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Archive for October, 2012

Anti-asset sale Flash Occupation at Vodafone Building

31 October 2012 9 comments

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30 October, Wellington. Wellington’s Aotearoa is Not For Sale action group today mounted another in an on-going series of  “flash occupations” – this time at Forsyth Barr, in the  Vodafone Building in Lambton Quay, down-town Wellington.

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It was a beautiful sunny day when about a dozen members of ANFS met at Midland Park, in front of Vodaphone House,

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Debbie and Warwick, displaying the latest printed signs to be used in on-going campaigns,

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Activists  were all dressed in corporate-style clothing, to facilitate easier entry into company offices. (In the case of Clemenger BBDO, we were actually more stylishly dressed than the corporate staff!)

Warwick (on phone) and Richard, being photographed by Valerie,

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Journalist students from Whitirea Polytech (L-R), Alastair, Anthony, and Damon, interviewing Richard to explain the rationale for flash occupations.

They presented their story online, here: Flash occupation hits key asset sales players

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Lunchtime office workerswere treated to an impromptu public performance.

The group practised singing various songs, that had been amended to carry a protest message. The singing was not quite “New Zealand’s Got Talent” – but the songs were sung with enthusiasm and sincerity…

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A curious moment occurred when this chap was seen photographing the group, using the smartphone in his hand. One person suggested that he was a police photographer.

He seemed intent on taking his pics and then walking away. At no time did he  approach the group to discuss  issues relating to  the purpose of our activities…

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The protest group entered the Vodafone Building – only to be confronted by two security guards.

Whether they had been pre-warned of  our presence, or had spotted us ourside during our practice singing, they blocked further passage of the protest group,

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The smile on one of the security guards showed the laid-back, non-threatening nature of the protest. The ANFS group at all times maintained a peaceful, non-aggressive attitude.

Undeterred, and under surveillance by a camera (top right), the group set up a protest picket-line in the lobby of the building,

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One of the security guards, attempted to cajole the protest group to leave the foyer. Again, there was no aggro from either side,

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Having set up a picket line (to one side of the foyer, so as not to block other peoples’ ability to move with freedom to-and-from the building), the protestors began to sing a loud and clear message; asset sales were not wanted!

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Banner unfurled; signs held aloft; voices in full song – the group were getting their message across to the public,

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Office workers walking past the protest,

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Realising that this was a peaceful protest, the security guards stood back as the  group presented it’s anti-asset-sales message, and eventually wound up the action and left without incident.

Though entry to Forsyth Barr’s offices was not gained, the mere presence of the  Aotearoa is Not For Sale  group was sufficient to remind those within this edifice to corporate power, that this issue will not go away.

Aotearoa is not for sale. Not now, not ever.

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Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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W.o.F “reforms” – coming to a crash in your suburb

29 October 2012 24 comments

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Continued from Liberalising WoF rules – where have we heard this before?

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A Bad Joke?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before; a National minister walks into  Parliamentary  and sez, “Mate, do I have a de-regulation for you!”

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Transport Minister, Simon Bridges, is proceeding full steam ahead with privatisation of the country’s Warrant of Fitness system.  Strangely, this policy was never ‘flagged’ at last year’s election – but that has never stopped National from implementing potentially problematic policies by rat-cunning stealth.

In fact, National’s Road Safety policy could be labelled “nanny statish” when it comes to issues such as banning cellphone use whilst driving; cracking down on the  anti-social “boy racing” culture; introducing zero blood levels for young drivers (but not older drivers);  tightening driving license procedures, etc.

See: National 2011 Transport Policy

See: National 2011 Road Safety Policy

National’s proposed WoF “reforms” do not appear anywhere in their Transport or Road Safety policies.

As outlined in my previous blogpost – Liberalising WoF rules – where have we heard this before? – this is another of National’s rush-of-blood-to-the-head type of policy which is based more on right wing, user-pays ideology than any measure of common sense.

Those Who Forget The Past…

Going by past examples of de-regulation and passing-the-buck on  safety issues, this will prove a costly exercise for the taxpayer. Costly in terms of damage caused by more accidents due to unchecked, unsafe, unroadworthy cars – and costly in terms of lives.

It is precisely this ideological  de-regulation and “reforms” in the 1990s that later created a crisis with our building industry and mines safety.

The loosening of building standards within the  1991 Building Act resulted in a leaking-rotting homes crisis that will ultimately cost home owners, local bodies, and the taxpayer billions in repairs.  Passed by Jim Bolger’s National Government, and which came into effect about 1994, light-handed controls and minimal standards (such as allowing the use of untreated timber and monolithic claddings) in the belief that building quality would be mostly assured by market-driven forces

See: Leaky homes prompt repeal of Building Act

The gutting of the mines inspectorate, allowing self-regulation by mining companies,  had it’s genesis in the early 1990s – again the Bolger-led National government –  where Bill Birch introduced the so-called “Health and Safety in Employment Act, in 1992.

Under the guise of  “eliminating red tape”, this dangerous piece of legislation allowed mining companies to self-monitor their own activities,

“39. Prior to the enactment of the HSE Act, New Zealand had a ‘mishmash of legislation’[5], in which the duties of employers and others tended to be set out prescriptively and in considerable detail. Under this regime, specification standards directed duty holders as to precisely what preventive measures they must take in particular circumstances. Such standards identified inputs, telling duty holders how to meet a goal, rather than health and safety outcomes to be achieved

42. In undertaking reform, New Zealand, like the UK and Australia before it, was strongly influenced by the British Robens Report of 1972. This report resulted in widespread legislative change, from the traditional, ‘command and control’ model, imposing detailed obligations on firms enforced by a state inspectorate, to a more ‘self-regulatory’ regime, using less direct means to achieve broad social goals

46. New Zealand embraced the Robens philosophy of self-regulation somewhat belatedly, but with particular enthusiasm and in the context of a political environment that was strongly supportive of deregulation. Indeed, in various forms, deregulation (and reducing the regulatory burden on industry more broadly) was strongly endorsed by the Labour Government that came into power in 1984 and by the National Government that succeeded it in 1990. The HSE Act was a product of this deregulatory environment and in its initial version was stripped of some of the key measures recommended by Robens, not least tripartism, worker participation and an independent executive. It was regarded, so we were told, as a ‘necessary evil’ at a time when the predominant public policy goal was to enhance business competitiveness…”

See: Review of the Department of Labour’s interactions with Pike River Coal Limited

The conclusion of this experiment in free market de-regulation lies deep within the Pike River Mine, with the entombed bodies of 29 dead miners.

Unfortunately, the architects of this de-regulation, Bill Birch Birch, Ruth Richardson, and Jim Bolger were never prosecuted for their malfeasance in this tragedy.

They should have been.

Fastforward to 2012…

Never let it be said that National learns from history, mistakes, or uses simple common sense. That would be far too much to expect from right wing, market-faith-based ideologues.

Under proposals announced on 18 September, the Government is considering reducing warrant of fitness checks to once a year for cars under 12 years old. (Currently, they are checked in six monthly intervals,  six years after their first registration.)

Bridges says millions could be “saved” in “unnecessary inspections”.

Bullshit.

At most, a car-owner with a vehicle older than six years would save about $60 in a potentially “unnecessary inspection”.

$60.

About $1.15 a week.

16 cents a day.

For that money, we ensure that a vehicle is up to standard, and is not a rolling death-trap on our roads, waiting to maim, kill, and/or destroy property. It means tyres have tread on them; brakes actually brake the vehicle; and the indicator is more than just mere decoration on the steering column.

As a car owner, it’s tempting to save $60 a year.

Until I realise that, for 16 cents a day, I have peace-of-mind that the other car behind me will stop in time because it has working brakes. Or the car-driver approaching on my right will see me through heavy rain because his  car window-wipers work.

There is damned good reason why the Motor Trade Association is campaigning heavily against National’s lunatic proposals. The MTA understands the full implications of increasing WoF checks to yearly intervals; a lot can happen to an older model car in twelve months.

This blogger can foresee a scenario where older vehicles  go for longer periods without WoF checks; family incomes dropping whilst living expenses continue to rise;  coupled to no mandatory Third Party insurance  – and this will end in tears.

As it is, on TV3’s ‘The Nation‘, AA spokesperson Mark Stockdale himself conceded that 9% of cars  on the roads   already lack a current WoF. How many more will we see  if the interval between WoF checks is increased? It doesn’t take supernatural powers of prescience to see where this is heading.

See: TV3’s The Nation 28 October 2012

As mechanic, Don Sweet,  told Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon programme on 27 September,

“When you talk about the repairs, I’ve found steering joints falling off, brakes worn right out, brake hoses cracked to bursting, rusted brake pipes, tyres with steel cords coming out.

And that’s not just on six-month checks, that’s on one-year cars as well. I just think the six months is going to save lives.”

See: Warning warrant of fitness changes could cost lives

National has a habit of not listening to those at the coalface when they stuff around with our laws. Whether it’s Hekia Parata undermining our teachers, or Primary Industries Minister, David Carter, not listening to the agricultural sector when bio-security regulations are watered-down – the Nats are spectacularly inept at consultation.

With National, “nanny state”  becomes Daddy State, and “Father Knows Best” according to these misguided, Ministerial muppets.

The tragedy here is that if this craziness becomes reality, it will be innocent New Zealanders who suffer the consequences as cars become increasingly unsafe and our roads turn into potential killing zones.

Daft Idea #2

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In the same episode of TV3’s ‘The Nation‘, Bridges voiced the bizarre proposition that WoF checks could be contracted out to private companies who would be authorised by the government to carry out “randomised roadside checks” for WoFs,

It could be a private organisation who’s contracted by the government. As I understand it, that’s what they do in Queensland with a very good success.”

Only a male could come up with such a short-sighted, ill-conceived idea.

A female friend of mine listened to Bridges’ suggestion with wide-eyed horror on her face. She turned and said to me,

There is no way on god’s earth I’d stop for a strange car trying to flag me down. I’d have my foot on the gas pedal and head for the nearest police station. ”

She has a point.

When a police vehicle pulls over another vehicle, the former is clearly marked – with flashing lights – and it is safe to do so.

Expecting lone women drivers to pull over for unmarked private vehicles, with god-knows-who at the wheel, is a recipe for disaster. It puts women at risk and cannot be justified by any rational, clear-thinking individual.

Simon Bridges has more than a ‘brain fade’ here – we’re talking full-on ‘brain-wipe‘.

He must be barking mad to believe that,

If all we did as a country was decrease the frequency of vehicle inspections, that in itself may lead to slightly less, or not as good safety outcomes, but if we then target it, have a better targeting of regulation to where the risk is, I think that’s a smart thing.”

On every level, extending the period between WoF check and allowing “randomised roadside checks” by private companies, is the same craziness that National foisted on us in the 1990s.

All in the name of de-regulation and saving $60 a year.

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Related

Hands Off The WoF Campaign

Make A Submission Against the “Reforms”

Additional

TV3: Private companies may do random WoF checks

Previous related blogpost

This will end in tears

Other blogs

Deregulating for Disaster

Another deregulation fiasco

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ETS – National continues to fart around

28 October 2012 23 comments

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Beginning of the ETS

September 2008

Labour introduces and passes the Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading) Amendment Act 2008.

As David Parker said, on 10 September 2008,

For the first time we will start factoring in the true cost of greenhouse gas emissions into our economy. This is in line with developments in the rest of the world.

The sooner we get on top of this challenge, the sooner we can reap the benefits of providing low carbon goods and services that are attractive to affluent overseas markets. There is much to be gained by grasping this opportunity.

While there will be extra costs for some sectors, I am confident that the support the government is providing both to households and to businesses will smooth the transition we absolutely must make, if we are to play our part in the global struggle against climate change.”

Source

National’s Track Record

13 May 2007

In particular I’m going to speak about the biggest environmental challenge of our time: global climate change.

The National Party will ensure that New Zealand acts decisively to confront this challenge.

The scientific consensus is clear: human-induced climate change is real and it’s threatening the planet. There are some armchair sceptics out there, but I’m not one of them…

… National is committed to growing our economy. Confronting climate change will be a vital part of the policy mix for fuelling that growth…

… In the decades ahead, peoples’ perceptions around climate change will affect the brand image of New Zealand and its exports. New Zealand must take credible steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or risk becoming a trading pariah…

… National will have policies that reflect the fact that living on a diet of carbon will be increasingly bad – bad for the world and bad for our economy. We will have policy that encourages ‘climate friendly’ choices like windmills, hydro power and tree planting, and reduces the desire for ‘climate unfriendly’ behaviours, like burning coal…

… National will bring all Kiwis – industry, energy producers, farmers, mums and dads – closer to a shared and well-understood goal. We need to be united in our pursuit of a ’50 by 50′ target.

Source

6 May 2008

Mr Key says,

National supports the principle of the ETS and is following the select committee process closely. National has had reservations about the timing of new taxes on motorists and households when there has been no personal tax relief for so long.”

Source

8 April 2010

Prime Minister John Key rejects demands  to amend the  Emissions Trading Scheme before it takes effect on the energy and transport sectors in July despite calls from business groups, farmers, and ACT.

Key tells reporters at the launch of the Global Research Alliance’s inaugural meeting on agricultural greenhouse gas emissions,

I’d say it’s unlikely it would be amended.”

Source

24 May 2010

John Key states that  there is “no chance” New Zealand will follow Australia and cancel the Emissions Trading Scheme and rejects assertions it will impact on New Zealanders’ pockets,

The question is for a household, are they prepared to pay $3 a week for the insurance premium of our environment? I think the answer to that is ‘yes’.”

He adds,

Of the 38 countries that signed the Kyoto protocol, 29 of them have an ETS. All 29 have almost double the cost that we have.”

Source

6 June 2010

Climate Change Minister Nick Smith announces that whether or not agriculture comes into the emissions trading scheme  in 2015  will depend on technological advances and what other countries do.

Source

9 November 2011

Environment Minister Nick Smith announces,

The scheme currently steps up on 1 January 2013 to a full obligation for the transport, electricity and industrial sectors. National’s intention is to phase this in three equal steps on 1 January 2013, 1 January 2014 and 1 January 2015 as recommended by the ETS Review Panel…

… It is not in New Zealand’s interests to include agricultural emissions in the ETS yet. The lack of any practical and real technologies to reduce agricultural emissions means it would only impose a cost or tax on our most important export industry. It would also have New Zealand too far ahead of our trading partners on climate change mitigation measures. National will review the position in 2014 and only include agriculture if new technologies are available and more progress is made internationally on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “

Source

19 November 2011

National plans to  delay  implementation of the ETS until after a Select Committee review is completed, according to National-ACT coalition deal.

Key states that  he believes human-induced climate change is real and it’s still possible National will pass an amended ETS into law before next October.”

Source

2 July 2012

National announces that farmers will not have to buy carbon credits to offset livestock and pasture emissions until at least 2015.

Source

3 July 2012

National announces that  the two-for-one carbon credit scheme for emitters such as the  oil and electricity industry  will remain in place instead of ending  this year (2012).

Source

John Key says the Government will wait for other countries to follow suit before introducing agriculture into the Emissions Trading Scheme…

…The Government says it will leave agriculture out of the ETS until at least 2015, despite 47% of the country’s emissions coming from that sector

Climate Change Minister Tim Groser told Tadio NZ’s  Morning Report on Tuesday there is no point in New Zealand leading the way if other countries such as the United States and China are doing nothing.” – Radio NZ

Source

6 July 2012

John Key announces four amendments to Emissions Trading Scheme saying that,

New Zealand is still the only country outside Europe [see comment 24 May] to have a comprehensive ETS in place, and we’re on track to meet our Kyoto obligations for 2008-12. “

Source

The four changes are,

  • Keeping the ‘one-for-two’ obligation in place until after this year. This means participants in the scheme will continue to surrender units for half the carbon they emit;
  • Maintaining the $25 ‘fixed-price option’ until at least 2015, which caps the price firms will face if carbon prices begin to rise internationally;
  • Introducing off-setting for pre-1990 forest land owners, and allocating the full second tranche of compensation where off-setting is not taken; and
  • Leaving agricultural emissions out of the ETS until at least 2015.

Source

So much for Key’s statement on 8 April.

20 August 2012

National introduces  “Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2012″, which will remove agricultural emmissions indefinitely, and will,

remove a specified entry date for surrender obligations on biological emissions from agriculture”.

Source

27 October 2012

National’s  “Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2012″ passes second reading by 1-vote majority, supported by National, ACT, and United Future.

Source

Conclusions

National’s rejection of the ETS for the farming industry and removing egg producers from the ETS is now complete.

It must be clear to practically everyone by now that despite National’s ongoing  “firm assurances” from May 2007 to May 2010, that they would support and maintain  an Emissions Trading Scheme, that their real agenda all along was entirely the opposite.

The entry of agriculture into the ETS  was accepted;  “reviewed”; postponed; and then cancelled altogether. Only a procedural law change now remains to make it fully legal.

It has taken four years to achieve it, but National’s pledges to commit to an ETS are now shown to be the lies that they are.

During National’s four years in office, they have broken several promises and the weakening of the ETS is simply one more on the list. It also further highlights  John Key’s ability to say one thing – whilst knowing full well that he has no intention of fulfilling committments, or will do completely the opposite.

Remember what Key told reporters at the launch of the Global Research Alliance’s inaugural meeting on the ETS, on 8 April 2010,

I’d say it’s unlikely it would be amended.”

Key’s pledge that agriculture would enter the ETS in 2015 has been broken, and our Prime Minister further shown up as the untrustworthy, lying,  manipulator that a growing number of critics are labelling him.

If there is one lesson that National has learnt from our recent history is that if you’re going to break promises – do it slowly so no one notices.

Unfortunately for John Key and his cronies, New Zealanders have noticed.

Update

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Acknowledgement: Kay

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Unsurprising and inevitable, I guess.  This was National’s agenda from Day One.

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Sources

National Party: 50 by 50 – New Zealand’s Climate Change Target (13 May 2007)

Beehive Press Prelease: Historic climate change legislation passes (10 September 2008)

Parliament: Climate Change Response (Emissions Trading) Amendment Act 2008 (25 September 2008)

NZ Energy & Environment Business Week: National-Act Coalition Deal Puts Emissions Trading Legislation On Hold (19 November 2008)

NBR:  Govt keeping open mind on agriculture ETS inclusion (26 May 2010)

NBR: ETS may exclude agriculture – Climate Change Minister (6 June 2010)

National Party: Policy 2011 – Environment & Climate Change (2011)

Fairfax Media: PM accused of taking sides on mining (22 March 2012)

National Party: Government announces ETS amendments (2 July 2012)

National Party: Doing our fair share on climate change (6 July 2012)

NZ Herald: Carbon credit price crash could force sales (25 October 2012)

Radio NZ: Farmers’ ETS exemption progresses (26 October 2012)

Additional

Wikipedia: New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme

Other blogs

The Worlds Worst Emissions Trading Scheme

Abdicating our global responsibility

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Dirty Dealings with Solid Energy

26 October 2012 14 comments

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Last year, on 19 May,  Solid Energy was one of five SOEs that National announced would be partially privatised (see: Budget 2011: Govt seeks $7 billion in asset sales). Bill English announced, with a naivetee usually reserved for wildly idealistic, wide-eyed  youth,

Well targeted investment in infrastructure helps lift productivity, which over time will mean better wages and higher living standards for New Zealand families.”

To which, as the youth of today might reply,

Yeah, whatever.”

By 29 August, this year,  as   demand from China lessened, and the price of coal dropped, Solid Energy announced plans to make 363 workers redundant.

CEO, Don Elder, said,

I am very aware of the impact these decisions will have on affected staff members and our communities, but we’ve had to make these difficult decisions to cushion the impact of the market and protect as much as we can of the long-term value of the business.”

Source

On 25 September, Key stated,

Now that the coal price is collapsing, essentially Spring Creek is not viable.

It’s never been in the position where it was going to come on to the market today.  It’s been a five-year programme, and if you ask me in three, four, five years’ time, the anwer might be different.” .

Source

Along with Maori Treaty claims over water rights, and papers being filed in the High Court on 23 October (see: Mighty River sale paused during court action) which will see a delay in removing Mighty River Power from the SOE Act, the realisation that Solid Energy was also unsaleable under current economic conditions was another unwanted ‘hiccup’ for National.

On the same day, Solid Energy anounced that redundancies would increase from 363 to 460 and staffing levels would reduce from 1,800 at the beginning of the year, to 1,360.

Christchurch was to lose half of the 313 jobs at Solid Energy’s head office – another ‘hit’ against this quake ravaged city, along with planned school closures; problems with insurance companies; and Cantabrians leaving the area.

Remember that, ostensibly, redundancies were related to international coal prices and profit losses – not the deferred partial-privatisation of the SOE.

Yet, according to Solid Energy’s own Results Announcements 2012 report,  the company’s income was actually better than the preceding year,

Good operating performance overtaken by asset write downs

• Trading performance was good in a deteriorating market with strong NZD. Underlying earnings were $99.7 million (2011: $86.2 million).
• Asset write downs of $110.6 million net of tax and other adjustments have resulted in a $40.2 million loss after tax (2011: $87.2 million).

See: Solid Energy New Zealand Ltd Results Announcement 2012

In plain english (not the mumbled  Prime Ministerial  version), Solid Energy made an after-tax profit of $99.7 million – an increase from $86.2 million in 2011.

Employing a  book-keeping, accountancy “trick”, Solid Energy  reduced their own asset values by $110.6  million. (That’s like saying your house was worth  $300,000 in 2011, but only $250,000 this year. You still have your house and you’re living in it – nothing else has changed. Only the theoretical valuation has ‘reduced’. Next year that valuation could rise back to $300,000 or even more or maybe less. That’s creative accountancy for you.)

The point is that Solid Energy’s profit rose from $86.2 million to $99.7 million.

In fact, Solid Energy’s revenue in 2012 was $978.4 million – almost a billion dollars – an 18% increase from the previous year.

The proposition that Solid Energy is more profitable than either Don Elder or National make out is born out by this interesting article,  in Taranaki’s ‘Daily News‘, on 12 October this year. It appears that Australian coal mining giant, Bathurst, is experiencing a growth in share value as it discovers greater coal reserves at its Buller project on the West Coast,

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Bathurst is proceeding with “an extensive drilling programme” – indicating that the company appears unphased by current coal prices and is investing long-term in recovering this resource.

So what to make of the planned 460 redundancies?

What to make of Bathurst’s share price rising and continuing to invest in a comprehensive drilling programme?

The only conclusion that one can arrive at is that planned redundancies are a covert operation to “maximise” Solid Energy’s value and “efficiency”. The cost of redundancies – estimated at around $10 million – will be paid by the taxpayer and not the shareholders of any future part-privatised company (see:  Foreign workers lured by ‘work for life’ among sacked miners).

Reducing staff numbers – commonly referred to as “re-structuring” – is a common technique for  companies to cut costs in an attempt to return to profitability, or to make it more attractive to potential investors or buyers.

It is interesting to note that National’s secret agenda  of “re-structuring” Solid Energy, to make the SOE viable for privatisation, is a technique quite familiar to our Prime Minister, John Key,

During Key’s brief spell for Merrill Lynch in Sydney in 2001, he helped fire 500 staff as part of savage worldwide retrenchment by the bank. In the past, Key has appeared proud of his ability to sack without feelings. He told Metro magazine: “They always called me the smiling assassin.”

These days he insists these were not cheerful sackings.

“In the end I had to carry out wider responsibilities, but I think I’m fundamentally a nice guy, but have to follow instructions,” he says. “

Source

As  Don Elder said,

I am very aware of the impact these decisions will have on affected staff members and our communities, but we’ve had to make these difficult decisions to cushion the impact of the market and protect as much as we can of the long-term value of the business.”

460 workers face the sack.

No doubt John Key is simply  “having to follow instructions“?

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Related previous blogpost

The real cause for Solid Energy mass redundancies? (5 September 2012)

Sources

Sunday Star Times: Who is John Key? (3 February 2008)

NZ Herald: Spring Creek mine work suspended (29 August 2012)

Dominion Post: Miners march on Parliament (25 September 2012)

Radio NZ: Hundreds of jobs going at Solid Energy (25 September 2012)

Daily News: Bathurst lifts Buller coal totals (12 October 2012)

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Just say “NO!” to political prostitutionism

25 October 2012 18 comments

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From the Sunday Star Times (scanned hard-copy  – on-line version locked behind a Fairfax paywall) on 14 October,

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Andrea Vance is correct;  most polls have shown a steady decline for National (with the exception of those at specific moments when issues surrounding Maori claims over water rights are in the headlines) since the general election last year.

John Key’s teflon coating is patchy at best, as scandals; incompetance; and a stagnating economy is showing up National as singularly inept at any measure of governance.

A TV3 poll tonight (24 Oct) was even more bad news for these ministerial muppets,

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The four relevant questions asked of respondents were,

1. Do you agree National has done a good job in terms of building a brighter future?

  • 49% said no;
  • 46% said yes;
  • 5% did not know.
2. Has National helped with full employment?

  • 57% said no;
  • 36% said yes;
  • 7% did not know.
3. Is the Government providing the best school system for our children?

  • 58% said no;
  • 32% said yes;
  • 9% did not know.
4. Are our Government departments run efficiently?
  • 49 percent said yes;
  • 42 percent said no.

Key’s responses to each of these four questions is reported here: National’s bright future not here yet – poll

Some of his comments are laughable. Actually, no. All his comments are a joke.  If anything, his responses to these poll results are a scathing indictment of National’s arrogance and disconnect from the public.

Which brings us to Peter Dunne.

National is in power only because of complicity by John Banks and Dunne.

