National’s Health and Safety Reform Bill: less safety and fewer rights at work

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions is embarking on a campaign to fight the changes that weaken the Health and Safety Reform bill. As part of the campaign the CTU has organised vigils with the display of 291 crosses signifying the 291 people who have died at work since the Pike River mine disaster […]

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Judicial Review Gamble Pays Off for Problem Gambling Foundation

Congratulations are due to the Problem Gambling Foundation (PGFNZ) who have won their legal case around how the Ministry of Health decided to award their contracts for problem gambling services to another service provider. Congratulations are due not just for the result – where the judge decided the Ministry’s processes were flawed and unfair – […]

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‘Healthy Families’ a good start but not enough to tackle obesity related diseases

Today the Government is making a the meal out of the launch of its ‘Healthy Families’ package to promote ‘healthier decisions’ and ‘changing mindsets’ over nutrition, physical activity and obesity. Great! The programme is based on a successful model from Australia, using both education and community and local government involvement. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Health […]

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Roundup: UN finds it “probably” causes cancer

At last the UN has spoken out against the widely-used weedkiller Roundup. The UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified glyphosate, the principle ingredient in Roundup, as a probable carcinogen. They also include as probable carcinogens the insecticides malathion and diazinon, both used in New Zealand. All three will be even more dangerous […]

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Is the Health Minister accountable to the public? He doesn’t seem to think so.

Lately I’ve been involved in a sort of farcical standoff with the Health Minister, who seems to be under the illusion that I have no right to ask questions about conflicts involving Health Promotion Agency Board member Katherine Rich, and that he in turn has no responsibily to dignify my questions with a proper answer. […]

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Please help me get my Feed the Kids Bill to Select Committee

Fair-society-BLOGFEATURE

Last week I took over the Feed the Kids Bill that Hone Harawira had introduced to Parliament. If passed, my Bill will provide government-funded breakfast and lunch in all decile 1 and 2 schools. Hungry kids can’t learn and are left trapped in the poverty cycle when they grow up. Let’s break that cycle, lunchbox […]

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The hidden legacy of debt – our nation’s health

Healthcare is expensive. National has lost no opportunity crowing about ‘record spending’ of $14.7 billion in this year’s Budget. Unfortunately, that’s not enough. This National Government has in fact continually underfunded health care relative to real need, this year alone by $232 million. How so? We are getting older, more overweight and more unequal year […]

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Access and Inclusion: FAQ (Part 1: Captioning)

Last week we launched our election disability policy priorities which received good coverage here and here. I have had some questions about different aspects of our policy, particularly on captioning which I will answer here. Why captioning? Current levels of captioning are woefully inadequate in New Zealand. Only 25% of broadcast TV is captioned compared […]

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Inequality in New Zealand is getting worse

Alarmingly, despite the growing disparity, New Zealanders display a hardening attitude towards those in need. The graph published in yesterday’s NZ Herald accompanying the article about the visit by authors of The Spirit Level: Why more equal societies almost always do better Professors Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, showed that only 50.1% of our people think the government should take some responsibility to reduce the income gap. We come last in the OECD countries for supporting government intervention.

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$9700 per property WOF cost for landlords? Yeah, nah.

Yesterday a random press release from an outfit called the NZ Centre for Political Research came across my desk, claiming that a Warrant of Fitness on all rental houses could cost landlords up to $9,700 per property. Run for the hills landlords! Proper, costed, evidence-based research shows a rental WOF will cost you nearly $10K […]

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Swimming on the Wellington waterfront

Wellington’s waterfront dive platform is an inspired piece of inner-city architecture that draws huge crowds on a hot day. Where else in the world can brave jumpers thrill onlookers in the middle of a city? The big problem – and this is quite a basic one – is that the harbour water below is highly […]

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On the freedom of cycling

This is a cross post from The Daily Blog, originally published 20 November 2013. The automobile is often cast as a great liberator. The power to travel long distances at great speed, free of the tyranny of timetables or fixed routes. There is no question that a car can be a very useful tool for […]

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Why Transmission Gully doesn’t stack up

The project is outdated and has a large opportunity cost. It’s money that won’t be available to spend on transport projects with greater benefits. Wellingtonians of a certain age seem to be completely convinced it will save the region, but all the evidence from around the world shows that urban highways aggravate traffic, result in people travelling longer distances and having to spend more money just to get around. That’s not good for the economy, and it will diminish Wellington’s natural character and advantages as a compact, public transport friendly region.

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Transport and social equity: Part 2 Fares

(This is a cross posting from The Daily Blog, originally published Tuesday 29 October.) There is no question, public transport fares in New Zealand – generally speaking – are too high. Especially in Auckland. Our fares are much higher than most comparable cities, which offer better services and have higher patronage. Two factors may be […]

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Transport and social equity: Part 1

This is a cross post from The Daily Blog, where it was originally published Tuesday 22 October. Transport is often the third largest item of expenditure for a household. It is on average between 10-15% of the household budget, surpassed only by food and shelter. But it can be higher for low- and middle-income households. […]

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