Speak up to stop it

July 7, 2014

David Farrar asks: how did Jimmy Saville and Ralph Harris get away with years of serial abuse?

He gives several reasons: the times, their charity work, would they be believed?, police attitude and institutional cover-ups.

Maggie Barry’s experience gives another credence to the last point:

She says Harris “showed his dark side” while preparing for the pre-recorded interview when he began to touch her inappropriately.

“[He did] the kind of wandering hands up the leg, sort of leaning into me. But once he put his hand on my leg it was all over – I wasn’t going to put up with it,” says Ms Barry.

“I stood up and said ‘you can stop that right now’ and went and got the operator who came in, the publicist came in and basically smoothed it all over.”

Ms Barry says she called him a “sleazy creep” and that was when Harris got nasty.

“I got the impression, thinking back on it, that he wasn’t often challenged,” she says.

“I was in my mid-20s and able to stand up for myself and I did. But if I had been a young person or had been uncertain or over-awed a bit by his celebrity status, I think it would have been a very different experience.” . . .

Maggie wouldn’t have been the only one who made a fuss so other people must have known. Some of them could have spoken up but if they did it didn’t get much further and that allowed the offending to continue.

But it’s not easy to speak up.

An older man where I worked years ago had a reputation for touching younger women.

One day I was alone at my desk when he came into the room and put his arm around me.

I must have looked uncomfortable because he said, “Don’t worry, there’s no-one else here.”

I had the presence of mind to say, “That’s why I’m worried.” He dropped his arm and walked away.

I told one of the older women who said, he was always doing that, and I didn’t tell anything else.

None of us thought he’d go any further and as far as I know he didn’t.

But I’m sure none of us complained because it was it was relatively minor offending and we didn’t think anything would be done.

Standards of behaviour have changed in the intervening years .

I think this sort of unwanted attention would be less likely to happen now. If it did it ought to be easier to speak up and more likely action would be taken to stop it.

However, that won’t always be the case  and the offending will often be a lot more serious – as it was with Harris and Saville.

None of the victims can be blamed for not speaking up.

It takes courage to go public, especially if the abuse is serious and the victim young.

But speaking up does encourage other victims to complain and it could prevent further abuse .

Since Maggie spoke up others have come forward showing that one person speaking up can give confidence to and empower others, simply by showing they’re not the only ones and it’s not them who should be ashamed.


Rural round-up

July 7, 2014

From southern farmer to Featherston Street – Gerard Hutching:

One senses Conor English is not the sentimental sort. And yet he confesses to “just about crying” the day he sold a John Deere 1075 Hydro 4 header.

No coincidence, then, that the outgoing Federated Farmers chief executive has a desk littered with models of Massey Ferguson and JD farm machinery.

And although it is about 20 years since he worked fulltime on a farm, he can still wax lyrical over a Massey 188 or a JD 44-40 cropping tractor. Today’s machines, however, are “like 747s” compared to the tractors of yesteryear.

So English knows his way around a farm. Until he arrived in Wellington in the early 1990s, he was in a partnership in Dipton, Southland, near the family farm. . .

Young farmer of the year betters dad’s efforts – Tony Benny:

The winner of the ANZ Young Farmer Contest 2014 grand final David Kidd made history by being the first winner to come from the Northern region in the competition’s 46 year history.

Kidd topped his father Richard’s achievement of coming third in the 1984 final and confessed he’d likely give dad some cheek about their respective finishes.

”Let’s set this as the benchmark for the northern region’s competitor and let’s start a dynasty of northern region chalking up some bolds on the back of that Grand Final programme,” Kidd said after the televised final in Christchurch’s SBS Arena.

With the other six regional finalists Kidd spent Thursday and Friday competing on and off the farm. They had to make a market innovation presentation, sit a written exam, be interviewed, face an HR challenge and give a speech. On-farm competition included hanging gates, cutting up a lamb carcass, welding and splitting firewood. . .

