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Archive for September, 2011

We have a Clear Choice.

9 September 2011 3 comments

Not for a long time has the electorate been presented with such a distinctly clear choice in who to vote for, this coming election.

Aside from the issuie of sales of state assets, Labour and National seem diametrically opposed with regards to thegrowing social problem of unemployment. Specifically, youth unemployment.

“Youth aged 15–19 years have an unemployment rate over three times that of the entire working-age population. Young workers are more vulnerable to downturns in labour market conditions due to their lower skill levels and lesser work experience. The latest official figures show that 17.2% of youth aged 15 to 19 and 8.4% of those aged 20 to 24 years were unemployed, which represents a deterioration of the trends found in the report. Maori and Pacific youth had significantly higher unemployment rates.”Dept of Labour

“In a lengthy blog post, Unemployed youth would fill Eden Park, Duncan Garner declares that ‘this government’s biggest failure to date is our young people’.  With 58,000 youth not in work or education, ‘We are at crisis point. 27.6% of those aged 15-24 are out of work and out of luck. It’s even higher for Maori and Pacific youth’. And how has the Government performed on this issue? Garner says ‘there is a yawning gap between Key’s rhetoric and the reality’, and asks, ‘So what did Key do in the weekend to target the problem? Very little’. He suggests that ‘Key needs to be bold, he needs to take risks’.”  – National Business Review

Duncan Garner further went on to write,

“Targeting a couple of thousand 16 and 17 year olds and telling them that the state doesn’t trust them to spend their benefit money will offend no-one. Mentioning booze and cigarettes was political gold for Key, his delegates and voters will probably still be nodding with approval.

But Key is now facing new and mounting pressure to fix the problem of this growing underclass.”Duncan Garner, @ TV3

As this Blog (and many others) has pointed out, this government has done very little to address the growing problem of unemployment in this country.  To date, National’s contribution to job creation has been;
  • The cycleway.  Planned jobs from this project: 4,000. Actual nmber: 215Source.
  • Employing an “advisor” for Minister of Finance, Bill English. Cost to tax-payer: $2,000 per day. Source.
  • … and that’s it.

National held it’s annual conference on 13 August, in Wellington. At this conference, the pressing problem of youth unemployment was discussed, and  Key proposed a solution to youth unemployment;

  • Issue a Payment Card to 16, 17, and some 18 year old beneficiaries
  • The card would prevent 16 and 17 year olds from buying booze and ciggies (which is already illegal, but never mind)
  • … and that’s it.

Labour today released it’s policy on addressing unemployment in this country. It is bold; hands-on; and doesn’t muck around with “Payment Cards”.

Judge for yourself.

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A contrast of policies: Can do - Can't Do.

Full stories:

Labour would cut dole, increase training

National to clamp down on youth beneficiaries

National Annual Conference

We now have the clearest choice available to us, between Labour and National. I think we know, deep in our hearts, which is the most constructive, and which will have a greater chance of addressing youth unemployment in this country.

We know the answer.

Will the middle class, Baby Boomer generation vote  accordingly?

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Categories: The Body Politic

A kronically inept government…

9 September 2011 6 comments

2009 BERL report estimated that “$4.437 million of diverted resources and lost welfare” could be directly attributed to alcohol abuse. That $4.4 billion  is reflected in  ACC, hospital admissions, crime, family violence, lost productivity, etc, and places a firm dollar cost on the harm that alcohol abuse is causing NZ society. These are costs we all pay for through ACC levies and taxes spent on medical intervention; policing; and the justice system.

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This research estimates the social costs of harmful alcohol and other drug use, excluding tobacco, in New Zealand.  Harms related to drug use include a wide range of crime, lost output, health service use and other diverted resources.  Harmful use has both opportunity costs, which divert resources from alternative beneficial uses, and psychological or intangible costs, such as reduced quality or length of life.

The report provides four broad answers.  It estimates the:

  • total social costs from harmful drug use in 2005/06.
  • potential level of social costs that are avoidable.
  • cost to society stemming from alcohol and other drug-related injuries
  • social costs from harmful drug use borne by the government

The study shows that harmful drug use imposed a substantial cost on New Zealand in 2005/06.

  • Overall, harmful drug use in 2005/06 caused an estimated $6,525 million of social costs.
  • Harmful alcohol use in 2005/06 cost New Zealand an estimated $4,437 million of diverted resources and lost welfare.
  • Harmful other drug use was estimated to cost $1,427 million, of which $1,034 million were tangible costs.
  • Joint alcohol and other drug use that could not be separately allocated to one drug category cost a further $661 million. If the joint costs are split proportionately, total alcohol and total other drug costs equate to $4,939 million (over three quarters) and $1,585 million (just under one quarter).
  • Using estimates from international research, this study suggests that up to 50 percent ($3,260 million) of the social costs of harmful drug use may be avoidable.
  • The research indicated that 29.9 percent (or $1,951 million) of the social costs of harmful drug use result from injury.
  • The costs of harmful drug use from a government perspective amount to an estimated $1,602 million, or just over one third (35.1 percent) of the total tangible costs to society. 

BERL project reference: #4577

Click here for the report.

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Add to that the non-dollar, unquantifiable terms of  human misery of injury, violence,  and deaths, and we have a perfectly legal product that is causing much grief in our communities.

Let me present to readers  a few recent headlines, to remind us of how this problem is affecting our community…

Public pressure has forced government to look at this serious problem and an Alcohol Reform Bill is currently being considered by Parliament’s Justice and Electoral Select Committee. It has been a slowly progressing Bill – first introduced in November last year. Thus far, over 8,000 written submissions have been recieved by the Select Committee.

