American drone footage it says shows there are more than 100 mistakes in a book

New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) has almost eight hours of secret American drone footage it says shows there are more than 100 mistakes in a book about a controversial raid in Afghanistan.

No captionPhoto: supplied

But one of the authors of Hit and Run, Nicky Hager, said a large number of the errors were about the location of raid which were clarified last year.

The book is about Operation Burnham which took place in Baghlan province in August 2010.

The book claims six Afghan civilians were killed and a further 15 were injured by Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers. It said the deaths and injuries were covered up by the military.

Nicky HagerNicky Hager. Photo: Vice

An Official Information Act request by RNZ shows documents prepared by NZDF as part of an analysis of Hit and Run. That included reference to drone and helicopter footage of the operation which “contradicts the main thrusts of Hit and Run” and identified 105 “factual issues” in the book.

Among the book’s claims is that a three-year-old girl, Fatima, was killed.

“The most concentrated fire was at three side-by-side houses owned by three brothers on the south side of the river,” the book said.

“The helicopters rained down cannon fire and rockets, destroying the houses, injuring two of the mothers and five of their children and killing a sixth small child as she was held in her mother’s arms. The father of the third household would be dead soon too.”

But NZDF said the drone footage showed “no fire from helicopter or ground forces, at, on or around the target”.

It said because the building was central to the operation, the drone was focussed on it as SAS troops approached. It showed “no villagers and no movement whatsoever”, nor any bodies around the house.

It said a picture of the three houses in the book couldn’t be correct because satellite and drone footage showed the left hand house had not been built in 2010.

NZDF said the footage showed no graves being dug at that time, despite the Islamic custom to bury any dead as quickly as possible.

NZDF also rejected the book’s claims that the village was set alight and left burning, destroying 12 houses.

It said the footage showed just two buildings were burnt – one which was presumed to have started as an unattended cooking fire and the second when hot debris from a cache of weapons which were destroyed ignited the roof of a nearby building.

NZDF said the drone footage was so compelling and contradicted the veracity of so many claims in the book, it asked the United States to release the footage publicly. But the Americans refused, saying the videos had not been declassified.

The inquiry

In April, the government announced an inquiry into Operation Burnham and related matters.

The inquiry aims to establish the facts in connection with the allegations, examine the treatment by NZDF of reports of civilian casualties following the operation, and assess the conduct of troops.

The inquiry will convene today to decide how it will deal with classified material.

NZDF has declined to comment and Mr Hager declined to be interviewed, saying he was too busy preparing for the hearing.

But he questioned the timing of the documents’ release, describing it as a “PR exercise” before the hearing.

“The documents were created by the Defence Force earlier this year for the particular purpose of trying to persuade the Labour-led government to not have the inquiry,” he said.

He rejected any suggestion the book contained 105 mistakes, saying a large number of them related to the location of the raid, which had already been resolved.

Do we need to read between the lines?

by WH on November 20, 2018 at 8:30am

ABIGAIL DOUGHERTY/STUFF

TVNZ posted an interview segment with Ardern and Peters recorded at the APEC summit in Port Moresby.

Ardern: Quote.

Our relationship is unique, I think we have a role to play in working alongside our Pacific counterparts to ensure that, actually, a whole range of global players understand some of the significant challenges here and we work to raise the profile of those be it with China, be it with the EU, be it with the UK. End quote.

I tried reading between the lines but there was nothing there either.  What are these ‘significant challenges’?  We don’t know, as we weren’t told.

Of course, our relationship (to whom or what?) is unique; just like every other country’s relationship is unique.

So Ardern looked to Peters who took up the dialogue:

 

Peters: Quote.

In times of uncertainty and potential economic chaos as a result of a conflict between the Chinese and the United States, nevertheless there is an enormous opportunity arises from the fact that other countries are looking at New Zealand with fresh eyes now and that’s dramatic, whether it be Vietnam, whether it be Indonesia, whether it be countries like Brunei. All of a sudden they have got a different perspective about New Zealand and some of the things that go back to this country’s long term character and integrity when it comes to the Pacific is starting to show through so I think that is something I wouldn’t have seen before and I’m seeing it now and I think it offers us enormous opportunity to have a far more profound influence in the shape of the Pacific than we hitherto have had. End quote.

