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Old December 1st, 2008, 09:14 AM   #1
Milan Luka
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NZ | Politics Thread

Why the hell not!

Thought it about time to have our own little thread dedicated to NZ politics at all levels. Especially as we have just entered into a new era in domestic politics with the new government.

Lets go---- just remember even if you dont agree- everyones point of view is valid. And stay well behaved.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 09:32 AM   #2
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I have been wondering lately how hard it would be to start a political party that was really centrist that could say garner around 20% of the vote. Both Labour and National seem to have their factions and allies that pull them too far in either the left direction or right direction. What would the marketing tactics be for instance to attract 20% of the vote? The media seems to very much focus on the two main parties, so I guess it would require a community focus and the right PR to say, my party stands for policies that work, we won't be bounded by idealogy, the only idealogy that counts is that of the people we represent.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 10:14 PM   #3
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Labour and National have been so keen to occupy the centre in the last few years that I think you'd get totally squeezed. Just ask United Future.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 11:29 PM   #4
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Labour and National have been so keen to occupy the centre in the last few years that I think you'd get totally squeezed. Just ask United Future.
Yeah I suppose that is quite true. Maybe a centrist party isn't the right thing to aim for. What I should have said was how could another party gain support for 20% or even 10% of the vote? Would the Green party ever gain more than 10% I wonder?
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Old December 2nd, 2008, 12:15 AM   #5
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I think the Greens could become a 10-15% party. They probably need to balance their radicalism with a need to perhaps be a little 'less scary' to mainstream NZ a bit better. In a way I think it's quite healthy for the major parties to be fairly centrist - as it hopefully means that a change in government doesn't lead to huge lurches to the left and right every 3 years. Smaller parties can be a bit more 'hardcore' in their beliefs as they know they're going to be watered down in government agreement anyway.

National are proving to be a bit scarier than even I had anticipated though. Capping the number of state houses... terrible terrible policy when there are tens of thousands of desperate families on the waiting list for a Housing NZ property.
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Old December 2nd, 2008, 05:45 AM   #6
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For Shame...
by Tim Watkin

http://www.pundit.co.nz/content/for-shame

What do Nia Glassie's murderers, Mark Hotchin, and even the new government have in common? A lack of shame and obligation caused by being cut off from the wider community

When the murderers of Nia Glassie were sentenced last month, there was a lot of talk about shame. The three year-old's death was our nation's shame, the cul-de-sac where she lived and died was the street of shame, and the murderers' whanau has been left feeling "deep shame", according to kaumatua Toby Curtis.

But my mother's question stuck with me, as she watched television coverage of brothers Wiremu and Michael Curtis in court. "Where is their shame?", she asked.

Shame is a word and emotion that had a lot of power in western countries, through the second half of the 20th century at least. As we huddled together in small towns or moved to city suburbs after World War II, what the neighbours thought and 'keeping up with the Joneses' mattered. It has a long, strong tradition in Polynesian societies too.

That stigma has been eroded in recent times, and in many ways that's a good thing. If you watched Vera Drake on Sunday night on TVNZ, as I did, you saw a stark reminder of the damage too much shame can do. It was shame that meant young women with unwanted pregnancies couldn't talk about their misery or get safe help, it was shame that kept Drake's family from demanding better treatment from police and better justice from the courts, and it was shame – to some extent – that helped keep the whole oppressive British class system in place so long.

Thankfully, we have tried to become more tolerant and have recognised the corrupting power of shame's evil twin, guilt. We try to be more forgiving of human folly and flaws. But there's good reason to recall that shame has a useful as well as a destructive purpose. If there is no disgrace, no sense of obligation to something bigger than yourself, then anything goes. If it's all about self-gratification and there's no external reproach, what does it matter how you treat others?