The Select Committee was due to report back to Parliament in June. The deadline was extended to the end of August. That is now unlikely, and the report will probably not be presented or passed until after the election (in November). This means no action is likely until Parliament reconvenes next year.

Part of the problem has been heavy lobbying by the liquor industry, and associated business interests, to water-down any meaningful reforms.

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In fact, the liquor industry has been well co-ordinated in their opposition. Note the following from two different websites;

Hospitality Industry of New Zealand

Tourism Industry Blogsite

The sharp-sighted will note similarity in writing style – written by the same person(s)?

It is no great secret that this country – our society – has a considerable problem with alcohol. The financial costs; the social costs; the waste of police and Courts’ time in dealing with alcohol-fueled violence and crime; the injuries; and the deaths – all exacerbated by cheap, easily accessible alcohol, and promoted by ubiquitous million dollar advertising campaigns.

Those at the coal-face have to pick up the human ‘wreckage’ of the over-indulgence of some;

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They have to deal with drunken, aggressive idiots like this chap;

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Mr Lett is one of 700,000 heavy drinkers in this country. It is by no means a “small minority” as some would insist – this is a considerable social problem. And it is not restricted to specific age groups or ethnicities; alcohol is being abused by young and old; male and female; pakeha, maori, Pacific Islander, et al – booze is non-discriminatory.

The alcohol industry’s marketting of RTDs (Ready To Drink) is, in itself insidious. These are cheap products and easily consumed in handy cans and small bottles. RTDs give considerable cause for concern to health professionals and the Police.

These RTDs are especially favoured by young people, with their high sugar content; pleasant flavours that appeal to an immature palate; and off course the alcohol-content;

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Last year, I found these products available at “Super Liquor Stokes Valley”, in Lower Hutt. They are an RTD, “William Cody’s Bourbon and Cola“. Price, $2 a can. Alcohol content, 10%. Amount in can, 150ml.

The cans are 9cm high. Just the right size for a small hand – like a young teenager, or a child. And at $2, are very accessibly priced for young people who do not have much money. They are cheaper than buying a bourbon & cola in a bar or restaurant.

These products should be banned, or a higher, minimum-pricing, regime introduced.

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"William Cody's Bourbon & Cola" Price: $2.00

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Stokes Valley Super Liquor receipt

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William Cody’s Bourbon and Cola” is manufactured by Independent Liquor – a company well-known for producing and marketting RTDs. Their website unashamedly promotes these RTDs.

The result of cheap, easily available liquor, is predictable;

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It’s becoming an urban “war zone”;  the injured and dangerously intoxicated; being patched up by para-medics; and then dashed to our ED Wards, for treatment.  But even our dedicated, over-worked, medical professionals seem to be be stressed to the point where some are wondering why they should bother anymore;

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Doesn’t it strike us as simply bizarre that we have ambulances stationed at “party hotspots” and our medical staff at public hospitals are abused, assaulted, and stressed by drunken fools – all on a regular basis? Is this acceptable to us, as the society we want to live in? Because it sure as hell doesn’t impress me as desirable or particularly sensible.

Since the heady days of de-regulation in the late 1980s and early 1990s, liquor has become easier to buy; outlets more prolific; and cheaper. Bars and liquor retailers can be open to the earely hours of the morning with many open 24 hours a day.

This has become a bone of contention in communities such as Cannons Creek, in Porirua, who are having to deal with the easy availability of booze, and subsequent abuse. It is simply outrageous that the liquor industry can make billions in profits, whilst local communities have to deal with the fall-out of alcohol abuse.

In what manner is this even remotely socially acceptable?

Or is it ok when it happens in socially-depressed areas such as South Auckland and Porirua?

Ironically whilst the  Alcohol Reform Bill is “stuck” in Parliament,

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“Among its more contentious provisions were a split drinking age of 18 for bars and 20 for off-licence purchases, alcohol limits for ready-to-drink beverages and reduced opening hours.

More than 8000 submissions on the bill were received and the select committee was granted two extensions, having originally been due to report back in May.

A spokesman for Justice Minister Simon Power said the Government intended to make progress on the bill, but whether it passed would depend on the legislative programme.” Source

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The Bill is unlikely to be passed before the coming election?  Yet,  Peter’s Dunne managed to get ‘Kronic’ banned in a matter of weeks;

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Number of deaths of young people due to ‘Kronic’:  1 (?)

Number of deaths of young people due to alcohol: 87 (!)

Obvious course of action: ban ‘Kronic’?!

Let’s not beat around the bush here. ‘Kronic’ is not a source of huge profits for liquor corporations and neither is it the drug-of-choice for Middle Class Baby Boomers. Hence it can be banned faster than anyone can say “moral panic”.

And yet, even the National Business Review called it, when they ran this article recently;

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Unfortunately, despite that NBR article acknowledging the problems caused by alcohol abuse, the author falls back on trite, libertarian cliches; it’s not our problem; alcohol restrictions are an over-reaction; and belittles those who advocate controls.  Calling alcohol the “new drug bogeyman” is not only unhelpful, but trivialises a $4.4 billion dollar problem in this country.

Suggesting that “proposal[s] to give greater discretion to local government in liquor licensing, hand over authority to people and bodies whose views tend to be less liberal” is actually not a reason not to address this growing community crisis. In fact, giving local people control over their communities is precisely where we should be heading. After all, who better to determine local needs than local people?

