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Posts Tagged ‘Hekia Parata’

National MPs – giving us the finger in election year

18 July 2014 1 comment

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National MPs and ministers have been busy this year with more botch-ups, scandals, an attempted smear campaign, and spinning bullshit to cover their arses with multiple policy failures in health, education, the environment, child poverty, etc, etc, etc…

The fact that National still appears to be riding high in political polls speaks more for a population heavily sedated by trivia and superficial “news” reporting, and for mind-numbingly inane mass-entertainment – rather than any actual success.

Some of the more mind-blowing comments that have recently been made by National ministers have flown below the radar.

Amy Adams

Our so-called “Environment” Minister, Amy Adams, recently dismissed Dr Mike Joy’s criticisms of National’s new water standards.

Dr Joy stated;

But Dr Mike Joy, an environmental ecologist at Massey university, says the new standards are a “backwards step for fresh water”.

“You could just drive a truck through it,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme.

“There’s so many gaps, so many things we’ve been measuring up until now that they’ve dropped.”

The changes put limits on the amount of toxins and bacteria that can be present in water, which the Government says will require some communities and farms to improve their waste-disposal systems.

But the weakening of other limits were essentially a “licence to pollute,” Joy said, and would allow for a big increase in the amount of pollution in rivers.

“We’ve got a decline going on,” he said.

“Rivers are getting worse, lakes are getting worse. This should be something that puts the brakes on, but instead it’s an opening-up. It’s like lifting the speed limit from 50kmh to 500kmh – that’s the kind of level of change around nitrate pollution.”

Joy said more than 90 per cent of rivers in lowland areas – those coming from urban areas and farms – were already too dangerous to swim in.

To which Adams responded;

Ms Adams also corrected the Green Party’s and Dr Joy’s comparison of nitrogen levels in New Zealand’s lakes and rivers to those in the Yangtzee River.

“Although the Yangtze River indeed has serious pollution issues, nitrogen is not the core pollutant there.

In fact, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, the primary issue for the Yangtze River is industrial and sewage waste and the management of sediments, rather than nitrogen.”

What the World Wide Fund for Nature (which Adams mis-quoted) really stated was;

“The major pollutants in the Yangtze mainstem are suspended substances, oxidizing organic and inorganic compounds, and ammonia nitrogen. This has severely reduced drinking water quality and contributed to dramatic eutrophication.”

And from the Science Daily;

For the first time, a team including foreign scientists was authorized by the Chinese government to study water quality on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River…

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For example, nitrogen concentrations have approximately doubled over the past 20 years. In Shanghai, concentrations of dissolved nitrogen were twice as high as at the Three Gorges Dam, reflecting the increasing use of mineral fertilizers in agriculture…

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However, where the river enters the East China Sea, the huge pollutant loads are expected to have devastating effects: each day, 1500 tonnes of nitrogen is discharged, causing eutrophication and growth of blue-green algae in the coastal waters…

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In the Yangtze, concentrations of nitrogen, metals and organic compounds are increasing, as shown by comparisons with earlier measurements in the literature.

As usual with right-wingers, it pays to check their “facts”. They’re usually bullshit. (As well as batshit crazy.)

Dr Mike Joy – 1

Amy Adams – 0

Paula Bennett

Bennett seems not to know where she stands on the problem of New Zealand’s hidden rape culture.

On 10 July, on TV3’s Third Degree, Bennett accepted the reality of our rape culture;

And you can see it in the language that is used by some people. You can certainly see it in pretty much a pub or a nightclub in New Zealand on most weekends to be quite frank. So we have a lot of education to do there, I think.”

Two days later, she changed her mind, this time on TV3’s The Nation;

I wouldn’t say that we’ve got a rape culture or a sexual violence culture in New Zealand…

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I think what we do in New Zealand is we report more [sexual violence] than any other country. So actually some of those that are being reported are incidences that haven’t even led to violence.”

On 10 July, on Third Degree,  Bennett accepted that her government had failed Tania Billingsley;

Could things have been handled differently? We’re the first ones that have said yes it should have been. But for her I feel incredibly sad that the incident has happened in the beginning. And that’s where most of her hurt and anger is.”

