Home > Media, Social Issues, The Body Politic > Week Watch – 7 June

Week Watch – 7 June

An end-of-the-week look at issues that’ve hit the headlines (or not)…

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Looking at the pieces

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When the State fails our children

The recent case of an 11 year old child excluded from Paeroa Central School for violent and other anti-social behaviour has brought into stark consciousness the problem of dysfunctional, troubled, and/or special needs children in our education system.

On the one hand, these children – many of whom have been raised in dysfunctional households or have other problems – have a right to State funded support and education. They cannot be left to rot and grow into troubled adults moving in and out of the justice system.

On the other hand, children and staff at schools have a right to safety and a non-violent, undisturbed environment to learn and socialise.

Both rights are equally valid.

Having had some experience with a special needs child (see previous related blogpost:  Once upon a time there was a solo-mum), who I’ll refer to as “Zack” (not his real name), I have seen how a mainstream school can have considerable difficulties in this area.

“Zack” is an intelligent, charming, highly curious, young man (12) who requires one-on-one support during his entire school day. Not having that one-on-one support is untenable for both “Zack” or the school, as he can “flip out” at provocations which other children might not notice.

“Zack” was expelled from two previous schools for lack of one-on-one support from a teacher-aid.

He was enrolled at his current school with the specific agreement that “Zack” would be provided full-time, one-on-one support from a dedicated teacher-aid.

It soon become apparent that the Ministery had assigned this teacher-aid (who was doing the best she could under the circumstances) to two children; “Zack”, and another child at another school.

Not being able to violate given laws of physics by being in two places simultaneously, the school took action to cut down “Zack’s” hours in class. He was permitted to attend class only when the teacher aid was present (approx 4 hours per day). When she left to attend her second client, “Zack’s” grandmother collected him. (“Zack’s” mother, “Sally”, is a solo-mum who works at an early childhood facility. Read her full story here:  Once upon a time there was a solo-mum.)

Implementation of promises of full support – the current fashionable term is “intensive wraparound support” – by the Ministry of Education have been erratic and never fully implemented. (At the beginning the Ministry was reluctant to offer any support for “Zack”. They relented only when schools refused to accept him unless there was  funding for a teacher-aid.)

Paeroa Central School was right to stand their ground.

Principal, Janet Jones, said,

“We can’t understand why the ministry would give us the directive to take him back and put him in the classroom of the teacher who was assaulted. There’s got to be other alternatives.”

Acknowedgment – TV3 – Violent pupil needs to be supported, MoE

I know why.

It’s called “washing your hands of a problem”.

Note this from the above TV3 story,

Last year the ministry controversially decided to shut down the McKenzie Residential School for children with extreme behaviour in Christchurch.

The former principal of that school is not sure how effective the wraparound system will be.

“Anecdotally information we get is that pupils are struggling, principals are struggling and schools are struggling,” Greg Healy says.

Acknowedgment – IBID

The Ministry (or rather, this rotten government) had similar plans for Salisbury School, which also catered for children with special, high needs. Salisbury School, however would have none of it and recognised that the Ministry’s promises of “intensive wraparound support” was so much bullshit. (See previous related blogpost: Why Salisbury School was right to be wary of this government)

It was another principal, this time in Whangarei, who discovered the realities of “support” available from the Ministry,

A Whangarei school principal says a system designed to improve support for at-risk children appears to be bogged down in paperwork.

The Gateway programme began two years ago to co-ordinate the roles of Child, Youth and Family, doctors, schools and mental health services for children in care.

But Horahora primary school principal Pat Newman said from what he has seen, the gateway is blocked.

He said he has been trying since March to get an assessment for a young pupil with serious anger problems who hurts other children on a daily basis.

Mr Newman said various agencies have filed their observations about the boy and though he clearly needs specialist help, there has been no action. Now his classmates are afraid of him and have begun to exclude him.

Acknowledgment – Radio NZ – Paper-work seen as blocking support for children

The moral of this story?

Beware of the Man from the Ministry who sez he’s here to help.

