Showing posts from April, 2012

Tax Cuts Caused Current Crisis

Russel Norman provides the evidence for what he has been saying for some time, the economic crisis is largely the result of tax cuts to the rich. New Zealand has just been following what has happened in many other so called "developed" countries; the greed of the rich results in a reduction of government revenue and the poor suffer through the introduction of austerity programmes in an attempt to balance the books. Rather than increasing revenue by reintroducing fair taxes the government cuts support to those who need it the most.  National keeps claiming that an ongoing recession is causing the deteriorating state of the government's books and yet last year New Zealand's richest saw their wealth increase by over 18%, for them the recession ended some time ago. The country's 151 richest people saw their collective wealth reach $45.2 billion last year, up $7 billion from the previous year. The crisis is a lie, greed and mismanagement is creating the problem!


The National Govt. and the Scent of Fish

There is an almost constant odour of fish wafting around this National led government ever since it took over the reins of power in 2008. The following were especially fishy:
Key's promise not to raise GST and his attempts to explain why he hadn't broken his word.Key knowing nothing about the purchase of the BMWs despite his test drive and the documentation that passed by his desk.A claimed goal of catching up with the Australian economy while purposefully keeping wages low.The rich get huge tax cuts which deprived the Government of at least $1 billion a year of revenue and increased our already growing inequities of income.Bill English claiming around $40,000 for a housing allowance and claiming it was all above board (but obviously not a moral one).Disestablishing the Pay and Employment equity Unit and Key's own cleaner struggles on a wage barely over the minimum.Key claimed in a BBC interview that NZ is 100% pure when 80% of our lowland rivers are seriously polluted and…

Dodgy Hobbit Deal Revealed

The Official Information Act and complaints to the Ombudsman finally revealed that the union's version of the Hobbit dispute was true all along. The Government, Peter Jackson and Weta Studios had misled the public about the nature of the dispute and the behaviour of Actors Equity. The threat of boycott had already been withdrawn (and had been a reasonable response to employer intransigency) and an agreement made before the march staged by Sir Richard Taylor. Information now reveals that the issue wasn't around actors work conditions at all but about Warner Bros' ability to bring in overseas actors at will.

New Zealand actors have poor conditions of work compared to most overseas actors and, as Robyn Malcolm had claimed, any increase to the low rate of pay that New Zealand actors received was never going to break the budget and was the equivalent of "coffee money" in the big scheme of things. The real threat the actors' union provided was an ability to vet th…

Lesley Longstone's Management Style Revealed

I was surprised when someone was appointed to lead the Ministry of Education from outside New Zealand, given that our education system performs amongst the top five internationally and that we have a number of very capable educationalists who could have competently carried out the role and had an in-depth institutional knowledge of our system. I have no doubt that Lesley Longstone is a capable administrator and I can understand why National would wish to appoint someone whose background is implementing government policy and promoting Free Schools (the equivalent of Charter Schools), but I have serious concerns about her ability to lead our quality public education system.

In the days when the Education Ministry was a Department, and had less political interference, it was managed by some astute and forward thinking individuals. Clarence Beeby and Bill Renwick were hugely instrumental in shaping the philosophies and pedagogical approach that led us to being one of the top education sy…

National Hell Bent on Selling New Zealand's Soul For Profit

Steven Joyce dug himself deeper in the political mire on Q & A as he tried to support the Sky City conference centre deal. When he admitted that he didn't know what effect up to 500 new pokie machines would do to the numbers of problem gamblers, it revealed the sinister reality that he just didn't care. Surely if the Government were going to change the law to allow so many new gambling machines they would have researched the down side of the deal.