If it was good enough to de-volve power from the old Ministry of Education to local schools, and implement “Tomorrows Schools” – which allowed local communities to elect their own School Boards – then why shouldn’t communities make determinations when it comes to other issues? Especially issues involving, literally, life and and death problems?

Interesting, Ben Thomas’s article in the NBR was written in June 2008 – during the previous Labour administration. The “catch cry” of Labour’s political opponants was “Nany State! Nanny State!”.

I wonder if Mr Thomas has changed his views now that National is in power and confronted by the very same social problems that Labour faced?

The problem that our society is facing is brought into harsh focus by the deaths of young people like David Gaynor, Michael Treffers, James Webster, Frank van Kampen, et al. (I am mentioning only white, Middle Class New Zealanders, as they are the ones that the  White, Middle Class Baby Boomers seem to take notice of.)

The growing crisis of alcohol abuse, though, is much, much wider than most folk realise;

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Babies born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome should give us particular cause to worry. Such brain-damaged babies grow up into brain-damaged adults. Adult females with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome can exhibit brain damage through low IQ. They may become pregnant themselves; drink whilst pregnant; and the cycle perpetuates to the next generation.

Each person with FAS often requires high levels of medical intervention and ongoing community support from tax-payer funded services.  In other words, my fellow Middle Class Baby Boomers: we are paying for it. Hence BERL’s estimation of the high costs of alcohol abuse in NZ.

Am I getting your attention now?

Associate Health Minister, Peter Dunne,  had his “urgent legislation pass through Parliament last month. Urgent legislation to ban ‘Kronic’ – not control alcohol. ‘Kronic’ was simply “inserted” into the pending Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill that was proceeding through the House.

Amazing how politicians can move quickly on some problems, but not others?

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That’s how quickly it took, folks. A matter of a few weeks, and ‘Kronic’ was consigned to illegality.

I emailed Peter Dunne on this issue,

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To date, I have not received any response from the Associate Health Minister’s office.

As for the Alcohol Reform Bill, some up-dates;

Alcohol Reform Bill – Press Release: The Alcohol Advisory Council

Parliament

130 changes to alcohol reform bill given tick by Govt

Let’s hope that no one dies between now and the Bill being passed into law, next year.

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Additional Reading

Violence increases in Wellington

Vicious assault in central Wellington

Assault victim’s rehab ‘one to two years’

 

 

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2011 Party Lists

8 September 2011 4 comments

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

National’s Grand Victory in Employment?!

8 September 2011 5 comments

The number of people on the unemployment benefit has dropped – but more people are claiming welfare.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said the figures dropped last month by 1145 to 55,974, the lowest it had been since July 2009.

But, because of a rise in those claiming the DPB and sickness benefits, total beneficiaries were up from 327,990 to 328,355.

In July the overall number rose by 0.1 per cent and an extra 855 people began claiming the unemployment benefit, mostly because of a drop off in seasonal work.

Bennett said more young people were finding work. “Unemployment benefit numbers dropped last month by with half of the decrease due to more young people going into work.”

Last month 7238 claimants found a job.  There were a number of short-term Electoral Commission jobs currently among 15,000 jobs with Work and Income, she said. 

Source


+++ Reality Check +++

The number of people recieving the unemployment benefit does not reflect the true numbers of unemployed. The actual numbers are determined by the Household Labour Force Survey.

This is because not everyone who is unemployed registers with WINZ. For example married/de facto couples where one is working and the other has lost his/her job, cannot claim for the Unemployment Benefit.

Currently the HLFS figures for unemployed are:

For the March 2011 quarter: 155,000 (6.6%)

In the June 2011 quarter: 154,000 (6.5%)

And youth unemployment remains unacceptably high, at over 19%.

The government has a long way to go before they can announce victory over unemployment.

Worse  still, with the government cutting back on youth training to the tune of $146 million, I think we can start to see where our economy is headed: low wage; “McJobs”; and easy investment, as Bill English suggested, not to long ago;

And to achieve those low wages, government has implemented the appropriate cuts;

Which means that, as government investment in education, training, science, and research is cut back, we get this;

But not to worry, fellow New Zealanders. The government is onto it.

16 and 17 year olds will be given a Purchase Card so they cannot buy booze and ciggies.

What’s that? It’s already illegal to sell 16 and 17 year olds alcohol and tobacco products??

Never mind – bene-bashers love it.

The Great NZ Sell-Off Continues…

7 September 2011 4 comments

Despite recent assurances from the Prime Minister, John Key, to restrict foreign purchases of NZ farmland, his assurances that,  “I think we’re making progress in this area” seems to be based on empty words and little more.

As the Dominion Post  reported last year, “an average of 82 hectares of agricultural land per day has been approved for sale to offshore investors”.

Some recent headlines bear out that report,

It seems quite clear that John Key’s optimistic view that ” I think we’re making progress in this area” is wildly misplace. As usual, his soothing, reassuring words bear little relationship to reality.

But voters have yet to figure that out, collectively.

What the New Zealand public does understand, with crystal clarity, is that selling our farmland to overseas investors is counter-productive; counter-intuitive; and short-sighted economically.

It also cheats our children of their birthright.

New Zealand farmland is over-priced and farmers have gotten into trouble with massive bankloans and reducing equity. In part, this is due to the weasy credit that has been available to NZ society since 1985, when our banking system was de-regulated by you-know-who.

De-regulation meant that vast amounts of money flowed into NZ, for banks to lend out as mortgages, investments, loans, etc.

It also meant that, as money-supply increased, so did property prices. Quite simply, we could expect to sell our properties because there was an endless supply of money available from banks. Purchasers could borrow 80%, 90%, and sometimes 100% for mortgages.

