The “brain drain” fear is back – or is it?


The “brain drain” fear is back. That old fear/fear mongering of New Zealand losing its best and brightest people – scientists, economists, entrepreneurs, among others – to overseas nations, including and especially Australia, is back.

Or is it? In which case it depends on who you ask. National leader Judith Collins certainly thinks the brain drain danger has returned. For years there was this idea that all of the brightest New Zealanders who could afford to leave were doing so. They were handing in their resignations, chasing up friends who had already left, checking their bank accounts and applying for visas to Canada, Europe, United Kingdom, United States, where they would being a new life working, making money and travelling. Far more serious than a Contiki bus trip that would go to a host of tourist hotspots before the travellers return to their countries of origin, we see people buying one way tickets to another country.

Perhaps the brain drain is simply a National Party attack vehicle to enable them to get at the Government’s economic policies. Perhaps, just as it was heavily used by her National Party predecessors during past stints on the Opposition benches, Ms Collins is using it now to try to gain leverage in a political environment that is not very friendly to unrepentant conservatism. Certainly I can recall former National Party leader Bill English using it during the early part of the 2000’s to criticize the leftist Government of Prime Minister Helen Clark. His successor in that role Dr Don Brash and later former Prime Minister John Key also used it.

In all of these instances it was about the Government’s anti-business attitude; their tax policy; how red tape will ruin New Zealand; how we cannot afford the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process; how our social welfare policy sucks up untold billions. Yet, the moment Labour are not in office, the “brain drain”, is suddenly no longer an issue.

But how seriously do people want to move to Australia at the moment? Since March, New Zealand has gained massive respect from millions of people around the world for its firm line on COVID19. It has seen political commentators who normally have little to do with New Zealand praising the country for its reaction. A response led by Government that for a change put science front and centre. Too often we do not give our scientific community the respect they deserve, and Labour, like National are guilty of using science when it suits them.

Since the Ardern Government began in 2017, new words not normally in political language – kindness and compassion – have entered mainstream political conversations. The 2019 mosque attack, the Whakaari/White Island eruption and now this have all combined to show that whilst Labour-led Governments can be a bit of a challenge to businesses, they address some of the social issues National are less inclined to. So whilst a brain drain is sometimes attached to Labour-led Governments, a social drain sometimes happens on the watch of National-led Governments.

Government changes election date


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has changed the date of the 2020 General Election to 17 October 2020

The change in the election date follows pressure from National, A.C.T. and New Zealand First to move the election to November so that the political parties would have more campaign time in the current COVID19 environment.

There are numerous good reasons why the change happened in the manner it did:

  • Auckland cannot participate whilst in a LEVEL 3 lock down as no facilities would be open to enable voting and candidates and parties would not be able to campaign effectively
  • Pushing back four weeks will give candidates time to get around their electorates and “Meet-the-Candidate” sessions to be held in each electorate, where the public can ask questions of them
  • The Government would want to be sure that the current COVID19 outbreak has been resolved and New Zealand is once again operating relatively normally
  • In terms of timing, the Government could afford to allow some leeway – the latest Parliament could have continued prior to yesterday’s announcement was 12 October at which point it would dissolve automatically.

And yet, the conspiracy theorists are out. To them this is another indicator of some sort of conspiracy to deprive New Zealanders of their freedoms. Despite the numerous articles written by Stuff journalists such as Henry Cooke and Luke Malpass among others, New Zealand Public Party seem convinced that something improper is afoot.

But despite the conspiracy theorists being at work, the parties in Parliament all welcomed the move and generally believe that the Prime Minister got the timing about right. I believe it is a fair call to have made. It would not have been proper for 2/3 of New Zealand to plunge ahead with election campaigning and leave Auckland behind, especially when its electorates are some of the key ones to watch in 2020.

 

Labour launches 2020 election campaign


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern launched the Labour 2020 election campaign at the Auckland Town Hall on Saturday.

Her speech acknowledged the work of Prime Ministers John Key and Bill English to guide the country through the Global Financial Crisis, before noting the yawning chasm that had continued to grow between children in poverty and those are not. She acknowledged that there are things that she and the Government have not managed to do, and that the Government needs to continue to be honest with people about why.