Peters’s opening statement, “In times of uncertainty and potential economic chaos as a result of a conflict between the Chinese and the United States,” just hangs there unfinished.

We are then told that it is dramatic that other countries are looking at us with fresh eyes. Why? Are they thinking of mounting an invasion?

They could well have a different perspective about New Zealand now. They could see us as being led by a dysfunctional bunch in Wellington for all we know from Peters’ statement.

Photoshopped image credit: Technomage

Was anything really said by either of them?

Was APEC a bust, diplomatically?

After Ardern’s meeting with the PNG Prime Minister was cancelled, Ardern said that, if she were able to have spoken with Mr O’Neill, she would likely have raised the issue of female representation in the PNG government.

Was Ardern hoping to export some of ours? Or was she going to speak from a position of strength with her party having 14 men and 5 women ministers? We will never know because the meeting was canned.

I guess we will have to read between the lines.

Government policy causes rising rents

by Christie on November 20, 2018 at 9:00am

Times are tough for renters. Rents are rising faster than just about anything else right now, and have been doing so for some time. The previous government did make a few changes to make life more difficult for landlords, but the current government is going all out to improve the lives of tenants. As is always the case, the law of unintended consequences kicks in at some point, and that well-meaning government policy is now making life much harder for tenants because those policies aimed to help tenants are in fact forcing landlords out of the market in droves.

A newspaper reports: quote.

Renters are spending an average of $30 more on rent each week compared to a year ago, with the National Party blaming Government policies that are hitting landlords.

In some regions such as Wellington, figures from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show that rents have jumped by nearly $50 a week compared to a year ago, meaning tenants are paying close to $2600 more a year in living costs.

The National Party says it is a far greater rate of increase than under the previous Government, when rents rose by an average of $13 a year. end quote.

 

This government fails to recognise that private landlords are providing an important social service for free. Instead of the constant landlord bashing policies, the government should be providing incentives to landlords, such as subsidised insulation. But no. Landlords are fat cats and must be punished at every opportunity. quote.

“This Government prides itself on being kind, but these rent rises will really be hurting people, especially at the bottom,” leader Simon Bridges said.

When the government changed last year, the mean weekly rent in Auckland was $536. It has now jumped to $555.

But the biggest rent rises are in Wellington, Hawke’s Bay, and Manawatu-Whanganui, where rents rose by just under $50 in the last year. In National’s nine years in charge, rents rose by an average of between $6 and $10 a year in these spots.

Rents rose at a greater rate in all regions except Northland and Christchurch in the past year compared to when National was in charge. end quote.

And there is more nasty stuff on the way for landlords, with the requirement of the installation of fixed heating appliances and for pets to be allowed without landlord discretion. Having seen what a cat or a dog can do to a property if they are not properly controlled, I think that would be a deal breaker for me. The landlord owns an asset which the tenant is free to wreck. How this can ever be seen to be good policy is beyond me. quote.

Bridges blamed a series of Government policies which penalised landlords.

The Government has banned foreign buyers, introduced stricter standards for insulation and heating, got rid of “loss ring fencing” for landlords, and extended the period which investors have to pay tax on resold properties from two years to five years after purchase.

Bridges said the measures had a cumulative effect, forcing landlords to either lift their rents or get out of the rental market – reducing the rental stock. end quote.

There is an error in the above quotation. This government has not ‘got rid of loss ring fencing for landlords’. It is introducing ring fencing of losses. quote.

The rent rises would hurt lower income tenants the most. He noted that the number of hardship grants had risen by 54,000, or 19 per cent, in the past year.

Ministry of Social Development data shows that this increase is mostly due to greater demand for assistance with food. end quote.

Yes because, once the rent is paid, there is no money left over. It’s obvious when you think about it. quote.

