TPP and a lack of democracy

There were a number of TPP protests around the country today. Some protesters  need to learn what democracy means.

In Christchurch their stunt was to have a burial for democracy.

‘Democracy buried’ at anti-TPPA protest in Christchurch

Anti-TPPA protesters have “buried Democracy” in Christchurch on Saturday afternoon, as part of a mass rally against the trade deal.

Nearly 1000 people showed up at Cathedral Square around 2pm.

More arrived as an enactment of Prime Minister John Key burying ‘Democracy’ took place during the rally.

“If the TPPA treaty is implemented then a substantial portion of our democracy will be dead,” It’s Our Future Christchurch’s Charles Drace said.

I don’t think this sort of overkill helps their cause. Democracy has survived a number of other trade agreements in the past and I don’t think the TPP will affect it either.

Meanwhile in Dunedin their stunt was Octagon declared a ‘TPP-free zone’.

Up to 250 people have declared the Octagon a Trans Pacific Partnership-free zone at an ”action event” in Dunedin this afternoon.

Event organiser Jen Olsen said Dunedin should follow suit and become the first city to declare itself TPP-free.

How democratic is this declaration?

The handout at last night’s meeting said:

In Aotearoa New Zealand a majority of Kiwis reject the TPPA.

That hasn’t been democraticly determined as far as I’m aware.

We will use democracy to protect democracy.

You couldn’t get much more undemocratic than making a unilateral declaration without even consulting with all the people.

Perhaps the Christchurch protesters should come down for a burial in Dunedin. Activist groups declaring things without consulting with or getting a vote from the people of the city is quite undemocratic.

Dunedin anti-TPP meeting

I went to the anti-TPPA meeting in Dunedin last night. It was the fourth and last of a series of meetings that started in Auckland on Tuesday featuring Jane Kelsey and Lori Wallach.

Wallach founded a division of Public Citizen called Global Trade Watch in the US in 1995.

GTW advocates for a greater public role in international, federal, state and local policy-making, and for a different set of policies and institutions than those governing the current model of globalization.

So like Kelsey she is a long time campaigner against trade deals and Government policies.

I was disappointed that the MP panel didn’t travel to Dunedin. I don’t know if the panel featured in Wellington or Christchurch.

So the meeting just comprised of speeches by Kelsey and Wallach with some input from organiser Jen Olsen, a member of TPP Action Dunedin. It concluded with a Q & A.

The venue was too small and a number of people had to cram in and stand. At one stage Kelsey asked younger people to stand to let older people sit. I had gone early to make sure I got a seat so didn’t give it up. There were mostly older people there.

The speeches covered much the same content as the Auckland speeches – I had watched that meeting on live stream, and there is video of it here.

I was interested to see how Kelsey and Wallach came across in person.

Some of the crowd liked their presentation and content. Others didn’t, including me.

I already knew what to expect, but someone I know who went wanting to be informed but were disappointed by the sneering, crassness and lack of substance.

To me they generally came across as shrill fanatics trying to present themselves as factual and reasoned, but failing to back up many of their assertions.

I had expected a fairly biased campaign against the TPPA and against the Government but it was more extreme and less classy than I had envisaged.

Kelsey and Wallach are like the Mana Party or The Daily Blog in relation to mainstream politics in New Zealand.

Kelsey opened her speech by saying that the TPPA was political.

She went on to explain how her campaign was aimed at carrying on to next year’s election with the aim of getting an anti-TPPA government voted in.

She is very political for a university law professor. And near the leftmost edges of the political spectrum.

That’s what the anti-TPPA campaigning seems to be, a means of promoting a significant shift left in our government.

The organiser of the meetings is Barry Coates, next available person on the Green Party list.

Last term the Greens used anti-asset sales as their term long campaign strategy, unsuccessfully.

It seems to me that anti-TPPA is what New Zealand’s left has chosen to use as this term’s tool to trash National and take over the running of the country.

Kelsey and Wallach appear to love the limelight and share the political aims but I suspect they are being used by a wider campaign to swing New Zealand more towards socialism than Key has taken us.

Kelsey and Wallach preached to a crowd that mostly (or partly, it was hard to gauge actual levels of support) didn’t need convincing by facts or reasoned arguments, they were already converted.

But most of the wider public know little about the TPPA and understand it less. I doubt that it will be an election changer.

Having said that it could be looking at the shambles that Labour are making of their TPPA management.