Shearing marathon for cancer – Sally Rae:

Shearing has always been a hobby for Tarras stock manager Cole Wells – but now he had decided to take it one giant step further.

Next year, Mr Wells (28) plans to shear over a 24-hour period – with a break every two hours – to raise money for the Cancer Society, particularly for the research and treatment of prostate cancer.

His goal is to shear between about 750 and 800 crossbred lambs and he has a fundraising target of $24,000, which equates to $1000 an hour. . .

Support needed for dairy hub:

Plans to establish a $26.5 million permanent commercial demonstration dairy farm in Southland need the support of dairy farmers in the region.

”We have one shot to get this right and we need the Southern community behind us, because it is not going to happen without it,” Southern Dairy Development Trust (SDDT) chairman Matthew Richards said.

Mr Richards and project leader Maurice Hardie presented the proposal at an Environment Southland meeting in April. . .

Keen for another crack at TeenAg title – Sally Rae:

Admittedly, there was a little sibling rivalry when the High Country Hillbillies took on the Gumboot Girls – and the rest of New Zealand – in the TeenAg national final.

Holly Malcolm (15) and Ella Sanderson (14), the High Country Hillbillies, and Holly’s sister Georgia (16) and Brittany Caldwell (16), the Gumboot Girls, were representing Aorangi, along with Cody Callaghan and Thomas Yeatman, from Timaru Boys’ High School. . .

Teaching excellence recognised:

Last night, the Prime Minister presented the 2014 Tertiary Teaching Excellence Awards at a ceremony in Wellington.

Dr Rainer Hofmann, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Lincoln University, was one of the 2014 recipients.  The nomination recognised Rainer’s ability to reach out to his students to establish relevance and to stimulate real interest as their motivation for learning.   His teaching practices start with the relationship – to produce engaged and successful students by providing the environment for them to want to learn, and to flourish.  The subtle techniques used by Rainer ensure each student can enjoy, and benefit from, the learning environment whilst being pushed to achieve their potential – almost without them realising it because they are enjoying the experience.   

“Rainer embodies the concept of attachment-based learning.  His engaging attitude makes learning easy and his masterful teaching promotes deep, enquiring and life-long learning,” said University of Otago Senior Lecturer, Dr Kumari Valentine, in support of Rainer’s nomination.  . .


We don’t care who’s in government

July 7, 2014

Quote of the day:

Federated Farmers is an apolitical organisation – “we don’t care who is in government as long as they agree with us”.Conor English

Strictly speaking, he doesn’t mean apolitical, which means not interested in politics, he means not politically aligned.

Federated Farmers is a voluntary organisation which supports and advocates for its members.

It works with governments and political parties on behalf of its members and wider rural community to get the best for them, not to advance any particular political view.

Like other business organisations, and many charities, and unlike most unions, it’s not politically aligned and it’s stronger for that.


Nationwide job market grows

July 7, 2014

Good news for employment:

All regions across the country recorded growth in the number of jobs advertised on Trade Me Jobs according to an analysis of listings onsite in the April-June quarter.

Head of Trade Me Jobs, Peter Osborne, said the number of job listings nationwide was up 19% on the same period in 2013, continuing the healthy job market trend evident since the September quarter. “Growth in listings has been very strong, despite the potential handbrake effect of the unusual combination of Easter and Anzac Day holidays in March, and a Budget that had a cooling effect on the number of jobs advertised in May.”

Mr Osborne said most advertisers were upbeat. “We’re hearing plenty of optimistic reports from recruiters and employers, and the majority are planning to keep on hiring too.”

He said improved economic and employment opportunities in New Zealand also contributed to the lowest ever level of migration to Australia in May. “Kiwis are increasingly likely to stay in New Zealand which is good news for NZ Inc, and is also complemented by returning expats who have noticed things on the improve back here in New Zealand.”

