Just a fire?

February 27, 2015

A van fire in an underground car park  has necessitated the evacuation of a Westfield West City complex in Henderson.

It could be the result of an accident.

It could be the result of criminal action which might or not be an act of terrorism.

The safety of fire fighters and staff, shoppers and others in the vicinity is more important than the cause at this stage.

 


Top 10 cons explained

February 22, 2015

A public service post:

They work because there’s always someone who will be taken in by them.

Hat Tip: Utopia


Better public services

February 20, 2015

One of National’s goals in government has been to deliver better public services. It set firm targets and it’s making good progress towards achieving them, but it’s not resting on its laurels:

The Government has set itself ambitious new targets including 75,000 fewer New Zealanders being on benefits by June 2018 as part of its Better Public Services drive, Finance Minister Bill English and State Services Minister Paula Bennett say.

The ministers today released the latest results from the Better Public Services programme showing almost 5000 people (-6.6 per cent) came off long-term Jobseeker Support benefit in 2014, the number of children who experienced substantiated physical abuse decreased by almost 200 (-5.6 per cent) over the 12 months to September 2014, infant immunisations are at an all-time high and crime numbers continue to fall. 

“The latest results show that the programme, which measures progress in 10 areas chosen in 2012 to focus on improving the lives of people who most need the Government’s help, is working,” Mr English says.

“All the areas are making progress including improvements in the immunisation rate, a reduction in the incidence of rheumatic fever and we expect that results for NCEA Level 2 will show progress towards the 85 per cent achievement target.

“However, in some of our target areas it is not yet clear whether the positive trends are sustainable.  The challenge now is to find ways to influence those who are harder to reach and who may be in circumstances that make it more difficult for them to respond. This will require a broad search both inside and outside the public service for better solutions, more innovative ideas and   intensification of activity to keep making progress. We will track results and spend our social investment funds where they make the most difference.”

Mrs Bennett said ministers were today announcing they were extending the Better Public Services  welfare targets and, as signalled earlier,  also challenging themselves and the public service to do even better at reducing crime, and improving the workforce skills of young adults.

Mrs Bennett said the new targets are:

Result 1 –  A 25 per cent reduction (from 295,000 people as at June 2014 to 220,000 as at June 2018) in the total number of people receiving main benefits and a $13 billion reduction in the long-term cost of benefit dependence, as measured by an accumulated Actuarial Release, by June 2018.

This replaces the current target of a 30 per cent reduction – 78,000 people to 55,000 people – in the number of working-age recipients of Jobseeker Support who have continually received benefits for more than 12 months.

Result 6 –  60 per cent of 25-34 year olds will have a qualification at Level 4 or above by 2018.

This replaces the current target of 55 per cent of 25-34 year olds holding those qualifications by 2017, which has almost been achieved.

Result 7 – A 20 per cent reduction in total crime by 2018.

This replaces the target of a 15 per cent reduction by 2017, which has already been achieved.

Mrs Bennett said the change to the welfare reduction target recognised that many people who were not on Jobseeker Support also wanted to work and they deserved the same levels of support as jobseekers to do that.

“We know that around 90 per cent of people who went on benefits aged 16 or 17 also lived in benefit-dependent homes as children. This reinforces the urgency and importance of getting people in to work to improve their circumstances, and to help break the cycle of inter-generational welfare dependence.

“We have been making some real progress in this regard and it is good to see from the latest results that people who have been exiting Jobseeker Support have been staying in work for longer.

“There has also been real improvement in helping young people and young sole parents in to work so it makes sense to include them in this expanded new target because they are most at risk of long-term dependence, with a resulting heavy cost to themselves and taxpayers.”

Results on targets set so far are here.
We're already delivering better public services and we've just set ourselves tougher targets so we keep improving.<br /><br /><br />
ntnl.org.nz/1zPgs4q


Evil will triumph if good do nothing

February 6, 2015

Speaking to Prime Minister John Key at Waitangi yesterday, Maori Council head Maanu Paul said the Maori Council was concerned Mr Key had indicated New Zealand would go to Iraq.

We are a bit concerned that you might be putting the principle of protection for Maori at risk as you participate in the global problems and want to be a ‘family’ with the United States and England and other people like that.”

Mr Key responded in his speech, saying he agreed New Zealand should not fight others’ wars – but he also did not believe it should stand aside in such a case.