So property prices went up. Our borrowings went up. Demand went up, as speculation was tax-free (remember that there is no Capital Gains Tax in NZ). It was an uncontrolled spending spree, without any consideration that eventually, the bubble would burst.

Well, in 2008, the bubble burst. In early 2008, there were signs that there was a crisis looming in the US banking industry. On 3 March 2008, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, the US federal agency that backs bank deposits,  identified 76 banks as in trouble , a 52% increase from a year ago.

By July 2008, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, were in severe financial  trouble.

On 15 September 2008, Lehmann Bros, in Wall St, New York, filed for bankruptcy. The subsequent chain reaction of banking failures sparked a global financial crisis and the world fell headlong into a recession.

Here in NZ, credit dried up, and suddenly our farms were no longer worth the high prices that people had been paying for them. The property boom came grinding to a halt, and the “bubble” well and truly burst.

We  could no longer afford to buy over-priced properties to make speculative profits that had been financed using money borrowed from overseas. It was time to pay the Piper.

For many owners of farmland, the obvious solution seems to be to sell properties to overseas interests. Foreigners have the necessary capital – which local New Zealanders do not.

Unfortunately, in doing so, we are effectively locking-out our next generation from the opportunities that our generation – the massive-borrowing, heavily-indebted, Baby Boomers – had enjoyed. We have played “monopoly” with our farms; making ever-increasing profits; as we sold land to each other in a kingd of mad, money-go-round.

Now, we can only save our indebted ‘skins’ by selling out to foreign interests.

This is simply another chapter of the story I told here; “Greed is Good?“.

Is it fare, I ask myself, that we have priced farm land out of reach of our children?

Is it fare, I ask myself, that instead of our children enjoying the same opportunities that we did – that instead it will be Germans , Americans, Swiss, Chinese, etc, who will now reap the benefits?

The greed and naked self-interest of Bany Boomers is well known. It is no secret that we have looted the wealth of this country, and have left our children with fewer prospects than we enjoyed. No wonder so many of them have left New Zealand, and plan never to return,

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

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

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

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

As we lose more and more farmland to overseas ownership, we should also expect some fairly noticeable consequences to follow;

1. Profits will flow back overseas, to offshore investors’ banks. This will impact on our Balance of Payments (negatively, I might add). This, in turn, will affect our sovereign credit rating; the interest rates we pay for money we borrow… and finally, our mortgages.

2. As farm produce fetches higher prices overseas, expect to see this reflected in the price of dairy products and meat that we purchase in our supermarkets. We have already experienced the high cos of milk and cheese, due to high prices overseas. Expect this to worsen.

Property and farm owners may object. They will squeal like stuck pigs, in fact. But the sale of our land to foreigners, whether American or Chinese; Australian or German; will eventually impact impact negatively on our economy and on the prospects of our children.

Enough is enough.  No more pandering to the self-interest of Baby Boomers.

It is time that common sense kicked in. The sell-off of our country has to stop. Otherwise, as John Key warned, we will become tenants in our own land.

To hell with that.

 

 

Alez ooops!

7 September 2011 2 comments

Full Story

To my fellow Kiwi blokes…

England expects every man to do his Duty. *ahem* To attention please, gentlemen.

Jolly good show, chaps. Carry on.  *winks*

 

 

 

 

 

 

A travesty of justice

6 September 2011 13 comments

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Anyone who has watched the documentary, “Operation 8: Deep in the Forest“, will hardly be surprised.

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This entire affair has been a drawn-out, needless, shambles. It has affected many people and cost huge sums of money for both taxpayers and the victims of these raids.

This was not in any sense “justice”. It was a gross mis-use of State power and a naked travesty of justice. Those responsible should be held to account and only a Commission of Inquiry with a wide terms-of-reference, can determine why this happened.

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POLICE RESPONSE: Armed police man a roadblock in Ruatoki Valley during the 2007 'terror' raids.

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The victims of these terror-raids (terror, as in causing terror to those who were raided and arrested) who were arrested – and made to waste large sums of money on legal defence and constant, pointless travel to Auckland to attend court appearances that never went anywhere – should now be compensated by the State.

This obscenity should never have happened in our country.

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+++ Updates +++

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Listen to Valerie Morse on Checkpoint

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+++ Updates +++

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STILL FIGHTING: Tame Iti, left, and Valerie Morse, seen here at an exhibition opening. Iti is still facing charges but the charges against Morse have been dropped.

Full Story

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+++ Updates +++

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Full Story

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+++ Update +++

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Full Story

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“”They are charged with the responsibility of keeping New Zealanders safe and they have a responsibility to act where they believe that people are at risk.  It’s my view that the police acted because they believed people were at risk.” ”

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No, Mr Key. The Police were not acting “because they believed people were at risk.”

The police PUT people at risk with their Gestapo/KGB/Stasi-like raids.

They were terror raids alright – and it was the police who were acting as terrorists.

Apology. Commission of Inquiry. Compensation. It’s as simple as that.

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+++ Update +++

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A further step in the right direction. Let the defendents be judged by their peers. It’s the right thing to do.

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Peter Thomas Mahon, QC (1923 – 1986)

5 September 2011 8 comments

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“Peter Thomas Mahon was a New Zealand High Court Judge, best known for his Commission of Inquiry into the crash of Air New Zealand Flight 901 (“Mount Erebus disaster”). His son, Sam Mahon is a well-known artist.

Mahon began his legal career with the Raymond, Donnelly & Co. He was mentored by Sir Arthur Donnelly. Mahon was junior counsel for the prosecution in the Parker-Hulme murder case in 1954.

