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Showing posts from July, 2014

Novopay Exemplifies National's Governance

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This National led Government is strong on ideology, weak on process and reluctant to accept responsibility. The Novapay debacle exemplifies all of these well.

When questioned about Novopay, National Ministers will never accept full responsibility. Initially the Government blamed Labour because they had employed Talent2 to develop a more sophisticated payroll system to the existing Datacom. This was a total cop out, because software and systems development is a fraught process and always involves a certain leap of faith. Labour's initial agreement recognized this and included the need for testing and trials before implementation.

There is a long history of difficulties in implementing new IT systems within many government departments under both Labour and National. The most important element in introducing any new system is the management of the implementation and the ability to exit something that is unlikely to work before there are serious consequences. There are many historica…

Manipulated Data and the Art of Deception

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The National led Government are desperate to present the good news stories to promote the success of the past six years of their governance. They have increased the budget and the numbers of their spin doctors to ensure that it is mainly positive messages that make into the public domain. The staff employed to support the Prime Minister and cabinet and their daily spin currently costs around
$22 million. There was an increase in the funding to support the PM and his cabinet by 18% in 2013. The support provided to the PM was seen in an email mistakenly sent to a journalist which reinforces  the PM's successful strategy of down-playing serious issues.

I have already looked at the differences between the spin and the reality in different sectors in an earlier post, Government Spin and Hidden Secrets, but thought that I could especially focus on how they are manipulating data and restricting its availability. If the government had a written strategy it would look something like this:

Greens Make Kids A Priority Again!

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Children have always been a major priority for the Green Party and it says something about the priorities of the current Government when child poverty, child neglect and family violence continue to be huge issues.

Today Metiria Turei announced the the last of our Party's three major election priorities and it focuses very heavily on an area that will make a huge difference to children and struggling families. By extending the 20 hours free early childhood education to two year olds it recognizes the financial pressures on families with young children.

An OECD study in 2010 revealed that New Zealand working families were having to spend 28% of their net income on childcare and this wasn't helped by the Government's $400 million cut to early childhood education. This gutting of the Early childhood budget reversed the attempt by Labour to bring the funding up to a similar level of other OECD countries: it drove up costs for families, forced many centres to close and made 100…

R&D is Shaping Southland's Future

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Venture Southland's Steve Canny explaining the potential of methane capture to Russel Norman
Russel Norman spent today in Invercargill (interview 6:20 in) and he spent a good part of the time learning about the many projects on the go here that will provide Southland with a more diverse and sustainable economy. It was a timely visit because a few days earlier Russel had announced the Greens' ambitious Research and Development Policy (even receiving the Business NZ seal of approval).

It has been recognized that not all of Southland's agricultural land is suitable for dairying because many soils are not resilient to heavy stock numbers and the demands of the industry on our waters systems (both consumption and pollution) are unsustainable.

Venture Southland has researched a range of protein sources that can be produced well in our soils and climate and oats came out clearly in front. Southland was once known for its oats and we even had a processing factory based in Gore tha…

Keep Your Mouth Closed and Stay in the Boat!

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Welcome to New Zealand, we have beautiful tree covered mountains, lovely beaches and rivers that look alright if you don't look too closely. I am your tour guide on this bus and I will hopefully provide you with some useful information and advice if you are a first time visitor to Aotearoa.

Our conservation parks are well worth a visit, but please check with Department of Conservation staff to make sure you avoid the parts where there is mineral exploration or the recovery of windfall trees. If you stick to the tourist tracks you should be all right.

We have some wonderful cities, but please don't try to do what you would in your home countries as we are the land of cars. I wouldn't advise trying to cycle as you would in Europe, or use our public transport, we have very few safe bike lanes and our public transport is often unreliable.

If you look to the right you will see what was once the habitat of the Maui's dolphin, the smallest in the world. They only became exti…

Beneficiary Families Must Suffer!

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The National Party has a bottom line on an individual's status that is not negotiable: being unemployed is is totally unacceptable and anyone in that situation does not deserve support!

Being a beneficiary of the state is barely tolerated by this Government and anyone who decides to become one (most National Party members appear to believe that it is a status of choice) should not expect to acquire a benefit easily or live comfortably. If children are involved it is just their rotten luck that they have parents who can't provide a healthy home or nutritious meals from a weekly food budget of less than $30, even though around 285,000 children find themselves in similar circumstances.

Every time the Government is asked to explain what they are doing to support struggling families the same answer is given, paid work as the only real answer. We have moved on from a couple of generations ago when a stay at home mother was considered an honorable and worthwhile role. In those times…

The National Party's Dictionary

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The National Party uses a dictionary that is foreign to mine because it obviously has different meanings for a number of words. I have used the meanings from my large Reader's Digest 'Word Power' dictionary (written in conjunction with with the Oxford Press) for a comparison:

AnthropogenicClimate Change

RD/Oxford Press: originating in human activity

National: Gerry Brownlee, "...is an interesting concept." Bill English, "...we should uncritically follow the the Green's extreme views about these things, well, many of us don't."

Conservation:

RD/Oxford Press: Preservation or restoration of the natural environment and wildlife.

National: "Conservation leadership for a prosperous New Zealand."  (Victoria Forest Park)

Consult

RD/Oxford Press: Seek information and advice from, or seek permission or approval from.

National: Just telling others what will happen (Phillipstown School, Woman's Refuge, Gisborne District Council, Education profes…

Woman Experiences Sexual Attack, PM Gets First Apology.

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Jan Logie expresses dismay regarding Government priorities
A young woman was attacked in her own home by a Malaysian diplomat. He attempted to rape her. Despite Malaysia being prepared to have the diplomat tried in New Zealand the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade suggest that Malaysia may use diplomatic immunity and have the man returned home. The relationship with Malaysia was obviously considered of greater importance by some officials than pursuing justice for the victim.

The victim is informed by the police that she may have to travel to Malaysia as a witness when her attacker is dealt with by the Malaysian justice system.

Murray McCully blames MFaT for not keeping him informed and apologizes to the Prime Minister for providing him with the incorrect information. Obviously the embarrassment experienced by the Prime Minister was considered of greater importance than the feelings of the victim.

As far as I know there has been no formal apology made by the Government to the youn…

On Your Bike Brownlee!

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For our transport Minister Gerry Brownlee, transport is all about cars. Transport spending is hugely dominated by road building, with the vast bulk of spending going to motorways of dubious value. Brownlee insists that getting more cars moving more quickly is the most immediate transport need. He determinedly ignores the evidence and refuses to listen to reason. The planned investment on cycling and walking is only .6% of the transport budget.



Most modern cities internationally have found that to improve quality of life, boost the economy and to improve traffic flow then reducing the dominance of roads and parking spaces is actually the way to go. Creating properly designated and protected cycleways is an important element. Holland spends the equivalent of almost $50 a head on cycling infrastructure a year which would be $225 million here and that is mostly to maintain networks they have built over many years. Our commitment to cycling is shown by the number of staff within the NZTA …

John Key and the Degradation of Our Foreign Policy

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John Key may not be our first celebrity Prime Minister, David Lange may actually have that honor. Lange's wit meant that journalists turned up in droves to his press conferences to be entertained...

"Our military forces are an arm of Government, just like the Department of Social Welfare, although less able to inflict widespread harm."

Lange's performance at the Oxford Union Debate made international headlines after he brilliantly won the argument against the use of nuclear weapons, he was also great supporter of Rugby League and enjoyed driving racing cars.

John Key is known to enjoy a joke and is supposed to be good company but his celebrity status has been built more on who he is seen with. Key has been photographed with the Queen, with Hollywood moguls and filmstars, with Allblacks and playing golf with Barack Obama. He isn't necessarily that well known overseas, but in New Zealand he is said by some to have a cult like following.

On his return from his many…