Political reports and reaction from the Parliamentary Precinct, Wellington.

Jim Sutton to be Minister of State, completing trade round

NZH reports the appointment of Jim Sutton (Labour, List) with a special ministerial position to continue the Doha WTO trade rounds until at least April 2006. It would be ideal if Sutton's likely replacement, Annette King (Labour, Rongotai) should be at the next round with him as a way to smooth the transition.

Waitangi Tribunal on TWOA

From the Beehive:

Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen said today that Te Wananga o Aotearoa's status under the Treaty of Waitangi had to be balanced against its obligations as an organisation in receipt of public funding.

Dr Cullen was commenting on the release this evening of the Waitangi Tribunal report on the claim brought by the wananga's parent body, the Aotearoa Institute, that the Crown had been in breach of Treaty principles in its treatment of the wananga.

"Clearly it is too early to give a full response as the Tribunal's findings will need careful analysis by officials and this will not be available until next year," Dr Cullen said.

"I think, however, that the Tribunal has underestimated two things: the systemic governance and management failures identified in the Auditor-General's inquiry released earlier this month and the government's responsibility to ensure that the hundreds and millions of dollars disbursed through the wananga are correctly spent.

"This is not a small social service provider where some lenience may be appropriate. It is a large, publicly funded tertiary education provider with responsibilities to both the taxpayer and to its students.

"The problems raised by the Auditor-General must be addressed and the wananga must be held accountable for the large sums of money it receives," Dr Cullen said.

"The government will do everything in its power to ensure that both these objectives are achieved.

"The issues around the wananga council's formation and return to full strength are being dealt with. Immediately a full council is in place, we will be wanting to discuss with it the basis for an on-going relationship between the wananga and the government."

Obviously a ploy to spin this obviously bad news in a position as media friendly as possible. No report has been poseted at the Waitangi Tribunal website yet, and with the Christmas weekend, it's unlikely that the report will be posted any time soon, as well as a fuller explanation from the Government.

NZFSA commits to education, not legislation for the sausage sizzle

A story that National’s PC Eradication spokesperson Wayne Mapp (National, North Shore) will probably rue for not being able to comment upon, the NZFSA has blinked after a review of its food regulations and decided not to extend the legislation to sausage sizzles and pot luck events. Instead the NZFSA has decided to approach the issue with education

It’s a brilliant concession, which hopefully will address two very important themes. Food safety is important. It is estimated between 2-300,000 cases of food poisoning are contracted, yet only around 10,000 ever are reported in hospitals. Obviously, in New Zealand, people all over the country expect to not have to worry about getting sick after eating most things, even if they paid for them. More importantly these people can’t work, meaning businesses lose revenue, so it is of economic concern. Meanwhile, it’s hard to not find some mall, shopping centre, school or social club having someone not fundraising by having a sausage sizzle or cake sale/ raffle. These groups have a hard enough time trying to make a little money for genuine causes, without having to deal with another bureaucratic shackle. And many groups have already taken their own measures, by using gloves and paper towels to serve food.

So a gold star to the NZFSA who after listing to consultations, have found an equitable solution, and let many of us enjoy handing a goin coin over and have a good sausage, sauce and bread this summer.

IMF coming to the party with G8...almost

The BBC is reporting that the IMF is close to fufilling the G8 promise of wiping debt for the 20 poorest countires in the world.

If they could get it done before the end of the year, that would be a very fitting end, especialy with a renewed campaign by the Live 8 organisers over Christmas (see NRT's home page). While the measures are not sufficient in itself, the MDRI would move the ball closer to helping poorer nations. And it would help PM Tony Blair boost himself after a very troubling period in Montreal and with the EU as their president these last six months.
The IMF has also stated that the fund, has the capacity to expand to other nations...

"This represents the first phase of countries that will receive 100 percent debt relief under the MDRI. There are other countries that are also eligible, and at various stages on the road to qualification for MDRI relief. As they continue to make progress-and it is my hope that their progress will be rapid—we look forward to assisting them in joining those that we considered at this Board meeting."

The IMF still have to get the consent of all of the nations who contribute to the PRGF Trust Subsidy Account, that feeds into the MDRI

Student Loan threshold is shifting for FY2006

IRD has released details of the changes to the repayment income threshold for student loans.

The Order in Council has raised the threshold, in line with the CPI (3.36% for September 2005) from 16,588 to 17,160 from the start of FY 2006.

I just told a friend who has a sizeable loan, they want the levels to be easy numbers to remember, I told them the bean counters frown upon that sort of rounding.

Weighing in on climate change policy

It is an absolute shame that the carbon tax has been discontinued. On a previous post I made the point that the policy was not the sole piece of New Zealand’s commitment to reach its Kyoto commitment. Now, with only seven years to halt the increase and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the solutions will require money and a much larger, organized effort, and fast.

Joe Hendren writes his dismay at the way that Labour circumvented the argument that Labour would not get the necessary support in the house. I wonder where the Maori party would have come down on this: The legislation would have challenged contrary parts of their values at the same level if not more so than the Greens (who would have almost certainly agree to the legislation); balancing their commitment to the environment in line with tikanga kaitiaki, against the fiscal impact of low income Maori (and their families) and Maori business.

So now, with no “stick”, we are left with concerns with no certain resolution:

  1. Where do we find the money to replace the money committed from the carbon tax?
  2. If the carbon tax is scrapped, where will we find the money to buy carbon credits?
  3. Where is the alternative plan for both increase our carbon sink (forests) and emission reduction (from Agriculture and electricity generation, in my opinion the two major areas that reductions can be made?

To the first concern, The New Zealand Government is already looking to remove changes to the tax rate adjustment. It isn’t making National happy. They have come out happy with the carbon tax dumping, and wish to work in a bipartisan arrangement to solve the issues. Noble, but ill advised: the issue of climate change is much wider than their rhetoric suggests, obviously attacking the tax adjustment and praising the carbon tax removal is contradictory and myopic to the consequences of any policy.

To the second, I honestly don’t know. Even with a “looser” fiscal stance at the moment, locating the funding for a buyout, is not a comfortable thought to sleep upon for the Ministers of Finance (and possibly Revenue).

To the third, it my opinion that this should have always been the primary concern of government incentives; it certainly should have been displayed in the media. I think that individuals should be taking a role. I just went off to plant a tree a few weeks ago, I think if every New Zealander planted one tree each, it would be a start. It may be the time to call for the largest tree planting project in NZ since the depression, or alternatively incentivising startup forests. While these may not mature until after the 2012 deadline, it’s a start. The largest concern is still the emissions in the agricultural sector. I cannot see any non taxation measure without a research and development project of Apollo proportions to direct as much CRI, University and commercial research and funding to solve the problem. There are certainly flow-on effects from the marketing of solutions overseas (if the solutions are found, to which I am confident). Another issue is (and I was most impressed that Alistair Campbell from the Employers and Manufacturers association were keen) to have increased line charging on electricity prices, which would still affect businesses and consumers almost as much as a fuel levy would have, and would be as indiscriminate. It's likely that some people will be able, or will just as keen to ignore reducing electricty consumption as they would on fuel consumption.

But none of these measures will work, unless there is a grand, unified approach that should have been present to be rolled out yesterday, especially when I heard rumors within members of the NZLP that even a month ago, the party knew that the tax could be scrapped. I wonder where the press teams and policy hounds were on this?

In any case, the measures will cost money, either that money will come from the Government, or consumers pockets directly. And I have hardly forgotten the political issues.

It all seems a bit NIMBY. Speaking of which, the Makara guardians want to stop the construction of a much needed wind generation plant near Wellington as it disturbs the noise level near their house and even though the consents have been approved, they’re still going to fight. I find it funny, we want more power stations, we want more green electricity stations…but not here, or here, or even here.

TVNZ's new chair annouced by Government

Steve Maharey (Labour, Palmerston North) has announced Sir John Anderson, soon to be former Chief Executive and Director of ANZ National Bank Limited to be the next Chair of Television New Zealand.

Sir John is the natural choice, having financial expertise as a trained accountant and financier, but the retirement of current chair Craig Boyce means that the skill base so lacking in the areas both Boyce and Anderson provide will continue after the changeover.

Massive hike to the minimum wage

From the beehive:

Workers earning the minimum wage will receive a pay rise of nearly eight per cent from March 2006, Labour Minister Ruth Dyson announced today.

The minimum adult wage, which applies to people over 18 years, will increase from $9.50 to $10.25 an hour from 27 March 2006, the largest increase since the Labour-led government came into office in 1999.

The minimum youth wage - for workers aged 16 and 17 years - will also increase by nearly eight per cent, from $7.60 to $8.20 per hour, to stay at 80 per cent of the adult minimum wage. The minimum training wage will increase to the same rate.

"The boost in the minimum wage will ensure that lower paid workers share the benefits of economic growth, encourage people to join the workforce and provide protection for some of New Zealand's most vulnerable workers," Ruth Dyson said.

"The latest increase will benefit around 91,000 adult workers, most of whom are women, and around 10,000 youth workers. It can be made with confidence in the current economic and labour market conditions, without being at the expense of jobs.

"With three months till the changes come into effect, businesses will have time to prepare for the changes."

The Minister of Labour reviews minimum wage rates annually for adults, youth and trainees, seeking submissions from a wide range of organisations, including employer, union, Pacific, Maori and women's groups.

Ruth Dyson said the government's goal is for the adult minimum wage to reach $12 an hour by the end of 2008, if economic conditions permit.

Good news that will encourage the 'Super Size My Pay' campaign. No doubt there will be criticism from the right and business leaders. More to follow.

UPDATE: Tony has a post on the historical efforts by Labour led coalition governments to help low income earners.

Sue Bradford (Greens, List) has blasted the increase, from her media release:

"True, it is better than nothing, but for those struggling to adequately feed, clothe and house their families and themselves, a paltry $30 a week before tax is not going to go very far,"

"The 75 cents an hour rise is particularly insulting given that Government has just increased MPs’ wages by a much greater amount."

and regarding a seperate youth rate, to which she is opposed:

"Employers’ groups are already scaremongering, saying that young people will be disadvantaged in the job market if employers are forced to pay them the adult rate. There is no evidence that this has happened anywhere in New Zealand or overseas when young people's pay rates have been improved. Young people bring many life skills, strength and energy to jobs and this gives them a distinct edge in the labour market."

Yesterday the ministry of education released a report into the state of the tertiary education sector. For an area of policy that certainly does not reveal results immediately, the latest numbers show interesting and encouraging results.

Attrition rates are down, and enrolment rates are either steady or increasing. Wananga’s have overall, had lower first year attrition rates (those students who enroll and yet have not completed and are not enrolled in the following year) than any other group of the tertiary sector, including universities. There is also an increase in participation rates for the 25-39 and 40+ age groups, following a general trend.

The increase in sub degree qualifications is useful, more nurses, technicians, builders, electricians, teachers. While some bemoan the slow growth in high tech related qualifications, we should be just as committed to producing more people needed for infrastructural development, and providing essential social services. Not all of us could, nor should be chemical engineers. Furthermore, many of these graduates will be coming back into the educational system, to either up skill in a dynamic employment environment, or those who are looking for that second chance at education, relying on unconventional means to get qualified.

Overall, the proportion of New Zealanders who have a bachelors degree (or higher) is increasing, indicating an increasing level of highly educated New Zealanders, a good sign of the knowledge economy is getting through.

There are a number of things that are worrying:

  1. There are still imbalances in the median incomes of our most qualified graduates, by gender and ethnicity. There is also a disproportionate percentage of high level graduates (level 7 and higher) between Maori and Pakeha. This is not a quick fix, but will need to be a consistent focus in years to come.
  2. Encouraging people to take that next step, to push for higher qualifications. We are getting plenty of doers, now we need more leaders.
  3. Despite an encouraging decrease in the number of dropouts, at best there is still around half of enrolled students who fail to follow on and finish. This could be better.
  4. The data sets do not go into detail what areas of qualifications the graduates are getting, nor does it follow up on the employment areas they enter after graduating.

The data is not perfect in comparison across time periods, and the massive improvements shown in the last year may have been a burp, but the trends provide positive news for the Government’s policies.

OT - All I Want For Christmas

And some of these wishes just might come true.

Don Brash (National, List): Another year in charge, with extra

Helen Clark (Labour, Mt Albert): A Labour team circa 1999

Jerry Brownlee (National, Ilam) & Parekura Horomia (Labour, Ikaroa-
Whatever Peter Jackson had

Michael Cullen (Labour, List): Some extra packets of chewing

Bill English (National, Clutha-Southland): A pass in NCEA

John Key (National, Helensville): A tax cut…any tax cut.