Dominion Post – New depths in coded racism?

After the furore surrounding Nisbet’s racist cartoons in the Marlborough Express and The Press, Fairfax’s newspapers seem more circumspect at how they voice their casual racism.

Take this bit in the Dominion Post’s  editorial on 7 June,

Nobody can argue with the restrictions for suburban bars, which are in residential areas where the right of people to get a good night’s sleep clearly outweighs the right of proprietors to open into the early hours of the morning. There might also be a case for shorter opening hours for bars in Newtown, which has been identified by the council as high risk because of its demographics and the number of patrons seeking hospital emergency department treatment.

What does “because of its demographics” mean?

Could it code for… people with non-white skin colour?

Could it mean… people who are different to the rest of us by being poorer? Browner? Non-white, non anglo-saxon, non-gentiles?

Because it’s highly ironic that the anonymous author of that comment then refers to “the number of patrons seeking hospital emergency department treatment”.

Really?

Really?!?!

Funny that. Because according to previous reports in the Dominion Post, it wasn’t Newtown that has been the real problem in terms of alcohol-fuelled harm;

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Ambulance base for Wellington party central

Acknowedgment – Dominion Post – Ambulance base for Wellington party central

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'Pressure valve' medics patch up night's drunks (2)

Acknowedgment – Dominion Post –  ‘Pressure valve’ medics patch up night’s drunks

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It seems fairly obvious even to the most blind-drunk person that the real problem zone is not Newtown, but a few kilometres to the north, in Wellington’s boozy, brawling, bar-strip – Courtney Place.

But maybe the “demographics” aren’t as easily discernible in Courtney Place? And the voices of profitable booze-bar owners are more organised and louder in Courtney Place?

I wonder what the anonymous writer of that trashy editorial has to say on this?

Blogger’s shock discovery

The Blogger-Known-As-Jackal, may have uncovered something quite sinister in  the stranding of the m.v. Rena in October 2011.  Jackal writes,

“For over a year and a half now The Jackal has been attempting to learn exactly what was onboard the MV Rena when it ran aground near Tauranga on 5 October 2011. I was wanting this information to try and work out the potential environmental impact, but unfortunately my efforts have been in vain.

On 10 October 2011, I made a formal request under the Official Information Act (PDF) to Maritime New Zealand for information relating to what the MV Rena was carrying, which they declined. I then approached the Ombudsman about that lack of disclosure.

This week, I received the Ombudsman’s final ruling on the matter…”

See:  Rena to hold her secrets

Check out his blogpost, and look at the picture that Jackal posts. His assessment of the situation  seems to be on the ball: the Rena was carrying yellow-cake uranium.

And now it’s lying on the sea bed and shoreline of our east coast.

United Future – The Party you have when you’re not having a Party…

This week it was revealed that Peter Dunne’s “party”, United Future, did not have the required 500 signed up members.

Up till now, United Future has been receiving taxpayer funding, which all registered Parties are elegible to receive. Under parliamentary rules, Party leaders are entitled to receive an extra $100,000 to fund the leader’s office.

Winston Peters challenged this funding, pointing out that if United Future did not exist as a registered entity, therefore it could not receive Party funding.

The Speaker of the House – a National MP, but supposedly a “neutral arbiter” in such matters – made a surprising determination that United Future was still eligible for Party funding.

So, despite being de-registered by the Electoral Commission, it is still being paid taxpayer money?

Opposition Parties being mostly powerless, resorted to one of the few actions possible to display their opposition; Peters led a walk-out of NZ First MPs from the Debating Chamber.

Of course, that was dismissed by Dunne as  “children’s games”.

National Minister, Gerry Brownlee, also used the same phrase (see: Parliament walkout ‘childish’ – Brownlee),

“The Speaker is the sole determinant of how the rules are applied. They’re being really childish over this.”

That may be. But sometimes making a point requires that   “children’s games” are played.

