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Showing posts from October, 2014

The Greens are wacky?

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It is a bit like a game of pin the tail on the donkey, the National Government and their supporters are desperately attempting to stick the wacky label on the Greens again, but it is becoming harder to make it stick. National has great difficulty dealing with a stronger and more credible Green Party and Key himself has admitted that Green MPs provide a challenging opposition, "They go hard, they go really hard..."

Green Party policy has a strong base of research and evidence and anyone who took the time to view our full policy documents during the election campaign would have noted the comprehensive referencing. We were the only party to have our fiscal costings independently analyzed and made that analysis publicly available.

Steffan Browning's support of an online petition was unfortunate and has been leapt on with great enthusiasm as clear proof of craziness. Although the Greens have no policy to support homeopathy (and unlikely to) and Browning himself has withdrawn…

Innovation, who should lead?

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I attended two presentations over the past two days that has made me even more aware of the importance of innovation and the danger of accepting the status quo.

I attended a lunch time presentation yesterday from Sir Tipene O'Reagan in support of a local Ngai Tahu owned insulation and energy company, Awarua Synergy. The company was created out of the pioneering Bluff Healthy Homes project, a four year programme to insulate many homes in a low decile community. Awarua Synergy has grown substantially since its early days and now provides a wide range of energy related services, using cutting edge technology.

While I didn't agree with all Sir Tipene's views around the future of  New Zealand's energy supply (he appeared to support greater investment into hydro), there was much that I did agree with. We pay substantially more for our energy than most other OECD countries despite the fact that ours is cheap and clean to produce. I couldn't find data to support it, but S…

Thoughts on Labour Day and the New Zealand Worker

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Labour Day is a good time to contemplate how much we really value workers in New Zealand. Sadly many of the concerns of the labour movement over the past hundred or so years continue today and  battles won in the past are having to be fought again.

Blackball miners went on strike in 1908 because the crib time (lunch time) was only 15 minutes and the food had to be eaten in the depths of the mine. The mine manager also wanted to increase the working day to 10 hours. The resulting strike action ended New Zealand's reputation as the country without strikes but the action taken by the miners saw the 8 hour day remain and their crib time extended.

The miners endured a torrid time to achieve their claims, the Arbitration Court fined the miners $75 pounds (equivalent of $12,111 today) and when they refused to pay, their possessions were seized and auctioned off. However by 1913 New Zealand was one of the most unionised countries in the world.

I wonder how far we have really come when the…

John Key's Multiple Identities

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Question to the Prime Minister

Russel Norman: How many times since November 2008 has he spoken with Cameron Slater on the phone and how many times, if any, has he txted him?

Prime Minister: None in my capacity as Prime Minister.

John Key explained to the house after further questions, "I happen, for the record, to use my Ministerial Services funded phone to ring my wife. When I ring my darling wife and I put the cat out at night, I do that in my capacity as the husband, not the Prime Minister."

The Prime Minister has admitted to having multiple identities and can potentially shift in and out of them at random moments. This must be very difficult for him especially if Bronagh becomes aware that John also considers himself to be the cat's husband as well.

I have noted four identities that John Key has admitted through Question Time, he can be a Prime Minister, a leader of the National Party, Bronagh's husband and the cat's husband. We can also find out that he has …

Secrets, Lies and Revelations

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There is a lot this National Government doesn't want us to know. They have made it clear that we shouldn't measure child poverty, that we don't need independent environmental reporting and any official information requests are delayed indefinitely, especially if the information is inconvenient. Scientists should be gagged, data manipulated and anyone who expresses a contrary view to the Government will still get slated by Slater their blogging hit man.

Now that the election is over and National is back in the driver's seat for the next three years, interesting stuff is being revealed:

The first is research that a number of Ministries and the SFO had been working on for some time to quantify the amount of economic crime that is occurring in New Zealand. The draft document, obtained by Radio New Zealand (through the OIA), was never presented to cabinet as intended and work in this area has been stopped. This seems bizarre as the numbers are huge, with up to $9.4 billion…

Sledgehammers, Nuts and Terrorism

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Over the years there have been numerous dangerous sects and political movements, real and imagined, that our Government and our secret service have felt the need to protect us from. Within New Zealand's borders most of those threats have been imagined ones.

