Knowing right from wrong

July 17, 2017

Green co-leader Metiria Turei has admitted she is a fraudster:

. . I was one of those women, who you hear people complain about on talkback radio.
Because despite all the help I was getting, I could not afford to live, study and keep my baby well without keeping a secret from WINZ.
Like many families who rely on a benefit, Piu and I moved around a lot when she was little.
We lived in five different flats with various people.
In three of those flats, I had extra flatmates, who paid rent, but I didn’t tell WINZ. I didn’t dare.
I knew that if I told the truth about how many people were living in the house my benefit would be cut.
And I knew that my baby and I could not get by on what was left.
This is what being on the benefit did to me – it made me poor and it made me lie.
It was a stressful, terrifying experience. . .

 

Turei isn’t the first MP to admit to benefit fraud, but this one paid it back:

Parliament is a house of representatives.

I doubt there is any MP who has not done something wrong, just as I doubt any of us who aren’t MPs could put our hands on our hearts and say we’ve never done anything wrong.

Doing wrong is one thing, not knowing right from wrong is quite another.

Turei has compounded the wrong of benefit fraud with no attempt to put it right and with the attempted justification: it made me poor and it made me lie.

What does it say about the morals of the woman who wants to be a Minister?

What does it say to people, especially those on low incomes, who work hard and pay taxes to support people in genuine need?

What does that say to all the people on benefits, all of whom are poor, many of whom don’t have the support Turei had from her baby’s father, her own family and his, and most of whom manage without lying?

It’s a similar message to the one in the policy she announced of removing the penalties and obligations on beneficiaries including the requirement for drug testing and sanctions for not actively seeking work.

Most beneficiaries want to get off benefits, many need help to do so which might include a carrot and a few need a stick.

Without sanctions, fathers of children whose mothers are on benefits will have to pay nothing, people who don’t try to get work-ready and actively seek work will be left to languish on benefits and everyone else will pay directly through taxes and indirectly through the social problems including poor health, low education achievement and higher crime that benefit dependency promotes.

Quote of the day on this goes to Act MP David Seymour:

Green Party policy: If you stay at home and smoke drugs all day you get a pay rise. If you get up and go to work you get a tax hike.

Benefits should help those in genuine need.

Some beneficiaries will need permanent help but for most taxpayer help should be a temporary bridge to help them from dependence to independence.

 

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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.

 

 


Optional hypocrisy

September 29, 2016

The Green Party has announced it won’t be contesting the Mt Roskill by-election, should there be one.

Not wasting time and resources on a contest they can’t win isn’t stupid but it shows up both the Greens and Labour as hypocrites.

Both have been highly critical of National for not trying to win Epsom and Ohariu to help Act’s and United Future’s candidates.

The hypocrisy is particularly bad for Labour’s candidate who stood in Epsom at the last election.

The Opposition’s hypocrisy over ‘dirty deals’ is brazen, says ACT Leader David Seymour as the Green Party confirms that they won’t stand a candidate in Mt Roskill as part of an arrangement with Labour.

“Michael Wood’s campaign in Mt Roskill is set to be a brazen display of hypocrisy,” says Mr Seymour. “Two years ago he was bemoaning John Key’s endorsement of a vote for me in Epsom as a ‘dodgy deal’. Now look at him.

The Greens ought to be just as embarrassed, with Julie-Anne Genter having called John Key’s Epsom endorsement ‘undemocratic’. Clearly, this was nothing more than faux-outrage.

Strategic voting is a reality of MMP, but hypocrisy is optional. Labour and the Greens have shown how cheap their words are by participating in a deal that far eclipses the electoral arrangements they criticise every election.”

Labour and the Greens claimed the principled high ground in their criticism of what they called ‘dirty deals’.

Neither can claim to be so principled and both are guilty of making the wrong choice when faced with otional hypocrisy.


Shanghai Maling goes where shareholders wouldn’t

September 21, 2016

Shanghai Maling’s application to purchase a 50 per cent interest in Silver Fern Farms has been approved.

Minister for Land Information Louise Upston, and Associate Minister for Finance Paula Bennett, the decision-making Ministers, are satisfied that the purchase would create substantial and identifiable benefit for New Zealand.

“The Overseas Investment Office recommended that we approve Shanghai Maling’s application because it meets the criteria set down in the Overseas Investment Act 2005,” Ms Upston says.

