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Life in Lock Down: Day 15

10 April 2020 3 comments

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April 9: Day 15 of living in lock-down…

The news is great!

Sunday: 89 new cases

Monday: 67

Tuesday: 54

Wednesday: 50

Today: 29

 

If these numbers are correct and there’s no unknown “hot spot(s)” around the country, we have demonstrated with great clarity what can be achieved when a society acts collectively (with minor exceptions of a few idiots and misguided examples of naked commercial/political self-interest) for the greater good.

We can contrast our collective action with that of rugged individualism (mixed with a tonne of incompetence from the narcissist  in the White House) in the United States;

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Here in Aotearoa New Zealand, we have our own impending problem: the long Easter Weekend. Traditionally a time when thousands of Kiwi families pile into their cars; get stuck in massive traffic jams for a few hours; drive to destination ‘X’ to “get away from it all”‘ three days later pile back into their vehicles; get stuck in massive traffic jams for several hours for the return home; arrive home knackered. Wasn’t that fun?!

Not this year. The constant plea is:

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To reinforce the new imperative for this Easter, the Police ramped up their warnings in the media. There would be no tolerance of a minority who chose to wilfully ignore the lock down;

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Road policing team-supervisor, Andrew Heath, explained the simplicity of how Police would track recalcitrant selfish motorist wannabe-holidaymakers;

“So what’s going to happen for that couple is there’s going to be a notification put in against their names and that vehicle that they’ve breached the lockdown rules, and if they’re stopped again, further action may be taken.”

Meanwhile, as the majority of New Zealanders stayed home and a small minority of self-entitled idiots tried to flout the rules, those of us working in essential services carried on. Thursday would be another work day for us, albeit contrasted against this new weird reality.

At the near Park N Ride, the usual two cars were parked, alone in their vast expanse of bitumen.

On the road, commercial traffic continued to operate; 2 “Mainfreight” trucks; a “Evotek” van; “Linfox” fuel tanker; “Waste Management” rubbish truck; “Armourguard” van and “Armourguard” car; “Aquaheat” ute; “Wright Pools & Spas” ute; an “Aquaheat” van; a “McGuiness” truck; 2 “Supreme Towing”  trucks; “MRL/MRI Power” ute; 3 “Salvation Army Family Store” trucks; “Mainstream” covered truck; a police van; a “AA” Service ute; 3 “Trans Power” utes; a “Higgins” concrete truck; a SPCA ute; a “Fliway” branded small truck; a “L.G. Anderson container truck; a “Linfox” covered truck; “Spotless Catering” van; 2  “Fulton Hogan” roadworks trucks; a “Downer” ute and a “Downer” truck; “Countdown” food delivery truck; a “Laser Plumbing” van; “Capital Plumbing” van; “Wellington Security” van;

The white motorhome still parked on the side of the road. Would it still be there over the long weekend? I’d be curious…

Traffic on SH2 north of Lower Hutt was still light. There seemed no apparent change in the few number of cars were around me. At Melling numbers slight inceased to around seven in front of me and five to the rear. Still increadibly sparse as this is a major interchange in the Hutt Valley. The harbour highway into Wellington seemed marginally busier, with about seven behind and five cars in front of me. These numbers would increases or drop, but the road was never less than half a dozen. On the motorway this increased to ten cars in front and another ten behind. Definitely more traffic than yesterday. In the Terrace Tunnel, there were five cars to the rear of me and five to the front. Exiting the tunnel, Vivian Street had more traffic than yesterday with about a dozen cars in front of me.

It’s a beautiful autumn, sunny early afternoon. The sun is bright overhead in a sky studded with a few clouds. Despite the brightness of the sun, warmth is lack and there’s a definite chill in the still air.

There was a long queue outside Chaffer Street “New World”, extending out onto the footpath and around half the block;

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As I snapped the pic above, I noticed one your woman walk past the line, well within half a metre – almost elbow touching – from other people… and then stood two metres behind the last person in line. I’m guessing she would have walked closely past eight people to then “social distance” herself. Clearly did not think that one through.

At the beginning of Oriental Bay,the message on the electronic light-board had changed;

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Perhaps pedestrians had had a word in the ears of the powers-that-be that cyclists were not adhering to the 2 metre rule? Which is ironic as that is precisely the complaint cyclists have of car drivers on the road. Pot, kettle, it seems.

Coming home tonight; one Highway Patrol police car parked near the Aotea Quay turnoff. Traffic in and out of the city, between 7.30 and 8 – was almost nil. This was not the usual pre-Easter holiday traffic crush. People are heeding the call to stay home?

One hopes.

Postscript

This Diary entry  is truncated. The author spent an hour searching for, and finding, a leak from his washing machine. Actually two leaks. Were they easily reachable to fix, or right at the back, almost out of reach? Apply Murphy’s Law. That’s your answer.

One leak fixed. Just needed a tightening of a fitting.

The other fitting – munted. I’ll have to risk a quick visit to Mitre10 on Saturday.  Damn.

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Current covid19 cases: 1,239

Cases in ICU: 4  (? critical)

Number of deaths: 1

 

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References

RNZ: Covid-19: What happened on 5 April

RNZ: Covid-19 – The key developments in New Zealand from April 8

Vox: The deep ideological roots of Trump’s botched coronavirus response

Time:  The Trump Administration Fumbled Its Initial Response to Coronavirus. Is There Enough Time to Fix It?

Newsweek:  Ex-GOP Strategist Calls Trump ‘Incompetent,’ ‘Ignorant’ Over Handling of Coronavirus Pandemic

RNZ:  Police checkpoints set up to stop holidaymakers

Fairfax/Stuff: Coronavirus – Police turning back holidaymakers trying to breach lockdown rules

NZ Herald:  Covid 19 coronavirus: Police stop cars escaping for Easter, warning drivers at Auckland  – motorway

RNZ:  Number of new cases of Covid-19 in NZ plummets to 29

Must Read

Elemental: Hold the Line

Democracy Now:  Madrid’s Ice Rink Turned to Morgue as Spain Exceeds China in Coronavirus Deaths

Previous related blogposts

The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus

Life in Lock Down: Day 1

Life in Lock Down: Day 2

Life in Lock Down: Day 3

Life in Lock Down: Day 4

Life in Lock Down: Day 5

Life in Lock Down: Day 6

Life in Lock Down: Day 7

Life in Lock Down: Day 7 (sanitised version)

Life in Lock Down: Day 8

Life in Lock Down: Day 8 (sanitised version)

Life in Lock Down: Day 9

Life in Lock Down: Day 10

Life in Lock Down: Day 11

Life in Lock Down: Day 12

Life in Lock Down: Day 13

Life in Lock Down: Day 14

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Judith Collins owes an explanation to voters

25 November 2017 6 comments

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National’s narrative continues

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The National Party is continuing with it’s strategy to question and undermine the legitimacy of the  Labour-Green-NZFirst coalition government.

