Word of the day

March 15, 2012

Ides – The 15th day of March, May, July, or October or the 13th day of the other months in the ancient Roman calendar.


Results-driven focus for public service

March 15, 2012

Prime Minister John Key has announced a new results driver focus for public services.

The public service will be set challenges and will be accountable for achieving them.

So I have identified 10 challenging results that I want to see achieved over the next three to five years.

Achieving these results will be difficult and demanding. In fact for some of them it will be extremely difficult.

But I make no apology for my high expectations.

I came into politics to make a difference.

And it is time for a clear focus on what will make New Zealand a better place.

Most public servants are skilled people who should be capable of meeting high expectations and get a lot more work-satisfaction by doing so.

The challenging results are:

Number one – I expect a reduction in long-term welfare dependency. In particular I want to see a significant drop in the number of people who have been on a benefit for more than 12 months. At the moment about  215,000 people are in that category, and that’s far too many.

Number two – I expect to see more young children, and particularly  Maori and Pacific children, in early childhood education. That’s because all the evidence shows that time spent in early childhood education  helps future learning.

Number three – I expect immunisation rates for infants to increase,  and I want to see a substantial reduction in rheumatic fever cases among children. These are important health issues for children and were part  of our policy at the last election.

Number four – I expect a reduction in the number of assaults on  children. Far too many children in New Zealand suffer abuse and assault, and that is simply not acceptable.

Number five – I expect more young people to come through the  education system with a solid base of skills, whether they get those at  school or at a tertiary institution. So I want to see an increase in the proportion of 18-year-olds with NCEA level 2 or an equivalent  qualification. Good progress has been made in this area over the last  few years, but I want to see even more.

Number six – I expect to see a more skilled workforce, with an  increase in the number of people coming through with advanced trade  qualifications, diplomas and degrees.

Number seven – I expect a reduction in the crime rate. And that  doesn’t just mean total crime, it also means violent crime and it means  youth crime. I want to see all these measures coming down.

Number eight – I expect a reduction in the rate of re-offending, from people who are in prison or serving a community-based sentence.

I also want to change the way government interacts with people and businesses.

Doing business with government, and getting information from government, should be easy.

We live in a world of social media, online sales, internet banking and apps for almost everything.

But the advances we see in the private sector – the sort people have  come to expect – have not been picked up well by the public sector.

Part of that is technical. I’ve actually been shocked at how obsolete many public sector IT systems are, and how big the challenge will be to upgrade and modernise them.

The Government is already investing heavily in this area, as we are  with ultra-fast broadband, and that will continue to ramp up over the  next few years.

But we don’t want to just tack new technology onto current business practices.

We are serious about creating a sharper sense of purpose, and that  involves maximising the use of technology to provide better and faster  services.

I want to see technology used to create a step-change in customer service.

So in addition to the eight results I’ve just mentioned, I want to see two more things.

Number nine – I expect to see a one-stop online shop for all government advice and support that businesses need.

And number ten – I expect to see transactions with government completed easily in a digital environment.

So those are my 10 expectations.

They are not a wish list – they are a to-do list.

They are not everything the Government is doing, or everything the Government thinks is important.

But they are a set of results where I want to see real progress. . .

These are challenging targets which will mean a change in the way the public service operates.

Many of the results fall between or across the responsibilities of  individual government departments. That’s part of the reason they are  difficult.

So achieving these results means changing the way the public sector works.

It means, for example, making people accountable for achieving something, not just for managing a department or agency.

And it means giving public sector leaders more flexibility to operate in different ways.

. . .  But I don’t want easy targets. I want targets that are going to  stretch the ability of the public sector to deliver them, and that are  going to force change.

Because if they are easy targets they aren’t worth doing.

This is not an exercise in ticking boxes.

The targets will be signed off and announced by 30 June, and we will be regularly measuring progress against them.

This information will be publicly available, so New Zealanders will be able to judge for themselves how well we are doing.