Judith Collins (National, Clevedon): A tennis racket

Mita Ririnui (Labour, List): My electorate seat back

Steve Maharey (Labour, Palmerston North): A mirror

Trevor Mallard (Labour, Hutt South): A giant peanut butter gobstopper

Katherine Rich (National, List): A ‘Shirley Temple’

Lockwood Smith (National, Rodney): No ‘lunchtime’
meetings with US Senators

David Benson Pope (Labour, Dunedin South):…use your imagination

Rodney Hide (ACT, Epsom): A new GPS navigator for my mini

Jim Anderton (Progressives, Wigram): Three more terms in Wigram

Peter Dunne (United Future, Ohariu-Belmont): Mark Sainsbury’s

Winston Peters (New Zealand First, List): Anything you can give

Darren Hughes (Labour, Otaki): A snazzy orange jump suit with
‘382’ on the back

Wayne Mapp (National, North Shore): My 1950s New Zealand

Gordon Copeland (United Future, List): A male-female wedding

Jeanette Fitzsimons (Greens, List): To have Rod back

David Cunliffe (Labour, New Lynn): No silent ‘teas’

Tau Henare (National, List): To forever forget Mauri Pacific

Brian Connell (National, Rakaia): A ‘foot in mouth’

Dover Samuels (Labour, List): Some self control

Ron Mark (New Zealand First, List): A new hat

Jim Sutton (Labour, List): A life outside politics

George Hawkins (Labour, Manurewa): A police escort

Marian Hobbs (Labour, Wellington Central): an even larger voter

Bob Clarkson (National, Tauranga): A spare left testicle

Mark Blumsky (National, List): A better excuse for falling while
drunk to tell the missus

Keith Locke (Greens, List): To make Ahmed Zaoui a free man

Shane Jones (Labour, List): The back of TVNZ

Allan Peachey (National, Tamaki): My knife back

Georgina Bayer (Labour, List): My bill back on the agenda

The Maori party caucus: The repeal of the foreshore legislation

Got any other wishes?, write them in.

Six days of negotiations and the result was not the worst case scenario. Most analysis of the outcomes prior to the negotiation round suggested that it was more an examination of global economic liberalization than a test of any specific concessions by the more powerful trading nations. But the accomplishments will make next year harder, not easier.

For me, the largest accomplishment was not the fact that a trade deal was reached. It can be argued that with a timetable so expanded, it gives groups like the EU to find a way around the arrangement, or possibly, buy time for another stonewall session. The EU was the Soviet Union equivalent of the UN showdowns in the 1960s: belligerent, self serving and on the precipice of disaster. They made a good show for the media; let’s hope they continue to be the court jester next year.

It wasn’t the fact that they had adverted reaching no agreement, although that was a close second. Momentum in progressing reform is like wood on a fire, the more you have, the less likely the whole thing dies out. So it was a little ‘feel good’ that it was not another Cancun or Seattle.

The deal, a limited subsidy agreement has been described as ‘modest’ (see here and here). I find the term misleading considering that many were saying success would be getting any agreement. The terms, described best by NRT, aren’t going to generate massive changes (by any reasonable measure) for the poorest nations, which means for the richer nations, there won’t be much left on the table to appease poorer nations next time round. If the momentum continues after 2006, it will be a greater single accomplishment than the efforts in Hong Kong.

The largest accomplishment was the unification of a "lobby" group comprised of the world’s poorest trading nations. It should have happened a long time ago, such was the accomplishment in finally realizing their collective strength. Of course, just because they are a larger group, does not make it a better situation, they now have to contend with the separate interests of the group, another manifestation of the all too well explained prisoners dilemma in our schools and universities (remember?). Also, the situation mirrors another global diplomatic situation: the United Nations. Unification can draw the bigger, stronger parties away because they find it more difficult to get their way. In the UN, all you had to do was refuse to pay your dues, and the organization would slowly destroy itself. Here, they will have to figure out if leaving global compacts on trade (and possibly set up their own) will be a viable option. An interesting article on poor nations needing the WTO by Ehsan Masood indicates that for its major problems, the WTO is still better than other organizations to deal with the disputes.

Turning to New Zealand, the Doha Round seems to have yielded nothing of consequence. It was not a surprise. Jim Sutton (Labour, List) in his last major outing as New Zealand’s Trade Minister expressed optimism for a deal in 2006. It can be speculation, but the optimism appears to be not for a deal at the next round but for another round at all. These meetings are about achieving momentum, in the case of NZ, the expectation is that the next time round might allow work to move on a wider arrangement built on the success of this negotiation round.

It’s all a little wishful thinking at the moment, and putting faith in the idea that to make things work for the moment is to rely upon the optimism that convinces people to make change. And that optimism is justified, considering the consequences of the worst case scenario so perpetuated by the cynics.

OT - John Spencer of the West Wing Series Dead

A bit of a shock, and a tragic case of life almost imitating art, John Spencer has died of a heart attack.
So, for those who are fans of the show (as I am) I wonder how the show will account for his all too sudden departure. I'm looking into whether his Character Leo McGarry by dying, would set a precedent in US presidential election campaign history as a VP candidate who dies before election (and not already the incumbent).

UPDATE: I just remembered this quote from the pilot which reminds me of the situation:

Security: "It's a nice morning Mr McGarry."

Leo: "We'll take care of that in a hurry, won't we Mike?"

More money for MPs, what a time to bring it up

Now, politics is what a friend called ‘…a mugs game, but at least ya get paid well enough to stay out of my way” I guess they might find it appropriate that all MPs are getting a pay raise, dependant on their responsibilities:

  1. MPs with no extra duties receive a 4.1% pay raise
  2. Heads of select committees get a 4.7% increase
  3. Speaker Margaret Wilson (Labour, List) gets a 6.5% increase, as does the Leader of the Opposition Don Brash (National, List) and the MPs in cabinet.
  4. Leader of the House and Deputy PM Michael Cullen (Labour, List) receives an 8.1% increase.
  5. PM Helen Clark (Labour, Mt Albert) gets all up a 10% increase.

These increases are back date six months as well, to the start of July.

Now I have been trying to locate the reaction to the story, starting out with the principals first:

Act leader Rodney Hide said the pay [raises] would be a sick joke for New Zealanders. "It is going to be tough for New Zealanders to swallow considering Michael Cullen [as Finance Minister] and [Reserve Bank Governor] Alan Bollard are telling everyone to tighten their belts for Christmas...

Nothing about if he would give up any of his pay though, to charity or community groups. But this isn’t an attack against the colloquial ‘greedy capitalist’ MPs, because here’s one from the other end of the political spectrum, Sue Bradford (Greens, List);

‘…politicians have no say in their salary levels, but she does not think the rises will go down well. She says people struggling to get food on the table, much less buy Christmas presents for the family, will be angry they earn so little while others earn so much. Sue Bradford says the increases seem remarkable, particularly given the reluctance of most MPs to raise the minimum wage. She says she would like to see more parity between the highest and lowest wage earners.”

Nope, nothing there either. I call both of these MPs to stick their pockets where their mouths are, and give up the extra funding, to the very organizations that will be supporting middle and low income New Zealand this Christmas. Imagine if they did, the press story would be great. But alas, it won’t happen and because of that, they lose as much credibility as anyone else in the debate by their flagrant lip service on the matter.