On 24 October,on Radio NZ’s Morning Report,  Bill English questioned whether or not Labour had a mandate to govern;

“ The voters at large probably expected that if you got 44 and a half percent of the vote, you were some part of the government or the big part of it.

[…]

How to hold to account a government that’s been put together in an unusual way.

[…]

Just remember this is a prime minister who’s the first one in a hundred years who lost the popular vote and lost it by quite a bit.

… It didn’t win the vote.

[…]

when an election is lost, a larger party captured the direction New Zealand wanted to go in.

On further questioning, English was forced to concede that Labour had a mandate;

I accept that, absolutely… It’s a legitimate result…

Well, I’ve been saying all year that the… all the other parties put together can beat you on the day. And that’s what happened on Thursday. So that’s MMP. That’s how it works.

On the 10th of November, Judith Collins took up the narrative, questioning whether or not Peters had been conducting coalition negotiations in good faith;

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Collins complained that because Winston Peters had filed legal action against several National MPs and their staff, that this constituted “bad faith” bargaining;

At the time, we were very much convinced on our side there were genuine negotiations going on. But I’ve got to say, it’s not looking like it was quite so genuine anymore.

She further demanded an explanation from the NZ First leader;

“ I think Winston Peters should really explain himself to the public because there were a lot of voters who were disappointed in his decision.  I think New Zealanders are owed an explanation. Was he being genuine, or was it just a play?”

Now this is richly ironic on several levels.

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Bargaining in good faith

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Firstly, I am reminded of National’s legislative changes to workplace collective bargaining in 2014. As MoBIE reported at the time, “good faith bargaining” was watered down to the extent that “the duty of good faith does not require collective agreement to be concluded“;

Before the law change, parties bargaining for a collective agreement were required to conclude that agreement unless there was genuine reason not to. The change means that a collective agreement does not have to be concluded, however parties must still deal with each other in good faith.

The Employment Relations Amendment Act 2014 came into effect on 6 March 2015 and passed provisions in the Bill that “providing that the duty of good faith does not require parties to reach a collective agreement“.

So providing that employers could show they “acted in good faith“, there was no onus on them to conclude bargaining to achieve a collective agreement.

Sound familiar?

It should. It’s what Judith “Crusher” Collins has complained about;

At the time, we were very much convinced on our side there were genuine negotiations going on. But I’ve got to say, it’s not looking like it was quite so genuine anymore.

The richest irony of all; National complaining that bargaining to establish a “collective agreement” for a National-NZFirst Coalition was not conducted in good faith.

“Good faith bargaining” and the “National Party” – not words we usually associate together in the same sentence.

My heart bleeds.

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New Zealanders owed an explanation?!

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Collins was engaging in some loud, toy-tossing whining when she demanded “I think Winston Peters should really explain himself to the public because there were a lot of voters who were disappointed in his decision.  I think New Zealanders are owed an explanation”.

While we’re about who is owed explanations by whom, let’s re-cap on some matters that arose  in the last nine years of National’s governance – and remain outstanding ;

2009 – Paula Bennett releases personal details relating to two solo-mothers, after they challenged the Minister’s decision to cease the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett herself used to gain a free tertiary education);

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Not only did  Bennett not apologise  for misusing personal information for political point-scoring – she hinted she would do it again;

 …it would depend on the circumstances.

Paula Bennett: New Zealanders are owed an explanation.

2013 & 2014 – Judith Collins was revealed to have close connections with Oravida, which her husband was also a director of. Collins;

  • opened Oravida’s new Auckland headquarters in October 2013
  • whilst on a tax-payer funded trip to China, Collins had a private  dinner-function  with Oravida bosses and an un-named senior Chinese border official
  • on the same tax-payer funded trip to China,  Collins “stopped by”  Oravida’s Shanghai offices “on the way to the airport” – despite Oravida’s offices being   thirty kilometres in the opposite direction
  • prior to Collins’ dinner at Oravida’s Shanghai offices, Oravida  sought assistance from the NZ Government on Chinese border control problems
  • received donations totalling $86,000 for the National Party coffers
  • received thousands of dollars of donations from other Oravida-linked sources

The perception of a severe conflict of interest where Collins may have mis-used her Ministerial position to further Oravida’s interests remain unanswered.

Judith Collins: New Zealanders are owed an explanation.

2014 – Judith Collins (again) was uncovered sharing information – including personal information, leaks, and gossip – with far-right blogger, Cameron Slater.

In his book ‘Dirty Politics‘, investigative journalist Nicky Hager Mediaworks outlined how Collins had;

  • … discussed details of the Bronwyn Pullar ACC case with Mr Slater and she may have been behind the leak;
  • … fed Mr Slater a constant stream of gossip, for example, anecdotes about Labour MP Trevor Mallard making a fool of himself;
  • … may have been involved in a prisoner transfer requested by Mr Slater, while she was Corrections Minister;
  • … emailed Mr Slater the name of a ministerial services staff member who he went on to attack on his blog.

Collins was also accused of running a vendetta against then Serious Fraud Office Director, Adam Feeley, and working with Slater to destroy the SFO boss’s career.

In 15 August 2014, then-Dear Leader Key refused categorically to  sack or even investigate Collins for alleged mis-use of ministerial power;

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most corrupt politicioan in NZ's history - judith collins

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Two weeks later, she was gone-burger. Collins had “resigned”;

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(Unsurprisingly, Collins was later “cleared” of allegations that “she was working with Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater to get rid of former Serious Fraud Office  boss Adam Feeley”.  Evidently, despite several fifteen minute telephone calls between Slater and Collins, Justice Lester Chisholm insisted that the “Whaleoil” blogger had ” over-embellished” when he sent emails saying Collins was “gunning for Feeley”. Yeah, right.)

Yet, questions still persist surrounding Collins’ dealings with Cameron Slater and people she allegedly tried to destroy.

Judith Collins: New Zealanders are owed an explanation.

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Conclusion

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It is unquestionably the role of the Parliamentary Opposition to question the government and hold it to account. Along with the media (as flawed as it sometimes is), a strong Opposition is a necessary function of a healthy democracy.

But having someone like Judith Collins, who has so many unanswered questions hanging over her, demanding accountability undermines the effectiveness of the Opposition.

Collins’ time has come and gone. She should resign from Parliament altogether and let her place be taken by someone untainted by dubious associations; questionable conflicts of interest; and allegations of mis-use of ministerial power.

Other MPs have resigned for less.

 

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References

Radio NZ:  Bill English faces first caucus since defeat (alt.link)(audio)

Mediaworks:  Winston Peters ‘not genuine’ in coalition talks – Judith Collins

Mediaworks:  Winston Peters takes legal action against National Party over leak ‘plot’

MoBIE:  Law changes to collective bargaining

MoBIE:  Amendments to the Employment Relations Act 2000 (March 2015)

NZ Herald: Bennett gets tough with outspoken solo mums

Dominion Post: Minister defends releasing private details

Fairfax media: Bennett won’t rule out releasing beneficiary details

Mediaworks: Timeline – Judith Collins and Oravida

Mediaworks: Key won’t investigate Collins claims

Interest.co.nz:  Judith Collins resigns after revelation of Slater email saying she was “gunning for Feeley”; Collins denies campaigning to oust SFO Director; Key says Collins had to go

Mediaworks:  Judith Collins cleared of colluding with Whale Oil blogger Slater

Fairfax media: How did Key mislead Parliament?

Other Blogs

The Paepae:  The Judith Collins Chisholm inquiry – Who was actually on trial?

The Standard:  Collective bargaining? Yeah right

Previous related blogposts

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Toru)

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

Hon. Paula Bennett, Minister of Hypocrisy

“Dirty Politics” and The Teflon Man

Observations on the 2017 Election campaign… (Iwa)

“Fool me once”…

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 November 2017.

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Time to speak up for Metiria Turei!

7 August 2017 1 comment

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The media witch-hunt against Metiria Turei gathers pace with “Newshub” digging up another story about the Green co-leader. Shock! Horror! She lived at a different address to the one on the electoral roll so she could vote for her friend in the McGillicudy Serious Party.

Really?

This is the kind of superficial bullshit that has undermined real journalism in this country.

No wonder Donald Trump has struck a chord with people who view journalists with deep disdain.

No wonder other politicians are risk-averse  when it comes to telling the truth. No wonder former DPB beneficiary, and now National Minister, Paula Bennett may not have disclosed everything she did whilst on welfare. Who can blame her for keeping her head down?

In the meantime, families continue to live in garages, cars, or packed a dozen-deep in cramped, moldy houses. Homeless are dying in the streets. And Housing NZ is turfing out families in the middle of winter;

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My response to Newshub and Radio NZ this morning;

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Enough of this bullshit!

Metiria Turei put her career on the line by disclosing her past with WINZ.  It is time for activists to come to her aid and support her publicly.

Anyone wanting assistance writing letters to editors/media may contact me at fmacskasy@gmail.com and I will assist with wording and supplying email addresses.

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#iammetiria

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References

Mediaworks/Newshub:  More questions raised about Metiria Turei’s living situation

Twitter: Newshub – Metiria Turei

Radio NZ:  Crash victim’s family told to leave state house

Previous related blogpost

Some background info for Guyon Espiner

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 4 August  2017.

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Letter to the editor – Key suggests private providers for children in CYF services?!

4 September 2015 Leave a comment

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>
date: Mon, Aug 31, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor
Sunday Star Times

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On 31 August, on Radio NZ’s ‘Morning Report’, our esteemed Prime Minister gave his strongest hint yet that parts of Child, Youth and Family could be contracted out to private providers. Key said,

“Child Youth and Family does outsource to the private sector already some contracts, and I think last year $81 million of business went to private sector contractors, so I can’t get up and say there is no involvement with the private sector, because there already is that. I don’t think we’re seriously talking about the private sector taking control of all the children, but if there is some small function they could do, maybe, I’d have to see what that is.”

The involvement of the private sector in government services, often resulting in poor outcomes and shockingly high cost over-runs, can be traced back as far as the mid 1980s with the failed INCIS police computer project contracted to IBM. Serco/Mt Eden, Talent 2/Novopay, and failed charter school Te Pumanawa o te Wairua are just some of the latest examples – that we know of.

John Key must be suffering another of his brain fades, if he has forgotten the Serco and Talent2 debacles already.

With regards to Child, Youth and Family, and the critical problems they have been facing, it defies understanding that our prime minister would contemplate, even for a micro-second, handing over aspects of support for our most vulnerable children to profit-driven corporations. If this is where New Zealand is heading, then as a nation we have truly lost the plot.

What possible benefit could a company like Serco have to offer children in State-care? Organising fight-clubs for 12 year olds?

The only solution is for the National government to cease under-funding critical social services such as Child, Youth and Family and ensure they are properly resourced; staffed; and work closely with other State agencies to achieve common goals.

Contracting out to private providers is not an answer. It is a cop-out. With vulnerable and damaged children paying the price of this lunatic idea.

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-Frank Macskasy

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[address & phone number supplied]

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References

Radio NZ: Key – More CYF private sector involvement possible

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2901_Novopay_23Mar13_zps27f71098

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Letter to the editor – let’s hear it for really, really, daft ideas

9 August 2015 3 comments

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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From a recent letter to the editor;

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letters to editor - dominion post - bruce welsh

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My response;

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date: Thu, Aug 6, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor

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The Editor
Dominion Post

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It’s all very good for Bruce Welsh to be offering impractical suggestions that “people need to open windows daily and ventilate a house” – but having a well ventilated house is pointless if the occupants are going to freeze solid in the middle of a Wellington winter. (Letters, 4 August)

It may be balmy and tropical in Kilbirnie, but the rest of New Zealand has been enjoying more traditional cold, frosts, and horizontal rain.

So taking Mr Welsh’s barmy (not balmy) suggestion might give us well-ventilated houses – but the tenants wouldn’t thaw out till spring.

Any other bright ideas?

Here’s an off-the-wall thought; why not heat the houses? In fact, I hear they’ve recently invented something called a “heater”.

Heating a house reduces mould and cold-related illnesses. And we don’t end up with tenants in some science fiction scenario of cold-induced suspended animation.

Radical, I know. And best of all, it doesn’t involve “ethnic cleansing” of poor folk in this country simply because certain individuals have a penchant for impractical “solutions”.

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-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

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In reality, what this was, was a prime example of victim-bashing; blaming the poor for being poor, and ending up in sub-standard housing. Right-wingers, moralistic conservatives, and bigots do it all the time.

It means they don’t have to think too deeply about real problems and coming up with real solutions.

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= fs =

2017

21 September 2014 3 comments

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2017 - question

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Bugger.

Ok. We pick ourselves up, dust off, and  start working for a victory in 2017 (or earlier) tomorrow.

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Categories: Various Tags:

Early Voting starts…

6 September 2014 Leave a comment

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20-september

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Early voting kicked off on Monday and according to media reports, there has been a heavy response from the public.

This is excellent news!

Meanwhile, I’ve supported three people to cast an early vote, who might not have otherwise voted without encouragement. All three votes went to Labour.

This is the only way to win this election and seize back the power for the people: find someone who normally doesn’t vote and encourage them to do so. Whether they vote for Labour, the Greens, or Mana-internet is immaterial – as long as they vote!

