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David Cunliffe’s speech to Conference 2013

Posted by on November 4th, 2013

A better, fairer, more inclusive society that works for all New Zealanders, not just a privileged few; that’s the Labour vision. I highly recommend you watch David Cunliffe’s speech to Conference 2014 as he sets out the steps to achieving that vision.

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Dodgy Taxi Cameras

Posted by on June 17th, 2013

The Herald on Sunday published this story about a model of security cameras used in taxis that is failing to provide usable images that can be passed onto Police after alleged incidents of violence and sexual attack.

Security cameras became mandatory in almost all taxis in 2011 when the Government made a rule change in response to the murder of Auckland driver Hirren Mohini.

The NZTA has attempted to wash its hands of any responsibility for the installation of dodgy cameras:

In a statement, NZTA spokesman Andy Knackstedt said the agency was aware of allegations of substandard or counterfeit equipment. “Issues of quality and authenticity are civil matters between the sellers and buyers of the equipment,” he said.

That’s not good enough. Only cameras that appear on the NZTA’s list of approved models can be installed in taxis. The Hikvision cameras at the centre of this scandal appear on that list. It was therefore reasonable for the three companies that have installed them to expect they met the standards required in Schedule 2 of the rule change.

Michael Woodhouse says he is looking into it and well he should. If the NZTA has failed make certain that these cameras meet basic functional requirements, the Government must take responsibility for the fact that vital evidence that should have been available to investigate serious and violent crimes could not be retrieved. Unless the cameras are counterfeits and not what they say they are, this is clearly a matter of Government responsibility.

I wonder if this is really the first a minister has heard of this issue.

 


Getting The Answers You Want

Posted by on April 21st, 2013

Given the Government’s enthusiasm for building Transmission Gully by Public Private Partnership (PPP), you’d be forgiven for believing that the NZTA has told Gerry Brownlee  it is clearly the best option for financing the project .

However, reading through cabinet committee papers and ministerial briefings, a very different picture emerges.

It turns out that Cabinet asked Gerry to explore the use of PPPs and he in turn asked NZTA to look at all the projects they currently have planned and decide which might be completed via PPP.

NZTA’s response was that Transmission Gully was the best candidate for a PPP.

Note that NZTA did not say a PPP is the best way to build Transmission Gully. Rather,  that if something had to be built by PPP, Transmission Gully would be the best candidate.

This is a classic case of only asking the questions that will get you the answer you want.

Asking “Which project is best suited to a PPP?” gets you a PPP whether or not the case for it stacks up.

Asking “What is the best way to build Transmission Gully?” would have got Transmission Gully built within a sensible timeframe and at a reasonable cost to the taxpayer.

So has the case been made that a PPP is the best way to build Transmission Gully?

No.

As noted in a Cabinet Committee paper prepared for Gerry Brownlee and Bill English, the cost of capital for the private sector is higher than it is for the crown and the actual value for money proposition will not be known until the proposals  have  been received.

In the event that neither of the shortlisted consortia can prove that building Transmission Gully by PPP is more cost effective than doing so by traditional procurement, the Government should pull the pin on the PPP.

But according to Gerry, Cabinet has already given the NZTA approval to finance and build the Transmission Gully highway using a PPP – and NZTA has indicated this will add an extra $2 billion to its costs over the next 30 years.

National is letting ideology and its desire to use taxpayers’ money to create low-risk, high-return investment opportunities for its banker buddies get in the way of making economically rational decisions.

The winners here are the corporate giants creaming profits off public infrastructure. The losers are Kiwi taxpayers and consumers.

Who is National really working for?


Choking Rural Roads

Posted by on April 14th, 2013

Marae Investigates ran an excellent piece today on rural roads in Northland. The report highlighted the fact that unsealed rural roads which carry large volumes of heavy vehicles are both economically inadequate and a significant health hazard as residential properties get showered in choking dust with every passing truck.

This problem is not unique to Northland. I recently met with the Mayor of Tararua District Council who pointed out that his council is responsible for many unsealed roads – roads that, like Northland, already carry significant volumes of agriculture-related heavy vehicles which will soon be joined by log trucks as forests mature.

A similar story can be repeated all over the country.