Now I am well aware of the life of an MP is not easy, in fact you wouldn’t do it unless you were prepared for the stress and pressure that the lifestyle places upon you. And it is fair to place a salary in line with the rates for overseas contemporaries. But the report couldn’t come out at a worse time, especially when Christmas comes around, the issue of money is so prominent, with presents, holidays, looking after relatives, traveling and so forth. Festive cheer costs money and to see your representatives get a pay raise at the moment when you need some really hurts the image of MPs and executives within the public services.

So do I encourage changing the pay rates for MPs? No. and the lowest rates are almost in line with inflation so the issue of real income raises can be negligible. But if it were changed to performance based pay, I think Shane Jones (Labour, List) curt and impolite performance as head of the FEC this week would expect a pay cut. (It seemed like he was a patronising father upset that the two boys at TVNZ couldn’t sort this out themselves and leave him alone to his cup of tea and the paper.)

An interesting argument was made for pay rates being dependant on the size of the countries population. I use their data here:

  • $ 437,272.19 Tony Blair England Population 60,441,457
  • $ 577,599.15 President Bush America Population 295,734,134
  • $ 347,000 Helen Clark New Zealand Population 4,035,461

(Pay rates converted to NZD)

It was inferred that the pay rates should be inline with our small population on a per capita rate. Well, it is the fact that we don’t have our leaders having to turn up to every house in the country and ask them if they need help is the reason why this style of pay rates is flawed. Not everyone gets, nor expects the same level of service: ask a libertarian if they feel happy with the level of service a bloated government provides. Ask a communist if they feel happy to pay for the service of government. And we now live in a society where leaders have to tackle problems (notably overseas affairs, for our presidents, premiers and prime ministers) of equal importance and consequence to nations, not just citizens.

Money and politics, sometimes it seems like water in concrete, but I argue that while the timing is wrong, the raises are important, and more importantly if you are an MP who talks about the issue, make a stand and represent your constituents by giving this Christmas.

Unfinished business

With the last real day of politicking in the bubble, it’s a lot of tying up lose ends. Bob Clarkson (National, Tauranga) after winning his battle against Winston Peters (New Zealand First, List) over campaign financing has now gone on the warpath, being advised as to whether he should sue Peters for who Clarkson says “…has been frivolous so he's got to wear some costs.” So the issue may not be over just yet.

Regarding the whole issue, I felt personally ambivalent, and like DPF I’m more concerned with the dire need for reform and clarification in campaign financing. Generally, the perspective that politics is more adversarial than concessionary is becoming an imperfect one (sorry to burst your bubble Tim.) the MMP system requires a bit more multi-partisan work. Campaign financing and spending is one of these issues that rarely get covered unless there is a consensus for debate at the get-go, and it is a nice step that already Labour’s party president Mike Smith is calling for change. I hope that Judy Kirk for National seconds the call, it would be a good first step (and considering the failure they had in accounting for their election spending, it would be a great gesture to show a genuine attempt at fixing the problem, than just paying lip service)

Another issue that hasn’t seen the end of the tunnel yet is TVNZ. Steve Maharey (Labour, Palmerston North) is right to call that TVNZ will undergo massive changes at the top. It’s about time. But the flak won’t end just because the reform is on the way, there is still the issues of creative control in the newsroom by the TVNZ board, and that may never be settled, or if it is, well into next year. Look forward to that.

Bhatnagah points out the story on the ability of the QC to report into Taito Phillip Field’s aggregations of ‘corruption’ will cast a shadow over the report that will be released maybe next year.

Finally Te Wananga. A victory for the Government with Wetere’s resignation from TWOA, it pushes his involvement of the agenda and clears the way for reform, but that still doesn’t mean they will find it easy. Attacks from National and the Maori party will continue when parliament returns in 2006, especially the issue of the payout Mr Wetere receives and the massive issues of adequate (or inadequate) funding.

So as the sun sails into the west of 2005, the Government cleaned a bit off the table, and has the luxury of time to strategize their agenda for the next year, and find a way to minimize the flak they’ll undoubtedly have to face.
No Doubt National will be waiting.

Rongo Wetere stands down as CEO from TWOA

Hat Tip and more details are here Nga Korero o Te Wa

Today's reading list

DPF has posted a piece criticisng the frogblog article on Don Brash (National, List) condemming the Sydney race riots earlier this week.

Problem is, the title isn't where the frogblog was going. It neither blames nor even accuses him of causing the riots in Oz. If you want me to take you more seriously on this, be accurate.

ASEAN Mission Accomplished?

The real question is, what level of success will PM Helen Clark (Labour, Mt Albert) will she measure with the inaugural ASEAN conference.
The fact that there is a consensus on having another meeting together was a good step, NZ’s ambitions in Asia have been a constant concern for the South East Asian nations. In a conference that invited Russia (as an observer, but keen to join), China, Australia and India, one could argue that there isn’t much a regional grouping, but a who’s who of those who can’t play in the other trading blocs, like the US and EU. A comment by Malaysian PM that NZ will never be part of Asia is just an indication of the regions feelings about inclusion of NZ. Still it is early days yet, and the EU had humble beginnings.

So moving onto the WTO meeting in Hong Kong, we heard about cotton, beef, apples and now, bananas. Seems the EU just can’t get a break (ha!)

availiable here (hat tip DPF)

The Spekaer of the House has determined that the courts have found no evidence of electoral fraud in the matter and that the seat of Bob Clarkson (National, Tauranga) is not void.

I guess there is nothing left in Tauranga for Winston Peters (New Zealand First, List), time to move one would think?

Well it has taken six years, but it’s done. The final removal of 50 year old legislation has finally happened with the passing of the HSNO (Approvals and Enforcement) Ammendment Act yesterday. Still, it’s better late than never.

Industry can now progress with one piece of legislation, where previously there were four inconsistent and overlapping ones – the old Dangerous Goods, Toxic Substances, Pesticides and Explosives Acts – this will save time and money. Passing the Amendment Act also improves the workability of rapid assessment and reassessment of transferred substances." – David Benson Pope (Labour, Dunedin South)

HSNO has been around since 1996 and every year since Labour has been in power bar one it has been trying to reform the Act with amendments. It’s about time that the legislation was consolidated. The Act has finally started to solve it’s first hurdle, amalgamating the serious risks of hazardous chemicals and explosives, well covered in existing statute with the need to have better safeguards for emerging technologies into one ‘omnibus’ statute.

It will please at least one of my chemistry lecturers that he doesn't have to gripe about this anymore.

OT - Radio Live tries to simplify the name

Radio NZ has their article on the comments made by The Iranian President, and Radio Live has tried as well, only a little differently. Maybe they just post the scripts the newscasters have to read?

At least they're not spinning the point, just the name

From the Beehive

Foreign Minister Winston Peters has responded to comments by the Iranian President casting doubt on the Holocaust, and calling for Israelis to be relocated to Europe and North America, describing the comments as "aggressive and totally unacceptable to the international community."

