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Actors’ Inequity

Written By: - Date published: 10:43 am, February 14th, 2011 - 29 comments
Categories: Unions, workers' rights - Tags: ,

Another piece of union-bashing has been quietly implemented, this one directed at Actors’ Equity (the union that took on the film and TV industry over its failure to negotiate a minimum agreement).

In the past when people from overseas wished to work in New Zealand in film and television, including everything from actors and camera people to directors and producers, the production was required to get a letter of non-objection from the relevant local craft body before a work visa would be granted. The burden of proof lay on the production company to prove the talent they were importing was truly required. If the organisation would not issue a non-objection letter the matter would be discussed between the parties to see if it could be resolved and, if no agreement could be reached and the production wanted to continue with that person, the matter ultimately went to the Minister of Immigration for a final decision.

Obviously this practice originated to prevent New Zealand being flooded with overseas workers when a suitable local could do the job. In an industry as small as ours and with employment practices that can only be described as Dickensian, this was one of the few effective tools the guilds possessed.

Standard stuff. Reasonable stuff. The process has worked well for years.

However, as of 7 February an applicant seeking a film and TV work visa need only advise the relevant organisation of who they want to bring in and why. The onus is now on industry organisation to object to an application if they so choose. The applicant must still provide evidence that the person they are seeking the work visa for cannot be sourced here. And if the organisation chooses to object but the parties cannot reach some understanding the issue still goes to the Minister for a decision.

The Immigration NZ website makes the new guidelines clear:

“What has changed?
New forms and guides have been introduced (with effect from 7 February 2011), to make it clear that the intention of the instructions is a ‘silent approval’ process for guild/union involvement. The onus is on an industry guild or union to object to a visa application (they have three working days to do so after they receive the information from the employer, production company or promoter), rather than on the employer, production company or promoter to seek prior guild or union approval through a letter of non-objection.

A minor amendment has also been made to the instructions to clarify that applicants can rely on one of the evidentiary requirements listed below, and do not need to meet all three:
• That the applicant is of international distinction or merit, or particular ethnic significance, or is manifestly essential to the presentation or production, or
• that the applicant’s employment does not put at risk the employment of New Zealand entertainers or professionals in equivalent work unless the wider benefits to be obtained from the applicant’s employment outweigh the loss of job opportunities for New Zealanders, or
• that appropriate consideration has been given to employing available New Zealand entertainers or professionals.”

These are virtually identical to the old criteria the organisations asked the production to provide. However, note that minor ‘do not need to meet all three’ rider. In the past organisations could apply any of these against an applicant. Now the bar has been significantly lowered. The key change, of course, is that the assumption is that the work visa should be granted.

Why do this? Once again, from the Immigration NZ site:

“Why have these changes been made?
The process for entertainers and crew has been clarified to ensure that the instructions’ wording is properly adhered to. Before this change, the process involved the employers, production companies or promoters seeking guild approval (via a letter of non-objection) prior to the applicant lodging their visa application with Immigration New Zealand. However, the intention of the instructions is a ‘silent approval’ process under which there is no obligation to attach a letter of support to a visa application.”

I’m not sure why Blinglish is so keen to rub policy wonks from the public service because it’s those wonks who’ve made up some neat revisionist ‘policy’ wording. Effectively what’s being said here is that we had a silent approval process all along – come one, come all, bring us your overseas labour, we don’t give a damn about the local industry. This is further proof that our government really doesn’t give a crap about creating jobs, otherwise they would not change the rules, stripping one of the key protections available to our local film and TV industry.

The power of the industry organisations to hinder free importation of talent has been a sore point amongst some for years. In a recent media column John Drinnan, one of only a few local media journalists not afraid to ask hard questions, notes a controversy involving an Actors’ Equity objection to ‘star’ Vincent Gallo brought here to film a Steinlager ad. Vincent Gallo, you know, that actor that the beer company were desperate to use because his world-famous name and face would sell their product. Yeah, I’d never heard of him either. So there would have already been employers whining to a receptive Ministers Coleman and Finlayson (since Finlayson oversees much of the industry through his Arts hat) that the guilds were holding too much power.

But that’s not really why this happened. Prior to last year the government has been M.I.A. when it comes to the film and TV industry. Sure, they might have been aware of the non-objection rule but it was small fish compared to some of the other institutions they needed to tear down.

So what changed? The Hobbit mess of course. The Hobbit debacle was a slap in the face to the government, who got severely trousered first by a tiny union who refused to give in to the bullying that they were under and then by an overseas studio who rode the government all the way to the bank. The rules have changed because the government, most likely Mr Brownlee who shouldered much of the Hobbit egg, wanted to punish Actors’ Equity.

Only one problem, the government couldn’t neuter just Equity, so they’ve given the entire industry the regulatory equivalent of a vasectomy. From now on industry guilds wanting to protect their patch face an uphill battle with the Minister of Immigration, standing at the end, ready to rubber stamp any production that comes along.

It is my understanding, and I’m happy to be proven wrong here, that the industry was not consulted about this change. Those who’ve talked to me about this tell me the rule change was a fait accompli ever before the guilds were informed about the change.

Clearly no one in government cared about (or even considered?) the economic impact on the organisations, most of whom charged for processing the applications. This includes SPADA (the producer’s/employer’s body) which used to charge hundreds of dollars for processing a non-objection letter letter. In many cases it was overseas productions or productions with overseas money who paid for the letter so our industry is now losing out on bringing in foreign dollars.

There appears to be no way the organisations can still charge for processing an application now. SPADA have already adapted and are running a subtle blackmail line on their website – ‘we won’t object if you pay us’. But any smart production would be better to save their pennies – SPADA and the other organisations will very quickly learn there is nothing to be gained in objecting unless they are utterly sure they won’t be overruled by the Minister. Most of these organisations are small and the drop in income they’re likely to face will severely hurt them. And once the money starts drying up they’ll be less likely to be able to process applications, meaning less objections and an easier even time for overseas workers wanting access. But of course, this is precisely what the National government wants – weaker worker advocates.

29 comments on “Actors’ Inequity”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    I can see this completely destroying our film industry. Instead of our actors being hired foreign multi-nationals will come in complete with their own actors and there’s now nothing that can stand in their way.

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    I can see a few Lord Jackson supporters of the recent past getting burnt by this ‘swifty’ legislative change too.

    And no, you need not blame NZ Actors Equity. If anyone is to be blamed apart from producers and cinema companies 101: standard profiteering, it is the short black swilling middle classes at the likes of Public Address that spitefully withdrew support from AE and comprehensively brown nosed certain industry figures. The memory of the shameful Labour Day “Hobbitt” love ins endures.

    Ultimately you do what other unions have had to do and get your shit together. Form a modern united pan NZ film industry union affiliated to a large professional union such as the EPMU. Craft guilds are from another century given the scale of the industry in this country.

    • Tigger 2.1

      Problems with that nice idea TM.

      Few of the organisations are unions – Actors’ Equity and the NZ Writers Guild are two of the only ones that are unions.

      There is a fanatic anti-union sentiment amongst many of the organisations, fostered by the producers. So forget the Director’s Guild becoming a union.

      The contracting basis most workers in the industry are engaged under makes it difficult to collectively bargain. And without collective bargaining you don’t have a carrot to organise around, nor a stick to warn the employers with.

      The Employment Contracts Act was very, very nasty to the film and TV industry. It’s never recovered and without some contracting based legislation it never will.

      • Tiger Mountain 2.1.1

        I don’t like being a defeatist but you are probably right Tigger. I was talking theoretically really, but ultimately organisation and legislation are the answer. Have talked to people in the industry before, during and after ‘Hobbitt’-line producers and techs, normally articulate fun types that just have a total personality change when you mention AE or unions.

        Apparently films and commercials are ‘special’, unions are not needed, it is all based on personal relationships, everyone knows who the good guys and the arseholes are, we sort everything out ourselves, we like being contractors. This of course from people with regular work in Auckland.
        Of course the reality is often precarious employment and exploitation. Have a family member currently involved and was on the perhipery of AE in 80s, 90s, amazing the same faces still around.

  3. tsmithfield 3

    We’re getting rid of duties and tariffs on most things. Why not labour as well?

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Because a free market for labour is stupid and highly disadvantageous for workers and for fair local wage levels. Great if you are a big corporate though.

      Mind you, a freer labour market with Australia has helped 600,000 Kiwis move their skills out of NZ to help the Australian economy so I guess its not all bad.

      The other area where it is stupid to have a free market is that of financial capital.

      • tsmithfield 3.1.1

        There are already natural barriers to entry for foreign actors. For instance, I assume that foreign actors have to be put up in flash digs, have their air-fares paid etc, whereas local actors are likely not to have anywhere near as much in cost.

        So, if it is correct that local actors have a natural advantage in terms of cost, then why do they need more protection? If they are so hopeless they can’t win a role with all those advantages, then they shouldn’t be professional actors IMO.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1

          Sorry mate, I don’t care about getting in the odd headlining Colin Firth or Johnny Depp here, we are talking about replacing hundreds of NZ extras, technicians and labourers with cheap foreign workers.

          Who will probably not be put up in lakeside condos.

          So, if it is correct that local actors have a natural advantage in terms of cost, then why do they need more protection?

          ??? I guess it depends if you can be bothered developing an independent local entertainment industry, or if you want to make do as a minor service arm of an international industry.

          • tsmithfield 3.1.1.1.1

            What I said still holds true.

            Even imported extras, technicians etc would still have more associated costs than local people. This helps offset any wage differential. If local people still can’t compete, then obviously they are too expensive.

            • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Good of you to champion the hollowing out of the NZ employment market mate and your backing of NAT’s wage suppression tactics on your friends, neighbours and extended family.

              Your attitude reminds me of why 600,000 NZ born Kiwis have decided to move to Australia permanently. People can tell when they are not being valued, and they leave.

              Oz, where the pay is higher, they are heavily unionised and compete just fine as an entertainment industry. Funny that. They clearly don’t have the bottom of the barrel attitude of NZ business ‘leaders’.

              • tsmithfield

                Stop being so dramatic.

                I strongly suspect that the extra costs associated with bringing in outside people will make it uneconomic to do so. Therefore, I doubt that any NZ workers will miss out because they are too expensive. If the producers do bring anyone in it will be because there is no-one suitable in NZ to do the job.

                Time will tell I guess. If you can point to any examples of NZ people being displaced I will grovel and admit I was wrong.

                • Colonial Viper

                  If you can point to any examples of NZ people being displaced I will grovel and admit I was wrong.

                  Best estimates are that 600,000 NZ born Kiwis are now living and working in Australia.

                  You want more evidence? Now its true that these NZ’ers haven’t been displaced by foreign workers (although if you ask around there seem to be a lot of recent immigrants working on farms and building sites for not very much).

                  But it is evidence of a hollowed out employment market. Choice for any up and coming young professional is stark. Get out of NZ is at the top of the list. 1/4 of our graduates are already gone.

                  • tsmithfield

                    What is that to do with the point we are arguing?

                    I thought it was about mysterious foreign budget priced technicians/actors etc displacing our people here in NZ, not about our people leaving to Australia.

                    Anyway, its never going to happen while there is are viable and reputable people here in NZ. Heck, thats half the reason they decided to make the film here in the first place, because we do have that infrastructure at a good price. There would be so many costs and risks associated with bringing people from overseas that it just not going to happen.

                    If anyone is going to be brought in it will be because the required set of attributes is not available in NZ.

            • orange whip? 3.1.1.1.1.2

              If local people still can’t compete, then obviously they are too expensive.

              …or overseas ones are too cheap.

              Oh sorry, for a moment I forgot that the holy market is infallible and must be obeyed.

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    What’s the bet that Peter Jackson personally contributed to the new policy.

  5. Lanthanide 5

    Sounds like a nice platform for Winston – protecting NZ film workers.

  6. prism 6

    I don’t think that Peter Jackson’s name should be maligned on suspicion. This is such a backward step, I would think that it has been initiated by the NACTS who it is known need some plumbing, a tap on the head. They don’t care about NZ being a modern nation with ideas and creativity spawning new business. The creative industry needs regular work and so build up huge experience. Who are the Immigration mandarins that would come up with this? Who asked them to change something that worked OK?

    But the horizons of the ding(h)y political sailors is so low they would wipe this.
    Their backgrounds are from farming and service provision like legals eg David Bennett. They have run away from any original ideas for new manufacturing and exporting business.

  7. