Thatcher thinks

January 24, 2020


Don’t waste it

January 24, 2020

The Taxpayers’ Union has submitted a design proposal for a 3.5-metre artwork in the Beehive entrance.

 

The Union will save taxpayers money by refusing the $15,000 commission fee should its submission be chosen.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “Perfectly placed to greet MPs and Ministers arriving for work, Don’t Waste It serves as a warning to would-be money-wasters in the heart of government.”

“For those New Zealanders not lucky enough to earn a politician’s salary, a five dollar note represents a meal, or the bus fare for a job interview. That small sheet of polypropylene can be the difference between hunger and happiness, poverty and opportunity.”

“Taxpayers understand the value of money, because they work for it. But too often, politicians take money from us only to fritter it away on pet projects, political fads, and minor extravagances. The taxpaying public can never be too firm in its opposition to government waste. It is in this spirit that we submit our proposal.”

Former MP Eric Roy used to have a shearing hand piece in his office in parliament to remind him where he came from.

It would be good for everyone who works in parliament – MPs and staff – and everyone who visits, especially those who come to lobby for funding to have this reminder that no money should be wasted.

 


Wrong data, wrong result

January 24, 2020

The decision to close the Lumsden Maternity Centre was based on incorrect data:

The Lumsden Maternity Centre was closed last year as part of a region-wide review of maternity services by the Southern District Health Board, and replaced with a maternal and child hub.

The decision was strongly opposed by locals; a report by Ernst and Young commissioned by the board found numerous faults with how the SDHB implemented its maternity strategy.

The report’s terms of reference did not include the SDHB’s decision to create a hub at Lumsden.

That decision was the subject of the new report, which was written by midwifery academic Pauline Dawson and commissioned by Lumsden clinic operators the Northern Southland Medical Trust.

Ms Dawson said the closure went against the aims of the National Maternity Monitoring Group and the SDHB’s own primary health strategy.

‘‘This closure puts mothers and babies in this area at risk of poor short and long-term health outcomes and places additional burden of care on remote rural lead maternity carers.’’

Ms Dawson said when deciding to close Lumsden the SDHB did not correctly identify the catchment area the unit served, and ‘‘significant’’ numbers of mothers who had used it were not counted.

The SDHB had used birth numbers in its reports where it should have considered pregnancy numbers when assessing if it had met its Ministry service coverage schedule requirements, Ms Dawson said.

The Ministry itself used a document to support the decision in which travel times between centres were incorrect, and wrongly used the time to the closest primary facility rather than to a secondary service, as it should have, Ms Dawson said.

There’s a big difference between what’s available at a primary facility and a secondary one.

‘‘This error makes several locations appear as they are within service coverage schedule specifications, when they definitely are not.’’

Trust chairwoman Janese Priergaard-Petersen said the report confirmed many of the issues trustees had raised.

‘‘The decision was based on poor information and then executed poorly by the SDHB.

‘‘We don’t yet have any solid data on outcomes for mothers and babies, both in terms of births and postnatal care but we do know that mothers, and the lead maternity carer midwives who care for them, are struggling with the lack of support left by the closure of Lumsden Maternity.’’ . . .

They don’t have solid data but they do have cases where the lives of the mothers and babies were at risk because the Lumsden Centre had closed.

They include the woman whose husband drove at high speed in winter conditions while she was on all fours in the back seat; and a baby born in a car park outside the centre.

The community has questioned the decision to close the maternity centre from the time it was first mooted.

It was the wrong decision, based on wrong data.


Thatcher thinks

January 23, 2020


Not okay doomers

January 23, 2020

Sean Plunket has coined the term doomers for the people who are prophesying catastrophe as the result of climate change.

They are the ones who label anyone who questions their apocalyptic forecasts as deniers even though most of the changes they’re demanding of us are, as Bjørn Lomborg says, empty gestures which trivialises the challenge:

Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, wash your clothes in cold water, eat less meat, recycle more, and buy an electric car: we are being bombarded with instructions from climate campaigners, environmentalists, and the media about the everyday steps we all must take to tackle climate change. Unfortunately, these appeals trivialize the challenge of global warming, and divert our attention from the huge technological and policy changes that are needed to combat it. . . 