The national picture
Mr Osborne said the lift in advertised roles in all regions was a “pretty unusual but very welcome” result. Auckland still shines brightly (up 21%), while Canterbury and Wellington maintained their considerable growth trajectories (up 21% and 15% respectively).

 Waikato was another standout performer with job ad growth of 24%, and Otago comfortably reached double digits with a 16% lift.

In the sectors
The demand for skilled workers is still high, with candidates in IT, engineering, construction and legal the most difficult to source. “Anyone with decent skills in these areas holds the balance of power at present, and they’re in a great position if they are hunting for new opportunities,” Mr Osborne said.

In terms of the number of jobs available, roles in trade (32%), construction (39%) and transport (29%) saw the highest jump compared to this time last year.

Mr Osborne said the average pay was flat at $60,881 nationally. “Pay levels holding firm is good news for employers, and a little unexpected given the tight labour market. If demand for workers continues to outstrip supply, wage inflation is inevitable as employers offer fatter pay packets in a bid to entice staff.”

Looking ahead
Mr Osborne said he remained upbeat about the coming months. “We’re confident the market will continue to grow despite the cool-down in May. Employer confidence remains high and there are still a number of sectors where candidates are in short supply and set to drive underlying growth.

“The Christchurch rebuild remains a major contributor and we’re seeing a shift in the type of demand from construction relate roles to professional and infrastructure roles.”

He said there was “no end in sight” for Auckland’s consistently high demand for skilled labour. “The City of Sails accounts for around 40% of all jobs advertised across the country, and will continue to be a beacon of opportunity.”

Job % change
Q2/2014 vs Q2/2013
Accounting – 1.6
Agriculture, fishing & forestry 34.7
Banking, finance & insurance – 0.3
Construction & architecture 39.1
Customer service 21.7
Education 6.7
Engineering 15.2
Government & council – 8.5
Healthcare 4.6
Hospitality & tourism 23.0
HR & recruitment 27.4
IT 7.5
Legal – 31.4
Manufacturing & operations 33.9
Marketing, media & communications 15.6
Office & administration 17.8
Property – 3.6
Retail 15.6
Sales 9.6
Science & technology 27.6
Trades & services 31.6
Transport & logistics 29.4
Overall 19.0

2. Average rates of pay by job (full-time jobs only): Q2/2014

Highest paid Pay rate ($)
1 IT architects 139,476
2 IT project managers 132,857
3 IT managers 123,164
4 IT sales & pre-sales 122,418
5 Doctors & medical specialists 120,633
Lowest paid Pay rate ($)
1 Kitchen staff 35,582
2 Health caregivers 37,252
3 Reception & front desk 37,637
4 Waiting staff 37,829
5 Retail assistants 37,982

3. Listings growth by region for Q2/2014

Region % change vs Q2/2013
Auckland 21.2
Bay Of Plenty 13.2
Canterbury 20.5
Gisborne 7.2
Hawke’s Bay 11.1
Manawatu / Wanganui 11.6
Marlborough 10.7
Nelson / Tasman 20.6
Northland 2.9
Otago 15.6
Southland 65.6
Taranaki 2.2
Waikato 23.7
Wellington 15.3
West Coast 48.7
Grand Total 19.0

4. Average rates of pay by region (full-time jobs only): Q2/2014

Highest paid Pay rate ($)
1 Auckland City 72,302
2 Wellington 70,234
3 Kawerau 66,105
4 New Plymouth 61,143
5 Buller 59,742
Lowest paid Pay rate ($)
1 Mackenzie (Canterbury) 42,333
2 Tararua 45,417
3 Horowhenua 46,036
4 Hauraki (Waikato) 47,095
5 Upper Hutt 47,863

NB: Segments with less than 50 jobs excluded.

It’s good to see a reduction in the government and council sector and an increase in export-earning industries like agriculture, fishing and forestry.


$16 minimum wage ‘just a start’

July 7, 2014

Labour is planning to lift the minimum wage from $14.25 to $16 an hour in its first year in government – and that’s just the start.