 

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References

TVNZ News: Early voting turnout more than doubles

 


 

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20 september 2014 VOTE

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Categories: Social Issues, Various Tags:

The Mendacities of Mr Key #4: “Trolls & bottom-feeders”

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Iran-Facebook-and-Twitter-Ban-Respite-Was-an-Error-the-Sites-Are-Still-Blocked-383709-2

 

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Key has given Judith Collins “time out” and told her to stay off social media such as Twitter. According to Dear Leader,

“My view is there’s a lot of trolls and bottom-feeders on that and in the end they get in people’s head. It’s an anonymous situation, it’s a form of cyber bullying, I don’t engage in that.”

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Judith Collins quits Twitter

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Trolls“?

Bottom-feeders“?

Isn’t this the same man who, recently, admitted to regular phone conversations with perhaps the worst troll and sleaziest bottom-feeder in New Zealand cyberspace – Cameron Slater?!

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Cameron Slater and John Key

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Why, yes, it is!  John Key admitted on 14 February this year that he is in regular phone contact with Whaleoil blogger, troll, and sleaze-merchant bottom-feeder, Cameron Slater.

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L-R: Rightwing blogger Cameron Slater & current prime minister, John Key

L-R: Rightwing blogger Cameron Slater & current prime minister, John Key

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Isn’t it terrible, the sordid company that one keeps?

Charge: broken promise/deflection/half-truth/hypocrisy/outright lie/mis-information?

Verdict: Hypocrisy

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References

Fairfax media:  Judith Collins quits Twitter

Radio NZ: Key confessions over Whale Oil

Fairfax media: Looks like Slater is Key’s Peters source

NZ Herald: PM hints tip-off came from Cameron Slater

Scoop media: Gutter tactics by John Key staffer backfire

Previous related blogposts

The Mendacities of Mr Key #3: tax cuts


 

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Twitter Judith Collins John Key Oravida

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 7 May 2014.

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Thank you, Geoff, and best wishes for your future…

31 March 2014 2 comments

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geoff robinson radio nz

Morning Report co-host, Geoff Robinson

Photo Acknowledgement: Sunday Star Times

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Tomorrow (1 April) see the last day for one of New Zealand’s best media presenters; Radio New Zealand’s Geoff Robinson. It will be a sad day, and somewhere in the back of my mind, I am hoping that this is some kind of quirky “April Fool’s” joke from the good people of Radio NZ.

In all seriousness, I will miss Geoff’s steady voice and hand. As I wrote 23 November, last year,

Geoff Robinson had been a part of my mornings since I “discovered” Radio NZ in the early 199os. He had been part of my mornings since then, outlasting several partners/lovers, and being there as I had my brekky and first of umpteen coffees.

His style was professional and reassuring. He asked the questions and voiced pertinent points from his guests that screamed from my own thoughts.  He always sounded chatty and “laid back” – but his subtle questioning could be deceptively edgy and insightful.

It’s a cliche, I know, but he will be a tough act to follow.

 

All things must end. But with the certainty of change also come human feelings of loss and sadness.

As I also wrote last year; I will miss him terribly. Like a family member who hangs around, never really imposing himself, but always with something interesting to say.

All the best, Geoff!

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Previous related blogpost

Geoff Robinson – an era ends

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Categories: Various Tags: ,

Letter to the Editor: what is a politician’s promise worth?

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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FROM: 	"f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the Editor
DATE: 	 Sun, 16 Mar 2014 21:10:15 +1300
TO: 	"Sunday Star Times" letters@star-times.co.nz 

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The Editor
Sunday Star Times

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Winston Peters has pledged that his Party's bottom line is
the re-purchase of all shares in Meridian, Genesis, and
Mighty River Power at "a price no more than that initially
paid for them".

This is stated on NZ First's website, and Peter's reiterated
his pledge on TV3's 'The Nation' on 15/16 March.

I sincerely hope that Mr Peters' promise to buy back the
powerco SOEs fares better than his pledge in 1996, to buy
back Forestry Corp's timber cutting rights. Forestry Corp
was privatised by the Bolger-led National government for
around $1.6 billion to a consortium made up by Fletcher
Challenge Forests, Brierley Investments Ltd,  and Chinese
state-owned company,  Citifor Inc (now known as CITIC
Group).

Peters promised during the 1996 general election;

“I want to tell the Chinese buyers and I want to tell
Brierleys that they had better not make any long-range plans
because the day after the election is over we will be
sending them an emissary to them them exactly what is going
to happen, that is, that we are going to keep out promise,
they can give back the asset and we will give the money
back.”

The buy-back never happened, despite Mr Peters becoming
Treasurer and Deputy PM on 11 December 1996. His pledge
quietly disappeared.

Let's hope the same fate does not befall his pledge to buy
back the powerco shares.

-Frank Macskasy
(address  & phone number supplied)

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Related blogposts

Fool me Once, Shame on you

Winston Peters recycles pledge to “buy back state assets” – where have we heard that before?

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That was Then, This is Now #23 – Bolger breaks election promise AND predicts the future!

3 March 2014 2 comments

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That was then - 1 October 1986

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This was later - 2008 election year

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That was later - 2011 election year

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  • National Party leader Jim Bolger: promised to repeal gst – tick
  • National Party leader Jim Bolger: predicted Labour would increase gst – tick
  • National Party leader Jim Bolger: broke promise to repeal gst – tick
  • Labour: raised gst to 15% – cross*
  • Prime Minister John Key: promised not to raise gst – tick
  • Prime Minister John Key:  broke promise and raised gst  to 15% – tick

So, who has a better track record at keeping promises?

* Gst was raised to 12.5% in 1989.
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Previous related blogpost

That was Then, This is Now #22 – Lowest wages vs Highest wages

References

The Dominion: Bolger on gst attack

Fairfax media: Key ‘no GST rise’ video emerges

NZ Herald: Budget 2010: Income tax slashed, GST to 15 pc

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 February 2014.

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Letter to the Editor: The threat of law-suit over plain-packaging – a clear warning!

12 February 2014 1 comment

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT:  Letter to the ed
DATE:     Wed, 12 Feb 2014 12:48:25 +1300
TO:     " Dominion Post" <letters@dompost.co.nz> 

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The Editor
DOMINION POST

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John Key is reluctant to pass the government's own Plain
Packaging Bill, which removes glossy advertising on
cigarette cartons, citing the current lawsuit across the
Tasman, between the Australian Government and tobacco giant,
Philip Morris (Hong Kong Branch).

Key is afraid that the NZ government might be sued by global
tobacco companies.

Just as the Australian government is being sued in court
through a free trade agreement with Hong Kong. Hence why
Philip Morris - a multinational company - has instigated the
lawsuit via it's Hong  Kong branch.

This should serve as a clear warning that free trade
agreements such as the mooted Trans Pacific Partnership
Agreement (TPPA) also leaves New Zealand open to law suits.
FTAs restrict the right of democratically-elected
governments to pass legislation if they affect a
corporation's profits.

Whilst the CER free trade agreement binds the Australian and
New Zealand governments to free trade - it does not bind
individual corporations.

