Sunday, June 17, 2012

Nz has a government that has no idea how to manage our education system.

Yet again the Government is showing a complete lack of understanding of education in NZ. I do not know who is advising them, but hopefully it is not the officials in the Education Department. If it is, then God help us. I am assuming that they at least know what they are talking about----or------Mmmm.
The latest news that John Key is thinking of releasing the so-called ‘League figures’ around the performance of different schools re Numeracy and Literacy is just another example of a Government bereft of ideas about how to deliver a sound education system. His will I, won’t I stance is just a diversion.
It feels like we have a Government hell bound on detracting from the work of our teachers. Visiting a school for photo opportunities does not constitute an understanding of what is really needed in NZ for our kids. He and his Minister Parata need to ask teachers and principals at grass root level. I wonder where he garners his information before making yet another stupid ill-informed statement. I can’t wait to hear his ‘well-informed’ announcement on the issue of ‘White Flight.’

We must stop the abuse of Indonesian fishing crews.

It has been known that for some time, Indonesian (and probably others) crew members have been badly treated whilst working in NZ waters for foreign owned fishing boats. These boats are contracted to fish for NZ companies so we have a responsibility on two counts; firstly they should be operating under NZ laws and they must meet NZ standards.
Some the information about what has been happening came to light when Indonesian workers jumped ship, bringing to light the terrible conditions under which they had been forced to work.
Many of these men were recruited from poor areas in Java. That is not an excuse to exploit these men. They may have been desperate for work, but what they found once they were contracted was far beneath their expectations. It is alleged and recently proven that the men often went unpaid and suffered abuse from the Korean officers; both physical and sexual.
NZ authorities have known about these allegations for at least a decade and it is only now that our officials (supported by NZ unions) have taken the complaints seriously and acted on them. That it has taken so long is shameful for NZ.
If the men receive compensation and the perpetrators of the abuse are brought to account, then that is good. If that leads to paying the Indonesian workers a fair wage and treating them with respect, then too bad if we have to pay more for our fish. We cannot speak in world forums about other transgressions, if we let these acts happen on our watch. It is good that NZ is supporting the men in their efforts to get a fair deal. Isn’t that what we take so much pride in as a nation?

Winston's road show---again.

In New Zealand we have all become quite used to Winston Peter’s road show. He is a master at gaining enough votes to get his party over the 5% threshold needed in NZ’s electoral system in order to win seats in our parliament. It is doubtful that he is capable of winning a seat in his own right and his parliamentary cohorts just don’t have pulling power to achieve a win in an electorate.
For years Winston has shown that he has this knack to pull an issue out of the hat and cross the magic threshold. He has been accused of racism many times and once again, he has raised that spectre, this time claiming that many Chinese elderly people have come to NZ and not for ten years and then become eligible for the Superannuation payment.
Winston touches on a raw nerve by making this claim. I don’t know if he is correct, given that he puts up a ‘senior Chinese,’ un-named of course as the source of his figures. He says that as many as 22,000 are in this position. That doesn’t sound like a huge figure, but in the context of NZ’s 4.4 million population, it could be seen as significant.  
His claims sound a bit jaded. You get the feeling that he is reaching into the bottom of the barrel. He knows that there will always be a portion of NZ’s population that will be sympathetic to his utterances, thereby almost guaranteeing that his party will survive. That he didn’t win a few elections ago was an exception; probably because there were other issues that dominated at that election; namely the demise of the Helen Clark led Labour Government.
Winston is playing as dangerous card when he states that his party will not support Labour or anyone else if they raise the age of eligibility to Superannuation. He is playing a selfish card and an irresponsible one. Many NZers accept that we must gradually raise the age. There is room for flexibility around groups in our population who could be exempt from this but generally there is a growing understanding that action is needed and that political parties must come to the table for an across party lines discussion. We must not be left behind our Tran Tasman friends. They have bitten the bullet and the issue is now beyond the machinations of selfish, xenophobic politicians.
 When are we going to do the same?