Dunne’s history began in 1984, as a Labour MP. From there, he  jumped from one Party to another; Labour; United New Zealand; United Future New Zealand; and join coalitions led by both National, then Labour, and back to National again in 2008.

See: Peter Dunne – Member of Parliament

Dunne is a political chameleon – able to re-shape and re-form to suit his political environment, as governments come and go. Unlike that other Great Survivor, Winston Peters, Dunne has the unmatched record of rarely having been out of government. Any government.

He has outlasted  Lange, Palmer, Moore, Bolger, Shipley, and Clarke – and is now onto his seventh Prime Minister, John Key.

Whatever “political viagra” the man is on, he could make a vast fortune selling it globally, to other politicians.

Political journalist, Andrea Vance,  has suggested in her 14 October article that,

As Labour begin to pick up in the polls… Dunne is the kid on the sidelines, eyes screwed shut, willing David Shearer to pick me, pick me”.”

Like hell.

For many people in this country, and this blogger included, Peter Dunne has burnt his bridges with the social democratic left.

His vote in Parliament, to enable the passing of legislation to facilitate the 49% sell-down of Mighty River Power, Genesis, Meridian, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand, is a step too far. (See: The asset partial sell-off can begin)

With the passing of the Mixed Ownership Model Bill into law on 27 June, Peter Dunne well and truly nailed his colours to the mast – despite even a poll on his own website receiving an over-whelming ‘no’ vote, and many comments critical of asset sales.

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The poll was taken down soon after it began to attract public attention. (Evidently the outcome was not to Mr Dunne’s satisfaction?)

So much for asking the public to “let us know your views“.

Unless we see a threat of a possible third term for National (and one hopes the voting public is not that capricious), Shearer, the Greens, Peters, and Harawira should have nothing to do with Dunne.

His politics is best described as prostitutionism – with about as much ethics shown as a Wall Street banker or back street crack-dealer.

Dunne has utterly betrayed his own country by supporting the sale – theft –  of state assets. Considering he has been part of three terms of a Labour-led government – to then support neo-liberal policies  shows a lack of principled behaviour.

What was he doing in a Labour-led government in the first place?

What else is he willing to do to keep ministerial “baubles of power”?

A new Labour-led government, starting  afresh and addressing many of the social inequities and economic imbalances afflicting our country,  should leave behind the dross of previous administrations.

The next government should be a principled one. And Peter Dunne has none of the necessary qualities that would make him a credible fit with such a new administration.

Take note, Mr Shearer; you need to start your new Administration on the very best footing. Peter Dunne will provide the opposite.

Mr Shearer; do you really want the left-overs of a failed National “government” at your Cabinet table?

As the Member for Ohariu once said,

We understand clearly that the only reason for our existence is to represent the voice of the people in our parliament. We believe  that any  party that is not constantly in touch with the views of the people is simply not doing its job. In this space you can read what others think on key issues, and you can let us know your views.” – Peter Dunne, “Have your Say Polls”, United Future website (since deleted)

Clean sweep, Mr Shearer, clean sweep.

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Postscript:

Whilst Dunne’s website has closed down the Poll and the many posted comments are lost on his website, Blogger Robert Guyton had the presence of mind to C&P and re-post many of the posted comments on his blog.

These are the views that Peter Dunne does not want us to read: Robert Guyton.

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Citizen A – 20 October 2012 – Online now!

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Citizen A

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- 20 October 2012 -

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- Chris Trotter & Selwyn Manning -

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Issue 1: Is a WINZ kiosk less leaky than a GCSB staff meeting? What to make of the security lapse at the Ministry of Social Development?

Issue 2: Where does the Kim Dotcom case end?

and Issue 3: Government tells Maoridom to get lost over the sale of Mighty River Power – what now for the Maori Party and asset sales?

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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

Tumeke

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Paula Bennett – massive *facepalm*

24 October 2012 14 comments

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Source

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As Bennett laments,

People buy 10 cooked chickens and then go and sell them in the carpark.

I can’t stop what individuals do. All I can do is try and put the right security around it.”

And no one – not one person in Bennett’s office; the Ministry of Social Development; or WINZ – guessed that this might happen?!?!

Such a system was bound to be easily circumvented, and once again National has wasted millions of our tax-dollars on a pointless exercise, rather than getting to the nub of the problem: job creation.

Where are the jobs, Mr Key, Ms Bennett, et al?

Idiots.

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Other blogs

No Right Turn: WINZ doesn’t care

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Teapots and Tearooms – a tale of two tapes

22 October 2012 9 comments

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Hark back to 11 November 2011; two men met at a cafe for a chat over a cuppa tea.

Nothing unusual about that,  you might think?

Except that the men were John Banks and John Key;  leaders of two political parties;  campaigning for an upcoming election; and about 40 journalists were present to  record the event and report it for their respective media outlets.

The publicity stunt went awry when a recording device was discovered on their table, and Dear Leader was not impressed,

John Key remains intractable today about the teapot-tape fiasco, maintaining and repeating his line that he is a victim of a deliberate attempt by the Herald on Sunday to covertly record his conversation with John Banks. .

Continuing on from his defiance yesterday, the Prime Minister reiterated on Firstline his stance against “News of the World tactics” and said he went to the police because it was “a matter of principle”. 

Firstline host Rachel Smalley, who has seen part of a transcript of the conversation, told Mr Key that hacking into the phone of a family whose child has been murdered, like the News of the World did, is very different to mistakenly leaving a microphone on a table.

“No it’s not,” Mr Key replied, “it’s an illegal attempt to get information and that’s the principle”.

“I have a totally clear conscience about what I’ve done, I think it’s the Herald on Sunday and the cameraman that may not have a clear conscience and in the end, they will have to answer to the police,” he said.

“There are many times where I am in a public place but that doesn’t mean I can be taped…I don’t care about the tape, I haven’t heard the tape but my recollection of the conversation was that it was pretty bland”. ” – Source

John Key was fairly adamant; he was outraged that he had been recorded without his knowledge and point-blank refused to permit the contents of the tape to be made public.  On 30 November he made his Royal Displeasure further known when the coercive arm of State authority – the NZ Police – raided the offices of Radio New Zealand, searching for copies of the “teapot tape”.

Further raids on other media followed.

Contrast Key’s wrath with his attitude toward the alleged video-taping of  his meeting with the GCSB on 29 January, this year.  In response to allegations made by David Shearer, Key responded on 16 October,

There was no tape, to say the GCSB erased it is a very serious allegation and he should put up or shut up, he should apologise.” – Source

Indeed, Key challenged Shearer to present the tape on more than one occassion.

Does such a tape or any other form of recording exist?

We don’t know. The GCSB says it has searched and “found nothing”.

But most pointed is that a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said on 12 October,

We are checking that there is no recording that GCSB made. ” – Source

Let’s re-cap;

On 29 January, Key visits the GCSB for a briefing. He makes some sort of speech in the GCSB cafetaria.

On 11 October, Key is interviewed by TV3 where he stated point-blank that he was unaware of any recording made of his visit to GCSB HQ on 29 January. (See: Secret GCSB recording catches Key out – Labour)

On the same day, GCSB boss, Ian Fletcher, states categorically,

The department has made exhaustive enquiries of its records and its IT systems, and can find no audio-visual recording of the Prime Minister’s visit to GCSB on 29 February 2012.” – Source

On 12 October, Key’s office announces that they are “checking that there is no recording that GCSB made“.

On 16 October, Key invites  the Labour leader to present any recording,  “and he should put up or shut up“.

This seems a remarkable turnaround for our Prime Minister?!

He obviously wasn’t aware that he was being recorded – and yet, after checking with the GCSB – is agreeable to Shearer releasing any recording that might be in his possession?!

This seems in stark contrast to Key’s anger at being recorded last year, in Epson – also unknowingly –  when he not only refused to release the tape – but called in the police to enforce his diktat.

Key was obviously having none of it.

So why the sudden change of heart at being unknowingly recorded in the GCSB’s cafetaria?

What happened between 12 October and 16 October that allowed Key to comfortably challenge Shearer to “ put up or shut up“?

Fairly bloody obvious, I would think.

The GCSB found the recording before copies could be made (otherwise it would have leaked by now); deleted it; and then advised the Prime Minister “that no recording existed”.

There is simply no other way to explain Key’s inexplicably contradictory responses on being unknowingly recorded on two separate occassions, only 110 days apart.

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Sources

NZ Herald: Bugged in the Act

NZ Herald: PM blocks release of chat tape

TV3:  Key reiterates that he is ‘teapot-tape’ victim

Dominion Post: Radio NZ hands over ‘tea tape’ interview

TV3: Key to take staffer to GCSB meetings

Scoop: GCSB in the House on Wednesday

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First they came for Maori “radicals”…

21 October 2012 16 comments

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First they came for the “Maori radicals”, and I didn’t speak out, because I wasn’t  maori or a “radical”…

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Full story

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Then they came for the alleged cyber-pirate from Germany, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a cyber-pirate or German,

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Full story

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Then they came for the botanists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a botanist,

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Full story

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Then they came for me, and no one else spoke out, because they didn’t give a shit either…

[Acknowledgement to Martin Niemöller ,1892–1984]

The raids on the Ureweras (and elsewhere in NZ on the same day); Kim Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion; and Graeme Platt’s homes all had one thing in common; a gross mis-use of para-military power in a country that has not seen such events since the Land Wars in the 1800s.

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If middle-class New Zealanders believed  that the Urewera terror raids (the terror being caused by black-garbed “ninja police”  on a sleepy little backwater village) was a one-off exercise,   then that belief was greatly misplaced.

The State attempted to depict Tame Iti and his colleagues as  homegrown “terrorists”, planning some mysterious, spectacularly catastrophic, event involving catapulting a bus on to US President Bush.  (I kid you not. See: Protest highlights terror raid case)

But no terrorism charges were ever laid under the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002, and the 18 defendents were eventually ‘whittled down’  to just four (one died awaiting trial). Those four were convicted on more mundane firearms charges.

Hardly the stuff of  Al Queda operations planning mass-destruction.

Since then, we have witnessed no  less extraordinary  events  in January this year, when more para-military  “ninja-police” in vehicles and helicopters, armed with high-powered automatic weapons, raided a mansion in Coatsville.

There has never been a satisfactory explanation given as to why such a high degree of force was necessary.

Recently, on 11 October, the home of botanist Graeme Platt (71) was raided by six carloads of police and Ministry of Primary Industry officials. Evidently the police and officials were searching for a tree ?! (Terrorist trees?)

It is rapidly becoming evident that something mad and sinister is happening to our once easy-going, laid-back society.

Gone are the days of  “she’ll be right, mate“. When is the last time you heard that phrase?

Now it’s more like a growing intrusion of State power.

Once upon a time, the growth of police power was justified by our politicians  as the fight against drugs and organised crime.

Since the early 2000s, that justification has been redefined as the fight against “terrorism”.

This is not just about the covert monitoring of New Zealand citizens and residents. We are now witnessing the open use of raw, naked,  State power, in the form of the Armed Offenders Squad and the Special Tactics Group ( formerly known as the Anti-Terrorist Squad) bursting into people’s homes.

These paramilitary forces – once used solely against drug rings or homocidal nutters with small armouries – are now being employed more and more in situations which seem hard to justify or understand.

It has been said that the raids on the Ureweras (and elsewhere in NZ, on that day) and Kim Dotcom, was carried out to impress our American cuzzies in the United States. Evidently, the boys in blue at Police National HQ wanted to show the FBI, Hollywood, White House, and anyone else who happened to be watching that we were ‘serious players’ when it came to dealing with terrorists and other assorted evil-doers.

In their eagerness to impress the Yanks, it  became readily apparent  that our politicians, police, and miscellaneous bureacrats have moved New Zealand to become a  mini-America clone; gun-happy and willing to use over-the-top force with or without justification.

The dawn raid on a botanist’s home, by six carloads of government officials and police,  in search of a damned tree, should be a clear wake-up call for all New Zealanders. The choice we face is fairly simple and clear-cut;

  1. We keep going the way we are; with excessive State power being used and mis-used; more surveillance in our daily  lives;  armed police raids on the flimsiest excuses; until none of us are safe and we end up living in a country that is unrecognisable and alien to our parents.
  2. We take stock of where we are with our laws and culture of State power, and declare that enough is enough.

The use of force shown in the last few years, I submit to the reader, should be sufficient to turn the stomach of all but the most ardent supporter of the fascist state. Unless New Zealanders are looking forward to living in a police State, it is my contention that, as stated in Option #2 above, enough is enough.

It should be the priority of an incoming government in 2014 (or earlier) that a full review of legislation such as the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002,  Surveillance Act 2012, and any similar laws, should be undertaken.

It is my contention that these two laws should be repealed forthwith, as they are abhorrent in any society that professes to respect freedom. It is further my contention that such laws serve no useful purpose except to create a mindset and culture in our Government  that there is no limit to the exercise of state power through the use of force against citizens who may come to the attention of police and bureacrats.

