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Posts Tagged ‘Greens’

Political Identification Chart for the upcoming Election

MEMO TO SOME LABOUR MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT

Evidently, some folk in the Labour Party have difficulty in recognising who the real enemy are.

Accordingly, I have taken the step of borrowing from the World War 2 era, where the British War Office produced Enemy Plane Identification Charts to easily recognise British warplanes and not confuse them with their Nazi counterparts;

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enemy idenification chart

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To assist some Labour MPs, who seem to have comprehension and eyesight difficulties, I have designed an  easy-to-understand wallchart, to differentiate between the enemy (National, ACT, Peter Dunne, et al) and the Good Guys (their allies, the Greens and Mana).

It helps when you know who to ‘shoot’ at, and who to welcome as a potential Parliamentary ally. Accordingly, I present  the Friends & Foes Political Spotter Chart;

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political friends and foes spotter chart

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It helps the Cause not to shoot your friends.

Anyone who cannot tell the difference should not be on the political battlefield.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 March 2014.

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National, The Economy, and coming Speed Wobbles

1 March 2014 4 comments

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The Nationalmobile

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For a while, the news seemed dire for the Left, and impressively positive for National;

  • A recent Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll put National on 49.4%  versus  31.8% and 10% respectively for  Labour and the Greens.
  • The latest Roy Morgan Poll had National at 48%, compared to 30% and 12% for Labour and the Greens respectively.
  • Annual average economic growth  was 2.6% to September 2013.
  • The Household Labour Force Survey for the December 2013 Quarter showed a drop in unemployment, from 6.2% to 6%.
  • Dairy prices (and thusly export reciepts) continued to rise.
  • The trade deficit continued to slowly improve.
  • And there was just enough ambiguity around recent child poverty statistics to allow National, and its drooling sycophants,  to claim that it was no longer a  growing problem (it was simply a constant problem).

However, is everything as it really seems? Is the news all rosy and are we rushing head-first toward the “promised land“, the much heralded, Neo-liberal Nirvana?

Or, are dark clouds beginning to appear on the horizon?

New Zealand’s economic recovery is predicated mostly on the Christchurch re-build, and piggy-backing on the global economic situation picking up. As Treasury reported in 2012;

The Canterbury rebuild is expected to be a significant driver of economic growth over the next five to ten years. The timing and speed of the rebuild is uncertain, in part due to ongoing aftershocks, but the New Zealand Treasury expects it to commence around mid-to-late 2012.

As predicted,  the ASB/Main Report Regional Economic Scoreboard recently revealed that Canterbury had over-taken Auckland as the country’s main center for economic growth.

Meanwhile, the same report outlines that Auckland’s “growth” is predicated on rising house prices. Economic “growth” based on property speculation is not growth – it is a bubble waiting to burst.

The other causal factor for our recovery is international. The IMF reported only last month;

Global activity strengthened during the second half of 2013, as anticipated in the October 2013 World Economic Outlook (WEO). Activity is expected to improve further in 2014–15, largely on account of recovery in the advanced economies. Global growth is now projected to be slightly higher in 2014, at around 3.7 percent, rising to 3.9 percent in 2015, a broadly unchanged outlook from the October 2013 WEO. But downward revisions to growth forecasts in some economies highlight continued fragilities, and downside risks remain...

Being  mostly an exporter of commodities (meat, dairy products, unprocessed timber, etc), New Zealand cannot but help ride the wave of an upturn in the global economy as increasing economic activity creates a demand for our products.

Any economic recovery, as such, has little to do with the incumbent government – just as the incumbent governments in 2008 and 2009 had little to do with the  GFC and resulting recession (though National’s tax cuts in 2009 and 2010 were irresponsible in the extreme, reliant as they were on heavy borrowings from overseas). We are simply “riding the economic wave”.

As the global up-turn generates growth in New Zealand’s economy, paradoxically that leaves us vulnerable to new, negative, economic factors;

1. The Reserve Bank has indicated that  it will begin to increase the OCR (Official Cash Rate) this year.

Most economists  are expecting the OCR to rise a quarter of a percentage point on March 13. As Bernard Hickey reported in Interest.co.nz;

Wheeler said in early December he expected to raise the OCR by 2.25% by early 2016, which would lift variable mortgage rates to around 8% by then. The bank forecast interest rate rises of around 1% this year and a similar amount next year.

2. An increase in the OCR will inevitably flow through to mortgage rates, increasing repayments.

As mortgaged home owners pay more in repayments, this will impact on discretionary spending; reducing consumer activity, and flow through to lower business turn-over.

Even the fear-threat of higher mortgage interest rates may already be pushing home owners to lock-in fixed mortgages. Kiwibank for example, currently has a Fixed Five year rate at 6.9%. ANZ has a five year rate at 7.2%. Expect these rates to rise after March.

If home owners are already fixing their mortgages at these higher rates, this may explain the fall in consumer confidence, as the Herald wrote on 20 February,

New Zealand consumer confidence fell from its highest level in seven years this month, while remaining elevated, amid a pickup in inflation expectations and the prospect of interest rate increases.

It may also explain, in part, this curious anomaly which recently featured in the news cycle,

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Govt deficit bigger than expected as tax trickles in

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The Herald report goes on to state,

The smaller tax take was across the board, with GST 2.3 per cent below forecast at $7.5 billion, source deductions for personal income tax 1.2 per cent below forecast at $11.71 billion, and total corporate tax 4.9 per cent below expectations at $3.56 billion.

Treasury officials said some of the lower GST take was due to earthquake related refunds, and that the shortfall in Pay As You Earn might be short-lived. The corporate tax take shortfall was smaller than in the previous month…

  • A drop in GST would be utterly predictable if consumer spending was falling.
  • Personal income tax would be falling if employers were cutting back on part-time work available. Which indeed seems to be the case, according to the latest Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) Poll on unemployment,

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.

Less wages equals less spent in the economy and less PAYE and GST collected by the government.

  • This would also account for the drop in corporate tax take falling by  4.9%.

The effect of the Reserve Bank’s decision to begin raising interest rates will be to dampen economic activity and consumer demand. This will be bad news for National.

3. An increase in the OCR will inevitably also mean a higher dollar, as currency speculators rush to buy the Kiwi. Whilst this may be good for importers – it is not so good for exporters. If we cannot pay our way in the world through exports, that will worsen our Balance of Trade; in turn risking our international credit rating; which in turn can  impact negatively on the cost of borrowing from off-shore (the lower our credit-rating, the higher interest we pay to borrow, as we are considered a higher lending risk).

This, too, will affect what we pay for our mortgages and capital for business investment.

4. As economic activity and consumer demand falls, expect businesses not to hire more staff and for fresh  redundancies to add to the unemployment rate. Unemployment will either stay steady later this year, or even increase.

Less people employed or a reduction on work hours for part-time employees will also result in a lower tax take.

5. As interest rates rise, in tandem with the Reserve Bank’s policy on restricting low-home deposits, expect home ownership to fall even further. This will increase demand for rentals, which, in turn will push up rents. Higher rents will also dampen consumer spending.

6. As the global economy picks up and demand for oil increases, expect petrol prices to increase. This will have a flow-through effect within our local economy; higher fuel prices will lead to higher prices for consumer goods and services. This, in turn, will force the Reserve Bank to ratchet up interest rates (the OCR) even further.

7. As businesses face ongoing pressures (described above), there will be continuing  pressure to dampen down wage increases (except for a minority of job skills, in the Christchurch area). For many businesses, the choice they offer their staff will be stark; pay rise or redundancies?

8. Expect one or more credit rating agencies (Fitch, Moodies, Standard and Poors) to put New Zealand on a negative credit watch.

9. According to a recent (21 February) Roy Morgan poll, 42%  of respondents still considered the economy their main priority of concern. 21% considered social issues as their main concern.This should serve as a stark warning to National that people will “vote with their hip wallets or purses” and if a significant number of voters believe that they are not benefitting from any supposed economic recovery, they will be grumpy voters that walk into the ballot booth.

Interestingly, the “Economy” category also included the social issue of “Poverty / The gap between the rich and the poor”.  16% believed that “Poverty / The gap between the rich and the poor”was a major factor within the economic situation – a significant sub-set of the 42%.

Add that 16% to the 21% considering social issues to be the number one priority, and we see the number of respondents in this category increasing to 37%. That is core Labour/Green/Mana territory.

10. National has predicated its reputation as a “prudent fiscal manager”  on returning the government’s books to surplus by 2014/15. As Bill English stated just late last year,

“We remain on track to surplus in 2014/15, although it will still be a challenge to actually reach surplus in that financial year.”

Should National fail in that single-minded obsession, the public will not take kindly to any excuses from Key, English, et al. Not when tax payer’s money has been sprayed around with largesse by way of corporate welfarism. Throwing millions at Rio Tinto, Warner Bros, China Southern Airlines, Canterbury Finance, etc, will be hard to justify when National has to borrow further to balance the books.

On top of which is the $61 billion dollar Elephant in the room; the government debt racked up by National since taking office in 2008. As Brian Fallow wrote in the Herald in 2011,

The concern about government debt is not so much about its level, but the pace at which it is increasing. In June 2008 net government debt was $10 billion, or 5.6 per cent of GDP, and gross debt $31 billon, or 17.2 per cent of GDP.

Since 2008, New Zealand’s sovereign debt has increased six-fold – made worse in part by two ill-conceived and ultimately unaffordable tax cuts.  Those tax cuts were, in essence, electoral bribes made by John Key to win the 2008 general election. (Labour’s paying down of massive debts it had inherited from National in the 1990s, plus posting nine consecutive surpluses, had come around to bite Cullen on his bum. Taxpayers were demanding “a slice the action” by way of tax cuts.)

That debt will eventually have to be repaid. Especially if, as some believe, another global financial shock is possible – even inevitable. With a $60 billion dollar debt hanging over our heads, we are not well-placed to weather another global economic shock. In fact, coupled with private debt, New Zealand is badly exposed in this area (as the OECD stated, in the quote below).

So the “good news” currently hitting the headlines is not so “good” after all, and many of the positive indicators have a nasty ‘sting in the tail’. As the OECD  recently reported,

The New Zealand economy is beginning to gain some momentum, with post‑earthquake reconstruction, business investment and household spending gathering pace. Risks to growth remain, however, stemming from high private debt levels, weak foreign demand, large external imbalances, volatile terms of trade, a severe drought and an exchange rate that appears overvalued. The main structural challenge will be to create the conditions that encourage resources to shift towards more sustainable sources of prosperity. Incomes per head are well below the OECD average, and productivity growth has been sluggish for a long time. Lifting living standards sustainably and equitably will require structural reforms to improve productivity performance and the quality of human capital.

As the election campaign heats up, expect the following;

  1. Greater media scrutiny on National’s track record,
  2. The public to become more disenchanted with Key’s governance as economic indicators worsen and impact on their wallets and purses,
  3. National (and its sycophantic supporters) continue to blame welfare beneficiaries; the previous Labour government; the GFC and resulting recession; and other “external factors” for their lack-lustre performance,
  4. Key and various business  figures to become more strident in their attacks on Labour and the Greens,
  5. A dirty election campaign , including a well-known extremist right-wing blogger releasing personal information on political opponants, which will backfire badly on National,
  6. National to fall in the polls; NZ First will cross the 5% threshold; and Labour/Greens/Mana to form the next government, with Peters either sitting on the cross benches, or taking on a ministerial portfolio outside Cabinet.

So it’s not the Left that should be worried.

National is on shakier ground than many realise.

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References

Fairfax Media: National on wave of optimism – poll

Roy Morgan: National (48%) increases lead over Labour/ Greens (42%) – biggest lead for National since July 2013

NZ Herald: Economic growth hits 4-year high

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: December 2013 quarter

Fairfax Media: Dairy prices squash trade deficit

NZ Herald: NZ’s trade deficit remains despite better terms

Fairfax Media: Inequality: Is it growing or not?

NZ Treasury: Recent Economic Performance and Outlook

Fairfax media: Canterbury overtakes Auckland in economic survey

IMF: World Economic Outlook (WEO) Update

Reserve Bank:  Price stability promotes a sustainable expansion

Interest.co.nz:  Bernard Hickey looks at what the Reserve Bank’s OCR decision means for mortgage rates and house prices

NZ Herald: Consumer confidence slips as rates increase looms

NZ Herald:  Govt deficit bigger than expected as tax trickles in

Statistics NZ:  Unemployment December 2013 Quarter

Roy Morgan: Economic Issues down but still easily the most important problems facing New Zealand (42%) and facing the World (36%) according to New Zealanders

NBR:  Govt sees wider deficit in 2014 on ACC levy cut, lower SOE profits

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

NZ Herald: Govt debt – it’s the trend that’s the worry

NZ Herald: Cullen – Tax cuts but strict conditions

OECD: Economic Survey of New Zealand 2013

Previous related blogposts

TV3 Polling and some crystal-ball gazing

Other blogposts

The Daily Blog: Latest Roy Morgan Poll shows the Labour funk

The Daily Blog: Canaries In A Coal Mine: Has The Daily Blog Poll anticipated Labour’s Collapse?

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The Cost of Living

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 23 February 2014.

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Kiwiblog – still happily fomenting mischief…

18 February 2014 Leave a comment

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kiwiblog and Green Party

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Sometimes, being a mischief-maker can have it’s pit-falls…

Case in point – Kiwiblog administrator, David Farrar, who at the end of January, posted a story on a “leaked” Green Party draft Party List for this year’s election. David wrote,

“I’ve been leaked a copy of the draft an unoffical Green Party List. This is the version done by the hierarchy and leadership. The initial draft list is done by the hierarchy and then members then get to vote on this, and tweak it. They often do make some changes, but the bulk of the rankings don’t change much.” [sic]

David Farrar  then published the List rankings, complete with promotions and demotions. (Though his blogpost wasn’t entitled “Two Greens MPs facing demotion with Green Party List”. The more sensationalist, oily heading of “Two Greens MPs facing sacking with Green Party List” was used instead.)

Only trouble is – none of it was true. Someone was either playing silly-buggers or David Farrar was telling porkies.

My ten cents plus 15% GST is on the former; this was someone playing  David Farrar for their unknown agenda. Why do I believe that the Kiwiblog editor  wasn’t deliberately spreading lies (despite the mis-leading headline to the original blogpost)?

Because David Farrar is no Cameron Slater.

When a right wing blogger publishes a damning piece demolishing another right wing activist’s (Luigi Wewege) reputation for telling outright  lies;

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Kiwiblog - not in a relationship

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- then that speaks well for  his credibility. (That’s not to say David won’t present  a story biased according to his  own experiences, beliefs, and worldview – but then, what right or left wing blogger doesn’t? And yes, that includes me.)

On 10 February, David Farrar published an updated blogpost on this story, stating,

“I published last week a draft Green Party list. The Greens said it was an entirely unofficial list, and was not the list that the hierarchy and electorate delegates put together for members to vote on. That is correct, as that list is yet to be drawn up. But in political parties it is not unusual for different factions to start circulating what they see as their desired list.”

This bit is pretty much on the nail. I recall my own participation in Alliance List Ranking meetings. Various factions would draw up their own lists; discuss them; pass them around; lobby for support… Until the day of Regional List Ranking selection and it came down to delegates voting according to their electorate wishes. Some of the “pre-determined” list rankings were successful – but most were not. (After all, only one person can sit in each ranked slot.)

David Farrar should have known this because the Green Party selection  is even more direct, transparent,  and democratic than the Alliance. Or the new Labour Party voting process for leadership contests.

In fact, the Green Party is probably the most open and democratic of this country’s political parties. At the other end of the spectrum is ACT, where Leaders and candidates are selected by the Party’s Board of Directors. ACT members have zero say in the selection process.

So it was hardly surprising that David Farrar  offered up this explanation,

“A manager with the parliamentary party has said on the record that the parliamentary leadership and senior staff have not had any involvement with the unofficial list that was sent to me. They can’t rule out that someone at Parliament hasn’t compiled their own wish list, and been pushing it – but they are unaware of any activity like that and do not sanction it. I believe those assurances.”

Indeed.

The Green Party confirmed to me, in writing that “pre-selected lists” do not exist,

"Our party is proud of our committment to our internal democracy. Appropriate
decision-making is one of the pillars our our party's charter. We take this
committment seriously as Co-Convenors and elected representatives of the party.

Recently a blog site, and reports by the mainstream media, claimed to have a copy of
our draft list - the ranked list of MP's that the party devises that informs which
candidates are elected into parliament once the party vote is counted after the
election. The draft list is a fiction - the party list formation has not yet begun.
Our party uses a participatory approach to develop our party list.

[...]

We can expect an unprecedented level of scrutiny, interest, and, from some, attack on
our internal democracy and the party in general this year. The media, commentators,
bloggers, and other political parties are all interested in our party list. Given
this interest, we can expect some misreporting of our party processes and
list-ranking processes..."

One part of that statement leaps out at me;  “We can expect an unprecedented level of scrutiny, interest, and, from some, attack on our internal democracy and the party in general this year…”

What an odd world we live in when the political Party with the most democratic and transparent candidate selection process is heavily scrutinised (and often criticised) – whilst other Parties – where a culture of transparency and democratic involvement by rank-and-file members is not so well developed – do not suffer the same level of scrutiny and criticism.

In fact, this blogger has not read one single MSM story or commentatory criticising ACT’s closed candidate selection process. It seems almost an accepted feature of our political system that this kind of secretiveness is “the norm” and the Green’s willingness to be open is “unnatural“.

If such be the case, and I have to choose between “the norm” and “unnatural” – I’ll take “unnatural“, any day.

David Farrar concluded by stating,

“I have no reason however to doubt the source [of the leaked "draft Party List] has said anything untrue, and that they did not receive the list from someone in Parliament. I won’t print anything I believe to be untrue. The source has been reliable in the past. Also I do apply my own judgement to a degree and the rankings in the unofficial list do meld with general consensus around the beltway around individual MPs.”

David Farrar may insist that he will not  “print anything I believe to be untrue”.

But he certainly didn’t bother checking the facts first and foremost with the Green Party prior to committing to publication.

If anyone should understand the Green’s almost fetish-like observance for democratic and transparent participation, it should be David Farrar. God knows he’s been around “the beltway” long enough.

Perhaps Mr Farrar  should start questioning “ the source” of the leaked “draft”. Because it looks like he’s been ‘played’ by someone with their own agenda.

Yup, it must be election year…

[Disclosure: this blogger supported the Green Party at the 2011 Election]

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References

Radio NZ: ACT Party elects new leader

Kiwiblog: Not in a relationship! (5 Nov 2013)

Kiwiblog: Two Greens MPs facing sacking with Green Party List (31 Jan 2014)

Kiwiblog: More on the Greens list (10 Feb 2014)

Previous related blogpost

2013 – The Year that Was (Scroll down to: Honest Blogging by a Rightwing Blogger Award)

Act proclaims new leader!?

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John Key is really hoping that dudes like me don't vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 3 February 2014

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- Politics on Nine To Noon -

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- Monday 3 February 2014 -

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- Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams -

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams ( 19′ 46″  )

  • The latest TV3 poll says the gap between National and Labour/Green is too close to call.
  • ACT party elect a new leader and a new candidate for Epsom.

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Green Party action on deep-sea drilling

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Deepwater Horizon and Rena Stranding

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The Green Party is considering  further action on the problematic issue of deep-sea drilling of our coasts.  Environmental spokesperson on Mining and Toxics, Gareth Hughes writes,

The Government is currently taking bids from oil companies to explore 189,000 square kilometres of our coastal waters.

The Government should know that Kiwis don’t want their beaches threatened by the risks of oil drilling, so we’ve set up a competing bid, the Kiwibid to allow Kiwis to voice their opposition to these plans.

If you’re ready to take action on deep sea oil drilling, join me for a live online Q and A session about what’s happening and how you can help. Join the Q and A session to discuss ways to encourage New Zealanders to sign up to the Kiwibid, and find out other ways we can work together to stop oil drilling.

When: Next Wednesday, 26 June at 8:00pm
Where: At your computer, live and online
Watch the livestream online:   Here

If you have questions about deep sea oil drilling and how you can help, I would love to hear them.

Email me your questions (kiwibid@greens.org.nz) then tune in to see the answers.

Thanks, and I hope you can join me next Wednesday.

Gareth Hughes

Deep sea drilling is an issue – and potential crisis – that I believe has not yet filtered into the public consciousness (too much bloody X Factor, Seven Sharp, and cooking porn on TV).   Should a worst case scenario come to pass,  our coastline could end up facing a crisis surpassing that of the Gulf of Mexico disaster in 2010.

Consider for a moment  that it took the most technologically advanced nation on this planet; with almost unlimited resources and wealth; nearly three months  to cap the oil gush.

This was my suggestion to the Green Party on this problematic issue,

Like many New Zealanders, I’ve taken the stranding of the m.v. Rena on 11 October 2011, and the subsequent oil spill,  as a clear warning that New Zealand is incapable of containing such a disaster. Regardless of the mealy-mouthed reassurances by National ministers (none of whom have soiled their own hands to help clean the East Coast beaches of Rena’s oil), it’s fairly evident that if we couldn’t cope with the Rena – then a Deepwater Horizon type disaster would be utterly beyond our resources.

An oil spill of Deepwater Horizon proportions – which took the Americans EIGHTYSEVEN days to contain – would be an immense enviromental disaster of our coast.

So how to prevent National from implementing it’s policy of permitting deep sea drilling/prospecting?

1. Put all oil companies on notice that any contracts will be cancelled by an incoming Labour-Green-Mana government and that there will be no compensation.

This gives them fair warning of potential change of government policy.

After all, if National can change legislation such as labour laws, which previous governments have implemented, then a progressive government has the same sovereign right.

2. Set up a Crown-owned entity which will have all off-shore leases transferred into their ownership. This crown company should be independent; funded through the Remuneration Authority (so that political interference can’t choke of funding for company directors); and a contract made between Government and this Crown company to hold all leases in perpetuity. The Board of Directors should comprise of Iwi, environmental groups, local bodies, and representatives of other groups. If National can attempt to commit future governments to a contract with Skycity to build a new conference centre, then a center-left government should be able to do likewise.

If Option 2 is unworkable, then option 3,

3. Demand a US$1 billion bond per oil drilling facility; demand that each company commit to long-term corporate-entity representation in New Zealand (so legal papers can be served locally, if necessary); demand that all disputes be covered under NZ jurisdiction; demand that fully staffed,  state-of-the-art oil containment technology be held in each distinct area where deep sea drilling is being undertaken. And any other safety, legal, financial matters not covered here.

4. Hold accountable every Minister of the Crown who signs a deep-water oil drilling consent. Accountability to include being charged with negligence, malfeasance, and contributing to any resulting oil spill. Prison terms to be considered.

Option 4 is particularly relevant.  Considering that the Pike River Mine disaster was a direct consequence of National’s “reforms” to the Mines Inspectorate in the early 1990s; and considering that none of the Ministers responsible were ever help accountable (Kate Wilkinson’s token resignation  being only a sacrificial goat); and considering that 29 men lost their lives as a result of National’s policies, it is evident that government ministers need to be held to account for their actions .

I especially have a fondness for Option 4:  Hold accountable every Minister of the Crown who signs a deep-water oil drilling consent…  Prison terms to be considered.

It is high time that government ministers who enact legislation that eventuate in  dire consequences, should be help to account.

If government Ministers were held personally responsible it might slow down the process of so-called “reforms” and reduce Bills passed under “Urgency”.

After all, National demands the same responsibility from the rest of us.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 23 June 2013.