He accused those on the left of being hypocrites, saying they did not believe New Zealand should intervene despite criticising him for failing to speak out on human rights enough when overseas. He said they had also criticised him for his apparent ambivalence on apartheid.

“So the very people who tell me their whole DNA is laced with human rights and standing up for people who can’t protect themselves tell me to look the other way when people are being beheaded by kids, burnt by kids and thrown off buildings. Well, sorry. Give me a break.

“New Zealand is not going to look the other way. We are not going to do silly things but we may join 60-odd countries around the world trying to protect people who can’t protect themselves.”

He said he had no intention of fighting Iraq’s war “but I’m not going to turn the other way when people are being persecuted and say as a leader that it’s other people’s problem.”

The evil without a conscience that disregards rules based democratic systems and commits atrocities as radical Muslims do is our problem.

As Edmund Burke said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
John Key on ISIS


Too high but falling

January 23, 2015

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has welcomed latest child abuse statistics showing that the number of children abused in the year ended June 2014 fell by 2,306 or 12 percent on the previous year.

“Let there be no doubt that our child abuse figures remain appallingly high but it is pleasing to see the numbers going down for the first time in 10 years,” says Mrs Tolley.

During the year to June 2014, 16,289 children had 19,623 findings of abuse substantiated compared to 18,595 children with 22,984 findings of abuse in the previous year. 

Of the 146,657 notifications made to Child, Youth and Family in 2014, 54,065 reports required further action involving 43,590 children.  This compared to 148,659 notifications in 2013 where 61,877 reports required further action in relation to 48,527 children.  A drop of 4,937 children.

In 2014, there were 9,499 children who were emotionally abused, 3,178 children who were physically abused and 1,294 children who were sexually abused.  In 2013 the corresponding figures were 11,386 children emotionally abused, 3,181 physically abused and 1,423 sexually abused.

“Good progress is being achieved in implementing the Children’s Action Plan.   With 30 specific measures designed to prevent abuse and neglect, it will make a real difference in reducing child abuse in this country.

“New Zealanders are becoming increasingly intolerant of abuse and neglect in their communities, and the more people willing to report their concerns, the better chance we’ll have to keep our children safe and protected.” says Mrs Tolley.

The number of people on benefits is also declining.

Could there be a link between that and the decline in child abuse?
While New Zealand's child abuse statistics are still far too high, we're making significant progress in preventing abuse and neglect.<br /><br /><br />
ntnl.org.nz/1zxtVU7

 


Rural round-up

January 22, 2015

Fuel price falls should mean lower farm costs:

The continuing fall in fuel prices should be reflected in lower farm input costs Federated Farmers believes.

Petrol and diesel pump prices have declined by more than 40 cents per litre since October.

Federated Famers transport spokesperson, Ian Mackenzie says he expects the persistent decline in the cost of fuel to be reflected in farm expenses.

“The direct expenses of running machinery are accounted for with a lower fuel bill for the farmer. But there are other high fuel use industries, in particular transport, where we would expect to see some reduction in the costs from now on,” he says. . . .

Court case reconfirms QEII covenants’ clout:

For the second time in less than 12 months the durability of QEII National Trust covenants has been confirmed by the High Court.

The first case was considered by the High Court earlier in 2014 when a landowner wanted to subdivide and build 20 houses on an area of covenanted indigenous forest land he had bought on the Coromandel Peninsula. He challenged the legal status of the covenant agreement because it prevented him from developing the land.

The High Court decision declared that the National Trust’s covenant agreements were ‘indefeasible’, meaning the covenant cannot be annulled. . .

 

Stock theft affects us all – Chris Irons:

Around Christmas time stock rustling seems to rear its head and this holiday season has been no different. Concerns are mounting around stock rustling and the ability to stop it. Ironically, the morning of writing this I was actually out hunting down one of my own heifers, which in the end I found but it gets the heart pumping when you think it has been stolen.

Following the event where a farmer’s cows were shot with a crossbow at the southern end of the Hunua Ranges, questions are being raised as to what rights farmers have to stop a poacher or thief on their property? Not only do farmers have limited rights to stop people stealing their stock, but we’ve got to ask whether the penalties imposed are serious enough to be a deterrent for either rustling or poaching?  Based on the Federation’s experience to date they are not. . . .

