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Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 28 June 2013

28 June 2013 1 comment

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– Focus on Politics –

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– Friday 28 June 2013 –

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– Brent Edwards –

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Starting today, as with Citizen A,  this blog will be posting regular links to  Radio NZ’s Politics on Nine to Noon and Focus on on Politics. This will give visitors to this blog access to three excellent political programmes on one website. Click on the “Broadcast” category at the top navigation bar for past programmes.

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to Listen:  Focus on Politics for 28 June 2013 ( 17′ 31″ )

A weekly analysis of significant political issues. A week after submissions closed on the Government’s new spy legislation there are doubts about whether it has enough support to get it through Parliament.

John Key;

“… and by the way, very senior Labour members within that caucus understand completely the importance of national security and of keeping New Zealanders safe. And the very question they might have to ask themselves if one day there was the equivalent of the Boston Bombings in New Zealand  would they be the very same  Members that would stand up and say they prevented New Zealanders being kept safer than they otherwise could be. No they wouldn’t, they’d run for the hills.”

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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Big promises by mayoral candidate, John Morrison?

28 June 2013 2 comments

On 23 May, right-wing Wellington City Councillor, John Morrison announced his candidacy for the Wellington Mayorlty,

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Morrison throws hat in ring for mayor

Acknowledgement: Dominion Post – Morrison throws hat in ring for mayor

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The election campaign has begun in earnest, with Morrison taking swipes at incumbent mayor, Celia Wade-Brown. Morrison is supported by right-leaning, corporate  media such Fairfax/Dominion Post.

The Dominion Post has never been particularly supportive of Mayor Wade-Brown, choosing instead to under-mine her position at ever available oppportunity (see previous related blogposts:  Sean Plunkett’s parking ticketsCurioser and curioser? More Dom Post BS?).

Every time the Dominion Post refers to “Wellington’s lack of leadership” is a coded attack on Mayor Wade-Brown. Keep an eye on the Dominion Post is you  read it.  Every so often an editorial, column, or other piece will use that meme; “Wellington’s lack of leadership“.

It is subtle and pernicious character assassination.

Cr Morrison is now engaged in his own campaign to fulfill his mayoralty aspirations.

This is an example of his current advertising;

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John Morrison- mayoral advert - 19.6.2013 - dominion post

Acknowledgement: Dominion Post 19 June 2013 (scanned hardcopy)

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I was intrigued at one  of the statements in  his advertisement, and emailed Cr Morrison for clarification,

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Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2013 11.00AM
From: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
Subject: Mayoral Candidacy Questions
To: John Morrison <john.morrison@wcc.govt.nz>
Kia John,
Regarding your advertisement, ‘John Morrison for Mayor’ in the Dominion Post on 19 June, you referred to ticking “2000 jobs and $800 million on offer”.

Can you clarify what you mean by “2000 jobs and $800 million on offer”?

Specifically, what is “2000 jobs” referring to?

And what does “$800 million on offer” mean?

I look forward to any light you can shed on this matter. In fairness, please note that I may use any details you provide as part of a blogpost I am compiling.

Regards,
Frank Macskasy
Blogger

Strangely, Cr Morrison’s election advert  kinda reminds me of other promises that right wing politicians make (and never quite fulfill),

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Budget 2011 - Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs

Acknowledgement: TVNZ –  Budget 2011: Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs

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Categories: The Body Politic

The gentrification of Te Papa

28 June 2013 4 comments

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Te Papa logo

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Te Papa – Our Place?

What does $17.50 buy at  a supermarket? Or $10.50?

For a low-income family who are struggling to pay rent ($300 – $400  p/w);  power ($30 – $50 p/w);  medicine ($5 per prescription); insurance; school fees; car rego and fuel; debts; etc,  $17.50 or $10.50 can mean the difference between food in the pantry or fridge – or running out of bread, milk, potatoes, eggs, cheese, before the next pay-day or State social security payment.

If you’re earning $1,100 a week (gross), $17.50 or $10.50, you have discretionary income for to buy tickets to a Te Papa exhibition.

If you’re on minimum wage ($13.75/hr) and earning $550 a week (gross), buying tickets to a Te Papa exhibition is the last thing on your mind.

Since 1984, the concept of User Pays has been firmly embedded in our society. It was part of neo-liberal “reforms” where, in exchange for six tax cuts since 1986, individuals were expected to pay for services that, previously, had been free (collectively paid for by everyone).

The most well-known example of this is tertiary education. Once upon a time, it was free. Post 1992, student fees were introduced, along with student loans, and a measure of  User Pays resulted. (See previous blogpost:  Greed is good?)

The rationale for the implementing a new User Pays regime was that higher education was a “private good”. However, as more and more highly trained/skilled professionals leave New Zealand, that notion of “private good” seems to be questioned more and more.

If the loss of thousands of professionals and tradespeople migrating to Australia weakens our economy, this becomes a socio-economic loss for us. For Australia, it becomes a socio-economic good. This part of the equation seems to have escaped the attent of “free” market neo-liberals.

We lose out when we assign an arbitrary monetary value to something that benefits society as a whole – as well as it’s individuals – and some or many are excluded, solely on the basis  of inability to pay.

Because in the final analysis, that is what User Pays is; if you can’t pay, you can’t use it.

This was highlighted (again) to our household recently when we considered attending an exhibition that Te Papa is currently holding,

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te papa andy warhol exhibition

Source: Te Papa – Warhol Immortal

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The description of the Exhibition was intriguing and it seemed to offer an interesting way to spend a few hours on a Saturday afternoon.

Then we saw the price of admission,

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te papa andy warhol exhibition admission prices 9.6.2013

Source: IBID

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$17.50 admission price!?