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Westpac, Peter Dunne, & Edward Snowden…

23 June 2013 5 comments

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Edward Snowden Charged With Espionage Over NSA Leaks

Acknowledgement: Huffington Post -  Edward Snowden Charged With Espionage Over NSA Leaks

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Are we  witnessing the first green buds of the Earth Spring?  All over the world, the winds of change are blowing harder and harder.

The Arab Spring was first, and people rose up against dictators in Algeria, Egypt, and Libya. In Syria, a similar popular uprising  turned into a bloody sectarian war, claiming nearly a hundred thousand lives. Dictator Assad will not give up power easily.

In the West, the Occupation movement flowered for a brief moment, but has become dormant again… for a while.

In Turkey and Brazil, people have come out onto the streets to oppose their  governments. Even democratically elected governments are feeling the brunt of popular discontent.

In the US, even as a once great symbol of freedom devolves into a police surveillance state, individuals are risking personal safety and rebelling.

Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden are two such men.

Manning was arrested in May 2010, and is currently facing a military trial (and we know how that will turn out).

Now, Edward Snowden is the latest whistleblower to be charged by an American system that is becoming more and more despotic.

When a government fears it’s own people, it is well past it’s Use By date.

Bradley and Snowden: history books will be kinder to them than the politicians who persecuted them.

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Dunne hasn't made up mind about GCSB bill

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ -  Dunne hasn’t made up mind about GCSB bill

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Edward Snowden made public information that revealed that US intelligence agencies were spying on citizens in countries around the world. He revealed that no one’s privacy  was safe.

Meanwhile, here in New Zealand, the National led government is rushing a Bill through Parliament that would permit the GCSB to do precisely that; spy on New Zealanders.

We have moved from a nation that barely tolerated the State from prying into our lives – to one that is surveilling us; storing vast quantities of data on us; and now wants more power to spy on us.

There is barely a murmur in response.

Even the Right Wing – the political spectrum that is  (supposedly) the most intolerant and suspicious of  the growth of  State power – seems to be practically comatose. Though in reality that may be because National is proposing the law-change, and not Labour. If it were a Labour government…

Peter Dunne, fresh from  resigning his ministerial portfolios for allegely leaking the Kitteridge Report (or, more accurately, breaking an embargo, since it was one week away from being released anyway), has yesterday  announced that he might not support National’s  Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

Whilst I’m not about to look a gift-moa in the mouth and happily support Dunne on this – it does raise a few questions.

Questions like… why?!?! Up till now he has been  the obedient lap-cat of the National Party, so why all of a sudden has the Coiffured One grown a pair, and practically thrown his lot in with the Snowdens and Mannings of this world?

Martyn Bradbury on The Daily Blog has been speculating on Dunne’s motivations in his part of the GCSB Affair in a series called The Dunne & Vance Theory.

Whatever is going on – I hope Dunne votes against the Bill. We don’t need to empower our spy agencies any more than they are already. We need to remember that the State is our servant – not the other way around.

We don’t need to be constantly surveilled, in case one of us happens to nick a pen or spray-paints ‘Key Sucks’ on the footpaths outside Parliament.

Up until the 21st century, the State pursued crooks after they committed wrong-doing. Now, the State seems intent on watching us all – in case someone, somewhere, is naughty.

Isn’t that… Big Brother?

I support Dunne on this dire issue. It is time to call a halt to the rise of the Surveillance State.

Dunne may well be the man to do it.

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Govt move to tender banking gets Green approval

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Govt move to tender banking gets Green approval

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I’ve always wondered…

Why have successive governments (Labour as well as National)  used Australian-owned Westpac Bank to hold government accounts – known as the ‘Master Banking Contract’?   The Master Banking Contract has been held by  Westpac for 23 years despite never  being tendered out.  It covers all government departments (except  Crown entities and  SOEs).

According to Alex Tarrant,

  • In the late 1980s, Treasury undertook an open tender to select one bank to provide the Crown’s domestic banking services. Westpac was selected to provide these services and a deed entered into in January 1989.
  • A new master agreement was signed in November 2004 and, since 2005, the Crown has negotiated ongoing contractual price reductions for contract services.
  • The contract covers only the core banking services associated with operating Government departments’ bank accounts for processing domestic receipt and payment transaction banking business in New Zealand.
  • An increasing array of banking services have developed over time that are not covered by the master banking agreement with Westpac. Banking services that are not covered by the contract are regularly tendered by the departments concerned.
  • The contract applies only to Government departments, not Crown Entities or SOEs.
  • The Treasury regularly consults with key departments over pricing and service levels relating to the contract, including the possibility of conducting a future tender of the Crown’s banking arrangements.
  • The contract has not been re-tendered to date because the costs of doing so outweigh the expected benefits given the complexity of arrangements with departments and the price reductions negotiated under the existing contract.  Departments do, however, tender for a range of supplementary banking services not covered by the master banking agreement with Westpac.
  • The fee arrangements between the Crown and Westpac are commercially sensitive and are not made public.

Acknowledgement: Interest.co.nz – Government considers future of Westpac’s key 21 year-old banking deal

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Here are two further points to consider,

  1. Last year Westpac NZ  reported   $707 million in after-tax profit  -  a 22 %  increase from 2011. (See: Westpac profit rises 22pc to $707m )
  2. In October 2009, the IRD won a lawsuit against Westpac which had been  taken to Court for tax avoidance. Not only did Westpace lose, but it ended up owing $961 million in back taxes and accrued interest. (See: Westpac loses massive tax case on all counts)

So, Mr Key or Mr English – just remind us again why the NZ Government still has a Master Contract for State banking, with a convicted tax avoider, that actively conspired to scam the tax-payer for nearly one billion dollars?!

How is that being a Good Corporate Citizen?

Perhaps we should just let the Russian Mafia tender for our banking services – the result would be the same.

So not only is Westpace making huge profits – $707 in 2012 alone – but they’re screwing us by not paying their share of tax, as the law demands.

Have I left anything out?

Screw the tender process.

Just give the Master Contract to Kiwi Bank. The benefits would be obvious to all but the most strident, dogmatic  right winger;

  1. No more tax avoidance – the Crown-appointed Board  (with Ministerial over-sight) would see to that,
  2. Kiwibank would make bigger profits and therefore pay a bigger dividend to the government,
  3. All profits remain in New Zealand and not shipped of overseas (to Australia in Westpac’s case)
  4. Less profits remitted overseas will help of balance of payments

Win/win/win/win.

I’m just gobsmacked that no politician – whether Labour or National – has ever seen the blindingly obvious nature of this commercial cock-up.

And strangely enough, it’s left-wing parties – Mana and the Greens – thay have to point this out to the more capitalist-minded Nats?!

Though the reasons why the Nats have stayed ‘sweet’ with Westpac seem to be less than commercially sensible and more to do with a good night out…

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Greens say govt must tender master banking contract with Westpac after Ministers reveal corporate hospitality accepted from the bank

Acknowledgement: Interest.co.nz – Greens say govt must tender master banking contract with Westpac after Ministers reveal corporate hospitality accepted from the bank

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Just to remind folks: New Zealand is the “least corrupt nation” on Earth. And government ministers are not corrupt, nor easily bought off by corporate parasites.

I can’t say otherwise.

Otherwise I’d be sued for telling the truth.

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Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill. – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/06/21/surveillance-laws-strikebreaking-subversive-groups/#sthash.ky4ZiKiZ.dpuf

Joyce on manufacturing

21 June 2013 1 comment

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In January this year,  Labour, Green, NZ  First, and Mana parties held an  inquiry (after the Parliamentary Finance Select committee rejected a request for a similar investigation) into the loss of  40,000 jobs  from the manufacturing sector in the past four years.

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Exporters tell inquiry of threat from high dollar

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Exporters tell inquiry of threat from high dollar

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In case anyone believes National’s claim that this was a “political stunt” (see: Opposition determined to manufacture a crisis), the comments from manufacturers who participated in  the Inquiry took it deadly seriously. Whilst politicians like Joyce suckle on the tax-payer’s teat, exporters and manufacturers actually have to earn a living.

They were not impressed and made their feelings known;

Mike Eggers;

We’re told to get smarter and I find that irritating and insulting. I’m about as smart as they get in my little field. How the hell do these people get smarter? For a politician to tell somebody else to get smarter – he’s risking his life.”

A W Fraser;

We know that – we’ve known that for a very, very long time. Of course we get efficient, of course we try and work as hard as we can to be efficient – it’s the only way we can exist. It drives me insane when people say, ‘Get efficient’. What do you think we are – idiots? We’re not.”

Acknowledgement: IBID

The Inquiry made its findings known;

Recommendation 1:  The government adopt macroeconomic settings that are
supportive of manufacturing and exporting, including:

  • a fairer and less volatile exchange rate through reforms to monetary

policy;

  • refocusing capital investment into the productive economy, rather

than housing speculation;

  • and lowering structural costs in the economy, such as electricity prices.

Recommendation 2: New Zealand businesses are encouraged to innovate.
Research and Development tax credits, with a stronger emphasis on
development, should be introduced as part of a package for innovative
manufacturing, supporting exports and quality jobs.

Recommendation 3: The Government adopt a national procurement policy
that favours Kiwi-made and ensures that New Zealand manufacturers enjoy
the same advantages as their international competitors.

Recommendation 4: The tax system is used to boost investment in new
technology and machinery. An accelerated depreciation regime should be
implemented for the manufacturing sector.

Recommendation 5: A wide range of funding is available for manufacturers to
invest in their business and employees. Measures to encourage the availability
of venture capital and mezzanine funding should be continued, including
government funds through commercial-managers.

Recommendation 6: Businesses are supported to achieve 21st Century
organisation and practices. Policies such as NZTE’s focus on Lean
Management, and the work of the High Performance Work Initiative should
be extended. Apprenticeship training support for the sector should be
reviewed immediately.

Recommendation 7: Manufacturers are given a voice in FTA negotiations.
From the outset of FTA negotiations the interests of manufacturing must be
explicitly addressed. Negotiating teams must keep the sector informed.

Recommendation 8: Measures to encourage foreign direct investment in
manufacturers should be consistent with the strategic direction of New
Zealand’s manufacturing and exports.

Recommendation 9: Government should lower compliance costs wherever
they can be consistent with maintaining New Zealand’s values including
workers’ rights, environmental standards, and product quality assurance.

Recommendation 10: Manufacturing’s ability to create jobs and boost exports
should be recognised in national, regional and industry policies.

Recommendation 11: Taskforces of government local government,
businesses and unions, be established to assess and act on new business
and job opportunities in the wake of major closures or restructuring in the
manufacturing sector.

For full details of each Recommendation, read the full report.

Source: Manufacturing Inquiry Report

Joyce’s response? There was no crisis.

Labour, the Greens, New Zealand First and Mana are determined to manufacture a crisis in manufacturing. The massive problem for them is that while individual firms face real challenges at different times, no crisis exists.

Acknowledgement: Scoop – Opposition determined to manufacture a crisis

Dear Leader also made the same astounding assertion,

Quite honestly there is no manufacturing crisis in New Zealand; there are challenges for some manufacturers.

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Opposition manufacturing inquiry report released

There we have it: no crisis exists.

40,000 jobs lost since 2008 – but Key and Joyce insist, no crisis exists.

It is the measure of this shonkey, incompetant, self-serving  government that National ministers can deny the existence of a crisis when companies are folding and 40,000 people have lost their jobs.

I wonder if Key and Joyce’s attitude would be different if Labour were in power and 40,000 jobs had been lost in the last four years under theitr watch?  Would they still insist there was  no crisis exists ?

I think we all know the answer to that question.

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The Vote, Electricity, and Sex! (That’ll grab your attention!)

18 June 2013 6 comments

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TV3 The Vote  18 June

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Question: How would it feel to be pregnant?

Answer: No idea. I’m not a woman.

Question: How would it feel to be a billionaire?

Answer: No idea. I’ve never had that kind of wealth.

Question: How would it feel to be intellectually handicapped through foetal alcohol syndrome.

Answer: No idea. I’m not intellectually handicapped, nor affected by foetal alcohol syndrome.

Question: How would it feel to be in a warzone, as a combatant, killing people?

Answer: No idea. I’ve never been in a warzone, as a combatant, killing people.

Yet, TV3 is asking viewers – many of whom are reasonably well-off, comfortable, secure, well-fed, warm,  middle class families – to understand the effects that long-term, ingrained poverty has on families?

The question tomorrow (19 June) will be;

Our kids – The problem’s not poverty, it’s parenting. Do you agree?

It a ludicrous question, of course.  Those who’ve never experienced poverty have little idea what it’s really like.

What is even more stomach-turning is that the debating team that supports the Question – that The problem’s not poverty, it’s parenting – are these following characters,

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The Vote - Bob McCoskrie

Bob McCoskrie

Bob McCoskrie has a background in teaching and accounting, having graduated from Auckland University in 1986 with a Masters of Commerce with Honours, and a Diploma in Teaching from the Auckland College of Education. He lectured in accounting, taxation, and commercial law at Manukau Polytechnic for four years, before becoming Director of Youth for Christ (YFC) South Auckland in 1990. In 1994, he set up the Papatoetoe Adolescent Christian Trust (PACT) working with at-risk youth and their families in schools and the South Auckland community. In 1996 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace. In 2002, he joined the Rhema Broadcasting Group as Breakfast / Talkback Host on their nationwide programme, and Television presenter on their Current Affairs show “NZone Focus”.In 2006 he left RBG to establish the advocacy and research organization Family First (NZ) and is its National Director. Bob is married to Tina, and they have three children.

The Vote - Hannah Tamaki

Hannah Tamaki

Hannah is the co-founder of Destiny Churches New Zealand with her husband, Bishop Brian Tamaki. The church movement possesses one of the largest Maori memberships in the country. In addition to being a grandmother of 10 adoring grandchildren, Hannah’s role involves senior level leadership as well as ground-floor mentoring and counselling with families requirement spiritual and practical input and guidance. Besides running a very successful and well attended women’s ministry, Hannah founded Healing Hands Trust which assists women and their whanau with acute medical conditions requiring urgent surgery, and she has played a lead role in establishing a school and early childhood centre. Hannah’s unwavering passion for people is evident in everything she puts her hands to.

The Vote - Christine Rankin

Christine Rankin

Christine Rankin is a former Families Commissioner, CEO of the ‘For Sake of Our Children Trust’ and has recently taken up the position of CEO of the Conservative Party. Christine was on a Domestic Purposes Benefit and had no University Degree before taking on a temporary job with the Department of Social Welfare in 1978. By 1998 she had worked her way to the top, becoming the youngest director in the country. She was later appointed General Manager and then Chief Executive of Work and Income New Zealand, responsible for around 5500 staff. Christine is committed to the well-being of children and is renowned as a speaker on leadership, culture change and political/social issues, as well as sharing her own story of making it against the odds.

Acknowledegment: TV3 – The Vote

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Why are three middle class, affluent, well-resourced, high-income earning individuals pontificating about the effects of poverty on this country’s poorest people? What the hell would they know?

It’s like having men debating the effects of pregnancy and/or abortion on women’s bodies and minds.

It’s like having white anglo-saxons denying the existance of racism.

And really, none of those three are in any position to moralise.

One is an advocate of beating children and is openly homophobic.

Another has grown bloated-rich on the backs of her poor (often Maori) congregation.

And the last – well, I’ll keep my knowledge of the “Ear-ringed One’s” past proclivities to myself.

The question is utterly meaningless in the wider context, and the “Yes/No” nature denies the complexities of the problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”).

For what it’s worth (admittedlynot much), we’ll be voting a firm,

‘No’

Text 3665.

Or, vote on-line.

If only to show that there is more to this than playing the ‘blame-game’.

As for Rankin, Tamaki, and McCoskie – I don’t expect much from them except tediously-repeated prejudice, rhetoric, and stereotyping.

Prove me wrong, you three.

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Labour promises to cut power prices

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NBR - Power authority head attacks Greens-Labour electricity plan

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Industry critics shocked by chairman's report

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Electricity Authority Chairman, Brent Layton, was a National Party appointment, in October 2010.

Hardly surprising then, that the Nats would prompt him to try to condemn Labour-Greens “NZ Power” single buyer desk.

Unfortunately, Layton cannot ignore the fact the electricity prices have soared since Max Bradford’s “reforms” – by over 75% – and he has done nothing to alleviate price rises.

Ministry of Economic Development (MED) statistics show average power prices rose from 13.9 cents per kilowatt-hour on average in May 2001 to 26 cents in May 2011.

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Power prices double over decade

Low and middle-income families have been the ones paying higher and higher prices – whilst industry and commercial users have had cheaper tariffs. The reality is that, we, the public, have been subsidising business. (On top of which,  electricity costs for business are tax-deductible – unlike for residential users.)

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MED domestic business electricity prices

Acknowledgement: Ministry of Economic Development (MED) – Prices

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The MED graph above is fairly crystal clear.

So much for Layton’s scare-mongering  bullshit – some of which was published on the right-wing publication, the NBR (National Business Review).

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electricity - Electricity Authority - NZ Power - rising power prices

Brent Layton – scare-mongering for his National mates?

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Grey Power is 100% when they state;

“We can argue about the reports and validity of the data but everyone knows electricity prices have continued to rise at an alarming rate over the last decade, and the profits of the electricity sector have been far in excess of what is reasonable and in some cases quite obscene.”

As such Layton, as a government mouth-piece and cadre for the “market”, is part of the problem.

This consumer can hardly wait for NZ Power to come online. It can be funded by getting rid of the useless Electricity Authority – and sacking Layton.

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Sex report slams Kiwi lessons

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Sex report slams Kiwi lessons

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On the issue of  Bob McCroskie and his ultra-conservative, right-wing group, Family First, they have released a report called “R18: Sexuality Education in New Zealand – A Critical Review”.

The report criticises sex education in New Zealand, with the author, United States psychiatrist Dr Miriam Grossman, stating,

A premise of modern sex education is that young people have the right to make their own decisions about sexual activity, and no judging is allowed. Risky behaviours are normalised and even celebrated. Children and adolescents are introduced to sexual activities their parents would prefer they not even know about, let alone practice. It’s reasonable to ask: is the ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ foisted on young people all over the world about sexual health, or sexual licence?

While most of these resources claim to promote sexual health, we find, overall, little encouragement of restraint or self-discipline. Instead, students are informed that at any age, sexual freedom is a ‘right.

The information is not accurate, comprehensive, or up-to-date. Sex is seen as risky only when it’s ‘unprotected’. The efficacy of condoms is overstated, in some cases vastly so. The quantitative data about their use is absent. The vulnerability of the immature cervix and the hazards of anal intercourse are omitted. Chlamydia is incorrectly described as ‘easily cured’. Young people are led to believe that sex is easily divorced from emotional attachment. Worst of all, critical life and death information is distorted or ignored.

Students are left misinformed, and with a false sense of security. Surely this is the last thing parents want.

Acknowledgement: Scoop – Sex Ed Preaches Sexual Licence, Not Sexual Health

The Scoop press release issued by Family First describes Dr Miriam Grossman thusly,

“Miriam Grossman MD is known internationally for her courage in breaking ranks and calling foul on the sexuality education industry. She has lectured at the British House of Lords and the United Nations. Dr Grossman is board certified in psychiatry and in the sub-specialty of child and adolescent psychiatry. Dr Grossman visited New Zealand last year.”

Acknowledgement: IBID

So who is Dr Miriam Grossman? And why has she provided an anti-sex education report for the ultra-conservative Family First?

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Dr Miriam Grossman - anti-sex education, ultra-conservative

Dr Miriam Grossman – anti-sex education, ultra-conservative

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Because Dr Miriam Grossman herself is an  anti-sex education, ultra-conservative.

Without re-writing what has already been written about this person, instead I will quote from GayNZ. Their comments mirror mine precisely,

For a change, Grossman isn’t a fundamentalist Protestant or conservative Catholic- although she is a religious social conservative, namely an Orthodox Jew. It should be noted that not all Orthodox Jews subscribe to co-belligerency with the Christian Right, wary of the troubled fundamentalist and Catholic pasts insofar as anti-Semitism is concerned. However, Grosssman doesn’t fall into that category- she is a regular guest of US Christian Right organisations like Focus on the Family and participates within the World Congress of Families, a US Christian Right-centred international networking annual conference, to be held in Madrid in May 2012 this year.

And as one might guess, the “World Congress of Families” is fixated on a narrow range of religious social conservative obsessions- opposition to feminism, opposition to LGBT legislative reform, opposition to abortion rights, opposition to comprehensive sex education and nothing that really affects real families all that much. According to the March 2012, our own beloved Family First isn’t a ‘partner’ like notorious antigay organisations Americans for “Truth” about Homosexuality, Focus on the Family and Family Research Council (US), Christian Concern (UK), Endeavour Forum and the Australian Family Association (Australia), REAL Women (Canada), Human Life International and Tradition Family and Property.

Grossman’s forte is attacking comprehensive sexuality organisation as produced by mainstream evidence-based organisations like the International Planned Parenthood Federation and our own Family Planning Association. This involves indoctrinating young women with propaganda about STIs and psychological stresses involved with initiating and maintaining sexual relationships, while neglecting important correlates like self-esteem education and information about contraception. These ‘fear-based curricula’ don’t actually prevent teenagers from having sex, and they do lack information about how to protect oneself from HIV/AIDS and STI through condoms and other forms of contraception. Needless to say, Grossman toes the religious social conservative party line when it comes to homosexuality too- on the basis of extremely biased ‘evidence’ from the exgay NARTH organisation, she argues that sexual orientation can be easily modified. She herself is associated with the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute, a US antifeminist research organisation. People For the American Way has excellent articles on insight into their agenda on their website, which provide useful rebuttals of the ‘science’ involved.

It’s easy to speculate what sort of ‘research’ will be cited at this event. We are supposed to be blinded by the fact that Grossman has professional qualifications without asking whether her particular opinion is congruent with evidence-based research and practise from mainstream professional opinion and practise. Whenever one encounters religious social conservative professionals, one is met with badly designed ‘research’ methods and practise, selective citation or distortion of others research if it contradicts religious social conservative dogma and ‘cherry picking’ of selective data sets compared to a wider body of research that shows some inconvenient conclusions that refute their case. In two words, junk ‘science’

No wonder Family First invited her to their Forum. I would also hazard a guess that her involvement suggests that Family First may be becoming increasingly dependent on the US Christian Right and its Canadian, British and Australian satellites for its survival in terms of propaganda, tactics and strategy. I could only count four fundamentalist small business donors for the Forum this year- Business and Tax Advisors, FetchALamp, Pharmabrokers and Leaning Options. Obviously, the recession is biting deep into their pool of available donors, judging from the meagre nature of this list. Family First is also actively involved in propagandising for one of her books, of which there are two, published by conservative US imprints Regnery and Sentinel.

How convenient to be so forewarned.

Acknowledgement: GayNZ – Who is Miriam Grossman?

Dr Miriam Grossman, Family First, and Bob McCoskrie – all advocating that when it comes to sex education, ignorance is bliss.

And McCoskrie is appearing on Third Degree The Vote, tomorrow night, debating against the concept of poverty’s affect on children?

More ignorance is bliss no doubt.

