Helping hand for our neighbours

February 9, 2009

The tragic news from across the Tasman worsens as the  death toll rises  and damage to property from the bushfires in New South Wales and Victoria continues.

There’s not a lot we can do from this side of the ditch but offer our prayers and donations. 

Red Cross volunteers are helping victims and providing support for emergency services. You can donate to the bushfire appeal via the NZ Red Cross website or give $20 by phoning 0900 33 200.

The website also gives an email address for people who can’t contact relatives in the danger area.

The government has started the appeal with a $500,ooo donation  and 100 New Zealand firefighters will fly to Australia to help.

Keeping Stock  has a link for the Australian Red Cross.


Child abuse no joking matter

February 9, 2009

The Brisbane Times calls it a sick joke from the father of the bride.

The television commercial, which airs tonight, shows the father of a bride making a humorous wedding speech. Halfway through the ad he says: “I remember the first words that I ever said to her after sex – ‘Don’t tell Mum.’ “

“If only it was this easy to get over child abuse,” says the voiceover, over the laughter heard in the background.

 

Pictures will almost always carry a stronger message than the words.

The message is a very serious one and I watched the video of the ad with horror because the seriousness of the words in the voiceover were contradicted not just by the father’s speech but by the pictures – the expressions on the face of his daughter and the laughter in the background suggest child abuse is a laughing matter.

It’s not just a sick joke, it’s a sick advertisement.


50c more for minimum wage

February 9, 2009

The minimum wage is going up 50c to $12.50 and the minimum wage for young people will rise by 40c to $10 from April 1.

Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson  said the government tried to balance job protection and fair pay.

I have mixed feelings about the minimum wage concept. I accept the need to protect vulnerable workers from exploitation. The counter-point for that is the employers’ right to pay workers what a job, and the way they do it, is worth. 

One of the considerations for that is what the business can afford because while the government sets the minimum wage it’s individual employers who have to find the money to pay it.

Wages are one of the highest costs for many businesses and as the recession bites deeper higher wages could result in fewer jobs or less hours.

The Tiwai Point smelter has already responded to the fall in aluminium prices by asking workers to volunteer for working reduced hours or take unpaid leave.


We deserve pay rise

February 9, 2009

Oh dear, if there’s a phrase that politicians should never utter it’s “we deserve a pay rise” and to be fair, the mayors interviewed by the Southland Times  didn’t put it in exactly those words.

Queenstown-Lakes mayor Clive Geddes said:

“My own view, not speaking for myself but speaking for the councils and community chairs in this district, is that their remuneration is significantly below the effort and contribution they make.”

Central Otago mayor Malcolm Macpherson said:

. . .  in my view people who do the sort of work that rural authority mayors do are pretty much underpaid as it is.

And Southland District mayor Frana Cardno said:

. . . Our councillors earn a pathetic amount that wouldn’t even cover the costs of them leaving their work for the day . . .

I suspect they all have a point, that council pay is less than fair compensation for the time and effort good councillors put into their work.

But ratepayers hearing their elected representatives saying they deserve a pay rise are unlikely to be swayed by this when facing yet another increase in rates which is well above the rate of inflation.

It doesn’t matter that concillors’ pay is a tiny part of the total rates bill and their pay is set by the Remuneration Authority over which they have no control. Ratepayers almost certainly think their case for lower rates is stronger than the coucillors’ one for higher pay and are likely to respond to mayors saying they deserve a pay rise by offering them a Tui.

However, the debate raises two bigger issues – the growing rates burden and the method for setting the politicians’ pay.

Kiwiblog  thinks the Remuneration Authority should set MPs’ salaries for a whole three year term. I agree and would like the same system used for local body politicians.


Getting it right from the start

February 9, 2009

Labour got the Electoral Finance Act wrong from the start by trampling all over the convention that such measures should have multi-party support.

National is getting the first steps right  in the process which will provide a democratic and enduring replacement by involving all parties in consultation and providing opportunities for public submissions.

Inventory 2   notes John Key is keeping a promise made in his contribution to the third reading debate in December 2007.

(He also notes he started his blog Keeping Stock  in response to the bill and I’m pleased that while the EFA is going his blogging will continue).

Posts on Kiwiblog contributed some of the most intelligent opposition to the EFA. I agree with comments on this post  which give due thanks to David Farrar and Whaleoil  for the part they played in opposing the Act.

It was an attack on democracy and among its many faults was the way it made it stifled expression not just during the election campaign but for almost all of election year because of the confusion over what was and was not covered by it.


It’s the sheep’s turn

February 9, 2009

This time last year two-tooth ewes were selling for about $90 at best.

Similar animals went for $197 at a sale at Lorneville last week.

A year ago a good price for lambs was about $65 and now they’re going for $100.

It’s a reflection of supply and demand at work. Last year dairy conversions and drought resulted in the sale of a lot of capital stock, now sheep farmers are rebuilding their flocks.

It’s a very different picture for dairy cows which were selling for $2,500 last year and are now worth about $1,200.

Beef is showing a small increase on last year’s prices, up about 30c to $3.30 a kilo so a 270kg bullock which would have sold for about $810 last year would sell for about $890 now.


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