling schemes run by non-profit-making bodies, rather than private companies or the councils.

    25 June 2000

    The Redesigning Resources Conference opens in Christchurch, with special guest Paul Hawken (author of Natural Capitalism) and Ray Anderson (CEO of Interface Corporation).

    26 June 2000

    PM Helen Clark tells the Redesigning Resources Conference that an upcoming tax review will be an opportunity for NZ'ers to debate changes to the tax system which could deter unsustainable business practices, and promote better resource use and jobs.

    27 June 2000

    Scientists have completed deciphering the first draft of "the book of life"— the 3 billion chemical "letters" that spell out the human DNA genome.

    The Mayors Taskforce for Jobs hold a special meeting with Paul Hawken at the Redesigning Resources Conference. (see special feature, in this issue)

    INL newspapers have launched a major new website combining many regional newspapers, as well as the major dailies in Wellington and Christchurch. It can be accessed at The new website includes a revamped Jobnet database which covers situations vacant advertisements from all over NZ. This can be accessed at

    The software consulting firm Synergy says that Australian companies can cut their software development costs by a quarter by getting the work done in New Zealand.

    The Auditor-General says that students will owe an estimated $20 billion by 2024, and some could die of old age before paying off their student loans.

    28 June 2000

    A Lampen recruitment agency survey of 660 employers has found that redundancies have dropped dramatically, while permanent staff have increased over the past 12 months.

    Wellington City Council agrees to spend an extra $1 million to boost business in the city and secure threatened jobs, following a review which shows that the city faces the high risk of losing businesses and skilled jobs to Auckland and overseas.

    29 June 2000

    The National Bank survey of business confidence shows that it has slumped to its lowest levels since the 1987 sharemarket crash.

    The NZ Institute of Economic research says that the shortage of skilled workers in NZ is among the highest seen in the last 20 years. Director Alex Sundakov blames tax rises for sending "the best and brightest" overseas, and leaving behind a shortage of skilled labour.

    According to the Guardian Weekly, the United States now has 800,000 child farm labourers, more than half of whom are under the age of 15 years. Most of them are "undocumented" immigrants from Mexico, working in California fields to pick grapes or cotton.

    30 June 2000

    340 Nominations have been received to fill the seven positions on a new government working party charged with developing the framework for an agreement between the government and the community and voluntary sector.

    Act's Muriel Newman is critical of the coalition government's performance on long-term unemployment. She reports that in the first six months of this government, the number of people registered unemployed for longer than six months has grown from 139,000 to 151,000 — an increase of 10.5%.

    1 July 2000

    Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey has taken the government's "Closing the Gaps" message to the World Summit for Social Development in Geneva.

    Plans for a deep-water port at Marsden Point, including new employment opportunities and a $15 million boost for the Whangarei economy, are unveiled by Northland Port.

    Workers who have flown from NZ to Australia to work on four Olympic Games venues in Sydney have gone on strike over being underpaid.

    2 July 2000

    More than 40% of the students removed from schools for their behaviour are Maori, despite Maori representing only 20% of state school rolls.

    3 July 2000

    Up to 100,000 low-income private sector tenants may be interested in applying for a state house under the new income-related rent policy. This is expected to put huge pressures on waiting lists.

    State Services Minister Trevor Mallard has announced "a new era of accountability" by establishing a government watchdog to monitor the state service and ensure that incidents like the Winz chartered planes don't happen again. The "standards board" will be made up of former senior state servants. The government is also going to reshape state service contracts to make it easier for it to deal with errant chief executives. These measures were being undertaken as part of the government's response to the Hunn report into Winz.

    A new research report from Victoria University shows that by 2005, the 40-plus age group will make up half the NZ workforce. Author Dr Susan Gee says: "The issues and problems facing this group are of critical concern to employers and government agencies. Older workers are generally positive about their jobs and do not see their age as a disadvantage in their current position. On the other side, older workers report less access to training and are more pessimistic about their chances of finding another job, at about the same pay."

    Research by the Australian and New Zealand Furniture Industries says conditions are looking up and they expect 5-6% growth in the next two years. The industry in NZ employs 9,500 people, or 4% of the manufacturing workforce. This is a decline of 6% since 1995. Cheap imports from Malaysia, Indonesia and China are partly responsible for the decline, as well as Italian-designed furniture being imported in greater numbers.

    4 July 2000

    Jim Anderton formally announces his "jobs machine" initiatives under Industry New Zealand. It includes a Regional Partnership programme, where individual regions can apply for up to $100,000 each year for planning, and $2 million for big initiatives. Regions have until the end of September to lodge expressions of interest.

    Also announced is an Enterprise Awards Scheme which is aimed at helping entrepreneurs and small businesses fund the development of new ideas. Proposals will receive up to $10,000.

    The government is to allow public sector employees access to industry training funding. Systematic work-based training is currently not available across the public sector, and the policy changes will allow many Industry Training Organisations (ITOs) to be funded for this training.

    Paul Williams, Executive of the Industry Training federation, welcomes the change in training policy. He reports that there has already been strong growth in industry training this year, and the ITOs are delivering considerably more training than was purchased by the government. He estimates the additional training as being worth around $2.4 million.

    5 July 2000

    Act's Muriel Newman says that the jobs of many "low skilled, disadvantaged youth" will be put at risk if the government opts for raising the youth minimum wage to 80% of the adult minimum. She points to Labour Department advice that says a 50c rise in the minimum wage will cost up to 4,700 jobs. Newman: "These are the very people this government has pledged to help through its closing the gaps programme..."

