Private-Public MRI scanner partnership

An example of a private-public partnership in Marlborough in the shared use of an MRI scanner that otherwise would be difficult to financially justify for either private or public use. Radio NZ reports:

New scanner to increase MRI capacity

The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board has reached an agreement with Pacific Radiology Group to install a new magnetic resonance imaging machine at Wairau Hospital in Blenheim.

The agreement calls for a portable building to be attached to the hospital’s radiology department, meaning both private and public patients will have access.

The scanner will be available to the district health board for four half-day sessions a week out of 10 sessions, increasing the district’s MRI capacity by 80 percent.

Pacific Radiology chief executive Dr Lance Lawler said it was a good example of how balanced public private partnerships can solve the problems of access to high tech care in provincial areas.

Yes, this looks like a sensible example of shared private-public use to justify the cost and p;rovide better health care in Marlborough.

A Labour Day wish list

Clemgeopin has posted a “Thoughts for Labour Day” wish list at The Standard and also at Kiwiblog.

Thoughts for the Labour day:

8 hours for Work
8 hours for sleep
8 hours for self/family/friends.

Now, that is fair, healthy and makes one’s short life on Earth worth it.

I also think

* That the lunch break of half an hour should be a paid break.
* Travel time to and from work should have a payment for at least half an hour.
* All workers should have a certain share/bonus in the profits over and above their normal pay.
* Business that work more than 8 hours or 24/7, must have different shifts, employ more people and have restricted overtime safeguards.
* Employers that say they can not manage, should leave, start a different business or become employees. The vacuum will soon get filled by other employers that can.

* Uncontrolled free market fueled with unfairness and greed is the biggest real problem of this modern world in which the income and wealth gaps are fast increasing. That needs to change urgently with fair but strict controls enforced.

The government, the employers, and all of us should realise that
* We work to live and not live to work.
* We are all fellow humans and should look after each other better.

I don’t think everything you want should be imposed on all employers. There are many variables in employment and business situations.

I don’t think eight hours work a day with a five day suits all occupations. My official hours are actually seven and a half hours a day. My daughter often works twelve hour shifts but gets more days off per week on average, she’s a nurse. I’d quite like that work structure but it doesn’t suit my occupation, I need to be available as much as possible when our clients want us, which is traditional work hours.

The best way for workers to dictate optimal conditions, especially profit sharing, is to set up their own businesses (many try this) or co-operatives.

Success wouldn’t be guaranteed, but that’s how it is for every employer, which is a major reason why many people choose to remain employees.

Labour Day

Today is Labour Day, a day off for Monday-Friday workers, but not for many who work in police, health, retail and hospitality (and other industries).

I’ve only every had a vague notion  of what the history of our Labour Day was. It’s been more notable as a time to get your vege garden sorted and planted, and for some it was an opportunity to take their caravan to their camping ground of choice in preparation for summer holidays.

NZ History looks back:

Fighting for the eight-hour working day

Labour Day commemorates the struggle for an eight-hour working day. New Zealand workers were among the first in the world to claim this right when, in 1840, the carpenterSamuel Parnell won an eight-hour day in Wellington. Labour Day was first celebrated in New Zealand on 28 October 1890, when several thousand trade union members and supporters attended parades in the main centres. Government employees were given the day off to attend the parades and many businesses closed for at least part of the day.

The date, 28 October, marked the first anniversary of the establishment of the Maritime Council, an organisation of transport and mining unions.

The Standard has significant union connections…

Why “The Standard”?

The Standard newspaper – from where our masthead comes – was founded by labour movement activists in the 1930s.

What’s your political ‘angle’?

We come from a variety of backgrounds and our political views don’t always match up but it’d be fair to say that all of us share a commitment to the values and principles that underpin the broad labour movement and we hope that perspective will come through strongly as you read the blog.

…so it’s not a surprise that they have some Labour Day related posts.

Auckland Labour Day Event

Written By:

labour dayThe Mangere Labour Electorate Committee is planning an interesting event on Labour Day in Auckland to commemorate the contributions of three different people to the Labour movement.

Have a coffee and a yarn with Andrew Little on Labour Day (Auckland)

andrew littleServo Cafe, Te Atatu, 2:30 on Monday 27 October.

Save our tea breaks

Labour hopes to collect signatures for this petition over Labour Weekend…

One post today has a degree of irony in modern New Zealand.