Ultra long range forecast

I don’t know how many ODT readers will still be around in 2105, and I don’t know how accurate this forecast will turn out to be.

See the sun caption under INSIDE TODAY:

ODTForecast2105

Yesterday was dry and sunny in Dunedin but the weather has been very mixed so far this year – one thing that’s easy to predict about Dunedin weather is it’s variety.

The ODT seems to be suffering from a few time travel gremlins at the moment – their current Opinion:

ODTEditorialMistake2

The ODT also has a 100 years ago section that seems to have been misfiled. The Incident for Victoria story was followed by a medical officer warning that “serious harm is being caused by the cigarette-smoking so prevalent among soldiers”:

• “I have been assured by a medical officer that serious harm is being caused by the cigarette-smoking so prevalent among soldiers, and particularly returned soldiers,” said the Minister of Defence today.

“The statement made to me is that many of the men are absolutely ruining their nerves through this habit. Their hands become shaky, and the men themselves become apathetic. Surgeon-general Henderson, in a report on this subject, says that the Defence Department cannot control cigarette-smoking, except when the men are in hospital. I hope that members of the forces will realise that it is quite possible for them to injure their health and impair their efficiency as soldiers by the excessive use of cigarettes. A soldier has a duty to perform in attaining physical fitness in order that he may be in a condition to meet and beat the enemy, and anything that injures his health is to be avoided.”

• The unloading of Wirth’s Circus, by the aid of four huge elephants, at the Ashburton railway station on Saturday morning, created a great deal of interest to the public, and, incidentally, a great deal of consternation amongst the horses which happened to be in the vicinity (says the Guardian).

There were about five bolts, but the horses were arrested in their career before much harm was done.

In one case, two horses attached to a lorry-load of coke took fright and bolted for about 300 yards, shooting the coke in every direction.

Considerable amusement was caused by the efforts of one of the elephants to help in the reloading of the sacks of coke.

• Some good hauls of flounders have been obtained at Port Molyneux Beach this season.

On Sunday an Acclimatisation Society ranger, in company with the police constable from Kaitangata, appeared at the scene of netting operations, and, as a result, it is stated, a party of fishers, including some well-known Balclutha residents, will be at an early date called upon to answer charges of having in their possession flounders under the regulation size.

The Clutha Leader mentions that the attitude of the police in connection with the matter has come in for some severe criticism from certain quarters. – ODT, 12.1.1916.

 

Dunedin campaign to attract Aucklanders

Enterprise Dunedin is launching a campaign to try to attract people to move from Auckland to Dunedin to live, work,  get high class education and enjoy a great lifestyle.

Otago Daily Times reported yesterday – Drive to lure Aucklanders to move here.

Dunedin is about to begin an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at getting Aucklanders to up sticks and move south.

The effort comes as the latest data from QV’s house price index shows the average house price in Auckland has reached $931,807, more than three times the average in Dunedin City of $306,614.

Enterprise Dunedin director John Christie said the ‘‘big marketing push” involved running a substantial supplement in The New Zealand Herald in the next couple of weeks highlighting the benefits of the Dunedin lifestyle.

‘‘We think we have got a pretty compelling proposition when you look at the cost of housing, the time it takes to drive to work and the educational opportunities …” Mr Christie said.

Apart from aiming to get Aucklanders to make a permanent move south, the campaign would highlight the study and holiday opportunities in the city.

It’s not surprising to see support from real estate interests:

Southern Wide Real Estate is among the companies to advertise in the supplement. Its managing director, John Faulks, said the ‘‘huge gap” between house prices in Auckland and Dunedin meant it was the right time to encourage people to move south.

‘‘You are not held up in traffic, you have a lot easier access to good schools for your kids and a great medical facility.‘‘Dunedin’s infrastructure for the size of the city is outstanding,” Mr Faulks said.

Interest was growing from Aucklanders keen to either move to Dunedin or invest in property in the city, he said.

It also has business interest:

Software company ADInstruments is another local firm that is advertising in the supplement. Its chief marketing officer, Julie Curphey, said the company was keen to push the idea there were opportunities for careers with internationally renowned technology firms in Dunedin.

‘‘You don’t have to be based in Auckland to have those opportunities,” Ms Curphey said.

She hoped the overall advertising push would show highly-skilled Aucklanders they would not be harming their careers by moving to the city, she said.

This support has meant it’s a relatively low cost promotion:

Mr Christie said the supplement, expected to be about 32 pages, had cost Enterprise Dunedin, a Dunedin City Council entity, ‘‘relatively little” and was made possible because of strong support from local businesses, which had helped pay for it by buying advertising.