Again, after two days, Bennett’s views seemed to have changed, as this exchange on The Nation showed;

Lisa Owen: “Ok, so how do you think that your male colleagues handled the alleged assault on Tania Billingsley and the departure of the Malaysian diplomat? Did they lose sight of the victim? Did they trivialise that?

Paula Bennett: “Well look I’m not prepared to go into what has happened in that case.  But my short answer to that would be no.”

How can a politician not keep her story straight within only a 48 hour period?!

Then again, this is the same politician who made full use of the Training Incentive Allowance to gain a free University education for herself – and then promptly dumped it in 2009.

Paula Bennett (2.0)

On TV’s The Nation, Lisa Owen took Paula Bennett to task on our growing endemic rate of child poverty. Owen pointed out to Bennett;

“…people like Jonathan Boston say that eradicating poverty is a political choice. Is it just that you’re not making a big enough political choice? A billion dollars, an extra billion dollars a year he said will make an enormous dent in this.”

To which Bennett replied with the stock-standard come-back from right-wing witless politicians;

I don’t think it’s throwing more money at it across the board if you like…

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It is not going to be throwing more money at those on welfare...”

Because, as we all know, “throwing money” at the poorest in our society apparently doesn’t work to pull children out of poverty.

But “throwing money” at corporations such as Rio Tinto, Warner Bros, Charter Schools,  et al, to “create jobs” or give “choice for better education” to parents, does work.

Or “throwing money” at people by way of tax cuts works to “stimulate the economy“.

Strangely, “throwing money” at welfare beneficiaries –  by way of a Training Incentive Allowance –  helped former solo-mother,  Paula Bennett, obtain a free tertiary education and she is currently (until 20 September) a  highly-remunerated Minister of the Crown.

So why is “throwing money” by way of corporate welfare; tax-cuts; Charter school subsidies, etc, a ‘good‘ thing – but “throwing money” at poverty to eliminate this scourge from 21st century New Zealand – is a ‘bad‘ thing?!

National ministers have yet to answer this question.

God knows we “throw enough money” at them with their generous salaries.

Simon Bridges

This was one of National’s  election platforms in 2011;

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National Party staying strong on crime

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Staying strong on crime“.

Except when National decides that a particular law is “inconvenient”. Then it will instruct it’s ministeries not to prosecute offenders. As Minister Simon Bridges recently instructed the Labour Inspectorate;

 

Radio New Zealand has obtained documents under the Official Information Act which show the Labour Inspectorate has moved away from the proactive approach to enforcement and has redistributed its efforts to crack down on illegial migrant workers.

Traditionally labour inspectors have been out on the streets at Easter, catching out shop owners who open illegally, but will now wait for members of the public to complain about shops being open and will follow those up with warning letters.

Special briefing notes from the Labour Inspectorate General Manager George Mason to the minister show the inspectorate has questioned the effectiveness of the shop trading act, which allows for a $1,000 penalty for breaches of the law.

In many cases the judicial system was reluctant to impose the maximum fine, Mr Mason told the minister.

He said in recent years not many complaints from the public were received and this year not a single shop was prosecuted for opening at Easter.

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But Simon Bridges said shops can still be prosecuted and will be if the Inspectorate felt it was necessary.

The law will be upheld – if the Inspectorate felt it was necessary?!

When a government will not uphold the law because it conflicts with their own ideological stance – then why have laws at all?

And can the rest of us pick and choose which laws are convenient to uphold, and which we can break?

It appears so…

Mr Bridges is showing us the way.

Murray McCully

After the debacle of the Malaysian diplomat, accused of burglary and attempted rape, and the question over why Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully failed to keep track over events in his own ministry, an inquiry was launched on 11 July.

McCully stated;

A thorough and transparent inquiry is important, as those managing diplomatic immunity issues for the Government need to enjoy the full, unfettered confidence of the New Zealand public.”

