If you were PM . . .

21/02/2012

. . . would you sell New Zealand’s assets?

That’s the topic of  a live debate at St Paul’s Cathedral in Dunedin at 5:15 today.

The Government is planning the partial sale of some state-owned assets, and expects to raise $5-7bn in the process. But is selling off our assets a smart move? And will New Zealanders be better off in the long-run?

Dunedin’s St Paul’s Cathedral is hosting an informed, provocative live debate on the issues on the 21st February from 5.15-7.15pm, with four distinguished witnesses, including VP of the NZ Institute of Directors Stuart McLauchlan, presenting their evidence to an equally distinguished panel that includes Metiria Turei, Jacqui Dean and Chris Trotter, who will then debate the issues.

Witnesses
Dr Geoff BERTRAM (Institute of Policy Studies, Victoria University of Wellington), Gillian BREMNER(CEO, Presbyterian Support Otago), Prof. Robert PATMAN (Department of Politics, University of Otago), Stuart McLAUCHLAN (Vice President, Institute of Directors in New Zealand)

Panel

Chris TROTTER (Political commentator and editor of Political Review), Dene McKENZIE (Business and Political Editor, Otago Daily Times), Jacqui DEAN (National Party Waitaki MP), Metiria TUREI MP (Green Party co leader), Assoc. Prof. Paul HANSEN (Department of Economics, University of Otago), Pete HODGSON (former Cabinet minister and Labour MP for Dunedin North).

There’s also a Facebook page for discussion on the issue.


Leadership, lists and muscles

21/02/2012

Topics discussed with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today:

10 traits of outstanding leaders although there are only eight).

Lists of note -a  fascinating collection which includes lists of eye flirtation and rescue etiquette.

Proof of the benefits of exercise in ageing.


4/10

21/02/2012

Only 4/10 in NZ History Online’s quiz 😦


Inequality isn’t the problem

21/02/2012

Labour backs the study linking poor health to inequality.

It is a sobering report but Labour  should have read beyond the headline. Cactus Kate points out the study covers the period from 1989 – 2008 which includes nine years in which Labour was governing.

In that time they increased government spending by large sums and rather than directing it at the front line and  people in need they increased the bureaucracy and widened the welfare net to take in people in greed.

That aside, inequality is not the problem.

The easiest way to address inequality is to make the rich poorer but that won’t reduce poverty.

It isn’t the gap between rich and poor but how poor the poor are and the problems associated with poverty that matters.

 

 


How well matters more than how much

21/02/2012

The quality of spending in education is more important than the quantity spent according to the OECD programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Education Minister Hekia Parata said:

New Zealand was singled out as a top performer achieving better-than-average results despite its comparatively low gross domestic product.

Ms Parata says the report shows expenditure levels should not be a barrier to achievement.

“It’s great to see that New Zealand has once again performed well in this international survey.

“However, with one in five students currently leaving school without a qualification, we have still got work to do,” says Ms Parata.

“Our Government’s key objective is to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed. Over the next three years we want to significantly raise achievement for all students, especially those groups of students who have historically under performed.’’

Several factors influence achievement but how well money was spent was more important than how much.

The report showed:

  • Greater national wealth or higher expenditure on education does not guarantee better student performance. Among high income economies, the amount spent on education is less important than how resources are used.
  • Successful systems in high income economies tend to prioritise the quality of teachers over the size of classes.
  • School systems that perform well in PISA believe that all students can achieve and give them the opportunity to do so.

The full report is here.


Purse strings must stay tight

21/02/2012

The Crown Accounts for the six months to the end of last year reinforce then need to keep the government purse strings tight.

Lower Government spending has offset lower than expected tax revenue, helping keep the Government’s finances on track in the six months to 31 December 2011, Finance Minister Bill English says.

The Crown  accounts show tax revenue was $400 million below forecast and revenue  $743 million lower overall. However this was offset by lower core Crown  expenses of $887 million, leaving the operating balance before gains and losses close to forecast.

“Lower tax revenue reinforces the need  for the Government to be disciplined in its spending and stick to its  plan to get back to surplus in 2014/15,” Mr English says.

“Balancing the books and returning to surplus is one of the most important things  the Government can do to rebalance our economy towards savings and  exports.

“That is why we have made it one of our four main  priorities, alongside building a more productive and competitive  economy, delivering better public services and rebuilding Canterbury.

