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Bennett & Borrows – where are the jobs?!?!

1 August 2013 8 comments

From a recent Fairfax report,

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Hundreds apply for 90 Fonterra jobs

Source: Fairfax Media – Hundreds apply for 90 Fonterra jobs

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And there have been plenty of other similar situations, where job applicants have outnumbered available vacancies. See:

Employment-Unemployment Fact Sheet #1: Queues for Vacancies

So instead of welfare “reforms” which consist of re-naming various benefit categories and constant belittling of unemployed as drug-takers; alcohol abusers; prolific “breeders”; and mis-treating children – what is really needed are,

Jobs

But aside from a Convention centre deal with Skycity, which will most likely result in more problem gamblers, this National government has done precious little to generate more jobs for the unemployed.

Even the Christchurch rebuild, we are now told, will be done by foreign workers,

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Deal opens door for Chinese workers in Christchurch rebuild

Source: TV3 -Deal opens door for Chinese workers in Christchurch rebuild

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Why is there a “shortage of 17,000” workers?!

The last big quake hit Christchurch in February 2011 – two and a half years ago! In that time, what have National ministers been doing?  Surely they must have received advice from governmental departments; industry organisations; and other expert advisers, that an army of trained workers would be required in the coming years?

Why was no plan set up to,

  1. Assess New Zealand’s current “stock” of skilled tradespeople,
  2. Begin a crash-programme to train people where perceived gaps were indicated,
  3. Organise infra-structure (accomodation, transport, meals, etc) to cater for the Rebuild Army

This is how previous governments built past massive projects such as the Manapouri power station, Clyde, etc: planning.

Indeed, I spoke to one person who worked at the Deep Cove end of the Manapouri Power Project in the 1960s. He  informed me that as part of his employment, his accomodation (aboard the Wanganella) and meals were all paid for.  (He also mentioned how his lunch box and tools kept regularly vanishing, and he thought his work-mates were playing pranks on him. Then, one day he saw a Kea make of with his shiny new lunchbox…)

This was the style of planning, support, and incentives offered to workers to travel to an isolated part of the country where the work was difficult, dirty, and often dangerous.

The building of our nation was certainly not left to the vaguaries of the “marketplace” to achieve.

Because really, when you hear comments like this,

“We frankly can’t run our industry without significant numbers of immigrant workers,” says Federated Farmers president Bruce Wills. “The industry is just too important to be hijacked by a lack of labour. If we can’t get Kiwis in these roles, then we’ve got to make it easy to attract and retain good immigrant labour.”

The problem is there aren’t enough New Zealand workers with the right skills.

“They need to be experienced,” says John Hughes of Rural Contractors New Zealand. “They need to have a work ethic. They need to have an ability to hit the ground running.”

Source: IBID

– this is nothing but a pathetic excuse that the “marketplace” has failed spectacularly to plan ahead and invest in up-skilling New Zealand workers.

“They need to be experienced,” says  John Hughes of Rural Contractors New Zealand, without explaining where that experience will come from if  workers are not hired and trained by people like Mr Hughes.

“They need to have a work ethic,” says John Hughes. Really? Is Hughes saying that since 2008, New Zealanders have misplaced their work ethic?? Yet, the situation of 900 people applying for jobs at Fonterra (see above) seems to indicate that workers not only have a work ethic – they want the work to go with it.

“They need to have an ability to hit the ground running,” says John Hughes. What does that mean? Because what I’m getting from Mr Hughes’ statements is nothing but self-serving excuses that his industry – Rural Contractors New Zealand – has done stuff all to train workers to meet their needs.

Who else is he expecting to meet the needs of the “marketplace”? The State?

But… isn’t the State supposed to stay out of the marketplace, according to neo-liberal business doctrine?

Anyway, this lazy, incompetant government is the last place we should be looking for active leadership on this growing problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”).  As Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said on TV3’s The Nation, on 21 July,

“Any employer will tell you when Work and Income sends some workers to them they will have some of those barriers. That is they’re not skilled or educated enough to do the jobs. They may have some issues with drug and alcohol or mobility, and I think those are barriers that we need to continue to move so Kiwis are first in line for the jobs.”

