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Salaries Still Slashed As Fletchers Proposes To Axe Up To 1000 Kiwi Jobs – E Tu

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Up to 1000 workers at Fletchers are facing possible redundancy, after having already been on reduced pay during lockdown.

Since early April, workers have been on a 12-week pay reduction plan, which saw them receiving less than their normal weekly income – a change over which they say they were not properly consulted.

E tū understands employees now back at work are on reduced days and hours.

To add insult to injury, Fletchers has now announced a proposal to cull up to 1000 New Zealand workers, about 10% of their workforce.

Fletchers received almost $68 million from the Government’s wage subsidy scheme.

E tū Negotiation Specialist Joe Gallagher says to rebuild better, New Zealand needs to keep and create decent jobs.

“This means secure employment especially for the critical infrastructure workers we desperately need to recover our economy.”

E tū’s representative for engineering and infrastructure on the National Executive, Bruce Habgood, says the rebuild needs to be about people over profits.

“We’re calling on the Government to step in and ensure we keep Kiwi jobs in New Zealand.

“It’s about allowing the economy to recover justly,” Bruce says.

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Damp Housing Stats Highlight Need For Greater Supply Of Good Homes – Community Housing Aotearoa

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The latest statistics on damp houses highlight the need for permanent, affordable homes that are warm, dry and good to live in – and available to all New Zealanders, says Scott Figenshow, Chief Executive of Community Housing Aotearoa.

He was commenting on findings released by Statistics New Zealand that more than a third of Māori and Pacific people were living in damp housing at the time of the 2018 census (https://www.stats.govt.nz/news/more-than-1-in-3-maori-and-pacific-people-live-in-a-damp-house and https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/te-manu-korihi/416997/one-in-three-maori-pasifika-living-in-damp-housing-census-data-shows).

“No family should have to live with water dripping down the walls or their children getting sick every winter because of mould and damp,” says Mr Figenshow. “We need well-built homes that don’t make us sick.”

He noted the arguments put forward by Green Building Council Chief Executive Andrew Eagles for greater investment in insulation (https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/-6b-annual-cost-tolerating-damp-mouldy-homes-in-nz-outweighs-price-insulate-them-advocate), and said the country’s community housing providers are committed to providing good quality homes for people in housing need. Earlier this year a number of housing providers took part in a webinar organised with the Green Building Council to learn more about the Homestar and HomeFit initiatives to ensure houses are warm, healthy and efficient.

“Our sector is focused on making a real difference in people’s lives so that means providing homes that are good to live in,” says Mr Figenshow.

Mr Figenshow says the community housing sector has begun identifying ‘shovel-ready’ housing projects. It has already identified 79 housing developments across 15 regions, totalling 2911 homes with a total development cost of $1 billion – and there will be many more waiting to be counted.

“If we can ramp up the number of dry, well-built permanent, affordable homes available to all New Zealanders – whether rented or owned – then we will start to make inroads into the statistics on damp, mould and the adverse health consequences for our future generations.

“As a sector, community housing providers are ready to develop even more good homes where families will be able to thrive.”

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Petroleum Industry Engaged In ‘predatory Delay’ Campaign, Study Finds – Fossil Fuels Aotearoa Research Network

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A three-year study has revealed the New Zealand petroleum industry has been carrying out a concerted lobbying and PR campaign to slow the country’s transition to a low-carbon economy and prolong dependency on oil and gas.

The study, headed by economic anthropologist Terrence Loomis, investigated the ‘propaganda campaign’ being led by the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) in cooperation with various conservative politicians and business interests to bolster the petroleum industry’s flagging public image and influence Government’s climate change transition planning.

“This is not the normal kind of promotional campaign that industry trade associations carry out all the time,” Dr Loomis said. “Like Big Tobacco, fossil fuel companies have known for decades about the harm their operations and products are doing to the climate and people’s health. This is about ‘predatory delay’ to keep the country dependent on oil and gas for decades.

Prior to last week’s Budget, PEPANZ’s CEO John Carnegie launched another PR salvo arguing the oil and gas industry could help the New Zealand economy recover from Covid-19 with ‘the right regulatory changes’ like keeping climate change out of the RMA and more ‘flexible’ treatment of exploration and production permits. PEPANZ’s release mirrored a submission the same day by six peak bodies representing the Australia mining sector, calling on the federal government to relax environmental regulations to rebuild the post-pandemic economy.

According to Dr Loomis, “this is an industry that was already in deep trouble before Covid-19.” Major companies have already pulled out of New Zealand. OMV and Horizon Energy, two of the remaining companies, recently announced they were halting exploratory drilling, cutting production and reviewing their business plans. “This is an industry that has cost the New Zealand taxpayer over $100 million with the Tamarind debacle. It’s a major contributor to climate change. Why would the Government encourage or bail it out, particularly when we have renewable alternatives?”

The study described how key figures behind the campaign have collaborated in delivering a suite of common messages, aided by an accommodating mainstream media, to shape public perceptions about the industry. It documented some of the social media tactics, misleading information and repetitive rhetorical claims that PEPANZ has made (e.g. transition will take decades; ‘clean’ gas is a ‘bridge fuel’) in spite of independent studies challenging such claims.

