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Political Caption Competition

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The entire NZ political spectrum in one image.

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Dawn Raids, a plastic comb and migrants today

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The infamous Dawn Raids of the 1970s were started by a Labour government so it’s fitting that a Labour Prime Minister should issue the apology – over 45 years later – at the end of this month.

It’s also important to remember two other things:

Firstly it was a blatantly racist policy because other groups of overstayers (mainly Europeans who made up the majority of overstayers) were largely ignored and secondly because it wasn’t just terrorising Pacific Island families in the early hours of the morning but it also involved random stopping of Pacific Islanders on the streets to check if they were overstayers. 

This second practice was widespread in Auckland and a reminder of the same tactics used by the South African police against black South Africans who always had to produce a “pass” on demand to justify being where they were. Some Pacific people carried their passports to reduce the hassle they received on the streets from the police.

When a National Party minister (this was after Labour was ousted by Muldoon in 1975) was asked why the police were targeting Pacific Islander overstayers for random stopping on the streets rather than European overstayers he explained that it was easier for police to target Friesian cows (black and white) because they stood out in a herd of Jersey cows (light brown cows) In other words people were stopped because they were Pacific Islanders while European overstayers blended in with the majority. Racism writ large.

Early one morning in Auckland’s Karangahape Road the police made a random stop of a young Pacific Islander returning home from a night shift in a plastic factory. He could show he was not an overstayer but when police searched him he had a plastic comb in his pocket. They asked him where he got it and he said from work. They arrested him and charged him with theft. When he appeared in court it turned out he had taken the comb from the “rejects” bin. There was no theft – just filthy police racism on show.

When it was duly reported in the paper Auckland University Law lecturer David Williams went down to the Auckland Central police station, with some reporters in toe. An angry Williams brandished a plastic ballpoint pen with Auckland University branded on it and told the police he had taken it from his employer and had no intention of giving it back. He demanded to be arrested for theft. He wasn’t but his point was made. 

Migrant workers are always easy targets, especially when an economic downturn occurs. Right now we have many thousands of migrant workers who have made this country their home over many years but are still being denied a path to residency by the government. They are not being treated with dignity and respect by the government. It’s wrong.

On the same day the Prime Minister gives New Zealand’s Dawn Raids apology at the Auckland Town Hall, a protest by migrant workers will take place. 

If you are in Auckland join this protest so we are not asking another Labour government 50 years from now to apologise for their awful treatment of migrant workers today. The details are: 

Mobilise, Saturday, June 26 – Assemble Britomart 3pm, Auckland. Join the March of Migrants to demand:

#pathwaystoresidency
#reunitethefamilies
#endbondedlabour
#amnestyforoverstayers

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To Speak, Or Not To Speak? – That Is The Question.

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WAITANGI DAY is still more than half a year away: still plenty of time for Ngāpuhi to put things “right”. The promise made at Waitangi earlier this year: that from 2022 women politicians would be “allowed” to speak for themselves; will in all likelihood be honoured. The possibility exists, however, that Ngāpuhi  will refuse to be dictated to by Pakeha feminists. A stiff-necked people, they may decide that their time-honoured tribal customs are not to be overturned at the behest of “White Privilege”. Requiring the Prime Minister to nominate a male colleague to speak on her behalf would, after all, be an interesting test of Labour’s commitment to honour the ways of te ao Māori – a very interesting test.

Certainly, such a requirement would place Jacinda Ardern in a very uncomfortable position. The spectacle of the nation’s prime minister being denied the right to speak to her fellow citizens, personally, on New Zealand’s national day would generate massive antagonism among Pakeha of both sexes. A refusal to be guided by the customs of Ngāpuhi , on the other hand, would be regarded as a slap in the face by the whole of Maoridom. It would be interpreted as proof of the fundamental insincerity that still bedevils the Pakeha world when it comes to accepting and respecting the values of New Zealand’s indigenous culture.

Given that there are a great many more Pakeha than Maori, simple political arithmetic suggests that the Prime Minister’s best course of action would be to politely decline the invitation to attend the Waitangi Day celebrations on 6 February 2022, and find a less contentious venue from which to deliver her speech. That course of action would not, however, be politically cost free. It is easy to anticipate the Maori Party’s response to Jacinda’s “slighting” of Ngāpuhi . It would be presented as confirmation that for all their fine words about “partnership”, with Pakeha it is always “My way – or the highway.”

In left-wing circles the debate would be even more intense. Critical Race Theory would enjoin Whites to step away from their cultural and political privileges and accept the judgement of Ngāpuhi’s decision-makers. To do anything else, it would be argued (at least by some) requires the elevation of Pakeha notions of equality and liberty over Ngāpuhi’s understanding of women’s and men’s roles in the ceremonies of welcome and the processes of deliberation. Any assumption that the Western liberal tradition must take precedence over indigenous custom, these leftists would contend, is prima facie evidence of white supremacism. The Prime Minister would, in effect, be saying to Ngāpuhi : “My people’s values are superior to your people’s values.”

What’s more, that would remain the message, even if she chose to spend Waitangi Day somewhere else. Indeed, these leftists would argue that, in those circumstances, the message would be made much worse. By choosing to deliver her speech on the grounds of Government House – or somewhere like it – the Prime Minister would be guilty of “othering” Ngāpuhi . No matter what the text of her address might say, the sub-text would be crystal clear:

Isn’t it a pity that the sexism of Ngāpuhi is so deeply entrenched that civilised interaction between New Zealand’s two principal ethnicities has, for the moment, become impossible? We must earnestly hope that in time – and we hope that time is soon – they will decide to join us all in the modern world.