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said he was concerned about rent increases, but said it was due to inaction by National when they were in power.

“Reserve Bank research shows that rents are driven primarily by supply and demand, not landlord costs. Our Government inherited a dire shortage of housing around the country after the former government ignored the housing crisis.” end quote.

Nine years of neglect, eh, Phil? quote.

“National saying that landlords are selling up is simply scaremongering. Corelogic data shows that landlords purchased 38 per cent of properties in October, which is consistent with the last two years – there has been no change in landlord activity.” end quote.

This is my favourite bit. It shows what an idiot he is. So the number of investment properties bought has not changed markedly but how many have been sold? I think you will find that a lot of former rental houses have been sold in the past 2 years. Are all those investment properties recently purchased being rented out to local tenants, or are some of them to be rented out on AirBnB? Conveniently, these points are not raised. quote.

He noted Government policies to increase housing supply, from KiwiBuild to the goal of 6400 more public houses over the next four years. end quote.

Kiwibuild is intended for first-time buyers struggling to afford their first home… oh. Scratch that. They can rent them out now. I had forgotten about that little policy change. As for 4,600 new public houses in the next 4 years, I understand the waiting list for public housing is already in excess of 6,000 so that problem is not going away. In the meantime, people still need somewhere to live.

Rents are going to keep increasing, because the government has more landlord-bashing policies lined up. Firstly, they have banned letting fees, so that the cost of a property manager finding a tenant will have to be passed onto the landlord. Next, they are looking at allowing rent increases only once a year. So, if I were a landlord, I would make sure the annual rent increase is a hefty one. Life will just get harder and harder for tenants in private housing.

Cindy forgot about global climate change (don’t tell the Greens)

by Suze on November 19, 2018 at 10:30am

ACT leader David Seymour said Cindy was so hasty to shell out millions for Papua New Guinea’s electricity rollout that she forgot her commitment to fighting global climate change. Quote.

The Prime Minister today announced taxpayer funding for Papua New Guinea’s National Electrification Rollout Plan, which aims to increase electricity access to 70 per cent of households by 2030

PNG is overwhelmingly reliant on oil, gas and coal for its energy needs. Its government is actively ramping up coal exploration and an Australian company was given the green light to extract coal earlier this year.

“While her Government has banned offshore exploration of oil and gasdomestically, today Jacinda Ardern committed to hooking more Papua New Guineans up to fossil fuels.” End of quote.

We can only hope Cindy’s amnesia lasts long enough for our oil and gas and mineral exploration to recover from her recent vicious body blow to them.  If it’s good enough to spend taxpayer funds on fossil fuels in a foreign country, it’s good enough for Cindy to revisit her stance back home.  Quote.

New Zealand Now

The PM claims that climate change is her generation’s ‘nuclear-free moment’, but her policies are helping countries like Indonesia and Papua New Guinea develop their fossil fuels.

Genesis Energy recently ordered 120,000 tonnes of Indonesian coal, and now the Government is actively promoting the development of fossil fuels in Papua New Guinea.

Does the Government simply have no coherent vision, or is it trying to have it both ways?” End of quote.

 

Or is it simply a case of jet lag or baby brain that she doesn’t understand that banning oil and gas exploration here simply costs us more and shifts production overseas? Quote.

Just as the Prime Minister can’t work out whether she wants petrol prices to go up or down, she is deeply conflicted about whether cheap fossil fuels are necessary for economic growth and higher living standards

In helping to promote economic development in PNG, she is pretending that she hasn’t staked her reputation on fighting climate change.” End of quote.

Cindy is doing one thing in Papua New Guinea and the opposite back home; there’s a word for that…hypocrisy!

When it comes to gender the science is settled

by SB on November 19, 2018 at 12:30pm

There are only two sexes and two genders. The science is settled.

Many on the Left claim that the science is settled when it comes to climate change when clearly it is not, as not all scientists agree and there is plenty of conflicting data. Even those who agree that it is changing disagree whether that is actually a bad thing or just something that is natural and that has always happened.