Other blogs

Ideologically Impure: Dr Miriam Grossman: when you want some fear-mongering in your sex ed

Frogblog: Family First gets it wrong on sexuality education also

Herstory: Dr Miriam Grossman, lies, bent truths, and irresponsible medicine

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Electricity Authority Chairman, Brent Layton, was a National Party appointment. Electricity Authority Chairman, Brent Layton, was a National Party appointment.Hardly surprising then, that the Nats would prompt him to try to condemn Labour-Greens “NZ Power” single buyer desk.Unfortunately, Layton cannot ignore the fact the electricity prices have soared since Max Bradford’s “reforms” – by over 75% – and he has done nothing to alleviate price rises. Low and middle-income families have been the ones paying higher and higher prices – whilst industry and commercial users have had cheaper tariffs. As such, we, the public, have been subsidising business.As such, Gre Power is 100% when they state; “”We can argue about the reports and validity of the data but everyone knows electricity prices have continued to rise at an alarming rate over the last decade, and the profits of the electricity sector have been far in excess of what is reasonable and in some cases quite obscene.”As such Layton, as a government mouth-piece , is part of the problem.This consumer can hardly wait for NZ Power to come online. It can be funded by getting rid of the useless Electricity Authority and sacking Layton.Hardly surprising then, that the Nats would prompt him to try to condemn Labour-Greens “NZ Power” single buyer desk.Unfortunately, Layton cannot ignore the fact the electricity prices have soared since Max Bradford’s “reforms” – by over 75% – and he has done nothing to alleviate price rises. Low and middle-income families have been the ones paying higher and higher prices – whilst industry and commercial users have had cheaper tariffs. As such, we, the public, have been subsidising business.As such, Gre Power is 100% when they state; “”We can argue about the reports and validity of the data but everyone knows electricity prices have continued to rise at an alarming rate over the last decade, and the profits of the electricity sector have been far in excess of what is reasonable and in some cases quite obscene.”As such Layton, as a government mouth-piece , is part of the problem.This consumer can hardly wait for NZ Power to come online. It can be funded by getting rid of the useless Electricity Authority and sacking Layton.

Citizen A: Martyn Bradbury, Chris Trotter & David Slack

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- Citizen A -

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 - 13 June 2013 -

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- Chris Trotter & David Slack -

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Citizen A: With Martyn Bradbury,  Chris Trotter, and David Slack discuss the following issues:

  • Why are Labour and the Greens clobbering Peter Dunne as hard as they can – shouldn’t Dunne be given some slack for assisting a journalist to report on a matter of huge public interest?

 

  • Also discussed, has the GCSB been interacting with the United States spy system PRISM?

 

  • And what’s the state of Auckland’s Unitary Plan and are evictions being planned for state house tenants in Glenn Innes?

 

 

Citizen A screens on Face TV, 7.30pm Thursday nights on Sky 89


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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

The Daily Blog

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Budget 2013: State Housing and the War on Poor

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state housing new zealand

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Housing NZ Current waiting list

As at 30 April 2013 there were 4,568 people on the waiting list. Of this:

  • 1,172 were Priority Eligible – A

  • 2,207 were Priority Eligible – B

  • 728 were C (assessed before 30 June 2011)

  • 461 were D (assessed before 30 June 2011)

Acknowledgment: Housing NZ – Waiting list

Some facts;

  1. As at 30 April this year, Housing NZ had 3,379 people on it’s Category A and B waiting lists (Categories C and D are so low priority that their chances of getting into a state house are next to nil). (see:  IBID)
  2. According to Housing NZ, they had 69,400 properties in the 2011/12 financial year (see: HNZ -Addressing housing demand).  This has probably reduced significantly as many rental properties – such as in Pomare, Lower Hutt – were demolished in June 2011 (see: Pomare housing demolition begins).
  3. Child poverty in New Zealand has increased;
    In 2006/07 230,000, or 22 percent, of New Zealand children were still living in poverty. That is, in households with incomes below the 60 percent median income poverty line, after taking housing costs into account. This is more than the entire population of North Shore City (205,605) or the Manawatu-Wanganui region (222,423) and means one adult and one child were living on $430 a week before housing costs. (see:  Brief Statistics on Child Poverty in New Zealand 2004-2008)By 2011/12, approximately 270,000, or 25%, of New Zealand children were living in poverty. (see: Solutions to Child Poverty)
  4.  A recent UNICEF report placed New Zealand amongst the worst in developed countries for child wellbeing, ranking us 25th out of 34 developed countries.  We are  now behind Australia and Britain also for homicide rates, child health, and safety.  (See: NZ ranked poorly on child welfare)

In the past, one of the principle means by which  New Zealand has attempted to ameliorate the  destructive effects of poverty is for the provision of State housing, where tenants pay 25% of their household’s net income (See:  HNZ -Income-related rent)

For thousand of low-income New Zealanders, this has meant the difference between this,

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state house new zealand nz

Acknowledgment: NZ History Online – Inside a state house

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Or this,

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homelessWoman

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Unfortunately, too many New Zealanders have a narrow view of life and society in general, and cannot accept that in a civilised society there is a dire need for the State to provide housing for those who cannot manage, or, have fallen on hard times – especially during the Global Financial Crisis. But that need exists, and it is the price we pay for living in a decent society where beggars do not line the streets.

Even those who grudingly admit that social housing is a necessity still  hold to the belief that State housing is for “short term emergencies”, and not for any longer period.

This writer thoroughly disagrees and disputes that notion.

The principle of  housing is not just to provide a roof  over people’s heads and give them warm shelter from cold and rain.

Social housing – as the name ‘social‘ implies – is  where those on the lower socio-economic scale (ie, the poor)  can  create communities; offer mutual support; perhaps grow food for themselves in their backyards; and where children can put down roots and attend their local school on a steady, uninterupted basis.

The last thing we need now is those on low incomes (or vulnerable in other ways) being evicted from their state homes and  forced into a life of transience – or trapped in high-cost rental accomodation, leaving little aside for food, medicines, clothing, etc.

This is precisely what National appears to be planning;

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State tenants face 'high need' review

Acknowledgment: State tenants face ‘high need’ review

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National’s 2013 Budget proposes;

Reviews of state housing tenants will be phased in from next year. Housing New Zealand estimates the reviews will lead to 1000 tenants moving out of state houses in 2015-16 and a further 2000 in 2016-17. About 10,000 tenants are already subject to reviews, if they signed an agreement after July 2011.

Assessment for housing will also be carried out by the Ministry of Social Development and integrated with other services.

Acknowledgment: IBID

Bill English described it with words that belied the misery that such a policy could create,

It can become a trap for those whose circumstances could improve.  We want to ensure people are in the most appropriate houses for them.

We will be looking at when tenants’ circumstances change and when they no longer have higher needs and will help to move them into other housing.”

Acknowledgment: Budget 2013: All state house tenancies to be reviewed

Only a Tory who has never know deprivation, hunger, and hopelessness could call a decent chance for a warm home as a “trap”.

It’s the same weasel words that National uses for welfare payments that can put food in unemployed person’s belly.

It’s not a “trap” – it’s a lifeline for survival.

English refers to “moving tenants into other housing“.

What housing? There is a critical shortage of low-cost rental housing in this country.

Moving a tenant on a low or fixed income into a $300-$400/week rental will achieve nothing except push the poor further into poverty.

It will also inevitably  increase transience, as tenants fall behind in market rents and have to move on a regular basis. This uproots children from their school.

And it eventually leads to shocking incidents like this;

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child poverty - social housing

Acknowledgment:  CYF lost track of neglected children

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Welfare minister, Paula Bennett acknowledged the obvious,

Because of the family’s transience, living in a number of regions, I am unable to give detailed information and an actual number [of social worker visits] at this time.

What I can say is there has been previous Child, Youth and Family involvement and notifications over many years, but Child, Youth and Family was unaware that they were at that [Lower Hutt] residence until January 4, when the police were involved.”

Acknowledgment: IBID

So, let’s be clear about this: forcing low income people from their homes is a pointless excercise in futility that achieves nothing except exacerbate poverty.

It creates unnecessary stress in already stressed families.

We will see ghastly consequences of families pushed further into poverty and unable to cope with financial pressures.

And, as usual, it will be the children who suffer the most.

All for what? What possible purpose or benefit is there in pushing people out of their homes and out of their local community?

Remember the stats above?

As at 30 April 2013 there were 4,568 people on the waiting list. Of this:

  • 1,172 were Priority Eligible – A

  • 2,207 were Priority Eligible – B

National has never been a Party to promote  socially proactive programmes. At best they tolerate what Labour governments have built up over decades (like social housing).

The waiting list – 3,379 people on it’s Category A and B waiting lists – is obviously an embarressment to National ministers.

But instead of building an extra 3,400 houses or flats (which is doable), National has tackled the waiting list in a novel way; displace existing tenants into private accomodation, and re-tenant with those 3,379 in Caregories A and B.

It is a cynical manipulation of people’s lives so National ministers can, at next year’s election, claim that they have “eliminated” the state housing waiting list.

A “revolving door” of poor tenants is National’s cunning plan to solve the state housing shortage.

In the meantime, we will see more and more stories like this in our media,

The parents, a 25-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman, have pleaded guilty to failing to provide medical care, food and nutrition to the children, aged 4, 3, 2, and 7 months.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said in Parliament yesterday that her staff had been aware of the family for many years, but the agency lost track of them when they moved from Whanganui towards the end of last year.

Acknowledgment: CYF lost track of neglected children

A Message to John Key & other National clowns

In an op-ed piece in the Dominion Post on  17 May, former-Labour President, Mike Williams wrote that National policies – especially relating to poverty and housing – would hand “the Labour Party a golden opportunity to win the general election next year“. (see  Budget: Stirring state house voters)

Williams further stated,

Budget 2013 gives a very large group who don’t turn out to vote on a regular basis a very good reason to cast their ballots next year. These are state house tenants.

What we all know is that there are just under 70,000 state rental houses in this country. What Labour discovered in 2004 was that there are between three and four enrolled voters per household and that a large majority of these potential electors do not bother to cast a ballot on a regular basis.

The threat to state house tenants planned for election year by National is a gift to Labour in a tight contest. Nearly everyone in a state house will have their tenancy reviewed and 10 per cent of these people will be moved on. That nice Mr Key has grown teeth.

On September 17, 2005, Don Brash was denied victory at the last moment by increased participation in South and West Auckland, north Wellington and east Christchurch – just where you find lots of state houses.

Acknowledgment: IBID

A bit of simple arithmetic: nearly 70,000 state homes times three or four enrolled voters per household equals 210,000 voters (conservative estimate).

Considering that the 2011 election yielded the following voting results,

National: 1,058,638

Labour: 614,936

Greens: 247,370

Add 200,000 votes to Labour and the Greens – and National will be  out of office. And Key is out of a job.

Make no mistake, Mr Key; Labour, the Greens, and Mana will work in concert to target every single state house and flat  at the next election.  Every person will be made aware of National’s intentions. Every single state house tenant will be warned that their continuing tenancy will depend on National being voted out of office.

National has just made 200,000 new enemies.

Nicely done, Mr English – a political suicide note dressed up as a “budget”.

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References

Fairfax Media: Parents accused of neglecting kids (11 Jan 2013)

Fairfax Media: Neglected kids back home in days (15 May 2013)

Fairfax Media: CYF lost track of neglected children (16 May 2013)

NZ Herald:  Budget 2013: All state house tenancies to be reviewed (16 May 2013)

Dominion Post: State tenants face ‘high need’ review (17 May 2013)

Dominion Post: Budget: Stirring state house voters (17 May 2013)

Additional

Previous related blogposts

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Do National Party supporters prefer higher electricity prices?

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quill

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A letter to the editor from an obvious National Party supporter, published in the Dominion Post, on 30 April,

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The body language says it all

I wouldn’t mind betting that it was the Greenies who hatched the power price policy stunt and the Labourites who swallowed it, hook, line and sinker. The body language at the announcement was telling. Though this matter was under discussion for some time, the announcement’s timing was pure coincidence, so they said. Pull the other one. The announcement of this economic sabotage was timed to create maximum confusion in the market. Methinks the perpetrators underestimate the populace’s intelligence. This stunt, if it were ever implemented, will have serious consequences throughout the economy, including power outages and higher taxes. It can’t be compared to Pharmac. New Zealanders can tell a red herring when they see one and this red herring might yet turn and bite its parents.

MARTIN STERN

Karori

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My  response, emailed to the editor, today,

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from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:     Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date:     Wed, May 1, 2013 at 10:54 AM
subject:     Letters to the Editor

Martin Stern rails against the Labour-Green proposal for NZ Power,  a single-buyer desk for electricity, which would bulk-buy from generators and sell at a cheaper rate to domestic consumers.

Why is  Mr Stern  opposed to cheaper electricity – when commercial users have enjoyed cheaper power since 2000 – subsidised by domestic users?

Instead of railing against “Greenies” and fear-mongering with silly references to “economic sabotage” – he should ask why power prices are still rising for domestic users when  the wholesale electricity price was  at $73 per MWh,  less than the $131/MWh  last year?

His idolisation and concern for  “the market” is misplaced. Instead of a knee-jerk reaction to anything/everything Green and Labour, and actually understood that he might benefit from  a single-buyer desk for electricity – he might be less inclined to pointless jingoism.

Does Mr Stern  really think that big business;  electricity oligopolies; share broking firms; and merchant bankers are as concerned for his well-being as he is for theirs?

Mr Stern sez this cannot be likened to Pharmac. Why not? Can it be likened to other single buyer-desks such as Fonterra and Zespri?

Funny how it seems to work for business – yet Mr Stern would deny the same purchasing power for domestic users.

-Frank Macskasy

(address & phone number supplied)

Isn’t it amazing that National Party supporters are so wedded to their political tribalism that they’d rather pay for higher power prices than challenge the existing system?

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“Spin me a conspiracy”, said Dear Leader!

8 October 2012 20 comments

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

  • Humour

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

  • Attack Reputations

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

  • Buy them off

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

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

  • Deride & Dismiss

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

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

  • Off to the Gulag!

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

Probably not feasible for dear little New Zealand… yet.

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

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

One response has been the Deride & Dismiss tactic.

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

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

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Mr Key is rejecting all their allegations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Got that?

Good.

Otherwise it’s off to the Gulag for you!

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

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[click on image to link to TV3 video]

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National – what else can possibly go wrong?!

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A contributor to The Standard blog, ‘Jenny’, made a very simple – but insightful post, detailing National’s track record in the last three and a half years,

This is a government determined to gift everything they could possibly wish to the rich and powerful, and on behalf of this greedy sector force onto the rest of New Zealanders.

More Pokies

More drilling

More fracking

More booze

More junk food

A fire sale of public assets

More pollution

More corruption

More scandal

Less sovereignity

Less civil liberty

More toadying to foreign powers

More toadying to foreign corporates

More spying snooping and videoing of New Zealand citizens

More bail-outs

More tax cuts

More job cuts

More benefit cuts

Have they actually done anything worthwhile or positive?

See:  Katherine Rich on the Health Promotion Board: The next outrageous piece of Nat cronyism

Jenny posits the question, “Have they actually done anything worthwhile or positive?

Try as one might, despite inane rhetoric and vague promises, no National Party MP, functionary, or groupie could possibly point to any success achieved by John Key and his colleagues.

Not . One.

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1.Economic Growth

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National’s “Master Plan” for economic growth and job creation seems to revolve around four events – none of which have been particularly successful,

  1. The rebuild of Christchurch. Despite being an opportunity to upskill 160,000 unemployed and a major boost to the economy – nothing much is happening. Instead, National is content to allow tradespeople from overseas to come into the country and carry out  the work. With few apprenticeships, we are woefully unprepared for the looming demand for tradespeople – a damning lack of planning by National and it’s naive reliance on the “free market” to provide skilled workers.
  2. The Rugby World Cup – far from being a major boost, seems to have contributed very little to our economy. In the last three months of 2011, GDP grew  just 0.3% – half  that  predicted by economists. It seems that Dr Sam Richardson’s prediction, that $700  million was a hopelessly unrealistic expectation proved to be unerringly correct.  Who is ultimately responsible for National throwing $200-plus million of our tax dollars at this exercise in outrageous extravagance? Murray McCully? Steven Joyce? John Key?
  3. The Sky City/Convention Centre deal. Our illustrious Dear Leader promised 1,800 jobs from this planned project, in return for re-writing gambling legislation and permitting Sky City to increase pokie machine and gaming tables by up to 500. Potential social fall-out surrounding increased problem gambling was casually dismissed by both John Key and Sky City’s CEO Nigel Morrison.    Unfortunately, as with most of John Key’s figures and promises, the expectation of 1,800 jobs was as fictitious as much of what he says.
  4. Asset sales. With weak growth; a stagnant economyhigh unemployment; and New Zealanders continuing to escape to Australia, National’s one (and only) trump card appears to be the partial-privatisation of five state owned corporations. As has been pointed out, ad infinitum, floating shares in these SOEs will not contribute to economic growth; nor create new jobs (in fact,  it is likely to result in redunancies, if past privatisations are any guide); nor create real wealth. It simply shuffles bits of paper (shares) around from investor-to-investor-to-investor. And if investors need to borrow to buy these shares, we are using overseas funds for speculative purposes. Which sounds suspiciously like our love-affair with speculative housing-”investments”.

As Business NZ has stated, our economic growth has been ‘unspectacular’. And that’s coming from one of National’s own business allies. (Just as Business NZ seemed somewhat unimpressed as National’s lack of planning and direction last year, just prior to the election.)

Otherwise, National’s Grand Plan can be summed up as a reliance on a “two pronged” approach to growing the economy; a hands-off “free market” approach, and tax cuts. Not only have neither worked terribly well, but these measures have been counter-productive.

Tax-cuts  gave massive increases in income to the richest 10% of New Zealanders – whilst the GST increase has made life harder for the poorest and lowest-paid in this country.

Right wing cheer-leaders who bleat on about their rich masters “working hard and deserving  increased wealth” may be aspirationists who one day hope to become one of the Master Class – but I hope they’re not holding their breath. That day will be a long time coming.

Tax cuts have also resulted in a government budget blow-out. Borrowing $380 million a week, whilst claiming that National is “not borrowing for tax cuts is credible only to National; their salivating sycophants; and low-information voters (for whom “The GC” is the height of documentary-making).

Tax cuts have also not delivered the promised boost to the economy by increasing spending and consumption. This is not surprising, as the tax cuts were given to the wrong sector of society.

High income, wealthy, asset-rich families tend to use their tax-cuts to reduce debt or spend on investments (shares, kiwisaver,  etc) that do not directly help small businesses.

Low income, poor, families spend everything. These are the the people who will buy more food to put on their tables; clothes; shoes; medication; and other consumables. These are the people that small businesses rely on on for their custom. And the retail supermarket sector is suffering a massive drop accordingly.

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Middle income families continue to stuggle not to fall behind. Any tax increase they may have gained has been swallowed up by increased gst, government charges, increased user-pays, etc.

I think most people have since ‘twigged’ that National has indeed borrowed for tax cuts. And we’re having to pay back those massive borrowings by  cutting services; slashing the state sector; and selling our state assets.

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2. Asset Sales

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National’s asset sales programme has been an unmitigated disaster from Day One.

Since National first announced their decision to partially privatise Meridian, Genesis, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand, this issue has been opposed by the public.

National has used it’s so-called “mandate” from last year’s election to proceed with their policy, and passed enabling legislation only last Tuesday (26 June).

Any notion of a “mandate” is shaky and open to interpretation.

Whilst the National-ACT-Peter Dunne Coalition has 61 seats, and Labour, NZ First, Greens, Mana, and Maori Party have 60 seats – the number of Party votes cast tells a different story.

National , ACT, United Future Party Votes Labour, Greens, NZ First, Maori Party, Mana, and Conservative Party votes

National – 1,058,636

Labour – 614,937

ACT – 23,889

Greens – 247,372

United Future – 13,443

NZ First – 147,544

Maori Party – 31,982

Mana – 24,168

Conservative Party* – 59,237

TOTAL – 1,095,968

Total – 1,125,240

The irony of the Conservative Party gaining more Party Votes than ACT and United Future combined – yet winning no  seats in Parliament  – will not escape most fair-minded people. Adding the Conservative’s 59,237 party votes to the anti-asset sale bloc, yields a majority of voters opposed to National’s programme.

It is only the current rules of MMP (now under review) that allows this quirk to take place.

Add to that, opinion poll after opinion poll showing  60% to 80% of respondents  opposed to asset sales, and National’s mantra that “We have a Mandate” becomes patently untenable.

A recent  NZ Herald poll, where respondents were asked to leave a comment, as well as a “Yay” or “Nay” vote yielded results that were thoroughly predictable,

For: 151

Against: 552

The National Party understands this only too well. Hence their desperate, ad hoc  schemes to bribe the public with all manner of ‘sweeteners’,

  • giving first option to buy shares  to “mum and dad” investors
  • a bribe of “loyalty” shares
  • promise of “affordable” shares  for investors

There is a considerable degree of arrogance in National’s pursuing of their asset sales, despite considerable public anger.

On 26 October last year,  Dear Leader  said,

They don’t fully understand what we’re doing. My experience is when I take audiences through it, like I did just before, no-one actually put up their hand and asked a question. “

On 3 May, as a 5,000 person march wound it’s way through Wellington, John Key grinned to reporters and cheekily said,

How many people did they have?  Where was it? Nope wasn’t aware of it. So look, a few thousand people walking down the streets of Wellington isn’t going to change my mind. “

And on 26 June, Key tried to dismiss TV3 journalist John Campbell with this demeaning insult,

No, um, and with the greatest respect to your financial literacy, you’ve proven that you don’t actually have any. “

Key said pretty much the same about Greens co-leader, Russel Norman,

With the greatest respect to [Green Party co-leader Russel Norman], I’m sure he’s a great bloke, he doesn’t know much about economics. “

It is fairly obvious that Key has very little time for anyone who opposes his views. In fact, he gets downright belligerent and  derisive.

Who does he remind me of? Someone else who used to belittle and deride anyone who dared disagree with him – especially in economic matters. Who else was famous for his arrogance? Another Prime Minister,

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Despite public opposition and several valid commercial reasons made clear that these sales will be financially disadvantageous to our economy, National carries on, oblivious to all but it’s own ideological fanaticism.

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This is a Party totally out of touch with the rest of the country.

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3. Welfare

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In 2008, the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) hit the world with a social and economic recession not seen since the 1920s/30s. Coporations like Lehmann Bros collapsed. General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection. Others had to be bailed out with billions of taxpayers’ dollars. Millions lost their jobs and homes, and unemployment skyrocketed. Europe is tottering on the brink of a domino-like collapse of their currency.

Here in New Zealand, unemployment doubled from 3.4% by the end of 2007, to 7.3% by the end of 2009.

When criticism is levelled at National’s inability to address our stagnating economy, John Key and Bill English point to the GFC, stating it’s not their fault,

We did inherit a pretty bad situation with the global financial crisis.” – Source

This is a global debt crisis and you certainly wouldn’t want to add more debt at that time unnecessarily.” – Source

The economic downturn that may occur on a pronounced basis in Europe is factored into our books.” – Source

But when it comes to those who are the casualties of the economic downturn; the unemployed, National suddenly sings a different tune when it comes to Cause-and-Effect,

The Government is considering requiring beneficiaries to immunise their children.” – Source

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett yesterday said contraception would eventually be fully funded for female beneficiaries and their 16 to 19-year-old daughters. ” – Source

Prime Minister John Key says beneficiaries who resort to food banks do so out of their own “poor choices” rather than because they cannot afford food.” – Source

Under the Government’s new youth welfare policy, announced by Prime Minister John Key at the weekend, 16- and 17-year-old beneficiaries would receive a payment card for food and clothes from approved stores.” – Source

And perhaps – worst of all – was  this piece of vileness from Finance Minister, Bill English,

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[click on image to go to TV3 website]

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English’s smirking disdain, for all those New Zealanders who have lost their jobs due to the global financial crisis, was plain to see.  Shame on him; his revolting attitude; and shame on every person in his electorate who voted for this arrogant little man.