Yes, this is the COVID19 election. Yes, COVID19 has put a lot on the plate of the Government in terms of impacts on the economy and the community.

But an election is a contest of ideas. It is about political parties putting their best policies out for public consumption and to see what New Zealand wants to do. Ultimately some policies need to be released. And one or two of them need to be biggish ones that get the public’s attention; that show a direction particular to that party.

As policy announcements seem a bit short at the moment, I have released a few below:

  • Ditch N.C.E.A., refine the old system to remove grading and require all courses to have both an external and internal assessment component.
  • Explore the possibility of hydrogen from the waste stream in place of petroleum – and if feasible, then explore the feasibility of a hydrogen plant supplying our market. Not a shovel ready project, and not one to likely happen under this government, but one that I think N.Z. will probably attempt at some point – so lets get started on the research.
  • Ditch the District Health Boards and go back to some kind of central model, with the democratic function being met by a central board of two members from each province. Savings of possibly $1 billion per year which would be used to fill in gaps in surgery, A & E.
  • Explore a universal proportionate income indexed to inflation – assumes a 40 hour working week, not eligible if working more than 32 hours (80%).
  • Fund the refurbishment of all state houses not marked for it.

There will be more ideas later in the campaign period.

National has no big ideas; Labour says not to expect big ideas


National are bereft of ideas. Labour are saying not to expect big ideas. So, then what is the 2020 General Election going to be about then?

That is it. That is the article for today.

Your assignment – should you take it up – is to tell what THREE (3) policies you want to see passed.

Parliament enters its final week with chaos on both sides of the House


Perhaps never in recent times has the New Zealand Parliament arrived in the final week of a term with so much party chaos. A Opposition wracked by internal strife and unable to follow its own rules; a coalition barely hanging together by the thinnest of threads and an election 6 weeks away. But here we are in August 2020 with just such a scene.

Just when one thought National’s disastrous 2020 could not get worse, the Party has admitted breaking its own rules. In the mad scramble to find a replacement for outgoing Auckland Central M.P. Nikki Kaye, the party misused a clause in its candidate selection process. With ten candidates wanting to line up as the replacement, with a minimum of five being allowed to ensure a decent selection, only two candidates were originally permitted. Perhaps more embarrassing for National was the burst of misogyny from its own members that accompanied this latest revelation. Apparently unable or unwilling to get their heads around Nuwanthie Samarakone’s prior history as a ballet dancer an image of her in a leotard has been circulated among party members with derogatory commentary.

Without doubt there must be many in the party who cannot wait for the election to be over and done with. Some might even be wanting the party they love to take a bit of a pasting as a measure of tough love, whilst still more might be uneasily eyeing A.C.T. as the potential beneficiary of their party vote. A.C.T., a one man band in Epsom is looking at its best performance since 2008 when it brought five M.P.’s to Parliament.

Regarding the coalition, Henry Cooke probably could not have put it better: a car near the end of a journey falling to bits with the driver concentrating on the road ahead, whilst the passengers have a noisy fist fight.

New Zealand First need to grow up and focus on the fact that their house is not in apple pie order. As Tracey Martin put it in a recent interview with Andrea Vance the party had clay feet in 2008 when it was turfed from Parliament and the Party had three weeks to clear out of the Parliamentary precinct. Unfortunately she did not note based on the continuing emission of smoke, regarding allegations of improper donations and other financial improprieties which have been burning all year, that the party has equally clay feet in dealing with them.

But there is a bigger problem. Is it just possible that after 36 years, and 11 terms in Parliament, New Zealand has finally had enough of Winston Peters? Is it just possible that the swing towards Labour is in part a nod to the fact that for real social progress to happen, New Zealand needs to overhaul its taxes in ways New ZealandĀ  First is steadfastly opposed to? It is not impossible.

But of the Green Party? Oh fricking dearie me. What have we here? A party that through a dose of ineptitude and a completely disinterested media has completely

And through all this, perhaps because she can see the finish line, or perhaps because Labour are on a nearly unprecedented roll at the moment, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is somehow managing to ignore the disintegrating state of the car and the back seat fist fight. One more week of Parliament, if she can just get the coalition to stay together for one more week….