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Archive for 19 October 2011

Tui Time!

Sent in by an astute reader,

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The irony of this billboard is that it is not a parody.  It’s a real billboard spotted on someone’s front lawn.

Obviously this particular hoarding-facing was designed before news that  government  borrowings have increased from $16.7 billion to June this year, to $18.4 billion to October this year.

Or that interest rates will most likely rise, due to credit downgrades by Fitch and Standard & Poors. And with an imminent announcement Moody’s – also likely to be a down-grade – expect your mortgage repayments to rise soon.

I suspect these particular billboards may come down very shortly. The embarresment factor may be somewhat irritating for the encumbent government.

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Acknowledgement

Thanks to ‘Sandman’  for sharing this image with us.

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Priorities?

19 October 2011 66 comments

National Government priorities:

Amount spent by government on the Rugby World Cup: $39 million

Total amount of public spending: $200+ million

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Amount spent on  ‘plastic waka’: $2 million

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Extra amount spent on “party fanzones” to cater for extra crowds: $5.5 million

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Amount spent by government on 34 new ministerial BMWs: $???   (“Commercially sensitive” – but retail cost, $200,000 each.)

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Amount spent by MPs on accomodation and travel  in just six months: $7.69 million

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Amount required to keep five people alive, who suffer from the rare Pompe disease:  overpriced  (according to the government),

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It seems that this government can spend millions on rugby, party zones, luxury limousines, ministerial travel and other perks – but spending money to save the lives of our fellow New Zealanders is “unaffordable?

Well, at least this illustrates the priorities of this government like nothing else does. It is obvious what is more important to John Key and his colleagues in the National Party.

What makes this tragedy even more ghastly is that in 2008, John Key campaigned on behalf of  women suffering from breast cancer for Pharmac to fully  fund herceptin. Pharmac at that time had decided to fund only a nine week course – whilst campaigners were demanding a full 12 month period of funding.

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Source

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Perhaps the difference between Mr Hill’s case, suffering from Pompe’s disease, is that 2008 was an election year and National was campaigning hard against an incumbent Labour government, led by an experienced, politically savy,  and fairly popular  prime minister.

National of course, won the 2008 election and Key “made good” on his election promise to force Pharmac to extend funding for herceptin,

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This year, is also an election year – but National is high in the public opinion polls and John Key is considerably ahead of his nearest rival, Phil Goff.  John Key therefore has no need to “play to the public“. He can afford to be “somewhere else” when a dying man knocks on his office door.

This is a shameful state of affairs. This government can find money to spend on luxury items; spend-up large on a rugby tournament and party zones; etc – but $5 million is somehow “unaffordable”?!?! Only the most soulless government could behave in this manner.

How craven for a Prime Minister not to have the courage to meet a dying man. And how gutless to have security guards do the Dear Leader’s dirty work in turning away Mr Hill.

Perhaps it’s not the sort of photo-op that Mr Key favours?

Mr Prime Minister – I challenge  you to  extend full treatment to Laurie Hill and other sufferers of  Pompe disease. I challenge you to do for sufferers of  Pompe disease what you promised for breast cancer sufferers in 2008.

Hell, I’ll even close down this Blog if you do. It’ll be one less critical voice niggling at you and your government.

Are you up for the challenge, Mr Prime Minister?

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+++ Updates +++

An email sent to the Prime Minister and  Minister of Health,

from:    [email]
to:    Tony Ryall <tony.ryall@parliament.govt.nz>,
Prime Minister John Key <john.key@parliament.govt.nz>
bcc:    [email]
date:    Sat, Oct 22, 2011 at 10:28 PM

Sirs,

You may be aware that there are five people in New Zealand who desperately require assistance to treat their condition, Pompe’s disease. These people are dying from their illness and require a treatment of myozyme to survive.

Three years ago, you campaigned to have herceptin extended from a 9 week treatment, to a full 12 months – effectively over-ruling Pharmac. This was done at the desperate request of women suffering from breast cancer.

I ask that you do the same for sufferers of Pompe’s disease. I’m sure you know who these people are.

You are your colleagues were only too happy to spend $36 million on the Rugby World Cup. Plus another $5.5 million on extensing the “Partyzones” in Auckland. Well, we now need that same generosity of spirit to help save five lives.

You may do it from a senseless of generosity and knowing it is the right thing to do.

Or, you may do it because it is hardly the sort of election issue that you want clouding your campaign.

The important thing is that  the right decision is made – there are five people counting on you.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

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Useful Email addresses

Prime Minister, John Key

john.key@parliament.govt.nz

Health Minister, Tony Ryall

tony.ryall@parliament.govt.nz

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Additional reading

Editorial: Behind a penguin on priority list

New Zealand Pompe Network

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Acknowledgement

Thanks to Sharlene for bringing this issue to my attention.

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Evidently it’s a “balancing act”?

19 October 2011 2 comments

The latest “vacant optimism” from John Key,

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Full Story

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Answering queries about offshore drilling, Key said it was a “balancing act” between business and the environment.”

“Balancing act”? Jeez, has this man learnt nothing from the last couple of weeks???

Is this man for real?

New Zealand  is hit with the worst environmental disaster since Whenever, and John Key maintains an equanity stating that “we need to protect the environment as much as we can but not to the point where we do absolutely nothing. This is a tragedy that’s occurred of no fault of any New Zealander –  this is a boat that’s run aground and accidents do happen whether they’re on land or on sea or on the air.”