This was clearly illustrated when Aussie supermarkets
decided to remove NZ-made goods from their shelves, in
favour of locally-made products.

No wonder John Key does not want to release the text of the
proposed TPPA until the National government signs it.

What is he hiding, I wonder? 

-Frank Macskasy
(Address and phone number supplied)

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Additional

Daily Mail Online: Cigarette giant Philip Morris sues Australian government for billions over plain packaging law

Radio NZ: Plain packaging bill passes first hurdle

NZ Herald:  Most MPs set to back plain-package smokes

Smokefree Coalition: The health effects of smokingbill/#sthash.gNpkdBl0.dpuf

Previous related blogpost

Some thoughts on the Plain Packaging Bill

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New Email Address

16 December 2013 2 comments

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1

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With revelations that the NSA, GCHQ, and uncle tom cobbly have been spying on  Google, Yahoo, and other internet service providers, this blogger will be phasing out use of free webmail accounts. The servers to email services such as Yahoo, Gmail, et al, are usually American-based, and therefore vulnerable to US spying and intelligence gathering.

Therefore, from now on, my new email address associated with this blog will be as follows,

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email address jpg

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Of course, there is no guarantee that our own spooks at GCSB are not already monitoring local email and ISP providers – but at least they are covered by local legislation, and the servers are local.

So anyone wanting to get in touch with me, that’s the address in the image above.

Cheers!

– Frank Macskasy

– Blog admin

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Categories: Various Tags: ,

Letter to the Editor: more bene-bashing by desperate Nats?

4 December 2013 7 comments

In response to this recent headline…

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House call plan to nab benefit fraudsters

Source

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FROM:     “f.macskasy”
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:      Wed, 04 Dec 2013 14:06:45 +1300
TO:            Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>

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The Editor
DOMINION POST

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The Nats are at it again; another ’bout of beneficiary-bashing, as Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows announces Stasi-style “visits” to the homes of solo-mothers to ensure they are still single.

To add insult to injury, Borrows uses Orwellian double-speak to make it sound as if the ‘government is here to help’ with platitudes like this,

” I imagine people respond in different ways. Hopefully they will see it as the department being helpful.

Relationships could develop quickly and some people might not be aware of their obligation to tell Work and Income. [It is] saying, ‘Are you still in the right space and have you still got what you need?’ “

Oh, very helpful. Spying on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society who are trying to raise a family. And all the while couching it in mealy-mouthed, warm fuzzy terms.

Meanwhile millionaires get away with $6 billion in tax fraud.

The Nats must be in serious trouble with their internal polling and their disastrous result in the recent Christchurch East by-election.

Otherwise, why default to their usual beneficiary bashing? What are they trying to deflect public attention from?

A lack of jobs, maybe?

-Frank Macskasy

(address & phone number supplied)

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*

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References

Dominion Post: House call plan to nab benefit fraudsters

Gordon Campbell: Ten Myths About Welfare – The politics behind the government’s welfare reform process

TV3: Courts tougher on benefit fraud than tax dodging – study

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Categories: Various

Mr Morgan phoned…

1 September 2013 15 comments

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Roy Morgan logo

 

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Roy Morgan is one of the most regular polling companies in New Zealand.

It is also the only one that calls respondents on their cellphones, and not just landlines. As such, it is more accurate because not every household in 21st Century New Zealand has a landline.

Last night, I answered my cellphone – and the caller was from Roy Morgan polling.

The questions, from memory;

  • Do I support legalising cannabis? (Yes)
  • Who will I give my electorate vote in 2014? (Labour)
  • Who will I give my Party vote to? (Greens – Though this may change to Mana.)
  • Is the country headed in the right or wrong direction? (Wrong direction)
  • What is the number one problem affecting our country? (Unemployment)
  • Do I expect my circumstances to improve, worsen, or no change in the next twelve months? (Worsen)
  • Do I expect my circumstances to improve, worsen, or no change in the next five years? (Uncertain – it depends if we have a Labour-led or National government)
  • Have I travelled over 40 kilometres in the last month? (yes)
  • Do I listen to the radio? (yes – though they didn’t ask which station, strangely enough)
  • Do I listen to radio on podcast, TV, or smartphone? (yes)

There were a few others which were asked, but they escape me for the moment.

So there we have it – polled by Roy Morgan, via cellphone.

I look forward to the next results to come out.

 

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= fs =

Categories: Various Tags:

Munted links – fixed

Links on my series – Opposition parties work together on “orphan drugs” – from one part to the next –  have been corrected. Apologies for my stuff-ups.

The conclusion the series – part wha – coming soon.

-Frank

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Categories: Various

Our national anthem…

1 August 2013 11 comments

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New-Zealand-240-animated-flag-gifs.

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God of Nations at Thy feet,
In the bonds of love we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our free land.
Guard Pacific’s triple star
From the shafts of strife and war,
Make her praises heard afar,
God defend New Zealand.

 

Now I understand why we implore “God defend our free land”.

Because as our lying Prime Minister and corrupt government  run roughshod over our civil liberties; spy and snoop at will; plan to turn our once-liberal nation into a fully-fledged, Stasi-style, Surveillance State…

… half the population are asleep and don’t seem to give a shit.

How else does one explanation the latest Roy Morgan poll?!?!

National Party:  51% (+ 4%)

Maori Party: 1.5% (- 0.5%)

ACT NZ: 1% (+ 0.5%)

United Future: 0%

Labour: 29% (- 2%);

Greens:10% (- 1.5%),

New Zealand First: 4% (- 0.5%),

Mana Party: 1% (- 0.5%),

Conservative Party of NZ: 1.5% (unchanged)

Others 1% (up 0.5%).

(Roy Morgan: This latest New Zealand Roy Morgan Poll on voting intention was conducted by telephone – both landline and mobile telephone, with a NZ wide cross-section of 824 electors from July 15-28, 2013. Of all electors surveyed 4% (unchanged) didn’t name a party.Source)

So according to this, if Key burned down Parliament; annexed Tasmania; and declared the country a One Party state with himself as Leader-for-Life – his popularity would soar into the stratosphere?!

Jeezus H, I had no idea that a collective longing for soft-fascism was so deeply ingrained in our culture.

Silly me, I thought Muldoon was an aberration.

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The gentrification of Te Papa

28 June 2013 4 comments

Post.

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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10 June – Issues of Interest

10 June 2013 1 comment

A look at issues that’ve hit the headlines (or not)…

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Looking at the pieces

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Beware of Think Tanks bearing “solutions”

Ex-politician and right wing ‘pundit’ Michael Bassett appeared on TVNZ’s Q+A on 9 June 2013, promoting something called the ” Priced Out” study (see: TVNZ – Q+A –  Dr Michael Bassett on housing affordability)

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New Zealand Initiative - Business Roundtable

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The report blamed local government bodies for being part of something called  the “compact cities cult” and supposedly being unduly restrictive in zoning policies that would free up land for development to build more housing.

Having compact, dense inner cities is fine but often that is prioritised at the expense of urban development. Most people want to live in suburbs.”

Sourse: New Zealand Initiative – Priced Out

One of the report authors, Luke Malpass, stated,

Malpass also notes that the peak of new homes in the 1970s was fuelled by government welfare policies after World War II that subsidised and promoted house construction.

“The New Zealand Government basically printed money for about 50 years to pay for those policies, which is why no-one is really considering them now.”

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media –  Cult of compact living blamed for high prices

Interesting comments… And they sounded strangely familiar. The ‘tut-tutting’ of State investment in housing; criticism of local body regulation;  the promotion of free market “solutions”…

Who/what is the “New Zealand Initiative” I wondered?

Why, it’s no less than a reincarnation of the right-wing NZ Business Roundtable, merged with the right-wing ‘think tank’, the  New Zealand Institute. (see:  Roundtable and NZ Institute morph into new libertarian think tank)

Well that explains where Bassett and Malpass are coming from – a far-right “think tank” that advocates more lunatic “reforms” that would benefit the top 1% in this country.

Yes, we have a housing shortage in this country.

But as per usual, right-wing fanatics find others to blame for the failure of the marketplace to meet social needs. The New Right steadfastly  refuse to take any responsibility for the failure of their screwy policies – the ones that have been in place since 1984.

It’s funny how the Q+A programme and Fairfax report both neglected to inform the viewer/reader that this was a product of the Business Roundtable.

And by the way, why did the BRT change it’s name?

Perhaps because the “Business Roundtable  brand” is somewhat tarnished?!

See also:

Evening Post: Poor better off than before: Kerr (7 Nov 1996)

Otago Daily Times:  Poor not poorer, Kerr (12 June 1999)

NZPA – Kiwis urged to take responsibility – 12 August 1999

National cares? Whodathunk it???

From the Dominion Post on 28 May, 2013,

Mr Key told the National Party’s northern conference  at the weekend that it was a “myth” that the party did not care about the less-well-off.

Acknowledgment: Dominion Post – Scheme may see kids clothed as well as fed

Also not myths, according to Dear Leader,  are  the Loch Ness monster, flying saucers, and Sasquatch.

Of course, it’s only a sheer coincidence that the Nats have been  engaged in wide-spread beneficiary-bashing at a time of high unemployment caused by the Global Financial Crisis.

The same GFC that Dear Leader automically falls back on to excuse National’s poor performace with the economy;

We did inherit a pretty bad situation with the global financial crisis. We have had three terrible earthquakes in Christchurch. We have had the collapse of finance companies. We have had to bail out what is, in terms of the earthquakes, the single biggest economic impact on a developed economy as the result of a disaster. The public don’t agree with every decision… but I think they believe on balance it’s been a tough three years and we’ve handled most things well. The second thing is it’s all relative. Yes, our unemployment went to 7 per cent and now it’s 6.5, but in America it’s 9 per cent officially and 14 per cent unofficially and in Spain it’s 20 per cent... ”  – John Key, 11 September 2011

National using the GFC as an excuse for poor economic performance: ok.

Unemployed, solo-mums, and other beneficiaries doing likewise: not ok.

Abusing animals for drug-heads

Green Party MP, Mojo Mathers sez,

A pack of gorgeous beagles and their human companions helped deliver to me a 60,000 strong petition calling for the ruling out of animal testing in legal high regulations. I’m sure many of you signed this petition so thank you.

Some of these beagles were rescued from an animal testing facility and I have been working hard to make sure their voices are heard by MPs who are making decisions on the safety testing regulations for legal highs.

If we don’t specifically rule it out, animals will be used to test the safety of legal highs, even though those tests are cruel and unnecessary. I have been meeting with other parties to gather support for my amendment to the Bill to rule out animal testing. “

As demanded by law, if retailers of synthetic cannabis want to peddle their ‘wares’, like this crap,

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k2_synthetic_marijuana_legal_high__N2

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– they need to test their products on animals like these,

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beagles

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– to prove their safety.

Now, I have difficulty at the best of times with the knowledge that we already test products like shampoos, soaps, toothpaste, and other stuff we humans “need” to hide our natural body odours.

But causing harm, pain and eventual death to animals to test “herbal highs” so that a bunch of hedonistic party-goers can turn on, tune out, and  trip Up is a step too far.

There is something terribly wrong with out humanity and so-called compassion when we can even contemplate such an atrocity.  This is evil.

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Al Nisbet’s next little ‘gem’…

Al Nisbet, cartoonist and panderer to  racist rednecks, presents us with these little ‘gems’…

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290513 The Marlborough Express Al Nisbet cartoon

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And this…

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Al Nisbet's racist cartoon (2)

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Well, I guess if we, as a nation, are so fucking pathetic that we can’t address child poverty without a sizeable portion of the population begrudging a bowl of weetbix and milk for the children of the poorest families in the country (because, as we all know, every child has a choice which family they were born into) – well, we might as well poke fun at them.

Nice one, Al.

I’m looking forward to your next cartoon about religion and kids. You know the one. Where a priest is raping a child and you’re making a really witty and “satirical” comment about it.

Ho ho ho…

Funny as, dude.

And screw all those leftie whingers eh? They should just LIGHTEN THE FUCK UP, eh?

Hah! Who sez you can’t laugh about child poverty.

Also looking forward to your next cartoon about solo-mums. Maybe depicting them as lazy crack-whores milking the State?

I’m sure Paula Bennett will get the joke.

Now… what can we draw about cartoonists and their families?

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Categories: Various Tags: , ,

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment y/e 2012 – incomes

9 January 2013 5 comments

To Whom It May Concern; the following Report Card detail’s Johnny’s achievements over the last four years.

The following contrasts compare four years, ranging from the end of 2008 to the end of this year, 2012.

Whilst it is acknowledged that the Global Financial Crisis impacted harshly on our society and economy, it is also fair to say that National has had the benefits of starting out with a sound economy (surpluses, low unemployment, etc)  in 2008 and four years in office to make good on it’s election promises.

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Incomes

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John Key says I'd like to raise wages but I can't

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The rhetoric: (and gawd almighty, there was plenty of it…)

We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, 29 January 2008

See: National policy – SPEECH: 2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

“One of National’s key goals, should we lead the next Government, will be to stem the flow of New Zealanders choosing to live and work overseas.  We want to make New Zealand an attractive place for our children and grandchildren to live – including those who are currently living in Australia, the UK, or elsewhere.

