Risking living to find dead

November 19, 2018

The decision to attempt to re-enter the Pike River mine drift has been widely praised.

The families deserve justice, the families deserve closure, and the families want their men back are among the reasons for the praise.

I can’t argue with the need for justice.

Twenty nine men lost their lives at work and that’s unjust but I doubt that any evidence that could result in justice for them could be found in the drift.

The families deserve closure.

There is no closure with grief, you just learn to live with it. Had Labour and NZ First not played politics by disagreeing with the previous government’s decision that the risks of re-entry were too great, the families would have been learning to live with it for years instead of stuck in limbo, pinning their hopes on re-entry.

They have been strung along by politicians and some media. If there’s no evidence and little if anything to be found of anyone whose life was lost, they will be further still from learning to live with their grief and there will be more agitation to go beyond the drift.

The families want their men back.

Some do, but not all. Marion Curtin, the mother of one victims says the attempt to re-enter is disgraceful.

Her son, Richard Holling, never came home after the November 2010 tragedy, but she wanted it to stay that way.

Some people might assume that all 29 affected families considered yesterday’s news as a “victory,” she said, but she was one of the silent many who disagreed.

Almost all reports since the disaster make it appear as if all the families support the re-entry. The ‘silent many’ are rarely mentioned.

She said the plan was an “appalling” waste of $36 million.

“I’m just so disappointed. I couldn’t believe that cabinet would sign this off,” she said.

Ms Curtin was deeply grateful for the money already spent at the site, but at the same time wondered how others can’t see “all the other important things in the country that the money could be spent on”.

Especially given the lack of certainty, she said, with nobody able to tell her exactly what the mine recovery experts would be looking for.

“I see it as sacrilege, really. To go in fossicking around for remains… to go in just to see what they find – I think it’s just disgraceful,” she said.

Ms Curtin loathed the fact it had become so political. She said the months leading up to last year’s election were especially challenging. “Some people liked that… the politicians climbing on board. I certainly didn’t. That was my son’s death they were playing with.” she said. . . 

It’s also playing with the lives of the people who will re-enter the mine.

Stacey Kirk writes of the high risks for re-entry:

But the biggest concern might be that the word “safety” appears to be becoming more subjective by the day.

“Safety is paramount” Little repeated ad nauseum. 

It’s hard to understand that if that were the case, why more people would be sent down there.

A mine filled with explosive gases, no matter how much are pumped out, surrounded by rock of variable stability and the simple fact it’s a coal mine – which in the best of situations are hazardous sites – there is no way it’s objectively safe.

The previous Government decided the danger threshold was more than it could stomach, on the back of technical advice. This Government has decided it’s comfortable with whatever risk is still there, on the basis of a different set of technical advice.

Without a very specific type of engineering degree, the differences between the two sets of advice are unlikely to be translatable to the wider public. Still, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the venture is far from risk-free. It’s debatable, but perhaps at least partially irrelevant, whether $30m dedicated to 29 families is a worthwhile cost.

But it’s without question that the risk of one more life, definitely isn’t.  

No employer should ask anyone to undertake the work and no politician should ask it of anyone either.

Health and Safety laws were changed as a result of the Pike River disaster and any Person in Charge of a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) is now liable if a life is lost or someone injured.

Nothing can be done to make no risk at all for anyone going into the drift and it makes it worse that one of the motivations for putting lives at risk is to bring back bodies, or what remains of them.

The living should never be asked to put their lives at risk to rescue the dead.


So bad so soon

June 19, 2018

How did it get so bad so soon?
It’s a mess of ministers
acting like goons.
My goodness how the
mess has grewn.
How did it get so bad so soon?

With apologies to Dr Seuss, how did it get so bad so soon?

Audrey Young writes that Jacinda Ardern will forgive Winston Peters for anything, even the unforgivable.

A National MP joked this week that the Opposition didn’t want things to get so bad under Jacinda Ardern’s maternity leave that the country was desperate for her return – they just wanted a medium level of dysfunction.

That threshold was almost reached this week even before the big event, and things got worse as the week wore on.

Ardern’s faith in Winston Peters being able to manage the inevitable bush fires that will flare when she is away must be seriously undermined given that he and his party have caused many of them.

A series of accidental and deliberate mishaps has raised questions about a series of important issues including basic coalition management, ministerial conventions, the application of the “No Surprises” policy, and when a minister is not a minister. .  .

Stacey Kirk calls it a three ring circus with one ringmaster at the centre .

Consensus government in action, or a bloody awful mess? 

It’s difficult to characterise the past week as anything but the latter and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern may be worried about whether she’ll have a Government to come back to when she returns from maternity leave. . .