Source: IBID

So what Woodhouse is trying to tell us is that 95,000 New Zealanders suddenly developed a drug habit, alcohol dependency, lost their skills, forgot their education since 2007/08?

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New Zealand Unemployed Persons 2008 - 2012

Source: Trading Economics – Unemployed Persons in New Zealand

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So the Global Financial Crisis, which National regularly uses as an excuse for the poorly performing economy, had no part to play in the massive growth in unemployment from 3.50% in December of 2007 to the high of 7.3%  last year?

Which is strange, because even social welfare minister, Paula Bennett, was forced to concede on TV1’s Q+A, in on 29 April 2012,

There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do. “

See:  TVNZ  Q+A: Transcript of Paula Bennett interview

Let’s be quite clear here. When Borrows, Bennett, and other National Ministers refer to “drug dependency”, “alcohol abuse”, “lack of skills”, “lack of work ethic”, and other derogatory terms for unemployed and other welfare recipients – in reality they are shifting blame for on-going chronic unemployment from government inaction, to the victims of National’s “hands-off”, market-based policies.

This is a failure on the part of a government that is so wedded to hands-off, free market policies, that it’s hands are “tied” and cannot bring itself to be proactive on this growing problem.

National’s failure is so entrenched; so widespread; that it is, in effect, utterly paralysed to do anything.

The only recourse is to import cheap foreign labour to make up for this gross deficiency in government and industry  planning.

Once upon a time, our great little nation had the determination, resources,  vision, and sheer guts to build dams and roads  in isolated, rugged, wilderness areas.

By contrast, after two and a half years, we are scrambling to find workers trained to whack a nail into a piece of four-by-two.

With 146,000 jobless (HLFS) there is no reason in this wide world why government and industry groups, with union participation, could not have begun planning from Day One after the February 2011 earthquake.

What, exactly, do we pay the Minister for Earthquake Recovery (Gerry Brownlee) to do?

This mess is further proof (not that we needed it) that a hands-off, free-market approach, will not deliver on large scale development where only  the State has the necessary resources to plan and execute such projects.

Blaming the unemployed for lack of planning may fool some gullible members of the public. But the rest will eventually begin to question why we are importing foreign labour when 146,000 pair of hands are ready, willing, and able to do the work.

Once upon a time, we could do this. We rebuilt Napier after the 1931 earthquake, a more devastating seismic event than the 2011 Christchurch quake,

Few insurance policies covered earthquakes, and many insurers refused to pay for fire damage that resulted from the quake. In 1931 Parliament had passed the Hawke’s Bay Earthquake Act, which provided loans for local companies and individuals to rebuild their premises. Because of the economic depression, however, the funds granted were far from adequate, and repayment terms were harsh. Much of the money for recovery came from charity, which poured in during the weeks after the quake…

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In November 1932, Hastings celebrated its reconstruction, and in January 1933, almost two years after the earthquake, during the New Napier Carnival, Napier was declared officially ‘reborn’.

Source: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand – Story: Historic earthquakes- Page 8 – Rebuilding Napier

Almost two years after the quake...”

With far more destruction; greater loss of life (256); less money available (no EQC funding or insurance cover back then!); and limited technology, our grandparents didn’t faff around waiting for the “market place” to deliver results. Nope, they pulled up their sleeves and got down to it.

Whilst it’s true that circumstances between Napier 1931 and Christchurch 2011 differ in many respects – we also have more resources than our grandparents did, eighty years ago.

More resources, perhaps.

Lacking in a bit of #8 fencing wire spirit…

But with a surplus of ideology.

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Show us the jobs!

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 26 July 2013.

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Other blogs

Ideologically Impure: Oh look, Diane Vivian: Paula Bennett DID come for you

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Guest Author: Citizen Meegan’s submission to Parliament – hand’s off our stuff!

