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Democratic Social Economy Part 1

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, September 3rd, 2010 - 31 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, democratic participation, Economy, science - Tags:

Due to the discrepancies in the spread of knowledge the free-market is irrational but there is no doubt that we, collectively, have the needed information to make more rational decisions. The problem that occurs is that neither the knowledge nor the tools to help make rational decisions on that information are readily available. We’ve tried to pass standards based upon the best information to enforce some rationality but that got the political right up in arms about “Nanny State” and so the regulation, and the government that brought it in, was tossed out.

The question, I suppose, is: would that regulation have been removed, and the “Nanny State” attack by the political right have succeeded, if people had had access to the necessary information to make a rational decision? I may be being optimistic in believing that they wouldn’t have. So that raises another question: How do we get that information out to the people in such a way so that they can use it and understand it?

This is where modern technology comes in in the form of computers and the internet but it’s not good enough just to put the reports online and hope that people read them. Most people just don’t have the time with working 40+ hours per week, trying to have some sort of social life some of the time and sleeping for the rest. What we need is some software (government developed, freely available and perhaps Open Source) that can easily and rapidly show what differences will ensue if changes are made according to the research available. Using the example of the light bulb saga the software could be set, using real information, to show what happens to power usage if inefficient lights are continued to be used and the extra costs involved in keeping them on the market and showing the decreased costs (savings made) of using efficient light bulbs. Being able to see all of this in an easy to understand format, IMO, it is unlikely that the people would have allowed inefficient light bulbs to continue to be sold.

Basically, what we’re looking for is a top down administrative tool available to everybody that also links through to the raw data and research (Government and, perhaps, private). The software will be able to use this data to show how resources are used and so how a change in one area of resource use will affect resource use elsewhere. With this information available to them people would be able to see what decisions mean and how they’re personally affected.

In Part 2 I’ll be looking at how this could be used to bring about a rational and free political-economy.

Draco T Bastard

31 comments on “Democratic Social Economy Part 1”

  1. nzp 1

    What we need is some software (government developed, freely available and perhaps Open Source) that can easily and rapidly show what differences will ensue if changes are made according to the research available.

    Respectfully, it appears that you don’t do a lot of modelling in your life. Models tend to be too broad brush to be useful, or so specific that you can just read the research. The other problem is that research conclusions never fit into models nicely. Especially social things. Moderate drinking helps, excessive drinking is terrible. How do you model this? Can you model the social enjoyment of drinking in the model? If the model says ban it, is it right?

    On the lightbulbs, ‘the right’ did get a lot of headway with the issue. But I don’t think banning the bulbs isn’t a good way of addressing the problem – just tax their ‘whole life’ cost. If you really want them (you graphic designers and die hards) you can have ’em, but they’ll cost you a tenner a bulb!

    Good luck with the model though -…

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      I’m more looking at resource use and that can be measured and input into models. I still expect humans to do their own thinking for themselves.

  2. randal 2

    of course the free market is irational.
    it depends on irrationality for its existence.
    where else in the world would you find a country that is obsessed with toys and meaningless status distinctions that rely on mindless destruction of species and habitat to stroke the peanut heads.
    now that is irrational to the max.

  3. Bill 3

    You really think that the vagaries of the market can be captured by a piece of computer software?

    I’d be of the persuasion that the predictability resulting from such an effort would be no better than what we might expect from predicting the weather using computer programmes. At best.

    What would the inputs be? Who would determine them? What would the relative objectivity/ subjectivity of the input values? And who would rise to be the authoritative voice on the whole matter?

    Because the answer to those questions points to where the potential for the next dictator resides.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      You really think that the vagaries of the market can be captured by a piece of computer software?

      No, I’m thinking that “the market”* can be refined by the use of better tools and the use of better knowledge so as to minimise irrational use of scarce resources.

      What would the inputs be? Who would determine them? What would the relative objectivity/ subjectivity of the input values? And who would rise to be the authoritative voice on the whole matter?

      Good questions and I don’t have complete answers to most of them. Even Part 2 will only have broad categories. The one answer I do think I have is about the authoritative voice and that is, and should be, the community. Not an individual.

      * The Market is a means to distribute the scarce resources available to the community. It is a social construct. In the capitalist system the market is used for delivering those resources to the wealthy. What I’m looking at is turning it to the betterment of the community.

      PS, I attempted to post this before but kept getting a server error

  4. Bill 4

    On a positive note, I believe that a democratic and socially orientated economy is possible. And no computer programmes are necessary.

    In a participatory economy, producer councils and consumer councils input their respective data ( Producer councils on what they are able or willing to produce and consumer councils on what they want or need to consume).

    When potential production and consumption balance, we just get on with the job of producing and distributing said product. The information coming from the consumer councils and production councils is not ‘capturable’, so no ruling elite arises as a result.

    Importantly, there is no market, so no ( often destructive) competition being rewarded. And no centralised authority as an overseer because such a function is not required.

    It’s complex (not complicated) and beautiful in it’s subtleties. There is no way I can even begin to do the concept justice here. Here’s that old predicable link I post from time to time where in-depth discussion debate and analysis alongside entire books on participatory economics are available http://www.zcommunications.org/topics/parecon

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      I believe that a democratic and socially orientated economy is possible. And no computer programmes are necessary.

      I see the computer program as enhancing the needed communication and coordination of the resources that a community has available.

      And no centralised authority as an overseer because such a function is not required.

      Except for your producer councils and consumer councils. Sounds remarkably like central planning to me.

      there is no market,

      The market is a social construct and so we can make it anyway we want it to be.