“We are satisfied that the investment will be of substantial and identifiable benefit to New Zealand, which is the test set out in the Act. The investment will put the company in a better financial position and allow it to increase its exports.

“New Zealand shareholders will continue to have 50 per cent ownership of Silver Fern Farms, while benefiting from the injection of funds from the new investor.”

Not surprisingly SFF has welcomed the decision:

The proposed investment is now unconditional and is set to complete on 4 January 2017, the first business day of the new financial year for the partnership.

Silver Fern Farms Chairman, Rob Hewett said the new partnership with Shanghai Maling creates a unique opportunity for Silver Fern Farms.

“Shanghai Maling’s financial investment will make Silver Fern Farms the financially strongest company in the New Zealand meat industry with the ability to confidently invest in our business.

“The partnership will help us accelerate our consumer focused plate to pasture strategy globally, and to grow sustainable value for our shareholders and farmer suppliers over time.

“It is very pleasing to now be at this point after nearly 12 months, and we look forward to the partnership getting underway in the new year.”

Shanghai Maling President Wei Ping Shen was pleased the partnership could now be completed. “We are very pleased with the regulatory approval for this partnership. It clears the way for us to move ahead with the partnership. New Zealand grass fed red meat is the best in the world and the Silver Fern Farms’ brand has the potential to become a leading red meat brand globally.”

Mr Hewett stated that after the investment completes the Co-operative will, as previously advised, pay a special dividend of 30c per share to all ordinary and rebate shares expected to be paid prior to 31 March 2017) and will commence the redemption of the remaining approximately $5m of Supplier Investment Shares outstanding.

 Federated Farmers says it’s a sensible decision for New Zealand:

New Zealand will enjoy benefits from the approval for Shanghai Maling Aquarius to acquire a 50 percent ownership stake in Silver Fern Farms.

Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chair Rick Powdrell says it’s a sensible decision for the country and aligns the company better to service the needs of global markets in a modern world.

“New Zealand farmer-shareholders will continue to own 50 percent of the co-operative and will enjoy the benefits of access to the growing Chinese market.

“This is exactly what the farmer-shareholders wanted, with a majority voting last month for the deal to be approved,” says Rick.

The decision has been met with the inevitable concerns over foreign ownership.

One of those was Winston Peters and Act leader David Seymour says the NZ First leader’s paranoia should be ignored:

Winston Peters’ call for intervention over the partial sale of a private company proves he is unfit to be in Government, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“It’s disturbing that Winston Peters, who could potentially hold the balance of power after the election, would override the recommendation of the Overseas Investment Office and block the partial sale of a private company,” says Mr Seymour.

“Why does Winston think he knows better than the thousands of Kiwi shareholders who voted for this sale?

Seymour is right – this is a decision for the shareholders, not politicians nor anyone else who has no money at stake.

However, he is a wee bit confused about what’s been sold:

“What’s Winston so afraid of? Does he think the cows will literally get shipped off to China? That the land itself will disappear? He’s just stirring up more anti-Chinese sentiment for cheap political gain.

SFF is a meat processing company which owns processing plants and the land they sit on but it’s not a farm.

“Blocking this sale would have prevented an injection of cash into the New Zealand economy, and would send a message to businesses that private property rights are not respected in this country.”

The critics fail to see that the decision brings money into New Zealand and, as Powdrell and Seymour say, it is what shareholders voted for.

They either didn’t have the money, or didn’t want to invest it in the company which would be in dire straits without it.

Shanghai Maling is going where shareholders couldn’t or wouldn’t.

This leaves just Alliance Group as the only co-operative in the meat industry and those farmers who aren’t happy about the SFF-Shanghai Maling deal have the option of supplying the co-operative or any of the other companies, New Zealand-owned or not.

Details of the decision are at Land Information NZ


All ministries should be there for all people

September 20, 2016

At an IHC conference many years ago an impassioned plea was made to a visiting minister for the establishment of a dedicated Ministry of Disability.

He replied that while that would give disability issues a voice at the cabinet table it would give all the other ministers an excuse to sideline disability issues as someone else’s business.

Act MP David Seymour is echoing that logic in wanting what he calls “demographic ministers” to be scrapped.

