NZ First has a youth wing?

March 26, 2012

Who would have thought it? New Zealand first has a youth wing – Young New Zealand first.

Callum Fredric, Critic’s political reporter interviewed two of its members and began by saying:

The New Zealand First Party is the Salmond College of political parties – far enough away from the mainstream to be forgotten by most, but not quite far out enough to gain notoriety like the Mana Party (Aquinas). . .

You might have to know a little about Otago University’s halls of residence to understand the metaphors but even if you don’t, the rest of the interview makes interesting reading.

Equality or prosperity?

March 4, 2012

The quote in the previous post was from a Critic interview with National’s senior whip and Dunedin-based MP and Dunedin North MP David Clark.

Among the questions asked by interviewer, Callum Fredric was:

In a hypothetical society, which society would you prefer: One where everyone earns $50,000 per year; or one where half the people earn $70,000 and the other half earns $300,000?

In the discussion that followed Michael said:

. . .  It’s a really straightforward question, with a really straightforward answer. Either you agree with the proposition that as long as you’re better off, it’s okay for other people to be even more better off in society, all other things being equal. . .

The question was about income inequality. All other things being equal, would a society where everybody is better off but there is greater income inequality be a better society than one where everyone is equally impoverished? I’m going to quote my new colleague Dr Jian Yang who grew up in china. And in his maiden speech said by 1968 when he was 6 years old, china under Mao Zedong had reached its utopia. Everyone was equally impoverished, and on his tenth birthday his present was two eggs for breakfast. So we can go to the statistics that David loves quoting and say that according to your argument, we would be better off living in Afghanistan or the Czech republic than we would be in NZ and I simply reject that proposition. What’s important is the issue of social mobility. So fair pay for work.

The left are spending a lot of energy on inequality but it’s not whether everyone has enough is far more important than whether some people have more.

Prosperity for everyone even if it’s unequal is far better than everyone being equally poor.




This isn’t how it was supposed to work

December 16, 2011

Voluntary student membership was primarily about freedom of association.

A bonus should have been that it would force student unions to become more efficient and responsive to their members.

It wasn’t supposed to mean business as usual with universities charging students more which they then pass on to the unions:

The Southern Region Young Nationals today expressed disappointment with the student services agreement reached between the University of Otago and the Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) which has led to a substantial increase in fees students pay for the provision of non-academic services.

The agreement comes after OUSA responded to voluntary student membership legislation by recommending students set their membership levy at $0, leaving them reliant on the University’s compulsory student services fees to fund their operations.

The University Council voted to increase student services fees by 16%, from $580 to $672. This included a 12% increase from $190 to $213 per student in fees charged for OUSA services, despite the fact that the services remain unchanged in 2012.

Southern Region Chair, Callum Fredric, believes that the agreement will negatively impact Otago students.

“Students are now being charged significantly more in 2012 for what is essentially the same thing that they were being charged for in 2011”, Fredric stated. “There appears to be no reasonable justification for such a large increase in student fees, which only adds to the growing mountain of student debt without providing any tangible increase in services.”

Recently the Minister for Tertiary Education, Steven Joyce, released a Ministerial Direction on Compulsory Student Service Fees which aimed to ensure accountability in the use of compulsory fees for student services. Fredric says that the Minister should be taking a close look at the reasons for such a fee increase at Otago.

“I think that whenever there is a substantial increase in fees that appears to be unaccounted for, there is cause for the Government to ask questions about whether this is an appropriate use of students’, and ultimately, taxpayers’money.”

Fredric rejects the assertion that this increase is due to the abolition of compulsory student unionism. He says that as the service provider, OUSA ultimately sets the minimum level at which they charge students to provide their services.

“At the end of the day OUSA has the ability to charge as little as they wish to provide these services to students. In doing the complete opposite and actually increasing the amount students pay to OUSA by over 10%, they have shown that their previous commitments to a more fiscally responsible and sustainable organisation were nothing more than empty rhetoric. Sadly it is the students who will pay for OUSA’s decision to continue their history of levy and spend.”

The union should have used the abolition of compulsory membership to examine what it did, how it did it, how much support it had from students to do it and how much they were willing to pay for it.

Instead it will be able to carry on as usual and students will have no more control over the costs than they did when membership was compulsory.

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