Labour day – thank a unionist

Written By:
Categories: human rights, Unions, workers’ rights
Tags: ,

Today is a day to celebrate the rights hard won by workers and unions, past and present. There’s a reason it’s called “Labour Day” not “Free Market Day”…

samuel parnell - square

The photo is of Samuel Parnell who is credited with starting the eight hour day in 1840 – a time when many workplaces would have had no clocks or watches so must have judged the time of their working day.

Today is a non-labour day for many (except at home). But it is very much a market day, especially for gardening and hardware shops. Sales abound:


Grahame Thorne

There’s been a lot of googling on Grahame Thorne lately. He is regarded as a prominent New Zealander although younger people and those more recently arrived in New Zealand may not be familiar with him.

He was born in 1946 so he is currently 68.

Thorne was prominent as an All Black, playing 10 tests and a total of 39 games for them from 1968 to 1970. Wynne Gray included him in his list of 100 greatest All Blacks.

He was still promoting his All Black past with this Facebok profile pic:

Thorne Al Black pic

Thorne was less prominent as a National Party Member of Parliament for a single term representing Onehunga from 1990-1993.

He was also a sports commentator, and he received some attention for his hairstyle.

Thorne perm

After retiring and becoming a sports commentator, he permed his hair. His curls attracted a great deal of attention. In this television news clip from 1993, a post-perm Thorne talks about the mostly negative reactions he received. See video at Teara.

Thorne hosted two cooking shows on television, Thorney’s Cooking Canterbury in 2009 and Thorney’s Cooking Central in 2010 (see also his own page on this). He currently lives in Central Otago.

He stood for the Lakes Council in 2010, having been a councillor previously in Nelson and Auckland. He described himself then as a Television Producer.

Ex-All Black, MP standing for Lakes council

Former All Black Grahame Thorne has been nominated to stand for the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Mr Thorne (64) moved to the Lakes district in 2008 and lives at Gibbston.

Mr Thorne, a former Auckland and Nelson councillor, said originally he had no intention of standing, as he was cynical about local body politics, but he had been urged to stand by others in the community who believed he had something to offer.

He was unsuccessful, being the tenth highest polling candidate. Six were required.

Earlier this year he received some attention when he promoted a photograph on his Facebook page of him giving a bottle of wine from his vineyard to Labour leader David Cunliffe.

Cunliffe ThorneSee Cunliffe and a gift of wine

Open Forum – Monday (Labour Day)

Monday 27 October 2014 – New Zealand Labour Day

This is open to anyone with any topic. It’s a mostly political blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome.

Some basic ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.
  • Debate hard if you like but respect people’s right to have varying views and to not be personally be attacked.
  • Don’t say to a stranger online anything you wouldn’t say to their face.

Moderation will be minimal if these guidelines are followed. Should they ever be necessary any moderator edits, deletes or bans will be clearly and openly advised.

Fight against name suppression protection racket

There is growing opposition to the continued name suppression of sex offenders. A small but growing number of victims are confronting a protection racket for offenders.

Chuck at Kiwiblog has commented on a fund raising campaign to fight against name suppression that protects sex abusers.

I hope some on this blog will consider giving to this worthy cause. These brave women have unsuppressed their names hoping that it will help name their abuser. It may be a cliché but the the law is an ass. If either of these two sisters name the paedophile who did a short time in jail for abusing them when they were children they could go to jail. This law much be changed and hopefully a judicial review will help.

I believe Nicky Hager’s defence fund is over $60,000. Surely $30,000 can be raised not just for these women but for all victims of sexual and physical abuse.

He links to the fundraising of Anne-Marie and Karen at Givealittle:

Victims rights

Our names are Anne-Marie and Karen. We were sexually abused as children and need your help to ensure that all of our children are kept as safe as possible in the future. We were automatically given name suppression in court as victims of a sexual crime but now many years later we’ve found that our abuser has hidden behind our name suppression. We need to try and raise $30,000 to take this all the way to the top court of NZ if necessary to change the law around name suppression so that ONLY the victims benefit from it. Thank you :-)’s-name-to-remain-secret

The current total is $2562.

It can be a difficult balance protecting the victims of abuse but not protecting abusers at the same time, but this case seems nuts:

Name suppression lifted for victims, not offender

Two Christchurch women sexually abused as young girls have won a battle to have their own name suppression lifted.

They did it so they could expose their abuser and hoped it would be a test case, but it is a hollow victory because his identity is still protected.

Twenty years after the man who sexually abused Karen Beaumont and Anne-Marie Forsyth was convicted, they are still fighting for justice.

