Future Lefts - `Imagine no possessions…’
Tuesday 4th July, 2000
`Imagine no possessions…’
Editorial: Jobs Machine
Industry NZ Launch
Dovergate: Can’t see the Forest for the Pricks
Yellow Triangles still on the agenda
Scarfies take film award
Commiserations to Shipley
News – the stuff news bulletins are made of
Web site of the week
Editorial: Jobs Machine
And so it ends here. Fifteen long, miserable, failed years of hands-off economic “management” has been brought to a close with the launch today of initial programmes that will soon be taken over by the much-heralded economic development agency, Industry New Zealand, in Lower Hutt today.
It’s a funny thing, ideological blindness. It leads to odd statements, extraordinary forgetfulness and many other problems. For example, Bill English was on the TV news tonight saying that INZ is a failure, because the Minister (Jim Anderton) hasn’t declared how many jobs it would create. Coming from a man whose government failed for nine solid years to do anything about business development - and that even cut business development programmes just before the election! - such statements take on an air of hilarity. But then, hilarity comes naturally to the next leader of the National Party - when he isn’t shut up, like he was when he should have responded to the Budget but wasn’t allowed to by the Screecher.
But of course that is beside the point. National, kicking and screaming, has realised (or at least its next Leader has) that the dead, hairy white hand of the market isn’t actually all that good at a number of things. Markets are excellent at allocating goods and services to people who have money. They unfortunately aren’t so good at many other things - among them, dealing with geography.
Regions are an important part of New Zealand. While I’d never describe Auckland as a great crushing weight, those of us who live here often take the huge infrastructure available totally for granted. For us a bank branch closing, or a factory shutting down, simply means walking another ten metres down the street, or getting a job somewhere round the corner. In some areas, either action can destroy entire communities.
It is this recognition of economic geography that I find so encouraging about the Government’s launch of INZ today. The era of hands off is dead at last. Reality has intruded into the nice tidy model, and the Tories are following us.
If only they’d do it more often!
Industry NZ Launch.
New jobs and higher incomes for New Zealanders should result from a new bunch of initiatives targeted at small businesses and regions, according to the Government.
Economic Development Minister Jim Anderton and associate minister Pete Hodgson launched the first three Industry New Zealand (INZ) 'Partnership for Growth' programmes in Lower Hutt this afternoon.
The Government has lauded the new body as part of a ‘partnership approach’ to help transform New Zealand’s industrial base, replacing the ‘hands-off’ approach of the past.
The initiatives announced today include an enterprise scheme providing cash grants of up to $10,000 to entrepreneurs, and an investment scheme to help businesses attract private sector finance. A regional partnership programme was also announced.
The Regional Partnerships Programme which will deliver grants to regions of up to $100,000 to develop plans and initiatives to make the most of their unique strengths and competitive advantages. Up to $2 million per region will be made available to implement regional strategies and initiatives.
The Enterprise Awards scheme which offers financial support of up to $10,000 to innovative entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them test and develop concepts with strong growth potential.
And finally, an Investment Ready Scheme which will deliver skills training and assistance to business and entrepreneurs seeking finance and venture capital for innovative concepts.
Mr Anderton said the economic development programmes were designed to achieve higher levels of growth and boost the regions.
"For the last decade, regions and businesses have been working on strategies and plans for development. Central Government has been the missing player. Well now we're not missing any more.”
Pete Hodgson, the Associate Minister, also had some comments. He said that the new business and regional development programmes launched today are powerful examples of partnership in action. “New Zealand is at last joining the rest of the developed world in recognising that there is a role for a modern Government in the development of a modern economy. The ideology that says government has no business with business has been discarded, as all ideologies should be.
"The secret of a good economic development policy is partnership – between central and local government, or government and enterprise. This Government is ready to work with the private sector, communities and local government to create new business and jobs. The programmes launched today are the first in a series of initiatives backing up that commitment with funding and organisation."
INZ has a first year budget of $30 million, which will eventually rise to $100 million.
The Ministry of Economic Development is establishing and managing the programmes on behalf of INZ until it is formally established in September.
(adapted from http://www.newsroom.co.nz)
The Dover Saga: Can’t see the Forest for the Pricks
Just when you thought that Parliamentary proceedings couldn’t sink any lower, our favourite Dick oozed on to the scene last week, bringing with him nasty allegations, and more grandstanding than you can shake a stick of substantial proportions at. ‘Dovergate’ as the allegations involving former Minister of Maori Affairs Dover Samuels and his relationship with a teenage girl in the mid 1980’s, has become known, has revealed the slimiest side of the slimy former member for Wellington central Richard Prebble, and at the same time brought the business of politics into serious disrepute. Probably the one major actor in the whole affair to come out looking credible has been the Prime Minister, whose handling of the situation has been thoroughly honest, and politically sensible.
