Skills shortage biggest concern

September 12, 2008

Skills shortage was the biggest concern for the more than 2000 businesses which responded to Business New Zealand’s Election Survey.

Problems getting skilled staff, not being well positioned to innovate and concerns over the business environment including the Employment Relations and Holidays Act and ACC were the three big issues for respondents.

The education system wasn’t meeting the needs of 72% of respondents; 94% said more work was needed in apprenticeships and industry training and 91% said all school leavers should achieve at least NCEA 1 numberacy and literacy.

Problems mentioned included the quality of tertiary qualifications and stop-start immigration which are contributing to driving people overseas; the skills shortage is a symptom of underlying uncompetitiveness and and New Zealand economy isn’t growing enough high paying jobs so skilled workers go overseas.

The second biggest issue was innovation with 89% of respondents saying research & development credits are unlikely to lift the level of R & D; 54% want new policies to imporve access to venture capital and 54% said government assistance should be through a contestable fund.

The business environment was the third big issue. Under this category 71% of respondents said the dismissals provision in the ERA was below average; 54% said the ERA collective approach is the wrong way;89% don’t want laws for work-life balance and 65% want to open ACC to competition.

A flatter tax system was wanted by 64% of respondents; 62% want local government to stick to its core busienss; 55% support the FTA with China; and 73% said New Zealand shouldn’t be a world leader on climate change.

An NZ Herald report on the results is here; and the responses to Business NZ questions by political parties is here.

Party Politics

September 12, 2008


This Friday’s poem chose itself when the election date was announced.


Party Politics by Phillip Larkin comes from Collected Poems, published by The Marvell Press, 2003.


              Party Politics


I never remember holding a full drink.

   My first look shows the level half-way down.

What next? Ration the rest, and try to think

   Of higher things, until mine host comes round?


Some people say, best show an empty glass:

  Someone will fill it. Well, I’ve tried that too.

You may get drunk, or dry half-hours may pass.

   It seems to turn on where you are. Or who.


          – Phillip Larkin –

Wilson 1 – Clark 0

September 12, 2008

Mary Wilson has just interviewed Helen Clark on Checkpoint.

If Clark was expecting a free run to give a party political broadcast which, as Adam Smith  noted, she had when she announced the election this afternoon, she’d have been disappointed.

Most of the interview centred on why Clark didn’t say what she knew about Winston Peters and the donations debacle and her handling of that.

The interview is on line here.

Naked kids banned from pool

September 12, 2008

Oh dear.

The “sad reality” of high-profile paedophilia cases means it is no longer appropriate to allow children to change into swimwear beside public swimming pools, says Family First spokesman Bob McCoskrie.

He was commenting after a Christchurch school was asked to refrain from its practice of letting children change by the pool in the city’s Jellie Park Aquatic Centre instead of in the changing rooms, following a complaint from a pool user.

St Bernadette’s School principal Maureen Moore said it chose not to use the busy changing rooms so teachers and parents could keep a better eye on the children.

It was purely for safety, and the school did not set out to offend anyone, she told the New Zealand Herald.

She said the school would now work something else out Mr McCoskrie said it was a sad reality of high-profile cases of child pornography and paedophilia that parents now needed to “err on the side of modesty”.

Is this an indictment on society or just a very sorry reflection of modern life?

Key Google-bombed

September 12, 2008

John Key has joined George W Bush and Tony Blair as the target of a Google bomb.

It is an online phenomenon first seen in England at the start of the millennium. This week it reached New Zealand.

Type “clueless” into a New Zealand google search right now, hit ‘I feel lucky’ and you will be directed to John Key’s personal website.

Key has been given the dubious honour of being the first New Zealand politician to be google-bombed and a 22-year-old programmer from Parnell is responsible.

A google bomb is essentially a manipulation of the search engine to improve the rankings of particular webpages that ensures a site is at the top of the results for particular search phrases.

Some of the more famous google bombs are also expressions of political opinion – “liar” leading to Tony Blair, or “miserable failure” leading to the White House’s biography of George W Bush are two that made headlines around the world.

The election campaign is only three hours old and already it’s both silly and dirty. And the silliness and dirt is coming from Parnell – is that a hot bed of political activism?

1001st comment

September 12, 2008

The 1001st comment was posted on Homepaddock at 12.58 today.

It was made by Inventory 2 from Keeping Stock on the post about the election date.

For those of you who like numbers: I started blogging on April 22nd, it took nearly a month before the first comment was made. The most comments on a single post was 16 – and  that happened this week on and today’s excuse is…

Thanks to all of you who leave your thoughts, a lot of the fun in blogging comes from reading them – even the ones that disagree with me 🙂

Stab proof vests from Ag Research

September 12, 2008

Concern over low returns from sheep has concentrated on the meat.

But low prices for crossbred wool has also contributed to the problem and we’ve been waiting for someone to come up with an inventive way to use it.

Ag Research  may have done it:

A revolutionary new wearable fabric which redefines the term tough has been developed by AgResearch.

The stab and flame-resistant fabric is made from knitted Vectran – a non-cut, ultra-high strength liquid crystal polymer – with short wool fibre packed into the outer surface.

Its flame-resistant properties will be tested to the full on Monday, when a blowtorch will be applied to a vest made of the fabric while being worn by a model.

The fabric will resist puncture or knife penetration, is lightweight, comfortable to wear, and has the dual benefits of the breathability and comfort of wool as well as the puncture resistance of the Vectran component, said AgResearch textile science and technology section manager Peter Ingham.

The wool component was naturally flame-resistant and any charring would be contained by the Vectran, giving the wearer “unparalleled protection” against flames.

The fabric looked like a “normal” Swanndri-type wool, but had the super-tough hidden layer of Vectran inside.

 It’s a sad indictment on society that we need stab-proof clothing but if there’s a silver lining in this cloud it’s that the fabric which will help protect people will also provide a better market for crossbred wool.

Update: Jim Mora interviews Peter Ingham here.

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