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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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12 June – Issues of Interest

12 June 2013 4 comments

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Looking at the pieces

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Nigel Latta on National Standards

On Facebook, child psychologist and TV host, Nigel Latta, had this to say about the recent National Standards “results”;

‘National Standards’ aren’t.

The latest national standards ‘results’ being reported in the media are utter nonsense. Pure and simple. Even if we ignore the large inconsistencies between the way that the ‘standards’ are measured (and we can’t because the inconsistencies make comparisons all but impossible), and the fact that it assumes all children of a given age are maturing at the same rate (which they don’t), and we ignore the impact of little things like child poverty (which some politicians like to do much to their shame), it’s still impossible to say anything at all about a change in the numbers when you only have two data points.

They can’t say that a difference of 1.2-2% on the various measures between last year and this year is an ‘improvement’, because we simply don’t know.

If you had assessed all of those very same children again the day after they were assessed for these numbers, in the exact same conditions with the exact same measures, then you would also get a different number. That’s because in the real world we have this little thing called statistical variation–things never work out exactly the same. To make any meaningful statements about ‘improvements’ you need meaningful measures (which national standards aren’t anyway) over several different data points (i.e. over several years).

I wish the media would get that very simple, but very important point. Politicians will spin it as a gain, but it isn’t. It’s simply meaningless statistical ‘noise’.

The government went with national standards because they thought voters would like it, not because it’s the best thing for making progress on education. If we really wanted to lift our ‘national standards’ then, perhaps as a beginning, we’d take more care of the large numbers of our kids living in poverty.

When they produce their ‘rankings’ of schools I’m pretty sure it’s going to show a trend whereby higher decile schools meet/exceed the ‘standards’ much more than lower decile schools. I wonder why that might be? And who do we blame for that? Teachers?

Don’t be sucked in by all this political positioning. My advice is to ignore the national standards tables because they don’t mean anything. There’s a reason teachers were so opposed to the way these ‘national standards’ are being used… fundamentally because it’s nonsense!

Nigel Latta, Facebook, 12 June 2013

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100% Pure brand busted!

New Zealand’s distance from it’s major trading partners (except Australia) has always been a major impediment to our trading. Our point-of-difference has  been the quality of our food products, and has made them desirable commodities on that basis.  Branding ourselves as “100% Pure” and  “Clean and Green” were marketing tools that created a multi-billion dollar export industry.

But that is coming to an end.

We are not “100% Pure” and nor are we “Clean and Green”. Anything but.

National has paid lip service to being green.

Pollution has been allowed to increase.

It’s focus on “reforming” the RMA to allow for exploitation mof sensitive environmental areas; more and more chemicals ion our farms; allowing dangerous deep sea drilling of our coastline; mining in Conservation lands; and ditching our committment to the Kyoto Protocol – have not gone unnoticed by our trading partners.

And those trading partners  are starting to react accordingly,

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Sri Lanka demands DCD testing on NZ milk powder

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Sri Lanka demands DCD testing on NZ milk powder

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An over-reaction?

Not when National has appointed a  board to over-see a resource consent application to allow an increase of nitrogen pollution  in the Tukituki River  by a staggering 250% !

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Nitrate proposal seen as death knell for river

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Nitrate proposal seen as death knell for river

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This will not doubt be ratchetted back to “only” 50% or 100%, and National will claim that they are “listening” to public concerns. It’s an old political trick when a deeply unpopular policy is put forward. Make a number unfeasibly large; then offer a lower number, and claim that government has listened to the public. In reality it was the lower number all along that was the preferred option.

National has consistently undermined environmental protections in this country, as well as knee-capped DoC by sacking staff and under-funding it’s operations.

We are now starting to pay the price of right-wing policies that pursue business and profit ahead of  preserving our environment.

What National and it’s one-eyed supporters don’t seem to comprehend is that business and profits are dependendent on our clean and green environment. Mess up the environment and expect to lose customers and profits.

Just ask the Sri Lankans.

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User-pays healthcare?

For those neo-liberals and naive National supporters who advocate replacing our socialised healthcare system with privatised healthcare insurance, I present the reality,

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NZ private health insurance uptake hits 6-yr low

Acknowledgment: NZ Herald – NZ private health insurance uptake hits 6-yr low

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Private health-privider,  Wakefield chairman Alan Isaac said,

“The total number of New Zealanders with private health insurance (is) decreasing.”