Patrick Gower wants the old Kelvin Davis back.

Patrick Gower on The AM Show. Credits: Video – The AM Show; Image – Newshub.

Kelvin Davis is a “wounded man walking” who better watch out, says Newshub national correspondent Patrick Gower.

The Corrections Minister on Wednesday announced plans for a new prison, but appeared to be unaware how many of its inmates would be double-bunked.

Corrections boss Ray Smith interjected after Mr Davis froze, confirming Newshub’s suggestion it would be around half.

“I get nervous before interviews,” was Mr Davis’ explanation, when asked about it on The AM Show. . . 

Duncan Garner describes government MPs as misfit kids.

. . .It’s taken them three minutes to look as shabby, arrogant and as broken-down as a third-term government suffering rampant hubris and pleading to be put out of its misery.  . .

Sue Bradford thinks the Greens are in mortal danger.

The Green’s water bottling decision exposes potentially fatal flaws and complacency at the heart of Green Parliamentary operations 

The Green parliamentary wing seem to be clueless about the mortal danger they face following news this week that their own minister, Eugenie Sage, has signed off on the sale and expansion of a water bottling plant at Otakiri Springs. . . 

Hamish Rutherford writes with Winston Peters in charge everything could be up for grabs.

. . . These are extraordinary times. Suddenly, with a Government already battling to keep business confidence up, with a story that the economy keeps on rocking, it seems as if everything is up for grabs.

We are now being handed lessons that have been coming since Peters walked into the Beehive theatrette on October 20 and announced he was forming a Government with the Left.

A Government so broad that the issues on which there is division become so amplified that they could almost appear to outnumber ones where there is consensus.

Where previous coalitions since the creation of MMP managed to keep together because the centre of power was so obvious, the timing of Peters’ action will be further unsettling. . . 

Health Minister David Clark has been accused of trying to gag a health board chair.

A leaked voicemail message appears to show Health Minister David Clark attempting to gag top health officials over the woeful state of Middlemore Hospital buildings. 

Clark has rejected the accusation, which has stemmed from audio of him telling former Counties Manukau District Health Board chair Rabin Rabindran it was “not helping” that the DHB kept commenting publicly.  

Emails suggest he also attempted to shut down the DHB from answering any questions along the lines of who knew what, and when, about the dilapidated state of Middlemore buildings. . . 

Peter Dunne asks is the coalition starting to unravel?

Almost 20 years ago, New Zealand’s first MMP Coalition Government collapsed. It was not a dramatic implosion on a major point of principle, but was provoked by a comparatively minor issue – a proposal to sell the Government’s shares in Wellington Airport – and came after a series of disagreements between the Coalition partners on various aspects of policy.

There has been speculation this week in the wake of New Zealand First’s hanging out to dry of the Justice Minister over the proposed repeal of the “three strikes” law that the same process might be starting all over again. While it is far too soon to draw conclusive parallels, the 1998 experience does set out some road marks to watch out for. . . 

Michael Reddell writes on how the government is consulting on slashing productivity growth.

 . .  I have never before heard of a government consulting on a proposal to cut the size of the (per capita) economy by anything from 10 to 22 per cent.  And, even on their numbers, those estimates could be an understatement. . . .

Quite breathtaking really.   We will give up –  well, actually, take from New Zealanders –  up to a quarter of what would have been their 2050 incomes, and in doing so we will know those losses will be concentrated disproportionately on people at the bottom.   Sure, they talk about compensation measures . . 

But the operative word there is could.  The track record of governments –  of any stripe –  compensating losers from any structural reforms is pretty weak, and it becomes even less likely when the policy being proposed involves the whole economy being a lot smaller than otherwise, so that there is less for everyone to go around.  The political economy of potential large scale redistribution just does not look particularly attractive or plausible (and higher taxes to do such redistribution would have their own productivity and competitiveness costs). . . 

And the Dominion Post lists mis-steps and mistakes and concludes:

. . .Some of this has been simply amateurish.

Such things are often a sign of a government that has outlived its mandate and begun to implode around the core of its own perceived importance. In its tiredness it can trip over the most obvious hurdles.

This Government is barely nine months old. It needs to find its feet, and quickly.

Has there ever been a government that has attracted this sort of criticism just a few months after gaining power?

How did this government get so bad so soon?


Rural round-up

August 9, 2014

New remote control technology for forestry could save lives:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew says the results from a trial using remote control technology in tree felling, which could save lives in forestry harvesting operations, show promising results.

