Archive for 1 January 2012

Party like it’s Nineteen Fifty Two!!

1 January 2012 7 comments



Superintendent Paula Rose, the public face of road safety policing in this country, reported that the road toll for last year (2011) was the lowest on record since 1952. Certainly, 284 fatalities is a remarkable feat when compared to the 800+ that was killed in just one year alone in the decade of the 1970s.




Even more remarkable when the population was almost half what it is now, and with a lower vehicle-fleet on the roads,


About now, you might be wondering what this piece has to do with politics.

It’s quite simple.

The drop in road crashes, fatalities, and demands on our hospital services was not a natural occurrence that happened spontaneously.

The lowest road toll since 1952 – despite a steady increase in population, vehicle fleet, roads, and social mobility– happened because society and successive governments took decisive measures to achieve certain objectives.

Through a mix of advertising campaigns; tough legislation; proactive policing; and measures that extended into every aspect of our lives, work, recreational pursuits, etc – society acted collectively to meet desired outcomes.

The free market; individualism; neo-liberal ideology had zero part to play in reducing the road toll from 800+ in the 1970s to 284, last year. If anything, laws that were enforced regarding,

  • reducing drink-driving
  • wearing seat belts
  • reducing speed
  • outlawing cellphone usage whilst driving
  • toughening up on vehicle WoF safety
  • etc

… all played a part in ensuring that 500 people are alive today that – had the road toll not changed – would be dead and in the ground, or scattered ashes, last year. This is where the Cult of the Individual and the Free Market falls down badly. Not with just road safety – but the needs of society as a whole. Those who decry the collective action taken to reduce the road toll as “Nanny Statism” might care to reflect that they themselves could have ended up as a statistic in a walnut coffin.



Instead, the collective action of governments and community action has kept them alive.

The amazing reduction of the road toll is a vivid example of what  society can achieve when it works together, for the common good.

The enacting of laws; diligent policing; ubiquitous advertising campaigns; and communities that had had enough of losing loved ones to an endless series of horrific crashes – achieved a goal of saving lives. It was (and still is!) an incredibly complex programme – but determination from government; enforcement agencies; and communities working  in unison made it happen.

Imagine if we, as a nation, and starting with good leadership from the community, determined that our goals for the next few years would be;

  • eliminating poverty
  • creating jobs
  • reducing the wealth-gap
  • ensuring a healthy environment for our children

In a previous Blog piece entitled New Year’s Wish List for 2012, I outlined just such goals. A correspondent, Debbie -bless her heart – asked,

However, what are the chances?”

I think the chances are about the same as the magnificent achievement that Superindentant Paula Rose was congratulating us for.

There is no reason on Earth why the four goals above cannot be made into reality.

The benefits would be as positive as reducing the road toll and our country would truly be the envy of the world.

What are the chances, Mr Key? Mr Shearer?

And will you rely on the free market to do it? Because as sure as evolution made little green apples – it wasn’t the free market that saved 500+ people from the grave last year.





Inside Child Poverty

Rolls Royce sales rocket as super-rich drive in style



Another stake through the heart of quality broadcasting…

1 January 2012 12 comments



Stratos TV has closed down… Gutted!

Aside from another damned good channel going down the gurglar, that leaves us bereft of good, alternative, thought-provoking shows like Citizen A, War on News, Al Jazeera, The Beatson Interview, et al…

Stratos CEO, Jim Blackman, posted this statement on their website,

It is with a heavy heart and a huge amount of regret, particularly at this time of the year, that I have to tell you that Stratos Television has ceased broadcast as of today.

The transmission costs coupled with the economic environment and general lack of support at all levels has meant that it simply could not survive.

We know the channel had a significant number of viewers across the country that were steadily growing. We are sorry to have let them down.

I want to pay tribute to the dedication of our staff, presenters, programme providers and contractors who have worked with such passion and pride over the years Stratos has been on air.

The contribution made by these folks has been outstanding. I am so proud of them and I am just sorry they won’t see it blossom into the vision we started out with.

For further information please refer to Please feel free to leave messages on the guest book on that page. Email contact can be made at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Auckland viewers will be able to access most of Stratos’ programming on the Triangle Television analogue service.

We will not be making any other statement at this time.

– J W Blackman, CEO


‘Tis a sad day for broadcasting in this country.

And it will be made sadder when TVNZ7 is canned by this current soulless, visionless, valueless, government and replaced by a shopping channel…

A shopping channel, for chrissakes!?

Once upon a time, my fellow New Zealanders, we had one television broadcaster with one channel; the NZBC,



One channel, and I recall that it used to screen a wide variety of programmes.

Even when we acquired a second channel in 1975, our public broadcasting system was a healthy mixture of entertainment, information, news, current affairs, sports,   and a growing reflection of our own cultural identity.

Our TV journalists fronted investigative-reporting current-affairs shows, such as ‘Gallery‘,   that held our elected representatives to account. Even Rob Muldoon was not above scrutiny, before the attentive eyes of New Zealanders glued to “The Box”.

Fast forward to 2011: we have umpteen tv channels, both free-to-air and pay-per-view; 24 hour broadcasting; high-tech services such as On Demand; satellite reporting of international events as they are happening; etc.

And yet people are turning away from television in droves. The constant criticism of our present-day television is that it offers a bland ‘diet’ of reality shows; infomercials; grim and ghastly crime “dramas”; and an endless stream of cooking programmes.

Welcome to television, 21st Century-style.

TVs 1, 2, 3, 4, et al, are the personification of Dumbing Down for the Dumbed Down. Only the advert-breaks offer any hint of original wit.TVNZ’s public charter was scrapped and it was effectively turned into a corporate cash-cow. If they could broadcast hard-core porn to make a buck; return a better dividend to this current cash-strapped government; and get away with it – they would.



Stratos TV, Maori TV,  and TVNZ7 are perhaps the last remaining bastions of intelligent tv for intelligent viewers, who crave something more substantial that a gory crime show that depicts the latest act of misogyny against women, or semi-clothed  “survivors” on some out-of-the-way spot on Planet Earth, or yet another cooking show with background music that promises  “action packed conflict”.

With Stratos gone from Freeview and TVNZ7 facing cancellation in June, viewers will be left with the bland for the brain-dead (Maori TV excepted?). With a myriad of channels to choose from, it appears to be a choice of crap, crap, and more crap. Anything of value will be either on pay-per-view Sky (such as the taxpayer owned-and-funded ‘Heartland TV‘ – now firmly  a part of Skytv) or ‘buried’ at ungodly hours which only moreporks and insomniacs will watch.

Stratos was a good attempt at presenting a credible  alternative to viewers. It may not have been perfect, and it may have needed some “tweaking” – but it offered something more tangible to viewers than chefs screaming blue-bloody-murder at each other.

It’s interesting to note that the NBR article on this matter – though short and basically a re-hash of Jim Blackman’s media release – has generated 116 comments posted by readers. Many of those comments being quite passionate in their views of Stratos’ demise, and the apalling state of our public and private television.

I sincerely hope that Stratos may rise again, perhaps in a new style, but with old, traditional values in broadcasting.

God knows we need it.



TVNZ Public Charter

Brian Edwards: The TVNZ Charter – a toothless tiger out of its misery

David Beatson: Stratos is Dead – Who’s Next?

NBR:  Plug pulled on Stratos Television

Where to now for NZ public broadcasting?

How the badly maimed BBC can stand up to parasitic Sky