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An interesting poll from TVNZ. Note some of the VERY left-wing questions!?

24 July 2014 5 comments

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20 September

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July 19 – Yesterday, I received this poll, sent by TVNZ to my email.

What I found very interesting were some of the question relating to issues that have not been discussed – literally – for decades. The question regarding free tertiary education is again an election issue. This is something we can attribute directly to the rise and rise of the Mana-Internet Alliance.

The questions (and answers I gave) are presented here as screen-shots. (Only the final two pages are not included, as they contained some personal responses and details. My preference for which Party I will be endorsing with my Party Vote for will be the subject of an up-coming blogpost.)

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TVNZ on-line survey p1

 

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TVNZ on-line survey p2

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It is a shame that the “anti-smacking” question (above) was put without real reference to what the law actually states. If people actually knew the actual nature of the  repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act, they might be more inclined to vote as I did. It is a fallacy that the repeal of Section 59 banned all smacking and is a deliberate distortion promulgated by neo-conservatives and religious right elements in our society.

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TVNZ on-line survey p3

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I responded somewhat “lukewarm” to the question about compulsory Kiwisaver (above). The problem of compensating low-income earners and beneficiaries should be taken into account along with implementing compulsion. Forcing the poor, who might be currently living in garages and unable to afford even the basics, to save for Kiwisaver would be an untenable proposition and a farce.

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TVNZ on-line survey p4

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I voted “strongly disagree” to the proposition that high income earners should not receive superannuation. We have been through this issue before and it was blindingly obvious that high income earners simply hid their money by clever accounting tricks – thereby avoiding cuts to their super.

Targetted superannuation invites the growth of a labyrinth of rules, exemptions, asset-income testing, and an associated invasive  bureaucracy. Better to have Universal Superannuation,  alongside a comprehensive progressive tax rate  that claws back super-payments by slightly higher marginal tax rates.

And the final tranche of questions;

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TVNZ on-line survey p5

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It is interesting to note that questions regarding tax cuts were omitted. I would have liked to have seen what New Zealander’s attitudes toward cutting taxes would have been. Especially if the question was framed as a choice between more tax cuts and less social services.

Now that would really have been a barometer of our nationwide psyche!

Now we just have to await the outcome of this poll…

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References

Wikipedia: Crimes (Substituted Section 59) Amendment Act 2007

 


 

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 July 2014.

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2014 – Ongoing jobless tally

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Unemployment logo

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Continued from: 2013 – Ongoing jobless tally

So by the numbers, for this year,

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

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*

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See also

Reported Job Losses

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*

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Current unemployment statistics

 

December 2013 Quarter

December 2013 quarter Quarterly change Annual change
(000) (Percent)
Employed* 2,297 +1.1 +3.0
Unemployed    147  -1.3  -8.9
Not in the labour force 1,103  -0.5  -1.0
Working-age population 3,547 +0.5 +1.2
(Percent) (Percentage points)
Employment rate  64.7 +0.3  +1.1
Unemployment rate    6.0  -0.2   -0.8
Labour force participation rate  68.9 +0.3  +0.7

All figures are seasonally adjusted. Source: Statistics New Zealand

* Employed: Includes people who worked one hour (or more) per week, whether paid or unpaid.

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March 2014 Quarter

March 2014 quarter Quarterly change Annual change
(000) (Percent)
Employed 2,318 +0.9 +3.7
Unemployed    147   0.0  -1.1
Not in the labour force 1,093   -0.9  -2.9
Working-age population 3,559 +0.3 +1.4
(Percent) (Percentage points)
Employment rate  65.1 +0.4  +1.4
Unemployment rate    6.0   0.0   -0.2
Labour force participation rate  69.3 +0.4  +1.4

 

All figures are seasonally adjusted. Source: Statistics New Zealand

* Employed: Includes people who worked one hour (or more) per week, whether paid or unpaid.

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Additional statistics

Officially unemployed stats;

In the March 2014 quarter compared with the December 2013 quarter:

  • The number of people employed increased by 22,000 people.
  • The employment rate rose 0.4 percentage points, to 65.1 percent.
  • The number of people unemployed was unchanged.
  • The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 6.0 percent.
  • The labour force participation rate increased 0.4 percentage points, to 69.3 percent.

Official unemployment: unchanged

The  under-employment stats;

Over the year, the total number of under-employed people increased by 27,200 to 122,600. As a result, the under-employment rate increased 1.0 percentage points to 5.3 percent.

Official under-employment: up

 

Source

Definitions

Jobless: people who are either officially unemployed, available but not seeking work, or actively seeking but not available for work. The ‘available but not seeking work’ category is made up of the ‘seeking through newspaper only’, ‘discouraged’, and ‘other’ categories.

Under-employment: employed people who work part time (ie usually work less than 30 hours in all jobs) and are willing and available to work more hours than they usually do.

Employed: people in the working-age population who, during the reference week, did one of the following:

  • worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment 

  • worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business, or professional practice owned or operated by a relative 

  • had a job but were not at work due to: own illness or injury, personal or family responsibilities, bad weather or mechanical breakdown, direct involvement in an industrial dispute, or leave or holiday.

Source

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[To  be periodically up-dated]

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Guest Author: A Cry of desperation from Christchurch

Sarah O’Brien

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I spoke to my father (84 yrs old) and asked.. ‘are you going to watch Hope & Wire”?

His response… ‘No, it hardly represents what the people here are still going through. It misrepresents Christchurch all together, and the language is unacceptable.  All this intermittant rubbish the writer has crammed into it… represents us as a group of badly educated, sex driven white supremists’!!!

YES.. I couldn’t agree more…

Having now lived through over 13000 earthquakes, and dealing on a daily basis with my own paper war to have my insurance contract with IAG (via the ASB) honoured, living with black mold in the ceilings, no carpet, gib off bedroom & living room walls and having had raw sewerage in the house for 2 years as EQC refused to fix this under ‘emergency repairs’ (while my insurers didnt want to know until I was deemed ‘Over cap with EQC, not able to get it fixed myself or ‘I’d loose my insurance claim’!!!)’.

Now I witness see daily ‘fletchered cosmetic repairs failing’, and elderly / disable persons having to shift from their homes for the 2nd or 3rd time, as their floor boards were ‘propped up’ (Jack and Packed) with bits of MDF / Malamine / Gib board and even an old chair leg!!!

Entry doors and windows still cannot be secured, water ingress every time it rains, and drive / pathways inaccessible to those who are elderly or disabled in small ways.

Why?? Because Gerry & his army of twats has decided its OK for up to 20% of structural repairs (replacement of piles) under houses , are able to be completed without consent!!!!! Therefore, we have cowboys being paid millions and their work is not requiring council building inspection!!!! Is this what our insurance is paying for???

YES: the government led (CERA) Fletcher repair scheme has cost the taxpayers three times more than it ever should, caused hundreds of deaths, illness (mental and physical), and this whole Government orchistrated genocide and complete ignoring of the plight of the Christchurch people is criminal….

But do YOU know how I felt at the end of Hope & Wire??

I shed a blubbery tear and felt…

BUGGER YOU NEW ZEALAND. ALL YOU SO CALLED FELLOW COUNTRYMEN & WOMAN. JUST BUGGER YOU ALL.

Why???

Because I have pleaded with you all to listen, protest, become involved and support us.. You get out there to save the dolphins. You rally to stop fracking. You rally to have emergency houses built in Auckland. You rally to help North Island flood victims or Wellington storm / earthquake victims.. you rally to stop wars in other countries.

Yet you leave the victims of this city for four years to survive sub-zer0 degree nights, relentless floods, living in 3rd world conditions. Many still living in tents and garages…. and STILL STUCK WITH EQC / FLETCHERS AND INSURERS STAFF WHO RELENTLESSLY BULLY AND THREATEN ELDERLY AND VULNERABLE VICTIMS OF THIS. OUR NATIONS TRAVESTY.

Yes… BUGGER YOU. If this was rugby… another springbok event.. would you take a day off work and protest??? THIS IS GENOCIDE HERE!! WAKE UP!!!

Sarah O’Brien
Christchurch resident, July 2014

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Previous related blogposts

Interview: Angie, the Earthquake Angel

A tale of two tragedies

Additional

Fairfax media: Christchurch rent crisis ‘best left to market’

The Christchurch Fiasco : the Insurance Aftershock and its Implications for New Zealand and Beyond


 

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National's trickle down policy is a frozen tap

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Protest against National Party soiree results in one arrest – for bugger all!

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john key cartoon garrick tremain

Acknowledgement: Garrick Tremain

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NZ, Wellington, 29 June 2014 – About one hundred people took part in a peaceful – if noisy – protest on a Saturday night outside Wellington’s sea-front museum, Te Papa. The National Party had booked Te Papa for a cocktail evening, with flash tuxedos and expensive frocks  de rigueur for the evening.

Needless to say, low-income families and beneficiaries were not overly represented  at this exclusive soirée.

The protest action was organised by Pōneke Action Against Poverty, a recently formed grass-roots pressure group fighting the  widening  gap between rich and poor in Aotearoa-New Zealand.

In a widely distributed statement,  PAAP spokesperson, Kassie Hartendorp, said,

While the Government has been lauding a drop in the number of people receiving the benefit, real unemployment has stayed the same. Instead of lifting people out of poverty, this Government has been refusing to support those who need help.”

The group statement condemned National current economic, social, and environmental policies;

While previously refusing to acknowledge the reality of being poor in Aotearoa, in May of 2013 Finance Minister Bill English declared “We don’t believe there is a solution to poverty in general.”

At the same time this Government is supporting the wealthy to become richer. From tax cuts in 2010 to asset sales and the ongoing expansion of mining, drilling, and fracking, this government is supporting big business while ignoring those who need help.

Pōneke Action Against Poverty stated that they wanted to see a Government working to support the most vulnerable in our society.  Kassie Hartendorp said,

We want to see a rise in the benefit (for the first time in decades), and the introduction of a decent Living Wage which is tied to the average wage in this country.”

Judging by the style of clothing worn to the Te Papa cocktail party, poverty was not a problem for attendees.

Many of the attendees had to walk the gauntlet between two rows of protesters. In case anyone believes that is “unfair” – consider that 250,000-plus children living in poverty is also unfair. Let this be a reminder to National Party members of the consequences of the policies they support;

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anti-National protest - Poneke Action Against Poverty - 28 June 2014 - Te Papa - Wellington (2)

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This was a salient reminder to those middle class aspirationists and One Percenters that there is real, palpable anger out in the community.

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anti-National protest - Poneke Action Against Poverty - 28 June 2014 - Te Papa - Wellington (6)

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There was sustained, loud, enthusiastic chanting from the crowd;

“One, two, three, four! Stop the war on the poor!”

“Shame! Shame!”

“What’s the story, filthy Tory?”

“Whose streets?Our streets!”

“When workers rights are under attack – Stand up fight back!

If those National supporters think  sixty  protesters were too noisy, imagine 250,000 children all screaming out for help. Something  that Minister and National Party campaign strategist, Steven Joyce, might bear in mind, as he walked by;

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anti-National protest - Poneke Action Against Poverty - 28 June 2014 - Te Papa - Wellington (19)

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Some clear messages for the National Party, and it’s supporters;

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anti-National protest - Pōneke Action Against Poverty - 28 June 2014 - Te Papa - Wellington

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anti-National protest - Poneke Action Against Poverty - 28 June 2014 - Te Papa - Wellington (101)

(Acknowledgement: Mick McCrohon)

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anti-national-protest-poneke-action-against-poverty-28-june-2014-te-papa-wellington

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When the Prime Minister himself puts down the poorest of the poor in this country, is it any wonder that people will react accordingly? These signs say it all;

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anti-National protest - Poneke Action Against Poverty - 28 June 2014 - Te Papa - Wellington (12)

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Even the cetaceans aren’t safe from this government;

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anti-national-protest-poneke-action-against-poverty-28-june-2014-te-papa-wellington

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Co-administrator of the ‘John Key has Let Down New Zealand‘ Facebook group (current membership: 14,605), Karen Jones (R), with her two daughters, Katie (L) and Tracey (centre). Karen is the very proud mum of two very sharp, and dedicated, young activists;

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anti-National protest - Poneke Action Against Poverty - 28 June 2014 - Te Papa - Wellington (22).

And speaking of young people, these teenagers – not part of the protest – were curious to know what was going on;

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anti-National protest - Poneke Action Against Poverty - 28 June 2014 - Te Papa - Wellington (72)

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We explained to them that it was  a protest against National’s social, economic, and  environment policies. They immediately wanted to know if it related to mining on the Denniston Plateau and drilling in marine reserves! They were thoroughly clued up on contemporary environmental issues,

“New Zealand’s such a unique landscape, why ruin it, just for money?”

“Money is such a short time thing but then, like, our environment is a long time thing, and you can’t really replace [it].”

It would be a mistake to believe that young people are disinterested in the critical issues of the day. They were knowledgeable, and they were articulate. They were firm in their opposition  to mining and drilling in our national  parks and marine reserves.

