Just briefly on Wednesday

Retiring Transpower CEO Patrick Strange was reappointed to the board of Mighty River Power, the board of Standards NZ was reappointed to keep it going while it's being disestablished, MBIE reported skilled job ads online rose 4.1% in November, Steven Joyce added 4,000 places for new apprentices to the Apprenticeship Reboot scheme and Craig Foss appointed Stephen McElrea to the board of NZ On Air. Foss also reappointed Mark Berry as Commerce Commission Chair.

Strange returns to Mighty River

Patrick Strange will re-join Mighty River Power (MRP) as a director from February 2014, after completing his tenure as Chief Executive of Transpower . He replaces retiring MRP director Trevor Janes , who has been Deputy Chairman since 2009. MRP Chairwoman, Joan Withers said there was "ongoing review of the skills and experience on the Mighty River Power Board and the retirement of two directors over the past year provided an opportunity to complement the current range of skills and experience".

Strange stepped down as a director of MRP in 2007 to take up the role at Transpower.

Staying at Standards

Standards Council chairman John Lumsden and six council members - Sharon Kletchko , Fay Sowerby , Richard Gibbons , John Hannah , Vaughan Renner and Michael Wallmannsberger - have all been reappointed to keep things ticking over at the Council until it is disestablished and replaced by an independent Standards board and a Standards statutory officer within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). Commerce Minister Craig Foss said the members reappointed had all overseen "vast improvements" in the operation of the Council and would ensure it could continue to deliver "through this period of change".

Online employment ads

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment ’s latest Jobs Online report showed online ads for skilled workers rose by 1.6% in November, with the sales, retail, marketing and advertising industry experiencing the biggest increase (up 4.1%). Overall, online job vacancies rose by 1.5 per cent from October..

Over the year, vacancies for skilled workers in Auckland had the largest increase at 14.4%. Canterbury vacancies were up 13.4% with a 44% jump in ads for hospitality and tourism jobs and a 25.5 % increase in ads for the sales, retail, marketing and advertising industries.

Boost for the reboot

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce announced the Apprenticeship Reboot scheme would be extended to subsidise a further 4,000 apprentices on top of the 10,000 it originally planned to fund.

The NZ$31.2 million Apprenticeship Reboot was announced in January as part of an overhaul of the apprenticeship scheme to get more apprentices qualified, particularly in priority trades. New eligible apprentices or trainees signing up for training have been able to apply for a subsidy of $1000 towards the cost of tools and off-job course costs, or $2000 for those in priority trades. Employers are also eligible for an equal payment.

Joyce said the scheme was well ahead of schedule in signing up apprentices and he expected the 10,000th apprentice to sign up before the end of the year. He said so far 67% of the new apprentices have been in the priority construction trades.

IRD computer woes blamed for reform delay

The decision to delay the implementation of new child support laws for a year was "directly caused by the Government's failure to replace its ageing IRD computer system," said Labour’s Revenue spokesperson David Clark .

The Government announced last week the delay in implementing the Child Support Scheme Amendment Act, originally due to come into force on April 1 next year, saying they needed assurance the changes could be made smoothly.

" Inland Revenue told the Government its computer system was on its last legs five years ago," said Clark. "Two years ago John Key finally admitted it was holding tax reform back. However, the Government still hasn't laid out a credible plan to fix it. About NZ$50 million has been spent on international consultants and all that has been achieved is an ‘in principle’ agreement to proceed with preparing more business cases".

NZ on Air appointments

Donna Grant , currently national director of the National Institute of Performing Arts, was appointed to the board of New Zealand On Air replacing Michael Glading who leaves after six years on the board. Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss also announced the reappointment of Stephen McElrea to the board.

No change at Comm Comm helm

Commedrce Minister Craig Foss announced the reappointments of Mark Berry as Chair and Sue Begg as Deputy Chair of the Commerce Commission.

Foss said it was particularly important to maintain continuity in the leadership of the Commerce Commission as it prepared to implement "significant reforms in competition, consumer credit and consumer laws, as well as further progress a comprehensive regulatory work programme.”

Disputes decisions back online

Key decisions of the disputes tribunal are once again available online . The searchable "decisions of note" on the Ministry of Justice website span the last four years and cover a wide range of types of dispute and legislation, with all details identifying the participants removed.

Courts Minister Chester Borrows said key decisions were previously published online in 2007, but were not kept up to date and were removed in 2010 following concerns by Tribunal referees that there had been numerous legislative changes that made a number of those decisions out of date.

Don't point that thing

Anyone wanting to import, sell or acquire a high power laser pointer will have to apply for permission from the Ministry of Health under tough new regulations coming into force next March.

Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew said ACC accepted around 10 injuries (such as burns and eye damage) each year caused by the pointers and the Civil Aviation Authority reported around 100 laser strike incidents on planes each year. “The new controls restrict access to these high-power laser devices to those who have a legitimate reason to use them such as astronomers", she said.