Today the judge removed the sisters’ name suppression, but not his.

“That’s gutting, absolutely gutting,” says Ms Beaumont.

By law their attacker still gets name suppression by virtue of the fact that identifying him might identify them, even though as of 5pm today they were legally allowed to go public.

“They are hoping to be a test case, to make it easier for others, but what it seems to be proving is just how difficult it is and will continue to be unless there’s some changes to the law,” says lawyer Nikki Pender.

They will now seek judicial review of his suppression order, meaning more court hearings, more stress and more money.

There’s another name suppression case being raised on Sunday on TV1.

Justice denied?

He’s a high profile Kiwi, who committed a sexual offence against Louise Hemsley in her own home. It had a profound impact on her but she was determined to stop the man who offended against her from ever doing it to someone else.

However, the justice Louise was seeking would never come. Her case went on in the courts for more than two years.
And the man – who pleaded guilty – ended up walking away with no conviction and permanent name suppression – meaning he can never be named.

This week on SUNDAY Louise bravely goes public to tell her story.

Open Forum – Saturday

Saturday 25 October 2014

This is open to anyone with any topic. It’s a mostly political blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome.

Some basic ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.
  • Debate hard if you like but respect people’s right to have varying views and to not be personally be attacked.
  • Don’t say to a stranger online anything you wouldn’t say to their face.

Moderation will be minimal if these guidelines are followed. Should they ever be necessary any moderator edits, deletes or bans will be clearly and openly advised.

This could be of interest: Good blog commenting

Open forum – Thursday 23 October 2014

This is open to anyone with any topic. It’s a mostly political blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome.

Some basic ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.
  • Debate hard if you like but respect people’s right to have varying views and to not be personally be attacked.
  • Don’t say to a stranger online anything you wouldn’t say to their face.

Moderation will be minimal if these guidelines are followed. Should they ever be necessary any moderator edits, deletes or bans will be clearly and openly advised.

This could be of interest: Good blog commenting

The Press editorial is anti flag choice

The Press makes it clear in an editorial that they oppose changing the New Zealand flag. They don’t want the people to choose for themselves, they want to fob off any debate by waiting for “an organic deeply felt discussion about who we are”.

In other words they want to put off any debate and any choice.

The editorial runs through the standard anti-change arguments in Do we know who we are?

They don’t like how John Key is proposing to see if the people of New Zealand want a flag change, they have the usual anti-black arguments (it’s easy to come up with arguments against most colours), they are anti-silver fern.

And they want to postpone any flag debate until we have some vague exploration about “who we are”.

So far the question of whether New Zealand actually needs a new symbol to represent itself has not taken place. This attitude seems to reflect the general indifference to any change to the constitution found by the panel set up to elicit views on that subject a few years ago.

Given that the flag will be the symbol to represent the country virtually in perpetuity, a wider, more deeply felt discussion about who we are needs to occur first. That must be organic. It is not something that can be generated by prime ministerial fiat.

That sounds like a long-winded way of saying they want to put off a flag debate indefinitely.

There’s no reason why we can’t have a discussion about whether we want to change our flag and decide whether to do so. It is not dependent on vague notions of “who we are” that can never easily be answered. We are many things and are continually evolving as a country and as a people.

One thing is for sure, we have evolved long past having close ties with the United Kingdom and the Union Jack.

And we have evolved way past wanting to be confused with Australia.

A flag debate can easily happen on it’s own. Trying to involve constitution and national identity are excuses to not have a debate.

People who don’t want a flag change don’t want a debate. They want to deny choice, presumably because they fair that the people will choose something different to what they want, no change.

New Zealand voted on to Security Council

New Zealand has just been voted on to the United Nations Security Council, topping both Spain and Turkey on the first ballot. A second ballot will decide who of the other two also get a seat for 2015 and 2016.

First ballot vote (a two third 129 votes from 193 members required):

  • New Zealand 145
  • Spain 121
  • Turkey 109

(Update: after two more ballots Spain got the second seat).

The Government, particularly through Foreign Minister Murray McCully have worked hard to secure this seat but have been helped by Labour’s David Shearer.

Having Helen Clark in the number 3 position at the UN (head of United Nations Development) will have continued to help, it was Clark who initiated the campaign for the seat ten years ago.

New Zealand and the other successful country will represent ‘Western European and others’. Angola, Malaysia and Venezuela stand uncontested for the seats in their regional groups.

There are 15 seats on the council, five held by the permanent members China, France, Russia, the UK and the US, plus 10 non-permanent members serving two-year terms.

