Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sir Peter Jackson could destroy the NZ film industry, not the unions...

Peter Jackson promoting the 2009 film District...Image via Wikipedia
Sir Peter Jackson could destroy the NZ film industry, not the unions...

Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly and the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) are fuming at the Government for siding with Sir Peter Jackson's stance on the union dispute surrounding The Hobbit movies.

Last week, the Australian Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), which New Zealand Actors Equity is allied with, said there had to be a boycott of the movies after the makers refused to enter a union-negotiated agreement.

Sir Peter and the studios countered that because actors were independent contractors, New Zealand law prohibited collective bargaining.

Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson said yesterday that the Crown Law Office advised that movie producers were prevented by the Commerce Act from entering into a union-negotiated agreement with independent contractors.

Mr Finlayson said the MEAA needed to note that New Zealand employment law was different to Australia's.

But CTU president Helen Kelly said the legal issues could be sorted out within days and were just a red herring from Sir Peter.

"The minister hasn't even talked to the union about what they want. He is basically siding with Peter Jackson when he should be facilitating talks between the parties."

It was a simple issue of a union seeking to negotiate with an employer which the CTU saw every day - only this time it had the glitz and glamour of the film industry, Ms Kelly said.

The MEAA claimed actors had been working under contracts providing no minimum guarantees of wages or working conditions, no residual payments and no cancellation payments.

Sir Peter has accused the actors' union of a power grab and warned that production of the two films could be moved from New Zealand to Eastern Europe.

"If he (Peter Jackson) moves the films...the unions are going to follow him. If they just talked then there are many things they could agree on and that's the pathetic thing about his approach," Ms Kelly told NZPA.

"Chris Finlayson as Minister of the Arts needs to get involved and get the parties talking.

 KR says:

Personally, I don't really know what the guts of the issue really is, but  Peter Jackson seems more interested in the financial aspects of the dispute We have seen employers use this 'private contractor' label. ruse to get round collective agreements since the days of the implementation of the Employment Contracts Act for a couple of decades now. I can understand stars and supporting actors having individuaal contracts, but not extras and other stand in actors.

This dispute could destroy Peter Jackson's mana and credibility within New Zealand just like Russell Coutts a few years back during the Americas Cup campaign when he switched to the Swiss Alinghi Syndicate and became embroilled in disputes with Team New Zealand. Coutts went into almost exile as his personal credibility and standing within  NZ nose-dived, despite his undoubted record as the supreme sailor in New Zealand sailing.

History is full of notable people who have tried to become larger than life and have been brought crashing  back to earth, just like the golfer Tiger Woods. The Government should not have become involved in the dispute yet, not until it becomes obvious that Peter Jackson really intends to go offshore to Eastern Europe to make the Hobbit films there. Peter Jackson should be well aware that the success of his films during the last decade was made posible with millions of taxpayers dollars in subsidies. Jackson is just full of bluster at this stage. He could be the one that destroys New Zealand's film industry, not the unions. People should also realise that there is a gradual swing back to unionism in New Zealand, after the ECA of 1991 all but destroyed the union movement in New Zealand. The Clark Labour government didn't really help much in the resurgence; the union movement has traditionally fared better with National governments in power despite the set-backs of the 1990's.

I will be watching this dispute with deep interest as I have been a both a former unionist and delegate during my working life, and was in the first wave of victims of the Employment Contracts Act in 1991.

If Peter Jackson actually carry's out his threats I will be personally deeply disappointed,  as New Zealand has needed another social  icon after the deaths of Sir Ed Hillary and Peter Blake. Sir Peter Jackson seemed to fit the bill!

-NZPA    Visit Kiwipete

Monday, September 27, 2010

New book on Crewe murders blames the investigating police officer...

Arthur Allan Thomas says he backs a new book on the murders of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe that claims the killer was a police officer who investigated the case.

Thomas was originally arrested for the double murder in 1970. He was found guilty by two juries despite a strong alibi. Thomas was then pardoned in 1979 and a Royal Commission of Inquiry found that key evidence had been fabricated by the police.

Author Ian Wishart's new book, Arthur Allan Thomas: The Inside Story, claims that Det Sgt Len Johnston did more than plant evidence. He writes that Johnston was responsible for killing the Crewes and framing Thomas.

Thomas told TV ONE's Breakfast today that he had never before considered Johnston as the killer, believing that the culprit was most likely Len Demler, Jeanette's father.

But Wishart said his investigations brought to light new evidence that led him to focus on Johnston.

"Everywhere we went, Len Johnson kept on turning up in this case... as the person planting all of the key evidence...(fabricating) the case against Arthur Thomas."

Wishart said that Johnston's motive may have stemmed from blackmail over a burglary and insurance fraud.

The Police Association has dismissed the claims. Spokesman Greg O'Connor described Wishart's book as "scurrilous rubbish".

But Thomas is backing Wishart's theory.

"I'm not surprised, the police were corrupt to the highest degree in my case."

Thomas said that even now people struggle to accept his innocence. He said he has been let down by the police, the courts and the justice system.

"I had great faith in the police in the early days... I had nothing to hide. I helped the police where I could and they let me down," he said.

Back in July, Thomas' ex-wife, Vivien, spoke out about the murder mystery. She sent a letter to Justice Minister Simon Power, requesting he re-open the cold case.

Now known as Vivien Harrison, she was accused by police of being involved in the double homicide by feeding the Crewes' baby.

While a statement from a local farmhand led to her being cleared of any involvement, the case did lead to the demise of her marriage and force her from the country.

Vivien filed for divorce after Thomas' guilty verdict remained in place after the second trial. The pair never spoke again, but she remained a staunch supporter of his innocence, maintaining he was home with her at the time of the murders.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The latest political poll still shows a huge advantage to National - what does it mean

Philip Bruce Goff, current Leader of the Oppos...Image via Wikipedia

NZ Political Party: Cold Shower For Labour In Latest Poll - what does it mean?

(April 29th, 2010)

Labour leader Phil Goff grudgingly admitted this week John Key is a “slick operator.” In damning his opponent with faint praise Goff was seeking to explain Key’s popularity, as distinct from his own lack of it. The latest TVNZ-Colmar Brunton poll rated Key at 48% against Goff’s 8%, suggesting even some Labour supporters prefer Key as PM to the Opposition leader. Given Goff has been in Parliament for 26 years, 15 of them as Minister, his rating remains a conundrum his party may have to wrestle with for some time. Opposition MPs had been confident the public was becoming disenchanted with the Govt because of the prospective GST rise, plans to mine the conservation estate and the re-opening of the foreshore & seabed issue.

But the Colmar-Brunton sampling gave them a cold shower. National support is still around 54%, which indicated it has bounced up from the Roy Morgan poll earlier in the month, a track followed by National’s own polling. Labour remained static at 33%, and the gap is so large it adds to pressure on Labour’s hierarchy to find new answers which differentiate it not only from National, but from the legacy of the Clark Govt. Given Jim Anderton is getting set to leave Parliament (possibly to contest the Christchurch mayoralty), the Green Party has lost its greenest champion in Jeanette Fitzsimons, Winston Peters has joined the grey brigade, thousands of votes may be looking for a fresh home at the next election. But Labour in its present shape doesn’t look capable of capturing them.

Please go to:   For my discussion on this poll:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Christchurch residents rally over ' third world' conditions - post earthquake news...

Central Library : after the quakeImage by Christchurch City Libraries via Flickr

Christchurch residents  rally over 'third world' conditions - post earthquake news...

A digger demolishes buildings in Christchurch after the earthquake. Photo / Greg BowkerDozens of angry residents have rallied in one of Christchurch's worst earthquake-hit areas to let the world know their situation is not fixed, and they are still living in "third world" conditions.

About 100 people gathered in a badly cracked, silt-covered cul-de-sac in the suburb of Avonside today to express their frustration at still being in limbo and without basic services 18 days after the devastating 7.1 magnitude quake.

The residents, many Housing New Zealand tenants, are living in cracked and sunken homes, still managing without sewerage and drainage, uncertain about using the water, getting sick from contaminated silt that has come from underground, and worried what their futures hold.

They are upset that the message being sent to the rest of the country is that Christchurch is getting back on its feet when they feel far from it.

"You see on TV the devastation of third world countries or war. And that's what it felt like for the first week," said Angela Wasley, a resident of the cul-de-sac and rally organiser.

"It's absolutely exhausting. It feels like you have gone camping, and the campsite hasn't quite got the right utilities. We've got power.....but nothing else. Water comes and goes. So you can't wash, you can't flush the toilet."