      • Bill 4.1.1

        It’s not central planning at all. A major impetus behind the development of parecon was the desire to imagine a system of production and distribution that was deeply democratic and that was not subject to the dysfunctions of the market or central planning.

        Paracon consists of a number of elegant yet robust subtleties, and as I said in my previous comment, I couldn’t begin to do the whole concept any justice here. I can only suggest you read some of the material I provided a link to.

        The producer and consumer councils are not static bodies peopled by bureaucrats or any other type of functionary. They are peopled by you and me, the producers and the consumers. (And since we are both consumers and producers, we would participate in both consumer and worker councils.) They aren’t in any way, shape or form centralised or capable of exerting or projecting any type of illegitimate authority.

        As for the market being a social construct that we can make to be whatever we want it to be…that doesn’t make any sense. Either there is a construct with certain characteristics that we call a market or there isn’t. If there is, then what you are claiming sounds to me to be akin to saying that we can grow whatever fruit we choose to on apple trees.

        edit. If there are 300 tonnes of resource y available and a demand for 400 tonnes by consumer councils, then it doesn’t take too much of a computer programme to do the simple math. And simple math is all that’s required to inform the inevitable resetting of demands until the numbers even out.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1

          They are peopled by you and me, the producers and the consumers.

          And so is what I’m proposing – it just doesn’t have the councils as they’re not needed.

          Either there is a construct with certain characteristics that we call a market or there isn’t.

          False dichotomy. The market doesn’t have to be what the capitalists tell us it is – see above.

          If there are 300 tonnes of resource y available and a demand for 400 tonnes by consumer councils, then it doesn’t take too much of a computer programme to do the simple math.

          The problem is communicating that simple math.

          • Bill 4.1.1.1.1

            “…it just doesn’t have the councils as they’re not needed.”

            So how does a community determine and communicate it’s infrastructure requirements if there is no forum where it can communicate with itself, inform itself, determine what it’s legitimate demands are and communicate those desires to other consumer bodies as well as actors in the productive or industrial sphere? And how is it in turn communicated to by outside agencies (producers or/and consumers)?

            • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Pretty much the many to many relationship that I previously said was impossible but I’m still working on that so you’ll have to wait for part 2. ATM, suffice to say that the software would be able to determine what is needed from everyone’s input. The one I’ve roughly outlined above is one way, government outward, with a purpose to get people informed. The total set up would be two way. Actually, thinking about it, would possibly still need some form of administration.

              I actually think you and I are talking past each other here. We both want the same thing, participatory democracy, but we seem to be using slightly different meanings to the language, i.e. a council to me is a small body of people that quite specifically does not include everybody and is empowered to make decisions for everybody else.

        • Vicky32 4.1.1.2

          Er… Maths, not math, which is a Welsh name (unless you’re in the USA…)
          Deb

  5. People need to want to be engaged with the process of government to actually be able make conscious and rational decisions about particular policies. Too often those political unengaged will simply follow the dominant media spin on a particular policy. There are so many examples of this in addition to the mentioned “light-bulbs”; the infamous shower-heads, folate compulsion in bread etc.

    From the reaction of those types, you’d think that any type of compulsion was bad, yet we recognise compulsory education as necessary to sufficently skill our population for a life of hopefully both economic and social value. Besides, if you don’t want to have your shower heads pressure limited, take a bath. If you don’t want to have to use the efficient light-bulbs, use a candle. If you don’t want folate in your bread, bake your own.

    In the case of light-bulbs specifically, there is a legitimate criticism – that even though households are getting more energy-wise and efficient they are being continually charged more for their power, to the extent that any action taken by individuals means that they don’t feel like they are even saving. But then, a big FU to Max Bradford for that one.

  6. Kleefer 6

    The most “democratic” economy is the free market. Every time anybody makes a purchase they are making a “vote” for that product or service. The prices people pay for these goods and services send a signal to entrepreneurs to either produce more of them to make more profit or, alternatively, to cut down on production and use their time and capital to produce something more profitable. Central planning never works because values are subjective and differ from person to person, making “aggregates” meaningless.

    • Vicky32 6.1

      Kleefer, what you say is very simplistic. The whole ‘a purchase is a vote’ thing falls down the minute buyers are constrained by price, or availability. It’s like TV ratings. I may loathe cop and reality shows, but be constrained in showing my support for particular shows because cop and reality and cop/reality are all that’s available! So, I vote with my dollars for 500g of peanut butter that’s dry and unpleasant because it’s the only one without sugar – whereas if another brand produced one without sugar I’d buy it enthusiastically. All the PB manufacturer knows is his isn’t selling, and Bob’s is – but the “democratic” system doesn’t tell him to produce a creamy product without sugar, and I’d buy it in a heartbeat!
      Deb

    • Puddleglum 6.2

      Kleefer, while attempting to explain the democratic credentials of the market you have, probably unwittingly, described the very democratic failings of the market. Its strengths are its weaknesses.

      Each ‘vote’ of demand provides an incentive to increase supply. Similarly, the ability to supply something at low cost provides an incentive to seek out and/or create demand for it. In a world full of reflexive agents (i.e., people who can think about this feedback loop that the price mechanism enables), what this all means is that incentives are created to ‘un-free’ the ‘free market’.

      There’s a strong ‘double shot’ incentive, that is, to make sure that a free market doesn’t happen, at least in relation to your trading. That’s why most lobbyists on governments come from commercial interests – it’s an obvious tactic that is implicitly embedded in the incentives provided by a market. I call it corruption – certainly corruption of the market. Others call it a sensible business strategy.

