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Environment : What are your views on a clean green NZ? Labour Leadership Q&A #1

Posted by on September 10th, 2013

14 Questions for 2014

Leadership Election Virtual Hustings Meeting – Question 1

Environment – What are your views on a clean green NZ?

Explanatory Note: From September 10th to 14th 2013 as part of the official selection process for a new leader the New Zealand Labour Party is holding a “Virtual Hustings Meeting” hosted by Red Alert and organised by Scoop Amplifier. Over the past 7 days questions were solicited from eligible voters in the election. The questions and answers are now being posted as a set of 14 posts at the Red Alert Labour Party Blog starting today (Tuesday 10th September), till Friday 13th September. At Red Alert all-comers are welcome to discuss the answers in the comment section of the blog. The candidates are expected to participate in these discussions at times over the five days till Saturday 14th September.


Question : What are your views on a clean green NZ? Allied to this, what are your views on our one pure gold asset “water” and protecting our waterways?

Submitted by : Heather Mannix, Christchurch


Answer from Shane Jones

Our clean green status cannot be taken for granted. As each generation passes our effects on the environment remain. I am a big supporter of replanting blighted landscape in native cover.

A key to improving our status is recovery work as well as robust legislation.

Dirty rivers and soil loss, siltation, are major concerns to me. Water is a valuable resource and I support water storage. The sale of our power companies may lead to private water ownership. Water is part of the public estate. I do not agree with the privatisation of water.


Answer from Grant Robertson

Clean, green New Zealand cannot just be a brand. We must accept that there is no real economic development without protecting and enhancing our environment. They are two sides of the same coin, and we cannot afford to see them as being in some eternal struggle.

We have the potential to develop clean technology and renewable energy generation that can lead the world. Our environment has an intrinsic value that we must support. This means a focus on water and air quality in particular through better use of national environment standards, and emission standards.

We need to take the recommendations of the Land and Water Forum, and develop them further, including resource rentals for major users. The voluntary accords around effluent run-off have had some benefit, but we must do better in protecting our waterways, and if that requires regulation by local and central government then I will back that.


Answer From David Cunliffe

Sustainability is a core Labour value. We must ensure that we protect our environment for future generations. Our environment has intrinsic value in its own right; our bush and beaches, rivers and seas, sustain us all. The environment is central to the health of the New Zealand economy, with most of New Zealand’s export dollars come from living things. We must protect and nurture this source of our wealth and heritage.

We will not be immune from the environmental mega trends facing our planet; particularly global climate change and fossil fuel depletion. We must prepare for these by developing renewable technology, water management, and being active in international climate negotiations.

Clean-tech is an area where New Zealand also has the potential to be out the front leading. But it is an area where New Zealand is under-investing. There is huge potential and it aligns with New Zealand strengths. I will invest more in research and development funding that supports a high value economy, including clean tech.

There are too many rivers and streams in New Zealand where it is no longer safe to swim. This is not good enough.


Techno slavery

Posted by on January 31st, 2012

I missed this on Stuff, but heard it on RadioNZ today.

Workers who find themselves answering work emails on their smartphones after the end of their shifts in Brazil can now qualify for overtime under a new law.

The new legislation was approved by President Dilma Rousseff last month.

It says company emails to workers are equivalent to orders given directly to the employee.

Labour attorneys told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper the new law makes it possible for workers answering emails after hours to ask for overtime pay.

Judging by the vox pop comments of Brazilian workers on the RadioNZ piece, this isn’t necessarily a popular move. I can understand that. Turning off the emails after hours is a hard thing to do.  It has become such a way of life for many working people, but even more so for those who believe their job depends on it.

This issue has started to emerge in several corners of the world. In May 2011, Chicago policeman Jeffrey Allen filed a class action suit against the city, asking for unpaid overtime compensation.

In December 2011, German carmaker Volkswagen agreed to deactivate e-mails on German staff Blackberry devices out of office hours to give them a break.

German telco Deutsche Telekom and consumer goods maker Henkel have also introduced measures to curb after-hours emails to reduce the pressure on workers to be always on call.

Remember the “work life balance” stuff we used to talk about?

Am I just old-fashioned in thinking that working lives are important, but so are our families as well?

Paying attention

Posted by on January 29th, 2012

The government has been asked to explain the inconsistency between the decision in Kim Dotcom’s residency application (which was granted) and his application to buy more than five hectares of New Zealand land (which was denied). Some might say that Jonathan Coleman should have paid more attention when  he was advised by Immigration NZ of their decision to waive the good character requirements for Mr Dotcom’s Investor Plus residency application. Others might say that alarm bells should have rung when Ministers Maurice Williamson and Simon Power overturned the decision by the OIO to enable Mr Dotcom to purchase properties in New Zealand because he didn’t meet the good character test.

John Key says it’s an “anomaly” and he’s looking into that.  Okay.

But here we see Key telling us in this video that the first time he’d heard of Kim Dotcom (who lives in John Key’s electorate) was when the Solicitor General advised him of the pending raid the night before.

However, some of his constituents, who live on the same road as Kim Dotcom say they contacted John Key’s Huapai office several times to complain about the dangerous driving of  Kim’s mates on their road and to express concerns about his residency and the OIO approval. Another neighbour of Mr Dotcom’s requested a meeting with John Key to discuss his concerns, but got absolutely nowhere. They’re a bit confused about John Key’s response.  Either their concerns weren’t passed on, or they were ignored.

I know our Prime Minister’s a busy and important man, but he also has responsibilities to his constituents and they were entitled to expect his interest.

Sometimes paying attention matters, even when you are the Prime Minister.

Thinking outside the square

Posted by on October 15th, 2011

Some important questions to ponder:

  • Should technology be a priority industry for growth?
  • Could New Zealand become a world leader in the use of digital technology, to transform New Zealand economically and socially?
  • Is a strong and vibrant ICT sector a platform to improve all areas of NZ’s economy and society.
  • Just how important is the digital environment as core infrastructure for the New Zealand of the future?

If it is, what do we need to do to get there

Labour will release its ICT policy on Monday.

I’ve always thought Information Communications Technology (ICT) was a bit of a cumbersome name. It’s time we called our policy something sexy

Top NZ companies back R&D tax credits

Posted by on May 24th, 2011

There’s an interesting contrast in today’s NZ Herald between its rather muddled editorial that appears to poo-poo the R&D tax credit and what our two largest and most innovative companies, F&P Healthcare and F&P Appliances, are saying in the business pages. Both companies speak of the research benefits they gained from labour’s previous tax credit scheme.

I’ve yet to come across a high-tech company – and I’ve visited a lot – that doesn’t believe tax credits are a great thing. The top 100 of these companies generate $6.5 billion and high value jobs. Inevitable perhaps they would say that because they benefit, but with those sorts of numbers, it’s not rocket science to work out that we all win.

2013 Digital switchover right decision

Posted by on September 16th, 2010

Will blog more on this later. Am at NZ Computer Society 50th anniversary conf in Rotorua and about to speak, but want to say that it’s the right decision. Am a bit suprised. it loooked as though the government was going to delay til 2015.

Wonder why they changed their minds. The mobile companies investing in 4G will be pleased.  And it means that we wont lag in the next generation of ultra-fast broadband over mobile.

It means that a comprehansive education campaign will be needed to make sure that low income, and older people are left out and without TV coverage.

But it’s the right decision. Haven’t had time to look at the detail yet. Will have more to say later.

My colleague Brendon Burns, Broadcasting spokesperson, is also tied up (doing a public meeting on the earthquake in the Chch Central electorate). Good excuse. He told me that  this announcement should now be followed by Cabinet announcing a willingness to open up to some public input on future of public service broadcasting, as per Future of Television.

He also commented that doing Digital Switchover by regions, could benefit Sky as they will be able to systematically put in sales teams region by region. Freeview hasn’t got the budget to do that.

NBR has written a piece here.

They point out that: The switch date will put New Zealand on a par with other OECD countries, with the United Kingdom switching over to digital by 2012 and Australia by 2013. The US and parts of the EU have completed the switch.

Hi-Tech generates $5 billion

Posted by on September 15th, 2010

The hi-tech sector is in the NZ Herald today – telling a story that many of us already know, but doesn’t get much coverage.

Our top 100 hi-tech companies earn $6.7 billion and still show positive prospects for growth. Greg Shanahan, the founder of the Technology Investment Network predicts the sector could outstrip dairying. Bold words, but wouldn’t it be good see this sector growing – and diversifying our economy?

If we want to catch Australia (a pretty naff goal if you ask me) we’re going to have to grow dairy 5 times. Can’t imagine 5x more cows or that amount of new productivity. The hi-tech sector – commercialising smart ideas on the other hand has less or no carbon miles, produces smart, high paying jobs and generated export revenues. It has more potential if we get behind it.

Nearly 80% of what our top 100 hi-tech companies produce is exported.

A good story that gets too little attention.

Shift happens

Posted by on September 7th, 2010

This is one version of a variety of YouTube videos on this theme.  It was brought to my attention by some early childhood educators in Albany, North Shore a couple of days ago, when we were talking about the future of education. Some challenging, yet stimulating thinking in this clip : Hang on until the end : it will astound you.

Future of television#4

Posted by on August 27th, 2010

Cabinet is currently wrestling with what to do with TVNZ’s non-commercial channesl 6+7 once funding runs out next year. Leaving it up to TVNZ to sort out may be gaining the upper hand.  In part, they may be looking to technology to deliver an answer. Some Ministers apparently believe that given you can find an increasing amount of material that might be considered ‘quality’ or ‘public service’ content on the Internet or off Sky, why create a new edifice? The thinking goes that the market will solve this quite soon.

This is the derivatives approach to broadcasting; that amid a sea of junk bond programmes there will be some with real value. All you’ve got to do is find them and put them into a portfolio/folder/channel.

Here some will start crying that we fund local production via NZ on Air and this provides a platform for programmes which feed our sense of identity, and constitutes “public service broadcasting.”

Local production (however incentivised by NZoA or imposed by regulation) is not the same thing as public broadcasting.  For one thing, NZoA has no capacity to direct where programmes go; if they ain’t ‘commercial’ they are likely to be ghettoised, no matter what their broader importance or value. For many years, Governments have behaved as though it is–a convenient approach because it keeps the noisy creatives happy, while reducing the debate to commercial vs non-commercial objectives, and the circular and wholly subjective discussion of what constitutes “quality.”

The consequence is that there has been no history in N.Z. of what public broadcasting could be as a unified “system” within the total broadcasting landscape, and what its objectives in the digital era ought to be. It is time we had that debate.

Let’s accept the current model of state-owned television is skewed to the commercial realities. For twenty years, TVNZ has done what successive governments told it to do; make money. Sure, we as Labour stitched on the ‘dual mandate.’ We provided funding via the TVNZ Charter, admittedly modest, to try and provide something more. TVNZ was too attuned to its over-riding requirement to make money. It squandered some of the money on programming clearly outside the non-commercial ambit of the Charter and unwound some of the case for it.

Labour believes in public service broadcasting; the Charter was an attempt at achieving that.   We have it with Radio New Zealand. We  believe New Zealanders deserve some of that via television. Our sense of ourselves and the need for that to be reflected back to us is too important to entrust to the vagaries of the market, especially one that is changing fast.

We need a television platform that can endure into the future and survive the technological shift, while providing the New Zealand content that defines and redefines who we are as communities and a nation. The options could include Channel One, Channel 7 or even Parliament TV(when it’s not showing the House, which is the majority of times. ) Funding could come from a mix of revenue – from Channel 2 as the recession recedes, from some advertising or sponsorship, from a greater portion of NZ on Air funding, from the ‘digital dividend.’

Maori Television now provides ‘public service broadcasting’ for an audience that while actually attracting more Pakeha than Maori, is programmed around Maori interests. It costs around $35m a year for an essentially non-commercial service, about the same as Radio NZ. Maori Television, panned by the Nats and others when it started, is now accepted by most as providing innovative, modestly-costed flaxroots,  proud to be Kiwi television albeit to a modest audience. If we are talking about providing a viable, affordable platform into the future for all New Zealanders, that might be a good benchmark figure and comparative model to get us started on a national debate.

Technology and the emancipation of women

Posted by on May 13th, 2010

Interesting piece on how access to technology is building more emancipation for women in developing countries.And happiness! A bit lightweight but interesting nevertheless.

Not rocket science, but in the vein of how electricity transformed my grandmother’s (and mother’s) generation with access to refrigerators and washing machines, so is broadband transformational, this time for the poor and the oppressed.

The relevance for NZ is that we need to know more about how technology can and should be enabling poorer communities to be connected and to build skills and innovation. Trouble is there’s very little data on this and I doubt very much it’s a govt priority.

I think we need research in this area. Who’s using technology, how are they using it especially in our lower socio economic areas. And given more access to technology what changes can occur.