Posts

Showing posts from 2018

Invercargill's Deepening Housing Crisis

Image
There is an old saying that "to assume will make an ASS of U and ME" and this is so true of Invercargill and Southland's housing. Invercargill is experiencing a slow population growth compared to the rest of the country and house prices are amongst the lowest too. Add that to the facts that Invercargill's population was around 2,000 greater in 1980, 11 schools were closed in 2005 and the Southland Regional Development Strategy's key goal was to increase the region's population by 10,000 by 2025, it would be reasonable to presume that housing supply would not be an issue.

Given the city's relatively static population the National Government chose Invercargill as one of the cities to lead its state housing asset sell off in 2015. In the 1980s the region had over 800 state houses and after continuous divestment, the remaining 360 were to be sold to a private or NGO social housing provider. At that time only a handful of people in Invercargill were on Housin…

The United States has gone rogue!

Image
Under President Donald Trump (and his growing swamp of a government) the United States of America has now become a fully identifiable "rogue nation" that ignores basic human rights and international agreements.

While the US constitution provides protections for civil and political rights, these are often ignored when corporate and political interests are challenged. The defence of an individual's rights are often dependent on a person's cultural and racial identity or being able to afford access to legal process (and an effective legal team). The United States has been internationally criticised for its poor human rights record for some time and is worsening under Trump:
Least protections for workers in the developed world and is ranked alongside Iraq, Iran and Sierra Leone and Honduras. It systemically violates basic workers rights and slave or forced labour is commonplace. The top 1% have now captured 40% of the country's wealth. Criminalisation of homelessness…

It's not easy being Green and even harder being a Green Minister

Image
Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage was subjected to some angry comments from party members on social media after her decision to allow (in principle) a large Chinese water bottling company to purchase land to extend their plant. The decision by the Green Minister went against what the party had campaigned on and seemed incomprehensible for many. Media quickly published some of the angry responses and ex Green MP Sue Bradford predicts trouble ahead for the Party as Green Ministers find themselves between "a rock and a hard place" as decisions they are forced to make clash with Party policy.

This isn't the first time that Green Party members have reacted passionately to decisions made by their caucus. Giving up their questions to the opposition and supporting the waka-jumping bill for the first reading resulted in some internal anguish and articles in the Green Party magazine (Te Awa) from past MPs and members voicing opposing views.

I can understand why political com…

Trump's Shotgun Diplomacy Dominates

Image
Ignorance, arrogance, dishonesty and denial have dominated Donald Trump's presidency and his responses to school shootings epitomise this. Trump speaks tough, uses popularism to maintain support and ignores evidence.

His approach to world diplomacy is also a simplistic one, believing that he can bully other countries into submission through the strength of the US military (dramatically increasing military spending). Under Trump and Tillerson the top management of the State Department has been gutted by 60%. The military leads diplomacy now.

His solution for solving school shootings is similar to how he is dealing with global conflict, more guns (arm the teachers). In Trump's world there are the bad guys and the good guys (like in a B grade Western), with no shades of grey. Leading up to his election Donald Trump ardently supported the National Rifle Association (NRA) and has done so since (despite the mass shootings) with rallying speeches in support of gun rights. The fake n…

Banks Behaving Badly

Image
Australia's biggest banks have had their behaviour forensically exposed and a decade of major fraud has been revealed:
Lying to regulatorsFalsifying documentsTaking bribesExtracting fees from long dead customersRigging interest ratesEnabling money launderingProviding misleading financial adviceFailing to honour insurance claimsMistreating small business ownersIssuing dodgy mortgages with incomplete documentation The "big four" that dominate 80% of Australia's Banking, also dominate here: ANZ, Westpac, NAB (BNZ) and the  the Commonwealth Bank of Australia owns ASB. Westpac is used for the majority of our government's banking needs. While all of these have an Australian owned parent company the New Zealand operations have local CEOs and they manage their banking activities within our regulatory frameworks. 
When asked by Stuff for reassurance, our banks claim they are transparent and honest players and Commerce Minister Kris Faafoi believes that the extreme behavio…

Dire Predictions for NZ Green Party...

Image
One thing that I have learned about politics over many years is that it always lives in a microcosm of ignorance that has little connection or reference to the past. Very few political commentators use historical perspectives on which to base their opinions and the media generally prefers extreme and emotional reactions to those that are more measured and circumspect.

The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand has just elected Marama Davidson as its third ever Female Co-leader since the Party began in 1990. Here is a sample of the reactions to this news from mainstream media:

"The Greens swing left with Marama Davidson in the co-pilot seat" - Henry Cooke

"Expect fireworks with Marama Davidson Elected Green co-leader", "...a radical social justice warrior..." - Kate Hawkesby

"All they'll be is a far-left party that condones beneficiary fraud and wants to make it easier to stay on the dole", Why the Green Party will be gone in a decade - Heather…

NZ Politics, a rocky road ahead.

Image
After almost a decade under a National government we are now experiencing the inevitable adjustment period as a new government begins to assert itself and shape its work plan.

All those who received preferential treatment from the previous Government will be suffering from withdrawal symptoms. National's "old boy" networks have been well established throughout business communities and the individuals it placed on various influential boards and committees. It had an open door approach to big business lobbyists and investors with money and it's willingness to limit or remove regulation was appreciated by them. Even right wing commentators like Matthew Hooton voiced concern at the level of corporate welfare that was naively supported by Key and Joyce. The changing of the guard and dismantling National's human infrastructure will be a messy business as many will object to losing their past influence and business opportunities. These people have the resources and med…

"Being a mum is not a job!"

Image
Mark Richardson, a former New Zealand cricketer and media personality, has made a valuable contribution by asking the "frilly undie crowd" to "shut up listen" to his latest attempt at mansplaining motherhood and parenting.

"Being a mum is not a job," he claimed.

Richardson acknowledged that it was hard work but had the view that it is simply a fact of life and what we have to do, but can't be considered a job.

I can understand his flawed reasoning that being a mum does not fit the normal definitions of a job: there is no formal employment process to take it on; no job description provided; no agreement to sign; no holidays or sick days provided and it certainly isn't automatically paid. However, by not viewing it as a job and a hugely valuable one at that, it has meant that it has little status or recognition. There is no training or qualifications needed to be a mother and it generally isn't considered useful to include on a CV under 'wor…

Climate Change Just Got Personal

Image
Over ten years ago (2007) I organised a symposium on climate change to support a Climate Change Tour being conducted by the Green Co-leaders at the time, Jeanette Fitzsimons and Russel Norman. It was Norman who fronted at the Invercargill meeting and he was supported by his young staff member Gareth Hughes. We had over 40 attendees, including representatives from local councils and a scientist from NIWA, who also spoke. For many of those attending, the information they received was largely new to them.

At that time the reality of climate change and its human causes were still being debated in homes around the country. Nothing substantial was really being done ten years ago, but the fifth Labour Government had passed the Climate Change Response Act in 2002 to provide a legal framework for ratifying the Kyoto agreement and to meet obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. In 2008, just before the end of their term, the Labour Government established th…