      Examples of this are legion: Subsidised corn in America (leading to overproduction, farmers debted off the land, corn allergies, obesity …); the design of health systems to maximise pharmaceutical company profits; subsidised oil via wars and interference with others’ governments, etc., etc.. The market economy provides the incentive for this to happen. It’s strong ‘signalling’ element actually signals to anyone who notices (i.e., most ‘serious’ business people) that the best way to make profit is to rig the market. (That’s the problem with people, once they see the rules of a game they cheat. In a market, the best cheaters tend to win.)

      Notice that not many of these are particularly democratic outcomes from the market, at least not in the common or garden sense of the word.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.2.1

        (That’s the problem with people, once they see the rules of a game they cheat. In a market, the best cheaters tend to win.)

        And it certainly doesn’t help that our present system was designed by the cheaters to help them cheat.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.3

      The price signal, as is, doesn’t send enough information. If it did there wouldn’t be any international trade. I’ve covered this, you’re reaction is just to spout irrational dogma.

      Then there’s the simple fact that the “free-market” isn’t democratic at all (it’s actually anti-democratic) and that it’s not “free” either as it’s owned by the capitalists.

  7. Lew 7

    Basically, what we’re looking for is a top down administrative tool

    Leaving aside your bizarre conflation of purpose and mechanism, this quoted bit is the fundamental conceptual flaw right here. Democracy ain’t this way.

    You can’t buy it off the shelf, you’ve got to grow it from the seed.

    L

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      The heart of democracy is communication. This tool that I’m thinking about is to help that communication. Still, it does need people to participate but quite often to get people to participate you need to show them results. If people can see the results of their actions the chances are that they will be more likely to participate. ATM, they don’t get that. They go down to the store, buy whatever they want, and go home. There’s no connection to the reality that is that entire transaction.

      • Bill 7.1.1

        “…to get people to participate you need to show them results.”

        Who or what is it that is it that is going to be doing the showing of the results to ‘the others’? Again, it appears you are overlooking possible concentrations of power, in this instance based on knowledge and knowledge flow if I read you correctly.

        We already live in a situation where we are shown results and expected to participate…but only in a very minimal fashion; as consumers.

        The reason many people don’t participate in a more meaningful fashion is because there are no avenues allowing for meaningful participation. There is no possibility of meaningful participation in our conventional workplaces. There are no avenues for meaningful participation in matters pertaining to our communities.

        What we have is managers and bureaucrats and so on taking exclusive charge of important decisions and killing democracy in the process. And if I have no real say in matters, then I lose interest and become cynical and detached. At which juncture I become vulnerable to manipulation by all types of unsavoury parties.

        And I don’t see where any part of what you’ve been saying challenges the managers/ functionaries/ bureaucrats hegemony of our society’s decision making processes.

        • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1.1

          Who or what is it that is it that is going to be doing the showing of the results to ‘the others’?

          An impersonal computer program extrapolating from peer reviewed research. Perhaps I should have phrased that differently: For people to want to participate they need to see results.

          What we have is managers and bureaucrats and so on taking exclusive charge of important decisions

          I trying to devolve that so that the decisions are made by everyone and not managers, councillors or bureaucrats. Part of doing that requires the dispersion of knowledge in such a format that people can understand it. IMO, part of the reason why bureaucrats exist is because not everyone can no everything and so we end up with specialised roles. The people in those specialised roles begin to only see what they do and not how it relates to the rest of society which results in the need for administration, bureaucrats, to allow a complex society to function. The bureaucrats then start to contain and control information (Note how difficult it is, even with the OIA, to get information out of the government) which further disconnects people from society. This one idea here is to get that information back out to the people in an open and understandable format and, hopefully, remove the power from the bureaucrats.

          • Bill 7.1.1.1.1

            So now we’ve got peer reviewed research? Research of what? And who determines what is researched and assigns it it’s level of importance? And why the software again?

            If I’m participating in decisions that will have an effect on me…in my community and workplace…then I don’t need a computer programme to extrapolate from any information or research for me. There isn’t really anything that we can’t understand.

            Computers being used for communicating across distance is fine. We already have that.

            So if the community I live in wants to source the necessary materials to put in a sewerage system, then the community will have sat down and discussed the various options and come to a decision that then needs to be communicated to others who have the resources (skills, plant and machinery, raw materials etc) .

            And that is where the councils come into the picture…to facilitate the coming together of ‘citizens as consumers’ demands and ‘citizens as workers’ production capabilities.

            If you are living in Auckland and I’m in Hamilton, then I won’t be participating in the decision making processes that you are participating in unless the decision you are working on has a capacity to impact on me.

            eg At the moment we have centralised and utterly inefficient and disempowering infrastructures (like our electricity network) that lend themselves to ‘capture’ by bureaucrats and the like. But if your community and or workplace makes moves to generate electricity and set up autonomous systems, then that’s got nothing to do with me in Hamilton. Except that maybe the community I’m in and dozens, or hundreds, of others are embarking on the same project and maybe the resources are not available that would allow us all to do the thing at the same time. And again, that’s where councils and to-ing and fro-ing of information comes into play in such a way that novel solutions can be explored or demands altered to fit with reality.

            And short of AI, no computer programme can do that.

            • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1.1.1.1

              So now we’ve got peer reviewed research? Research of what? And who determines what is researched and assigns it it’s level of importance? And why the software again?

