The Jackal: August 2011

31 Aug 2011

New Zealand's Oil Bonanza... Yeah Right!

For more than 25 years, New Zealand has explored its oil and gas reserves with hundreds of exploratory wells being drilled across the country.

Recently, new oil and gas exploration has increased, driven by a soaring price for crude oil and a dwindling worldwide supply. In 18 months up to June 2010, 68 new exploratory wells were drilled, to the detriment of our clean and green image.

Back in 2009, Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee said that the number of non-resident offshore rigs operating in NZ more than doubled over the previous 5 years, and the numbers of offshore wells drilled had risen from 12 in 2000-05 to 62 since 2006.

Offshore gas reserves increased by 364 Petajoules (PJ) from 2005 to 2008, with notable reserve upgrades at Maui and Pohokura. So there's a lot of activity and production going on in the New Zealand oil and gas industry.
Petroleum Refinery at Marsden Point Port, Whangarei, Northland.
There are about 161 different internationally traded crude oils. They vary in terms of characteristics, quality, and market penetration. Two crude oils which are either traded themselves or whose prices are reflected in other types of crude oil include West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent. 

Most of New Zealand's crude oil is high quality, meaning that it requires less refining to produce gasoline, kerosene, refinery gas, light and heavy gas-oils and asphalt. This also means it's worth top dollar. The current price of New Zealand's crude oil is US$131 per barrel and climbing again.

According to NZ Petroleum & Minerals, in 2008 the country's mean crude production rate was 58,728 barrels per day. At current prices, that's worth US$7,693,368. Production has since fallen slightly from a peak in 1997 of 58880 barrels per day to 52,882. In 2010 New Zealand's crude oil production was worth a staggering US$2,521,625,288 or (at current exchange rates) $2.97 billion New Zealand Dollars.

The governments tax take on that is only $148 m or roughly the same amount given away to oil companies as sweeteners like free seismic mapping research and additional funding to promote investment.

The Ministry of Economic Development's 2009 Energy Data File, showed the spending on oil exploration was the highest in a decade. The expenditure in petroleum exploration increased to $314 million from $136 million in 2007. However there is no tax payable on this.

Even the New Zealand Petroleum Refining plant is majority owned by BP, Chevron and ExxonMobil, which means very little profit goes to New Zealand, the country where the resources are located.
Greenpeace protest against seismic testing ship the Orient Explorer
So this begs the question, why isn't New Zealand already filthy rich from this resource? The simple answer is that very little profit stays in New Zealand. This is because the Energy and Resources Minister Gerry Brownlee ensured that the 2009 Budget would continue an exemption from tax on the profits of non-resident operators of offshore rigs and seismic vessels, introduced in 2004, extending it out to December 31, 2014.

New Zealand's royalty and tax exemption regime is extremely generous, even by international comparison, with companies only required to pay the Government 5% of the value of the oil and 1% of the value of the gas or 20% of accounting profits, whatever figure is higher. In terms of the investment the government makes to facilitate exploration, the returns to New Zealand are a pittance of the profits being made.

Despite the low returns, National has recently reiterated its support for the petroleum industry, saying that it needs to expand so that the government can meet its financial obligations. They promote new exploration and drilling for oil and gas to be the countries saving grace. Their motivation is the $17.6 billion dollar deficit National has created since they gained office in 2008.

To make matters worse, National has further ensured the oil companies get a free ride by implementing nearly all of the recommendations made by the main petroleum industry lobby group, the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand. In its submissions in February to the National government’s Petroleum Plan of Action 2010 document, PEPANZ proposed changes to help the oil and gas industry even more.
Having fewer agencies from which to gain approvals would assist industry and improve the efficiency of the sector. Looking ahead, Government proposals for greater regulation in the EEZ make it likely that we are likely to have to deal with more agencies, not fewer. There are opportunities to ensure those new functions are administered by agencies with which the industry already deals, such as Maritime NZ – and these should be carefully considered.
The rules that preside over oil drilling outside the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), are currently makeshift and incomplete, and only governed by Marine NZ's Environmental Best Practice Guidelines (PDF). These Guidelines are not intended to be legally enforceable.

However under the Resource Management Act 1991, which governs drilling within New Zealand's Territorial Sea (12 mile limit), the Petroleum Industry is liable to pay a maximum fine of only $200,000 in the event of an oil spill or other disaster. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was estimated to cost over $6 million per day. In April this year, BP estimated that the spill would cost US$41.3 billion.

New Zealand’s response capabilities can be considered non-existent in comparison, while the risk is just as great.

Under the Resource Management Act 1991, the maximum penalties are up to 2 years in jail and fines not exceeding $200,000 plus if it is a continuing offence up to $10,000 per day. However there are a number of exemptions to the Resource Management Act that exist in other statutes. This includes: Section 467 of the Maritime Transport Act to powers of the Director of Maritime Transport in relation to hazardous ships and structures and action taken, in response to oil spill action.

A year and a half after that monumental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, which destroyed many lives and decimated the fishing and tourism industries; Environment Minister Nick Smith has finally introduced a Bill to Parliament to manage the environmental effects of activities in the EEZ and the extended continental shelf (ECS).

The newly formed Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) will be responsible for consenting, monitoring and enforcing activities with environmental impacts, like oil exploration, seabed mining, deepwater aquaculture and marine energy development. It's yet more window dressing with weak legislation.

The (unconfirmed) fine limitation has also been set well below potential costs for even a small oil leak lasting a few days. The Deepwater Horizon spill lasted 87 days, and was only plugged because another drilling rig was available. This oversight remains under the revised legislation.
“These measures complement last week’s announcements by the Minister of Labour on the establishment of a High Hazards Unit with four inspectors specifically for the petroleum industry.  The Minister of Transport is also reviewing the liability insurance requirements for the industry and is looking to raise it above the current level of NZ$30 million,” Nick Smith said.
As previously mentioned, the current limit of liability for spills within the 12 mile EEZ is only $200,000. No legally enforceable fine for spills outside the EEZ is in place. The government does not require oil and gas industries to have insurance to cover costs in the event of an oil spill. The Minister for the Environment, Nick Smith is telling porkies!

Even the oil industry says that safety assurances for deep sea oil drilling cannot be given; therefore projects with significant and unacceptable environmental risks should not get consent ie all deep sea oil drilling. However the new legislation means the Minister in charge will have final say, and projects of significance to National will automatically get the green light.

