Bird’s Eye News

Up here, we see everything – Gabriel Pollard

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Are the cogs coming off?

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It is with utter amazement that I watch what this Government is trying to do. This may also be helpful if you are having trouble keeping track of what’s happening… ;).

First of all, it thinks the public wont live having the 2011 Rugby World Cup on Maori Television (free to air rights only), so it says no to it.

So they decide TVNZ should have it because more people will watch it, and it wont be 90% English and 10% te reo language ratio that Maori TV were set to do.

But they didn’t count on the taxpayers being appaled at funding two bids for the rights. $3 million for Maori TV to broadcast, and a boost for TVNZ (plus TV3 – they would share rights) to outbid.

And now? The National-led Government have said they will fund a joint bid combining Maori TV with TVNZ and TV3. Maori TV would be the main sponsor and the other two channels would be sub-contracted.

Prime Minister John Key said himself, as reported by stuff.co.nz, “There was a lack of coherence and ministers should have got together to thrash out a single approach.”

It seems to me that the cogs fell off the wheel on this one, with the cabinet looking red-faced with patches of egg too.

They didn’t even know what the Maori affairs minister, Pita Sharples, was doing with the $3 million earmarked for Maori development. And then they wanted to side with local opinion.

Stick to your guns, National.

You’re still sticking to your guns with the making of common cold and flu medicines prescription only to combat the making of methamphetamine, or “P”. Or will we see that go by the wayside too? In this instance, however, I don’t care. There is no cure for the common cold. Get over it.

Written by Gabriel Pollard

14 October, 2009 at 9.22 pm

Free trade with Korea possible following China’s deal

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New Zealand’s Trade Minister Tim Groser has called on submissions on a possible free-trade-agreement (FTA) with the Republic of Korea. This follows the first ever FTA secured with China by the former Labour-led New Zealand Government.

The incumbent National-led Government said that the submissions are now being called as part of a review of the possibility that was undertaken two years ago. A 2007 joint private study involving the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) and the Korean Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP) with results only having been released recently and “indicates that an FTA would offer net economic benefits to both countries.”

Mr Groser said, “Korea is New Zealand’s sixth largest export market, with our total bilateral goods trade worth around NZ$2.5 billion a year. Korea is also an important source of international students and tourists. Entering into an FTA would see the platform laid to develop further this important relationship.”

While New Zealand receives submissions, Korea will conduct domestic consultations. “We are confident that this submission process, and Korea’s own domestic consultations, will demonstrate favourable support for this process and that our two Governments can subsequently move to the formal announcement of negotiations,” Mr Groser said.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan visited this weekend as a part of key discussions revolving around this possible agreement. New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully said, “Talks will also focus on how we can strengthen cooperation between New Zealand and South Korea on regional and global security issues, as well as ways to improve bilateral links, particularly in areas such as science and education.”

In September 2007 Korean Minister Yu In-chon signed a film co-production contract with New Zealand.

Written by Gabriel Pollard

25 January, 2009 at 10.06 pm

‘Smacking law has not made a big difference’ – Police; lobby group claims otherwise

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The latest six month review of the repeal of Section 59 of the Crimes Act (commonly referred to as the “anti-smacking law”) has shown the amount of police intervention to claims of a ‘smack’ has remained minimal. However, lobby group Family First claim that the law is a “spectacular failure”.

The repeal of Section 59 was enacted in June 2007, and since then the Police have monitored any signs and effects this has had on the public of New Zealand.

The third review covers the time from 5 April 2008 to 3 October 2008 which showed 258 call outs for Police on “child  assault” claims. Nine were smacks and 49 were classed as “minor acts of physical discipline”. The New Zealand Police said in a press release, “One smacking event was prosecuted, but subsequently withdrawn when the primary witness declined to give evidence. There were 4 prosecutions of ‘minor acts of physical discipline’, 3 resulting in convictions with one still to be resolved through the court.”

National Director of Family First NZ Bob McCoskrie said, “Most concerning is that parents have been prosecuted or referred to CYF for minor smacking. Our fears of prosecutions have been confirmed.”

“Research conducted by the Children’s Issue Centre and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner shows that more parents understand that hitting children is not effective and are moving towards positive discipline methods,” the Chief Executive of Barnardos New Zealand Murray Edridge said.

“They understand the law and support it.”

The latest review confirms that the numbers are decreasing. In the September 2007 to April 2008 review there were 288 child assault events, of which 13 were smacking and 69 was minor physical discipline.

Mr McCoskrie said, “Sadly, the rate of ‘child assault’ prosecutions is decreasing and actual child abusers are not being caught and the ‘roll of horror’ of child abuse deaths continues…” He cites cases such as when three year old Nia Glassie, 16 month old Sachin Dhani, and more died due to abuse.

However, Mr Edridge said, “The law is working well. There is no significant increase in the numbers of parents being prosecuted, which clearly shows that the Police are exercising discretion and only prosecuting serious incidents under the law.”

“Activity remains ‘business as usual’ for Police and confirms Officers are continuing to use a common sense approach to child assault events,” Deputy Police Commissioner Rob Pope said.

One more review remains to be conducted by the Police.

Written by Gabriel Pollard

20 December, 2008 at 4.11 pm

Overseas Kiwis change election results

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It is somewhat ironic that analysis of the overseas New Zealand votes has shown that the Green Party’s increase of one seat in Parliament is owed to Labour, due to discrepancies between the New Zealand voters and the overseas New Zealand voters. This is despite the fact that once the special overseas votes were counted the Greens gained one seat at National’s expense.

The analysis between home support and international support for each party was conducted by Kea New Zealand.

Kea’s press release states, “Overseas voters changed Parliament’s makeup because they differed markedly in how they supported the three largest parties in the new Parliament.”