"As recently as 01 November the United Nations General Assembly - including Iran - adopted a Resolution (co-sponsored by New Zealand) that rejected 'denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part.' The President's comments are at odds both with history and the contemporary reality of Israel's right to live within secure borders," Mr Peters said.

"As I said in response to a similar statement by Iran's President in late October, comments attacking Israel in this manner cut across efforts to build a lasting and just peace in the Middle East. New Zealand joins in the international condemnation of these recent comments made by Iran's President," Mr Peters said.

Well it's a surprise he isn't trying his Clint Eastwood impersonation.

I'm trying to believe how this is all possible? A woman buried under the Kasmer refugee camp since the October 8 earthquake in Kashmir.

More on TVNZ

Today’s media focus turns to the ‘allegations’ made by Ian Fraser as part of his appearance in the FEC Select Committee yesterday. And the sudden resignation of TVNZ board member and former Labour MP Dame Ann Hercus. As mentioned in my previous post, the details of the so called allegation, relies upon the arrival of fellow board member John Goulter. Mr. Goulter has according to comments made by the FEC Chair Shane Jones (Labour, List) invited to state his recollection.

During Craig Boyce’s (TVNZ Board Chairman) questioning the point was made that the board’s composition was severely in the skills necessary. Boyce made specific references to the lack of financial expertise on the board apart from himself and wanting an Auckland based member. This point was made to the Broadcasting minister at the time, and Boyce added that there would need to be a removal of members on the board, of which he concluded that Dame Hercus may have to go. So it seems convenient that she has tendered her resignation and I see no reason why at the TVNZ board meeting today that they will not accept it.

Steve Maharey (Labour, Palmerston North) Minister of Broadcasting on Morning Report this morning comments on the Dame Hercus connection to the story leak on the Bailey affair. He contends that she was about to resign as a consequence of the board’s deliberation on the pay offer to Bailey. She contacted the minister to tender her resignation but also alluded to the issue of Bailey’s pay offer, which was the reason why she was leaving, but because of the short period of time in negotiating the offer, the Minister was not informed of the matter.

Ian Fraser at the TVNZ Select Committee Inquiry

Ian Fraser’s turn on the firing line of the Select committee was not for want of boredom, the inquiry into the affairs of the TVNZ board required him to appear and recount his involvement, going back to the Judy Bailey salary row last year, and the relationship that degraded between the board and himself as CEO of TVNZ.

But he threw a few parting shots, making an interesting observation that since John Goulter was appointed to the board in June 2005 a series of articles published in several newspapers had accused Fraser and Bill Ralston (Head of news and current affairs at TVNZ) were under pressure to perform and were under the sword of Damocles. Fraser went on to suggest that stories such as these were passed onto NZPA, Faifax, APN and Radio NZ, but not TVNZ. Gordon Copeland (United Future, List) confirmed that no other member had been appointed to the board in that time. The accusation became a bombshell, especially to the National and ACT members on the table, but Paul Swain (Labour, Rimutaka) demanded that there had been no hard evidence to suggest Goulter to the stories. Fraser felt that the accusations undermined the ability of him to act as CEO

Fraser, under intense grilling from Copeland, Swain, Rodney Hide (ACT, Epsom), Sue Kedgely (Greens, List) and John Key (National, Helensville) elaborated on the Bailey pay issue from 2004:

Bailey’s contract was due to expire in December 2004, but negotiations had occurred only a month before, creating time pressure on the TVNZ management to sort out the situation. Fraser admitted that Bailey was in the “autumn of her career” and they were looking at a way to shift a way to shift her onto a short term arrangement, as a way to manage her away from her news reading position. After deliberation with the management team including Sidney Smith, head of Human Resources, the group had reached a consensus to offer Bailey a one year contract for 800,000. Mr. Fraser also pointed out that the loss of Bailey would be a huge blow to TVNZ’s image, and suggested that the deal would have been necessary to keep her at all. The deal was offered to Bailey and according to MR Fraser she had agreed, constituting an agreement. This deal had to be confirmed by the Board at the next meeting, in mid December 2004

Now this is where the story between Mr. Fraser and the Chairman of the TVNZ board, Craig Boyce (who appeared after Mr. Fraser) differ.

According to Mr. Fraser, the deal was offered to Bailey and then a few days later; the deal was removed, but after Bailey had agreed. The offer had been removed after deliberation by the board and the Human Resources department. According to Mr. Boyce, the deal had not been removed, but rather another deal had been offered, offering a lower annual salary but for a three year term. According to him, the deal was better. Fraser had informed the Boyce of the fact that Bailey had agreed to the terms of the first contract, to which he responded that Boyce would look into the matter. This had all occurred before the PM had spoken on the issue making the ‘culture of extravagance’ comment. Fraser did not know where the story broke, Boyce argues it wasn’t TVNZ.

Fraser believes that the level of intervention in the operation of TVNZ by the board was excessive, acknowledging that the board should question the payment of high salaries, but not to the extent of circumventing the management’s mandate. Mr. Boyce also agrees, commenting that running an organization that requires the TVNZ charter to be implemented while at the same time, required by Treasury to provide a 9% return on their investment annually. It emerged under questioning that without increased government spending to implement the charter, economic conditions may precipitate a focus away from charter based programming, and onto imported TV shows to maintain higher profits.

Boyce was directly asked by Committee chairman Shane Jones (Labour, List) if he had undermined Mr. Fraser, to which he flatly denied, and also elaborated that Mr. Fraser’s work was “ten out of ten”.

Bill Ralston, head of TVNZ did not appear at today’s inquiry, it is supposed that he may have been able to elaborate into the coincidence that Mr. Fraser had pointed out, as well as confirm where and when the news of the Bailey story originated.

Humour: Photoshopped Kiwi Film 01

So I found a collection of NZ films, that I'm going to photoshop with NZ political personalities from time to time. I would love contributions on the theme, it's free for all, so long as they are all in good fun.

Tonight's film is the hit: "Good Buy Rodney Hide"

Rodney Hide (ACT, Epsom) has been sporting about in his (tiny) new parliamentary car, complete with gadgets and other high priced widgets. You can learn more about it on his blog

Click on the photo for an enlarged version.

Stayed tuned for the next film.


I have responded to suggestions and comments on the Bubble's issues, and have fixed the following:

The Bubble has repaired its feed, with a new Feedburner feed available here. Right click and copy the link to your news aggregator.

For those who haven't noticed, you can make comments for posts. Next to the title lies a greyed out number, if you click on it, a comment page will appear.

Anyway, back to the show.