Acknowledgment: IBID

Well, no wonder!

Even as private healthcare companies like Wakefield are complaining about losing customers, they are hiking premiums and still making a 27% increase in full-year earnings. Twentyseven percent! Compare that to other investments, and you begin to realise that these companies aren’t doing too bad.

That’s 27% that could have been re-invested in healthcare – but is instead going into the pockets of shareholders.

What would happen, I wonder, if New Zealand’s healthcare system was fully privatised and  went totally “free market”, as ACT policy demands?

This OECD chart suggests the result, if we were ever foolish enough to go down that road,

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OECD - private - public - healthcare expenditure -2007

Source: OECD – Total health expenditure per capita, public and private, 2007

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At 7,290, the United States spends nearly three times as much on healthcare as we do. Their private/public health costs are vastly greater than the entire public/private expenditure we have here in New Zealand with our “socialised” system.

And ACT wants to emulate our American cuzzies?!

The only thing the USA has demonstrated is that a privatised healthcare system will result in a massive blow-out in costs and rapacious profits for shareholders.

The argument from the neo-liberal Right is that private enterprise is “more efficient” and better for consumers. This is absolute bollocks.

If anything, private health insurance is highly ineffective at delivering  universal healthcare for it’s clients,

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Ongoing jumps in health insurance costs

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – Ongoing jumps in health insurance costs

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As has been observed by others in the past, private health insurance is relatively cheap when you are young, healthy, and make few demands for medical intervention.

But with old age; increased infirmity; and heightened vulnerabilty comes increased premium payments for policy-holders. Just when they most require increased medical services.

This is the fatal flaw in private medical insurance; those who most require it, will pay the highest premiums. And pay, and pay, and pay…

Just ask the Americans.

See also: NZ Herald – Jack Tame: Sickness is too expensive in the land of the free

Other blogs:  Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate

Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate
Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate
Canadian and U.S. healthcare – a debate

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Some good news at last…

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It has been a stain on our reputation that despite our anti-nuclear legislation, our Superannuation Fund was still investing in overseas companies engaged in producing atomic bombs and cluster munitions. This was a problem (I refuse to call it an “issue”)  that I highlighted  in December, last year.

Previous related blogposts:  New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame

Previous related blogposts:  New Zealand’s OTHER secret shame – *Update*

The Superannuation Fund has done the right thing by no longer continuing to invest in Babcock & Wilcox, Fluor Corporation, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Jacobs Engineering Group, Serco Group and URS Corporation;

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Super Fund sells nuclear investments

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – Super Fund sells nuclear investments

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The other weapons we are no longer investing in is the manufacture of cluster-munitions. These vile things are the weapons-of-choice for vicious dictators and other repressive regimes which they use against their civilian population.

They have been used in Syria, against unarmed civilians. Children have been killed by these monstrous devices.  (see: Syrian children ‘killed by cluster bombs’)

Cluster munitions have been outlawed by  nearly 100 nations which signed a  treaty to ban cluster bombs.  In 2009, to their credit, the current National-led government  passed legislation banning these obscene weapons from our country. This included the possession, retaining, stockpiling, assistance, encouragement, or even inducement to deal with them.

NZ Parliament: Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act 2009 (17 Dec 2009)

It would take a ruthless person to discount this human suffering and advocate for our continued investment in their manufacture.

The Superannuation Fund was effectively breaking the law with it’s investments in General Dynamics, L-3 Communications, Raytheon, and the Goodrich Corp.

It’s good to see that our fingers are no longer bloodied by such  investments.

As for right-wingers who dismiss investment in atomic bombs or cluster munition – go play with a cluster bomb.  Come back to me after it’s detonated in your hands. Then we’ll talk.

Just ask the Syrians.

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The bucks stops with me over there, somewhere…

I guess it was inevitable, really…

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Deputy Secretary resigns over Novopay

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Deputy Secretary resigns over Novopay

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Did we really, really expect any one of the three Ministers who signed off on Novopay to put their hand up and admit responsibility?!