That was, after all, the essence of the message sent out by the last National Government when it decided to steer well clear of Waitangi until Ngāpuhi were prepared to meet the expectations of the New Zealand Government vis-à-vis the dignified celebration of Waitangi Day. To declare – albeit sub-texturally – that on the 6 February 1840, Ngāpuhi  did, indeed, surrender their sovereignty to the British Crown.

Within Labour’s parliamentary caucus there are plenty of MPs – and not just those holding the Maori seats – who would be extraordinarily uncomfortable with such a message being sent out by a Labour Government. For them, the steady progress being made towards the bi-cultural nation envisaged in the He Puapua Report represents the biggest and most important project in which they are ever likely to participate. They believe in te Tiriti o Waitangi, they believe in the partnership model, and they believe that kawanatanga and rangatiratanga are two distinct political concepts. Co-governance will not, however, be possible without consistent and mutual respect for the customs, practices and values of the Pakeha world and te ao Māori.

Which is why, if Ngāpuhi insist that Jacinda accept the tradition that women do not speak on the paepae, then the Prime Minister will nominate a male colleague to speak on her behalf. Equally, however, Ngāpuhi is most unlikely to demand that of her. Stiff-necked Ngāpuhi  may be – but no one has ever called them stupid.

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End migrant exploitation – We are all part of the team of 5 million

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Demand justice for all migrants:
  1. Pathways to residency for everyone in New Zealand who wants to stay and make New Zealand their home.
  2. Reunite the families. Allow everyone caught abroad who had made New Zealand their home for work or study to return, with a timetable that is clear and a chance to join the pathways to residency if they want to.
  3. End bonded labour. Stop tying visas to particular employers.
  4. Amnesty for those who have overstayed their visas and allow them to access residency if they choose to. They are victims not criminals.

Mobilise June 26 – Assemble Bittomart 3pm, Auckland  Join the March of Migrants II. Demand:

#pathwaystoresidency
#reunitethefamilies
#endbondedlabour
#amnestyforoverstayers

How can the broken immigration system be fixed?

The government now has the powers to fix a crisis in the migrant labour system that has been developing over the last few decades.

This system promised those who were willing to study and work here the possibility of transitioning to permanent residency once they had completed their studies and found suitable work.

For many years, that dream was a possibility. New Zealand needed these people because we lose about 1% of our population each year permanently to outward migration, mostly to Australia.

Even just to maintain our population, we needed to issue around 40,000 permanent resident visas a year.

As a consequence, approximately one in four Kiwi-born New Zealanders live abroad and one in four NZ-resident Kiwis were born abroad.

In the year 2000, the number of student, work, and resident visas being issued was about 40,0000 each.

By 2020, the number of temporary work visas being issued hit a quarter of a million and there were about an additional 100,000 student visas with the right to work.

Over 300,000 people were working in New Zealand on some form of temporary visa – 15% of the workforce.

But for the last two decades, it has become harder and harder to transition to permanent residency. The promises being made to students and workers coming to this country – that there would be a reasonable chance to transition to residency – were increasingly impossible to meet.

Entire industries had become dependent on workers on temporary visas, and could not operate without them.

Temporary visas became the drug of choice to fix the problem as these industries were unable to recruit and train Kiwis to do the jobs at wages that genuinely reflected the skill and work intensity involved.

But these migrant workers were desperate to please their employers and would do anything to win the opportunity to be sponsored for permanent residency.

There was no incentive for employers to fix the problems that stopped them from recruiting labour in the first place.

This system has also resulted in horrific cases of exploitation.

Many of these workers end up overstaying their visas to earn enough to pay back the debts incurred getting here.

Post-covid, there will be no return to a dependency on issuing hundreds of thousands of temporary visas each year to plug gaps in employment and subsidise the public education sector.

This situation gives us the opportunity to fix the problems for those already here and honour the promises made to them and then broken after they arrived.

There are currently about 250,000 people in NZ on a temporary visa. A few thousand more are probably “overstayers” who should be seen as victims, not criminals.

We will not be able to replace them in the immediate or even near future.

Most probably want to stay. Many have spent tens of thousands of dollars on degrees and put up with unpleasant jobs for the right to residency.

Many have been here up to a decade, renewing their visas again and again, and some have children born here.

Most employers want these workers to be able to stay. Most unions want pathways to residency so workers can escape their vulnerable status that is so prone to exploitation.

We can discuss at our leisure what sort of migrant labour system we will need in the future but NZ will always need new permanent residents so long as there is a significant wage differential with Australia that attracts labour there.

Employers, unions, and the government also agree that significant investment in training is required.

Soon the government will be announcing new criteria for accessing residency using the special powers they have been given.

This policy must include pathways to residency for those here or overseas who have made NZ their home, an end to bonded labour and an amnesty for overstayers to join this pathway.

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The Daily Blog Open Mic – Tuesday – 15th June 2021

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Announce protest actions, general chit chat or give your opinion on issues we haven’t covered for the day.

Moderation rules are more lenient for this section, but try and play nicely.

EDITORS NOTE: – By the way, here’s a list of shit that will get your comment dumped. Sexist language, homophobic language, racist language, anti-muslim hate, transphobic language, Chemtrails, 9/11 truthers, Qanon lunacy, climate deniers, anti-fluoride fanatics, anti-vaxxer lunatics, 5G conspiracy theories, the virus is a bioweapon, some weird bullshit about the UN taking over the world  and ANYONE that links to fucking infowar.

