Discrimination should lose when cultures clash

January 5, 2014

Speaker David Carter is  seeking a review of Maori protocols in parliament after two women MPs were asked to move from the front row at a welcome ceremony.

He said he wanted to “modernise” the protocols. “Parliament needs a protocol that is modern and acceptable to a diversified Parliament.”

Parliament’s longest serving woman MP Annette King and her Labour colleague Maryan Street were asked to move from the front bench during a powhiri at the start of the Youth Parliament several months ago.

That prompted the Speaker to begin a process to review protocols that were put in place 15 years ago with the oversight of the Wellington iwi, Te Atiawa. . .

“I think Parliament needs to be in a position where it actually over time develops its own protocol under guidance from Te Atiawa and other iwi,” Mr Carter said.

What Maori do on their own marae is their business.

But when there’s a cultural clash in parliament, discrimination should lose.

New Zealand led the world in giving women the vote in the 19th century it is unacceptable that they are not treated equally in parliament in the 21st century.

Nineteenth century attitudes to Maori aren’t tolerated in the 21st century, those old attitudes to women shouldn’t be either.


So much for the south

September 27, 2013

Labour’s abandonment of the provinces is particularly noticeable in the South Island and the dearth of representation has been highlighted by the party’s reshuffle.

The first South Island MP in the line-up is list MP Clayton Cosgrove at number 7.

The next is another list MP Maryan Street at 12 and then West Coast Tasman MP Damien O’Connor at 19.

The party has only two MPs south of Christchurch. One of those, David Clark who is supposed to be well regarded in and outside parliament, has been demoted to 20.

Megan Woods is 24 and the other South Islanders, Ruth Dyson, Clare Curran, and Rino Tirikatene are unranked.

The ODT says that new deputy, and another list MP,  David Parker’s links give Labour south cover.

David Parker pledged his loyalty to the South after his election yesterday as deputy leader of the Labour Party.

The election of Mr Parker – a list MP who has a house in Dunedin, visits the city two weekends out of three and still calls the city his base – provides Labour with South coverage to complement Mr Cunliffe’s coverage of the North as MP for New Lynn.

The prime reason for those visits will be to keep contact with his children. That is his business but shouldn’t be confused with political representation.

He might have pledged his loyalty to the south but his actions don’t match his words. He chose to leave Dunedin and stand for Epsom at the last election.

The one before that, 2008, he was the candidate for Waitaki but showed his lack of commitment to that when he conceded the seat at a public meeting a couple of weeks before the election, for which local party members still haven’t forgiven him.

If it gets into government, the party’s anti-growth policies will hit the regions hard and the lack of representation in the senior ranks of the party will make it more difficult for the concerns of the south to be heard.


Job lost by Nat budget cut for 2nd time – updated

June 10, 2009

 The Ministry of Women’s Affairs was seeking an editor for their Women In Agriculture newsletter.

It could be done from home and a very generous salary was being offered – from memory it was about $20,000 which was a lot of money for a very much part-time job in 1991.

The job description could have been written with me in mind. I had the journalism training and experience, was one of the co-founders of WAg in North Otago and still actively involved with it.

I applied, was short listed, interviewed and offered the position. But the offer came with a proviso that funding continued and the Budget a few weeks later cut it.

That was bad news for me as an individual but as a taxpayer I couldn’t argue for continued funding for something which definitely wasn’t necessary and which, if truth be told, shouldn’t have been publicly funded in the first place.

Nearly two decades later another National budget has put paid to another part time job for me. Teaching Spanish night classes has fallen victim to a change in rules for Adult Community Education (ACE) with funds being redirected towards priority areas of literacy and numeracy.

Again while I’m sorry as an individual I can’t argue against this move as a taxpayer because that would mean trying to justify public funding for private indulgences because these are essentially hobby classes.