No less than three ministers signed off on Novopay, to allow it to “go live”;

  • Education Minisrer Hekia Parata
  • Associate Education Minister Craig Foss
  • Finance Minister Bill English

Because doesn’t it strike people as  indicative that Minister for Everything, aka, Mr Fixit, Steven Joyce was appointed Minister in charge of Novopay – thereby taking responsibility for this ongoing balls-up away from Parata?! (see: ODT – Joyce to take on handling of Novopay)

Despite the so-call “ministerial inquiry”, Joyce had a very interesting point to make on 31 January;

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Government sticking with Novopay - for now

Acknowledgement – Radio NZ – Government sticking with Novopay for now

Steven Joyce revealed that Education Minister Hekia Parata, Finance Minister Bill English and former education minister Craig Foss approved the use of Novopay despite being told that it had bugs.”

So… how can  Joyce’s statement be reconciled with his statement, five months later,

Reporting to Ministers was inconsistent, unduly optimistic and sometimes misrepresented the situation.”

Source: Beehive.govt.nz: Ministerial Inquiry report into Novopay released

Either Ministers were “told that it had bugs” or  reporting wasunduly optimistic and sometimes misrepresented the situation“. Which is it?!

By the way, the Ministerial Inquiry was undertaken by Maarten Wevers and Chairman of Deloitte New Zealand Murray Jack.

Mr Weavers was former head of the Department of the Prime Minister (John Key) and Cabinet.

Connect the dots.

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WhiteWash

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Other blogposts: Gordon Campbell on the latest Novopay revelations

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Citizen A with Martyn Bradbury, Colin Craig & Dr Wayne Hope

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– Citizen A –

 – 6 June 2013 –


Colin Craig & Dr Wayne Hope –

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Citizen A: With Martyn Bradbury,  Colin Craig, and  Dr Wayne Hope discuss the following issues:

  • Is Key the new Muldoon?
  • What’s worse for education – Novopay or Charter Schools
  • Why is Winston attacking Dunne?

 

Citizen A screens on Face TV, 7.30pm Thursday nights on Sky 89


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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

The Daily Blog

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What was the point of this?

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treading water

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Two years ago, National awarded $7 million in grants to local businesses. As then-Science and Innovation Minister Wayne Mapp said,

… research science and technology was the way to create jobs, economic growth and a higher living standard for the country.

“To that end, it is vital that high-tech, exporting companies maintain their competitive edge in global markets.”

Of  a total figure of about $50 million, $7 million was awarded to high-tech companies;

Core Technology: $629,400

Open Cloud: $2,394,920

Xero: $4,040,000

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$7m grants for Wellington tech businesses

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – $7m grants for Wellington tech businesses

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So far, so good; National assisting small-medium businesses to build and hopefully hire more staff.  What could possibly go wrong, you ask?

Well, this is the National-led government we’re talking about here…

Fast forward to 2013, and on 1 May, Revenue Minister Peter Dunne announced

… the Government’s biggest ever overhaul of a Government IT system – a $1.5b upgrade of the department’s “First mainframe” computer system.

Mr Dunne admitted the system was “fully stretched” and a 10-year project to upgrade the system was required.

He said he wanted to make sure a Novopay-like situation could be prevented in the roll out.

“It’s fair to say the revenue system is at capacity, and the Government recognises the need for a substantive transformation programme to shape Inland Revenue to best serve New Zealand in the future”.

Acknowledgment: NZ Herald – $1.5b upgrade for IRD’s ‘fully stretched’ computer system

Aside from the extraordinary cost of such a project – $1.5 billion!?!? – which even rightwing blogger, David Farrar has questioned (see:  Drury on IRD computer system) – this would be a prime opportunity for local IT businesses to get stuck in and tender for the project.

Companies like,

Core Technology

Open Cloud

Xero

These companies, remember, have been given $7 million of our taxes to grow their businesses.  The IRD project would be ideal to fulfill those expectations of growth.

Except – and remember, this is National we’re talking about – the criteria for tendering excludes most (if not all) local IT companies,

The information technology industry is crying foul over the criteria set by Government departments to work on multi-million dollar contracts.

A lobby group, backed by the Green Party, says the Inland Revenue Department is making requirements too hard for local companies to meet so contracts are going offshore.