In the Glassie case you might point to the way the toddler's father Glassie Glassie walked out on his family after cheating with another woman. Where was his shame? Nia's mother's life spiralled downwards after that, but what about her duty as a mother? Where was her shame? And Wiremu and Michael, and their father William, where was their shame? William, in court this week facing assault charges on Nia, has been described as a "castaway", while his sons had no work and little money, and so sat around most days bored and detached from the world.

They seem to have lacked a sense of community or empathy. They didn't belong to anything bigger than themselves, so how could they feel shame for letting anyone else down? And, to be fair, their community doesn't seem to have shown a heck of a lot of interest in them.

Either way, we have to recognise that some shame, some desire not to let down others, is part of the glue that holds communities and nations together. We can't all be controlled by an internal moral compass, so external obligations to others matter.

Changing social mores is the hardest thing for governments or leaders to do. But laws and actions do set standards, so you've got to wonder at Hanover Group co-owner Mark Hotchin's decision to celebrate his 50th birthday partying with 80 friends at an exclusive Fijian resort where rooms start at $1160 a night.

I'm not equating a thoughtless party with a thoughtless murder, but the comparison is worthy because it comes from the same place of detached self-interest. It shows that a lack of empathy exists both with the very poor and very rich, because both have become isolated from the social standards held by most of the people around them.

Hotchin and Hanover co-owner Eric Watson won praise for coughing up $96 million of their own money and assets to keep the company trading, but have such a callous disregard for their mum and dad investors that they can spend tens of thousands on a single party while those investors are left bereft. Where is their shame?

Surely having failed so many people who put their faith in them, they should be living more humbly than they used to, realising they have a responsibility to their community. But my guess is that they just see it as business. Like the Curtis brothers, they don't see the human tragedy behind their actions. They're so used to their privileges, they didn't see how insulting such a party would look to someone who's entire retirement savings have been frozen.

Look at Australian retail billionaire Gerry Harvey (Harvey Norman), who has said in a recent book that helping "no-hopers" such as homeless people is a waste of money. "You are helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason. They are just a drag on the whole community," he said. The obvious logic that more help for "no-hopers" such as the Curtis brothers might have saved a little girl's life seems to pass him by because he's living in a bubble of wealth.

And what about the directors of Hanover? Herald columnist Brian Gaynor launched a withering attack on them in the Weekend Herald, pointing out that "Hanover Finance paid dividends of $86.5 million in the two years ended June 2008 even though it had net earnings of only $54.5 million during this period". He continued:

How could the board, which consisted of [Greg] Muir, Hotchin, Sir Tipene O'Regan and Bruce Gordon (the latter two resigned on October 30), justify these huge dividends when it was patently clear that Hanover Finance was experiencing major liquidity problems?

Where is their shame?

And while we're at it, let's extend the question to government. We have obligations too to our planet and our children, yet one of the first things this government is going to do is rush through an amendment, under urgency, to delay putting a price on carbon. The government seems detached from the realities – that the British departure tax on travellers to New Zealand is only the beginning unless on climate change we are seen to be "part of the solution rather than the problem". Those are the very words used by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in their briefing to the incoming government released yesterday (Hat Tip: No Right Turn).

The government also seems to be ignoring its obligations to other nations, heading to the hugely important United Nations Climate Change conference in Poznan, Poland not with a solution to the complicated problem of how to cut emissions, but with the aim of trying to wriggle out of our responsibilities. Remember the first TVNZ debate when Key so effectively criticised Labour for fiddling on climate change and not actually enacting policies that actually cut our emissions and improved the climate? So much for those fine words.

Where, I'm left asking, is the shame?
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Old December 11th, 2008, 11:02 PM   #7
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Parliament has been sworn in already earlier this week which surprises me. I thought everything would close down until the new year.

