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Showing posts from February, 2017

WINZ Bureaucracy Failing

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One of my governance roles for a not for profit organisation has connected me to WINZ in support of an employee and the experience has been hugely concerning. The people I dealt with were pleasant, and one in particular went beyond their job description to help me, but I am appalled at the callous and dehumanising nature of the system.

The employee (E) had been out of work while looking after a family member (with an increasingly debilitating condition) and when he/she recently moved out of the prime-carer role, had sought part-time employment. Our organisation has limited funds and to provide some certainty of income we gave them a short-term contract with a base level of hours (0.3). There are some weeks when E works the minimum but most weeks there are extra hours required. E is on the Job Seeker's Benefit and any extra hours must be accounted for each week and their benefit adjusted accordingly. While this seems fair and reasonable, the reality of adjusting the income can be …

The Living Wage and corporate welfare dependency

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Michael Barnett, CEO of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce revealed a lot when he was quoted in a recent Stuff article on the Living Wage. Barnett claimed that the living wage was "subjective and artificial" and would make businesses go under. He believed that rather than councils paying their staff liveable incomes, they should just ensure low waged employees get "their full government welfare entitlements". His thoughts are widely held by the business sector, especially large corporates who benefit most from low wages, and such thinking deserves to be challenged.

The belief that market forces should determine the value of a job and what it is paid is flawed. Market forces should have some bearing on wages and salaries but to use this as the main determiner is open to manipulation and abuse. In fact the evidence and economics behind the living wage is far more objective and rational than the excuses used to pay CEOs their exorbitant salaries.

We currently have the …

Making New Zealand great again...

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Bill English has made much about the importance of stability since becoming Prime Minister and his own financial management, when Minister of Finance, did not involve major shifts in priorities. No Government sector can claim that they had a sudden influx of capital since 2008 and the mantra under both Key and English has been to deliver "more for less". Any extra spending generally meant changing priorities and shifting money from one area to another.

The consequence of this approach has been an under-investment in important infrastructure and a slow deterioration of government services over the past nine years. Gradual change is a cautious approach to governance that has been used defensively by both Labour and National over the last twenty years. The Douglas and Richardson eras had both involved substantial shifts in government investment that resulted in sudden changes of circumstances for large sections of society.  Both Clark and Key sought to avoid this to capture an…

"New Normal" Dangerous

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It is amazing how quickly expectations of what is 'normal' can change.

Southland has experienced one of the windiest and miserable Summers I can remember. Our farmers market has only had one day outside all Summer and even then the canopies were blown around by the wind and some stall holders were forced to seek shelter. Every day I wake up resigned to another day of wind and cloudy skies. I have almost forgotten our usual habit of dining outdoors most evenings over the summer months and enjoying our long twilight hours. Northland has experienced the opposite situation. The region is experiencing its fifth drought in eight years. Despite the fact that all of this has been predicted by NIWA as a consequence of climate change the current Government is determined to continue with business as usual and a soft approach in dealing with our emissions. The RMA still does not address climate change and the Emissions Treading Scheme still excludes major emitters. Extreme weather is the…

Trump's Muslim ban exposes stupidity

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Donald Trump won the Presidency because of his hardline approach to issues and simplistic messaging. In the business world, where he had operated previously, his success (largely exaggerated) was not achieved through diplomacy and managing complex and nuanced issues. It also appears that we have a man who is the emotional and intellectual equivalent of a bolshie, narcissistic, teenage boy leading the world's largest power.

President Trump exists because of the Post-Truth age. Not only was he elected because of the dominance of commercially and idealistically driven, popular media, his own knowledge and understanding of the world comes from the same sources. Research has revealed that watching Fox News is likely to make someone less informed about the world than watching no news at all. Lincoln's famous quote, "Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth" could be rewritten to reflect the reality: "Government of the i…