Reasons why I like living in Dunedin:

  • Family connections.
  • Work – with substantial Internet and travel options it’s possible to work around the country and internationally based in Dunedin.
  • Commuting – I live with a rural outlook plus harbour views only ten minutes (fifteen  in the worst traffic) from work and the centre city.
  • Cost of housing is very reasonable relative to other major centres, particularly Auckland and the Southern Lakes areas.
  • Amenities – Dunedin is a small city with very good amenities including art gallery and museums.
  • Beaches – a choice of a wide variety of beaches within a half hour drive. I can count about fifteen beaches from small an wild to kilometres long and sedate, many with wildlife including seals, sea lions and penguins.
  • Wildlife – seals, sea lions and penguins plus iconic royal albatross plus many other birds. Some can be seen via commercial enterprises and the Orokanui Ecosanctuary, many you can just go and see.
  • Walking, tramping, biking – there are a wide range of walking trails from beach to bush to mountain.
  • Plenty of cafes, restaurants and boutique bars and breweries in a range of locations including urban, beach and harbour.
  • Proximity to many tourist and holiday destinations around southern New Zealand including the Catlins, Fiordland and Milford Sound, Central Otago, Wanaka and Queenstown, multiple skifields, North Otago, the Mackenzie Country, Mount Cook which are all within an easy half day drive. Stewart Island requires a boat trip.
  • The weather – it doesn’t often get too hot nor too cold, plenty of variety (sometimes same day), in the main it’s a very good working climate. And we occasionally get to enjoy some snow, once or twice every year or two.
  • Seasonal variety – we get to enjoy clear differences between spring, summer, autumn and winter.
  • It’s cheaper to live in Dunedin and occasionally fly to events in Auckland and elsewhere including Australia that we don’t have here.

It would be good to have more people enjoying a Dunedin, Otago and southern lifestyle, but not too many.

Dunedin, Syrian refugees and Saudi Arabia

The anti-refugee campaign continues at Whale Oil, with Spanish Bride using ‘Face of the Day’ as an excuse to repeat nonsense.

She posts what looks like an out of date file photo of Dunedin mayor Dave Cull and a report on violence in the city.

Dunedin’s Mayor is urging caution after a spate of violent incidents in the city…

In a sense there’s nothing that the community can do to prepare or prevent in some circumstances that sort of thing, you just have to deal with it.”

“But Dunedin is probably one of the safest communities in New Zealand” added Mayor Cull.

-newstalkzb.co.nz

Atkins uses this as an excuse to launch into another anti-refugee rant.

I am glad that Dunedin is a safe place to live. It will not stay that way if it takes too many Islamic refugees. At the moment the numbers appear small but as each person can apply to bring family members into the country after they settle, the numbers we are told are not the true numbers.

The numbers are small. Dunedin will be one of six centres taking 750 refugees over two and a half years. It’s likely some of them will already be family groups.

Saying “the numbers we are told are not the true numbers” is meaningless.

Even if a hundred or so refugees settled in Dunedin – and stayed in Dunedin – and that number doubled through more family being able to join them – that’s a very small proportion of the Dunedin population, a fraction of a percent.

Atkins launches into bigger bull:

All the rich Muslim countries who are part of the UN like Saudi Arabia, have taken ZERO refugees…

The Guardian: Saudi Arabia says criticism of Syria refugee response ‘false and misleading

Saudi Arabia has said reports about its response to the Syrian refugee crisis are “false and misleading” and it has in fact given residency to 100,000 people as war rages in their country.

The kingdom’s statement followed a similar defence issued by the United Arab Emirates after questions were asked about how wealthy Arab states had reacted to the outflow of more than four million Syrians.

Saudi Arabia “made it a point not to deal with them as refugees” but had issued residency permits to 100,000 Syrians who wished to stay in the kingdom, the official said.

“With that came the right to free education, healthcare and employment according to a royal decree in 2012 that also states that Syrian students visiting the kingdom be admitted in public schools,” the official added.

The kingdom had supported Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and other countries in co-ordination with the host countries, while providing a total of about $700m in humanitarian aid, he said.

More on this in Western Media’s Miscount of Saudi Arabia’s Syrian Refugees.

And from Wikipedia:

Syrians in Saudi Arabia include migrants from Syria to Saudi Arabia, as well as their descendants. The number of Syrians in Saudi Arabia is estimated at around 500,000 people in August 2015 and consists mainly of temporary foreign workers.