Meegan Manuka (aka, Madd Hatter)

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. Kia Ora,

My name is Meegan Manuka and I am a Whanganui local here to talk to you about the purposed changes to the mixed ownership model act and the sale of our state owned assets.

On the 9th of February I attended a so called, “iwi consultation” at Whanganui racecourse.  And after seeing the drama that unfolded and learning what is being planned, I am concerned, very concerned.

Soon after I arrived at this meeting, the drama began. We had iwi met and manhandled by police and forced away from the door, locked out and prevented from entering. The curtains were then drawn to stop all inside the venue seeing what was happening.

I got up and opened the curtains to allow full view of the injustice outside. I walked to the door and asked the Maori warden guarding the door why the iwi were not allowed inside. He told me he was instructed to keep them outside because they were carrying tinorangatiratanga flags…

What happened to freedom of expression? Is this country becoming a police state? This consultation was not a true and fair representative debate. The full spectrum of iwi opinion and philosophy and the voices of those iwi wanting to enter were not heard. How can national even claim to have considered the view of iwi during this “consultation” if the iwi are not even allowed in to participate in the debate in the first place?

To further clarify my question, how can you claim to have consulted with and considered iwi views when some of the iwi were purposefully denied the right to participate and lend their voice to the consultation process? Their voices were NOT heard, their views were not considered, and they were not allowed to be a part of the consultation. This is twisted and unethical.

Anyway, I was one of the lucky ones allowed inside; maybe I look like I’m less of a threat…
Upon arrival I was given a booklet. This booklet actually. “EXTENSIONS OF THE MIXED OWNERSHIP MODEL ETC”.

After leaving the meeting I set about analysing this booklet and to say it made me angry is an understatement.

A lot of emphasis was put on section 9 of the SOE act both on the news and at the meeting.  On page 5 of this booklet it states, “Section 9 of the SOE Act provides that NOTHING IN THIS ACT shall permit the crown to act in a manner inconsistent with the principals of the treaty of waitangi…” well this sounds fine and dandy doesn’t it… until nek minute I read this… “To proceed with the mixed ownership model, the government purposes to remove the four state owned enterprises from the ambit of the state owned enterprises Act…” which means… in reality, all this section 9 stuff is just a smoke screen and yes, you have kept section 9 in the SOE act, but that is totally irrelevant because those four companies are being removed from the SOE act anyway. This is totally misleading.

Trickkky monkeyyss….

It then goes on to say on page 6 that, “no other investor will be able to hold more than ten per cent of the shares in each company which will help ensure widespread ownership.”

Sounds good, until I read page 8… “…although trustee corporations and nominee companies that hold shares on behalf of other persons may be exempt from the ten per cent limit.” Once again you tricky monkeys… why didn’t you tell us that in the first place unless you are planning something dodgy?

Now, THIS is the bit made me furious… page 8…Section 27AD… to provide a regime… wow regime is the right word isn’t it?… a regime for memorials to be placed on the titles of land that is transferred by the crown to SOE’s… THIS LAND MUST BE RESUMED BY THE CROWN IF THE WAITANGI TRIBUNAL MAKES A RECOMMENDATION FOR ITS RETURN TO MAORI OWNERSHIP…

Now, if the waitangi tribunal says give the land to Maori the crown keeps it?

I guess this might have something to do with the fact that over 7000 hectares of Tuhoe land is now listed as “no owner”…. Yeah, you heard right, 7000 HECTARES of Maori land has recently been listed as “NO OWNER…” and the owners can’t do anything about it…

We’ve seen a lot of this slight of hand politics lately and it sets a dangerous president.  Politicians need to remember who pays you… WE PAY YOU… to do what we tell you to do.

There hasn’t been enough REAL consultaion with the people. And I’m not only talking about the iwi consultation now, I’m talking in consultation in general.  As a concerned citizen I believe that this is a rouge government and is not acting in the best interests of New Zealanders.

But I guess fundamentally it’s very easy to see why.