“The economic update in the Budget Policy Statement last week shows growth  will be slightly lower in the near term due to a weaker global outlook.

“That makes getting back to surplus an even bigger challenge, but we are  committed to keeping a tight lid on spending and putting in place  policies that make our economy more competitive. That will continue into the foreseeable future,” Mr English says.

Spending other people’s money was a major contributor to the imbalance in our economy and there is ample evidence from the trouble facing the PIGS – Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain – to show governments can’t spend their way out of debt.


February 21 in history

21/02/2012

1245 Thomas, the first known Bishop of Finland, resigned after confessing to torture and forgery.

1440 The Prussian Confederation was formed.

1543 Battle of Wayna Daga – A combined army of Ethiopian and Portuguese troops defeats a Muslim army led by Ahmed Gragn.

1613 Mikhail I was elected unanimously as Tsar, beginning the Romanov dynasty of Imperial Russia.

1743 The premiere of George Frideric Handel‘s oratorio “Samson” took place in London.

1804  The first self-propelling steam locomotive made its outing at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Wales.

1842 John Greenough was granted the first U.S.A. patent for the sewing machine.

1848 Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published the Communist Manifesto.

1875 Jeanne Calment, French supercentenarian and longest-lived human on record, was born (d. 1997).

1879 An explosion in a Kaitangata coal mine killed 34 men.

Kaitangata mining disaster

1885 The newly completed Washington Monument was dedicated.

1903 Anaïs Nin, French writer, was born (d. 1977).

1907  W. H. Auden, English poet, was born  (d. 1973).

1910 Douglas Bader, British pilot, was born (d. 1982).

1913  Ioannina was incorporated into the Greek state after the Balkan Wars.

1916 Battle of Verdun started.

1918 The last Carolina parakeet died in captivity at the Cincinnati Zoo.

1919 Kurt Eisner, German socialist, was assassinated.

1921 Constituent Assembly of the Democratic Republic of Georgia adopts the country’s first constitution.

1924 Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbambwe, was born.

1925 The New Yorker published its first issue.

1927 Erma Bombeck, American humorist, was born  (d. 1996).

1927 Hubert de Givenchy, French fashion designer, was born.

1933  – Nina Simone, American singer, was born (d. 2003).

1935  Mark McManus, Scottish actor, was born  (d. 1994).

1937  Initial flight of the first successful flying car, Waldo Waterman’s Arrowbile.

1937 – The League of Nations banned foreign national “volunteers” in the Spanish Civil War.

1945 Kamikaze planes sank the escort carrier Bismarck Sea and damaged the Saratoga.

1947 Edwin Land demonstrated the first “instant camera,” the Polaroid Land Camera, to a meeting of the Optical Society of America.

1952 The British government, under Winston Churchill, abolished identity cards in the UK to “set the people free”.

1952 In Dhaka, East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) police opened fire on a procession of students that was demanding the establishment of Bengali as the official language, killing four people and starting a country-wide protest which led to the recognition of Bengali as one of the national languages of Pakistan. The day was later declared as “International Mother Language Day” by UNESCO.

1953  Francis Crick and James D. Watson discover the structure of the DNA molecule.

1958 The Peace symbol was designed and completed by Gerald Holtom, commissioned by Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, in protest against the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment.

1960 Cuban leader Fidel Castro nationalised all businesses in Cuba.

1965 Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam.

1970 A mid-air bomb explosion in  Swissair Flight 330 and subsequent crash killed 38 passengers and nine crew members near Zürich.

1971 The Convention on Psychotropic Substances was signed at Vienna.

1972 President Richard Nixon visited the People’s Republic of China to normalise Sino-American relations.

1972 The Soviet unmanned spaceship Luna 20 landed on the Moon.

1973  Israeli fighter aircraft shot down Libyan Arab Airlines Flight 114 jet killing 108.

1974 The last Israeli soldiers left the west bank of the Suez Canal pursuant to a truce with Egypt.

1975 Watergate scandal: Former United States Attorney General John N. Mitchell and former White House aides H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman were sentenced to prison.

1986 Charlotte Church, Welsh singer, was born.

1995 Steve Fossett landed in Leader, Saskatchewan, Canada becoming the first person to make a solo flight across the Pacific Ocean in a balloon.

2004 – The first European political party organisation, the European Greens, was established in Rome.

2007 Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi resigned from office. His resignation was rejected by the President Giorgio Napolitano.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia.


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