They are the future hope for our country.

Greenpeace’s envoy from the arctic, the polar bear, tried to pass on the message of global warming threatening our world. Predictably, National Party supporters were more interested in cocktails and canapés, rather than climate change, as they hurried by;

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anti-national-protest-poneke-action-against-poverty-28-june-2014-te-papa-wellington

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Police presence numbered around ten to a dozen, with additional private security guards to boost numbers. The One Percent must be very afraid of their tenuous hold on power.

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anti-National protest - Poneke Action Against Poverty - 28 June 2014 - Te Papa - Wellington (28)

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The protesters re-grouped to face the courtyard in front of Te Papa. By this time, their numbers had swelled to around a hundred. They were no less vocal, as National Party members, Ministers, and assorted MPs kept arriving.

When Tony Ryall walked by, I asked in a fairly loud voice,

“Mr Ryall, do you have anything to saying about a quarter of a million children living in poverty?”

I asked the question three times. He walked past, with no answer.

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anti-National protest - Poneke Action Against Poverty - 28 June 2014 - Te Papa - Wellington (10)

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Towards the end of the protest, Police arrested one person – Darren – for “Offensive Behaviour”. Darren had allegedly used a can of “spray string“, aimed at National Party members. As this blogger was present and witnesssed the incident, Darren did not “spray paint” the museum, and reports to that effect are untrue.

Police were quick to move in and arrest Darren seconds  after he discharged the can. As the photos clearly show, Darren was relaxed, smiling, and at no time offered any physical resistance;

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anti-National protest - Poneke Action Against Poverty - 28 June 2014 - Te Papa - Wellington (44)

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Several dozen of the protesters – many holding various electronic recording devices (including this blogger, ‘armed’ with a camera and Voice Recorder) – looked on. At this point I asked one of the constables,

FM: “Are you arresting this gentleman, are you?”

Policeman: “We’re just speaking with him at this stage.”

People were watching and perhaps this kept Darren’s arrest restrained and  non-violent;

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anti-National protest - Poneke Action Against Poverty - 28 June 2014 - Te Papa - Wellington (50)

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As this image clearly shows, Darren was not only not resisting, but stood casually beside them and made no attempt to flee;

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After being questioned, Darren was led to a ‘paddy wagon’, some few metres away;

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anti-National protest - Poneke Action Against Poverty - 28 June 2014 - Te Papa - Wellington (53)

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Three minutes after my first query, as  policemen held Darren’s arms behind his back, I asked,

FM: “Excuse me, is he under arrest?”

Policeman 1: “That’s up to him. That’s up to him if he wants to tell you that.”

I asked again;

FM: “Excuse me, is this gentleman under arrest?”

Policeman 2: “Are you his lawyer?”

FM: “Sorry?”

Policeman 2: “Are you his lawyer?”

FM: “No, no I’m not.”

Policeman: “Well don’t interfere with them, while they’re doing their job.”

FM: “No, no. No, no. Not doing anything [to interfere].”

I persisted,

FM: “Can anyone tell me what he’s being charged with? Can anyone tell me what he’s being charged with?”

[No reply from police.]

Darren: Offensive behaviour apparently.

FM “Offensive behaviour? [to police] Is that correct?”

[No reply from police.]

Darren: “Offensive behaviour.”

Policeman: “Hey look, if you want to video, I’ll take it that’s fine, but what I’ll just ask you to do is keep your distance while we’re dealing with this? “

FM: [holding my hands up]: “Not going to touch you guys, not coming anywhere near you guys.”

Policeman: “If you could just, yeah, like I say.. that’ll be great -”

FM: “Yep, yep, arms length.”

As Darren was handcuffed, I asked, I  asked Police,

FM: “Is it necessary to handcuff him? He wasn’t being violent.”

Policeman: “Standard procedure -”

FM: “It’s what, sorry?  Standard procedure is it, to handcuff him?”

Policeman: ” – when we’re dealing with him.”

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There seemed no apparent reason for hand-cuffing Darren.   He gave no resistance, and he fully complied with their instructions.

The following three images have been brightness-enhanced, but otherwise un-retouched. They show Darren hand-cuffed; and led into the paddy-wagon;

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About half an hour later, as it became apparent that no further guests were arriving to the function, the protesters packed up and moved away without further incident.

On Sunday evening, following Darren’s arrest and release, I interviewed him on-line to ascertain what had happened.

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Frank: Firstly, can you tell us what happened last night [Saturday]?

Darren: I was at a protest against the 2014 National Party Conference outside of Te Papa, where National Party Members were meeting for an evening function.

Frank: Can you tell us what the protest was about?

Darren: The protest was about a number of issues that people are angry at the National based government for pushing through despite public opposition, including the selling of prospecting rights on marine reserves to foreign multinational oil companies. At approximately 7:30pm I was arrested for ‘Offensive Behaviour’.

Frank: I was present when you were arrested. You used one of those party “string” spray-cans. You weren’t spray painting Te Papa, as some reports have stated, were you?

Darren: Yes at one stage I was holding a “string” spray-can. I did not spray paint the building. I, like other protesters, was offended by the behaviour of our so-called National Museum Te Papa that allowed an undemocratic right-wing political party, who I as a Citizen of New Zealand am opposed to, to book their premises.

Frank: Indeed, many people present can vouch that the spray can you were holding was not a paint can. So, what happened when you were arrested? You were handcuffed?

Darren: When I was first arrested a police officer took hold of my arm, I did not resist. They ‘patted me down to search me and confiscated all my personal items, wallet, cellphone, flat keys etc. I was ordered to put my hands behind my back and they put metal handcuffs on me. I was then told to enter the police van, where I sat for what felt like about ten minutes. Then I was let out and told to get into the back of a police car.

Frank: I was present when that happened, Darren. There seemed to be some uncertainty that the police charged you or not. Did they say they were charging you with anything?

Darren: I asked then what they were arresting for and was told the offense was ‘Offensive Behaviour’. They started asking me questions and I told them that I was remaining silent, which is one of my ‘Miranda Rights’.

Frank: Were you still handcuffed when they transferred you into the police car?

Darren: Yes, by that stage my wrists were bruised from the cuffs. The office sitting next to me attempted to put a seat belt on me, which would not fit because of the cuffs. I told the police that the cuffs were hurting my wrists but they would not take them off until I was processed at the police station some minutes later.

Frank: Ok. So all up, how long do you think you were handcuffed for? And can you confirm that you offered no resistance whatsoever? Because when I was present from the moment they caught you, using the “string” spray can, to the point they put you in the paddy-wagon, you showed no resistance at all. Was that your behaviour later, after they transferred you to the police car?

Darren: I think I was handcuffed for about twenty minutes, although it was hard to tell exactly as one of the first things that they confiscated was my wrist watch. The only time during the whole ordeal in which I showed any resistance was near the beginning when you were nearby, the policeman took hold of my right arm, which was technically an assault. I simply shrugged to get him to loosen his grip, which did not work. From then on I offered no resistance whatsoever and I remained silent for most of the time except to answer questions about my identification and residence etc and to make some general references, ie about the weather etc which had no bearing on my conviction.

Frank: Did they take you to the station to be formally charged and processed?

Darren: Yes, to my limited knowledge, it was done by their ‘book’. They processed me, gave me the formal charge of ‘Breach of the Peace’, photographed me, asked my intimate questions about my physiological and mental health, took my shoes, my belt and my ear rings and said that all my possessions would be kept in their safe while I was put into a holding cell for two hours. I was not allowed a telephone call or to contact legal representation, even though they mentioned that the police could provide me with ‘free lawyers’.

Frank: Did you ask to contact a lawyer or anyone else?

Darren: They briefly mentioned a lawyer when they were reading me my ‘rights’. I chose to remain silent except when an officer was padding me down and confiscating all my remaining property. I told the officer that when people are that intimate with me that they normally buy me a restaurant meal and a few drinks. The offer of a lawyer was not made again, and I was photographed and then marched into a holding cell, where I was left with no food, drink or telephone for about two hours, despite me telling them that I am diabetic.

At not time during the two hours did I have access to a telephone or my cellphone, even though I do remember asking for my cellphone back

Frank: So what time were you finally released? And have you been given a date to appear in Court?

Darren: It was about 9:40pm when they returned my watch and all my possessions. I think that they were annoyed that I remained silent and did not provide any resistance. According to my Breach of Peace Release Notice: “Subsequent enquiries have now established that: *(a) No charge will be laid against you in court and you are now free to leave the Police Station, OR” (sic) The notice was signed by the officer in charge. I was then marched out the vehicle entrance of the police station and told to go directly home.

Frank: How are your hands, after being handcuffed?

Darren: I did some wrist flexing exercises in the holding cell, that I remembered from going to a gym, to get the circulation back, but they are still bruised.

Frank: Any other observations you’d care to share with us about your Police experience? Do you think their detention of you was excessive?

Darren: Yes it was excessive. They didn’t need to handcuff me, they didn’t need to take every single personal item off me – what harm could I have done with my ear rings, for example. They could have asked if I wanted a glass of water or to make a telephone call. I had an ice coffee in my satchel, which they could have asked if I wanted to drink etc. The cell had a thin rubber mattress and a metal toilet, but that was all. They also didn’t need to hold me for two hours after processing me.

Frank: Will you lay a complaint with the Independent Police Complaints Authority, do you think?

Darren: Probably not. No photos were taken of my wrists and the cuffs did not draw blood or cut off the circulation. No charge was laid against me and I don’t want to aggravate the police to change that decision.

Frank: Ok. Lastly, has this put you off taking further protest action do you think?

Darren: Not at all.

Frank: So we’ll see you on the next protest action then?

Darren: It depends upon what the next action is, but if the issue is important enough I will be there.

Frank: Thanks, Darren!

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Postscript

Ministers really should car their ministerial limousines in legal car-parks – not just anywhere it suits them. These two were parked on a pedestrian plaza and across a motorcycle parking bay;

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But I guess National ministers pretty well do whatever they like these days. The law doesn’t apply to them, obviously.

As I took these photos (on my way to my legally parked car, for which I had to  pay a car-parking fee), Darren was still locked in the police paddy-wagon.

For him, the law meant hand-cuffs.

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Note: apologies for poor quality of images. The camera I was using was not the one I usually use. – Frank Macskasy

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References

Scoop media: Pōneke Action Against Poverty to protest National Government

Dominion Post:  National Party protester arrested

Aotearoa Independent Media Centre:  PAAP takes on Nats

NZ Herald: Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘fmacskasy.wordpress.com’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

 


 

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Team key - me myself  and me

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 July 2014.

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Another useless law?

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The latest “bright idea” from this government…

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New law to protect sex and violence victims

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Oh yes. Because other forms of Protection Orders work so wonderfully well, they don’t even need to be enforced…

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Ignored protection orders 'nightmare'

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Ignored protection orders 'nightmare'

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More breaching protection orders

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It might help if this government instructed the police to enforce current protection orders, before embarking on new laws which may turn out just as ineffectual as the current system.

Unless, of course, this is all simply another election-year gimmick from National and this new law will be quietly ignored after 20 September?

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References

Dominion Post: New law to protect sex and violence victims

Wairarapa Times-Age: Ignored protection orders ‘nightmare’

Timaru Herald: Editorial – Order gave no protection

Manwatu Standard: More breaching protection orders

Other blogposts

The Daily Blog: Children Murdered in Dunedin – Protection Order Breaches and Death Threats Ignored by Police

 


 

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Vote and be the change

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 26 June 2014.

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Review: TV3′s The Nation – When current affairs gets it right

20 June 2014 1 comment

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After my uncompromising critique of an episode of TV’s The Nation, broadcast on 24 May, I was gratified and relieved that the producers and hosts of the programme had returned to a degree of journalistic/media professionalism that we should expect as the norm for current affairs in this country (and which is too often lacking).

The Nation, broadcast on 14 June, was good, solid, current affairs which left the viewer better informed after watching it. Hosts Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower, and reporter Torben Akel,  were on form with their respective interviews.

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Hosts for TV3's "The Nation", Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower

Hosts for TV3′s “The Nation”, Lisa Owen and Patrick Gower

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First up; Hekia Parata, on what is rapidly devolving into another of National’s disastrous, ill-considered attempts to insert neo-liberal “reforms” into our education sector. National’s $359 million  so-called “Teaching & leadership career pathways” has been roundly condemned by the  primary school staff union, NZEI, and the Principals Federation asserting that it is unacceptable and unworkable.

Parata responded to questioning from Patrick Gower;

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The Nation - Patrick Gower - Hekia Parata - TV3 - National - education

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[FULL TRANSCRIPT: Hekia Parata]

A decidedly ‘robotic’ performance from an automaton-like Hekia Parata. (Have National Party strategists and contract scientists actually built a look-a-like android  replacement replacement for Parata, to minimise potential stuff-ups from the mishap-prone education minister? And how did they make the android more realistic than the original?!)

Whether she actually convinced teachers and parents watching her performance is doubtful. When politicians avoid giving direct answers to questions, the inescapable conclusion is that they’re hiding something.

What is Parata hiding?