The National Creed

1. The  Global Financial Crisis – a handy excuse for poor economic policies and mismanagement.

2. The Unemployed – a handy scapegoat for National’s inability to grow the economy and create new jobs.

3. If in doubt, never take responsibilty; refer to #1 and #2.

Latest redundancies;

Will drug testing be used to  “sort this lot out smartly”, Mr English?

And more bizarre is Paula Bennet’s admission that National “has ruled out universal drug testing of all beneficiaries, with drug and alcohol addicts being exempted from sanctions for refusing or failing a drug test when applying for a job“.

See:  Addicts escape beneficiary drug testing

Which means that if addicts and alcoholics are not tested – that leaves only those  workers who’ve been unfortunate enough to lose their jobs through New Zealand’s ongoing stagnating economy.

Adding insult to injury doesn’t begin to cover the humiliation which National intends to thrust upon workers who’ve lost their jobs.

And all because National has no job creation policies.

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4. Sky City/Convention Centre

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This is perhaps one of John Key’s shonkiest deals. It is no wonder that the Auditor General is investigating the Sky City “arrangement” – so I have little faith that the investigation will yield much that is incriminating of Dear Leader.

As Key stated with utter confidence, on TV3′s ‘The Nation‘ on 17 June,

KEY: The involvement I had, as Minister of Tourism was to go and talk to a number of critical players, and as part of a general conversation say to them, “Hey, look, New Zealand’s interested in building a convention centre. Did that with Sky City. I did that with people out at ASB Centre The Edge. I did that with Ngati Whatua. That’s not unusual.  I mean, and to argue that that would be unusual would be to say, well, look I have discussions with people in Whangarei about building a museum there. And I have discussions  with people in Auckland about building  a cycleway.

So now what we’re  talking about about is, ok, was there undue influence or was the process correctly handled, that’s what the auditor general  will say.

So let me tell you this, for a start off, ok, in terms of the expression of interest process, my office had absolutely no involvement, no correspondence, [ interuption by Rachel Smalley] no phone calls, absolutely nothing. So when the auditor general  comes in there will be no correspondence, no phone calls, no discussions, zero. “ - Source (@ 6.37)

That statement does not instill confidence in me. Dear Leader has just stated, on record, that no evidence exists of his meeting(s) with Sky City management. Key admitted meeting with Sky City’s Board in late 2009,

I attended a dinner with the Sky City board 4 November 2009 where we discussed a possible national convention centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003“. – Source

But what was said or agreed on, we don’t know. As Key has stated, “when the auditor general  comes in there will be no correspondence, no phone calls, no discussions, zero”.

This is not a very good  example of transparency. It is certainly not the “transparency in government”  that Key has promised this country on several occassions.

In fact, it’s dodgy as hell.

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

In the same  blogpost ( Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How )  dated 23 April, this blogger outlined John Key’s somewhat dubious tactics for pushing through dubious policies,

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Promise Big Numbers.  It doesn’t matter if the numbers never eventuate because they were fictitious to start with. By the time the media and public realise the true facts, the issue will be all but forgotten. A week may be a long time in politics – but a year positively guarantees  collective amnesia for 99% of the public.

From December, 2010,

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Cycleway jobs fall short

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6:00 AM Wednesday Dec 8, 2010

The national cycleway has so far generated just 215 jobs – well short of Prime Minister John Key’s expectation of 4000.

In May, Mr Key said he expected the $50 million project, which involves building 18 cycleways throughout the country, to generate 4000 jobs.”Source

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Who can remember the initial cycleway project and the promise of 4,000 new jobs?

Precisely.

From March, this year,

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Key defends casino pokie machine deal

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08:23 Mon Mar 5 2012 – AAP

Opposition parties are accusing the government of selling legislation through an agreement that will see Auckland’s Sky City build a $350 million convention centre in return for more pokie machines…

…  But Mr Key says it’s a good deal for New Zealand.

“It produces 1000 jobs to build a convention centre, about 900 jobs to run it… ” Source

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In a year’s time, who will recall the promise of 900 new Convention centre jobs?

Who will care that only a hundred-plus eventuate?

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Well, it didn’t take one year. It took only a matter of  months. On 5 March, John Key asserted,

 “It produces 1000 jobs to build a convention centre, about 900 jobs to run it, and overall the number of pokie machines will be falling although at a slightly lower rate.”

See:  Key defends casino pokie machine deal

But then, on 5 June,  the NZ Herald reported,

Job numbers touted by Prime Minister John Key for a proposed international convention centre at SkyCity are much higher than official estimates.

Mr Key has said a deal allowing SkyCity more gambling facilities in exchange for funding the convention centre would provide 900 construction jobs and work for 800 people at the centre.

But the figures are much higher than those in a feasibility study done for the Government by hospitality and travel specialist analyst Horwath Ltd.

Horwath director Stephen Hamilton said he was concerned over reports the convention centre would employ 800 staff – a fulltime-equivalent total of 500.

He said the feasibility study put the number of people who would be hired at between 318 and 479. “

See:  Puzzle of Key’s extra casino jobs

Sprung! Another of Dear Leader’s “little white lies” uncovered.

Next ‘cast iron guarantee’ from Dear Leader, who said on his website,

SkyCity has agreed to pay the full construction costs of the centre – estimated at $350 million. The company has asked the Government to consider some alterations to gambling regulations and legislation.”

See:  John Key -Convention centre development moves ahead

Yeah, I’ll bet that Sky City has “asked the Government to consider some alterations to gambling regulations and legislation“…

In business, it’s called a ‘contra-deal‘.

But it’s seems that even this deal is not as “free” for tax-payers as Key has made out. In fact, it has been uncovered that  taxpayers are definitely ‘stumping up’ some of their hard-earned cash,

Budget documents reveal that if the plan goes ahead, taxpayers will contribute up to $2.1 million to ensure its design and facilities meet Government expectations...  The Prime Minister, however, is defending the budget allocation of millions of dollars towards a potential Sky City convention centre.

John Key says he has always said his preferred position is that no taxpayer money would be spent – and that if it does go ahead, it will have economic spinoffs. “

See:  Govt misleading public over Sky City: Labour

So… Key has (once again) mis-led the public, and his stock-standard explanation is that “if it does go ahead, it will have economic spinoffs .”

John Key  claims that “a new convention centre would bring 144,000 additional nights of Auckland stays for business tourists, who generally spent twice as much as other tourists“.

See:  Casinos safer than pubs, Key says

But as Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ, said somewhat more convincingly,

Tourists come to see the country and the culture – not the casinos. If tourists were really focused on gambling, they would be going to Las Vegas – not the Sky City casino venue in Auckland.

See:  Tourists Come to See Country & Culture – Not Casinos

What’s the bet that the forecast for “economic spinoffs” will be as accurate as National’s predictions for spin-offs from the Rugby World Cup or national cycleway?!

See:  Weather and World Cup fail to lift GDP

See:  Current account deficit widens to $2.7 billion

See:  Growth slows – GDP up just 0.3pc

How many times have we heard Prime Minister John Key make all sorts of promises that this or that will deliver jobs and economic growth – only to see the promise fail. Which is then  usually followed by an excuse relating to the global economic slowdown?

It’s getting rather predictable and tedious.

What Dear Leader has tried to gloss over and  dismiss is the inevitable consequence of increasing pokie machines: more problem gambling. Both John Key and Sky City CEO, Nigel Morrison,  have tried to trivialise this growing social problem,

The incidence of harm cited from Lotto is greater than that from pokie machines in casinos. Getting those facts across is difficult.  We’re not just on about growing our gaming machines.  We would like to grow our table games product and expand our operations to meet the growth of Auckland. “

See:  Casino boss: Lotto does more harm

Gambling addiction in many way is as pernicious – if not worse – than alcohol and drug additions. A compulsive gambler can damage not only his/her own life – but those around them. Houses have been lost; businesses crippled or closed down; families torn apart,  as problem gamblers suck others down into a whirlpool of uncontrollable gambling.

See:  Barred gambler coaxed back to casino

See:  Mum steals $330k from marae to feed pokies

From a Ministry of Health  report,

Overall, the prevalence of problem gambling in New Zealand adults was 0.4% (about 13,100 adults). Additionally, the prevalence of moderate-risk gambling was 1.3% (representing a further 40,900 people). In total, 1 in 58 adults (1.7%, or 54,000 adults) were experiencing either problem or moderate-risk gambling.

Other key findings of this study include:

  1. Maori and Pacific people experience more gambling-related harm than other people
  2. people living in more socioeconomically deprived areas are more affected by gambling-related harm.
  3. this study may help to inform the provision of problem gambling intervention services and public health activity, as the study showed that:
    • problem gamblers can be found in both urban and rural areas
    • Maori and Pacific people appear to be under-represented in intervention services
    • people experiencing gambling problems are more likely than other people to be current smokers, have hazardous drinking patterns, have worse self-rated health, and have a high or very high probability of a mood or anxiety disorder. “

See:  A Focus on Problem Gambling: Results of the 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey

Interestingly, the above report, using 2006/07 data, and posted online in 2009, is the most recent Ministry of Health report available. Nothing more recent – and perhaps more damning of current gambling policies – is apparent on the Ministry of Health website.

Why is that?

On a more personal level, this blogger is aware of an elderly couple who were both addicted to pokie machines. Badly in debt, they were forced to down-size their family home and buy a smaller, more modest,  property. One of the couple died soon after, leaving the other who continued her gambling habit.

Not only has this elderly woman lost her surplus cash from the house-sale, but has gambled using equity in her current home.  She often ‘borrows’ money from her grown up children.

Her  modest house is deteriorating through lack of maintenance.

Not only has this woman lost all equity in her home, she is now more reliant on  both the State and her family.

Meanwhile, this article on Sky City’s most recent posted profits should be cause for concern,

”  Sky City Entertainment, one of the biggest gambling operators in the country, has seen a significant rise in profits over the course of the last year. The company attributes this growth to the earnings generated by the Sky City Casino in Auckland.

Over the course of 2011, profits for Sky City rose by over $10 million to $78 for the year. The company believes that the changes made to Sky City Auckland are to thank for this impressive profit increase over the course of the past year.

$50 million was spent on renovating the gambling facilities available the casino, but the company still managed to offset the costs with improved profits. In addition to building a new VIP lounge, Sky City also renovated other areas of the casino to make them more attractive to players.

Slots [pokies]  brought in the amount of increased revenue, seeing a rise by 17%. Non-gaming elements also helped to boost profits. Auckland’s recently-revamped hotels and restaurants garnered a great deal of attention from patrons.

It seems that the adage “you have to spend money to make money” is true for Sky City.  “

See:  Sky City Sees Huge Revenue Jump

If the convention centre is National’s only scheme to grow the economy and to create 170,000 new jobs – we are in deep trouble.

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5. TVNZ7

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Nothing best illustrates  National’s narrow vision of the role of government than the demise of TVNZ7. Nothing.

Whether the previous Broadcasting Minister, Jonathan Coleman, or the current Minister, Craig Foss – their attitude has been the same; market forces shall prevail – and public-interest programming shall be the responsibity of NZ On Air, who shall contract such programmes to current commercial broadcasters.

Except that this is a cop-out.

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The beauty of TVNZ7 is that public broadcasting was, in the main, focused on a single broadcasting platform. The public knew where to go to watch certain types of programming.

Just as the public now go to supermarkets to buy their meat, fish, veg & fruit, and bread – instead of going to a butchers; a fish shop; a  fruit & veg produce store; and a bakery. Imagine the uproar if John Key told us we must go to five different food retailers to buy five different sorts of foodstuffs?! Dear Leader would have a size 9 boot imprinted on his backside.

TVNZ7 fulfilled the same public demand; niche programming on a niche broadcaster.

Just as, currently we have racing on the TAB channel; Chinese programming on CTV; parliament on Parliament TV, etc.

Ironic that politicians have no problem broadcasting their “debates” (inverted commas used deliberately), deeming their squabbles and shrill screams a must have - but not public, non-commercial TV.

Or, that we can have non-stop horse racing on a free-to-air TV channel.

But we are not entitled to have access to non-commercial public TV.

Whatever concept National has of public television, it is clear that Broadcasting Minister, Craig Foss’s vision is different to the rest of New Zealand,

“…  the government was ‘committed’ to supporting local content through NZ on Air, instead of directly funding single broadcasters. “

See:  No help for titanically pointless bill

Having public TV through NZ On Air is akin to selling vegetarian/vegan food products in butcher shops. You have to go looking for it. It’s not easy to find. And it’s buried amongst ‘crap’ you’d rather not have to put up with.

And what makes NZ On Air funding of  ‘Media7/Media3‘  “public television” – when it will have advertisements peppered throughout?

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Take out the advertising of underarm deodorants; cat/dog food; toilet ducks; panty shields;  the latest 4WD monstrosity from Korea; promos for the latest US crime/cop shows; reality TV shows; home improvement shows; US sitcoms; and voyeuristic, soft-core porn like “The GC”,  and a 30 minute current affairs programme from TVNZ7 becomes a 20 minute show on TV3.

There goes our chance to focus on critical social issues, as commercial advertisers compete for our attention.

What next? Advertising in Tolstoy’s  “War and Peace”? Shakepeare’s “Macbeth”? Anne Frank’s Diary?

We are being ripped off in more ways than one. We deserve better than this.

But not, it seems, according to National; there is more than an element of vindictiveness in their decision to can TVNZ7. As if it was their opportunity to “stick it to us” after their embarrassing backdowns on mining in conservation schedule four estates; their attempt to cut teacher numbers and increase classroom sizes; and ongoing resistance to state asset sales.

The closure of TVNZ7 is a clue what National thinks of us. And it ain’t very pleasant.

See: Pundit – TVNZ kills ad-free channels to grow profits

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6. Education

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Current cutbacks to state and social services is a re-run of the 1990s. National’s cuts now, mirror those of last century.

Bolger, Richardson, Shipley, and Bill English  ran amok – slashing health, education, police, military, and anything else they could lay their cold, clammy, neo-liberal hands on.

At one stage, in the late 1990s, the health system was so badly run down that   patients requiring critical surgery were not receiving it – and were dying on waiting lists.

See: Died waiting for by pass

See:  Funding cut puts centre in jeopardy

See:  Myers warns few jobs, more poor, ahead for NZ

This year, as part of National’s on-going agenda to cut government services; reduce the size of the State; and to pass on savings  as tax cuts to the rich, National has cut staffing levels; departmental budgets; and services.

The New Zealand middle class tolerates this – until it affects them, personally.

Enter: 24 June – Minister Parata and her plans to slash teacher numbers and increase class sizes.  That was a step too far, and a teacher-parent-principal-Boards alliance fought back. Hard.

Bill English – a bloodied veteran of the Bolger-cum-Shipley administration of the late 1990s -  recognised the signs that a revolt of the middle classes was in the offing.   National’s merciless cuts to social and government services in the ’90s had resulted in an electoral thrashing in the November 1999 elections.

Upshot: 7 July – Government u-turn on cost-cutting policy.

This is now the second major policy u-turn by National. Their previous bloodied-nose, in July 2010, when Gerry Brownlee was forced to announce a back-down on National’s proposals to mine schedule 4 conservation land, was a stunning exercise in people-power.

In my previous blogpost (Why Hekia Parata should not be sacked), I argued that Educational Minister, Hekia Parata should not be forced to step down from her ministerial role. As I pointed out, “sacking Parata for policies that every other Minister has been implementing seems pointless. Especially when National’s essential policy of cutting expenditure and services would remain unchanged”.

However, recent revelations from OIA-released  document have revealed,

The papers for the education budget reveal class size funding ratio changes went even further than what was announced.

Education Minister Hekia Parata originally urged changes that would seen 1300 fewer teachers hired over the next four years than would have happened under the existing funding formula.

That plan to curb growth in teacher numbers would have seen a “a minimal net reduction” in staffing of about 260 after four years.

The Government eventually decided on a less aggressive plan to cap teacher numbers, with almost the same number proposed to be employed in 2016 as now.

That plan to save $174m over four years was agreed and written in to the Budget but Parata was forced in to an embarrassing backdown earlier this month, which cancelled the plan and returned to the status quo.

However Parata’s original plan was to cut $217m. “

See:  Deeper teacher funding cuts ditched

It appears that Ms Parata’s inclination was for even deeper cuts to Education services  than, (a) the public was initially aware of and (b) that her National ministerial colleagues could stomach.

This explains, in part, why Key torpedoed  Parata’s plans to cut education services; he was thoroughly exasperated with an an incompetant  Minister who badly overestimated her abilities and could not “sell” even a watered down version of her plans. He must have been spitting tacks that, had Parata’s initial plans to cut $217 million (instead of $174 million) gone ahead,  she would have found herself in a much deeper hole, and the fallout to National would have been much worse.

This blogger has come to the conclusion that Hekia Parata is way over her head, and should step down as Education Minister forthwith.

At any rate, she will be gone at the next cabinet re-shuffle.

Tea-lady might be a good, safe role for her?

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7. ETS – Another of Key’s broken promises

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John Key is adamant that National will not consider slowly raising the retirement age from 65 to 67, because it is a committment he has promised to keep,

I’ve made it quite clear it would be my intention to resign from parliament if I broke that promise to New Zealanders.”

See:  Govt against raising retirement age

This blogger finds it hard to understand Key’s reticence to “breaking” an election promise. After all, he’s broken promises not to raise GST; to retrieve the bodies of the Pike River miners;  to address growing youth unemployment; stem the flow of migration to Australia; grow the economy; and now, to implement an ETS.

In May 2008, Key stated,

Key outlined a series of principles an ETS should have, including…

… It should be closely aligned with Australia’s ETS.

It should not discriminate against small and medium businesses in allocating emissions credits and purposes. “

See: Nats call for a delay to emission trading scheme law

At the time, Key also stated,

This not about National walking away from an ETS, we support that. . . we just simply want to get it right and we now have the time to get it right.  “

That was four years ago.

Since then Australia has implemented it’s own carbon tax that will lead in to a full ETS by 2015,

The A$23-a-tonne price on carbon emissions started yesterday [1 July 2012] , directly affecting 294 electricity generators and other companies.

The federal Government is aiming to cut carbon emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, with the carbon tax shifting to an emissions trading scheme in 2015. “

See: Protests greet day one of Aussie carbon tax

By contrast, National has been delaying implementing New Zealand’s own version of an ETS, and has now “postponed” it until 2015.

And yet, four years ago, Key stated that New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme should ” be closely aligned with Australia’s ETS  “.

Our Aussie cuzzies have already started their carbon tax/ETS.

With National postponing the ETS for farmers, industrial and commercial polluters, until 2015 – that means that Dear Leader’s “postponement” will have lasted seven years – over two Parliamentary terms.  How long does Key need to ‘get it right’ ?

Ten years?

Two decades?

Perhaps the turn of the 22nd century?

Let’s cut through the BS here. John Key is not “postponing” the ETS – he is postponing it indefinitely. National has no intention of ever implementing it. So much for Key’s statement,

Ours is not a political agenda here, we want a good ETS that works.”

That deserves to be immortalised,

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See also: Tumeke – Blue ignores Red to pretend to be Green while turning to Brown to subsidize big polluters

See also: Tumeke – The Emissions Trading Scam and the audacity of Farmers

The sooner the Nats admit this deception, the better for the entire country. Until then, the only sector paying the ETS is… us, the public.

Which leads on to…

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8. Tax Cuts & Government charges

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In 2009 and 2010, National cut taxes.  The rationale, as National explained in their 2008 document,

In the short term, National’s tax package will give households confidence and some cash in their back pockets to keep the economy going and to pay down debt.

In the longer term, our tax package encourages people to invest in their own skills and make best use of their abilities, because they get to keep more of any higher wages they earn. It encourages them to look for and to take up better and higher-paying jobs that make more use of their skills.

See: National Party  Tax policy

However, what National giveth with one hand; National taketh with the other.

Any benefits from the ’09 and ’10 taxcuts have been more than swallowed up (for low and middle income earners) by increases in a myriad of government and SOE charges.

The most recent have been Family Courts fees, which have risen astronomically.

From July 1 2012, services which used to be free to couples in dispute, now incur considerable court fees,

  • Child custody disputes: $220
  • Property disputes: $700
  • Hearing of any application for each half-day, or part half-day: $906

Of all National’s user-pays regimes, charging couples who are separating; highly stressed; and where violence may be involved, is mind-boggling. We thought it was miserly when National decided to tax children in the last budget – but these user-pays Family Court fees hit people who are vulnerable in the extreme,

But Family Law Specialists director Catriona Doyle says most families try to avoid handing custody and property decisions to a judge and only use the Family Court as a last resort in irresolvable conflicts.

The few people who waste the court’s time by filing repeatedly or unnecessarily won’t be put off by the fees because they’ll either be wealthy enough to afford it or earning little enough to have the fees waived, she says.

“It’s going to hit the middle class and lower income families where $220 is a lot of money.”

Women especially will be hit hard, as they are often financially disadvantaged when a relationship breaks up, Ms Doyle says.

Rather than trying to keep children out of court, the ministry should be aiming to resolve conflicts before children are affected by them, she says.

“Leaving children in a conflict situation where the parents are at war is neglect and abuse. The kids who live in that situation are damaged.”

A judge should be the person to decide if a case is genuine or flippant, especially when children are involved, she says.

“It’s not something that should be addressed by Parliament or a court registrar”.

See:  Family court fees will hurt women – lawyer

Minister of Courts, Chester Borrows, stated plainly,

What we are trying to do here is have a disincentive for people to be able to bring these matters before the court. “

See:   Family Court fees tipped to hit low earners, children

(Note: As a matter of interest, Chester Borrows is the very same Minister who stated he would be buying shares in SOEs, when they were partially-privatised. See:  Conflicts of Interest? )

National complains that  court costs have risen  from $84 million in 2004/2005 to $142m in 2010/2011 – hence Family Court fees must be imposed.

This is faulty logic, and is penalising people who are attempting to sort out damaging relationship breakdowns.  Using Family Courts is preferable to taking the law into one’s own hands. Disincentiving people from using the law – which Parliament put in place to protect us all – is like disincentivising people from calling the Police if you’ve been burgled.

Instead, if we are being “encouraged to resolve issues ourselves”, find the burglar; beat the crap out of him; and retrieve our stolen property ourselves.  That is what Borrows is advocating.

Further using Borrows’ “logic”, National should implement high user-pays charges in public hospitals, as  ” a disincentive for people ” to use hospitals.

It sounds ridiculous? It is ridiculous.

It is also dangerous. Borrows and his idiotic fellow ministers are playing with peoples’ lives. Putting expensive, punitive barriers up at a time when families most need society’s help defies logic, common sense, and most of all, compassion.

But then – when did anyone ever accuse the National Party of being compassionate?

And will the Dear Leader, John Key,  take responsibility if something goes horribly wrong, and an emotionally-stressed family explodes into violence because they had no way out through the Family Court? Like hell he will.

This is a death waiting to happen.

On your miserable head be it, Mr Borrows.

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9. More on those tax cuts

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As an aside, National’s 2008 Tax document makes this derisable claim,

” This makes it absolutely clear that to fund National’s tax package there is no requirement for additional borrowing and there is no requirement to cut public services.

Jeez. No wonder people don’t trust politicians.

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10. Alcohol law reforms

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The latest offerings of irrationality from John Key’s Universe; evidently Dear Leader does not believe that minimum pricing for alcohol would work. He suggests (with a straight face, no doubt) that minimum pricing for booze would not work because it could drive people to drink lower quality liquor instead of reducing consumption,

What typically happens is people move down the quality curve and still get access to alcohol.”