Topping the ballot is an indication of the degree of respect given New Zealand internationally. New Zealand was last represented on the Security Council by Colin Keating in 1993/94. Last year Keating gave a speech supporting and explaining this bid:

The UN Security Council: What is in it for New Zealand?

by Colin Keating
Presentation to the United Nations Association of NZ 2013 National Conference, Wellington | 18 May 2013

As everyone in this audience is aware, New Zealand is a candidate for election to the UN Security Council. If elected, New Zealand will serve a two-year term as one of ten elected members of the council, and will also sit with the five Permanent Members of the Council, China, France, Russia, the UK and the USA.

The election will be held in October 2014. So it is just 17 months away. It is a closely fought contest. There are two vacant seats and three candidates, New Zealand, Spain and Turkey.

New Zealand is not a stranger to contested elections for the Security Council. New Zealand last served on the Council in 1993/94 – exactly twenty years ago. To win that seat New Zealand had to defeat Sweden. So we know what it takes to win against larger and richer countries.

Part of our appeal is that New Zealand is not greedy in seeking election too often. In this regard, when campaigning, we don’t need to rub in the fact that our competitors seek election much more often that we do. This is watched closely by the 109 small states that are members of the UN and who are our natural constituency. They know very well that Spain was last on the Council only 8 years ago – and Turkey only two years ago.

I believe that New Zealand is very well placed to win. We already have very strong support in all regions. And the New Zealand story resonates very well everywhere. But there is no denying the fact that this will be a very hard election. We are up against two significant competitors.

The Government has made it clear that New Zealand is not going to try, as some countries do, to buy votes. For New Zealand that would be silly. Once you start down that track small countries can easily be outbid.

Nor will New Zealand shift its policies or values to attract votes. Again, to do that would be silly. One of the things about New Zealand that really appeals around the world is its consistency and its honest, constructive and balanced positions. Tilting our positions to curry favour with this or that demandeur would actually undermine our strong value proposition.

It also needs to be acknowledged that this election campaign has to be managed in a very tight fiscal context. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is funding the campaign from within its existing budget. This of course requires some very careful reprioritisation of expenditure. The Ministry has had to limit some of its other activities accordingly. Again this is not a new experience. The last Security Council campaign in 1991/92 was similarly fought under very tight budget constraints. And the refocusing of effort that occurred at that time, in my view, actually strengthened and reenergised the Ministry in many ways.

But, given the real electoral challenge that we are facing and appreciating the time and effort that is required by Ministers Special Envoys and officials to campaign across 192 countries, I think it is very important to be able to set out exactly why this is a good idea and what is in it for New Zealand.

There will be some New Zealanders who wondering why we are doing this. Others may ask why don’t we spend the money on something at home or on promoting New Zealand business overseas. These are important questions and need to be answered.

The short answer is that the campaign is not taking money away from domestic priorities or from funding for overseas promotion. It is only using money that MFAT would have been spending anyway.

But this does not address the underlying question of why we would want this in the first place.

I want to set out for you my answer to that question. It is very much a personal opinion. It is based on my experience of the 1991/92 Security Council campaign, of my time in New York as the New Zealand Ambassador representing New Zealand on the Security Council in 1993/94 and also my recent experience in New York setting up and running for 7 years a brand new think tank called Security Council Report to monitor and make accessible to the public the work of the Security Council.

 I must stress that I am not speaking for the Government – although as many of you are aware I am helping the Government with the campaign as an independent adviser and as a Special Envoy of the Prime Minister.

The first point that I want to make is that, when you are campaigning for election to the Security Council, you never need to answer the question why are you running for election when speaking to other Governments. Election to the Security Council is the most highly coveted electoral prize for countries around the world. Almost all Governments would like to get it and they understand completely why it makes sense to go for it. Often they have slightly different reasons, but the bottom line is that everyone understands intuitively why it is a priority.

So what are the drivers for New Zealand? Why would New Zealanders be interested in this?

I believe, and this is based on a lot of years of hearing from New Zealanders on foreign policy issues, that there are probably three quite distinct reasons, which may make sense to three different groups of New Zealanders.

These three groups, in very general terms, might be called:

  • The peace and justice community
  • The business community
  • The security community

There is of course quite a lot of overlap in practice between these three groups, and all the more so when global crises may affect all three.

Let us start with the peace and justice community. There is a strong sense amongst many New Zealanders, often based in the Churches, the NGO groups, the academic world and the Unions that, as a country blessed with resources and being a safe distance from conflict situations, we have a moral and political obligation to show leadership in helping resolve conflicts and promoting peace and justice.