To those people who might be fearful in ridding ourselves of these laws, it should be remembered that no one has ever been charged under terrorism legislation and that the used of armed police in dawn raids has yet to be  justified.

We are simply giving the State – and it’s myriad of officials, bureacrats, police, spies, etc – the power to act with little restraint, as if they are authorities beyond public control.

Such a state of affairs, my fellow New Zealanders, is what it looks like; the germination of a police state.

In case the reader believes I am over-reacting, consider that the raid on Graeme Platt’s home was not looking for bombs, guns, subversive literature, Al Qaeda operatives, etc.

They were looking for a tree.

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Sources

NZ Herald: ‘Plant Nazis’ hunt for outlawed trees

Parliament: Terrorism Suppression Act 2002

Parliament: Terrorism Suppression Amendment Bill

Parliament: Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Other blogs

Tumeke: NZ Police reassure country that they are the only gang trying to infiltrate the force

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Dear Leader, GCSB, and Kiwis in Wonderland (Part Toru)

12 October 2012 2 comments

As predicted a week ago,

The Prime Minister has not been upfront with the people of New Zealand. This blogger believes there is more to come out, and furthermore that we will see some damning revelations disclosed to the public.

See previous blogpost:  Dear Leader, GCSB, and Kiwis in Wonderland (Part Rua)

Now, a week later, it appears that further damning revelations are indeed starting to seep through the cracks, into the full glare of public attention,

John Key has contradicted himself – David Shearer

The Labour Party is claiming the Prime Minister addressed GCSB staff on February 29, and referred to the spy agency’s work on the Dotcom case.

That’s six and a half months earlier than when the Prime Minister has previously said he knew anything about the GCSB’s illegal spying on Dotcom.

Leader of the Labour Party, David Shearer says John Key has contradicted himself.

What we understand is at that John Key made a direct reference to Dotcom and GCSB’s involvement with Dotcom. That completely contradicts… that he had no recollection of being briefed.”

Mr Shearer says he is not making accusations, he is asking questions and wants to see a video taken by a staff member at the event. However he doesn’t know if the video exists and wants someone from the GCSB to come forward and give some answers.

If it exists, he says John Key should release the video to clear up what has happened once and for all.

“This cuts directly to John Key’s credibility, he keeps forgetting things.”

Source: TV3

It seems unlikely that allegations of a video recording would be falsified – it would be of little value to Labour to make such allegations knowing it could never be backed up.

And as Duncan Garner himself commented earlier today (10 Oct) – why would the GCSB conduct a seizure and search for a video on a hard-drive, if, as they claim such a video did not exist?

This issue has now cast serious doubts on the Prime Minister and the GCSB hierarchy. Something is definitely rotten here.

If that video surfaces – it will mean the resignation of John Key as Prime Minister and this government will fall.

National is Dead Party Walking.

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That was Then, This is Now #17

12 October 2012 2 comments

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John Key Youth Rates National

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Previous Blog Post

That was Then, This is Now #16

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National bleeding poll support…

11 October 2012 3 comments

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The latest Roy Morgan poll has National continuing to fall in the polls.

The “dead cat bounce” previous rise – due mostly to redneck kneejerk reaction to Maori water claims – appears to have been only a temporary respite for this lame-duck administration.

The poll results,

National Party to 41.5% (down 2%) – 50 seats

Maori Party 1.5% (down 1%) – 3 seats?

ACT NZ 0.5% (unchanged)  – 1 seat?

United Future 0.5% (up 0.5%) – 1 seat?

Total National-led coalition-bloc:  55 seats (?)

Support for Labour is 33.5% (up 0.5%) – 41 seats

Greens are 13.5% (up 2%) – 17 seats

New Zealand First 6.5% (up 1.5%) – 8 seats

Mana Party 0%  – 1 seat

Total Labour-led coalition-bloc:  67 seats (?)

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Without much doubt, National is on it’s way out – a two-term “government”.

The question is – how much damage will this inept, unfocused, “government” cause before they are thrown out at the next election?

At this point, the only thing we can look forward to is a by-election or a defection from the National-led coalition.

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Sources

National Lead Labour, But Support Falls Lowest Since 2008

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: ,

Jobs Summit: 2012

10 October 2012 5 comments

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1. Problem

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If we’re going to have to wait for National’s policies kick-in and create the 170,000 new jobs they promised us last year, the  rate of progress will be so glacial that continental drift will  propel New Zealand to crash into the Australian sub-continent before anything happens.

Oh well, at least we won’t have to fly to Australia to find jobs. We’ll just be walking across the beach to Sydney.

Unfortunately, that may take the better part of 50 million years, give or take.

All hilarity aside, the point that should not escape us is that National’s policies are simply not growing the economy and not delivering the jobs we need to reduce  162,000 jobless numbers.  Their obstinate  reliance on ‘The Market’ to deliver job-growth has ham-strung National’s ability to address growing redundancies and unemployment.

Bullying the unemployed – as Bennett has been doing with her bizarre “social obligations”, compulsions, and sanctions  – is little more than a vote-grabbing exercise for rednecks and low-information voters, but otherwise of no practical value in creating even one single job.

John Key’s much-vaunted “Jobs Summit” in early 2009 appears to have  generated only limited success, with John Key’s “darling” project – the Cycleway – not living up to hype for job creation,

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Source

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National clearly has no inkling of how to generate jobs.

Indeed, their own neo-liberal doctrine demands that all job-creation be left solely up to ‘The Marketplace’,

Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than business growth. For New Zealand to build a more productive and competitive economy, we need more innovative companies out there selling their products on the world stage.” – John Key, 24 August 2012

Although when it suits Key, he can be  unashamedly “Janus-faced” when it comes to whether or not the State has a role to play in job-creation,

We agree with you, it’s the government’s responsibility to do everything within it’s powers to try to get people jobs.” – John Key,  17 November 2011

Indeed, Mr Key.

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2. Solution

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It is patently obvious to all but the most partisan neo-liberal National/ACT disciple, that the last 30 years of  “orthodox” market ideology has not delivered the ‘goods’.  Rogernomics/Market economy/crony capitalism  – call it what you will – has failed at nearly every level.

Only a few have benefitted,

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Full pathetic story

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The EPMU (Engineer Printing Manufacturers Union) is not waiting around for John Key and National to get of their chuffs and act.

They have called for a summit, to be held this Friday (12 October), in Auckland.

EPMU national secretary, Bill Newson, said,

No one who has seen the mass redundancies of recent months or the numbers of Kiwis heading to Australia can be unaware of the deepening jobs crisis in this country and the need for a new approach.

“Every day we’re seeing redundancies and the impact these have on communities all over New Zealand. At the same time we’re talking to employers who tell us they don’t want to lay people off and are looking for any support they can get to keep people in jobs.

“The common thread through all of these redundancies is the hands-off approach of the last 30 years, which says the Government should keep out of the economy, leave our exchange rate to be set by speculators and accept the decline of manufacturing in this country as somehow inevitable.

“Our union is part of a growing consensus that the hands-off approach to the economy is broken and we need the Government to step up and support our manufacturing sector and the jobs it provides.

“There are alternatives, and as a country we need to discuss them. This summit is about bringing together the new consensus and we welcome anyone interested in the future of our country to join us in planning a new way forward.”

See: EPMU calls summit to tackle jobs crisis

See: EPMU call urgent meeting to tackle job crisis

Those invited to the Summit include,

  • Russel Norman, Green Party co-leader
  •  David Parker, Labour’s finance spokesperson
  • Winston Peters, NZ First leader
  • Peter Conway, NZ  Council of Trade Unions
  • Nick Inskip, Heavy Engineering Research Association
  • Selwyn Pellett, technology entrepreneur
  • John Walley, NZ Manufacturers & Exporters Association
  • Hugh Whitaker, University of Auckland

This is a good start and is something that the next incoming government should take on board and run with.

But rather than a “talkfest” and propaganda exercise, such as National’s 2009 exercise-in-futility, a real New Zealand Summit should include representatives from all industry groups, Iwi, trade unions, and other community, business, and activist representatives.

A real New Zealand Summit should have firm targets to address, with a committment from a new government to find solutions.

Such a Summit must have, as it’s priorities,

  1. Jobs, jobs, jobs.
  2. Elimination of child poverty
  3. Economic growth with entrenched  environmental conservation

As a society we  need to reappraise our values, our goals, and what sort of nation we want for ourselves and our children.

Do we want to live as a highly individualistic “society” of  minimal taxation; minimal social and state services; a greater degree of user pays; and where those left behind rely on struggling charities to survive? And where jobs and services are left purely for Market Forces to deliver?

Or do we want a more cohesive society where we pay sufficient taxation to deliver comprehensive social and state services; where we do not tolerate child poverty and adopt a collective responsibility to assisting those who need it? And where the State, Business, and Unions work together to deliver jobs; good wages; a productive economy with sensible investment/monetary policies; and where the environment is considered our #1 wealth asset?

We need to ask ourselves ,

  • Why is it acceptable to provide vast amounts of electricity to the Rio Tinto/Tiwai aluminium smelter at vastly subsidised prices – and yet our nation opposes subsidised electricity to New Zealand families and retirees?
  • Why is it acceptable to give the movie industry a $100 million tax break to produce fantasy films here – whilst at the same time objecting to a $4-$20 million dollar programme to provide healthy meals in schools for our children who face the harsh reality of poverty?
  • Why is it suddenly necessary that we need overseas investment and foreign “expertise” in our farms – when we lead the world in dairying and agriculture? Why are New Zealanders investing in housing speculation – forcing farmers and businesspeople tro look overseas for investment?
  • How is it we can produce the cleanest, safest food in hygenically maintained factories – and yet we foul our riverways and lakes to the point where many are no longer safe to swim in?
  • Where is the logic of allowing our Dollar to be speculated on by overseas money traders; investment bankers; and outright crooks – and it’s our workers who have to pay the price by losing their jobs when our exporters are no longer able to sell their goods overseas?
  • Why do we have a crisis in housing in this country, and then to top it off, our skilled tradesmen and women head off to Australia?
  • Why are our young folk not in education, employment, or training – with rising joblessness and hopelessness – and then 1 million of us vote for a government that has no solution except to use sanctions to take away what little money they have? And then we wonder where crime, poverty, and lack of hope springs from?

These are a few critical problems (I refuse to call them “issues”) , and it is high time we addressed them instead of opting for soft-options such as unaffordable tax cuts and blaming the unemployed for daring to be unemployed.

Being adrift on the vast sea of ‘Market Forces’ and “muddling through” is no longer acceptable.

Electing inept governments that rely more on ideology than common sense will no longer be of any benefit to us.

Personally speaking, if National wants to participate in a new New Zealand Summit, then so be it.

But in my view, I consider them part of the problem, and their ideology of more-of-the-same is simply a waste of time and energy.

National is part of an unfortunate economic experiment in market liberalism and raw Individualism. They are as much a failure in outcomes as was the great marxist-leninist experiment in the former-USSR.

It took our Russian cuzzies 72 years to realise that their grand experiment in State collectivism was unworkable and failing.

Let’s hope we can make that same determination in only half the time, when it comes to neo-liberal capitalism.

I applaud the EPMU for taking the first steps in beginning a conversation that is long over-due, and which we can no longer avoid.

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Welfare ain’t broke – It’s the Jobs that ain’t there, John-boy!

10 October 2012 9 comments

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Or,

Jobs, Welfare, & the  Joys of a National “Government”

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John Key, being empathetic,

I have said before that I believe in the welfare state and that I will never turn my back on it. We should be proud to be a country that looks after its most vulnerable citizens. We should be proud to be a country that supports people when they can’t find work, are ill, or aren’t able to work.  ” – John Key, 30 January 2007

See:  The Kiwi Way: A Fair Go For All

The promise of National policies on job creation…

This is a budget that actually delivers that.  Treasury say in the Budget, as a result of this platform on what we’ve delivered, 170,000 jobs created and 4% wage growth over the next three to four years.” – John Key, 19 May 2011

See:  Budget 2011: Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs

The economic reality  of National’s “leave it-to-market-forces” policies…

New Zealand’s unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to 6.7pc in the first quarter after the labour force swelled to a three-year high as more people started looking for work in what’s been a tight jobs market. The kiwi dollar fell after the data was released.

The unemployment rate rose 0.3 percentage points to 6.7 per cent in the three months ended March 31, from a revised 6.4 per cent in the prior quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand’s household labour force survey. That’s higher than the 6.3 per cent forecast in a Reuters survey of economists. ” – NZ Herald/Household Labourforce Survey, 3 May 2012

See: Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc

A minister forced to admit the bleedin’ obvious,

There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do.” – Paula Bennett, 29 April 2012

See:  TVNZ  Q+A: Transcript of Paula Bennett interview

How National deals with  a stagnant economy and growing unemployment; blame the beneficiaries,

We will be introducing social obligations, so they will have to enrol their child in early childhood education and get well-checks at the doctor by enrolling with the local PHO. If you have kids, then you will lose 50 per cent of your benefit. That’s the worst case scenario. We hope it doesn’t get to that.” – Paula Bennett, 27 July 2012

See:  Hardline Key to rivals: Bring it on

After all, everyone (who votes National/ACT) knows that welfare beneficiaries – the unemployed, solo-mums, widows, invalids, etc –  really run the country;  hold the reigns of power; and create the policies that generate jobs.

John Key, not-so-empathetic,

But it is also true that anyone on a benefit actually has a lifestyle choice. If one budgets properly, one can pay one’s bills. And that is true because the bulk of New Zealanders on a benefit do actually pay for food, their rent and other things. Now some make poor choices and they don’t have money left.  ” – John Key, 17 February 2011

See:  Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key

National’s view on unemployment,

But as a country, we need to have a hard look at where the welfare system has got to. I don’t think our welfare system today is what its architects had in mind.  That’s why National has a new approach to reduce long-term benefit dependency. ” – John Key, 15 August 2011

See: Building a more effective welfare system

An unemployed person’s view on unemployment,

It’s just so tough out there at the moment. I do have limited experience. I’ve only had one reply from my ads but a few people have rung about my sign on my fence. They think I’m offering work though … there is next to nothing going out there. ” – Jeffrey Rollo, 4 August 2012

See: Rotorua’s jobless at wits’ end

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SEEKING WORK: Jeffrey Rollo has put a sign up on his front fence and placed advertisements in The Daily Post looking for a job after being laid off a month ago.

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Is this a welfare “problem” – or a lack-of-jobs problem? Who do you believe? John Key or Jeffrey Rollo?

Which begs the questions – will National’s welfare “reforms” create jobs? Will it put Jeffrey Rollo into work?

Will youth rates help Jeffrey Rollo into work?

Will an employer hire Jeffrey Rollo at $13.50 an hour – or an 18 year old at $10.80 an hour?

Who get’s a job that 150 other people will also be applying for?

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Full tragic story

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The answers are fairly obvious.

Exporting jobs to places like China will not create jobs. We end up paying our own workers to rot on the unemployment scrapheap.

Welform “reforms” will not create jobs. Welfare is not “broke”, and is operating as it should, saving people from starving to death.

Youth rates will not create jobs. It simply shifts the few remaining deck chairs around ‘S.S. New Zealand’.

It is time to invest in jobs in our own country.  Blindingly obvious, I would’ve thought.

Unfortunately, as events are now unfolding, it appears that we will have to wait for a change of government that will be job-creation-friendly.

Addendum

The Household Labour Force Survey: September 2012 quarter will be released on 8 November.

 

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Another bare-faced lie from the ACT Party

10 October 2012 1 comment

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From the ACT Party website,

When Labour abolished the youth minimum wage in 2008, youth unemployment soared.  A study by the former Department of Labour found that abolishing the youth wage resulted in a loss of up to 9000 jobs.  Removing the youth minimum wage priced young people out of the market.

See:  Re-establishment of Youth Minimum Wage A Win For ACT

What nonsense. The rise in youth unemployment post-2008 was due to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

In February 2009, the DoL (former Department of Labour)  website reported,

Unemployment has risen across the OECD

9. Statistics New Zealand reports that New Zealand’s unemployment rate is the tenth
equal lowest of the 27 OECD nations with comparable data. The Netherlands and
Norway have the lowest unemployment rate at 2.7%, with South Korea,
Switzerland and Austria also below 4%. The OECD average unemployment rate
was 6.5%, up from 6.0% when the September 2008 quarter HLFS was released.

10. New Zealand has so far not been affected as much by the global financial crisis as
some other countries. Furthermore, it is in a relatively better position due to a
strong starting point, fiscal stimulus and large decreases in interest rates. In the
United States, the unemployment rate has risen from 4.8% in February 2008 to
7.2% in December 2008, a 15-year high. Unemployment has increased in other
developed nations, particularly Ireland (to 8.2% in December 2008, from 4.7% a
year earlier) and Spain (to 14.4% in December 2008, from 8.7% a year earlier).

[abridged]

15. Youth are often the most at risk during a recession and their unemployment rate is
expected to rise further over the next year. This can be attributed to them having
low levels of experience, but also because those aged 15-24 years old are two to
three times more likely to be unemployed in general. In the early 1990s recession,
the unemployment rate for 15-24 year olds rose from 13.3% in early 1990 to
19.5% in early 1992.”

Source: EMPLOYMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT – DECEMBER 2008 QUARTER

The DoL website also stated that “Maori and Pacific workers are also expected to be affected by the downturn. These groups have a greater proportion of youth relative to Europeans and also tend to be disproportionally employed in low-skilled and semi-skilled occupations, which are often more affected in a recession“.

Does ACT have a policy advocating a lower wage rate for Maori and Pacific islanders, based on their ethnicity?

After all, if one can discrimiminate on age – why not race?

It is dishonest to lay fault with a previous government’s policy when facts point to a completely different cause and effect scenario.

ACT should learn to be a bit bit honest with the facts rather than re-writing history, Orwellian-style, to suit some confused ideology.

But then again, this is John Banks’ Party. ’nuff said.

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= fs =

Categories: The Body Politic Tags: ,

The betrayal of our young people

10 October 2012 11 comments

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In 2007…

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Today, in the suburb where I grew up, I want to talk about what I consider to be an important part of The Kiwi Way. I want to talk about opportunity, and hope, and how we can bring these to some of the most struggling families and communities in New Zealand.

Part of The Kiwi Way is a belief in opportunity and in giving people a fair go.

As New Zealanders, we have grown up to believe in and cherish an egalitarian society. We like to think that our children’s futures will be determined by their abilities, their motivation and their hard work. They will not be dictated by the size of their parent’s bank balance or the suburb they were born in.

We want all kids to have a genuine opportunity to use their talents and to get rewarded for their efforts. That’s The Kiwi Way, and I believe in it. After all, I was one of the many kids who benefited from it

You might ask “where will the money come from?”

The fact is we are already spending millions of dollars for Wellington bureaucrats to write strategies and to dream up and run their own schemes. I want more of those dollars spent on programmes that work, regardless of who thinks them up and who runs them.”

- John Key, 30 January 2007

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Unemployment rate December 2007:

77,000 (3.4%)

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In 2008…

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“The National Party has an economic plan that will build the foundations for a better future.

  • We will focus on lifting medium-term economic performance and managing taxpayers’ money effectively.
  • We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.
  • We will cut taxes, not just in election year, but in a regular programme of ongoing tax cuts.
  • We will invest in the infrastructure this country needs for productivity growth.
  • We will be more careful with how we spend the cash in the public purse, monitoring not just the quantity but also the quality of government spending.
  • We will concentrate on equipping young New Zealanders with the education they need for a 21st century global economy.
  • We will reduce the burden of compliance and bureaucracy, and we will say goodbye to the blind ideology that locks the private sector out of too many parts of our economy.
  • And we will do all of this while improving the public services that Kiwis have a right to expect.  “

- John Key, 29 January 2008

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In 2010…

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“90-Day Trial Period extended to all employers

The 90-day trial period is to be extended to enable all employers and new employees to have the chance to benefit from it, says Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson.

The extension is among planned changes to the Employment Relations Act 2000 that Prime Minister John Key announced today in a speech to the National Party Conference.

“The Government is focused on growing a stronger economy and creating more jobs for New Zealand families.”

“There are a lot of people looking for work and the changes announced today will help boost employer confidence and encourage them to take on more staff….”

… “Trial periods were introduced to encourage employers to take on new staff and I’m pleased to see this is occurring”.”

- Kate Wilkinson, Minister of Labour, 18 July, 2010

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In 2012…

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Household Labour Force Survey: June 2012 quarter

Unemployment: 162,000 (6.8%)

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“New youth pay rates kicking in

The Government will re-introduce a a youth pay rate which will see 16-to-19-year-olds making a minimum $10.80 per hour.

The new pay rate, to be called the ‘starting-out wage’, will not be compulsory but 40,000 teens will be eligible.

It will kicks in on April 1 next year and the Government estimates it will create up to 2000 youth jobs in the first two years.

The starting-out wage will be set at 80 per cent of the adult minimum wage, which is currently $13.50 per hour.

It will apply for six months after starting with a new employer. The move was National Party policy ahead of the election last November.”

- Dominion Post, 9 Oct 2012

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The above facts and stats tell a grim story.

The prologue to this story are the high expectations which John Key presented to the people of New Zealand in 2007 and 2008.

In 2007, Key spoke of  “opportunity, and hope, and how we can bring these to some of the most struggling families and communities in New Zealand “.

In 2008, Key pledged that  “we will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.

Four years later;

National’s latest ‘offering’? To cut the minimum wage for 16 to 19 year olds.

The logic of this policy – planned to start on 1 April 2013 – defies comprehension. In fact, the only way it can be understood is that National is utterly desperate.

New employment figures are due out on 4 November from Statistics NZ, and this blogger predicts that unemployment will rise from 6.8% (currently) to 6.9% or even 7%.

Quite simply, none of National’s policies have worked.

Even Key’s promise to raise wages has been an abject failure, sending thousands of kiwis to Australia and further afield, in search of jobs.

National’s plan to cut the wages of young New Zealanders is similar to their cynical ploy to depict welfare beneficiaries as lazy, drug-users, criminals, etc.

Instead, they are targetting 16 and 17 year olds – who have no vote – and have no voice in Parliament.

And they are targetting 18 and 19 year olds – who are adult enough to drink, get married, and go to fight in wars overseas – but will not be paid an adult’s wage.

National claims that the new youth rates will create 2,000 new jobs. Aside from mocking this figure as a gigantic step down from the 170,000 “new jobs” promised last year – it is more likely that those 2,000 jobs will simply displace older workers.

In doing so, the employment of young people on lower pay will simply mean,

  1. Less money spent by young people on services and consumer goods,
  2. Young people unable to support themselves fully
  3. A new motivation to send more New Zealanders overseas
  4. New Zealand becoming a low wage economy of the South Pacific

How can a young New Zealander survive on $432 a week – less tax?!

It wasn’t too long ago that Bill English admitted on TVNZ’s Q+A, on 6 November 2011,  that it was almost impossible to live on the full minimum wage ($13.50/hr),

GUYON:  Okay, can we move backwards in people’s working lives from retirement to work and to wages?  Mr English, is $13 an hour enough to live on? 

BILL:  People can live on that for a short time, and that’s why it’s important that they have a sense of opportunity.  It’s like being on a benefit.

GUYON:  What do you mean for a short time?

BILL:  Well, a long time on the minimum wage is pretty damn tough, although our families get Working for Families and guaranteed family income, so families are in a reasonable position.Source

If it’s “ pretty damn tough ” to live on $13 or $13.50 an hour – what on Earth must it be like to try to survive on $10.80 per hour?

And how does our smile & wave (and forgetful) Dear Leader reconcile slashing the minimum wage by his promises to raise wages?

Specifically, these promises,

“We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, 29 January 2008

We want to make New Zealand an attractive place for our children and grandchildren to live – including those who are currently living in Australia, the UK, or elsewhere. To stem that flow so we must ensure Kiwis can receive competitive after-tax wages in New Zealand.”  – John Key, 6 September 2008

“We will also continue our work to increase the incomes New Zealanders earn. That is a fundamental objective of our plan to build a stronger economy.” – John Key, 8 February 2011

The driving goal of my Government is to build a more competitive and internationally-focused economy with less debt, more jobs and higher incomes.” – John Key, 21 December 2011

By now, more and more New Zealanders are waking up to one simple reality; National cannot lead this country to prosperity or anything remotely resembling it. Their policies for growth seem predicated on,

  • cutting wages
  • asset sales
  • bullying and demonising beneficiaries
  • planning dangerous and unsound deep-sea drilling of the East Coast of the Nth Island
  • mining in conservation lands

It is the height of desperation and bloody-mindedness that National’s major policy of job-creation relies on cutting wages as some kind of “bribe” for employers.

It is the depth of stupidity that will see young people on $10.80 displacing older workers, as employers cut costs in order to maximise their profits – especially as consumer spending is dropping. (See: Electronic card spending drops in September)

It is this sense of sheer miserly selfishness that resulted in,

  • tax cuts in 2009 and 2010 which benefitted the richest in this country
  • abolishing tax credits for children, so they were now taxed on their megre earnings from jobs such as paper-delivery

Is this, then, an act of desperation from John Key and his inept “government”?

You better believe it is. And things are about to get a whole lot worse as National turns this country into a low-wage economy, making us the ‘Mexico’ of the South Pacific.

My message to New Zealand is two-fold;

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Voters: if you want more of this incompetant government that takes money from our young people, whilst cutting taxes for the richest  – vote National.

For those foolish people who vote National: enjoy your life here in New Zealand. Do not follow us to Australia.

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Labour Party: pull your finger out. It is high time you started firing on all cylinders and presented this country with an alternative vision and road.

Now’s good.