Comprehensive research has been done in Australia and New Zealand regarding the number of problem gamblers caused by pokie machines and it was found that .8 of a problem gambler is created by each new machine. This would mean that if Sky City was allowed 500 new pokies it would result in around 400 new problem gamblers, an increase in related crime and 400 families who will suffer from their family member's addiction. 5,000 people a year are convicted of gambling related offenses and most crimes of fraud are motivated by gam…

Rugby Discrimination and Gender Inequality

I caught the end of an interview with Katherine Ryan on Nine to Noon this morning with Richard Boock. Richard was describing his concern at the sexist approach of Otago Rugby in dealing with their constrained   financial situation. The Otago Union has cut support to the Otago women's representative team while maintaining support to all men's rugby. While women's rugby doesn't receive the same recognition as the male version, women are hardly deserving of this treatment and the Black Ferns have a better international record than the All Blacks, having won four consecutive world cups.

It appears that when men dominate leadership positions, and there are economic constraints, it is more likely to be women who suffer from any austerity measures. One of the first things that the National Government wiped on gaining power was the pay equity investigation and then they disestablished the Pay and Employment Equity Unit.

It is also noticeable that jobs and spending that are ge…

Police Image Tarnished Again

I had hoped we had finally moved on from the police violence of the 70's Dawn Raids, the 1981 Springbok Tour and the more recent anti-terror raids. When the police were asked to remove Occupy protestors from the city centres of Auckland and Dunedin, the police took a very principled stand and refused to do the bidding of the authorities when no public good would be served by such removal. I was especially gratified by Inspector Greg Sparrow's statement that to remove the protestors did not meet "the test of balancing the rights and freedoms of all parties".

Sadly with the Glen Innes protest the police have returned to previous behaviors and used physical force, well beyond what was necessary, to remove people protesting the removal of the homes. They also deliberately roughed up the well known advocate and protestor for human rights, John Minto. Here are some first hand accounts of the police brutality: interview one, interview two.

The Glen Innes state houses being…

Proof that National Despises Our Public Education System.

Chris Trotter wrote an excellent post regarding Craig Foss's appalling inability to explain how public private partnerships (PPPs) will actually produce positive benefits to the school communities that have been forced to accept them. I wrote a comment in support of the post and got the following response.

Would bsprout be kind enough as to produce evidence of "Not only does National openly despise public education systems...."

Albert-As soon as they became Government National gave private schools $35 million and are currently providing Wanganui Collegiate with $800,000 while they negotiate to become an integrated school. They are dismantling our state system by introducing charter schools and are committing to PPPs even though Treasury has advised there are few benefits. The Government also supports secondary schools that adopt assessment systems that aren't compatible with our National Curriculum.

Our public education system is internationally rated in the top f…

National Rejects Broadening MoU With Greens.

While the Green Party has always been open about the unlikely event of granting confidence and supply to a National led Government the party has always been open about working with them on projects that support Green Policy. Last term a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with National included the Healthy Homes Project, the clean up of the toxic Tui Mine site and some useful research into pest eradication. All of these joint projects were viewed as successful and, in the case of the Health Homes Project, added real economic value by creating employment and contributing to a reduction in health spending.

It is interesting that for this term the National Government had no interest in broadening the MoU and wouldn't consider any of the new projects the Greens put on the table, apparently the priorities and philosophies are now too dissimilar. National rejected the Greens suggestion of implementing aspects of the Green Growth Advisory Report, wasn't interested in emphasizing susta…

Dairy Farmers and Bullying Tactics

Dear Sir
I would like to congratulate this year's winners of the Southland Ballance Farm Environmental Awards. Michael and Karen Blomfield clearly demonstrated it is possible to farm in an environmentally sensitive manner and still run a profitable dairy farm. It is disappointing when there are so many great examples of responsible practice that could be celebrated that the industry lets itself down with bullying tactics and arrogant behaviour.

Environment Southland's new rules would create few challenges for responsible farmers like the Blomfields and Hugh Gardyne's speech to Environment Southland quite rightly recognized the importance of having some bottom line expectations for new conversions. The dairy farmers who walked out of the Environment Southland meeting have not directly criticised the points made in Mr Gardyne's speech but appear to object to anything other than self-regulation and want the external costs of their industry continue to be sub…

The Future of New Zealand Politics is Green.