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How the $1b cycle bridge becomes performance art and why a middle class ev car welfare testosterone tax is smart politics 

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Think about the actual dynamics of this cycle bridge.

Commuters on the Harbor Bridge for the next 5 years watching this billion dollar glorified cycle lane grow ever slowly while they are stuck in traffic.

People will start yelling at the bridge as they drive by it. Aucklanders throwing garbage at it as they drive past will become as ubiquitous as Wellingtonians honking their horn through the tunnel.

This cycle bridge is a performance art piece called ‘helping National win the next election’.

Does anyone actually believe Labour will build this in 5 years? We all know they can’t build one house in a room full of lego!

This will drag on and on and on.

It will become the new monument to Phil Goff’s dreaded ‘progress’ where infrastructure dooms viable use of public space for years and we all have to pretend it’s great.

Don’t get me wrong, as a Gold Star Public Transport User who has never driven a car, I support any infrastructure that pisses off car drivers.

One of the true joys in Auckland is doing the fingers to cars stuck in traffic as you whizz past them in the bus lane.

All that said, announcing a billion dollar bike bridge because militant middle class pakeha cyclists demand it is going go down like a cup of cold sick with voters who already despise Labour and who live in places where basic roading is the issue and not peddle powered self actualization.

That’s why the middle class ev car welfare testosterone tax is such smart politics.

Labour’s power electorate are the 45+ women vote who had been charmed by Key and voted National in 2017 but voted with genuine Covid response respect for Jacinda in 2020.

That electorate of 45+ women will absolutely buy an electric car and will continue to support Labour because it’s middle class welfare. The testosterone tax on Ute’s will hit men who don’t vote Labour so fuck them.

This is clever politics by Labour, it boosts and maintains the electorate whose seismic shift has given them a majority while hitting the electorate who don’t vote for them hardest.

If Labour maintains support with the 45+ female electorate, Jacinda can win the next 2 elections.

It will feed the polarization of the Right but that’s a fight between National and ACT for 2023.

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Trump isn’t losing or going anywhere  + Wuhan lab leak theory ramifications  

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Hopes that Trump’s low rating Blog shut down heralds the demise of his influence is optimistic at best.

Trump shuts down his blog, frustrated by its low readership.

Former President Donald J. Trump has removed himself entirely from the internet.

Still banned from Twitter and Facebook, and struggling to find a way to influence news coverage since leaving office, Mr. Trump decided on Wednesday to shutter his do-it-yourself alternative, a blog he had started just a month ago called “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump.”

Mr. Trump had become frustrated after hearing from friends that the site was getting little traffic and making him look small and irrelevant, according to a person familiar with his thinking.

The site, which cost a few thousand dollars to make and was put together for Mr. Trump by a company run by his former campaign manager Brad Parscale, was intended to be an online hub for supporters to see statements issued by the former president and communicate with him.

Trump shut down his blog because his supporters don’t read! They are far more susceptible to the knee jerk brain farts of Twitter because 280 characters is their daily reading limit.

His support however amongst Republicans is still terrifyingly strong…

Most Republicans still believe 2020 election was stolen from Trump – poll

A majority of Republicans still believe Donald Trump won the 2020 US presidential election and blame his loss to Joe Biden on baseless claims of illegal voting, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll.

The 17-19 May national poll found that 53% of Republicans believe Trump, their party’s nominee, is the “true president” now, compared with 3% of Democrats and 25% of all Americans.

About one-quarter of adults falsely believe the 3 November election was tainted by illegal voting, including 56% of Republicans, according to the poll. The figures were roughly the same in a poll that ran from 13-17 November which found that 28% of all Americans and 59% of Republicans felt that way.

The possibility that Covid accidentally leaked from a Wuhan Lab has enormously dangerous geopolitical ramifications and empowers Trump in a terrible way.

We know there were embassy cables warning Trump that the Wuhan Lab was a safety risk.

We know US Intelligence picks up a pandemic in November.

We know the lab was experimenting on the virus and that scientists have now cast suspicion on the virus having been tampered with.

Because of the prevalence of these types of labs and with human error factored in, there is an 80 percent chance of a a dangerous pathogen escape every 12.8 years.

We know lab staff suffered symptoms exactly like Covid a month before the first case in December.

The most dangerous part of this however will be the way it empowers Trump and Qanon while diminishing the credibility of the mainstream media.

For Republicans who belive Trump was cheated, news he was right abut Covid would ignite a backlash that can’t be calculated.

Trump closing his blog is the least of our worries.

 

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Nick Smith, his lunatic replacement, Judith’s last gamble and the grace of goodbye  

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Nick Smith’s gay son ‘proud’ he used final speech in Parliament to apologise to LGBT+ community

“There is an issue I got wrong,” he said. “In 2013 I voted against gay marriage. The error is all the more personal with my 20-year-old son being gay. I wish to put on record today my apology to New Zealand’s LGBT+ community.”

It is good that Nick apologized and that his bigotry hit home in a very literal sense.

To have the ability to admit you are wrong is a grace.

It’s a kinder way to remember him than his actual legacy.

His intellect was a vanity and his interests always self serving. He managed to embody all the worst elements of National’s venal selfishness and him leaving politics is the equivalent of squeezing pus out of a wound.

Here are his greatest hits…

Nick’s defense of the war on drugs was one of his most tedious traits. Getting torn to shreds by Chloe Swarbrick was a thing of beauty.

His denial that there was a housing crisis at the same time National were throwing state tenants onto the streets because of the state housing meth scam was Nick at his most delusional.

That time Nick took a bus load of journalists to show them all the council land National were going to build housing on that they never used to build housing on.