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Local firms say the criteria meant they couldn’t bid for the job.

You have to have $400 million worth of assets for example, it makes it very very difficult for New Zealand ICT companies to get over those bars,” Green Party co-leader Russel Norman claims.

Acknowledgment: TVNZ – IRD under fire for hiring international firm

What New Zealand company holds $400 million worth of assets?

Not many, if any, to quote The Scribe.

Unsurprisingly, the criteria was written by  French multinational Capgemini – one of the world’s largest IT consultancy companies.  The same company,  Capgemini, has also been hired to  “advise” on the tender process which is worrying the  IT industry that it  will be cut out.

This, to put it mildly was met with disgust and derision by local New Zealand IT companies such as Xero CEO, Rod Dury, who wrote a scathing op-ed for the NBR on 2 May,

The New Zealand Government has recently agreed to spend $1.5 billion to redo the New Zealand tax system.

To anyone in IT this is an obscene amount of money to spend on any software project.

From the outside it seems like a slow moving train crash reminiscent of earlier Big Bang projects that always blow out if they are ever delivered.

It reeks of global consulting firms winning the business and then rapidly hiring a bunch of grads and putting them up in hotels for years.

It’s just not smart.”

Acknowledgment: NBR – Dear IRD: how to shave $1b from your $1.5b software spendup

Rod Dury points out,

“A $1.5 billion  injection into local service companies, that are world class, would grow an industry. Government spending of this magnitude should see numerous other benefits.

It’s easy to say nothing but the fact is government officials have no idea what’s reasonable. The companies with the budgets to win these projects are the people officials meet.

To a well meaning amateur $1.5 billion seems a massive amount of money for a relatively moderate volume transaction system.”

Acknowledgment: IBID

Far from being a nay-sayer, he then offers four positive, practical, constructive suggestions how the IRD (and National) should proceed on this issue.

This blogger concurs with Mr Dury.

We’ve  had previous disasters with INCIS (American IBM); Novopay (Australian); and problems with imported locomatives (Chinese) – projects  which could, and should,  have been built here in New Zealand, with money going to local workers and firms.

This is not left-wing fantasy, this is fairly obvious common sense. We can do it; we have the skills; the nous; and the determination.

Aside from generating local  jobs and business growth here in New Zealand,  Xero’s Rod Dury sez we can build a new system for IRD for far cheaper than the $1.5 billion mooted by Peter Dunne and others,

But rather than just criticise here’s some practical suggestions I’d offer to to see if we can save $500 million to $1 billion in spend.

Acknowledgment: IBID

Rod Dury did not mince his words,

This just flies in the face of best practice in the way New Zealand companies have been building world-class software really for the last five or 10 years.”

Acknowledgment: TVNZ – IRD upgrade another potential train wreck – expert

So why isn’t National giving local companies the opportunity to bid fairly for the contract?

Why give grants worth millions of tax-dollars to  local companies if this government is not prepared to subsequently support them with contracts?

What was the point of this?

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Addendum

When I contacted Rod Drury on this issue he responded via Twitter, he replied on 4 May;

Rod Drury ‏@roddrury 4 May

@fmacskasy @clarecurranmp the companies that should be doing it are Intergen, Datacom, Simpl, Optimation. Works class local services biz’s

He actually suggests other companies that could be involved – not his own.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 4 May 2013.

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John Key – am I detecting a seismic shift in public attitude?

10 February 2013 22 comments

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5923658

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Is Dear Leader  losing his touch? He doesn’t seem quite so “dear” to some people any more…

  • The Novopay foul-up just gets worse and worse and worserer with each passing pay cycle. Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to just delegate the pay-system into the hands of Lotto? The results would’ve been about the same.

 

  • Education Minister, Hekia Parata, screws up on a semi-regular basis. Does Key hand her the ceremonial sword and with a smile tell her, “you know what to do with this”. Nah, he annoints her as National’s “most effective communicator. Has anyone ever seen 4.4 million people do a collective face-palm?! Meanwhile, Joyce is the new de facto Minister of Education and Parata is given duct-tape to put over her mouth. This, for National, is seen as a “solution”.