Although one wonders just how “ thorough and transparent” any inquiry will be when,

  1. The terms of reference do not include Murray  McCully’s actions. This effectively gives the minister an ‘escape clause’ from the fiasco.
  2. John Key has already pre-determined who the guilty party is, within the Ministry,  when he stated on 4 July; “If that person doesn’t have clarity about that position then they need to think very strongly about whether they’re in the right job.”
  3. Rob Hosking from the National Business Review suggested that the Inquiry will “not likely to be [completed] before the September 20 election”. How ‘convenient’.

Hekia Parata

On 8 June 2012, as National’s planned to increase class-room sizes blew up in their faces with a combined teacher-parent revolt, I wrote;

Parata’s Plan to cut teaching staff and increase classroom sizes was dressed up as “improving teaching quality and professional leadership” – which was exposed as patent bollocks when she stated,

  “The changes to teacher:student funding ratios were to have saved the Government around $174 million over four years, of which $60 million was going to be invested in improving teaching quality and professional leadership.”

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.

That is the real crux of the matter; an ongoing programme of  reduction in  social services because of two tax cuts we could ill afford, and which National was irresponsible in making.

Two years later: On 7 July, Radio NZ’s Morning Report co-presenter, Susie Ferguson, spoke to National’s  accident-prone Hekia Parata and put it to her that Labour’s plans  to reduce class-room sizes by 2018 were proving very popular with parents. Ferguson pointed out that Labour’s policy was in direct opposition with Parata’s  humiliating failure to increase class-room sizes.

At 3.05 into the interview, Parata replied,

And at the time we were in a different fiscal environment and we were focusing right then on how did we find the money to invest in quality. And now we’re in a better fiscal environment, we can do both,both more teachers and more quality...”

Which is confirmation, if any was needed, that National’s plans to reduce teacher numbers and increase class-room sizes was nothing more than an outrageous cost-cutting exercise. Happily, it failed as New Zealanders stood up, en masse, and told National,

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New Zealanders were not prepared to sacrifice their children’s learning and future on the alter to National’s cost-cutting. If Key and his cronies were foolish enough to cut taxes as part of their 2008 election bribes, it was most certainly not going to be paid for by the children of the middle classes.

So far, #Teamkey seems to be going ‘swimmingly’ well.

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References

Fairfax media: Water rule changes seen as ‘licence to pollute’

World Wildlife Fund: Threat of Pollution in the Yangtze

Science Daily: First-ever Precise Data On Yangtze Water Quality

TV3: Minister agrees with diplomat’s alleged victim

TV3: The Nation Interview – Paula Bennett (transcript)

NBR: Bennett cutting a benefit that helped her – Labour

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

Scoop media: Warner Brothers Hobbit Deal a $67 Milllion Farce

NZ Herald: Editorial – Charter schools will give poorer parents choice

Beehive.govt.nz: Government delivers April 1 tax cuts, SME changes

Radio NZ: Govt defends trading law enforcement

Dominion Post: Malaysian diplomat case inquiry head named

NZ Herald: Diplomat case: Court file released

TV3: Ministerial inquiry launched into diplomat case

Interest.co.nz: Key suggests mid-level MFAT diplomat “considers career options”

NBR: McCully announces inquiry into MFAT’s handling of Malaysian diplomat allegations

Scoop media:  Teacher funding ratios to remain the same

Radio NZ:  Listen Hekia Parata on Morning Report

Radio NZ:  Labour pledges to reduce class sizes

Previous related blogposts

Why Hekia Parata should not be sacked

Hypocrisy – thy name be National

Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy


 

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Kirk

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 July 2014.

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

20 June 2014 1 comment

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

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

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

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

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

Parata responded to questioning from Patrick Gower;

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

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[FULL TRANSCRIPT: Hekia Parata]

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

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

What is Parata hiding?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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[FULL TRANSCRIPT: Jonathan Boston & Russell Wills]

Both interviews made for compelling, informative viewing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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[FULL TRANSCRIPT: Colin Craig]

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

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

Colin Craig: I didn’t do that.

Gower: Yes you did.

Craig: No, I didn’t.

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

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

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

Gower then asked Craig this salient question;

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

To which Craig responded;

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

Interesting.