Back in Dec 2010 Greenpeace raised some concerns:
“Gerry Brownlee is trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted – he has given permits without the correct regulations being in place. This is bad governance and now calls into question whether the regulatory review can be conducted honestly given that international oil companies will be lobbying for the weakest standards possible to protect profits,” says Greenpeace New Zealand Senior Climate Campaigner Simon Boxer.
There is very little economic benefit for New Zealand in continuing fossil fuel developments, in comparison to the potential and realized negative environmental impact, low returns and increased CO2 emissions. Continuing down a fossil fuel path is counter-productive to our clean and green image. There is an alternative to dirty fossil fuels, that's what the government should be promoting and investing in.

30 Aug 2011

National's Financial Fantasy Land

The National party made a press release today concerning an increase to the estimated liability for the Canterbury earthquakes.

Despite the huge increase of around $3.1 billion, Bill English is down playing any negative impact to the government's growing debt crisis, saying that they still expect to return to surplus by 2014/15 and will keep net debt below 30% of GDP. It's really just more National party bullshit!

The official government debt was 9.4% of GDP in Sept 2008 under Labour. It was 18.2% in March this year. Effectively National's doubled the government's debt as a percentage of GDP in two and a half years. Ignoring that 100% increase, National is all too prepared to reside in their rhetoric:
"Despite the increased liability, which will have a one-off impact on the Government's operating balance for the 2010/11 year, the Government remains on track to meet Budget forecasts of a return to surplus in 2014/15 and to keep net debt below 30 per cent of GDP," Mr English says.
National's predictions are akin to Bill English cutting open a chicken and looking at the entrails. Not only has National got the country in hock by $17.6 billion dollars, they've failed to produce even one job of the 170,000 they predicted in their first budget. The economy has stalled and National have no answers apart from cutting deeper.

Believing that New Zealand will return to surplus and net debt will be kept below 30% of GDP under a National government with these additional costs and no plan, is akin to believing the earth is the centre of the universe. In my opinion, the three budget's National dreamed up should be classified in the fantasy section of the library, or better yet chucked in the rubbish.
"At the time of the Budget, Treasury put the total earthquake damage bill – to all property owners and insurers - at $15 billion, or about 8 per cent of GDP, making it the worst natural disaster in recent memory to hit a developed nation – relative to the size of its economy. The Government has asked Treasury to update this estimate based on new information available since the Budget," Mr English says.
$3.1 billion dollars doesn't just magically appear out of thin air. So if there's not going to be increased borrowing, which would automatically make the Budget 2011 predictions incorrect, where is the money coming from?

National says that the increased EQC liability will be partially offset by higher than forecast tax revenue and lower than forecast costs in other areas. However they're not forthcoming about what additional taxes have been gained or where cuts to social spending are greater than forecast. It stands to reason then that National's projected tax take and savings from budget cuts appears to be completely inaccurate.

For Bill English to claim there will be no change to the budgets forecast and net debt will be kept below 30% of GDP is simply bad management, especially considering the Government hasn't even received the Treasury's updated estimates yet.

National's press release is simply more feel good propaganda without any substance from the so called Minister of Finance, Bill English. To make matters worse, David Farrar then entirely contradicts National's press release by writing:
Basically this means an extra $3b to $4b of borrowing. There is no choice about this – it is just what the costs are.
This is just lazy blogging. Basically Farrar is an idiot and hasn't even bothered reading National's press release properly before commenting. His pea brain automatically turns to using the information to attack Labour, who to date haven't made a statement regarding the increased costs. He goes on to write:
But it is worth reflecting that even by their own calculations, Labour’s tax plans require greater Government borrowing for at least the next seven years. And that is before we even get to their spending plans. Will these extra costs make Labour reconsider their policy of tax cuts and boosting benefits?
Well they sure as hell aren't lying about the impact of additional costs like Bill English. Here's a run down of Labours proposed policies. Looks like they actually have a plan, and one that doesn't involve looking at entrails.

Is Cactus Kate Dead?

It was rather amusing to see Cathy Odgers joining the Act party a few months ago. Even though she's immensely qualified to be a member of the bigoted group, some of her beliefs appear to go against the grain.

Odgers says that corporate welfare must stop and that politicians should be honest and accountable. Perhaps she doesn't know about Don Brash's sordid history?

Anyway! It's for the best that Odgers wasn't nominated. She would stick out like dogs balls in Act for one thing, being a youngish female in a party of old predominantly male sycophants. The only thing she has going for her is that she's a white supremacist. I actually feel a bit sorry for the once influential critic... being rejected is never easy.

Odgers is probably distraught about the whole thing, being that the Act party was her one and only chance at fulfilling her dream of becoming an MP... Shudder! It's little wonder Act decided to leave Odgers out in the cold though, she is just too outspoken:
"Earth to ACT - Throw Calvert Overboard! Please Dear God shut this woman up! Banks is just awful. He makes you want to consider voting Len Brown... his political philosophy isn't even close to Act's."
I presume that's the main reason Act has rejected Odgers... Although I think old Don Brash is also a bit soar about having the Act party labelled a bunch of racists! He prefers a more caring form of bigotry dressed up in policy drag.

Blatant hate speech and open disdain for Maori would concern Act, who is trying to gain the racist vote, while not openly appearing to be racist. Odgers on the other hand has foot in mouth disease. Here is some of her throffing:
"Without Maori in the statistics New Zealand has one of the lowest rates of general child abuse in the world. That is - Maori are over-represented in bashing kids. That's why it is okay to single them out as a group and demand they improve. It's no one else's fault but themselves that their statistics are so appalling. It's a violence perpetrated on their own.

Maori are trying to deflect the issue from themselves and claiming a collective "youse all do it too". That they are as a group, killing their own kids. But it's not the evil coloniser or Indian or Asian immigrants who are killing Maori kids. Oh no, Maori would be screaming at the top of their lungs and wanting compensation if that was happening. Maori are doing the job very nicely all by themselves.

The heaving pathetic underclass do not seem to have any idea how to look after and better themselves let alone their kids. All the Whanau Ora in the world given to them from the collective troughing of the "consultant" middle class neo-minted Maori brorocracy won't help them.

How about we cut off the DPB and dole altogether and PAY the underclasses NOT to breed. It's an idea thats time has come. Not breeding or not breeding further to those already with children should become a condition of receiving welfare."
It must have been a blow to her white supremacist ego to learn that more white children are killed by family violence than Maori children. Oh well, never let the facts get in the way of some good old racist storytelling eh!

I noticed Odgers has closed down her twitter account and blogging has been non-existent since the Act party announced its list that ultimately rejected her. Perhaps she's finding solace at the bottom of a bottle or maybe Catcus Kate is deceased. I presume that's just a rumor though, and we'll see another blog post sometime soon. I can't wait.

29 Aug 2011

NZ Breaches International Convention

If the flagrant abuse of New Zealand's Nuclear Free Legislation I blogged about yesterday wasn't bad enough, it was also revealed by the Greens that the New Zealand Superannuation Fund Board of Trustees invested $2.5 million in five companies involved in the production of cluster bombs.

Many countries have banned the manufacture, use and trade of cluster munitions, including New Zealand. 

But did you know that three of these cluster bomb manufacturers that have received Super funds are also involved in the nuclear weapons industry? Gencorp's wholly owned subsidiary Aerojet Ordnance Tennessee Inc. produces uranium weapons, The Kaman Corporation was involved in nuclear weapons testing and Tata Power is involved in R&D that has applications for building fusion reactors and thermonuclear weapons in India.

This information was easily accessed on the internet. Some of the companies like Saab AB and Zodiac Aerospace are on published investment exclusion lists, so there is no excuse that the Superannuation Fund Board of Trustees did not know what these companies get up to.

By investing in three out of five of these companies, the Superannuation Fund Board of Trustees has broken the law on two counts. Once by ignoring the Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act 1987 and then again by ignoring the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The CCM is an international treaty that prohibits the use, transfer and stockpile of cluster bombs.

New Zealand signed the convention on the 3rd December 2008, ratified it on the 22nd December 2009 and it was enforceable from the 1st August 2010. Countries that ratify the convention will be obliged never under any circumstances:
(a) Use cluster munitions;
(b) Develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, cluster munitions;
(c) Assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.
What's the point in having laws if arrogant people like the Superannuation Fund Board of Trustees just ignores them? As well as the the yellow cake debacle, these breaches undermine New Zealand's nuclear free status. Perhaps that's exactly what they are hoping to achieve. It's enough to make David Lange turn in his grave.

28 Aug 2011

Super Fund Invests in Nuclear Weapons

Last Wednesday it was revealed that the New Zealand superannuation fund holds 44,595 shares worth $2,082,736 in a Mumbai-based multinational company called Larsen and Toubro, which in partnership with the Indian Navy, is involved in designing and manufacture a fleet of nuclear-armed submarines for India. But that's not all Larsen & Toubro (L&T) India's largest engineering group gets up to...
L&T is an international supplier of heavy engineering components for the nuclear industry. It is one of only ten major nuclear-qualified ASME accreditation heavy engineering enterprises worldwide. L&T is also involved in India's nuclear weapons program, which makes the super fund investment into L&T highly questionable.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said:
"It was grossly irresponsible for the Fund to be making money out of nuclear proliferation in a region of the world which was highly unstable. To profit from the proliferation of their nuclear weapons capability undermines our status as a nuclear-free nation and stands completely against the intent of the treaty," Dr Norman said. 
It's far worse than just being "grossly irresponsible," though. It has been illegal for New Zealander's to invest in Nuclear weapons development since 1987, when New Zealand's Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act was implemented. The Act states:
5 Prohibition on acquisition of nuclear explosive devices

(2) No person, who is a New Zealand citizen or a person ordinarily resident in New Zealand, and who is a servant or agent of the Crown, shall, beyond the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, -
(a) manufacture, acquire, or possess, or have control over, any nuclear explosive device; or
(b) aid, abet, or procure any person to manufacture, acquire, possess, or have control over any nuclear explosive device.
Being that Larsen and Toubro is building the nuclear powered submarines that will be able to deploy nuclear weapons, they develop numerous nuclear power plants worldwide and they also help to develop nuclear missiles, this is a breach of the Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act. The Act goes on to state:
4 Offences and penalties

(1) Every person commits an offence against this Act who contravenes orfails to comply with any provision of sections 5 to 8.
(2) Every person who commits an offence against this Act is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years.
Clearly there has been a breach of the Act by the New Zealand Superannuation Fund's Board of Trustees. It would be interesting to know if they understood they were breaking the law by signing off on an investment into a nuclear weapons company. I surmise that the Board of trustees would have had legal advice, and are therefore culpable for the crime committed.

27 Aug 2011

Suicide Rate Increases Under National

The latest suicide figures are out and predictably the rate of suicide has increased. The rate of people taking their own lives per 100,000 has increased from 12.04 in 2008/2009 to 12.65 in 2010/2011.

When you create high unemployment, cut funding for education, increase the cost of living, increase inequality and ensure there’s an underclass that has little hope to achieve, no matter how hard they work, there's consequences.

In releasing the information to stimulate discussion on the topic, Judge MacLean said:

“The suicide toll is a really concerning commentary on our society, and I believe anything we can do to aid more accurate information can only be for the better.

“I have suggested that there may be room for a gentle opening up of the restrictions on media reporting of suicide, but we need to consider all viewpoints – especially those of families – so we can make informed decisions.

“These statistics clearly show that what we have done in the past is not bringing the toll down so we must look for new solutions,”
Judge MacLean said.
Male Maori aged 20 to 24 continue to have the highest suicide rate.

The latest data puts the total at 558 deaths by suicide. The suicide rate in 2007 was 11.0 deaths per 100,000 population. It had reduced significantly by 27.3% under a Labour government since the peak rate of 577 deaths in 1998. That high rate of suicide was also a direct result of National's negative policies. Let's not help them achieve that 1998 peak again.

26 Aug 2011

It's Official - Hone Harawira was Setup

You might recall the hullabaloo around comments reportedly made by Hone Harawira regarding the death of Osama Bin-Laden. Well it turns out that he was misquoted, and the National Business Review article contained inaccuracies.

At the time, Irishbill over at the Standard wrote a great blog post raising his concerns about the misreporting and political response, and he wasn't alone in those sentiments.
The initial NBR article created a veritable shit storm of further abusive reporting, bigoted blogs and racist comments, with many simply unable to control themselves. Somehow I don't think we'll be seeing any apologies for their misplaced accusations anytime soon... but here's a small sample of the idiotic right wing blogger's comments:

David Farrar:
I’m going to risk Godwin’s Law and ask whether Hone would say the same thing about Hitler. I mean it would almost fit – “Hitler pursued independence for his Germanic people, his family, and his Aryan tribe”.
As to Hone? Ya toast mate - sorry but the only bastards who vote for you are the pricks who seldom piss before lunch so there is no way they are going to get out of their own way to saunter along to the polling booth. 
Alf Grumble:
That’s what Alf would have liked doing to Hitler, if he had been old enough at the time. Hone – we may suppose – would have paid tribute to him in his Maori way.
 Cameron Slater:
So just three days after Hone said he was com­fort­able with a ter­ror­ist wor­ship­per like Annette Sykes stand­ing for his party of mal-content, haters and anar­chists, Hone him­self is pro­fess­ing admi­ra­tion for Osama bin Laden. Make no mis­take that Hone Harawira is a racist and his party is filled with like-minded racists.
The reaction the misreporting caused didn't end when Hone made a formal apology... in fact it got worse, which just goes to show that people who can't speak te Reo should refrain from making racist comments based on their ignorance.

So without further ado, here's the Press Council's ruling:

Council Meeting AUGUST 2011

James Morris complained that the headline and thrust of an article published by the NBR online on May 5, 2011, following comments by Independent MP Hone Harawira on the killing of Osama bin Laden, is based on a misattributed quote. The article followed an interview on TVNZ’s Te Karere. The interview was conducted in Te Reo with translations into English provided in subtitles.

The complaint is upheld.

On May 2, 2011 the Te Karere programme featured Hone Harawira commenting on the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Mr Harawira, speaking in Maori, said bin Laden was a fighter for "the rights, the land and the freedom of his people".

His remarks prompted controversy, and a subsequent apology from him about how he had expressed himself. His comments had been seen as support for bin Laden's actions which was a mistake, he said.

The Complaint
Mr Morris complained that the headline "Bin Laden a Freedom Fighter – Harawira” and the thrust of the story ‘rest on a quote which is attributed in the story to Harawira, but was in fact made by the presenter of the Te Karere programme’.

Mr Morris quoted the following from the article: “But Mr Harawira told TVNZ’s Te Karere on Monday he acknowledged the positive aspects of his (bin Laden’s) life”.

“We have heard nothing but negative things about him from the Americans, but he fought for the self-determination of his people and for his beliefs” Mr Harawira said.

Mr Morris pointed out that this latter quote was not in fact said by Mr Harawira, but by the interviewer.

What Mr Harawira actually said (in response to the presenter’s words) was as follows: “Indeed, despite what the media have said, his family, his tribe, his people are in mourning. They mourn for the man who fought for the rights, the land, the freedom of his people. We should not damn them in death, but acknowledge the positive aspects of life”.

Mr Morris acknowledged to the editor that he was aware that the story had appeared under the NZPA byline.

Mr Morris did not get a response to his complaint to the editor of NBR and the editor did not respond to the Press Council complaint either.

The Press Council considers that the headline is acceptable. Mr Harawira did say "Despite what the media said his family, his tribe, his people are mourning, they mourn for a man who fought for the rights, the land and the freedom of his people”; it is not too far removed from that statement to call him a freedom fighter.

However, the report does attribute to Mr Harawira comments actually made by the interviewer, and that is where the NBR went wrong. Since the report was generated by NZPA it was their mistake, and the Press Council has notified NZPA who have corrected it.

If the NBR had responded to the complaint, the issue could have been sorted it out for them too.

The NBR has issued a correction to the story, but unfortunately, the item still attributes the words of the presenter to Mr Harawira, showing them as a direct quote.

This complaint illustrates how immediate action on a complaint can make a difference. In his complaint to the editor Mr Morris, a long time reader of the NBR, acknowledged the authoritative voice of the NBR and stated that loose and sensationalist reporting such as in this article “distracts from hard-earned credibility of your brand”.

The Press Council agrees. This story contained an inaccuracy that could have been corrected very quickly. Furthermore, careful consideration of the complaint when making the correction should have meant that the correction was accurate.

The complaint is upheld on the grounds of inaccuracy.

NZSAS Combat Role in Afghanistan

New Zealand’s involvement in Afghanistan was sold to the public on the premise that we were there to help rebuild and train, not be involved in combat missions. Effectively we were lied to.

With no victory in sight, predictably Kiwi soldiers have started to be injured and one has now died, however John Key continues to try to maintain the falsehood that the involvement is non-combatitive. National obviously believes there will be less political damage done by relying on the initial falsehood, rather than admitting to their continued deceit.

Back in January 2010 the NZPA reported that the Government intended to withdraw the so-called provincial reconstruction team (PRT), which has been in Bamyan province since 2003. Twenty months since that assurance was given nothing has really changed.

John Key made the assurance on the back of the assault in Pashtunistan Square, when Taleban soldiers struck at the heart of Kabul. Although they responded, no members of the NZSAS were harmed. However it clearly showed that they were undertaking combat missions, not related to any open mission statement given by the government.

That particular battle left three members of the Afghan security forces and two civilians dead as well as 71 people wounded. Seven militants were also killed.

Here’s John Key on AMP Business and Breakfast a few days ago spinning it about the governments lies concerning the NZSAS’s role in Afghanistan. Watch as he completely side steps the question, just like a snake oil salesman:

You heard it... they wont achieve their goals by being truthful. National has never openly informed the public that the NZSAS has a combat role in Afghanistan. Even now when the evidence is clear, John Key continues to say New Zealand’s involvement is primarily to rebuild and train.

Being that John Key said the NZSAS would not be involved in a military solution, and now they increasingly are, shouldn’t we reassess New Zealand’s involvement in Afghanistan? Especially considering the war is unjustified.

Opposition to Fracking Gains Momentum

It’s been just over a year since the informative movie Gasland was released to rave reviews. It documented the environmentally disastrous process known as Hydraulic Fracturing or Fracking for short, in the Continental United States.

Josh Fox’s brilliant movie went a long way to creating awareness of the dangerous process. The share shock value of people lighting their drinking water on fire in Pennsylvania is something not easily forgotten.

As the movement against fracking gains momentum, so does the industries disinformation machine. From lobbying the government, to writing their own propaganda, the oil industry is a formidable opponent, which is prepared to fight dirty to maintain their destructive enterprises. But it’s a war that they ultimately cannot win. The destruction caused is well documented, it’s just a case of more people becoming aware and voicing their concerns.

That’s why articles like this one by Tracy Barnett in the New Zealand Herald are so important. The clean energy movement requires an open and public debate, because only through sustained pressure on politicians, will we have any chance of waking up from the nightmare known as the oil and gas industry.

25 Aug 2011

The Polluters Should Pay

Today Environment Minister Nick Smith announced that one of New Zealand's most polluted lakes will receive clean up funding. Lake Ellesmere has become heavily polluted, with little care taken by local farmers, which has resulted in high levels of Nitrogen and Phosphorous from unchecked effluent run off. Fonterra will contributed only $1.3 m of the $11.6 million fund, despite them profiteering directly from the environmental destruction.

National's policy change is a result of recent media coverage on New Zealand’s highly polluted waterways. Although it's a step in the right direction, in my opinion the clean up is simply window dressing to make it appear that National gives a damn about the environment and is finally going to do something about the many years of abuse it has endured. When put into context, $11.6 is a pitiful amount, which will do little to remedy the 90% of lowland waterways that are highly polluted.