 

  • Unemployment keeps going up and up and up and up… And when the stats cannot get any worse, they do a massive West Auckland-style u-turn and wheelie burn-out… Unemployment is no longer up – people have given up banging their heads against a brick wall. So the stats are now a mess. What they do indicate is that people are turning off from looking for work.  It must be depressing getting knocked back time after time after time after… And if you think it’s bad now, in bright sunny summer – wait till the gloom and shortened days of Winter really kick in with mass-depression.

 

  • Manufacturing and exporters are screeching like banshees that the high Kiwi Dollar is sending them to the wall… and Steven Joyce smiles benignly and sez, “things are challenging”. Not helpful, Mr Joyce. Not one bit.

 

  • The country’s third biggest construction company goes to the wall and the Nats do… nothing. Question: at a time when we have to rebuild the second (or third) largest city in the country – how does a fricken construction company manage to go into receivership?!?! Someone explain this to me. Wouldn’t that be like a water-tanker truck in the Saharan desert unable to sell water???

 

  • We have a critical housing shortage in the country… A shortage of housing?! But, but, but… isn’t the free market supposed to prevent these shortages??? What goes on here?

 

  • We have a shortage of skilled tradespeople, IT specialists;  healthcare professionals… whilst on the other hand, we have 175,000 unemployed. Hmmmm… shortage of skilled staff… 175,000 unemployed… shortage of skilled staff… 175,000 unemployed… shortage of skilled staff… 175,000 unemployed… why don’t we-? Nah. What a silly idea. For a moment there I had this ridiculous thought in my mind about re-training 175,000 unemployed to meet our skills shortages… Bugger me, where do I get these daft notions from.

 

  • National doesn’t want to build housing for New Zealanders. They say it’s up to the Free Market to do this. Government, sez Joyce, Brownlee, Key, et al, say that it’s not the role of government to offer subsidies or state housing. Unless you’re a private school. Or farmers wanting irrigation systems. Or Rugby World Cup. Or investors in a finance company. Or insurance companies. Or a movie producer – especially a foreign one. Then there’s plenty of money. Whoopie – lolly scramble!

 

  • But just don’t get silly over housing.

 

  • Steven Joyce wants to put the bulldozers and excavators into our conversation lands and have deep-sea drilling off our coast, in deep waters… because, you know, we don’t mind if the remaining few native forests in New Zealand are destroyed for the benefit of foreign investors. Or that we run a risk similar to the horrendous disaster in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico which spewed millions of barrels of oil into the Caribbean. After all, the oil companies will look after us… *snort!*

 

  • Because National is not a hands-on government to create jobs and support local businesses. But if you’re a private school or Warner Bros, then the question becomes, “How much did you want me to make that cheque out for?”

 

  • Tony Ryall wants $30 million shaved from the Health budget (where else will we get the cash to subsidise those lovely furry Hobbit movies?!). So  grommett operations for kids may be cut. Hey who needs a pesky grommett anyway – and did I say how cool Hobbits are…? And of course those seven New Zealanders who are suffering from the terminal Pompe disease… they aren’t as cool as Hobbits.

 

There’s more.

But I think you, the reader, get’s the point. (Unless you’re a dedicated National/ACT supporter – in which case don’t you just lerrrve those cute Hobbits?)

But it seems that the bad news and continuing incompetance and just sheer lack of bright ideas from National is becoming too much for even National’s traditional cheer leaders…

Fran O’Sullivan wasn’t impressed. Not by a long shot. In fact, she seemed a bit ‘put out’ by Key’s inaction (as if it had suddenly dawned on her),

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Time for Key to call an economic summit

Full story

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For Fran O’Sullivan – who is widely noted as a bit of a Nationalphile – to be chiding her beloved Dear Leader indicates that even his adoring legion of glassy-eyed admirers are starting to feel frustration. When O’Sullivan criticises Key for “waffling” and then berates Key for “simply shrugging his shoulders” – then we know that not only is the honeymoon well and truly in the past, but the ‘marriage’ is verging on a trial separation.

O’Sullivan didn’t mince words when she bluntly stated that “faith is no excuse for a failure to act” and demanded that  “it’s time, surely, for Key to call an economic summit to address the issues New Zealand faces“.

Good call, Fran.

A few years too late, but hey, some of us are a bit slower than others.

Meanwhile…

Right wing/all-over-the-place  media “personality” and talkback host, Kerre Woodham wrote an extraordinary column on 23 December, last year. Had it been written at any other time than two days before Christmas – when 99% of the populace is bleary eyed with the so-called “Festive Season” (said through gritted teeth, I might add) – her words would have had far more clout.

In fact, I could just barely recall her column piece and retrieve it from my Bookmarks (filed under WTF?). For the reader’s edification – read and enjoy (if you’re a National/ACT supporter you may want to put down your deluxe, Jackson-autographed, mink-lined Hobbit and read this bit),

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Kerre Woodham - Nats run out of petrol

Full story

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If Kerre Woodham speaks closer for the Middle Classes, then National should be in high-gear panic mode by now. Her attitude was summed up thusly,

I thought John Key said that by cutting income tax rates we would be able to stimulate the economy. Guess that didn’t work. I thought Key said that he would be able to stem the flow of New Zealanders to Australia by building a competitive economy and offering after-tax earnings on a par with those across the ditch. Well, that hasn’t worked, either.

 There are now more people moving to Oz under National than there were under Labour. But instead of ‘fessing up and conceding nothing the Government has come up with has worked, the Prime Minister has produced a classic example of Orwellian double-speak.

Akshally, says Key, moving to Australia is a GOOD thing for New Zealanders to do. They’ll see the world, gain experience – no, just like everything else, Key is comfortable with the numbers of Kiwis farewelling this country.”

Source: IBID

That, readers, was the sound of a Middle Class person coming to the realisation that our esteemed Dear Leader; dodgy Party; and worthless policies – are a fraud.

That, readers, was the realisation by a Middle Class person that National was not about to meet their aspirations.

It is the same sound of  National’s ‘House of Cards’ crashing that we heard in the late 1990s. A crash which culminated in National’s election defeat on 27 November 1999.

When bene-baiting right-wing talk-back hosts like Woodham can make statements like,

Well, they may know how to make money for themselves but they don’t seem to have any answers when it comes to making the country richer.

If, after four years of government, the best strategy they can come up with to produce a surplus is to raise the fuel tax, they are devoid of initiative and bereft of imagination.”

Source: IBID

– then we know that the Middle Classes are starting to wake up. And they’re noticing that the Emporer is naked and it ain’t a pretty sight.

Next…

Businesspeople are running as fast as their feet can carry them – to a joint inquiry run by the Opposition Parties in Parliament – and it’s a brave/stupid/both National Government that ignores the signals,

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Exporters tell inquiry of threat from high dollar

Full story

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When a businessman – in this case managing director Gordon Sutherland –  says,

We know that – we’ve known that for a very, very long time. Of course we get efficient, of course we try and work as hard as we can to be efficient – it’s the only way we can exist. It drives me insane when people say, ‘Get efficient’. What do you think we are – idiots? We’re not.”

– then the Nats are treading on very thin ice to ignore such messages.

National is supposed to the the Party for business. So when business people begin to turn on the Nats – that’s a pretty bloody big signal that it’s the beginning of the end for this government. And considering Key has stated he will not lead National from the Opposition benches (see:  Key says he’ll quit politics if National loses election) – it’s ‘bye-bye’ Dear Leader.

Once he’s gone, the Nats will have left in their wake a poorly performing economy; high unemployment; growing income divide; higher child poverty; businesses about to collapse (Mainzeal already gone); and a raft of other tragic consequences.

The 2011-14 Key-led  administration will be remembered in the same way many New Zealanders view with derision the Bolger/Shipley-led National government from 1996-99.

Going by the next story, however, Key is already despised by a wide sector of the community.

But more to the point, that hostility is no longer held in check and is being voiced out loud,

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Mixed reception for Key at Big Gay Out

Full story

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What we are seeing now seems to be a  seismic shift in public opinion on Key and National. But more importantly,  where only a year ago people were reluctant to voice their dissatisfaction or hostility in public – now that shyness is disappearing. People are pissed off and they know who to vent at,

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200204-3x2-340x227

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In 2008, Key raised levels of expectation to new heights (see: A fresh start for New Zealand).