For this community being a member of the Security Council offers a unique opportunity for New Zealand. The Security Council is the only global institution with real power. Many media commentators focus on its coercive powers, its ability to sanction countries and individuals, its power to bring the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court to bear on individuals, its role as the only legitimate source of authority for intervention or even the use of force.

To my mind an even greater power of the Council is its capacity, in practice, to take decisions that result in the collective appropriation of money so that all 193 members share in the cost of peace operations. This is a hugely important tool in bringing resources to the field to help bring peace and justice.

There are currently 13 peacekeeping missions and 34 special political missions being overseen by the Security Council. The budget for these missions is almost US$8 billion. How these operations are working and how well they are delivering for affected populations are things that the Churches, the NGOs and the advocacy groups follow very closely. In New York, the delegations of civil society lobbying the Security Council are probably better informed and better resourced than many of the elected Security Council members.

The value of being on the Security Council and having a capacity to make a difference in conflict situations is therefore well understood by most in the peace and justice community. And the good experience from NZs term on the Council in 1993/94 gives encouragement that NZ can make a difference.

Turning to the business community, it is important to understand that for a country like New Zealand the competitive edge for our exporters is absolutely critical to our economy, to jobs and ultimately the quality of our society. But for small or new exporters making deals in foreign markets is very difficult. You need networks you need access to decision makers. You need national visibility and – when things go wrong – as they often do – you need political access with real impact.

One thing is clear from our term on the Council in 1993/94 – when you are on the Security Council – especially if you are taking a high profile role – you do get visibility in all of the major markets around the world. You are seen sitting at the top table. The influence that that carries can be very significant when exporters need help. When you want to raise something bilaterally you get taken much more seriously. You get unparalleled political access. And even more importantly we found in the 1990s that if you are effective on the Council and pull real weight, the benefits are not limited to the two-year term. They can continue for a decade or more.

This lifting of the NZ profile, this enhanced visibility and the access opportunities that go with it can be leveraged very effectively to assist wider NZ interests. And this can only be of assistance to the business community.

Next I would like to talk about the benefits of a Security Council term for the security community. In doing so I not only include the NZDF and the families of our military personnel and our veterans, but also in a wider sense all New Zealanders.

We are all affected when risks are taken and NZ forces are deployed into combat situations overseas. Losses, when they occur, are felt by everybody. The evidence of this is clear from the huge support around the country in recent years for ANZAC Day events including by young people. And the same is true for New Zealanders overseas, who flock to ANZAC Day events in large numbers.

If you visit the Army Museum in Waiouru, you will see the compelling displays and the graphic reminders that across the whole history of our country every 20 years or so, on average, young New Zealanders have been sent into situations of combat or armed violence.

Another thing you will learn at the Army Museum is the determination to learn from the experiences in the First World War, and some also in the Second World War, where New Zealand suffered unreasonable casualties because of bad command decisions by commanders from other countries.

Recently, although the numbers of New Zealand personnel deployed overseas have been lower than in the past, the frequency has been much higher. Think of where we have been since the end of the Cold War – Somalia, Angola, Mozambique, Bosnia, Bougainville, Timor, the Solomons and Afghanistan – to name just the most prominent. 

In the light of this trend, the security community, all of us, have a very strong interest in maximising the New Zealand voice at decision-making tables. This means not only in the Security Council, where very important decisions are sometimes taken, but also in terms of influence and leverage by other decision makers whose decisions may be the difference between life and death for our military personnel.

A strong and effective New Zealand term on the Security Council every now and then gives us the credibility, the mana and the political access to be taken seriously on these matters. And our military personnel and their families and the New Zealand public at large have every reason to expect the Government and our diplomats will seize such an important opportunity as a term on the Security Council to reinforce that sort of credibility, mana and access.

And finally, although our geography means that we live in about as safe a part of the world as you could imagine, it is clear that in the 21st century security is threatened increasingly by unconventional risks, be they terrorism, narcotics and people smugglers cyber attacks and criminal networks. And, for our pacific island neighbours, the unconventional security risk presented by climate change is becoming increasingly real. All these issues can only be addressed by multilateral collective responses and they are already on the agenda of the Security Council.

I believe that in a country like New Zealand there is a real convergence of interest between the peace and justice community, the business community and the security community, and that it makes real sense for all of them to be strongly behind our determined race to win a seat on the Security Council.


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