After the crash of Air New Zealand Flight 901 with loss of all aboard on 28 November 1979, an accident report was released by the chief inspector of air accidents, Ron Chippindale, which cited pilot error as the chief cause of the accident. Public demand led to the formation of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the accident, consisting solely of Mahon. He produced his report on 27 April 1981, which cleared the crew of blame for the disaster and found that the major cause was the reprogramming of the aircraft’s navigation computer without the crew being notified. Mahon controversially claimed that Air New Zealand executives engaged in a conspiracy to whitewash the inquiry, covering up evidence and lying to investigators, famously accusing them of “an orchestrated litany of lies”. His book, Verdict on Erebus, an account of his inquiry, won the New Zealand Book Awards prize for non fiction in 1985.

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Mahon retired from the High Court bench in 1982.

In 1983 the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council held that Mahon had acted in excess of his jurisdiction and in breach of natural justice by going on to make findings of a conspiracy by Air New Zealand to cover up the errors of the ground staff.

In 1985 Mahon was appointed as Commissioner of Inquiry into the 1984 Queen Street riot. In the same year he published “Dear Sam”, a collection of his letters to his children.

In 2008, Mahon was posthumously awarded the Jim Collins Memorial Award by the New Zealand Airline Pilots Association for exceptional contributions to air safety, “in forever changing the general approach used in transport accidents investigations world wide.”” – Source
“Justice Peter Mahon accused Air New Zealand of an “orchestrated litany of lies” in his finding on the cause of the crash of the DC10 aircraft on Mt Erebus on November 29, 1979, which killed all 257 passengers and crew.

In his report released in 1981 he said DC10 pilot Jim Collins was not told of a last-minute change to the flight path co-ordinates, and neither he, First Officer Greg Cassin, nor the flight engineers, made any error which contributed to the disaster during a sight-seeing flight.

Air NZ challenged Justice Mahon’s accusation of a “predetermined plan of deception” and the Court of Appeal overturned the finding, saying the judge had exceeded his terms of reference.

Justice Mahon resigned, and died in 1986 but his comments echoed around the world.

Now the New Zealand Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) said it would posthumously present Justice Mahon with the Jim Collins Memorial Award for exceptional contributions to air safety.

“It is for his sterling work, in forever changing the general approach used in transport accidents investigations world wide,” said ALPA executive director Rick Mirkin. ” – Source

“The one-man commission, the late Justice Peter Mahon, was slammed by Muldoon who refused to table his 1981 report which accused Air New Zealand witnesses of participating in an “orchestrated litany of lies” on the witness stand…

… Justice Mahon found a navigation computer had been incorrectly changed so the plane was programmed to fly into the mountain, and that Air New Zealand witnesses had lied to cover up other mistakes that pointed blame at the carrier.

Muldoon responded with venom – the findings were potentially fatal to the Government-owned carrier – while Air New Zealand prepared an appeal against the lying accusations in court.” – Source

“… Successive governments refused, year after year, to officially recognise Justice Mahon’s accident report which overturned the assertions, made by the Chief Inspector of Air Accidents Ron Chippindale, that the pilots were culpable. With unassailable logic, Mahon proved him wrong. Justice Mahon’s report was eventually tabled in Parliament and became an official document in mid 1999, thanks to the efforts of Hon Maurice Williamson.

“That report absolutely clears the pilots of any blame. Yet confusion about what caused the accident remains in the minds of New Zealanders. It was to the advantage of many men in government, in Civil Aviation and in the airline that this confusion reigned for so long… ”

When the plane crashed, Captain Jim Collins left behind a wife and four young daughters. As well as examining the technical arguments around the cause of the crash, the book looks at the intensely personal impact the tragedy had on them…

Speaking on behalf of the family, Kathryn Carter, who was 15 at the time of the crash, says, “Our father and his co-pilot, Greg Cassin, were cleared of all blame by the Royal Commission. We want that to be understood and accepted by Parliament once and for all, and for it to be accurately recorded for New Zealand’s history.”” – Source

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Justice Peter Mahon. He arrived at the truth surrounding the Erebus Crash in 1979 – but it was an Inconvenient Truth, and it upset many powerful people in high places. The highest, it might be said, was the authoritarian Prime Minister of the day, Robert Muldoon.

Armed with nothing but his integrity and the truth he had uncovered, Justice Mahon stood against them all. I believe he will be remembered as one of New Zealand’s finest, most heroic people.

R.I.P. Peter Mahon, for you were an Honourable Man.

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America’s Decade of Disaster – Michael Hirsh

3 September 2011 Leave a comment

This article, published in the American “National Journal”, is a must-read as to where the US has gone wrong – and by implication – has sucked New Zealand into their mistakes.

Pay close attention to the writers’ commenys on tax cuts and spending, as it applies to us, as well. This is possibly one of the most important and insightful commentaries yet to be written. It will grip you…

“The events of Sept. 11 have ultimately left us, 10 years later, with an economy and a strategic stature that no longer seem terribly awesome. America is still the sole superpower, but our invincible military is bogged down in two wasting wars, and poorly armed insurgents seem not to fear us. The rest of the world, beginning with China and Japan, now underwrites our vast indebtedness with barely concealed impatience. We are a nation downgraded by Wall Street, disrespected abroad, and defied even now by al-Qaida, whose leader was killed only recently after spending most of the decade taunting Washington. How did this happen?” – Read further

(Acknowledgement to whoar.co.nz for bringing this excellent article to my attention.)