"You don't really want to be in the area, because it feels like it has been demolished, and it feels broken. You don't want to not stay in your house because there's burglaries around."

"We've got this contaminated silt flying around everywhere which we can't wash off, and it's getting into our throats. We've had sore throats for about 10 days now."

Ms Wasley, who lives with her seven-year-old son and father, said she did not know yet whether her home would have to be demolished, and where she would go next.

The aftershocks after the big quake meant the "cracks keep widening".

Beneficiary Karron Gosney has slept in her damaged rental home in the largely deserted cul-de-sac every night since the earthquake, when most other houses are deserted.

"As much as we want the people of Canterbury to get back to normal, they have got to realise that a lot of us are living worse now than what a lot of people were day one of the quake."

"We are not a rich neighbourhood. A lot of us do not have access to bank loans or overdrafts or credit cards. So we are trying to do it out of our benefits."

Ms Gosney uses a shower at a local gym and the toilet at a local shopping centre.

"We don't all have friends and family that can put us up."

Mark Christison, of the Christchurch City Council's earthquake recovery team, said the team was working long hours and doing its best to get at least "limited services" restored to all homes.

"Typically the city renews about 4km of sewer a year in its network. The sort of damage that we are seeing from this earthquake could be anything from 20-30km to 100km. So that gives you an idea of the magnitude of the job that's in front of the recovery team."   CHRISTCHURCH QUAKE MAP

Acknowledgements:  Jarrod Booker

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nature's fury - massive storm hit New Zealand yesterday...

An enlargeable satellite image of New ZealandImage via Wikipedia The huge storm hitting New Zealand is already causing chaos for emergency services in the Hutt Valley north of Wellington.

The power is out, trees and sheds are on fire and more than 100 lightning strikes have been recorded in the Hutt Valley and Kapiti Coast in the past two hours, according to media reports.

New Zealanders are being warned to brace for the storm, which the New Zealand Herald described as "one of the biggest storms on the planet".

The worst of the storm has hit on the West Coast and Southern Alps where heavy rain is falling, with snow down to 200 metres in places.

Visit the New Zealand Transport agency for updates on road conditions.

Tasman Storm Sparks Concerns

Later this afternoon a storm front is expected to hit entire the North Island.

Heavy rain and winds of up to 130km/h are expected.

The wild weather is expected to bring extreme conditions over the next 48 hours.

New Zealanders are being warned to stay away from the beaches as the storm hits

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Crafer dairy farms sale hits a snag - Landcorp may still have opportunity to buy...

Image representing Chris Kelly as depicted in ...Image via CrunchBase

Landcorp, the state-owned farming enterprise, is believed to be back in the running to buy the Crafar farms. A Chinese bid to buy 20 New Zealand farms will be rejected or severely restricted after a review by the Overseas Investment Office, the Herald understands.

Landcorp, the state-owned farming enterprise, is believed to be back in the running to buy the Crafar farms, as the future looks increasingly murky for an offer from Hong Kong company Natural Dairy.

It is understood the Overseas Investment Office has nearly completed its review of Natural Dairy's application to buy 20 farms owned by the Crafar family in the central and lower North Island, and that it has either rejected the application or suggested significant constraints on it.

The Government will have the final say on whether the deal will go ahead.

It has nominated Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson and Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson to make the decision.

While there have been mixed messages from the National Party about its position on the issue, Prime Minister John Key has made it clear the Government has sympathy with widespread public concern about such a sizeable sale of dairy farms to foreign owners.

A Herald investigation also revealed concerns about the credibility of the investors backing the bid.

Chris Kelly, chief executive of Landcorp - whose bid for the Crafar empire was rejected by receivership firm KordaMentha after tenders closed in July - declined to comment.

But it and other bidders vying with Natural Dairy to buy the farms are believed to be optimistic that they are back in the picture.

That means the banks owed more than $216 million by the Crafar family for 16 of the farms could lose a big chunk of their money.

High Court documents show Natural Dairy has agreed to pay $213 million for the farms.

But the price of rural land has dropped since then and it is understood the other buyers are offering around $130 million.

Natural Dairy spokesman Bill Ralston said yesterday that the company had a "well-developed plan B" should the Government reject its bid.

"They will continue with an altered form of trading in New Zealand. It would not automatically mean a pull-out," he said.

The company has distanced itself from Auckland businesswoman May Wang, with whom it has a deal to export at least 150 million packets of UHT milk from New Zealand to China.