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

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

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And…

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

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

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

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

Unfair?

Yes, of course it is.

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

That’s the way it is.

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

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

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

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

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

As Torben Akel asked in a introduction voice-over,

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

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

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

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

Not exactly a CV to be proud of.

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

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

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

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Postscript #1

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

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

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

Postscript #2

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

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

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

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

Postscript #3

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

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

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

… Not!

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References

Beehive: $359m for teaching & leadership career pathways

Radio NZ: NZEI, principals unite against policy

TV3 The Nation: Interview – Education Minister Hekia Parata

TV3 The Nation: Interview transcript – Education Minister Hekia Parata

Salvation Army: Hard to swallow – Child Poverty Action Group

BWB Books: Child Poverty in New Zealand

TV3 The Nation: Interview – Jonathan Boston & Russell Wills

Wikiquote:  Margaret Thatcher

TV3 The Nation: Interview – Conservative Party leader Colin Craig

Twitter: Patrick Gower

TV3 The Nation: The new breed of career MPs

National Party: National Selects Todd Barclay For Clutha-Southland

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

Beehive: $359m for teaching & leadership career pathways

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

Previous related blogposts

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

Patrick Gower – losing his rag and the plot

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

Additional

Facebook: Inside Child Poverty

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

Child Poverty Action Group

 

Events

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

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

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


 

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 24 March 2014

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- Politics on Nine To Noon -

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- Monday 24 March 2014 -

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- Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams -

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

Will The Mana party and The Internet party form an alliance?

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (25′ 54″ )

  • Mana Party
  • Internet Party
  • Hone Harawira
  • Kim Dotcom
  • The Alliance
  • Sue Bradford
  • Roy Morgan Poll
  • Shane Jones, Winston Peters, NZ First, The Green Parrot Restaurant
  • Hekia Parata, Kohanga Reo National Trust, performance pay for teachers
  • Ernst Young, Serious Fraud Office, PISA Education Ratings
  • Judith Collins, Oravida
  • John Key, China, Fran O’Sullivan, Rod Oram
  • Labour Party, Forestry policy, Red Stag Timber, government procurement

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Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 21 March 2014

23 March 2014 2 comments

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- Focus on Politics -

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- Friday 21 March 2014  -

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- Jane Patterson -

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A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

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

The Education Minister has once again found herself at the centre of a political storm, after allegations relating to the Kohanga Trust Board’s commercial arm, have ended up with the Serious Fraud Office.

The question is; when does public money cease to be public?

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 21 March 2014 ( 17′  28″ )

  • Hekia Parata, Pita Sharples
  • Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board, Te Pataka Ohanga
  • Ernst & Young report
  • Serious Fraud Office
  • Derek Fox

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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Good luck to Phillipstown School!

It was almost exactly a month ago that the Ministry of Education – at the behest of this shabby,  poor-excuse-for-a-government, announced the closure and “merger” of several schools in Christchurch;

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Tears, shock as Chch school mergers announced - TV3 - 29 May 2013

Acknowledgement: TV3 – Tears, shock as Chch school mergers announced

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Phillipstown School was one of three schools chosen to “merge” with others – in effect another closure.

However, tonight (30 June),  Phillipstown School will be following in the footsteps of Salisbury School (see previous blogpost:  Why Salisbury School was right to be wary of this government) in refusing to take this threat to their existence lying down.  In a press release today, Phillipstown School made it’s position crystal clear,

The Board of Phillipstown School will be filing judicial review proceedings in the Christchurch High Court on Monday.  The School is seeking a declaration that the Minister of Education’s decision to close Phillipstown school and merge it with Woolston school from the beginning of 2014 is illegal and in breach of the Education Act 1989.

Acknowledgement: Scoop Media – Phillipstown School launches Judicial Review

As Board of Trustees Chairperson, Wayne West, said on Scoop Media,

The Minister’s decision appears to be based on mistakes of fact. The statutory consultation required with the School and with the parents of students was also illegal because the officials refused to give us the information needed to respond to claims about the costs of remediating the earthquake damage at the school, and other property related issues. The Minister cited both of these as key reasons for her decision.”