National has promised to end the exploration ban and push for more petroleum development if elected. “That’s precisely the wrong direction to go if we are serious about addressing the climate crisis and transitioning to a low carbon economy,” Dr Loomis stated.

Until now, the Government has avoided further measures besides the exploration ban claiming they could be economically and socially ‘disruptive.’ “It’s been a politically expedient stance with an election looming,” Dr Loomis said. “But public support for the government’s handling of the pandemic and calls for green recovery planning have provided the opportunity to consider further steps to end our reliance on fossil fuels and go hard on renewables and alternative transport.”

The study, titled The Predatory Delay Diaries http://www.terrenceloomis.ac.nz/latest-publication.html, suggests additional supply-side measures the Government could adopt if it took seriously the UN Secretary General’s call at COP25 to urgently end petroleum exploration and extraction.

For example, the Minister for Energy and Resources Megan Woods could stop granting extensions to offshore exploration permits, end onshore exploration, cut all remaining industry supports, include climate change in the Purpose statement of the Crown Minerals Act, and revise the 10-year Resource Strategy to include rapidly phasing out fossil fuel extraction.

It was hoped environmental organisations, climate groups and policy makers would find the research useful in developing post-Covid19 energy and climate policy, and responding to the petroleum industry’s predatory delay campaign.

Terrence Loomis is an economic anthropologist and independent researcher specialising in the political economy of the oil and gas industry. He was Professor of Development Studies at Waikato University before becoming a senior policy advisor under successive National and Labour governments. His 2017 publication, Petroleum Development and Environmental Conflict in Aotearoa New Zealand (Lexington Books) was written while he was a Visiting Research Scholar at Victoria University’s Institute of Governance and Policy Studies. www.terrenceloomis.ac.nz

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Air NZ Workers ‘devastated’ As More Than 1300 Lose Jobs – E Tu

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More than 1300 workers will lose their jobs as Air New Zealand has announced staffing cuts affecting all routes.

Long- and mid-haul workers will lose 950 jobs, out of 1600.

For domestic crew, 300 workers will be made redundant across Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

Regional airlines are also affected, with a combined loss of 97 jobs between Air Nelson and Mt Cook Airline.

One E tū cabin crew member, who wishes to remain anonymous, says they are “absolutely devastated”.

“Having seen first-hand the work done by our union members, and still having this result, is crushing. Air New Zealand values its staff less than its profit and shareholders, which so sad to see unfold.”

“The company’s process has been rushed, overbearing, heavy-handed, and uncompromising. I don’t believe the feedback in the consultation process was ever truly evaluated or applied.”

The member says their future is uncertain, and they expect they will “slip into the thousands and thousands of job applicants” and look at retraining for completely different work.

They say Air New Zealand needs to “re-establish the culture that they have kicked to the curb and re-establish the trust they have shattered”.

E tū Assistant National Secretary Rachel Mackintosh says many more workers are also devastated.

“It couldn’t be much worse for some of Air New Zealand’s loyal cabin crew,” Rachel says.

“Many are completely gutted – they have committed years to making Air New Zealand a world class airline, only to be out of work with huge uncertainties about ongoing careers in their industry.”

Rachel says E tū has been calling for a better process at Air New Zealand since the start of the crisis.

“Air New Zealand employees need the company to be much more transparent, accommodating, and compassionate if they are to build their way back to being a strong national carrier.

“E tū is calling for Air New Zealand, other companies, and the Government to rebuild better – making sure we keep and create decent jobs and have union members involved in all decisions.”

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ANZASW Budget Response 2020

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ANZASW is pleased to respond to the 2020 budget (released on May 14th 2020). Whilst the last few months have seen substantial Government response and fiscal support to individuals and organisations, in the words of Finance Minister Grant Robertson “it is just the end of the beginning”. The reality is that there is a long road of recovery ahead.

ANZASW commends the Government on its investment into both the Supporting Disabled New Zealanders to Live Good Lives initiative and the Keeping Community-Based Services Open for Disabled People initiative. We further support the allocation of resources in providing support to the victims of elder abuse through the Ensuring Continued Access to Response Services for Victims of Elder Abuse initiative.

ANZASW supports the investments made into addressing and reducing Aotearoa’s family violence through the Ensuring Continued Access to Specialist Services for Perpetrators of Family Violence and the Ensuring Access to Specialist Services for Victims of Family Violence initiatives. These initiatives offer support to those affected by family violence through services such as advocacy, one-on-one and group support, non-violence programmes and counselling to address the behaviour perpetrators as well as strengthening refuges and providing safe houses.

It is also encouraging to see the establishment and operations of the Independent Children’s Monitor which will enable the strengthening of independent oversight of Oranga Tamariki and other children’s issues. This initiative aims to build trust in State care for children and young people. ANZASW CEO Lucy Sandford-Reed highlights that “experiences over the last 12 months has indicated that a role of this type is needed”.