Unions have been lobbying Labour on the issue, but the pressure is still on; they want much more.

Labour leader David Cunliffe is comfortably nestled between Labour’s union affiliates.

“Colleagues, comrades – we are part of a broad labour movement,” says Mr Cunliffe.

The unions are strong within that movement. They are pushing hard for a jump in the minimum wage.

Labour has already indicated two increases in its first year – one before Christmas from $14.25 to $15 an hour, and today came the details of the second.

“Even that’s starting to look a bit stingy, so we’re looking at a further increase within the first year,” says Labour’s labour spokesperson Andrew Little. “I expect it will be up around $16 an hour.”

So $16 an hour by April next year – for the unions leaning on Labour, it’s a pay-off, but just a start.

A pay-off for unions but extra costs for employers, price increases for customers and less job security for workers.

“It needs to be more, above $18, but it certainly would be a big boost,” says president of the Auckland Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) Jill Ovens.

“I think the second increase needs to be more than $16; it needs to start moving to two-thirds of the average wage over the term of the Government,” says CTU president Helen Kelly. . .

New Zealand does have a problem with low wages.

But if pay increases are to be sustainable without boosting inflation and threatening jobs and the businesses which supply them, they have to be linked to productivity increases and the ability to pay them.

Add other Labour policies which will reduce flexibility and increase regulation and businesses and the jobs which rely on them will be even less secure.

Unions which regard a $16 minimum wage as just a start could find it is also the end to some jobs and some businesses.


Cunliffe says nah yeah to Internet Mana

July 7, 2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe isn’t ruling out going into coalition with the Internet Mana Party:

Deal or no deal? That’s a question Labour Party leader David Cunliffe is facing.

He’s trying to have it both ways with Internet Mana, leaving the door open to working with them in government, but not to the cabinet table. . .

Rousing the party faithful, Labour has one goal in mind – to change the Government. That means hello Internet Mana and its cash-cow, Kim Dotcom.

“After the election we will work with whomever we need to work with to change the Government,” says Mr Cunliffe. “We will have our door and phone line open to whoever wants to change the Government.”

It’s a political dead rat Labour may have to swallow. Some are fighting against, wanting to rule out working with Internet Mana in government.

That includes some of his caucus and at least one candidate.

Phil Goff is on record calling the deal a rort, with Dotcom buying influence. Chris Hipkins says they’re “unprincipled sell-outs” and Dotcom is a “discredited German”.

“I don’t have much time for Kim Dotcom at all to be honest,” says Napier candidate Stuart Nash.

Mr Nash says the same about Hone Harawira. . .

Mr Cunliffe knows he may need the Dotcom, Harawira, Laila Harre combo but doesn’t want them too close.

“Frankly I would be surprised to see anybody other than the Greens and perhaps New Zealand First at our cabinet table,” says Mr Cunliffe. “I think that’s extremely unlikely, extremely unlikely, they’ll be ministers – extremely unlikely.”

So that means no seats in cabinet but a deal still possible.

Internet Mana is a political weakness for Labour and Mr Cunliffe is trying to have it both ways. . .

Like a lot of his other positions it’s a yeah nah – or in this case a nay-yeah one.

He doesn’t want them but he’s not ruling them out and neither Hone Harawiara nor Laila Harre are the sort of people to roll over without being thrown a bone or two which may well include a place in the top kennel.

That won’t go down well with some in Labour on principle and also because they are already facing missing out on cabinet places to accommodate Green and NZ First MPs.

It won’t go down well with either of those other prospective partners and it won’t go down well with most voters.


Quality beats quantity

July 7, 2014

National’s Better Public Service targets has aimed at improving the quality of spending rather than simply increasing the quantity as Labour did.

Policies announced by both parties clearly show the contrast between quality from National and quantity from Labour.

In education, National is firmly focussed on improving outcomes for children which relies on raising the standard of teaching.

Labour’s policy looks like it has been written by the unions – it will increase the number of teachers but do nothing to improve their teaching.

