A back-up plan based on better buses

July 31, 2009


Alf is only too aware that when it comes to closing schools, the bloody bureaucrats are adept at bamboozling the Minister of Education and winning the day, no matter the political cost.

He will be battling to ensure this does not happen in the Tararuas.

But should Anne Tolley buckle and do what her bureaucrats want, not what the true-blue Tararua community wants, then rest assured there is a fall-back position.

Alf agrees with the locals that having your kids sit on a bus for up to two hours or so a day is beyond the beyond. He will be pushing for a big improvement in the standards of the school bus service.

A bureaucratic outrage in Holyoake country

July 31, 2009

Ha! Alf was right to advise Education Minister Anne Tolley to make bloody sure school closures have the community support she imagines.

The Dom-Post today says the Government is being accused of “duping communities” into reassessing the education needs of their children, only to get a foot in the door to shut schools.

The accusations and growing anger come from the latest community to be hit with a sweeping education review, the Tararua District, where eight schools have been signalled for closure.

The review process, called a Community Initiated Education Plan or CEIP, has also been criticised by the Principals Federation, which says the process is flawed as it leaves communities wrenched apart by uncertainty.

With two other review processes under way around the country, those already affected fear more reviews will be “forced on communities”, resulting in mass closures of rural schools.
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How to contain the binge problem

July 31, 2009

Alf is aware that the drinking habits of young people in cities like Auckland and Wellington are probably very different from his own and those of his mates in a town like Eketahuna.

He will be thinking hard about this and its implications when he gets around to deciding what should be done with the recommendations of the Law Commission, which wants to reopen the argument about the legal age young people can buy alcohol.

He will also have to look at the credibility of the research that informed the commission’s report. Our alcohol habits are more heavily researched than our eating habits and hankering for a Big Mac.
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Off to battle in support of rural schools

July 30, 2009

Alf didn’t need to be kicked into action by angry constituents, when they learned that eight schools in the Tararua District are threatened with closure after a review of rural education in the region.

He was on the case already, although it’s hard slog, trying to turn the tide once the bloody education bureaucrats are on a roll. Especially now that all government spending is being so closely watched.

Alf’s mate Shane Ardern had a similar experience a few years back, when schools were closed in his patch in Taranaki-King Country.

Something the bloody number-crunchers just don’t grasp is the critical role a school plays in holding a community together. The local school becomes a centre for a raft of community activities, no matter how few the numbers of pupils.

The value of this just can’t be measured.
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Tuhoe tikanga takes a judicial bruising

July 30, 2009

The Christchurch widow who has won a landmark case allowing her to bring the body of her husband back from a North Island marae – where his extended family took it for burial – has cause to be disappointed.

Trouble is, the High Court judgment has stopped short of ordering the disinterment of James Takamore.

It says his widow, Denise Clarke, and his Tuhoe relatives should try again to resolve the dispute.

On the strength of what has happened in the past – including the blatant snatching of the dead man’s body – this seems unlikely.
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Grounding the Greens

July 30, 2009

Alf alerts the Greens this morning to the splendid example being set by a young environmentalist based in England, who says he will never visit his parents in Taranaki again after making a no-flying pledge.

Once Michael Furey, 21, returns today to the United Kingdom he will fly no more.

It’s his personal commitment to reducing greenhouse gases which cause climate change.

And he’s on a mission to spread the word to people resistant to change.

“Once I say I’m not going to fly, it’s not an option any more,” the geography undergraduate from the University of Birmingham said.

Alf reckons this example should be followed by all the Green Party MPs, who are forever banging on about the need to reduce greenhouse gases much more than makes economic – let alone political – sense.

Michael Furey travelled by plane to Brisbane last month to attend an international Universitas 21 forum on climate change.

For two weeks, from July 12 to 24, the gathering of 120 students and lecturers, from 14 universities across the globe, discussed climate change .

“Climate change has a much greater severity than any other crisis we may face. And the lifestyle we lead is having an impact.

“I personally think we all have a responsibility to others to do something about it, ” Mr Furey said.

Alf trusts the Green MPs agree and sign similar pledges to give up flying.

Even better, they should broaden the example they set by giving up motoring, too.

But not today.

Let them think about it, then make their lifetime commitments to saving the planet, after they have returned home at the end of this week’s sittings of the House.

Another ministry that wouldn’t be missed

July 29, 2009

The best question asked in parliament today didn’t pass muster with Mr Speaker, and hence was not answered.

It was raised during a series of questions and answers prompted by the Maori Party’s Rahui Katene, who asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage if it is Government policy to support the recognition of indigenous celebrations as being of benefit for all New Zealanders. And if so, why?
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Te reo and the dubious pathway to a fatal faltering

July 29, 2009

The bloody bureaucrats in Defence have found a neat way of doubling their workload to absolutely no productive purpose, except – perhaps – that doubling the size of media statements will increase the demand for paper.

That will be great for the forestry bits of the Maori economy.

The doubling of the workload – if this idea has caught on elsewhere in the public service – will also call for more staff, because it is being effected by publishing media statements first in te reo (so the vast bulk of us don’t understand a bloody word of it), and then in English.

It’s a spectacular squandering of public money for the highly dubious purpose of marking Maori Language Week.
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Hey – here are some kids who don’t mind a smack

July 29, 2009

We don’t have any of those places in Eketahuna where a bloke can go to be whipped by a lass clad in black leather. But if you happen to run such an establishment in your neck of the woods, there’s good news in the NZ Herald today.

Our namby-pamby approach to discipline does not mean we are raising a generation of kids who don’t appreciate a good smacking.

Nineteen years after physical punishment was banned in schools, the NZ Herald has surveyed a bunch of kids and found that while most want the ban (no surprise), “there is still some support for smacking as a form of discipline.”

An intermediate school was chosen for the survey because the students, all but one aged 11, are old enough to have opinions but young enough for discipline to be fresh in their memories.
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New building law should cut the crap with consents

July 29, 2009

Your legislators have given the third reading to a Bill to speed up the building consent process and reduce costs. It is now set to become law, cutting some of the crap that surrounds the tedious consents process.

The Building Amendment Bill (No 2) reforms the Building Act 2004 (and there’s more to come).

It introduces multiple-use building approvals – a measure that will reduce duplication and fast-track the consent process for group home builders who build homes on sites across the country using the same, or similar, designs.

It also defines a new streamlined process to manage minor variations to building plans after the consent is issued. This should save time for applicants and councils.

Oh, and it makes project information memorandums, known as PIMs, voluntary. Good eh?
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