Why’s Labour picking on farmers?

June 28, 2017

Labour is still planning to pick on farmers:

Labour has vowed to charge a royalty on the use of water for farming.

At last week’s Federated Farmers annual conference, party leader Andrew Little appeared to change stance on its election policy held since 2011, which was to charge a resource rental on farmers who use water for irrigation and discharge too many nutrients.

After Little had delivered his speech to the conference, Feds environment spokesman Chris Allen praised him for saying farmers and politicians were “all in this together.”

“I’d like to congratulate you on your environmental policy where you’ve abandoned the idea of resource rentals. It’s not mentioned but I imagine you have actually abandoned it,” Allen said.

In response Little replied: “If you’re talking about the old water policy, yeah that’s not our policy. And we’re not standing on that and you shouldn’t expect to see that.”

On Sunday Labour clarified its position. Little said in a statement that cleaning up rivers so that they were clean enough to swim in was the most important freshwater issue for the election, but it was also fair that a royalty should be charged where public water was used in large quantities for private gain.

“It was reported following my speech to Federated Farmers last week that Labour has abandoned its policy of charging a royalty on farming uses of water. We haven’t.”

“At the conclusion of my speech I was asked about resource rentals which I thought was a  reference to our NZ Power policy of 2014. I replied that we were not continuing with that policy.  I confirmed we would impose a levy on bottled water.  This was in addition to our focus on water quality, which I had already spoken about.

The idea of charging a royalty on bottled water will be popular.

On the face of it, it’s like royalties on gold or oil. But minerals aren’t used by everyone the way water is and imposing a royalty for some users but not all might be problematic.

“The message of my speech was that we will work with farmers on regulatory change and that there is urgency to act on environmental quality and climate change. We remain committed to setting a resource rental for large water take for irrigation at a fair and affordable price,” Little said. . . .

Why pick on farmers?

What’s the difference between farming and other businesses which use water?

Councils use huge amounts of water which is ultimately for private benefit.

Why is using water to produce food and earn export income less of a public good than using water to process food or any other goods, drink, bathe or shower, wash cars, fill swimming pools or any of the myriad of other uses to which town and city water supplies are put?

If improving water quality is the aim, why not target storm water and other urban contaminants too?

Most farmers have put a considerable amount of effort and money into ensuring they are minimising their environmental footprints which includes cleaning up waterways degraded by poor practices in the past and ensuring they’re doing all they can to protect and enhance them.

Some still aren’t up to standard and water policy should focus on those who aren’t doing the right thing, not make the good pay because some are still bad.

 

 

 


Candidates’ social media accounts

June 26, 2017

Political Hack has a list of election candidates’ social media accounts.


Let’s get together

June 26, 2017

Let’s Get Together – when I heard that title it took me back to Hayley Mills singing in one of my favourite childhood films.

Fast forward a few decades to the National Party’s campaign video:

I like it – New Zealand would be a much better place if more of us got together.


Labour now the Sweatshop Boys

June 23, 2017

Duncan Garner has the line of the day on the AM Show – he’s calling Labour the Sweatshop Boys.

He’s referring to the party’s botched intern scheme :

There are calls for Immigration NZ to investigate a Labour-linked election campaign which used unpaid labour in the guise of an education programme.

More than 80 overseas students have been doing unpaid “drudge work”, and living in a cramped Auckland marae without a working shower, reports political blog Politik. . .

Rivals ACT called the campaign a “sweat shop filled with immigrant labour”.

“I cannot believe the Labour Party’s do as we say, not as we do attitude. This is a new low for hypocrisy, even for them,” ACT leader David Seymour said.

“Who would believe in Labour’s promised crackdown on cheap student labour when Labour are one of the worst offenders in the country?” . . .

That is hypocrisy writ large.

National Party campaign chairman Steven Joyce said Labour had to explain how it could justify “exploiting” international students for its election campaign while it was also speaking out against international education providers.

“This is truly appalling behaviour both for its lack of human decency and industrial strength hypocrisy,” Joyce said.

“If the allegations are correct, Labour has brought international students to New Zealand on false pretences, failed to look after them, and failed to meet their obligations to the students in the most basic way, while at the same time campaigning against exploitation of migrants.” . . .

Employers are very, very worried about Labour’s threatened changes to immigration.

Skills shortage in many sectors including IT, trades, farming, contracting and hospitality mean employers are already struggling to get anyone to fill positions. They’re wasting time, money and energy working their way through the process of employing immigrants.

