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Showing posts from 2015

Our children, our future, National's failure!

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More than 300,000 children in New Zealand now suffer from income related poverty according to the Children's Commissioner. This is 45,000 children more than what was documented in his previous report a year ago and brings the poverty percentage up from 24% of children to 29%. We are almost at the point when 1 out of every 3 children lives in an income deprived household.

The future of our society and our economy is dependent on the support we provide oncoming generations and yet a growing proportion are starting life in environments that are detrimental to their health and development. The first five years of life practically determine a child's future and serious respiratory illness or rheumatic fever in the early years generally results in a life time disability.

There is also a connection between poverty and domestic violence and in 2014 there were 102,000 family violence investigations (up 7% from 2013). On average the police are being called out to a family violence incid…

False fears used to justify the unjustifiable

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The level of threat to New Zealand of a terrorist attack is currently considered 'low', this has changed from the 'very low' level of threat that existed before the ISIS (or Daesh) crisis in Syria and Iraq.

Our involvement with the Five Eyes alliance has been partly justified because of the potential threat of a Daesh connected terrorist attack and the SIS has been consistent in telling us that there are 40 people on their watch list that they consider potentially dangerous. The Prime Minister and the SIS refuse to divulge the criteria used to define what they consider dangerous and given they have had people on their watch list in the past who were no threat at all makes me doubt the real danger they pose. Green MP Keith Lock was spied on from the age of 11 years (and as an MP) only because of his family's and his own political views.

It is clear that the Prime Minister wants to ramp up the feeling of threat from possible terrorism. When SIS Director Rebecca Kitt…

NZ Police Politicised and Corrupt

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I recently had a long chat to a local policeman who will remain nameless because of his vulnerability if it was ever revealed that he had spoken out about the day to day realities of frontline policing. He explained to me about the management heavy structure, the shortage of frontline police, the poor performance of centralised communication systems and the frustration of losing the community policing approach that used to work. I was also told that the records they contribute to are managed so that the statistics look good for their superiors and fit with Government targets.

This policeman hated mental health callouts, he had no training to deal with those suffering from mental health events and was uncomfortable about the physicality of their management. Mental health sufferers were often locked up in cells as if they were criminals as secure mental health facilities are in short supply. He also explained how many of the offenders he was having to deal with were the product of fail…

NZ Government policy reflects those who make it.

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I am privileged. I was was lucky to grow up in a supportive and loving family. I inherited genes that provided me with good health and the ability to gain a tertiary qualification. Because I am male, European and heterosexual I have suffered few prejudices or barriers to achieving what I have in life. I live in a relatively affluent neighbourhood, my children are successful and my wife and I are still married after almost 23 years (and she still tolerates me). We own our home and can afford the essentials of life without worrying about our income, life is good.

Those elected to government roles, both locally and nationally reflect my background. The majority are aged between 45 and 65 years, are European, well educated, relatively affluent and few have experienced real hardship. Most of us believe we got here through our own abilities and hard work. Our experiences of this country are a reflection of our affluence and the communities we live and operate in. If we remain within these …

National and the art of distraction

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The failure of this National Government to properly address the big issues confronting this country is surfacing in numerous reports. However, the massively resourced spin machine, supported by Crosby Textor influenced strategies, has successfully managed bad press since 2008 and continues to be effective despite the following:
A damning CYFs report from the Children's Commissioner revealed that the state was often a worse carer than the abusive families many children were being removed from. According to Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft, 83% of those in prison under the age of 20 have have a care and protection order with Child, Youth and Family. The Citizens Advice Bureau have reporting a doubling of enquiries for emergency accommodation since 2010 (over 3,000 this year) as Government departments failed to help.An Education Review Office report on infants and toddlers revealed that almost half of early child education centres were not meeting the developmental needs of…

Sarah Dowie's Climate Spin

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Invercargill's National MP, Sarah Dowie responded to a letter to the paper from P Burrows who had criticised the Government's record on climate change. Here are some quotes from Dowie's letter that was pure spin:
"This Government is committed to act on climate change which is why we're continuing with the ETS and why we've set a target to reduce greenhouses gas emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030."
"We believe the target is fair and ambitious."
"We've taken a balanced approach to setting the target without adding unreasonable costs to NZ households"
This is my response published today: 
MP Sarah Dowie’s letter (November 19) to The Southland Times was clearly an attempt to hide the dirty reality of her Government’s shameful record regarding climate change.

Most European countries are already on track to make a 30% reduction in emissions by 2030 (from the 1990 base line) and they have a goal to lift that to 40%. New Zealand …

Paris Reflections

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I have gone through a range of emotions after hearing about the 129 terrorist inflicted deaths in Paris. Paris may be on the other side of the world but I have French friends, I spent time in Paris relatively recently and my wife and son flew into Amsterdam the day after it occurred. I have some strong personal connections with the place and people and I found the news disturbing.