              Peer reviewed because it’s the most trustworthy means of obtaining valid results from research. The people will determine what is researched, it’s importance and the resources used for that research. To assist with communication of the findings of that research and how it affects resource use.

              And that is where the councils come into the picture…to facilitate the coming together of citizen’s as consumers demands and citizens as workers production capabilities.

              I’m sure the USSR said the same thing in 1917 and it’s still the process that led them to authoritarian control and oppression.

              If you are living in Auckland and I’m in Hamilton, then I won’t be participating in the decision making processes that you are participating in unless the decision you are working on has a capacity to impact on me.

              Almost all decisions everyone makes impacts upon everyone else. You drive a car – it impacts me. You drink a glass of water – that impacts me as well. The nation has a limited amount of resources available and they’re not all local. That’s what the economy is about – getting those resources to where they’re needed.

              But if your community and or workplace makes moves to generate electricity and set up autonomous systems, then that’s got nothing to do with me in Hamilton.

              Unless we decide to use the coal that sitting under Hamilton in which case you’re going to be affected in two ways at least: 1) Your house is going to subside in to a large, dark, pit and 2) the air you breath is going to be more filled with climate changing smog.

              And short of AI, no computer programme can do that.

              I’m not expecting it, or wanting it, to. It’s a tool to help people to make those decisions based upon real information rather than emotive response.

              • Bill

                Draco, I get it that peer reviewed research gives better quality research results that can be relied on more than research that is not peer reviewed. But you can’t say that ‘the people’ will determine what is researched without explaining exactly how the people will determine what is researched. Same goes for deciding the relative importance of any research to be undertaken.

                On the worker and consumer council front. One of the very first things the Bolsheviks did was abolish worker councils and implement one person management systems controlled by and answerable to ‘The Party’. Trotsky is on record saying that that they would have adopted Taylorist/Fordist management strategies in the workplace sooner if they could have.

                On the impact of my/your decisions.

                It’s just not true that ‘almost all decisions everyone makes impacts upon everyone else.’ We seem to agree that the economy is about bringing society’s productive capabilities and society’s consumptive demands into balance. And we seem to agree that a democratic means of doing that is preferable to other options.

                Meanwhile, why would anyone seek to build a coal power station if autonomous electricity generation is being sought? It’s not even remotely sensible. But anyway. Who would have the greater say in any mining proposal for Hamilton. Hamilton communities or Auckland communities? The answer lies in who will be impacted more by any such decision. And short of being either on the wrong side of a gun or the wrong side of the asymmetrical power relationships integral to the market…but by necessity we abolish that if we want to develop and maintain a democratic system of production and distribution…. you’d have to conclude that mining would probably be off the cards.

                Back to computers and computer programmes. What we need is already there. If I want info on wood burning stoves I can get all the info I need in the next 5 min. It has functionality.

                And a simple calculator can do all the arithmetic that would be necessary to fully inform consumer and worker councils on resource availability and desired resource use. You could ( I guess) have a programme sitting on the web that did it in real time as councils entered their data. But whether that would be desirable and efficient or not is another question.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  But you can’t say that ‘the people’ will determine what is researched without explaining exactly how the people will determine what is researched.

                  That’s in Part 2 as I’ve already said (I’m still working on it so I probably won’t post it for a couple of weeks).

                  It’s just not true that ‘almost all decisions everyone makes impacts upon everyone else.’

                  If we use a resource then we are preventing someone else from using that same resource which, last time I looked, made an impact upon them and almost every decision we make uses resources.

                  If I want info on wood burning stoves I can get all the info I need in the next 5 min.

                  Really? I’d be highly surprised. How many man hours went into producing that wood burner? Including the mining of the metals, minerals and stone. Do the people who did the mining have enough to live on? How much ecological damage was done in the mining? How much oil was used? How much wood does it burn? What difference does that make to the forests if only you have one? How much if everyone has one? (It’s been said that the reason why the coal age started in Britain wasn’t because they found coal but because they were running out of trees) What difference is it making to the atmosphere? To the ecosphere?

                  Yes, when you buy a wood burner you’re making decisions on all these questions and probably more most of which you don’t have an answer to.

                  There’s a lot of information that people just don’t know and have no access to and yet they’re making decisions that need that information. It’s how we ended up on the edge of calamitous climate change from a century and a half of burning oil.

                  But whether that would be desirable and efficient or not is another question.

                  The computer program would be able to show that you’re making decisions based upon real costs (both resource use and opportunity costs). The simple calculator won’t. The program will also, due to being connected to the internet, be able to get that information out to everyone in an understandable format which is easily searchable. Everything may already be on the internet but being able to find it is another question.

                  As for the councils – we already have them and both you and I have referred to them as elective dictatorships that respond only to the rich. If you’re talking about having everyone in the council then what you’re talking about is a really large discussion with nothing getting done as everyone will be arguing instead.

                  • Bill

                    Sorry draco.

                    But you need to do some reading on worker councils etc and how they function, who participates in them and so on, if you truly believe that we already have comparable structures operating today in the mainstream.

    • tea 7.2

      umm…at the risk of getting in trouble- you can have it imposed by an invading power- but they may forget to include opposition parties as part of the upgrade!

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    A bit of a clarification
    Basically, what we’re looking for is a top down administrative tool available to everybody that also links through to the raw data and research (Government and, perhaps, private).
    People don’t understand numbers all that well but they do understand charts and graphs.

    Visualisation renders complex data accessible. Graphics and interactive visualisations make visible things we never expected to see.