Labour’s threatened changes would make that much, much worse.

These employers are working hard making a significant and positive economic and social contribution to New Zealand.

Labour wants to hobble them and yet has the hypocrisy to bring in people from overseas, not to work in productive businesses,  but to campaign for the party, and do it without pay.

Compounding that, the party that is supposed to stand up for workers put them up in sub-standard accommodation.

Matt McCarten did a mea culpe yesterday but the party can’t blame the mess only on him.

Newshub has obtained internal documents outlining Labour’s ambitious plans to put foreign students to work on its campaign.

The plan shows the party needed to find $270,000 in funding to pull it off and was banking on unions to fund a lot of it. . .

The budgeting was based on 100 students staying for an average of eight weeks. The cost of feeding and housing them in motorhomes was estimated at $240,000, with an operational budget of $30,000 for petrol, venues and AT HOP cards.

The documents show First and Unite unions agreed to contribute $100,000, “white collar unions” – likely the likes of the PSA – committed to $50,000, while Union Trust put up a start-up loan of $25,000.

The plan was to get E tū and “other appropriate unions” on board too.

The Council of Trade Unions was also to be involved in management of the project, and while Labour has been distancing itself from the project, the documents explicitly states: “The programme and certification is the responsibility of Labour.” . . .

Hypocrisy is bad enough, but there are also questions over which visas the students are on.

. . . We know these “fellows” are being given free accommodation in exchange for their work, so they are in breach of their visitor visa conditions, if they have visitor visas.

It is possible they have other visas, such as work visas. But it is hard to imagine they could qualify for work visas, and the hypocrisy would be great – Labour bringing in unpaid fellows on work visas, while campaigning against such work visas.

So it looks like either Labour has arranged 85 work visas for its unpaid fellows while campaigning to reduce the number of work visas for unskilled jobs or Labour has been complicit in a huge case of immigration fraud.

Even if the students are on working holiday visas, there are other questions:

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse did not know whether Immigration NZ or MBIE’s labour inspectorate was investigating the issue, but believed Labour had serious questions to answer about possible breaches.

Woodhouse said the students would be allowed to undertake the work if they were on working holiday visas, as Labour believed, but there were still questions about whether there had been breaches of employment law.

“What I am aware of is similar schemes to this have been investigated very seriously by the labour inspectorate because it is work masquerading as voluntary work, and I think that is also a question that should be asked of the Labour Party.”

Providing services for food and board counted as work under employment law, he said.

“Regardless of what visa they’re on, there are certainly questions about the nature of the work they’re doing and whether that meets the definition of employment.” . .

The Sweatshop boys and girls in Labour will be sweating over this.

Even if there is no immigration fraud, what they are doing is in direct contradiction of their immigration policy and their supposed role in protecting workers from exploitation.

 

 


What about the workers?

June 22, 2017

What about the workers? is supposed to be a rallying call for Labour.

But Politic outlines how the party treats those working for it:

A Labour Party scheme to recruit  85 overseas students to campaign for the party during this year’s election has hit trouble.

The students rebelled over their accommodation and their disappointment with what was supposed to be a high powered learning programme but which appears to be not much more than political campaign drudge work. . . 

They are unpaid,  were housed in sub-standard accommodation, and promised lectures from some top Labour Party names:

  • Andrew Little
  • Jacinda Ardern
  • Helen Clark
  • “Current ambassadors to NZ.”
  • “Senior party stakeholders and staff, including the President and Chief of Staff “
  • Teleconferences with senior staff from US Democratic Party and UK Labour Party

The lectures have yet to eventuate and they are now being spread out around the country to be billeted by party members.

This is more evidence for my contention that Labour is tough on employers because it thinks they’re all as bad as it is.

It also shows it can’t recruit enough members and unionists to campaign.

Bad as all that is this is more politically damaging:

It is part of  Matt McCarten’s “Campaign for Change” which he describes as a non-partisan campaign to get people engaged and involved.

But how non-partisan is debatable.

McCarten is Andrew Little’s former Chief of Staff and resigned two weeks ago from running Labour’s campaign office in Auckland. . . 

Of course the campaign isn’t non-partisan and worse it’s public knowledge that McCarten was running Labour’s campaign office in Auckland.

Did they learn nothing from the pledge card debacle?

There are very clear lines between what people employed by parliamentary services, paid by the public service can do and what they can’t.