Although Environment Southland and the government is partly responsible because they were slow to even accept the problem exists, remiss at enforcing the Resource Management Act and negligent at ensuring intensive farming practices were not problematic, it shouldn’t be the taxpayer who foots the bill.

The clean up of New Zealand's waterways should be funded by those industries that have directly benefited from the years of environmental damage they've caused. After all, it's not as if the public receives any kind of discount from them.

24 Aug 2011

National Guts Education

I came across yet another stupid tweet by Tau Henare today, claiming that National had made more varsity places available. From past experience I know not to trust a single word the pathological liar says, so I went about doing a little research.
The first thing I found was information provided by the Tertiary Education Commission, showing that industry training has been cut by 31,000 places in the past two years. This amounts to cuts of around $146 million.

YMCA national chief executive Ric Odom said it would receive $370,000 less in funding because of TEC cuts of 14% this year and Salvation Army social services director Major Campbell Roberts said employment training was being pushed further into crisis after a five-year funding freeze.

But there's worse to come. In 2014 NZQA will implement new entry criteria limiting University entry to only those with NCEA Level 3 and above. The list of approved subjects for Level 3 credits will also be changed, which will make 8% of students ineligible for higher education. 

National have clearly not increased Varsity places. However according to their website; "increases in funding for university and polytechnic places in the past two years have resulted in an increase of core places by 11,600 more than in 2008." Perhaps that's what lead Tau Henare to abuse Moana Mackey in his idiotic tweet.

So who is telling the truth? The 2009 Budget announced many funding reductions for education: 

Universities (PDF).
  • The domestic status and fees exemption for French and German students on Masters degrees will be removed from 2010.
  • Funding for the Encouraging and Supporting Innovation element will be halved from 2010.
  • Priorities for Focus funding for universities will be discontinued from 2011 (including the academic migrant grant).
  • The Tripartite Adjustment Fund (part of the TEI Base Investment) will be disestablished from 2011.
  • ACE funding for TEIs will be reduced by 50% for lower priority ACE from 2011. It is not yet determined how this reduction will be implemented.
  • Contracts for Building Research Capacity in Social Sciences expire in 2009 and will not be renewed.
  • Special supplementary grants for special education will be disestablished from 2011.
  • Refugee Study Grants will be disestablished from 2011.
  • Academic Migrant Grants will be disestablished from 2011.
  • Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarships will be disestablished after the May 2009 scholarship round. Existing scholarships will be honoured.
  • Adult Literacy Educator Grants will be significantly reduced and re-prioritised from 2010.
  • The tertiary education capital investment fund is disestablished with immediate effect.
Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (PDF).
  • From 2011, funding will be discontinued for short regulatory compliance and health and safety courses.
  • Funding for the Encouraging and Supporting Innovation element will be halved from 2010
  • Planned baseline growth for Intensive Literacy and Numeracy Provision (previously Foundation Learning Pool) will be removed, as well as a decrease in the existing baseline from 2009/10.
  • LLN embedded in mainstream ITP provision increases in 2009/10 but further baseline growth is removed.
  • ACE funding for TEIs will be reduced by 50% for lower priority ACE from 2011. It is not yet determined how this reduction will be implemented.
  • Targeted Education and Training Grants will be disestablished. No further grants will be made from 2010, but existing grants will be honoured.
  • Special supplementary grants for special education will be disestablished from 2011.
  • Bilingual Tutor Grants will be disestablished from 2010.
  • Skill Enhancement will be disestablished from 2010.
  • The tertiary education capital investment fund is disestablished with immediate effect.
  • Adult Literacy Educator Grants will be significantly reduced and re-prioritised from 2010.
Adult and Community Education (PDF).
  • In 2010 all school ACE funding will be replaced with a new approach that reinvests approximately 20% of current school-based ACE funding towards refocused priority areas, such as literacy and numeracy. It is likely that there will be only a small number of schools receiving ACE funding for 2010 and beyond.
  • The ACE Innovation and Development Fund will be disestablished in 2010. There will be no further funding rounds for this fund.
  • The Community Learning Aotearoa New Zealand fund will be disestablished in 2010. There will be no further funding rounds for this fund.
Private Training Establishments (PDF).
  • There will be a 50% increase in learner places in the Workplace Literacy Fund in 2009/10. Further planned growth is removed and the baseline falls in 2011/12.
  • Planned baseline growth for Intensive Literacy and Numeracy Provision (previously Foundation Learning Pool) will be removed, as well as a decrease in the existing baseline from 2009/10.
  • The Pathfinders programme will be disestablished from 2010.
  • Targeted Education and Training Grants will be disestablished. No further grants will be made from 2010, but existing grants will be honoured.
  • Funding for the ESOL Assessment Service will cease from 2010.
  • Skill Enhancement will be disestablished from 2010.
  • Adult Literacy Educator Grants will be significantly reduced and re-prioritised from 2010.
Industry Training Organisations (PDF) Volume Reductions.
  • Funding for the ITO strategic leadership component will be halved from 2011.
  • Some planned growth in literacy funding in Industry Training will be removed.
Being that the Tertiary Education Organisation Component (TEOC) fund was also disestablished by National on 31 December 2010, this equates to a huge reduction in funding. Not to mention that nearly all of the future CPI adjustments were removed in the same year.

And then there's the Adult Literacy and numeracy funding for 2008/09, which was $43.9 million while it's projected to be $39.6 million for 2012/13. A reduction of $4.3 million incl GST. Budget 2009 also stated that the Community Learning Aotearoa New Zealand fund for Adult and Community Education will be disestablished from 2010, but some of these cuts were delayed until this year.

Budget 2010 made a few slight improvements, but did not address the huge cuts made in budget 2009. Instead Budget 2010 delivers an increase in the price the Government pays for each student place funded through the SAC (student achievement component). Effectively it's costing a lot more per position and they're counting the money they've reallocated as new spending.
There's no new spending, just a different lolly scramble with fewer lollies. Funding works out to be considerably less than what was being spent on education when National first gained control.

Budget increases in 2010 and 2011 don't even match inflation for those years. Budget 2010 even reduced funding of Industry Training Organisation (PDF) funding to only $1 million.

Increasing international promotion of New Zealand education by $30 million has little effect on creating further placements. That's about the only budget increase worth mentioning. Everything else is just National spin.