How To Beat Up a Story

3 September 2011 2 comments

Today’s  “Dominion Post”  contained an interesting editorial – interesting because the editorial related to what amounts to be a non-story;

No police record, no known next of kin, no mail, no benefit history. For 30 years 88-year-old Michael Clarke kept to himself in his Newtown bedsit. Some time last year he died the same way.

His remains were discovered in his bedsit at the grim Newtown Park Flats last week. Authorities believe he may have been dead for as long as 14 months.

The discovery has triggered an outpouring of dismay, but the discovery of a body in Wellington City Council accommodation is not an uncommon occurrence. As far back as 1997 former Wellington coroner Erika Kremic called upon the council to institute regular checks of its tenants. It is a call that has been echoed periodically by police who have to deal with the grisly remains when a death goes unnoticed.

But the council says there is a limit to what it can do. Council social portfolio leader Stephanie Cook said this week that staff tried to keep tabs on tenants and knocked on doors and visited them at least once a year. Yet many of the council’s tenants valued their privacy and did not like intrusions. The newspapers plastered over interior windows in the Newtown Park complex bear out her words.

However, it is no more acceptable for bodies to lie around for weeks or months than it is to shoehorn the vulnerable into cramped, dilapidated tower blocks that reek of urine.

Tenants in the council’s 40 housing complexes – a high proportion of whom are either elderly, immigrants, or suffer from physical and psychological disabilities – should be checked upon. Any who object should be informed that the checks are a condition of occupancy.

To its credit the council is taking steps to improve the quality of its accommodation, much of it built in the 1960s to accommodate single workers.

In conjunction with the Government, it commenced a $400million upgrade of its housing stock in 2008. Interior walls have been knocked down to make bigger flats suitable for families, communal landings and long corridors have been removed to get rid of gathering places for undesirables, and communal gardens have been established to encourage neighbourliness. Already the Central Park flats at the bottom of the Brooklyn hill have been transformed and work has commenced on the three tower blocks that are to remain at the Newtown Park Flats.

But the revamp will take time and will not entirely solve the problem. As a provider of last resort housing, the council will always have antisocial tenants who object to anything they regard as scrutiny. It will also always have vulnerable tenants who are fearful and suspicious of authority. They may prefer to keep to themselves, but regular checks are preferable to the alternative – dying alone and unnoticed as Mr Clarke did.

Source

I have two problems with this editorial.

1. The editorial claims that   “the discovery has triggered an outpouring of dismay“?

That claim is debateable at best – and a downright exxageration at worst.  Comments left on the “Dominion Post’s” own webpage were, by considerable majority, of the view that Mr Clarke’s passing was regrettable and that these things sometimes happen. In other words, it is a fact of life – however sad and unpleasant – that sometimes people will pass away in such circumstances.

I have read very, very, few comments of  “dismay“.

In fact, the only “dismay” seemed to be directed at the media that appeared to be “feasting” on this story and beating it up for all it’s worth. The media appeared  to be totally out-of-step with public thinking on this issue.

2.  The next issue that I raise is this part of the editorial;

“Tenants in the council’s 40 housing complexes – a high proportion of whom are either elderly, immigrants, or suffer from physical and psychological disabilities – should be checked upon. Any who object should be informed that the checks are a condition of occupancy.”

Pardon?!

Since when did New Zealand society take a sharp right-turn (or left-turn,depending on your political viewpoint), and abrogate peoples’ rights to privacy and keeping bureacrats out of their lives, as a “condition of occupancy”?!

Would the writer of this editorial insist that everyone living in a rental flat, regardless of socio-economic position, be “checked as a condition of occupancy”?

Or is he/she simply insisting on Council/HNZ tenants?

As  MilesLacey stated  on a “Dominion Post”  Forum;

As a former Wellington City Council tenant I think it’s worth pointing out that people move in and out of WCC flats all the time so it was probably assumed by everyone that Michael Clarke had simply moved on like so many others. Even if people do think that it’s odd that someone hasn’t been around for some time there is still the notion that it’s none of our business to meddle in the affairs of others unless they let us.

We can’t force people to care about others. We can’t force people to watch out for their neighbours. Once we start doing that we move into the murky world of the surveillance state where everything we do starts being monitored “for our own good”.

And I would also point out that not all people who die alone and aren’t discovered for weeks or months on end are elderly or living in city council flats. Why impose upon the privacy of council tenants, as proposed by the editorial [of Sept 3], but not anyone else? Seems less like looking out for our neighbours and more like snooping on the “undesirables” such as the poor.” – Miles Lacey,  Sep 03 2011

Considering that Council/HNZ tenants are at the bottom of the socio-economic pile (generally), the suggestion is that if you are,

A. Poor

B. An immigrant

C. Have a disability

… then you are less deserving of privacy that someone well-off; not an immigrant; and able-bodied/minded. This is not “Nanny Statism”. It’s not even National’s “Daddy Statism”. This is Big Brother, knocking on our doors, and demanding that we open up for inspection!

Today it will be Council/HNZ tenants.

Tomorrow, it may be superannuitants.

And next week – the rest of us. Big Brotherism – for our “own good”.

And it all began with the “Dominion Post”.

For our own good, of course. Are we feeling any safer now?

Politics through a crystal ball, palmistry, or chicken entrails?

2 September 2011 2 comments

In a somewhat weak attempt to allay fears over National’s stated intention to partially-privatise several state assets, Bill English has stated that he “believes only 10 to 15 per cent will initially go to overseas buyers”.

However, tellingly, National refuses to actually pass any legislation to prevent this from happening;

 

National says it will “cap” single investor’s holding to 10%.

