Word of the day

September 5, 2012

Scofflaw –  a person who flouts the law, especially by failing to comply with one that is difficult to enforce effectively; one who habitually  violates the law or fails to answer court summonses or pay fines; a person who flouts rules, conventions, or accepted practices.

Two good moves from government

September 5, 2012

Two good moves from government today:

First Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has announced that people with outstanding arrest warrants will no longer receive a benefit while evading Police.

“Of the approximately 15,000 people with a current arrest warrant, around 8,200 are on benefits,” says Mrs Bennett.

“If someone has an unresolved arrest warrant we will stop their benefit until they do the right thing and come forward to the authorities.”

“In exceptional circumstances where someone poses a danger to the public, their benefit can be stopped immediately at the request of the Police Commissioner,” says Mrs Bennett.

Around 58 per cent of people clear their arrest warrants within 28 days. Those who don’t will be given 10 days to clear or challenge the warrant before their benefit is stopped, or reduced by fifty per cent if they have dependent children.

People will still be able to apply for hardship assistance for themselves and their children.

“Most people clear their warrants within a month, so 38 days is a reasonable amount of time to step forward and straighten things out,” says Mrs Bennett.

“Once someone has come forward their benefit can be reinstated but there will be clear consequences for people who continually refuse to acknowledge or resolve arrest warrants.”

The only question about this is:why it has taken so long to do the sensible thing?

the welfare system wasn’t designed to support people who are evading Police.

The second good news is that the government is considering reducing fees for passport applications.

Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain says lower passport fees are being considered as the Government moves to enable online passport applications.

“Online applications have been trialled successfully and will be available to the public by the end of the year. This will streamline the process of applying for a passport and reduce costs, providing the opportunity to look at the level of fees,” says Mr Tremain.

“Passport fees are set at cost recovery level, currently $153.30 for a standard adult passport. Revenue from passports is only spent on passports. The change to a five-year passport has increased the volume of renewals, and a growing surplus has built up in the account, meaning that there is scope to reduce fees.

“Changing passport fees would require a change to regulations. I have asked officials to report back to me on different options for fee reductions, including a lower fee for online applications to incentivise applicants to move online.

“This will contribute significantly to the Government’s Better Public Services Result 10: That New Zealanders can complete their transactions easily with government in a digital environment. This aims to have 70% uptake of digital and online services for key transactions by 2017, including passport applications.

“Passports consistently rate among the very top public services in the Kiwis Count figures produced by the State Services Commission. This is an opportunity to return some savings to passport holders and provide even better public services at a lower cost.”

It’s only under consideration at the moment but such a move would be very welcome.

Applications should be charged on a cost-recovery basis and if the department is recovering more than it costs a reduction in charges is the logical action.

Five years come around very quickly and many people have to renew their passport some time before the old one expires.

Several countries require visitors to have a passport valid for up to six months before they are granted entry. That means you’re paying for a five-year passport which might be able to be used for only four and half years which makes it even more expensive.

Lost in transcription

September 5, 2012

United States transcribers nearly caused an international incident when they mis-heard Prime Minsiter John Key.

During his meeting with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton,  Mr Key spoke of co-operation with America.

“We welcome the opportunities to cooperate further, in that  context,” he said.

But the US State Department heard something quite different,  because it says it was windy.

This is its version: “We welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the US  in the next conflicts.” . . .

. . . One linguist says Mr Key’s broad New Zealand accent could confound Americans.

“If you’re used to it, it’s not a problem. If you’ve never heard it before, then  it can be a problem,” says Victoria University linguist Bernadette Vine.

We’re used to hearing lots of different accents on television and in films, people from the United States get a lot more of their own accents and far less of those from other countries.

When we were in Argentina we were grateful for the assistance of  our host’s son-in-law from Maine who spoke good Spanish and could translate for us.

However, every now and then he struggled to understand us and our Argentinean family who’d all been to New Zealand had to translate Kiwi English into US English for him.


Philip Lyth has an interesting story on how the Key transcription gaffe got fixed by State.

