Red Alert

Archive for August, 2011

Asset Sales- “Political Ploy”

Posted by on August 31st, 2011

Interesting developments in the National Party’s attempt to dress up their asset sales policies. Bill English must be concerned, when even Don Brash can see through today’s announcement about a cap on private shareholdings and call it a “political ploy”.

National is obviously worried about the public reaction to the sales. There is a real sense of desperation to appear as if something can be done to the policy to magically see assets stay in New Zealand hands, The truth is that today’s announcement does nothing to actually stop assets ending up outside of New Zealand control, raises the prospect that the price of shares will be beyond so-called Mum and Dad investors and really just puts five companies in a strong position when the inevitable further sell downs take place.

There is one way to ensure that New Zealanders stay at the front of the queue of ownership of state assets that earned us all $900 million last year. Keep them in public ownership as they are now, so we all are at the front of the queue.


Musical expert singing NZ First tune

Posted by on August 31st, 2011
Jerry Ho with New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters

Jerry Ho with New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters

It appears that New Zealand First will stand Chinese-born Jerry Ho as a candidate in the 2011 General Election.

According to Chinese-language website Skykiwi, 30-year-old Jerry Ho was attracted to New Zealand First’s policies when he was engaged to build the parties website through his own IT company.

Mr Ho has been living in New Zealand for 12 years and prior to moving to New Zealand studied at a highly regarded Chinese Musical school.

He said he was impressed by New Zealand First’s policies which are now more inclusive than the past with a slogan of “sensible immigration”.

New Zealand First is promoting New Zealanders first which is good for the country

Great! The best way to put New Zealand and New Zealanders first is to stop asset sales, to have a fair tax plan, GST off fruit and vegetables, $5000 tax free zone and $15 minimum wage. The polling across the board shows kiwis like these policies.

This flies in the face of Dr Don Brash who has recently been in Chinese media misleading voters by suggesting that the Labour Party was the only Party to form a coalition with NZF. The logic he was suggesting to readers was that New Zealand First is Anti-Asian and a vote for Labour was a vote for an Anti-Asian Labour/NZF coalition. Coincidentally, ACT lost all its Chinese candidates in this year’s election.

However that logic can easily be defeated by the sheer fact that it was National in 1996 who initially pledged not to form a Government with New Zealand First but went onto form a Government with them anyway.

What Mr Ho has to offer and what kind of policy New Zealand First is going to launch will remain to be seen.

I look forward to National announcing its Chinese candidacy in the near future.


Renewable energy – we can do better

Posted by on August 31st, 2011

Yesterday the National government released their much anticipated Energy Strategy. The first draft that was released for consultation was pretty poor, and the final version is even worse.

While they claim they are still committed to the goal of having 90 percent of our electricity generated from renewable sources, most of their actual plan heads in the other direction.

We have an abundance of renewable energy sources in New Zealand. We could be world leaders in renewable energy. Instead the National government want to focus on extracting more fossil fuels like gas and oil.

It’s a short-sighted approach that does nothing to insulate us from the inevitable price increases that are on the way, not to mention the damage it will do to our environment.

National trumpets the fact that the amount of electricity we’ve generated in the last few years from renewable sources has increased, never mind the fact that it’s rained quite a bit. What happens when we get another dry year? We need more wind, more solar, more local generation, and more of a focus on energy efficiency.

It’s great that the National government have at least said they agree with the 90% renewable target put in place under the last Labour government, but we need to do a lot better if we’re going to meet it.


We’ve come a long way. Digital copyright for the 21st century

Posted by on August 31st, 2011

Tomorrow is the start date for the controversial new copyright law which provides owners of copyrighted works such as movies, TV shows and music a quicker and easier way to penalise people infringing their copyright via online file sharing

Labour voted for that law. Because at the time we thought it was the best thing to do. We’ve learnt from the experiences and we have moved on.

Today Labour announces copyright policy which significantly shifts our position.

If elected, we will introduce a Bill within 90 days to remove the termination clauses from the Copyright Act. Those clauses, which give the District Court the ability to impose account suspension as a remedy for infringing file sharing – can’t work in the long term.

Right now they are inactive in the law and can only become active if the Minister decides to make them so. We negotiated this compromise position with the government. And this was our reason for supporting the Bill. The Bill was better for this compromise. Without it people would be risking account suspension from tomorrow. But we are totally committed to repealing this aspect of the legislation if we win election.