Nick’s censorship of environmental reports, his swimmable river lies, his affordable housing lies and his callousness when state tenants were freezing to death all combine as a legacy of contempt for anyone weaker than himself.

Him shit squatting as a statue is a fitting symbol of his time in Parliament.

Nick being replaced by the fanatical Christian Harete Hipango highlights how fundamentalist Christians are now the default ideology of National Party MPs.

Replacing Nick with Harete Hipango looks like a win for Judith because Hipango is a Collins cheerleader, but ultimately it could prove disastrous because Hipango’s fundamentalist Christianity would serve Luxon and the Lamb over Crusher.

National have no policy and no way to combat the solidarity that the unique universal experience of Covid has created, all they have is fear and resentment.

Unfortunately those are the two most powerful forces in politics.

This is Judith’s last gamble, she either makes traction now or she will be rolled over Christmas.

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New Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett – even more racist than Netanyahu

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Naftali Bennett and Benjamin Netanyahu

The swearing in of a new Israeli Prime Minister after 12 years of appalling anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian racism from former Prime Minister Netanyahu is not good news.

New Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tips the scales as even more racist than Netanyahu.

Netanyahu was infamous for statements of race-hatred such as: 

  •  “The way to deal with Palestinians is to beat them up. Not once but repeatedly, beat them up so it hurts so badly, until its unbearable”
  • “Palestinians are an existential threat to Israel” (shades of the Nazi attitudes to Jews)
  • “Israeli is not a state for all its citizens” (ie he’s right – it’s an apartheid state – Palestinians are second-class citizens)

(If anyone isn’t sure just how racist these statements are – replace the word “Palestinians” with the word “Jews” and read them again!)

Bennett has, if anything, even more appalling attitudes:

His comment to a Palestinian representative in the Israeli parliament “…when you were still swinging from trees, we had a Jewish state here.”

Bennett is on record as advocating the murder of Palestinians taken prisoner. The former Israeli Defence Force officer says: “I’ve killed lots of Arabs in my life and there’s no problem with that”

“The establishment of a Palestinian state based on the ’67 borders is impossible” He said there will never be a Palestinian state on his watch. “It’s just not going to happen”

He supports illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, the continuation of the siege on Gaza, and laws and institutions which perpetuate Jewish superiority and the marginalisation of the Palestinian citizens. 

Bennett’s number two on his Yamina Party list, and predicted to be the new Israeli Interior Minister, Ayelet Shaked, has to be seen to be believed. She has posted on Facebook saying “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy” and justifies its destruction, “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.” She calls for the slaughter of Palestinian mothers who give birth to “little snakes.”

She is a self-declared fascist. Here is a recent Ayelet Shaked election campaign video. It is not a spoof – it’s her actual election video.

In Israeli it is business as usual in the racism, apartheid and brutality meted out against Palestinians. And it is business as usual for the international solidarity movement which is building BDS campaigns against apartheid Israel just as we did against apartheid South Africa.

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GUEST BLOG: Ian Powell – When business consultants are commissioned for hatchet jobs in health

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Increasingly external business consultants are helping “fix” the country’s District Health Boards, with EY becoming the preferred company hired by the Ministry of Health. But health commentator Ian Powell (formerly the Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists) argues that this highlights the shallowness of political governance, and he tells the story of what has occurred in this regard at the Canterbury District Health Board.

One thing guaranteed to make health professionals working for district health boards groan in despair is when their DHB brings in external business consultants, especially when it involves service design, configuration and delivery. Invariably these consultants know much less about the subject matter than the affected health professionals; worse, they believe they know much more. In these situations they fail to provide the basis for good system improvement and cost DHBs a fortune.

Business consultants can have a role in certain more technical fixable areas where a DHB might require additional help. Currently DHBs owe significant monies to their staff who worked on public holidays because of misapplication of the Holidays Act. Remedial calculation requires meticulousness given the large number of different occupational groups. Several DHBs are using Ernst & Young Consulting (EY) for this task. Feedback to date suggests that EY is undertaking this work well.

Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) has experienced the best and worst of business consultants. The best was in analysing and advising CDHB on the way forward in the aftermath of the devastating Christchurch earthquake of 2011 and the worst was being used to do a hatchet job on CDHB’s senior management team.

The objective of the hatchet job was to discredit a response to an externally generated debt crisis based on improving processes in a high complexity health system to promote an alternative approach of cutting hundreds of nursing staff.

Context

Due to the earthquake few DHBs have been externally reviewed as much as CDHB. Honouring an election commitment then Minister of Health David Clark appointed Garry Wilson (a business consultant) to independently facilitate a process to reconcile past differences between the Ministry of Health and CDHB. Previously the Ministry had difficult relationships with most DHBs but they were accentuated in Canterbury by the earthquake aftermath.

This led to a report submitted to Clark in April 2018 known as the Way Forward Report. At the time EY senior partner Stephen McKernan was the Interim Director-General of Health. Its analysis of CDHB’s unique financial circumstances was consistent with earlier external reports by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Sapere.  Wilson outlined a pathway for CDHB and the Ministry to address the impacts of the earthquakes on CDHB’s infrastructure and operating expenses which included a work programme to be handled by different taskforces (one was resource optimisation).

The Way Forward described the challenges facing Canterbury as different from the other DHBs. They were “complex, substantial and far reaching.” The “…unique capital redevelopment needs of the CDHB and increasing capacity constraints…” were emphasised.

