July 20, 2010
National’s Employment Law changes.

• The voluntary 90-day trial period for new employees will be
extended to cover all employers.

• The Employment Relations Authority will have the ability to
filter out vexatious or frivolous claims early on.

• The Authority will be moving to a more judicial mode of
operation, with the right to cross-examine witnesses.

• Rules on union access to workplaces will change, so that
any access will require the consent of the employer. That
consent cannot be unreasonably withheld.

• Employers will be able to ask for proof of sickness or injury
within three consecutive days of an employee taking sick
leave – but they’ll have to cover the employee’s costs in
obtaining proof.

The Employment Law Package

The National government is seeking to make changes to employment law at present. Basically, at the moment, it is actually relatively difficult for a business to dismiss employees in a clean manner even if there is good justification. As such, the proposed changes are primarily focused towards fixing that.

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May 4, 2010
Law Commission and National-led Government on Alcohol.

It is generally accepted that there is a cultural problem around the consumption of alcohol in New Zealand. However, a report from the Law Commission has recently come out with many of its recommendations expected to be accepted by the current National-led government. There are a number of significant provisions I take umbrage with and it is here that I intend to detail some of the specific provisions and why I have a problem with them. This will show that the provisions are on-the-whole measures aimed at dealing with the effects of the problem rather than the symptoms, and are furthermore poorly targeted lip-service to give the appearance of dealing with the problem. This will also highlight a key problem with politicians and bureaucrats entrenched in the system.

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April 24, 2010
New Zealand government signs the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

There has been a bit of controversy in New Zealand this week as the ostensibly centre-right government signed up to the non-binding United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to make a gesture to the Maori Party with whose support they govern. This is after the previous centre-left government refused to sign up to it, as “it was incompatible with New Zealand’s constitution, legal framework and the Treaty of Waitangi”. The UN declaration includes but is not limited to self-determination and reappropriation of historically occupied land for indigenous peoples, and futhermore fails to define what an indigenous person is. As noted, it is non-binding, apparently being an aspirational document (with severe flaws which in-part can probably be put down to its imprecise, flowery and waffly language). Given this, the government - led by the National Party - has said signing this declaration will have no legal effect. The National Party is being disingenuous here, as there are likely to be legal effects from signing this despite there being no real indigenous people in a meaningful sense in New Zealand anymore.

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April 22, 2010
$1.8b Government Spending Slashed?

Tracy Watkins: “Hey, so did you hear, National says they’ve slashed spending?”
Me: “Really, this could be good news. How much less are they spending? Is it significant?”
Tracy Watkins: “Yeah, it seems significant. They’ve totally slashed spending.”
Me: “Yeah, so you said. By how much?”
Tracy Watkins: “Um, well they’ve stopped some low quality spending and they’re spending it elsewhere.”
Me: “So they’re not slashing, they’re reallocating.”
Tracy Watkins: “…”*

$1.8b Government spending slashed

The finance minister says $1.8 billion has been chopped from Government department spending and programmes to help pay for higher priorities in the upcoming budget.

The Government had already chopped $2 billion from existing programmes and spending in the 2009 budget.

Mr English said the spending was axed because it was “low quality” and the money was being redirected into higher priority initiatives.

* The above conversation between Tracy Watkins and myself only happened in my thoughts.

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March 10, 2010
Why Labour won’t win the next New Zealand election.

It was suggested to me that Labour would win the next election because National are making unpopular policy decisions both with their core constituents (for example, keeping the so-called “Anti-smacking” law in place), but also for many average people (for example, raising GST and in doing so likely changing the tax mix, as it has been intimated that the change will be revenue neutral, which implies income taxes will be lowered). Despite this, I believe they will win, and it is here that I set out to explain why. I will begin with consideration as to why there has only been one single-term government in New Zealand over the past 35 years and suggest a major underlying reason for this, that the voting populace is cautious. I will then look to the major historical expression of this caution, voting the Labour Government into power for two terms in the mid-to-late 80s. Furthermore, I will briefly consider the parallels between the current situation in governance and that of the Labour Government in the mid-to-late 80s. I will then look at the idea that opinion has already swung against National because of their current and mooted changes (considered by some or even many to be missteps). I will follow this up with a discussion as to why there will not necessarily be a swing to Labour at the next election, but a swing to a party such as ACT. I will then consider the Labour leadership and how they are running their opposition to National.

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February 12, 2010
New Zealand’s Drug Laws

But the report’s suggestions have been ruled out by Justice Minister Simon Power.

"There’s not a single, solitary chance that as long as I’m the Minister of Justice we’ll be relaxing drug laws in New Zealand.

Though he was “interested” in submissions on regulations limiting the supply of new drugs - including party pills - he had “no intention of changing the current rules”.

"I’m happy to hear what the submissions have to say but I have advised the Law Commission that I have other things on my work agenda."

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10625687

Given the statistics which say a relatively large proportion of the New Zealand population have already tried marijuana (http://www.parliament.nz/CmsSystem/Templates/Documents/DetailedListing.aspx?NRNODEGUID={49FF0F99-E1F9-4392-A942-E3363661A88C}&p=6 Do a ctrl+f and enter “cannabis”), it suggests that its use is relatively socially acceptable already. Furthermore, given this large proportion, it also gives the suggestion that prohibition has failed.

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February 10, 2010
John Key’s Speech:

Links:
John Key’s Speech: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1002/S00092.htm

The Government starts 2010 with a very full programme of reform in front of it.

Our eyes will be firmly on the economy this year as we continue to implement our economic plan.

Only by lifting our country’s economic performance can we deliver New Zealanders the jobs, increased incomes and better living standards they aspire to and deserve.

Last year saw the worst global economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression. Almost all the world’s developed countries went into recession and a number are now facing fiscal crises.

The good news is that New Zealand has weathered the worst of the global crisis, and New Zealanders can be pleased at how well this country has come through it.

The economy has performed better than almost anyone expected a year ago and is now starting to grow again.

That has been due to a combination of factors including the resilience of New Zealand businesses, the relatively strong performance of trading partners like China and Australia, the swift monetary policy response of the Reserve Bank, and the sound economic management of the Government.

While unemployment is higher than any of us would wish it to be, it is encouraging that the loss of existing employment almost completely halted in the last quarter. But every person out of work is one too many. That is why the Government’s focus remains on the economy and on jobs.

Last year we introduced a number of measures to help stem job losses, in particular by maintaining a sizeable fiscal stimulus, cutting tax and bringing forward public infrastructure spending.

However, in the longer term, sustainable jobs will only be created when people have the confidence to invest in productive businesses, which can then expand and take on new employees.

It is encouraging to see that businesses are reporting a marked increase in confidence, and are positive about hiring new staff over the coming year.

New Zealand actually has the opportunity to come out of the recent downturn in a better position than many other countries and be well placed to attract investment, build productive firms and create jobs.

We have a lot of things going for us as a country. We are rich in natural resources, we are one of the best food producers in the world, we have a beautiful landscape, and we are home to some of the smartest and hardest-working people in the world.

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February 10, 2010
Phil Goff and petty jibes (just what NZ needs: more political cheap shots)

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10625250

Mr Key had done Mr Goff the favour not only of raising the possibility of a GST increase - political manna for an Opposition in need of target practice - but also of raising the “underclass” again.

It was the “underclass” word which in 2007 led him to the “dead-end street” of McGehan Close in Owairaka where he met Aroha - the young girl he then took to Waitangi with the nation’s media watching over his good deed.

Unfortunately for Mr Key, the Herald on Sunday had just last week gone back to McGehan Close to see Aroha’s mother, Joan Nathan, who had delivered a right royal ear-clipping to John Key.

How Mr Goff relished that yesterday. “What do they say in McGehan Close now?” he asked and then answered himself: “Joan Nathan says she has been let down by the Prime Minister and her daughter Aroha now wants nothing to do with him. She says she and her family are worse off since National won the election. She says she’s pretty “anti-John Key at the moment.”

So what Goff’s extrapolating here is that because one or two poorer people have failed to benefit under the relatively recent National Government’s regime, this has happened with lots of people. This is a logical fallacy. Firstly, extrapolating from so few individuals to imply a conclusion about the mass is poor reasoning. Secondly, with most regime changes come policy changes. These policy changes will have different impacts upon different people. Some will benefit and some will not. Just because some have not does not mean the policy changes were not worthwhile. They may have caused more benfits to the populace than costs. Thirdly, the current economic situation has not even been mentioned. Even if the populace is suffering more under this relatively recent National Government, it may not be wholly attributable to the National Government’s policies. They came to power in worldwide economic crisis. Is it surprising that people are suffering? The National Government should be attempting to minimse harm and strengthen the long-term viability of New Zealand and its economy.

Better points for Goff to go on here would be considering whether the National Government have done that and, even if they have, what could be done better, and how to do it. He may have done that (I will attempt to find a transcript of what Goff said), but thanks anyway, Phil Goff, for attempting to score cheap political points like a juvenile child and helping us keep in mind why so many people are disillusioned and look upon politicians as people who are self-serving and lacking substance behind the rhetoric as to what is best for the country.

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