For example, environmental activists emphasize the need to give up eating meat and driving fossil-fuel-powered cars. But, although I am a vegetarian and do not own a car, I believe we need to be honest about what such choices can achieve.

Going vegetarian actually is quite difficult: one large US survey indicates that 84% of people fail, most of them in less than a year. But a systematic peer-reviewed study has shown that even if they succeed, a vegetarian diet reduces individual CO2 emissions by the equivalent of 540 kilograms – or just 4.3% of the emissions of the average inhabitant of a developed country. Furthermore, there is a “rebound effect,” as money saved on cheaper vegetarian food is spent on goods and services that cause additional greenhouse-gas emissions. Once we account for this, going entirely vegetarian reduces a person’s total emissions by only 2%.

Likewise, electric cars are branded as environmentally friendly, but generating the electricity they require almost always involves burning fossil fuels. Moreover, producing energy-intensive batteries for these cars invariably generates significant CO2 emissions. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), an electric car with a range of 400 kilometers (249 miles) has a huge carbon deficit when it hits the road, and will start saving emissions only after being driven 60,000 kilometers. Yet, almost everywhere, people use an electric car as a second car, and drive it shorter distances than equivalent gasoline vehicles. . . 

Individual actions to tackle climate change, even when added together, achieve so little because cheap and reliable energy underpins human prosperity. Fossil fuels currently meet 81% of our global energy needs. And even if every promised climate policy in the 2015 Paris climate agreement is achieved by 2040, they will still deliver 74% of the total.

We already spend $129 billion per year subsidizing solar and wind energy to try to entice more people to use today’s inefficient technology, yet these sources meet just 1.1% of our global energy needs. The IEA estimates that by 2040 – after we have spent a whopping $3.5 trillion on additional subsidies – solar and wind will still meet less than 5% of our needs.

That’s pitiful. Significantly cutting CO2 emissions without reducing economic growth will require far more than individual actions. It is absurd for middle-class citizens in advanced economies to tell themselves that eating less steak or commuting in a Toyota Prius will rein in rising temperatures. To tackle global warming, we must make collective changes on an unprecedented scale.

By all means, anyone who wants to go vegetarian or buy an electric car should do so, for sound reasons such as killing fewer animals or reducing household energy bills. But such decisions will not solve the problem of global warming.

The one individual action that citizens could take that would make a difference would be to demand a vast increase in spending on green-energy research and development, so that these energy sources eventually become cheap enough to outcompete fossil fuels. That is the real way to help fight climate change.

The doomers are fixated on unrealistic and ineffective actions which would, if taken up as they demand, come at a high economic and social cost for little if any environmental gain.

That’s not okay, doomers.

Investment in research and development that will lead to innovation and technical advances would achieve far more without the economic and social sabotage the doomers’ prescription would inflict on us all.


Thatcher thinks

January 22, 2020


If the Greens weren’t so red

January 22, 2020

Another delivery failure from the government:

No progress has been made on advancing the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary over the past two years despite specific Government promises in their coalition agreements to do so, Nelson MP Nick Smith says.

“Written Parliamentary Question to Ministers reveal the Government has all but given up on advancing the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary. There has been no Cabinet papers and little work by Ministers or officials on the sanctuary. There has been no meetings, no correspondence, and no official papers in more than six months.

“There is now no realistic prospect of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary being put in place during this term of Parliament, despite specific promises in the Confidence and Supply agreement with the Green Party to do so.

“Far from helping to create the new Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary, the Government has blocked attempts to progress it. They have put my original Government Bill to create the sanctuary at the bottom of the work schedule and repeatedly blocked my Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Members Bill from being introduced.

“This important sanctuary would protect an area of ocean twice the land area of New Zealand and hundreds of threatened marine species. The Kermadec Sanctuary now joins a long list of policies this Government has failed to deliver on.”

The government hasn’t delivered on this coalition agreement promise which is Greens’ core policy because that party hasn’t the bargaining power of NZ First which is beholden to the fishing industry.

If the Greens weren’t so red they might have contemplated a coalition with National and had no argument about creating the sanctuary.

But the party is deeply red and the environment is the loser because of that.

 


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