Tuesday, June 07, 2005

United Future Achievements to Date

Stability
as at April 2004, United Future’s confidence and supply agreement with Labour had already outlasted the ill-fated National-NZ First coalition 1996-1998.

as at 29 March 2005, United Future’s confidence and supply agreement with Labour will have outlasted the Labour-Alliance government that was supported by the Greens (1999-2002)

Families
secured $28 million of funding over four years and the passage of legislation to establish the Families Commission, which will ensure that all government legislation will be tested for its impact on families (as per the supply and confidence agreement)

ensured that Family Support payments and family tax credits are indexed to the cost of living from 1 April 2004.

secured another $230,000 over the next two years to extend the social workers in schools programme (2004 Budget).

convinced the government to take the first steps towards improvements in family income assistance as part of the 2003 Budget, comprising $59 million over four years.

contributed to the extension of the government’s Working for Families 2004 budget package to middle-income families, and the creation of a gap between working families and those on a welfare benefit through the in-work payment; over $1.1 billion per annum when fully implemented.

Law and Order
ensured that the long-delayed Victims' Rights Bill, welcomed by victims' rights support groups throughout the country, could be passed (as per the supply and confidence agreement)

lobbied for an increase in funding for Victim Support, which subsequently received an additional $2 million in the 2003 budget to establish a new district structure.

convinced the Government to amend censorship legislation to clarify and re-establish the censors’ ability to classify lurid images of young children through the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Amendment Bill.

amended the Consumer Credit Bill to increase the maximum prison sentence handed down to convicted perpetrators of property buy-back schemes from 3 months to 12 months

ensured the passage of the long-awaited Boy Racer legislation under urgency after it had been held-up through a lack of parliamentary support.

secured $4.4 million over the next four years for restorative justice initiatives, in an effort to support successful programmes that reduce future demand for spending on police and corrections services (2004 Budget).

secured another $1.5 million in funding for victims’ support groups(2004 Budget)

strengthened the provisions of legislation that compels convicted criminals to provide DNA samples, through the addition of a whole range of offences to capture those on the trajectory of violent criminality (e.g. sexual offences, firearm offences, willful damage).

Education
initiated a select committee inquiry into the implementation of the NCEA qualifications system

lobbied successfully for more money for schools and NZQA to implement NCEA, to overcome the deficiencies identified by the select committee inquiry (2003 Budget)

secured another $66 million over the next four years for schools’ operations grants (2004 Budget)

successfully lobbied for an increase in the parental income thresholds for student allowances, thereby widening eligibility for allowances for an estimated 36,000 students. The ultimate impact of this measure will be to reduce reliance on the student loan scheme and the long-term burden that creates.

Drugs
ensured that the Government has not moved to change the legal status of cannabis, despite the obvious agenda of many Government MPs to do so (as per the supply and confidence agreement)

secured a further $39 million over the next four years to fight the methamphetamine scourge (2004 Budget)

Health
convinced the Government to launch a probe into the recent deaths of patients on waiting lists at Wellington Hospital at a time when the private Wakefield Hospital had spare capacity

successfully lobbied for a Ministry of Health study into the effects of spraying for the painted apple moth for those who live in the spray zones.
secured $250 million extra over the next four years for mental health, to ensure that the government maintains its commitment to the Mental Health Commission’s blueprint (2004 Budget).

Transport
worked closely with the government to ensure that the Land Transport Management legislation provides local communities with the option to bypass Transfund and seek alternative funding for major projects that will help to unclog congestion (as per the supply and confidence agreement)

ensured that the Land Transport Management legislation required Transit New Zealand to take economic efficiency into account when deciding on roading projects

ensured that a greater proportion of the revenue collected nationally from the petrol excise tax will be distributed on a regional basis. The entire five cents per litre of new petrol excise tax has been secured for the National Land Transport Fund, with none being diverted into the crown accounts.

from day one, called on the government to make major investment in roading infrastructure, resulting in Transfund’s announcement in 2004 of the largest increase in funding for over a decade.

successfully advocated the use of ‘infrastructure bonds’ to fund new roading and other infrastructure investments.

Environment
enabled the government to pass much needed amendments to the Resource Management Act that had previously been stalled for over three years.

Amongst other changes, United Future ensured that meaningless terms like "spiritual", "cultural landscapes", and "ancestral landscapes" were deleted from the proposed legislation so they couldn’t result in further uncertainty and delay for resource consent applicants.

secured agreement from the government for a process of ongoing review of the Resource Management Act, including the introduction of further amendments this to term to address concerns with the Act.

Treaty of Waitangi and the Constitution
argued successfully for more resources for the Treaty settlements process to reflect the desire by all New Zealanders to see these claims resolved expeditiously and fairly. As a result, the Office of Treaty Settlements and the Waitangi Tribunal received additional funding in the 2003 Budget directed specifically at means by which the claims process can be accelerated
worked to convince the Government that the full legal and beneficial ownership of the seabed and foreshore should be vested in the "people of New Zealand" via a public domain title, instead of the original proposal that ownership would not be vested in anyone.

initiated a commission of inquiry into the status of the New Zealand constitution, including the place of the Treaty of Waitangi.

Business and the Economy
successfully proposed the independent annual review of Air New Zealand Ltd by the Finance & Expenditure Committee

tidied up the clumsy and expensive board structure originally proposed for Television New Zealand and its subsidiary companies, by recommending that TVNZ and THL be separate stand alone Crown companies, rather than the original cumbersome arrangement of an over-arching board of directors, with additional boards for each company.

successfully lobbied the government to reduce the costs passed on to exporters resulting from tighter border security legislation.

ensured clearance for the export of manuka and kanuka manufactured products, such as fuel for smoking and barbecuing meat.

ensured that building societies and credit unions are able to use banking trademarks.

Superannuation and Savings
convinced the government to reduce the withholding tax amount on employers’ contributions to super funds from 33% to 21% for employees earning under $38,000, and 15% for employees earning under $9500. This will help prevent over-taxation on employer-based super schemes and further encourage long-term savings

Local Government
ensured that new dog control laws do not create compliance costs that are too onerous on dog owners, while supporting increased public safety measures. Changes were also made to ensure local authorities will be accountable for their enforcement of dog control.

ensured that the fiscal impact of the Government’s decision to give local authorities the power of general competence will be reviewed by the Local Government Commission, after the Act has been in force for five years with the option of a review after three.

Energy
secured a doubling of EECA funding for homeowners to take up solar energy in their homes and to encourage other home energy efficiency improvements (2004 Budget)

persuaded the government to increase the maximum amount of non-renewable generation investment by electricity lines companies from 25 megawatts to 50 megawatts.

successfully called for an audit of the proposed Project Aqua on the Waitaki River following the cancellation of the project by Meridian.

Gambling
amended gambling legislation to ensure that the Government’s ability to levy the gaming industry would be transparent and accountable to those paying, and that an independent Gambling Commission to oversee gaming law was established.

Charities and Voluntary Sector
initiated the government’s decision to match donations to flood relief efforts in the lower North Island resulting from the February 2004 floods on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

ensured that the matching of donations was repeated in light of flooding in the Bay of Plenty in July 2004.

ensured that the matching of donations was repeated in light of the Boxing Day Tsunami in Southern Asia

Justice
successfully amended the Retirement Villages Bill (by SOP) to increase the ability of Statutory Supervisors to protect the interests of residents
successfully lobbied for the removal of the reference to lesbian partners as 'fathers' in the Care of Children Bill

successfully lobbied for the inclusion in the Care of Children Bill of a provision stating that it is in the best interests of a child to have regular ongoing contact with both parents

6 Comments:

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