Tobacco paying people to collect petition signautres

September 5, 2012

On Sunday I blogged that the Green Party was advertising on TradeMe for people to collect signatures for the petition against the partial sale of a few state owned assets.

I was wrong and I unreservedly apologise for maligning the party in that way.

Whaleoil has been doing the research I ought to have done before writing and has found a tobacco company is behind the advertisements:

 The campaign is being run by Imperial Tobacco and assisted by Philip Morris.

The happy little workers on the generous package and bonus scheme have been hired to go around the country getting people to sign a petition against plain packaging.

It isn’t that sneaky though as the postcards they hand out are branded as British Imperial Tobacco. So if you’re standing outside a pub having a fag expect some starving student petitioner to come up and ask you for a signature.

 You’d have to be desperate or very hard-skinned to accept a job like this.

Whatever the legal arguments are about a company’s branding, the public health campaign against smoking has been won.

The anti-smoking sentiment, antipathy to tobacco companies and apathy about the issue will be far stronger than any arguments the poor people offering the petition will be able to muster.

Air NZ, Fonterra NZ’s most reputable organisations

September 5, 2012

Air New Zealand and Fonterra are the country’s top two Most reputable Organisations in the Hay Group/NZ Management magazine survey.

These and third placed Becca have been in the top three rankings for the last three years.

Companies were judged on corporate social responsibility, financial performance, implementation of strategic objectives, innovation, operational model, organisational structure, quality of product or service, senior leadership, stakeholder relationships and vision for the future.

Fonterra CEO Theo Spierings said the company’s good name must be worn into the very fabric of the organisation.

The value of the supplier owned co-operative model is evident in his message to staff and stakeholders:

. . . Fonterra must be a star performer in the world with a very strong connect to its grass roots.

He is also mindful that the reputations of  Fonterra and New Zealand are inextricably linked, Fonterra carries with it the stamp, or brand, of New Zealand he says “and we have to protect that country brand off-shore”. . .

Fonterra is an example of the prophet not appreciated in its own country. Its reputation overseas is far higher than the public perception of it here.

That it has been recognised as one of the country’s most reputable organisations for three years in a row shows that the less than enthusiastic domestic view of Fonterra isn’t well-founded.

But the company has work to do to ensure that the negative perception here catches up with the positive reality at home and abroad.

The story is accessible by subscription only. You can subscribe here.

Milk price up 6% in GDT auction

September 5, 2012

The trade weighted index had a welcome 6% increase at the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction.

It might be too early to call it a trend but it is the third successive rise in the TWI.

The TWI is now back over the 10 year average.

The price of anhydrous milk fat increased by 11.8%; butter milk fat climbed 15.8%; cheddar was up 5.3%; lactose increased 5.2%; milk protein concentrate was up 15.5%; rennet casein rose 10.1%; skim milk powder was up 7.5% and whole milk powder increased by 4.3%.

Political activism isn’t charity

September 5, 2012

Greenpeace is in the Court of Appeal trying to overturn a ruling that it doesn’t qualify for charitable status:

Greenpeace of New Zealand, the environmental lobby group, is too big to miss out on charitable status just because the actions of a few members may be deemed illegal, the Court of Appeal heard today.

Counsel for the non-profit organisation , Davey Salmon, told Justices Rhys Harrison, Lynton Stevens and Douglas White, there was no evidence Greenpeace was engaged in illegal activities that would block it from registering as a charity. Even if some members were found to have trespassed in their non-violent action in support of Greenpeace’s goals, it was a side-issue to the organisation’s primary goals. . .

They’re arguing it’s only a few members whose actions are illegal. But look at the organisation’s core values:

. . . We take non-violent direct action to raise the level and quality of public debate and end environmental problems. Whether it’s a sit-in in front of a local government, or the scaling of an oil rig – peaceful direct action is our way to get us all talking and demonstrate solutions. . .

Scaling an oil rig isn’t very different from a sit-in on an oil drilling ship for which Greenpeace activists were charged and pleaded guilty earlier this year.

Both  look a lot more like political activism than charitable service.

%d bloggers like this: