Showing posts from 2014

Shell NZ, it's all a gas

Ron Jager, Chairman of Shell New Zealand had a lengthy opinion piece in today's Southland Times (no link), where he claimed that natural gas has a bright future in New Zealand. Jager talks about his love for the New Zealand environment and the need to halve our green house gas emissions so that we can "avoid the impact of climate change". He explains how natural gas burns more cleanly than other fossil fuel and there is such an abundance of the stuff that we have around 250 years of supply (based on current consumption). Of course the Maui A platform, off the coast of Taranaki, has been operating without incident since 1979 and it is easy to think that continuing to extract gas from other sites won't be an issue either.

There may be an abundance of natural gas but the process of extracting it will no longer be as straight forward as Maui A. The next generation of gas extraction in New Zealand won't be from shallow sea platforms, but deep sea drilling in the Great…

Terrorist Threat Increases Alarmingly!

The terrorism threat is mounting in New Zealand, the Prime Minister claims there are up to 40 people here who are capable of repeating the sort of action tragically experienced in Sydney. New Zealand's terrorist threat has has been upgraded from very low to low. Legislation has been passed under urgency to provide greater powers to the SIS to allow surveillance without a warrant for 24 hours. The threat of the Islamic State is seen to be greater than any terror organisation existing in the Middle East prior to this. The Government has put all its energies into protecting us from the danger of IS related activities and the increased surveillance capacity will hopefully protect us in our new low risk environment.

There have been 3 deaths in New Zealand over the past 60 years because of terrorist acts and they all occurred over 30 years ago. Two perpetrators were New Zealanders and the other was a friendly state. In 1982 a local "Punk Rock" anarchist blew himself up when t…

Government Given the Bums Up!

From the North to the South, in fine weather and foul, Tim Groser and his Government got the bums up from New Zealanders. The nationwide Heads in the Sand protest today provided a physical expression of our concern that climate change deserved greater attention. Our Government Ministers need to get their heads out of the sand on this issue.

Mission Bay
West Auckland
Browns Bay
Fossil fuels are destroying our future!
This Government is committing ecocide!

Head in Sand Leadership is Driving NZ

The Southland Times described a report from the New Zealand Initiative (NZI) claiming mining was the key to rural prosperity. Although listing a range of extractable minerals this appallingly ignorant report strongly supports coal and lignite mining as the road to rural prosperity.

The New Zealand Initiative is being disingenuous in its claims that mining will benefit rural communities. There are very few mining communities in New Zealand that are prosperous and the nature of extractive industries is that they have a finite life and generally cause negative social and environmental outcomes. In using Australia as an example of the benefits of mining The NZI ignores the damage caused to Australia's rural communities. Australian farmers are leading the protests against coal mining and fracking with the Lock the Gate movement.

The well researched document Jobs after Coal explains the social and environmental consequences of coal mining and its chequered history as an industry. The N…

Government Responsible for Invercargill Poverty

Invercargill provides a good snapshot of New Zealand society. We are a city of around 51,000 people and have a breadth of industries to support our local economy. Within our wider province we have an aluminium smelter, New Zealand's largest dairy factory, a number of exporting manufacturers and the region earns about 12% of our national export income with only 3% of the population. We also have a highly successful tertiary institution in the Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) that pulls in overseas students and provides a wide range of courses to lift the qualifications and skills of our local workforce. Venture Southland is proactive in promoting the region and leading research and development to grow a more sustainable local economy.

We are also ethnically diverse with growing Maori and Pasifica populations and many immigrant workers. We have an unemployment rate that is similar to the national average of just above 5%.

I recently wrote a post about inequality and income dis…

John the Don and the Family

John the Don

Head of Dark Ops (Jason Ede

The Hit Man (Cameron Slater, father John Slater)

Corporate operative  (Carrick Graham, father Doug Graham )

One of the family (Judith Collins)

Slater was then asked what he would do about Collins' resignation. He said: "I always give back double" and "Judith always gives back double"

You don't mess with the family!

Five Reasons Why John Key Should Resign

There are many reasons why the Prime Minister John Key should resign, but here are five:
It is unbecoming and unethical for our Head of Government to continue to have a personal and ongoing relationship (txt conversations) with a discredited 'shock jock' attack blogger who calls his blog 'Well I'll Be Fucked' (English translation).It is untenable that our Prime Minister accepts the word of a discredited blogger over that of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security in suggesting that parts of her official report are contestable.Deliberately misleading the House is a serious offense and the Prime Minister has been caught out previously for this. His denial that he had any recent contact with Cameron Slater was patently dishonest. It also appears that he only made the subsequent correction when Cameron Slater himself revealed that he had been communicating with him.The Prime Minister is the Minister directly responsible for his own office and the SIS and to …

John Key's Immoral Governance

I was in Wellington last weekend, alternating between spending time with my two student children and attending our Green Party executive meeting. Being with intellectually engaged and compassionate people was a useful foil to the depressing events that hit me over the past few days.

The first event was a discovery that I made by chance during a debate with some rightwing climate change deniers. In response to their claims that the 97% of scientists who are in agreement about the human influence of climate change are just part of a huge conspiracy for their own personal gain, I looked at the potential influence of oil and gas companies. I discovered that in a list of companies with the largest revenue in the world, oil and gas fill 6 of the top 10 places (17 oil and gas companies in the top 40). There are also five automative companies in the top 40 and each of these companies earn hundreds of billions every year. The smallest of these companies has an income about 50% greater than th…

School Deciles, Another crisis for Parata mess with?

The school decile system came about as a way of creating a level playing field for school funding across different school communities. It was accepted that Government funding, through the operations grant, never actually covers all operational costs. Donations and fundraising activities in each school community were still necessary to make up a shortfall. Obviously affluent communities are more able to raise those extra funds and poorer communities struggle and this needed to be addressed.

The decile rating of a school is based on data from the national census and looks at household incomes, occupations, household crowding, educational qualifications and those receiving income support. Despite some inaccuracies that occur, like the percentage of students who may come from outside the school area, the system has been broadly effective at identifying the wealth of a school community. Despite decile 1 schools getting a much larger amount of funding, however, research has shown that high…

Who's left to blame?

National Ministers had three main excuses for poor outcomes and extensive borrowing: the Labour Government's prior mismanagement, the global economic crisis and the Christchurch earthquake. All of these excuses have now become historical, it is six years since Labour was in office, the economic crisis was well and truly over for New Zealand three years ago (we never suffered as much as most in the OECD) and the earthquake can no longer be counted as a deficit when the rebuild is a large part of our economic recovery. From now on the buck must stop with the current Government.

Over the last six years the National Government has had some clear priorities where they have made substantial investments:
Building motorways ($11-$20 billion over ten years)Tax cuts for the rich ( $7.2 billion over past 6 years)Corporate welfare ($8.4 billion+ over past 6 years) The Government's motorway projects generally come out poorly in cost benefit analysis, the tax cuts to the wealthy did not res…

Preventive or Preventing Health Care?

The front page article in the Southland Times today hit me at a personal level. Some years ago I became aware that I was passing blood and after a visit to my GP, was referred for an exploratory colonoscopy. As it turned out there was nothing seriously wrong with me but it was hugely reassuring that I could cross off bowel cancer (especially as I was in the danger zone of over 50).

The Southland region has the highest rate of bowel cancer in New Zealand, with New Zealand having one of the highest rates in the world. Despite these horrifying statistics a third of all GP referrals for colonoscopies in Southland have been recently rejected by the DHB.  At a public meeting a GP voiced his concern, "I send a patient, more than one, they are over 70, losing weight, blood in stool, and they still can't get a colonoscopy."

If I had had presented with my previous symptoms in today's environment it is unlikely that I would have been granted an exploratory procedure and would …

National's Conservation Dance, The Blue Green Spin

National’s top five conservation achievements are part of a new dance called the Blue Green Spin, one step forward, a quick twirl and three steps back:
1) National has created seven new marine reserves and we now have 9.5% of our territorial seas brought into reserves and sanctuaries (one step forward). Quick twirl. The Government has opened up much of our territorial waters for oil exploration, including our Maui's Dolphin sanctuary. Michael Field's book The Catchreveals the need to properly manage the fishing industry to stop the human and environmental exploitation currently occurring (three steps back). 
2) 2500 km of a national cycleway have been completed and $100 million proposed to accelerate cycling in urban areas (one step forward). Quick twirl. The NZTA has only a small handful of people employed to support cycling. The Government is continuing with their $13 billion motorway development and the amount being spent to support public transport is a tiny fraction of the …

John Key's Housing Legacy

"I think that if we are going to reform the world, and make it a better place to live in, the way to do it is not with talk about relationships of a political nature, which are inevitably dualistic, full of subjects and objects and their relationship to one another; or with programs full of things for other people to do. I think that kind of approach starts at an end and presumes the end is the beginning. Programs of a political nature are important end products of social quality that can be effective only if the underlying structure of social values is right."

Robert Maynard Pirsig, Zen and  the art of Motorcycle Maintenance(1974)

If we applied Pirsig's approach to housing policy in New Zealand there would be an ongoing focus on lifting the quality of life for all New Zealanders, with a strong focus on equity. This is the expectation in much of Europe where quality housing is seen as an essential element in the quality of life for citizens. The success of each succeedin…