Not all Pike river families approve of re-entry

‘Pike River families’ has often been put forward as one unified group wanting re-entry to the mine and recovery of the bodies, but at least one family opposes the re-entry plan, calling it disgraceful.

Recent news reports refer to the families collectively:

Andrew Little on Pike River: ‘Re-entry is about fulfilling a promise to the families’

“Re-entry of the Pike River Mine will proceed. To the Pike River families, to New Zealand, we are returning.”

Pike River relatives on mine re-entry: It’s a ‘truly amazing day for our families’

Friends and family of the 29 men killed in the Pike River Mine disaster say an agreed plan to re-enter the mine is a historic moment of truth and justice.

Sonya Rockhouse, who lost her son Ben in the disaster, told Morning Report the change of government had made a huge difference to the families’ campaign and the previous National government had failed them, she said.

Bernie Monk, who also lost a loved one, said it was a proud day for all Kiwis.

Anna Osborne said it was a historic moment for truth and justice and that the announcement was a “truly amazing day for our families”.

“We fought really hard for our men for a really long time and today, this is a victory for our families,” she said.

“This is a victory for the little people of New Zealand.

Pike River Recovery Agency (Government website): Family Reference Group

The Pike River Recovery Agency works in partnership with the Family Reference Group, who represent the overwhelming majority of the Pike River families.  Here they introduce who they are:

‘Stand With Pike’, the families of more than 80% of Pike victims, have fought hard for answers as to why this happened or, more to the point, why no-one intervened to stop it.

24 of 29 is 82%, so that means up to five of the families are not represented.

And one of those five has spoken up – Mother of Pike River victim: Re-entry plan ‘disgraceful’ (RNZ):

Christchurch mother Marion Curtin says she was left sitting by her phone feeling raw after the announcement of the Pike River Mine re-entry yesterday.

Her son, Richard Holling, never came home after the November 2010 tragedy, but she wanted it to stay that way.

Some people might assume that all 29 affected families considered yesterday’s news as a “victory,” she said, but she was one of the silent many who disagreed.

She said the plan was an “appalling” waste of $36 million.

“I’m just so disappointed. I couldn’t believe that cabinet would sign this off,” she said.

Especially given the lack of certainty, she said, with nobody able to tell her exactly what the mine recovery experts would be looking for.

“I see it as sacrilege, really. To go in fossicking around for remains… to go in just to see what they find – I think it’s just disgraceful,” she said.

Ms Curtin loathed the fact it had become so political. She said the months leading up to last year’s election were especially challenging.

“Some people liked that… the politicians climbing on board. I certainly didn’t. That was my son’s death they were playing with.” she said.

While yesterday’s news had been extolled as a “huge victory” and a relief for the people in Greymouth, Ms Curtin did not feel this way and refuted the idea that she was in the minority.

Different people have different ways of dealing with grief. I’m not sure that that is well enough recognised by the recovery agency and the politicians promoting re-entry.

Following the loss of her son, Ms Curtin said said she had just been trying to get on with her own life.

“I remember Richard with love every day. But for me a good day is when I don’t hear Pike River mentioned. I don’t dwell on Pike River.”

Repeatedly bringing the tragedy up in the news can be hard for some people.

And if the re-entry ever gets to the stage of finding bodies, can they respect the wishes of some families, any families, who don’t want ‘fossicking around for remains’?

 

Q+A: Golriz Ghahraman on increasing refugee numbers

Golriz Ghahraman, Green Party spokesperson on Immigration and Human Rights, was interviewed on Q+A on increasing refugee numbers. Jacinda Ardern announced last week the number was being increased from 1,000 to 1,500 in 2020, but Green policy is to increase it further to 4,000 (over 5 years), something that is unlikely to be agreed on by NZ First.

“There was such an outpouring of support for refugees from community groups and individuals”.

“Countries that take the most refugees are in fact from the Middle East and Africa, they’re the neighbour countries, they take millions, and in Europe we’ve seen you know millions come across and be integrated and housed because there’s been that need and it’s so close for them”.

“I think that New Zealand has always been a country that likes to do our share, you know we like to do our fair share when these things happen around the world.

On Winston Peters saying “I can show you parts of the Hokianga and elsewhere, parts of Northland, where people are living in degradation, we have to fix their lives up before we start taking on new obligations”. On problems we need to deal with here:

“And we do. And who doesn’t feel that. You know we’ve had nine years of being told we’ve got a rock star economy…

That’s a bullshit claim. The last Government took over as New Zealand was heading into a recession and the world economy tanked, and a couple of years later the Christchurch earthquakes struck, so the New Zealand economy was under aa lot of pressure for years, only gradually recovering. One person at one stage mentioned ‘a rock star economy’.

…while people struggle to find homes, they’re sleeping in cars, the congestion on the roads, you know joblessness. So we need to get back to investing in people, and we’ve got enough to do that, we just need to take care of everyone, and we do want to do our fair share when disasters happen, when wars happen.

“We’ve got enough to do that” depends on what and how much is done.

From the Labour-Green confidence and supply agreement:

18. . Review, and adequately fund and support, the family re-unification scheme for refugees.

Ghahraman:

“So that was a Green Party win in our confidence and supply agreement. We’re going to look at the definition of family. At the moment it’s very limited to dependant blood children and spouse, which doesn’t quite fit the situation of where refugees are coming from. That kind of excludes orphaned cousins who have been adopted and now they’re left back in some refugee camp.”

Won’t that increase the number of people coming in?

“Not significantly, but it would certainly help those families to resettle better without the anxiety of having been ripped apart from their families. And we know that if grand parents were allowed to come they would do a lot of the child care for example and both parents could go out and work and contribute and integrate.”

