Showing posts from March, 2015

National's Bulldozer Lurches Onwards

The National Government barely paused after their humiliating by-election loss in Northland. In his normal cavalier and dismissive manner Key shrugged off the defeat, "so I got it wrong on that one, but that's the way it goes." He immediately dropped National's bulldozer down a gear and lurched forward again.

Although National have recently been claiming that the changes to the RMA were the crucial component to solving our housing crisis, it seems they were being disingenuous. As soon as it was clear that the Government no longer had the numbers to weaken the environmental protections within the Act, the plans were promptly ditched. The speed of the reversal emphasises the fact that there were few convincing arguments to support the changes in the first place. If they were so crucial for the development of low cost housing one would have expected a more determined fight.

Rather than dwell on yet another failure National just thumbed their noses at the thousands of e…

Northland speaks and National still isn't listening.

Steven Joyce was interviewed on Q & A about the heavy loss National had experienced in the Northland by-election. He was challenged by Corin Dann regarding the Government's neglect of the regions. Joyce was adamant that Northland was unique and what it really needed was improved infrastructure such as roads and broadband. Joyce has a narrow, blinkered view of the world that is informed by his corporate bias and passion for roads and sadly the election defeat didn't remove his blinkers or open his eyes.

I spent a few days near Kaitaia a couple of years ago (while attending an education conference) and was able to tour the area and listen to people at the forefront of education, health and welfare. Poverty can be seen everywhere in Northland, it is evident in the housing, the health statistics and stories from local doctors like Lance O'Sullivan.

Schools struggle to meet the diverse needs of the mainly Maori communities and while there seems to be ample money to support …

One bridge too far and one house too many

The National Government has been aware of some major issues for many years. Northland's poverty and substandard infrastructure was apparent when they first came to power in 2008 and National Ministers were given clear advice about the social housing shortage at the same time. However, the priorities for this Government have never been shaped by the advice it has been given but the agenda that it came with. Lower taxes for the rich, less regulation for businesses, more flexibility for employers and lots of new motorways to enable the growing numbers of luxury cars to travel freely.

This Government does not see supporting our most vulnerable families and children as one of its key roles and it has generally tried to shift that responsibility to the private sector and voluntary organisations. The provision of early childhood centres in less affluent communities (to enable parents to return to work) was made into a business opportunity and voluntary organisations and corporates were …

It's a man's world, mind the gaps...

James Brown's songIt's a Man's Man's Man's World simply describes a global reality. Our economic systems and the tools and machines we use on a daily basis have been largely generated by men. The values that dominate most of the world are also male ones. This is especially true of our current Government that is very male heavy, out of the current 59 National MPs only 16 are female and only 6 in the top 20.

There is a clear difference between the previous Labour Government and this one when you look at the the influence of women. Under Helen Clark more women were able to attain leadership roles and in 2004 we were ranked 4th in the world for female representation in business management. Under National the reverse has happened we are now in the bottom twelve in the world. Over the past year alone we plummeted 13 places and now only 19% of businesses have women in senior roles.

The lack of women in management is nothing to do with ability but a combination of being in…

What Should Our Politicians Know?

The first televised debate between the four contestants for the co-leadership of the Greens occurred on The Nation this morning and I thought all came across as capable potential leaders. What tripped most of them up were specific economic questions on things like the current Official Cash Rate (OCR) or our economic growth over the last quarter. For a potential leader of any party to have some economic credibility it would have helped to have been able to answer these questions with a little more accuracy. The panel commenting on the debate were pretty scathing about the lack of economic knowledge and it made me think about what our political leaders should actually know and understand.

Economic facts and figures can be quickly learned (and probably should have been) but surely it is more important to have a deeper understanding of how economies operate and how they can best be managed? All of the candidates did show an understanding of wider economic issues and had clear points to m…

Teachers Take the Initiative with a Better Plan

My most viewed post on this blog is the one where I listed the many things this Government has done that have had a negative impact on our education system. The Destruction of New Zealand's Public Education Systemwill shortly have 50,000 views and has been republished on a number of other blogs. The damage done to school cultures and teaching and learning through National Standards has been documented in Martin Thrupp's internationally recognised  qualitative research.

