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Fraud More Reason For Voluntary Student Association Membership

Posted on 29 Jun 2009

ACT New Zealand Deputy Leader Heather Roy today reiterated her call for student association membership to be made voluntary, following an article in the 'Press' newspaper that a woman has been jailed for 22 months after defrauding the Christchurch Polytechnic Students' Association (CPSA) of $175,000 - $125,000 of which was unrecoverable.

"With students forced to pay association fees, these organisations have pools of cash and little accountability when it comes to managing those funds - making it easy for individuals to use the money for their own means," Mrs Roy said.

"According to the 'Press' other incidents over the years include:

'December 1999 - Brendan McQuillan, president of Nelson Polytechnic Student Association, admitted stealing $8,004. November 2003 - Florence bailey, office manager of Massey Students Association, jailed for two years and three months after stealing $203,000. November 2005 - Victoria University Maori Student Association treasurer Wi Nepia jailed for stealing $161,000. 2005 - Otago University's Te Roopu Maori, the Maori students' association collapsed amid allegations of financial impropriety. Estimated fraud $21,000. April 2007 - Clelia Opie, officer of Victoria University Students' Association, spends $6,000 on phone calls.'

"Student associations are one of only a few organisations in New Zealand that can compel membership. This compulsion results in a guaranteed stream of income, with a seeming lack of accountability to properly manage the pool of money it creates.

"Misuse of funds in a voluntary organisation would result in a loss of confidence by members in the executive. But in student organisations, despite frequent fraud and theft, students are still forced to pay union fees whether they want to or not. Student associations are also often plagued by accusations of advocating only the views of their executives rather than those of their wider memberships.

"During the last Parliamentary session, I had a Private Members Bill in the ballot to amend this and make student association membership voluntary. Unfortunately it was not drawn from the ballot and students are paying the price.

"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," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

Heather Roy's Diary

Posted on 27 Jun 2009

As CoOL As It Gets
This week the issue of Country of Origin Labelling (CoOL) appeared in the media again with articles in both the 'Sunday Star-Times' and the 'Herald On Sunday' newspapers, as well as press releases from a number of different interest groups.

CoOL been an issue in New Zealand for some time, with an increasing interest by the public in knowing where their food comes from. Many countries have mandatory CoOL regimes - some applying only to imported foods, and some applying only to fresh and whole foods.

A number of other nations, however, have no regime and rely on fair trading practice regulation. New Zealand is one of these countries - although we do have mandatory CoOL requirements covering wine, clothing and footwear.

Some groups have been lobbying for mandatory labelling, while their opponents advocate either remaining with the status quo introducing a consistent CoOL scheme that is voluntary.

The policy of successive Governments has been that CoOL across all food types should be a voluntary practice for the food industry. When used by producers and retailers as a marketing tool, this practice is influenced by consumer demand.

The reasoning behind this is that the implementation of a mandatory CoOL scheme imposes labelling costs on producers and retailers, which is inevitably passed on to consumers. In 2005, the NZIER released a report detailing these additional costs for composite products - such as jams and pickles, which have not only the whole food component but contain other ingredients like sugars.

That report found that a move to compulsory CoOL would create large costs for food companies - an estimated $91 million over 10 years.

A further consideration is that of trade: food is very important to our economy. As a significant food exporter, New Zealand requires as much flexibility as possible in marketing our food both domestically and in export markets. We are also heavily reliant on imported ingredient foods for use in those foods that are processed. Compulsory CoOL could affect the viability of the New Zealand market for exporters - reducing the availability and increasing the price of ingredient foods.

Consumer choice includes the right not to have extra cost imposition as a result of other consumers' preferences. Mandatory country of origin labelling would impose an extra cost on all consumers by increasing the cost of food.

By comparison, voluntary CoOL - in response to consumer interest - allows for considerations to be based on demand for such an initiative.

It is for this reason that the National-led Government is looking favourably on voluntary - rather than mandatory - CoOL.

In my capacity as Minister of Consumer Affairs, voluntary CoOL is an area I have identified for examination during this Parliamentary term, and which the National Party has indicated an interest in progressing. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs is the Government agency responsible for the labelling of food.

I am now leading a process to develop co-ordinated information that retailers and manufacturers can use to display on single-ingredient foods - such as fruit vegetables, meat and fish - and whole foods like nuts and flour. Point of sale information is the sensible place to start.

The work on this voluntary accord - which draws in the Ministers of Trade, Food Safety, Agriculture, and their departments - is already being progressed. Key amongst this work must be a robust cost-benefit analysis - some consumers are willing to pay extra for knowing where their food comes from; others, already struggling on limited budgets, cannot afford even small increases to their weekly food bills.

Producers and retailers will make their decisions based on demand for the initiative, competitive advantage of doing so, and any additional costs it might dictate.

Lest We Forget - Outbreak of the Korean War (June 25 1950)
Like other nations, New Zealand believed that North Korea's invasion of South Korea was undertaken at the instigation of the Soviet Union.

The belief of the day was that firm resistance to the spread of communism was necessary and New Zealand was involved in Korea in a military capacity from 1950-57 - first as part of the UN 'police action' to repel the North Korean invasion of South Korea and, then, in a garrison role after the July 1953 armistice.