Perhaps the very real likelihood that the so-called “Teaching & leadership career pathways” policy is National attempt to introduce performance-pay-by-stealth?

In fact, my money is precisely on that call: performance-pay-by-stealth.

At any rate, she stayed on-message, and it was fairly obvious that Parata had been well-schooled by her tax-payer funded media-minders. She passed National’s Standard for evasiveness to questions.

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Next up, a serious look at one of this country’s worst pressing social problems – child poverty. The Right can bleat on about “SkyTV aerials”; ill-informed moralists who lead ‘saintly lives’ can pass judgement on “poor parenting”, and  the middle classes can turn a blind eye – but none of that will diminish a growing social crisis in our midst.

Prior to the introduction of neo-liberalism; the “free” market; de-regulation; and “more choices”, the term “child poverty” was unknown. Food banks barely existed, as this 2005 Child Poverty Action Group report pointed out;

There have always been foodbanks in Auckland, but until recently these were small- scale operations and, like the soup kitchens, were there to deal with emergencies and the requirements of the handful of indigents that have always been present in the urban areas of New Zealand. Data from the Presbyterian Support Services Foodlink Directory5 shows there were 16 foodbanks in Auckland in 1989. By 1994 this had mushroomed to over 130 (Mackay, 1995).

Nationally, the number of foodbanks exploded following the 1991 benefit cuts, and the passage of the Employment Contracts Act (ECA). For those in already low-paid and casual jobs, the ECA resulted in even lower wages (McLaughlin, 1998), a situation exacerbated by the high unemployment of the early 1990s (11% in 1991). The benefit cuts left many with debts, and little money to buy food (Downtown Community Ministry, 1999). In 1992 the introduction of market rents for state houses dealt another blow to state tenants on low incomes. By 1994 it was estimated that there were about 365 foodbanks nationally, one-fifth of which had been set up in the previous year (Downtown Community Ministry, 1999). This figure was an estimate, based on information from the 1994 foodbank conference. There were no nationally collated figures, a weakness that persists in the sector today.

Regarding what in some cases was a quadrupling of demand for food parcels after 1991, Mackay cautiously hypothesizes that “it is likely that much of it was driven by the benefit cuts of April 1991” (Mackay, 1995). Foodbank workers themselves were unequivocal that the 1991 benefit cuts were the key driver of increased foodbank use. Reflecting those most likely to be unemployed or on low wages, up to 90% of foodbank users were dependent upon some form of income support, and Maori and Pacific Island families were over- represented among those seeking assistance (Mackay, 1995).

Lisa Owen interviewed Jonathan Boston (Professor of Public Policy at Vic, co-chair of Child Poverty Expert Advisory Group), who has written New Zealand’s first book on Child Poverty in this country. That interview was followed up by Commissioner for Children, Dr Russell Wills.

 

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TV3 - The Nation - Lisa Owen - Interview Dr Russell Wills

L-R: Lisa Owen & Dr Wills; Lisa Owen and Jonathan Boston

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[FULL TRANSCRIPT: Jonathan Boston & Russell Wills]

Both interviews made for compelling, informative viewing.

Dr Wills  and Prof Boston are professionals; academics;  with a deep understanding of problems and issues confronting our society. Neither men have a political agenda – theirs is simply to inform anyone who will listen that child poverty is a problem we can no longer afford to ignore.

Dr Wills made this simple statement in a level, calm tone – but which was nevertheless dramatic for it’s content;

“My weekend will be full of poor mostly Maori and Pacific preschool children with infectious diseases that our English registrars often haven’t even seen before. Now we see acute rheumatic fever. We see tuberculosis.  We have admissions to intensive care with children with illnesses that should have been treated in primary care but they couldn’t afford to go. We just don’t see those kinds of issues in our elderly people and I think that’s a great shame.”

I wonder, though,  if the inquisatorial approach taken by Lisa Owen to interview Messrs Wills and Boston was applicable in this instance? The inquisatorial style works well for political or activist public figures who may not always be forthcoming in disclosing facts.
But when it comes to academics and professionals such as Professor Boston and Dr Wills, I submit that such people will usually always  be forthcoming, even when academics are often loathe to talk in terms of absolutes, or provide simplistic answers to complex questions.
For example, Lisa Owen asked Dr Wills;

OWEN: But these are tight financial times as you would appreciate; you have said previously the questions is: are we prepared to give up something for the vulnerable. So who is the ‘we’ that has to give up something?

WILLS: It’s people like us Lisa. The fact is that we have large numbers of poor children in New Zealand who are missing out on things that our kids take for granted. So the kids that I see on the children’s ward often live in cold, damp, crowded houses. They often can’t afford to go to the GP. They commonly don’t have their own bed. They frequently all crowd around together in the living room to sleep.

OWEN: I appreciate what you’re saying there but when you say it’s people like us, that’s a nebulous concept. Don’t we need to pin down where this money is going to come from? Isn’t super or capping or raising the age, isn’t that a place where we can get a certain lot of money?
There was something a little  disturbing about the suggestion that “when you say it’s people like us, that’s a nebulous concept“.

It’s almost as if Lisa Owen had taken Margaret Thatcher’s dogma (“there is no such thing as society“)  and applied the notion to the question. Has New Zealand society become so individualised; so fragmented – that it is now a “nebulous concept“?

Sometimes we learn more from the interviewers than from  the people they are charged with interviewing.
Both men had a wealth of insights and knowledge to share with the audience. Their interviews could easily have been doubled in length to facilitate deeper under-standing of the issues involved. Perhaps canning Hekia Parata’s drivel would have provided extra time?
The audience would certainly have ended up better informed. (We already understand the fact that politicians often spout rubbish; talking a lot, but saying nothing.)

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Next up; the one and only (some might breath a sigh of relief at that), Colin Craig. Perhaps one of the oddest political aspirants to hit our political stage in recent times, Colin Craig had some very strange things to say in his interview;
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The Nation - Patrick Gower - Colin Craig - Conservative Party - TV3 - National - election 2014

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[FULL TRANSCRIPT: Colin Craig]

Gower started the interview with this bizarre exchange – almost reminiscent of a school Head Master dressing down an errant pupil;

Patrick Gower: I want to start with this extraordinary political cry for help that you made this week, effectively asking the Prime Minister to pull a candidate out of a seat for you.

Colin Craig: I didn’t do that.

Gower: Yes you did.

Craig: No, I didn’t.

I was expecting an impatient, testy, Gower to stand, pick up a nearby cane, and instruct  Craig,

Gower: Right boy, that’ll be enough fibbing! Bend over for six of the best!

Craig, of course, supports beating children, so this scenario would not be entirely implausible. And no one would have blamed Gower in the least.

Gower then asked Craig this salient question;

Gower: So which one of those could you beat? Which one of those three candidates could you beat? And tell the truth.

To which Craig responded;

Craig: Well look, I don’t think I could beat any of them unless we run a fantastic local campaign and people get behind us. Last time I –

Interesting.

Interesting because of what was not said, rather than what was.  No outrage over “dirty deals” in this interview, as Mr Gower expressed recently regarding the Mana-Internet alliance;

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Patrick gower - twitter - laila harre - mana internet party alliance

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And…

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Patrick gower - twitter - laila harre - mana internet party alliance (2)

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I suspect, however, that the difference in style in Gower’s critiquing the deals between the Right – and that between Mana and Internet (no deals in recent times  have been proven between Labour and other parties on the Left, despite claims) -  is not so much a matter of bias, rather one of common acceptance.

In short, we are used to an ex-trader Prime Minister doing behind-the-scenes deals so it is the ‘norm‘ when the Right does it.

But not the ‘norm’ for the Left because, to date, such deal-making has been rare.

Unfair?

Yes, of course it is.

But nothing will ever change because (a) the public have more or less accepted such political wheeling-and-dealing as par-for-course amongst right-leaning politicians and their parties;  (b) it serves the interests of the Right, and (c) the media can get stuffed (in the eyes of the Right) because in the end, what matters is political power – not  chest-thumping from a few media talking-heads.

That’s the way it is.

The Left can (a) adapt and engage in their own deal-making or (b) remain “above it all”;  maintain a holier-than-thou attitude; and hope the voting public notice and duly reward them with their votes. Option ‘B’ is like going to a gunfight armed with a knife and hoping the gun misfires. There is no Option ‘C’.

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The last interview, by Torben Akel,  with Todd Barclay – the National candidate replacing outgoing MP, Bill English in Southland – was perhaps the most curious.

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The Nation - Torben Akel - Todd Barclay - Southland electorate TV3 - National - election 2014

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At only 24, Todd  Barclay is one of Parliament’s youngest MPs. In itself, this not a negative factor, as we need representation from and for young people in our House of Representatives.

What was at issue was Barclay’s relative lack of life experience.

As Torben Akel asked in a introduction voice-over,

“But age aside, does Barclay have the real world experience to be an MP. Or does he represent the rise of an insulated careerist political class?”

National’s own website highlights Barclay’s limited life-experience;

Working in Wellington and then Auckland, Todd worked for Bill English and cabinet ministers Hekia Parata and Gerry Brownlee. He left Parliament to work for one of New Zealand’s leading public relations consultancies, before taking on a role as Corporate Affairs Manager for Philip Morris.

To be fair, one has to wonder just how much life experience a person can achieve by age 24. Though Barclay’s experience, thus far seems constrained to working for various ministers in Parliament and for a tobacco company that peddles products that kill people.

Not exactly a CV to be proud of.

In fact, it could be said that politics and public relations revolve around manipulating reality rather than living in it.

All up, a good interview; low-key and yet illuminating. Torben Akel did a good job presenting the person and his record, and then let the viewer decide for him/herself what to make of this young man.

Now it’s up to Southlanders if this is who they want as their representative.

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Postscript #1

The parameters “child poverty” nz  on Google returns 178,000 results;

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child poverty - google results - Google - search engine - new zealand - nz

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Not exactly something to be proud of, eh, New Zealand?

Postscript #2

It is has been said before and it is worth repeating again; the greatest disservice that TVNZ and TV3 programming managers have done to the viewing public; their own staff; and to their entire network is to ‘ghettoise’  “The Nation” and “Q+A” on early morning and late night time-slots in the weekends.

Maori TV schedules “Native Affairs” on Monday evenings  at  8.30pm.  This suggests that the management at Maori TV have sufficient faith in their ‘product’ that they are willing to give it a prime time viewing slot.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for TVNZ and TV3.

(And no, we will not settle for “Seven Sharp” or “The Paul Henry Show“.)

Postscript #3

National’s media release on it’s “Teaching & leadership career pathways” was published on it’s on party website; the Beehive website; and on Scoop Media. There’s a slight ‘risk’ in publishing an official party policy communique on an independent website – you never quite know what else is going to appear alongside the text;

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scoop media - internet party - 359m for teaching  leadership career pathways - national party - government - education (1)

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scoop media - internet party - 359m for teaching  leadership career pathways - national party - government - education (2)

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scoop media - internet party - 359m for teaching  leadership career pathways - national party - government - education (3)

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scoop media - internet party - 359m for teaching  leadership career pathways - national party - government - education (4)

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I’m sure Parata, Key, et al in the National Party would be “delirious with joy” at having a political advert for Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party nested within their pride and joy educational policy statement release…

… Not!

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References

Beehive: $359m for teaching & leadership career pathways

Radio NZ: NZEI, principals unite against policy

TV3 The Nation: Interview – Education Minister Hekia Parata

TV3 The Nation: Interview transcript – Education Minister Hekia Parata

Salvation Army: Hard to swallow – Child Poverty Action Group

BWB Books: Child Poverty in New Zealand

TV3 The Nation: Interview – Jonathan Boston & Russell Wills

Wikiquote:  Margaret Thatcher

TV3 The Nation: Interview – Conservative Party leader Colin Craig

Twitter: Patrick Gower

TV3 The Nation: The new breed of career MPs

National Party: National Selects Todd Barclay For Clutha-Southland

National Party: $359m for teaching & leadership career pathways

Beehive: $359m for teaching & leadership career pathways

Scoop Media: $359m for teaching & leadership career pathways

Previous related blogposts

Review: TV3′s The Nation – “Let them eat ice cream!”

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

Additional

Facebook: Inside Child Poverty

Bryan Bruce: How to vote strategically improves children’s lives

Child Poverty Action Group

 

Events

Tuesday 17 June, 5.30pm
Panel discussion with Jonathan Boston,
Damon Salesa, Susan St John and Russell Wills. Chaired by Tracey McIntosh.
Fale Pasifika, University of Auckland
26 Wynyard St, Auckland

Thursday 19 June, 8.00am – 4.00pm
Inequality: Causes and Consequences
Student Union Memorial Lecture Theatre
Victoria University of Wellington

Friday 20 June, 5.30pm
Lecture and book launch
Speakers include: Justine Cornwall, Jonathan Boston, and Cathy Wylie
Royal Society of New Zealand
11 Turnbull St, Thorndon, Wellington


 

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 June 2014.