Further highlights of National's education funding failure:
  • The Annual Maximum Fee Movement will allow tertiary education providers to increase fees for all Government-funded courses by up to 4% in 2012.
  • Removing the entitlement for part-time full-year students to borrow course-related costs.
  • Restricting borrowing for those 55 years and over to cover tuition fees only.
  • Restricted loan eligibility for borrowers with overdue repayment obligations of $500 or more for one or more years
  • Funding for industry training will reduce by $57.7m over 4 years ($11.5 million in 2012/13 and $23.1 million in 2013/14 and outyears) in response to a decline in demand, under-delivery and the TEC’s operational review.
Strangely Budget 2011 states above that their is a decline in demand for industry training, but then it states:
Budget 2011 will provide up to $42 million for trades training for the Canterbury region, Tertiary education Minister Steven Joyce says. Funding is being set aside for up to 1500 additional training places as part of a comprehensive cross-agency response to meet additional demand for labour for the reconstruction programme called “Skills for Canterbury”.
So the net effect of the maximum additional funding for training people to rebuild Christchurch and the Budget 2009 cut for industry training is a cut of $15.7 million.

Budget 2011 cut industry training funding from $180 million in the previous Budget to $156 million in the year starting on July 1 and $139 million a year from 2013. That's some serious cuts when many industries have been crying out for well trained workers.

I haven't even mentioned cuts to ECE and Anne Tolley's stupid National Standards policies. But what I have shown is that Nact is gutting the education system, there's no two ways about it.

Wikileaks Traitor - Daniel Domscheit-Berg

After Daniel Domscheit-Berg was suspended in August 2010, he went about destroying leaked documents held by the well known whistle-blower site Wikileaks.

Perhaps the falling out with Assange had something to do with Domscheit-Berg, while still working for Wikileaks, setting up a rival website called OpenLeaks. At a Chaos Computer Club event in August 2011, he announced its preliminary launch and invited hackers to test the security of the system.

Because of this, the Chaos Computer Club criticized Domscheit-Berg for exploiting the good name of the club to promote his OpenLeaks project and expelled him forthwith.

Domscheit-Berg's motivation to promote his website seems to have no moral bounds. But I think there's more to his sabotage of Wikileaks than just unhealthy competition and self promotion.

Although Domscheit-Berg has claimed that he destroyed the data because he was protecting sources from being compromised, a belief that he has an ulterior motive for his sabotage is also held by Assange, who claims Domscheit-Berg wаs іn contact wіth the FBI аnd iѕ assisting the US investigation іnto Wikileaks.

The main issue here though is that the documents reportedly destroyed are of significant public importance. Wikileaks has confirmed that Domscheit-Berg deleted 5 gigabytes of data relating to the Bank of America, the internal communications of 20 neo-Nazi organisations and US intercept information for "over a hundred internet companies," destroyed videos of a major US atrocity in Afghanistan and data relating to the entire US no-fly list.

But it's not just Domscheit-Berg who has been criticized. Wikileaks has had a plethora of abuse for not ensuring the data was secure. If reports that Domscheit-Berg repeatedly tried to blackmail Wikileaks, then hopefully the data still exists. In some cases, the leaked information will still be held by the initial source, so could presumably be recovered. However the added cost in time and danger is significant.

In terms of Domscheit-Berg's conduct, it's a clear case of sabotage aimed at destroying Wikileaks. They've reported that Domscheit-Berg threatened tо make available private communications, tо forces that oppose Wikileaks. Although the details are still unresolved, Domscheit-Berg has ultimately damaged his own credibility, and I presume his online persona and undertakings will be short lived.

Negotiations with the former volunteer ended because the mediator believes Domscheit-Berg is untrustworthy. A belief held with good reason... In his book written about his time at Wikileaks and the eventual falling out with Julian Assange, Domscheit-Berg confesses to various acts of sabotage against the Wikileaks organization, admiting to having damaged the sites primary submission system and stolen material.

In a statement put out on 20 Aug, Wikileaks makes it's case:
Mr. Domscheit-Berg has acted dishonestly, he has admitted to stealing WikiLeaks property, and has admitted to the deliberate sabotage of Wikileaks’ operations, impeding it from carrying out the will of its sources. He has lied, constantly, and flagrantly, to the public, to us, to our lawyers, and to the mediator, Andy Müller-Maguhn. 
I really do hope Wikileaks can survive Domscheit-Berg's despicable conduct as well as an unlawful Washington instigated financial blockade enforced by the big US financial companies, a prime suspect in the leaking of the Afghan war files, Bradley Manning being imprisoned pending trial, Julian Assange under house arrest pending extradition, and over 100 WikiLeaks supporters arrested and/or raided. The world would be worse off without them.

Silence is Deadly - Jim Hansen

The U.S. Department of State seems likely to approve a huge pipeline to carry tar sands oil (about 830,000 barrels per day) to Texas refineries unless sufficient objections are raised. The scientific community needs to get involved in this fray now. If this project gains approval, it will become exceedingly difficult to control the tar sands monster.

Although there are multiple objections to tar sands development and the pipeline, including destruction of the environment in Canada1 and the likelihood of spills along the pipeline's pathway, such objections, by themselves, are very unlikely to stop the project.

An overwhelming objection is that exploitation of tar sands would make it implausible to stabilize climate and avoid disastrous global climate impacts. The tar sands are estimated (e.g., see IPCC AR4 WG3 report) to contain at least 400 GtC (equivalent to about 200 ppm CO2).

Easily available reserves of conventional oil and gas are enough to take atmospheric CO2 well above 400 ppm. However, if emissions from coal are phased out over the next few decades and if unconventional fossil fuels are left in the ground, it is conceivable to stabilize climate2,3.

Phase out of emissions from coal is itself an enormous challenge. However, if the tar sands are thrown into the mix it is essentially game over. There is no practical way to capture the CO2 emitted while burning oil, which is used principally in vehicles.

Governments are acting as if they are oblivious to the fact that there is a limit on how much fossil fuel carbon we can put into the air. Fossil fuel carbon injected into the atmosphere will stay in surface reservoirs for millennia. We can extract a fraction of the excess CO2 via improved agricultural and forestry practices, but we cannot get back to a safe CO2 level if all coal is used without carbon capture or if unconventional fossil fuels are exploited.

I am submitting a comment that the analysis is flawed and insufficient, failing to account for important information regarding human-made climate change that is now available. I note that prior government targets for limiting human-made global warming are now known to be inadequate. Specifically, the target to limit global warming to 2°C, rather than being a safe "guardrail", is actually a recipe for global climate disasters. I will include drafts of the "Paleoclimate Information"4, "Earth's Energy Imbalance"5 and "The Case for Young People and Nature"3 papers, which are so far only published in arXiv; we will submit revised versions of all of these papers for publication this summer.

