Home > Social Issues, The Body Politic > New Year’s Wish List for 2012…

New Year’s Wish List for 2012…

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My New Year’s wish list for 2012. Nothing too extravagant – just a few things that, in my ‘umble opinion, would make New Zealand the egalitarian social democracy we once had – before someone thought that pursuing the Almighty Dollar was more important than building communites.

In no particular order,

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  Stop the asset sales process. This government has no mandate to privatise any of our SOEs. There is also no rationale for any privatisation, as dividends  exceed the cost of borrowing by the State.

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  Halt the Charter Schools programme. There is little evidence that Chart Schools achieve better results  than  non-Charter Schools, and at least one major research project on this issue indicates that Charter Schools are a waste of time.

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  Introduce “civics” into our classroom curriculum. I’ve never considered this a necessity – up until now – but our recent low voter turnout – coupled with peoples’ apalling knowledge of how how political system works – is disturbingly. A modern democracy can only flourish if the public participate; contribute; and take ownership of the system.  Apathy breeds cynicism, frustration, and ultimately disengagement, disempowerment, and a violent response.

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  Implement programmes to assist those in poverty – especially families with children. Meals in schools (breakfasts and/or lunch) would be a great start. Build more state housing. Support programmes that help get young people  into training, upskilling, and  other constructive activities.

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  Stop bene-bashing and tinkering with the welfare system. Our high unemployment is a symptom of the current economic recession – not the cause of it. Instead, government must focus on job creation policies; training and upskilling of unemployed; and spending on infrastructure that maximises new jobs – not reduces them.

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  It’s time to wind back our liberalisation of liquor laws in this country. That particular experiment has been a colossal failure. Split the drinking age to 18/20; ban ALL alcohol advertising; put in place minimum pricing; reduce hours of retailers and bars; give communities greater voice and control of liquor outlets; make public drunkeness an offence; and implement the other recommendations of the Law Commission’s report, ‘Alcohol In Our Lives: Curbing the Harm‘.

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  Increase funding for Pharmac so that sufferers of rare diseases, such as Pompe’s,  can have hope for their future, instead of mortgaging it merely to postpone death for another day. We can do this – we must do this.

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  Release and make public all relevant information regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Making such deals in secret is hardly the transparency-in-government that John Key says he supports.

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  Maintain and keep funding TVNZ7. The planned closure of this station – and replacement with a shopping channel – would be a blow to decent public television in this country. We can, and must do better, than simply a channel devoted to more mindless consumerism.

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  Cease from further cuts to the civil service. Sacking loyal, conscientious, workers is not the “capping” – it is adding to the unemployment dole queues. It is gutting the system that makes a modern society function and we are losing decades of collective skills and experience for no discernible purpose. We went through this in the late ’80s; early ’90s; and late ’90s – and our services suffered as a result.

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Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Stat!

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  The Ministerial committee on poverty is set to end homelessness by 2020. This is simply not good enough!!! Bill English was interviewed on Radio NZ  on 16 December, and his responses to Kathryn Ryan’s questions were not reassuring. This excerpt from the interview was most telling,

RYAN: “It’s to report every six months, the committee. What measures will it use?”

ENGLISH: “Well, look, we won’t  spend a lot of time arguing over measures, there’s any number  of measures out there ranging from gini co-efficients  to kind of upper quartile [and] lower quartile incomes. Lot of of that is already reported in the MSD social report that it puts out each year…”Bill English and the new ministerial committee on poverty

If the Committee doesn’t monitor itself, how will it be able to measure it’s success (or fail) rate?

Poverty and unemployment have to be the top priorities of this government. Nothing else is as important.

Like the way in which the Jobs Summit, in early 2009,  sank beneath the waves,  I do not hold out for much success though.

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  Less spent on roads – more on rail and other public transport. Our continuing reliance on imported fossil fuels will not help our economy or environment one iota.