In June 2018 McKernan and then CDHB Chair John Wood put out a joint statement which among other things described “the response of Canterbury DHB to New Zealand’s largest natural disaster has been exemplary despite needing to manage some of the extreme challenges faced by any organisation in NZ”. “The performance of Canterbury DHB and the wider Canterbury Health System has been everything that could be expected from a high performing DHB…” “It is important that the outcomes from an integrated healthcare response in Canterbury are captured as there are many lessons for both New Zealand and Internationally ….” This is significant given McKernan’s subsequent u-turn on behalf of EY.

The work programme had three main components for CDHB and the Ministry:

  1. Agreeing a target operational financial position for the 2018-19 year and out-years.
  2. Inputting into a Treasury review of the capital charge review in the unique CDHB context.
  3. Progressing an indicative business case for the Christchurch Hospital campus (not to be confused with the much delayed building of the new acute services block previously known as Hagley but now called Waipapa).

This approach was agreed with McKernan and subsequently his successor Ashley Bloomfield who commenced his Director-General position on 11 June. In December 2018 the Ministry released a media statement positively reaffirming support for the approach.

Enter EY

EY was then commissioned to undertake two reviews. The first was reviewing the indicative business case for the Christchurch Hospital campus. Completed in October 2018, EY noted that Canterbury’s patient demand modelling was appropriate and commended the bed management functionality as among the best it had seen. Significantly no major further improvement opportunities that might affect future bed capacity were identified. EY’s positive assessment is importance because of the sharp contrast with its u-turn negative report 10 months later.

EY also recognised the serious post-earthquake capacity constraints which had required up to seven theatres (soon to increase to 10) worth of elective surgery had to be undertaken in the private sector or in extended hours. It acknowledged that CDHB had been “quite successful in managing the costs” of this even though this was noticeably more expensive than using its own theatres.

The second EY report considered CDHB’s operational sustainability. Completed in June 2019, EY reported that CDHB was maintaining and delivering a high performing health system despite the earthquake devastation. There had been a financial operational cost deterioration since the 2015-16 year which it attributed to increasing depreciation and capital charges resulting from earthquake damage, transition costs because of the need to maintain core services while infrastructure improvements were delayed, increasing patient demand because of demographic growth, and reduced funding under the Population Based funding formula (unreliable for funding natural disasters).

EY’s analysis was consistent with Wilson’s report although it also added increased staffing costs over the past five years as a contributing factor (the accuracy of EY’s assertion was challenged by senior management). With the benefit of hindsight this was sowing the seed for the commissioning of a further EY report. Also ominous was the surprising controversial appointment by Minister Clark of Lester Levy as crown monitor in June 2019.

This work, including that of the Way Forward taskforces, fed into the annual plan process that all DHBs are required to undertake. Annual plans are forwarded via the Health Ministry to the Minister of Health for sign-off. The CDHB plan for the 2019-20 financial year was endorsed by its Board. It proposed a $16 million operating deficit (excluding depreciation and capital charge costs) by 2021-22.

In July the Health Ministry advised that CDHB’s plan would be the first tranche of annual plan approvals. The Ministry also proposed that other DHBs could learn from Canterbury’s approach to planning in order to ensure credible and sustainable savings which subsequently led to CDHB being approached by other DHBs.

U-turn politics

As late as July 2019 things appeared to be working well between CDHB and the Ministry with EY playing a useful role. But things changed with three significant appointments leading to the Board taking an unexpected adversarial attitude towards the senior management team. Levy had become the health minister’s crown monitor. In December 2019 the Board had a new ministerially appointed Chair (John Hansen). Along with the other political appointees the Board had become Ministry compliant.

Third, Michelle Arrowsmith was appointed as a deputy director-general of health in December 2018. Her responsibilities involving DHBs included planning and funding, operational performance, and oversight of infrastructure and capital projects. Arrowsmith quickly generated much concern among DHBs who found her style aggressive and narrowly focussed on short-sighted savings. Reportedly her relations with DHBs (and Ministry staff) led to her resignation after 18 months following a period on gardening leave.

There were two important background factors contributing to this relationship breakdown. First, the new Board wanted to breakeven earlier than its previous position. Unquestionably this was influenced by the Health Ministry and Crown Monitor. Second, there was a further delay to the completion of the Hagley acute services block which meant sharply increased depreciation, capital charge and use of 10 private sector operating theatres costs.

By now CDHB’s senior management team were confronted with extended Ministry delays on whether the capital charge should apply to insurance related repairs (around $9 million; the Wilson report said it shouldn’t but eventually and inexplicably the Ministry said it would) and lack of clarity from the Ministry over its funding parameters.

Mysteriously CDHB’s 2019-20 annual plan so positively received in July didn’t progress to Ministerial sign-off. In a Ministry March 2020 Health Report to Minister Clark it was not flagged as unacceptable when it would have been appropriate to do so if there were concerns. However, without any further engagement or direction, in June 2020 CDHB was advised by letter that the Minister wouldn’t be signing the plan off.

Senior management’s accelerated savings plan

Senior management developed an accelerated savings plan in response to the Ministry’s u-turn. Learning from earlier successes of effective clinical engagement achieving systems improvement and financial benefits, it proposed expanding the resource optimisation taskforce role in this direction.

Arguably the most engagement driven and innovative DHB over the past decade (at the very least one of the top group) Canterbury has many success stories. The biggest has been the development of clinically led health pathways between community and hospital which led CDHB to become the first (possibly only) DHB to bend the curve of acute demand (a huge cost driver for DHBs). Innovation has also included GPs direct access to hospital radiology, electronic referral software between parts of the system, and its patient website for Cantabrians.

