Red Alert

Archive for the ‘waikato’ Category

Who’s Next?

Posted by on October 29th, 2010

I’m a Matamata girl, well I was born and raised in Walton to be precise, about 10 kms north of Matamata.

The whole Hobbit thing has been great for my home town and I too am an advocate of it continuing to be filmed there. But there are other small people who are endangered in Matamata and I expect they will be asking for tax-payer hand-out to keep their multi-million industry and its associated jobs going.

I’m talking about the racing industry ( although it is of course true that those who work in the industry are not all small).

Thanks to this Government’s economic mismanagement, the racing industry is really struggling. And to make matters worse, the additional funding put in by Labour when Winston Peters was Minister of Racing was stripped away by National this racing season because the country couldn’t afford it.

What a slap in the face to that industry to see that suddenly, the country could afford it when Warner Bros rolled into town.

How come an American corporate entity deserves tax-payer subsidy, but a home-grown industry employing thousands year after year doesn’t?

And are there more deserving cases who could have done with the $33m without selling our independance as a country down the tubes, demanding changes to domestic law without seeking the opinions of New Zealanders via a select committee process?

Tax Swindle Leaves 38% in Waikato worse off

Posted by on October 18th, 2010

So says the front page of Saturday’s Waikato Times, after they polled 180 readers on the subject.

only 12% felt they were any better off, 38% worse off and 33% unchanged. Some readers said John Key has lost their vote over the GST increase.

And just to show how out of touch those on big incomes are with reality, a partner of Deloitte Hamilton says people just had to “reprioritise.”

“You can choose whether or not to spend money and therefore pay tax,” he said.

Really? Choose not to buy groceries, pay the power bill, pay for petrol, pay the rent? This man has no idea that low and middle-income families spend all they earn on just getting by.

His out-of-touch comments reflect arrogant National Party thinking. Guess he must be in the 12% laughing at the expense of the other 88%.

The Nat Love Affair with Helicopters

Posted by on July 27th, 2010

What is it about National’s Tertiary Education Ministers and Helicopters?

First off, we had Anne Tolley taking the tertiary sector literally when they suggested she should take a “helicopter view” of the sector -she had them stump up for a costly ride in a chopper over Auckland.

Now, we have Steven Joyce telling the country that he would prefer fund helicopter trips for commuters between Hamilton and Auckland than to subsidise a passenger train service between the two cities.

He seemed to have borrowed Simon Power’s strategy of heavily inflating the cost to the taxpayer, so he could justify his idealogical postition against trains and for more and more roads. Joyce claimed the  train would cost $15-16,000 per trip which is complete rubbish.

Power used this tactic to try to justify the closing down of Hamilton’s successful trial youth justice facility, Te Hurihanga.

Maybe they just think people can’t do maths in Hamilton. Sonething of a miscalculation, if you excuse the pun.

2nd World Ambition for NZ

Posted by on May 5th, 2010

They used to be ambitious for New Zealand – but that was before the election.

Now, Hamilton’s National MPs say that “New Zealand is now a second world country and can only expect second world care and facilities.”

That’s what Tim MacIndoe and David Bennett told the Midland’s Region of the NZ Nurses’ Organisation when they visited them in Novemebr 2009.

Ruth Dyson sought leave to table the NZNO Newsletter containing the two MPs comments in Parliament today and it looked like she was about to get it. The Leader of the House didn’t object, nor any of their front bench.

However, from the murky depths of the National back bench an objection finally did emerge – from David Bennett.

Seems they think they can say one thing in Wellington and something else in Hamilton.

Solidarity Forever

Posted by on April 27th, 2010

This post is the first in a series (I hope) of updates on the progress of my horse, the aptly named “Solidarity,” who first entered Labour Party folklore when he won a race during the Mt Albert by-election campaign.

At the time, we were all stuck in Parliament on a Saturday debating the super city legislation under urgency. For a bit of light relief I convinced a number of my colleagues to put $5 each into a group bet on Solidarity. The proceeds from our well-timed winning bet were donated to the Labour campiagn in Mt Albert and David Shearer subsequently bolted in.

I put it all down to the the great “karma” Solidarity generated when he “bolted in” that day at Te Rapa.

Anyway, Soli kicked off his 2010 Melbourne Cup campaign (he didn’t make it in 08 or 09 but this could be his BIG year) at Tauranga on Saturday and he nearly won!

He came in second and was beaten by a short neck (that’s the margin, not the name of the horse).

But here’s the exciting bit – this race was all wrong for him.  It was run on a hard track over 1400m. To date, he’s been at his best on a soft track over 2100m.

Did I mention what a great name he has?

Hamilton Election Promise Broken Already

Posted by on February 9th, 2010

“Promise on Road Project Broken” screams the front page of the Waikato Times today. It was being delivered to homes all over the Waikato just as John Key was delivering his speech outlining his Government’s programme for the year ahead. How appropriate!

The NZ Transport Agency came to Hamilton yesterday to deliver the news that the Hamilton leg of the expressway is now not scheduled for completion until 2024. The problem is that the Nats made an election promise to complete the Waikato Expressway inside ten years – that is by 2018.

The other problem is that the Minister has reversed the order of construction so that the Hamilton by-pass comes last. That will create a bottleneck effect as the construction takes place to the north and the south of Hamilton first.

It means larger volumes of traffic will be delivered to congested Hamilton streets until 2024.

It looks like the Hamilton Government National MPs, David Bennett and Tim MacIndoe lack the influence and the ability to get their major election promise delivered.

Oddly enough, even though John Key used his speech to announce the Kopu Bridge replacement for the 11th time, the Waikato Expressway didn’t feature in his speech at all today. Hmmmmm………curious.

Hamilton Passenger Train Service Gathers Steam

Posted by on December 2nd, 2009

Around 100 people attended a public meeting in Hamilton last night to discuss the proposal to get a passenger train service for commuters between Hamilton and Auckland.

The meeting was hosted by the Campaign for Better Transport and the business case for the train service is well-established.

Unfortunately, Nanaia Mahuta and I are the only local MPs supporting the train service – the two National MPs told the meeting all the reasons it shouldn’t go ahead.

The National Party rhetoric goes something like this:

*Hamilton is too small to sustain the service;

*Hamilton should be grateful that it is getting funding for an expressway;

*Waikato Mayors just want the expressway completed in 10 years time instead;

* There is a private bus company that commuters could use.

Their arguments don’t stack up. Masterton and Palmerston North have passenger train services to Wellington and they are a lot smaller than Hamilton.

The expressway, when completed at a cost of $2b in 10 years time, will save 10 minutes on the journey to Auckland – that is until Waikato cars get to the Southern Motorways and sit in traffic jams for ages!

The Waikato Mayors have always argued for a balanced transport system for the region and they didn’t anticipate the Government was going to cut city public transport funding for Hamilton to fund the expressway as they have.

Oh duh… the buses to Auckland get caught in the traffic jams too.

I reckon the real reason David Bennett and Tim MacIndoe are talking the proposal down is they agree with the Don Brash Taskforce comissioned by John Key when it recommended the sale of state assets.

KiwiRail will be the first up for sale and they won’t want a whole lot of Hamilton commuters up in arms when they sell it off.

New generation heroes

Posted by on October 18th, 2009


These two guys are delegates at Open Country Cheese. On the left is Lotao Aliimatafitafi and Dave te Iringa is on the right.

They, with the rest of their team have done a great job in building community support – though to be fair Talleys and the manager have helped a lot too.  

I can’t go into details on the current state of the dispute.  My briefing was confidential.

Lotao is a pretty recent employee. People who have been around rugby circles might remember him as a talented young front rower a few years back. He has been playing professional rugby in France for the last five years.

Dave is the guy that management accussed of breaking a van window with a rock. Their problem was that they supplied the Police with a video that showed Dave was rolling a smoke with two hands throughout the incident which looks like it was caused by a stone from a preceeding car. While some of my colleagues past and present might regard rolling a smoke as a worse thing to do it isn’t illegal.

Being delegates isn’t easy at the best of time. Leading during a lockout in a rural area is tough. Good work guys.

Smoking, Alcohol and Pregnancy

Posted by on October 14th, 2009

Recently, a local bar in Hamilton advertised a P-Party to students which enticed them to dress up and drink at their establishment.
Happens all the time. Only this bar used the image of a naked, smoking, pregnant woman to advertise this event.
I think the association of drinking and smoking with pregnancy as an advertising ploy is abhorrent and severly undermines the interests of children.
Perhaps other people find it attracive enough to entice them to go drinking at the establishment.
What do others think.

Off your butt Wilkinson

Posted by on September 30th, 2009

How is it possible that the Department of Labour mediation service hasn’t got the parties together in the Open Country Cheese dispute. Here we have an employer continuing a lockout in clear defiance of an Employment Court ruling and no sign of action from Kate Wilkinson’s Department.

If it had been a union defying a court ruling like this we would be hearing volumes from the Minister of Labour, the Prime Minister, Employers’ organisations etc.

Just because there is a recess on there is no excuse to go on a stopwork yourself Kate.

Crying over spilt milk

Posted by on September 19th, 2009

Talley’s-owned Open Country Cheese was caught pouring sludge from its factory in Waharoa directly into the Waitoa River this morning because it insists on using scab labour to keep production going instead of paying standard industry wages and giving some job security to its staff.

The use of untrained staff during this dispute has now polluted the river and we’ll all have to pay through our rates in the Waikato to have it cleaned up.

Apparently, sludge which is normally collected by trucks and spread on farms, has poured into the river instead.

That river runs down the back of the dairy farm I was brought up on. I just hope the environmental damage is reversible.

I certainly know that OCCs harsh stance against its staff can be reversed, so I’ll be heading over to join the picket line tomorrow.

Now OCC has proven to be irresponsible on two fronts – firstly they undermine the industry with sub-standard wages and conditions and now they think they can pollute the waterways.

That’s a disgrace.

Public transport freeze hits Hamilton

Posted by on September 9th, 2009

This week, the Waikato Regional Passenger Transport Committee got the bad news from the New Zealand Transport Agency that the funding that had been destined for public transport has been “redirected” by the Government into building more roads.

I must admit that I felt sorry for the councillors as I watched their discomfort at hearing this news.

I imagine some of them felt a bit conflicted, because they had argued so vigorously for the Waikato Expressway to be the top transport priority for the region.

I could see the realisation of how that campaign has been used against them start to dawn on their faces.

However, they are not to blame. They chose that priority for the region when Labour was in Government and they were never going to have to sacrifice one for the other. Labour’s committment to progressively improving public transport had enabled Hamilton’s bus patronage to increase by 9% per annum in recent years.

With the change in Government, this has all changed. The Government funding for public transport for the region will only increase by 3% next year and then will be frozen for the next two years.

With 9% growth in the use of buses in Hamilton, this means that either services will have to be cut and/or passenger fares will have to increase significantly.

Both options will force people off buses and back into their cars. Smart eh?

It also makes it virtually impossible for the Hamilton to Auckland passenger train service to be established even if the proposed trial is successful.

What a great leap backwards.

OCC v dairy workers – could be big one

Posted by on September 9th, 2009

There have been no major strikes  in the dairy industry in over 20 years. The union is generally seen as one that works very constructively with employers especially on productivity and literacy.

Enter Open Country Cheese (and especially Talleys who seem to have the worst industrial relations reputation in NZ).

They have attempted to compete with not only really favourable milk price arrangements but also with  lower wages than other companies.

The union has not been able to negotiate a fair industrial agreement. It has given 14 days notice of industrial action.

OCCs (Talley’s) response has been interesting. Their chair Laurie Margrain has called the industrial action “wildcat” – with 14 days notice – huh.

He has then called for the dairy industry to get the same level of recognition as an essential industry as the Police.  Even Kate Wilkinson isn’t that gulliable. But no offer to have binding arbitration as with the Police.

But now he has issued a lock-out notice for a six week period.

So we have moved from an industry where any strike action was terrible to one where the employer is going on strike for six weeks. Weird.

This dispute has the potential to be a very big one.

Culture No Excuse!

Posted by on August 18th, 2009

Well I’ve read the blogs and seen the media reports on the Janet Moses case. Plenty of people would have expressed an opinion on many aspects of the case. But the Judge after considering all the information has found five whanau members criminally responsible for a death to lift makutu(commonly referred to as a curse) thereby issuing a community sentence.

To criticise the sentence on a matter of race is ridiculous, the general mantra in Parliament is that there is one law for all. There is enough evidence in Aotearoa/NewZealand that it may be so but Maaori tend to factor negatively in all aspects of the justice system.

But the real debate here is the use of a cultural practice which in this case has led to a tragic outcome. The belief amongst Maori that Makutu exists is still apparent, as much so as those beliefs that people can be healed in the name of Jesus Christ. You wouldn’t find the aunties and uncles talking about Makutu over a cup of tea, in fact you would rarely hear anything remotely connected to a conversation of that sort. But the reality is that many people recognise it is apart of a cultural belief system.

As the whaanau connections of the Moses family link to Tainui it seems to me that their use of a cultural practice to repel evil spirits defied something I had learned long ago. Tawhiao freed his people from the use of Makutu recognising that there are some practices best left in the past with our tuupuna. Culture is no excuse for practices that lead to the harm of others- there is simply no excuse for extreme measures!

Why do the Nats Hate Rail so Much?

Posted by on August 5th, 2009

The National Party’s hatred of public transport has been exposed in the Waikato, with their Hamilton-based MPs arguing against a Hamilton City Council proposal to establish a passenger train service between Hamilton and Auckland.

Now why would local MPs argue against adding an additional service for local people, particularly when a recent survey showed 85% support from ratepayers to subsidise such a service? Very curious.

Now, before bloggers trot out the Crosby-Textor line about how much Kiwirail cost to buy back remember that we had to buy it back  because the Nats sold it in the first place so it doesn’t wash as a the reason why they are so opposed a passenger transport service between Hamilton and Auckland.

Nat MP David Bennett’s contention that he doesn’t want a diesel train polluting the atmosphere doesn’t stack up given that the proposal would take 70+ cars off the road each day and that he is in the thick of fast-tracking a rule change that allows juggernaut diesel-pumping trucks on our roads that are simply not built to carry those weights.

On that issue, both Waipa District Council and Environment Waikato have voted to oppose the juggernaut rule change. Both Waipa and Waikato District Council’s noted the pressure coming from Government to stop promoting rail when they debated their positions on the rule change. You can sense how intimidated the councils were feeling by reading the Waikato Times article here.

For the record, Hamilton is our fourth-largest city and it is 120kms away from Auckland (largest city). Now where else in the developed world would you find that situation with a railway line between the two, the Government owning the railways and the train but still no passenger train service between the two?

So, who is prepared to hazard a guess on the real reason the Nats oppose rail transport.