When I was attending Otago University and the teachers' college in the late seventies one of my fellow college students had his passport taken from him because of his association with Ananda Marga (he was learning meditation through them). Ananda Marga was founded in India in 1955 to promote the liberation of self, pursuit of bliss and service to humanity. In 1967 its headquarters were attacked by locals who were incited by communist leaders and the organisation also ran foul of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi because of criticisms of government corruption.

Ananda Marga had grown very quickly in the 60s and, combined with its anti corruption stance, posed a perceived threat to the Indian Government (consequently no government…

Invercargill Proves Ministers Wrong

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According to Paula Bennett the best way to lift children out of poverty is to get their parents into work and Bill English claims that our local body councils are causing poverty by not making more land available for housing.

An editorial in the Southland Times the other day summed it up well, poor people just need more pay.

Invercargill has heaps of land available for building new houses on and 95% of us are employed. If we were to agree with both Paula and Bill then Invercargill shouldn't have a real poverty problem. It doesn't take much of a statistical search to find what I did for my supporting letter published today:

Dear Sir
I wish to write in support of the editorial (October 9) ‘Higher pay, not housing, will close gap’.
This Government also claims that getting people into work will alleviate poverty and reduce our shocking child poverty statistics. 
95% of us in Invercargill are employed. If we were to believe the Government there should be no poverty issue here. 
Using s…

Planet Key Survives...

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The election is over and the dust has largely settled (accept for Te Tai Tokerau) and things aren't looking too good for the National Government's third term:
They lost their majority and will now have to rely on their coalition partners who were troublesome last time. National will hope that there are no skeletons in David Seymour's cupboard and that Peter Dunne can hold it together for three years.After talking up their management of the economy and suggesting tax cuts in the future, English has had to reveal that the books aren't looking too good. The Government is starting their 3rd term with a budget deficit of $2.9 Billion.The economic forecasts are also looking more than a little shaky with our most significant industry losing momentum. Dairy prices have dropped substantially and are not projected to rise in the near future and the government had invested much in the ongoing demand for milk powder. A drop in log prices will also impact negatively on the economy …

National's New Cabinet

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John Key has announced his new cabinet and from my perspective there are some interesting aspects to the new line up and the newly created roles:
John Key takes on a new role of Minister for National Security and Intelligence and will leave the signing off of warrants and day to day management of our spy agencies to Chris Finlayson. This will undoubtedly give Key more flexibility in focusing on his front of camera, celebrity approach to being Prime Minister.There are still only six women in a cabinet of 20 and Paula Bennett has become Collins' successor as the top ranking woman (previously below Parata and Collins). Her Finance responsibility points to her being seen as a possible leader in waiting. It will also be interesting to see how she manages the fraught area of social housing and whether she attacks the unhoused with the same enthusiasm as her cuts to beneficiary numbers.Hekia Parata keeps her previous portfolio despite a rocky term as Education Minister and two court ruli…

Crime Reporting Hides Reality

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The National Government has been clever at fudging data and hiding unwanted statistics. It has refused to measure the extent of child poverty, stopped independent environmental reporting and while there has been some worrying crime statistics, we only hear of an overall drop in crime.

National Standards in Education introduced high stakes assessment into New Zealand schools and this means that rather than assessing children to help their learning, the Standards are being used to compare schools and teachers. Such regimes can often lead to fudging and manipulated reporting to lift results and protect the reputation of the school (the real levels of child achievement become hidden). National has also created a bullying public sector culture where arbitrary targets are set and, often with reduced resourcing, progress is expected.

It appears very possible that our police find themselves under similar pressure as elsewhere in the public sector. There is evidence that many minor crimes go …