“During the successful trial the operator was able to successfully fell and bunch several trees from a safe distance at the top of a steep slope using a remote control device,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“Much of the forestry work in New Zealand is done on steep land. The use of remote control to operate machinery on steep land will essentially remove forestry workers from hazardous areas and prevent injuries and death—a valuable and critical step forward for the industry.” . . .

Russia wants our cheese but at what cost? – Niko Kloeten and Stacey Kirk:

New Zealand may have escaped Russia’s trade crackdown, but companies need to be careful doing business there, a trade expert says.

New Zealand has been warned that continuing to trade with Russia could damage its international reputation.

Russia today announced a ban on food imports from most Western countries, including the United States, Australia and the 29 member countries of the European Union, in retaliation against trade sanctions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

New Zealand was not included in the ban, and Russia has signalled it will increase cheese imports from New Zealand to make up some of the shortfall. . .

Foreign ownership of farms ‘about right’ – Guy – Tim Cronshaw:

Minister of Primary Industries Nathan Guy is comfortable with the level of foreign investment in farmland as opposition grows against big tracts of land being bought by overseas owners.

Guy said New Zealanders should not lose sight they had relied heavily on foreign investment for a long time.

He said foreign ownership of land had become an election issue and the Government was confident of its position.

“We have to keep a reasoned and balanced debate through this issue and of course we will have political parties say they will do one thing on the campaign trail and maybe another when in government,” said Guy at a Christchurch luncheon this week. . .

Local people preserve the environment better than governments – Fred Pearce:

“FOR the Wapichan, our forests are our life.” Nicholas Fredericks, a local leader of these indigenous South American people, peers out from his village into the bush. “Outsiders have a financial view of the land,” he says. “They see our forests as money. We see them as life. We have to protect them for the future of our people.”

The Wapichan, who live in southern Guyana, have just completed a high-resolution map of their traditional lands to justify their claim for legal title. They want 14,000 square kilometres to be protected as a community forest. Guyana’s government has so far ignored their proposal. . .

 

 

The importance of ‘nutrient efficiency’ – Bala Tikkisetty:

Winter and early spring are when nutrients – whether introduced as fertiliser or produced by stock – are most at risk of getting lost from farms.

That’s due to seasonal and other factors such as high rainfall, reduced pasture growth, a huge amount of urine being produced, soil compaction and pugging.

To help farmers keep on top of the implications of this for their property’s profitability and impact on the environment, a farm nutrient budget is a valuable indicator of the status of nutrients in a farm system.

It indicates where fertiliser applications are inadequate and leading to a decline in the soil nutrient status. Conversely, it can indicate excessive inputs which result in a nutrient surplus and greater potential for losses of contaminants to waterways and groundwater. . .

 

New standard for measurement of ‘water footprint’:

A new international standard will guide organisations to measure their ‘water footprint’, and New Zealanders were involved in developing the standard.

ISO 14046 Environmental management – Water footprint – Principles, requirements and guidelines will allow all kinds of organisations, from industry, to government and NGOs, the means to measure their ‘water footprint’, or their potential environmental impact of water use and pollution.

Developed by experts from all over the world, the standard is based on a Life Cycle Assessment and can assist in: . . .

CRV Ambreed couple re-locate for South Island farming clients:

CRV Ambreed herd improvement specialists, Mark and Sue Duffy, have packed up their bags and shifted to Oamaru, where they will be helping to improve farmers’ businesses across the South Island region.

The Duffy’s have a long passion for herd management and breeding and are looking forward to sharing their dairy experience with farmers who want to get the best results for their herd.

“We’ll be working across the region to help farmers achieve a productive, healthy, fertile and efficient herd,” said Mr Duffy. . .


Politics Daily

June 10, 2014

IMF report

Bill English – IMF report backs NZ’s economic progress

TV3 – NZ given tick by IMF

Jonathan Underhill @ NBR – China slowdown, weaker commodity prices, drop in house prices biggest risks to NZ: IMF

Manufacturing

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Manufacturing still in crisis. Yeah right.