With promises of higher wages and other warm-fuzzy, populist nonsense, people voted for him in droves. Their expectations were raised as Key’s supreme self-confidence;  personal rags-to-riches story; and plausible rhetoric made them line up and put their trust in him.

The trouble with raised expectations, though, is that failing to deliver “the goods” results in an inevitable backlash. Not just at the ballot box, but in terms of vitriol. We tend to pull people of a pedestal mighty quick, if they stuff up.

National’s failure to meet those expectations may already be a foregone conclusion, as NZ Herald columnist, John Armstrong wrote on 22 December last year,

A slight sense of desperation was evident in National’s reaction to this week’s release of the Treasury’s latest forecasts.

National is not going to let anything stand between itself and its Holy Grail of a return to Budget surpluses within the next three years.

What was once merely a target now seems to be an obsession. The reason is straightforward. Some major economic indicators are starting to confirm anecdotal impressions of an economy close to tipping into recession,

National is therefore clinging ever tighter to the increasingly vain hope of balancing the books by its target date of the 2014-15 financial year.

Meeting the target is all part of National’s branding as the party of sound economic management. Failure on that front would be a major blow to its credibility.”

See: Gloom sets scene for tumultuous 2013

If meeting an accounting target is all that National has left – Shearer better start packing up now. He’ll be in the Prime Minister’s residence at the next election.

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References

Interest.co.nz: Stats NZ reports 23,000 jobs lost

NZ Herald: Time for Key to call an economic summit

NZ Herald: Kerre Woodham: Nats run out of petrol

Fairfax media: Mixed reception for Key at Big Gay Out

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= fs =

The Prime Minister, Pastoral property, and Parata…

5 February 2013 9 comments

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Point 1: The Prime Minister

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Key’s appearance at Waitangi’s Te Tii Marae was marked by the usual “theatre” (as Labour’s Shane Jones refers to it – see: Titewhai Harawira wins over escorting PM at Waitangi) and the media were only too happy to focus their attention and cameras  on the drama of the day.

Someone, though, profitted enormously from today’s (5 February) events,

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'It is easy to say I will walk away' from Waitangi - Key

Source

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John Key vows to return to Waitangi

Source

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PM says he'll keep coming to Waitangi

Source

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Unfortunately  for the Left, Key’s mana was only enhanced by the public spectacle of his calm, stately, demeanour and will have raised his popularity as Prime Minister by several percentage points. Middle Class Pakeha will have lapped up Dear Leader’s performance – especially his vow to “keep returning”.

Shades of Douglas MacArthur’s famous quote during World War 2, “I came through and I shall return“.

Not in 2014, I hope.

National governments are too costly for our economy and social cohesion. Just ask any of the 175,000 unemployed or 250,000 children living in poverty or 40,000 jobs lost in the manufacturing sector in the last four years.

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Point 2:  Pastoral property

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9. John Key Tenants in our own country

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The Great Sell-Off of our country continues unabated, as news came out today that Chinese company, Yashili New Zealand Dairy Company has announced that it has applied for  Overseas Investment Office approval to build a $210 million milk processing plant at Pokeno in Waikato, and a Swedish company,  Southern Pastures Partnership,  has been approved by the OIO to purchase  eight Waikato dairy farms, totalling over 3,000 hectares.

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Swedish investors acquire Waikato dairy farms

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Yashili Dairy looking to set up shop in NZ

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Once again, we are seeing the most productive and profitable parts of our primary industries being sold off to foreign investors.

See also: Chinese dairy giant buys land for $210m factory

See also: Chinese dairy giant enters NZ market with $210m factory

See also: Swedish investors buy farms from Hart

See also: Swedish investors cleared to buy Carter Holt dairy farms

Those naive enough to believe that this will benefit us – need to look again.

What the Swedes and Chinese have done is make an immediate investment for long-term gains. The dairy industry is profitable now – when the human population on Earth  reaches 9 billion, it will create incredible wealth…

wealth for those who own the means of production.

In this case, the profits made by Yashili New Zealand Dairy Company and Southern Pastures Partnership will be ‘exported’ back to the home-nations of the investors (Sweden and China), along with the goods that they produce.

We will end up with some taxes paid by employees (us) and the companies.