1 Asserted impacts include: irreversible effects on biodiversity, the natural environment, reduced water quality, destruction of fragile pristine Boreal Forest and associated wetlands, aquatic and watershed mismanagement, habitat fragmentation, habitat loss, disruption to life cycles of endemic wildlife particularly bird and Caribou migration, fish deformities and negative impacts on the human health in downstream communities. 2 Target atmospheric CO2: Where should humanity aim? Open Atmos. Sci. J., 2, 217-231, doi:10.2174/1874282300802010217. 3 4 Paleoclimate implications for human-made climate change, 5 Earth's energy imbalance and implications,

I also will comment that the pipeline project does not serve the national interest, because it will result in large adverse impacts, on the public and wildlife, by contributing substantially to climate change. These impacts must be evaluated before the project is considered further.

It is my impression and understanding that a large number of objections could have an effect and help achieve a more careful evaluation, possibly averting a huge mistake. Brief pointed comments may be just as well as longer statements.

Jim Hansen

A document describing the pipeline project is available here (2.0 MB PDF). Open Comments closed on 6 June. You can still contact the US Department of State by e-mail to or mail to Keystone XL EIS Project, P.O. Box 96503– 98500, Washington, DC 20090–6503 or fax to 206-269-0098.

23 Aug 2011

National's Social Media Failure

Yesterday Bomber Bradbury over at Tumeke had a great post about the way political parties use Facebook to communicate with the people they’re representing. There were some clear winners, which was great to see. Not only has the left wing embraced social media effectively, they actively communicate with people to gauge what the public thinks.

In stark contrast is National’s horrendous effort with only 10% as many Facebook supporters as the Green party of Aotearoa.

National has also failed to properly utilize what should be a formidable tool in any political parties arsenal; a Twitter account. They've continued to simply use twitter as a broadcast medium rather than engaging directly with people.
Twitter Followers for 2011

                     May         August     Increase
Greens        3054          3701        647
National      1616          1954        338
Labour        1117          1336        219
Act               509            651         142
What is apparent is that National MPs are a bunch of technophobes. Their only MP to fully embrace tweeting is Tau Henare, which has been disastrous. He seems incapable of controlling his abusive and disrespectful tweeting self.

Just to highlight one example, a while ago Philip Lyth corrected Tau Henare about yet another thing Tau had got wrong. It wasn’t a biggy, just whether it was warmer in Auckland or Wellington;

Instead of taking the correction like a man, Tau Henare responds with insults;

So there you have it, one of the reasons why National is such a social media failure... Tau Henare cannot control himself.

He doesn't understand that there's a certain amount of proper conduct that is required from our so called representatives. Without it people lose respect for politicians. It also inhibits people from engaging in politics, which is presently a serious problem.

National doesn't even have a blog site... talk about social media failure.

The Green Chain

I watched a great doco last weekend called The Green Chain, which was all about Sawmill Workers Against Poisons (SWAP), an organization comprised of and for people affected by chemical exposure in Sawmills and Pulp and Papermills.

SWAP is also concerned with the environmental impacts of toxic waste and has identified many contaminated dumpsites around New Zealand.

The main toxic substance that has affected many thousands of sawmill workers and their families is Pentachlorophenol (PCP), which was widely used in the timber industry for years as a cheap treatment for sapstain, a fungal infection commonly found in softwoods such as pine.

The process creates a number of toxic impurities such as tetrachlorophenol, hexachlorobenzene and several types of dioxins and dibenzofurans. The main route of absorption is through the skin. PCP exposure corresponds to an extra risks of cancer from 20 to 140 times greater than normal. The current acceptable level of exposure is now 10-6 ppm, effectively amounting to no safe level of daily exposure.

Despicably the consequences of working with this chemical were known well before it became widely used. But it wasn't until 1986 that some workers made the association between their ill health and exposure to PCP. The owners of treatment plants simply allowed their workers to come into contact with the highly carcinogenic substance, with little or no protective clothing, all the while knowing that many of them would become sick and die.

The government owned many of these despicably run businesses, and are ultimately liable. That’s why they’ve been doing everything they can to cover up their negligence. You would expect a sympathetic and robust response to the families affected... not so. The workers who have become unwell because of exposure to PCP are given one free health check per year and that’s it. No proper health plan, no compensation, not even an apology.

New Zealand has the highest rate of cancer in the world. Many areas that experience increased cancer rates such the Waikato Lakes and the Bay of Plenty have or had large Sawmill and Papermill industries, which result in contaminated waste by-product. People are still becoming unwell because most of the waste remains improperly disposed of.

The workers who were directly exposed have not received compensation because ACC says they cannot pin point exactly when exposure occurred, with anybody who worked with PCP for less than a year automatically ineligible for compensation. Those affected also need to prove that their health problems are a direct result of their work, thus ACC claims that there are many things that could be the cause of their cancers.

It’s a disgusting manoeuvre to limit liability. Compensation has never been granted despite many health reports and irrefutable evidence that the sawmill workers ill health is a direct result of their exposure to PCP. The government is simply waiting for these people to die, which will under current law ultimately absolve them of their responsibility.

It’s not only the workers who are affected though; their families also bear the cost of their fathers and husbands unknowingly working with dangerous substances. As well as loosing and having to look after their unwell loved ones, saturation of work clothes resulted in cross contamination, meaning that many wives and children are also adversely affected.

Because of damage to the workers DNA, there will be hereditary health problems for these families, meaning their children will suffer ill health many years after the Pesticides Board banned pentachlorophenol in New Zealand in 1994, some twenty years after its dangers were first known to the government.

22 Aug 2011

Destroyed by Planned Obsolescence

I watched a program about planned obsolescence on a doco called The Light Bulb Conspiracy last weekend.

It highlighted the terrible consequences of our modern consumerist societies, the tricks used to make us buy more, the waste produced and how that waste is currently causing environmental problems that cannot continue to be ignored.

You might be aware that a lot of products we use today are designed to break. They often cannot be repaired, have inbuilt timers to just stop working and sometimes require an upgrade that will not work on an older model.

By designing products that frequently need to be replaced, the manufacturer makes sure they stay in business and profiteer from what is essentially design failures. Because of this financial dynamic within the economy, government’s have little reason to change the system. Legislating against forced obsolescence will reduce government’s tax take, therefore they have a financial incentive to continue the destructive status quo.

People should be pissed off about planned obsolescence because it means less wealth for them. It means the consumer has to spend a lot of time running around upgrading, fixing and replacing items that could be designed to last a lifetime.

The consequences of this unsustainable cycle of consumerism and waste production, if it continues, will ultimately destroy the planet.

Firstly the products being designed to break often use components and substances that are very toxic. They’re not being properly recycled because governments ensure manufactures are absolved from responsibility.

Secondly many of the resources required in the manufacturing process are non-renewable, meaning that the cost to the environment in terms of carbon footprint is increased.

Thirdly resources are finite meaning that the faster they’re used up and not properly recycled, the harder and more expensive it becomes to manufacture.