However, Sandford-Reed notes that “given the research last year identified a $633 million deficit in NGO funding the $57 million invested into the Supporting Social Service Delivery for Community Services Providers initiative is very disappointing and will maintain the significant salary gap between social workers in Statutory organisation and social worker in the NGO sector”.

It is of further concern to see no reassessment or increase in benefit payments and with the drastic increase in people currently seeking the benefit it is of huge concern. It is expected that New Zealand’s unemployment rate will rise from the pre-COVID-19 level of four percent to nine percent post-lockdown. Approximately 1000 people are applying for social welfare per day. Current net job-seeker benefits range from $250 per week for those who are single and over 25 to $428 per week for a married or de facto couple with children. The Welfare Expert Advisory Group have stated that this is nowhere near enough to get by on a comment that is supported by the fact that these benefit rates fall below both the living and minimum wages.

Sandford-Reed deems it “morally wrong and unethical” to not adequately support our countries most vulnerable. Following last week’s statement by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern that “we must not allow inequality to take hold in our recovery. In fact, we need to take this opportunity to improve the prospects of all New Zealanders and tackle those longstanding divisions”. ANZASW strongly supports this remark and actively demands that more is done to reassess the financial support available to people to assist them in navigating the uncertainty of the future with a sense of dignity and respect.

While ANZASW supports and recognises the current necessity of the funding into food banks and food in school initiatives we propose that such funding does not address the fundamental issues of inequity within Aotearoa. With huge increases in the number of people applying for the benefit, it is disheartening to see the amount they receive is not aligned with the basic costs of living.

Income support remains an area that is expected to see further future investment and ANZASW strongly advocate for such changes to be made to protect and support our countries most vulnerable.

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Will the Average User Benefit From 5G?

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There’s been a lot of talk of 5G in recent years, with it making many promises to improve our lives. The list of promises has included a more interconnected Internet of Things, improvements in education, better gaming, and a revolution in the sphere of medicine. 

Up until now though, this has been mostly theoretical, at least to the general public as 5G devices have not been available for the public. Amongst the average mobile users, the level of anticipation and excitement for 5G has been much lower than what came with 4G before it.

This is partly due to the fact that for the average user, 4G continues to be more than sufficient. 

 

What’s the Difference Between 4G and 5G?

Like how 4G was a step up from 3G, 5G brings with it several major improvements. The first of these advances is in speed. 5G promises to be as much as 100 times faster than what can be achieved with 4G.

In lab conditions, 5G has been used to reach download speeds of up to 100 GB/s, while an average user is unlikely to get more than 50 MB/s from their 4G phone. 

This speed boost is achieved using something called Massive Multiple-input Multiple-output (MIMO). This is the process of using multiple frequencies at the same time to create several simultaneous connections between the device and the mast. In effect, creating a multi-lane highway for data instead of a single-track road. 

These speeds would make it feasible to reliably stream 4K video to a mobile device. At the moment, 4G doesn’t have the bandwidth, but 5G would have more than enough. Streaming video games, like Google’s Stadia, could also be more feasible over mobile networks this way. 

In most regions, 5G will use the same part of the radio spectrum, meaning that it will continue to operate at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, however, the way it communicates over these frequencies is different. 

The biggest difference between 4G and 5G is its lower latency. This is what makes manufacturers and enthusiasts excited, as a lower latency will open up many new possibilities. 

 

What’s the Big Deal About Low Latency?

Anywho who enjoys online gaming has likely heard of the term “latency”. It is the measurement of time that elapses between a data instruction and the data being received. 

It is usually measured in milliseconds (MS) and is what you’re testing when you conduct a “ping” test. 

Latency is important in gaming as if it is too high, the game can lag and the player’s character or car can behave erratically to other players. It is not so important for games like those at online casino www.casino.com/nz, but it is vital in first-person shooters and racing simulators. 

In a 4G network, a user can expect a latency of 50 ms, while 5G promises a low latency of just 1 ms. 

Aside from being able to play Fortnite and Call of Duty with no lag, 5G also could deliver benefits in other areas. 

 

Medicine

A promising area is in medicine. Surgery can be a very high-risk process, and transporting ill patients to be treated by top surgeons can be even riskier. 5G could allow these surgeries to be conducted remotely, with robot arms controlled by the surgeon in another hospital somewhere else in the country, or even the world. 

It is already being trialed at King’s College London, who in collaboration with Ericsson and NeuroDigital Technologies, is developing a remote VR surgery device that uses haptic feedback. This will give the surgeon the same physical sensations when they touch an organ as they do when they conduct surgery in person.

 

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Government Doing A Good Job–but! – Closing The Gap

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It Is Clear That Most People Think That The Government, Health Officials And Workers, Are Doing An Excellent Job Of Dealing With The Covid 19 Virus And They Have Been Well Supported By Most Of The Public Doing What They Are Told. And The Government Has Listened To The Public And The Opposition And Made Changes To The “rules” Where Sensible. “This Is A Marvellous Situation For Our Country In These Perilous Times, And We Have Been Recognised Internationally For This” Says Peter Malcolm Spokesperson For Income Equality Aotearoa NZ Inc—“Closing The Gap”. The Government Has Also Largely Been Complimented For Its Efforts To Protect The Economy And People In General From The Effects Of The Virus And This Was Continued In The Budget.