The story began on the Twenty-first of the month, when upon receiving a letter from Richard Prebble outlining allegations against Samuels, the Prime Minister stood her minister down to allow further contemplation of the matter. So, from the very beginning Prebble showed himself to be the scheming low life that those of us who know and love him have always been aware of. Cloaking himself in a mantle of compassion Prebble claimed to be acting in the best interests of the young woman concerned. This may have rung true had the man with the poison touch discreetly dealt with the matter through the proper authorities, and not brought what must be a personal and painful event in the life of the woman concerned into the most public court in the land (Parliament), and the full glare of media sensationalism.
Of course, it comes as no surprise that Prebble chose to exploit the situation to the maximum possible extent with little regard to the people involved and principles at stake. We only need to look back to the shameless fashion in which he talked up allegations of financial mismanagement at the Waipareira Trust, allegations which of course were subsequently proven to be utterly baseless. Worth noting too, is the fact that as with the Waipareira case, it has been one of our Maori MP’s who has been attacked, something sure to appeal to the redneck element that makes up an increasing portion of ACT’s support base. Make no mistake, muck is the business of this man and his party. It was when he actually exercised some power and betrayed all who placed any faith in him, and it is now that he is the mediocre leader of a crummy marginalised party with nothing better to do.
This would all be very well, and simply provide us with another reason to laugh, with a contemptuous sneer at the tactics of the ACT bovver boys were it not for two factors. The first is that this kind of mudslinging hurts people. While Prebble clearly had no compunction about this in the 1980’s as he went about the merry business of destroying people, families, and communities in an orgy of callous policy implementation, one may have thought that the highly personal nature of the Samuels allegations may have stayed his hand in this case. Clearly though, the thought of dragging not only Samuels and the involved woman, but their families, and iwi’s through the mud was not even an issue for Mr Prebble. Secondly, this entire affair has turned the premier institution of our democracy; Parliament, into a sleazy circus – that Prebble is directly responsible for this truly puts paid to any theories that he may have any shard of morality or responsibility left to contribute.
Indeed, it would seem that Prebble may have played his hand a little too brazenly this time. He’s cast himself as the chain-wearing pimp of a media brothel, and despite the gruesome attention that people do pay to the salacious details that he throws up, they are all the same, sickened by his grubby antics. Much of the talk in letters to the editor and the like, right through this affair, has been not of the actual allegations, but of the utter contempt with which people now hold Prebble. The moral rights and wrongs of Dover Samuels the man aside, muck-rakers are not loved.
More ominously for Prebble, this kind of political grand-standing has the potential to bring to the surface the ructions within his own party that led to open conflict at last years ACT annual conference. As the head of ACT’s populist faction, Prebble and cohorts like Rodney Hide are despised by the other, equally objectionable clique that battles for inter-party prominence; the ideologues. Headed by former Party President Roger Douglas, this group of neo-liberal hang-overs have expressed public dismay at the kind of populist crap that Prebble and Hide have been pulling over the past four years. One wonders just how they’re going to cope with this new level of tabloid-style politics that their colleagues are now playing.
What has become clear as the story has unfolded however, is that they picked the wrong Prime Minister to play it with. Helen Clark’s handling of the allegations has been right on the mark, and her ultimate decision to sack Samuels was the correct one. The key to her success has been her trademark forthrightness. Through all the muck, innuendo, and half-truths, the New Zealand public has once again marvelled at a leader who is totally honest. When asked why she’d stood Samuels down, she said straight out that it was because Prebble had brought the situation to light. When queried on the fact that she’d changed her stance as to the grounds upon which Samuels could remain a Minister, her reply was to say yes, she had – she’d thought about it more, and Ministerial effectiveness was a better test. Incredible isn’t it! Jenny Shipley couldn’t even give a straight answer about having dinn-dinns with a short bald guy called Roberts, yet Helen Clark has been as straight as a burly truck driver in the middle of a potentially divisive sex scandal. It’s no wonder her approval ratings remain historically high.
