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Upper Hutt Leader : September 7th 2011
45 UPPER HUTT LEADER, SEPTEMBER 7, 2011 To order your own copy of photos in this paper, or other CCN titles, check out: pix.ccn.co.nz IRD's discreet private enforcers By JIM CHIPP Private debt collectors chasing defaulting taxpayers and student loan borrowers will be bound by the same confidentiality con- ditions as Inland Revenue Depart- ment staff. An Inland Revenue spokesman confirmed last month that a four- month trial had begun, using pri- vate debt collectors to recover payments from 15,000 tax debtors in New Zealand and 500 student loan defaulters living in Australia. Revenue Minister Peter Dunne said agreements would protect the privacy of taxpayers. We have actually talked to the Privacy Commissioner about this,'' he said. We have an agreement that any staff would have to adhere to the same confidentiality that department employees would have to. We are very conscious of the sensitivity of the handling of information.'' None of Inland Revenue's special powers to recover debts, such as requiring employers to hand over salaries, seizing prop- erty, or applying penal tax or interest, would be delegated to private companies, he said. They would not be able to nego- tiate payment plans. Anything that requires a commissioner's decision would have to come back to the depart- ment,'' Mr Dunne said. This is literally people who knock on doors to chase up debt.'' He said all staff members employed by the external compan- ies participating in the study would be required to sign a con- fidentiality agreement and adhere to legislative requirements regarding customer confiden- tiality. Collection staff would be subject to the same background checks as Inland Revenue employees''. A spokeswoman for Inland Rev- enue said security of tax infor- mation was of critical importance. Staff employed by external com- pany's staff would be given con- tact details and debt amounts for those debtors who are in default, but would not have any access to Inland Revenue's information systems, she said. Demand for online interaction closes job search office By LAUREN PRIESTLEY The student voice is the driving force behind the revamp of Student Job Search, which is closing the door on its regional offices on September 30. The company's chief executive, Paul Kennedy, said the closure was not a cost-cutting measure -- the change was a result of student demand. Statistics showed students wanted more online interaction and 24/7 access, with less than 10 per cent using the walk-in offices, Mr Kennedy said. Four times as many students as those who want to engage face-to-face are telling us, Get your applications online', instead of having to walk in. Students are the biggest pool of emerging domestic talent we have... we've got to listen to them.'' The change includes closure of the walk-in offices and the introduction of online profiling, so students can get jobs completely over the internet. I find it ludicrous we are an organis- ation that engages technology-savvy students, but we require them to look at our website every day they need a job, and then call in.'' The service placed more than 25,000 students in jobs last year, a 20 per cent increase from 2009. Mr Kennedy said while the reno- vation was not a cost-cutting measure, Student Job Search was very aware of the government funding it received for 90 per cent of its operations. Government funding is never assured,'' he said. If we don't stay effective and lean and mean, then we're at risk.'' Victoria University student services director Pam Thorburn said the univer- sity could not contribute to funding for Student Job Search because it was not classified as a university service. Students hoped the change in Student Job Search's model would sat- isfy some of the shortcomings in the pro- cess of applying for jobs. Massey postgraduate student Jacob McSweeny said the difficulties of calling Student Job Search put him off. They just assume students have home phones, because they don't let you call the 0800 number from a cell.... They can't think or act laterally.'' Student Job Search is looking to work more closely with career services on university campuses as well as Careers New Zealand. Plenty of activities going on Bloomin' lovely:A combination of spring events and Rugby World Cup fever means there's plenty happening on the other side of Rimutaka hill this month, say Destination Wairarapa's customer service manager Helen Tickner, left, and festival co- ordinator Gretchen Bunny. Arts, sports, entertainment and the popular Carterton Daffodil Carnival will each take a turn at being centre stage during the 2011 Wairarapa Spring and Rugby Festival, run- ning September 10 till October 9. During the Rugby, Haka and Hangi Fes- tival (September 9-10) at Carterton Rugby Club, the Wairarapa Bush Rugby Union and Ngati Kahungunu Iwi will treat visitors to a friendly game of rugby, lessons on how to do the haka and offer traditional Maori food. The Carterton Daffodil Carnival (Sept- ember 11) coincides with the first weekend of Rugby World Cup when Wales play South Africa in Wellington. This event boasts dozens of stalls featuring local crafts, art and children's entertainment as well as the time-honoured tradition of picking daffodils at Middle Run, a historic property at Gladstone. This year's carnival will also see the wel- come return of the Daffodil Express, a his- toric steam train that will bring visitors from Wellington and the Hutt Valley over to Carterton for the day.
August 31st 2011
September 14th 2011