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Showing posts from March, 2013

Of Polls and Possibilities

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The graph above, produced after the latest Roy Morgan Poll, shows a steady decline in support for the National Party, a perceptible increase in support for Labour and solid support for the Greens. New Zealand First remains around the 5% threshold and the Maori Party, Mana, Act and United Future barely register.

The average level of support for National since November 2011 is 45.14% which is over 2% down from the election. The average for Labour 31.08%, almost 4% up and the Greens have averaged 13.03%, which is about 2% up from the last election.

The Greens have traditionally dropped in support between elections, however, since November 2011, the Greens have been polling significantly higher than their election result. It is also interesting to note that the Green's support has been more consistent than Labour with fluctuations of around 2% while Labour has seen almost 4%.

With its union background Labour has, in the past, had a well organised membership and strong electorate team…

DoC Cuts A Tragedy!

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The latest cuts to the DoC workforce bring the total loss to over 330 full-time equivalent positions since 2009, about 15% of the workforce. Despite what Minister Nick Smith and the Director General Al Morrison have claimed, the capacity of the department will be compromised when jobs are cut. While we hear that DoC must tighten its belt when we are in economically tough times, these cut backs are more to do with Government priorities than economic constraints.

While DoC has been told to cut another $2 million from its budget, the Government bailed out a private school (against advice) by $3.9 million and is spending $36 million on the supporting the America's Cup Challenge. The $390 million total budget of DoC is close to the loss incurred by Solid Energy and nothing like the $1 billion being spent to build the Transmission Gully motorway that has failed cost benefit analysis.

We also spend more money on promoting our wild places then we do to protect them. The $12 million that …

National's 2014 Election Strategy Revealed

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NATIONAL PARTY 2014 ELECTION STRATEGY

TWELVE  POINT PLAN Installing a Speaker who does not require Ministers to answer questions. DoneInstall a Race Relations Commissioner who doesn't understand the Treaty and will support the Government's race relations spin. DoneLimit the release of damaging information through the Official Information Act. OngoingProgress Christchurch school closures quickly so that the issue doesn't continue into election year. DoneChange RMA and local body legislation to ensure central government has control but all responsibility falls on local councils. Almost doneEnsure all mates are well looked after and installed in protected, high paid positions. Mostly done (Don Elder's situation is difficult, perhaps full-time consultant?)Destroy Labour leader credibility as we did with Goff. Done, little effort needed (bank account issue was a gift from heaven)Blame Labour, beneficiaries and teacher unions for everything. Ongoing, butmay have to back off te…

Real Men and Gardens (a slight return)

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It's that time of year again and I found myself running another workshop at Riverton's Harvest Festival. I wore the T Shirt that can only be purchased through the South Coast Environment Centre, but is taking the country by storm (well, amongst the gardening community anyway).

After several years the Harvest Festival has become more than a novelty and attracts a sizable crowd of people for whom growing and producing their own food is an important part of their lives. When workshops on permaculture and bee keeping attract good numbers in a community the size of Riverton, you know there is a quiet revolution occurring.

When I first agreed to share my limited gardening experience in a workshop I was a little apprehensive but found the handful of middle aged ladies that attended were really interested and appreciative of anything I had to share. This year I had three times as many people turn up on a Sunday afternoon and  a third of them were under thirty. Few were novice gardene…

Market Solutions to Housing Crisis!

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Nick Smith and his National led Government have a very market, developer driven plan to solve our housing crisis. For them the solutions involve removing regulations and increasing land supply (green fields). Although Smith did recognise, in his interview on Q+A, that there is an issue with the cost of land and materials (our houses cost at least 30% more to build than in Australia) he could not provide answers.

The two regions where houses are desperately needed are in Auckland and Christchurch and there is obviously some urgency. The Auckland Council plan appears to recognise a number of needs, a mix of brown fields and green fields development and constructing future developments around transport hubs. The provision of services and infrastructure needs planning if it is to work efficiently and to ensure the quality of life for new communities. Where local and central government clash is around the freedom for developers. The Auckland Council obviously want to have some control in …

Norman Questions Government Accountability

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This National led Government and its supporters are promoting the view that the only time a government should be held to account is at the ballot box and the only mandate necessary to implement their policies is their election into office. For a party that is driven by ideology, and not evidence, it is problematic to them when justification for their policies is requested and they do not have free rein over the implementation process.

This National led Government come from an authoritarian culture, where those in leadership roles are respected because of their position and not necessarily their capability. While the Green Party and the Labour Party have conferences where policy is debated and their leadership challenged, National Party conferences are orderly affairs where the leadership tell the faithful how it is. This is most obvious with the environmental wing of the National Party (the Blue Greens), when, despite the obvious removal of environmental protections and concerning en…

Dairy Farming and Solid Energy

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NIWA and climate scientists have predicted a growing frequency of extreme weather events and it is already happening here and around the world. One drought isn't climate change but there is enough evidence to show a global pattern that fits with scientists' predictions, and this is well explained in the National Geographic. Our latest drought was terrible and has been called a once in 70 years event but we are likely to get more of these in the near future. While we haven't had enough recent droughts to show a trend, we are experiencing more frequent extreme weather events. NIWA has detailed future scenarios of climate change related weather patterns, based on their research, and there is enough evidence to suggest that we have an impending crisis.

The Government also appears to accept that droughts may be more common (but not prepared to accept that there is a high probability of an anthropogenic cause). Yet the Government has st…

National's Fundamental Failing

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Steven Joyce just didn't get the importance of Russel Norman's questioning in the House yesterday. He was genuinely perplexed why anyone would want to get get a definitive response from him (and the finance Minister he was speaking for) around his understanding of climate change science. He wasn't prepared to accept that the drought we have been experiencing was most likely caused by anthropogenic climate change:

"I think that the second part of that member's question is open to debate, actually, by a whole range of experts."

Russel's line of questioning actually established a fundamental flaw in the Government's approach to dealing with this major crisis; they aren't convinced that there is one.  Joyce explained that while the Government were providing assistance for farmers in this instance that they would be expected to adapt to climate change (as they have adapted to economic and technological change) and shouldn't expect ongoing support.…

Iceland Beats the Bankers and Leads the World

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New Zealand has not suffered the extreme banking collapses that occurred in the US but we still had to endure the demise of some financial institutions at great cost to the taxpayer (South Canterbury Finance cost us more to put right than all the Treaty settlements combined).  Our four biggest banks remain stable and are returning solid profits, however their success is costing us dearly through unnecessary bank charges, tax avoidance and the loss of dividends to Australia.  We even have a group of lawyers currently suing banks for excessive default fees which have been estimated as costing us $1 billion over the past six years.

Banks seem to be held in the same regard as churches, powerful institutions that supposedly exist to serve the people and as such are above criticism. However, as has been found with the Catholic Church, behind the impressive and noble facade are some self-serving individuals who are more intent on meeting their own needs than those they should be serving. Th…