Indeed, she is the only main player in the whole ugly affair to emerge with full credibility intact. Dover Samuels has lost his place in cabinet and has an irreparably tarnished reputation, while a number of his political friends were imprudent in the things they said. The young woman at the centre of the story and her family now know what it is to be pawns, and it will be years before their lives are truly theirs again. The National Party leadership were unable to muster a coherent statement between themselves. Winston Peters, dear old thing, flick flacked like an East European gymnast on speed attacking at once his old adversary Mr Prebble, and then turning on the Prime Ministers actions when the mood took him. Of course, the New Zealand public lost out too – instead of being given valuable information about policy debate and formation, our time was wasted by this frivolous, tabloid smear/story. Keep it up Richard, hope it was worth it!
Yellow Triangles still on the agenda
Young Labour is continuing to monitor the Christchurch Yellow Sticker scheme, which uses discriminatory practices to try and cut youth car offending.
Young Labour firmly believes the same basic human rights, protected by the State, apply to all people, regardless or race, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, age, religious faith or political belief. Further, we are determined that all New Zealanders should be protected from discrimination as set out in the Human Rights Act (1993).
Last year, just before Parliament dissolved for the election, National and Labour amended the Human Rights Act 1993 extending the date by which the Government itself must comply with the legislation from Dec 31, 1999 to Dec 31 2001. This was to allow what was known as Consistency 2000 to be properly completed, following the National Government's attempts to scuttle the programme and set human rights in New Zealand back by over a decade.
Future Lefts’ interpretation is that the Yellow Sticker scheme will be illegal after December 31 2001. That the scheme is technically legal until that date is no justification for its continued support.
Young Labour have written to Government MP’s advising of our contempt for the scheme and seeking an explanation as to how the scheme is both legal and defensible.
Scarfies take film awards
The film about Otago University students who discover a cannabis growing operation in an old house scooped the most awards at the New Zealand Film Awards in Wellington last week. The feature film picked up six awards at the annual event.
The director, Robert Sarkies, was named as the Best Director, and won the award for Best Screenplay with his brother Duncan, while Scarfies actress Willa O'Neill won the award for Best Actress and Jon Brazier took away best supporting actor. The film also won the award for Best Editing.
The Budget’s announcement of money for the NZ Film Commission and to help build the commercial film sector, along with the ongoing success of NZ films at home and overseas, shows just how big the creative arts sector has the potential to become in this country. It is in all our interests to see a well-developed creative sector, both for boring economic reasons, and because telling our stories is part of what having a culture means.
Commiserations to Shipley
Future Lefts wishes Jenny Shipley a sound recovery from her recent heart problems. Even though we are robust critics of her policies, her health should not be made a political issue.
We look forward to her return to Parliament in the coming weeks, so that we can again begin to criticise her hopeless policies, her rudderless leadership, her penchant for avoiding the truth at all costs, and her inability to connect with anyone not in the National Party - including former coalition partners.
News – the stuff news bulletins are made of
The most consequential news of the week was surely the announcement that the human genome project has finally cracked the genetic code that makes us who we are. Mercifully, it was the publicly funded project, rather than the competing private consortium that got there first. That the code is used for the good of all, and not merely as a profit making device is something that we will be keeping a close eye on.
George Speight’s madness continues in Fiji. This week he decided to take a number of journalists hostage for a few hours, while just yesterday his supporters instigated a gun fight with the army. In other developments, the army has put an all Fijian civilian administration in place in spite of Speight’s refusal to acknowledge it, while an army unit mutinied yesterday.
Business confidence surveys continue to be produced at an alarming rate. Future Lefts is just waiting for the next survey to include the ‘business confidence surveying industry’ as a sector all of it’s own, we imagine that they, if no one else must be feeling quite good about themselves as they seem to be producing the bloody things on an hourly basis. The surveys themselves are inconclusive, mostly showing that businesses are really feeling quite good about their own prospects, but not so good about general conditions. Righto then.
A new scandal has broken within the national breast-screening programme. This time, the project’s trial run in Otago is under scrutiny. It would seem that, as in Gisborne, large numbers of results have been misdiagnosed. An enquiry is under way.
Web site of the Week: http://www.labor.net.au/
LaborNet Australia is a focal point for trade union activity on the Internet. It provides access to trade unions and the services they offer, as well as running a news service, publicising campaigns and many other things. It also provides a diary of events. Compared to New Zealand’s CTU web site, it is clearly ahead. CTU is making some moves towards a similar format, but has a way to go. The Internet provides unions and other community organisations with a low-cost means of spreading their message – and LaborNet does this well.
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