Low employment for disabled New Zealanders

People with disabilities deserve to find employment just like everyone else, but the end goal needs to be diverted away from just getting them off the welfare system.

Back in the old days, people with disabilities were seen as nothing more than contributors to New Zealand’s welfare system. While that attitude still exists in some peoples’ minds today, people with disabilities are far more included in 2016 than they were all those years ago.

But this doesn’t get us away from two simple facts. Continue reading Low employment for disabled New Zealanders

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

NZ Government should give more time to pilots like EGL

You don’t have to look very far to see examples of how the disability sector is changing to a more ‘person driven’ model.

Expectations are getting higher, and it exceeds beyond what has typically been ‘the norm’ until now. It is no longer just about ensuring that people with disabilities get their personal cares and the home cleaning done, but it is about the standard and delivery in which this is done.

Furthermore, it is about providing disabled people with the opportunity to make all decisions that impact on their lives. Continue reading NZ Government should give more time to pilots like EGL

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.

John Key comes out defiant over NSA claims

Prime Minister Key has once again heavily denied speculation that New Zealanders are under mass surveillance, but Edward Snowden’s claims haven’t helped National’s image as the election draws nearer.

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John Key came out fighting in the media this morning, saying the claims that Kiwi’s living in New Zealand are under mass surveillance are purely “rhetoric”, and talk of NSA bases in New Zealand was strongly and actively denied by our countries Prime Minister.

According to Key, neither Edward Snowden nor Glenn Greenwald have offered any evidence to their claims.

According to the National Party, the controversial GCSB does not allow for mass surveillance in New Zealand, but Key has already said that there are databases in New Zealand that intelligence agencies have access to. The government say that information can only be accessed if there is a “person of interest”, like rebel fighters or criminals carrying out activity on these shores.

Over 50% of the nation who voted on the NZ Herald website today said they didn’t believe that they were under mass surveillance.

Kim Dotcom has already called John Key a liar, the Labour Leader and main opposition to the Prime Minister says there is evidence of this in an email.

Unfortunately for Key, many people are already saying they don’t believe his claims over either Dotcom or any of his statements surrounding the GCSB that go back over a year now.

Another thing to keep in mind is that despite what Key has said today, and despite what Snowden is claiming, in 2014 we live in an age of terrorism and increasing criminal activity which is being fed on an ever increasing platform through online means.

If there are NSA bases in New Zealand and surveillance is indeed taking place, can it be argued that it is simply only for the protection for everybody? Probably not, and that is a topic for another day, but Key’s claims are certainly hard to believe for a lot of reasons.

This has been a blunder filled campaign for Key and his national party, and it isn’t getting better.

Dirty Politics and Judith Collins saga won’t be enough to overthrow National led government

Judith Collins is gone, and finally National can try to get what has been a shambles of a campaign so far back on the right track.

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John Key was very open to the media this weekend, saying he is “firm but fair”, and the situation regarding former justice minister Judith Collins will hopefully now be behind Key and his National Party as the countdown to the 2014 general elections continues on. Key was also strong to say he wanted to focus on “real issues” that effect New Zealand when asked once again about the impact of Dirty Politics, a recently released book written by Nicky Hager. 

58% of people who voted on Fairfax Media’s Stuff website this morning believe the Collins resignation will hurt John Key’s campaign for a third term. 

It would be easy to look at this entire saga and simply say that there is no smoke without fire. 

This is what the Labour Party and David Cunliffe are relying on. They want people to believe that all in the National Party cannot be trusted. But despite Cunliffe’s impressive performance during the first leaders debate last week, he still has a big fight ahead of him yet if he hopes to become the next Prime Minister of New Zealand. 

Child poverty, foreign investment, lack of pay rate increases, and the all to talked about “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer” is a big issue that National must do better at addressing if they reign supreme after the election once again.

National clearly takes the viewpoint that the New Zealand economy cannot grow without investment, and can that really be denied? 

Despite the intentions of David Cunliffe, it isn’t hard to be a little nervous about his credible campaign. 

It is all well and good to say that under a Labour led government foreign investment will not be allowed, it is all well and good to say in your election campaign that you will make it possible for kiwis to buy their own homes, it all sounds so nice and so convincing. But John Key is right, with the state of the economy (remembering the economy is still suffering from the recession), Labour will be putting a focus on kiwis renting their houses for years, and how could Labour refuse all foreign investment, again given the state of the economy. 

Wether you are a Labour person or a National person, most New Zealanders simply want a government that will reward hard work with decent pay, keep children out of poverty, and be firm but fair. The economy isn’t strong enough to sustain the amount young kiwi mothers coming out of school pregnant and without a job, it isn’t strong enough to give every single person earning an income a tax decrease, and it certainly isn’t strong enough to go without some sort of foreign investment. 

Key’s answer of “I hope so” when asked if kiwis would receive a tax cut next year is exactly correct. He can’t definitively know either way. The NZ economy doesn’t just start and finish with the amount of dollars you end up with (or don’t end up with) in your bank at the end of each fortnight. 

But no matter how positive Key and his National party are, no matter how hard they downplay the bad media. 

There is absolutely no denying that the Dirty Politics and Judith Collins saga has seriously hurt their campaign, and it will continue to make the average New Zealander question the ethics of this “more than meets the eye” current state of the National Party. 

Reaction: Cunliffe impressive in first Leaders Debate

The first leaders debate of 2014’s New Zealand Election is over, and no doubt the opinion of the nation will differ greatly as both John Key and David Cunliffe put in strong performances.

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For the most part, Cunliffe’s answers were to the point and didn’t have the rambling beat around the bush statements that Key’s did on occasion. But the logic to the current Prime Ministers answers were powerful. John Key made his answers, particularly surrounding foreign investment, simple and logical for anybody to understand, and he will have many thinking that the National leader won tonights debate. 

John Key believes that the NZ Economy cannot grow without foreign capital investment. Can we really deny that? 

David Cunliffe believes that not sacking justice minister Judith Collins in the wake of Dirty Politics shows willful blindness from John Key. Can that be denied? 

Those two talking points were impacting, and credited and discredited both party leaders in tonights debate.

Key claiming that foreign investment will grow the NZ economy is logical, but Cunliffe has a point when he says that Judith Collins should have been sacked well before now, and was strong to bang home the point that had this Dirty Politics drama occurred under his Labour led government, Collins would have been gone. 

When asked if New Zealanders would receive a tax cut under National should John Key remain Prime Minister, the answer from our leader was “I hope so”. 

Such a weak answer to a simple question, and it reflected in a performance for Key that seemed quite rattled. However, given the state of the economy, you can’t entirely blame Key for not having enough numbers and statistics to give a definitive answer regarding tax. 

The NZ Prime Minister was quick to play down talk that political firestorm Dirty Politics, a recently released book written by Nicky Hager, has had any major impact on Nationals campaign. 

Currently, Stuff from Fairfax Media have kiwis voting for John Key over David Cunliffe as their preferred leader following tonights debate. However, the NZ Herald from APN have David Cunliffe as the majority winner in the votes.

Cunliffe put in a great performance tonight and as the voting continues, so do his numbers. 

In closing, both John Key and David Cunliffe both did their homework for tonight, and taking the day off instead of spending the day campaigning may have helped Cunliffe to be more composed.

But nobody can deny, despite the poor results in the polling, tonight may indeed be a turning point for David Cunliffe and the Labour party as their leader was calm and composed throughout, as apposed to the longer and more confusing answers that John Key brought to the table minus his logic surrounding foreign investment.