Chicken Licken Politics


It is a well accepted practice for right leaning Governments to use a sense of crisis to initiate high levels of change. The approach has been well documented by Naomi Klein in "The Shock Doctrine"and this government has shown it is not averse to using crisis to drive their predetermined agenda. While the Christchurch earthquake and the international economic collapse were genuine the National Government's  responses to them needs to be questioned as do a number of other crises they have fabricated for their own ends.

I have tried to describe each crisis and the how the National Government has used and responded to it and the Green solution:

ECONOMIC CRISIS

Situation:
  • Poorly regulated property markets, investment companies and financial advisors cause widespread collapse of institutions and overvalued, poorly secured investments. 
  • Government debt one of the lowest in OECD (Labour Government recording surpluses prior to collapse).
  • High level of private debt through borrowing to invest in property and rentals which provided a greater return than other investments because of a lack of a capital gain's tax.
  • Inflated land and property values attract overseas investment and prices them well beyond average New Zealanders. House ownership drops considerably.
  • Australian Banks make huge profits yet avoid large amounts of tax.
Response:
  • Government provides large tax cuts to top end incomes making our tax rate lower than Australia and considerably cutting government revenue.
  • Government bails out many poorly managed finance companies to stabilize economy and protect innocent investors. Bailing out South Canterbury Finance cost tax payers $1,755,000,000 or $405 for every man, woman and child in New Zealand.
  • To finance the tax cuts the Government raises GST and cuts spending in Early childhood, Ministries and Government services.
  • Some regulation (watered down from original) of financial advisors legislated.
  • Govt uses legal avenues to try and claw back tax from banks.
  • Government decides to focus on oil, lignite and coal as the future of the NZ economy
Green Solution:
  • Introduce long overdue capital gains tax on property other than family home. This will shift investment into more productive sectors.
  • Overtime, shift Government's banking to Kiwi Bank from overseas owned banks like Westpac and keep profits here.
  • Put proper prices on carbon emissions so that the actual polluter pays, not the taxpayer.
  • Green jobs, such as home insulation created and supported.
  • Tighten up on tax avoidance that sucks $5.4 billion a year out of potential Govt revenue, while National attempts to cut benefits by a few million.

ACC CRISIS

Situation:
  • Government claim spiraling costs and budget blowout, while the reality is quite different.
  • ACC envy of the world as it is able to avoid costly litigations and having to always appoint blame.
Govt. Response:
  • Cut entitlements and support for physiotherapy
  • Manage to shift many people over 45-50 years away from ACC by claiming age degeneration was the dominating cause of an injury despite accidents being the initial cause. Many reviewed cases showed the approach was flawed and discriminatory and the judging physicians often didn't sight the patient.
  • Open ACC to competition with private insurance companies.
Green Solution:
  • Leave ACC alone it is doing a good job generally and isn't broke.

EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION CRISIS

Situation: 
  • Labour recognized severe underspending in ECE and dramatically increased spending.
  • 100% qualified teachers a goal.
  • Labour introduces 20 free hours scheme.
  • NZ has more working mothers than most countries (65%) 
  • New Zealand spends well below OECD  average (.6% compared to 1% of GDP) and well less than the United Nations recommendation. 
  • Government's science advisor, Sir Peter Gluckman, announces that an investment in ECE brings huge future returns.
Govt. Response:
  • Huge cuts to ECE funding because increases are too great and unsustainable.
  • 100% qualified teacher goal abandoned for 80% goal and funding only up to that level.
  • Well qualifed teachers are dismissed from centres with 100% qualified teachers after salary funding is capped at 80%.
  • Centres either lay off staff or raise fees (large jump in fees for families currently occurring).
Green Solution:
  • Raise qualified teacher goal back to 100%
  • Make sure a high quality ECE provision is available to all. An investment in early childhood is an investment in our future.

PRIMARY EDUCATION CRISIS

Situation:
  • New Zealand is ranked in the top 5 educationally by most international assessments.
  • The 20% of children who are in the strong tail of underachievement makes New Zealand similar to other countries that have high levels of poverty (20% of New Zealand children are in families experiencing poverty). Majority of struggling children are Maori or Pasifika.
  • New Zealand's new curriculum allows schools to tailor their teaching to meet the needs of their children and communities in flexible ways.
Govt. Response:
  • Government claims it will introduce National Standards in Education before the election although they can't describe what they will be like.
  • Against all professional advice the Govt. implemented the standards on all schools before they had been trialed or were fully realized.
  • Professional support failed as even the facilitators admitted the Standards were underdone (in one year level only 30% of children will pass).
  • The Standards focus on Literacy and Numeracy only, at the expense of other curricula (achievement in Science dropping).
  • All advisors outside Literacy and Numeracy are sacked.
  • $60 set aside to support each struggling child for a year (while $91,000 is spent on each prisoner per annum).
Green Solution:
  • Stop the introduction of the current National Standards and spend money on initiatives that have already proven to raise achievement.
  • Restore the New Zealand curriculum as the main driver for learning.
  • Support a more holistic approach to teaching based around enquiry learning. The Enviro Schools did this particularly well.
  • Increase the status of teaching as a profession.
  • Encourage school environments that best support Maori and Pasifika children.

CHRISTCHURCH EARTHQUAKES

Situation: 
  • Two Major earthquakes and hundreds of minor ones destroys much of Christchurch.
Govt. Response:
  • Put Gerry Brownlee in charge of the rebuild. The Minister has huge power over the process.
  • Many of the less affluent areas struggle to get support, John Key refuses to meet the people in these areas.
  • Govt. decides to borrow heavily and cut Govt. spending to pay for the rebuild.
  • A plan is made with limited community consultation.
  • Huge re-organisation of Christchurch schools that will further destabilise already struggling schools.
  • Many buildings demolished in such away that materials can't be recycled and owners ignored.
Green Solution
  • Involve communities in decision making, Kennedy Graham has already been leading community discussions around what people would like to see.
  • Place an earthquake levy on taxpayers, graduated according to income, over 3 years.
  • Use the rebuild opportunity to make Christchurch the envy of the world through making it much more environmentally friendly, efficient and people and community friendly.
  • Provide and encourage "green jobs"as a way of shifting people from unemployment to worthwhile projects.



Comments

robertguyton said…
Phew!
That's an exhaustive study Dave - well done!
Your sister was in the Beehive last night btw.
bsprout said…
Thanks Robert, discovered some errors and have rectified them and added more.

I look forward to hear what Robyn experienced in Wellington.

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