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= fs =

Living in John Key’s “rock star economy”

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This piece, from a regular Facebook user and commentator on public and political issues, caught my attention;

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Dear Mr. Key.

The following report is indicative of the reality of living in your Rockstar economy. This crap is the daily norm in the lives of Mum & Dad victims all over the country. Some of them are fortunate to just get robbed as against getting stabbed to death. Do these sort of issues ever affect you in Remuera or Omaha or Hawaii ? Why not have a quiet word to the comedy duo Collins and Tolley and see if one or both are remotely interested in fulfilling their sworn oaths of office ?

Have a self centered weekend.

Edmond.

 

Jenny Petera works hard to make a go of Birdie’s Cafe in Kaitaia’s main street. So…

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It reminded me of something John Key said, in one of his many election speeches ranting about the many supposed “failures” of the Labour government. Specifically, on 29 January 2008, in a speech entitled A Fresh Start for New Zealand;

 

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This time a year ago, I talked about the underclass that has been allowed to develop in New Zealand. Labour said the problem didn't exist.  They said there was no underclass in New Zealand. But who now could deny it?  2007 showed us its bitter fruits. The dramatic drive-by shooting of two-year-old Jhia Te Tua, caught in a battle between two gangs in Wanganui. The incidence of typhoid, a Third World disease, reaching a 20-year high. The horrific torture and eventual death of three-year-old Nia Glassie. The staggering discovery of a lost tribe of 6,000 children who are not enrolled at any school. The list goes on and on.  The fact is, that under Labour, there has been no let-up in the drift to social and economic separatism. We don't need more of their hand-wringing, their strategies, and their interdepartmental working groups. What's needed is the courage to make the tough calls to fix these problems. Today, I'm going to announce a new set of policies which will leave you in no doubt that National has that courage.

“This time a year ago, I talked about the underclass that has been allowed to develop in New Zealand. Labour said the problem didn’t exist. They said there was no underclass in New Zealand.
But who now could deny it? 2007 showed us its bitter fruits. The dramatic drive-by shooting of two-year-old Jhia Te Tua, caught in a battle between two gangs in Wanganui. The incidence of typhoid, a Third World disease, reaching a 20-year high. The horrific torture and eventual death of three-year-old Nia Glassie. The staggering discovery of a lost tribe of 6,000 children who are not enrolled at any school.
The list goes on and on. The fact is, that under Labour, there has been no let-up in the drift to social and economic separatism.
We don’t need more of their hand-wringing, their strategies, and their interdepartmental working groups. What’s needed is the courage to make the tough calls to fix these problems.
Today, I’m going to announce a new set of policies which will leave you in no doubt that National has that courage     [...]      Violent youth crime is at an all-time high. Robbery is up. Grievous assaults are up. Aggravated robbery is up. Young criminals are graduating from petty crime to more serious crime; unexploded time-bombs on a fast-track to Paremoremo. The victims are people like you and me. Innocent Kiwis randomly beaten by teens on the North Shore. A Wellington Uni student beaten to a pulp on his walk home. A dairy worker stabbed to death in South Auckland last week. A 14-year-old arrested at the weekend for a fatal stabbing in Tokoroa. The list goes on and on. Rather than being the hope for our future, these young people represent our future fears. The habit of the Clark Government is always to shy away from these problems. They prefer to poke their noses into the lives of good parents while ignoring the ticking time bombs right in front of them. That’s not my approach. Today, I’m going to outline some new policy that forms part of National’s plan for giving young people the future they deserve. This Youth Plan will have two major aspects to it. One part is about education. The other part is about rolling up our sleeves to prevent New Zealand’s youth crime problem from becoming tomorrow’s crisis. This plan is about giving all young people the opportunity and responsibility to better themselves, no matter what their circumstances, abilities, or track record. That’s the Kiwi Way.”

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Beware of Tories banging on about “being tough on crime”;

 

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National Party staying strong on crime

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Electioneering on being “tough on crime” is easy. Any loud mouth Tory fool, desperate for our votes, can do it.

Actually addressing the root causes of crime – unemployment, poverty, increasing inequality, social dislocation, youth alienation, easy availability of cheap liquor, viewing humans as “consumers” rather than citizens; and the neo-liberal cult of selfishness/individualism all contribute to social stresses on the individual.

Let me point to two different commentators on the concept of society;

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“And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour…”

“And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour…” – Margaret Thatcher, Former UK Prime Minister

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"Create a society that values material things above all else. Strip it of industry. Raise taxes for the poor and reduce them for the rich and for corporations. Prop up failed financial institutions with public money. Ask for more tax, while vastly reducing public services. Put adverts everywhere, regardless of peoples ability to afford the things they advertise. Allow the cost of food and housing to eclipse people's ability to pay for them. Light blue touch paper." -  Andrew Maxwell, Irish Comedian

“Create a society that values material things above all else. Strip it of industry. Raise taxes for the poor and reduce them for the rich and for corporations. Prop up failed financial institutions with public money. Ask for more tax, while vastly reducing public services. Put adverts everywhere, regardless of peoples ability to afford the things they advertise. Allow the cost of food and housing to eclipse people’s ability to pay for them. Light blue touch paper.” – Andrew Maxwell, Irish Comedian

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So which view is closer to the truth?

It may be worth pondering that if Margaret Thatcher was correct, that there is no such thing as society“, then the notion  of “anti-social” behaviour is difficult to sustain. How can one be “anti” something that does not exist?

The free marketeers; the neo-liberals; those who promote the Individual rights over Community needs, seem surprised that after decades of implementing their philosophy that only the Individual exists – that there exist individuals who care very little (if anything) for their communities and other people.

For those individuals, as Margaret Thatcher once maintained, there is no such thing as society, or community.  There is only Me. And what I want.

Now… light blue touch paper. Let’s see what happens.

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References

Facebook:  Edmond Slackbladder

Northern Advocate: Second raid leaves cafe owner fuming

John Key: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

Previous related blogposts

Random Thoughts on Random Things #6


 

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Kirk

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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= fs =

This is why I changed my views on abortion…

17 June 2014 2 comments

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no lies

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In my teens and early 20s, I was fairly conservative in some of my political views.

This is one reason why I changed my views on abortion, some thirty years ago;

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anti abortion meme - Green Party

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Any political group that has to resort to using lies to promote it’s agenda is not worthy of support.

If an anti-abortion group has to rely on mis-representing another group’s policies to promote it’s own ideology, then that ideology is bankrupt.

That is why I went from being conservative to pro-choice. I could not sustain a belief that, as I gradually found out, was based on mis-information; exaggeration; and outright lies.

Pro-life?

More like pro-lies.

This is what the actual Green Party policy really states;

 

  • To support the freedom to have an abortion the Green Party will:

  1. Decriminalise abortion by removing it from the Crimes Act.

  2. Allow terminations after 20 weeks gestation only when the woman would otherwise face serious permanent injury to her health, or in the case of severe fetal abnormalities (as is current practice).

Whether or not you agree with the Green’s policy is entirely up to you. I’m not here to persuade you one way or another.

But at least let your decision be made on the truth, rather than a lie.

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References

Pro-life.org: How Green’s became NZ’s abortion party

Green Party: Women’s Policy – Valuing Women

 


 

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Vote and be the change

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 11 June 2014.

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= fs =

Random Thoughts on Random Things #6…

11 June 2014 4 comments

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In 1987, New Right, pro-free market, British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was famously quoted saying;

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margaret-thatcher
“And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour…”

 

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(Interview 23 September 1987, as quoted in by Douglas Keay, Woman’s Own, 31 October 1987)

If , as the New Right maintains – “there is no such thing as society” – we should not be surprised that those who feel  alienated and adrift; angry and isolated; also believe  “there is no such thing as society“.

What else is there for them?

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social ills

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After all, if Margaret Thatcher was correct, “and, you know, there is no such thing as society” – then the term “anti-social” doesn’t apply.  How can one be “anti-social” without first acknowledging the existence of society?

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References

Wikiquote:  Margaret Thatcher


 

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Why I am a Leftie

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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= fs =

A little warning regarding Charter Schools…

 

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we're trialling an ideological approach

 

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The thing about Charter Schools – which was one of John Bank’s “legacies”  before he ended up in Court cleaning his ears – is that teaching staff do not have to be registered. Despite official advice from the Ministry of Education, which stated,

“The overall potential for a negative impact on students’ education from teachers who do not meet the minimum standards for the profession is high,” the statement said. “Teacher registration is one of the most influential levers in raising teacher quality across the profession in both state and private schools.”

Amidst fears of people with unknown histories; dubious qualifications; and other unknown unpleasantries, ending up in Charter School classrooms, our Dear Leader John Key seemed… relaxed by it all;

“But I don’t think we should be hung up by any one particular angle. There will always be a push back by the teachers union that will be fearful of that, but as I say if you look at the history of New Zealand schools we have had plenty of people who have been teaching our youngsters who haven’t been registered qualified teachers. If those partnership schools don’t succeed the Government will be just as quick to close them down as we have been to establish them.”

Key has said he would not be bothered if his children were taught by unregistered teachers. Not bloody likely – Key’s offspring were taught in the most expensive private schools money could buy. No chance of Key’s offspring rubbing shoulders with middle class kids in State schools or working class kids in Charter Schools – the Key Clan could afford The Best.

So what of Charter schools?  Despite the mealy-mouthed reassurances from the likes of Key, Parata, and Banks – a simple reality remains; they will be employing unregistered teachers. Which leaves us with a situation like this, as reported by Radio NZ on 27 May;

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Pupil praised, teacher deregistered

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Coming soon to a Charter School near you: a teacher who has been sacked from his job and de-registered. But there is nothing to stop this man from being -re-hired  by a Charter School.

Nothing.

  1. Un-registered, he is no longer listed with the Teacher’s Council. (Unless the Council maintains a separate Black List of de-registered teachers and is readily available to education institutions?)
  2. He has not been charged or found guilty of any offence, according to the story above – so any Charter School conducting a police background check will come up with nothing.
  3. The man’s identity has not been released, so even a simple Google search will come up with nothing.
  4. All he needs to do is remove the last school he worked at (from which he was sacked), and he effectively has a “clean” C.V.

The policy of allowing unregistered teachers is a ticking time-bomb, and this blogger can already see tomorrow’s headlines; “Unregistered teacher at XYZ Charter School molests pupils“.

There will be the usual ‘noises’ of “improving procedures and protocols” being made. But without registration, the pupils of Charter Schools will be vulnerable to predator-”teachers” who fancy a 12 year old boy or girlfriend.

In effect, Parata and Banks – with the blessing of Dear Leader – have handed paedophiles their next victims on a tax-payer funded plate.

As usual, it is the most vulnerable in our society who will be paying for National/ACT’s shonkey, ideologically-half-baked policies.

We have been warned.

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References

Fairfax media: Ministry advised against unregistered charter teachers

TVNZ News: Key – Don’t worry about unqualified teachers

NZ Herald: Ministers’ kids skip big classes

Radio NZ:  Pupil praised, teacher deregistered

Previous related blogposts

Privatisation of our schools?!

Charter Schools – Another lie from John Banks!

From around the world

Salon: Education reform’s central myths

allthingslearning: Can a teacher “create” LEARNing THAT LASTS?

BBC: Academies told they can hire unqualified teachers

New Statesman: The American revolution in English schools

Huffington Post: In Support of the Whole Child

Other Blogs

No Right Turn: Charter schools are bad schools

Local Bodies: NZ Charter Schools Defined

The Standard: Incoherent education policy

The Standard: Robber’s charter

The Daily Blog: Does it get any more rich than this?

 


 

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ACT

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 May 2014.

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= fs =

Letter to the Editor: Sure, why not let the poor starve, Ms Mitchell?

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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A letter-writer to the Dominion Post, Silvio Famularo, recently suggested that increasing benefits for the poor would be a positive move. Rightwing blogger; failed ex-ACT candidate; and self-proclaimed welfare “expert”, Lindsay Mitchell, would have none of it. She responded on 27 May with her own letter to the editor;

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letter to editor - dominion post - Lindsay Mitchell

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This was my response,

 

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FROM: "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE: Tue, 27 May 2014 23:59:18 +1200
TO: "Dominion Post" <letters@dompost.co.nz> 

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The Editor
Dominion Post


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In replying to Silvio Famularo, who advocated for raising
benefits for the poor because they spend more, rightwing
blogger and ex-ACT candidate, Lindsay Mitchell derided the
suggestion by asserting that "to increase benefit
expenditure the government would have to increase taxation".
(27 May)

Since 1986, successive governments have cut taxes seven
times. Eight, if one includes Working for Families
tax-rebates.

Which would explain why we have high user-pays such as
tertiary education, prescription charges, "voluntary school
donations", etc, and GST rising from 10% in 1986 to the
current 15%.

Mitchell claims - without any evidence - "that means taking
more money off people who will in turn have less to spend on
the same goods and services".

If  National can provide million dollar subsidies to Warner
Bros, Rio Tinto, Charter Schools, et al, then perhaps it is
not so much a matter of "taking more money off people" - but
re-directing resources to those who need it most.