These engagement based initiatives succeeded because being developed through clinical leadership, rather than business consultants, they made good clinical sense which also meant that they made good financial sense. It is for good reason that successive surveys of its DHB employed members ranked Canterbury as the DHB most committed to distributed clinical leadership.

EY’s hatchet report

The Hansen-led Board commissioned a further report from EY to assess the credibility of management’s plan. Its team responsible for this latest report was substantially unchanged from the team that previously reported to CDHB, including senior partner Stephen McKernan. But the third report, submitted in August 2020, reads as if it was written by a completely different team (or the authors had suffered a severe attack of amnesia). It couldn’t have been more opposite to their previous work. To put it another way, EY McKernan savaged Interim Director-General McKernan.

There was a sign of things to come in July. Reporting to CDHB’s Quality, Finance, Audit and Risk Committee in July 2020, EY gave a misleading characterisation of the senior management team by implying that there were a range of new taskforces replacing the old ones. In fact, the plan relied on the existing work of the taskforces with the key change being an expansion to one of them (resource optimisation).

Glaring errors of fact meant that EY’s new report should never have been relied upon for decision-making. But it was by the Board, Health Ministry and Treasury. When outgoing CDHB chief executive David Meates did a detailed communication to staff analysing why the DHB was in such a difficult financial position (based on Wilson’s report and updated data), Health Minister Chris Hipkins publicly indicated that Treasury had a different position which he preferred. That position was based on EY’s hatchet job.

EY had ignored the previously agreed analysis of CDHB’s financial position (which EY had previously agreed with). In contrast it now implied that CDHB could correct its current deficit by enhancing its operating controls and becoming more efficient. But this u-turn was based on flawed analysis including nursing staff costs and bed management.

Erroneous nurse staffing claims

EY claimed that Canterbury had a nursing workforce in excess of ‘peer DHBs’ (broadly of similar size). But this demonstrates EY’s failure to correctly use the national data sets (DHB data held by the Health Ministry). This data shows the opposite. In fact when you combine nursing and medical full-time equivalents CDHB is not out of line with peer DHBs.

However, cost-wise CDHB is different. Including outsourced, agency and locum staff, Canterbury’s average nursing cost per hour was $41.81 compared $47.29 for large DHBs and $47.78 for all DHBs. Embarrassingly for the Crown Monitor, in the two DHBs he had chaired for several years – Waitemata and Auckland – the respective costs were $48.16 and $50.05.

In the case of medical staff (senior and junior) Canterbury’s average hourly cost was $112.49 compared with $115.42 for large DHBs and $116.66 for all DHBs. For allied health professionals Canterbury was $39.29 compared with $43.31 in large DHBs and $43.28 in all DHBs. To rub it in, for management and administration personnel Canterbury’s hourly rate was $36.06 compared with $40.35 in large DHBs and $39.56 in all DHBs.

Not only did EY get basic facts badly wrong but it also disregarded the fact understood by Canterbury’s senior management that there were no opportunities to reduce nursing staffing without reducing service delivery.

Bed resourcing and management

EY criticised the matching of bed resourcing (nurses) to occupied beds. But it erred by focussing on plans done six weeks in advance (due to contractual requirements) rather than actual occupied compared with actual resourced on the day.

Senior management’s approach in contrast with EY’s to this accelerated pressure was not to change the operating model but instead focus on resource optimisation through working better, improving clinical resourcing and deepening engagement with medical specialists (process improvement). In fact, Canterbury is one of the most effective DHBs in matching resourced beds to occupied beds. One innovation was to develop an internal nursing pool to cover for sick leave which increased safety and reduced expensive agency nursing to zero.

EY tried to use bed days versus nurse full-time equivalence to justify its position. But this is a blunt instrument that fails to consider the patient churn that occurs within these bed days which is where CDHB has done well.  The real challenge for nursing is what EY under-appreciates – lack of physical bed and theatre capacity which has pushed the system to its edge. It has led to a slow increase of patient length of bed stay in Canterbury although still lower than in bigger DHBs. Senior management’s response was to focus on further improving patient flow; EY’s was to reduce nurse staffing.

Faulty analysis leads to dangerous conclusions. EY claimed that CDHB could deliver 60,000 more bed days with the same nursing workforce -just to put that into perspective that equates to 195 beds at 85% occupancy! From this EY implied that CDHB had spent $18.4 million in additional nursing. This faulty analysis sprang from using dated data and simply not understanding the core operational model within Christchurch Hospital. Using correct data doing some simple logic checks would have identified that there was not an excess of nurses.

Questions and responsibilities

If the purpose of EY’s third report was a genuine endeavour and assessed as if it were a school examination I would give it an E grade (and not paid the bill). If its purpose were to do a hatchet job on the senior management team I would give it a C- grade because its flaws were obvious to those with experience in the health system.

Important questions are raised by this scandal. EY’s involvement through the influential Stephen McKernan and its subsequent expansion into the health system raises the issue of conflict of interest. It is unlikely to be unlawful. However, it is sailing close to the wind (or worse) in respect of professional and ethical standards.

If, as it appears likely, EY becomes the health system’s required ‘business consultants of choice’ then it will be at the expense of the voice of clinical leadership in service design, configuration and delivery and fiscally irresponsible as a result.

Is the scandal due to the conduct of Levy, Hansen and Arrowsmith? Destructive politics sits behind them, whether bureaucratic or political. Levy and Hansen were handpicked to perform a task which they did. Arrowsmith had a wider DHB brief (not just CDHB). But her approach was consistent with what those above her required. Her appointment and acrimonious parting of ways weren’t because of the Canterbury scandal.

