Showing posts from April, 2013

Electricity Supply, Jane Clifton is Right.

I have been very critical of Jane Clifton in the past, especially her determined effort not to give any attention to the Green Party in her columns. I am impressed, however, with her most recent offering "Power Politics" in the latest Listener.  Clifton has written a balanced and largely accurate overview of our current situation regarding our power supply, the dynamics within the industry and possible solutions. Probably without realising it, she even supports a core element of the Green's last election campaign.

Clifton rightly blames both National and Labour Governments for turning a blind eye to the failure of the Bradford model because they were, "...only too happy to hook out strapping dividends from the companies, effectively an extra tax on power consumers". She goes on to describe National's current stance as, "...trying, straight-facedly, to argue that New Zealanders haven't been overcharged. If you were to inspect their hands you'd …

Crutch Kicking a Crippled Education Profession

My wife is a GP and they are described as "Specialists in General Practice". This is not a fancy way of puffing up their importance, but recognition for needing a broad understanding of medicine and managing the health needs of a range of people. It is not a failure nor an issue of competence when they have to refer a patient to a specialist with a specific area of expertise. A general practitioner cannot be expected to know everything when diagnosis and treatment becomes more complex.

It is the same with teaching. Classroom teachers are classroom specialists, they have broad curriculum knowledge but can hardly be expected to have a degree related to each of the eight Learning Areas. Classroom teachers may also have children in their class with high learning needs, major disabilities or severe behaviour problems but can't be expected to be knowledgeable or experienced in managing all possibilities. Like GPs, teachers need specialist support and timely professional devel…

Anzac Day Reflections 2013

This Anzac Day I happened to be in Hampden while returning from a family tramp in the Abel Tasman. There didn't appear to be a dawn parade but I walked to the Hampden cenotaph anyway and contemplated the lists of lost soldiers from the Great Wars. There were almost twenty lost from this small seaside community in World War 1.

This was the place where my maternal grandfather retired from farming. He had been a sergeant in WW1 and was gassed. I have a photo of him convalescing in England. My grandfather is lying in a wheeled bed and is surrounded by wounded soldiers, some holding crutches. I have seen many monuments from communities the size of Hampden (or smaller) and realize that my grandfather was actually one of the lucky ones.

While war is terrible, and causes great grief for many families, there are some positive elements to having to endure great adversity. Women in both wars had to take on what were traditionally male roles and this helped bring about greater equality and g…

Electricity Joint Solution

Despite assurances from this Government that they have taken control of electricity price rises, my experience is different. Even after installing a solar hot water system to our house I haven't seen a dramatic change in our power bill because the cost of power continues to rise.

The Minister for Energy, Simon Bridges, claims that in a competitive market customers can shop around to get a better deal but he obviously hasn't suffered the hassles involved in changing from one provider to another. He also can't expect elderly people to continually negotiate the internet to review and compare power prices.

Consumers have had to pay 19% more for electricty while under this John Key led Government, around $300 extra for each household. Power bills in New Zealand have also increased by 70% over the last 20 years, well above the rate of inflation. The competitve model hasn't worked and although we have abundant sources of cheap energy, and a small population, ou…

Marriage Bill Displayed Parliament at its Best

I listened (until a late hour) to all the speeches to the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. I was impressed by many who I wouldn't normally support, such as John Banks, who presented reasoned, rational arguments. I was impressed by almost all speakers from all sides of the house and even those who spoke against the bill. I appreciated the way that Jonathan Young graciously accepted that he was in the minority. I was moved by the references to those who had pioneered the way to this day and had endured some appalling treatment in doing so. This was Parliament at its best.

If only we could remember this moment where party politics were forgotten and MPs voted according to their conscience and their core values. Where  economic considerations and restrictive budgets were set aside and the focus was purely on what was just and fair. It is wonderful that this process was used to give our GBLTI community the equality, justice and recognition they have dreamed of for eon…

Lapdogs and Cronyism

Blogger Ele Ludemann has expressed concern at the opposition from the "left-wing sisterhood" to the recent appointments of Dame Susan Devoy and National MP Dr Jackie Blue to important commissioner roles. In her post, So much for supporting women, she states: "These women can't see past their left-wing bias to celebrate the success of another woman."