But National refuses to explain how it will engineer  this “cap”.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a corporation could easily employ five “shelf companies“, each buying a block of 10% of the shares. These “dummy” companies would  each own a block of shares – in name only. The parent company – owning each dummy company – would be the real owner.

Result: a foreign corporation owning a sizeable chunk of each SOE.

Case in point:  Contact Energy.

 

 

In 1996, Contact Energy was split of from it’s parent SOE,  Electricity Corporation of New Zealand and fully privatised in 1999 as part of the then-National Government’s plan to “reform” the energy sector and make it more “competitive”. Energy Minister, Max Bradford,. assured New Zealand that the splitting up of ECNZ, and privatisation of Contact Energy, would introduce competition and drive prices down.

The opposite actually occurred and power prices doubled during the following decade.

When Contact Energy was privatised in 1999, 40% of the publicly offered shares were purchased by Edison Mission Energy. That 40% was subsequently increased to 51%.   Edison Mission started with a minority shareholding – which was soon increased to a majority sharehold.  (Starting to sound familiar?)

In 2004, Edison Mission sold it’s 51% stake to Australian company, Origin Energy.

Furthermore,

“The terms of this float were such that sharebrokers earned a greater commission from issuing shares to overseas shareholders than they did from issuing them to local shareholders. Many of the shares went to shareholders overseas (Gaynor, 1999). After the float, Gaynor assessed Contact as about 62% overseas owned.” Source

In reality, despite “assuring noises” made by Bill English and John Key, there is no way to prevent much of the proposed 49% sell-off of the SOEs, from falling into foreign ownership. This will not help New Zealand’s balance of payments, as profits are repatriated overseas, to offshore investors. It will mean that our most critically strategic assets will have owners who have no interest in New Zealand, except as a source of profits.

And importantly, we will lose approximately half of the profits made by these SOEs.

In 1999, Max Bradford promised New Zealanders that power prices would be “driven down” by competition.

That promise failed to materialise.

 

Garrick Tremain cartoon, Otago Daily Times, circa 1998/99

 

This year, English and Key promise that “only 10% to 15%” of shares will go to overseas investors.

Do we believe them sufficiently to “tick National” at this year’s general election?

I certainly will not.

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Further Reading:

Molly Melhuish

New Zealand Electricity Authority

Energy and Resources (New Zealand Government, portfolio website)

Max Bradford

Contact Energy

Electricity sector in New Zealand

How superficial can the media get?

2 September 2011 3 comments

Oh, about this much…

 

 

At a time when our country faces enormous problems and challenges; with an election less than three months away; with youth unemployment and other economic problems confronting our society – this is what the media feeds us?!

However, hardly surprising really, and Chris Trotter makes this observation as to why our modern media treats us like juveniles…

 

 

I would also venture a suggestion that the same also applies to our apathy at the upcoming Rugby World Cup. Rugby seems no longer about playing the game nor about the spectators. It’s now about multi-million dollar sponsorships and the heavy-handed controls that accompany it.  (See my piece, “What Killed Rugby?“)

The Big Boys have taken over, and they’ve got the ball now. We can either like it or lump it.

Politics and rugby – both victims of elitism.

 

 

It’s a simple matter of choice.

1 September 2011 2 comments

With Labour’s release today, of their youth skills/employment policy, voters are now presented with the clearest choice yet between the two main parties. Aside from the issue of asset sales, where National has announced a programme of part-privatisation, and Labour opposes any/all privatisation, employment policy is the real litmus of both party’s essential core philosopies.

National prefers to step back and allow the “free market” to work it’s magic.

Labour has no hesitation in using the power of the State to address social-economic problems.

The National Business Review – hardly an organ for marxist-leninist groups – was  moved to report on an opinion piece penned by Duncan Garner;

“In a lengthy blog post, Unemployed youth would fill Eden Park, Duncan Garner declares that ‘this government’s biggest failure to date is our young people’.  With 58,000 youth not in work or education, ‘We are at crisis point. 27.6% of those aged 15-24 are out of work and out of luck. It’s even higher for Maori and Pacific youth’. And how has the Government performed on this issue? Garner says ‘there is a yawning gap between Key’s rhetoric and the reality’, and asks, ‘So what did Key do in the weekend to target the problem? Very little’. He suggests that ‘Key needs to be bold, he needs to take risks’.”

Source

In stating that Key had done “very little” to target the problem,  Garner was referring to the Prime Minister’s policy speech at National’s Conference on 13 August.  Indeed, thus far National’s track record at addressing unemployment has consisted of the following;

  • Building a cycleway. Anticipated new jobs: 4,000. Actual new jobs created: 215.  (Source)
  • Hiring an advisor for Finance Minister, Bill English, at $2,000 a day. (Source)
  • A new payment card for 16,17, and some 18 year old beneficiaries that could not be used for things like alcohol or cigarettes; (though it’s already illegal for 16 and 17 year olds to purchase these products)
  • … and… that’s it.

Source

It is worth noting the seriousness of youth unemployment in this country. According to the Department of Labour;

“Youth aged 15–19 years have an unemployment rate over three times that of the entire working-age population. Young workers are more vulnerable to downturns in labour market conditions due to their lower skill levels and lesser work experience. The latest official figures show that 17.2% of youth aged 15 to 19 and 8.4% of those aged 20 to 24 years were unemployed, which represents a deterioration of the trends found in the report. Maori and Pacific youth had significantly higher unemployment rates.”

Source

Ducan Garner seems in no mood to respond to John Key’s “smiles and waves” politics when he opens his piece with this caustic observation;

“58,000. This is the crucial number that should be ringing in John Key’s ears every night he bunks down in the refurbished Premier House.