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Additional

Radio NZ: Listen to report on Checkpoint

Radio NZ: Listen to Checkpoint interview with Phil O’Reilly (Business NZ)

Radio NZ: Listen to Peter Conway on Checkpoint (CTU)

Radio NZ: New teenage workers’ pay rate set

Fairfax media: New youth pay rates kicking in

Fairfax media: Division over ‘starter’ wage

Other Blogs

The Jackal: National determined to increase exodus

No Right Turn: The return of youth rates

 

 

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Muppets, Hobbits, and Scab ‘Unions’

9 October 2012 3 comments

From a previous blogpost; Roosting chickens,

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I think we all remember the ‘Hobbit‘ fiasco, last year. The cast of this little tragi-farce included Actor’s Equity; Peter Jackson; Warner Bros; and John Key and his guvmint.

It also included a gentleman by the name of Greg Ellis, who played a ‘bit part’, as leading a “break-a-way” group of actors (numbers unknown) and formed the so-called “New Zealand Actors’ Guild – Te Taurahere i Te Hunga Toi Whakaari“, in October 2010.

Mr Ellis formed the NZAG to oppose Actor’s Equity, who at the time were attempting to negotiate with SPADA (Screen Production and Development Association – Waka Papaho). The NZAG came out firmly in support of Peter Jackson’s views that actors and production workers were “independent contractors”, and not employees…

… According to NZAG/Greg Ellis, Actor’s Equity were firmly cast as the “bad guys” in this affair. Actor’s Equity had no right to demand negotiations to improve the conditions of actors and other staff. After all, as NZAG claimed, “almost all actors prefer to be self-employed contractors”.

The government, led by our unfeasibly popular Prime Minister, John “The Baptist” Key, acted accordingly. They fulfilled their cameo-role as The Guvmint , and amended legislation that ensured that actors and other movie staff were independent contractors – not employees. At the stroke of a legislative pen, the rights of an entire class of New Zealand workers was taken away.

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NZAG was little more than a scab-union. It’s creator, Greg Ellis, a relatively unknown “actor” may have had the best intentions in breaking away from Actor’s Equity, but he was nevertheless a pawn (a rather small pawn) in the game that the Big Boys were playing in this international industrial dispute.

Such is the role of the scab ‘Union’ – to play off worker-against-worker; to muddy the waters and cloud issues; and most importantly, to do the bidding of the Employer.

Ironically, Ellis’s naiveté came back to bite big chunks from his arse last September when he railed against one of the very issues that Actor’s Equity was campaigning on, when National announced,

Key players in the New Zealand film industry have raised concerns over new law changes, which they say could stifle local talent both in front and behind the camera.

On Friday the government announced that entertainment industry workers entering New Zealand to work for 14 days or less, would no longer have to be approved by a local film industry guild.

The move comes almost a year after the government secured the filming of Sir Peter’s Jackson’s The Hobbit through an urgent amendment to employment law, which prevented independent contractors from claiming entitlements as employees, as well as an agreement to increase the tax concession for big screen productions. ” – Dominion Post, 25 September 2011

Ellis’s bleating response,

Recently the NZAG was asked, along with various other industry guilds and unions to comment on further aspects of the new immigration regulations – this time relating to production companies applying to become accredited employers for the purposes of bringing in overseas performers.

The NZAG had several points to make, which included:

  • there needs to be more drilling down into the types of NZ employees that a business or production has. It is all very well to say a production has 25 kiwi employees but if they are all admin staff this is no use to us. At minimum a production, crew, and talent breakdown is necessary. It would be also desirable from the NZAG’s perspective to see whether the performers employed were principals, supporting cast, featured extra or extra. Again it is easy to say “we employed 200 kiwi actors on our film” but if all 200 were extras then this is not the best outcome.
  • etc,” – NZAG, 29 March 2012

That’s the trouble with scab unions – it can be damned embarressing when they forget their place and attempt to play the role of a real trade union or professional association.

Lobbying on behalf of your members is not the  raison d’etre for scab unions.

The place of a scab union is to know your place and remain there.

This is a lesson that Grant Lane, disaffected ex-Maritime Union member and organisor of the breakaway scab-union, ‘Portpro’ should learn, and learn quickly.

Like Greg Ellis,  Lane formed his breakaway “union” to create a puppet workers’-front more sympathetic to employers’ demands.

Lane insists that his “union” is independent, but this is patently untrue. Facts reveal otherwise,

  • POAL CEO, Tony Gibson, thanked Grant Lane for signing an employment agreement to cover “Portpro’s” thirtythree members,

The new deal is a partnership which rewards both sides – it delivers a productive and cost-effective outcome for the port, and well-paid jobs for PortPro members. Ports of Auckland wishes to thank PortPro for the positive and constructive way they approached bargaining, which has been completed efficiently and without disruption.” – Source

It’s unclear what sort of “bargaining” took place when, as CTU president Helen Kelly revealed,

PortPro simply agreed to all of the port’s bargaining points” – no weekend loading, no standard shifts. The contract  removes all security of employment.”

“Bargaining”? More like a good rodgering.

  • If  “Portpro” is as independent as Lane insists, why was POAL stevedoring manager Jonathan Hulme listed as a contact for maritime workers wanting to join the new “union”, or wanting more information about “negotiations”?

Since when does a senior management official become a contact for a trade union?

Such an arrangement  is unheard of in the annals of industrial relations. The only inference one can take is that “Portpro” is a stooge for  POAL (Ports of Auckland Ltd).

Otherwise, would POAL management volunteer to offer services to the Maritime Union? Yeah, right.

  • Port spokeswoman Dee Radhakrishnan said there had been no company involvement in setting up the new body, but it was legally obliged to respond to the group’s bargaining overtures.” – NZ Herald, 24 Sept 2012

Since “Portpro” has never had any collective agreement with POAL, it’s unclear as to how the port company was  “legally obliged” to “ respond to the group’s bargaining overtures“.

If I set up a new “union” called the “Funky Union for Corporate Kickbacks” and approach POAL – are they also “legally obliged” to “respond” to me? Cool!

At any rate, Port manager Hulme denied knowing “how to get in touch with Portpro” – despite  Port Spokeswoman Dee Radhakrishnan explaining that “it was so he could refer them to Mr Lane for information about the proposed bargaining”.

Bizarre.

POAL need to get their ‘cover story’ straight, it seems.

POAL and “Portpro” achieved a “negotiated agreement” just nine days after beginning negotiations. (See:  Ports gains quick collective agreement from new union)

Really? Nine days? What took them so long?

Surely the deal should’ve been signed, sealed, and delivered,  nine minutes after “Portpro” was officially registered.

After all, it’s fairly obvious to anyone with two firing neuron-cells that “Portpro” is a creature of Ports of Auckland Ltd. It is no more “independent” than my thumb is from my hand.

Such front-organisations are also illegal under the Employment Relations Act 2000. The Ministry of Business, Innovation, & Employment website states quite clearly,

What the Employment Relations Act requires

The Employment Relations Act 2000 requires a union to be an incorporated society, to be independent from employers, and to have a set of rules that comply with the requirements of the Employment Relations Act 2000

Independence from employers

A union must be independent of, and be constituted and operate at arms length, from any employer.

The Registrar of Unions may examine applications for registration as a union to determine whether or not an applicant is independent of any employer. If an applicant is not independent of any employer, the Registrar must decline to register it as a union.

Employer support for the formation and/or registration of a union will not, in itself, prevent registration. The Registrar of Unions will consider all relevant circumstances including the nature and purpose of employer support and any employer influence over the nature or scope of the union’s activities.” (Source)

New Zealanders should be wary of these kinds of  “independent unions”. They are not here for our benefit. They are here to drive down wages; reduce conditions; and increase profits for employers and shareholders.

Workers who organise such “unions” are prostituting themselves for corporate interests.

Workers who join them do so at the peril of all workers in this country.

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Previous blogposts

Lies, Boards, and Aucklandports (#Toru)

Ratbags, Rightwingers, and other assorted Rogues!

Roosting chickens

Sources

The temporary website for the NZ Actors’ Guild (since Oct 2010)

Law changes ‘could stifle screen talent’ (25 Sept 2011)

Port to hold talks with union of non strikers (24 Sept, 2012)

Rebel union signs deal with port – “a partnership which rewards both sides” (5 Oct 2012)

Ports gains quick collective agreement from new union (6 Oct 2012)

Maritime Union laughs off rival in Auckland port dispute (6 Oct 2012)

New port union could spell trouble – lawyer (6 Oct 2012)

References

Ministry of Business, Innovation, & Employment: Union registration and administration

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“Spin me a brain exchange”, said Dear Leader!

8 October 2012 13 comments

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2008…

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This was one of National’s election hoardings in 2008,

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National made a big deal of New Zealanders migrating to Australia. Essentially it became an election issue, with John Key painting  our population loss to Australia as a “vote of no confidence” in the incumbent Labour government.

As Key said,

The brain drain worries the hell out of me. I have no doubt we can kiss goodbye to at least half of you in the next five to 10 years.” – John Key, 31 May 2007

See: Business students host National Party leader

When the going gets this tough, is it any wonder that Kiwis look longingly at our Aussie cousins?  Our Aussie cousins, who get paid a third more than us for doing the same job.  Our Aussie cousins, who have been given a tax cut in every Budget for the past five years and who will continue to have their taxes cut for Budgets to come.

Too many Kiwis are looking at those stats and choosing to join their cousins across the ditch.  We have to give them better reasons to stay. ” – John Key, 29 January 2008

See: SPEECH: 2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

Key and the Nats made a nice little ‘song-and-dance’ about the brain-drain to Australia. They  pledged to voters  that, once elected, would set about enacting policies to encourage New Zealanders to stay and help build our economy.

So, how did it work out?

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2009…

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Hmmmm, it’s only been a year for Dear Leader and his cronies colleagues. Let’s be fair and give them more time…

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2010…

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Uh oh. Still not looking terribly ‘flash’, is it? Well, it’s only two years since the Tories were elected on a promise to engage with New Zealanders and create a country that, as Dear Leader Key said in January 2008, “we have to give them better reasons to stay“.

Maybe next year?

Let’s wait and see…

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2011…

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Bugger.

Oh well. Maybe next year?

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2012…

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Well, that seems to have flopped. Majorly flopped.

So what is National’s response to such an utter  failure of their policies? What new initiatives did Dear Leader and his well-paid, well-staffed Ministers come up with?

This is their master-stroke solution,

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So this is National’s  ‘Plan B’? Instead of calling the mass exodus of New Zealanders a  “brain drain”; lamenting the loss of our “best and brightest”; National’s spin-doctors (paid out of yours and my taxes) have re-labelled the slow de-population of our nation as a “brain exchange”?!

Damn clever these spin-doctors, eh?

Just imagine; the re-spinning of all our social and economic problems can be overcome in precisely the same ‘clever’ way. Just slap something with a re-label, and hey, ‘bob’s-your-aunty’.

As Dear Leader Key tells us,

Yup, we started that debate, but the truth is our population has been rising. At the very minimum you could say it’s a ‘brain exchange’ because there’s quite a lot of bright people arriving into New Zealand.” – John Key, 7 October 2012

Sorted.

Except, it’s not ‘sorted’. Nowhere near ‘sorted’.

Key is correct; New Zealand’s population continues to “grow”. But only because the rest of the global human population is only too willing to migrate to New Zealand from various Third World nations; poverty-stricken societies; and hell-holes like Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, etc.

This blogger has no problem with immigrants – my own parents escaped from an Eastern European nation after the Red Army rampaged through the capital city, shooting and killing.

This blogger, does, however, have a problem with a Party that was elected to power on certain promises – and has failed spectacularly at every level to make good those promises.

It is my contention that New Zealanders have ‘jumped the ditch’ – not simply because of the lure of jobs and higher wages in Australia – but because, as a nation, we have failed to instill a sense of belonging in many of our young people.

Since the tsunami that was Rogernomics swept away many of our old values, and replaced our sense of nationhood with an odious philosophy of individualistic Me First, it is my contention that we have taught this generation to ‘follow the money’. Citizenship; a sense of belonging; and valuing and being valued,  is way down on a list of priorities for many folk. Or non-existant.

I share this with the reader,

A Victorian-based Kiwi with a student loan debt, who did not want to be named because he did not want to be found by the Government, said he did not intend to pay back any of his student loan.

The 37-year-old’s loan was about $18,000 when he left New Zealand in 1997. He expected it was now in the order of $50,000. The man was not worried about being caught as the Government did not have his details and he did not want to return to New Zealand.

“I would never live there anyway, I feel just like my whole generation were basically sold down the river by the government. I don’t feel connected at all, I don’t even care if the All Blacks win.

“I just realised it was futile living [in New Zealand] trying to pay student loans and not having any life, so I left. My missus had a student loan and she had quite a good degree and she had paid 99c off the principal of her loan after working three years”.

