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Archive for 12 May 2012

When a failure of neo-liberal policy is pointed out to a right winger…

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… they will always default to one of three positions;

1. Blame the previous government
2. Blame the welfare state and/or beneficiaries
3. Blame the global recession (but not for an increase in welfare beneficiaries – that’s a “lifestyle” choice”)

Pick a public on-line messageboard at random. Look at the postings on  political discussion-threads. Note the response from right wingers and neo-liberals.

When confronted by a failure of the ‘free market’, the neo-liberal and/or right winger will always respond with one of the three  options above.

Rule #1 of the Right Wing mentality: never accept responsibility. (That’s only for  welfare beneficiaries and the poor.)

It’s all they have to explain the failure of their ideology.

 

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And MORE beneficiary bashing!!!

From “Nanny State, to Big Brother State…

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Full Story

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By all means offer vaccinations to everyone – but not just to one subset of the population!  Virii and bacteria make no determination on potential hosts based on socio-economic status.

This should be seen for what is is;

1. More victimisation of beneficiaries, and using them as scapegoats.

2. Deflection from this governments horrendous record on the poor state of the  economy; rising unemployment;  and growing poverty!

Is this how it started in Germany in the 1930s, when Jews and gypsies were vilified and demonised, to take people’s attention away from real economic problems?

John Key – you  and your government should resign. You are a  disgrace!!

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Related blogposts

Bennett confirms: there are not enough jobs!

How Paula Bennett and National are wasting our taxdollars

The Dark Art of ‘Spin’ – How It’s Done (Part #Rua)

No poverty and food scavenging here…

Other Blogs

The Standard: Compulsory vaccination

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The banality of bigotry…

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A recent Dominion Post article, regarding Colin Craig and his resistance to allowing  Gays and Lesbians to have the same rights as heterosexuals to be married, yielded some fairly bizarre comments from him and his supporters,

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Full Story

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Craig goes on to say,

New Zealand has had enough social engineering; it’s time to bring government back to core services… ”

I wonder if that was the argument used by  opponants to giving the vote to women?

After Craig demanded that ”New Zealand has had enough social engineering“, and  that government should stay  “out of the bedrooms of the country“, he stated,

The marriage institution being a relationship between a man and a woman predates government. It is not the job of government to start re-defining marriage.

So on the one hand, Craig doesn’t want government in our bedrooms – but on the other, he wants government in our bedrooms to determine who may or may not get married?!

So it’s government interference when he approves – but not otherwise?

Perhaps the nuttiest comment supporting  to Craig’s position but this bizarre response,

Halo   #66   1:37pm

#65 Im in my 30’s and Im against Gay marriage purely because it is wrong! If it was right then you would have the right. So not just ‘older people’ are against the idea.

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Um… come again?

Oh heck, never mind.

See:  Colin Craig: Gay marriage is ‘social engineering

Luckily for us, Craig has no infuence on government – though John Banks shares many of the Conservative Party leader’s views,

See: Banks, Lee Oppose amendment (‘Evening Post’, 11 November 1992)

See: Banks’ deviants remarks draw fire (‘Dominion’, 10 June 1993)

See: Banks repeats barrage against homosexuality (‘Evening Post’, 28 July 1993)

If, at the next election campaign, National starts to ‘cosy up’  to Colin Craig’s Conservative Party – John Key may find that a step too far for many  urban liberals and women voters. Many in that constituency would find Craig’s attitude on gays and women to be offensive.

This comment on women certainly would have alienated much support,

We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world.

See:  No proof to promiscuity claim – PM

I guess that’s the trouble with courting potential right wing coalition partners; eventually one cannot help but uncover some flakiness about them that is embarressing and off-putting to the electorate.

I leave the reader with this piece, that I found on someone’s Facebook page. I think it sez it all, really,

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No poverty and food scavenging here…

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Can it be true – that New Zealand children are living in such abject poverty that they are picking food scraps from pig-slop buckets,

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Full Story

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This blogger went in search of hard evidence that such poverty exists in Godzone. The evidence, in  a land of plenty, was compelling,

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Nope, nothing wrong here. Plenty of food and  drink. After all, politicians and photos don’t lie, eh?