58,000 young people between the ages of 15-24 are not in education, training or work. The majority of them are on a benefit.”

Garner adds,

“Sure the recession has been tough on young people worldwide. 81 million youths are now unemployed around the globe, it was 71 million before the recession. It is a ticking time bomb. In London, it’s already exploded.”

Source

And there we have it:
  1. Problem: growing, lingering unemployment.
  2. Potential disaster: social unrest, exploding into mass-violence.
  3. Solution – ?
To demonstrate how utterly vacuous National’s policy has been to date, let me juxtapose two media reports  outlining policy releases from both Labour and National.  Have a good look at these;

[click to expand]

Labour would cut dole, increase training

National to clamp down on youth beneficiaries

Which offers new jobs, and which offers tinkering with welfare?

At a time when New Zealand has 170,000 unemployed – of which 58,000 are aged 15-24; when we will be needing thousands of skilled tradespeople to re-build a broken city that has endured massive earthquake devastastion; the current government has done next-to-nothing during its three year tenure.

Except create 215 new jobs in building a cycleway; hire some very expensive advisors; and give tax cuts to some very rich people.

In doing so, we do not have the skilled tradespeople required to re-build Christchurch.  Because we are currently losing around 20 skilled tradespeople a day to overseas destinations such as Australia.  At the same time, people are losing their jobs in Christchurch and unemployment is rising.

To show how badly this government has failed, nothing better illustrates that failure than this;

 

 

Only the most die-hard National/ACT supporter will believe this this situation is acceptable. (And they usually come up with all manner of excuses why it is acceptable.) But I suspect – or at least hope – that ordinary New Zealanders who look at this situation and will ask the inevitable hard questions;

  1. Why are we not offering training for unemployed?
  2. Why are we not planning  to put our people to work?
  3. Why are we hiring workers from overseas?
  4. How will this help unemployed New Zealanders to get back into the workforce?

On the 13 of August, at the National Party Conference,  Prime Minister John Key stated,that “the current system “is not working and needs to change“.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t talking about job creation or training for unemployed. He was talking about not letting 16 and 17 year olds buy booze and ciggies.

Goff says it is ”crazy”to have high youth unemployment alongside a growing skills shortage crisis“.

Which one resonates with you?

Postscript;

 

A bouquet  to Hutt Gas and Plumbing Systems Ltd ,  a Lower Hutt company that is one of the many thousands of small businesses in our communities, quietly ‘beavering’ away in the background,  that make  our economy work.

 

 

Hutt Gas & Plumbing featured on TV1’s evening news where Phil Goff released Labour’s youth skills and employment package.

Hutt Gas & Plumbing train several apprentices, giving young people an opportunity to learn a trade; earn a wage; and contribute to their local community.  These folk are the real pillars of our society. Not the big, flash corporations and financial institutions that shuffle bits of paper around, and make their profits on speculation.

These are the small companies that deserve our support and encouragement. They are the ones that some of our children will rely on for jobs’ training to get into a trade.

Kudos to Labour for planning to increase apprenticeships. This is the hard policy planning that will create jobs and give our kids opportunities.

And a bloody big brickbat for Minister for Tertiary Education Steven Joyce, for  saying that Labour’s proposal was just National policy dressed up,

They’re basically doing what the government is already doing, they just want to throw more money at it.”

It’s rather revealing that National thinks that creating jobs for our young people is  “throwing money”.

Because buying 34 new BMW limousines, for National ministers, is not “throwing money”?

A Taste of the Free Market?

1 September 2011 Leave a comment

Welcome to the Free Market, a-la New Zealand, where anything goes…

Brothel manager, Grant Thomas, said he “did not consider the sign to be in bad taste”. Well, that probably sez more about Mr Thomas’s standards of taste than anything else.

Personally, I have nothing against sex work, nor the industry as a whole, nor the reforms that the previous Labour government implemented in 2002. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their own bedrooms (or a hired bedroom) is their business, and not mine.

But standards of appropriate advertising apply to ALL commercial activities. That includes the sex industry. The liberalisation of prostitution was not meant to be a carte blanche to do whatever/whenever. Rules and standards apply to all businesses.

The sex industry is expected to abide by them.

Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy

1 September 2011 35 comments

When it comes to hypocrisy, this must surely be  contender for the Double Standard of The Year…

I’m not surprised that “Bennet did not return calls”. She was no doubt holed up in her office, waiting for this  s**t storm to blow over.

A bit of background into Paula Bennett’s life before she came to Parliament…

  • Paula Bennet was a solo-mother, at age 17
  • Just two years later, she got a Housing Corporation loan to buy a $56,000 house in Taupo.
  • All of this while on the domestic purposes benefit.
  • Paula Bennet was a recipient of the Training Incentive Allowance (a WINZ benefit)
  • Paula Bennet obtained her degree at Massey University, through the TIA – a taxpayer-funded benefit

 

Source

Source

So for Bennett to then write and state,

“I know many people are frustrated that they and their colleagues and family work hard to support themselves while people on benefits receive state assistance.”

… is hypocrisy on a breath-taking scale.

And to compound that act of double-standards, Bennett is still a recipient of taxpayer funded “welfare”. As a Minister of the Crown, she is currently paid $249,100 p.a. – plus various allowances, perks, and a very generous superannuation. MPs and their partners  also recieve free air travel, at tax-payer’s expense.

Ms Bennett is no longer on the DPB.

She just found a more lucrative way to milk the system.

Hon. P Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy