Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Budget leaves majority of kiiwis feeling worse off...

Budget leaves majority of Kiwis feeling worse off... 

Fewer than five percent of us feel better off after the budget – that’s the finding from the latest ONE News Colmar Brunton poll, which shows that while spending cuts weren’t popular voters felt they were necessary to help the economy.

In fact just 4% of NZers feel better off. 62% say their circumstances haven't changed and 28% say they are worse off.

Cutting back KiwiSaver was a big part of the Budget spending cuts and that wasn't popular with voters. 42% said they supported the Kiwi Saver changes. 50% opposed them and the remainder were undecided.

It seems though that voters accept the idea that spending cuts were necessary for the health of the economy. 31% of people thought the Budget would improve the economy. 41% thought it would have no real impact, 20% thought the Budget would have a negative impact on the economy and the remainder were undecided.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Far North mayor claims faults in new Coastal and Marine legislation...

Mayor says beach access a problem in Far North - faults in new Coastal and Marine legislation...

Far North mayor Wayne Brown says he has no confidence the Coastal and Marine Area Act will protect public access to beaches.

Two Maori iwi have formally expressed interest in seeking customary title under new seabed and foreshore legislation enacted in March this year.

The Marine and Coastal Area Act allows the tribes to seek title to areas where they can prove uninterrupted and exclusive occupation since 1840.

The iwi are Kaitaia-based Te Rarawa in the Far North and Ngati Pahauwera on the East Coast.

Te Rarawa has confirmed it will seek customary title to Te Oneroa a Tohe, or Ninety Mile Beach.

Mr Brown says he has already been ordered off beaches in the region by angry young Maori men and chose to leave rather than risk a fight.

On two occasions, Mr Brown says he has come into a beach from his boat with his wife and been confronted while walking below the high-tide mark.

A spokesperson for Te Rarawa, Haami Piripi, says encounters such as Mr Brown's stem from resentment and uncertainty.

Mr Piripi says tangata whenua (people of the land) are uncertain of their rights and aggrieved at the lack of recognition for them.

Acknowledgements:  © 2011, Radio New Zealand


A NZ education union claims $63 million in cuts to schools...

A NZ Education Union claims schools facing $63 million in cuts to schools...

The Post Primary Teachers Association claims secondary schools are facing $63 million in cuts, while having to pay more for KiwiSaver contributions.

A NZ teachers' union claims secondary schools are facing $63 million in cuts, while having to pay more for KiwiSaver contributions.

Post Primary Teachers Association President Robin Duff says the Government has been sly in saying education would get more funding, when in reality money is being stripped from schools.

He says schools also face being stripped of $24 million in the guise of quarterly funding.

Mr Duff says there needs to be clarity around exactly where the cuts are going to be made.

The Government has claimed that there would not be any cuts to health or education. Are they now telling porkies to New Zealand?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Fijian dictator Frank Bainimarama rejects election claims...

Fijian dictator Frank Bainimarama rejects election claims...

Fiji dictator Bainimarama rejects election claims...

Frank Bainimarama has rejected claims that the 2014 election will not go ahead, dismissing Lieutenant Colonel Tevita Mara as a "little kid who doesn't know what's happening".

Fiji's regime leader Frank Bainimarama has rejected claims that the 2014 election will not go ahead, dismissing the man who made them as a "little kid who doesn't know what's happening".

A former Fiji government insider, Lieutenant Colonel Tevita Mara, fled to Tonga earlier this month while on bail on charges of plotting to overthrow Bainimarama.

Holed up in the capital Nuku'alofa, the former head of the main infantry regiment has thrown a string of accusations of corruption and violence at his former boss.

Lt Col Mara accused the regime of "losing its way" since it took power in a 2006 coup, and said Bainimarama and his attorney-general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, had no intention of holding the 2014 election that both Canberra and Wellington have been pushing for.

This was just a "ploy" to soften sanctions and to secure loans, Lt Col Mara said in a statement this week.

Fiji's government has refused to comment to international media on the issue but has told local news website FijiLive that it has every intention of going to the polls.

"I said elections will be held in 2014 so it's going to happen," Bainimarama told the site.

"Don't listen to him, he is not a soothsayer. He is a little kid who doesn't know what is happening around him."

Meanwhile, Tonga is understood to have received an extradition order from Fiji calling for the fugitive's immediate return to Suva to face a charge of sedition along with another senior officer, Lieutenant Colonel Pita Driti.