When it comes to gender, however, the science really has been settled. It is incredible to me that thanks to militant activism from the Trans lobby they are actually getting away with creating out of thin air new genders, when the science on gender is not only settled but there is 100% non-conflicting evidence making it very clear that there are only two sexes, male and female, which means that there are only two genders, male and female.

The tiny percentage of intersex people does not change this as they are not a new sex; instead, through an accident of nature they have been given both. When someone is born as a conjoined twin no one declares that they are a new kind of human. We instead see it as an accident of nature where something went wrong. We don’t say that there are humans and then there are Dual humans.

 

The meaning of the word gender has been hijacked, as even the militant activists realised that if they came out with the ridiculous statement that there are more than two sexes they would be laughed out of the room. Instead, they started educatingbrainwashing the public that gender was completely different to sex and was fluid!

Milk is fluid, water is fluid, gender is not fluid! Gender means the same thing as sex and there are only two sexes, male and female.

 

The Oxford dictionary provides the following definitions for sex and gender and acknowledges the propaganda of the militant Trans activists BUT emphasises that their definition of the word gender DOES NOT correspond to established ideas of male and female. quote.

Sex

Either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and most other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.

‘adults of both sexes’


Gender

Either of the two sexes (male and female), especially when considered with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones. The term is also used more broadly to denote a range of identities that do not correspond to established ideas of male and female.

‘a condition that affects people of both genders’

‘someone of the opposite gender’
‘everyone always asks which gender I identify as’ end quote.

Give them a few more years and I guarantee that the Trans activists will have bullied the Oxford dictionary into changing the definition of the word, as changing our language and making up new words is one of the most powerful tools in an activist’s toolkit. The word Islamophobia is one such example of language activism.

Pike River, Andrew Little & the union that did nothing

by Christie on November 16, 2018 at 8:00am

Photoshopped image credit: Pixy

Andrew Little is leading the charge to reopen Pike River mine and to send people into unknown and possibly dangerous conditions to find the remains of the 29 men who died in the mine. It is a tragic situation which has been politicised by the government in a way that is truly disgraceful. Nothing can be achieved by doing this; no one will be found alive, and whatever remains are there will almost certainly not be recognisable. Better to leave the mine as a grave and a memorial. The families know where their sons and brothers are. Let them rest in peace.

But then I came across this article which puts a whole different slant on the matter and shows the government to be hypocritical at best, and Andrew Little himself to be possibly complicit in the disaster that happened 8 years ago.

 

How Andrew Little failed the Pike River miners is a disturbing article, and I recommend you read it in its entirety if you want some background into the matter. Please note that the original article was written in 2012. quote.

WHEN THE  Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Pike River mining disaster issued its report  this week, the response of the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) was immediate. It issued a press statement welcoming  the  report and is encouraging the Government to implement the recommended  changes as soon as possible.

This report is a damning indictment of New Zealand’s deregulated health and safety regime. Pike River Coal Ltd should never have been allowed to operate in the way it did, and in other countries it wouldn’t have been allowed to.

The report makes clear that the tragic loss of life at Pike River could have been prevented with stronger regulations, an independent and well-resourced mine safety inspectorate and genuine worker involvement in health and safety.

This statement represents a complete change of heart by the EPMU officialdom because it was never critical of  Pike River Coal (PRC) during the time that  the mine was open. The EPMU represented approximately half of the 140 miners on the site.

After the first explosion the EPMU strongly defended the management of PRC.

EPMU National secretary Andrew Little (now a Labour MP)  told the New Zealand Herald on November 22  2010 that  there was “nothing unusual about Pike River or this mine that we’ve been particularly concerned about”.

Andrew Little’s conciliatory views toward  PRC management were echoed by Labour MP Damien O’Connor. He suggested that no one was responsible for the accident and that the  disaster was “just one of these things that the West Coast unfortunately has had to get used to over the years”. end quote.

Yes, it is true that the West Coast has struggled with mining accidents over the years, but in the 21st century, with health and safety regulations being robust, such accidents were no longer expected to happen.

