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NEWS WORTHY

The wrinkles of MMP

Perhaps it is not surprising that MMP in Germany is called Personalisierte Verh Itniswahl.

The provisional result of the election here has produced an outcome with no clear decisions and a number of difficulties for both major parties to enter into coalition or support arrangements.

With 193,348 special votes to be counted the party tallies are:

Labour Party 40.74%
National 39.63%
NZ First 5.84%
Green Party 5.07%
United 2.72%
Maori Party 1.98%
ACT 1.52%
Progressive 1.21%

In Epsom, ACT has successfully taken the electorate seat but the promise to deliver in addition to the candidate "another 4 or 5 MPs" has proved illusory.

From my perspective I welcome the opportunity of continuing to represent Epsom as its resident MP and I am grateful for the support which voters gave National in the party vote and the support which I received.

Epsom topped all other electorates in New Zealand in securing 59.39% of the Party vote.

The uncertainties of MMP have similarly been mirrored in the German elections. Germany has had MMP since 1949. It was originally considered to be provisional but has remained unchanged.

There is similarly a 5% threshold. In both Germany and New Zealand there exists "back-door" routes for a party to be entitled to seats from the lists; in the case of New Zealand a party must win at least one constituency seat, and in the case of Germany three seats, to by-pass the threshold requirements.

Kyoto

The Kyoto Protocol was a highly political response to global warming and environment degradation.

Our major trading partners including Australia and the United States refused to ratify the protocol. Now Britain has announced that the Protocol is unworkable in comments which have been under-reported on 16 September 2005 in New York. Prime Minister Blair had been a long time supporter of the Treaty, but all that has now changed.

In declaring that "no country is going to cut its growth", he went on to say "what countries will do is to work together to develop the science and technology".

National has a clear policy position on Kyoto which in summary is to reconsider our commitment by:

* Immediately getting an independent assessment of our projected greenhouse gas balance for the first commitment period (2008-2012).

* Working with the industry to plan how New Zealand can balance its emissions with sustainable forest plantings, and review the costs and benefits of such a plan to contain emissions.

* Withdrawing under article 27 if this proves to be in the best interests of New Zealand.

NCEA and the Qualifications fiasco

In a perfect world there is probably a place for both the traditional, exam-based, norm-referenced assessment system which, in essence, reports results of a student in comparison to other students, and the alternative standards-based system, which essentially entails reporting results in terms of judgments about how much students should know.

These systems are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Nevertheless, when we are forced to rely absolutely on a standards-based system that has been proved overseas to be unsuitable for conventional academic subjects, the whole credibility of our previously well-regarded qualifications system is put in doubt.

In Britain, educational assessment experts like Alison Wolf have thoroughly researched this whole area of assessment. Her conclusion is that standards-based assessment practices are only really useful in the areas for which they were designed -the trades and vocational education.

The frustration in all this is that the Qualifications Authority consistently refused to accept that standards-based assessment alone would not give fair or transparent results consistently.

A number of our leading educators have predicted that the introduction of a standards-based assessment system would:

* Undermine the coherence of individual subjects and the importance of integrating understanding

* Increase teacher and student workloads as a result of the introduction of a significant proportion of internal assessment in all subjects

* Encourage plagiarism, copying, excessive parental help and use of internet sites that supply students with ready-made assignments and essays because of the increased emphasis on internal assessment

* Remove comparability between schools

* Remove a consistent national standard and benchmark

* Complicate reporting to students, parents and employers

* Create uncertainty in university entrance qualifications
Sadly all of these outcomes have come to pass and the consequence is that our students are being subjected to an artificial and inappropriate way to assess many subjects, particularly academic ones.

Children unfortunately have to rely for their qualifications on a fundamentally flawed assessment system that is neither valid, reliable nor manageable.

CoOL Proposal of FSANZ

In the world of acronyms this is all about the Country of Origin label proposal of Food Standards Australia and New Zealand and involves a proposal to be considered by the Australian and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council on 28 October 2005.

The proposal is to make Country of Origin labelling mandatory on all packaged food and several types of unpackaged food - for example fruit and frozen fish.

CoOL is a highly political issue in Australia - reflecting Australian grower refusal to the importation of New Zealand apples and the current drive in respect of New Zealand potatoes.

It is not a food safety issue, it is a Buy Australia campaign and as such it should not be in the Joint Food Code. The Australian Minister made that clear when he said "it is important that consumers can buy food confidently, knowing whether it's home grown Australian produce or an imported produce".

Dinner at Bellamys

In my email newsletter no. 34 I offered a test as to the meaning of "Raiona ki runga te marae. Hipi ki roto te whare Paremata". The prize was a complimentary dinner at Bellamys for the 5th correct entry.

The same prize is offered for the fifth correct entry which identifies the Christian hymn based on John 13:7.

Political Quote of the Week
"To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right" Confucius

23 September 2005
No. 46

Upcoming Events

23 September
Coastguard 2005 Conference
24 September
"Cherish our Children" walk
Auckland v Northland NPC rugby game in Auckland
25 September
Opening Day of Mt Eden Bowls
Eden Roskill RSA AGM
Reopening of the Western Districts Ambulance Station
HMCS Winnipeg from Canada visiting NZ
27 September
SKY City Function for 2005 Community Trust Grant Recipients
29 September
Young Executive of the Year Regional Awards
30 September
2nd Anniversary of NZ Guangdong Assn

Auckland v Wellington NPC rugby game at Eden Park
1 October
Chinese Assn of NZ Inc celebrating Moon Festival & China's 56th National Day
Hurricane Katrina Relief Concert being held in Wellington
2 October
Auckland Indian Assn Mahatama Gandhi Inauguration Ceremony
Auckland Chinese Community Centre National Day dinner - 56th anniversary of the Founding of the Peoples Republic of China
Jade String Quartet concert in Epsom
4 October
Republic of Korea National Foundation Day celebrations
Arthritis NZ launch of "The Burden & Prevalence of Arthritis in NZ" report.
7 October
94th Anniversary of the National Day of the Republic of China celebrations in Auckland
8 October
Celebrations for 20th Anniversary of HMNZS Hinau - 25th Anniversary of Women joining the RNZNVR and 80th Anniversary of HMNZS Ngapona
15 October
St Johns Thames Centennial
2005 Margaret Stevenson Memorial Dinner and Lecture
Mount Ali - Taiwanese group concert in Takapuna
19 October
Opening of 10th Italian Film Festival in NZ
20 October
Dinner for 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar
28 October
40th anniversary of Wellington Samaritans.

Richard Worth

Visit my website for more information at: www.richardworth.co.nz

ENDS

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