Lt Col Mara has repeatedly said he would be denied a fair trial as Fiji's judiciary was controlled by the regime, a claim the chief judge has dismissed as "totally untrue".

New Zealand's prime minister John Key this week said he would consider removing the army man from the list of banned officials so he is able to travel to New Zealand.

"The ban that we have is a travel ban on those that are members of the regime or are related to members of the regime. In the case of Mr Mara that is no longer the case," he told Radio New Zealand.

Bainimarama hit back, telling FijiVillage that New Zealand would further strain its relations with Fiji if it made such an offer.

Acknowledgements: -AAP

Monday, May 23, 2011

PETE'S KIWI WATCH - My place to rant.: Watch out for Chinese takeover of NZ warns Winston Peters...

PETE'S KIWI WATCH - My place to rant.: Watch out for Chinese takeover of NZ warns Winston Peters...

Watch out for Chinese takeover of NZ warns Winston Peters...

Watch out for Chinese takeover of NZ warns Winston Peters...
Winston Peters claims another Chinese bidder is trying to buy the Crafar dairy farms which he says the Government is trying to keep under wraps until after the election.

A Chinese takeover is being predicted by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters with a warning that if our energy companies are partially sold power prices will go through the roof.

Mr Peters has told a Grey Power meeting they had better start buying more clothes and blankets because they won't be able to afford the rising prices if the Chinese or the Australians move to buy the power stations.

He also warns that Chinese are hungrily eying our dairy farms, saying it's our main source of wealth and should remain in New Zealand hands. He says they're also a major source of protein in a world running out of food and China is one of the only countries with any money.

Mr Peters claims another Chinese bidder is trying to buy the Crafar dairy farms which he claims the Government is trying to keep under wraps until after the election.

He believes the sale will be rubber stamped by the Overseas Investment Commission but says his party will block the sales at every turn by mobilising a people's army to stop what he says is economic lunacy.

Mr Peters has also launched an attack on three National Party leaders accusing them of selling our country.

The New Zealand First leader says Jenny Shipley is the head salesperson for selling New Zealand to the Chinese. Mr Peters says Wrightsons, the main supplier to the agriculture industry, is now controlled by China thanks to her.

He says Don Brash is going to help John Key stay on track with asset sales and a full privatisation campaign.

Mr Peters says he also wants to cut the pension and raise the eligibility age using John Key as the smiley front person.

He's accused Mr Key of telling the biggest porkie in the history of New Zealand politics by saying 170,000 new jobs will be created when his Budget was all about getting rid of jobs.

Acknowledgements: - Newstalk ZB/ MSN  News

Friday, May 20, 2011

Labour's election year conference starts - high hopes for the future...

The Labour Party conference has opened in Wellington with the party's president Moira Coatsworth promising bold policies to turn around Labour's fortunes.

In notes for a speech to party faithful at Wellington's town hall, Ms Coatsworth said Labour would campaign on the issues that worried New Zealanders, including the rising cost of living, asset sales, giving children the best start in life and decent jobs.

"Our polls are rising. We need to turn out 2000 more party votes per electorate and we are determined."

Around 500 party delegates are in Wellington for the conference which comes hard on the heels of an unpopular budget which cut KiwiSaver and Working for Families entitlements from some families and has been panned for the lack of impetus behind plans for economic growth.

Ms Coatsworth said the dramatic rise in the cost of living was plunging many homes into hardship.

"And we see nothing being done about it. The reality is that the answer to the growing crisis of hardship and inequality is the same as it was 80 years ago: good, decent jobs, warm and affordable housing, the opportunity to train and learn and get new skills – the skills of a modern, healthy, wealthy nation.

Ms Coatsworth stressed the environment as one of the major policy areas to address and reversing inequality as the other.

"The current government's policies now continue to increase inequality at an alarming rate. Billions of dollars in tax cuts are going to the rich, while ordinary families struggle to feed their children healthy food or take them to a doctor at night or in the weekend. Many families have gone hungry as they choose between paying the school fees, buying the uniforms or putting kai on the table."

New Zealand needed a coherent plan for economic recovery.

"As well as the environment, the recession, the Christchurch earthquakes, spiralling youth unemployment, the cost of living and our debt burden all require bold responses.

"Labour understands we have a huge opportunity to use our reputation, our skills and our technology to transform our economy. We know that this economy includes exports and high value production. It is a knowledge economy. It includes rebuilding savings, reducing debt and maintaining our independence as a nation. It includes living the living standards of all New Zealanders and it means doing this in ways that really are clean and green."