I am a male teacher in a profession dominated by women and even though I would like to have more male colleagues, it is actually the ability of the teacher to do the job rather than gender that is most important. While I still desperately want to see greater gender balance in our profession, because it will deliver greater quality to our system, all teachers still need to be good teachers. We need to attract more able men into teaching by making it a more attractive profession rather than just giving preference to male applicants who want to train.

In the case of Dame Susan and Dr Jackie Blue, while both are women,…

GCSB, John Key and Don Quixote

Prime Minister John Key is nothing more than a suit wearing Don Quixote fighting against imagined threats and enemies. He paints a dire picture of security threats in New Zealand involving the construction of weapons of mass destruction, cyber attacks and espionage. Consequently he wants to give the GCSB the legal capacity to spy on New Zealand citizens and residents. I claim to have no detailed knowledge of the day to day business of our spy agencies, nor the real value of the work that they are involved with, but I do feel that there is enough evidence to cast doubt on giving further powers to a such dysfunctional institutions (if we accept the findings of the Ketteridge report).

John Key himself operates in a business and political world where the end justifies the means and good process is something you only have to do when people are watching. It is a world where there is corporate jostling for increased market shares and governments scrambling for positions of influence through…

Green Credibility Rises As National's Plummets

The National led Government's credibility is leaking out as rapidly as the private information that is flowing from our government departments. National Ministers now spend much of their time trying to distance themselves from poor decisions and endless privacy breeches. It is becoming obvious that most of the Government's solutions to our nation's problems have been ill-conceived and will be unsustainable:
Spending $12 billion on motorways will not reduce traffic congestion in central Auckland.Mining coal in National parks will not lead to great prosperity.Forcing people out of benefits and into low paid, casual work will not lift families out of poverty.Turning our education system into one based on data collection and business models won't serve the needs of our most vulnerable learners.Opening our country to overseas corporates so that even more profits and dividends leave our shores will not provide us with economic resilience. Spying on private citizens to suppor…

Marching in Invercargill to Support Our Kids and Our Schools

We had a well supported march in Invercargill today in support of our schools and children. The sun shone, the bagpiper played, cars tooted, people shouted support from the footpaths and we had some spirited chanting. We ended up in Wachner Place for a brief speech and a free sausage.

My speech:

Greenies, Watermelons and Communists

A letter in the Southland Times reflected what I hear a number of people saying, but it was so extreme that I wondered if it was intended as satire.  I wrote a reply anyway.

The original letter:

Shell in Southland

I attended Shell's invitation only meeting in Invercargill a day after their protestor disrupted one in Dunedin. Police were standing outside, but the guests here were more restrained and one attendee made a point of saying to Shell's exploration manager, Rolund Spuij, that he was welcome in Invercargill. 
Communications Manager Victoria Dias, Environmental Planner Phil Weymss and Eploration Manager Rolund Spuij
I actually have no problem with the actions of the protestors in Dunedin, while I don't think it is always the way we should engage with others it does send a clear message to Shell that there are people here who are aware of their real environmental record (the symbolic elephant in the room) and that they are being watched. While Shell may indeed have one of the better current safety and environmental records of the major oil companies, they are actually just one of the least damaging of a particularly environmentally disastrous industry. Like most profit driven e…

John Key Is No Prime Minister

An honorable Prime Minister respects the position.

A competent Prime Minister would remember important details regarding the country's security and important appointments that they were involved with.

A compassionate Prime Minister wouldn't do deals that negatively impacts on some communities or sections of our society for financial gain.

A fair and just Prime Minister would not favour the already wealthy above others.

A visionary Prime Minister would support decisions and policy that will be sustainable in the long term.

A diplomatic Prime Minister would not make flippant comments on the world stage.

A respectful Prime Minister will address others respectfully, even if he/she disagrees with what they say.

A peaceful Prime Minister would not lead our country into unnecessary wars.

An astute Prime Minister would follow good process.

A morally aware Prime Minister would expect high ethical standards from his/her Ministers.

An informed Prime Minister wouldn't dismiss the wor…