In total, around 6,000 men served with 'K Force' - the New Zealand deployment to Korea. This included 1,300 sailors on board the Royal New Zealand Navy's Loch-Class frigates, and their legacy lives on in the names and pennant numbers of the recently-commissioned inshore patrol vessel fleet.

Forty-five Kiwis lost their lives during our seven-year commitment to Korea. One member of K Force was taken prisoner, held in northern North Korea for 18 months and repatriated after the armistice - as was a New Zealander who had been shot down near the North Korean capital Pyongyang while serving with the RAAF.

While New Zealand's contribution to the UN force wasn't large, the war impacted significantly on our approach to international relations. The events in Korea gave New Zealand a chance to pursue a security commitment from the US - resulting in the ANZUS Treaty of 1951, which was to have long-term implications for New Zealand's foreign policy.

It should also be noted that, once it was clear the conflict would remain isolated to Korea, New Zealanders paid little attention and there were occasional complaints that K Force was a 'Forgotten Force'. It was not then, and is not forgotten now.

ENDS

Public Consultation For Defence Review 2009

Posted on 26 Jun 2009

Hon Heather Roy speech for the launch of Defence Review 2009 Public Consultation; Te Papa, Cable Street, Wellington; Friday, June 26 2009.

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to reinforce Hon Dr Wayne Mapp's introductory comments about Defence Review 09. We have both noted often that the primary role of any government is protecting its citizens, and the release of the defence Review 09 Terms of reference on April 21 reflected the importance of that challenge.

The history of this nation is tightly woven with its armed forces. All Kiwis have some connection - past or present - through families, friends and neighbours. The state of our three services reflects, not just practical requirements but also, the respect we hold for the sacrifices of our forebears. That's why it is especially appropriate that the launch of the public consultation phase of the review today is set amidst the backdrop of Te Papa.

I am well aware that there are many differing views on how New Zealand's defence should be conducted. I'm pleased to have specific responsibility for ensuring that those views are heard and the public consultation documents you see laid out here are one of the many methods that enable every New Zealander to have their say as part of the review process.

Submission forms can be found inside this document, which is available from public libraries and RSA clubrooms. There is also the ability to make an online submission through the Ministry of Defence website at www.defence.govt.nz. Dedicated phone lines and email addresses offer further choice for submitters, and a series of public meetings will be held around the country later this year.

An undertaking of this scale cannot be achieved without the efforts of many, and I would like to acknowledge the staff members at the Ministry of defence and Headquarters New Zealand Defence Force who have brought this impressive set of media together.

I also acknowledge the Royal New Zealand RSA, represented here today by National President Air Vice marshal (retired) Robin Klitscher and other senior members.

The presence of Neal Garnett and other members of the Defence Industry Committee of New Zealand represents one of three companion studies covering Defence Industry, Youth Programmes and Voluntary National Service. The views of the public on these issues is also welcome.

At this point, would Robin Klitscher and Gina Manning - representing the past, present and future links of New Zealand society with its armed forces - please come forward to receive the first two copies of the public consultation documentation for Review 09.

ENDS

Ministers Launch Defence Review 09 Document

Posted on 26 Jun 2009

Minister of Defence Hon Dr Wayne Mapp and Associate Minister of Defence Hon Heather Roy today officially launched the public consultation document of the National-led Government's Defence review 2009.

"This Government must make important decisions on Defence - decisions which will form our path for decades," Dr Mapp said.

"The role that the Defence Force plays in securing our environment and our people must be understood and properly defined, and the Defence Force given the right tools to do that job.

"Such decisions cannot be made without proper consultation and planning. The consultation document which we are launching today is intended to stimulate debate and consideration of New Zealand's defence and security issues.

"All New Zealanders have a stake in these issues. We need the views of every sector of society to produce an enduring plan for Defence," Dr Mapp said.

"ACT and National campaigned in 2008 on the promise of a Defence Review within a year of taking office. Today's launch is a further affirmation of the Government's intent to honour its commitments," Mrs Roy said.

"Defence Review 2009 will look out as far as 2035. The New Zealand Defence Force belongs to all New Zealanders, all New Zealanders should have a say on the direction of the NZDF into the future.

"This public consultation document will assist in gaining the public's views. It will be available at libraries and schools, and from the Ministry of Defence website (www.defence.govt.nz). I encourage all New Zealanders to read the document and provide their feedback through the included submission form so that their views can be recorded and taken into account," Mrs Roy said.

ENDS

Defence Review 2009 Public Consultation Document Launch

Posted on 26 Jun 2009

Minister of Defence Wayne Mapp and Associate Minister of Defence Heather Roy will today launch the public consultation document for Defence Review 2009 at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

"The Defence Review is long overdue, with the last major review being last century. Defence Review 2009 will provide the way forward for the next few decades," Dr Mapp said.

"The public consultation document is an important tool of Defence Review 2009 and will assist in gaining the public's views on the direction of our Defence Force," Associate Minister of Defence Heather Roy said.

Launch of the Defence Review 2009 Public Consultation Document; Te Marae, Level 4, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Cable Street, Wellington; 12:30pm, Friday, June 26 2009.

ENDS

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