National had a ratio of votes 2:1 (52.3% versus 27.8% respectively) over main political opponent Labour which is the main reason why Labour lost one seat.

The turnout for overseas voters was record breaking (excluding war time votes; and having 28,000 in 2005 and about 17,000 in 2002), with Kea running a campaign overseas to make sure “Every Vote Counts”. “We are pleased with the impact of our campaign, given that it was mounted on a small budget by a non-profit organisation,” says Ivan Moss, the Chief Executive of Kea New Zealand.

Mr Moss claims that, “Every Vote Counts directly reached well over 20,000 people and was responsible for initiating at least 7,000 voting enrolments.”

32,000 people cast special votes originating from different countries rather than New Zealand.

Mr Moss says, “But we remain concerned that overseas Kiwis have the lowest enrolment rate of any group of eligible New Zealand voters. The 60,000 who enrolled to vote this year is only about 12% of the estimated 500,000 New Zealanders overseas who are eligible.”

Written by Gabriel Pollard

18 December, 2008 at 7.58 pm

Posted in New Zealand, Politics

13 airlines accused of cartel behaviour to be prosecuted

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New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has filed proceedings in the High Court of New Zealand against 13 international airliners for alleged cartel  behaviour for more than seven years. Seven airline staff of a high level in their respective companies also face prosecution.

In a press release the Commerce Commission said, “Airlines throughout the world colluded to raise the price of freighting cargo by imposing fuel surcharges for more than seven years. This affected the price of cargo both into and out of New Zealand.”

The Commerce Commission said that between 1999 and 2000, the 13 airplane operators entered into an illegal agreement imposing fuel surcharges for six years until 2006. Following the 9/11 attacks on America, a security surcharge was also imposed, according to the New Zealand Government’s competition regulatory agency.

The allegations also involve a series of regional price fixing agreements.

Around 60 airline operators are involved, but only 13 are being focussed on; including Air New Zealand, British Airways and Australian-based Qantas Airways. More staff could be involved too.

The agency bringing the charges have claimed that the anti-competition colluding has “extensively” harmed the New Zealand economy. It is estimated that the price fixing generated a revenue of NZ$2.9 billion over seven years.

Commerce Commission Chair Paula Rebstock said, “Participation in cartel activity is internationally regarded as one of the most egregious forms of anti-competitive behaviour.

“Many New Zealand businesses and every consumer will have been directly affected by the increased air freight costs over many years. It will have resulted in increased costs for exporters and importers and higher overall prices for many consumer goods.”

State owned Air New Zealand’s general counsel John Blair says the Commission is merely “grandstanding” and they will defend the charges before them outright.

International equivalents of New Zealand’s Commerce Commission are already investigating, with several companies already being issued massive fines amounting to tens, even hundreds, of millions of dollars each.

Ms Rebstock said, “New Zealand is a long way from its overseas markets and so the harm to our economy and our ability to compete internationally will have been disproportionately greater than in other jurisdictions in which the conduct took place.”

The Commerce Commission were tipped off from an industry insider, whose airliner have been granted immunity from prosecution.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Gabriel Pollard

15 December, 2008 at 2.04 pm

Buy Kiwi Made campaign suspended

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The recently elected National-led Government has announced that it’s conducting a review of the effectiveness of the “Buy Kiwi Made” ad-campaign championed by the previous Government.

Minister of Economic Development, Gerry Brownlee, said that the campaign will be halted indefinitely after Christmas unless their review shows that it did in fact help New Zealand-made goods attract more customers. The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, which grew the campaign with support of the previous Labour-led Government, claim that the review will show that the campaign helped to increase the supporters of locally-made products.

The Minister also questions what the slogan “Buy Kiwi Made” means when New Zealand companies use other countries to actually make the product, use international advertising companies, etc.

Instead of wanting New Zealanders to buy New Zealand goods, Mr Browlee wants those products to be open to different markets, such as the Chinese-markets, among other countries.

National and its coalition partners, such as the ACT Party, attained the majority of the 122-seat Parliament in the election held last month.

Written by Gabriel Pollard

6 December, 2008 at 4.43 pm

Greens and Nationals seats amount change

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On November 8 New Zealanders headed to the polls to determine who would lead the next Government. On the night supplementary counts gave National 59 seats and the Greens had eight seats. Now, with the release of the special votes, those two numbers have changed with National losing one seat to the Green party (58-9 respectively).

The new amount of seats does not affect which party holds power in the minority Government with National’s agreements with Act (5 seats), UnitedFuture (1) and the Maori Party (5) remaining dominant in the 122 seat Parliament (an overhang of two because the Maori Party won more electorate seats than was reflected in their party vote support).

Chief Electoral Officer Robert Peden released the confirmed figures this afternoon which means Cam Calder is no longer an MP for National, and Kennedy Graham is the newest confirmed face to the Green’s caucus.

The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand are not surprised that they grew their seat total, as they have always been favoured in the special votes. In fact, they had already been including Mr Graham in caucus discussions prior to the announcement of inclusion.

There were 270,965 special votes cast and despite that total no other parties lost or gained seats; thus all candidates are confirmed to have won their electorates. The special votes were important in the electorates where a thin majority held power, such as Waimakariri where Clayton Cosgrove only held it by 518 votes. That lead has now shrunk to a mere 390 votes.

New Zealand First still didn’t reach the 5% threshold required for a party to gain representation in Parliament (unless an electorate is won) – only acquiring 7,000 more votes.

For the near 280,000 special votes, only 32,000 of them were from overseas New Zealanders, the remainder were from voters voting two weeks ago outside their designated electorates.

Main opposition party, Labour, still remains with 43 seats.

Written by Gabriel Pollard

22 November, 2008 at 2.36 pm