So, here we had the government, the opposition and the union lining up to defend the PRC management. quote.

The views of Andrew Little and the EPMU flew in the face of expert opinion.

While Andrew Little  was defending PRC an Australian gas drainage engineer, who wished to remain anonymous because he feared ‘recriminations’, said he visited Pike River in 2009  and observed that its  operating standards were “extremely poor”.

He said  that he had been told by miners  that the mine was flooded with methane gas about three weeks before the first explosion.

But despite the overwhelming evidence that there was  something seriously and dangerously wrong at the Pike Rive mine, the officials of the  EPMU did nothing.

The mine opened in November 2008  and on not one occasion did the EPMU  initiate industrial action or even criticise PRC’S  safety standards, even after a group of workers  walked off the job to protest the lack of basic emergency equipment. end quote.

The union did not support their workers when they walked off the job over safety concerns. quote.

It was exactly this benevolent attitude  by the EPMU that allowed PRC – and the Department of Labour – to continue as if it was just ‘business a usual’. It appears that no-one was  protecting the interests and concerns of the workers on the mining site. The EPMU failed to organise industrial action  to address safety concerns  at the  mine in favour of  ‘cooperating’ with management, what it and the CTU sometimes  refer to as ‘modern unionism’.

There won’t be any resignations from within the EPMU for dereliction of duty and, of course, Andrew Little  has escaped to Parliament. end quote.

If unions are not there to protect their workers, then why do they exist at all?

So while Andrew Little stands up to the media and says that re-entry is ‘fulfilling a promise’ to the families, is praised by Duncan Garner for his ‘integrity’ over the announcement to re-enter the mine, and pours scorn on the previous government for a ‘cover up’, we should all stop for a moment and consider just one small thing.

If Andrew Little, as the National Secretary of the EPMU at the time the mine was established (and when the explosions occurred) had done his job properly and taken the safety of his workers seriously, the Pike River mine disaster might never have happened.

No amount of ‘fulfilling a promise to the families’ is going to change the fact that their sons, husbands and brothers could have come home that day if the EPMU had done the job they are supposed to do, which is to look after the safety of their workers.

But they didn’t.

Kiwibust

by Christie on November 14, 2018 at 9:30am

Phil Twyford
Photoshopped image Credit: Pixy

During the election campaign, Labour promised to build 10,000 houses a year, all for low-income families who had been ‘locked out’ of the housing market. They made it sound easy as if the previous government had simply been remiss in failing to do anything about the worsening housing crisis. Labour was going to save the day. Labour was going to solve the problem for low-income families.

One year in and the government has now realised how hard it is to do that.

The truth is, as many of us knew during the election campaign, houses cannot be built quickly and cheaply here in New Zealand at all. Drastic changes, such as an overhaul of the Resource Management Act, will be required to do that, and this is very unlikely while Labour is joined at the hip with the Greens.

The problem is that the only people who can afford Kiwibuild houses are people who could afford to buy houses on the open market anyway. Let’s face it, at $650,000, Kiwibuild properties are not exactly cheap. Those that can afford them can probably find better houses elsewhere within the market.

 

Stuff reports that the scheme is basically a failure. quote.

Kiwibuild’s “plummeting popularity” could spell out Kiwibust for the Government’s flagship policy.

There are only 338 pre-qualified Kiwibuild applicants, while contracts for 3375 houses have been signed off by the Government. It was forced to push out the Kiwibuild ballot deadline in Wanaka, after receiving just 20 entries for 10 homes. end quote.

Now that the rules have been relaxed around renting out Kiwibuild properties, these houses will be snapped up by buyers in Wanaka who will be able to rent them out on AirBnB. So much for those low-income families, huh? quote.

National Party housing spokeswoman Judith Collins said it was time to question its financial viability.

“If Mr Twyford can’t sell the houses he has bought off the plans, the Government will be forced to pay this money. This will easily blow his $2 billion budget and cause the whole scheme to come crashing down,” Collins said.

The policy was a “complete shambles”, she said.

