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News Worthy, 17 June 2005

News Worthy, 17 June 2005

Political hypocrisy
On Wednesday Parliament debated the Tariff (NZ-Thailand Closer Economic Partnership) Bill and guess what? Within the actual trade treaty under a heading “General Exceptions” the following passage occurs:

… nothing in this Agreement shall preclude the adoption by New Zealand of measures it deems necessary to accord more favourable treatment to Maori in respect of matters covered by this Agreement including in fulfilment of its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi.

On the one hand the Government asserts that all are to be treated equally; on the other hand we face a myriad of examples where the Government acts in a completely different way.

Trevor Mallard, Minister for Race Relations said in his speech to Victoria University in July last year, “Maori have no extra rights or privileges under the Treaty or in the policy of the New Zealand Government”.

The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

On Australian relationships
Most readers will know that the Australian constitution still contains a provision for New Zealand to join Australia. What is less well known is that the CER Treaty between the two countries contains no provisions for resolving disputes apart from an obligation to “consult”.

The longest running sore in trans-Tasman dealings relates to the refusal of Australia to admit New Zealand applies. It goes back to 1922 and is allegedly based on the presence in New Zealand of fireblight a plant pathogen which is not present in Australia. The real reason however, is Australian grower pressure and the fear of competition from superior New Zealand product.

Recently the WTO determined in a dispute between the US and Japan that Japan’s quarantine measures for fireblight in respect of US apples breached the relevant WTO Agreement. Australia is not prepared to follow that ruling.

After much dithering by the New Zealand Government has put the issue on the agenda “for discussion” at the World Trade Organisation’s SPS committee.

That is a wimpish decision which will simply stall events further. A more determined government would have invoked the WTO Dispute Resolution procedures.

A ban on smacking?
Parliament is set to debate a Bill which would remove the current protection which parents have to smack their children. The protection is contained in section 59 of the Crimes Act.

As a matter of strict law, the mere touching of a person is an assault and that is why the provision was enacted.

National opposes the Bill and if it is further advanced will seek an amendment to the proposed law. The amendment will retain the protection given to law abiding parents but will prevent those cases of abuse where parents use extreme violence and weapons such as power cords, and pieces of wood etc against their children.

A flood of migrants
Xenophobia is defined “a deep dislike of foreigners” and is the political stock in trade of the leader of the New Zealand First Party.

Sadly there is a small constituency of support for ill-directed racist attacks in our community. In fact however, net migration is slowing to about 6,000 a year and there is every chance that more people could leave New Zealand than arrive this year.

Net migration has fallen from more than 42,000 a year in 2003 to just 10,000 in the past 12 months.

International student numbers are falling driven mostly by plunging numbers from China.

The fall of international students could have longer implications because foreign students are potentially a rich source of permanent migrants because of their New Zealand experience and qualifications.

Compounding the issue is the flight of New Zealanders to Australia now running at 600 each week to take up permanent residency in that country. That represents a lost resource which we can ill afford.

Customer service
John Roberts has just published his book “The modern firm: organizational design for performance and growth”, Oxford University Press 2004, with a stunning example of customer service which is told to every new employee at Nordstrom, the US retailer.

A customer carrying a very worn set of tyre chains approached a clerk and complained that the chains had not proven satisfactory. Although the customer had no receipt, the clerk immediately refunded the claimed purchase price without question. This was despite the fact that Nordstrom has never sold the tyre chains, or any other kind of automobile supplies!”

Political Quote of the Week
"If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time--a tremendous whack." Winston Churchill British Prime Minister


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