Acknowledgement: IBID

As this blogger has pointed out previously, it seems to be the height of callousness and indifference to the stress and suffering of Christchurch people over the past two years.  With two major earthquakes and thousands of aftershocks; damaged infra-structure; disrupted services; closed or struggling businesses; and the heart of the city all but destroyed – National Ministers seem content to  add human-imposed misery upon Cantabrians.

This is the worst possible time to be “rationalising” any public service in that city.

I believe that National will suffer badly in the next election if they persevere with their appallingly-concocted plans.

This blogger supports schools in Christchurch; the staff; the parents, and children, to help preserve their already stressed communities. They deserve support and assistance – not further under-mining of public services.

I hope their request for a Judicial Review is successful.

And I hope that National MPs in the Canterbury electorates receive the full opprobrium of  voters,  at the next election,  for their shameful conduct. Perhaps it is time for Cantabrians to send a “seismic political shock” to this government?

Good luck, Phillipstown School!

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Previous related blogposts

Four schools to close in Aranui, Christchurch

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Why Salisbury School was right to be wary of this government

24 June 2013 3 comments

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salisbury school logo

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Background

It was on 31 October last year that  Education Minister, Hekia Parata, announced her decision to close both  Salisbury School in Nelson and McKenzie Residential School in Christchurch. Both were schools specialising in support high-needs children with varying degrees of disabilities. Parata said,

After carefully considering all the information provided to me, including the responses from the schools, and information provided at my meetings with the Boards of the schools, I have decided to close the two schools. 

At the very heart of this difficult decision lies the opportunity to provide services and support for more children with complex needs in their local community. We can link local services with the remaining residential provision to achieve a more personalised and high quality approach for children and their families.

I am satisfied that this combination of services will make sufficient provision for all children with special education needs both locally and nationally.”

Acknowledgment – Beehive – Final decision on residential special schools announced

In an attempt to alleviate shock and disbelief throughout the country, Parata offered an alternative – a so-call “Intensive Wraparound Service“,

The Intensive Wraparound Service will be extended to support students with complex needs to remain in their community and attend their local school. The service will be based in every region with a trained facilitator, usually a psychologist

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Funding from closing the two residential schools will be redirected into the Intensive Wraparound Service. The net result will be better support for more students and keeping communities together.”

Acknowledgment – IBID

The parents and staff of Salisbury students would have none of it. Parata’s decision to close the school and merge with co-ed Halswell Residential School in Christchurch. Female students would be relocated to mix with male students.

The implications of such a move did not escape parents and teaches. They realised that mixing highly vulnerable girls – many with considerable mental disabilities – with boys and adolecent young teenagers, was a potential  for disaster. There was grave risk of sexual abuse, amongst other problems (I refuse to call them “issues”.)

Salisbury school and parents rejected the planned closure.

On 26 November last year, Salisbury school mounted a legal challenge to Parata’s decision.

By 11 December, a Court decision ruled that National’s move to close the  school was unlawful. Justice Robert Dobson condemned Parata’s descision because of  “the prospect of greater risk of sexual or physical abuse“.

On 22 May, this year, Parata had fully backed down and announced that her Ministry would not be appealing the Court decision. Parata gave this gobbledegook statement to the media,

‘‘The arguments that we were making at the time were valid and remain valid, but a different decision has now been made, and I am pleased for Salisbury that that is the case, and keen now to resume normal transmission.’’

Acknowledgment – Nelson Mail –  U-turn stuns, delights Salisbury

Salisbury School won the battle, with Courts accepting that  female students would be put at risk by attending a co-ed school.

One also had to question the reality of  any so-called “Intensive Wraparound Service” that Parata had promised.

Intensive Wraparound Service

In a May 2012 Ministry of Education report (Development of a new intensive wraparound special education), the author wrote,

Two Residential Special Schools also provide an outreach service4. Salisbury’s service caters for a minimum of 30 students, while Halswell School caters to a maximum of 36 students.