See:   PM sceptical dearer booze will cut consumption

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Mr Key, how do I mock thee? Let me count the ways… (with apologies to Elizabeth Browning)

 How do I mock thee? Let me count the ways.
I ridicule thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when laughing at you hard
For the ends of Banality and Idiotic Government.
I mock thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and ecobulb-light.
I deride thee freely, as men strive for human rights.
I caricature thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I jeer at thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my voter’s faith.
I scorn thee with a scorn I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I sneer at thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if  The People choose,
I shall but take the piss better after you are voted out.

Why so contemptuous, you ask?

Because raising the price of  tobacco has been the number one tool of both Labour and National governments.

As recently as 12 June, John Key stated on a Fairfax online interview,

The Government is unashamedly trying to deter people from smoking through price, particularly young people who are very sensitive to rising tobacco prices. I know this is difficult for those that have smoked for quite some time, but for your long term health I can only encourage you to try and give up. “

See: Blogpost -  Fairfax; An hour with Dear Leader (@ 12.57)

So high-pricing for tobacco is useful for ” the Government is unashamedly trying to deter people from smoking ” – but not for alcohol?

Raising prices to deter smoking works. But raising prices to deter binge-drinking doesn’t?

It boggles the mind how Dear Leader can hold two conflicting viewpoints, simultaneously, without suffering a brain explosion.

Or is it simply that the liquor industry is a generous donor of funds for National’s election campaigns?

In the meantime, life goes on,

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See:   Ambulance base for Wellington party central

See:   ‘Pressure valve’ medics patch up night’s drunks

See:   BERL Report – Costs of harmful alcohol and other drug use

See:   Drunk kids flooding our hospitals

See previous blogpost: A kronically inept government

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11. Government Cost cutting = Economic suicide

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On 12 May, this blogger posted a piece on National’s slashing of our MAF biosecurity.

In part, I posted this dire warning,

Now, we have the prospect of  having entire suburbs in Auckland being contained in some kind of loose “quarantine”, after a Queensland fruit fly was caught in a pest surveillance trap,

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Considering that the Queensland fruit fly costs the Australian economy approximately  $160 million a year, this is a very real threat  to New Zealand’s own $5 billion annual horticultural industry.

Five billion dollars, per year, every year. All under threat because this government wanted to save a few million bucks by employing fewer biosecurity staff.

As if the discovery of a  painted apple moth in 1999; the varroa mite infestation of our honey hives in 2000; and other isolated instances of pests found in this country did not serve as a warning to us – National  proceeded to cut back on biosecurity staffing.

This blogger wonders sometimes (actually, all the time) what goes through the minds of our esteemed Honourable Ministers of Her Majesty’s Government. These are supposedly well-educated men and women, with support from thousands of University-educated advisors – and yet they still manage to accomplish the most incredibly moronic decisions conceivable.

National has put at risk this country’s  $5 billion industry – simply to save a few million dollars.

They have risked horticulturalist’s businesses; workers their jobs; and all the down-stream economic activity – to save a small percentage of billions.

This blogger has three pieces of advice for all concerned,

  1. John Key must  accept the resignation of  David Carter, Minister for Bio-security immediatly.
  2. National must reinstate biosecurity services to pre-2009 levels.
  3. Horticulturalists (and others who own farms and other agricultural businesses) should carefully consider whether National is working on their behalf – or for the sake of implementing false economies. What is the point of an orchardist voting for National – if National is going to screw his/her business by cutting back on essential government services such as biosecurity?!?!

Hopefully, this  fruit fly is a lone bug; perhaps a stowaway in someone’s bag or in a container offloaded at Ports of Auckland.

If so, once again we’ve been lucky.

But how long will our  luck hold out?

See previous blogpost: Bugs and balls-ups!

It seems our luck ran out some years ago,

The kiwifruit growers’ association is considering legal action over the outbreak of the vine disease PSA and says it can’t rule out seeking compensation.

An independent review released on Wednesday into how the bacterium came into New Zealand has found there were shortcomings with biosecurity systems, but it does not say that caused the entry.

The disease was first confirmed near Te Puke in 2010 and has infected 40% of the country’s kiwifruit orchards. It is expected to cost the industry $410 million dollars in the next five years.

Ministry for Primary Industries director general Wayne McNee asid the review did not determine how PSA came into the country but does show where improvements can be made.

NZ Kiwifruit Growers president Neil Trebilco says he can’t rule out that compensation will be sought by growers.

See:   Kiwifruit growers take legal advice over PSA

A damning report into the outbreak of kiwifruit virus PSA is another in a series of warnings over the biosecurity system that the Government has failed to act on, Labour’s biosecurity spokesman Damien O’Connor says.

The independent report was commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) following the devastation caused by the virus in the Bay of Plenty orchards with an estimated cost of $400 million.

The report, released yesterday, found “shortcomings” in New Zealand’s biosecurity system although it could not say how the incursion had occurred.

It said MPI could improve protections and must work more closely with industry groups.

The report also suggested resources be moved from low-risk industries to high-risk ones such as the kiwifruit sector.

O’Connor said there needed to be a complete overhaul of the biosecurity system.

The National Government cut biosecurity funding in 2009 and had accepted the growing risk caused by faults in the system, he said.   “

See:  Labour: Govt ignored biosecurity warning

Anyone with two inter-connecting neurons would’ve figured out very quickly that if a government cuts biosecurity then we put ourselves at dire risk of pests entering our country. Like the varroa mite. Or PSA bacterium.

With approximately  550,000 shipping containers and 4.5 million people entering New Zealand each year, it stands to reason that we are at extreme risk of unwanted organisms being brought into the country.

National was warned as far back as 2009, when 60 Biosecurity jobs were “dis-established”.  It therefore defies understanding as to why National believed that cuts could be made to frontline MAF Biosecurity without serious consequences.

Spelling out those consequences,

  1. Millions – even hundreds of millions of dollars of valuable export dollars lost,
  2. Jobs lost,
  3. Businesses ruined,
  4. And not one single government minister taking responsibility.

The only question now remaining to be asked: how many farmers and horticulturalists will vote for National at the next election?

Remember:  you get the government you deserve.

This time, it is farmers and horticulturalists who have been warned.

See:   Risks involved in cutting MAF Biosecurity jobs

See:   Farming at risk if biosecurity jobs cut, PSA warns

See:  Minister warned about biosecurity concerns

See:  Fruit restrictions in place

See:  Biosecurity savings ‘false economy’

See:  Biosecurity NZ webpage

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12. The Terminally Ill

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During the 2008 general election, Prime Minister  John Key adopted the Herceptin campaign.

Pharmac was funding herceptin treatment for women suffering from breast cancer only up to a nine week period.  Breast cancer patients wanted treatment extended to twelve months. Pharmac refused, stating there was no evidence that an extended treatment period would prove beneficial,

Pharmac CEO,  Matthew Brougham, said,

A fresh review of the science and other information has failed to convince us that 12-month treatments offer any additional benefits over the concurrent nine week treatment.”

See:  Nats pledge funding for 12-month Herceptin course

Enter,  John Key. As the 2008 election campaign swung into full force, Key leapt upon the issue,

National recognises that many Kiwis have limited access to modern medicines. We will improve that access.

“We will boost overall funding for medicines and speed up the registration of new medicines, with final approval remaining in New Zealand.

“These initiatives will be funded within the indicative health spending allocations in the Prefu [Pre-election Fiscal and economic Update].

“They are also further examples of our determination to shift spending into frontline services for patients, rather than backroom costs.”

See:  Key says Nats would fund 12-month Herceptin treatment

The election promise was one of many that Key made (along with tax cuts and the perennial “getting tough on crime), and on 10 December 2008, the Prime Minister-elect announced,

I am proud to lead a government that has honoured such a commitment to the women of New Zealand.

“The commitment was part of National’s first 100-days action plan.  I am pleased that the Herceptin funding policy effectively applies from the swearing in of the Government on 19 November.”

See:  Government honours Herceptin promise

Unfortunately, John Key’s belief that ” National recognises that many Kiwis have limited access to modern medicines. We will improve that access. We will boost overall funding for medicines and speed up the registration of new medicines, with final approval remaining in New Zealand -  seems only to apply during election campaigns.

At other times, Key  does not seem to want to know.

Allyson Lock is one of five New Zealanders who suffers from Pompe Disease. It is a terminal condition.

There is medication available (called Myozyme ), but it currently receives no funding from Pharmac agency Pharmac.  It is an expensive drug, but without that medication, Allyson and her fellow sufferers will not survive.

See: Mum not prepared to wait and die

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking Blog Pompe

IN SEARCH OF CURE: Allyson Lock will travel to Brisbane every fortnight for five years to receive treatment for the rare incurable disease Pompe.

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Allyson and her group have appealed to John Key for funding for their medication – without success. In fact, Key wants nothing to do with Allyson and other Pompe sufferers.

At a recent “on-line  chat” with John Key, hosted by Fairfax Media, several people including this blogger attempted to put a question to the Prime Minister; why was National not prepared to fund medicine for Pompe as they had for breast cancer sufferers?

See previous blogpost:   Fairfax; An hour with Dear Leader

After all, Pharmac had expressed the same reservations regarding the efficacy of  Myozyme as they did with long-term  herceptin treatment. Yet, that did not stop Key from ensuring breast cancer sufferers had full access to a year-long course of herceptin.

John Key and Health Minister Tony Ryall have wiped their hands of Allyson.

It is not election year.

So there are no political points to be scored in saving the lives of five fellow New Zealanders.

I look forward to John Key proving me wrong; a link to this blogpost will be sent to media as will as the Prime Minister’s office. The rest is in his hands.

To Prime Minister, John Key;

Fund treatment for Allyson and others, Mr Key. They deserve no less than breast cancer sufferers. You can either oversee funding for their treatment – or attend their funerals.

Your call, Mr Prime Minister.

See previous blogpost:   Priorities?

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*

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Related blogpost

The wheels are coming off, and there’s a funny ‘plink-plink’ sound

A John, a Tony, and a Winston

Additional

David Cunliffe:  Speech – The Dolphin and the Dole Queue

Gordon Campbell:  Efficiency Is Not Your Friend

Acknowledgement

Thanks to ‘S’  for proof-reading.

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= fs =

ACT on polling – naughty, naughty, chaps!

26 April 2012 4 comments

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Naughty Mat for ACT!

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Searching for details on a previous blogpost, this blogger came across this interesting poll result on stuff.co.nz,

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Making my vote, the Poll showed me the following results,

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Interestingly, the poll results for Labour, Greens, National, Mana, Maori Party, and United Future more or less mirror  the 2011 election results.

2011 Election Results

National: 47.31%

Labour: 27.48%

Greens: 11.06%

Mana: 1.08%

Maori Party: 1.43%

United Future: 0.60%

No surprises with those figures.

NZ First polled higher than their Election Result of 6.59%.

The figures for NZ First may  be easily understand as a nationalistic response to the current government’s policies on partial asset sales and the sale of farmland to offshore investors. (Though whether the Stuff poll translates into success at the Ballot box is another matter entirely.)

The real surprise is ACT’s result on the Stuff poll; 6.4%.

Really? 6.4%?!

No, I don’t think, so, my fellow Kiwis.

ACT’s election result was a meagre 1.07%. Recent polls by Roy Morgan and News Reid has ACT barely registering,

Roy Morgan: 0.3%

News Reid: 0.2%

Which indicates to this blogger that some naughty ACT apparatchiks have been “stuffing Stuff’s electronic ballot box”, by voting multiple times. Naughty boys. Off to the naughty mat with you – and don’t come out until Election Day!

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= fs =

Ms Heka Goes To Wellington. (Part #Rua)

17 April 2012 2 comments

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Continued from Ms Heka Goes To Wellington

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Shortly after concluding our meeting with Ms Martin, our party met with Metiria Turei’s PA, and we were escorted to the Green’s 14th floor office in Bowen House.

At the Reception, we were introduced to waiting ‘Dominion Post‘ journalist, Kate Chapman, and photographer Kent Blechynden. A TV crew was present as well and after making introductions with the ‘Dompost‘ people, this blogger asked the TV crew,

Are you here for Jazmine Heka’s meeting with Metiria Turei?”

The cameraman replied,

No, we were here for something else.”

This blogger replied,

Oh? Never mind. Come along for the interview anyway. You’re more than welcome and more the merrier.”

Our party, with journalists in-tow, filed into another Conference Room – this one having a magnificent view of the Beehive; Bowen State Building, and the Thorndon hills in the background.

Ms Turei joined us almost immediatly, and more introductions were made,

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Jamine Heka meeting Greens co-leader, Metiria Turei.

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Ms Turei started by saying that,

We have been campaigning  strongly for a number of years around  issues to do with child poverty and income inequity. The gap between rich and poor is getting bigger and as a result life is harder for everybody, not just those at the real  bottom.

At the election we campaigned very strongely on addressing child poverty and we had four main proposals that we were putting to the public about that.

To fix rental housing.

To increase the income of beneficiaries,  to what’s now called the  in-work tax credits, but would actually be an extension of benefits.

Extending the Training Incentive Allowance to more beneficiaries.”

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Getting down to it, and dsiscussing the important issues of the day.

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Ms Heka said that those were good policies and asked if the Greens had a time-frame to achieve their policies if they were part of a government.

Ms Turei replied that they would be working toward a goal of getting 100,00o lifted out of poverty in one term. She said that part of New Zealand’s problem was the “working poor”, where people working full time were still in poverty because their wages were to low.

Ms Turei said she recently talked with young children in a poor area. She said that one child, with the gaming nick-name “Master Nighthawk”said to her, “we don’t want to be rich, we just want everyone to be ok“.

Ms Turei noticed that none of the children she spoke with belittled anyone else, and seemed supportive of one another. She noiced  a strong spirit of mutual support between them.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

The Greens party-policy position was close Ms Heka's concerns and practically 'mirrored' aspects to her petitions.

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Ms Turei said it would take a long time to eliminate poverty . She said many of the causes for poverty were deeply ingrained this country such as having 70,000 too few homes for low-income earners and beneficiaries. Building more homes would create more jobs, creating  economic growth downstream,  with other businesses benefitting from increased housing construction.

Ms Turei commended Ms Heka, saying that “this is the sort of pressure the government needs to act“. She added that this was “the sort of thing the public needs to see happening“.

Ms Turei then asked what sort of support or assistance the Greens could offer Ms Heka and her campaign. Ms Heka asked if her petition could be circulated amongst Gree Party members.  Ms Turei said she’d be happy to assist, and that copies would indeed be included in any future mail-out.

Ms Heka then asked if Ms Turei would sign her petition, to which the Green co-leader readily consented,

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Ms Turei was only too happy to sign Ms Heka's petition and said that the Green Party would be willing to circulate copies to everyone on their mailing list.

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Ms Turia commended Ms Heka for her stand on this important issue, and asked her how she felt about standing out in the public eye.

Ms Heka replied that she felt that having it come from someone as young as her – “a child’s perspective” – sent a “powerful” message to the government. She said it was not something she wanted to do but felt she had no choice, especially after watching Bryan Bruce’s documentary last November.

Ms Heka said that it should be the government leading the way instead of kids like her.

The half hour alloocated to our party grew to nearly a full hour, and both women filled the time discussing various matters relating to the issue of poverty in New Zealand. This blogger noticed that they were both very much on the “same wavelength”.

Ms Turei eventually excused herself, as she had another appointment to keep.

The ‘Dominion Post‘ photographer, Kent Blechynden, asked Ms Heka to pose for several photographs, which she (shyly) consented.  Again, this blogger sensed that Ms Heka – like most teenagers – reluctantly agreed to being photographed. But her sense of committment to her cause, though, over-rode her natural shyness,

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

'Dominion Post' photographer, Kent Blechynden, lining up Ms Heka for the photo-shoot.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Photographer, Kent Blechynden, snapping away for the upcoming 'Dominion Post' story.

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Below, the story and photograph as it appeared in the ‘Dominion Post’ on the following morning,

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*

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* Recorded and transcribed mostly verbatim.

Contact Details for Children Against Poverty

Email: childrenagainstpoverty@hotmail.co.nz

Facebook: Children-Against-Poverty

Snailmail: PO Box 585, Whangarei 0140

Additional Media

Divided Auckland: Overcrowding a hotbed for infections

Jazmine Heka grabs politicians’ attention

Teen becomes leading voice on child poverty

Girl with a mission

Teenager brings child poverty crusade to Parliament

Other Blogger’s posts

Jazmine Heka – Hero of the Week

Copyright (c)  Notice

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

  1. Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  2. Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Russell School Breakfast Club is requested.
  3. For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  4. Acknowledgement of source is requested.

.

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= fs =

Ms Heka Goes To Wellington.

17 April 2012 2 comments

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When Bryan Bruce’s excellent documentary, “Inside Child Poverty“,  screened last year, New Zealand’s poor  and powerless burst into the living rooms of middle-New Zealand like never before. It caused a furore, screening only days before the election and becoming an overnight ‘hot’ political issue.

As Bryan Bruce said,

“… It’s not because their parents don’t care. They do.

They’re just poor. Typically they can’t afford Bryan Bruce Inside Child Povertyheating so they huddle together in one room and in large families that’s how diseases such as tuberculosis, meningitis and rheumatic fever are spread,” he explains.

Bruce then travels to Sweden to find out why the Swedes are second for child health and New Zealand is third from the bottom.

“What I discovered is that they work smarter,” says Bruce. “They know that for every dollar they spend on prevention they save about $4 on cure. They have a completely free health care system for children up to the age of 18”. ” – Source

Had it not been for a certain infamous Epsom tea-party, which distracted the public’s attention, it might possibly  have swung the election in Labour’s favour.

Bryan Bruce’s stark, no-holds-barred truth  certainly encouraged one person to take up the cause; Jazmine Heka, 16, student,

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Full Story

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Upon learning of her campaign this blogger wrote, commending Jazmine Heka for  having the courage to make such  a public stand.

See: Kiwi Hero: Jazmine Heka

There is something energising and uplifting about youthful idealism, that is positively ‘infectious’ to others. Youthful idealism seems to  compel older, supposedly ‘wiser’, folk to reassess pressing issues and shamefully we ask ourselves; why are things not any better? Why is it left to children and young folk to prick our consciences?

Why indeed.

Soon after, this blogger wrote  another related blogpiece on Karen, who was promoting not one – but three petitions sponsored by Ms Heka.

See:  Petition opposing child poverty gains strength

The petitions called for;

  1. To provide free healthy school lunches to all children attending schools
  2. To provide free healthcare for all children including prescription costs
  3. To introduce warrant of fitness’s for all rental homes

(The petitions can be downloaded here.)

That blogstory was shared throughout this blogger’s Facebook contacts, including Ms Heka. In March, Ms Heka contacted this blogger explaining that she was visiting Wellington and could we assist her in meeting members of Parliament, to promote her campaign and petitions against child poverty .

It was a privilege to be asked. Phone calls were made. Messages left. Appointments confirmed.

Due to a mix-up in airline arrangements, Ms Heka bussed from Whangarei to Auckland, and after five hours, bussed from Auckland to Wellington over Thursday night. By Friday morning, when we arrived to pick her up at 9am, she and her friend had had only two hours sleep.

Despite her fatigue, she was cheerful and keen. It would be a long day ahead of us.

Our first appointment was with Tracey Martin, New Zealand First’s spokesperson on Youth and Women’s Affairs (amongst other portfolios).

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

First priority: coffee! We all needed to be wide awake and alert.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Outside the main doors to Bowen House parliamentary annex. Petitions in hand!

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Outside Bowen House, Jazmine was recognised by a woman collecting for Rape Crisis. Jazmine took the opportunity to explain the purpose of her petitions to them.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Both women were only to happy to sign all three of Jazmine's petition.

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Once through security, NZ First MP, Tracey Martin came to meet us at Reception and we adjourned to a nearby conference room,

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Jazmine Heka, anti-Poverty campaigner, meets with Tracey Martin, Member of Parliament.

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The conversation between Ms Heka and Ms Martin took up the full hour we had been allotted, and was deep and wide-ranging.

Ms Heka asked if NZ First had any policies relating to children’s issues.

Ms Martin replied,

“We haven’t got a specific child poverty plan… but there are probably several policies like dental care , for example. *

Ms Martin referred to NZ First’s under 5′s free healthcare programme that had been introduced in 1997. She added that NZF had been a dominant supporter for the “HIPPY” programme, which is a reading and home educational programme directed at  several  low decile areas.

Ms Martin asked if the petition calling for “free healthcare for all children including prescription costs” also involved increased access to dental care for children. She said that lack of dental care was a real problem, especially in the north, where incomes were low and unemployment was high.

Ms Martin said that the mobile dental clinic these days only assessed the child’s teeth, and then advised parents what remedial work needed to be done. The mobile dentist did not carry out the actual remedial dental work themselves,

We shifted from dental clinics at schools to mobile dental clinics. They come under the DHB services.  What we’re now hearing is, and I’ve got to have  this confirmed , but what we’re now hearing is that the mobile clinic  will certainly go to the school and they’ll look at the children’s teeth but they won’t fix anybody So the parent then has to drive the child from where ever that is to the local largest township to go to the dentist to have the tooth fixed.

That’s wonderful when you’re in an urban area perhaps, but… you got to take time off from work to do that. So what that means for our rural areas where many of our lower deciles are, is that the parents now have the costs of transporting their children… 

The parents aren’t going to take those children. Because they can’t afford the gas, to get the children to the free dentist in Te Awamutu.  That is why we put in free mobile dental clinics.

So, you know, there are issues that come up, issue by issue by issue like that. That one hasn’t even broken yet. That one  I’m still waiting to make sure  that I know 100%  that’s it’s taking place.

Ms Martin recalled when, in her youth, every school had a dental nurse and clinic-room on school-grounds, and children’s teeth were properly looked after,

Our policy is that all children must have access to free dental healthcare for the period of their schooling.”

Increased funding for mobile dental vans was one aspect she felt was important in this area.

Ms Heka questioned further,

So what about, like, all their healthcare? Not just dental?

Ms Martin’s response,

Well, it’s in our manifesto. The policy is that we  had  childcare extended and free doctor’s visits for under 5s through to all primary school aged children, so up to the age of 10. And we wanted that to cover 7 day, 24 hour care. When you live close to a major  hospital that’s not a problem. But when you don’t, like in Warkworth for example…the closest emergency place on a Sunday was Red Beach  that’s 30 minutes ‘that’ way [indicates]  and that cost me  $110 to have him x-rayed there so that then  they would put him into hospital. Or the parent in Warkworth   would have to drive the hour and a half to Starship.”

Ms Heka suggested the option of having a doctor in school to check out kids.

Ms Martin nodded in agreement and said they had raised this issue in 2006 with children being assessed for ailments such as glue-ear, and for hearing tests carried out. She said “it was all very well for them being done there, but they weren’t being followed up, and some of that was around  the cost of having to follow up with doctor’s visits, etc, etc.”

Ms Martin said that this issue had been raised in the media, asking for more intervention in schools.  She said it might be feasible if, for example, the largest school in a “hub” of schools had a dentist and clinic, and serviced all schools within the area of the “hub”. Ms Martin referred to schools being in “clusters” so not every school would need such facilities. She suggested a doctor that went out daily to the other schools, but was based in the [largest] school.

Ms Martin was concerned at how such a programme might be funded and said it comes down to the most efficient and effective way of funding.

At this point, this blogger raised the point of how our taxation base inevitably comes into issues like this. The point was made that we have had seven  tax cuts enacted since 1986, and people wonder why we don’t have the social services we once had, or would like to have. It’s not rocket science – we still have to pay for things.

Ms Martin agreed and referred to a “brilliant speech” by Russell Norman (Green Co-Leader), where he revealed that government had lost $2  billion of of last year’s tax-take. She said, “three years of that and we wouldn’t have to sell any state assets“.