    So what I mean by top down administrative tool is software that, when you open it up, shows you, as an example, all the different sectors of government and how they’re inter-related. It’ll show resource sources and sinks etc. Selecting a resource will show more detail about how it’s used.

    Selecting Electricity will show you sources (Damns, coal and gas fired power stations, wind) and it’s uses (Residential, commercial, transport, etc). A different view of its uses could also show that as Heating, Lighting, Dishes etc, as well as projection into the future for those uses. Selecting Lighting would then show more details on that such as what type of lighting is being used and from here you’d probably have links to the actual research papers. If you’d gone into here with the question of How to save power? and saw that incandescent light bulbs used up far more power than any other type while also producing less light (i.e. really inefficient) then you’d probably look at enforcing certain standards on lighting because there are better uses for that power.

    By selecting Electricity you’d also be able to see what resources (Man power, cement, coal, gas etc,) were being used to produce that electricity and the research underpinning that as well.

    It would be one hell of a database project.

  9. B 9

    Keep up the good work Draco T – ur posts are always v interesting!

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    National must support our future doctors and agree to the calls from the Medical Students’ Association and the Young Nats to lift the arbitrary 7 year cap on student loans for medical and dental students, Labour’s Tertiary Education Spokesperson David… ...
    2 days ago
  • Taxpayer the loser after Government folds
    Steven Joyce today admitted the main exhibition hall at the New Zealand International Convention Centre is 19 per cent smaller than what was described at the time other bidders were edged out of the process, Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David… ...
    2 days ago
  • Govt’s lack of ambition for women
    Yesterday, the Government put out a media release entitled “Number of women leaders continues to grow”. It was to inform us that the percentage of women on state-appointed boards has increased to 41.7%, up from 41.1% in 2013. Well, woo-hoo… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 days ago
  • Auditor-General exposes Key’s scapegoating of Council
    The National Government's blaming of Auckland Council for the city’s housing crisis has been exposed as scapegoating in the Office of the Auditor-General’s latest report, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Auditor-General says Auckland Council’s part in fixing the… ...
    2 days ago
  • Reform – not money – needed for meat sector
    The National Government continues to throw good money after bad at the meat industry instead of addressing the fundamental problem of its dysfunctional structure, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “The latest Primary Growth Partnership grant to the venison… ...
    2 days ago
  • Government cuts corners on school bus funding
    The safety of children – not cost cutting – should be the main objective behind the Government’s funding of school buses, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Buried in the detail of this year’s Budget are $19 million of funding… ...
    2 days ago
  • Women the losers under National’s cuts
    National’s poor performance in appointing women to state sector boards is set to get worse with funding cuts to the nomination service provided by the Ministry for Women, Labour’s Woman’s Affairs spokesperson Sue Moroney says. “Minister for Women Louise Upston… ...
    2 days ago
  • Help sought by agencies now asked to help
    The organisation Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has tasked with setting up an emergency hotline for stranded Relationships Aotearoa clients has just lost a bid for a government contract to launch a new national helpline, Labour’s Acting Social Development spokesperson… ...
    2 days ago
  • Wellington got loud again on climate
    On Monday night, in Wellington, I attended the last of the Government’s climate target consultation meetings. It was quite well attended with maybe 150 people, not bad for a second meeting with very little notice and, as far as I… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 days ago
  • Final nail in coffin for Solid Energy workers
    Today’s confirmation of job losses at Solid Energy’s Stockton and Spring Creek mines shows the urgent need for new economic opportunities on the West Coast, Labour’s MP for West Coast-Tasman Damien O’Connor says. “Our economy can no longer rely on… ...
    3 days ago
  • Ramadi proves Iraq deployment high risk, low benefit
    The fall of Ramadi and the collapse of the Iraqi Army proves Labour was right to be concerned about the deployment of our troops to Iraq, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says. “The fall of Ramadi brings IS fighters within… ...
    3 days ago
  • English admits new taxes on the cards
    Eight months after pledging “no new taxes” at the election Bill English today admitted he would bring in more sneaky taxes along the lines of the border tax, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Not only did National bring in… ...
    3 days ago
  • What the Dickens is going on at SDHB?
    Problems at the financially-strapped Southern District Health Board appear to stretch to its HR department with information obtained by Labour showing it still records staff leave entitlements using manual book-keeping methods. “The Board’s draft 10-year plan document forecasts a cumulative… ...
    3 days ago
  • Teachers turn backs on new professional body
      The fact that just 56 per cent of nominations for the Education Council came from registered teachers shows the profession has turned its back on Hekia Parata’s new professional body, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Answers to written… ...
    3 days ago
  • No spade work done on big building plan
      Only a quarter of the 500 hectares of Crown land the Government wants to use for new homes is understood to be suitable for building on, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “This was National’s bold new idea to… ...
    3 days ago
  • National: Seven KiwiSaver cuts in seven years
    National’s campaign of KiwiSaver cuts has reached seven in seven years as it dismantles KiwiSaver block by block, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “KiwiSaver is critical to establishing a savings culture in New Zealand but National has taken a jenga-style… ...
    3 days ago
  • Tolley’s actions contradict reassurances
    Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has serious questions to answer following the forced closure of Relationships Aotearoa just days after her reassurances she was looking at ways to keep the service operating, Labour’s Acting Social Development spokesperson Annette King says.… ...
    3 days ago
  • SkyCity downsize another broken promise
    The downsized SkyCity Convention Centre does not deliver on the promised iconic world-class centre and shows the true extent of Steven Joyce’s incompetence, Labour Leader Andrew Little said today. “New Zealanders were promised an iconic world-class convention centre that would… ...
    3 days ago
  • Te Arawa partnership model a step closer
    Councils around New Zealand have an opportunity to improve their consultation with Iwi Māori by following Rotorua District Council’s Te Arawa Partnership Model, Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says. “The Rotorua District Council will today decide whether to adopt… ...
    3 days ago
  • Labour mourns Dame Dorothy Fraser
    Labour Leader Andrew Little said the party is today mourning the loss of the youngest person to join the Labour Party, Dame Dorothy Fraser, who went on to be a stalwart of the Dunedin community and tireless worker for others.… ...
    4 days ago
  • The ultimate scapegoat: PM blames fruit fly for new tax
    The Prime Minister has found the ultimate scapegoat for breaking his promise not to introduce a new tax – the Queensland fruit fly, Labour’s Biosecurity spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “John Key’s first policy upon taking office and assigning himself the… ...
    4 days ago
  • How many victims missing out on protection?
    Hundreds of domestic abuse victims could be missing out on getting protection orders because they are unable to get legal aid, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.“In the last two years some 351 people who applied for legal aid for… ...
    6 days ago
  • Government kicks hardworking whanau
    A major incentive to help young Kiwis and people on low incomes to start saving has been kicked out from under them with the National-led Government ramming through short-sighted legislation under Urgency today, Labour’s Maori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says.… ...
    6 days ago
  • Speculator tax political stunt gone wrong
    Bill English’s admission he doesn’t know whether National’s new speculator tax will have any effect shows last weekend’s announcement by the Prime Minister was a desperate political stunt, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “This Government is so desperate to… ...
    6 days ago
  • The value of parenting
    This week, as part of the Budget, the government introduced a bill to address child poverty. This bill will require parents receiving income support to look for part-time work once their youngest child is three years of age rather than… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    6 days ago
  • Another new tax, another broken promise
    National has unveiled yet another new tax in this budget – a rural broadband levy that will almost certainly result in an immediate price hike for internet and telephone connections across New Zealand, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran said “The… ...
    7 days ago
  • Anniversary of Sri Lankan Tamil Massacre
    This is not going to be a happy story but if the Green Party of Aotearoa doesn’t want to know who else will? May 18th marks the anniversary of what is known as the ‘Mullivaikal massacre’ of Tamils in 2009 at… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    7 days ago
  • Labour MPs join youth to take part in 40 hour famine
    A team of Labour MPs took part in the 2015 World Vision 40 hour famine and we were told by World Vision and the young people, that it was the first time MPs had joined them and how appreciative they… ...
    7 days ago
  • Rodeo: ‘Family entertainment’ or animal abuse?
    Recently  TVNZ ran a story with confronting footage showing rodeo animals being punched, repeatedly shocked with electronic prods and having their tails violently twisted over their backs. It was clear that significant force was being used behind the scenes to make… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    7 days ago
  • Budget puts the squeeze on police
    The Government has cut funding to the New Zealand police force in the latest Budget, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “The reduction is a whopping $15.3 million that could put front line officers at risk. ...
    7 days ago
  • Crucial social services take another hit
    The Government looks set to slash half a million dollars of funding for critical social services, including Women’s Refuge and Barnados, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni “Taking $500,000 from organisations aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable families… ...
    7 days ago
  • Saying it Loud on Climate in Christchurch
    The Government’s Christchurch consultation meeting on New Zealand’s emission targets was inspiring – not for what was in the Ministry for the Environment’s (MFE’s) defeatist video about the obstacles to changing to a low carbon future, but for what the… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    7 days ago
  • Budget silent on small business
    The Government has completely ignored one of the most important sectors of the economy – small and medium-sized enterprises – in Budget 2015, Labour’s Small Business spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. "A stunning 41 per cent of jobs were created by… ...
    7 days ago
  • Thank you John, it’s been bloody marvellous
    The departure of John Campbell is a blow to current affairs investigative journalism, Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Campbell Live stood out in its field. Its axing comes as local broadcasting in New Zealand remains in a state of… ...
    7 days ago
  • KiwiSaver cut shows no long-term plan
    National’s cutting of the KiwiSaver kickstart is incredibly short-term thinking, typical of a Budget that is woefully short on ideas to generate wealth and opportunity, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “New Zealand’s savings rate is far too low. KiwiSaver… ...
    7 days ago

