The Disability Confident employment strategy

Less than 45% of New Zealand’s disabled population is employed, and a new campaign from the Minister for Disability Issues is again a little hit and miss.

The Disability Confident campaign aims to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities, but in order to be successful, employers must be willing to forgo some of their pre-conceived ideas about what’s “best for business”.

Nicky Wagner, the Minister for Disability Issues, says that people with disabilities represent a vast pool of talent that employers can tap into to enhance their workplace. Wagner also touched on a good point in her comments about the campaign. She said that it also gives disabled employees more confidence and economic independence.

The campaign aims to support employers to hire, and retain, disabled employees.

On the MSD website, there is more information about the Disability Confident campaign. A guide can also be found, featuring ‘how-to’s’ for employing disabled staff and a section on what hiring people with disabilities can do for a business. But, like a lot of other attempts to improve opportunities for disabled people in the workforce, this campaign relies on employers being willing to participate.

The fear that I have is that most employers won’t. Attempting to engage the mainstream workforce and the disability community has been done before. To moderate forms of success and failure.

Originally, one of the big principles of Enabling Good Lives focused on creating successful employment outcomes for people with disabilities. However, in order for participants to be eligible for that help, they first needed to be on a living support of some kind.

Stupid Waitangi Marae Committee forced PM into decision

Another build up to Waitangi Day has led to another example of stupidity all round.

Bill English, the new Prime Minister of New Zealand, has decided to distance himself from the Waitangi Day celebrations after he was told he wouldn’t be able to speak at the treaty grounds. Before we go any further, I want you to keep in mind what I said in the latter part of that sentence.

When questioned by the media today, English defended his decision, saying that New Zealanders “cringe” at the prospect of protests. English went a step further and said he didn’t think it was appropriate that the Prime Minister, himself, wasn’t allowed to speak at such an occasion.

The Waitangi Day celebrations have always been volatile affairs for the Government. Anyone who says that the same protests won’t occur in 2017 are kidding themselves.

Can we really deny what English says? The Prime Minister was right on the mark with his comments. Of course it isn’t appropriate, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to come to that conclusion.

We are talking about the Prime Minister of New Zealand here, and it’s time people came to terms with that. Waitangi is not the place for protest, at least that wasn’t what was intended. It has become that because of those who’ve come after history, those who feel entitled, and ultimately, those who have no respect for the traditions of a day that celebrates what New Zealand is.

That last point is key in this blog, the lack of respect and the timing is why you see the Prime Minister pulling out.

Like in 2016, the Prime Minister’s speaking rights were cut off. Nobody in their right mind could blame John Key for turning his back on it last year, and nor should they blame English. Let’s not forget that English specifically reached out to Waitangi officials to ask about the conditions of his attendance, to which English was told that the committee had decided her couldn’t speak on “their” Marae.

Apparently it’s their Marae, remember that. And people say that English is being disrespectful to the history of Waitangi Day?

Straight out of the oppositions’ playbook, Labour leader Andrew Little labelled the Prime Minister’s decision as a “black mark” on his leadership. This is entirely incorrect, and English not attending Waitangi will have absolutely zero impact on the 2017 General Election. The Leader of the Opposition doesn’t fully back his claims either, but the announcement today gave him an opportunity to criticise.

So as we head into Waitangi Day in 2017, it is clear that those certain people, so-called officials, are still very much on that hypocritical high horse. That is a big shame, for New Zealand.

ORS Funding to be reviewed by Government

Students over the age of 18 who want to enter tertiary education may be left with less support than what is currently available.

The Government will review the Ongoing Resourcing Scheme in the near future as radical changes to Special Education are set to continue.

The Ongoing Resourcing Scheme, or as most people commonly know it, ORS Funding, will likely be significantly reduced for students with disabilities over the age of 18. Continue reading ORS Funding to be reviewed by Government

Government’s update to Special Education is a major blunder

It’s out with the “special needs” and in with the early prevention. But National’s latest approach to education for disabled New Zealanders is a joke of the highest order.

Special education in schools is likely to be the biggest loser in a proposed change released today by the Government. Minister for Education Hekia Parata says that the term ‘special needs’ singles people out and creates a barrier to a fully inclusive education system.

To further quote her words, Parata said that by concentrating on learner’s deficits, students become marginalised in their education. Continue reading Government’s update to Special Education is a major blunder

TPP Protests An Embarrassment For New Zealand

The TPP protest in Auckland on Thursday was an embarrassment to New Zealand, and it achieved absolutely nothing.

Say what you like about John Key’s decision to not attend the Waitangi celebrations, but can you really blame him?

According to Key, there has been a lot of misinformation about the exact details surrounding the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and as Prime Minister of New Zealand, Key wasn’t going to head into a potentially dangerous situation.

There was a hypocrisy at play from the beginning.

Key wasn’t allowed to go to Waitangi and talk politics, but it was perfectly ok for Marae seniors and welcomed protestors to talk politics of their own.