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    Judge Joe Williams tells a conference on Maori development at Massey University that members in charge of trusts and corporations that administered Maori-owned land often lacked the basic business skills to run them properly. He says this often results in costly consultants' fees or land-threatening mistakes.

    Topoclimate South project manager Gary Hutchinson reports that the government has taken a 40% share in the mapping side of the project, and is looking to extend the work ... initially to Northland, Taranaki, the East Coast and Westland.

    6 July 2000

    Deputy PM Jim Anderton says he wants the government to be able to guarantee that no-one under the age of 20 years is on the dole.

    The British government has unveiled plans for a Universal Bank to ensure that the 3.5m Britons without bank accounts have access to basic financial services. The new venture will be run through British post offices.

    After an anonymous fax campaign aimed at the media, Labour MP John Tamihere makes a statement to parliament admitting several previous drink-driving convictions, but rejecting allegations over fraud charges in which he says he was discharged without conviction.

    7 July 2000

    Jim Anderton's new Ministry of Economic Development has spent almost $2 million on consultants in its first four months.

    The American work ethic is starting at an early age. Half of US children at age 12 hold informal jobs like baby-sitting or yard work, and by age 15 nearly two-thirds are employed, according to the US Labour Department. The average weekly hours worked by employed 15-17-yr olds were 23 in the summer and 17 during the winter.

    9 July 2000

    The position of General Manager of the Community Employment Group, now under the Department of Labour, is advertised.

    Winz clarifies their position on benefits to same-sex couples (see Diary in The Jobs Letter No.125). For the purposes of benefit entitlement, Winz still has no provision under legislation to treat people in same-sex relationships as couples. Nikki Douglas of Winz says that there will be no loss of a main benefit for same-sex couples.

    Housing NZ however does recognise same-sex couples, and this means that the income of tenants and their partners (same-sex or otherwise) will be taken into account when calculating income-related rent. This will have a flow-on effect to same-sex partners' entitlement to accommodation assistance.

    10 July 2000

    Roger Sowry, National's former Minister of Social Welfare, describes Jim Anderton's push to get everyone off the dole as "little more than wishful thinking".

    At Local Government NZ's national conference in Christchurch, Mayor Garry Moore calls on government to "loosen the legislative straightjacket" that hinders councils. Moore says that councils have been "…trying to tackle increasingly complex issues from within the confines that hinder local government's ability to broker effective solutions. In plain English, its been hellishly hard at times to do the right thing at the right time."

    At the conference, Local Government Minister Sandra Lee promises a rewriting of the Local Government Act in a way that will see city and district councils gaining more power to act on local issues. She also envisages empowering councils to require their trading enterprises to pursue social and environmental objectives, as well as commercial ones.

    Resentment towards the student loans scheme increases the longer borrowers are in debt, according to a survey commissioned by the Inland revenue Department. The AC Nielson survey shows that though 43% of loan debtors favoured the scheme when they first took on their debts, 80% had negative feelings about it after living with the debt for some time.

    11 July 2000

    New Zealand Herald reports that thousands of NZ'ers are heading across the Tasman to cash in on jobs during the upcoming Olympics. Recruitment companies are hunting staff for everything from cleaning toilets to chauffeuring athletes. The NZ hospitality trade says it is bracing itself as chefs and other restaurant workers jump the Tasman to take advantage of the short-term vacancies during the September Games.

    The number of job advertisements continued to decline in Auckland during June, but other regions, especially Christchurch, are faring better — according to the latest ANZ Job Ads survey. The ANZ Bank remarks that plummeting business confidence appears to be now reflected in the number of jobs advertised.

    Nursing shortages in intensive care at Wellington Hospital are now causing operations to be cancelled. The problem is being compounded because of the school holidays — casual staff who had been filling in during the shortages are not available in the holiday period.

    Winz will be one of five government agencies to be audited by the Maori Development Ministry for its performance and effectiveness in delivering programmes to Maori.

    A new service providing grants, advice and mentoring for small to medium-sized Maori businesses will be set up by the government as a part of its Closing the Gaps strategy.

    The Warehouse, one of the largest employers in NZ, has helped former employees to launch People First, an independent no-frills union for Warehouse staff.

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    12 July 2000

    Forestry company Carter Holt Harvey is to mothball its Mataura paper mill next month, with the loss of 155 jobs.

    The response from Auckland businesses to Jim Anderton's "jobs machine" initiatives has been overwhelming. Michael Barnett of the Auckland Regional Chamber of Commerce says that the North Island BIZinfo centres have run out of information packs and have had to hire extra staff because of the interest.

    A sharp fall in the numbers of Asian immigrants has driven the government to introduce a better deal for business migrants. Business leaders say the drop has damaged the economy and property markets, especially in Auckland. Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel says that part of the problem is that many skilled professionals were coming to NZ from Asia "... and not getting the work they deserve." Dalziel has announced a pilot scheme aimed at ensuring migrants connect with local businesses and professional networks.

    At the Local Government NZ Conference in Christchurch, PM Helen Clark praises Christchurch and Manukau cities as leading examples of local authorities "prepared to get stuck in on economic and social development". She cited Christchurch's youth employment strategy as a positive initiative. Clark called for central and local government to work together in areas of regional and economic development. She remarked that many councils had worked on strategies for their communities, but the support of government had been the missing link.

    Rural teaching principals are overworked, and their schools are understaffed, according to the NZ Educational Institute. The institute's research shows that fewer teachers are applying for principal roles in rural areas, and most rural teachers are working an average of 60 hours a week.

    13 July 2000

    Massey University has revised its plans for the number of staff cuts. It will now lay off 86 people instead of 116, as the university moves its teaching focus away from basic sciences.

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