It is interesting reading the blogs of the left at present because a common theme keeps appearing, the rise of the Greens as an increasingly credible political force.

The Standard blog is a reinterpretation of the old labour movement newspaper and its contemporary contributors tend to favour the Labour Party with the odd grudging acknowledgement to a Green success. This week one of The Standard's more able commentators, Anthony Robins, provocatively asked "will the Greens lead the next government?". The 195 comments that followed rarely attempted to refute this possibility and many made particular mention of evidence to support the suggestion:

"In effect,the Greens are close to having the required influence to be able to have the messes of the past cleaned up and sanitized by those who made them,(thus teaching both National and Labour what it is to be Green)"

"All that may come to pass if Labour don’t get their A into G. The Greens are definitely attracting a…

Crafar Farm Sale Threatens Sovereignty

The Government has a difficult decision to make regarding the sale of the Crafar Farms. The Overseas Investment Office approved the sale but a high court decision demanded a rethink and a final decision needs to be made.

The arguments supporting the sale are largely about the gains from overseas investment and strengthening our relationship with China. There is also a view that to refuse the sale could be seen as xenophobic and we wouldn't want to upset our largest market for our dairy sales.

Russel Norman argued a strong case on Q&A today. The stand from the Greens has always been that there should be no land sales to other than New Zealanders and New Zealand residents and we even opposed the sale of land to Shania Twain. The long term importance of maintaining sovereignty over our productive land is very important leading into the future, we don't want to end up as tenants in our own country. We have already seen the risks of selling off strategic assets to overseas int…

Easter Poll and New Beginnings?

Achieving 17% support in the latest Roy Morgan Poll is a deserved boost for the Greens leading in to this Easter Break. The Greens have performed especially well in opposition so far, with some stirling efforts from some of our newest and youngest MPs.

National has had an easy run with the press and while they have had scandal after debacle, blame has been effectively deflected elsewhere in most cases. If this current term sees the media developing greater intellectual rigor and a backbone we will see National implode like Act as their leadership struggle for personal survival on their sinking ship and start blaming each other. With Collins being forced to fund her own legal costs, this process is already beginning.

The party mix after the next election will be partly due to the sort of media coverage that will occur. The Greens have always polled well leading up to an election but have been shut out of mainstream media coverage in the last weeks. Some polls put the Greens at 15% be…

Rough Guess Governance Exposed.

The teaching profession (pre National Standards) improves practice and developes curriculum based on research and evidence. Scientists use research and peer review to develop new knowledge and technologists use research and modeling before developing the final prototype. Lawyers use Acts, Regulations, Statutes and case law to progress their cases and Doctors use years of training, on going professional development and professional texts and journals to guide diagnoses. The National Government, having the responsibility for governing the economic, social and environmental health of our nation, routinely ignores research, science and professional advice and admits to "rough guess" decisions. Examples abound:

1) The value of our state assets before committing them for sale - rough guess.
2) The justification for spending $12 billion on Roads of National Significance - a guess and huge assumptions.
3) The justification for gutting our foreign service - No research or consultati…

Grass Roots of Union Movement Strengthening

I've just come back from a meeting of the Invercargill Branch of the CTU and having been largely in recess a couple of years ago it is now meeting monthly with most local unions being represented. We started the meeting with organisers and representatives giving a quick overview of what is happening in their sector and it was like a state of the nation overview, but from the perspective of ordinary New Zealanders.

We heard from the MUNZ rep about his experiences supporting his fellow members up in Auckland how amazing it was to feel the support of other unions (including many overseas), political parties and ordinary New Zealanders. The blatant lack of good faith from POAL and the huge losses incurred through the forced inactivity of the port made it very clear that the management were more interested in crushing the union than maintaining profits.

We heard about the Affco's blatant locking out of 480 workers to avoid paying statutory pay for Good Friday and Easter Monday. Ta…