DWN conference heads to Southland:

Dairy Women’s Network is excited to be holding its 2015 annual conference in one of New Zealand’s fastest growing dairy regions.

The Network’s key annual event is sponsored by Lifetime Insurance and Travel Advisors, and is taking place in Southland on 18-19 March at the ILT Stadium in Invercargill.

Network chief executive Zelda De Villiers said the 2015 conference theme ‘Entering tomorrow’s world’ would be evident in the eight workshops offered, comprising financial management, sustainable environments, a presentation by High Performance Sport NZ psychologist David Galbraith, farmer wellness, animal lameness, legal liability and more. . .

MBIE report backs primary sector careers:

Lincoln University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Business Development, Jeremy Baker, has welcomed the findings of a Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) report which shows particularly favourable prospects for those exploring primary sector and associated land-based careers.

The Occupation Outlook 2015  report is a comprehensive industry document designed to provide key information for those contemplating study and career options. The report rated the job prospects for agricultural scientists as very high, and projected an annual growth for the profession of 4 percent for 2013-18 and 3.2 percent for 2018-23.

Identical figures are listed for environmental scientists and food technicians, while the job prospects for farmers and farm managers is also rated as very high.

“The report lends weight to the message Lincoln University has been making for some time. Namely, that there are many exciting career opportunities in the primary sector for those who are prepared to open themselves up to the possibilities,” says Jeremy Baker. . .

Boosting food production through phosphorus: Lincoln works with Chilean university:

Lincoln University is joining forces with a prominent Chilean university research institute to address pressing issues involving the essential role of phosphorus in global food production.

Professor Leo Condron, of Lincoln University’s Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, recently spent six weeks at the Scientific and Technological Bioresources Nucleus (BIOREN) of the Universidad de La Frontera in Temuco, Chile, as part of a Biological Resource Management Fellowship funded by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

“The fellowship involved bringing together the complementary skills of Lincoln University and Universidad de La Frontera to investigate ways of improving the usability of phosphorus in agricultural systems,” said Professor Condron.

The productivity of ecosystems is largely determined by the presence of phosphorus in soil. However, the world’s known phosphorus reserves are steadily being depleted, and demand is expected to exceed supply within 100 years. . .

Primary industry sector on verge of a technological revolution:

While farmers and other rural industries have always been innovators and pioneers, many city dwellers still think of them as tough, hardworking people who do without ‘modern’ technologies such as smart phones, tablets and big screen TVs.

Times have changed. The reality is something quite different. These and an array of new and innovative technologies are now a vital component of most rural businesses.

City dwellers can use their latest mobile gadget as they make their way into work. Modern farmers would rather use their latest UAV (drone) for a spin around the property or set up their new driverless tractor for the day’s operations – all while tracking everything via their tablets using GPS and wireless networks. . .

Manuka Health – recognised for excellence in International Business Awards

Manuka Health is delighted to be recognised as a finalist in the 2015 New Zealand International Business Awards (NZIBA) in the $10 – $50 million General Award Category. This signals the extraordinary growth experienced by Manuka Health over the past eight years and is also an acknowledgement of recent investment in a multi-million dollar plant in Te Awamutu.

Opened officially in November 2014, the Manuka Health facility is a high tech, internationally accredited laboratory, honey processing factory and global distribution centre which enables the Company to produce award-winning innovative natural healthcare products.

“We are honoured to have been recognised for our success in international business,” says Kerry Paul, CEO Manuka Health. “This comes on top of an exciting year with the opening of our world-class facility and a prestigious Gold Innovation Award for our ManukaClear™ Intensive BB Gel in the USA. . . .

 


Pen mightier than sword or gun

January 9, 2015

Cartoonists across the world have  respounded in solidarity with these killed in Paris:

Cartoonists around the world have put pencil to paper in solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo artists slaughtered in Paris, admitting their own fear of being targeted but vowing they will not be silenced.

In the small world of political satire, many cartoonists knew the journalists at the French weekly magazine who were among 12 killed by suspected Islamists on Wednesday. They expressed their anguish and deep anger at the killings in the way they know best. . .

They are showing the pen is mightier than the sword or gun.

The gunmen showed the weakness of their beliefs by responding to words and pictures with guns.

They couldn’t counter the message so shot the messengers.


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