“Houses are too expensive and too small. The minister isn’t building enough houses, he isn’t selling enough houses, and those few that are sold aren’t going to the people that need them.” end quote.

Spot on, Judith. Yes, they are too small for the price. Someone who has $650,000 to spend on a house can probably find a larger option somewhere within the general market. This is the trouble. quote.

A spokesman for Kiwibuild said while 338 people had completed the ballot process, a further 6648 applicants had begun the pre-qualification process. end quote.

Some of those going through the qualification process will buy houses elsewhere. After all, the qualification process is much the same for buying any house. The buyer simply has to be able to raise the money to buy. quote.

The number of ballot entries varied from place to place.

“We are satisfied with the ballots so far, which have already resulted in the 33 families buying their Kiwibuild home. Another 53 Kiwibuild homes are currently being balloted – a mix of completed homes and ‘off the plans’ houses that were still being built,” he said. end quote.

The numbers really are very small. A drop in a bucket in fact. Where are the 10,000 houses a year we were promised?

Let’s take a look at the Kiwibuild tracker.

So by the time they have been in government for almost 2 years, they will have built 1000 homes. See what I mean about it being a drop in a bucket? quote.

Economist Shamubeel Eaqub said low ballot figures did not point to any likelihood of loss on unsold homes. At worst, the Government would on sell a home at the price it paid for it, and to buyers who may not have originally qualified for Kiwibuild.

Official advice showed it was always going to run out of buyers: building different kinds of homes, to lift home ownership rates was the original goal, he said. end quote.

If they were always going to run out of buyers, why are we doing this? Why put $2 billion of taxpayer’s money into a scheme that nobody wants? quote.

“We don’t build these modest style of homes any more. We tend to build them grand and expensive so they can only be bought by those in the market already, or the rich.” end quote.

Wasn’t that what Kiwibuild was supposed to be all about? Modest housing for low-income families ‘locked out’ of the housing market?

Jacinda says that this government will be measured on their success with housing at the next election. If she is counting on Kiwibuild to get her re-elected, she’d better start looking for another job really fast.

Consumer confidence lowest since 2012

by Christie on November 7, 2018 at 9:30am

Photoshopped image credit: Pixy

As we head into Christmas, A newspaper reports that consumer confidence is at its lowest since 2012… which, you may remember, was the end of the GFC. quote.

Consumer confidence dipped in October as people fret about the future.

The ANZ Roy Morgan consumer confidence index fell to 115.4 in October from 117.6 in September. People’s optimism about their present situation lifted slightly to 122.0 from 120.2 but the future conditions index fell to 111.0 from 115.9, the lowest since late 2015.

“Consumers are feeling good about the here and now, but concerns about the future are clearly growing. Consumers haven’t been this pessimistic about their own and their family’s financial outlook one year ahead since mid-2012,” said ANZ chief economist Sharon Zollner.

Perceptions regarding the next year’s economic outlook fell 5 points to a net 1 per cent expecting conditions to deteriorate versus a net 4 per cent expecting an improvement in the prior survey. The five-year outlook fell 4 points to positive 14 per cent. end quote.

 

This is the effect of fuel prices. The prime minister simply cannot get away with claiming that petrol companies are ‘fleecing’ motorists with fuel price hikes when the government’s fuel taxes are such a big part of the price rise. And now that price increases are being seen everywhere, and inflation ticks upwards towards 3%, we are on a downward slide. Wait until interest rates start to rise. quote.

A net 11 per cent say they were better off now than a year ago versus a net 12 per cent in the prior survey. A net 20 per cent expect to be better off financially this time next year, down 7 points. end quote.

I don’t think many people will be better off in a year’s time. This downturn is starting to bite. quote.

“A key question is whether this growing concern about the outlook will lead to consumers reining in their spending. However, encouragingly for retailers, the proportion of respondents who think it’s a good time to buy a major household item increased and is at a level consistent with solid growth in spending,” Zollner said. end quote.

Or might it be a good idea to buy a major item now because they are only going to get more expensive? If you need a new fridge, buy it today. quote.