“So we’re having a review of the definition of family, and also the resourcing for family members being reunified.”

It could be a challenge getting Winston Peters to agree. A review is just aa promise to discuss, not to change.

Fraught family issues and intimidating judges

Relationship breakups and family arrangements can be fraught with problems. Fathers in particular can be put in difficult positions, often feeling helpless in the legal system, with preference often given to mothers.

Some estranged fathers have been taking their frustrations too far.

NZH: Police protect judges at home from ‘intimidating’ Family Court protesters

Judges are being protected at their family homes by police as angry dads protest outside with placards and megaphones.

A group of fathers, many of whom are disgruntled at losing custody or visitation rights to their children, are gathering outside the homes of Family Court judges in Auckland, say multiple Herald sources.

It is understood the protests, which have largely taken place during weekends over the past few weeks, against about three judges have so far been peaceful with no reports of trespassing or property damage.

So they don’t seem to be breaking the law, but they are unlikely to sway judges with their protests.

Minister of Justice and Courts Andrew Little called the protests “very disturbing” and said there was no excuse for people taking their case to the front door of a judge.

“The reason for that sort of protest is to create some level of intimidation and that is entirely unacceptable.”

It does seem a bit disturbing, but fathers can get desperate in their attempts to maintain contact with their children. This is understandable – and far better than walking away from their parental responsibilities.

And they have succeeded in highlighting a problem faced by many fathers.

Perhaps having the law and the Courts stacked against them is also entirely unacceptable, and drawing attention to this is a valid if perhaps misguided reaction.

A third review into the Family Court had also been ordered by the Government, Little said.

A review panel and expert advisory group would talk to families who had been through the Family Court process, he said, while he had also asked specifically for a “human rights approach” to look at the views of both parents and the children.

More details of the review were expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Changes to the Family Court were introduced by the former National Government in March 2014, aimed at empowering families to resolve their matters outside court and without lawyers.

The reforms were also intended to help the Family Court focus on those cases which required immediate legal attention, such as those involving family violence.

Little said the review would evaluate whether the reforms had achieved their objectives.

In last month’s Ministry of Justice newsletter, Little also wrote: “Public confidence in the criminal system and family law has been eroded and a managerial approach has failed. We can do better, and we will do better.”

Swadling said there were “significant problems” introduced in 2014 when legal aid was removed and lawyers became unable to represent parties for some court processes.

“If protestors wish to be heard they would be best served by ensuring that they make submissions to the review panel rather than targeting particular individuals, especially judges who are unable, by convention, to defend themselves,” she said.

It is never easy sorting out relationship and family disputes, and it is a real shame that children get caught in the middle of parental legal battles.

While the care of the children should be paramount, both parents should be given a fair go by the legal system. This seems to be one thing where the system is often stacked against men.

Labour’s family package

Labour has differentiated themselves from National with the the family package policy they announced today, which targets families with children but they would scrap National’s tax cuts so people without children will miss out unless they are a beneficiary or superannuant who will get a winter handout.

Labour will:

  • Boost Working for Families to all those who currently receive it and extend it to 30,000 more families, in addition to the Working for Families changes announced in Budget 2017.
  • Introduce a Best Start payment to help families with costs in a child’s early years.
  • Introduce a Winter Energy Payment for people receiving superannuation or a main benefit. 
  • Reinstate the Independent Earners’ Tax Credit.
  • Implement the Accommodation Supplement increases announced in Budget 2017.

Delivering for families

For all of our history, families have been at the heart of every decision Labour has made.

We introduced the welfare state and public health system in the late 1930s, because we know how important it is that families can get the care that they need.

We introduced the minimum wage and four weeks’ holiday pay, because we know how important it is that families have quality time together.

We introduced paid parental leave, because we know how important it is that parents have time to bond with their baby in those early months.

And today’s Labour Party is no different. We believe in families, and today we’ve announced a package that will deliver for them.

Our families package will leave 70% of New Zealand families better off than they would be under National’s package. Families on middle incomes will receive up to $48 a week more in Working For Families with Labour’s package than under National.

At the same time, our package will save more than $2 billion over four years, so we’ll be able to invest in houses, hospitals, schools and infrastructure – all the big issues that National has failed to tackle during their nine years in power.

We can do this because our package is targeted at families on low and middle incomes, and we’re not spending $400 million on an unaffordable tax cut for the top 10% of income earners, like National wants to, while public services face cuts and our people face a housing crisis.

This election comes down to choices, to what we think is a priority. Our package shows that Labour’s priority is, as it always has been, New Zealanders. We’ll give everyone a fair shot and the support they need to lead a happy, healthy life.

Labour knows healthy families mean a healthier society, and that’s in the interest of every New Zealander.

Read our full policy here: labour.org.nz/familiespackageshare on twitter

Trump says “take out their families”

It’s an awful look foer US politics when one of the presidential contenders is a dangerous oaf like Donald Trump.

In his latest of many embarrassing comments he suggests, well, he’s probably not far fromn wiping out the Middle east.

CNN reports: Donald Trump on terrorists: ‘Take out their families’

Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would kill the families of terrorists in order to win the fight against ISIS.

The billionaire businessman was asked by the hosts of Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” how to fight ISIS but also minimize civilian causalities when terrorists often use human shields.

“The other thing with the terrorists is you have to take out their families, when you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families. They care about their lives, don’t kid yourself. When they say they don’t care about their lives, you have to take out their families,” Trump said.

Trump said he would “knock the hell out of” ISIS, and criticized the U.S. for “fighting a very politically correct war.”

I hope US voters don’t let homn get anywhere near control of nuclear weapons, or any weapons. He would be a huge risk to the world.

The GOP would be nuts to put him forward as their presidential candidate.