Education Minister Hekia Parata sums it up: Labour is out of their ideas and out of their depth:

Education Minister Hekia Parata says that Labour’s “new” education announcement today shows once again that they are a party out of ideas and out of their depth.

“Labour’s ‘back to the future’ idea of reducing class sizes at the margin is proven to achieve very little in terms of better results for Kiwi kids.  We know that because that was their policy last time they were in government and student achievement flat-lined at best.

“If you really want to improve success at school the answer is to help all teachers be better teachers, and invest strongly in principals.  That’s clear from evidence across the developed world and that is what our Investing in Educational Success initiative does.

“Investing in the quality of all teachers is more important than just adding more teachers.”

More isn’t necessarily better if the quantity is increased without improving the quality.

Ms Parata says Labour’s approach on teacher ratios is similar to their other policies for education where they do not appear to have done their homework.

“Labour are taking a real lolly scramble approach to education, and they are seriously understating the costs of what they are suggesting.

“Last week, and again today, they said they were going to end voluntary school donations.  However they have only put up enough money for half the current amount of donations, and none of the school activity fees that parents pay.

“Also yesterday, they said they were going to provide every student between years five and thirteen with a digital device worth $600, by providing a $100 subsidy and having parents pay $3.50 a week for 18 months.”

“Well, that only adds up to $373 per device.  So there is a big shortfall there too.”

“And on top of that they want to cancel National Standards which is helping more Kiwi kids learn and succeed.

“Labour’s approach is to go back to the old ways of doing things and throw lots of entitlements around in an attempt to win votes.

“Kiwi kids can’t afford to go backwards with Labour’s confused and muddled approach.

“Under this Government more kids are starting earlier, staying longer, and leaving better qualified.

“This Government is ensuring that our education system is working for all New Zealanders,” Ms Parata says.

 There is very good evidence that class size isn’t nearly as important as the standard of the teacher.

Treasury’s Briefing to Incoming Minister in 2011 showed the shortcomings of Labour’s prescription:

. . .New Zealand’s compulsory education system produces good outcomes for most students, as evidenced by our strong performance in international tests. However, despite large funding increases, achievement levels remain unacceptably low for some groups. Student achievement can be raised by improving the quality of teaching, which the evidence shows is the largest in-school influence on student outcomes.  . .

What happens at home has the biggest impact on achievement but within schools, teachers have the greatest influence on student learning.

Research on student learning consistently shows that the largest source of variation in student learning is attributable to differences in what students bring to school – their abilities and attitudes, and family and community background – factors that difficult for policy makers to influence, at least in the short-run.

Of those variables which are potentially open to influence in educational settings, factors to do with teachers and teaching are the most important influences on student learning (Alton-Lee, 2003; Hattie 2009). For example, research suggests that teachers at the top of the quality distribution can get up to a year’s worth of additional learning from students, compared to those who are at the bottom of the quality distribution (Hanushek and Rivkin, 2006). Chetty et al (2011) find that students assigned to high quality teachers (determined by test score- based value-add measures) are more likely to attend college and earn higher salaries, and are less likely to have children as teenagers, suggesting policies to raise the quality of teaching are likely to have substantial economic and social benefits in the long run.

Research shows class size influences achievement, but not always, and not for all students.

Overall, the evidence suggests that the effect of class size on academic outcomes varies depending on the characteristics of students (e.g. age, prior attainment, socio- economic disadvantage). For example, a consistent finding from the research is that smaller class size has a positive impact on t he achievement of students in the initial years of schooling, and that some students – particularly lower achieving and disadvantaged students – benefit more than others. The evidence for the effect of class size on achievement is limited beyond these first few years, and little is known about the effects of class size on secondary age students (Blatchford and Lai, 2010).

