Showing posts from January, 2013

Who is Hekia's Secret Education Advisor?

Official papers have revealed that the Government ignored both Treasury's and the Education Ministry's advice regarding the integration of a private school. Wanganui Collegiate  provides for around 420 pupils in an attractive, but exclusive Christian environment. It required $3.8 million dollars to bail it out and bring it into the state sector and will cost around $3 million a year to keep it open. Both Treasury and the Ministry were concerned at both the cost of the bailout and the damage that will be done to the existing state schools where there are already 1400 empty places. The Government, the Minister and the Ministry claim that their main education priority is lifting the achievement of Maori and Pasifika children and yet this government has pulled out all stops to support a small group of privileged children. The package works out at about $9,000 dollars per student and considerably more than the yet to be delivered extra assistance they promised for struggling

The Feral Rich Are Destroying Our Civilised Society

The latest New Internationlist has published statistics regarding the world's wealthy and the increasing divide between rich and poor. They refer to the "Feral Rich" and ask, "what can we do to stop them?" 8% of the world's population own 82% of its wealth. There are now 180 more billionaires than before the global financial crash. The world's richest man is Carlos Slim and his total wealth is $69 billion (the New Zealand Government's annual income is 70 billion). The world's richest woman is Australian mining heiress Gina Rinehart. She is worth $28 billion and she has $52 million a day to survive on. The average household wealth in the world declined by 5.2% over the last year. The 400 richest Americans have a combined wealth of $1.7 trillion In 1980 the average US CEO earned 42 times as much as the average worker and by 2012 this had skyrocketed to 380 times. The top rate of US income tax in 1980 was 70% and in 2012 it was 35%. Mi

John Key's Housing Solutions

I have said a number of times that I wish we had a Clarke and Dawe in New Zealand to poke fun at the extraordinary thinking exhibited by our National led Government. If we did we could see something like this (only Clarke would obviously do it better)... Interviewer, Greg Floyd : Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Prime Minister, so soon after returning from your holiday. PM, John Key : Aloha, Greg, its good to be back. I was actually getting a little bit tired of constant sun, swimming and socialising with Hollywood moguls. I would have returned even earlier, but the body guards seemed to be having so much fun. Greg : You took your diplomatic security squad with you on holiday? PM : Not the full squad, only ten of them this time. The opposition made such a fuss about the blowout in their budget I had to cut their numbers this year. A bit sad really as we regard them as part of our family and they do a great job of keeping our kids entertained by letting them play

Shaping Southland's Future Without Lignite

The last 12 months has seen a lot of water flow under the bridge and not just because we have had more than our fair share of rain over the last few weeks. A year ago we held the first Leave the Coal in the Hole Summer Festival  and the situation for both the Coal Action Network Aotearoa and Solid Energy couldn't be more different. Last year Solid Energy were poised to rip up the Mataura Valley and turn the area into one of the biggest industrial sites in New Zealand while the Coal Action Network was largely unknown and our camp was under heavy police and security surveillance. This year Solid Energy's ledgers are full of red ink and their first lignite venture (the briquetting plant) has gone through several managers and its completion is months behind schedule. Even the mining lobby organisation Straterra has suggested that the use of lignite is looking "less alluring" . The Coal Action Network and the local group Coal Action Murihiku (CAM) have establishe

Chris Trotter and the Mandate Word

Chris Trotter has written an opinion piece that was first published in a number of newspapers before being presented on his blog. In it he claims that the National led Government have a clear mandate to sell state assets. He has received enthusiastic support from rightwing bloggers who have been using similar arguments for some time. 
I believe that the Government has no mandate for the sale of state assets, neither politically nor morally. When I explained my point of view, which was largely based on one of my earlier posts on the same topic,  Trotter called my argument "specious in the extreme". I still stand by my view and find his arguments flawed. 
The word mandate, in the political sense, generally refers to the authority granted through democratic elections to govern. If a party that was elected into government after campaigning on a particular policy it is generally accepted that they have received mandate to implement it. This is basically the core of Tro

Our Degraded Estuaries

The lower part of the Waihopai River that is rapidly eutrophying, 3 hectares of eutrophic mud has become 123 hectares in the last 12 years.   The editorial in Saturday's Southland Times was an excellent one. The rapidly deteriorating state of our estuaries can't be ignored any longer. Eugenie Sage has already spent time looking first hand at the issue and talking to those who have the daunting responsibility of leading the rescue. However, it is the Government who should be making clean water an even greater priority and providing more support for struggling regional councils. If we are going to make a significant difference in the little time we have we need stronger national standards for water quality and more incentive for farmers to clean up their act. The editorial: Anyone who regards the warnings about Southland's sick estuaries as alarmist should take their head out of the sand and insert it into some of the eutrophic nastiness of Daffodil Bay.

No Real Men Left in NZ?

My son was offended by a letter to the Southland Times that suggested that the reason dairy farmers were having to employ workers from outside New Zealand was because there were no "real men" in New Zealand who were capable of manual labour. I thought my son's response was worth republishing on my blog as it also relates to the Green Party's recently released discussion paper on the ICT industry. I should note that there have been a number of letters also published in the Southland Times suggesting that dairy farmers will continue to struggle getting local workers when the pay and conditions they provide are generally very poor. After reading Mervyn Cave’s letter regarding idle youth (January 8) I had to double-check the date on my copy of The Southland Times. As it turns out, it was not 1963. In response to a shortage of manual labourers, he blames an “electronically castrated” generation of men, constantly “messing about on computers”. As a prod