Shallow political governance

The scandal highlights the question of shallowness of political governance. Health Minister David Clark didn’t drive this scandal but was sufficiently gullible to allow it to unroll. His normally competent successor Chris Hipkins foolishly accepted Treasury advice on what was behind CDHB’s financial position which was based on the highly flawed EY hatchet report.

This leaves Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. In the lead up to the 2017 election she was sharply critical of the Health Ministry’s behaviour towards DHBs. She now finds herself in the position of heading a government that in its name has seen unkind behaviour become even more unkind.

 

Ian Powell was Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, the professional union representing senior doctors and dentists in New Zealand, for over 30 years, until December 2019. He is now a health systems, labour market, and political commentator living in the small river estuary community of Otaihanga (the place by the tide). First published at Democracy Project.

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GUEST BLOG: Ross Meurant – Green Party rule risks ruin for Labour

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Late Stage Capitalism

Last week I penned a piece on hydrogen being promoted at the G7 as an alternative energy source for Europe.  My conclusion was: Europe would do itself as massive favour if it accelerated the supply of Russian gas via North Stream. 

In this article I clinically debunk the myth that power generators: solar, wind and batteries, are the solution to protect the environment.  In fact, I demonstrate that these, “Green Machines” will cause massively greater environmental damage than is the unfortunate by-product of the mainstream providers of power.  

Some basic physics: there are limits on the natural sources which cannot of can’t be exceeded.

Best conversion rate of sun photons to electrons is 33%   We achieve 26%

Best wind conversion is 60%   We achieve 45%

Therefore, we are close to maximum capture of energy from these sources – providing the sun shines and the wind blows.

The solution some say is batteries.

Taking Tesla’s battery factory in Nevada – the world’s biggest; it would take 500 years for that factory to make enough batteries to satisfy energy consumption of one day in the USA.

This begins to explain why, that after 20 years and billions of dollars subsidies, solar and wind only produce 3% of world electricity needs.

Putting aside physics and economics, if your mission is to protect the planet with solar, wind and batteries; as always: Be Careful for what you wish.

Solar, wind and batteries are built from non- renewable materials.

A single electric car battery weights about half a tonne.  To build a battery requires moving and processing about 250 tonnes of earth – somewhere on the planet.

To build a single 100 mw windfarm to power 75,000 homes requires some 30,000 tonnes of iron ore, 50,000 tonnes of concrete and 900 tonnes of non-re-cyclable plastic for the huge blades.

The cost to get the same power output from solar, the amount of cement, steel and glass is about 150% greater.

Other elements required include rare earths materials.  To satisfy current plans for production of solar, wind and battery power, the world will need a 200 – 2000% increase in mining for elements such as in cobalt, lithium and dysprosium.

These materials will largely come from China, Russia Brazil – and will require intrusion of earth-shattering machinery into biodiversity areas which as yet have not been disturbed.  If your quest is to protect the environment of natural nature, the reality of earth destruction of natural resources, may cause you to recalibrate your thinking.

The mining process will require massive amounts of conventional energy.  Then there’s the energy use for refining and factory processing and distribution.

And then then there’s the more deleterious issue of – waste.

Solar, wind and batteries have relative short life – 20 years.  

Machinery for conventional methods such as gas turbines lasts twice as long before replacement required.

IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) calculates by 2050 the worn-out solar panels tonnage will almost double the weight of the total of current plastics wastes.  Worn-out wind turbines and batteries will produce millions of tonnes more of waste.

The probability that child and or virtual slave labour will be a feature of some aspects of mining the raw materials for batteries, might be a consideration for the humanitarian among us.

To briefly juxtapose current costs of energy against the costs projected in this article if we go down battery alley:

  • It costs about the same to drill one oil well as it does to build one giant wind turbine.
  • Yet, while the turbine generates the equivalent of about one barrel of oil per hour, in the same our, the oil rig produces 10 barrels per hour.

At a time, the current government is, in its surreptitious style, signalling banning petrol cars by 2050 (1), it may well fall to the next government to get back to the basics of physics and review imposition of a regime which may well see New Zealand taking the wrong turn.

For doubters as to the integrity of content and as a matter of personal academic integrity, my source for the above is:  Mark Mills senior fellow Manhattan Institute, Prager university,

  1. https://www.driven.co.nz/news/nz-government-looks-at-banning-fuel-burning-cars-by-2050/

Ross Meurant, graduate in politics both at university and as Member of Parliament; formerly police inspector in charge of Auckland police spies; currently Honorary consul for an African state; Trustee and CEO of Russian owned commercial assets in NZ and has international business interests.

 

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Political Caption Competition

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This is what late stage global capitalism looks like

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The Daily Blog Open Mic – Monday – 14th June 2021

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Announce protest actions, general chit chat or give your opinion on issues we haven’t covered for the day.

Moderation rules are more lenient for this section, but try and play nicely.

EDITORS NOTE: – By the way, here’s a list of shit that will get your comment dumped. Sexist language, homophobic language, racist language, anti-muslim hate, transphobic language, Chemtrails, 9/11 truthers, Qanon lunacy, climate deniers, anti-fluoride fanatics, anti-vaxxer lunatics, 5G conspiracy theories, the virus is a bioweapon, some weird bullshit about the UN taking over the world  and ANYONE that links to fucking infowar.

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Ummmm I’m not sure how to tell you this but the Woke just cancelled themselves?? School Strike 4 Climate Auckland Organization disbands because it’s too racist???

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I honestly thought this was a parody but apparently it’s true. School Strike 4 Climate Auckland has disbanded because – wait for this – they are a racist organization???