The TPP protesters said that they would go about their business on Thursday in a respectful and calm way. The end result was as far from that as you could imagine. The protesters attempted to shut down the entire central city, causing delay to people trying to get to work and causing general mayhem throughout Auckland central.

Police have been wrongly labelled as bullies since Thursday, there was no bullying at play.

The majority of the protesters didn’t appear to know much about the TPP deal at all.

It is high time that a lot of people in New Zealand gave John Key and the National Party a break. We all want to be informed on too much, but the problem is, we New Zealanders only want to hear the things we want to hear.

Yes, the nation should have been consulted on TPP. Instead, we found out through leaked documents.

But, with that said, there is no reason for people to behave in the way they have since.

Attempting to bomb the political office of a National Party politician is just disgraceful. The sex toy incident on Friday isn’t funny, it is pathetic, and it makes a mockery of what started out as a very well-planned and intelligent point of view on the TPP that differs from the government.

The TPP protests achieved nothing that organisers envisioned, it escalated to the levels it did because of frustration and anger, because a lot of people genuinely believed they were making enough noise to make John Key do a u-turn on the signing of TPP.

A sad week for New Zealand, and an embarrassment to both sides of the TPP argument.

Cancellation of 2018 Disability Survey leads to uproar

The government is set to cancel the 2018 Disability Survey, leaving a lot of people and organisations furious.

The Disability Survey is usually conducted every five years and was last done in 2013.

The survey counts the number of disabled people in New Zealand and identifies what their individual needs are. CCS Disability Action say that the information is valuable to the government, and considering this, the move to cancel the 2018 survey has to raise a lot of alarm bells.

It is feared that disabled people in New Zealand could become invisible if the survey is cancelled.

The disabled population is increasing in this country, couple this with the big change the industry is experiencing with a new model of funding usage, this latest cancellation by the government seriously questions their serious commitment to taking a look at how these changes are actually affecting the disabled community.

Does the government just plan on making all these changes and not evaluating their success? Doesn’t feedback matter?

The loss of the survey will also affect New Zealand’s ability to report back to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities.

The survey will provide clear, updated, and in depth information to future proof the disability industry and improve the lives of disabled people, why the government is cancelling the 208 survey is beyond a lot of people.

John Key and National Party not off to a good start in third term

John Key and the National Party continue their rocky start during third successive term leading New Zealand politics.

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The New Zealand Prime Minister has admitted that the situation surrounding Cameron Slater “could have been handled better”, but will not apologise for misleading parliament.

If you haven’t heard of this story, here is a quick breakdown.

Key told parliament last week that he had not been in any contact with controversial Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater, but shortly after that Key said he had received “unsolicited text messages”.

The transcript released by the Prime Ministers office confirms this.

Key has been in talks with Slater, if only via text message and only very briefly.

When talking to reporters, New Zealand’s Prime Minister said he could not remember when he had last received a text message from Slater, when in actual fact he had heard from the blogger just the night before.

Let’s take a look at all this.

The National Party were under intense fire heading into the election a couple of months ago, and so far the beginning to their latest term in parliament is off to a shaky start at best.

On the other hand though this could have just been a simple mistake from Key, and his decision this morning to remain in contact with Slater in the future will no doubt be another talking point in itself going forward.

All said and done, the new term in parliament is not off to a good start for John Key and his National Party.

John Key romps home as National dominate 2014 election night

The 2014 election is over, and John Key remains the Prime Minister of New Zealand for another three years.

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Labour suffered their second worst defeat in the parties history, and were absolutely spanked by National as the votes sat at National 48.1% and Labour a very low 24.7% by the end of the night.

Make no mistake about it, with all the mass surveillance and Dirty Politics controversies that were aimed to bring down the National Party during this campaign, John Key was voted into his third successive term as Prime Minister of New Zealand in the most convincing fashion in the recent history of politics.

There are two things that stand out after last night.

The first is that you cannot buy your way into politics. After so much talk in the public mainstream media and through Twitter, Kim Dotcom remained almost silent as the votes came in, and the internet billionaire lost more than his millions last night as the much talked about Internet Mana Party went down in a fireball before the night was even halfway over.

Dotcom apologised to Hone Harawira, but was clearly a broken man as he stormed out of the function at Internet Mana headquarters.

So much for the big “moment of truth event”, and that was the moment which many will believe handed the control back to National in the election race. Kim Dotcom bombed, he couldn’t offer any evidence to overthrow Key, and for such a hyped event, that too was a factor in last nights results for the Internet Mana Party.

The second thing that stood out was that the majority of the New Zealand public, as shown by the votes, clearly prefer John Key and the National Party as the way forward for this country.

Back in 2011, John Key and his National Party won by a comfortable margin, and nobody predicted that last nights election three years later would be as convincing a win for National as in 2011. But what transpired was actually a step up from 2011, and National absolutely romped home to gain a third successive term in a row.

Much debate will be had today and over the coming weeks surrounding the pre voting numbers, and the money that the National Party threw into their campaign versus Labour.

