Showing posts from April, 2015

ANZACs, Cultivated Nationalism and Selective Morality

My grandfather on my mother's side fought in World War One and was gassed in France. He survived the war but never enjoyed robust health and struggled as a farmer. My grandmother lost her younger and only brother in WW2.  A great uncle on my father's side was considered a war hero in the Pacific Islands during WW2. Like most families in New Zealand I have strong family connections to both wars and while I feel it is important to remember the suffering and sacrifices involved, I didn't attend any of the 100 year ANZAC Commemoration services. I am concerned about a degree of manipulation of the history of our involvement in the Great Wars that unnecessarily glorifies our country's part in them.

There has been an element of the 100 year commemoration that has developed into a celebration of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign as the catalyst for creating a sense of nationhood that apparently cut us from Britain's apron strings. This has involved the creation of the ANZ…

Frana Cardno, A Great Green Mayor

Frana Cardno passed away on Thursday after tragically being diagnosed with cancer last year. She was New Zealand's longest consectively serving Mayor, having served the Southland District in that capacity from 1992 to 2013 (21 years). She was first elected as a Southland District Councillor in 1989.

My first personal contact with Frana was as the Green Party spokesperson for Invercargill when I received phone call from her early one morning. Frana was very concerned about the potential damage to Fiordland National Park through the proposed Milford/Dart Tunnel and the monorail scheme. We talked for some time as she sounded me out regarding my knowledge of the issues and my commitment to doing something about them. She also wanted to know what the Green Party could do. I could imagine Frana having similar conversations with many other people as she attempted to establish prospective allies and galvanise support for any future action.

Meetings were held in Te Anau that led to the Sav…

Five more reasons why John Key should resign

Towards the end of last year I listed five very good reasons why John Key should resign, here are five more compelling ones that have transpired since:
Whether he has an actual problem with touching hair or not, it is a clear invasion of personal boundaries and human rights to continually touch someone after they made it clear that the contact was unwelcome. It is also harassment while at work and abuse of privilege if Key gets away with the behaviour. The incident has also caused international embarrassment. John Key is sending troops into a war zone with no parliamentary consensus and he couldn't even name the enemy. It appears that our Prime Minister is doing what he has been asked to do by a larger power and has not actually ensured he has been fully briefed on the situation himself. The Prime Minister does not have a leadership style nor has built a parliamentary culture that ensures he is well informed. He should have known about Mike Sabin's situation was well before he…

Growing poverty and the stagnation of Invercargill CBD

The Southland Times had a front page article bemoaning the growing number of empty shops in the central city and listed a number of possible reasons, however not one was about the dropping spending power of most workers, families and beneficiaries. 
This was my response:

The Editor The Southland Times

Dear Sir

It surprises me that one of the most influential reasons leading to a growth of empty shops in Invercargill’s CBD never got a mention in the front page article (April 20). Obviously not one single reason can be highlighted as the cause of commercial stagnation in our city centre, and many valid reasons were listed, but surely the spending power of the city must also be considered a factor.
New Zealand has had a ‘rock star’ economy since at least 2011. The past four years have seen our richest increase their wealth by around 10% to 30% a year. At the same time there has been almost no trickling down from the wealth generated by our booming economy and most wage earners have been lucky …

The end of journalism as a public service?

The possible axing of Campbell Live has sparked another debate about the role of journalism in New Zealand and the conflict between public service and commercial interests. There has been a steady erosion of robust and informative main stream media (MSM) journalism in New Zealand over the past decade or so. I believe this is partly because of advances in technology, but mostly a shift in values and priorities for our news and current events providers.

I have seen a decline in news reporting and journalism in Invercargill over the last thirty years and it has been especially noticeable over the last two elections. The Southland Times has existed since 1862 and still operates from the same building it built in 1908. It was once a family owned business and did all its own printing. It is now owned by the Australian Corporation, Fairfax, and is printed in Dunedin. Staff numbers have been cut to the extent that the 107 year old building is probably bigger than its staff require and journa…

Some Worrying Numbers...

55 Maui's Dolphins left and the Government has opened up 25% of their sanctuary for oil exploration.

14.6C the average temperature for 2014, the hottest on record and 0.69C above the 20th Century average.

99 M3+ earthquakes in central and eastern United States between 2009 and 2013. There were only 21 between 1973 and 2008 and the number and severity of earthquakes is increasing. While the oil industry is claiming there is no proven relationship between the increase in earthquakes and the increase in fracking, there is evidence that says otherwise.

$182 million loss posted for Solid Energy for 2014, down from $335 million in 2013. The SOE still owes $300 million to various banks that was due to be paid off by 2016. The Chairwoman Pip Dunphy has resigned because she believes the company is not viable, but Bill English thinks otherwise.

$1.9 million a year to help feed hungry children($9.5 million over 5 years).

$1 million budgeted to cover annual travel perks for retired MPs.

4th year of…

Invercargill to become New Zealand's Capital City

At a specially called press conference this morning, Prime Minister John Key announced that Invercargill was to become New Zealand's new capital. The news was unexpected as there had been no awareness that moving the capital was even being considered.

Key explained the need for secrecy was necessary until the final decision was made because the Government realized that a more public process would have led to parochialism and potential friction between provinces.

"The decision needed to be based around the facts, important security considerations and future proofing the seat of government," Key stated.

A detailed press release was distributed and the following is a summary of the information provided:

Recent seismic research had led scientists to believe that a substantial earthquake on the Wairarapa Fault (at the level of 1855 quake) was imminent and the existing parliament buildings were at risk.

The Beehive building has proved problematic for some time and constructin…