Several components of National’s approach to transport infrastructure work against any progress being made:

  1. Roads of National Significance trump everything else.
  2. The narrow economic analysis of transport projects National insists upon prioritises congestion relief over all other factors. Therefore unsealed rural roads on which high value goods are being transported get less attention than roads carrying large volumes of single-occupant cars.
  3. Financial Assistance Rates (FAR) – central government’s contribution to local roads – are under review. The review is intended to do one thing only: Reduce the amount central government spends on local roads (to free up more money for Roads of National Significance). Reduced support from central government means local councils either need to increase rates or delay / cancel roading projects.
  4. Changes to the Land Transport Management Act currently before Parliament remove the requirement for land transport programmes to protect and promote public health.

National – supposedly the party of provincial New Zealand – is running a transport programme that will never deal with these issues. In fact resources are being sucked out of the regions to pay for unaffordable, gold-plated monster motorways that simply are not economically, environmentally or socially sustainable.

Labour doesn’t take the regions for granted like National does. We will build a robust transport network using roads, rail and sea that includes building the local infrastructure needed in the regions.

We reject National’s limited analysis that will always deliver the same answer to any transport question: Build a bigger highway.

Roads have their part to play, but a sensible 21st century policy will see the Government investing in a much more diverse transport network. It will take a Labour-led Government to make that happen.


Final 5 Interpreters Make Desperate Plea

Posted by on January 16th, 2013

Last night several MPs received a letter from a group claiming to be the last five Afghan interpreters who worked with the NZDF and wish to leave Afghanistan but have not been offered any package by the Government.

If there are indeed only five more families that wish to be relocated the Government should act swiftly to grant them asylum. There is no logical justification for denying these former interpreters when all others have had a satisfactory outcome. Their situation is no different to the others.

Here’s what they had to say:

To: Honorable NZ Prime minister, Cabinet and Parliament Members
From: Five former NZDF Interpreters

Warm Greetings!

First of all, we would like to thank on our behalf the Government of the Right Honorable John Key, Prime Minister of New Zealand, for the resettlement offer to the interpreters (our brothers and countrymen). The decision will surely save many lives as all interpreters fear retribution from the Taliban.

Secondly, please kindly consider this letter as an application for the extension of the asylum offer to the five former NZDF interpreters who served the New Zealand Defense Force alongside the Kiwi soldiers in Bamyan Province for several years in the early days of their deployments in Afghanistan, as interpreters/translators and cultural advisers. During our assignments with NZDF soldiers, we accompanied them on numerous patrols all over the province and even outside of the province, as well as on countless meetings with key government officials, warlords/Taliban, Mullahs, village elders and other locals. As most of these meetings were held in public or in contentious areas of the province, it has exposed us as a person working for the coalition forces. We have also appeared in the Media as allies of NZDF. By the end of our time with NZDF, we were very well-known amongst the Taliban, warlords, locals and security forces for having a strong working background with NZPRT. This fame has already put our lives in danger and might end our and our families’ lives once the ISAF/NATO forces leave Afghanistan and the insurgents/ Taliban start re-gaining power.

It was our hope that peace would prevail in Afghanistan, but unfortunately security across the country has deteriorated. The insurgents are on the offensive across most parts of the country gaining control and eliminating those of us who had connections with coalition forces especially interpreters. We have become prisoners of our country and are unable to make a living freely out of fear of the murderous Taliban. As many of us went into hiding due to direct and indirect threats received from Taliban, insurgents, local warlords and corrupt government authorities threatening to kill either us or our family members. These threats were the reason for most of the NZPRT interpreters to quit their jobs or to flee to another country in order to find a safe shelter to save their lives. We, five former interpreters were/are unable to make our way to a safer place and have been seeking assistance from NZ government to resettle us and our families in New Zealand.

Based on the latest announcement from NZ Government, the initial resettlement offer (released on October 2012) was extended to six former NZDF interpreters, but only two out of six are currently living in Afghanistan and have accepted to resettle in New Zealand, the rest (four ex- interpreters) have already resettled in abroad.

Thus, we five former interpreters who are excluded from the resettlement package, humbly requesting NZ Government to consider our cases and include us in the current resettlement offer. We, five former interpreters have full records of our services with NZDF/PRT in Bamyan and have resigned our assignments prior to December 2010.

It is worth mentioning that we are thankful from Immigration Minister, Nathan Guy who stated that we can request the grant of residence under section 72 of the Immigration Act 2009, if we apply through United Nations our cases will be considered sympathetically. We would have applied through UNHCR if, it was even a bit possible for us. According to the UNHCR asylum policies one has to move to another country as a refugee to apply for the third country. If we do so, then our families will starve to death, as most of us are the sole worker at home.

As we all know, once the coalition forces leave, the security will further deteriorate.

As soon as the insurgents regain power or get strong enough would start hunting us down. We are sure they would not let us go just because we are former interpreters and no longer work with coalition forces. We will be dealt equally with current ones.

We are extremely proud of our achievements and affiliation with the New Zealand Defense Force. We hold the women and men of the NZDF in high regard for their bravery, hard work and dedication to the people of Afghanistan.

Your kind consideration for a safe and prosperous future in New Zealand is most timely for us, our families as we live in fear in Afghanistan for what the future holds. Therefore, we are humbly requesting the Government of New Zealand to extend the current asylum offer to us (the only five remained interpreters) as well, as we have been loyal and dedicated employees of NZPRT over the past years.

We are looking forward to hearing a positive response from Honorable New Zealand Government authorities in this regard.

Sincerely,
Former Interpreters of NZPRT

If there is any good reason these or any other interpreters are being denied, the Government should make that clear. If not, their continued discrimination is unjustified.

 


Health By Numbers

Posted by on December 19th, 2012

Both Vernon Small and Corin Dann anointed Tony Ryall their politician of the year. Both cited the same reason: When was the last time you heard of a health scandal?

I agree that Tony Ryall is the best politician on National’s front bench. But that doesn’t make him a good Health Minister. By forcing hospitals to focus on delivering short term statistics he can crow about in Parliament and micro-managing any emerging issue that will resonate with National’s base he has managed the politics of the health portfolio sublimely.

But by sucking resources out of public and primary health and refusing to do anything to prevent the looming obesity crisis or the fact that poverty is a primary driver of ill health, Tony Ryall is setting future health ministers up for massive problems. They will have to grapple with a health system that simply will not be able to cope with the demand that will be placed upon it. Very difficult choices will have to be made about how much we spend on health, how the revenue is raised and what the public health system can deliver. If we leave that all too late, drastic steps will need to be taken and the public health system as we know it will cease to exist.

Just like superannuation, National has their head in the sand on health. They are more worried about getting the numbers right for today’s political purposes rather than doing what is right for the future.

Tony Ryall has build a magnificent house of cards. It looks splendid right now, but the signs it could collapse at any time are there:

Maryan Street has already called Ryall out on his dodgy elective surgery numbers. Simple procedures get priority over more complex surgeries regardless of the outcome they achieve for the sole purpose of getting the numbers up.

At the Health Select Committee fincncial review of the Ministry of Health I pointed out that despite both Labour and National getting elective surgery waiting times down to now being on par with the USA and National diverting resources into getting more and more surgeries done, New Zealand ranks amongst the worst developed countries for post-operative complications such as infections and surgical items being left in the patient. So it’s all about quantity, not quality. Of course, those post-op complications are costly and soak up resources that could be used on better things.

Today there is an emerging story that the national screening programme which identifies hearing irregularities in newborns has been botched resulting in up to two-thousand babies being recalled to hospital to have their hearing re-checked. Why? Because some of the screeners only tested one ear and, bizarrely, some tested themselves rather than the baby. As Associate Health Minister Jo Goodhew had to concede on Radio NZ this morning the only logical explanation for this was to save time, get more tests done and produce the numbers the Government is looking for.

Good on the Government for dumping this story after Parliament has risen so this little health scandal can be squashed before the next question time and good on Ryall for sending Goodhew to face the music. Perhaps it was to make up for his sexist graphic about doctors and nurses (which again contained dodgy numbers).

Tony Ryall the best politician of 2012? Yes. But he’s a crap Health Minister and we will all be paying for it in the future.


Duckworth-Lewis Food Labelling

Posted by on December 9th, 2012

Buried inside a media release about innovative health food claims from Kate Wilkinson’s office late on Friday was the news that National has, predictably, let industry interests trump public health on the issue of front-of-pack food labelling.

With obesity and diabetes being the most pressing health challenges New Zealand (like other developed nations) is facing, helping people take better control of their own nutrition is absolutely vital.

Choice is important and there is no point in sanctimoniously dictating to people what they should and should not eat, but we can provide simple information and signals to help people make informed decisions.

The right thing to do is establish a universal and simple-to-read ‘traffic light’ type system that people can easily interpret whilst doing their shopping.

What was announced was not a new system but a report prepared by an advisory group  consisting of both industry and health representatives. (Oddly the Health Promotion Agency and its predecessor the Health Sponsorship Council are not represented. Perhaps Kate Wilkinson thought Katherine Rich could wear both her conflicting hats at the same time while she represented the  Food and Grocery Council).

Kate Wilkinson says the report identifies a set of principles that will provide a useful guide to food businesses that want to adopt front of pack labelling.

So it’s voluntary which means the manufacturers of those foods that people need to eat sparingly will avoid it like the plague.

It’s also complicated with foods to be compared within categories, not with all other foods and using a points system rather than the simple traffic light system. In a win for the PC brigade, negative labels will not be used, only varying degrees of positive labels.

Incredibly, it suggests that the really bad foods, the ones with no positive nutritional value should have no label at all.

By the the time I finished reading it I was surprised the group hadn’t recommended shoppers use the Duckworth-Lewis method to determine what foods they should buy.

Predictable but nevertheless disappointing.  Once again National shows it has no concept of public health and is happy to keep pouring money into the treatments it chooses and putting more strain on the health system in the future.

I think that the best system is this one developed by Sanitarium. It combines individual nutrient ratings with an overall rating while still retaining the simple traffic light approach. This is what we should be pursuing.


National’s Defence Cuts (2)

Posted by on July 8th, 2012

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National’s Defence Cuts (1)

Posted by on July 4th, 2012

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Capital Connection Petition

Posted by on June 27th, 2012

Save The Capital Connection BannerTomorrow I’m going to table the petition to Save the Capital Connection. We have gathered  just over 1900 signatures in three weeks. Let’s see if we can get at least to 2000 by tomorrow.

Sign the petition here.  Follow the campaign on Facebook here.


Nanny Phobia Costing Lives

Posted by on June 24th, 2012

National’s irrational fear of being tagged with the ‘Nanny State’ label they successfully over-hyped against Labour has just jumped the shark.

3 News reported tonight that optics man Steven Joyce pulled a last minute flip-flop on making life jackets compulsory on small boats.

Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges, sounding like he was on morphine, gave National’s reasoning as not wanting to over-regulate.

What the hell? We have tragedies like  this happening all the time because our laws are inadequate and wearing of life jackets is unenforceable.

Frankly, this is even worse than National’s refusal to change the drink-drive limit.

It’s an utterly irresponsible decision from a Government more worried about the ‘optics’ than human lives.


Who Reads Hekia’s Advice?

Posted by on June 7th, 2012

OK, I feel like I’m being slightly unfair on Hekia given what a rough day she has had and because the Minister who has been giving me nothing but b.s. in answers to written questions is Jonathon Coleman but this one just takes the cake:

Portfolio: Education
Minister: Hon Hekia Parata
Date Lodged:29/05/2012

Question: What written reports or correspondence, if any, has she received from the Ministry of Education regarding the moratorium on initial teacher education programmes since 26 November 2011?

Answer Text: This is an operational matter for the attention of the Chief Executive.

No, no, no it’s not. It is not the Chief Executive’s responsibility to read reports prepared for and sent to the Minister. That’s her job and it is perfectly reasonable for me to ask what advice she is getting.

Perhaps she got the Chief Executive to read the advice she was given on bigger class sizes rather than reading it herself. Could have saved a whole lot of bother…


Roads of National Significance Killing Rail

Posted by on May 18th, 2012

The Capital Connection, the commuter rail service between Palmerston North and Wellington will be cut by August unless a new funding package can be brought together.

The proposal is for Horizons Regional Council, Greater Wellington Regional Council and the NZTA to fund the Capital Connection as part of the Wellington Metro rail service.

This makes complete sense since the Capital Connection is the only commuter rail service in New Zealand that is currently expected to run on a totally commercial model. The funding proposal simply brings the Capital Connection into line with every other commuter train in the country.

The problem is that while the two regional councils have indicated support for the proposal, the NZTA is holding out. Why? Because a Road of National Significance is being built near by.

Suddenly, the only criteria the NZTA will consider is whether or not the rail line will relieve congestion. Ignore the environmental benefits, ignore the social benefits it’s all about congestion and of course spending billions on roads that don’t stack up economically is much better than encouraging people to use the train.

If yet another regional rail service is lost this year, it will have been killed off by National’s significant obsession with roads.


What Veterans Really Want

Posted by on March 16th, 2012

Veterans Affairs Minister Nathan Guy has something to announce: Veterans’ Pensions are incresing to cover inflation!! Stop the press.

What would really get veterans excited would be for National to follow through on their promise to implement the Law Commission’s recommendations and replace the War Pensions Act. For older veterans in particular, this is the number one priority.

But other than their election promise, National has been completely silent. They won’t say when they will introduce legislation, they won’t say how much they intend to spend and they won’t say what recommendations they will implement.

They’ve said nothing since the report was tabled in June last year 2010.

Veterans deserve better and breathlessly announcing what should be routine annual inflation adjustments doesn’t make up for dragging the chain on fixing the system.


Defence Force Personnel Lining Up To Leave

Posted by on March 8th, 2012

The Government’s mismanagement of the Defence portfolio has led to a mass exodus from New Zealand’s armed forces.

The fact that the Defence force is actively recruiting from the UK shows that our armed forces are losing skilled personnel as low moral and high attrition take their toll.

Money that should be used to put people on the front line is being wasted trying to replace the people lining up to leave the Defence force because the change process has been handled so poorly by the Government.

Unemployment is over 6%. It’s hard to get a job right now but things are so bad that people would rather take their chances on the job market than stay in the Defence Force. The civilianisation process has been poorly run and has had a devastating impact on morale.

Tens of thousands of new Zealanders are looking for work. We should be training and employing our own people, not spending money on bringing people in from overseas to take those jobs.

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Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

Posted by on March 5th, 2012

Tariana Turia has accused Fonterra of dumping milk into the Manawatu River.

I was concerned when I read her press release so I contacted Fonterra to see what was going on. The odd thing is, the idea of calling Fonterra hadn’t occurred to Tariana. Nor does it seem she had spoken to Horizons Regional Council. In fact, as best as I can tell, she hadn’t done a thing to substantiate her claims before she issued her press release.

This is totally irresponsible from a Government Minister.

No doubt it took Nick Smith by surprise. Tariana’s accusation is completely at odds with the positive announcement over the weekend of funding for the river clean up project and the Government’s intention to work closely with local government and industry.

As a representative of the Manawatu region, she should be trying to be positive about her region’s reputation.

If the claims are true, Fonterra absolutely should be held to account. But where are the facts and why on earth was her first action to issue a press release?


Why Ryall’s Health Targets Are Wrong

Posted by on February 3rd, 2012

Labour, along with many people working in healthcare, has been saying for a long time that National’s health targets are narrow and simplistic, short sighted and lack enough focus on the looming problems for the health sector.

Yesterday, the Health Ministry’s briefing to the incoming minsterwas published. The ministry identified the priorities it thinks the government should be focused on:

  • Preventing cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases which make up 80% of the disease burden of the total population.
  • Improving mental health outcomes.
  • Adressing the long term health conditions facing our ageing population including the increaseing incidence of dementia.

Compare that with National’s targets:

  • Faster transit through Emergency Departments
  • More elective surgery
  • Shorter waiting time for cancer treatment
  • More immunisations
  • Better help for smokers to quit
  • Better cardiovascular services

The two sets of prioities do cross over on getting smokers to quit and cardiovascular services although these are the weakest measures in the government’s set. National’s cancer target is for treatment, not prevention and beyond that, the ministry’s prioirites don’t get a look in.

No one is saying that the things the government identifies as priorities are not good, worthy things that we want to see happen in our health system. The problem is that when this narrow focus is combined with reduced funding in real terms, all the other things that the ministry says need to be addressed now before they get out of hand aren’t getting the attention they need.


Health Target Tinkering

Posted by on January 19th, 2012

Yesterday, Tony Ryall announced he is tinkering with his narrow and simplistic health targets. The changes in of themselves are positive but the targets are flawed. Even the Medical Association thinks so.

Association chairman Paul Ockelford said the health targets were commendable, but the emphasis on targets was flawed.

The targets needed to work alongside other approaches, such as housing and education, that influenced people’s health.

“If these are not addressed we will continue to have glaring health disparities in our communities and a high prevalence of preventable diseases that affect not only quality of life, but life expectancy,” Dr Ockelford said.

The targets were “narrow and simplistic”.

“They do not give a full picture of how our health system is performing because of the difficulty of linking these targets to information about patient and public health outcomes.”

The real challenges for our health system are the projected increasing cost of delivering healthcare and the increasing prevalence of preventable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease as well as depression and anxiety disorders.  

Tackling both of these requires that a much greater emphasis be placed on keeping people well and preventing the need for costly treatments. This is desperately lacking in National’ approach to health.

To me, two of the most glaring omissions from National’s priorities are mental health and chronic disease management. The lack of resources to respond to people with low acuity need in these areas means they end up with much bigger problems than necessary and the taxpayer foots a much bigger bill than we ought.

Tony Ryall will enthusiastically point to short term output data that my look impressive now, but what is his strategy doing to improve long term health outcomes for our nation?


Addicted to Food

Posted by on December 30th, 2011

Perhaps it’s just because Christmas overeating is still heavy on my mind (and other body parts) but I’ve noticed there seems to have been a lot of discussion about causes of and suggested solutions to obesity over the last few days.

Waikato University scientist, Dr Pawel Olszewski suggests sugar and fat may produce changes in the brain which resemble the effects of addictive drugs. This may have a profound impact on the way governments, health practitioners and communities plan to combat the impact of the growing incidence of obesity.

We must be careful, though, not to directly equate sugar and fat, which our bodies need, to nicotine, alcohol, THC, amphetamines etc which we can quite happily do without:

Dr Olszewski says that while the brain responds to tasty foods in ways that have a lot in common with its reaction to drugs, he stresses there is a clear distinction between the complex mix of substances found in foods and a single compound such as morphine or nicotine. For this reason he describes over-eating patterns as “addictive-like”.

“We don’t want to send the message that if you’re eating a sandwich, that you’re consuming a drug. However palatable, high-sugar foods very often increase activity of the same brain circuits that are involved in the creation of the addictive state.

“So we believe this addictive-like behaviour stems from the effect that nutrients, in particular sugar and to some extent fat, have on the same set of brain areas that drive addiction.”

Tony Falkenstein, chief executive of Just Water International, made the connection and took it to a seemingly logical conclusion by suggesting a sugar tax. (Which, of course, would benefit his company).
This drew a thoughtful rebuttal from Dr Jim McVeagh at MacDoctor:

Immediately one can see the absolute pointlessness of a sugar tax. Potatoes, white bread, rice and pasta become sugar in the body as fast as pure cane sugar and nearly as fast as glucose powder. Taxing sugar is like sticking your finger in the dyke when the tsunami alarm has just gone off. And taxing carbohydrates in general is just adding a tax to nearly all food.

I’m inclined to agree that taxing sugar is pointless and taxing fat just becomes ridiculously complex as you attempt to define ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fats.
As Jim McVeah says,

all that causes obesity is taking in more calories than you burn up.

So if an excise-type tax were to be used in an attempt to curb obesity, the only logical approach I can think of is for it to be based on calorie density. Extremely calorie dense foods tend to be those that we ought only to eat occasionally although I expect there will be exceptions. A similar  effect could be achieved by taking GST off  low-calorie density foods. Both approaches have flow-on consequences that would have to be thought through before suggesting that either is worth implementing.

Add to the mix research released from Ohio State University this week that shows the attachment between mothers and toddlers is linked with incidence of obesity and you quickly get the picture that obesity is not straight forward and solutions will be neither singular nor simple.

Obesity is a significant driver of the increasing cost of healthcare and therefore cannot be ignored. Developing prevention and treatment strategies is the responsibility of governments as much as it is the responsibility of parents, communities and individuals.


Why Are We Labour?

Posted by on April 16th, 2011

Like Trevor I’m enjoying the candidates conference in Wellington. The weather is a bit arse but hey, locked inside all day so no complaint.

Trevor mentioned the fact that half the conference have been members for less than ten years. Another interesting statistic cropped up: When asked how we came to join the party, we were given four options: Family; Friend(s); Union/Church; Epiphany.

All groups were fairly even but noticeably smallest was Union/Church. Guess we don’t always live up to the stereotype.