But the question needs to be asked, where did it all go wrong for Labour in election 2014?

The answer too many will be that the policies Labour and Cunliffe pushed were actually too risky on a financial level.

David Cunliffe, in the eyes of many and also in the eyes of this blog, is a brilliant leader. He did a fantastic job for Labour in the campaign, and up until a few days ago, was a real challenger to overthrow Key’s government and return Labour to the top of New Zealand politics.

If the votes are going to indicate anything, it is that the New Zealand public went to the booths yesterday thinking that the direction their country is going in is actually not to bad, while being not perfect, but less riskier than the well intended policies that the Labour Party were offering.

It was a fascinating election last night, which included the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party outvoting the Act Party.

There will be much debate still to be had, but the Labour Party are in total destruction this morning.

John Key is the preferred Prime Minister of New Zealand as voted by the ones who matter most, the people of New Zealand.

The result cannot be argued against, but the National Party do need to address the surveillance and Dirty Politics issues in their next term in some way.

David Bennett: Dirty Politics and Spy Accusations will not impact National in Saturdays election

David Bennett, Hamilton East MP for the National Party believes that the 2014 campaign getting tight is to be expected as Saturdays general election draws near.

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Following last nights final leaders debate, Bennett has backed up most public opinion by agreeing that it was a very scrappy affair. Bennett believes that having a debate restricted to only half an hour is not enough time to make any meaningful type of ground.

“Both of them were probably a bit at each other.”

National see their economic policy being the big factor should they win the election on Saturday.

National cannot do anything in the social sphere unless they have strong economics, with no rash spending promises, coupled with New Zealand being one of the best in the western world in terms of growth rate.

National promise that they will have a budget surplus, and have said that the economy is New Zealand’s biggest issue.

According to Bennett, as Hamilton East MP, economic growth is the big pressing issue for the city.

“The link with Auckland is crucial and that is the Waikato Expressway. That is a $2.4 billion project, of which $1.1 billion is to be spent next year on the Hamilton and Huntly bypasses. The Greens have said they won’t do that, New Zealand First won’t do it either, and Labour sort of said a reluctant yes to so effectively under an opposition you will not have that project happen.”

Bennett believes that without this growth under an opposition led government, the result would be a catastrophe for the city of Hamilton.

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With all the talk about foreign investment that has taken place during this election, David Bennett said that it isn’t so much about economic growth but more efficiency.  Bennett believes that in terms of structure, foreign investment will have a big impact on the economy.

“In the end we are a trading company, and we are not going to be competitive by raising the minimum wage to levels we cannot support. The minimum wage is going up each year, it is possible to reach the $16 mark but it will be staged.”

A big point that this blog was keen to ask Bennett about during our interview was Kim Dotcom and the recent allegations of NSA spy bases and mass surveillance of New Zealanders.

Bennett, like the majority of the National Party, was quick to say that both Dirty Politics and this weeks claims of mass surveillance have been overblown and have no relevancy on most New Zealanders.

Bennett believes that Kim Dotcom has had a negative impact on New Zealand politics.

“I think he has upset a lot of ordinary New Zealanders. They don’t like his style, they don’t like what he stands for, they don’t like the fact that he is trying to influence New Zealand politics. The same with Dirty Politics, that book would have done nothing for your life, the thing is that the choice between Labour or National will have an effect on your daily life. Not Dirty Politics.”

When asked about Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden, and allegations of mass surveillance in New Zealand.

“It is not relevant to anyones life. They are making a lot of assumptions, accusations, and comments but that can happen at any time. We have spy agencies, countries do, if you didn’t you would be silly, but they don’t have mass surveillance of New Zealanders. These guys are trying to make something out of nothing, where as a government will have to protect its people, and they are trying to join two points together that cannot be joined.”

Bennett believes that these accusations will not effect Nationals chances in Saturdays election.

“Project Speargun tapped into New Zealand internet cables” – Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald has called New Zealand prime minister John Key a liar as the election week drama continues for National.

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The NSA Bases and surveillance situation has become a problem for the National Party, and Key today was quoted as saying that Edward Snowden “may well be right” after yesterday strongly denying any of the claims made by the American journalist that New Zealanders data is accessible through a system called XKeyscore.

Snowden also claimed that there are two NSA bases in the country.

In an interview with Duncan Garner this afternoon, friend of Snowden and fellow journalist Glenn Greenwald has called John Key a liar and has accused the Prime Minister of knowingly lying to the NZ Public.

Greenwald claims that the first phase of mass surveillance with the GCSB and NSA has already happened.

The first phase included tapping into New Zealand internet cables. Phase 2 was going to implement metadata probes. It was given a name called “Project Speargun”, and it taps into data and communication.

During the interview, Garner asked Greenwald if Project Speargun was only meant to hone in on New Zealanders who were under focus for criminal activity, Greenwald responded by saying every human being has something to hide.

Greenwald went on to say that the quantity of data collected was in the billions.

“I am not going to say that every single email is stored in XKeystore data.”