According to the UNHCR’s representative for the Gulf region, there are 500,000 Syrians in Saudi Arabia, but in “official documentation they are referred to as “Arab brothers and sisters in distress”” and not as Syrian nationals

So the “ZERO refugees” claim is at least highly debatable.

Greens on RMA

Green co-leader Metiria Turei has spoken up about National’s proposed Resource Management Act reforms, expressing concerns that ‘people’ and ‘neighbours’ won’t get to have their say adequately.

Greens: RMA reforms will ‘lock people out of having their say’

The Green Party has criticised proposed changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA), saying the overhaul would leave many people out of the consultation loop.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says the changes will leave too many people without the means to voice their opinion on changes in their neighbourhoods.

“The major part [of the legislation] will be locking people out of consultation and having a say,” Ms Turei told the Paul Henry programme this morning.

She says even under the current laws, only a relatively small number of people are actually involved in the process.

“More than 90 percent of the consents that are issued under the RMA are not notified, there’s only a really small proportion where people get a chance to have a say about what happens in their neighbourhood and we think their right to have a say should be protected.

“There are people who are affected by the decisions that other people make, they should have the right to say [something] about that.”

“We’re talking about people’s neighbourhoods; there are big issues in Auckland at the moment about the nature of development in Auckland City – should Aucklanders be locked out of having a say about what happens in their city?”

Turei seems to be confusing two things – people having their say (there’s many ways they can do that) and potentially bogging down RMA applications because some people want to stop anything changing in their neighbourhood.

This is already a real problem here in Turei’s electorate of Dunedin North, where people oppose building on the other side of the harbour to where they live (and other places) because they don’t like the look of it.

And it could get worse.

The Dunedin City Council is currently proposing a ‘second generation’ district plan. A proposal in that is to designate large areas of the city above the 100 m contour as a ‘significant landscape zone’. And thatb will significantly restrict what you can do with your land if it’s above 100 m in those zones.

A lot of Dunedin is over 100 m.

I have a special interest in this because I own properties that straddle the 100 m contour.

Under the new proposals if I want to build a building larger than 60 square metres I will need resource consent.

If I want tp build a house higher than single story or with paint greater than 30% luminosity or plant particular species of trees or a number of other things I will need notified resource consent.

So neighbours and people on the other side of the harbour will be able to have their say. And if past experience is anything to go by people will oppose.

The local Green dominated council and the Green Party want everyone to be happy before anything is built, and if someone doesn’t like the look of something in the distance then they can do more than have their say – they can stop people doing normal sorts of things with their own land.

There’s a vast difference between environmental protections (important) and allowing neighbours to have their say and prevent people douing what is not out of the ordinary on their own land.

This illustrates a major problem many people have with the Greens.

Just about everyone wants to protect the environment as much as possible, so having someone sticking up for environmental issues is great.

But most people don’t want severe restrictions on what they can do with their own land and property.

And they don’t want extreme Greenies preventing them from doing fairly normal and reasonable things with their own property just because the extreme Greenies have what they want and don’t like the look of something else.

Refugees for Dunedin

Dunedin has been chosen as another refugee settlement destination to cater for the influx  from Syria.

Dunedin chosen as new refugee settlement location

Dunedin has been selected as a new refugee settlement location following a whole of Government assessment.

The assessment included looking at employment, housing and Government services available alongside the support provided by the local community.

The decision to choose Dunedin was made by the New Zealand Refugee Resettlement Strategy Senior Officials’ Group – made up of representatives from Immigration New Zealand (INZ), Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Development, Office of Ethnic Communities and Department of Internal Affairs.

There are currently five settlement locations in New Zealand where quota refugees are settled after they have completed the six week reception programme at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre – Auckland region, Waikato, Manawatu, Wellington region and Nelson.

INZ General Manager Steve McGill says an extra settlement location is needed following the Government’s decision to welcome 750 Syrian refugees over the next two and a half years in response to the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Dunedin was considered alongside New Plymouth, Hastings / Napier, Invercargill and Tauranga.

Mr McGill says all the locations had certain advantages but Dunedin was selected for a number of reasons.

“Dunedin has a strong set of services and is a well-connected city where a number of government agencies have a presence,” he says. “There are good employment opportunities in the area, suitable housing is available and there is excellent support from the community.”