Raising progressive taxation on high income earners would
not take bread of their table - but would certainly put food
on the tables who are least well off.

Or have we totally abandoned any notion of being an
egalitarian society where we only look out for ourselves,
and devil take the hindmost?


-Frank Macskasy
[address & phone number supplied]

.


 

References

Dominion Post: Letter – Benefit boost has direct effect

 


 

.

Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

A fair go in New Zealand?

.

equality - inequality

.

A very insightful piece by Dr Deborah Russell, lecturer in taxation at Massey University, and Labour candidate for Rangitikei, raised  a clear picture of the difference between equality and inequality;

.

Deborah Russell - We all deserve to get a fair go

.

There is little doubt that inequality has increased over the last thirty years. In  February this year, a bungle by Treasury resulted in  child poverty numbers being  underestimated by twenty thousand. Income inequality  was also underestimated.

Part of the reason has been one aspect of the neo-liberal “revolution”: tax cuts and increased user pays.

New Zealanders could do well to reflect that, since 1986, we have had no less than seven tax cuts;

1 October 1986 – Labour

1 October 1988 – Labour

1 July 1996 – National

1 July 1998 – National

1 October 2008 – Labour

1 April 2009 – National

1 October 2010 – National

At the same time we have had less revenue from SOEs as they were privatised or partially-sold off.

So it’s little wonder that more and more User Pays has crept into our economy/society, such as $357 million in “voluntary” donations for ‘free’ schooling, that parents have to cough up each year. That’s on top of school uniforms, text books, shoes, personal equipment, etc.

The neo-liberal revolution of the 1980s and 1990s didn’t stop, it just became more covert, with incremental increases, so we barely noticed. And when we did notice – such as the increase of prescriptions from $3 to $5 – public opposition was muted. Yet, once upon a time, prescriptions cost 50 cents each, and before that, were free.

An indicator of growing inequality is the level of home ownership in this country. This is a core statistic that cannot be fudged by National’s spin-doctors and their right-wing wannabes/sycophants.

According to the 1986 Census, home ownerships rates in New Zealand was  74.1%, with 23.1% renting.

By 2013, according to last year’s census, the figures had changed radically;

» 49.9% owned their own home  (54.5% in 2006)

» 14.8% homes were owned by a Trust (12.3% in 2006)

» A total of 64.8% of households owned their home or held it in a family trust (66.9% in 2006)

» 35.2% were renting/did not own their own home (33.1% in 2006)

As the Census 2006 Housing in New Zealand report stated,

“Over the 2001 to 2006 period the incomes of the majority of private-renter households have for the first time since 1986 increased more quickly than owner-occupier households. This supports the contention that an increasing number of working households on what would previously be considered ‘reasonable’ incomes can no longer access home ownership.

The decline in home ownership rates over the 1991 to 2001 period was significantly greater for younger households than it was for older households. This trend would appear to have continued over the 2001 to 2006 period. The gap between the home ownership rates of couple-with-children households, who have historically had the highest home ownership rates, and other types of households, narrowed over the 1991 and 2001 period, and has continued to narrow over the 2001 to 2006 period. Conversely, the home ownership rate gap between couple-only households and other types of households has widened over both periods, in favour of couple-only households. Home ownership rates as would be expected increase with household income. There are, however, differences between regions, based we suspect, on differences in average house prices by region.”

The upshot is that whilst home ownership rates are in free-fall -  unsurprisingly renting is steadily increasing.

National’s response to address our critical housing? To reduce demand – not by building more houses – but  by restricting first home owners with a 20% Loan To Value Ratio (LVR). This measure forced a sizeable chunk of house-buyers from the market, whilst local and offshore speculators were allowed free reign.

This is most definitely not what was promised to this nation in the late 1980s, when “trickle down” was supposed to increase our wealth. To the contrary, as the decades slide by, it is more and more apparent that we’ve been cruelly hoaxed.

I am reminded of something John Key said in a speech, when he scathingly condemned the previous Labour government in an election speech on 29 January 2008;

 

 

.

John Key wanking on about some crap
“Well, I’ve got a challenge for the Prime Minister. Before she asks for another three years, why doesn’t she answer the questions Kiwis are really asking, like: [...] Why can’t our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?”

.

Good question, Dear Leader. Good question.

.

*

.

Postscript – A tale of denial

.

#1 – Crisis

NZ housing market most overpriced - report

 

#2 – Denial

PM denies OECD figures reflect housing crisis

.

#3 – Blame others

Housing crisis worse under Clark's Government - Key

.

 

#4 – Revelation

Key 'out of touch' over housing crisis

.

#5 – Toughlove

You’re wrong John, there is a housing crisis in NZ

.

# 6 – Acceptance?

 

.


 

References

NZ Herald: Deborah Russell: We all deserve to get a fair go

Radio NZ: Govt disappointed by stats bungle

Fairfax media: Children in poverty vastly underestimated

NZ Herald: Parents fundraise $357m for ‘free’ schooling

NZ 1987-88 Official Yearbook: Table 6.4. TENURE OF DWELLINGS (6.1 Households and dwellings)

Statistics NZ: 2013 Census QuickStats about national highlights – Home ownership continues to fall

Statistics NZ: 2006 Census – Dwelling ownership

Centre for Housing Research:  Census 2006 Housing in New Zealand

John  Key.co.nz: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

Radio NZ: NZ housing market most overpriced – report

Radio NZ: PM denies OECD figures reflect housing crisis

NZ Herald: Housing crisis worse under Clark’s Government – Key

TV3: Key ‘out of touch’ over housing crisis

Scoop media: You’re wrong John, there is a housing crisis in NZ

Additional

Fairfax media: Housing affordability getting worse

Closer Together-Whakatata Mai: New Zealand’s income inequality problem

 


 

.

selling housing

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 21 May 2014.

= fs =

Budget 2014 – How has National exposed itself in Election Year?

.

2014 election

.

Right Wing blogger and National Party apparatchik, David Farrar, wrote in the Dominion Post on the day after the Budget,

“By contrast I expect debate on the New Zealand Budget to be over by Monday morning.”

Really?!

Don’t you believe it, sunshine.

National’s sixth budget contained spending on;

  • $171.8 million to extend paid parental leave (PPL):
    • Additional four weeks, starting with a two-week extension from 1 April 2015, and another two weeks from 1 April 2016.
    • Extend eligibility of paid parental leave to caregivers other than parents (for example, “Home for Life” caregivers), and to extend parental leave payments to people in less-regular jobs or who recently changed jobs.
  • $42.3 million to increase the parental tax credit (PTC) from $150 a week to $220 a week, and increase the payment period from eight to 10 weeks, from 1 April 2015.
  • $155.7 million to help early childhood centres remain affordable and increase participation towards the 98 per cent target.
  • $33.2 million in 2014/15 to help vulnerable children, including eight new Children’s Teams to identify and work with at-risk children, screening of people who work with children, and additional resources to support children in care.
  • $90 million to provide free GP visits and prescriptions for children aged under 13, starting on 1 July 2015.

(Source: Treasury)

 

It was perhaps the last item – free healthcare for Under 13s – that took the media, public, and Opposition by surprise. As others have stated, it was a policy lifted straight from the policy pages of Labour, Greens, or Mana.

Other increases in  funding included increased funding ($10.4 million) for sexual violence services

Sexual violence services have been critically under-funded since 2012 and many were forced to cut back on staffing as funding dried up in Wellington, Auckland, and elsewhere. It is fairly evident that funding increases for child healthcare, parental leave,  and sexual violence services have all been left for 2014.

Which conveniently also happens to be election year.

As far as cynical self-interest goes, these Budget funding-measures are an obvious – if utterly crude – attempt at  currying public favour as Election Day bears down on this government.

Why was funding for sexual violence community groups not made available earlier, so that full staffing levels and services for survivors could be maintained? $10.4 million dollars out of a Government revenue of $64.1 billion is not massive by any standard. In fact, it is just a shade under one year’s worth of Ministerial travel, at $11 million.

By comparison, National gave a  tax-payer funded bail-out of $30 million to the Rio Tinto  aluminium smelter last August – three times what was eventually budgetted for sexual violence services.

Even the $2 million of taxpayer’s money paid  by National to a Golf Tournament over the last three years would have assisted these much-needed groups  keep their services intact and skilled counsellors employed,  until this month’s Budget.

Leaving critical funding till Election Year is tantamount to abusing the victims of sexual violence all over again.

The same could be said of funding free healthcare for Under 13s. If it is a good idea now – why was it not a good idea two years ago?

It’s not as if John Key did not acknowledge the growing under-class in this country only three years ago;

.

Key admits underclass still growing

.

And a year later, this staggering headline appeared in the media – a story few of us would ever believe would happen here, in Gods Own;

.

Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

.

Little wonder then, that Dr Nikki Turner, from the  Child Poverty Action Group, was less than impressed by National’s sudden transformation into a quasi-social democratic party with a newly-cloned heart, and a belated attempt to improve children’s health;

A child lobby group says free doctors’ visits and prescriptions will make little difference to reducing child poverty without also improving the incomes and the housing conditions of the very poor.

“Without adequate income, without adequate warmth and housing, we’re not going to (make) a lot of difference at this stage to our children’s health.”

Indeed. Without addressing the core causes of poverty-related diseases, National’s free health-care plan is simply a  multi-million dollar band-aid. The root causes of those diseases will still be present in many households up and down the country.

If Key and English thought that their band-aid solutions would be gratefully accepted by an uncritical, compliant media and public, they were mistaken.

An un-named author of an editorial in the Dominion Post on 16 May stated,

“This is a deliberately bland and even boring Budget. The Government has clearly decided that grey and safe is its best hope in election year. The only surprise was free doctors’ visits for under-13-year-olds. Middle New Zealand will welcome it, as it will many of the other, carefully telegraphed, handouts. More paid parental leave: who could object? A bit more help with childcare costs: why not?”

The same editorial went on,

“The other glaring black hole in the Budget is the housing crisis. More and more New Zealanders cannot afford a house, and the Government’s response is muted and inadequate. The Budget promises to remove tariffs on building supplies, a sensible step following revelations about the high price of such materials here compared with Australia. But the change will cut only a few thousand dollars from the price of a house.

Much bolder moves will be needed, including a capital gains tax. But National’s caution here is a drawback, not an advantage. Sometimes problems are serious and need action. National seems to believe it will be enough to cut red tape and remove some of the planning obstacles in the way of housing. It won’t.”

This is where John Key and Bill English have mis-calculated badly, and which no one (?) has picked up.

After all, if a problem with children’s health was not critical, why would a fiscally conservative government fund free doctor’s visits to the tune of $90 million? Indeed, as Trevor McGlinchey for the NZ Council of  Christian Social Services said, on 16 May,

“In providing $500 million of support for children and families over four years the Government has recognised many of our families are suffering.”

The key-word here is “recognised“.

In funding free healthcare, National has admitted to anyone who will take notice that a problem of some magnitude exists in this country. They can no longer hide behind platitudes.

As the above editorial went on to state,

“At present there is little rage about poverty, inequality and the housing crisis. These problems are raw and real but voters are patient and only a minority of voters now seem to actually hate National. It will probably take another term before a majority is truly fed up with Key and his band. In the meantime, this bland document may be a document for the times.”

The author of that piece is being optimistic. By acknowledging that a problem exists; by acknowledging that state funding is required; and by acknowledging that a “radical” (for National, this is radical stuff) solution is required – they have left themselves wide open in this election campaign.

A campaign manager with a posse of motivated, clued-up, and capable strategists, will be able to use this in the up-coming election campaign. Like a game of chess, in trying to show how “clever” they were in manipulating public perception, National have left their “social policy flank” exposed and vulnerable.

So much for Kiwiblogger Mr Farrar’s misplaced optimism that “I expect debate on the New Zealand Budget to be over by Monday morning”.

Quite the contrary, David.

By shining a bright, $90 million spotlight on this problem, they can no longer deny that it exists or is “improving”.

It’s only just begun.

*

Postscript #1

The cost of financing this country’s $59 billion debt is shown in this Dominion Post graphic;

.

Revenue and expenses 2014 budget new zealand government

.

The cost of financing our debt is shown to to $3.9 billion, per year.

Two years ago, the Green Party used Parliamentary Library information to estimate the cost of the 2009 and 2010 tax cuts;

“The Green Party has today revealed that the National Government has so far had to borrow an additional $2 billion dollars to fund their 2010 tax cut package for upper income earners.

New information prepared for the Green Party by the Parliamentary Library show that the estimated lost tax revenues from National’s 2010 tax cut package are between $1.6–$2.2 billion. The lost revenue calculation includes company and personal income tax revenues offset by increases in GST.”

The cost of those tax cuts is  roughly the equivalent of what we are now paying to service our overall debt.

So much for National’s “prudent fiscal managing” of the government’s books.

Postscript#2

Someone at the Dominion Post seems to have a rather shocking memory. At the bottom of Page A4, in their 16 May edition, this item was published;

.

Past budgets 2009 - Dominion Post - 16 May 2014

.