Inflation expectations were a tad higher with prices seen rising at an annual pace of 3.5 per cent during the next two years, up from 3.4 per cent in October but down from 4 per cent in August.

Zollner said ANZ’s confidence composite gauge – which combines business expectations and intentions with overall consumer sentiment – suggests a slowing in economic growth by year-end. end quote.

Economic growth is slowing already. The September quarter figures were not too bad, but they didn’t take into account the fuel price increases. Wait until we get the December quarter figures, at the end of January. We will start to see a very different picture then.

There is considerable evidence that people are deliberately using their cars less than they did. This can only be a result of spiralling fuel prices. Fuel prices affect everything. If people feel unable to use their cars, they will spend less everywhere. They may not go on holiday. They may not take the kids out for the afternoon. This means the discretionary spending will dry up… which means the hospitality industry starts to struggle. Which means fewer jobs for people with no qualifications and on it goes. The downward spiral has already started and ordinary people are already beginning to feel it

7 Time for Jacinda to act on poverty

by Christie on October 25, 2018 at 10:00am

Photoshopped image credit: Technomage

If this government is good at anything, it is talking about what they are going to do. They are going to plant a billion trees. They are going to build 10,000 houses a year. None of these things are showing the slightest signs of happening, but they still talk as if they are in full control of everything.

One News has published an article where poverty advocates are calling on the government to stop talking about fixing poverty, and to actually start to do something. quote.

Auckland Action Against Poverty is calling on the Government to close the gap between rhetoric and reality, and to do something to address the worsening situation for society’s most financially vulnerable.

The group’s coordinator, Ricardo Menendez March, spoke to Breakfast this morning about the increasing number of people needing government assistance.

“Well, over the past few years, we’ve seen a steady increase of the number of people requiring hardship assistance, particularly food grants, but there’s been a really steep jump from last year to this year, and I think it’s showing that we’re reaching crisis levels, where far too many people are requiring food grants to get by,” Mr Menendez March said.

He said over 300,000 people required assistance. end quote.

 

So this is what ‘bringing kindness back’ looks like? quote.

“Things are getting worse.”

He says rising rent costs are “the biggest driver” in the “jump” in numbers.

“New Zealand reports show that people on the benefit have been the most disproportionately affected by the rising cost of rent, and nothing has been done to address that.

“There’s other stuff, such as petrol, food, etc, but it’s really the cost of rent and housing that’s affecting beneficiaries the most.” end quote.

I don’t think this is just about beneficiaries either. I think there are a lot of working people in the same situation, and that is the really hard part. There was a time when having a job meant you could pay the bills, within reason. There is no guarantee of that any more. quote.

Mr Menendez March says what can be done is for the Government to “raise benefit levels, at the very least”.

“Child Poverty Action Group released a study suggesting that they should at least be doubled, and that would only put them 60 per cent below the poverty line at this point, so it wouldn’t even put them over the poverty line. end quote.

Raising benefits is not the answer. Getting people into work is the answer, even if it means they will still be receiving a benefit in the form of Working for Families. Better to get them working than not working. They have better prospects for themselves and their families if they find work. quote.

“People are going for cash and low-paid work in the regions, and they don’t last for very long, and they go back onto the benefit, so the Government needs to be creating well-paid jobs if they want people to go into work.”

He says, however, that “so far, we’ve seen no clear indication or timelines on when they’re going to be removing benefit sanctions or raising benefit levels”.

“So far, it’s been really disappointing to see Jacinda Ardern at the UN talking about kindness and compassion. Well, we’ve got a really unkind welfare policy that is punishing our most vulnerable. end quote.

This is the problem when all you do is talk the talk. You create expectations that probably can never be met. Jacinda cannot double benefits, even if she wanted to. It would be political suicide. They cannot remove all sanctions on benefits either. That punishes taxpayers and means there is no incentive to go out to work. We might as well all just go on the dole.

