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Collins Comments 18 July 2008

Collins Comments
18 July 2008

This week, I attended an extremely interesting speech given by Dr Alan Bollard, Governor of the Reserve Bank. It wasn't on interest rates or inflation but was on the life and work of AW "Bill" Phillips (1914-75) Bill Phillips was a New Zealand economist who spent much of his academic life at the London School of Economics (LSE) and who created the Phillips curve describing the relationship between the rate of inflation and unemployment. His other major contribution was in developing an analogue computer using hydraulics to show the workings of the British economy. What he did was immensely significant but I found his life story and how he had come to make these contributions even more significant.

Bill Phillips was born near Dannevirke. He left school before finishing his schooling and worked in Australia in jobs from cinema manager to crocodile hunter. He travelled to Japan in the late 1930s and to China and Russia, through NAZI Germany and ended up in England in 1938 where he studied electrical engineering. Phillips joined up with the RAF when War was declared, was sent to Singapore working on fighter planes and escaped Singapore when that fell. The bravery of his actions on the escaping ship, resulted in him being awarded the MBE after the War. Bill Phillips ended up in Java and eventually was captured by the Japanese and spent 3 and a half years interned in the most appalling conditions. While there he learnt Mandarin and other languages from prisoners. He created a miniaturised secret radio that he kept inside a wooden clog and a secret water boiler for tea. After surviving the War, he moved to London and started studying sociology at the LSE. He switched to studying economics and was made a professor of economics within 9 years.

Worried by the student unrest in the late 1960's, he moved to Australia and eventually to the University of Auckland where he taught until he died at the premature age of 61.

It was quite sobering to hear Dr Bollard talk about how, when the London School of Economics, that had 2 of the hydraulic computers built by Bill Phillips, agreed to give one to New Zealand, our national museum, Te Papa, didn't want it. Dr Bollard has ensured that it has ended up in the Reserve Bank museum. I'm going to make sure that I see this for myself. Constituents who travel to Wellington, might like to take the opportunity to view the evidence of an extraordinary New Zealander, unknown to most New Zealanders and who we should celebrate.

I recently attended a meeting between John Key and community leaders from 12 of the Asian communities. Arranged by Pansy Wong MP, this was an opportunity for community leaders to express their concerns about law and order issues. Many speakers gave their support to the NZ Police. I was concerned to find out that according to Police statistics provided last year there were fewer Police in Counties Manukau than in 2004. Recent events would indicate that more are needed, not fewer.

Congratulations to the Clevedon Road Pharmacy which was a runner up in a recent asthma awareness display competition run by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation and the Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand to promote asthma awareness in the community.

I was pleased to see the overwhelming support for the first reading of the Bill that proposes providing more community involvement in the granting of liquor licences. I have often been contacted by constituents on this issue and I am aware that local councils feel unable to do anything about the issue under the current legislation. The Bill will now go to a Select committee which will give all New Zealanders a chance to have their say and to make amendments to the Bill.

Many constituents will be concerned at the revelation from Housing New Zealand Corporation at a recent Select Committee where it was revealed that HNZC “sensitively” house rival gangs in separate suburbs from each other. To me this means that gangs get to dictate who or how people get houses that become available. Frankly, if it was any other prospective tenant dictating where they would live, they'd get told to get lost. I'm sure that showing sensitivity to criminal gangs is not what taxpayers want done with their taxes.

Hairdressers are facing new nanny state rules from the current Government and its supporters. Under the Public Health Bill, hairdressers will be forced to provide a Public Health Risk Management Plan. These plans must identify the risks to the public health that may arise from the activity, identify how those risks will be prevented or minimised, and set out a timetable for how they will be managed. Every Public Health Risk Management Plan must then be submitted to an assessor for approval. The Director General of Health will maintain a national database of consents granted as a result of a Public Health Risk Management Plan. Once that’s out of the way an application will be given a certificate to display on their wall! On top of this, the hairdresser will still require a consent from their local council to carry on business as a hairdresser. Nanny State is seeking to over-regulate everything from free speech, to light bulbs, and now hairdressers. It’s just a bridge too far.

Judith Collins
MP for Clevedon


ENDS

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