  • Med student crisis wake-up call
    The national student NZUSA is putting its full weight behind the growing calls by the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association, political parties, youth wings and professional associations for the Government to immediately reinstate access to the ...
    32 mins ago
  • EMA Supports Need to Get the Health and Safety Bill Right
    With New Zealand facing the biggest changes to health and safety laws in 20 years, the EMA supports the Governments delay of the Health and Safety Reform Bill if it means getting the right result for employers and workers. ...
    18 hours ago
  • Relationships Aotearoa meets with transition providers
    Relationships Aotearoa met this morning (Thursday, 28 May) with representatives of four of the five providers appointed by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to transition RA clients. ...
    18 hours ago
  • ‘Count human health in your climate calculations’
    The government may be asking for public input on New Zealand’s planned action to address climate change in the lead-up to global negotiations this year in Paris, but health is left out of the equation, health groups say. Doctors, nurses,… ...
    19 hours ago
  • Mccully Must Disclose Legal Advice
    The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, to publicly release the legal advice relating to the Saudi sheep deal. ...
    19 hours ago
  • ‘Count human health in your climate calculations’
    The government may be asking for public input on New Zealand’s planned action to address climate change in the lead-up to global negotiations this year in Paris, but health is left out of the equation, health groups say. ...
    20 hours ago
  • Salaries for Members of Parliament
    The Remuneration Authority has issued its determination on the salaries for Members of Parliament following amendments to the provisions in the Remuneration Authority Act 1977 earlier this year. ...
    21 hours ago
  • Government must not abandon health and safety reform
    While resistance in the National Party caucus delays the passage of the Health and Safety Reform Bill, FIRST Union General Secretary Robert Reid says there should be no health and safety law exceptions for small businesses and farmers. ...
    21 hours ago
  • MasSiVe Hikoi welcomed by Human Rights Commission
    The Human Rights Commission is welcoming this week’s MasSiVe hikoi led by Kiwi men who oppose sexual violence. ...
    22 hours ago
  • Ongoing celebrations for Supreme Court ruling
    Recreational fishers are celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that changed the fisheries management landscape in New Zealand. In a landmark decision in 2009 the Supreme Court confirmed the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, ...
    22 hours ago
  • Banks investigation “not subject to political interference”
    A report released today by the Independent Police Conduct Authority found that the Police investigation into John Banks’ return of expenses and donations at the conclusion of the 2010 Auckland Super City Mayoral election was thorough and robust and was… ...
    23 hours ago
  • Using racism to win means you’ve already lost
    The Human Rights Commission is urging everyday New Zealanders to stand up to racist sports fans and players. ...
    23 hours ago
  • Jim Butterworth
    Jim Butterworth was the elder statesman of our great union. He served to protect and advance the interests of New Zealand working people over many years of union organising and leadership. Jim led the northern region of the Engineers’ Union… ...
    24 hours ago
  • Closure of Relationships Aotearoa
    The Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) Chief Executive Lucy Sandford-Reed is concerned about the closure of a national service which provides a wide range of services to rural and urban communities throughout New Zealand.  ...
    24 hours ago
  • Three Years Since Villaggio Fire
    Jane and Martin Weekes, the parents of the two-year-old triplets, New Zealand citizens, who were killed in the Villaggio mall fire in Doha, Qatar, on 28 May 2012 will be reflecting on the short lives of Lillie, Jackson and Wilsher… ...
    24 hours ago
  • Count human health in your climate calculations
    The government may be asking for public input on New Zealand’s planned action to address climate change in the lead-up to global negotiations this year in Paris, but health is left out of the equation, health groups say. ...
    24 hours ago
  • PSA welcomes Hawke’s Bay DHB’s decision on food services
    The PSA welcomes Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s decision to reject Health Benefits Limited’s proposal to outsource food services to multi-national company Compass Group. ...
    1 day ago
  • Overseas Trade Indexes (Prices and Volumes)
    We are combining the Overseas Trade Indexes (Prices) and Overseas Trade Indexes (Volumes) into one release as of next week’s 2 June publication. ...
    2 days ago
  • Core government cap disappointing and disingenuous
    The Public Service Association (PSA) says the Government’s continued focus on capping the size of core government administration is counter to providing New Zealanders with the services they need and depend on. ...
    2 days ago
  • Saudi ‘Compensation’ Not in Full And Final Settlement
    The Taxpayers’ Union is has uncovered that despite building a $7.5 million ‘Agri-hub’ and paying $4 million to the Al Khalaf Group, no settlement agreement or liability waiver was secured in relation to the apparent claim the Government is using… ...
    2 days ago
  • SkyCity still holds winning hand
    SkyCity still holds winning hand despite having to pay more for Convention Centre The Problem Gambling Foundation says it is not surprising SkyCity was prepared to put more money into the Convention Centre considering the Casino has been granted ...
    2 days ago
  • Doctor, I’ve got a 7 year itch
    Young Labour supports the campaign by the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association to have the 7 year lifetime limit on student loans scrapped. “This policy by the National Government makes no sense. It means that medical school students may be… ...
    2 days ago
  • Vulnerable people will be most affected by closure
    The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) is concerned that vulnerable clients are being left in the lurch in the wake of the abrupt closure of Relationships Aotearoa. ...
    2 days ago
  • Young Nats call for Govt to back Med Students
    The Young Nats support the New Zealand Medical Students Association’s campaign to exempt medical students from the seven year equivalent full time study cap on borrowing for course costs, and want the cap extended to nine years for this group… ...
    2 days ago
  • Review of fire services a major opportunity for future
    Wellington, Wednesday 27 May 2015 - Rural and urban volunteer firefighters make up 80 percent of New Zealand’s fire services. Their representative organisation, the United Fire Brigade’s Association (UFBA), says the Minister for Internal Affairs, ...
    2 days ago
  • Fire Service review rules out fairest option
    Insurance Council Chief Executive Tim Grafton says “the Government has made a mockery of genuine consultation by ruling out the fairest, most cost effective and sustainable way of funding the Fire Service” in its release of the Fire Services review… ...
