Top News-Cycle Items: NewsRoom_Digest for 26 March 2015

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Newsroom Digest

NewsRoom_Digest for 26 March 2015
This edition of NewsRoom_Digest contains six media release snippets and seven links of the day from Thursday 26 March.

Top stories in this news cycle currently include the the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security announces an inquiry into GCSB spying in the Pacific, the Government changes employment laws to crack down on the exploitation of vulnerable workers, and the acting head of the Health Ministry, Chai Chuah, is appointed as permanent head of the department.

SNIPPETS OF THE DAY

IGIS Inquiry Into Pacific Spying Allegations: The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, will commence an inquiry into complaints over alleged interception of communications of New Zealanders working or travelling in the South Pacific by the Government Security Communications Bureau (GCSB). The complaints follow recent public allegations about GCSB activities. The complaints, and these public allegations, raise wider questions regarding the collection, retention and sharing of communications data.

Labour: Sink In National’s Spending Spin: Massive pay rises at the State Services Commission prove National’s claims of clamping down on spending in the public sector are simply fantasy, Labour’s State Services spokesman Kris Faafoi says. “The Government is speaking out of both sides of its mouth on spending in the public sector. On one hand its warning frontline workers such as nurses and teachers not to expect pay rises, yet up the road at the State Services Commission salaries went up by an average of $13,000 in one year.”

Monarchy Succession Laws Updated: Today, at a special meeting of the Executive Council, the Governor-General of New Zealand promulgated the Royal Succession Act Commencement Order 2015. The Royal Succession Act 2013 was passed in December 2013 to implement several important changes needed to modernise the monarchy. These changes included the introduction of gender equality and removed religious discrimination.

Stronger Employment Safeguards: Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse today announced a package of measures to strengthen enforcement of minimum employment standards. “Employers are the backbone of our economy and most do a great job in meeting their employment obligations, but there are a number of serious breaches occurring,” Mr Woodhouse says. The changes include tougher sanctions, increased tools for labour inspectors, and clearer record keeping requirements.

Reforms Saving Taxpayer Money: Associate Minister for Social Development Jo Goodhew has welcomed news that since benefit fraud reform initiatives began two years ago, up to $60 million of taxpayers’ money has been saved. “Over the past two and a half years around 9,500 benefits have been cancelled after fraudulent and illegitimate payments were discovered. These changes hold people to account for their actions, and make it difficult to defraud the welfare system,” Mrs Goodhew says.

NZDF Continues Vanuatu Relief Work: The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) sealift and amphibious support ship HMNZS CANTERBURY has arrived in Port Vila carrying further aid to support Vanuatu’s recovery from the devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam. HMNZS CANTERBURY will offload 150 tonnes of food and other supplies at Port Vila before loading aid including hygiene packs and water purification equipment, destined for Epi Island and others in the Shepherd Islands group about 100 kilometres north of Port Vila.

LINKS OF THE DAY

RESERVE BANK BULLETIN: The Reserve Bank today published two articles in the Reserve Bank Bulletin. The Bulletin’s first article discusses the risks created by high and rapidly rising levels of household debt. Read the Bulletin at:
http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/research_and_publications/reserve_bank_bulletin/2015/

BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION REPORT: Domestic bribery and corruption is both a real and growing issue in New Zealand that organisations ignore at their peril, according to a Trans-Tasman survey released to business audiences in Wellington and Auckland today. The 2015 Deloitte Bribery and Corruption Survey canvassed the views of 269 public and private sector organisations across New Zealand and Australia and found that an alarming 23% of respondents reported experiencing one or more known instances of domestic corruption in the last five years. Of these more than half occurred in the last twelve months. To read the full report, go to http://www.deloitte.com/nz/corruption.

EBOLA ONE YEAR ON: The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has launched a campaign – Words Against Ebola – to promote knowledge and awareness, alleviate fear, overcome complacency, and create a community of global support to bring Ebola cases down to zero. Kiwi aid worker, Corinne Ambler who is currently working for the International Federation of Red Cross in West Africa, writes about her experiences and the word she is using to fight Ebola in her latest blog:
https://www.redcross.org.nz/blog/from-the-field/stopping-ebola-with-courage/

RENEWABLE ENERGY USE RISES: Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges says new figures showing renewable energy contributed almost 80 percent of New Zealand’s electricity generation last year are very encouraging. At 79.9 percent, the share of renewable electricity generation in 2014 is the highest it has been since 1996. The figures were released today in the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s December quarter 2014 edition of the NZ Energy Quarterly, which is available here:
http://www.med.govt.nz/sectors-industries/energy/energy-modelling/publications/new-zealand-energy-quarterly

REGIONAL TOURISM INDICATORS RELEASED: Today, the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment released the Regional Tourism Indicators (RTI) for February 2015. The RTI are based on electronic card transaction data and provide regular updates on both international and domestic tourism expenditure at a regional level. For more detailed information on the RTI series:
http://www.med.govt.nz/sectors-industries/tourism/tourism-research-data/regional-tourism-indicators?utm_source=Data20Alerts&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Regional20Tourism20Indicators2020February202015

HIGH NUMBER APPLY FOR TEACHER FUND: Education Minister Hekia Parata has welcomed the more than 200 applications for the first round of the $10 million Teacher-led Innovation Fund. The new fund is part of the government’s $359 million Investing in Educational Success Initiative and provides funding for teachers to develop innovative ideas to be put into practice and shared across schools. “The high number of applications received reflects the passion and commitment of teachers to develop further good practice and share some of the great ideas and successes that are already happening in many kura and schools across the country,” says Ms Parata. More information can be found here:
http://www.education.govt.nz/ministry-of-education/specific-initiatives/investing-in-educational-success/teacher-led-innovation-fund/

PRIME MINISTER’S BUSINESS SCHOLARSHIPS OPEN:
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce is encouraging senior managers, executives and business owners who want to expand their international expertise to apply for the 2015 Prime Minister’s Business Scholarships. Entries open today for the scholarships, which cover up to 50 percent of the course-related costs of attending an international learning institution. They are designed to grow skills and business capability to make New Zealand firms more internationally competitive, Mr Joyce says.Applications for the scholarships close on 11 May 2015. For more information: www.mbie.govt.nz/what-we-do/prime-ministers-business-scholarships

And that’s our sampling of the day that was on Thursday 26th March 2015.

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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