A Realistic Attitude About Government Debt—despite All The Additional Spending Our Government Debt Is Still Well Below That Of Many Developed Countries And Should Not Be A Worry To Us In The Future—a $50 Billion Rescue Fund, Extensions To The Wage Subsidy Scheme, Significant Increases In The Health Budget Including Pharmac, A Large Increase In The Building Of “social Housing”—not Before Time—money For Rail And “green” Jobs. Increases In Aid Funding For Our Pacific Neighbours, This Augurs Well For Our Future. And Now Additional Money For Sport. Well Done To The Government.

But We Still Have Around 200,000 Kids And Families In Poverty—an Extra $25 A Week Is A Pittance— And Now There Is Additional Money For Meals In Schools. This Last Is An Ambulance At The Bottom Of The Clift And Will Do Nothing To Solve The Underlying Problem Of Families In Poverty. There Was Nothing In The Budget About Welfare Or Benefits, Despite General Agreement About The Recommendations Of The Welfare Expert Advisory Group. This Report Seems To Have Been Consigned To The Rubbish Bin And It Was Published Well Before This Current Crisis.

Government, At A Time When We Are Encouraged To Be Safe And Kind, Where Is The Kindness And Compassion You Have Shown Elsewhere. It Is Clear That Much Of The Burden Of This Crisis Is Being Shouldered By Our Most Disadvantaged And This Should Not Be In Our Country Which Has Been Recognised By Many To Be Doing So Well In This Perilous Time.

Apparently There Is $20 Billion Of Extra Money In The Budget Which Is Unallocated. The WEAG Report Tells You How The Money Should Be Spent. It Is There To Do The Right Thing. Government Please Show Some Real Kindness And Help Our Most Disadvantaged.

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Lessons from PRIDE – Comrades – if we want transformation it will require the People putting forward the manifesto

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There are many, many, many reasons we as progressives should be deeply disappointed by the Triage Budget Labour rolled out this week.

Mike Treen is right about it’s lack of real vision for workers, Dr Susan St John is right about its lack of vision towards welfare and John Minto is absolutely right about its State Housing illusion.

But Chris Trotter is equally right that Labour’s caution even in pandemic has earned them the possibility of a majority Government.

As TDB has been pointing out from the beginning, the economy can’t get back to where it was until a vaccine is available and until that time (2 years away), the State will need to step in and directly employ people to keep the economy from collapsing and THAT is what the Plan B Death Cult Capitalists fear the most, it’s not ‘Socialism by Stealth’ when the entire country is screaming for it.

The 35 year neoliberal experiment is under threat and people will demand a State that protects them, not leaves them to the vagaries of the free market and this terrifies the Plan B Death Cult Capitalists.

To survive the next phase of this pandemic, the Labour Government MUST consider huge ideas to get us through the economic destruction until the vaccine is available.

A Left wing conference is needed to consider the following…

Agenda: NZ economy until a vaccine is ready
Mass State Housing Rebuild – The only way to force slumlord landlords to upgrade their slums is remove the desperation of the market. 30 000 new state houses would do that and create mass jobs while upgrading the entire housing stock.

Mass mixed forest replanting – we need this for climate change and mixed tree planting would create huge new jobs.

Ministry of Works – It’s time to stop managing and actually doing, recreate the Ministry of Works and put them to work building state houses and planting trees.

Nationalise Fletchers – This will be the bones of the new Ministry of Works.

Universal Union Membership – There has NEVER been a stronger case for Universal Union Membership, it has been the unions protecting essential workers, the unions arguing for their safety, the unions who have stepped in when bosses have ignored their obligations. Until a vaccine is available ALL workers should be members of Unions to ensure their rights are protected.

UBI – For the self employed a UBI will be the difference between surviving and not. We should have one until a vaccine is available. Labour looked at this during their ‘Future of Work’ conference before they got elected.

Extension of Benefits – Stop the toxic culture in WINZ, immediate reform so that those needing welfare can gain it immediately and lift the benefits minus the draconian punitive stuff until a vaccine is found.

Community Resilience & Whanau Ora – Vast increase of budget to community groups to directly build sustainability into their communities.

Taxation –

      • Financial transaction tax
      • Wealth tax
      • Multinational tax
      • Inheritance tax
      • Capital Gains Tax

…Labour must do something meaningful on the economic front because voters who applaud Jacinda today for protecting them from death that didn’t happen will be burning her tomorrow when there are no jobs.

But they can’t and won’t make these changes if we the people don’t push them.

I was fortunate enough to recently watch the wonderfully warm film, PRIDE, that detailed how the 1980s rainbow community saw their struggle as part of the struggle the miners were facing in Thatcher’s Britain. It was a reminder that those offside with neoliberalism needed to actually recruit and win people over across united fronts. In the era of social media schisms and the narcism of petty difference, such solidarity doesn’t exist in the NZ Left, but it urgently requires it.