    2 days ago
  • NZMA supports students’ call on loans
    The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) supports the call by the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association (NZMSA) for the Government to urgently address the impact of time restrictions on the student loans of many medical students currently ...
    2 days ago
  • No Rights of Access to $11.5 Million Dollar Saudi Farm
    Exclusive: No Rights of Access to $11.5 Million Dollar Saudi Farm WEDNESDAY 27 MAY 2015 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE The Taxpayers’ Union has uncovered that despite taxpayers forking out $11.5 million to build an ‘Agri-hub' in Saudi Arabia, officials failed ...
    2 days ago
  • Abduction attempt blamed on lax politicians
    Commenting after yesterday's attempted abduction of a five year old boy outside a Hastings school the Sensible Sentencing Trust has lashed out at politicians for “putting our kids at an undue and totally unacceptable risk”. ...
    2 days ago
  • Press Release from SuperGrans Aotearoa
    SuperGrans applaud the government for providing an extra $25 per week for low income families and further supporting Whanau Ora, Children’s Teams and CYF. These are all initiatives that will enhance collaborative effort to support our precious and ...
    2 days ago
  • Relationships Aotearoa welcomes discussion
    The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) advised by phone this afternoon (26 May) that five agencies have been selected to undertake the work Relationships Aotearoa (RA) had been contracted to provide for MSD. “Since 15 May, RA has been working… ...
    2 days ago
  • Human Rights Commission welcomes Rotorua partnership model
    Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy has welcomed news that Rotorua District Council has agreed to a modified version of the Te Arawa Partnership model. ...
    2 days ago
  • Final nail in coffin for Solid Energy workers
    Today’s confirmation of job losses at Solid Energy’s Stockton and Spring Creek mines shows the urgent need for new economic opportunities on the West Coast, Labour’s MP for West Coast-Tasman Damien O’Connor says. ...
    3 days ago
  • Comments sought on Takapūneke Reserve
    Comments sought on Takapūneke Reserve Christchurch City Council wants public input into a plan that could help make Banks Peninsula's Takapūneke Reserve a National Reserve. The Council is currently seeking written suggestions to help draft a Reserve ...
    3 days ago
  • What the Dickens is going on at SDHB?
    What the Dickens is going on at SDHB? Problems at the financially-strapped Southern District Health Board appear to stretch to its HR department with information obtained by Labour showing it still records staff leave entitlements using manual book-keeping ...
    3 days ago
  • Maori Party Labels One Man, One Vote Supporters as Racist
    The Maori Party’s approach of bullying and intimidation against those who have stood up for one person, one vote, in Rotorua, is a dishonourable act by Members of Parliament that should know better. Democracy Action, a pressure group which champions… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government proses weakening the Health and Safety law
    “The Government’s suggestion that the new workplace health and safety laws will be weakened is very disappointing”, says Hazel Armstrong health and safety lawyer and member of the Independent Forestry Safety Review Panel. ...
    3 days ago
  • Giving faces to the faceless
    Powerful films and unforgettable documentaries can highlight human rights in ways speeches and documents never will says Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy. ...
    3 days ago
  • Deaf Aotearoa applaud NZ On Air funding announcement
    Deaf Aotearoa are thrilled with the announcement that NZ On Air will be providing additional funding for captioning on TV One, TV2, TV3 and FOUR. Independent captioning and audio description service Able will receive $400,000 more in the coming year,… ...
    3 days ago
  • Scott Technology lays off Christchurch workers
    Thirteen workers at Scott Technology, which manufactures, services and installs equipment for the appliance industry, were informed last week that they have been made redundant. This announcement, which came as a shock to the workers, comes after ...
    3 days ago
  • Smaller Convention Centre Should Mean Less Pokies
    Family First NZ says that with the downsizing of the SkyCity Convention Centre, the legislative concession for allowing an increased number of pokie machines should be significantly reduced, if not scrapped. “As we said from the outset, this deal ...
    3 days ago
  • Parliament missing in action on RMA reform
    Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said recent indications of ‘no change’ to sections 6 and 7 of the Act means it is now clear that after six years Parliament is incapable of delivering anything more than the lowest common denominator –… ...
    3 days ago
  • Government wants safer workplaces… or does it?
    Government wants safer workplaces… or does it? Today a widow and a mother sit together in the High Court in Wellington fighting for justice for the men that were killed at work in the Pike River Mine disaster of 2010,… ...
    3 days ago
  • New Zealanders reckon they’re doing pretty well
    The majority of New Zealanders say they’re highly satisfied with their lives, and slightly more rate their sense of purpose highly, Statistics New Zealand said today. These are the first results from Statistics New Zealand’s survey of nearly 9,000 ...
    3 days ago
  • Rural hospitals’ services vulnerable
    “The Southern District Health Board’s efforts to tighten its financial belt are clearly going to have very serious consequences for rural hospitals,” says Ian Powell, Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists ...
    3 days ago
  • Settlement and iwi unity overwhelmingly important to Ngāpuhi
    The settlement of historical Te Tiriti Waitangi grievances and iwi unity are growing in importance to Ngāpuhi, says a Horizon Research survey report released on 24 May. ...
    3 days ago
  • Protecting workers’ lives is not “onerous”
    26 May 2015 Media Release Protecting workers’ lives is not “onerous” The government must not water down changes to health and safety legislation which are vital for New Zealand workers, says the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union. “The ...
    3 days ago
  • Taxpayers Short-Changed by Skycity Deal
    The Taxpayers’ Union is outraged over the latest details of the SkyCity convention centre released today, specifically that the number of delegates the centre will be able to hold has been reduced for a second time. Taxpayers’ Union Executive ...
    3 days ago
  • Parental Notification Supported by Parents & Teens
    Family First NZ is calling on politicians to reflect the concerns and wishes of parents and also teenagers, and ensure that young pregnant girls in a crisis situation receive the family support they deserve and need. ...
    3 days ago
  • Integrated approach needed for Māori economic development
    Business and asset development, employment opportunities and wealth creation must contribute to Māori well-being, according to iwi at the launch of a Māori economic development research report in Whakatāne. ...
    3 days ago

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