Figures from 2010 show the Government invested approximately $84,200 in each student who attended a Residential Special School in the year.

This figure contrasts with an annual investment of approximately $7,700 in each student who attends a state and integrated (or non-residential) school or approximately $29,000 for each student who meets the criteria to receive support through an intensive wrap-around service.

Note the figures mentioned;

Residential School Student: $84,200 per student

State/Integrated School Student: $7,700 per student

Intensive wrap-around service Student: $29,000 per student

So by relocating special needs students from Salisbury to a mainstream school, with so-called “Intensive wrap-around” support, there was a saving to the State of $55,200 per student.

It is not beyond suspicion that the attempted closure of Salisbury School; with attendent risk to female students; was a particularly nasty attempt at cost-cutting by this bottom-line focused government.

Indeed, more than a suspicion, the report clearly stated,

It is important to note the new service:

- provides an opportunity to use existing funding in new ways, achieving better value for money and more efficient use of resources

This government appears to be content to play with peoples’ lives to save a few bucks.

Current Issues

Later  in  May this year, there were revelations that several Whangarei schools were unable to cope with severely disturbed – and violent – young students. Radio NZ reported,

A Whangarei school principal says a system designed to improve support for at-risk children appears to be bogged down in paperwork.

The Gateway programme began two years ago to co-ordinate the roles of Child, Youth and Family, doctors, schools and mental health services for children in care.

But Horahora primary school principal Pat Newman said from what he has seen, the gateway is blocked.

He said he has been trying since March to get an assessment for a young pupil with serious anger problems who hurts other children on a daily basis.

Mr Newman said various agencies have filed their observations about the boy and though he clearly needs specialist help, there has been no action. Now his classmates are afraid of him and have begun to exclude him.

Child, Youth and Family said it understood the boy was doing well at school, but if his Gateway assessment throws up other issues it will address them.

The head of another school, who has asked not be named to protect the identity of children, said disturbed new entrants are increasingly common, and he has had a teacher close to leaving because of their appalling behaviour.

In the worst case, he said a boy was not only violent to teachers and children, his behaviours were also sexualised.

The principal said the boy would leave the school whenever he felt like it and had to be watched and tracked constantly to keep him safe.

Acknowledgment – Radio NZ – Paper-work seen as blocking support for children

A further Radio NZ report stated,

Northland primary school principals say they are seeing growing numbers of violent new entrants and getting less support to deal with them.

Three Whangarei primary school principals have complained about a lack of support for new entrants with serious psychological problems.

Another principal in Northland says research is urgently needed on the growing numbers of violent and unmanageable children entering the school system.

Principals said they are having to beg for specialist help and teacher aides while the Government spends $60 million on a behavioural management programme for teachers.

Tai Tokerau Principals’ Association vice-president Marilyn Dunn said there has been an influx of new entrants to Northland schools raised in homes where they have seen violence, methamphetamine and alcohol abuse since they were born.

Ms Dunn said such children are often aggressive and need the help of a teacher aide for prolonged periods to keep them and others safe.

She said the Government’s new Positive Behaviour for Learning programme for teachers does not provide for this and schools need far more specialised help.

Acknowledgment – Radio NZ  –  Teachers having to cope with more violent new entrants

The same report added,

But the Ministry of Education on Monday defended the level of support available to schools dealing with violent or disturbed children.

The ministry said its special education teams are working with between 3000 and 4000 pupils throughout New Zealand who exhibit particularly challenging behaviour. It said the teacher aide budget in Northland is unchanged.

However principals say in practice, that amounts to a funding cut – because they are dealing with growing numbers of damaged children and there is now less funding to go around.

Acknowledgment – IBID

And as usual, Key  admitted  he didn’t  know if there been an increase in violent cases in Whangarei.

Another report also questioned how much community support was being given to vulnerable people with psychiatric conditions,

The brother of a man killed by a mentally ill former flatmate says not enough is being done to care for mental health patients living in the community – often with tragic results.

Cambridge man Graeme Moyle’s older brother, Colin Moyle, was bludgeoned to death in his Auckland home by psychiatric patient Matthew Ahlquist in May 2007.