The research also identifies large differences in the extent to which the potential benefits of smaller class sizes are realised. For example, one of the most well-known studies of class size effects – Project Star in the US – found a small positive effect on student achievement in about half the clas ses where student numbers were reduced, while in the other half, smaller class size had no effect on student achievement (Hanushek and Rivkin, 2006).

One reason for these different effects is that some teachers adapt their teaching to take advantage of smaller class size, while others do not. The research provides little guidance on the optimal class size, or the lower or upper thresholds at which class size starts to have a positive or negative impact on educational outcomes. For example, some US studies suggest that classes of 20 or fewer students are necessary to have an effect on achievement, while English research has suggested that a class size of 25 or fewer is important (Blatchford and Lai, 2010).

Reducing class size is expensive 3 – it requires more teachers and more classrooms. Policy makers need to know not only that it works, but that it is the most cost-effective approach to lifting student achievement. Studies that provide comparative cost-benefit analyses of different interventions to lifting student achievement are not readily available, but other evidence suggests a focus on teaching quality over class size. For example, research suggests that the impact on student learning of moving from a class with an average teacher to one with a high performing teacher is roughly equivalent to the effect of a ten student decrease in class size (Rivkin, Hanushek and Kain, 2005). Hattie (2005) notes that the typical effect size of smaller classes could be considered ‘small’ or even ‘tiny’ relative to other educational interventions. Further, the OECD has identified that high-income countries which prioritise the quality of teachers over smaller classes tend to show better performance (OECD, 2012).  . .

Labour, almost certainly at the behest of their friends in the teacher unions, have ignored the research and taken the expensive and least effective option of promising to fund 2000 new teachers (which equates to less than one a school) without paying any attention to the imperative to improve the performance of teachers.

The key to improving student outcomes is to ensure consistently high quality teaching for all students, in all schools Treasury’s position is not that class size doesn’t matter. Our concern is to ensure that resources are directed to where they will have the greatest impact on student achievement. In our view, this is best done through a focus on ensuring effective teaching across the system. Although we have almost no information about the quality of teaching 4 in New Zealand, there is no reason why we would not have the wide variation in teaching quality that is observed in other countries. The strong impact of teachers on student learning, the large within-school variance in student achievement, low equity, and relatively high proportion of low achievers, all suggest that New Zealand should turn its attention to ensuring there is consistently high quality teaching practice in all schools.

The OECD’s work suggests that a high quality teaching workforce is a result of deliberate policy choices, carefully implemented over time (Schleicher, 2011). It suggests that making teaching an attractive and effective profession requires support for continuous learning, career structures that give new roles to teachers, engagement of teachers as active agents in school reform, and fair and effective teacher evaluation systems. A recent report by Australia’s Grattan Institute highlights how four East Asian countries have achieved significant improvements in the performance and equity of their schooling systems by building teacher capacity. They have done so via a focus on high quality initial teacher education, improved feedback and mentoring, and career structures that value good teaching (Jensen, 2012).

A recently released OECD report on evaluation and assessment in New Zealand education highlighted issues across a number of these areas, including: variable teacher appraisal; poor linkages between appraisal, professional development and school development; and an apparent lack of a formalised career path for effective teachers (Nusche et al, 2012).The OECD made recommendations to address these issues, in order to strengthen the quality of teaching in New Zealand.

Finally, a growing body of evidence has highlighted the importance of using data to inform teaching practice and decision-making in schools (Faubert, 2012). This includes gathering and analysing data to assess individual student progress and identify who is falling behind. It also includes aggregating data and using it to inform school and teacher self-review processes, help allocate resources, and facilitate conversations about effective teaching strategies and possible development needs. The OECD has recommended that New Zealand needs to do more to ensure teachers and schools have the skills to collect, analyse and interpret data, in order to support improved outcomes for learners (Nushe et al, 2012).

Most of this is anathema to teacher unions and Labour.

National is not beholden to the unions and therefore focuses on what’s best for the children and that is the quality of teachers rather than the quantity.

It is also addressing problems at home which contribute to poor educational outcomes including benefit dependency.


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