The manufacturers underlying motivation is to maximise profits. This is at the expense of the end consumer and the environment. Government’s should realise that the long-term costs far exceed any short-term profits and impose legislation to outlaw the destructive practice known as planned obsolescence.

21 Aug 2011

Gordon Brown - Asshole of the Week Award

I had the displeasure of reading an article in the Taranaki Daily News today written by Gordon Brown. He's rubbishing a report (PDF) prepared by Infometrics Ltd for Every Child Counts, a coalition of organisations led by Barnardos, Plunket, Unicef, Save the Children and Te Kahui Mana Ririki.

Brown pretty much cover's all the bases of ill informed opinion that we so often see from far right commentators.

He believes there isn't any real poverty issue in New Zealand because he chooses to not believe the statistics. He also believes that the children who need breakfast provided at schools all have parents who waste their money. It's pretty easy to dispel these myth's.

Brown fails to understand that the model used to gauge how many impoverished children there are in New Zealand is robust and practiced uniformly in 30 other OECD countries, of which New Zealand rates 28th worst. If Brown actually did some research instead of mouthing off, he would realize New Zealand has a substantive problem with child poverty, which should not be ignored or lost in prejudiced right wing rhetoric.

Nact often uses the same meme as Brown in reasoning designed to ignore the problem. Just like John Key in Parliament on Tuesday, Brown is attacking the mechanism that highlights a failure of capitalism, instead of addressing the fact that there are too many people falling through the cracks. National has made a calculated decision to not make any substantive changes to help, instead their policies have increased inequality markedly.

Despite National's plans to impose food stamps, the families who cannot look after their children because they do not have enough money (through no fault of their own) will still be impoverished. But instead of addressing the main issue, the debate has largely stalled with the right wing's denial that the issue exists at all.

Throughout his detritus scribblings, Brown regular makes inference that it's the fault of the parents in what is the usual blame the victim mentality all too often practiced by bigots!
"Why do more kids need breakfast provided at schools on Mondays, after the weekend? That's an easy one. Most money is spent on booze, gambling and all the other 'social' activities, that their parents indulge in. Why is there no sustained public outcry at that? Oh, that's right, it's the other mob who do all the whining. We're just labelled as "beneficiary bashers" and there's no need to debate the issue. So we just work harder and take it on the chin," Gordon Brown writes.
What sanctimonious rubbish! There are many people working to reduce gambling, alcohol and drug addiction, which affects the entire community not just those on welfare. Brown's straw man argument plucks at a heartless middle-class that cares not for their fellow Kiwi. In this he is speaking for a minority, who are not particularly silent.

Brown's argument is ultimately detrimental to the debate. Instead of making an argument on the specifics of how the data might be incorrect, he dismisses it outright without giving it a second thought. His focus then turns to name calling and denigrating those who advocate for a reduction in child poverty, using a divisive tactic that is based on class distinction. I'm surprised his article made it to print.

Child poverty is not an industry... Gordon Brown is a fuckwit, and clearly deserving of this weeks Asshole Award.

20 Aug 2011

The Fake World Cup Tour

There were rumors this week that the prime minister might be fake. Experts say his IQ was affected during the cloning process and that he's no longer able to count how many youth unemployed there are or shares he holds with Transrail or the Bank of America.  Unfortunately nobody knows where the real John Key is, although reports say that he's all over the place.

Another Flip Flop

Kate Wilkinson is now increasing the mining inspectorate despite repeatedly denying there was a problem. National has up until now been adamant that one mine inspector for the entire country was enough and they wouldn't make changes until the royal commission reported.

It appears that National can’t even stick to their own bullshit! A couple of days ago stuff reported that mine inspectors are to be doubled. They also reported that:

Check inspectors were abolished in 1992 and a mine inspectorate was dismantled in 1998. 

A Labour Department paper in 2008 recommended that check inspectors – workers with the authority to clear a mine if they considered it dangerous – be restored in underground mines. 

What they failed to report though was that it was a National government who abolished and dismantled the mine inspectorate. The current National government also killed the Labour Department's 2008 recommendations as soon as they gained power.

National’s back tracking clearly shows there's an inadequate safety program, which could have caused the 29 miners at Pike River to die. Kate Wilkinson should resign.

On Your Bike John Key

You might be aware that National has failed to uphold many of their campaign promises. They've failed to close the wage gap with Australia for one, mainly because they had no intention of affecting business profits. This policy failure alone has been very detrimental to New Zealand.

Under a National government, inequality has markedly increased because they've ensured inflation is high and wages are kept low. This means those lucky enough to be employed often still need welfare... effectively gifting billions of dollars in wage subsidies to private businesses.

That's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of National's corporate welfare regime. Instead of developing economic stability, National wants to sacrifice long term income streams for a quick buck and privatise our SOE's. Even when the majority of financial specialists believe it's not a good idea, National are pursuing their own interests against the wishes of 70% of the people.

With the rich 20% richer in a single year from National's wealth redistribution, they're looking at even more ways to maximise their ill gotten gains. This will inevitably increase inequality levels to the highest in the OECD. New Zealand already has the highest youth unemployment and suicide rate in the developed world because of right wing idealism. Their mismanagement is creating grave dysfunction that is costing the country dearly.

Child poverty rates have increased because National has no plan to address the some 20% of children living in impoverished households. According to the likes of John Key, it's the fault of the poor because they made bad choices and chose to live in poverty. It's a typical blame the victim mentality shared by many right wing elitists. They also believe the poor shouldn't even be allowed to have children and are actively developing policy to sterilize beneficiaries.

Procreation is a god given right, which in a democratic society should not be controlled or only practiced by those who have wealth. It is apparent that National's ideology is driven by their disdain towards the poor, not any compunction to control population growth.
While National bails out big business to the tune of billions of dollars, they also plan a raft of additional subsidies that benefit the already wealthy, all the while crying poor and cutting social spending, increasing the cost of living and lowering people’s purchasing power, all of which is driving more and more Kiwi's out of New Zealand in a mass exodus.

It would appear that unless John Key personally benefits, he couldn't organize himself out of a paper bag. The Natz can't even fully deliver on something as simple as a national cycleway. Being that tourism has continued it's steady decline under National, perhaps John Key believes a cycleway is no longer required.

National’s hypocrisy couldn’t be more apparent than with their plans to subsidise intensive farm irrigation to the tune of +$500 million, thus ensuring our waterways will remain highly polluted from effluent run off. But that's OK! John Key can just find some scientists to say 90% of our lowland waterways aren’t polluted.

According to the Prime Minister, New Zealand is still 100% Pure… in comparison to other countries that is. Apparently scientists are just like lawyers don't you know, you can pay them to say anything you like.