Today in the House

Today’s order paper

Questions to Ministers

1. Dr DON BRASH to the Prime Minister:
Does she have confidence in all her Ministers; if not, why not?

2. Hon MARIAN HOBBS to the Minister of Education:
Does he have confidence in the Acting Chief Executive of NZQA?

3. JOHN KEY to the Minister of Finance:
Does he consider that wage growth over and above growth in labour productivity has been a key driver of inflation; if not, why not?

4. SUE KEDGLEY to the Minister of Broadcasting:
Is he satisfied with the way TVNZ is giving effect to its Charter; if so, why?

5. Hon BILL ENGLISH to the Minister of Education:
Have NCEA check markers been given expected profiles of performance for NCEA standards, containing bands of expected numbers of achieved, merit and excellence in each standard; if so, why?

6. Dr ASHRAF CHOUDHARY to the Minister responsible for Climate Change Issues:
What reports has he received on the outcomes of the Montreal negotiations on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and under the Kyoto Protocol?

7. JUDITH COLLINS to the Minister for Social Development and Employment:
Is he satisfied with the way in which he and his office have handled the release of parts of his police file?

8. Hon MAURICE WILLIAMSON to the Minister of Transport:
Will he be seeking a one-off, substantial injection of funding into the National Land Transport Fund to ensure that a number of roading projects can be completed within a realistic timeframe?

9. PETER BROWN to the Minister for Social Development and Employment:
What progress, if any, has been made on the investigation into improving options for senior citizens eligible for overseas pensions as well as New Zealand Superannuation?

10. Dr the Hon LOCKWOOD SMITH to the Minister of Immigration:
Is he satisfied with the work carried out by his department, in particular the advice he receives from his officials; if not, why not?

11. STEVE CHADWICK to the Associate Minister of Health:
What reports has he received about the public's response to the introduction of the Smoke-free Environments Amendment Act 2003?

12. Hon MURRAY McCULLY to the Minister of Foreign Affairs:
Does he have confidence in all of the foreign policies of the Government?

The WTO in Hong Kong: Make or break time for neo-liberalism
Discussion Forum on the 14th of December
McKenzie Room
St John's in the City, corner of Willis St and Dixon St
Gold coin entry

Speakers include:

  • Brian Easton (Economist)
  • Robert Reid (Union Activist)
  • Suse Reynolds (Trade Liberalisation Network)
  • Jordan Carter (Labour Party Member, Blogger)
  • Sam Buchanan (BIPA)
  • and a surpriseguest star.

For more information contact John 027 600 6840 or email browning.institute@gmail.com

The Browning Institute for Public Affairs is a Wellington-based non-profit institute existing to encourage debate and undertake advocacy on New Zealand and international social, political and economic issues.

The institute stands for the resolution of social conflict, the encouragement of understanding between groups with different viewpoints and for progress towards a free and prosperous society which maximises the opportunity for individuals to shape, participate in and take ownership of their own community.

We stand against all forms of tyranny and openly and vigorously debate, defend and promote ideas that encourage human freedom.

Radio NZ is reporting Michael Cullen (Labour, List) pushing the House into urgency for the last week of Parliament sitting this year.

In terms of material outside of the chamber, the TVNZ select committee hearing continues tomorrow.

The public session starts at 9 am in G.002, Parliament Buildings and finishes at 1pm.

Today's Reading List

Another Tui moment

It didn't take long for one to be made, considering the media highlighting the difference of opinion between Australian PM John Howard and NSW Premier Morris Iemma.

The Herald reports the appointment of Mel Smith into the investigation of the civil servant who may have breached MFAT’s code of conduct.

It does not appear to directly look into the conduct of John Hayes (National, Wairarapa) nor his involvement into the matter, now no longer working with the South Pacific division, but it will be interesting how much the investigation provides into his involvement.

There is no doubt that the controversy will flare up again, when the report returns back next year. Like many other allegations in recent history, even if the report shows nothing against the member, the trial of public opinion will be an entirely different matter.

Serious adverse event

That’s what healthcare professionals call a fatal response to healthcare. There are a number of reasons why, but the figure includes errors on providing incorrect medicine type or dose.

New figures from the Safe and Quality Use of Medicines (SQM) group show that nationally, 1500 people die from errors with medication, or less than 1% of intervention by medication.

Recently, a British hospital reported a massive increase in their medication errors resulting in death: 361 patients were victims of medication errors in 2004 compared with 79 in 2002. The Dr Foster hospital guide showed that 5,000 deaths in the NHS system could have been avoided, due to errors such as those above. No matter where you are, medical care always carries the risk of making things far worse.

Unfortunately the problem is never going to be completely eradicated. Technology in better verification processes, as well as vigilance from our health care professionals, will always decrease yet never eradicate this outcome. While the figures are important, it’s important to remember the hard work of doctors, nurses and support staff in the nation’s hospitals in spite of the pressure placed upon them by patients, families, management and the public at large.

Analysis of the latest poll, with one week left in the House

National has come into the new week, buoyant by the Colmar Brunton Poll on Sunday Night:



TV3 (03/11)

NBR (18/11)

TVNZ (20/11)

TVNZ (11/12)



















NZ First
























United Future






Despite the low voter sample, the trend shows a worrying pattern for the Government. National has been a roll, due to the actions of David Benson-Pope (Labour, Dunedin South), Winston Peters (New Zealand First, List) under fire and Bill English (National, Clutha-Southland) on the issue of NCEA and TWOA. This week may be more difficult to find scalps, as all but one looks set too dry up. Weaker showings for both John Key (National, Helensville) and Don Brash (National, List) failed to really hammer the treasury benches, especially later in the week.

ACT’s support increasing, no doubt due in part to the increased profile of Rodney Hide (ACT, Epsom) both in and outside the House. Their rise in support indicates a possible swing in the centre toward National. See him trying to get even more time this week.

Labour needs a win, quick. With the last week of the House sitting for the year, they will want to get back on the front foot, and leave the public back in favor with them. They will have a hard time, but the (improved) discipline of their members will help a great deal. NZ First will be happy that the bleeding in their support has stopped. The Right Honorable Member did well to attack the Nats while in the House.

The Maori party has lost some shine, possibly because of the majority of inches going toward the attacks on the government. Their performance in the house was less than in previous weeks, after the speaker acknowledged their lack of procedure.

The Greens have returned to their level closest in the election. Again, they haven’t had the opportunity to get on the agenda; one imagines that the Kyoto summit would have provided them the opportunity had there not been trouble at home. They will try again with this weeks WTO talks in Hong Kong.

So, going into the last week of the House sittings, with the PM overseas, Labour will be smart to launch a counter attack into National’s much publicized anti carbon tax campaign, reiterating the (hollow) victory in Montreal and minimize their troubles from their horror week another seven days.

Good, Bad, Ugly: This week in the local blogs

A new feature for the bubble, but hardly original. So shoot me.


The News of the day has a brilliant piece on the TWOA report.


The National party’s overspending on the election advertising after such a well publicized campaign.


Graham Watson at The Whig failing to know the National Anthem…the Maori version.

Today's Reading List

1000 more police officers

All of them will be frontline officers according to Annette King (Labour, Rongotai)

So the measure will require a strategy that drastically stops existing officers leaving the force and resourcing the police college for the increase in trainees. No idea how they will do that though.

The police association seem to be happy.

Gordon Brown quoted in the Guardian:

…We have had Tory leader after Tory leader in the last few years," he told Today. "I have had seven shadow chancellors and every time a new person is appointed, people say this is all going to be different…It is actually the same policy, which is cuts in public spending at this point in the economy's history, when economically it would be a bad thing to do, social provision cuts in health and education It's the same old Conservative party going back to the electorate, having promised they would do better but just cutting public services."

Clearly Gordon Brown sees his future rival across the benches as nothing new.

The absence of any fresh ideas from Cameron, may have been more of a campaign tactic, designed to minimize attacks from Davis. This from another article in the Guardian:

…Besides, many grassroots Tories were unwilling to start a fight over policy. They wanted to be inspired, and they rather resented Jeremy Paxman's scoffing on Newsnight: importantly, Paxman's aggression was proof that Cameron's appeal to the west London media set did not extend to White City and the BBC media establishment. Davis survived the same ordeal but looked haggard and failed to make Paxman look cynical. "Abstract concepts are not necessarily a bad thing," a Cameron supporter told Guardian Unlimited. "David Cameron's campaign has not been about rebuttal and his people tried to run their own campaign." They judged, correctly, that letting Davis jerk them on a string every time he announced a new policy would be foolish…

Looking for inspiration from overseas:

In 2000, George Bush recognised that he could not defeat the Democrats on policy - especially on the economy. So Bush ran on tone and personality. David Cameron will do the same. Yet his willingness to penalise unmarried couples and enthuse about a flat tax is far more significant than his talk of compassion. Unlike the Democrats, we must expose the policy effects before the election.

But then Anne Perkins wonders if this just a consequence of the modern political personality: support by your heart, not your head?

Voters are less and less happy with aspects of Blair's politics, but there is an enduring admiration for his style: they don't like Iraq, but they like the fact Britain was led into it by a prime minister who thought he was right. They think Blair should have compromised on the anti-terror legislation, but nearly half still think he was right to stand up for what he believed in. There is a sense that he wants what most of us want: he is, as the pollsters define it, in touch.

Today in the House

Order Paper

1. RON MARK to the Minister of Police:
What assurances can she give that the New Zealand Police are to be adequately resourced to cope with existing and future demands?

2. Hon BILL ENGLISH to the Minister of Education:

Does he agree with the statement made yesterday by the Secretary for Education, Howard Fancy, that there had been "a move away from standards-based" assessment; if not, why not?

3. JILL PETTIS to the Minister for Tertiary Education:

What progress is the Government making towards addressing skill shortages through the Modern Apprenticeships scheme?

4. JOHN KEY to the Minister of Finance:

Is he concerned that the Reserve Bank Governor has this morning raised the Official Cash Rate to its highest-ever level of 7.25 percent, thereby leading to higher interest rates?

5. HONE HARAWIRA to the Minister of Corrections:

He aha te take i kore ai tana tari i whakautu i te tono a Ngati Hine ma Ngati Hine ake e hapai nga kaupapa Maori mo nga mauhere o Te Tai Tokerau i runga i te ahua, neke atu i te iwa tekau paiheneti o nga mauhere, kei roto whareherehere i Ngawha he uri no Te Tai Tokerau, a, i runga hoki i te ahua o nga korero a Te Tari Mauhere ka pumau ratou ki nga kaupapa a-iwi Maori?

Why did his department not take up the proposal from Ngati Hine to provide a comprehensive habilitation service, which was specifically designed to be culturally appropriate to inmates from Tai Tokerau, given that over 90 percent of the inmates of the Ngawha Prison are of Tai Tokerau descent, and the department's commitment to culturally appropriate practices?

6. SIMON POWER to the Minister for Social Development and Employment:

Does he stand by his statement to the House yesterday, in relation to his authorisation of leaking of his police file, "I gave no instruction, other than being completely honest with the media, to my press secretary"; if not, why not?

7. SUE BRADFORD to the Minister of Finance:

What advice will the Government, as majority shareholder in Air New Zealand, seek on proposals from the Engineering Printing and Manufacturing Union regarding Air New Zealand's engineering capacity, which are due to be presented today?

8. Hon Dr NICK SMITH to the Minister for Land Information:

Does Land Information New Zealand stand by its evidence to the Local Government and Environment Committee that its Chief Surveyors concluded that the estuary at Wakapuaka was not included in the title to the adjoining block, and that the Maori Land Court vesting order could not be registered under the Land Transfer Act 1952?

9. DAVE HEREORA to the Minister of Research, Science and Technology:

What has the Government done to support the development of the biotechnology sector?

10. Hon TAU HENARE to the Minister of Education:

Has he been advised of reports that the kindergarten sector is in upheaval, with compulsory fees replacing donations and teachers taking their first industrial action in nearly a decade; if so, does he think that his Government's policies have contributed to this situation?

11. Hon MARK GOSCHE to the Minister for Sport and Recreation:

What changes have been made in Government support for elite athletes?

12. ERIC ROY to the Minister for Biosecurity:

Is he satisfied that Biosecurity New Zealand is taking all appropriate steps to prevent the spread of didymo; if not, why not?

USAID has provided a fund with a grant ceiling of 1.3 billion for the purpose of:

…social and economic stabilization program impacting ten Strategic Cities, identified by the United States Government as critical to the defeat of the Insurgency in Iraq

What would be a fine way to promote security within Iraq? How about constructing a fine education system? How about quality hospitals and health care?

I intend to try and formulate a plan to spend that 1.3 billion USD (Or less). The accounting will be crude, but I think the point is to see the value of promoting these basic public services. It is noted that Iraqis value the power of education, and would not choose to let the system be destroyed. There is something that all parents feel and that is the joy that your children will live in a better world, and the passion that they have to stop anyone from destroying that chance, from enemies foreign and domestic. It also accelerates economic growth and development and instills pride and hope in the governance of the post Saddam Iraq.


A 1998 survey indicated that the economic sanctions and the first Gulf War resulted in the degradation of the education system:

A: Field study results conducted in 1993 showed that there are (8613) school buildings out of (10334) for general educational stages. 83.3% needs renovations and maintenance one way or another because they have students beyond their capacity, severe decrease in funding and scarcity in constructive materials hinders its rehabilitation mounting to 8 million USD.