I’ve been teaching the classes for four years with a Uruguayan friend. We’ve taken it seriously, spent time preparing lessons, provided notes and done our best in the classroom. We’ve enjoyed it and so have our students but the relative contribution by taxpayers and students was brought home to us this year when we discovered that 20 classes had been advertised when we thought we were only offering 10.

The students had paid $70 for 20 lessons but would get a refund of just $5 if we taught only 10 because most of the costs their fees covered were upfront ones, in particular advertising, and the major on-going cost of our wages came from taxpayers.

The classes were fun for our students and us but when there are so many other more important calls on public funds I couldn’t argue that paying for us to have fun was a priority.

Someone in the first lesson always asked how much they could expect to learn and I brought them down to earth by explaining after two years studying Spanish at university, three months of total immersion classes in Spain and five trips to Argentina to practise I have only an intermediate grasp of the language and a rusty one at that.

Even if the students went over what they’d learned between classes, which few if any ever did, 10 or even 20  two-hour lessons once a week were never going to be able to give them any more than the very basics – especially for those who’d never learned a foreign language before and/or didn’t understand how English worked either.

That’s not to say the classes didn’t have value. Apart from enjoyment, the students learned a little about another language and different cultures, they met new people, used their brains and expanded their horizons. But even so I couldn’t put my hand on my heart and say that anything they learned or gained could justify taxpayer funding.

There are many important priorities for education which taxes should fund, hobby classes aren’t one of them .

Stargazer sees this differently at The Hand Mirror.

UPDATE: Labour has launched a petition against the changes to ACE funding.

Bill English responded:

“Keeping ACE funding at previous levels would have meant not funding some of the Government’s other priorities such as special education, literacy and numeracy or skills training for the young unemployed.

“Labour, presumably, would just put the extra spending ‘on the credit card’ like everything else it is promising. Labour left behind about $500 million of unfunded tertiary education commitments, which is one of the reasons we’ve had to reassess some existing funding.

“I challenge Maryan Street to show how she would fund ACE at current levels, meet other education priorities, and stay within Budget,” Mr English says.

Quite.

I’d struggle to make a case for public funding of hobby classes at the best of times let alone now when the country is facing years of deficits.

There is no case now when we’re facing years of deficits and literacy, numeracy and special education are much higher priorities.


What was that about trust?

December 2, 2008

The Fiscal Responsability Act which requires the pre-election opening of the books was supposed to ensure an out-going government couldn’t hide any nasty surprises from the in-coming one.

How then could Labour underfund ACC by about $1 billion  over the next three years with out that gaping hole showing in the books?

“This is a significant and serious hole in the Government accounts, so today I am signalling the Government’s intention to conduct a Ministerial Inquiry to determine how this happened, and why the information was not included in the pre-election opening of the books.”

Mr Key says the terms for the Ministerial Inquiry will be firmed up over the coming days.

“But my top priority is to offer an assurance to those who rely on ACC that their services will be maintained, despite warnings that the Non-Earners Account will run out of money by March.

The National-led Government has been told by officials that ACC is seeking $297 million in extra funding for the Non Earners’ Account in the 2007/08 year and a similar increase for out years.

“The previous Government knew of the seriousness of the situation, but did not disclose this information prior to the election.

“Officials have told the Government that they became aware of the serious funding issues in the Non-Earner account as early as May, and previous Ministers were also made aware of the problem. However, the funding shortfall was not mentioned in the pre-election opening of the books.

“There are serious questions to be answered about this very large ticking time-bomb. In light of this, I have determined that a Ministerial Inquiry needs to run alongside any internal ACC review.”

Keeping Stock  reckons Michael Cullen and former ACC Minsiter Maryan Street should resign over this.

Kiwiblog says Cabinet didn’t make a decision so that the shortfall wouldn’t show in the PREFU.

A hole that big is a disaster,  that Labour knew about it and didn’t make it public is a scandal.

It’s a billion dollar outrage and yet more proof that when Labour said the election was about trust the voters were right not to trust them.


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