The identity politics cult would eat their own young if they weren’t all vegan.

To disband a youth climate change organization because PoC suffer most from climate change ignores the fact that the planet will burn regardless of your fucking skin colour!!!

To whip themselves into such submission for an intersectionist cacophony of grievances competing for social hierarchy based upon woke dogma that all white people are intrinsically racist as a response to a burning planet is so intellectually bankrupt it’s terrifying.

Pure temple doctrine divides & alienates. Broadchurch universals build solidarity. This is self defeating identity politics madness.

Read it yourself, it’s just so unbelievable…

School Strike 4 Climate Auckland is disbanding as an organisation.
This is under the suggestion and guidance of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) members of our group, as well as individual BIPOC activists and organisations. We are not holding any more climate strikes in the Auckland region. Our members have also separated from the national SS4C team. Going forward, we will only be using our social media to uplift BIPOC-led climate justice spaces in Auckland.
BIPOC communities are disproportionately affected by climate change, so the fight for climate justice should be led by their voices and needs, not Pākehā ones.
We are disbanding because, since 2019, SS4C AKL (as well as the wider national group, though we can’t speak on their behalf) has been a racist, white-dominated space. SS4C AKL has avoided, ignored, and tokenised BIPOC voices and demands, especially those of Pasifika and Māori individuals in the climate activism space. As well as this, the responsibility and urgent need to decolonise the organisation has been put off for far too long. SS4C also delayed paying financial reparations for the work BIPOC groups/individuals within and alongside the group have done for this organisation in the past.
This is a non-exhaustive list.
We apologise for the hurt, burnout, and trauma caused to many BIPOC individuals, including current and past members, as well as BIPOC-led groups. We also apologise for the further trauma caused by our slow action to take responsibility. We recognise that this apology can never be enough to make up for our actions on top of years of systemic and systematic oppression, racism, and the silencing of those who are the most affected by climate change. This apology is just one of our steps in taking accountability for our actions.
Our disbandment is well overdue.
We acknowledge that our attitude has been racist and dismissive of the voices that have rightly spoken out against us and we apologise deeply for the pain we have caused. In saying this, we also need to acknowledge that racism is a big problem within the SS4C NZ team as well, but that we have made this decision independently from them.
We recommend you all redirect your support, resources and involvement to BIPOC activists, spaces and causes, especially those that are led by Pasifika and Māori people. This includes groups such as 4TK ( 4TK), Pacific Climate Warriors ( Pacific Climate Warriors – Auckland ), Para Kore Ki Tāmaki ( PARA KORE KI TĀMAKI), Protect Mataharehare ( Protect Mataharehare ), Protect Pūtiki ( Protect Pūtiki), Save Canal Road Native Trees ( Save Canal Road Native Trees ), Te Ara Whātu ( Te Ara Whatu).

If you are a BIPOC-led climate/social justice organisation or a BIPOC climate/social justice activist, please let us know if/how we can help by messaging our Instagram, Facebook, or emailing aklschoolstrike4climate@gmail.com. We will uplift your kaupapa and Mahi through this platform, or any other means available to us.
The climate justice space must be led by BIPOC groups and others who are disproportionately affected by climate change. In Aotearoa, this especially means Māori and Pasifika groups.
We fully discourage any future and current Pākehā-led groups from occupying the space we leave behind.

School Strike 4 Climate Auckland

I love that at the end they threaten any group from stepping into this space. They enjoy all the nuance of a Maoist purge.

This is woke kamikaze cancellation, as every bit ritualistic as a suicide bomber with both hoping for paradise after the sacrifice.

Twitter outrage is woke righteousness porn for the middle classes. A puritanical razoring where the self elected morality police publicly shame and cancel anyone for not using the language protocols of the conclave. That they are now detonating themselves for the cause seems a tad driven and wide eyed.

I haven’t seen wilful self mutilation like this since the 2020 National Party election campaign.

The climate crisis is the largest existential threat we face as a species – to divide and amputate protest against that for some middle class identity politics struggle session is so incredibly misguided.

The polluters who cause climate change must be laughing.

Are we cancelling Greta next? The woke make Maoists look inclusive.

Increasingly having independent opinion in a mainstream media environment which mostly echo one another has become more important than ever, so if you value having an independent voice – please donate here.

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Simon Bridges’ 6th sense – ‘I see gang members’

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Police dismiss Simon Bridges ‘gang fight’ claims at Tauranga Hospital carpark

Police are investigating a report of disorder at the Tauranga Hospital on Saturday – an incident National MP Simon Bridges claimed involved patched gang members.

Bridges claimed on Twitter that patched gang members had taken over the entrance of the hospital and someone was being badly beaten up in the car park in a “gang fight”.

He said he was at the hospital visiting his elderly father.

However a police spokeswoman said there was no evidence to suggest any gang activity.

Firstly let’s hope Simon’s dad is ok, secondly it doesn’t help your cause over the crime debate if you think everyone brawling in public is a gang member, if that were the case, every late night bar and supermarket toilet paper aisle under lockdown would be a Gang Headquarters.

Rather than this Mosque attack movie that the Greens are trying to cancel, we should spend the money on a comedy where Simon Bridges just sees dead gang members every time he goes to Parliament.

There are serious threats to NZ with South American cartels shipping us meth, seeing gang members every time there is a brawl doesn’t diminish that threat, it misdiagnosis it.

Increasingly having independent opinion in a mainstream media environment which mostly echo one another has become more important than ever, so if you value having an independent voice – please donate here.

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