Well, excuse me, Mr Kiey – but the explosion that blew apart the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico in April last year, killing 11 men, and spewing 4.9 million barrels (780,000 m3) of crude oil into thre Gulf Of Mexico – was also no doubt an accident.

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Of course accidents happen. Only a fool denies that. But it takes a wise person to weigh the risks and arrive at a sensible conclusion. In this case, it seems blatantly obvious that (a) New Zealand could not handle the grounding of one single freighter, the “Rena”  (b) cannot extract 1700 tonnes of oil and 200 tonnes of diesel  (c) has had 300+ tonnes of oil leak into the sea, and (d) more may end up in the sea, as the ship eventually breaks up.

So the multi-billion dollar disaster of the Gulf of Mexico should serve as a very loud warning to us all: we have no way of dealing with a really bad oil spill.

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The “Rena”  was one ship; on the surface; run aground; with a (relatively) small quantity of oil aboard.

Now imagine an oil rig blowing apart, as the Deepwater Horizon did last year, spewing millions of tonnes of oil into our coastal waters, as happened in the Gulf of Mexico.

Now let’s re-read John Key’s statement; “we need to protect the environment as much as we can but not to the point where we do absolutely nothing. This is a tragedy that’s occurred of no fault of any New Zealander –  this is a boat that’s run aground and accidents do happen whether they’re on land or on sea or on the air.”

Is the man clueless or what?!

Just to remind us all what is at stake,

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Containers from the 47,230 tonne Liberian-flagged Rena float next to it after falling from the deck, about 12 nautical miles (22 km) from Tauranga, on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island October 12, 2011, a week after hitting the Astrolabe Reef. The captain of the Rena has appeared this morning in the Tauranga District Court over the incident and has been remanded on bail, and about 70 containers fell from the vessel amid heavy seas last night, according to Maritime New Zealand.

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A volunteer removes thick fuel-oil from the stricken container ship Rena washed up on beaches at Papamoa, near Tauranga October 12, 2011. The 47,230-tonne Liberian-flagged Rena has been stranded on a reef 12 nautical miles off Tauranga on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island since running aground a week ago and authorities estimated 300 tonnes of oil have escaped from the ship, causing the country's worst environmental disaster in decades.

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Volunteers remove thick fuel-oil from the stricken container ship Rena washed up on beaches at Papamoa, near Tauranga October 12, 2011. The 47,230-tonne Liberian-flagged Rena has been stranded on a reef 12 nautical miles off Tauranga on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island since running aground a week ago and authorities estimated 300 tonnes of oil have escaped from the ship, causing the country's worst environmental disaster in decades.

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Conservation officials remove dead seabirds as thick fuel-oil from the stricken container ship Rena fouls beaches at Papamoa, near Tauranga October 12, 2011. The 47,230-tonne Liberian-flagged Rena has been stranded on a reef 12 nautical miles off Tauranga on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island since running aground a week ago and authorities estimated 300 tonnes of oil have escaped from the ship, causing the country's worst environmental disaster in decades.

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A volunteer looks at dead seabirds on the shore as thick fuel-oil from the stricken container ship Rena fouls beaches at Papamoa, near Tauranga October 12, 2011. The 47,230-tonne Liberian-flagged Rena has been stranded on a reef 12 nautical miles off Tauranga on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island since running aground a week ago and authorities estimated 300 tonnes of oil have escaped from the ship, causing the country's worst environmental disaster in decades.

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Conservation officials remove dead seabirds as thick fuel-oil from the stricken container ship Rena fouls beaches at Papamoa, near Tauranga October 12, 2011. The 47,230-tonne Liberian-flagged Rena has been stranded on a reef 12 nautical miles off Tauranga on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island since running aground a week ago and authorities estimated 300 tonnes of oil have escaped from the ship, causing the country's worst environmental disaster in decades.

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A volunteer removes fuel oil from the stricken container ship Rena that washed up on beaches at Papamoa, near Tauranga October 12, 2011. The 47,230-tonne Liberian-flagged Rena has been stranded on a reef 12 nautical miles off Tauranga on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island since running aground last week. Authorities said up to 300 tonnes of the ship's 1,700 tonnes of heavy fuel oil had already escaped, causing the country's worst environmental disaster in decades.

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Conservation officials search for dead and injured seabirds as thick fuel-oil from the stricken container ship Rena fouls beaches at Papamoa, near Tauranga October 12, 2011. The 47,230-tonne Liberian-flagged Rena has been stranded on a reef 12 nautical miles off Tauranga on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island since running aground a week ago and authorities estimated 300 tonnes of oil have escaped from the ship, causing the country's worst environmental disaster in decades.

Source

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The unfortunate aspect to National’s plans to allow deep sea oil drilling is that governments come-and-go.  But the effects of their actions live on for years and decades.  Rob Muldoon’s canning of  Labour’s superannuation scheme n 1975 and the ‘Think Big’ projects, and Roger Douglas’s so-called “reforms” are but a few well-known examples.

Long after John Key has vacated Parliament, deep sea drilling rigs will pose an ongoing risk to our coastal waters and environment. This is simply not acceptable.

It is up to New Zealanders to call a halt to such madness when they enter the Ballot Booth on 26 November.

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Additional information

The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill by the Numbers

Wikipedia List of oil spills

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