There are no easy fixes to these problems and I have more sympathy for workers on low incomes than for beneficiaries because I can’t imagine anything worse than going out to work for 40 hours a week or more and still not being able to pay the bills. That is what is happening in a lot of low-income families, and it is tragic. Most of them vote Labour, and yet fail to see that Labour’s policies will keep them in poverty for their entire lives.

There are things that this government could do to help the situation, but such things are an anathema to their ideology. The first thing is to stop beating up landlords, which would make housing more available and, by default, more affordable. Secondly, they could get on with what they have promised and actually build some of those 10,000 houses a year. Then they could remove the fuel taxes. That would be a start.

Sadly none of these things will happen because all Labour is capable of doing is talking the talk.

NZ heading for gas supply gap

by Christie on October 20, 2018 at 10:00am

I cannot tell you how much I wish National was not going through a meltdown at the moment. The things that are going on in the background are the stuff of nightmares, but there is no cut through – because everyone is talking about Jami-Lee Ross. Since Ross has clearly had instructions to act like a slow release grenade, it will go on for a long time. The damage being done to the country in the meantime is considerable.

A newspaper reports: quote.

New Zealand is heading into a gas supply gap and will need a new discovery to arrest the production decline it is on now, MPs heard yesterday.

The country has just seven years’ firm supply, and production is forecast to start falling away from 2021, according to Patrick Teagle, a New Zealand-based executive for Austrian oil and gas company OMV. Teagle was talking to Parliament’s environment select committee. end quote.

 

Last week, Energy Minister Megan Woods swatted this information away as scaremongering. Now it seems that it is all absolutely true. quote.

The company, soon to take over operatorship of the Maui and Pohokura gas fields, will work to mitigate the decline in production from those fields as a priority, he said but that will only slow the decline.

What the country needs is a new discovery, just when the government’s proposed ban on new offshore exploration is “discouraging” the potential partners that OMV and other firms will need if they are to explore offshore, he said. end quote.

Now this is awkward. Didn’t the government announce that there were to be no new permits for oil and gas exploration? So, if there is no gas to be found in areas covered by existing permits – there will be no new discovery? quote

“It needs to be understood that demand will outstrip supply and we are heading towards a gas supply gap in New Zealand,” Teagle said.

“We have real concerns about our ability to maintain security of supply over the next decade.” end quote.

This train wreck of a government would have seen this coming if only they had done some basic consultation with the industry, rather than just blindside them because they felt like it. So, you know what will happen? We will end up importing gas, even though we probably have years more of supplies in our own economic zone. That, of course, is no use to us if we are not allowed to go and find it. Let’s just pay a fortune to other countries instead. There is great economic management for you. quote.

The clash of viewpoints among the 12 submitters was stark. Government MPs didn’t appreciate being told the ban would increase emissions rather than reduce them, that the ban had already halted some investment, and that reduced domestic gas supplies would increase electricity costs for all consumers and sacrifice opportunities to reduce coal use and replace higher-emitting imports – like fertiliser – with lower-emission local production. end quote.

If they had done some basic consultation with the industry, all of these scenarios would have become clear. They could then have moved forward with their plans to reduce emissions, fully aware of the economic as well as the environmental impacts of their policies. But no. Only a responsible government, with the best interests of its country at heart, would do that. Nobody in their right mind could describe this bunch of charlatans as ‘responsible’. quote.

The Labour-led government has leaned heavily on its claims that the 100,000 square kilometres of existing exploration acreage is sufficient to ensure on-going gas supplies during a managed, 30-plus-year transition.

Official advice issued last month estimated the potential loss of Crown revenue at $1.2 billion to $23.5 billion out to 2050, and warned of a potential increase in global emissions if locally-made petrochemical production was replaced with product made offshore. end quote.

Particularly as we may end up buying the product from ‘rogue’ countries that have poor human rights records and even worse processing procedures from an environmental perspective. At least if we produce the stuff ourselves we are in control of how it is done, of the treatment of the labour forces and we get revenue from it as well. I cannot see a downside to this.

But this government knows best. It always has. As the Jami-Lee Ross trainwreck rolls on, nobody is paying any attention to some serious issues for our country.