No thanks.

One of us in our household, with a strong interest in art, will still visit the exhibition. For the rest of us, for whom it would only have been a mildly entertaining/interesting event, we would rather spend that money elsewhere.

However, the thought occurred to me; how many low-income families, or individuals, would not have the same choice whether to attend or not, as we did?

How many people would see $17.50 as the difference between food for the mind or food for their bellies? For a low income family of four, the Family “Concession” of $46.50 could buy food for a several days, or make a payment on their power bill to stave off disconnection for a while longer.

I put this to Te Papa in a recent email,

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From:               Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
To:                   bridgetm@tepapa.govt.nz
Date:                9/06/2013 at 12:51 p.m.
Subject:           Exhibitions

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I am aware  that it has long been Te Papa policy to charge for various exhibitions.

For example, you current exhibition on Andy Warhol has the following charges for entry;

Adult – $17.50
Child (5–15 years) – $10.50
Child (under 5 years) – Free
Family (2 adults + up to 3 children) – $46.50 Concession – $15.50 Friend of Te Papa (adult) – $11.50 * Friend of Te Papa (child) – $6 *

10+ adults (per person) – $11.50
School group (self-guided, per person) – $8 Audio guide – $5

I would submit to you that the amounts listed above are beyond the ability of many low income families to pay, and therefore this policy excludes a sizeable sector of the community.

Whilst I understand that many of these exhibitions incur a cost, that your current charging regime means that many miss out.

I would remind you that Te Papa is a public facility which has been paid for by tax/ratepayers.

I would like to suggest that Te Papa reconsider their admission fees policy, with a view to making it more inclusive for those on low/fixed incomes.

My suggestion is that Te Papa make the last two days of an exhibition,

1. Free entry for Community Services Card holders

or,

2. Entry upon a coin donation for Community Services Card holders

and,

3. Free entry for all schoolchildren from low-decile schools.

The current system, I submit is totally unfair and maintains a two-tier class structure  where some are deemed second class citizens simply by their inability to pay an entrance fee.

This is especially unfair on children of low income families who miss out on cultural and history aspects of our nation.

Enjoying our culture and history should not be predicated on ability to pay.

– Frank Macskasy

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To their credit, Te Papa responded promptly,

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From: ridget MacDonald <BridgetM@tepapa.govt.nz>
To: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 4:15 PM

   

Kia ora Frank

Thank you for your email comments and concerns regarding Te Papa’s exhibition pricing. I will pass your comments on to relevant staff for consideration for upcoming exhibitions.

We are very conscious of the need to make our exhibitions as accessible to a wide range of people.

You may not be aware that for every charge-for exhibition we also have the Wellington Free Day in partnership with the Wellington City Council.  This means that upon proof of local residence, for example a library card, rates invoice or utility bill with a local address, all Wellingtonians can attend the exhibition free of charge on that day.  This has been very popular for past exhibitions and we have been delighted to have a large number of families attend.

The Wellington Free Day is held on a Thursday, open late till 9pm, and advertised by us and also the Wellington City Council online and in The Dominion Post. The date for the Wellington Free Day has not yet been announced for Warhol: Immortal.

Our free events programme complements our exhibition programme and offers our visitors opportunities for insight into related subject matter through films, performances, floortalks, workshops, children’s Discovery Centre activities and much more. We have also included a selection of works from the exhibition on our new website http://www.arts.tepapa.govt.nz/on-the-wall/warhol-immortal. This site and activities such as our blogs support our programmes and offer behind the scenes information and glimpses into collections and exhibitions.

Thank you for your interest in our exhibitions at Te Papa.

Ngā mihi

Bridget

Bridget M [full surname redacted]

Senior Corporate Affairs Adviser

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa | 55 Cable Street, PO Box 467, Wellington, New Zealand
[other contact details redacted]

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I wrote back to Bridget,

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Kia Ora, Bridget,

Thank you for your prompt reply.

The Wellington Free Day is a good start. As Te Papa is New Zealand’s National museum, it would be even better if all low income families could somehow benefit from a special day or on-going discount upon presentation of a Community Services card.

This would encourage out-of-towners to participate, as well as Wellingtonians.

The Wellington Free Day is a step in the right direction.

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As I pointed out, Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum. As such, the benefits of exhibitions  should be made accessible to as many people as possible.

Whilst the “Wellington Free Day” is a good start – for which I applaud Te Papa – one has to ask; why Wellington only? Shouldn’t we have a “National Free Day”* where as many New Zealanders as possible can have the opportunity to visit their own museum?

As I pointed out in my 9 June email, the last two days of an exhibition could be easily made free-entry for all Community Card-holders (and their immediate family).

Otherwise, Te Papa’s admission policy will continue to be discriminatory,  excluding those New Zealanders for whom User Pays is a barrier to enjoying part of our culture that the rest of us take for granted. In effect, this creates a two-tiered society, with those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder missing out. (Though some might argue – with justification – that free access based on presentation of a Community Services card, also constitutes a form of discrimination. The Lesser of Two Evils Factor might apply here.)

Not only is this a dangerous thing, to discriminate and  alienate a group of people from society; but it is also morally wrong. This is another indication that our society is fracturing, splitting  along a socio-economic rift.

The fact that this is happening, and New Zealanders think this is ok, is a sad reflection of the times we live in.

This is the neo-liberal paradigm. We are living it now.

Te Papa – Not everyone’s  place?

Addendum

A link to this blogpost will be emailed to Te Papa.

This blogger wishes to thank Bridget for her timely and candid responses to my emails.

* Postscript

I don’t mean a day free of  the National-led government. Though that is a tempting thought. Post 2014 will be a National-free government.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 15 June 2013.

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