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“I believe not enough resources are available to care for mental health patients in the community, especially at the higher end. The reason many are on the street is because there’s not enough beds for them and there’s nowhere to put them.”

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“Whilst we endeavour to provide the best possible care to service users, we are mindful that despite our best intentions, in any organisation as large and complex as ours, there will be times where things don’t go to plan,” Ms Jenkin said. “In such situations we will generally formally report serious incidents and undertake a service review to understand what went wrong, and why, in order to improve the services that we provide to those that need them.”

In the 1990s, New Zealand went through a period of de-instutionalisation.  Patients from mental health hospitals  and other institutions were relocated back into the community. The  Bolger-led National government of the day assured the public that as institutions were emptied,  resourcing and funding would follow.

The opposite seemed to happen and many ex-patients ended up in living in squalor or out on the streets. One well known case in the 1990s involved a female ex-psychiatric patient who slept in public toilets; gathered cigarettes butts from gutters; and was at considerable personal  risk. She seemed to have no support or safety network whatsoever.

The plaintive cries from Whangarei principals for more support suggests that funding for high needs students is severely lacking.

Promises of support for disturbed students are not materialising into actual funding.

This blogger is personally aware of one solo-mother who has a son with high-functioning autism. The young lad, 12, has recently come to the attention of emergency services (police and fire brigades) with his extreme behaviour.

He requires full-time support from a teacher aid – but is receiving only half the hours that should be allocated to him.

I know this kid. He’s a good sort. With full support he could become a stable, productive member of society.

Without support, and allowed to go “off the rails”, he will end up in prison.

Cost to tax-payer: $95,000+ per annum.

The staff, management, and parents of Salisbury school students were correct to fight this government. Their fears that Parata and other National Ministers were offering hollow reassurances of  “Intensive wrap-around” services was well-founded.

If we’ve learned anything these last five years it is this; What National  giveth; National taketh.

The parents of Salisbury School students were not about to put this matter to the test, nor put the well-being of their daughters into the ‘caring’ hands of Hekia Parata, Bill English, et al.

“Wraparound”?

I don’t think so.

Not this Weetbix government.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 31 May 2013.

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References

Ministry of Education: Development of a new intensive wraparound special education (PDF) (May 2012)

Beehive: Final decision on residential special schools announced (31 Oct 2012)

Nelson Mail: Salisbury School mounts legal bid  (26 Nov 2012)

TVNZ:   Special needs school closure declared unlawful  (11 Dec 2012)

Nelson Mail: U-turn stuns, delights Salisbury  (22 May 2013)

Radio NZ: Paper-work seen as blocking support for children (27 May 2013)

Radio NZ: Principals frustrated with ‘gateway’ programme (audio – 27 May 2013)

Radio NZ: Childrens’ charities struggle to secure funding (audio – 27 May 2013)

Radio NZ: Teachers having to cope with more violent new entrants (27 May 2013)

Fairfax Media:  ‘Too little resourcing’ for mentally unwell (29 May 2013)

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Four schools to close in Aranui, Christchurch

19 June 2013 3 comments

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Hekia Parata has announced the closure (“merger”) of four schools in Aranui, Christurch,

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Four Christchurch schools to close

Acknowledgment:  NZ Herald – Four Christchurch schools to close

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By sheer coincidence (?), all four schools happen to  be situated in the electorate of Christchurch East.

Christchurch East is a Labour seat, currently held by Labour  MP,  Lianne Dalziel,

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Christchurch East Electorate

Acknowledgment: Elections NZ – Official Count Results — Christchurch East

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As National’s electoral support continues to drop  in the polls, closing schools in National held seats (Christchurch Central, Ilam, Waimakariri, and Selwyn) would not do the government any favours.

So when this right-wing government – which has demonstrated an unerring ability to act ruthlessly when it suits their interests – is going to close schools, causing more misery for the locals, they target a Labour electorate.

Or maybe it’s just a sheer coincidence that all four schools are in Ms Dalziel’s electorate and none are in a National held seat?

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yeah-right

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

 

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