To stem that flow so we must ensure Kiwis can receive competitive after-tax wages in New Zealand.” – John Key, 6 September 2008

See: National policy – Speech: Environment Policy Launch

“I don’t want our talented young people leaving permanently for Australia, the US, Europe, or Asia, because they feel they have to go overseas to better themselves.” – John Key, 15 July 2009

See: Speech: Key – business breakfast

“Science and innovation are important. They’re one of the keys to growing our economy, raising wages, and providing the world-class public services that Kiwi families need.” – John Key, 12 March 2010

See: National policy – Boosting Science and Innovation

We will also continue our work to increase the incomes New Zealanders earn. That is a fundamental objective of our plan to build a stronger economy.” – John Key,  8 February 2011

See: Statement to Parliament 2011

The driving goal of my Government is to build a more competitive and internationally-focused economy with less debt, more jobs and higher incomes.” – John Key, 21 December 2011

See: Parliament – Speech from the Throne

We want to increase the level of earnings and the level of incomes of the average New Zealander and we think we have a quality product with which we can do that.” –  John Key, 19 April 2012

See: Key wants a high-wage NZ

Key was practically out-doing Labour in championing the cause of the Working Man & Woman getting better wages. The spirits of Jim Knox, Norman Kirk,  et al, would have been dancing a happy-jig in approval at Dear Leader’s statements.

The reality:

The reality was 180 degrees polar opposite to Key’s wage-raising statements. But National’s actions were not just opposed to raising wages –  their policies were designed specifically to lower wages; undermine working conditions; and attract corporate interest. Finance Minister even admitted as such when he let slip on TVNZ’s Q+A, in April 2011,

BILL Well, it’s a way of competing, isn’t it?  I mean, if we want to grow this economy, we need the capital – more capital per worker – and we’re competing for people as well.

GUYON So it’s part of our strategy to have wages 30% below Australia?

BILL Well, they are, and we need to get on with competing for Australia.  So if you take an area like tourism, we are competing with Australia.  We’re trying to get Australians here instead of spending their tourist dollar in Australia.

GUYON But is it a good thing?

BILL Well, it is a good thing if we can attract the capital, and the fact is Australians- Australian companies should be looking at bringing activities to New Zealand because we are so much more competitive than most of the Australian economy.

GUYON So let’s get this straight – it’s a good thing for New Zealand that our wages are 30% below Australia?

BILL No, it’s not a good thing, but it is a fact.  We want to close that gap up, and one way to close that gap up is to compete, just like our sports teams are doing.  This weekend we’ve had rugby league, netball, basketball teams, and rugby teams out there competing with Australia.  That’s lifting the standard.  They’re closing up the gap.

GUYON But you said it was an advantage, Minister.

BILL Well, at the moment, if I go to Australia and talk to Australians, I want to put to them a positive case for investment in New Zealand, because while we are saving more, we’re not saving more fast enough to get the capital that we need to close the gap with Australia.  So Australia already has 40 billion of investment in New Zealand.  If we could attract more Australian companies, activities here, that would help us create the jobs and lift incomes.

See: TVNZ Q+A: Guyon Espiner interviews Bill English – transcript

English initially admitted that ” it is a good thing ” if wages are lower, to ” attract the capital  ” – and then, realising his faux pas, goes on to correct himself in his next response to Espiner. But the truth is out; National sees  lower wages as a means by which to attract corporate investment from overseas. Especially in competing with Australia.

Then he attempts to extricate himself from the hole he has  dug by likening our cheaper wages as competitiveness similar to  sporting games, ” rugby league, netball, basketball teams, and rugby teams out there competing with Australia “.

(If this sounds like sheer lunacy, you are [1] Sane and [2] Not a National voter.)

English’s slip of the tongue is backed up by National’s on-going campaign against workers in this country.

As detailed in an earlier blogpost (see:  John Key’s track record on raising wages), practically every aspect of National’s policies; law changes; and other actions have been deliberately designed to reduce wages and conditions.

The following are excerpts from that earlier blogpost. (For full details, simply click on the heading-links.)

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1. The “Hobbit Law”

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The “Hobbit Law” took precisely two days from First Reading to Royal Assent. An Olympic record in law-making. (See: Employment Relations (Film Production Work) Amendment Act 2010 – Legislative history)

The law change made film industry workers independent contractors by default – thereby changing the definition in employment legislation of what constitutes an “employee”.

In effect, for the first time in our democracy, a government has legislated away a  workers right to determine their own employment status. They no longer have any choice in the matter.

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2. The 90 Day Employment Trial Period

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An amendment to the Employment Relations Act 2000, Section 67A, allowed employers to sack – without just cause or a chance for an employee to improve performance – within a 90 day period.

It gives unbalanced power to employers who can blackmail an employee or get rid of them at the slightest whim.

It also makes workers less willing to be mobile in the workplace. Why change jobs at the risk of being fired within 90 days of taking up a new position?

When the 90 Day Trial period was first introduced in March 2009, it applied only to companies employing 19 staff or less.

See: Will the 90 Day trial period make a difference?

By April 2011, this was extended to all companies regardless of staff numbers.

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3. Ports of Auckland Dispute

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Putting aside from the myth of  POAL maritime workers earning $90,000 – so what?

Even if it were true (which is doubtful) – POAL has never released the workings of how they arrived at that sum, despite requests), isn’t such a good wage precisely what Dear Leader was advocating in his quotes above?

POAL management sought to reduce costs;  casualise their workforce; and compete with Ports of Tauranga for shipping business. Unfortunately, competing on costs would, by necessity, involve driving down wages.

Rather than supporting the workers, Dear Leader bought into a situation where international shipping companies were playing New Zealand ports off against each other, to gain the  lowest possible port-charges.  Even local company, Fonterra, was playing the game.

Here we have a situation where New Zealand workers were enjoying high wages – something John Key insists he supports – and yet he was effectively allowing international corporations to create circumstances where those wages could eventually be cut and driven down.

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4. Rest Home Workers

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On 28 May 2012, Dear Leader explained why rest home workers weren’t getting an increase in pay on his watch,

It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash. As the country moves back to surplus it’s one of the areas we can look at but I think most people would accept this isn’t the time we have lots of extra cash”.”

See: PM: No money for aged care workers

Seven months later, Key and his fellow Ministers and MPs were given a pay rise of 1.9% by the Remuneration Authority.  Key himself pockets $3,895 in backpay, and an extra $150 per week payrise.

This isn’t the time we have lots of extra cash,” eh?

See: Christmas rise gives PM $3900 backpay, $150 more a week

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5. The Minimum Wage

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From 2004 to 2008, the minimum wage rose from $9 to $12 – an increase of $3 in four years.

From 2009 to 2012, the minimum wage rose from $12 to $13.50 – an increase of $1.50 over three years.

See: Dept of Labour – Previous minimum wage rates

Last year, Labour, the Greens, NZ First, and Mana campaigned to raise the minimum wage to $15 ($16 for Mana).

When a worker at a fast-food outlet asked John Key to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, he  rejected the proposal, saying,

It will go up, but it won’t go up straight away.”