I was reminded of the dilemma my wife and I had when visiting her family in England and we were due to arrive in London with our children the day after the tube bombings. 52 people were killed and 700 injured in those explosions. We made the decision to continue with our plans with view that security will be much tighter and it was unlikely that there would be a repeat. However, it was a difficult decision to make and it rattled our feelings of security and made us look forward to returning to Invercargill where such things are unlikely to occur.

Many feel the horror of a "civilised" country suffe…

Beyond Embarrassing

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My unabridged letter to the Southland Times after realising how much is reported overseas regarding our internal politics:

When I first travelled overseas many years ago I was proud to proclaim my identity as a New Zealander. In those days we were respected as a principled country that championed human rights. Back then Australians and New Zealanders recognised and valued our shared history and our ANZAC relationship meant something.
How far we have fallen.
My European and American friends now know that our Prime Minister urinates in the shower and has an unusual attraction to long hair (why should this be public knowledge?).
We were once known as a great country for bringing up children but the OECD ranks us as 29th out of 30 countries for child health and safety (below Mexico).
When many countries are opening their doors to growing numbers of desperate refugees, New Zealand is ranked 90th in the world for the numbers we accept per capita.
Our Australian neighbours are not treating us…

How low can Key go?

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The Prime Minister's performance in the House on Tuesday reached a new low when he accused the Labour of supporting "rapists, child molesters and murderers". After a question from Marama Davidson regarding Australia's breaches of human rights he even acccused Davidson and the Greens of similar: "If those members want to protect sex offenders, rapists and murderers, go ahead".

It seems that the Prime Minister is happy to ignore issues of human rights if it is expedient to do so. While claiming to have voiced concerns about the detaining and deportation of New Zealanders for historical crimes to Tony Abbot at an earlier meeting, it doesn't appear that he expressed them very strongly. Key keeps repeating the fact that those being held in detention on Christmas Island are criminals despite the fact that many are being deported for historic crimes where a sentence was served and there has been no reoffending since.

John Key and and human rights are not a na…

The cost of Bill's surplus still hurting.

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Bill English is a clever man, through an economic sleight of hand he produced the holy grail, a budget surplus. This was celebrated as a worthwhile achievement since the tax cuts for the wealthy had reduced the Government's income considerably (tax revenue plummeted from $44 billion in 2008 to $33 billion a few years later). It needed budget trimming and austerity measures in many areas and increasing revenue from other sources (like SOE dividends, more speeding tickets and borrowing $50 billion) to ensure the rich could continue enjoying their windfall.

The cost of the budget surplus is being paid for in other ways:

Health
Hospitals are not able to function when funding doesn't keep up with population growth, a greater percentage of elderly and exploding diabetes rates. The Southland District Health Board has a commissioner to force through more cuts to live within an impossible population based funding regime and the Canterbury Health Board has had to get a $15 million top up

Southland Sun Supplies Solar Success

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MP Gareth Hughes visited Invercargill on Friday and he spent the time visiting a business and a number of homes that rely on solar energy as their main power source. He has been seeking support for his private members' bill that is only one vote away (Peter Dunne) from going on to a select committee.

Gareth's Bill involves a small amendment to the Electricity Industry Act that will empower the Electricity Authority to independently set a fair price for electricity buyback for small scale electricity generation connected to the grid. The cost of installing a solar system has dropped about by about 33% over the last two years while electricity prices have increased by around 25%. As the the support for photovoltaic homes and businesses increases dramatically (World Solar alone has installed solar systems on 200 Southland homes over the past 17 months) electricity companies have been cutting buyback rates and deliberately holding up paper work and meter installation.

If electricit…

Government of Water Down and Trickle Up

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It has been revealed that the Government rejected official advice to set tougher targets to deal with child obesity. The decision to take a soft approach to deal with rising child obesity should be no surprise to those concerned with public health and welfare as this has occurred numerous times in the past. This Government clearly puts private profit and unrestricted markets ahead of the general welfare of New Zealanders with the resulting burden being placed on our health and welfare systems and even our environment.

The Law Commission provided the Government with a number of recommendations about the sale and advertising of alcohol and the most potentially influential elements were left out of the final bill because of the lobbying of the powerful liquor industry. The Government weakened the work of the Problem Gambling Foundation in their deal with Sky City and even tried to shut down the Foundation's work by shifting their funding to the Salvation Army. Labour's Emission …

"The environment can handle more"

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The first state of the environment report since 2007, "Environment Aotearoa 2015", has just been released and what it describes is nothing to celebrate. Basically most of New Zealand's environment is far from good, our rivers are pretty much stuffed, our farmland is largely compacted by too many cows and while nasty exhaust fumes from cars have been reduced, we have increasing levels of green house gasses. We have twenty species that have not been seen for over 20 years and pests such as possums and rats are causing devastation in our national parks. Our fish stocks may be reducing at a slower rate but then the acidity levels in the sea are increasing and we have a growing number of marine mammals and seabirds verging on extinction.

John Key's response, "The environment can handle more."

The following statements are reproduced from the report and I'm wondering why it reads differently on Planet Key:

"Land use and population growth have placed increa…