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  No mining on the Denniston Plateau (or any other Conservation lands). This ecologically-sensitive wilderness area needs to be preserved for future generations.  If we want to make money our of our environment – tourism is the way to go, contributing to approximately 10% of this country’s GDP.  John Key. Minister of   Tourism (NZ – not Hawaii), take note.

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  No deep-sea oil drilling. The stranding of the ‘Rena’ and subsequent loss of  of 350 tonnes (out of around 1,700 tonnes) of oil into the sea is the clearest lesson we’ve been taught that NZ is simply not prepared to cope with a massive deep-sea oil spill. An event such as the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, last year in April, by comparison lost 780,000 cubic metres of oil. An event of that magnitude would be catastrophic to our countrry.

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  Free healthcare for all young people up to 18.  And children to have first priority when it comes to our resources and funding. The future of our nation depends on healthy, well-educated, balanced children growing up as productive members of our society. Who knows – if we look after our children properly, they might feel more connected to our country and more motivated to live here instead of leaving for Australia. If we want our children to have committment to New Zealand – we need to be committed to them.

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Those are a few of my New Year’s wish list.  There are probably others that I may add at a later date – but they’ll do for now.

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  1. Pauline N
    29 December 2011 at 7:13 pm

    Good wish list. As for the general public knowledge on our political system Don’t get me started. LOL. I am utterly bewildered! I worked on election day at a polling booth and so I tried to ‘read’ the material on all the options for our future political system. The wording used is a bunch of crap. It doesn’t mean anything to me. I’m not that dum – so by my reckoning, if it’s a bunch of waffle to me then anyone with less of a brain doesn’t stand a chance. YES, we should be teaching this in school!

  2. 29 December 2011 at 8:21 pm

    I have to admit, Pauline, that I got a tad ‘lost’ on PV and STV, as well…

    But it’s not just that – it’s things like Parliamentary Select Committees; Standing Orders; and the role of The Speaker. (I got caught out just recently, regarding an aspect of The Speaker that I had missed. And I’m supposedly a political “animal”!)

    Or how the Judiciary and Parliament inter-act.

    Etc.

    If people don’t understand, then they lose interest and I think we all end up all the more poorer.

  3. Priss
    30 December 2011 at 10:15 am

    that’s an expensive wish list Frank. can we afford not to do it though? poverty has its own expensive outcomes so perhaps investing in prevention is better than all the millions we throw at the problems that poveryty and inequality causes

  4. Peter Martin
    30 December 2011 at 10:53 am

    ‘Lot of of that is already reported in the MSD social report that it puts out each year…’

    Is this report still being done…or has it been canned?

  5. 30 December 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Peter, I assume that English is referring to “The Social Report” issued by the MSD each year. Like this one; http://socialreport.msd.govt.nz/documents/the-social-report-2010.pdf

    As far as I know, these reports are still being issued.

  6. Cav39
    31 December 2011 at 10:10 am

    Civics lessons, yes, absolutely essential.
    I read somewhere that some people gave their party vote to NZ First in the hope that Winston would get in – and then found to their surprise that he’d brought a motley crew of several others with him!

  7. 31 December 2011 at 11:54 am

    Cav39 :
    Civics lessons, yes, absolutely essential.
    I read somewhere that some people gave their party vote to NZ First in the hope that Winston would get in – and then found to their surprise that he’d brought a motley crew of several others with him!

    Cav39 – I believe I read the same (or similar) comment as well. Without referring specifically about Peters, per se, it showed a disturbing lack of knowledge about our electoral system. One has to wonder how wide-spread such a lack of knowledge is…

  8. Deborah Kean
    31 December 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I join the others in saying it’s an excellent wishlist! However, what are the chances? 😦

  9. Theodore
    4 January 2012 at 10:41 pm

    That’s a good list Frank. I dont know if we can afford it all, though but maybe it would be enough to draw people back to New Zealand.

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