“I think it’s wrong to have ministers exist purely for a particular type of person. I actually think that all ministers should be working for all New Zealanders,” he says.

Different groups of people might have different issues but addressing them inevitably impacts on other groups in one way or another.

Siloing people and their issues emphasises differences and is more likely to put up barriers than build bridges.

Instead of ministries for different people we should have a single ministry for all people, or better still a culture within every ministry that considers the perspective of, balances the needs of, and works for, everyone.

That doesn’t mean ignoring different needs of different groups, be they be based on gender, age, ethnicity, or disability. It means looking at them and their differences – as part of the whole.

Rather than emphasising what separates us, it would build on what we have in common and as an added bonus, it might even save money.


‘Woodn’t’ it be loverly

August 31, 2016

All I want is a seat somewhere/ I don’t care if it’s there or here/ Epsom, Roskill/I could if voters will/ ‘Woodn’t’ it be loverly?

Michael Wood stood for Labour in Epsom at the last election with no hope of winning the seat.

A lot of would-be MPs do that. It shows the party they’re committed and is good practice for if or when they’re given a chance in a seat they could win.

He’s now been selected as the Labour candidate for Mt Roskill to succeed Phil Goff  either if he wins the Auckland Mayoralty or when he retires at the next election.

It is expected to be a tight race. National won the party vote in the electorate at the last election and will have a strong candidate in list MP Parmjeet Parmar.

Enter the Green Party stage left.

The party could be prepared to do a deal with Labour and not stand a candidate.

That’s were it gets a bit whiffy because both those parties have lost no opportunity to criticise what they call ‘dirty deals’ in other seats, including Epsom about which Wood said in 2014:

“We are calling for a straight contest and an end to the dodgy deals.”

. . . In fact he went as far as bringing a bag of flour along to debates to replace National candidate Paul Goldsmith who stepped aside to make way for ACT’s David Seymour.

“Every time that Paul Goldsmith fails to front in this campaign, we’re going to remind people about the dirty deal with this bag of wholemeal flour,” Wood said on The Nation’s Epsom debate. . .

He told The Nation that voters were sick of dirty deals. . . .

It won’t be easy for Wood – he needs the “dirty deal” he once supposedly despised.

My question is who is bringing the bag of Quinoa to debates to stand in for the Greens?

The Green candidate got 1682 votes at the last election. Even some of those could make the difference in a tight race.

Wood could well find himself falling off his high horse on what he used to think were ‘dirty deals’ if it’s going to give him a leg-up to the seat.


What about the doctors?

August 30, 2016

Proponents of euthanasia argue that people have autonomy over themselves which includes the right to die.

They rarely look at the debate from the point of view of doctors who would prescribe lethal doses of medication or administer them.

At The Spinoff, Medical Association chair Stephen Child gives that perspective:

For many, the key discussion point is whether it is possible to write and administer perfect legislation that permits someone autonomy at the end of life without the secondary negative consequences of:

  • inappropriate deaths
  • reduction in quality of palliative care
  • normalisation of suicide.

Both sides of this debate will emphasise anecdotes, surveys or “research” demonstrating cases of potential intolerable human suffering, or cases of coercion/inappropriate decision making, resulting in potentially unnecessary death. . . 

The ethical standards of a profession often go beyond public opinion, the law and market demands, and may also differ from the personal values held by some individuals within that profession. The role of professional ethics, however, is not only to prevent harm and exploitation of the patient but also to protect the integrity of the profession as a whole. This often requires the professional body to fulfil a leadership role to ensure clarity and provide direction.

The NZMA, along with the World Medical Association and 53 national medical associations, holds the following positions on voluntary euthanasia and assisted dying:

  • We recognise the rights of patient autonomy, so we recognise the right for society to have this discussion. We also acknowledge that people currently have the right to end their own life and that this legislation focuses on third-party assistance with this act.
  • We recognise the rights of patients to refuse treatment or for the removal of lifesaving treatment, and that the natural consequences of an illness may progress to death.
  • We recognise the rights of patients to have good access to high quality palliative care services and we passionately advocate for improved resources, education, workforce and facilities to achieve this goal. We strongly oppose the current necessity for our major hospice facilities in New Zealand to have to raise half their funds themselves.
  • We recognise the patient’s right to have administered analgesia and sedation to relieve pain and suffering – even if a secondary consequence of this is the shortening of life. Morphine is not an agent of euthanasia, and will not by and of itself reliably end the life of a patient. These agents are administered to relieve suffering, applying a risk/benefit analysis similar to all treatments, with a shared understanding of the potential risks in their prescription.