- Acknowledgements: Stuff.co.nz

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

NZ is to change the give way road rule - to bring it into line internationally...


Give way change will improve road safety

The AA says changes to the proposed give way rule will improve road safety and will also help tourists on our roads.


Currently if you're turning left, you have to give way to right turning traffic coming towards you, but this would reverse if the new rules come into force. Public consultation is underway on the proposed changes.

The AA's General Manager of Motoring Affairs Mike Noon says New Zealand is the only country in the world which gives way to the right.

"Quite a portion of intersection accidents are relating to giving way to the right," he told Newstalk ZB. "Make that rule simpler, as this change will do, and it will improve road safety."

He says changes may be needed to the way some intersections are controlled.

"Possibly now we have extra space for holding traffic that wishes to turn left which may not be required for instance, and we may have the requirement to increase the holding areas for traffic turning right."

Mr Noon says the signal timings of controlled intersections will also need to be looked at, with some possibly needing turning arrows. He believes having a rule which is the same as the rest of the world, will also help tourists on our roads.

KR says: It was a previous National Government who changed it in any case. It is a purely political motive that has motivated this change. Though in this case it will be supported.

Acknowledgements: Anna Cross NZ City News 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cunliffe addresses Key's lies...

Cunliffe addresses Key's lies...            

David Cunliffe has addressed Key’s truly uninspiring pre-budget speech this morning.
National have no economic plan, and it shows. Key’s tinkering to fix the massive economic gaps, and his only suggestions are a vague warning that National would reduce the member tax credit, and reverse its own earlier move to reduce the default contribution rate.
Yes: they plan to encourage savings by cutting savings.
But the speech was much more about blame-shifting on to the weather, the earthquakes, the GFC and the previous Government. After 2.5 years, we apparently still shouldn’t blame them.
Cunliffe addresses what he politely calls Key’s ‘misleading’ claims:
Rebutting false claims on Labour’s economic record in Key’s pre-Budget speech
1. Key says: “Government spending increased markedly in the mid-2000s”
Fact: Government spending was 31.0% of GDP in 2000 and 31.2% in 2008. Under National, spending as a percentage of GDP has exploded

Source: Parliamentary Library
2. Key says: “Government spending rose 50 per cent in just five years”
Fact: Between 2003 and 2008, core Crown spending grew 42.9% but this was before inflation and population growth. In real terms per person terms, spending grew by less than 20%, which was in line with economic growth. This money went into programmes like Kiwisaver, Working for Families, and increased infrastructure spending, which National hasn’t scrapped.
Source: Parliamentary Library

3. Key says: “Since 2004 almost 60 per cent of new jobs have been in heavily government-dominated sectors”
Fact: Key is counting the extra teachers, doctors, and nurses Labour funded as if they are ‘bureaucrats’. Core public servants remained roughly 2% of the workforce under Labour.

Source: State Services Commission, Human Resource Capability Survey of Public Service Departments; Statistics New Zealand Household Labour Force Survey. Compiled by the Parliamentary Library.
4. Key says: “export volumes grew only one per cent in total between 2004 and 2008”
Fact: Key is using selective dates and the impact of the global recession to mislead. In reality export volumes grew 42.2% in Labour’s first 8 years in office before shrinking 11 per cent during the recession. Under National, export volumes have just now regained the level they were at under Labour four years ago.

Source: Statistics New Zealand, Infoshare
5. Key says: “since the end of 2004, GDP per person have fallen by an average of 0.1 per cent a year – the weakest period since the late 1980s and early 1990s
Fact: Again, Key is using the recession and his own poor economic record and trying to attribute the blame to Labour. In reality, GDP per person grew 16.8% in the first 8 years under Labour. Since the recession, GDP per person has fallen 5%. National has made no progress on growth, with GDP per capita falling for 6 of its 8 quarters in government so far.

Source: Statistics New Zealand, Infoshare
[Update: now with graphs!]

Acknowledgements: The Standard

Beyond the HuttRiver

Monday, May 9, 2011

Hone Harawira takes on the Maori Party...

Hone Harawira takes on the Maori Party...

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira has threatened electoral war against the Maori Party after claiming it broke a deal struck with him when he resigned from its ranks in February.

Maori Party president Pem Bird last night confirmed the party had resolved to stand a candidate against Hone Harawira should he call a by-election in Te Tai Tokerau.

Mr Harawira today said that went against an agreement brokered between him and the Maori Party before his resignation from the party, where he said he would not field candidates in Maori electorates in return for the party not standing against him in Te Tai Tokerau.