See: Student loan avoiders told to pay up

I offer this salient piece of advice to Dear Leader andf the National Party; if we expect committment from New Zealanders – then, as a nation, we must show committment to our young folk, and to each other.

That involves old fashioned concepts and values such as pride in our country. Not just our flag or rugby team or latest successful movie by Peter Jackson – but pride in a nation that invests in each citizen with universal, free education; food in schools programmes; decent housing; comprehensive free healthcare for our young people; fair wages sufficient to raise a family on;  everyone paying their taxes (no exceptions for capital gains, sorry),  and ensuring that no one is left behind.

Our Scandinavian cuzzies have achieved this model of society. Even we used to have something similar once upon a time.

Building a sense of nationhood, therefore,  is not about building personal fortunes or buying the latest consumer gadget.

After thirty years of experimenting with the doctrine of Individualistism and Me First, I think it’s fairly obvious that it has failed us. We may have state-of-the-art flatscreen TVs – but our kids are not watching them with us. They’re skyping us from Australia, or where-ever.

If we want a sense of nationhood, it cannot be purchased; imported; traded on the sharemarket; sold; or commodified. It is something deep and innate within us that has to be nurtured by a sense of belonging.

And judging by the exodus from these islands, you really have to ask yourself how strong that sense of belonging is, any more.

The final wave goodbye from many of our fellow Kiwis,

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Sources

Exodus to Oz continues unabated (27 Feb 2009)

Kiwis move to Aussie in record numbers (29 Sept 2010)

Kiwi exodus to Australia nears record levels (23 Nov 2011)

Kiwis still flocking across Tasman (23 June 2012)

Key changes tack with ‘brain exchange’ tag (7 Oct 2012)

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Citizen A – 4 October 2012 – Online now!

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Citizen A

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- 4 October2012 -

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- David Slack & Selwyn Manning -

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Issue 1: two inquires, one Police investigation , spies meeting in Wellington, Key visiting Hollywood and an official apology – how much more weird can the Kim Dotcom scandal get?

Issue 2: Does the Education Ministry’s handling of school closures in Christchurch make the GCSB illegal spying look competent?

Issue 3: If crime is down, why are we building a new billion dollar private prison?

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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

Tumeke

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“Spin me a conspiracy”, said Dear Leader!

8 October 2012 20 comments

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In politics, there are several ways to discredit your  opponant or critic;

  • Humour

David Lange was the past-master of the one-liner riposte. His classic, “I can smell the uranium on your breath”, is now firmly ingrained in our culture.

  • Attack Reputations

A favourite of Robert Muldoon, who had little reservation in undermining, or even destroying, a person’s reputation if they crossed him.

  • Buy them off

Our best and most experienced journalists gave up their professions to join the Dark Side of politics, and become Press Secretaries and spin doctors for politicians, government departments, SOEs, and corporations.

Some of the most well-known media names from the  ’80s, ’90s, and ’00s now work for employers who do not want the public truthfully informed on certain matters.

  • Deride & Dismiss

If you can successfully paint your critic or political opponant as a “loony”, incompetant, naive, or possessing some  other faulty character-trait, then you may persuade the public not to listen to them.

The  Right deride the Greens as “tree hugging socialists” – and other epithets – when attacking their policies. Even when said policies are clearly delineated and sheer common sense – the derision and dismissive retorts are by now an automatic kneejerk from the Right. No thought required.

  • Off to the Gulag!

Very popular with the old USSR, and still in heavy usage in the last remaining Stalinist regime in North Korea. The Chinese have their own Labour Camps (prisons) for their political prisoners. And even the United States – the Land of the Free – has their own dirty little ‘secret’ at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Probably not feasible for dear little New Zealand… yet.

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National’s tax-payer funded  spin doctors have been working overtime this year on new angles for their Ministerial Masters to use to  dismiss the growing clamour of criticism against their policies, and more increasingly, criticism of John Key’s style of leadership.

With National dropping in the polls and Key’s popularity  not what it once was,  it is fairly obvious that critics are starting to hit home – and the Tory hierarchy is worried.

One response has been the Deride & Dismiss tactic.

Increasingly,  Dear Leader and his ministers have taken to referring to critics and political opponants as “conspiracy theorists” – a jibe designed to make someone appear to be on the fringe of politics; slightly unstable; not thinking rationally; and espousing ideas unsupported by facts.

It’s like suggesting that your opponant or critics believes in fairy tales. And it’s becoming more and more common,

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Mr Key is rejecting all their allegations.

“It went through the normal tendering process, Sky City was the only bidder prepared to look at a deal that didn’t involve government resources. They can run around as much as they like looking for conspiracies but they’re never going to find one”. ” – John Key, MSN News, 19 April, 2012

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But despite the paper, he denied there was any connection between him calling off the business case and SkyCity indicating it was considering extending its centre. “Not despite your wildest conspiracies, no,” he said. ” – Dominion Post, 24 April 2012

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But I would say it’s a really positive thing to do. You can make a difference. And it’s like the convention centre. People want to chase their tails in conspiracies. There is no conspiracy. The conspiracy is we haven’t had a convention centre for decades. We will get 160,000 visitor-nights. They will spend roughly twice as much as everybody else. The Government has got no money to pour into it.” – John Key, The Listener, 23 June 2012

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There is no conspiracy here. There’s a failure by an individual, there’s a cock-up, but there’s not a conspiracy.” [re, GCSB] – John Key, TV3, 29 September 2012

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Yeah the conspiracy theorists won’t like it they’ll be on TV tonight saying ‘yeah you know Dotcom’ and all this sort of carry on but they live in fantasy land.” – John Key, TV3, 1 October 2012

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There’ll always be conspiracy theorists out there but I’m interested in jobs, not people who live in Fantasyland and want to make things up.” – John Key,  Fairfax media, 2 October 2012
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Meanwhile Mr Key is writing off the concerns around Dotcom as “conspiracy theories”.

“I’d caution New Zealanders not to buy into conspiracy theories too much,” he says. ” – John Key, TV3, 4 October 2012

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Even Fran O’Sullivan, NZ Herald columnist and bearer of the Honorary Captain Key De-Coder Ring, joined in to support National’s spin-dictoring.

The conspiracy allegations against Key are over-egged.” – Fran O’Sullivan, NZ Herald, 3 October 2011

As these quotes show, Key has been using the “conspiracy” pejorative as often as he can get away with it.

Without indulging in conspiracy theories, one could almost come to the conclusion that “Conspiracy” and “conspiracy theorists” are the magic words in 2012 – as determined by National’s back-room spin doctors. These guys have been racking up serious over-time to create the right things for Key and other National ministers to say.

Anyone criticising Dear Leader is engaging in “conspiracies” and accusations against National are “conspiracy theories”.

Got that?

Good.

Otherwise it’s off to the Gulag for you!

Meanwhile, here is one example of pre-scripted spin being delivered incompetantly, by an incompetant Minister. Listen and weep, for our taxes are paying for this woman’s salary,

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[click on image to link to TV3 video]

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5 October: Protest against Govt harrassment of the unemployed and solo-mums

5 October 2012 4 comments

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NZ, Wellington, 5 October 2012 –  Today marked a National Day Of Action Against Welfare “Reforms” around the country against National’s ongoing harassment and demonisation of unemployed, solo-mothers (but never solo-dads), and others receiving welfare assistance.

Dunedin: ODT – 150 protest welfare reforms in Dunedin

Christchurch: The Press – Protesters angry at benefit moves

Auckland: NZ Herald – Welfare protestors march on MP’s office

Hamilton: Waikato Times – Solutions sought to poverty

Wellington: Dominion Post – nil coverage

Radio NZ: Welfare reform protests held throughout country

The protest in Wellington was held outside the WINZ offices in Upper Willis St, on a cold, blustery day, and was attended by around  100 people,

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The protest was joined by members of the CTU, who had been at a Conference, nearby,

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The crowd swelled from around thirty, up to about 100,

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Radio NZ and TV1 media were present to cover the event, and several folk were interviewed by the RNZ journalist (not in picture),

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Heleyni and Michelle, voluntary advocate-at-large, addressed the gathering. Michelle  had come from Napier on business, and had been keen to join the picket in support of beneficiaries.

Michelle was particularly scathing about National singling out welfare recipients with demands to undertake various “social obligations”,

They should be reaching out to every parent. If they [National] want to interfere in our  lives it should be across the board and be fair about it. So I’m here to support any beneficiary that’s having a headache with this department. But it’s the politicians that need to get a clear message in their heads.”

Bennett has never answered a simple question; if social obligations (such as compulsory early childhood education; school participation; enrollment at a doctor’s clinic) is such an excellent idea for beneficiaries  – why has this policy not been rolled out for all New Zealand families? Why not have  compulsion for everyone?

The answer, I submit, is fairly obvious.

Michelle said that she had kept Jenny Shipley’s  “Code of Social Responsibility” booklet that National had mailed out to  every household in  the country in 1998. Michelle drew parallels with that taxpayer funded exercise  to smear welfare recipients as the cause of society’s social problems – with current policies to achieve similar ends.

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On a current case that I’m advocating for in my home town, is  a young guy  who was the top apprentice in the course;  was working; his boss laid him off, and it’s taken 13 weeks to get his unemployment benefit on. In the meantime he’s had no money; he’s absolutely depressed , he did all that training, he did everything right, and he ended up in the dole queue where he’d never been before actually.

And he is absolutely distraught because there are not enough jobs, let alone qualified ones around.

It’s jobs that the government need to be held to account to create. That’s the problem. It’s not about fault with WINZ. I did eleven years on DPB, worked part time, took me that bloody long to get of my benefit . I trained my way out of it and I’m really  lucky now that I never have to go back to it. Who’s to say that one day I might not have to though. And that’s why our government needs to hear that we need the safety net and we need to have everybody treated with respect.

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Michelle

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David shared his experiences with WINZ, with this blogger.  His  WINZ caseworker suggested that his mental disability was not a true disability, even though he “had been in and out of the mental health system since the age of 13″. He had been hospitalised four times for overdoses, and has self-harmed.

David showed me the angry-red scars on his wrists.

He described how the mental health system had let him down, and his subsequent contact with police and the justice system. (Unfortunately, David’s story is not that uncommon. See:  Radio NZ – Suicides amongst mental health callouts – police )

David said he was worried about being taken off his invalid’s benefit and not having his mental condition taken seriously,

” Basically, because I was able to bike down to the WINZ appointment, my mental health is not that severe

She saw me on one of my good days. She said because I’d been job hunting; because I do one paper a semester at University; which actually is part of my care-package to keep me going, and keep me engaged, instead of stagnating, then she looked at those two things and how I presented and wrote it all of.”

He added,

They are looking at taking me of my invalid’s benefit.”

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David

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This gentleman arrived at the protest well prepared. He carried  ‘urine’ samples to present to WINZ,

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If the contant tooting of passing traffic car horns was anything to go by, there was strong support from the public for the protestors. Perhaps the public are starting to weary of constant job redundancies, rising unemployment, lack of movement on job creation – and in the meantime, National blaming beneficiaries for poor economic performance and indicators.

A government can fool people for only so long…

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Green MP, Jan Logie, addressed the protest and cited National ‘s failure to create the jobs that unemployed needed to get of benefits,

Kia Ora katou, I’m Jan Logie, I’m the Green Party spokesperson for income support. And I’ve gotta say  it’s great to see the crowd out today, people who are in paid work, and those of you who are brave enough not to be in paid work and be out here today, because I know [wind noise].

I’m here because the Green Party believes in a society that we can all participate in. And this government is creating a society that is actively excluding many of our most important people; our parents, our thinkers, our artists, the soul of our society, which is you and every other person accepting income support. I’ve been on income support, most people in this country have been on income support at some stage in their life. And  this government which  is in deep denial, is creating a perception that it is only slackers and losers who are in need of any government support. Well, shame on them! [car honking background noise]

The chances are, the way they’re setting up the world, they’re going to have enough money to be able support their families for generations. Because they’re creating a divided country where the rich are getting so much wealthier and everyone else is just being bloody well left out. And that’s not a country I was brought up to believe I was part off. That’s a country that I looked at overseas and  thought, ‘you poor people, to have a government that treats people and excludes people like that’. That is not the country I know, and that’s not a country I want to be part of.

So I’m so glad that this is a start of a fightback, a start of a fightback for a society we can all be part of. Kia ora katou.”

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This woman had her own story to share with the crowd,

Due to circumstance in our lives – I’m partnered – we had to ask for benefits. Just for two months as it turned out, my partner go a job. But when I came to ask for benefits, we asked not for a free hand out, but for a loan . A loan of $200 to buy our brand new baby clothes. You know what I was told? – “No”.

D’you know why? Because they said my baby wasn’t born yet and just in case  something happens, that … what would the loan be for? [wind noise] They did not give me the loan. So this is the kind of system that is systematically telling us that our children aren’t worth anything, our lives are not worth anything. Anything can happen to you and fundamentally “we do not care”.