B: Cessation of building schools since 1991. School plan for 1991/1992 through 1995/1996, were not implemented, they indicated the need for (3973) buildings, this led to the accumulation in the need for school buildings year after year to face natural expansion in education in all its stages, and to discontinue double, triple school timetable periods at the same school, replacing buildings that are derelict. The need for buildings till 1989 reached to (5000) building with construction cost of (300) million USD. Due to the difficulty to implement this, the Ministry stated the required buildings to face severe congestion by (639) building and (209) studying wings, cost of construction is (43) million USD.

1- Total cost to solve severe congestions reached to (378,800.000) million USD, depending on 1989 construction costs, that 400,000 USD is needed to build primary schools, 800,000 to build secondary schools and 200,000 USD to build school wings.

2- Total cost for (5000) building for all governorates excluding self-ruled governorates is 2,672,000.000 billion USD.

- Severe shortage in school desks due to the closing of productive factories specialized in school furniture. The required number is 2 million school desks, in addition to 300 thousands desk yearly.

- Severe shortage in the required paper supply to print school books for all stages and to distribute them among students in order not to use old books. The need is estimated to 20,000 tons of paper roll and sheets and 582 tons for ronyo paper, in addition the supply of other materials for printing equipment and stationeries.

- Severe shortage in the supply of blackboards, the need for 500,000 is required, also the need for school furniture, communication equipments and air-conditioning.

- Severe shortage in training materials for vocational education and vocational education department at secondary schools.

- Shortages in basic educational materials such as supplying (28972) micro calculators, , (2800) physics laboratories, (2800) chemistry laboratories, (2800) biology laboratories, (4000) general scientific laboratories, printing ink and raw materials to produce educational materials.

- Shortage in teachers training equipment and physical and sport training equipments in all schools.

In September 2004 Pamela Riley, who worked in Iraq with the post war reconstruction, highlights the accomplishments they had made:

The U.S. and its coalition allies have already accomplished much. One of the most remarkable achievements was how quickly schools opened after the end of the war in April 2003. Fortunately, very few schools were actually damaged in the war itself.

Within four weeks, most schools were opened and students were preparing for their final exams. The national exams were held in all regions of Iraq with very little delay or disruption. National exams at all levels, but especially the exit exams at sixth, ninth, and twelfth grades, are high-stakes exams and Iraqis respect them.

Teacher salaries were raised from $5 a month to a starting salary of $60 and an average of $300 a month.

A new Minister of Education was appointed who quickly assembled a new senior staff. Some 12,000 teachers and administrators who had been members of the now-banned Ba'ath Party were fired.

USAID has rehabilitated more than 2,500 schools and trained 33,000 high school teachers in effective and modern classroom management.

UNICEF and USAID distributed school supplies to more than 5 million students and reprinted textbooks, after removing much of the propaganda from the previous regime.

The U.S. Congress has allocated $70 million to rehabilitate 1,000 additional schools, and the World Bank has allocated another $60 million. These funds set the stage for school reconstruction for the next three years.

The U.S. and other donor nations have pledged an additional $150 million for textbook revision, teacher training, and other non-construction projects. Teachers, for example, need to be trained in a variety of teaching strategies to ensure all students learn.

The Ministry of Education has revised curriculum in the areas of civic education, history, and religion and has appointed a new national curriculum commission to revise curriculum in all subject areas.

Christina Asquith continues on the accomplishments, but does have some sobering comments on the challenges.

Of course there could be more done. How much would one high school for 1000 students cost? To find this out, I’ve had to make a few assumptions:

  1. Assuming that costs for educational appropriations are similar between Iraq and New Zealand.

  1. Assuming that the funding is going to be calculated by converting 1.3 billion USD to 2 billion NZD (based on an exchange rate of 0.65 NZD to the US dollar).

  1. Ignoring any external costs on infrastructure, property acquisition or ongoing resourcing, including salaries.

  1. Not accounting for the cost and time benefits by allowing reconstruction projects to be co run by local communities.

  1. The massive problems of corruption faced within Iraq at the moment

The ministry of education has Guidelines for the establishment of a new secondary school on their website. Based on the grants system, the cost of a 1000 student school

Administration Grant of $200,000

Furniture and Equipment Grant of $888,201

Learning and Teaching Resources Grant of approximately $680,000 (1000 * (718.47 +643.05)/2)*

Library and Information Centre Resources Grant of $528,000 (1000 * (390 + 665)/2)

Total cost = $2,296,201 NZD

According to some estimates, the cost of teacher’s salaries would be around $3600 USD a year each. For a class of 25 per teacher, a 1000 pupil school would require 40 form teachers, who would also cover the other subjects covered, plus an admin team of 10 staff members at the same rate.

Total cost = 50 * 3600 = 180,000 USD ($276,923 NZD)

So for the first year, the cost is $2,573,124. I would argue that subsequent years the costs would be closer to a quarter of this amount.

So 2 billion NZD = 777 new high schools (maximum).

*this is a roll of 1000 students of years 9 to 13, generally there are fewer students at the later levels but this calculation is a good compromise.


While education has thrived, healthcare has not:

…but in a series of interviews, American military officers and Iraqi officials involved in the reconstruction described a pattern of failures and frustrations that Army officers who have worked in other parts of Iraq say are routine. Residents complain that the many of the city's critical needs remain unfulfilled and the Army concedes that many projects it has financed are far behind schedule. Officers with the American military say that corruption and poor oversight are largely to blame.

Phillip H Bloom has been charged with corruption during the reconstruction efforts. Political interference with US funding has meant that a planned multi purpose, high tech hospital has stalled.

It’s harder to find a formula for building hospitals. But the Hope foundations planned hospital would have cost at least 500 million USD, meaning at least two hospitals could be bought with 1.3 billion.

Looking at the current fiscal spending gives a clue:

The United States contributed nearly $900 million for health care in 2004, "including $498 million for the construction of new primary care centers and the renovation of 18 maternal and pediatric hospitals to reduce the number of infant and maternal deaths," said Haveman. "About $17 million will be used for training health care staff, $300 million for new equipment, and $50 million for the new hospital in Basra," added Haveman.

So 1.3 billion USD = 26 hospitals

Another report says a new hospital is being built at a tenth of that price. So the number of hospitals built could be 260.

Recently, The New Zealand and Niuean governments spent 6.5 million USD on a new small scale hospital on the Niue Island, providing general practice, emergency and obstetrics. So on that basis

2 billion NZD = 307 small scale hospitals.

The improvement in the quality of life for any citizen makes them less likely to revolt against the system, rather to change it peacefully, observing the rules of law and have a strong goal of progress through cooperation. 1.3 billion USD is a small amount compared to the amount of money already spent since the 2003 war, and the tangible benefit to citizens is greater to the long term success of the nation, than the immediate need for essential public services.


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