The university will be a benefit to some of the refugees – and the university coud benefit from some of the refugees as well.

I think this is a good thing for Dunedin. We could do with a little bit of positive news that involves mainating a population here.

An I have no worries at all about any security issues. They will only be a small number in comparison to the annual influx of students from around the world.

Woman seriously injured, houses damaged in Mosgiel fire

A big blaze fanned by strong winds yesterday afternoon burned 50-100 hectares near Mosgiel (near Dunedin).

The ODT reports that as a result a women is in a serious condition in intensive care, and ‘up to nine’ houses have been damaged.

Woman hurt in raging fire

A woman is in Dunedin Hospital in a serious condition after a vegetation fire raged across Saddle Hill yesterday.

The flames swept through 50ha to 100ha, damaging ”up to nine” houses and forcing residents and livestock to be evacuated.

Unseasonably hot weather and strong, gusty winds fanned the flames, causing the fire to jump several roads.

Smoke was dense in places and the heat intense. St John Coastal Otago territory manager Doug Third said ambulance staff transported a woman to Dunedin Hospital in a ”serious condition”.

She remained in intensive care last night.

A series of photos were posted on Facebook showing how quickly the fire grew.

Scary.

There was some rain late yesterday afternoon but it cleared and strong winds have continued overnight.

Otago shooting threat – hoax or not it’s a problem

Yesterday an anonymous person posted a threat on the 4chan bulletin board of a shooting massacre at Otago University on Wednesday. It was then copied to Reddit and Facebook.

OtagoShootingThreat

Whether this is a stupid hoax or a serious threat it is causing a lot of problems and anxiety.

What is 4chan?

4chan is a simple image-based bulletin board where anyone can post comments and share images. There are boards dedicated to a variety of topics, from Japanese animation and culture to videogames, music, and photography. Users do not need to register an account before participating in the community.

Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and injured 17 at Virginia Tech in 2007.

This afternoon the police put out a statement:

Otago University threat

National News

Dunedin Police are aware of a threat made via an online post that relates to the University of Otago.

Specialist staff are actively investigating the post with assistance from the High Tech Crime Group in Wellington.  Police are also working closely with the Vice-Chancellor and the University.

“Police would like to reassure University staff and students, and the wider Dunedin community, that appropriate measures are being taken in relation to the post,” says Inspector Mel Aitken, acting Area Commander: Otago Coastal.

“Police take any threat seriously while its source and authenticity is being assessed.

“Our advice at this time is to be alert and vigilant but not alarmed while our investigation is ongoing.

“Police will be maintaining a high visibility presence in the area and taking other appropriate steps which we are unable to discuss publicly.

“We are also asking those in the University area to report any suspicious behaviour immediately to Police.

“We understand that a threat of this nature could be concerning to some people. Police, University of Otago and Campus Watch staff will be available to speak with anyone who has concerns.

“Police is experienced at assessing a range of threats and we investigate any matter of concern which comes to our attention. We are also mindful of the possibility of “copy cat” threats following high profile events which occur overseas.   We will deal firmly with any individuals associated with any such copy cat threats.

“Police will communicate any further advice necessary as our investigation progresses, and we will continue to work closely with the University of Otago.” said Inspector Aitken.

So will life go on as usual in Dunedin tomorrow? There are many students and staff at Otago, some of them will have some real concerns for obvious reasons. I know people personally with close associations with the University who have concerns.

Whatever the intent and motives of the person who posted the threat the effects of something like this can be huge.

It shows that in a normally boring old backwater like Dunedin one person can cause major problems without even doing anything real.

And if the person is serious the problems increase substantially.

A state of peaceful living can be easily and quickly be overturned.

A bit windy

Going by reports it was very windy around the South Island yesterday, but somehow Dunedin missed it – until late in the afternoon when a sudden storm hit. I was working outside at the time and it caught me by surprise.

A balmy day with temperatures in the twenties transformed instantly. Wind, rain, lightning and thunder suddenly hit. It was one of the most dramatic storms I’ve seen. Soon I didn’t know if there was still thunder, the wind itself was so noisy.

The temperature halved within a few minutes to about 10 degrees.

The Taiaroa Head (Otago Peninsula) weather station has the most dramatic wind record. There was strong winds there through the afternoon but the storm hit just before six with wind going off the chart – 70 knots is about 130 km per hour.

The wind kept coming in bursts through the night, waking me several times. At times it rocked the house.

It’s just getting light so I’ll be able to see soon if there is any damage out there.

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