So this is what I’m standing against. I’m standing for human rights and against people who say “you don’t matter”, “your unborn child does not matter”… I’m standing against that; my child matters [car & wind noise] So thanks very much for nothing, Mr John Key.”

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Solo-mum and Parliamentarian, Jan Logie (green scarf). The contrast between Ms Logie and Welfare Minister Paula Bennett is stark.

Considering Bennett’s own background as an ex welfare beneficiary, when will she stand with the unemployed, powerless, and dispossessed, on protest lines like these?

Bennett enjoyed full access to state social services; DPB, free tertiary education paid with the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett closed down), and even bought a house using  WINZ assistance.

The people here today simply want what Bennett received, to get out of the poverty trap as she did,

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Others had the opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts on issues surrounding beneficiary-bashing, lack of jobs, and Paula Bennett’s behaviour,

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This protestor knew precisely where to sheet home responsibility for ongoing economic problems,

There’s a lot of talk right now about debt and financial burden… This is actually scapegoating. The bulk of debt in this country is private debt, it’s not government debt…. By attacking beneficiaries, the poorest people, it’s a way of actually  making people insecure and making people blame those who aren’t causing this problem. The people who are causing this problem are capitalists and  banks. .. and we should not blame beneficiaries for causing this problem.”

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A petition was passed around. It made a simple request,

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This woman demanded to know how she could meet Bennett’s  “obligations” to find  work when employers preferred to hire able-bodied people rather than someone with a disability.

She said she couldn’t even speak to some at WINZ’s reception, at eye-level, because her line of sight was blocked by the reception-counter,

I’ve been to this WINZ office.And I went up to the  Counter. And unfortunately it was the Counter I saw. Because it is so inaccessible. I couldn’t see the staff – I could see the counter. I think it is disgraceful that Work and  Income is so inaccessible … and that is discrimination. Do they not deal with disabled people? Perhaps some disabled people might be on a, I don’t know, an in-valid benefit. Perhaps they might be on a sickness benefit. Perhaps they might be receiving super. I don’t know… there may be the occassional disabled person coming to work at Work & Income  And yet, it is inaccessible!”

She added,

Social responsibility does go both ways. And this government must must get it’s act together.”

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Protestors enjoyed a  moment of spontaneous entertainment and humour  when a streaker from the nearby university hostel, ‘Ustay’, ran across the street; back again;  through the protestors; and back into the hostel-building.

He had guts (and lots of skin).  The wind that blew up and down the street was bitterly cold.

Unfortunately, he was too quick to catch on-camera (his streaking was suitable for the Olympic 100m dash), but the reaction from the crowd is plain to see,

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This particular sign perhaps says it all; whilst National demands that unemployed, solo-mums, etc meet certain “obligations” – where is National’s obligation to create the 170,000 new jobs they promised us during last year’s general elections?

Are obligations a one-way street?

Has National abrogated it’s obligations, and thrust responsibility for their job-creation policy-failures, onto the unemployed?

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And finally, this shot of WINZ’s interior says a lot. It is emptly, save for the security guard lucky enough to have a job,

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The reason that unemployed are not queuing up at WINZ offices is mind-numbingly simple; there are no jobs to be had at WINZ.

Instead, the unemployed, solo-mums, and other beneficiaries queue where the jobs are,

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See: Employment-Unemployment Fact Sheet #1: Queues for Vacancies

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Addendum 1

More images of  the Protest action here.

Addendum 2

Right wing blogger; ex ACT candidate; critic of solo-mothers; and self-proclaimed “expert” on New Zealand’s welfare system, Lindsay Mitchell, had this to to write about today’s day-of-action,

” WELFARE REFORM PROTESTS ALARM BENEFICIARIES

Friday, October 5, 2012

The language protesters are using to describe ongoing welfare reforms is unnecessarily frightening people on benefits, according to welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell.

“Welfare reforms are being described as ‘cruel’, ‘punitive’, ‘brutal’, ‘vicious’ and ‘violent’ prompting beneficiaries to fear the worst – that they will lose their income. “

See: Welfare reform protests alarm beneficiaries

Mitchell did not name the mysterious people being “unnecessarily frightened”. Of course not. Mitchell does not move in circles where she would come into contact with  the unemployed, solo-mums, and other such “riff-raff”.

She was merely interviewing her own keyboard. Making it up.

Mitchell went on to write,

The reforms are focussed on getting more people into work and on creating better outcomes for children.”

Mitchell is deluding herself. The reforms are not “ focussed on getting more people into work“.  The “reforms” will not create one single job. That is not the purpose of said “reforms” – which she well knows.

The actual purpose is to push people of welfare and make unemployment stats look better for National.

National has no policy on job creation and has stated on numerous occassions that it believes that only the private sector can create jobs – not government,

Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than business growth. For New Zealand to build a more productive and competitive economy, we need more innovative companies out there selling their products on the world stage.” – John Key, 24 August 2012

Now in her dotage, Mitchell is little more than an apologist for  National’s nasty beneficiary-bashing agenda. Her views on social welfare are stated with crystal clarity on her blog,

” This blog intends to debunk the myths surrounding the welfare state. The government is not caring and compassionate. It cannot replace families and community. The welfare state is unsustainable economically, socially and morally. “

Yeah, far better to let people sleep  in alleyways and die in gutters. If it’s good enough for the slum-dwellers of Mumbai and Soweto…

Interestingly, the one response she had on her blogpost was an Invalid Beneficiary who was unashamedly honest in demolishing Mitchell’s bullshit.

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Other blogs

Leftwing

The Standard: National Day of action against Bennett’s welfare reforms

Rightwing

Lindsay Mitchell: Welfare reform protests alarm beneficiaries

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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It’s official: Key’s mind is someone elses’ responsibilty

5 October 2012 4 comments

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And now something  from the political Twilight Zone of weirdness. Herein is reproduced, in full, a recent column-piece by NZ Herald political commentator, John Armstrong,

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Finally, some answers. What’s more, some answers about who knew what and when; some answers which should leave the Prime Minister’s face as red as his favoured pinot noir.

Despite John Key’s insistent denials, it now seems to be the case that he actually was briefed by the GCSB on its eavesdropping on Kim Dotcom at a session in February which outlined the spy agency’s wider roles and capabilities.

Key cannot remember. Neither can Ian Fletcher, the GCSB director. But others present confirmed there was brief mention of the Dotcom saga. Key has had to accept their word.

He knows that he consequently emerges battered from this affair; that the Opposition parties have landed their strongest hit on him since he became Prime Minister. He will roll with the punches, however. He has little choice. Opposition parties are claiming the episode demonstrates the real level of incompetence within Key’s Government.

Any incompetence in this case, however, should be sheeted home to the bureau. It has taken more than two weeks to provide Key with basic information. Its inertia has dumped Key right in it. His demands that it move with greater speed appear to have gone unheeded.

Essentially, there has been a culture clash between the slow, methodical GCSB and the frantic world of politics.

As a result, Key has called in Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Kitteridge to sort out the GCSB. He clearly no longer trusts the bureau.

Key is likely to feel obliged to apologise to Parliament for the inaccuracy of some of his statements to the House. But the worst looks to be over for National.

By John Armstrong

Source

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Any incompetence in this case, however, should be sheeted home to the bureau. It has taken more than two weeks to provide Key with basic information. Its inertia has dumped Key right in it. His demands that it move with greater speed appear to have gone unheeded.”

Mr Armstrong – you must be joking?!?! Are you for real? Do you really think that it is the responsibility of civil servants to ensure that the Prime Ministers’ memory is in good working order???

Since when has the Prime Minister’s brain-fade been the responsibility of others?!

Key should have realised that the GCSB had been  illegally involved in spying on Kim Dotcom  during the Feb 29 briefing – only 40 days after the massive, Police ninja-raid on the Coatsville mansion. Surely, when the PM saw Dotcom’s image on the GCSB report, alarm bells would’ve rung in his mind??

At the very least, one would’ve thought that Key might’ve turned to his Chief of Staff, Wayne Eagleson, and queried the matter?

Sorry, Mr Armstrong – but trying to deflect blame for what Key can/can’t remember is just a step too far. If Key’s mental stability relies on others, then he is in bad shape and not fit to be PM.

Key’s ministerial responsibility for overseeing the SIS and GCSB appears similar to his ministerial responsibility as Minister of Tourism; The Prime Minister has left the country.

Perhaps the most ludicrous of Armstrong’s comments is when he suggests,

But the worst looks to be over for National.”

On Planet Key, maybe, Mr Armstrong.

But we do things differently, here on Planet Earth.

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John Key Forgets…

5 October 2012 3 comments

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Categories: On A Lighter Note Tags:

Key: When I say ‘no’, I mean ‘no’. Maybe.

4 October 2012 7 comments

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Two years ago, what should have been a relatively minor industrial negotiation between Actor’s Equity and and SPADA (Screen Production and Development Association) turned into a major incident, both local and international.

The dispute swelled into a mass-panic as New Zealanders’ believed that they were about to lose their precious – the ‘Hobbit‘ movies. There was talk of production moving to Australia (which is evenly more heavily unionised than NZ) or Eastern Europe, or Outer Mongolia or wherever.

Tension escalated. Death threats were made. Union officials were harassed and threatened. Hysteria reached moral-panic proportions not seen since the 1981 Springbok Tour Days.

Then, on 27 October 2010, the Wide Boys from Hollywood rode into town. Their boy, John Key, was on hand to greet them and taxpayer funded limousines were made available to chauffeur the Warner Bro’s to Premier House,

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Warner Brothers executives arrive to meet with Prime Minister John Key and other ministers at Premier House. Photo / NZPA

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See: Govt paid $6000 limo tab for Warner Bros in Hobbit talks

It was High Stakes time (or so we were led to believe). It was actually more like Herding Sheep time.

And we were the sheep.

Key was sternly adamant; Warner Bros would not screw another cent out of the New Zealand tax-payer. There were already generous tax breaks in place. So said Dear Leader at 11.45am, on the morning of 27 October,

“They’ve got movies to make and in the end, money talks in Hollywood. That’s just the way it works. We can’t stop other countries around the world putting up much better and more financially-lucrative deals. If it’s just simply a matter of dollars and cents, I’m just not going to write out cheques that New Zealand can’t afford.” – Source

By 7.38pm – barely eight hours later – Key had pulled out the taxpayer chequebook,

Tax rebates will also be changed for Warner Bros, which will mean up to an extra US$7.5m per movie for Warner Bros, subject to the success of the movies…

… The Government will offset US$10 million of Warner Bros’ marketing costs as part of the strategic partnership. ” – Source

As Key lamely explained,

It was commercial reality. We did the business.” – Source

Two years later, Key is once again off to meet with Warner Bros as well as other Hollywood execs,

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Source

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Every time Key consorts with Corporate Wide Boys, we end up paying, one way or another. So how much will it cost us this time, Dear Leader? What are you preparing to give away now?

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Addendum

The Hobbit director Sir Peter Jackson released a statement and his wife and film partner Fran Walsh overnight saying the film’s producer, Hollywood studio Warner Bros, was concerned at the ongoing dispute and preparing to move production away from New Zealand.” – 21 October 2010

See: Brownlee hits out over ‘dreadful’ Hobbit dispute

An email from Sir Peter Jackson shows union action had nothing to do with Warner Bros.’ decision on whether or not The Hobbit would be filmed in New Zealand, says Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly.” – 21 January 2011

See: Union: Protest did not affect Hobbit decision

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Sources

NZ Herald: PM – I’m not going to write cheques NZ can’t afford (11.45AM, 27 Oct 2010)

NZ Herald: Hobbit to stay in NZ (7.38PM, 27 Oct 2010)

NBR: Key on Hobbit deal: ‘It was commercial reality. We did the business.’  (31 Oct 2010)

Fairfax: PM’s ‘special’ movie studio meeting   (19 July 2011)

Radio NZ: No extra incentives for US movie companies, says PM (2 Oct 2012)

Additional

Labour vows to repeal Hobbit law

Update

TV3: Copyright lobbyist on Key’s Hollywood agenda (4 Oct 2012)

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From Mini -True…

4 October 2012 2 comments

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… crime down – doubleplusgood!

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Full Mini-True Good News!

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Justice Minister Judith Collins said nationwide statistics showed the Government’s focus on crime was working. New Zealand’s crime rate was at its lowest since 1982 and, as a result, fewer criminal charges were laid against fewer people.

“I am particularly pleased to see fewer children and young people being charged with an offence and appearing in court – down by as much as 25% on the last year,” she said.

The rising conviction rate, up to 74% from 70% in 2008, showed good work was being done across the justice sector.

“These results are simply fantastic,” she said.

See: Prosecution numbers down

Dear Leader has achieved  his Party’s election promise,

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Memo to Mini-True scribes: delete previous inaccurate report,

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Full Mini-True Report for Deletion

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The past, he reflected, had not merely been altered, it had been actually destroyed. For how could you establish even the most obvious fact when there existed no record outside your own memory?” – “Nineteen Eighty Four”, George Orwell

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