On the first day of parliament, MP’s are sworn in. They are presented with a piece of paper by the clerk of the house which they have to parrot. It reads…

I … insert name here… solemnly sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bare true allegiance to her majesty queen Elizabeth the second, her Aires and successors according to law…” what good little parrots…

Do you not realise that by swearing allegiance to the Crown you are inadvertently NOT swearing allegiance to the people of New Zealand…and are therefore not acting in our best interests… us, the people who go to work every day to pay for the millions of dollars of debt you are incurring in our names every week???

So where does that leave us, the very people who voted you in and whose taxes pay your obscene pay rises, world trips and salaries?

I’ll tell you where it leaves us, in debt… Too broke to pay for milk, can’t afford to go to a dentist…power prices going up, poisoned by polluted water and air from cancer causing fracking emissions, emissions like benzene, that are not even included in the emissions trading scheme , stuck in a never ending February 22nd, living in an unsafe green zoned house or kicked out of a safe red zoned house or fined $200,000, having our EQC claim lost for the fifth time… locked out of our work and starving for protesting about unsafe work conditions, beaten into submission by police… police who should be protecting us… while peacefully protesting the removal of our state owned home of 60 years… paying diligently towards our retirement only to find out that we are investing in a super fund that is spending our money on BOMBS and tobacco companies!!!

This is not the New Zealand I want for our kids…

We need to be world leaders and innovators for them, not sheep who bend over backwards and submit to the self-destructive patterns of other counties…. Instead we need to learn from their mistakes. We need to shift away from living on our land to living with it.

We have to think about what sort of world we are leaving behind for our children, they are 30% of our population and 100% of our future… we need to leave some for them.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to leave them in an oily, gassy, debt-ridden, over-regulated drought of a mess that can’t be cleaned up. We need to turn this around now.

I demand a transparent honest government, one that won’t trick us and will give us the opportunity to be heard and the right to fair process.

One that doesn’t put the value of a dollar in their own wallets over the value of kiwi lives.

One that adopts new and existing, more financially viable and environmentally sustainable technology that can reduce our emmissons by up to 80% instead of relying on over century old polluting technology.

I want a government that thinks about our kids, and their future.

I motion a vote of no confidence in this rouge government.

And if National is so confident that they are doing what is right and they have the support of Kiwis, I also ask for a referendum about the sale of state owned assets.  New Zealand, Aotearoa, everyone in this room… it is time to stand up and remind them who the real bosses are.

No reira tena koutou, tena koutou, tena ra koutou katoa.

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Related Blogposts

February 7 (Part Tahi)

February 7 (Part Rua)

February 7 (Part Toru)

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The “Free Market” is a fair-weather friend.

23 September 2011 3 comments

Ir seems quite likely that New Zealand will soon be joining the ranks of Japan and San Francisco, where earthquake insurance is either highly expensive, or unavailable to home owners,

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Full Story

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Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee may chest-thump and bellow till the cows come home, but if insurance companies – as Chris Ryan is suggesting – no longer consider New Zealand property a safe risk to insure against earthquakes, then he had better start taking notice.

Internationally, the insurance industry has been hard-hit after the severe floods in Queensland; two major quakes in Christchurch; and a triple-whammy in Japan; earthquake, tsunami, and atomic reactor disaster.  Insurance companies have been hard hit, as Reuters reported in March,

“Some analysts said the disaster, combined with heavy losses already suffered this year from floods in Australia and last month’s New Zealand earthquake, could push up global insurance prices, boosting insurers’ shares.

“In our view the loss will be so large that it will probably provide the trigger to ensure a re-rating of the non-life sector,” Panmure Gordon analyst Barrie Cornes wrote in a note.” Source

Climate-related disasters were also impacting on the insurance industry,

“Climate change is largely to blame for Australasia putting in almost a quarter of the world’s natural disaster insurance claims last year.

Data from major reinsurance provider Munich Re, shows that from 1980 to 2009, Australasia was responsible for 3% of natural disaster insurance claims in dollar terms. But after the Christchurch earthquake, floods in Queensland, and enormous hailstones in Melbourne and Perth, that skyrocketed to 22% last year.