It might look like dancing on the head of a pin but there is a difference between giving something to alleviate pain and suffering in the knowledge it could hasten death and giving to deliberately kill.

. . .  Many people, however, still find confusing the difference between the concept of administering terminal analgesia/sedation to a dying patient, and that of administering voluntary euthanasia to a patient with concurrently stable physiology. The difference between palliative care and assisted dying is well documented and clear. The World Health Organisation definition of palliative care includes the statement that palliative care “intends to neither hasten nor postpone death”.

In jurisdictions where euthanasia and assisted laws exist, concern is growing about the impact on palliative care, where those seeking euthanasia are referred first to palliative care for assessment. This has led to confusion in patients as to the role of palliative care and – in some instances – patients who are opposed to euthanasia declining palliative care services.

The profession as a whole has also echoed concerns about the accuracy of diagnosis and prognosis, as well as the lack of certainty around measuring the capacity of patients facing terminal illness, who often also have reactive depression, altered brain physiology from medications or metastases, as well as potential external coercion factors.

For the profession, as well as ethical considerations, physician-assisted dying raises issues of:

  • potential impacts on palliative care delivery
  • potential changes to a doctor-patient relationship
  • difficulties with adequate training, assessment and regulation of the profession
  • potential negative impact on health providers participating in such acts.

Principles of autonomy and self-determination are, of course, central to this debate. The NZMA respects and supports patient autonomy but is concerned about relying on these principles to enact euthanasia or assisted suicide. Principles of autonomy demand full knowledge of risks and alternatives, and consent must be free of coercion, duress or undue influence.

An absolute guarantee that those who choose assisted dying are doing it voluntarily would be extremely difficult to establish in legislation and ensure in practice. Doctors are often not in a position to detect subtle coercion – as is also the case when trying to identify signs of emotional or financial abuse of elders more generally. Coercion also extends to assumptions of being a burden, giving rise to a sense of an “obligation” to die.

Given the gravity of the risk involved for individuals where autonomy is claimed but cannot be guaranteed, the belief that autonomy should trump all should be viewed with caution. . . 

 

I gave doctors permission not to keep trying to save the life of our first son and seven years later asked them not to call the crash team when our second son stopped breathing.

Both had degenerative brain disorders and any treatment would have only prolonged their suffering and postponed their inevitable deaths.

If I faced the same decisions in the same circumstances I’d do the same thing.

That isn’t euthanasia though.

It’s also very different from an adult in full control of their minds who requests the right to die and I understand how the fear of  what might be ahead could lead someone to that decision.

But legalising euthanasia isn’t only about fully competent individuals who want the right to control their lives and deaths.

It’s also about others who might feel pressured to choose a premature end or who might forgo high quality palliative care for fear euthanasia will be an inevitable consequence.

And it’s about medical professionals and what it asks of them too.

In abridging the article from which I’ve quoted, I missed a paragraph on surveys carried out in Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Each survey showed while roughly 30% of doctors agree “in principle” with the concept of assisted dying only 10% would feel comfortable in participating.

That’s what is often missed in the debate. It’s not just about the right to die and the patients, it’s also about the right to kill and the doctors.

P.S.

There’s an assisted suicide table-talk in Auckland tonight:

Broadcaster and comedian Jeremy Elwood hosts the Ika-Spinoff.co.nz current affairs cabaret, Table Talk, on the subject of Assisted Suicide. Join panelists David Seymour MP, promoter of the End-of-Life Choice Bill; Dr Jan Crosthwaite, University of Auckland Proctor and formerly Department of Philosophy; and Dr Stephen Child, Chair of the NZ Medical Association for a free-ranging discussion of a topic that defies politics.

Enjoy the full & delicious Ika menu, join a table or book for a group. Doors open and bar and dinner service from 5.30 pm, the discussion will start at 7.30 pm.

Follow the discussion on the TheSpinoff.co.nz

WHEN
August 30, 2016 at 5:30pm – 10:30pm

WHERE

Ika Seafood Bar and Grill
3 Mt Eden Rd
Auckland 1023


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