No-one wins when bystanders hurt by strikes

December 13, 2018

The threatened strike by Air New Zealand workers has been averted.

Thank goodness.

Had it gone ahead, the strike for three days from next Friday would have disrupted flights for tens of thousands of travellers and a lot of freight.

The threat was enough to cause considerable angst to a lot of people and did the workers’ cause no good.

Any sympathy people might have had for their claims was more than outweighed by the stress and distress over the fears that planned travel for weddings, graduations, reunions, homecomings, work and Christmas was going to be impossible.

Unions do themselves and their workers no favours with these sorts of threats which take those of us old enough to remember back to the bad old days when strikes routinely upset travel plans.

The government must accept part of the blame too, as Barry Soper writes:

If politics is about perception, the perception is that the country’s going to hell in a trade union hand basket.

Parliament’s bear pit was on fire yesterday with the booming Gerry Brownlee lambasting the Government for returning New Zealand to cloth cap control by the unions with Air New Zealand engineers threatening to down tools for three days from December 21 (the strike threat was removed late last night).

National riled the Government saying there are now more strikes than there have been since Jacinda Ardern was at primary school. . .

It’s true when Ardern was at primary school 30 years ago the trade union movement was all powerful and battling a government that made the recent changes to workplace law look like a Sunday school picnic.. . 

Now the muscle is again being flexed and if Labour’s feeling flustered, it’s got itself to blame.

Changes to the way the party selected its leader was taken away from its MPs six years ago and handed over to the party’s membership and its trade union affiliates who have 20 per cent of the vote, with caucus getting 40 and the rest going to paid-up card carriers. . .

Unions don’t only hold the voting power, they are major donors to Labour and they want their reward for that. But they put the government, and any sympathy the public might have for their members, at risk when bystanders are hurt by strikes.

 


$2.63 and rising

October 8, 2018

Is this the most expensive petrol in the country?

Regular petrol in Wanaka yesterday cost $2.639, premium was more than $3 and diesel was $1.999.

The lower value of the New Zealand dollar is contributing to the rising price, but so too is the government’s new fuel tax.

It’s supposed to be levied only in Auckland but it’s appears to be spreading throughout the country.

And whether or not the tax is spreading north and south of Auckland, the pain of higher fuel prices is being felt nationwide.

All goods and services have a transport component, when the price of fuel increases, it put pressures on every single thing that is transported.

And the virtue signalling about the environment is cold comfort for those of us who will rarely if ever use Auckland’s public transport and have no public transport available locally.

This will be a tax too far for many people.

A government that talks about caring about child poverty needs to act to reduce the costs their parents can’t avoid.

 


Who gets money from All Blacks’ tours?

October 4, 2018

All Blacks’ fans will be paying a high price for World Cup tickets.

Ticket prices for the All Blacks’ pool matches range between $536 for category A down to $134 for category D for the pool opener against South Africa, as well as the matches against Namibia and Italy. The contest against the repechage winner is slightly discounted at between $402 and $93.

Category A tickets comprise the bulk of the main stands running pitchside, while category D is essentially immediately behind the in-goal area.

The quarterfinals are priced the same as the All Blacks’ pool match against South Africa at between $536 and $134, while the semifinals will require you to fork out $938 for a category A tickets and the final $1340. . .

That final price tag is still less than we were quoted for tickets to the All Blacks vs Pumas in Argentina last year.

The first quote came back at several thousands dollars including accommodation in a five-star hotel.

We didn’t need five-star accommodation. The next price for a more modest hotel was still eye-watering.

I suggested another hotel where someone in our group already had a booking so we knew the price. When we subtracted the hotel from the quote that came back we would still have been paying around $1500 for a ticket to the game.

I gave up on trying to get tickets from New Zealand and asked an Argentinean friend to try for us.

She got us good seats for less than $300 – around five times less than the lowest price we were offered through All Black tours in New Zealand.

So who gets the difference between what the tickets cost and what fans are charged after costs and a reasonable profit are taken off?

 


Travellers’ time saved

August 26, 2018

Departure cards for international travellers are being scrapped:

Travellers currently fill out a total of 6.5 million departure cards each year.

But Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri said the cards are no longer needed to account for all people crossing the New Zealand border.

She said they now have smarter systems which can identify information and travel movements electronically.

“Information captured by the departure cards is now mainly used for statistical purposes,” Ms Whaitiri said.

“Stats NZ has developed an alternative way to produce migration and tourism statistics, based on actual movements rather than passengers’ stated intentions on the departure cards.” . . 

The requirement to fill out cards will be end in November.

The Government says it will save more than 100,000 hours of time and allow a faster and smoother process.