The public service has been set a tough challenge but a necessary one if our economy is going to grow to provide the first world lifestyle for which we’ve borrowed too much in the past.

Other changes announced are reducing the cap on government administration and the establishment of a new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to replace the Ministry he Ministry of Economic Development, the Department of Labour, Ministry of Science and Innovation and Department of Building and Housing.

 


Feds fear Transpower land grab

March 15, 2012

Federated Farmers is concerned Transpower is attempting to use councils’ district plan processes to nationalise up to 42,000 hectares (ha) of private property.

The issue has arisen because the SOE is requesting that Western Bay of Plenty District Council create 32 metre wide buffer zones either side of its transmission lines on private land under the district plan.

The buffer zones will restrict landowner rights and normal farming activities within a vast swathe of private land, without compensation.

“It is deeply concerning Transpower is trying to use district plan processes to achieve a result it ought to get through negotiation with landowners,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers electricity spokesperson.

“Developments in the Western Bay of Plenty District potentially set a major and disturbing precedent. Federated Farmers Bay of Plenty province has submitted strongly against the proposed buffer zones and is organising landowner groups to support the cause.

“If Transpower has its way there, it will control 64 metre wide strips of private land. In comparison, a typical two way urban road is around 14 metres wide. Why does Transpower need so much land?

“We believe this is a disingenuous way of gaining substantial commercial benefits at landowners’ expense, using the community-owned Resource Management Act (RMA) process. Federated Farmers thinks Transpower is trying to sidestep compensation to landowners.

“Some people are telling me Transpower is trying to exploit a loophole in the RMA, which says no compensation is payable when landowners are affected by District Plan rules.

“There is no way Federated Farmers will accept a State Owned Enterprise forcing legal landowners into the farcical situation of applying for resource consents to use their own land because it has been labelled a transmission buffer zone.

“If applied nationally, we are talking about tens of thousands of hectares of private land potentially affected and regulated. That is a lot of disgruntled people if Transpower doesn’t wish to sit down and negotiate terms with landowners. . . “

Transmission lines on farm land, and compensation for them, has been a contentious issue for some time.

This looks like Transpower is trying to get councils to give them more rights over the land their lines cross than the landowners.


Dividends or debt?

March 15, 2012

Quote of the day:

We would rather pay dividends to New Zealanders on shares that they own in the energy companies than pay interest to overseas lenders on more borrowing.Bill English

There are more than enough examples around the world to show us why increasing debt isn’t a good idea.

It’s far better to sell a minority share in a few energy companies and give New Zealanders far safer vehicles to invest in than finance companies.

 


Labour still party of more tax

March 15, 2012

Labour leader David Shearer is still keen on a capital gains tax.

Although policies would be confirmed closer to the 2014 election, he said a capital gains tax (CGT) was “pro-growth”.

“I can see a role for CGT in transforming our economy.”

How typical of Labour, to announce more tax without any mention of less tax elsewhere to compensate.


Positive Parenting trials

March 15, 2012

Trials have started for a programme training child health and development professionals to support people wanting to improve their parenting skills.

Trials are underway for a programme training child health and development professionals to support parents who want to improve their parenting skills.

Health Minister Tony Ryall says “we’re spending nearly $4 million over three years to trial this programme, which is described as one of the world’s most effective parenting programmes.

Four District Health Boards (DHBs) are trialling the Triple P Positive Parenting Programme: MidCentral, Bay of Plenty, Counties-Manukau and Waitemata.

“Research shows that providing parents with information and support reduces parental distress and social and health problems in children.

“This programme doesn’t tell parents how to parent, it gives them practical advice and skills they can use to help them manage the challenges we all face when we’re raising our children.

“Parents often talk to a range of professionals involved in the care of their children, such as GPs and early childhood teachers, about the stresses of parenting or concerns about their child’s behaviour. Once they have completed the Triple P training, these professionals can now offer support and information to parents.

As part of the programme, parents will be able attend free community workshops to discuss common parenting issues or have one-on-one sessions. If additional support is required, they can also be referred to specialist services.

To date, 56 professionals in MidCentral and Bay of Plenty DHB areas have completed the Triple P training. Training in the two other pilot areas will start soon.

Independent evaluation of the programme in Australia found more than 90 per cent of parents who took part are more confident in their parenting, and six months after parents had been part of the programme children were behaving significantly better.

Like many people who don’t have children I thought I knew all I needed to about raising them until I had my own.

My children soon taught me that parenting is a role few of us are fully prepared or trained for and they showed me there were huge gaps in my parenting skills.

I sought advice from family and friends, read books and best of all attended a positive parenting course run by parents centre.

The strategies taught helped not only with the children but with their father too :)

I”m not sure if this is the same course being trialled, but if it’s only half as good it will still be well worth the money spent.


March 15 in history

March 15, 2012

44 BC Julius Ceasar was stabbed to death by Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus, Decimus Junius Brutus and several other Roman senators on the Ides of March.

221 Liu Bei, a Chinese warlord and member of the Han royal house, declared himself emperor of Shu-Han and claimed his legitimate successionto the Han Dynasty.

351 Constantius II elevated his cousin Gallus to Caesar, and put him in charge of the Eastern part of the Roman Empire.

933  After a ten-year truce, German King Henry I defeated a Hungarian army at the Battle of Riade.

1311 Battle of Halmyros: The Catalan Company defeated Walter V of Brienne to take control of the Duchy of Athens.

1493  Christopher Columbus returned to Spain after his first trip to the Americas.

1545 First meeting of the Council of Trent.

1672 Charles II issued the Royal Declaration of Indulgence.

1767  Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States, was born (d. 1845).

1776 South Carolina became the first American colony to declare its independence from Great Britain and set up its own government.

1779 Lord Melbourne, (William Lamb) Prime Minister of the United Kingdom,, was born  (d. 1848).

1781 Battle of Guilford Courthouse: 1,900 British troops under General Charles Cornwallis defeated an American force of 4,400.

1783 George Washington asked his officers not to support the Newburgh Conspiracy. The plea was successful and the threatened coup d’état never eventuated.

1809 Joseph Jenkins Roberts, first President of Liberia, was born (d. 1876).

1844 The New Zealand Company ended its colonising efforts.

New Zealand Company ends colonising efforts

1848 Revolution broke out in Hungary.

1877 The first cricket test started between England and Australia.

1906 Rolls-Royce Limited was incorporated.

1916 President Woodrow Wilson sent 12,000 United States troops over the U.S.-Mexico border to pursue Pancho Villa.

1917 Czar Nicholas II of Russia abdicated the Russian throne and his brother the Grand Duke Michael becomes Tsar.

1922  Fuad I became King of Egypt.

1926 The dictator Theodoros Pangalos was elected President of Greece without opposition.

1931 SS Viking exploded off Newfoundland, killing 27 of the 147 on board.

1933 Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss kept members of the National Council from convening, starting the austrofascist dictatorship.

1939 German troops occupied the remaining part of Bohemia and Moravia; Czechoslovakia ceased to exist.

1941 Mike Love, American musician (The Beach Boys), was born.

1943  Third Battle of Kharkov – Germans retook the city of Kharkov from the Soviet armies in bitter street fighting.

1944 Sly Stone, American musician, was born.

1944 New Zealand forces captured Castle Hill during the Battle of Monte Cassino.

NZ forces capture Castle Hill at Cassino

1952 In Cilaos, Réunion, 1870 mm (73 inches) of rain fell in one day, setting a new world record.

1961 South Africa withdrew from the Commonwealth of Nations.

1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson, responding to the Selma crisis, told U.S. Congress “We shall overcome” while advocating the Voting Rights Act.

1985 The first Internet domain name was registered (symbolics.com).

1988 The Halabja poison gas attack of the Iran–Iraq War began.

1990 Iraq hung British journalist Farzad Bazoft for spying.

1990 Mikhail Gorbachev was elected as the first executive president of the Soviet Union.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


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