Initially National is putting into place herceptin funding, changes to Kiwisaver and the new 90 day temporary employment trial for small businesses. I also am sure I heard they are scrapping the Buy NZ Made program.
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Old December 12th, 2008, 12:01 AM   #8
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What do people think of that 90 day trial? At first I was against it, but then apparently we're the only English speaking country that doesn't have such a policy. I do think it can be open to abuse in times of high unemployment though.
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Old December 12th, 2008, 01:49 AM   #9
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I am surprised that only us (and Denmark) don't have such a system in place. I'm not quite sure whether the timing is right and the justification for it makes sense though.... surely people are worried enough about keeping their jobs at the moment. And in terms of justification there are already opportunities for a 3 month trial period to take place (I know I had one when I first started working where I do) under the existing law.

I think my main concern is that it would be used by reduce the bargaining power of workers when they first start, and that would lead to lower pay, less chance of them joining a union or even Kiwisaver issues.
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Old December 12th, 2008, 02:47 AM   #10
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Section 67 of the Employment Relations Act provides for a probationary period if both the employee and employer agree to one. I don't know what is so different about the amendment that National passed.
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Old December 12th, 2008, 02:59 AM   #11
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I reckon.... that seems to be the same situation to what is proposed???
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Old December 12th, 2008, 03:35 AM   #12
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A week to make you weep
by Tim Watkin

http://www.pundit.co.nz/content/a-week-to-make-you-weep

The new government's first week in the House leaves the country less fair, less green and less democratic. Is this the change New Zealanders voted for?

When National MPs gather for Friday drinks this evening they will reflect on what's been at best a mixed first week for them on the Treasury benches. New Zealanders however will have no doubt how the week's gone – it's been a stinker.

The new government has looked decidedly wobbly on its training wheels, what with procedural mistakes in Parliament, its introduction of bills with no names and u-turns on housing and KiwiSaver policy. But MPs will be pleased that the speech from the throne has been delivered, Dr Lockwood Smith was elected Speaker unopposed, and Paula Bennett even won some headlines by axing a conference. It's a start.

But undertaking a line-by-line review of what the government has achieved this week, it's disappointing, dispiriting and more than a little shameful.Take a step back and consider what's been achieved this week:

Tax cuts have been passed that in the coming year give nothing to families earning under $45,000. Not a cent. (Although people in work but without children get $10 a week as "independent earners".)So much for National's promise in the speech from the throne to "take seriously its duty to protect our most vulnerable citizens". At a time when we want to boost the amount of money circulating in the economy, the people who spend the highest proportion of their income get no assistance. So, using Treasury figures, a person earning $40,000 gets nothing in 2009, nothing in 2010, and $5 a week in 2011. After three years they are $260 better off. A person earning $100,000 gets $24 a week in 2009, $34 a week in 2010, and $41 a week in 2011, leaving them $2160 better off after three years.

You're wondering what that means for the politicians passing the bill? No Right Turn has done the sums on how National MPs will benefit by April 2010, and says:

John Key (Prime Minister): Paid $393,000, so gets $8,660.
Bill English (Deputy Prime Minister): Paid $267,700, so gets $5,154.
Gerry Brownlee, Nick Smith, and other Cabinet Ministers: Paid $243,700, so get $4,674.

It's unfair and it's no way to stimulate an economy.

New Zealand's Emissions Trading Scheme has been put on hold, losing our exporters any competitive advantage they may have gained as world leaders. Energy minister Gerry Brownlee yesterday said "we are going to have an ETS", which Audrey Young says in the Herald is National "fourth position on the matter in the past six weeks". But it won't be for months. Next week, however, the government will repeal a law requiring oil companies to sell a proportion of biofuels. All this in the same week that US President-elect Barack Obama has announced that his new energy secretary will be Dr Steve Chu, currently head of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and one of the world's leading alternative energy experts. Chu has for the past two years been spending $500 million of BP's money to research how to lower emissions and find new sources of energy. Obama is expected to have ETS legislation ready within the year. While the rest of the world moves ahead, we instigate a review led by Peter Dunne.