Each time I’ve passed through the electronic passport control I’ve wondered why there is still a requirement to fill in a departure card.

There isn’t any longer which will save travellers’ time and ought to also save the time and money that has been spent on processing them.


Wool best to beat perma-stink

July 24, 2018

Scientists have proved what wool fans know – merino wool is the best fabric to beat the perma-stink:

When Rachel McQueen’s husband was training for a marathon, she noticed the smell emanating from his running clothes was much stronger and lingered longer in his polyester tops than if he had run in a merino wool top.

“I was repulsed,” said the textile scientist. Even freshly laundered, her husband’s running tops still stunk. “The smell was as strong as if they had just been worn and I realized you can get perma-stink.”

McQueen, who has made it her mission to find the causes of perma-stink, conducted a study in which she compared the relationship between and different fabrics. She had male volunteers wear test T-shirts, which had swatches of polyester, cotton and stitched to the underarm regions. They wore the shirts for two consecutive days and then the swatches were removed for testing. Smell tests using sensors were conducted on each after one day, seven days and 28 days of storage.

“Polyester was by the far the most odorous,” she said. “Wool was the least smelly, and cotton was low to medium.”

The chemical odour-binding sites within fibres are key in determining the stink level, so McQueen focused her attention on the chemical makeup of fibres and how it affects odour retention.

She found that wool and cotton are hydrophilic and absorb more water than polyester.

“Wool is a fibre with an amorphous structure,” explained McQueen. “It has open spaces and is more porous than a synthetic fibre, so it can absorb a lot of sweat.”

That means that if odour molecules are trapped within wool or cotton, we can’t smell them as readily as we can with polyester, which has fewer chemical odour-binding sites.

To keep perma-stink at bay while being active, McQueen suggests the following:

Choose fabrics that have higher cotton or wool content.

“People are generally attuned to their own body odour. If you’re concerned, go with natural fibres,” said McQueen.

Wool went out of fashion, but the development of machine washable merino brought it back and its popularity has been enhanced by its environmental credentials.

Concerns over tiny particles of plastic from synthetic clothing getting to the ocean in washing water is turning the tide back to natural fabrics.

It’s a rare day when I don’t wear at least one layer of merino, it’s my preferred choice for exercising and I always wear it when travelling.

It’s warm when it’s cold, cool when it’s hot and, as science has proved, it’s the best to beat the perma-stink.


#getnzonthemap

May 7, 2018

100%PureNZ is running a campaign to #getnzonthemap.

We found a map in Asunción, Paraguay last year and did out best to put New Zealand back where it belongs:


Careless campers country-wide problem

January 26, 2018

Queenstown Lakes is banning freedom campers from two areas after continuing problems with rubbish and human waste left behind.

Announcing the measures yesterday, Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult said his council would take a harder line against illegal freedom camping in areas such as Wanaka’s lakefront.

The measures, which will be put into place as soon as practicable, were a response to significant growth in freedom camping in the district this summer, Mr Boult said.

Enforcement alone was not enough, and the council had resolved to “take a harder stand”.

“These pressure points are seeing overcrowding, risks to public health due to human waste, and potential damage to our environment with people bathing and washing dishes or clothes in the lakes or rivers.”

Parts of the district were also being used like a “giant toilet”. . .

The council would also lobby the Government to put much more funding into building public toilet facilities, and providing more remote freedom camping sites throughout the district.

Too few public facilities is a major contributor to the problem and small councils with lots of tourists don’t have the rating base to fund loos in all the places where they’re needed.

The previous government introduced a fund councils could apply to for tourist infrastructure, much more is needed.

He would also be talking to ministers about reviewing the low hurdle required for meeting “self-contained” criteria for toilets in vehicles. . .

The only acceptable criteria for a ‘self-contained” toilet is those built-in ones in camper vans.

Councils can fine people camping where they shouldn’t be, but only about 20% of fines issued to freedom campers in the Waitaki District have been paid.

Fines totalling $17,000 were issued to freedom campers across the district. Of the infringement notices issued, each for $200, 15 ($3000) had been paid while 58 ($11,600) were outstanding.

The remaining 12, worth $2400, had been withdrawn…

The solution to this would be to make vehicle owners responsible for any fines. That way rental companies would have to pay and then get the money from the people hiring from them which is, I think, what happens with parking fines.

Another contributor to problems caused by careless campers is different rules from different councils in different areas.

Careless campers are a country-wide problem that needs a country-wide solution.

That will include more public facilities, clearer rules, and better education on what is and isn’t acceptable.

Defecation in public is the norm in some countries, visitors must be left with no doubt that they can’t pooh in public places here.


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