But Ms Wang is proceeding with plans for a dairy factory in Tauranga, using milk mostly from Fonterra.

In Hong Kong, trading in Natural Dairy shares has again been suspended on the local stock exchange, pending a price-sensitive announcement.

Trading in the shares was suspended for five months this year, as the market waited for details about its plans to spend $1.5 billion establishing a dairy business in New Zealand.

The details never came, and last week it said it was shelving ambitious plans beyond the Crafar farms.

Trading resumed for seven days - allowing around $250 million worth of bonds raised by the company to be converted to shares - before it was suspended again.

Natural Dairy originally said it hoped to raise the $1.5 billion from investors to finance its plans.

Mr Ralston said he understood the company would be making an announcement within 48 hours.

Acknowledgements: NZ Herald

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No answers from Hutt City Council to questions in Press Statement...

Lower Hutt City (in yellow) within Wellington ...Image via WikipediaCopy of Press release sent to Hutt City Council on March 30 2010
Council siphoning off Waste Minimisation Money

Lisa Bridson
March 30, 2010 at 1:45 pm
Tags: Lower Hutt, New Zealand, Politics, Rates, Recycling, Waste
Categories: Governance, Waste

“Something dodgy seems to be happening with the waste minimisation fund money” claims Lisa Bridson, candidate for Eastern Ward. “Creative accounting is being used so the council can siphon off money that should be going into reducing waste”.

The intent of the Waste Minimisation Act (2008) was that money collected from a levy would be spent reducing waste ending up at landfill. Half is supposed to be used locally; the other half goes into a contestable fund that all councils can use to undertake big projects.

Hutt City can spend their share either funding existing programs or implementing new waste reduction programs. In November 2009 council officers identified $430,000 for new initiatives but after a Councillor-requested review, extra supposed waste initiatives were identified leaving only $9,850 available to be spent on new initiatives.

Disposing of waste is very lucrative for the council. Waste collection earns council around $10 million dollars profit each year. Waste is basically subsidising other council activities, and reducing waste would threaten that income. "Instead of investing in reducing waste, council are wasting money paying lawyers and consultants to justify why we shouldn't do any more", says Ms Bridson.

Julie Englebretson, Trustee of Earthlink and candidate for Northern Ward agrees, “Council use the Landfill as a cash cow. There are many ways council could encourage reducing waste”. Miss Englebretson supports regular kerbside inorganic collections and wheelie bins for recyclables being supplied by Council. Ms Bridson also supports assisting construction and demolition firms reduce waste which would benefit the firms and the community.

Ms Bridson has been seeking answers as to how the waste minimisation money has been spent, but has been blocked. Consultants Tonkin and Taylor produced a revised estimate of $359,300 in February 2010 saying costs included “kiosk operations in regard to record keeping and provision of advice, assistance to customers at the recycling area, operations in the recycling area such as traffic control, school visits and assistance to projects such as earth link.” A report with a full break down was to be produced, but despite repeated requests since the report has still not materialised.

“It is my belief that figures have been deliberately inflated so council don’t have to use the money on reducing waste. If council is really spending that much on reducing waste going to landfill, where is the proof, and why is waste still increasing?” Waste going to landfill has been steadily increasing over the last 10 years, as have costs to residents.

“While more progressive councils are implementing a range of activities to reduce waste and reduce landfill costs, the current regime seems intent on milking waste for all it is worth” says Ms Bridson.

Hutt City’s 2004 Waste Minimisation Plan needs to be reviewed by 2012 to comply with the Act. This will be an opportunity to identify opportunities to reduce waste and ensure the current landfill serves the community well into the future.

Press release submitted 3 Sept 2010, as yet unpublished 15 Sept 2010.

For more information

I'm sure residents of Lower Hutt would like answers to these questions as well. Its not too late yet before the elections. Perhaps it really is time for a change? From top to bottom!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Investigation into the dancing taggers...

The phenakistoscope – a couple waltzingImage via Wikipedia

Investigations into the  dancing taggers...

Police investigations have been launched after a Whangarei couple forced two teenage males - who they suspected of tagging their fence - to dance.

Investigations have been launched after an incident in Whangarei where a couple forced two teenage males - who they suspected of tagging their fence - to dance.

The couple tracked down the young people and told them to dance while they waited for police, posting a 10 minute video on YouTube.

Police first on the scene laughed, took photos and called more officers to watch the performance.