A law that the Human Rights Commission has described as a "fundamental change" to labour laws is being passed through all stages under urgency. The government pretends the 90-day probation bill is a response to the financial crisis and rising unemployment, but they tried to pass a similar in 2006 when the economy was performing well and unemployment low. National was constantly critical of the previous government's arrogance and abuse of procedures, but is now playing the same games.

National in Opposition repeatedly argued that the "politicisation of the public service has to stop". Yet in its first week of action it has over-ridden Pharmac, an independent agency, funding extra Herceptin contrary to what its expert political servants had decided. The decision is purely, cynically political – the campaign promise was a way for National to present itself as the party of "compassionate conservatism". I imagine the 300 women who now get 12 months of Herceptin for free won't mind being used as PR pawns, but what about the thousands of other New Zealanders who are paying for their own life-saving medicine without government help?

Combined, these policies make New Zealand unfairer, less green, less democratic and our public service less independent. In a single week, that's simply appalling governance. Even those who support tax cuts, more flexible labour laws and increased Herceptin funding and oppose the ETS, should have qualms about the implications of these laws and how they're being passed. Come to think of it, some of the MPs at those Friday drinks tonight will probably be feeling a little dirty as well.

I don't for a second believe this is the kind of change New Zealanders voted for. Hopefully, this gets the dirty politics and pay-backs out of the way and John Key can begin to live up to the faith that New Zealanders placed in him and his team. But it's the kind of start that must have many New Zealanders wondering whether the right to fire with impunity under 90-day probation bill might extend to MPs.
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Old December 12th, 2008, 04:36 AM   #13
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Ouch, that's a pretty scathing article. I have to say that I find it rather odd that so many bills have been rushed through so quickly, it does seem a trifle undemocratic to me too considering many of them were rather contentious issues.
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Old December 12th, 2008, 04:43 AM   #14
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Yes it has certainly been an eventful week.
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Old December 12th, 2008, 04:50 AM   #15
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Ouch, that's a pretty scathing article. I have to say that I find it rather odd that so many bills have been rushed through so quickly, it does seem a trifle undemocratic to me too considering many of them were rather contentious issues.
You should be pleased. It means they're starting to look like Labour!
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Old December 12th, 2008, 04:58 AM   #16
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You should be pleased. It means they're starting to look like Labour!
The thing is Labour didn't try to hide what they were, whereas National did criticise Labour for the very practices they're adopting now.

I'm not a die-hard Labour supporter mate, I'll support policies on either side that appeal to me and I have plenty to say about the policies of Labour that I dislike too.
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Old December 12th, 2008, 05:02 AM   #17
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The thing is Labour didn't try to hide what they were, whereas National did criticise Labour for the very practices they're adopting now.

I'm not a die-hard Labour supporter mate, I'll support policies on either side that appeal to me and I have plenty to say about the policies of Labour that I dislike too.
And have never believed you were.
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Old January 13th, 2009, 12:23 AM   #18
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Wow the Herald has run a story criticizing the government for taking too long off over the holiday period!

To be fair I thought they did a fair amount before the Christmas break- in fact they forced through plenty of legislation without the usual amount of checks. Cant they take some time off like the rest of us as well? God knows they'll be kept busy this year.

I also like how after spending the last couple of years telling us how terrible to local economy was Mr Key is now telling us its not that bad after all.

I predict financially this year the local economy will be nowhere near as bad as we keep getting told. On a personal level there are plenty of signs that people aren't busy big ticket items and actually starting to save more.

Either way I reckon the government should ride 2009 through without too many shocks.
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Old January 19th, 2009, 07:58 AM   #19
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I has an ouch!!

I falled down the stairs!




Last edited by Milan Luka; January 19th, 2009 at 08:57 AM.
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Old January 19th, 2009, 09:00 AM   #20
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His right arm as well!!! When Helen tripped in the mall, was the first hand to cushion her fall the left one?

I hope he makes a quick recovery. Broken bones are never nice and apparently he didn't realise the severity of his injury until after shaking multiples other hands during the course of the day.
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