Promised tax-cuts in 2009 were not “axed”. As this IRD page explained;

.

IRD technical tax area 2009 

.

Key even made this helpful suggestion to those who did not want their tax cuts to donate them to charity,

“I am just as sure there are many who are in a position to donate some of that extra income”.

Which would make it hard to donate non-existent tax cuts, as the author of the Dominion Post article claimed.

Postscript #3

This graph from Treasury (with a minor enhancement by this blogger) shows our borrowings from 2003 to 2013, with subsequent estimations.

.

Treasury New Zealand debt

.

According to the graph, we can see how Labour paid down the country’s sovereign debt, leaving New  Zealand well-placed to weather the on-coming Global Financial Crisis and resulting recession. Something even Key and English have had to admit on occasion;

“The level of public debt in New Zealand was $8 billion when National came into office in 2008. It’s now $53 billion, and it’s forecast to rise to $72 billion in 2016. Without selling minority shares in five companies, it would rise to $78 billion. Our total investment liabilities, which cover both public and private liabilities, are $150 billion – one of the worst in the world because of the high levels of private debt in New Zealand.”

Indeed.

 

.


 

References

Dominion Post: English spreads the lolly far and wide

NZ Treasury:  Key Facts for Taxpayers (Part 1)

NZ Herald: Budget 2014 – Building products tariffs lifted temporarily

Manawatu Standard: Boost for rape crisis services welcomed

Fairfax media:  Rape crisis line forced to cut staff

Dominion Post: Wellington rape centre forced to cut hours

NZ Treasury: Government Revenue

Fairfax media: MPs’ travel costs rise

NZ Herald: PM defends $30m payout to Rio Tinto

NZ Herald: Golf event tots up $2m in Govt aid

NZ Herald:  Key admits underclass still growing

Fairfax media: Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

Radio NZ: Child lobby sceptical of budget moves

Dominion Post: Editorial – The crowd goes mild at Budget

Parliament: Inequality—Assets and Income

Scoop media: Govt’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting

Dominion Post: Child poverty still not being corrected

IRD: [2009] Tax cuts for individuals

Otago Daily Times: Key says donate tax cuts to charity

NZ Treasury:  Net debt peaks as a share of GDP in 2014/15

National.co.nz: Mixed Ownership

Previous related blogposts

Letter to the Editor: playing politics with rape victims, National-style

Letter to the Editor: $3000 offer to the Unemployed is a joke – and not a very funny one!

Letter to Radio NZ: $3000 offer to the Unemployed is a joke – and not a very funny one (v.2)

 

 

 


 

.

Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 May 2014.

.

.

= fs =

A tale of two tragedies

.

 

Napier Christchurch earthquakes

.

I was looking recently at the Te Ara website, a New Zealand on-line encyclopedia. Quite a fascinating thing to check out.

Including this;

“In November 1932, Hastings celebrated its reconstruction, and in January 1933, almost two years after the earthquake, during the New Napier Carnival, Napier was declared officially ‘reborn’.”

The Napier earthquake was in 1931.

They rebuilt without modern 21st century technology such as the internet, satellite communications, or modern construction techniques and machinery.

They rebuilt without billions from insurance or EQC funds;

Few insurance policies covered earthquakes, and many insurers refused to pay for fire damage that resulted from the quake. In 1931 Parliament had passed the Hawke’s Bay Earthquake Act, which provided loans for local companies and individuals to rebuild their premises. Because of the economic depression, however, the funds granted were far from adequate, and repayment terms were harsh. Much of the money for recovery came from charity, which poured in during the weeks after the quake…

They re-built Napier in two years. TWO YEARS.

Fast-forward to 2014, three years after the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake and bugger all has happened (except Brownlee was used to demolish a few of the bigger ruined buildings, instead of a wrecking ball).

So much for the much-vaunted efficiencies of a market-driven economy.

.

 


 

References

Te Ara Encyclopedia:  Historic earthquakes – Page 8 – Rebuilding Napier

Previous related blogposts

Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

Bennett & Borrows – where are the jobs?!?!


 

.

1537963_1404813406431443_752639842_o

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 8 May 2014.

.

.

= fs =

Letter to the Editor: It must be beneficiary-bashing day in Christchurch today

.

old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

.

It must be Bene-bashing Day in the Garden City today…

.

To clean up our streets, sex workers must go

.

Specifically, Yardley wrote,

“In fact, most street walkers are really sticking it to the taxpayer, by concurrently drawing a benefit.”

To which I replied with this observation,

.

FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT:  Letters to the editor
DATE:     Thu, 15 May 2014 08:44:35 +1200
TO:      "The Press" <letters@press.co.nz>

 

.

The editor
"The Press"


.
Mike Yardley's diatribe against sex-workers,along with a
swipe at social welfare, reads more like a Destiny Church
sermon than any credible piece of journalism. (13 May)

His claim that "most street walkers are really sticking it
to the taxpayer, by concurrently drawing a benefit" is not
sustained by any facts or figures. He simply throws it into
the argument without any factual context.

How many are "most street walkers" - 51%? 52%? 53? etc?

And how does he know? Are there any MSD/WINZ figures he has
accessed? Or has he surveyed every single sex-workers in
Christchurch?

Or, more likely, is he simply relying on cliches and
stereotypes without any reference to facts?

I don't know what Mike Yardley had in mind when he wrote his
piece, but it certainly wasn't journalism.


-Frank Macskasy
[address & phone number supplied]

.

It seems that employing the tactic of suggesting benefit-fraud is now a useful tool to validate any  argument? Is this the welfare version of Godwin’s Law?

.


 

References

The Press:  To clean up our streets, sex workers must go

Wikipedia: Godwin’s Law


 

.

Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

Letter to the Editor: Kiwi style or American style? (v.2)

.

old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

 

.


FROM:   "f.macskasy" <f.macskasy@clear.net.nz>
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Thu, 15 May 2014 00:59:30 +1200
TO:     "NZ Herald"  <letters@herald.co.nz> 

.

The editor
NZ Herald
.

This is a whiff of desperation about National these days. I
refer to John Key's latest pronouncement of  "possible"
future tax cuts if his government is re-elected later this
year.

Tax cuts?

Because obviously, Mr Key does not believe we should first
pay of the $60 billion of debt that his government accrued
with two previous, unaffordable tax cuts in 2009 and 2010?

Because, obviously, after taxing children on their paper
run, and trying to tax carparks and cellphones, National has
created a rather confusing  picture of it's ad hoc economic
policies?

Because obviously, cutting more  taxes will mean less
funding for public services? Services such as education
where, every year, parents have to stump up with  $357
million in "voluntary" school fees and devote entire
weekends to fund-raiding to make up for funding short-falls?

Because, obviously, giving away taxpayer-funded subsidies to
Rio Tinto, Warner Bros, the Rugby World Cup, a golf
tournament, Charter Schools, etc, wasn't enough?

Because, obviously, corporate welfare is a good thing - but
re-building Red Zoned Christchurch houses that are now
rotting in a wintry hell, is really not that important?

And because, obviously, after two tax cuts, National had to
part-sell our power companies and Air New Zealand. Plus
increase prescription charges from $3 to $5 - just to make
life just that wee bit more miserable for the poor; the
aged; the infirm.

Now Mr Key is dangling another electoral bribe in front of
voters - more tax cuts.

I wonder what public services will be under-funded as a
result?

What state assets will be sold off?

And more importantly - will voters be silly enough to fall
for this again?


-Frank Macskasy
[address & phone number supplied]

 

.

 


 

References

NZ Herald:  Parents fundraise $357m for ‘free’ schooling

Fairfax media: Public debt climbs by $27m a day

Radio NZ: PM John Key dangles tax cut carrot


 

.

Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

Letter to the Editor: Kiwi style or American style?

.

old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

.

FROM:       "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT:     Letters to the editor
DATE:        Wed, 14 May 2014 23:59:33 +1200
TO:         "Dominion Post" <letters@dompost.co.nz> 

.

The Editor
Dominion Post

.

I am dumbfound. Absolutely gobsmacked.

With New Zealand's sovereign debt now around $60 billion (as
at November 2013) and having increased by $27 million a day
since National took office - John Key is kite-flying with
suggestions of further tax cuts?!

Is this how National exercises fiscal responsibility -
bribing voters with yet more unaffordable tax cuts?

Previous tax cuts in 2009 and 2010 were paid for with assets
sales; taxing children on their paper rounds; increasing
prescription charges; as well as unsuccessful  attempts to
tax carparks and cellphones. Currently, National is planning
to sell off 5,000 State houses that were once homes to
low-income families.

Instead of tax cuts, New Zealanders might care to tell the
Prime Minister that we should be funding education so that
parents don't have to fork out  $357 million a year in
so-called "voluntary donations" and spend long hours 
fundraising to pay for  supposedly "free" schooling.

It is patently simple. We can have free education and public
healthcare. Or we can have tax-cuts. But we cannot have
both. 

This is the moment we decide whether we want public services
for all New Zealanders, regardless of their financial
circumstances - or an American-style user-pays.

I hope we choose wisely.


-Frank Macskasy
[address & phone number supplied]

 

.


 

References

NZ Herald:  Parents fundraise $357m for ‘free’ schooling

Fairfax media: Public debt climbs by $27m a day

Radio NZ: PM John Key dangles tax cut carrot


 

.

Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

Letter to the Editor: playing politics with rape victims, National-style

.

old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

.

FROM:   "f.macskasy"
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Thu, 01 May 2014 23:51:54 +1200
TO:     "NZ Herald" <letters@herald.co.nz> 

.

 

The editor
NZ Herald

.

News that Social Development Minister, Paula Bennett, has
agreed to fund the Sexual Violence Sector with $10.4 million
dollars over the next two years is a welcome - if sadly
belated - step.

Two years ago, Rape Crisis in Wellington and  HELP
Foundation in Auckland were forced to cut services and staff
due to a lack of funding.

In 2012, with a $55,000 shortfall, Wellington's Rape Crisis
had to cut services and staff by 20%, and freeze wages of
remaining employees.

In the same year, Auckland's HELP Foundation faced a 
$200,000 funding-shortfall and also had to resort to cutting
counselling and other services such as their 24-hour
rape-crisis helpline. Spokeswoman Aimee Stockenstroom was
quoted as saying,

"Despite working intensely with a range of government
departments right up to the last minute and requests to meet
with Minister Paula Bennett, we have not obtained sufficient
funding to keep the 24-hour telephone crisis line
operating."

Now, in election year, this government has "found" $10.4
million.

Which poses several questions;

1. Is this new money - or have other social services been
cut, and money transferred from other much-needed
programmes?

2. Why was this money not provided when it was most needed
in 2012, where much needed services were cut for women in
dire need?

3. A cynic might say that Bennett has "found" this money in
2014 - an election year. Is it possible that a government
can be so self-serving; so callous; that it plays politics
with rape victims?

And lastly, 

4. What guarantee will there be that after two years, when
the $10.4 million runs out, that various rape counselling
services will not have to go through this funding struggle
all over again?



-Frank Macskasy
[address & phone number supplied]

.

It’ll be interesting to see if this one gets printed.

Even more interesting if Bennett dares reply to it!

.


 

References

Fairfax media:  Rape crisis line forced to cut staff

Dominion Post: Wellington rape centre forced to cut hours

NZ Herald: Rape crisis centres to get $10m boost

Scoop media: Wgtn Rape Crisis Groups Respond to Sexual Violence Funding


 

.

Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

Letter to the Editor: When Key and Collins can’t get their stories straight

30 April 2014 10 comments

.

old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879.

It seems that the Nats can’t get their official party line straight…

.

Alcohol tobacco pricing

 

.

Which elicited this response from me…

.

 

FROM:   "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Wed, 30 Apr 2014 09:53:28 +1200
TO:     "Sunday Star Times" <letters@star-times.co.nz>

.

The Editor
Sunday Star Times

.


National Minister, Judith Collins, recently stated that "the
Government will not be introducing minimum pricing on
alcohol as this would hit moderate drinkers in the pocket
when there is no compelling evidence that increasing the
price of alcohol is the correct approach" (24 April).

This breath-taking piece of sophistry  flies in the face of
policies set by successive governments to reduce tobacco-use
by gradually increasing price. 

The gradual fall in tobacco use has been directly attributed
to increased pricing, as John Key himself stated on 2
February 2010, on TV3;

"The academic evidence shows that the most effective way to
stop people smoking is [to] raise the price and that's
because  as it gets more expensive, particularly young
people can't afford it, [and] eventually people actually
stop." 

The only conclusion that one can draw from this blatant
contradiction is that the liquor industry has had it's way
with National with secret lobbying, and public health
interests have been side-lined.

More than one person has made the point that National will
be banning "synthetic highs" - which has killed no one -
whilst alcohol, responsible for many deaths, injuries, 
community harm,  and billions in ACC claims and lost
productivity - is being ignored.

People may reflect on National's double standards on
election day on 20 September.


-Frank Macskasy
[address & phone number provided]

 

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Hypocrisy. Sophistry. Double standards. Call it what you will – but it is breath-taking nevertheless.