Had those tax cuts [2009 and 2010]  not happened, we could afford free healthcare for all children.

Ms Martin referred to the Mana Party’s financial transactions tax, which she said  Annette Sykes called “the Hone Heke” tax, and which “was worth looking at, and worth taking really seriously“. It was understood that such a FTT would have to be internationally implemented, as it might otherwise risk causing a capital-flight.

[Blogger's note; it's refreshing to see a politician referring openly and honestly to good ideas from other political parties, instead of remainly stubbornly 'tribal'  on party-policy issues.  May this local form of 'detente' flourish and thrive.]

Discussion turned to school meals, as per one of Ms Heka’s petitions. Ms Martin stated asked if the petition was calling for full, hot cafetaria-type meals, or “brown-bagged” lunches? She said she had costed “brown bagged” lunches  consisting of a sandwich, muffin, piece of fruit, and a drink, at $3.52 per bag.

There was a question as to whether all children should be given school meals (whether cafeteria-style or bagged lunch) or whether it should be targetted only.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

In depth discussion surrounding the nature of school meals drew constructive discussion from Jazmine and Tracey.

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The pros and cons of targetting were weighed. The concensus seemed to be that targetting children from  low-income families would likely end up as a form of stigmatising.  One idea that seemed to have merit was a universal free school lunch, with an opt-out choice for parents who did not feel the need to participate.

In such an event, parents opting out could select from a range of charities where the money could be re-allocated, perhaps to other charities working with children or increased dental care . It was agreed that there were several options open to how such a programme could be managed and that a fair, workable solution was not beyond our abilities.

Ms Heka asked how NZ First would implement the programmes that her petitions were promoting.

Ms Martin replied by stating that NZ First believed that the primary cause of poverty in New Zealand was a lack of jobs,

People aren’t working. We have to create more jobs,” she said. “One way to do that is to cap the New Zealand dollar like some other countries do, which creates more employment through more exports.”

Ms Heka then asked Ms Martin about introducing a warrant of fitness for all rental housing in New Zealand. She asked if NZ First had a policy on this issue.

Ms Martin replied,

We don’t. But I think it’s a great idea!”

Ms Martin  added that the suggestion of a warrant of fitness for all rental properties tied in with NZ First’s minimum standards of care for the elderly. She said “why  would we not actually  come up with a national standard  in the same way what you’re talking about, which is we’re talking about rental properties,” and added “we’d certainly be interested“.

The discussion moved to a related issue, and Ms Heka asked about NZ First’s policy regarding having a high-ranking minister – or even the Prime Minister – as the Minister for Children. The premise being that if the Prime Minister was also the Minister for Children, then it would give extra impetus to policies as they might impact on his portfolio; the nations young people.

Ms Martin agreed saying,

Well, to keep that in the view, I would have thought. To make sure that it’s part of every conversation; how will this, downstream, affect children.

If the Prime Minister was Minister for children, it was suggested, then as with US President, Harry Truman,  “The Buck Stops Here” on child poverty issues.

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Jazmine Heka - Wellington - 13 April 2012

Discussion moved to having a high-ranking minister for children, as children were the future of this country and nothing could be more important than the wellbeing of our next generation.

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It was suggested that NZ First could make this a priority, for the future of New Zealand. Ms Martin agreed it was a matter she would raise with the NZF caucus.

The issue of Kiwi migration was touched upon, with the suggestion that people – especially young folk – were leaving New Zealand, not just because of lower wages here, but because they felt no connection with society and thus were able to up-and-leave for “greener/richer pastures” in Australia. Because we weren’t looking after them, they had no roots to keep them in New Zealand.

At that point Ms Heka, speaking from deep within her heart, gave us an insight into how young people were viewing things around them,

It feels unfair. It feels like… like if you’re not rich, you’re not counted in society. That’s the feeling I get… the feeling youth get.  I talk with people my age, in my group and stuff and that’s the feeling that they get, they don’t want to be in New Zealand ’cause the feelings not good, not right. And they feel like you’re not being looked after, and stuff.

What I think is that child poverty, like,  I feel like  it’s  swept under the carpet.  And the government, they’re not really tackling it straight ahead. It’s just being talked about; something being hidden and nothing’s done about it. They’re going around in circles. And then you got  all these children suffering and nothing’s… no one cares really…

… In the community you’ve got the Salvation Army, people like that helping but that’s not enough. We need the government to step up and actually be the leaders of it.

Ms Martin replied, and said,

So with regard to how you said about... “

At this point, she paused. Ms Heka had spoken about youth and their feelings about disconnection. It gave her pause for thought. Ms Martin continued,

“… it is an interesting feeling that is happening, and you said about  it’s unfair, that actually the country itself doesn’t necessarily care about it’s citizens. And if you look at the turnout , the voter turnout, that now we’ve  also got  citizens that think actually, ‘I can’t make a difference either, so why should I vote?”.  Now there you’ve got a real problem. Because that will get to a certain level inside your society and people will revolt.”

She added ,

I’ll take all these things back… I’ll take it back to caucus; caucus will meet again in a fortnight when Parliament comes back [from recess] and ask the guys to to start working towards policy  areas for this, for 2014.”

At the concklusion of our allotted time, Ms Heka asked if she could be kept informed on NZ First’s progress on developing the ideas that had been discussed. Ms Martin readily agreed and provided  Ms Heka with her direct contact details.

Ms Heka then asked Ms Martin if she would sign her petitions, to which the MP happily agreed.

Continued at Ms Heka Goes To Wellington  (Part #Rua)

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* Recorded and transcribed mostly verbatim.

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Additional Media

Divided Auckland: Overcrowding a hotbed for infections

Jazmine Heka grabs politicians’ attention

Teen becomes leading voice on child poverty

Girl with a mission

Teenager brings child poverty crusade to Parliament

Other Blogger’s posts

Jazmine Heka – Hero of the Week

Related

HIPPY – home interaction programme for parents and youngsters

Copyright (c)  Notice

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

  1. Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  2. Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Russell School Breakfast Club is requested.
  3. For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  4. Acknowledgement of source is requested.

.

.

= fs =

Ratbags, Rightwingers, and other assorted Rogues!

12 March 2012 1 comment

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POAL playing monopoly with lives

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This morning, Auckland Mayor Len Brown; Maritime Union National President, Gary Parsloe; and Ports of Auckland chairman, Richard Pearson were interviewed (separately) on TV1′s Q+A.  The following are transcripts of those interviews,

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Q+A: Transcript of Paul Holmes interviews Gary Parsloe and Richard Pearson

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PAUL This week the long-running labour dispute on the Auckland wharves came to a head with the Ports of Auckland making almost 300 workers, mostly stevedores, redundant. The Ports of Auckland claims it has to increase productivity to be competitive and deliver the required returns; only contractors can help them do that and provide exporters and importers with reliable service in an increasingly difficult world. The workers say Auckland’s already a profitable port, for heaven’s sake, and the contract on offer would have meant no guaranteed work each week and no ability to plan family time. And they even made an ad featuring workers’ families to ram the message home. So with me in the studio this morning are the Maritime Union head Gary Parsloe and the Ports of Auckland chairman, Richard Pearson. Now, both men will speak separately. So to you first, Mr Parsloe, what is this- at fundamental bottom, what is this dispute about?

GARY PARSLOE – Maritime Union

The dispute is about we just want a collective employment agreement that covers our members, one with some form of security so that people know when they go to work, when they don’t go to work, know what family time they’ve got.

PAUL Or is it about the amount of wages paid for downtime that the Ports of Auckland are worried about? They say it’s unsustainable; they don’t want to pay people when they’re not working.

GARY Well, they offered us 10% wages, and we declined it for 2.5%, and I don’t think it’s about money. We’ve never claimed money.

PAUL No, but, you see, they say there’s too much downtime and you’re still being paid. They want to pay you for when you work. What is wrong with that, Garry?

GARY Well, we’re quite willing to go through those things. In the mediation, we addressed those things. We gave up 18 points at the last mediation, that were going to address the flexibility, the downtime, we would continue. 18 points were put at the mediation, that’s right.

PAUL Look, I know, I mean, I was studying what the Ports of Auckland have come at you with over the last six months. They do not seem to have been madly ungenerous. I wonder if the strikes were an intelligent strategy. Even Mike Lee says going on strike was a grave error; that the Ports would turn on you, which is what they’ve done, of course.

GARY Well, of course, workers don’t have a lot of things in their power. The only time we can take strike action is in pursuit of a collective, and we waited to do that because we want a collective that covers our members. It gives them some form of job security.

PAUL But you were going to get a collective.

GARY Oh, I don’t know about that.

PAUL Come on, September 7 and 6 last year they came to you. The very first offer they were going to roll over the collective agreement was the 2.5% pay increase every year for three years. Now, why did you reject that?

GARY Because there was the fish hooks in the collective they wanted us to sign – the new one they gave us that took away all of our conditions, our security and was all the flexible hours-

PAUL Took away you having the right to roster, is that right?

GARY No, they took away a lot of things. Took away many many things. And, I mean, at that time you want to talk that they wanted a collective, well, I don’t believe they ever did. We got their strategy paper-

PAUL Why would they offer you a collective if they didn’t want a collective?

GARY We got a strategy paper last August, and in that strategy paper, they had $9 million of people’s money of Auckland. It’s on our website to get rid of the unions and get rid of them.

PAUL So go back to that September 6 and 7 offer – that they were going to roll over the collective agreement, 2.5% increase for three years every year. What were you going to lose exactly?

GARY Would have lost- There was nothing in there that defined times when people would go to work and not go to work and you couldn’t take the kid to the beach, couldn’t take your wife shopping, you had to sit by the phone all day wondering when you were next going to go to work.

PAUL Meaning they were going to do the roster, not the union?

GARY They were going to do the roster. They still do the rostering today. For goodness sake, they ring us up when to come to work.

PAUL Then you’ve been offered 10% wage- Then they came at you with a 10% wage offer, 20% productivity bonus offer, guaranteed 160 hours a month with the rosters sent out two months ahead. What in God’s name is wrong with that?

GARY Well, we tried to get some definitive about the rosters. We said, ‘What would they be? Would you do 160 in one week and get nothing for the next week, next week and next week?’ We wanted some form across the board where people knew what they were doing.

PAUL 160 hours a month. They’re not going to get you to do 160 in a week.

GARY Of course, but they’re packed up into whatever at one time.

PAUL But fours into 160 goes 40.

GARY Yeah, but you don’t get 40. Other ports work like that. You don’t get 40. They work you when they want you, and they leave you want they don’t want you.

PAUL In the end, also the union objects to the company contracting out. This has been a big sore point for the union, right?

GARY Yes.

PAUL I don’t understand this, because in the collective agreement you’ve had for the past few years, the Ports of Auckland can contract out, and they do so. Why are you so adamant they should be denied that?

GARY They can contract out, but the clause in the document doesn’t say they can contract out. The clause in the document talks about what happens when they contract out. It’s all about contingent liability, how they pay out people their redundancy payments and their payments. It’s formula for how it happens if it happens.

PAUL Do you believe this whole thing is about trying to reduce the amount of wages paid to the workers on the Ports of Auckland?

GARY Maybe, maybe not. I’m not sure what they’re after. It’s very hard to know what they’re after.

PAUL Well, for six months you might have found out, mightn’t you?

GARY Well, we’ve been in mediation for all that time trying to find out. And while we’ve been in mediation, they’ve been advertising our jobs in Australia. While we’ve been in mediation, they’re now making our people redundant-

PAUL You’ve been on 12 strikes.

GARY I wouldn’t call that good-faith bargaining.

PAUL Well, Gary, nor perhaps would people call 12 strikes good-faith bargaining either.

GARY The 12 strikes were because we’ve got to protect our members, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

PAUL Okay, but they weren’t going to lay anyone off; they’re just changing the conditions, weren’t they?

GARY Yes, they were changing the conditions for employment.

PAUL You want the mayor- I think you said yesterday you want the mayor of Auckland to get off his jacksie and do a bit more.

GARY Yeah, I would like that.

PAUL Do you think he’s being remiss?

GARY I think, well, the people of Auckland own the port, and the mayor is the mayor looking after the interests of the people of Auckland, and we believe he should do a little bit more than he’s doing. We believe there’s still a deal there, and maybe if people step and be a bit more helpful, there is a deal.

PAUL Thank you, Mr Parsloe. Now, I shall put that to the mayor when he comes along. Now, very quickly, are you expecting is this the- is this all over?

GARY No, this is only the start of it. We had- you said 3000, but there’s about 5000 of the community marching down Queen Street.

PAUL Do you expect international action, international support?

GARY The international have this under the microscope. They most certainly have. And those 5000 people don’t like the way that the people, that the workers of Auckland are being bashed around, and there’s a message in that. Because there’s only 300 of us, and yet 5000 people took to the streets yesterday.

PAUL Mm. Gary Parsloe, president of the Maritime Union of New Zealand, thank you very much for your time. Richard Pearson, you are the chairman of Ports of Auckland. Have you been bashing up the workers?

RICHARD PEARSON – Ports of Auckland Ltd

Absolutely not, Paul.

PAUL Why have you failed to reach an agreement after six months of this?

RICHARD Paul, it’s longer than six months. We started this process at the beginning of last year – all the consultation, all the negotiations that were going on. The collective came to its end in September. We started negotiating the collective in August. We’ve been through a hundred hours plus of negotiation, mediation, and we’ve got absolutely nowhere. The problem is-

PAUL But isn’t-?

RICHARD We just were not delivered the changes that we required, Paul.

PAUL Isn’t it a truism, in a way, of industrial relations that if you’re nowhere in a negotiation after six months, it’s a plague on both your houses?

RICHARD Well, from my perspective, Paul, I came into this situation, and I’ve been 37 years in the container port business and ports all around the world. I have never seen such a waste of resource going on here. I have never seen a situation where you pay someone for 43 hours and they work 26. I’ve never seen a situation where ships wait to come in to start waiting for the start of a shift. You know, that’s like aeroplanes flying around waiting for-

PAUL That average-26-hours business – have you had that audited?

RICHARD Absolutely.

PAUL By who?

RICHARD Ernest & Young.

PAUL Right, Ernst & Young. Do you want that union off the port? Was that the game all along?

RICHARD Not at all. We like unions. We’ve got unions already working on the port. In the outsourced model that we have with the stevedore contractors, they will have unions working for them.

PAUL So can you sit here this morning and say to us that you’ve negotiated in good faith?

RICHARD Absolutely, and I’ll give you good evidence of that-

PAUL Well, Mr Parsloe said you had fish hooks everywhere.

RICHARD No, if we had- if we were not negotiating in good faith, Paul, we would’ve actually introduced the whole outsourcing stevedoring subcontracting model before the end of the collective. During that time, the union would not have been able to strike. In good faith, we waited until the end of the discussions to give them a good chance to, and unfortunately it went over the time of the expiry of the collective. That gave them the right to strike, so I stand absolutely firm when I say to you we have abided by all rules, regulations and fairness.

PAUL Mr Pearson, how do you know that if you contract your stevedoring that’s going to improve productivity? You see, Auckland does no worse than any of the other ports in Australasia. Nowhere is madly more productive than Auckland.

RICHARD Pau l-

PAUL The Australian ports are all contracted out.

RICHARDPaul -

PAUL Melbourne does 3.1% return on equity.

RICHARD Paul, Australasia’s not the benchmark for good container-port operations around the world, with all due respect, okay? As I’ve said to you, I have never seen such a potential asset like we’ve got at Auckland that could actually run better. You know, today we’re running- Now, that port, without the MUNZ union, we’re were the IEAs, which unfortunately people are calling scabs, which I find derogatory – that port is now running at 25% faster than it was before. We have made no other change other than having people that come to work who want to work with the right attitude. That’s what I think people in Auckland want to see.

PAUL And the perception of people in Auckland might be that contracted-out stevedoring could mean worse pay and conditions for the wharfies.

RICHARD Again-

PAUL Otherwise, why would you do it, Mr Pearson?

RICHARD Paul, we’ve got them going. They’re working. 25 years Tauranga’s been working on this model, and it’s been working well. And during that time, we’ve lost 12% of our market to Tauranga. We can’t wait. We have to make this change now, and we have to make it quickly.

PAUL Now, the council wants that 12% return off the ports in five years, yes?

RICHARD That’s correct.

PAUL Is that what’s driving this?

RICHARD Not at all. That is an aspirational target, and you’ve mentioned the fact that it will be over 12 years, and it will be-

PAUL No, five years.

RICHARD Five, yes, correct, and it will be. It’s not a dividend return; it’s an equity return.

PAUL That’s right. Can you do it? Can you do 12%?

RICHARD Yes, we can.

PAUL Right. The unions call you anti-family. Have you had second thoughts about this?

RICHARD Paul, that is absolute nonsense. People talk about waiting by the phone, etc. Ships are on schedules. 90% of all the ships that come into the port are on their schedule, on their slot, within one hour of ETA. We know months ahead. We can actually plan shifts weeks and weeks ahead. It is absolute nonsense to say that, and all I could also say is talk to the people at Tauranga. They’re quite happy. Everything works well.

PAUL Right, a couple of quickies. Is it all over bar the shouting?

RICHARD It is all over. We’ve made the decision. We’re now into implementation. We’ve appointed the contractor, and my wish would be this: get our workers, please, workers that are on strike, come and apply for job. Don’t wait. Don’t let the people that are stopping you, and there’s a sinister little group of people down there – that’s a subject for another Q A at another time – that have been stopping these people applying for jobs. I think it’s wrong, and I think it’s unfair.

PAUL All right, just very quickly – are you worried about the ship in Sydney that the wharfies over there aren’t handling?

RICHARD No, that’ll all be covered by law.

PAUL Mr Richard Pearson, chairman of Ports of Auckland, I thank you. Gary Parsloe, I thank you again.

RICHARD Thank you very much.

Source: TVNZ Q+A

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Analysis?

Firstly, not having seen/heard the actual interview this morning, I can only go by the transcripts.  The interview between Paul Holmes and Gary Parsloe seems to have been held in a completely different manner to that between Holmes and Richard Pearson.

1. In his opening introduction, Holmes starts of with,  “So with me in the studio this morning are the Maritime Union head Gary Parsloe and the Ports of Auckland chairman, Richard Pearson“. Note that Holmes refers to Richard Pearson as the “Ports of Auckland Chairman” – Pearson’s correct title.

2. He does not offer the same courtesy to  Gary Parsloe, and refers to him as “the Maritime Union head” – instead of Parsloe’s correct title; National President. The stage is set for an imbalanced encounter.

3. Interviewing Gary Parsloe involved in-depth questions and numerous follow-up questions, which probed Parsloe’s responses.

4. Interviewing Richard Pearson involved questions such as;

Why have you failed to reach an agreement after six months of this?”

Pearson responds. No follow-up probing.

Isn’t it a truism, in a way, of industrial relations that if you’re nowhere in a negotiation after six months, it’s a plague on both your houses?

Pearson responds. Again, no follow up probing.

That average-26-hours business – have you had that audited?”

Pearson responds with one word; “Absolutely”.

Holmes askes a follow-up question; “By who?”

Pearson answeers, simply, “Ernest & Young

Holmes’ response; “Right, Ernst & Young.

Pardon? Holmes accepts the response with an affirmation, as if Pearson answered a quizz problem correctly? (The only thing missing was a “Well done, old chap!”!!

Then, next question, “Right, Ernst & Young. Do you want that union off the port? Was that the game all along? “

Pearson responds with an astonishing, “Not at all. We like unions. We’ve got unions already working on the port. In the outsourced model that we have with the stevedore contractors, they will have unions working for them. “

Pearson “likes unions”?!  At this stage, Holmes should have followed up with a question seeking clarification as to how Pearson can “like” unions when his Board has failed to come to a negotiated settlement;  sacked 300 workers; and paid tens of thousands of dollars in full-page newspaper advertising.

But Pearson major slip was, “…we have with the stevedore contractors, they will have unions working for them. ” Unions do not “work for” companies or contractors – unions work for their members.

The following exchange also seemed to be little more than “patsy” questions,

PAUL So can you sit here this morning and say to us that you’ve negotiated in good faith?

RICHARD Absolutely, and I’ll give you good evidence of that-

PAUL Well, Mr Parsloe said you had fish hooks everywhere.

Pearson replied with a glib answer stating that “we have abided by all rules, regulations and fairness”.

Again, no follow up question.

At this point, Holmes should have questioned Pearson about the leaked memo from POAL which outlined, months in advance,  POAL’s agenda to oust Union presence on Auckland’s wharves.  Holmes made no reference to that damning document, and instead went off on a tangeant about productivity levels on other ports.

Towards the end of the “interview”,  Pearson again slips up, when he states,

Paul, that is absolute nonsense. People talk about waiting by the phone, etc. Ships are on schedules. 90% of all the ships that come into the port are on their schedule, on their slot, within one hour of ETA. We know months ahead. We can actually plan shifts weeks and weeks ahead. It is absolute nonsense to say that, and all I could also say is talk to the people at Tauranga. They’re quite happy. Everything works well. “

That statement is a flat-out contradiction of Pearson’s earlier assertion, at the beginning of the interview, where he makes the claim that,

Well, from my perspective, Paul, I came into this situation, and I’ve been 37 years in the container port business and ports all around the world. I have never seen such a waste of resource going on here. I have never seen a situation where you pay someone for 43 hours and they work 26. I’ve never seen a situation where ships wait to come in to start waiting for the start of a shift. You know, that’s like aeroplanes flying around waiting for- “

On the one hand, Pearson claims that “I have never seen a situation where you pay someone for 43 hours and they work 26. I’ve never seen a situation where ships wait to come in to start waiting for the start of a shift” – and then goes on to contradict that claim by stating that “Ships are on schedules. 90% of all the ships that come into the port are on their schedule, on their slot, within one hour of ETA. We know months ahead. We can actually plan shifts weeks and weeks ahead“.

5. I think we know where Holmes’ allegiance lies.

Then we had the interview with Auckland Mayor, Len Brown, which seemed to ask more probing questions than with Pearson, and delved deeply into the Mayor’s motivations. Which is ironic really, as Pearson would have had more to do with, and deeper  insights into, the dispute than Brown would have.

Holmes was asking the wrong person the hard questions…

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Q+A: Transcript of Paul Holmes interview with Len Brown

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Auckland Mayor Len Brown

PAUL How much responsibility for these redundancies at the Ports of Auckland lies with the mayor and

the council?  Ports of Auckland is owned by the council via its investment company, Auckland Council Investments Ltd, and the council’s told the port to double its dividend from 6% to 12% over the next five years.  The Maritime Union says the mayor should step in as mediator.  You heard Gary Parsloe say that.  Labour, Mana and the Greens have also called on the mayor to take a stand.  Len Brown, the mayor of Auckland, is with us this morning.  Good morning.

LEN BROWN – Auckland Mayor

Morning, Paul.

PAUL Is it your fault 300 men have been made redundant?

LEN  No, but I certainly can’t be accused of not making a stand.  Over the last eight months, I’ve been working within the framework that I can.  I won’t run the port out of my office, but I have been dealing with both parties during the course of this discussion.

PAUL Well, can I say the perception is you’ve been doing nothing?

LEN  Well, you know, as I say, there are some things that I can do and I will not run the port out of my office.  I will say to you, though, for the last eight months, I have been giving direction, giving my view in terms of where they should be, and I wanted to see the resolution out of a collective.  They have not got there.  I’m not happy with that outcome.  What I am here to say is that-
 
PAUL I heard you say to me- Did you say-?  Could the union have settled earlier, do you believe?
 
LEN  Of course.

PAUL Yeah.

LEN Absolutely.  They could’ve settled on the first offer.