Teachers are about to have their professional body, The New Zealand Teachers Council, replaced by EDUCANZ which will no longer have representatives appointed by teachers and political appointees will lead the profession from now on. With the introduction of the Government's Investment into Education Success (IES) the leadership of our schools will be answerable to the Ministry before their local communities. The Government has successfully removed the professional voice from the leadership of the education …

Are the Greens really on the extreme left?

The Green Party's place on the left/right political continuum seems to be part of an ongoing media debate and it appears that our choice of male leader will be another indication of our positioning. According to Chris Trotter the moderates within the party have effectively shut out the true left. I have been an active Green Party member for over ten years and yet I have never seriously anguished over where we should be on a political spectrum and have always just focused on our principles and core policies.

If you talked to a range of people regarding their definition of what is meant by the left and right of politics you will get as many different responses as the people you ask. John Key would say that the Greens represent the extreme left and this is really political spin. He is attempting to label the Greens as a political outlier that doesn't support mainstream or proven solutions. This is patently nonsense when his own Government is more likely to disregard the advice f…

Invercargill Marched Against the TPPA

Some images from Invercargill's TPPA march today. We do things differently down here, no chanting, we just sang our national anthem in recognition of the potential loss of our sovereignty if the agreement is signed. If the feeling against the agreement is this strong in the Deep South, the Government should take note!

Bluff photographer Monica Toretto is responsible for the great images.

Pretty Legal Employment Relations

Steven Joyce's unfortunate comment (ridiculed by television host John Oliver) actually sums up the way our National Government operates. As long as it's "pretty legal" it's "worth a crack".

This Government has always operated with a broken moral compass and the revelation that the GCSB has been using mass surveillance to spy on our Pacific neighbours is just the latest example. Time and time again legislation has been passed (often under urgency) to pave the way for even greater erosions of human rights, and to limit reasonable protections for ordinary people. The United Nations has made 155 recommendations to our Government to address human rights and to protect our most vulnerable. The fact that the number of recommendations has increased by 65 since 2009 passed largely without notice.

The level of moral corruption in our Government has possibly been too much for some. Simon Power was widely liked across all parties for the transparent and collegial …

I Do Not Trust You, Mr Key!

I do not trust you, John Key

I do not trust your Ministers and your Government to make decisions in the best interests of all New Zealanders.

I do not trust your secretly negotiated deals with SkyCity or with the TPPA.

I do not trust your ability to stand up for us and our Pacific neighbours to stop mass surveillance through the Five Eyes.

I do not trust your moral compass when you use the power of your office to squash opposition and manipulate important debates.

I do not trust your reasons for sending our people into a war zone.

I do not trust your choice of clubs that you have sworn loyalty to.

I do not trust your advisors above the scientists and professionals that you ignore.

I do not trust your hands off approach to leadership where nothing appears to be your responsibility.

I do not trust your empty promises to the Pike River families, the homeless and our children living in poverty.

I do not trust you, Mr Key!

A Luddite Led National Government

The development of new knowledge and technology is growing at a faster rate than ever before and successful businesses generally have to remain at the cutting edge of their industries to survive. We are now operating in a global, interconnected economy where new products are becoming available almost faster than consumers can track.

New Zealand invests around half as much into research and development than most OECD countries. Despite minimal backing Kiwi innovation still bubbles out of our inventive minds and attains global significance. Sumsung's latest Galaxy S6 smartphone has been made compatible to a wireless charger developed by the New Zealand Company Powerbyproxi and the revolutionary rocket technology developed by Rocket Lab is being backed by US aerospace giant, Lockheed Martin. With the increasing availability of 3D printing, product design and the place of manufacture will become more separated. Having the technology to manufacture something is worthless unless it has…