Just like  on 4 September 2003, when National MP, Shane Ardern, rode a tractor up Parliament’s steps during  farmer protest against a proposed flatulence tax (see: MP runs into strife on tractor),

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Shane Ardern - tractor - Parliament steps - september 2003.

As reported by the NZ Herald at the time,

National leader Bill English, New Zealand First leader Winston Peters, Act rural affairs spokesman Gerry Eckhoff and United Future leader Peter Dunne all voiced their opposition to the tax at the rally.

“Game-playing by children”: best done by National MPs with big, smoke-belching, noisy  machines.

By the way, check out Gordon Campbell’s comments on this issue – especially where it pertains to welfare beneficiaries: Gordon Campbell on the Speaker’s lifeline to Peter Dunne.

Interesting though, isn’t it, how this government can break rules and laws when it suits their purposes.

Like this…

Simon Bridges – Soft on Crime?

On 6 June, Minister of Labour Simon Bridges announced that Labour Inspectors would no longer be targetting retailers who unlawfully opened their doors to trade on Easter (see: Garden shop welcomes relaxed Easter laws).

Bridges said,

Where there are complaints they will be followed up, there will still be prosecutions but it won’t be as proactive as it has been previously.”

Evidently, according to the Minister of Labour,  “his department is moving away from enforcing shopping laws to clamping down on the abuse of migrant workers“.

Yeah, right. Of course they will.

This wouldn’t have anything to do with a failed Bill in Parliament, in 2010, to liberalise Easter trading laws, would it? This Bill, promoted by  Rotorua MP Todd McClay, and supported by Simon Bridges,  was  voted down in Parliament.

“I supported that because I think it is really inconsistent that the likes of Parnell, Taupo and Queenstown can open on Easter Sunday at the moment but Rotorua and Mount Maunganui, which are certainly frequented by many tourists, can’t.”

However, Mr Bridges said he would not support retailers opening on Good Friday.

“I’m personally in favour of some liberalisation of the law so that there can be more business made by retailers on Easter Sunday but I won’t go the whole hog,” he said.

Acknowedgment – Bay of Plenty Times –  Easter trade campaign gets MP’s partial nod

So the Bill which Bridges supported was voted down by Parliament. But now, Bridges is permitting illegal Easter trading through the “back door”, by withdrawing Labour Inspectors who visit law-breaking retailers, to issue infringment notices?

Is that how National ministers deal with inconvenient laws?

Is this how National demonstrates it’s “tough on crime” attitude?

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National hoarding staying strong on crime

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Darren Odering, of Orderings Garden Centres says,

“Personally I think its a stupid law. Nobody suffers. I think they’re doing that now anyway. They go to some of our stores and not others.”

Acknowedgment – TV3 – Garden shop welcomes relaxed Easter laws

The same could be said of this country’s marijuana laws: “its a stupid law. Nobody suffers”.  And yet successive governments spends millions in busting pot smokers and imprisoning them.

As I blogged last year on this issue;

Is it a “victimless crime”, as garden centre owner, Darryn Odering insists?

Or is this a a case of businesses manipulating ill-informed public opinion; selfish attitudes;  and exploiting their advantage as a minority of law-defying businesses, trading when their competitors are closed?

Oderings is open during Easter because it is hugely profitable.

Why is is hugely profitable?

Because it’s a public holiday.

Would it be hugely profitable if every single business was open on Easter Friday? Including schools, government departments, etc? In fact, if Easter Friday and Easter Monday was no different to any other day of the week – how profitable would it be for law-breakers like Oderings?

The answer, of course, is that it wouldn’t. It would simply be another business day. Let’s be clear here;

Oderings relies on it’s profits because it’s competitors obey the law.

Oderings would not have those huge  profits if it Easter Friday (and Monday) was another normal trading day.

So people would be at work .

So if the law is to be changed, let’s do it fairly and apply it across the board throughout the country: everything opens and everyone (with a job) works. Not just the captive retail assistants and fast food workers. Everyone.

And this is where the rubber hits the road. Do we, as a country, want to give up a holiday so we can all work like any other day?

And if we’re all working – how will that benefit us and retail outlets?