PAUL Yes. 

LEN  And that’s past in history.  What is now possible is my view is I am happy to continue to be in the position of providing mediation if both parties agree.
 
PAUL Well, it hasn’t worked so far, has it?
 
LEN  No, but-

PAUL Why hasn’t it?

LEN  But that offer-
 
PAUL Why hasn’t it?

LEN  Because-
 
PAUL Why hasn’t mediation worked?
 
LEN  Every time they sat down, their view to me- both parties’ view is we’re really close.  In fact, Gary was saying to me, ‘On Thursday we think that we are going to deal with this and finish it.’  So every step of the way, the indication had been was that they were going to resolve.

PAUL Whose side are you on?

LEN  I’m on Auckland’s side.
 
PAUL Yes, but-

LEN  And by that, I mean that we are the 1.5 million Aucklanders, we own the shares, and as a consequence of that, I’m looking after their interests.  I want that port to be successful.  I certainly want a greater return on our investment-
 
PAUL Let’s talk about that shortly, but I wondered about your position because you have said and I quote you, ‘We deserve a port that’s competitive, a decent return for ratepayers and a settlement that is sustainable.’  That sounds like the port’s position, Mr Mayor.
 
LEN  No, it sounds like our position – our position, the council’s position and the position of any Aucklanders.  Look, my commitment during the campaign was not selling the ports; we will hold the port shares.  Secondly, we wanted the ports to be more commercial and present a much better return for ratepayers.

PAUL And that return, of course, the figure that you’ve come up with is you want an increase from 6.3% I think it is at the moment.

LEN  Yeah.
 
PAUL After tax.

LEN  12% over five years in terms of return on investment.
 
PAUL Where did you get the 12% from?  Pluck it out of the air?
 
LEN  No-

PAUL There’s not a port in Australasia, Mr Brown, making 12%.

LEN  So our view was, though, that the port was not performing as well as it was.  Now, you’ve heard Mr Pearson say it’s an aspirational target.  What we’re saying to the port is this is our view.  We believe as a consequence of the assessments that we’ve done within the  council-
 
PAUL Well, how firm are you on this?  Have you laid down the law on the 12%?

LEN  We have given it to them in our statement of corporate intent.  Right at the start of the year, I went down to the port, met all the workers and the employees and the company directors down there and said, ‘Right, this is what we’re expecting from the port.’  And we had an hour’s Q & A-
 
PAUL This is what we’re expecting.  Is this-?  I mean, were you laying the law about the return you want in five years – 12%?
 
LEN  We were laying down the law in terms of what we expected from the port in terms of its return and in terms of its performance generally.

PAUL Where did you get the 12%?

LEN  So, the 12% was an estimate, a view that certainly I’ve been working on for right through the last sort of 18 months, two years.  It was view that was discussed our own table with the officers, with our own council-
 
PAUL So it’s a guess?  It’s a good guess?

LEN  No, it’s an estimate.
 
PAUL (laughs)
 
LEN  This is what we think we should be aiming to achieve.  And so we went back to the company and said, ‘Okay, this where we think you should be.  What is your advice back to us?’  Their advice was, ‘Give us five years and we believe that we can receive that.’

PAUL Well, excuse me, look at this.  Okay, 12%, that’s your estimate – guesstimate.  Tauranga returns 6.8%, Lyttelton 8.6%, Sydney 6.7%, Melbourne 3.1%, Auckland 6% — 6.3% after tax.

LEN  So not just about return either-
 
PAUL Where’s the 12% being made anywhere?

LEN  It’s about competitiveness against other ports.  So we are losing share against Tauranga.  We are competing flat out against Brisbane, in particular, and Sydney.  It was our desire that we wanted the port to be much much stronger in terms of its-
 
PAUL Do you endorse what Mr Pearson was saying about he cannot believe the waste of resource at the Ports of Auckland?
 
LEN  Look, there’s a whole lots of things that we cannot believe about the performance of the Ports of Auckland, so it just was not about-

PAUL Can I just say to you again-?

LEN  a stronger return on investment.
 
PAUL Can I just say to you again there is a perception that you’ve abnegated leadership, that you’ve been a do-nothing mayor?  For God’s sake, you are the mayor of Auckland, Ports of Auckland is owned by the people of Auckland, you are the boss.  Harry Truman – you might remember the story – had a little thing on his desk that said ‘the buck stops here’.  Why don’t it stop with you?

LEN  The buck does stop here, but I’m also the mayor of the city.  I’m not the prime minister.  I don’t have sovereign power, so I’m operating within a statutory framework, and I’m doing the very best that I can within that statutory framework.
 
PAUL And very quick, Mr Mayor, is it all over bar the shouting?
 
LEN  No.  What I’ve said to you today is that my offer today is that I’m happy to sit with both parties in agreement in a mediator process if they are prepared to continue to meet and deal with the-

PAUL He says it’s all over bar the shouting – Mr Pearson.

LEN  Mr Pearson is the chair of the board; this is my offer right here in front of you.
 
PAUL Mr Len Brown, mayor of Auckland, thank you very much for your time.

LEN  A pleasure speaking to you today.

Source: TVNZ Q+A

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The Maritime Union has welcomed Len Brown’s offer of mediation, as stated on ‘Scoop‘,

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The Maritime Union has warmly welcomed an offer of mediation from the Mayor of Auckland Len Brown, and the Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops, made publicly over the last two days.

Today on current affairs programme Q+A the Mayor said he wanted to step in to the dispute between the parties to find a solution.

“The Mayor’s offer in particular is extremely important as the Council is the owner of the Ports, and we believe it is now being wrecked by the Ports board,” said Garry Parsloe, Maritime Union of New Zealand National President.

“We will meet any time any day with any decent offer to get this issue resolved”.

On Friday Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in Auckland offered their leadership in a spirit of reconciliation to help resolve the dispute.

The bishops said they were concerned for the welfare of workers and their families, and for the future of the waterfront industry, and that they were willing also to work with city leaders to find a solution.

Garry Parsloe said the bishops’ offer was a generous one.

“We’ll warmly welcome the help of the Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops,” he said.

“They have demonstrated they understand that at its core, this dispute is about people and their lives.”

“Our deep concern during these negotiations has been the impact the proposed changes from Ports management would have on our members’ job security and their ability to prioritise time with their families and other commitments outside work.”

“It is in the interests of everyone in Auckland to resolve this dispute in a way that protects secure jobs and ensures a sustainable and successful Ports of Auckland.”

“We hope Ports management will take kindly to the offer also, and respect the role of the Council as the owners of the Ports and the importance of the offer from the Mayor,” Garry Parsloe said.

Source: Scoop.co.nz

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Unfortunately, the Board of POAL – which now seems to be a rogue entity and a power unto itself, has flat out rejected Brown’s offer of mediation,

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But Ports of Auckland chairperson Richard Pearson says it is too late for that.

He says the decision to outsource the stevedoring contractors has already been made and implemented.

“They are already appointed and we cannot go back on that, that is irrevocable”, he says.

Mr Pearson says he would like the mayor instead to persuade the workers to apply for the new roles.

Source: Radio NZ

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WTF?!?! What did we just hear???

Did Richard Pearson just tell his boss, Len Brown, “No, I’m not doing it”?!

This in a bizarre state of affairs; the Chairman of the Board of POAL has just told the Mayor of Auckland – which owns POAL – to naff off !!!

As I have maintained in previous blogposts, POAL is out of control.

I think we now have the proof we need.

Auckland City Council must take firm action at an upcoming meeting on Thursday,  which I am informed by someone closely connected to events – will have a decisive outcome to events.

Crunchtime: 15 March.

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Additional

Ports of Auckland Labour Strategy (leaked memo)

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= fs =

10 March – Today was a True Labour Day!

11 March 2012 7 comments

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Yesterday, thousands of ordinary folk -  many from overseas – marched through the streets of Auckland in protest at unfair treatment, and in support of maritime workers. The numbers ranged from 2,000 to  3,000  to 5,000 to simply  ‘thousands‘ – but regardless how many took to the streets, it was a grand effort,

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Workers, families and supporters of Auckland's port workers who are currently striking over working conditions, make their way along the waterfront in protest at being made redundant by the company.

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The March was a testament to the sense of fairplay and support for the underdog, that many New Zealanders hold dear and cherish as a value.

And it will continue to grow.  When citizens discover the raw power that they wield, they use it to stunning effect. Just ask any dictator in the Middle East , or former leaders from Soviet-era Eastern Europe.

This industrial bonfire has been sparked by a Ports of Auckland Ltd (POAL) Board and CEO, Tony Gibson, who have engaged in dishonest tactics; unprofessional behaviour; a sham negotiation process; and are now wasting tens of thousands of ratepayers’ dollars on full page ads in the Herald  (which are nothing more than one-sided propaganda).

But it’s hardly surprising really, that Gibson is trying to destroy the Maritime Union and de-unionise the port. A de-unionised workforce is cheaper and more readily exploited for port companies and shipping lines – shipping lines like Maersk, which have been playing off Auckland and Tauranga Ports against each other.

Maersk – the shipping company  Tony Gibson used to work for,

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Source

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No divided loyalities or conflict of interest there, I hope, Mr Gibson?

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* * *

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Meanwhile, true loyalties were expressed when local Auckland councillors, Community Board members, Members of Parliament, and  unionists came from around the world to support port workers and their families.

Photos courtesy of various good people who were fortunate to attend the March (I am so incredibly envious!!!) and presented in no particular sequential order,

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Greg Presland, Denise Yates, chair of the Waitakere Ranges Local Board, Patricia M Reade, Julie Fairey, Michael Wood and Leau Peter Skelton. (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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Labour Party; Moira Coatsworth, Darien Fenton, Phil Twyford, David Cunliffe, Sua William Sio, Moana Mackey, Charles Chauvel, and Megan Woods. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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10 March - Aucklanders support port workers. (No acknowledgement details available)

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Denise Roche, David Shearer, Sally Wilson, Moira Coatsworth, Darien Fenton, Phil Twyford, David Cunliffe, Sua William Sio, Jacinda Ardern, Moana Mackey, Andrew Little, Charles Chauvel, Megan Woods and Louisa Wall Labour Manurewa. (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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David Shearer, Labour Leader, speaking on the mound. In front of him, a crowd of thousands gathers to support MUNZ workers. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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CTU President, Helen Kelly (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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The tide has turned and it is sad - Michael Wood and Enzo Giordani. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Mana Party's flag (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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Garry Parsloe, President of MUNZ. We're in this for the long haul- oh yes we are. With Carol Beaumont, Helen Kelly, David Shearer, Moira Coatsworth, and Darien Fenton. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Thousands march!(Acknowledgement for photo: save our ports.com)

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Labour's Sunny Kaushal, Charles Chauvel, David Cunliffe and Carmel Sepuloni. (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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Really happy to be supporting MUNZ workers. Really upset at the Mayor I campaigned for. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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The Workers' Haka! (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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Helen Kelly, President of the Council of Trade Unions, makes her point. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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An Auckland Citizen making her feelings known! (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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Nga Ringa Tota - Len Richards and Jill Ovens. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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With Anahila Lose Suisuiki and Josephine Bartley. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Somewhat to the point, I believe. A call from the people that their leader should lead! (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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With Kate Sutton and Richard Hills at 10 March rally for workers. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Meat Workers do the Haka. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Fighting for our children - this is what it's all about! (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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With Kymberley Inu at the march. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Is it me.. or does David Cunliffe look like that bloke from "Gladiator"? Quick, someone give him a sword, shield, and Union Agreement and send him into POAL's Boardroom! There - sorted!! (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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Supporting Auckland port workers - 10 March (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Solidarity with Port Workers! David Cunliffe second from right. (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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"mum and dad" New Zealanders who demand better treatment for our fellow workers - before everyone buggers off to Australia! (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Speakers at the March to support Auckland Port workers - Denise Roach in green. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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ACT's representation on the March! (No acknowledgement details available)

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With Tele'a Andrews at the march. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Community Board representatives, Leau Peter Skelton and Tafafuna'i Tasi Lauese; Labour MP Louisa Wall (at back); and Labour MP, Sua William Sio. (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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With Anahila Lose Suisuiki, Josephine Bartley, Moana Mackey, Megan Woods and Richard Hills. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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With Green Party MP, Denise Roche and Ray Familathe, International Transport Workers Federation representative. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Labour MPs Ross Robertson, Louisa Wall Labour Manurewa and Sua William Sio. (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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With Megan Woods and Moana Mackey. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Folks are p----d off, and they ain't going to take it no more! (Acknowledgement for photo: Greg Presland)

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New Zealanders who've had a gutsful at the way we treat our fellow workers. (Acknowledgement for photo: Gina Giordani)

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Those at the center of this dispute; workers and their families. (Acknowledgement for photo: Save Our Port.Com)

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- Roll Call of Honour -

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Members of Parliament

Jacinda Ardern, MP, Labour

Charles Chauvel, MP, Labour

David Cunliffe, MP, Labour

Darien Fenton,  MP, Labour

Hone Harawira, MP, Mana Party leader

Parekura Horomia, MP, Labour

Andrew Little, MP, Labour

Moana Mackey, MP, Labour

Nanaia Mahuta, MP, Labour

Sue Moroney, MP, Labour

Ross Robertson, MP, Labour

Denise Roche, MP, Green Party

David Shearer, MP, Labour leader

Sua William Sio, MP, Labour

Rino Tirakatene, MP, Labour

Phil Twyford, MP, Labour

Louisa Wall, MP, Labour

Megan Woods, MP, Labour

Auckland City Councillors

Cathy Casey

Sandra Coney

Mike Lee

Community Board Members

Josephine Bartley, Tamaki Subdivision of the Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board

Leila Boyle, Tamaki Subdivision of the Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board

Shale Chambers, Waitemata Local Board

Christopher Dempsey, Waitemata Local Board

Julie Fairey,  Puketapapa Local Board

Graeme Easte, Albert-Eden Local Board

Catherine Farmer, Whau Local Board

Grant Gillon, Kaipatiki Local Board

Peter Haynes,  Albert-Eden Local Board

Richard Hills, Kaipatiki Local Board

Vivienne Keohane, Kaipatiki Local Board

Tafafuna’i Tasi Lauese, Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board

Simon Mitchell, Albert-Eden Local Board

Greg Presland, Waitakere Ranges Local Board

Patricia M Reade, Waitemata Local Board

Leau Peter Skelton, Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board

Lydia Sosene,  Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board

Michael Wood,  Puketapapa Local Board

Denise Yates, chair of the Waitakere Ranges Local Board

International Trade Unionists

Ray Familathe, International Transport Workers Federation representative

Mauro Viera, Sydney stevedore

& many others!

Young Activist Heroes!

NZ First Youth

And last, and most important,

The People of Auckland who Marched!

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* * *

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Additional

Fairfax: Thousands march in support of port workers

TV3:  John Campbell interviews Auckland Mayor Len Brown

TV3: Unions band together against ‘vicious employers’

TV3:  Mana, Greens, Labour join ports rally

TVNZ: Thousands rally for sacked Ports workers

TVNZ: Port dispute ‘causing ripples’ overseas

TVNZ: Port’s growth target questioned

TVNZ: Q+A: Transcript of Paul Holmes interview with Len Brown

Metro: Every Storm in the Port

Matt McCarten/NZ Herald: Mayor’s leadership feeling the strain

Brian Rudman/NZ Herald: Mayor’s paralysis in port dispute leaves role of leader vacant

Auckland Now:  Shipping firm quits port amid protest

NZ Herald:  Auckland, Tauranga ports ‘cutting each other’s throats’ – Mike Lee

NZ Herald: Noisy march gives heart to wharfies

NZ Herald:  C-words that don’t help anyone except bosses

 

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Other Blog Reports

Dimpost: Destroying the village to make it more efficient

Dimpost:  ‘We’re going on a journey . . .’

The Jackalman: Richard Pearson – Asshole of the Week

Tumeke:  In defense (and immediate criticism) of Mayor Scab Brown

Tumeke:  What was said on the protest march

Bowalley Road: Frightening The Government

Waitakere News: Len Brown and POAL – Its your time Len

Waitakere News: Is Auckland’s Port’s labour costs cheaper than Tauranga’s?

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Election Eleven – Saturday

26 November 2011 12 comments

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Election Eleven – Saturday

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National has won the election, and, seemingly increased it’s Party vote from 44% to 48%.

Despite running a policy-based campaign based on important issues, Labour has suffered a major setback.

The Greens, meanwhile, have done stunningly well.

And Winston Peters was the sole beneficiary of the  “cuppa tea” meeting in Epsom.

Some initial observations…

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ACT

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The “cuppa tea” meeting between the Two Johns has proven to be a futile exercise. The sole gain for ACT was to return John Banks (a former National MP) to Parliament – but with no extra MPs “riding on his coat-tails”.

In effect, there was no profit for National to support ACT. National might as well not bothered and simply supported Paul Goldsmith.

ACT’s continuing existence is now at the pleasure of Dear Leader, John Key.

By 2014, ACT will most likely disappear.

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Green Party Voters – Ohariu

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Green Party members in the Ohariu electorate – you people need to learn to count and to understand the concept of tactical voting.

By giving your electorate vote to the local Green candidate, Gareth Hughes, instead of Charles Chauvel, you have allowed Peter Dunne to return to Parliament and give National an extra coalition partner.

National wishes to thank you for your assistance in returning a centre-right government to power.

Similar results have occurred in other electorates, where Green supporters voted for their Electorate candidate,  instead of voting strategically, with a Labour/Green split.

For example; Waitakere:

Paula Bennett (N): 12,310

Carmel Sepulone (L): 11,961

Steve Tollestrup (G):  1,582

1,582 wasted electorate votes for the Green candidate could have helped the Labour cadidate defeat Paula Bennett. Instead, Carmel Sepulone – a very talented Labour candidate – has lost her seat in Parliament.

Similar instances abound in other electorates.

*facepalm*

Next time, Green Voters,  ease up on the wacky-bakky before you vote.

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Asset Sales

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By voting National, New Zealanders have given National the mandate to sell state assets. That’s our assets. Or rather, they used to be our assets. Pretty shortly, they will belong to Americans, Germans, Chinese, Australians.

Congratulations, fellow New Zealanders, you’ve succeeded in giving away our best performing; most profitable publicly-owned; assets.

After our electricity companies are sold off,  wait till you get you next power bills. When power prices begin to rise, as overseas owners demand higher and higher returns on their investments, you will be reminded that we did this to ourselves. No one forced us to sell.

Aren’t we a clever bunch?

Not.

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Maori Party

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Pita Sharples has stated that the Maori Party will oppose asset sales as National’s coalition partner.

Oh dear lord…

Sharples needs to look at the rules of Supply & Confidence. Specifically, if National makes asset sales a part of their budget; and the Maori Party votes down that budget; they will have denied the National-led government Supply, which in turn will force a snap election.

Does the Maori Party want to force a snap election and suffer the wrath of the voting public?

Do they want to risk electoral annihilation at the hands of annoyed voters? I doubt it.

Checkmate.

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Horizon Polling

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The biggest loser of the night, few will take Horizon Polling seriously after tonight’s election results.

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MMP

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The BIG winner of the night; New Zealanders have voted to retain MMP. This was due in part to “Vote for Change” mounting the most pathetic, incompetant, and and mostly invisible campaign in this country’s history.

And Jordan Williams had the cheek to blame the media for “not having a debate” on the issue?

Jordan Williams needs to take responsibility for his Claytons-campaign. Blaming the media  may work for Winston Peters – but coming from others, it is not a good look.

MMP won because,

  • It is relatively  simple to understand,
  • The alternatives were unfair; unworkable; or hellishly  complex to understand,
  • New Zealanders simply didn’t feel inclined to change.

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Labour

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Was this a defeat for Labour?

No. I see it as a postponement of a victory.

In the next three years, as National’s policies really start to bite low and middle income earners, and those at the top increase their wealth, Labour’s time will come in 2014 (if not earlier – see Maori Party above).

I am picking a snap election in a years’ time, or mid-term.

And this time, National will lose.

As for Phil Goff – I hope he doesn’t step down. I think he’s actually grown in stature over the last few weeks. He won two of the three Leader’s Debates handsomely, and is able to pin down John Key on issues.

With the media/Key honeymoon well and truly over, Goff now has a chance to show up National’s weaknesses to the public.

The campaign for the next election starts on Monday.

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Additional

Post mortem #1: Green Voters in Electorates

Post mortem #2: Phil Goff

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Lessons from the past – a critique of Labour.

- ‘Kimbo

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The following is a critique of the Labour Party from “Kimbo”, originally published on Brian Edward’s Blog, Brian Edward’s Media. Whilst highly critical of Labour,  and whilst I do not necessarily accept all of his/his premises, I believe the arguments are well constructed, and ‘Kimbo’ has presented some coherent ideas for Labour (and other leftwing) supporters, to consider.

The following is a slighly edited version of Kimbo’s original post.

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For years Labour struggled in vain to defeat Muldoon. They had tried confronting him directly, and got mauled. They tried ignoring him, but that didn’t work either, because he dominated the landscape in the same way Helen Clark did from 1999 to 2008, and Key does now. Instead, they killed the old tusker with kindness. Defining moment and point of the 1984 campaign: Muldoon’s sarcastic response to Lange, after being told there was still a place for him in the new post-election NZ – “I love you too, Mr Lange”.

Lessons from the past: Don’t attack a political opponent at the point that is their direct source of public popularity, because when you do, you are directly implying to the majority who decide elections that they are wrong. And people, especially when they are being wooed for their vote, don’t like to be told they are wrong!

How Labour and the Greens may be able to dent John Key’s popularity (because criticising him for “shallow smile and wave” is not working!):

Embrace the man’s “successful” image, career, and self-made millions. It sends two messages: We are not nasty or playing the “politics of envy” – we are bigger and better than that. Instead, John Key is an advertisement of what the welfare state, which Labour will protect, can do for anyone. John Key’s success is a product of Labour policy.

“We acknowledge John Key’s expertise in the field of currency trading. It is the high stakes end of the unrestrained deregulation roller-coaster of changing fortunes that we’ve tried to ride as a country from 1984 onwards. Ultimately, John Key is banking on an economic recovery taking place elsewhere in the world, and then, in line with the skills he used to make his millions, he is expecting to position us to exploit that. That’s what he knows, and that’s what he’s good at. Which is why he’s been trying to keep up public morale and confidence with his “good news” approach. Just like Muldoon tried to keeps all those balls in the air with what he knew until it all came unstuck…

The problem with Key’s plan is that since 2008 the world financial situation has changed. The nature of capitalism that drives economic growth has been forever altered. We now actually need to be proactive with job creation, with up-skilling, by directing the resources available to government alone. This is another depression in the making, and Labour knows how to solve those! We need the knowledge of how to generate economic recovery, rather than waiting and hoping for it to happen elsewhere and then maybe wash up on our shores. Things are getting worse overseas, not better. It is time for people with Labour’s expertise in the management of political and economic detail.

John Key has tried his best with the “hands-off” approach. We are grateful that an incoming Labour-Green government inherits a country that is relatively united and in good morale despite the GFC and the Christchurch earthquakes, courtesy of Key’s ability to be a good figurehead in a time of crisis. But we now need more than a figurehead with obsolete speculation trading skills. We need practical action.

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Acknowledgement

Thankyou to Brian Edwards, Judy Callingham, and Kimbo, for permission to re-publish.

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National and ? – some thoughts

8 November 2011 3 comments

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I’ve been thinking…

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National

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That National is higher in the opinion polls than Labour is undeniable.  Even the Horizon Poll – which has supposedly more accurate methodology than the other polling companies – has National at 36.8% and Labour at 25.7%. (Source)

Other polls have National at an unfeasibly high 56% – unheard of in an MMP environment, where up till now the highest Party Vote was National’s 44.9% in 2008.

