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Showing posts from September, 2015

Venture Southland's Future Threatened

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Venture Southland is a unique organisation in New Zealand. As a regional development hub jointly supported by the Invercargill City Council, the Southland District Council, the Gore District Council and Environment Southland it has grown in capability and effectiveness over the years. Most regions have organisations that promote the economic activity that already exist but Venture Southland has gone well beyond that concept. It has developed into a highly effective think tank that has completed a detailed assessment of the regions resources and is actively looking at future proofing the Southland economy based on sustainable development.

The Southland Energy Strategy published in 2011 is superior than anything I have seen produced in New Zealand and the current National Government has nothing as comprehensive. While the rapid growth of dairying has had a hugely negative impact on Southland's fresh water systems and the potential closure of the Tiwai Smelter threatens the local eco…

National's Response to CYFs Report: Stop 'em breeding!

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After the release of the Modernising Child Youth and Family Expert Panel: Inerim Report  (actually one in a line of many on the failings of the department) the Government had to acknowledge the damning content. Initially Social Development Minister Anne Tolley claimed that it wasn't more money that was needed to improve the service, but this position has softened. Tolley has publicly accepted the views from the expert panel that a complete overhaul of CYFs operations is necessary and this has been welcomed by the Children's Commissioner.

Despite making the right noises I do not trust Anne Tolley and her Government to actually do the right thing by our vulnerable children. As someone who has worked in education for over 35 years I am aware that the rhetoric very rarely matches the reality when it comes to National Governments. When Anne Tolley was the Minister of Education she kept talking about addressing the needs of New Zealand's high priority learners (mainly Maori and…

National's Top Ten Dumb Ideas

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Not Measuring Child Poverty: After 7 years in Government, National still refuses to measure child poverty so that it can identify and address the issues and track progress. Children living in substandard environments and suffering poor health and educational achievement not only costs a lot every year to mitigate  but will severely limit our economic capacity in the future. Inequality has also limited economic growth, according to an OECD reportCost to the country, $70 billion ($10 billion a year estimate)Low GHG Emissions target: Since being in Government, National has weakened the ETSsubsidised carbon credits to polluters and we have seen our emissions increase by 13% in the last 7 years. A low target will expose the country to huge costs both economic and environmentalCost to the country, up to $52 billionFarm Intensification: The Government's goal was to double farm production, rather than adding value or establishing sustainable markets. This has had a huge environmenta…

Sarah Dowie Misrepresents Housing Record

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National MP Sarah Dowie continues to feed misinformation to the people in her Invercargill electorate. In a letter to the Southland Times (Sept 17) she brags about the money currently being spent on State Housing, claiming: "Last year the Government spent $398 million on maintenance and upgrades, which is 40 per cent more than the highest year under Labour." Dowie tries to justify the sucking of over $100 million a year in dividends from the struggling housing provider then later on claims: "This Government has tidied up the appalling state Housing New Zealand was in."

Letters from Gordon Davis and myself set the record straight today and I shifted the blame back on the National Party.

My letter:

Sarah Dowie's Government has been in power for seven years and the availability of good quality, low cost and social housing has never been worse. There are thousands of families on Housing New Zealand’s urgent waiting lists, and at least 1 in every 120 New Zealanders …

National Continues to Punish Young and Struggling Families.

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43% of wage earners got no pay increase over the past year and only 10% of salaries and wage rates in the private sector increased over the last quarter. At the same time rents have increased by 6.3%, electricity charges have increased by 3.8% and fruit and vegetable prices increased by 7%. I have difficulty understanding how Bill English can claim that there has been a growth in real wages when the reality for many low income households is an even greater shortfall between their income and living costs. It is even harder for many families to find enough money to pay the rent, feed their children healthy food and heat their homes.

The number of working families seeking support from foodbanks is continually increasing (21% increase in one Hamilton foodbank) and the number of babies and children presenting at hospitals for illnesses related to inadequate housing is also growing.

By allowing market forces to drive wage increases, the Government is not protecting our most vulnerable worke…

The Corbyn Shockwave Hits Powerful Forces

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Jeremy Corbyn will probably be pinching himself for some time to check whether he is dreaming or not. His sudden rise to the leadership of the UK Labour Party has probably surprised himself as much as those in the hierarchy of the party who had just included him in the race to try and make their own favourite seem more electable. Corbyn's strong socialist principles were deemed too exrtreme to ever be taken seriously and were supposed to encourage support for yet another moderate "Tory Lite" leader. Instead Corbyn's pure and principled messages struck a chord to Labour members and many young people who had become disillusioned with politics.

Jeremy Corban's rise to power created shockwaves that have rattled through the power base of the powerful and influential in the United States, the United Kingdom and his own Party. Over almost four decades the strong relationship that has been forged between politicians and corporate interests has caused neoliberal thinking …

Dowie Ignores Causes of Domestic Violence

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Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie has loyally repeated her Government's carefully crafted spin ever since her election. Her column in the Southland Times published on Tuesday this week was very revealing. Dowie acknowledged the severity and extent of domestic violence in New Zealand but her description of what her Government is doing just emphasised why little has improved in this area over the past seven years. Not one initiative addressed the causes of domestic violence, and it became obvious when writing my response that this Government had even deliberately destroyed one of the key agencies that was making a real difference: 
MP Sarah Dowie’s description ( 8th September) of how her Government is attempting to deal with our terrible levels of family violence (amongst the worst in the OECD) was sadly lacking in insight.
This Government does not understand that preventative action and addressing the causes of family violence is the best way of solving the problem.
Ms Dowie was able to l…

The National GE Debate

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Prof Peter Shepherd 
I attended what was described as the national GE debate in Queenstown on Thursday evening. It was part of the Queenstown Research Week, and attracted a large audience. It wasn't a balanced debate and I thought it had been organised in a way that favoured the GE industry.

The affirmative GE team was an all male one and consisted of the Federated Farmers President, Dr William Rolleston, who is also a founding shareholder and director of South Pacific Sera (an agricultural business dealing with cell culture and microbiology); Prof Peter Shepherd, a scientist from the University of Auckland and Maurice Wilkins Centre who uses GE in his research; and Dr Will Barker, CEO of NZ Bio.

The negative team was all female and included Claire Bleakley, president of GE Free NZ; Dr Elizabeth Harris a remote rural GP and representative of the Physicians and Scientists for Global responsibility; and Philippa Jamieson, Editor of Organic NZ magazine.

It appears that the wording of…