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Bugs and balls-ups!

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Three years ago, in July 2009, the Public Service Association issued this prescient media release to the country,

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Risks involved in cutting MAF Biosecurity jobs

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Wednesday, 8 July 2009, 9:44 am
Press Release: Public Service Association

Significant risks involved in cutting MAF Biosecurity jobs

The Public Service Association is concerned about the significant risks involved in cutting jobs at MAF Biosecurity, whose staff work on our borders protecting New Zealand’s multi-billion dollar agriculture sector from pests and diseases.

MAF Biosecurity has today announced that’s its disestablishing around 60 jobs by cutting 30 filled positions and disestablishing 30 vacant positions. MAF Biosecurity says the job cuts are in response to falling trade and passenger volumes.

“But the government is also responsible for these job losses as it cut the baseline funding for MAF Biosecurity by $1.9 million in the Budget delivered in May,” says PSA national secretary Richard Wagstaff.

“Our concern is that the New Zealand’s economy depends on our farming and horticulture industries that could be decimated if diseases like foot and mouth and fruit fly got into the country.”

“MAF Biosecurity staff work to prevent these diseases and pests from crossing our borders so it’s vital that these job cuts don’t weaken our defences in this area,” says Richard Wagstaff.

MAF Biosecurity says if foot and mouth reached New Zealand virtually all exports of meat, animal by-products and dairy products would stop. They would not resume until at least three months after the slaughter of the last infected animal. The country’s trade reputation would be damaged, unemployment would rise by about 20,000 and Gross Domestic Product would be cut by $10 billion over a two year period.

“We are not opposed to public service staffing being linked to demand for public services,” says Richard Wagstaff.

“But this should work both ways and staff numbers should be increased when demand for public services rises,” says Richard Wagstaff.

The PSA has been consulted about the proposed job cuts at MAF Biosecurity.

“As well as being concerned about the risk to our biosecurity we’re concerned the job cuts could actually push up MAF Biosecurity costs if staff have to do extra overtime or staff who are cut have to be brought back as the workload increases,” says Richard Wagstaff.

Source

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Being the clever folk that we New Zealanders generally are, we undertook  the usual response when confronted with a warning about an  imprudent government policy.

New Zealanders ignored it.

We were too busy. It was someone else’s problem. And that nice, smiling  man,  John Key,  had just been elected  promising us lots of lovely money  by way of tax cuts.

Of course, being such trusting sheep people, we ignored warnings that the recession was biting hard into our economy and tax cuts could only be sustained by massive borrowings from overseas… and cuts to government services. We didn’t seem to care. We just wanted tax cuts. It didn’t seem to matter to most folk that John Key’s government was sacking state sector workers and cutting back on essential services.

Services like… bio-security.

Even as government was instructing MAF’s Biosecurity New Zealand to sack sixty of it’s staff,  container traffic was increasing into the country,

Port Taranaki CEO Roy Weaver said it had been a record year for containers at the port.

Mr Weaver said more than 65,100 containers had gone through the port to the year ended June 30, up from 60,000 the previous year.

Port Taranaki was primarily an export port. Mr Weaver said containers arriving at the port from high-risk countries were targeted by MAF staff.”

Source

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It seems inconceivable that MAF’s 700 staff could inspect 65,100 containers just at Port Taranaki alone – never mind ports at Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin. Plus international airports at Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. Plus dozens of cruise ships every summer.

But government was determined. They wanted 60 staff sacked.

All to save $1.9 million dollars. That’s right, folks; one point nine million dollars.

Richard Wagstaff from the PSA pointed out,  that the farming and horticulture industries could be ruined if diseases such as foot and mouth and pests such a fruitfly got into the country. (Daily News, 9 July 2009)

It’s vital that these job cuts don’t weaken our defences in this area.  A foot-and-mouth incursion could cut 20,000 jobs and reduce gross domestic product by $10 billion over a two-year period.”