Munich Re, in its own report on the deluge of natural disasters, said climate change “is real and continuing” and cited floods in Pakistan and wildfires caused by a heatwave in Russia. The Christchurch quake was not climate-change related.

Munich Re said 2010 was one of the warmest years since 1850 and featured the second-highest number of loss-related weather catastrophes since 1980, when it started keeping data.

Niwa principal climate scientist Dr James Renwick agreed that weather events like heavy rain were linked to global warming. “It’s possible part of the change since the 1980s is natural variation, but I’m sure there’s a climate change component. We know the globe has warmed and it’s well-documented that the occurrence of extreme rainfalls around the world has increased in a way that’s consistent with the climate models,” he says.

“It’s just what you’d expect – you warm things up, more moisture, more energy, more rain falls. There’s definitely a climate change component in extreme rainfalls around the world.” ” Source

So it seems a little strange that Gerry Brownlee is (a) attempting to dismiss Chris Ryan’s warnings as “scaremongering” and (b) is in denial that re-insuring properties in this country will not be a major problem in future. Of course it will be a problem! How can it not?

Insurance companies and their re-insurers have suffered billions of dollars worth of claims over the last year – $34 billion estimated for the Japanese ‘quake and tsunami, alone, according to a Bloomberg report.

Mr Brownlee should know how the free market works. After all, his party – National – espouses the doctrine of the free market as part of it’s core-philosophy.

Even as we face the prospect of the insurance industry abandoning  New Zealand households – we may be  left  to our own devices when it comes to insurance. Which may be the EQC.

Whilst the EQC is not a full-insurance company in the sense of Tower, AMI, AMP, etc, it has provided a level of protection to New Zealanders since it’s inception in 1945.

The only thing is – it’s broke. Two calamitous earthquakes in Christchurch have effectively emptied the Commission’s ‘war-chest’. Source. As John Key said in February of this year,

“”The good news part of the story is that EQC had about $6 billion before that (quake), that’s going to be exhausted, but we pay in on a continuous basis and we had significant re-insurance in the order of $5b, that will be exhausted.””  Source

Irrespective of Mr Brownlee’s futile rantings against the Insurance Council, it should be abundantly clear that in the near future we will not have the insurance cover that we once enjoyed. Those days are over.

We will have to rely on our own resources and our own ingenuity, whether we like it or not. (Most likely ‘not’, going by past experiences of Baby Boomers who like to Spend Now, Pay Later (or Never, preferably – let the kids pay). To that end, the Greens – as usual – have once again realised what must be done,

“So, it seems, the Greens were right all along – a special levy to fund the costs involved with the Christchurch earthquake still makes good sense, if only (this time around) to replenish the funds available to the Earthquake Commission. Yesterday, it became apparent that the likely cost of the Christchurch rebuild had risen by a massive $4 billion.

This blowout means the EQC couldn’t cope with an additional major disaster (ie anything costing over $2.5 billion) and the government would have to pick up the tab, directly. There are three options on the table : (a) a special levy on all taxpayers (b) a further additional charge attached to insurance premiums already expected to rise significantly, or (c) a rise in income taxes.”  – Gordon Campbell,  Source

However, in the light of Chris Ryan’s warnings, we may have to reconsider the role of the EQC to adopt a more wide-ranging, pragmatic role in earthquake and flood insurance. The EQC may have to step in where private insurers once provided a service – or else face the prospect of uninsured properties.  That would have serious consequences for current and prospective building owners.  (Banks currently insist on full insurance cover before they will consider extending a mortgage over a property.)

Once upon a time, we owned an insurance company called – quite simply – State Insurance.   State Insurance was sold in June 1990 by the Bolger-led, National  government of the day.

It now seems that may have been a mistake (as most asset sales were). The people of this country may yet discover that the Free Market is a Fair Weather friend and when times are tough, we will  have to step up and put in place our own, Very Kiwi Solution(s).

The time for a new State-owned insurance company – “EQC-Plus” –  has come.

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