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VSM Bill Will Set Students Free

Posted on 20 Aug 2009

The drawing of my Education (Freedom of Association) Members Bill is the first step in liberating students from the flawed and out-dated law that forces them to join their local student association and steals their right to make their own decisions, ACT New Zealand MP Sir Roger Douglas said today.

"Student associations are one of only a few organisations in New Zealand that can compel membership and it is students who have paid the price," Sir Roger said.

"For instance, forcing students to join and pay its fees provides associations with a guaranteed stream of income – resulting in a seeming lack of accountability to properly manage the pool of money this income creates. This has been seen in the numerous cases of mis-management that has occurred at student associations around the country.

"Further, student associations purport to represent the views and desires of the wider student body – yet most are dominated by a small minority of student politicians who prefer to push their own agenda and promote their own views rather than those of the majority.

"ACT has long campaigned to right this wrong, with my Bill having previously been in the ballot under the name of my colleague Hon Heather Roy in the last Parliamentary term.

"We allow students to choose what university or polytechnic they attend, and what papers to take; it’s time we gave them the freedom to choose whether or not to join their local student association rather than forcing them to pay a union fee if they want to study," Sir Roger said.

ENDS

Three Strikes Would Have Saved Him

Posted on 19 Aug 2009

The number of killers that ACT's 'Three Strikes' law would have prevented from killing has now risen to 80 following Guy Nicholas Wilson's conviction for the 2006 murder of Noi Kai Chong Boon, ACT New Zealand Justice Spokesman David Garrett said today.

"The sad and undeniable reality is that Wilson's victim would be alive today had ACT's 'Three Strikes' law been in place in 2006 when Mr Boon was murdered in his own home while his girlfriend and child hid upstairs, fearing for their lives," Mr Garrett said.

"Wilson has 'a significant criminal history' with 104 previous convictions – including kidnapping, robbery, and rape. Although the Privacy Act prevents the public from knowing his exact criminal history, its severity is indicated by his sentence of preventive detention with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years for the murder.

"Wilson was given, not three but, 104 'second' chances – with even his own lawyer conceding that his client had considerably more than three convictions for what would be 'Strike' offences under ACT's proposed law.
"It is clear that had ACT's 'Three Strikes' been the law in 2006 Mr Boon would be alive today – because his killer would have been locked up at the time of the killing.

"This sad case - and the 79 cases of murder victims that preceded it – are all the evidence needed to rebut claims that 'Three Strikes' is unnecessary or would not work. Anyone who makes such claims should front up and explain themselves to Mr Boon's loved ones," Mr Garrett said.

ENDS

Minister Releases TOR For Special Education Review

Posted on 19 Aug 2009

Associate Minister of Education Heather Roy today released the Terms of Reference for the Government's Review of Special Education. This reflects the Government's expectations and aspirations for Special Education.

"With this in mind we aim to ensure that Special Education policies and processes are fair and consistent, reach those most in need, make the best use of existing Government funding - such as the Ongoing and Reviewable Resourcing Schemes (ORRS) funding - and make the best use of the expertise needed to support children with Special Education needs," Mrs Roy said

"Much has changed since Special Education policy was developed in the 1990s, and the Government is working to ensure that special needs students receive the support they require. To do this, I need to know what is working well and what needs improvement.

"The Review will cover services provided by the Ministry of Education, and what happens in all schools to support children with Special Education needs. It will consist of two phases:

* Phase One - to commence immediately: access to, and allocation of, Special Education funding and services for children with Special Education needs and how to implement the additional $51 million funding allocated in Budget 2009..

* Phase Two - to commence in late 2009: issues relating to workforce; transitions; service development; integration and collaboration between agencies.

"The Government remains committed to the current policy platform that underpins Special Education provision, including: the Education Act 1989; the New Zealand Disability Strategy; and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, ratified by New Zealand last year. I intend to consult with the Education sector, parents and the disability community regarding the Review.

"ACT and National in Government are committed to widening choice in education for all students and their families, and dedicated to providing them with the opportunities and tools they need to and fulfil their potential," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

2025 Taksforce Members Appointed

Posted on 18 Aug 2009

Minister for Regulatory Reform Rodney Hide today announced the appointment of four members of the 2025 Taskforce, charged with recommending ways to improve productivity and close the income gap with Australia.

Chaired by Dr Don Brash, the 2025 Taskforce will investigate the reasons for the decline in New Zealand’s productivity performance over recent years.

Joining Dr Brash on the 2025 Taskforce are:

- Hon David Caygill: former Minister of Finance, current chair of the Electricity Commission, chair of the forthcoming ACC Review, and member of the Regulatory Responsibility Taskforce

- Jeremy Moon: founder and chief executive of Icebreaker and chair of Better by Design, a unit within New Zealand Trade and Enterprise

- Judith Sloan: Commissioner (part-time) at the Australian Productivity Commission and Commissioner at the Australian Fair Pay Commission

- Dr Bryce Wilkinson: Director of Capital Economics, with 12 years experience in public policy analysis at the Treasury and 12 years with an investment bank

"I am very pleased to have secured such high calibre people for the 2025 Taskforce," Mr Hide said. "From their wide experience they will provide valuable insights into the work of this important body.

"The establishment of the taskforce was a key component in the ACT-National confidence and supply agreement, reflecting the importance we place on working to close the income gap with Australia. That income gap is one of the reasons we lose so many talented, hard-working New Zealanders every year."

The Taskforce will provide an initial report in November 2009. Mr Hide said that report will identify the policy settings and changes that will deliver the productivity growth necessary for a stronger, more prosperous economy. Further progress reports will then be provided in 2010 and 2011.

Appointment Of Team Leaders For Companion Studies

Posted on 18 Aug 2009

Associate Minister of Defence Heather Roy today announced that the Hon Hugh Templeton, Major-General (retd) Louis Gardiner, and Brigadier (retd) Timothy Brewer have been appointed to lead the three Companion Studies that will run in parallel with Defence Review 2009.

"These Studies will assist the NZDF in the increasing role it plays in supporting the Government’s objectives of economic growth, whole-of-Government strategies and increased focus on youth development," Mrs Roy said.

"The Studies to be undertaken are:

• New Zealand Defence Industry: an examination of the New Zealand Defence Industry sector and options for economic
improvement - to be led by Hon Hugh Templeton, former Minister of Customs; Trade and Industry.

• Youth Programmes: an examination of the role of NZDF in youth programmes generally, and specifically in regard to the New Zealand Cadet Force - to be led by Major General (retd) Louis Gardiner, former Chief of Army and current CEO of Crimestoppers New Zealand.

• Voluntary National Service: an examination of the concept and viability of Voluntary National service as a whole-of-Government strategy - to be led by Brigadier (retd) Timothy Brewer, former Director General of Reserves and Cadets, Law Commissioner and current Crown Solicitor for New Plymouth.

"These Studies will enable a detailed examination of several important aspects of the links between Defence and society. Hon Hugh Templeton, Maj General (retd) Gardiner and Brigadier (retd) Brewer have been selected for their knowledge and experience in the areas of their respective topics," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

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