The answer is; it doesn’t benefit us. We get another day that shops are open and we’re all working. Oh  whoopty f****n doo.  What the hell did we just gain/lose?!?!

To all elected representatives, I offer this advice;

  1. If we’re serious about keeping our holidays, then it’s time that the $1,000 fine was increased to a more meaningful amount. $25,000 seems a nice figure. The current  penalty of $1,000 is meaningless. It’d be like sentencing a drug pusher to community service. Both are supposedly “victimless” crimes, after all.
  2. If we’re going to allow Oderings to open on Easter – then make it a blanket law, across the country. Everyone opens; everyone works.  That includes schools, banks, local bodies, government departments, Parliament, etc,  on Easter Friday and Easter Monday.  No one takes time off.

Now let’s see which way the public jumps.

See previous blogpost:  Easter Trading – A “victimless crime”?

Simon Bridges on democratic protests

Simon Bridges announced earlier this year that sea-going protestors who oppose deep sea drilling, will face harsher penalties, and may face interception and  arrest by our military.

The revised law includes interfering with or damaging structures, ships, equipment, operations or activities in the zone and could incur fines of up to $100,000 and up to two years’ imprisonment. (see: Prominent NZers fight environmental protest ban)

See also:  TVNZ Q + A: Transcript of Simon Bridges

Interesting to see now National ministers can be “tough on crime” when it comes to dissenters protesting against perceived threats to our envioronment – but not-so-tough on crime when it comes to commercial retailers deliberately  flouting the law, purely for personal profit-making.

Is this is how it works in New Zealand under a National government?

Dunne resigns as Government Minister!!

More here:  Dunne resigns as minister over GCSB leak

Key is  relaxed.

After Dunne – What about John Banks?

On 29 April 2012, Dear Leader Key said this about John Banks and the Skycity and Kim Dotcom “anonymous” donations,

I’ve sought an assurance from Mr Banks that he complied with local government law. He’s given me that assurance. I accept him at his word. If people don’t believe that they are free to test that with the police.”

Acknowedgment – MSN News – PM standing by under fire Banks

After the Police completed their investigation into the donations scandal, on 5 July 2012, it became apparent that John Banks had lied about the donations being “anonymous”. In fact, he knew damn well where they had originated from. Banks had made a full disclosure to the Police.

On 17 September 17 2012, Key stated categorically that he would not sack  Banks after these new revelations,

He’s got a version of events, others have got a different version. It’s not for me to forensically go through that. But I accept if he says to me, which he has, ‘look I didn’t know’ then I accept that. Look there is not court case against the guy.”

Acknowedgment – TVNZ –  Key not interested in calls to sack Banks

To protect John Banks, Key took evasive action,

The prime minister is resolutely refusing to take a look at the 126-page dossier from the police investigation into “anonymous” donations to Mr Banks’ 2010 mayoralty campaign.

Acknowedgment – Fairfax Media – Master of Keyvasive action

By not looking at the Police report, Key could claim that he had “no knowledge”  of any lies told by Banks.

Contrast that to Key’s handling of the Dunne-GCSB Affair.

First of all, Key actually read the report,

The report shows that Mr Dunne has not met all of the requests for information from the inquiry.”

Acknowedgment – Beehive.govt.nz – PM releases leak inquiry report, accepts Minister’s resignation

Secondly, he’s challenged Dunne on the issue,

He’s told me categorically that he didn’t leak the report. I want to believe him but the problem is unfortunately the inquiry doesn’t rule him out and I can’t dismiss the possibility that he has because of the information contained in the report.”

Acknowedgment – TVNZ – Peter Dunne: I did not leak the GCSB report

Read the report. Challenged Dunne. Accepted Dunne’s resignation.

What about John Banks?

  1. When will Key read the Police report into their investigation on the donations scandal?
  2. When will Key challenge Banks on the issue?
  3. Will he accept Banks’ resignation as he did with Dunne?

Double standards much, Dear Leader?

Lying prick.

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Fabulous Fridays

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= fs =

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