Running a  campaign office is a long way on the wrong side of the line.

What about the workers’ hard earned money that goes in tax to be misused?


Still don’t risk lives to get dead

June 20, 2017

Families of the men who died in the Pike River mine explosion are understandably upset that video footage from the mine shows intact bodies when they’d previously been told fire would have consumed everything.

It is fair to question why all footage wasn’t shown earlier.

But whatever video shows, Solid Energy chief executive Tony King is right when he says it doesn’t make it safe for people to enter the mine:

“As we have previously said, there is nothing in any of the video footage that has been released that contradicts the ultimate decision that manned re-entry of the mine is unsafe”, said Mr King.

“The lack of damage evident in the video footage of Borehole 44 is consistent with what would be expected in the circumstances. We all saw the images of flames coming out of the shaft. These hot gases established an air current that drew air up the drift, into the fire and then up the shaft. The tendency in an underground fire is for it to burn back towards the source of oxygen i.e. the drift. The roof-fall at the end of the drift is probably due to heat damage, and extensive damage from there through to the shaft and in adjacent roadways would be expected. The inner parts of the mine would be oxygen deficient and there would have been no air current to draw the fire into those areas.” 

The directors of Solid Energy wrote an open letter last year explaining why it is unsafe to enter the mine.

Full information on the technical aspects of re-entry is on their website.

It would be helpful to counter conspiracy theorists if all video footage was released.

But that won’t change the fact that the mine is unsafe and no lives should be risked to rescue the dead.

 


Anything not everything

June 19, 2017

Mine was probably the last generation of girls who grew up thinking we’d get married and have children – and in that order.

We were encourage to have jobs or even careers, but the expectation for most of us was that, sooner rather than later, family would come first.

Younger women have grown up with different expectations, many based on the exhortation that girls can do anything.

The trouble with that line is that it’s taken to mean they can do, and have,  everything – career, relationship, family . . .

But as Deborah Coddington says in commenting on Holly Walker’s Memoir The Whole Intimate Mess:

Walker admits she saw it as a chance to show women could have it all. Isn’t it about time someone, somewhere, blazed across the sky: if you choose to do one thing you are, ipso facto, forgoing something else? . . 

Coddington has been criticised on Twitter for her view, but she’s right.

Anyone might be able to do anything, but that is very different from being able to do everything, or at the very least being able to do it all at once:

Undoubtedly changes could be made to the system in the behemoth, but raising a baby is one of the most important things a mum or dad can do. Should it be slotted between points of order, supplementary questions, constituency meetings, select committees? Certainly not when a woman ends up badly mentally and physically hurt, no matter who is inflicting the abuse.

Perhaps I’m just old-fashioned. I had my first child five days after I turned 22, 42 years ago, and I loved raising babies. But at the same time I watched with envy as my journalism colleagues soared up the career ladder while I felt abandoned in Wairarapa teaching a little one to talk, garden and cook playdough. But when my four children were at school I could claw my way back up to the top in journalism, full time, then look at those same colleagues, now in their late 30s, early 40s, struggle with IVF, difficult pregnancies and exhaustion as they juggled early childcare and jobs.

My point is you actually can have everything; but maybe not at the same time.

Definitely not at the same time, and not always when you want it.

By the time young couples have completed their education, travel, and are well on their way up the career ladder, conception might not come easily, if at all.

As a friend commented during a discussion on infertility,  Our parents worried we’d have babies too soon, our generation worries our children are leaving it too late.

A point Amanda Gillies made on the AM Show:

“I say to girls, particularly young girls, have your children early if you can. I waited, I shouldn’t have, and so I say to them: Career you can always come back to it – children you can’t,” Gillies said.

“So do it early, it’s so much easier. I’m now 40, it’s probably not a happening thing and it’s a heartbreaking thing because as a woman you do feel like a failure.” . . 

If these busy career people do manage to have children, the idea that life can go on as it did pre-parenthood seriously underestimates the demands even the healthiest and happiest of babies make, ignores the almost certainty that no baby is 100% happy and healthy, and shows little if any appreciation of the time, energy and commitment it takes to bring up children.

In most young families today, men play a much more active parenting role than their fathers did and women are much more likely to be in paid work than their mothers were.

Parents sharing the caregiving and wage-earning can be better for them and their children.

But the message that girls – and boys – can do anything needs to be tempered with the caution that if they try to do everything at once something will give and if having children comes later on the to-do list, they might find it’s too late.

 


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