Parliament

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 

Heather Roy's Diary

Heather Roy's Diary


Wananga Protest

The television news last night showed pictures of a protest at parliament by the Aotearoa Institute showing that politics outside parliament rolls on while the country waits for an election outcome and Winston breaks from negotiations with Helen Clark to consider his options. The Aotearoa Institute - the parent body of Te Wananga O Aotearoa - yesterday appeared before the Waitangi Tribunal alleging the government had failed to honour part of a 1998 settlement, a $20 million suspensory loan. The government for its part said the Wananga had not met its obligations including maintaining a ratio of 80 percent Maori enrolees.

Before taking their case to the Waitangi Tribunal the group brought a protest to the steps of Parliament where Maori Party representatives met them. Rodney Hide and I were invited to join them. Later a handful of National Party MPs arrived. Much later the Minister of Maori Affairs, Parakura Horomia showed up but was at pains to declare himself a caretaker minister and therefore effectively powerless to help. The protesters had some valid points. They don't want separatist tertiary education, which will inevitably lead to second-rate learning. Maori, like all New Zealanders, deserve educational excellence. The government by insisting on an 80% Maori enrolment rate in exchange for funds is setting the scene for the ghetto-isation of Maori education. ACT believes in choice and equal opportunity for all in education provided accountability is part of the equation when taxpayer money is the source of funding. We were happy to join the Maori Party MPs to meet with the protestors. In these days of coalition talks areas of policy agreement come in some interesting and unpredictable forms.

A Global Pandemic?

Although we are now well through the typical 'flu season' talk of other flu's just won't go away. The bird flu and to a lesser extent the Spanish flu have been in the headlines and many public health experts are warning that we may soon face a worldwide epidemic (a pandemic) of influenza. Influenza epidemics are common but there are particular fears over this virus strain - H5N1 bird flu - as it resembles the virus that caused an epidemic in 1918.

The 1918 epidemic was deadly throughout the world and New Zealand was not spared the effects with 8,600 people dying. Unusually for influenza, this epidemic mainly affected adults aged 18 to 40 so society had its strongest members out of action. There were horror stories from around the world of children and elderly struggling to cope with sick relatives whilst the young adults they would normally look to for help were either sick themselves, were frightened of catching the disease or were simply dead. Elderly clergymen had to double as gravediggers because there was nobody else to do the job.

There is still no treatment for this influenza but if the disease struck again the death toll would probably be much lower. In the 1918 epidemic many died from pneumonia acquired in their weakened state but today pneumonia is treatable.

Nobody really knows if the disease affecting poultry in South East Asia and Eastern Europe will cause a human epidemic. There have already been some human casualties. Of the 120 people diagnosed with the bird flu about half have died and nearly all of those afflicted had been working with sick poultry. As yet there is no epidemic amongst humans.

It is known that the current "bird flu" resembles the 1918 strain because of some remarkable work by Dr Taubenberger of the United States Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. As some of the Alaskan and Norwegian casualties of the1918 strain were buried in permafrost he was able to obtain tissue samples and test for virus. He took some criticism at the time as he might have bumbled into virus that was still alive and restarted another epidemic. However, he found virus that was dead but its DNA could be sequenced. That sequence showed that the 1918 influenza was a bird flu. It is thought that an epidemic starts when a creature, animal or human, gets a human and animal virus together at once and a new strain emerges that can infect people. But such an event is entirely unpredictable.

The DNA sequence obtained by Dr Taubenberger allowed US scientists, only in the last few months, to recreate the 1918 virus. This sounds like a dangerous thing to do and reminds me of the fictional Dustin Hoffman film "Outbreak" where drastic measures were used to enforce quarantine after a disease crossed from animals to humans. I am assured that the 1918 virus is stored under strictest security and the fact that it exists means that it is possible to create a vaccine. Another of the wonders of genetic engineering!

Implications for New Zealand are uncertain. In these days of global travel diseases spread quickly and it is important that we are prepared for all eventualities. Inevitably questions arise while the world looks on and awaits developments.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Werewolf: What Does Winston Peters Want His Legacy To Be?

A lot of people in New Zealand seem to resent Winston Peters and the power that he appears to have. “Appears” being the operative word. In reality, Peters will have power only up to the point that he uses it.

By next week, he’ll have become just another junior player in an MMP governing arrangement, battling to hold onto the gains he was promised. More>>

 

Rising Toll: Road Safety Needs To Be A Higher Priority

Official advice released to the Green Party under the Official Information Act shows that the previous National Government dismissed an option to make road safety its most important transport priority after being told the road toll was rising. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Arrests At Blockade Of "Weapons Expo"

“We encourage people in Wellington to get down to the Westpac Stadium now for a day of awesome peace action. There will be plenty of food, music and activities to keep us sustained through the day.” More>>

ALSO:

Rorschach Restructuring: PSA Taking Inland Revenue To Court Over Psychometrics

The Public Service Association will be seeing Inland Revenue in Employment Court over its intention to psychometrically test employees reapplying for their roles at the department as part of its controversial Business Transformation restructuring plan. More>>

ALSO:

Nuclear Disarmament: Nobel Peace Prize 2017 Awarded To ICAN

Congratulations from iCAN Aotearoa New Zealand to international iCAN, the other iCAN national campaigns and partner organisations, and the countless organisations and individuals who have worked so hard for a nuclear weapons-free world since 1945. More>>

ALSO:

Expenses: Waikato DHB CEO Resigns

An independent inquiry has identified that Dr Murray had spent more than the agreed $25K allocated for relocation costs, and other unauthorized expenses involving potential financial breaches of the chief executive’s obligations. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Sad About The Trolley Buses?

The Regional Council’s MetLink is today spending money to tell us that it really loves Wellington’s trolley buses, even though they’re all being taken off our roads by the end of this month. More>>

ALSO:

Post-Election: Preliminary Coalition Talks Begin

New Zealand First will hold post-election preliminary discussions in Wellington with the National Party tomorrow morning and the Labour Party tomorrow afternoon. More>>

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election