The deal was now off and Mana was considering standing candidates in every Maori electorate, Mr Harawira said.

"Despite massive pressure by many people to put candidates up against the Maori Party MPs, I have resisted the temptation because I believe it is important to stand behind a promise you make.

"Mana accepts that the agreement is effectively redundant because of the Maori Party's actions. Whether Mana will now offer a strong candidate in every Maori electorate at the general election will be a matter we will determine after the by-election."

He said he would strongly contest the Te Tai Tokerau seat against any challengers and painted the Maori Party as a potential ally of new Act leader Don Brash.

"The voters of Te Tai Tokerau have two clear choices; an un-named candidate whose party is happy to join Don Brash, or a candidate who has already stood up to Brash and has always shown a commitment to Maori rights.

"I look forward to seeing what choice the voters of Te Tai Tokerau make."

A Maori Party spokeswoman said Mr Harawira was the one who broke his deal with the party when he announced he may force a by-election in Te Tai Tokerau.

The deal included an agreement Mr Harawira would remain an independent MP up until the November general election, she said.

Mr Bird said it was up to the Mana Party whether it wanted to contest the other Maori electorates. "We are prepared for any eventuality."

Maori Party leader Tariana Turia said she believed the abusive behaviour directed at her by Mr Harawira's mother and sister Titewhai and Hinewhare Harawira in a hui at Waitangi's Te Tii Marae showed they were nervous about Hone's chances.

"Otherwise why would you come to a hui that wasn't your hui, threaten people who were attending by writing their names down and being rude and abusive?"

The Labour Party, if it decides to stand a candidate, could gain from the controversy - they could come through the middle and take back the seat they lost a few years ago. Labour always takes a majority of party votes anyway.

Acknowledgements:  NZ Herald staff

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ageing with Dignity: RIP - Don and Iris Flounders

Ageing with Dignity: RIP - Don and Iris Flounders: "An awfully brave couple who have chosen to end their lives with as much dignity as possible. Sydney Morning Herald article."  Click link to view the video!

Don Brash is another Hitler - Hone Harawira...

Don Brash is another Hitler - Hone Harawira

Harawira again compared Brash to Hitler, echoing comments he first made six years ago.

"The politics you talk about are very much like Hitler's, Don. You target Maori very much like Hitler targetted the Jews. You are aiming to destroy us the same way that others haved done.”

Brash he was "absolutely not" a racist.

"I am not trying to destroy Maori at all," he said.

The two came head to head this evening on TVNZ's Close Up, with the match-up chaired by host Mark Sainsbury.

Harawira launched his new Mana Party at the weekend, while Brash is making a comeback to New Zealand politics.

Brash and Harawira have clashed in the past.

Harawira first compared Brash in 2005 to Hitler, saying: "Hitler had plans for the Jews. Pauline Hanson had similar plans for the Aboriginal people of Australia. Don Brash wants Maori to be subsumed within the larger culture of this country and to become one people."

At the time Brash said he found the comparison "really offensive".

Brash said he would "probably" stand in a seat but hadn't picked one yet.

Acknowledgements: The Dominion Post

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pakistan wanted to have a dollar each way on Osama bin Ladin - and he died there...

Pakistan wanted to have a dollar each way on Osama bin Ladin - and he died there...

Pakistan's president said on Tuesday accusations that his nation extends safe haven to extremists were "baseless" and insisted its long-term help was crucial to the US triumph in gunning down Osama bin Laden.

Asif Ali Zardari's defence came after Washington warned it would probe how the al-Qaeda kingpin managed to live in undetected luxury in Pakistan, as gripping new details emerged about the US commando raid that killed him.

Officials said DNA tests had proven conclusively that the man shot dead by US special forces in Abbottabad was indeed the Islamist terror mastermind who boasted about the deaths of 3,000 people in the September 11 attacks of 2001.

Bin Laden's killing by helicopter-borne US Navy SEAL commandos was the climax of years of painstaking intelligence work, picking up the trail from the mountains of Afghanistan to a palatial villa in a Pakistani garrison town.

Senior US officials were on Tuesday holding delicate discussions on whether to prove Osama bin Laden's death to the world by releasing a photo of his corpse.

President Barack Obama's security team was debating whether to release photographic evidence and weighing the possible impact of such a move, an official said on condition of anonymity.

Obama will be aware that the publication of a picture of a dead bin Laden would lay to rest any conspiracy theories in the wider world that Washington somehow faked his killing.

But officials will also be conscious of the potential of stirring a backlash, possibly against US missions abroad, or other targets, in the Muslim world from any picture deemed disrespectful to the dead or disfigured.

Obama's top anti-terror adviser John Brennan said it was "inconceivable" that bin Laden did not enjoy a support network in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation allied uneasily to the US-led war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

After Sunday night's public celebrations in New York and Washington, the mood among some US lawmakers turned angry amid demands to know how bin Laden lived unmolested in a country that receives billions of dollars of US aid.

Leafy Abbottabad, home to the Pakistani equivalent of the West Point and Sandhurst military academies, is popular with retired military personnel and tourists alike, and lies just two hours' drive north of Islamabad.

But in an opinion piece written for Tuesday's Washington Post, the Pakistani president said the criticism was groundless.

"Some in the US press have suggested that Pakistan lacked vitality in its pursuit of terrorism, or worse yet that we were disingenuous and actually protected the terrorists we claimed to be pursuing," Zardari said.

"Such baseless speculation may make exciting cable news but it doesn't reflect fact."

Zardari acknowledged that the US commandos carried out the Abbottabad raid without Pakistani collaboration - but stressed that Islamabad had initially helped to identify the al-Qaeda courier who led them to bin Laden.

Overall, he wrote, "a decade of cooperation and partnership between the United States and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama bin Laden as a continuing threat to the civilised world".

In an interview with AFP, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sidestepped questions over how bin Laden had gone undetected.

Referring to the late terrorism mastermind as "that gentleman", Gilani said only that the villa housing bin Laden was in a "remote area" out of reach of the army's main city bases.

But leaders in both Afghanistan and India have said bin Laden's discovery so close to Islamabad vindicated their claims of double-dealing by Pakistan's military and intelligence powerbrokers.

And French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe -- who was due to meet Gilani in Paris later on Tuesday -- said the fact that bin Laden went completely unnoticed showed that Pakistan's position on the late al-Qaeda leader "lacks clarity".

The commando operation, which US officials said lasted less than 40 minutes, stormed a heavily fortified $US1 million compound that stood out from other properties for its towering perimeter walls and heavy security.

But in a country where anti-US feeling runs strong and where conspiracy theories proliferate, not everyone was buying the US version of events.

"Nobody believes it. We've never seen any Arabs around here," said Bashir Qureshi, 61, who lives a stone's throw from where bin Laden was shot and whose windows were blown out in the raid.

"They (the US) said they had thrown his body to the sea! This is wrong, he was not here."

US officials said bin Laden was buried at sea after Islamic rites on the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, as many world leaders welcomed his demise but warned it did not mean the challenge from terror was over.

Next to the bullet-riddled villa in Abbottabad, military track marks could be seen in the adjoining maize and vegetable fields, and children were looting scattered fragments of metal and plastic.

"I am going to sell it," said 13-year-old Imran, claiming to be carrying part of one US helicopter that crashed and was blown up by its crew during the operation.

With Pakistan's main Taliban faction vowing vengeance, the United States said on Tuesday it was closing its consulates in the cities of Lahore and Peshawar to the public until further notice.

The US State Department warned of the potential for reprisals against Americans, while CIA chief Leon Panetta said terrorist groups "almost certainly" would try to avenge bin Laden.

After months of top-secret planning, the operation came down to a simple command delivered by US President Barack Obama on Friday -- "it's a go."

"We got him," Obama told his top lieutenants, who had gathered in the White House Situation Room to watch the dramatic operation unfold late on Sunday, according to US press accounts.

The high tension gripping the room had finally been broken by confirmation relayed by Panetta that the status of bin Laden -- codenamed "Geronimo" -- was now "EKIA": Enemy Killed in Action.

Of five people killed in the raid, Geronimo was identified as the tall, bearded nemesis of successive US administrations who inspired generations of jihadist fighters to take up arms first against the Soviets and then the West.

But at no point in the planning and execution of the raid was Pakistan entrusted with the explosive information.

Brennan said the United States did not notify Islamabad of the raid until its Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters safely exited Pakistani airspace with bin Laden's remains.

Hundreds late on Monday took to the streets in Quetta, a city believed to be home to the Afghan Taliban's ruling council, in Pakistan's first rally to honour bin Laden, burning a US flag and chanting anti-US slogans.

But by early evening Tuesday, there had been no further major protests in Pakistan.

Acknowledgements:  -AAP