See:  Raising minimum wage won’t cost jobs – Treasury

Key’s right. At the glacial speed that National increases the minimum wage, it will take another three years to deliver $15 an hour.

Yet it took only a couple of years to implement two massive taxcuts that gave hundreds, thousands,  of dollars a week, to the top income earners.

Priorities, eh?

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6. Youth Rates

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On 9 October, Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson announced that National intended to introduce a new Youth Rate, to take effect in April, next year. The rate would be set at $10.80 an hour – compared to the minimum rate of $13.50 an hour currently, and would include 16 to 19 year olds.

As Scoop.co.nz reported,

That equates to $10.80 an hour, or $432 before tax for a 40-hour week. From April next year, the ‘Starting Out Wage’ will apply to 16- and 17-year-olds in the first six months of a job, to 18- and 19-year-olds entering the workforce after spending more than six months on a benefit, or 16 to 19-year-olds in a recognised industry training course.”

See: NZ teens face $10.80 an hour youth wage rate

It is doubtful if National’s Youth Rate will actually create new jobs. More likely, a drop in youth wages will simply create more ‘churn’ in employment/unemployment numbers.

As David Lowe, Employment Services Manager for the Employers and Manufacturers Association, inadvertently revealed,

Without an incentive an employer with a choice between an experienced worker and an inexperienced worker will choose experience every time.”

See: Starting-out wage will help young people onto job ladder

So there’s no new job for the  younger worker – s/he is merely displacing an older worker. Which probably results in  older workers joining the migration to Australia.

End result; a loss of skill and experience for New Zealand, and a gain for our Aussie cuzzies.

Nice one, Mr Key. Remind us when you took on the role of staff recruiter for Australia?

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7. Part 6A – stripped away

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One of the most far-reaching aspects of National’s covert agenda to make the country’s workforce  “more flexible” (translation; more exploitable)  is their stated intention to remove Part 6A  of the Employment Relations Act (ERA),  which continues (or transfers under similar conditions and pay) the employment of  low-paid employees such as caretakers, cleaners, catering workers, hospital orderlies and laundry workers,  after a business is restructured or sold.

See: Part 6A – Continuity of employment if employees’ work affected by restructuring

Part 6A gives vulnerable, low-paid workers, the right to keep their jobs on the same terms of employment when  transferred to the new contractor.

See: Labour law changes announced

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson has assured the public that this law-change will apply only to  small and medium-sized businesses with less than 20 employees.

Pardon me? Didn’t they say the same thing for the 90 Day Trial Period law? Oh yes, I believe they did,

Trial employment periods for up to 90 days for workplaces with fewer than 20 employees will be available from April 2009.” – Kate Wilkinson,  11 December 2008

See: National policy – 90-day trial period to provide job opportunities

Once National’s so-called “reforms” were bedded in, they changed it, implementing the real policy  they had wanted all along,

The 90-day trial period is to be extended to enable all employers and new employees to have the chance to benefit from it.” – Kate Wilkinson,  18 July 2010

Once Part 6A is removed from the lawbooks, the lowest-paid workers in our communities will be vulnerable. A new employer will  be able to re-write their contracts at whim; reduce  their pay; change their conditions, or dismiss them altogether. There are many such small business and the impact on their workers could be severe.

Green Party industrial-relations spokeswoman, Denise Roche, was 100% on-the nose when she described these – and other “reforms” as,

This decision is straight from the Bill Birch era of industrial relations.”

This is indeed a return to the Employment Contracts Act – by stealth. National is too gutless to face the country by honestly presenting a manifesto returning to the ECA.

Remind us,  Mr Prime Minister, how scrapping Part 6A  will raise wages, as per your promises?

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8. An End to Collective Agreements

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National’s covert agenda to resurrect the Employment Contract’s Act involves the following,

  1. The Employment Relations Authority can declare in certain circumstances that collective bargaining has ended.
  2. A duty of good faith does not require the parties to conclude a collective agreement.
  3. Employers can opt out of multi-employer bargaining.
  4. Partial pay reductions in cases of partial strike action.
  5. Removing the 30-day rule that forces non-union members to take union terms and conditions.

Items 1, 2, and 3 have only one purpose; to ensure that an employer can walk away from the negotiating table; scrap any collective agreement; and re-hire workers on individual contracts.

It is solely designed to destroy unions once and for all.

Had Items 1, 2, and 3 been in force this year, POAL (Ports of Auckland Ltd) would have been able to abandon the bargaining table after a mock “negotiation”; locked out any worker on strike; and issued take-it-or-leave-it individual contracts.

The worker’s negotiating agent,  the Maritime Union, would have been dis-empowered and destroyed.

Only the current provisions of good-faith bargaining in the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Employment Relations Authority were able to stop POAL from unilaterally walking away from the negotiating table. (On 27 March this year, the Employment Court issued a judgement severely admonishing POAL for their actions, and ordering them to return to negotiations.)

This may satisfy free market fanatics, but it does nothing to fulfill Dear Leader’s pledges to raise wages, or create new jobs.

As usual, Key promises one thing whilst his Ministers work quietly in the background to achieve the polar-opposite.

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9. Conclusion

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Thus far we have seen no concrete  indications that John Key is implementing his  promises in 2008, 2009, 2010,  2011, and this year,   to raise wages.

Instead, Key and his cronies in National have been studiously  implementing law-changes that will inevitably result in the opposite;  a dismantling of hard-won working conditions; an  undermining of worker-representation in negotiations, and an eventual lowering of wages .

The only conclusion  that can be made is that Key has wilfully deceived voters. His public statements advocated raising wages whilst in back-rooms, he and  National Party ministers have been contriving to achieve a diametrically opposite agenda.

It serves National’s undisclosed agenda to lower wages, to attract international ‘investment’, and to allow corporations to increase profits on the backs of low-paid workers.

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10. A New Government’s Response

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Once in power, a Labour-Greens-NZ First-Mana Coalition must act decisively to undo and repeal every single one of National’s  “reforms”.

Not one strand  of their repugnant legislation must be allowed to stand – not one.

Incomes – 2000 – 2012 – The Stats

Wage Growth – 2000-2012Year (June-June) % increase/decrease

2000

1.3%

2001

1.8%

2002

2.1%

2003

2.3%

2004

2.2%

2005

2.7%

2006

3.2%

2007

3.2%

2008

3.5%

2009

2.8%

2010

1.6%

2011

1.9%

2012

2.0%

Source: Statistics New Zealand: Labour Cost Index (Salary and Wage Rates): June (Annualised) quarters

As the stats above show, National has some way to go before wage increases match those under the previous Labour government.

However, nothing that National has done  thus far, in the last four years, will go anywhere near raising wages for ordinary workers.

Instead, the expectation is that a minority of sought-after skilled tradespeople, professionals, and technicians will enjoy moderate increases, whilst the rest of the country either stagnates or goes backward.

So sayeth “Market Forces” under  National.

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Report_Card_incomes

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