If the Left want to rebuild the country in the equality, environmental and social ways it MUST be rebuilt in, then we have to come up with the ideas and build a collective platform to promote that People’s Manifesto.

Jacinda & Grant can save us from a virus dystopia, but they’re too busy keeping our head above water surviving that pandemic to imagine utopia.

That’s up to us.

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 going into this pandemic and 2020 election – please donate here.

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One thing Labour urgently need to do right now is reform WINZ and MSD from their toxic culture

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A WINZ meeting

One thing Labour urgently need to do right now is reform WINZ and MSD from their toxic culture.

The CTU made this point last month that the Government must reform the purposely obtuse system of welfare. The CTUs point was that it is humanitarian to reform welfare, my point to Labour is that it is potentially political suicide if they don’t.

WINZ and MSD are staffed by spite masters and sadists. They are purposely built to be as difficult as possible to deal with so as to turn desperate and vulnerable people away. The enormous economic collapse we are facing will put white working and middle class people into contact with the evil empire of WINZ and MSD for the first time in their lives and that experience is going to be potentially damaging for the Government…

The surprising demographic who took up the benefit most during COVID-19 lockdown

Of the 38,960 new job seekers during COVID-19 lockdown, almost 50 percent had little or no previous benefit history, and surprisingly, they were mostly Kiwis who earned more than the usual intake of beneficiaries. 

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni has revealed the results of a study of the 38,960 people who joined the jobseeker’s benefit during lockdown, which found that Kiwis earning $585 a week or more outstripped those earning less or with no previous income. 

She also revealed that 65 percent of the new job seekers were of European descent and Māori job seekers decreased as a proportion to 27 percent, compared to 42 percent last year. 

…these aren’t poor broken brown people who will remorsefully accept the shit WINZ and MSD force them to drink, these are Ok Karen Kiwis who will erupt on social media with furious anger the appalling manner in which WINZ and MSD staff are conditioned to punish the usual beneficiaries with.

Labour MUST reform WINZ and MSD to avoid the reality of their toxic cultures being experienced by the new wave of beneficiaries about to sign up for welfare because they will cause a political backlash in a place Labour are not expecting it.

 

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MEDIA WATCH: Responding to Andrea Vance’s begging for foreign media 

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The journalist who insinuated that the Prime Minister not only kew about a serious sexual assault but covered it up based on nothing more than a Whaleoil level political hit job by The Spinoff, is begging for us to consider the financial problems of her foreign owned media company amounts to a public service…

RIP our jobs – and an essential public service

There is an important rule in journalism: never become the story.

We broke that rule last week, taking our cartoonish devotion to competing to extreme levels with a bitter battle over the future of Stuff.

Journalists are notoriously rubbish at business. The golden heyday of newspapers is long in our past.

The industry is also horribly bad at promoting its worth.

…the importance of the Fourth Estate in a Democracy is crucial if we want a functioning Democracy, and this pandemic highlighted that importance by showing well informed citizens would act collectively with solidarity for the public good.

B-U-T

Stuffs woes are part of the financialization model of conglomerate foreign ownership of NZ media, and we shouldn’t as taxpayers bail that failed model out!

As the great media guru Gavin Ellis points out…

No benefits in foreign ownership

We need to rethink foreign ownership of New Zealand news media. Put bluntly, no good comes of it.

A Guidance Note on the national interest test to be applied to overseas investment in New Zealand was released by the government last week. Among the enterprises subject to the test are ‘media entities that have an impact on New Zealand’s media plurality’. Apart from national security, the test is to assess both the effect on competition and ‘an investment’s likely impact on the New Zealand economy and society, and the extent to which any benefits to New Zealand are commensurate with the sensitivity of the asset being acquired’. There is also a character test, but the guidance note is at pains to explain this wouldn’t be an onerous burden on individuals.

The test, we can be reasonably certain, will ensure our media doesn’t fall into the hands of the Russian mafia or America’s alt-right movement. It may even keep our media out of the clutches of some of the less-reputable private equity firms.

However, a national interest test on the acquisition of media assets still presupposes that foreign ownership is not only permissible but, in certain circumstances, is to be encouraged.

When it comes to media assets the opposite should be the case.

In the days when media companies were worth something, overseas buyers injected significant capital into the New Zealand economy with their purchases. Therein lay the benefit of the transaction for New Zealand. However, over time the canny ones took it all out again…and more.

With the decline in investment value of media assets, there are no more large purchase prices, and companies are susceptible to takeover by groups whose focus is decidedly short-term and based on the extraction of any residual value that may have been overlooked. That, of course, would not be evident from their responses to the national interest test where, no doubt, their intentions would be ‘honourable’ and stretching into the distant future.

I’m reminded of an episode recounted by Jenny Lynch in her memoir Under the Covers after Brierley Investments took over New Zealand News and the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly (on which she worked) in 1988: “We felt extremely vulnerable. Bruce Hancox, Brierley’s chief hatchet man, fronted up to the staff. ‘We’re in this for the long haul,’ he told us. Fat chance. The ‘long haul’ lasted less than a year. In 1989 Brierley stripped the remaining NZ News assets…”

When that happened, the mastheads sold to various parties by Brierley survived (in the case of the Auckland Star only briefly). Much has changed in thirty years: Value stripping of media assets will now leave nothing but dry husks behind.

The writing has been on the wall for profit-seeking media investors. The next wave of buyers seeking quick-turnaround gains will probably be the last. They will see – or be responsible for – the collapse of traditional ownership as titles and services are diminished or closed. The collapse will be hastened if the investors are thousands of kilometres away, have no understanding of – or concern for – the culture of this country and their investment’s place in it, do not feel pressure from local stakeholders (in the broadest sense), and believe they can cut-and-run without consequence.

…the problem foreign owned media face in NZ is a market failure, and their existence and dominance here IS PART OF THAT MARKET FAILURE!

The fundamental problem is that the advertising market has been bled dry by Google and Facebook while being owned by vulture capitalists who are only interested in using profits to cover the debt they’ve used to buy the companies.

Labour are allergic when it comes to big ideas needed to combat neoliberalism and market failure and the hollowing out of journalism by the financialization of that free market is a challenge that looks beyond the capacity of the Minister, who despite Australia considering one of my ideas below, still doesn’t seem to know what to do.

1 – Public Funded Media in the nations interest

The RNZ-TVNZ merger should be occurring immediately with the following inclusions.

      • TV1 commercial free (so existing advertising can go to Mediaworks).
      • RNZ launch a commercial free youth radio station.
      • RNZ/TVNZ launch a 24 hour news station on one of their existing Freeview+ channels.

2 – Tax Google & Facebook and ring fence that for direct funding of corporate journalism

Google & Facebook charged a percentage on all revenue from NZ, that money is specifically ring fenced to a contestable fund available to established Media to specifically provide Fourth Estate Journalism.

3 – NZ on Air ‘Read between the Flags’ Kiwi journalism 

In a world of disinformation, we need journalism we can trust. We all get the ‘swim between the flag’ model of surf life saving, NZ on Air should be given extra funding for ‘Read between the flags’ Kiwi Journalism. This money is to break the current elite opinion NZ on Air circle jerk and provide revenue for smaller blogs and citizen journalism who become eligible if they agree to a set of Journalistic Principles. If you do agree and sign up, you are entitled to funding and must have a Kiwi Journalism flag on your site to show you are obliged to the Journalistic Principles Code of conduct.

You would have an awareness campaign to urge NZers to ‘read between the flags’ for trusted information.

The NZ population has always been too small for advertiser funded journalism, it has ALWAYS needed State support, add a broken market where vulture capitalists use media profits to pay the interest on their debt and you have a hollowed out Fourth Estate that can’t be a watchdog to anything other than their self interest.

Andrea is right, we should see Journalism as a a public service, but that doesn’t extend to bailing out the foreign owned media conglomerate she works for.

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 going into this pandemic and 2020 election – please donate here.

If you can’t contribute but want to help, please always feel free to share our blogs on social media.

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Let’s play ‘5m population without mentioning immigration’ game – rethinking tourism & immigration post pandemic

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Let’s play the ‘5million population without mentioning immigration’ game…

New Zealand population hits 5 million

Estimates released today showed that on 31 March, the nation numbered 5,002,100 people.

Stats NZ said the national population estimates give the best measure between census dates of the population that usually lives in Aotearoa.

“The latest estimated resident population is based on the 2013 Census usually resident population count, updated for residents missed or counted more than once by the census (net census undercount); residents temporarily overseas on census night; and births, deaths, and net migration between census night and the date of the estimate,” Stats NZ said.

Speaking at her weekly post-Cabinet media briefing, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the population could be expected to grow further.

“It’s a milestone for us as a nation, and we’ve gotten there a little more quickly than in the past. I think all New Zealanders would be of a view that yes, as a nation we will continue to grow but also that as we grow we want to look after our land, we look after our environment, we look after our people.”

…the post-pandemic world with closed borders forces changes upon us.

In 2018 we had 129 000 migrants for a population of almost 5 million.

Australia with 24 and a half million, allows in 190 000.

You can see the immediate difference when comparing NZ with Australia.

On top of that we have over 300 000 international students and workers with temporary work visas who have been obscenely exploited by a de-unionised job market and additional to that, we had almost 4 million tourists visiting us each year.

Meanwhile more of our assets and land are being owned by overseas interests.

It is no wonder that our social and physical infrastructure is groaning under unsustainable gridlock while creating political friction.

We need to urgently rethink tourism & immigration and the closed borders of a post pandemic world forces us to do that.

Rethink Tourism:

Domestic Tourism

Watching exclusive overpriced NZ Tourism having to beg actual kiwis to visit them at massively discounted prices is wondrous isn’t it? Some of our most spectacular places now affordable for the foreseeable future AND our roads free from hyper tourism too?

Thanks Covid19!

We should look at an extra couple of holidays each year to elongate our long weekends, but the tourism business must change their price gouging to entice Kiwi’s along for the long weekend experience and we should culturally look to celebrate the Kiwi Long Weekend.

Boutique Tourism

One of the good things about the tourism reset is that we must move from hyper tourism to boutique tourism.

With our borders set to remain closed until a vaccine is available, hyper tourism is dead and we should all cheer that death.

The spin that the tourism dollar trickles down to the rest of us seems like a pretty cheap price to pay if it means we all get to have our roads and traffic flow back.

We must also add to the tourism industry the obscene amount of pollution air travel generates. In a rapidly warming planet, these green house gas emissions can not be tolerated, so hyper tourism must die for the planet to survive.

That doesn’t mean we should simply dump tourism as an industry altogether, that would be economic suicide, but we must for once price the bloody experience properly.

If you want to visit a plague free vacation destination then you pay for it.

No more discount flights with the dregs of the holidaying experience landing on our shores to freedom camp crap all over our nation.

If you want to visit plague free NZ, you have to pay for the 14 day mandatory quarantine stay and accept ongoing track trace measures while in New Zealand.

We should be resetting the International Tourism experience infrastructure now so that we have the hotels to house tourists quarantining here for their mandatory 14 days before moving through to their holiday.

We need to move away from hyper tourism to boutique tourism and appropriately price that experience.

What is the price for a plague free holiday? Ask anyone in Paris, New York or London.

Rethink immigration:

Migrant Worker Amnesty

We can’t entice migrant workers here, have them exploited by unscrupulous bosses and then tell them to piss off back home. That is cruel and nasty. We should offer an immediate amnesty to all migrant workers in NZ to become permanent residents BUT right after that amnesty, we must close all immigration until a vaccine is widely available. Employers will need to use the existing work force here if they want to expand, this would end the bullshit games of companies claiming no NZer wants to be a burger king manager or booze seller so we need to import those workers. You either pay proper wages to attract someone to your job or you don’t get an employee.

High Tech Migration

Seeing as most of the planet will shut down and stay shut down to international tourism until a vaccine is available, you will only be focused on high end tourism who can afford the 2 weeks, backpackers and freedom campers are gone. We must also be open to tech companies wanting to relocate their head offices here so that people can live openly in a plague free environment which will quickly become our international selling point.

Homecoming

We also need to be prepared for a mass homecoming of the Kiwi diaspora who are feeling the pinch in Australia and Europe, who are looking at NZs distance as its saving grace now. We should reach out to them and say ‘there’s never been a better time to return Home’ campaigns and bring their expertise and skill sets back to NZ to help generate the next wave of Kiwi entrepreneurs we require to kick start the economy again in the new realty.

 

There are enormous structural changes coming our way in a post pandemic world and we need to see ourselves as one of the life boats on a climate crisis planet. Tourism and immigration are two areas we need to urgently reform so that when external shocks occur, we are flexible enough to sustain them.

 

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 going into this pandemic and 2020 election – please donate here.

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New research: Current benefits leave families in poverty

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Recently released research shows families who rely on benefits could find themselves hundreds of dollars short every week of what’s required to get out of poverty.
As thousands are projected to lose their jobs and seek income support over the coming months, more and more children could be locked into poverty due to inadequate benefit levels, making New Zealand’s long term recovery from COVID-19 that much more difficult, says Child Poverty Action Group.
CPAG’s research shows that six model families with children receiving benefits would require an estimated $110 a week on average to reach 50 per cent of equivalised median after-housing-costs (AHC) income, and an extra $215 to reach 60 per cent of the same, meaning income support levels for the 2020/21 year are well below the Government’s official poverty measures+, even when recent benefit increases are included.
As part of its Covid-19 package, the Government increased benefits by $25 a week and temporarily doubled the Winter Energy Payment.
“While these increases are welcome, we find they are still nowhere near enough to unlock all children from poverty and allow them to thrive,” says CPAG’s Georgie Craw executive officer.
“This means many families are forced to rely on temporary top-ups, foodbanks, and high interest loans, just to survive.”
Child Poverty Action Group modelled the effect of latest policies for families accessing core benefits, accommodation supplement and Working for Families in 2020/2021.
The researchers found that after paying lower-quartile rent for a two-bedroom house in a low-income Auckland suburb, a couple on the Jobseeker benefit with two children receiving core entitlements would still need around $195 extra a week to reach the 50 per cent AHC poverty line. They would need $322 extra a week to reach the 60 per cent AHC line – a supplementary Government child poverty measure.
“While people’s income can be topped-up with hardship grants, these are temporary, and Work and Income manuals refer to them as a ‘last resort’,” says researcher Janet McAllister.
“Accessing them can be difficult, particularly when families are already trying to cope with the toxic stress of inadequate support.
“The supplementary systems are complex to navigate and often require people to run down their modest assets before accessing extra assistance.”
The twelve hypothetical households in the report – which include parents on Sole Parent Support with one and three children, parents on Jobseeker with two children, and individuals on Jobseeker, Supported Living Payments and NZ Superannuation – will have, on average, $41 more in the hand every week after they pay their lower-quartile rent in this current financial year than last year, an increase of 17.5 per cent in disposable income from last year.
Susan St John, CPAG’s economic spokesperson, says Child Poverty Action Group is alarmed that the Government did not increase core benefits to adequate levels.
“In the recent budget the Government had an opportunity to fix the inadequate levels of core benefits and to reform Working for Families (WFF) to make it immediately available in full to all low income families including those on benefits – and it is disappointing this opportunity was missed.
“However we will continue to advocate for these changes, as we are looking at an explosion in family hardship and child poverty unless the government takes urgent and meaningful action,” St John says.
+The Government charts how many children are in poverty based on 10 measures, which includes those children living in households with:
– less than 60% median equivalised disposable household income after housing costs (AHC).
– less than 50% median equivalised disposable household income after housing costs (AHC).
The full background paper titled: “The effects of 2020-21 income support changes on After Housing Costs (AHC) incomes for representative households receiving benefits” can be accessed here.
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Fight your corner Simon Bridges – the madness of National rolling a leader 4 months from the election

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So they are doing it.

The plummeting polls have spooked those lazy National Party MP suddenly facing what you and I face every day of the week post pandemic, unemployment.

Apparently unemployment is so terrifying to the list MPs that they will replace their own leader 4 months out from a general election.

This self interested panic is disgraceful.

Look, I will never vote for Simon Bridges in a million lifetimes, B-U-T if you think replacing him in a tsunami of selfish fear will lift your polling, you are not only utterly wrong strategically, you are devoid of any actual courage to be in politics.

Replacing Bridges this close to the election won’t save National from 30%, it will guarantee they plunge lower!

Everyone keeps saying ‘Todd Muller’ should be leader, to which i say, ‘who the fuck is Todd Muller’.

Todd Muller is like a fart in an elevator in that you don’t know where it came from, but you really wish it would leave.

Supporters of a leadership change will point to Labour’s experiment with Jacinda in 2017 to which I would say, ‘sure, but Jacinda was a genuine talent, none of your cavalcade of political circus freaks have anything close to her charisma and the only one how does, Nikki Kaye, wouldn’t be stupid enough to accept this poisoned chalice’.

For 8 weeks a panicked country watched the Prime Minister perform a masterclass in leadership and that panicked country loved her for it. National could have been led by Ronald Regan, John Key and Elvis and they would still be polling 30% because Jacinda is a phenomena.

Kiwi’s legitimately felt like they collectively fell over during this pandemic. Jacinda and Grant have come to them, given them a hug, told them everything is on the credit card until we can get back up on our feet and given us real kindness.

Simon Bridges on the other hand has just clipped you around your ear while you are still on the ground and barked, ‘Get up ya big girls blouse, we’ve got work to do”.

The electorate wanted help, not Captain Arsehole and the reality comedowns.

Jacinda’s leadership has made us proud and safe. Crisis breeds political loyalty and makes people understand the concept of solidarity as a cultural value.

This incredible majority poll result speaks of something else though because it isn’t just Jacinda’s amazing leadership, it is also the utter hollow vacancy of the political values of National.

Other than keeping power, National have no political values. You would think in a  moment like this the values of self reliance, stoicism and individual rights could be articulated in a way that allowed National voters to hold their heads up, instead it’s all sounded bitter and utterly tone deaf.

In the week before lockdown, Bridges and Goldsmith hosted a press conference where they boasted how much Government regulation they were going to burn. A week out from a moment when NZers would be rushing to be protected by the state, Simon is boasting about dismantling it!

National’s political values are so empty that they forget the first role of the State is to protect the people. Changing leader now won’t fix that problem for National, only exacerbate it.

For all his faults, Bridges is no wimp and he will fight it out and while he can’t and won’t beat Labour in September, he can at least show they aren’t a party of desperate cowards.

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 going into this pandemic and 2020 election – please donate here.

If you can’t contribute but want to help, please always feel free to share our blogs on social media.

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Waatea News Column: Are Labour looking at a historic win?

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The Newshub Political Poll last night is as unprecedented as the pandemic itself.

No one in the MMP era has ever reached 56.5%, it allows for a majority where Labour could form a Government without the Greens or NZ First.

The stunning result, if repeated in the TVNZ Poll, could spell the end of Simon Bridges as Leader of National as a coup against him could be on the cards.

The simple fact is that the people of New Zealand feel that they have been protected and looked after by Jacinda, that her Leadership has made the self-sacrifice of lockdown worth something. That sense of shared sacrifice has created a political loyalty that sees the Prime Minister with 58.5% in the preferred PM stakes.

A majority Government for Labour would be a unique result but it would also bring unique responsibilities. Labour have been able to point to NZ First as a brake peddle on real Māori aspiration and welfare changes if Labour were the majority they couldn’t blame anyone else for a lack of progress.

This Election could reset NZ.

First published on Waatea News.

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Political Caption Competition

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Q: Guess how many people have knives in their hands behind the National Party leader.

A: 5 million

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