If National is anywhere near 50%-51% of the Party Vote – enabling it to barely form a government – then it will have made history in MMP elections.

Assuming that National’s vote on 26 November will be somewhere in the high 40s – it will not have sufficient seats in the House to govern alone. It will need a coalition partner.

Which is where things start to get interesting…

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ACT?

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It is apparent to all but the but die-hard fan of ACT that Don Brash’s coup d’état in April  has not achieved a single desired outcome for that Party. Brash’s toppling of Rogney Hide was done on the premise that Brash would re-focus ACT on economic matters and change it’s “brand” from a “chapter” of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, to it’s more traditional role of a neo-liberal party, espousing free market ‘reforms’; user-pays; asset sales; minimalist government; and the Cult of the Individual.

Brash has achieved none of those policy-goals.

ACT is polling well under the 5% MMP threshold (5%). It’s 1% – 3% poll rating rating is not sufficient to win seats in Parliament. It must therefore rely on winning an Electorate Seat, at which point the 5% threshold is set aside.

John Banks’ candidacy in Epsom has also seemingly failed to ‘fire’. Banks is trailing well behind the National Party’s candidate, Paul Goldsmith. Banks’ position is not helped by John Key stating publicly,

I’m going to vote for Goldsmith. I am the National Party leader and I am going to vote for the National Party candidate and give my party vote to National.” – John Key

Which makes a mockery of the unspoken “arrangement” between National and ACT, and seems to be an insult to Epsom voters that whilst they are expected to give their vote to John Banks – the Prime Minister refuses to lead by example. Charming.

If, as seems likely, John Banks does not win in Epsom then, like Winston Peters losing Tauranga, ACT is out of Parliament.

Strike 1 for National.

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Peter Dunne?

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Since the height of United Future’s popularity in  2002,  their electoral support has declined to margin-of-error polling,

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Source

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United Future, as a political entity, is all but dead except in name. Peter Dunne is essentially now a one-person band – and even in his electorate of Ohariu-Belmont,   is experiencing waning support with each election,

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Peter Dunne, Electorate Votes 1996 – 2008

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199615,915

1999 – 20,240

2002 – 19,355

2005 – 16,844

2008 – 12,303

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In 2008, Dunne’s electorate majority over his nearest opponant, Charles Chauvel (L), was a bare 1,006 votes. At the rate that Dunne has been losing electoral  support, and if even half the Green electorate vote shifts to Chauvel, then Peter Dunne will lose his seat in Parliament.

Strike 2 for National.

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Maori Party?

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National’s only remaining life-line; the Maori Party. Polls indicate that Maori Party co-leader, Pita Sharples, will most likely win his seat, Tamaki Makaurau. Whether he is join by other successful candidates from the Maori Party is anyone’s guess, and with their low overall ranking in the polls, the Maori Party is unlikely to approach the 5% threshold, much less cross over it.

In 2008, the Maori Party won five out of the seven Maori Seats.  With the advent of the Mana Party, formed by  breakaway MP Hone Harawira, and supported by many disaffected Maori Party members/activists, these seats are now contested in a three-way battle; Mana, Maori, and Labour.

As an indicator, Hone Harawira won his seat Te Tai Tokerau in a by-election, earlier this year,

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Source

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If  the Maori Party beat Mana’s challenge and  win sufficient seats; and if  they enter into coalition with National, then John Key is faced with the real prospect of having no counter-balancing Party on the Right. Unlike the 2008 election result which gave him ACT and Peter Dunne on the right, National will be governing at the “pleasure” of just one coalition partner.

Considering that the Maori Party has stated it’s opposition to asset sales (albeit lukewarm opposition), the partial-privatisation agenda may not go ahead as John Key and Bill English anticipated. (*whew!* The ‘family silver’ is saved till another day!)

John Key recently stated,

I think it is important to understand if the Greens hold the balance of power it would be a Phil Goff Labour-led government and I think they would be quite upfront about that.”  Source

The same could be said of the Maori Party. National’s re-election prospects now depend solely on the success of their Coalition partner.

National’s strike 3?  We will have to wait till 26 November for the final result.

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Country of Origin Food Labelling – A Big Green Tick!

31 October 2011 2 comments

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Full Story

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The issue of country-of-origin labelling on food is one of my pet-peeves (along with those horrid little sticky labels on apples,oranges, pears, etc – yes, we know they are apples, oranges, pears, etc!)  when I do my grocery shopping.

When I buy food, I look at several factors; fat/salt/sugar content; price-per-kilo; and country-of-origin. All three hold equally high priority for me. Though I will usually always lean toward locally-produced items. At the very least, I prefer to support local manucturers who employ local workers and I can be (reasonably) assured of good quality ingredients and high standards of production.

In short, I am a fussy b*stard when it comes to grocery shopping.

As a consumer, I demand the right to know the source of my food.

So when John Key’s spokesperson sez,

“”The primary reason for not adopting mandatory labelling is that the costs to consumers, industry and government outweigh the benefits…“” Source

… then I highly  unimpressed.

I’m sorry, Mr Key, but as an elected representative of the people of this country, it is not up to you to determine that something will be a “cost to consumers, industry and government outweigh the benefits“! You are neither my Nanny nor my Daddy to tell me that.

Your job, Dear Leader, is to ensure that the needs of the public are met on such issues – not to tell us what we do or don’t need.

Jeezus H, it’s not Labour that was a “Nanny State” – it’s this current government that keeps telling us what is/isn’t “beneficial” for us.

Thank god the election is only 25 days away.

Green Party – you get the big Green tick from this blog! It’s refreshing to see politicians looking after the needs of the folk who elected them into office!

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Addendum

Silliest country-of-origin label  seen on a food item: “Made from local and imported ingredients”. Said item was a leg of ham. *facepalm*

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The “Free Market” is a fair-weather friend.

23 September 2011 2 comments

Ir seems quite likely that New Zealand will soon be joining the ranks of Japan and San Francisco, where earthquake insurance is either highly expensive, or unavailable to home owners,

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Full Story

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Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee may chest-thump and bellow till the cows come home, but if insurance companies – as Chris Ryan is suggesting – no longer consider New Zealand property a safe risk to insure against earthquakes, then he had better start taking notice.

Internationally, the insurance industry has been hard-hit after the severe floods in Queensland; two major quakes in Christchurch; and a triple-whammy in Japan; earthquake, tsunami, and atomic reactor disaster.  Insurance companies have been hard hit, as Reuters reported in March,

“Some analysts said the disaster, combined with heavy losses already suffered this year from floods in Australia and last month’s New Zealand earthquake, could push up global insurance prices, boosting insurers’ shares.

“In our view the loss will be so large that it will probably provide the trigger to ensure a re-rating of the non-life sector,” Panmure Gordon analyst Barrie Cornes wrote in a note.” Source

Climate-related disasters were also impacting on the insurance industry,

“Climate change is largely to blame for Australasia putting in almost a quarter of the world’s natural disaster insurance claims last year.

Data from major reinsurance provider Munich Re, shows that from 1980 to 2009, Australasia was responsible for 3% of natural disaster insurance claims in dollar terms. But after the Christchurch earthquake, floods in Queensland, and enormous hailstones in Melbourne and Perth, that skyrocketed to 22% last year.

Munich Re, in its own report on the deluge of natural disasters, said climate change “is real and continuing” and cited floods in Pakistan and wildfires caused by a heatwave in Russia. The Christchurch quake was not climate-change related.

Munich Re said 2010 was one of the warmest years since 1850 and featured the second-highest number of loss-related weather catastrophes since 1980, when it started keeping data.

Niwa principal climate scientist Dr James Renwick agreed that weather events like heavy rain were linked to global warming. “It’s possible part of the change since the 1980s is natural variation, but I’m sure there’s a climate change component. We know the globe has warmed and it’s well-documented that the occurrence of extreme rainfalls around the world has increased in a way that’s consistent with the climate models,” he says.

“It’s just what you’d expect – you warm things up, more moisture, more energy, more rain falls. There’s definitely a climate change component in extreme rainfalls around the world.” ” Source

So it seems a little strange that Gerry Brownlee is (a) attempting to dismiss Chris Ryan’s warnings as “scaremongering” and (b) is in denial that re-insuring properties in this country will not be a major problem in future. Of course it will be a problem! How can it not?

Insurance companies and their re-insurers have suffered billions of dollars worth of claims over the last year – $34 billion estimated for the Japanese ‘quake and tsunami, alone, according to a Bloomberg report.

Mr Brownlee should know how the free market works. After all, his party – National – espouses the doctrine of the free market as part of it’s core-philosophy.

Even as we face the prospect of the insurance industry abandoning  New Zealand households – we may be  left  to our own devices when it comes to insurance. Which may be the EQC.

Whilst the EQC is not a full-insurance company in the sense of Tower, AMI, AMP, etc, it has provided a level of protection to New Zealanders since it’s inception in 1945.

The only thing is – it’s broke. Two calamitous earthquakes in Christchurch have effectively emptied the Commission’s ‘war-chest’. Source. As John Key said in February of this year,

“”The good news part of the story is that EQC had about $6 billion before that (quake), that’s going to be exhausted, but we pay in on a continuous basis and we had significant re-insurance in the order of $5b, that will be exhausted.””  Source

Irrespective of Mr Brownlee’s futile rantings against the Insurance Council, it should be abundantly clear that in the near future we will not have the insurance cover that we once enjoyed. Those days are over.

We will have to rely on our own resources and our own ingenuity, whether we like it or not. (Most likely ‘not’, going by past experiences of Baby Boomers who like to Spend Now, Pay Later (or Never, preferably – let the kids pay). To that end, the Greens – as usual – have once again realised what must be done,

“So, it seems, the Greens were right all along – a special levy to fund the costs involved with the Christchurch earthquake still makes good sense, if only (this time around) to replenish the funds available to the Earthquake Commission. Yesterday, it became apparent that the likely cost of the Christchurch rebuild had risen by a massive $4 billion.

This blowout means the EQC couldn’t cope with an additional major disaster (ie anything costing over $2.5 billion) and the government would have to pick up the tab, directly. There are three options on the table : (a) a special levy on all taxpayers (b) a further additional charge attached to insurance premiums already expected to rise significantly, or (c) a rise in income taxes.”  – Gordon Campbell,  Source

However, in the light of Chris Ryan’s warnings, we may have to reconsider the role of the EQC to adopt a more wide-ranging, pragmatic role in earthquake and flood insurance. The EQC may have to step in where private insurers once provided a service – or else face the prospect of uninsured properties.  That would have serious consequences for current and prospective building owners.  (Banks currently insist on full insurance cover before they will consider extending a mortgage over a property.)

Once upon a time, we owned an insurance company called – quite simply – State Insurance.   State Insurance was sold in June 1990 by the Bolger-led, National  government of the day.

It now seems that may have been a mistake (as most asset sales were). The people of this country may yet discover that the Free Market is a Fair Weather friend and when times are tough, we will  have to step up and put in place our own, Very Kiwi Solution(s).

The time for a new State-owned insurance company – “EQC-Plus” -  has come.

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2011 Party Lists

8 September 2011 1 comment

2011 Party Lists:

- Act

- Green Party

- Labour

- Mana Party

- National

- NZ First

- United Future

ACT Party

Announced: 28 August 2011

1. Dr Don Brash
2. Catherine Isaac (replaces John Boscawen)
3. Don Nicolson
4. Hon John Banks
5. David Seymour
6. Chris Simmons
7. Stephen Whittington
8.  Kath McCabe
9. Robyn Stent
10.  John Thompson
11.  John Ormond
12.  Lyn Murphy
13.  Kevin Moratti
14.  Robin Grieve
15.  Pratima Nand
16.  Dominic Costello
17.  Toni Severen
18.  Richard Evans
19.  Ian Cummings
20.  Gareth Veale
21.  Toby Hutton
22.  Dan Stratton
23.  Robert Burnside
24.   Hayden Fitzgerald
25.   Alex Spiers
26.   Peter McCaffrey

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Green Party

Announced: 29 May 2011

1.  Metiria Turei
2.  Russel Norman
3.  Kevin Hague
4.  Catherine Delahunty
5.  Kennedy Graham
6.  Eugenie Sage
7.  Gareth Hughes
8.  David Clendon
9.  Jan Logie
10.  Steffan Browning
11.  Denise Roche
12.  Holly Walker
13.  Julie Anne Genter
14.  Mojo Mathers
15.  James Shaw
16.  David Hay
17.  Richard Leckinger
18.  Aaryn Barlow
19.  Jeanette Elley
20.  Sea Rotmann
21.  Michael Gilchrist
22.  Dora Langsbury
23.  David Kennedy
24.  Tane Woodley
25.  Joseph Burston
26.  Mikaere Curtis
27.  Shane Gallagher
28.  Saffron Toms
29.  Steve Tollestrup
30.  Jack McDonald

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Labour Party

Announced: 10 April 2011

1. Phil Goff
2. Annette King
3. David Cunliffe
4. David Parker
5. Ruth Dyson
6. Parekura Horomia
7. Maryan Street
8. Clayton Cosgrove
9. Trevor Mallard
10. Sue Moroney
11. Charles Chauvel
12. Nanaia Mahuta
13. Jacinda Ardern
14. Grant Robertson
15. Andrew Little
16. Shane Jones
17. Su’a William Sio
18. Darien Fenton
19. Moana Mackey
20. Rajen Prasad
21. Raymond Huo
22. Carol Beaumont
23. Kelvin Davis
24. Carmel Sepuloni
25. Rick Barker
26. Deborah Mahuta-Coyle
27. Stuart Nash
28. Clare Curran
29. Brendon Burns
30. Chris Hipkins
31. David Shearer
32. Michael Wood
33. Phil Twyford
34. Stephanie (Steve) Chadwick
35. Kate Sutton
36. Jerome Mika
37. Iain Lees-Galloway
38. Josie Pagani
39. Lynette Stewart
40. Jordan Carter
41. Kris Faafoi
42. Christine Rose
43. Glenda Alexander
44. Susan Zhu
45. Rino Tirikatene
46. Sehai Orgad
47. Megan Woods
48. Mea’ole Keil
49. David Clark
50. Richard Hills
51. Anahila Suisuiki
52. Hamish McDouall
53. Louis Te Kani
54. Tat Loo
55. Soraya Peke-Mason
56. Julian Blanchard
57. Peter Foster
58. Pat Newman
59. Julia Haydon-Carr
60. Michael Bott
61. Vivienne Goldsmith
62. Nick Bakulich
63. Chris Yoo
64. Barry Monks
65. Hugh Kininmonth
66. Jo Kim
67. Paula Gillon
68. Carol Devoy-Heena

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Mana Party

Announced: 1 November 2011

  1. Hone Harawira
  2. Annette Sykes
  3. John Minto
  4. Sue Bradford
  5. Misty Harrison
  6. James Papali’i
  7. Tawhai McClutchie
  8. Angeline Greensill
  9. Jayson Gardiner
  10. Dr Richard S Cooper
  11. Dr Peter Cleave
  12. Val Irwin
  13. Sharon Stevens
  14. Keriana Reedy
  15. Pat O’Dea
  16. Roderick Paul
  17. Grant Rogers
  18. Nguha Patuwai
  19. Barry Tumai
  20. Ngawai Herewini

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Maori Party

Announced:29 October 2011

1. Waihoroi Shortland
2. Kaapua Smith
3. Wheturangi Walsh-Tapiata
4. Tina Porou
5. Awanui Black
6. Davina Murray
7. Tariana Turia
8. Pita Sharples
9. Te Ururoa Flavell
10. Josie Peita
11. Paora Te Hurihanganui
12. Fallyn Flavell
13. Daryl Christie
14. Tom Phillips
15. Tim Morrison
16. Tamai Nicholson
17. Aroha Rickus

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National Party

Announced: 4 September 2011

1.    John Key (1)
2.    Bill English (2)
3.    Lockwood Smith (12)
4.    Gerry Brownlee (3)
5.    Tony Ryall (6)
6.    Nick Smith (5)
7.    Judith Collins (7)
8.   Anne Tolley (10)
9.    Chris Finlayson (14)
10.    David Carter (9)
11.    Murray McCully (11)
12.    Tim Groser (15)
13.    Steven Joyce (16)
14.    Paula Bennett (41)
15.    Phil Heatley (22)
16.    Jonathan Coleman (29)
17.    Kate Wilkinson (30)
18.    Hekia Parata (36)
19.    Maurice Williamson (8)
20.    Nathan Guy (18)
21.    Craig Foss (33)
22.    Chris Tremain (31)
23.    Jo Goodhew (39)
24.    Lindsay Tisch (19)
25.    Eric Roy (28)
26.    Paul Hutchison (23)
27.    Shane Ardern (24)
28.   Amy Adams (52)
29.    Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga (35)
30.    Simon Bridges (51)
31.    Michael Woodhouse (49)
32.    Chester Borrows (32)
33.    Nikki Kaye (57)
34.    Melissa Lee (37)
35.    Kanwaljit Bakshi (38)
36.    Jian Yang (-)
37.    Alfred Ngaro (-)
38.    Katrina Shanks (46)
39.    Paul Goldsmith (-)
40.    Tau Henare (26)
41.    Jacqui Dean (40)
42.    Nicky Wagner (43)
43.    Chris Auchinvole (42)
44.    Louise Upston (53)
45.    Jonathan Young (66)
46.    Jackie Blue (45)
47.    Todd McClay (54)
48.    Alan Peachey (34)
49.    David Bennett (44)
50.    Tim Macindoe (55)
51.    Cam Calder (58)
52.    John Hayes (50)
53.    Colin King (47)
54.    Aaron Gilmore (56)
55.    Jami-Lee Ross (-)
56.    Paul Quinn (48)
57.    Paul Foster-Bell (-)
58.    Maggie Barry (-)
59.    Ian McKelvie (-)
60.    Mark Mitchell (-)
61.    Mike Sabin (-)
62.    Scott Simpson (-)
63.    Claudette Hauiti (-)
64.    Joanne Hayes (-)
65.    Leonie Hapeta (-)
66.    Sam Collins (-)
67.    Jonathan Fletcher (-)
68.   Heather Tanner (-)
69.    Denise Krum (-)
70.    Carolyn O’Fallon (-)
71.    Viv Gurrey (71)
72.    Karen Rolleston (-)

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New Zealand First

Announced 12 November 2011

1.          PETERS, Winston
2.          MARTIN, Tracey    Rodney
3.          WILLIAMS, Andrew  North Shore
4.          PROSSER,  Richard Waimakariri
5.          STEWART Barbara   Waikato
6.          HORAN, Brendan    Tauranga
7.          O’ROURKE, Denis   Port Hills
8.          TAYLOR, Asenati   Manukau East
9.          MULFORD, Helen    Pakuranga
10.         BARR, Hugh  Ohariu
11.         TABUTEAU, Fletcher Rotorua
12.         PARAONE, Pita     Whangarei
13.         CATCHPOLE, Brent  Papakura
14.         CRAVEN, Ben Wellington Central
15.         HO, Jerry   Maungakiekie
16.         GUDGEON, Bill     Hamilton West
17.         GARDENER, Kevin   Nelson
18.         DOLMAN, Ray BOP
19.         SCOTT, David      Otaki
20.         RATANA, Randall   Dunedin Sth
21.         BINDRA, Mahesh    Mt Roskill
22.         PERRY, Edwin      Taupo
23.         JELLEY, Dion      Northcote
24.         HALL, John  Manurewa
25.         STONE, Kevin      Coromandel
26.         NABBS, Doug Hunua
27.         PIERSON, Brent    Rongotai
28.         ILALIO, Oliva     Mangere
29.         STEWART, Gordon   Hamilton East
30.         REID, Tamati      East Coast
31.         BROUGHAM, Ian     Whanganui
32.         WOODS, Bill Selwyn
33.         DAVIES, Allen    Auckland Central

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United Future Party

Announced: 20 October 2011

1. Peter Dunne
2. Doug Stevens
3. Rob Eaddy
4. Sultan Eusoff
5. Alan Simmons
6. Bryan Mockridge
7. Vanessa Roberts
8. Pete George
9. Ram Prakash
10. Martin Gibson
11. Clyde Graf
12. Damian Light
13. Andrew McMillan
14. Diane Brown
15. Brian Carter

TVNZ7, Radio New Zealand, and distracting trinkets.

A neo-liberal is one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. In this case, this National government are slowly strangling good, quality broadcasters like RNZ and TVNZ7 – whilst  feeding us a daily diet of brain-cell deadening, pseudo-news on TV1 and TV3 and apalling programming that consists mostly of American sitcoms, cooking programmes, and bleak crime shows.

If only New Zealanders were as passionate about the lack of governmental support for quality broadcasting as we were about stranded penguins; “Wellywood” signs; and books by Ian Wishart.

Oh, but that would mean thinking about complex issues, wouldn’t it? Jerking the knee with superficial,  emotion-tugging,  issues is much easier:  no effort required.

The state-owned broadcaster registered itself as the Radio New Zealand Charitable Trust with the Charities Commission last month.

Some of its charitable purposes, which were listed on the commission’s website, included education, research, fundraising and providing grants to a number of individuals and groups.

A spokesperson for Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman said the broadcaster still received $34 million a year but couldn’t say how long it had been receiving that amount.

A financial review of Radio NZ for the 2009/10 financial year showed it had a net deficit of $498,000 after tax, compared to a surplus of $13,000 the year before.

The review said RNZ had been too cash-strapped to participate in the 2010 New Zealand Radio Awards or put in a bid for the Rugby World Cup 2011 coverage.

Kedgley said she first thought the charity registration was a joke.

“I am appalled to discover that it is serious proposition and that the Board of Radio New Zealand has been forced by the Government’s funding freeze on Radio New Zealand to set up a trust so that it can go out with a begging bowl to the public,” she said.

“The move suggests there is quiet desperation at Radio New Zealand. The broadcaster simply cannot make ends meet under the Government’s funding freeze.”

Curran said the move raised some “serious questions”.

“Not the least of which is why the whole of RNZ has been registered as a charity, and what the long-term intention is,” she said.

“Radio NZ’s survival should not be dependent on it having to solicit donations. It is our state radio broadcaster and holds a special place in New Zealand.”

Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman couldn’t be reached for comment and neither could RNZ chairman Richard Griffin.

Griffin told Fairfax earlier this year that RNZ could only survive a funding freeze for another two years.

He said the current freeze put the public broadcaster in a “more than difficult” financial position.

“If we’re left in a position where every year costs increase and funding remains static, we’re going to wither.”

It was believed that the charity was mainly to fund its concert station.

It is an unbelievable, bizarre state-of -affairs when a public service such as Radio New Zealand , has to register itself as a charity. If this doesn’t ring alarm bells with us, then we are truly asleep.

It should also give us cause for concern that National  will be closing down TVNZ7. This free-to-air; advertising free; public network is a wealth of news, documentaries, and offers an un-commercialised look at ourselves and the world around us.

TVNZ7  treats the viewer with intelligence and respect.  It is television as it should be – and not the mindless rubbish that we are now served up every day on other channels. (Parliament TV excepted – that contains very mature, erudite debate from our Honourable Members of Parliament.)

It is a great shame that two quality public services – TVNZ7 and Radio New Zealand – can be put in jeopardy through the lack of political support from the government-of-the-day, and because of public apathy.  If New Zealanders were as passionate about their own  public broadcasting system, as they were about wayward penguins, oh what a much more mature society we would be.

But we are like children, it seems, and easily enthralled by the latest distracting trinket.

New Zealand has often been described as a “young country”.

That is truer than we realised.

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