Whangarei police say investigations have been launched into the conduct of the couple and the police who attended.

One of the alleged taggers is charged with willful damage

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Just had an email from my brother in Christchurch...

Just had an email from my brother in Christchurch...
Just had an email from my brother in Christchurch. The family are all well there. But he said he has had a gutsful of the continuing after shocks. They are driving him crazy. He is also back to work driving his bus, but is apprehensive about driving part of his shift in the dark.

There are distinct problems there in CHCH - the liquifecation of the ground. The sandy type of ground has ben pummelled into a thick gruel that seeps and sometimes spurts out of the ground. It is feared that huge sections in the eastern side of the city will not be able to be rebuilt on. They could turn into hectares of parkland. This scenario has been observed in california and at other earthquake sites.

An after shock this morning off the Port of Lyttleton may have actually been another earthquake. This is deeply concerning for the government and other authorities there. Is there to be another round of earthquakes in New Zealand? They have had one with its after shocks near Hastings in the Hawkes Bay area on the North Island east coast.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Christchurch prison inmates being shifted to other prisons...

Department of Corrections (New Zealand)Image via Wikipedia

Christchurch  prison inmates moving en masse -  being shifted to other prisons...

Danger of fire after the earthquake prompts Department of Corrections to move inmates from Christchurch's Men's and Women's prisons.

Prisoners from Christchurch's Men's and Women's prisons will be moved to other sites as a precautionary measure following Saturday's earthquake.

The Department of Corrections says the prisons are operating safely but there is a safety risk that water pressure wouldn't be effective enough in the event of a fire. Indeed!

In a statement, Acting General Manager of Operations Karen Urwin says prisoners will gradually be moved over the coming days. Male prisoners will be transported by prison bus to Otago, and charter flights will be used to move female prisoners to Auckland. Ms Urwin says it's a temporary move to reduce the demand on local services.

Rolleston Men's Prison remains largely unaffected by the earthquake and will run as usual.

Acknowledgements: © 2010 NZCity, NewsTalkZB

Friday, September 3, 2010

Gods not smiling On New Zealand's South Island - nine killed in small plane crash at Fox glacier...

Fox Glacier and rain forest on the west coast ...Image via WikipediaGods not smiling on New Zealand's South Island - nine killed in small plane crash atFox glacier...

Gods not smiling on New Zealand's South Island - nine killed in small plane crash at  Fox Glacier...

The death toll in a plane crash at Fox Glacier this afternoon has been upgraded to 9; the plane burst in to flames after take-off

The death toll from the Fox Glacier plane crash been been upgraded to nine. Police say they are the pilot and eight passengers.

People from the township report seeing a plume of smoke rising into the sky from the local airstrip.

The crash occurred just before 1.30 this afternoon. Some reports say it burst into flames after take-off.

Locals believe it may have been a sky diving flight. St John Ambulance has not transported anyone from the scene, which indicates there may be no survivors.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fresh lead in 1984 Wellington Trades hall bombing that killed Ernie Abbott...

Fresh lead in 1984 Wellington Trades Hall  bombing that killed  Ernie Abbott...

Police are investigating a second new lead in one of New Zealand's most notorious unsolved crimes - the 1984 Wellington Trades Hall bombing that killed caretaker Ernie Abbott.

Wellington Detective Senior Sergeant Simon Perry says police have received a letter from a New Plymouth woman who believes her son may have been involved in the bombing.

New Plymouth police have been sent the information and plan to interview the woman.

Mr Perry said the woman had nominated her son as a suspect because she overheard him talking about making a bomb at the time of Mr Abbott's death.

Her letter followed a tip to Wellington police last December that a daughter of a possible suspect lied during the investigation about her knowledge of the suitcase containing the bomb.

It is understood that an informant, claiming ownership of the suitcase, gave evidence pointing to her father as a possible suspect.

Lengthy police investigations have continually been hampered by the lack of a definite motive by the bomber.

An initial and obvious theory was that, because it was in a union building, the bomb was aimed at a unionist, especially as there had been a bus strike the day before.

But police concluded it would have been difficult to put the bomb together and in place in such a short time.

The light green suitcase had a small Rica banana label on it.

The suitcase - booby-trapped to go off when moved - contained the equivalent of at least 1kg of gelignite.

However, the actual explosive involved was never identified.

Acknowledgements:  NZPA