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References

Judith Collins: Government not introducing minimum pricing on alcohol

TV3: Key – Most smokers want proposed price hikes


 

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National out

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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In remembrance of Ernie Abbott

5 April 2014 1 comment

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Ernie Abbott

Ernie Abbott, Vice President, Caretakers and Cleaners Union, d. March 27, 1984

 

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Wellington, NZ, 27 March 2014: Over a hundred people packed the lobby of Trades Hall, at 126 Vivian Street, in downtown Wellington, to commemorate the terrorist attack on the Wellington Trades Hall, thirty years ago;

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Wellington_trades-hall_ernie-abbott

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The bombing, by an unidentified person, instantly killed Ernie Abbott, Vice President, Caretakers and Cleaners Union, and caretaker of the  Wellington Trades Hall.

Live music, provided by the good folk of the  Brass Razoo Solidarity Band (in vibrant, socialist-red);

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Wellington Trades Hall Bombing_Ernie Abbott

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A diverse mix of people filled the lobby,

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Wellington Trades Hall Bombing_Ernie Abbott

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Numbers swelling through the late afternoon;

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Wellington Trades Hall Bombing_Ernie Abbott

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(Note: problem with camera-setting caused some unexpected blurring in images.)

Some of the rooms leading from the ground-floor lobby were opened up to make room for swelling numbers, as those who were not even born at the time mixed with those who lived through that bloody event in our recent history;

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Wellington Trades Hall Bombing_Ernie Abbott

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A rose between two thorns (love that cliche!), left-to-right (not necessarily a political description),  Grant Robertson, MP for Wellington Central; former Labour MP for “Island Bay” (now Rongotai) Electorate, Liz Tennett; and current MP for Hutt South, Trevor Mallard;

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Grant Robertson_Liz Tennett_Trevor Mallard

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From left-to-right, Henry; SFWU organiser, Daele O’Connor; and Rod;

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Wellington Trades Hall Bombing_Ernie Abbot

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As the time approached 5.19 pm – when the suitcase-bomb detonated  on 27  March  1984,  Paul Tolich called for everyone’s attention, and addressed the crowd;

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Wellington Trades Hall Bombing_Ernie Abbott

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Former Labour MP, Graham Kelly,  amongst the crowd, listening to speakers;

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Graham Kelly_New Zealand trade unionist

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As the clock neared 5.19pm, Paul Tolich, called for a minute of respectful silence, and the lobby and side-rooms fell quiet;

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Wellington Trades Hall Bombing_Ernie Abbott

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Wellington Trades Hall secretary, Graeme Clarke,   who was Wellington District Secretary of the Federation of Labour in 1984,  was the next person to speak;

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Wellington Trades Hall Bombing_Ernie Abbot

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“In the 1970s, I wasn’t familiar with the idea that kids went to school hungry. I used to socialise with my workmates and people had enough money to put food on the table, to look after  their kids. But from the 1970, a campaign was organised against the Union movement and it’s been going on, off and on, ever since.

That campaign has been to weaken the Union movement, to divide it, to undermine it, and today we have a situation where 200,000 kids go to school hungry. And that is the legacy of that campaign… of which the bombing here was a part.

And I reflect on that, that as trade unionists, we need to re-double our efforts , to revive and rebuild the movement so that we can actually restore dignity and justice to working people.

My memory of the day was that we were in that room behind us, which in those days room room 2. Before that was that was the Harbour Board Workers Union rooms, and I was at the time the Secretary of the Wellington District Council of the Federation of Labour. We had a wage freeze on, because “wages were the cause of rising prices”, and so Muldoon had frozen wages and there was to be no wage increase whatsoever, while he squeezed rising prices out of the system.

As unionists we didn’t like that. We didn’t think that that was just or reasonable because prices were still going up. And so met in this room to plan ongoing steps in our campaign against the wage freeze. The print room was just around the corner, and our printer, George Thompson, was busy churning out the leaflets. And while we sat in that room, on the other side of the wall, just around the corner, a bomb was sitting.

If it had gone of earlier, it could have taken away the whole of the management committee of the Wellington Trades Council. It was some good fortune that I’m here today, because when we  left, I left with Pat Kelly. And we walked out that door with arms full of leaflets. Pat saw the suitcase, but our arms were too full to actually be bothered with picking up a suitcase that had nothing to do with us.

So we walked out and went to our meeting, and we heard a few minutes after we got to the meeting that there had been some kind of incident at Trades Hall. We came back, rushed back, to find out what had happened…

It was a bomb. There was one victim of that bomb, and that’s what has brought us all here today.”

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Graeme was followed by Richard Wagstaff, National Secretary for the PSA and Vice President of the CTU;

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Wellington Trades Hall Bombing_Ernie Abbott

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“Today we think back 30 years to the day when Trades Hall was bombed. 27 March of 1984.

Thirty years since Ernie Abbott was instantly killed when he picked up the booby-trapped suitcase lying in the foyer. Doing his job as building caretaker. The violence of his death shocked the nation.

Ernie was a working man. Like so many others, he had come to New Zealand for a better life. He was a union man and vice president of the Cleaners and Caretakers Union. He was a friend of Pat Kelly, the union secretary.

Nobody has been brought to account for the bombing. We don’t know who killed Ernie, though some amongst us have their suspicions.

We do know that it was an ugly time in New Zealand politics. The nation had been polarised by the intimidation and divisive tactics of a domineering prime minister.

Unions were amongst the few to challenge Muldoon’s increasingly dictatorial approach. As he tried to cling on to power, he set out to demonise unions and their leaders. That was the climate of the times.

The bombing was an attempt to kill people who worked for unions. Trades Hall was where the staff of several unions worked. Ernie was the unwitting victim. It could have been so many more.
As we remember that terrible event, let us not forget the other victims of anti-union aggression in New Zealand.

Frederick Evans, batoned to death by a police officer on the 12th of November 1912, during the Waihi strike. Like Ernie, he wasn’t someone in the public eye, but a union member who happened to be there.

Christine Clarke who died on the 31th of December 1999, two days after being bowled over by a angry driver as she stood on a picket-line at Lyttelton Port. Christine was there to show her support for workers in her community who were fighting to keep their jobs.

None of these people – Fred, Ernie and Christine – sought public attention. But we will always remember them.

As we also remember those who went to work and did not return.

This year we have set up a new fund to help the families who have lost a loved one, killed at work.

This Workers’ Memorial Day – Monday 28 April – we will be having a street collection. If you can give an hour or two between 7.30 and 9.30 in the morning, please give your name to Rebecca Matthews.

Let us now take a minute to think about Ernie Abbott and unionists everywhere who have been killed because of their beliefs.”

 

The last speaker, was Peter Cranney, who in 1984 was Vice President of the Wellington Cleaner’s Union, and is currently a lawyer specialising in workers’ advocacy;

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Peter Cranney

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“Our job is to continue the work that Ernie Abbott was doing. Our dear brother Ernie is not here, but what he suffered, and what he lost, is an important part of working class history and it must never be forgotten; his name must never be forgotten…”

Listening to the speakers, Cath Wallace (L) from ECO, and  Catherine Delahunty, from the Green Party;

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Cath Wallace_Catherine Delahunty

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Green MPs Denise Roche and Catherine Delahunty;

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Wellington Trades Hall Bombing_Ernie Abbott_Denise Roche_Catherine Delahunty

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Former Alliance activist, Carrick Lewis (L) and Martin (R);

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Wellington Trades Hall Bombing_Ernie Abbott

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As the commemorative service drew to a close, people filed out of the Hall, with some continuing to chat, catching up, and sharing memories of past times;

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Wellington Trades Hall Bombing_Ernie Abbott

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If we take one thing from this event, it is this…

The nameless individual who, through a vile, cowardly, criminal act, took an innocent man’s life will be forever unknown – much like society’s detritus that lies unmarked and forgotten in land fills dotted around the country.

But the name of Ernie Abbott will live on – remembered as a part of our history.

 

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  “Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.” – William Shakespeare

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References

Fairfax Media: 30 years on: Wellington’s unsolved Trades Hall mystery

NZ History: Trades Hall bombing

Other Blogs

Capitalism Bad; Tree Pretty : In Memorium: Ernie Abbott

G.Blog: Sorry Ruth, there is a more evil New Zealander than you after all

The Standard: 30th anniversary of the Trades Hall bombing

Copyright (c) Notice

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

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 29 March 2014.

 

 

 

 

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Purchasing “justice” on the New Zealand open market…

8 March 2014 2 comments

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ladyjustice

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Timeline

19 November 2010: An explosion at Pike River Mine, on the West Coast, kills 29 miners.

10 November 2011:  The Department of Labour  lays 25 charges against Pike River Coal Limited (in receivership);VLI Drilling Pty Limited (Valley Longwall),  and Peter William Whittall.

31 July 2012: Valley Longwall International (VLI) pleads guilty in the Greymouth District Court to three health and safety charges and on 26 October is fined $46,800. Pike River Coal’s  receivers enter no plea and a year later are fined and order to make payments to the families. PRC did not pay the fine and made only a minimal payment to the victim’s families.

25 October 2012: Peter Whittall enters not guilty pleas.

30 October 2012:  A  Royal Commission of Inquiry concludes and presents a report to the Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson.

5 November 2012: Royal Commission’s report made public and   Kate Wilkinson resigns as Minister of Labour.

10 December 2012: “Prime Minister John Key will personally apologise to the families of the Pike River 29 after a Royal Commission report blamed the Government for lax oversight of the mine.” (Source)

16 October 2013: Peter Whittall’s lawyer, Stuart Grieve QC,writes secretly to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) suggesting that  in ‘‘advance of the $3.41 million being made available, it is proposed [with precise terms to be agreed] that  …  the Ministry will not proceed with the charges laid against Mr Whittall by advising the Court that no evidence will be offered in support of any of the charges.’’

12 December 2013: Judge Jane Farish drops all charges against Peter Whittall saying, ‘‘Some people may believe this is Mr Whittall buying his way out of a prosecution, but I can tell you it’s not.’’ Peter Whittall agrees to pay compensation of $3.41 million to the families of the dead Pike River miners.

27 February 2014: Stuart Grieve’s secret letter to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is made public under an OIA request.

Denials

 ‘‘Some people may believe this is Mr Whittall buying his way out of a prosecution, but I can tell you it’s not.’’ -  Judge Jane Farish

‘‘It arrived by Stuart Grieve, nobody asked if they were prepared to offer money – they offered money. Very careful legal advice was taken as to whether it was proper to take this into account at all. We got clear legal advice that we should take it into account, and it was one, but only one, of that factors, and not the predominant factor in the decision that was taken.’’- Geoffrey Podger, CEO, WorkSafe NZ

‘‘I wish to make it very clear, again, that there was no such arrangement between the defence and prosecution.’’ – Brett Murray, General Manager, Worksafe high hazards

Stuart Grieve: “This letter didn’t just come out of the blue. That’s not how it happened. Although that is perhaps the impression that seems to have been given by what I’ve read read, that Worksafe chief executive said that the letter just arrived, and we offered money. That’s not how it happened at all. The [letter] needs to be looked at in context. Over a period starting from about, quite early last year, the solicitors for the defendent, Mr Whittle, and I, were getting disclosure from  MBIE that very quickly revealed that they had, there were  significant problems with the electronic disclosure and then that in turn revealed that there were significant problems with the way  the investigation had been  carried out because a lot of relevant materials stored on computers operated by all sorts  of employees of Pike [River Mine] had not been recovered or retained and a lot of that would well have, could well have been relevent to the defence. There were also significant problems with the evidential aspects of the case.”

Mary Wilson then asked, if the case was looking so bad, if the evidence was looking so poor, what was the advantage in paying $3.41 million to get the charges dropped?

“As a result of all these difficulties, I mean the trial was going to be a long one anyway, but these difficulties which would have had to be contested in court would have made the, on our assessment, the trial would’ve, could have lasted anything between  four to six months. And it was going to be horrendously expensive. If this trial had proceeded and the ministry had failed, the families would’ve got nothing. As it stands now, the families ended up getting the reparation that had been ordered by the judge against the company, which was of course in receivership.”

Mary Wilson pointed out to Grieve that the directors hadn’t been prepared to pay compensation, unless Mr Whittle wasn’t charged.

“Well, look,  all I can say to you is that the money was offered , the charges were dismissed, but the suggestion that it was a backroom deal, is just quite wrong. This was not something that was just agreed by the prosecution. It was at the Court hearing when the charges were dismissed. The Prosecution said that it was considered on principle and conventional basis in accordance with the prosecution guidelines. It had gone, as we understand it, we were told it  was going to be considered by the solicitor-general, so that it went to, you know, significantly high up, in [the] Crown Law office. You know, to say that it was just a back room deal, sort of, is a criticism that’s easily made, but we were told from  the outset that it was going to be considered by the Crown on a principled basis and as I understand it and the submissions to the Court confirm it, that’s how it was done.” – Stuart Grieve QC, interviewed by Mary Wilson, on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint

Conclusions

  1. A secret deal was offered by  solicitor, Stuart Grieve, on 16 October 2013, that in return for payment of $3.41 million dollars by Peter Whittle, that the Crown would drop all charges against Whittle.
  2. On 12 December 2013, Judge Jane Farish dropped all charges against Peter Whittall, and an agreed sum of $3.41 million was offered by Peter Whittle as “compensation”.
  3. The secret deal was finally made public on 27 February.
  4. According to Grieve, the Solicitor General was aware of the deal; “It had gone, as we understand it, we were told it  was going to be considered by the solicitor-general, so that it went to, you know, significantly high up…”
  5. Denials that this was not a “secret back room deal” fly in the face of what looks very obviously a secret back-room deal.

