Showing posts from June, 2014

Let's Bring Our Banking Home!

In the 1980s and early 90s the wisdom of the day dictated that our small (in a global sense) New Zealand owned banks were unsustainable. We lost the BNZ to the National Australia Bank group and our Trust Banks to Westpac. All 600 PostBank branches around the country were closed down by 1988. The consequences of those decisions saw huge profits and dividends head across the ditch, contributed to our huge Current Account deficit and allowed the Australian banks to become the most profitable in the world at a time when many were being bailed out.

These same banks have shown their gratitude by maximizing their profits through dubious means and paying local CEOs excessive salaries. Inland Revenue managed to claw back billions of avoided tax through legal action and exorbitant default fees (that have cost New Zealanders about $1 billion) are being challenged through a class action.

Russel Norman revealed an unhealthy relationship between our Reserve Bank and Westpac (the Government's s…

Pay Equity, Rod Donald Was Right in 2004

In 2004 Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald made the following in committee speech in regard to the Public Finance (State Sector Management) Bill:

ROD DONALD (Co-Leader—Green): It is also a pleasure for me to be back after a spirited night last night. I would like to offer Mr Connell some even more PC amendments to this part, and in particular to clause 157, because I do not think that the Crown is being a good employer. It is falling down particularly in relation to pay equity, and I intend, on behalf of the Green Party, to put forward an amendment to fix that particular problem. If members care to look at clause 157(2), they will see that it currently states that: “… a good employer … operates a personnel policy … including provisions requiring— … (b) an equal employment opportunities programme;”. In our view, that does not go far enough. We want the Government to have a pay and employment equity programme, and in case members are in any doubt about what that means, our proposed amendm…

We Are Losing Our Estuaries!

The Southland Times published an excellent editorial last week in support of our estuaries:

"Breathing estuaries aren't nice-to-have things. More than just an indicator of how we're doing environmentally they're really important ecosystems in themselves. Ask the fishing industry.

"We seriously need to turn the figures around. And we haven't. That is scary."

In 2011 the Southland Times made water quality the foremost election issue and over the last three years things have probably got worse. This National led Government has possibly overseen one of the most environmentally degrading periods that this country has ever seen. It has cleverly limited the extent of the damage through blocking any independent public reporting.

In 2012 Eugenie Sage joined me in highlighting the degradation of our local estuaries after recent research revealed the enormity of the problem.

I wrote a letter in support of the editorial because this is something we can't ignore an…

Politics, Sharks and Voter Apathy

I had a conversation at our farmer's market this morning about how my election campaign was going and the person I was speaking to had the view that all politicians don't actually do much, apart from talking. I find that this thinking is actually fairly common, many people talk about the nonsense that goes on in Parliament and how all politicians are as bad as each other, "It doesn't matter who you vote for, nothing really changes."

I find this view really frustrating, but at the same time I can see why people may feel this way. The average New Zealander is too busy getting by, trying to earn a living and supporting their families with little time to analyze what is happening on the political scene. Their view of politics as seen through the mainstream media is a jaundiced one, it appears that 'gotcha' politics (as it has been recently called) is all dominating. The two larger parties are desperately throwing metaphorical daggers at each other and hoping…

National's Campaign Strategy Stinks

We all know from reading Nicky Hager's The Hollow Men (or watching the documentary) that the National Party actually advocates for a small section of society. Their policies rarely support most New Zealanders and after each period of a National led Government we have costly messes like  leaky buildings and dead miners as the aftermath. This isn't to say that Labour shouldn't take responsibility for not repealing dodgy legislation, but National has always stood for less regulation, fewer protections for workers and the environment and an upward flow of money to the already rich.

The lasting consequences of this current National led Government are potentially going to be much more costly than the 1990s version. Our environmental degradation has never been worse, child poverty now effects 27% of children and Government debt has increased by $50 billion. There will be no easy or cheap fixes for any of these and we are still paying the costs from the 1990s.

The only people who…

Domestic Violence, Poverty and Children

When I was a child in the 60's domestic abuse still occurred and dysfunctional families existed but most families could easily survive on a single income and most mothers stayed in the home and their primary role was caring for children. Communities were much stronger in those days, young families were the heart of them and inequity was less obvious. The minimum weekly wage for a man in 1969 was $42 (the equivalent of $673 now, and $100 more than the current minimum).

The Government had poured much money into child health and we led the world in our approach to caring for our children. In 1946 a universal family benefit was paid to mothers at 10 shillings a week for each child (this would be the equivalent of $40 per child now). In 1958 this was increased to 15 shillings and the money could also be saved and capitalized up to 1,000 pounds (equivalent to $43,500) to buy or improve a home. We had dental clinics in each school and provided free milk.

The 60s weren't perfect, wom…

Mike Joy and the Disconnected Warning Light

Mike Joy was speaking in Invercargill last night to an audience of around 80 people. It was a very mixed crowd with local body councillors, environmentalists and farmers represented.

Mike has been subjected to some heavy attacks from the Prime Minister and business leaders for being outspoken about the state of our environment. Despite the fact that he has won awards for the significance of his work, Mike will probably have difficulty attracting government funding for further research as he is considered to be an impediment to the growth of dairy farming.

The content of his talk was largely familiar to me but his presentation was very compelling, the science was solid and the environmental concerns were starkly presented:
68% of NZ's native fish are listed as threatened (worse than Europe's 47% and US 37%)68% of our ecosystems are now classified as threatened.We have lost 90% of our wetlands90% of our rivers are polluted95% do not meet the standard for bathing due to pathogens…

The Myth of Free Trade Agreements

I have attempted numerous time to comment on Ele Ludemann's Home Paddock blog in response to her post on Free Trade Agreements and promoting the false perception that they are vital to our economy. While I can't imagine that Ele would be deliberately blocking my comments, none of them have been allowed to appear. Here is what I was attempting to say:

Most FTAs favour the larger nations and Australia's FTA with the US has been a disaster for employment and the environment and the balance of trade favors the US by $13 billion. The growth of imports from the US continues to grow far faster than their exports to them.

Our CER deal with Australia has not actually served us that well when Australian supermarkets can block our products and New Zealanders working and paying taxes in Aussie can't access the services that they help fund.

I recently attended a presentation from the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank and when he was asked about the importance of the FTA with Chi…

Teaching Profession Rejects Parata's Plans

Classroom teachers, the New Zealand Educational Institute, the New Zealand Principal's Federation and education academics have all strongly rejected the Government's proposed $359 million Investment into Education Success (IES). All believe that this substantial amount of money will not produce the results that the Education Minister claims and would be better spent elsewhere.

At a recent meeting of primary classroom teachers in Invercargill, one teacher was particularly upset. She had shifted to New Zealand to escape the failing English schooling system only to find the same changes are about to be implemented here.

Respected US academic David Berliner happened to be in New Zealand when the Prime Minister first announced the new spending and he strongly rejected the claim that teachers make the biggest difference to child achievement. He claimed that the socio-economic background of the child has the largest influence on education outcomes (according to all research) and he …

Confessions of a Green Speed Addict

I want to confess to something many people may not be aware of, I love going fast and am addicted to speed. While at high school and university most of my friends got their speed fix from owning motorbikes, but I didn't share their petrol fueled passion. While I love speed I prefer a more natural high and the roar and smell of an internal combustion engine never quite did it for me (much to my father's disappointment).

When I was at primary school I raced a P Class yacht in Bluff Harbour. The most thrilling moments were when sailing on a run (the wind behind) in strong winds. I would have to hang out the back of the yacht to keep the snub nose from diving into the sea and keep it surfing on the top. The guy wires would be humming, the spray flying and a rush of gurgling water would be passing underneath, magic!

My claim to fame at University was coming second in a downhill bicycle race on a winding stretch of road between two student hostels (Knox and Salmond). I worked out t…

A Country in Crisis

Two Green MPs visited Invercargill over the past week and both described a genuine crisis that is being largely ignored by this Government.

Kevin Hague has been traveling around the country exposing the inadequacies of National's approach to Health and promoting what the Greens would do differently if we got into Government. Using his knowledge of the health system as a past CEO of West Coast Health and available data, Kevin exposed the sham of current health management:
Health funding has not kept up with our growing population and the demands on the system and we have actually experienced a loss of capacity. We are not even treading water, we are going backwards.Money has been shifted away from preventative (public) health and primary care, the two areas that give the best value for any spending.The only area receiving greater funding is elective surgery and this has been widely promoted by the Government as proof of success when it actually makes up only 5% of all health spendi…

Green Party Conference & the Top 20

John Armstrong summed up our conference pretty well:

If anything, Labour's rebuff of the Greens' offer in April for the two parties to campaign more co-operatively has made the Greens even more determined to make it impossible for Labour to give them the cold shoulder. Having raised more than $1 million to fight the election, the Greens are confident they can win more seats - which means more slots in the Cabinet and more action on Green "priorities".
The rapturous reception given the unveiling of a new priority - a carbon tax on polluters which turns into a "climate tax cut" for households and business - threatened to lift the roof.
In one deft stroke, the policy has the Greens saving the planet, helping the poor, giving big carbon users an incentive to be more efficient, while stimulating investment in more sustainable industries.
Best of all is that they can go into the election claiming they are the only major party (so far) promising specific tax cuts. Tak…