But most of the dairy pay-out from Southern Pastures Partnership and profits from exports by  Yashili New Zealand Dairy Company will be remitted overseas.

The consequences, if it needs to be spelled out will be;

  • lost profits to us, as a country
  • lost foreign revenue, through exports,
  • a worsening Current Account deficit.

In years to come our descendents (most of whom will be living in Australia by then) will look back at us and wonder at our lack of foresight and economic  naiveté.

In short – how dumb were we?

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Point 3: Parata

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Further to my blogpost  on 18 January, our very own Invisible Woman – Hekia Parata – our so-called “Minister of Education”, was still shying away from appearing in the media. (See previous blogpost:  Parata, Bennett, and Collins – what have they been up to?)

Campbell did another story on the Novopay fiasco today (5 February), and  invited Ms Parata to an interview.

She was nowhere to be seen. (And as I speculated twelve days in my blogpost – Karma for Key?  – the reason may be that she’s been told;  “stay away from the media and keep your mouth firmly zipped, sweetie“.)

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Campbell Live - 5 February 2013 - Hekia Parata - No show - novopay

Source

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Which is just as well, as Campbell had some further remarkable instances of cock-ups made by Novopay. Like, school cleaners getting paid $20,000 for working 24 hours a fortnight?

Maybe John Key’s promise in 2008 to raise the wages of New Zealanders has finally come true?

Nah. No such luck – just more  Novopay cock-ups.

Meanwhile some teachers were being paid $0.00.

Never mind paying $100  million for Novopay’s lemon – perhaps National should’ve just left it to Lotto? The results would’ve been about the same.

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= fs =

Did we just hear Steven Joyce sh*t all over his colleagues?!?!

31 January 2013 14 comments

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Government sticking with Novopay - for now

Acknowledgment: Radio NZ – Government sticking with Novopay – for now

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Steven Joyce,

Steven Joyce revealed that Education Minister Hekia Parata, Finance Minister Bill English and former education minister Craig Foss approved the use of Novopay despite being told that it had bugs.”

See: IBID

In colloquial terms, that is what is known as ‘dropping someone in it’ – “it” being brown, smelly, and heading for waste-treament ponds.

Is there a civil war going on within National, comprising two factions with one led by technocrat Steven Joyce and the other by neo-liberal Bill English?

Or is there something even more disquieting going on within National’s ranks.

Joyce added,

There was definitely knowledge there were bugs at the outset of going live. But the advice of all involved was that the thing should proceed. I doubt they’d give the same advice today.

Noticeably, when queried by media, all three Ministers had similar responses – obviously coached by the same tax-payer funded Party spin-doctors and media-minders,

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Mr Fix-It has Novopay plan

See: Mr Fix-It has Novopay plan

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Hekia Parata

I think hindsight’s a wonderful thing....

Bill English

In hindsight....

And the tongue-tied Craig Foss,

Well in hindsight… is a benefit of hindsight...

See: IBID

You can always tell when a politician has been coached; they use the same words and phrases over and over again. Spin doctors/media-minders develop a mantra, and their clients are expected to learn and parrot it, by rote. It takes a skilful journalist/interviewer to peel away the carefully-crafted coaching and get to the truth.

This indicates that Parata, English, and Foss had been pre-warned of Joyce’s press conference and admission of the three Minister’s actions.

So is this some sort of carefully managed internecine warfare?

Or a very subtle, clever strategy to neutralise possible Opposition disclosures in Parliament?

Joyce’s statements that there will be on-going problems with Novopay could be seen as an attempt to minimise future media reports on Novopay errors.After all, if National admits that there will be ongoing problems – does that make it news when it happens?

Whichever is the case, this is Steven Joyce at his most cunning, and the Opposition will need to be on their toes. As will the media, if they are not to be out-manouvered by National’s “Mr Fix It”.

“Mr Fix It” does not apply to sorting out computerised pay systems. “Mr Fix It” fixes political messes.

This certainly qualifies as the Mother of all Messes.

Addendum

As is common with National, Joyce attempted to shift blame onto advisors/bureacrats/Uncle Tom Cobbly, when he stated,

There was definitely knowledge there were bugs at the outset of going live. But the advice of all involved was that the thing should proceed…

My bet is that we will never, ever see this “advice”.

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= fs =