Labour will also undertake a review of the Copyright Act, with the aim of introducing a new Copyright Bill within 18 months that updates and extends the framework for digital copyright in New Zealand.

The first phase of the review will be to commission an independent analysis of the problems with the status quo from an eminent expert, such as the review Professor Hargreaves has recently conducted for the UK Prime Minister, and then consultation on a draft Bill before it is introduced.

New Zealand’s Copyright Act has been half-heartedly adapted for the Internet age.  Instead of more piece-meal reforms, we need to transform our digital intellectual property framework, to bring it into the 21st century and to promote innovation and growth in our economy

Labour’s approach to copyright will promote our creative industries and put citizens interests at the centre of the policy debate.

We will have more to say about this in the launch of our ICT and innovation policies.

This is a debate is about shifting power, access to information, outdated business models and the immense potential of the Internet to change our world. Most politicians in our parliament don’t get that. Some are starting to.  Nobody really knows what to do about it yet. But Labour is committed to having a go. The legality of the Irish three strikes system is currently being investigated after 300  users were wrongfully being sent a “first strike” letter (due to a ‘software failure’) accusing them of sharing music.

The last Labour Government tried to address the growing problem of Internet piracy by requiring Internet service providers to police illegal downloading and to have a policy for terminating the accounts of repeat offenders.

We acknowledge the commitment of that Labour Government to ensuring that the work of New Zealand artists was valued, allowing them to maintain control over their own works. This is a fundamental principle.

But the digital environment has changed our world.  The old business model – where big companies had control over the distribution of creative works – doesn’t apply anymore.  Governments have to recognise that their citizens are hungry for information and creative material via the Internet.

We’ve learned from our experience in originally passing Section 92A. Labour no longer believes that termination is appropriate as a remedy for infringing filesharing. Many parliaments around the world are grappling with these issues right now and none have got it right yet.  The solutions are bigger than a re-write of one section of the current Copyright Act.

What we are seeing is a digital revolution and it is our responsibility to ensure there is a balanced environment for creators and consumers in our country.  New Zealand’s legal and regulatory framework needs to enable creative expression and the industries that rely on it, not just penalise people for accessing information.

We believe in this country becoming a nation of makers. We must invest in our own economy. Invest in content. Invest in innovation and decide how we want to look in 5 or 10 years time.

Labour will properly address the issues of copyright in the digital age – and we’ll involve New Zealanders in that discussion.


There is more to health than a league table

Posted by on August 29th, 2011

The conventional wisdom is that Tony Ryall is making a good fist of the Health portfolio. Now that I am up close in the area I can say that he keeps a tight rein on matters health, and is managing the portfolio effectively. But there is a big difference between managing the politics of health and actually doing what is right for the long term health outcomes of New Zealanders.

The best evidence of that is the release today of the Child Health Monitor Report. It shows, among other things, that in the last two years there have been an additional 5 000 avoidable hospital admissions for things like respiratory illness and skin infections. The authors of the report note that the cost of going to the doctor, especially after hours is a factor in whether children are getting the healthcare they need, along with a range factors associated with child poverty.

I am not saying all of this is down to the Health policy of the current government. But the focus on the narrow range of health targets set by the Minister means that child health is not the priority it should be. The Minister has narrowed the health targets in such a way as to scratch the itches of waiting lists and time spent in ED, but it is at the expense of early intervention and public health programmes. District Health Boards have responded by pursuing the Minister’s targets, spending on public health has been slashed ($124 million in the last Budget) and funding for primary care has failed to keep up with inflation.

Just managing the Health portfolio is not enough. I actually think it is irresponsible to avoid the long term investments that will lead to long term health benefits in favour of things that are designed to fit on a coloured chart and make the Minister look good.

Labour, through Annette King, has already outlined our Agenda for Children that will put children’s well being at the centre of our social policy. More details will be announced in the election, but from a health policy point of view public health and affordable and accessible primary care must be a priority.


John Key’s Asset Sales Hoover Game

Posted by on August 29th, 2011

Have a look at  John Key’s Asset Sales Hoover Game.

Then share it.  Thanks Ben Clark.


Shearer v not much

Posted by on August 29th, 2011

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES: IT IS THE SCIENCE & INNOVATION SPECIAL.

“We’re a country of innovators. We’re known for and are proud of our No. 8 Wire mentality. It may get things done, but is it holding us back? Back Benches is answering your questions in this Science & Innovation Special on August 31st. Why is it important for us to move beyond the No. 8 wire? How do we transform the backyard inventor into a world class successful businessman?

How do we compete against countries like China and India where Sciences and Maths are a priority? What can teachers do to fight against the idea these subjects are boring? How do we make, as one Kiwi Scientist suggests, Science sexy?

How can innovations change our biggest industry—Agriculture? Improve Agriculture for the better—better for the environment, better for farmers, better for the bottom line, and most importantly better for our wallets? How do we become world-leaders?

National says their investing our dollars in Science & Innovation while Labour says it’s not enough. Is it about spending more money or spending it more efficiently? Or is it really about making a huge cultural shift? We’ll find out as only Back Benches can with our MPs, experts, and you the audience.”

LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 31st of August. The Panel: ACT MP Heather Roy, Green Party MP David Clendon, Labour MP David Shearer and National MP Dr. Paul Hutchison.


Tweet of the Week

Posted by on August 28th, 2011

Tweet of the Week: ACT announced it’s list today with a reality TV-esque PR stunt “mystery candidate at number 3″…

Screen shot 2011-08-28 at 9.10.02 PM

The very funny Brash parody floated numerous ‘Number three’ potentials…

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The Egonomist reminds us that perhaps the hype around the mystery candidate was meant to distract us from ACT PR vs ACT reality…

Screen shot 2011-08-28 at 8.38.01 PM

Press Gallery Tweet of the Week: Only because I was driving to Whakatane when this was on and unwittingly found myself singing along to ‘Joyride’…

Screen shot 2011-08-28 at 7.44.59 PM

I am a happy convert to Apple products (other products are available) so was sad to see Steve Jobs having to stand down from CEO duties. There were many Tweets like this but I thought it summed it up nicely:

Screen shot 2011-08-28 at 8.36.21 PM

This weekend Canadian Leader of the Opposition and NDP leader Jack Layton is being farewelled in Toronto. An amazing man who was taken far too soon.

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Another Key con: or pretending to do something when you really aren’t

Posted by on August 28th, 2011

Lesley Soper is the Labour candidate for Invercargill

Read with fascination the Southland Times Report (Aug 15, p.2) on John Key’s  great National Party Conference announcement of the start of welfare system overhaul.   16 & 17 year-olds first it seems.      They won’t complain too much, and rednecks will think they deserve a bit of ‘nanny state’ overseeing.    Food Stamps don’t equal opportunity or jobs BUT IT WILL LOOK AS IF WE ARE DOING SOMETHING, WHICH WILL HELP DISGUISE OUR UTTER FAILURE TO DO ANYTHING TO DEAL WITH THE WORSE NZ YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION.

Food Stamps can also be the thin edge of the wedge, & extended to others when we ‘have a Mandate’.

Under this new Policy schools will have to tell authorities when 16 and 17 year-olds leave during the year, and the young people  will be attached to a “responsible adult”.

Quotes from the PM included :  “the first problem that has to be addressed is finding out who the disengaged young people are … we simply don’t know, because we lose track of them when they leave school. … that has to change … and for the first time we will be able to find out who they are, what their circumstances are, what problems they had …”.

But Wait!   The photographic memory clicks in from my years as an MP.   This has to be nonsense.    Didn’t I make more than one visit to a great Youth Transition Service ‘Work’n it Out’ which operates a Call Centre and extended services from Invercargill  [readers will know from my earlier blog on proposed IRD cuts in Invercargill that we run excellent ‘virtual’ operations down here];  and operates under an MSD Contract?     Yes, I did, and it still exists.     Been operating for more than 5 years.     Reports performance and outcomes to MSD every month.   You can look it up online at www.wio.co.nz.   The Social Development Minister & PM could read the reports.   They probably have, but perhaps have ‘forgotten’.

What does this service do?   [and what has it been doing for more than 5 years?]   Well, strangely enough it has been working with 50 Secondary Schools from Timaru South to track every school-leaver at any point through the year, from  ages 16-20.  There are also some self or family referrals, and referrals from other govt departments, but by & large this is a major project to track and assist school-leavers with the rest of their lives.   And it has been working incredibly well!

We are not talking small numbers here.   This is thousands of young people added to the database every year.    They are systematically contacted by the callcentre; they are asked about their plans for further education, training or employment.   They are offered support and assistance, often on a one-to-one customised support basis.  They are tracked from that first call or contact on a regular basis till age 20.     Few of them are non-contactable; very few reject the contact.

Report Data is comprehensive.    We know who these young people are; where they have come from; where they have gone or are going; which industries they are working in; how many are in which other forms of education and training courses; how many return to school; how many head into apprenticeships, full-or-part-time work.

So if this is all already happening, on a large scale, covering quarter of the country geographically [& there are other Youth Transition Services too], and in areas where there are National MP’s [including English, Roy &  Dean], and data exists;  why the announcement of a  ‘First Ever New Policy’;  ‘Never Before Tried’ ; ‘Revolutionary First’ as a  ‘Key Plank’ of the National Party Conference?

Could it be that some Political Spin was required to distract from the failure of the National Government to actually address Youth Unemployment and to create jobs?   Could it be a ‘Key Con’ to pretend to be doing something to distract from actual cuts National has made to apprenticeships and skills training?   Could it be a ‘Big Vision’ like ‘The Cycleway’ or the Budget ‘promise’ of 170,000 jobs  -  with absolutely no substance?    Could it be sheer ignorance of what is already in place?    Or could it be that no-one in Auckland pays any attention to successful initiatives in  Invercargill unless they involve Shadbolt or snow?     Take your pick.

Another ‘Key Con’ when what is really needed is a real economic plan that means young people get real jobs.   Remember the statistic  -  when National came in there were roughly 200 under 24 year-olds who had been on UEB for more than a year.   The number now?


State Assets- Bargains Flying out the Door

Posted by on August 28th, 2011

A window to the future if a National led- government is elected….


National Putting Kiwis out of Work

Posted by on August 27th, 2011

When MAF made the announcement of the loss of 241 positions, that will end up putting 144 people out of work, it was a continuation of this government’s policy of putting more than 1500 people out of work in the public service. In my media release I made the point that those put out of work are real people with families and themselves to look out for.

That hit home to me yesterday when the daughter of one of the women who found out she was losing her job visited me in my electorate office yesterday. She was upset. Her mother is in her early 60s, and faces the prospect of trying to find work in an environment where jobs are few and far between especially for someone of her age. She has written a letter to John Key. She asked me if I thought he would actually get to read it. I said I didn’t know, but I want to make sure people get to know the real impact of losing jobs. Here are some extracts from the letter.

My mother who raised her children on her own and started work part time when my younger brother started school has worked her guts out for her family and paid tax to a government that has basically shitted on her.

She also lives on her own in a small privately rented one bedroom flat. Now faced with unemployment and the prospect of having to move out of the flat that she will no longer be able to afford and go on the unemployment benefit and move into a state flat.

The reality is employers are not looking for workers of her age the the prospect of her getting a decent paying job is very slim. This has terrified her and she is in turmoil and worry about her future something that a woman of her age does not need in her life. My mother is a loving and vibrant woman who now seems depressed and anxious.

I know from talking with other people facing the same issues that she is not alone. People in this country continue to struggle to buy food and clothe their children or themselves.

Cutting the public service is not the answer. People’s livelihoods depend on their jobs and the retail sector depends on people spending their money. This government should be creating jobs which I do not see them doing. When cutting budgets and jobs is the only method a government has to reduce debt that government will not survive in an election.

She goes on in the letter to talk about some of her personal circumstances which I won’t put in the public arena. But the reason she wrote was not for herself, but for her mother. Its a real story about the real impact of unemployment, and I think it deserves to be heard.


Benefit Card- Priceless

Posted by on August 27th, 2011

Short, to the point, worth a watch. “Some governments actually set out to reduce unemployment, for everything else, there’s Benefit Card”.


Aid to Libya – what about the Horn of Africa?

Posted by on August 26th, 2011

A few days ago, John Key announced that NZ would be giving “millions” to the National Transitional Council representing the rebels in Libya, ahead of UN recognition of the NTC and any request from them for such aid.

What the hell is this about? Libya is an oil-rich country. The UN is right now moving to lift the freeze on Libyan assets to the tune of $US1.5 billion, so why does the NTC need money from NZ? Who is pulling Key’s strings here? And did he tell his Foreign Affairs Minister? Where is the money coming from? Are we going to cut even more of the aid programmes in the Pacific to divert money to a country which doesn’t need it? These questions need answering.

Don’t get me wrong – I think we should assist Libya as it moves towards democracy, even if it is not as we know it. They will need assistance by way of training people in the maintenance of the rule of law, the establishment of accountable public structures which are transparent to the people, governance matters, etc. That’s where we can help.

And while John Key is distributing unnecessary largesse to an organisation which has yet to get full international recognition, Murray McCully has been dragging his heels in disbursing aid promised 6 weeks ago to the relief effort in the Horn of Africa. Children are dying by the thousands from the worst drought in 20 years and a call on our aid budget in this respect is legitimate and compelled by any humanitarian impulse.

But McCully has dicked about with disbursing this money – only just an hour or two ago, putting out a release that says he has made the decision on which NGOs will get the $1million promised 6 weeks ago. Provoked by bad press. How principled. What about the $1million promised to the World Food Programme? When did that get paid, if it has been?

Not good enough, Murray.


iPredict getting interesting

Posted by on August 26th, 2011

Key Points:

* For the first time, Labour’s Shane Jones forecast to beat the Maori Party’s Pita Sharples in Tamaki-Makaurau

* Fonterra’s final 2010/11 payout forecast to be $8.14/kgMS

* Maori and Mana Parties forecast to have two MPs each

* Ten Green MPs now expected

* Economic indicators remain steady

(more…)

Filed under: ipredict

Pickets for the Prime Minister in Botany

Posted by on August 26th, 2011
Chao-Fu with Chairman of Asian Anti-Crime Group Peter Low

Chao-Fu with Chairman of Asian Anti-Crime Group Peter Low

As Prime Minister John Key enjoyed the hospitality at the Pakuranga Country Club yesterday, Labour Candidate for Botany Chao-Fu Wu joined hordes of locals who displayed their strong opposition to Thurston Place College through a picket demonstration.

The community is outraged that proper consultation has not taken place and that plans to build Thurston Place College continued despite the strong community opposition to the development.

Chao-Fu Wu proved to be a people’s candidate yesterday. He was on the front-lines representing the community and joining with them as they tried their best to make John Key understand their concerns.

The community have spoken loud and clear that they believe in a fair and transparent consultation process, yet this isn’t happening. Education Minister Anne Tolley has failed to give an assurance that consultation will be carried out independent to the Ministry of Education.

Chao Fu-Wu told me that while joining locals in the picket line, they told him that their basic democratic rights as citizens have been ignored:

When you put up a fence, you consult your neighbours; that’s basic common-sense and respect. The local resident’s deserve that same respect and have their concerns recognised.

The picket display on Thursday night was a good demonstration of the overwhelming opposition and concern from local residents. The government should not ignore these strong messages from the community.


Where’s your socialist streak?

Posted by on August 26th, 2011

I bet you didn’t know that New Zealanders are really just a bunch of socialists.

John Key said we are, so it must be true.

According to Wikileaks cables in the media today John Key met with visiting charge d’affaire Glyn Davies in 2008 and told him National could not adopt conservative policies because a “socialist streak” runs through all New Zealanders.

Next time Alan Peachy rails against Labour as “those socialists” in one of his raving speeches in the house (which always reduce me to fits of laughter), I will enjoy reminding he has a socialist streak too.

More on wikileaks in the media here.

Filed under: media, politics

NZ Herald on the lack of depth in Cabinet

Posted by on August 25th, 2011

The Herald editorial today comments on two recent Ministerial stuff-ups and raises concerns about the calibre of the Cabinet beyond the front bench.

They give as examples the decisions on the social welfare scheme to supervise young unemployed and control their spending and to increase the inspectors in coal mines.

“The reason for concern is that not long before the announcements, the ministers in charge of each portfolio had been following a different line.

Social Welfare Minister Paula Bennett had told a correspondent who suggested closer benefit supervision that “such oversight by the Crown would be highly intrusive and rob individuals of their freedom of choice”.

And Ms Wilkinson had rejected repeated calls for more mines inspectors, saying she would wait for the conclusions of the Pike River inquiry.

Yes, that’s right. Saw that unfold in the House.

The position of the portfolio holders sounded like advice of officials. It was standard procedure to wait for the Pike River inquiry, to be wary of intrusive welfare reforms ……………. But politicians are elected to bring common sense to an issue when institutional advice is unduly cautious.

Ms Bennett is now so unnerved that she declines to say whether she can rule out an extension of the new, “intrusive” youth unemployment reforms to all beneficiaries. Clearly she is wary lest Mr Key and the others decide to expand the idea. Clearly she is not in that loop.

The editorial suggests that the government is relying too much on John Key and his popularity and only a handful of Ministers, Power, Joyce and Ryall are really up to the job.

Mr Key’s popularity is of course its greatest asset but it is becoming hard to see anyone behind him. His political instincts are well honed to neutralise controversy and pick issues he can win. Perhaps he does not trust many in his ministry to tread as carefully.

Filed under: Ministers

Libyan excitement

Posted by on August 25th, 2011

Last night a friend called who had just left Tripoli. She talked about the excitement on the streets and impending change – most people in Libya have never known any other leader other than Gaddafi. She spoke of real apprehension about the future and what might happen.

The next few weeks are especially critical. Few countries that have been under a dictator for so long escape reprisals. Those who benefited from the regime and their families are sought out, members of Gaddafi’s tribe – which is a largely downplayed aspect of Libya are likely to be targets.

But the big factor that I hope has been learned from Iraq is that there is no need to dismantle the army, the bureaucracy, even remove the heads of corporations. Selective removal of Gaddafi officials will be insisted on, but hopefully the key health and education services and importantly the finance and oil infrastructure will continue.

It’s delicate. Outside help should be that – helpful – not intrusive or dominating as big Western states can easily be. But Libya is not poor and if the next few months can be handled carefully, Libya may be better poised to move on more quickly than those other Arab states experiencing spring.


The importance of being Labour #3

Posted by on August 24th, 2011

One of the things I’ve learnt about politics is that it’s a rollercoaster.

Another is that it’s important to acknowledge mistakes. I made one this week. For that I apologise. It was never my intention to argue entitlement to a share of the votes.

I have to earn votes. Whether it be personally or for the Party. And I’ll be judged, along with everyone else standing on November 26.

Labour has a proud history. The essence of being Labour is at the core of my being and I will always be Labour. It’s much bigger and more important than me.

I don’t want to relitigate the issue here. Though it’s important to keep the conversation going.

I am and remain committed to open-ness and transparency in communication with you all. Even if it’s painful.

I am a fighter. I care about the people I represent and the reasons for representing them. I want our country to be strong and proud. And I’ll fight for the policies and for a government that will benefit all of us.

And I don’t always get it right.


Rangiora- A Community Standing Up

Posted by on August 24th, 2011

On Monday I was in Rangiora for a public meeting organised by local MP Clayton Cosgrove, calling for the reinstatement of the after hours GP services that were cut last year. It was a great turnout, 250 to 300 people. They are understandably angry. This was a service they have had for more than 20 years. The population is growing, and it is also ageing. The 40 minute ride to the nearest after-hours in Christchurch is expensive if the one ambulance is not available and you can’t drive yourself. On Monday we heard the story of young mother who had to take her toddler who had burns to Christchurch. The total cost of taxi and being seen came to $300. By the end of the week she did not have enough money for food for the week and had to rely on the support of other agencies.

I have great admiration for the people who are behind this campaign. With Clayton’s support, a local woman named Paula Thackwell set about getting signatures for a petition to get the services back. She managed to get 8,246 signatures. That amounts to about 70% of the population of Rangiora, a truly phenomenal effort. The submission found its way to the Health Select Committee, which eventually reported on it in July.

I was on that committee, and I can tell you that the attitude of the government members was that there was no issue here. We got a report from the Canterbury District Health Board, and they said there was no issue. The majority of the select committee rejected the petition. Labour put in a minority report backing the petitioners. We asked questions in Parliament, Tony Ryall said it was not his problem either.

At that point Paula could have given up, the government was not listening. But she did not. Along with Clayton, she kept the pressure up. Eventually the government reacted, and the District Health Board have proposed a “solution”. It involves a six month trial of paramedic and nurse triage phone service. That is a step forward, and a complete change of heart from the DHB. But the community is not satisfied. The view at the meeting yesterday was that there needs to be a solution that still gives the people of the Rangiora area the confidence that there is a doctor available in their community when they need one. The meeting passed a motion to keep up the fight for the reinstatement of the services.

There is of course a bigger question here, which I have put to Tony Ryall which is what responsibility does he take for people across New Zealand having access to after hours services. Last week they were cut in Temuka and Geraldine. There are stories from elsewhere as well. The government needs to be up front with New Zealanders as to whether they will ensure that the services are there. But in the meantime, hats off to the prople of Rangiora for keeping up the fight. We are right there with them.