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Labour’s Manufacturing Crisis just keeps crisising along

Beehive

Bill English & Steven Joyce – Business Growth Agenda boosting investment, jobs & growth

Steven Joyce – Encouraging sole parents into higher study

Murray McCully – Whaling comments “worrying”

Judith Collins – New MOU signed to improve family justice

Craig Foss – Going Digital on time and under budget

Quake Court

Kloe Palmer @ TV3 – National: Labour’s quake court poorly considered

Mike Hosking @ NewstalkZB – Issues with Earthquake Court plan

The Press – Labour’s bold Canterbury policy

Derek Cheng @ NZ Herald –  Insurance Council rejects Labour’s ‘Earthquake Court’

Election

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Tweet of the Day – 10 June 2014

Scrubone @ Something Should Go Here Maybe Later – Reminder all politicians play games

Phil Quin @ Pundit – How Internet Mana could help National reach 50%

Patrick Leyland @ The NZ Progress Report – NZ Facebook pages

Pete George @ Your NZ – Craig’s Conservatives cold shouldered

Peter Cullen @ Stuff Fixed-term payouts when ministers gets marched

Pattrick Smellie @ NBR – Coat-tail deals ‘a few weeks away’, says Key

Lew @ Kiwi Politico – Doubloons

Peter George @ Your NZ – Green election prospects

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Green Hypocrisy on Coat-tailing and strategic voting

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – More trouble amongst the alliance partners

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – A reader emails about the so-called “missing million”

Dominion Post – Nats don’t need another tea party

Campaign funding

Stacey Kirk @ – Campaign funding allocations ‘unfair

Taxpayers’ Union – Civilian Party Surely Playing Practical Joke

Hannah Herchenbach@ The Press – Civilian Party leader: Criticism ‘dishonest’

Electoral Prosecutions

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Police electoral prosecutions

NZ Herald – Investigation into police needed over Banks case

The Press –  Banks faces political reality

Bryce Edwards @ NBR – NZ POLITICS DAILY: The impact of John Banks on the election campaign

Liam Hehir @ Manawatu Standard – Redemption never impossible

Labour

Chris Trotter @ Bowalley Road – Labour’s Caucus Still In Charge

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Smith on Labour

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Mike Smith – On Labour’s Mantra of Misery

IMP

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Cash for credibility

Other

ACT – The Letter

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – ACT’s Letter on Banks and Hone

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Uh oh, the Greens aren’t buying Cunliffe’s dog whistle either

Dominion Post – Today in Politics Tuesday June 10

Matthew Beveridge – Tweet MPs

ODT – Fraction too much friction

David Farrar @ Kwiblog – NZ Public poll methodologies

Dominion Post – Today in Politics: Tuesday, June 10


Politics Daily

June 9, 2014

This is an attempt to replace Dr Bryce Edwards’ daily political round-up while he’s taking a break.

I’m not pretending to be balanced.

While I link to a range of news stories, the blogs I link to are usually from the centre to the bluer end of the political spectrum or the more reasonable or witty bits of the pink to red end.

You’re welcome to leave links to other news and blogs in comments.

Electoral Act breaches

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Some thoughts on Electoral Act breaches

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Why won’t the Police act with complaints from the Electoral Commission?

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Andrew Little just drew a great big target on the backs of his Labour pals

Beehive

Steven Joyce, Tony Ryall – $78m in health research funding announced

Murray McCully – NZ support for new Pacific eye care centre

Tim Groser – Address to business chambers event – Philippines

Act

Dan Satherley @ TV3 – ACT ‘determined to play straight’ – Whyte

Pete George @ Your NZ – Different impressions of Jamie Whyte

John Banks

TV3 – Sympathy for Banks despite differences

Rob Hosking @ NBR Banks’ departure will clear the air

Michael Fox and Hamish Rutherford @ Stuff –  John Banks’ votes would’ve been rejected

Audrey Young – Conviction delay blindsided Act MP

Tracy Watkins @ Stuff – Banks departure a less messy solution

Danyl Mclauchlan @ Dim Post – Silly Laws

TV3 – IPCA considers John Banks inquiry

Labour

Gerry Brownlee – A lawyer’s field day at the taxpayers’ expense

Insurance Council of NZ – Earthquake Court approach misguided

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Labour’s insurance court

Pete George @ Your NZ – Labour soul searching

No right Turn – A paucity of vision

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Labour has lost their lost their raison d’etre

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Comment of the Day – 9 June 2014

IMP

Pete George @ Your NZ – Dotcom and citizenship

Russel Brown @ Public Address – Meanwhile back at the polls

Green Party

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The Greens want 3D printing for NZ

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Green Taliban’s “3D blueprint” for the future nothing but hype

Other

Education

Hekia Parata – Teachers take role in leadership plan

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Parata on the IES programme

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The “Tea Party” left

Matthew Beveridge – Leaving on a jet plane 2

Matthew Beveridge – A blast from the past

Stacey Kirk @ Stuff –  Civilian Party ‘a joke on taxpayers’

Eric Crampton @ Offsetting Behaviour – Value for Money election broadcasting edition

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Joyce rated more valuable than Cunliffe

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Why readers are turned off by main stream media and voting with their dollars


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