In September 2009, as the Biosecurity Amendment Bill was being debated in Parliament, Labour’s Brendon Burns (MP, Christchurch Central) had this warning to make,

I am very pleased to take a short call on the Biosecurity Amendment Bill, and, yes, Labour supports this bill going to the Primary Production Committee, of which I am a member. We welcome the proposal to increase the fines available for those who breach our biosecurity regulations.

As has been mentioned, however, there are some very real fears in that the Government is giving, if you like, some stiffening to the biosecurity regulations, but it is taking with the other arm, in the sense that we are losing 54 biosecurity staff. Those staff are the thin green line that protects and preserves our $20 billion – plus agricultural production export base. It is a very thin line. I have spoken to Christchurch biosecurity staff; they tell me it is already very hard to do their job properly, and this is before we see the loss of staff that is currently taking place. If those staff are not able to do their job properly, then goodness help this nation, because everything we have and hold dear is reliant upon their being able to do their best to protect and preserve our borders….”

Source

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As Burns also stated,

“...the varroa mite is estimated to have cost this nation between $273 million and $486 million in lost production, jobs, and exports.”

By May of this year, Richard Wagstaff reported that 500 jobs had been cut in the biosecurity service since his organisation first issued that dire, prophetic warning three years ago.

All done to “save” a few million bucks.

Now, we have the prospect of  having entire suburbs in Auckland being contained in some kind of loose “quarantine”, after a Queensland fruit fly was caught in a pest surveillance trap,

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NOT WANTED: Queensland Fruit Fly

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Considering that the Queensland fruit fly costs the Australian economy approximately  $160 million a year, this is a very real threat  to New Zealand’s own $5 billion annual horticultural industry.

Five billion dollars, per year, every year. All under threat because this government wanted to save a few million bucks by employing fewer biosecurity staff.

As if the discovery of a  painted apple moth in 1999; the varroa mite infestation of our honey hives in 2000; and other isolated instances of pests found in this country did not serve as a warning to us – National  proceeded to cut back on biosecurity staffing.

This blogger wonders sometimes (actually, all the time) what goes through the minds of our esteemed Honourable Ministers of Her Majesty’s Government. These are supposedly well-educated men and women, with support from thousands of University-educated advisors – and yet they still manage to accomplish the most incredibly moronic decisions conceivable.

National has put at risk this country’s  $5 billion industry – simply to save a few million dollars.

They have risked horticulturalist’s businesses; workers their jobs; and all the down-stream economic activity – to save a small percentage of billions.

This blogger has three pieces of advice for all concerned,

  1. John Key must  accept the resignation of  David Carter, Minister for Bio-security immediatly.
  2. National must reinstate biosecurity services to pre-2009 levels.
  3. Horticulturalists (and others who own farms and other agricultural businesses) should carefully consider whether National is working on their behalf – or for the sake of implementing false economies. What is the point of an orchardist voting for National – if National is going to screw his/her business by cutting back on essential government services such as biosecurity?!?!

Hopefully, this  fruit fly is a lone bug; perhaps a stowaway in someone’s bag or in a container offloaded at Ports of Auckland.

If so, once again we’ve been lucky.

But how long will our  luck hold out?

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Addendum

A quote from a poster on another blog,

Attack building regulations and get a leaky homes disaster.

Attack banking regulations and get a global financial crisis.

Attack mine safety regulations and get 29 dead men at Pike River.

Attack bio-security regulations and get a fruit fly disaster.” – ‘vto’, The Standard, 12 May 2012

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References

Scoop:  Risks involved in cutting MAF Biosecurity jobs

Daily News:  Farming at risk if biosecurity jobs cut, PSA warns

TVNZ:  Minister warned about biosecurity concerns

Fairfax News:  Fruit restrictions in place

Dominion Post:  Biosecurity savings ‘false economy’

Biosecurity NZ webpage

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