Cartoon of the Day

Credit:  Roger Price

Credit: Roger Price

Amnesty International needs to stop whining about our refugee quota

The head of Amnesty International New Zealand is disappointed the Prime Minister has said there are no plans to increase the country’s refugee quota.

John Key made the comment at the Istanbul Peace Summit on Friday.

New Zealand has an annual limit of 750 places for refugees on UN waiting lists.

Amnesty New Zealand head Grant Bayldon said it was especially important on Anzac Day not to forget that civilians suffer much of the horror of war and conflict.

“There’s a way that New Zealand really can play its part on the international stage, by doing its fair share and taking refugees,” he said.

We can hardly house our own people while we let in tens of thousands of immigrants.  And refugees get the star treatment, with accommodation and monetary assistamce.  750 is hardly a small number.   Read more »

Reader content: Suck it up Miss Bailey

As a child I was sexually abused by a close family member.

I spoke out about when I was 13 and was rushed to a mental institution in the middle of the night. I quickly figured out it was best to claim I ‘made it up’ so my stay was short, and doctors declared me a ‘troubled teenager’ suffering from depression.

Boarding School was the solution to these ‘problems’ in my childhood, where larger problems emerged. My determination to escape was fuelled by my hatred of any form of authority. I managed to disappear in the night, change my name, dye my hair, and begin a new life.

I worked as a barmaid supporting myself at 14, pregnant at 15, and married at 16. I realize today I did this all so young to secure love in my life. I regret none of it.

As a mature woman today I sometimes think about how different my life would have been without the sexual abuse in my childhood. I must say that the abuse was minor compared to the shock and hurt of the offender’s betrayal. Read more »

Charter Schools Perception Series: The Advocates Part One UPDATED

Image- Whaleoil.co.nz

Image- Whaleoil.co.nz

WHAT is your background in education Alwyn?

I started teaching in 1991. I taught at Tauranga Boys, which is a good school, then did a little time at Hamilton Boys and then taught at Saint Cuthbert’s college. During that time I worked really hard in the background doing some study looking at some other countries. In the end the questions were, what is really good about the New Zealand education system and what could change?

The bottom line is that for the vast majority of children in New Zealand if you place them in year eleven in good shape they will do fine.

Alwyn Poole has a BBS, MEd (Hons), Dip Tchg and a PG Dip Sport Mgt. He is a Principal and Academic Manager.

WHY is there a need for a new Middle School model?

I think one place that we are incredibly remiss in New Zealand is that we don’t ask our Primary School applicants to have a minimum NCEA level of two or three in Maths and a Science therefore we have got a whole heap of Primary teachers who are unable to be strong in those areas.

Children are coming to year seven quite often without a good background in those subjects.

So where do we fall down? The answer is in years seven, eight, nine and ten.

I think for many people Intermediate schooling has done its dash. And the first two years of secondary schooling are under valued and under resourced. You have got bigger classes and you put your less able teachers and you don’t put as much emphasis on it because the Schools are judged on year eleven, twelve and thirteen.

So at that year nine and ten time when the kids really need help developmentally and intellectually to be catered for at their best, is when in our New Zealand education system we choose to give them the least.

Read more »

See if you can guess

You might have seen this story already, in which case you’re not allowed to play the game.   Pick a country, one country, where you think that the government is considering acting against having strippers at funerals?

Pick a country, then read on.   Read more »

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Hubble is 25

YouTube my be 10, and no doubt has changed the world, but above us floats an amazing piece of equipment, and it’s been silently staring into space for us for 25 years.

hubble6

Read more »

First Auckland, now Wellington want government to make tolls legal

Charity muggers may be stopping cars and demanding money, but the idea is appealing to cities that want more money.  Always more money…

Wellington wants to join forces with Auckland in a bid change the Government’s mind on tolling exiting motorways.

The region’s political leaders say it is not practical or affordable to keep building roads to ease rush hour congestion.

Other measures – including motorway tolls, charging motorists to enter a CBD, and raising the price of central city parking – also need to be seriously considered, they say.

On Tuesday, the Regional Transport Committee, which all of greater Wellington’s mayors sit on, will vote on the idea of approaching Auckland Council to discuss a joint approach to the Government on road pricing tools.

Tolling existing roads requires a law change and Auckland Mayor Len Brown has made no secret of his support. His council has proposed a $2 motorway toll or a regional fuel tax and higher rates as solutions to Auckland’s $12 billion transport funding shortfall.

But the Government is “sceptical” about the idea, and has rebuffed Auckland’s advances to date.

The Wellington Regional Land Transport Plan, which the Regional Transport Committee will be asked to approve on Tuesday, says the transport network is being placed under high stress at peak times, particularly in and out Wellington’s CBD.

The plan estimated charging motorists to enter Wellington’s CBD could reduce car trips during the morning rush by 4 million and increase public transport trips by 3m annually.

Greater Wellington’s public transport portfolio leader Paul Swain said most of the debate about road pricing thus far had been in Auckland, and Wellington was keen to join the discussion.

He acknowledged that the two cities combined would possess strong lobbying power, but he said the intention was not to strong-arm the Government.

“The Government, in my view, will be quite cautious about the shift towards this.”

But Transport Minister Simon Bridgessaid the Government was not keen on new funding tools for transport.

He was always happy to engage with Wellington and Auckland’s councils.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the challenges facing Wellington.

It’s not unprecedented of course.  Except we’ve had tolls to pay for the item itself.  Be it a bridge, or a road extension.

Where this is going wrong is that it is a general taxation mechanism, and although it appears to be roughly targeted at “transport” related expenditure, it is the thin end of the wedge.

Once you add personal or company tax, GST, rates, ACC, fuel, and sin taxes, our lives are already taxed well in excess of 50 cents in the dollar.   There has to be someone that recognises we need to do more with less, not just come for the tax and rate payers’ pockets.  Again.  And again.

 

– Michael Forbes, Stuff

Armstrong laments Key gets away with another one

One particular word had been noticeably absent from [John Key’s critics] carefully crafted public statements.

That word is the ”R” word – resignation.

With the story still unfolding with unpredictable twists and turns, it is far too early to call for Mr Key to fall on his sword.

Saying that he should do so could be counterproductive in only succeeding in generating sympathy for Mr Key.

Better to wait until it is possible to assess on whose side – Mr Key’s or Ms Bailey’s – majority public opinion lies.

It has taken a while, but Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First have finally worked out that turning the public against Mr Key will not be achieved by making shrill demands that he depart Premier House once and for all every time he has a lapse in judgement.

Those parties have learned from bitter experience that calls for Mr Key to go perversely tend to have the opposite effect in consolidating support behind him. Read more »

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Today in History

Chernobylreactor_1

On this day, in 1986, a test to see if possible new emergency procedures designed to protect a nuclear power plant reactor core was carried out the number 4 reactor of the Chernobyl Power Plant.

Read more »