Questions

  1. Is this going to be the new ‘norm’ for the justice system in this country – that a person can buy their way out of a conviction?
  2. Will the government be publishing a tariff for what “compensation” is demanded in payment, according to  severity of charges?
  3. If not, will the Solicitor General, Stuart Grieve, Judge Farish, and anyone else associated with this affair, be resigning their position?

Because, really, this isn’t just a case of something rotten in the state of Denmark…

… this is a case of advanced decomposition.

Heads must roll.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 February 2014.

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References

Wikipedia:  Pike River Mine disaster

Ministry of Business, Employment, and Innovation: Pike River Charges Laid

Fairfax media: Whittall ‘part of Pike deal’

TV3: Key to apologise to Pike families in person

ABC News: Prosecutors drop charges against former Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall

NZ Herald: Pike River: Labour accuse Govt of dodgy deal

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A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part toru

8 March 2014 2 comments

Continued from:  A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part rua

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new-zealand-national-party_3382 adapted 2014

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An incoming Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?*) coalition government will have much work to do – especially in it’s first three years.

In the six years that National has been in power, they have passed many odious and often repressive pieces of legislation. Labour and the Greens have already committed to repealing some of these laws and policies.

As a Labour-led coalition government addresses growing problems of child poverty; income inequality; a shortage of decent, affordable housing; and chronic unemployment, a legislative programme will demand a long list of progressive reforms.

In no particular order;

The 90 Day Employment Trial Period

An amendment to the Employment Relations Act 2000, Section 67A, allows  employers to sack – without just cause or a chance for an employee to improve performance – within a 90 day period.

It gives unbalanced power to employers who can blackmail an employee or get rid of them at the slightest whim. It also makes workers less willing to be mobile in the workplace. Why change jobs at the risk of being fired within 90 days of taking up a new position?

When the 90 Day Trial period was first introduced in April 2009, it applied only to companies employing 19 staff or less.

By April 2011, this was extended to all companies regardless of staff numbers. (A typical National strategy; start small – then encompass an entire sector.)

Has it helped  generate more jobs as National claimed it would?  Evidence suggests it played very little part in creating employment, and indeed unemployment went up after both legislative changes,

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Source

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So aside from empowering employers and disempowering workers, what exactly was the point of enacting this piece of legislation? Because it seems that an awful lot of people lost their jobs through this legislation. As one media report stated,

It is not known how many workers were dismissed during the trial period, but the figures revealed 27 per cent of employers said they had fired at least one new employee during or at the end of their trial.

This means at least 18,000 people lost their jobs in the first three months of employment last year, with the actual figure likely to be much higher.

And precisely how does this raise wages, as per Dear Leader’s past promises (see below)?

This law gives too much power to one party in the Employer-Employee relationship, and it has no place in a fair-bargaining workplace.

On 17 October 2010, Labour promised that this law would be scrapped by an incoming Labour-led government. I hope the current Labour leadership has not resiled from this commitment.

Ports of Auckland Dispute – Shipping Lines Price Fixing

“The average income has been about $90,000, so it hasn’t been a badly-paid place. But the problem is flexibility when ships arrive and when staff get called out, how they can cope with that.” – John Key, 12 March 2012

Putting to one side the myth of  POAL maritime workers earning $90,000 – so what?

Even if it were true (which is doubtful – POAL has never released the workings of how they arrived at that sum, despite requests), isn’t such a good wage precisely what Dear Leader John Key has been advocating?

POAL management sought to reduce costs;  casualise their workforce; and compete with Ports of Tauranga for shipping business. Unfortunately, competing on costs would, by necessity, involve driving down wages.

This appears to have been motivated  by a high degree of price-fixing by shipping cartels, as was pointed out by the Productivity Commission in April 2012,

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Full story

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Rather than supporting the workers, Dear Leader bought into a situation where international shipping companies were playing New Zealand ports off against each other, to gain the  lowest possible port-charges.  Even local company, Fonterra, was playing the game.

Here we have a situation where New Zealand workers were enjoying high wages – something John Key insists he supports – and yet he was effectively allowing international corporations to create circumstances where those wages could  be cut and driven down.

As with the “Hobbit Law”, our Dear Leader appears to pay more heed to the demands of international corporate interests than to fulfilling his pledges to raise wages.

An incoming Labour-led government should immediatly implement the Productivity Commission’s recommendation,

“The commission recommends that New Zealand require shipping companies wishing to collaborate to fix prices or limit capacity to demonstrate to the Commerce Commission that there will be a public benefit which will outweigh the anti-competitive effects.”

This problem must be addressed by an incoming government. It is simply intolerable for foreign corporations to be dictating labour laws; industrial relations; and wages, in a supposedly sovereign nation.

Youth Rates

From 1 May 2013, National  re-introduced a new Youth Rate. The rate would be set at $10.80 an hour [soon to be increased to $11.40 per hour]– compared to the then- minimum rate of $13.50  an hour  [soon to be $14.25 on 1 April this year], and would include 16 to 19 year olds.

John Key stated,

“For a lot of employers, they will go out there and say, ‘I’m going to give somebody a go that’s been in the workforce before’ and so the balance is against that younger person. That’s very disheartening for them – they are good young people, they just want a chance.

So I think it’s got to be seen in perspective – the vast overwhelming bulk of youngsters actually won’t go on a starting out wage.”

Which conflicts with John Key’s other assertions that he wants to see wages rise;

We think Kiwis deserve higher wages and lower taxes during their working lives, as well as a good retirement.” – John Key, 27 May 2007

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

We want to increase the level of earnings and the level of incomes of the average New Zealander and we think we have a quality product with which we can do that.” -  John Key, 19 April 2012

Youth rates won’t achieve that goal, Mr Prime Minister!

There is no good reason why Youth Rates should actually create new jobs. More likely, a drop in youth wages will simply create more ‘churn’ in employment/unemployment numbers.

As David Lowe, Employment Services Manager for the Employers and Manufacturers Association, inadvertently  revealed,

Without an incentive an employer with a choice between an experienced worker and an inexperienced worker will choose experience every time.”

As Lowe admitted – there is no new job for the  younger worker. S/he is merely displacing an older worker.

As it is, figures from Statistics New Zealand’s  Household Labour Force Survey showed that unemployment for young people had already fallen by the March 2013 Quarter – a full two months before Youth Rates came into effect;

In the year to March 2013, there was a large fall in unemployment for people aged 15–24 years (down 10,500). This fall can be largely attributed to a decrease in unemployed 20–24-year-olds (down 11,200). This was an atypical fall in unemployment, as the number of people unemployed for this age group usually increases during March quarters. The unemployment rate for people aged 20–24 years fell 4.1 percentage points to 10.9 percent – the lowest rate since the September 2009 quarter.

The employment rate for 20–24-year-olds rose over the year to March 2013. There was also an increase in the number of people aged 15–24 years not in the labour force over the year. Behind this was a rise in the number of young people outside the labour force who are studying (up 25,000). The number of both 15–19-year-olds and 20–24-year-olds in study rose –  up 16,200 and 8,800 respectively.
NEET rate declines

In seasonally adjusted terms, the NEET (not in employment, education or training) rate for youth (aged 15–24 years) decreased 1.5 percentage points, to 12.5 percent in the March 2013 quarter. This is the lowest youth NEET rate since the September 2011 quarter. The NEET rate for people aged 20–24 years fell 2.4 percentage points to 15.9 percent.

As the global economy continued to improve; the Christchurch re-build moved into high gear; and demand for our exports increased, unemployment was bound to eventually fall.

In which case, paying young workers a lower wage than their older counterparts was nothing more than a “gift” handed to employers.

As such, it has no place in a modern, civilised society. Youth rates are exploitative and demoralising. They also drag adult wages downward, as employers can opt for cheaper labour, as  David Lowe stated above.

In October 2012, Labour’s then-Leader, David Shearer condemned youth rates,

“It’s not going to create jobs by driving down wages.  These people are going to leave and go to Australia.

We need an economy that provides decent, secure jobs and good incomes and where young people have hope and opportunity, not the low-wage vision promoted by National.”

An incoming Labour-led government must repeal this exploitative legislation.

Continued at:  A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part wha

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(* At this point in time, NZ First’s leader, Winston Peters,  has not indicated which bloc – Labour or National – he intends to coalesce with. As such, any involvement by NZ First in a progressive government cannot be counted upon.)

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

To be continued at:  A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part wha

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References

Parliament Legislation: Employment Relations Act 2000, Section 67A

NZ Herald: Will the 90 Day trial period make a difference?

Beehive:  90-Day Trial Period extended to all employers

Trading Economics: New Zealand Unemployment Rate

Waikato Times: Thousands sacked under 90-day trial period

Radio NZ:  Labour would scrap 90 day trial – Goff

Fairfax media: Calls to end shipping lines’ price fixing

Fairfax media: Jackson pulls back from port comments

Radio NZ: PM defends lower youth pay rate

Scoop media: Starting-out wage will help young people onto job ladder

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: March 2013 quarter

TV1 News: Employers back youth ‘starting wage’

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Letter to the Editor: A great business opportunity, courtesy of ACT

2 March 2014 7 comments

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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This item in the NZ Herald caught my eye today,

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Act wants Resource Management Act dumped

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Which led me to a few thoughts on the issue,

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FROM:   "f.macskasy"
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Sun, 02 Mar 2014 10:16:00 +1300
TO:     "The NZ Herald" letters@herald.co.nz 

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The Editor
NZ HERALD
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ACT's new leader, Jamie Whyte, wants to dump the Resource
Management Act (RMA). He claims that,

"There are far too many powers currently being given to
various times of groups and bureaucrats around the country
to interfere with people and the use of their property."

Excellent idea! I can hardly wait to implement a few
start-up businesses;

* a full scale brothel/strip club on Paretai Drive, complete
with ten metre tall neon signage of naked women,

* a series of fifty story apartment blocks throughout Epsom,
Herne Bay, Remuera, etc, which will look cheap and nasty,
but will offer low-cost one-bedroom flats for low-income
families desperate for accomodation as the government sells
of state housing,

* a tallow factory on the North Shore,

* and a tyre-disposal plant - complete with furnace to burn
shredded runner - next to Mr Whyte's residence.

For far too long, the RMA has prevented setting up factories
and controversial businesses, in the leafy subsurbs of
middle class and affluent New  Zealand.

Mr Whyte will do away with all that.

About time, eh?

-Frank Macskasy
(address and phone number supplied)

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References

NZ Herald: Act wants Resource Management Act dumped

Hat-Tip

Edmond Slackbladder

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ACT

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 28 February 2014

28 February 2014 Leave a comment

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- Focus on Politics -

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- Friday 28 February 2014  -

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- Brent Edwards -

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A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

Friday after 6:30pm and Saturday at 5:10pm

It’s election year and political parties have already begun rolling out policies to win the support of voters. But what role will leadership play in the election? National’s John Key is determined to hold on to the Prime Ministership and Labour leader David Cunliffe is equally determined to prise it off him. Our political editor Brent Edwards talks to both leaders.

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 28 February 2014 ( 17′ 11″ )

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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Letter to the Editor: What is the price of justice? (In dollar terms)

28 February 2014 2 comments

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FROM: 	"f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letter to the ed
DATE: 	 Fri, 28 Feb 2014 11:52:01 +1300
TO: 	"Dominion Post" <letters@dompost.co.nz>
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The Editor  
Dominion Post

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Revelations that Peter Whittal's solicitor, Stuart Grieve,
made a $3.41 million payment to Crown Law in return for
dropping all charges in the Pike River Mine court case are
an incredible, jaw-dropping, new development for our
judicial system.

According to Mr Grieve's remarks on Radio NZ (27 Feb), it
would appear that the Solicitor General was involved in this
backroom deal making.

So for John Key to suggest, 

"My understanding is no, it was an unsolicited letter. They
looked at lots of different factors but in the end they
could have spent millions and millions and millions with the
lawyers and actually got nowhere - or practically make a
payment to the families, which made more sense."

- is a cynical attempt to trivialise a clearly dangerous
precedent that  undermines our justice system.

If justice can now be purchased in New Zealand, when will
John Key's government issue an Order in Council publishing a
tariff chart for payments to drop Court cases, calculated
according to the severity of charges? 

And will there be a bulk discount for multiple charges?

-Frank Macskasy
(address & phone number supplied)

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References

Radio NZ:  Pike families convinced deal was done

Previous related blogposts

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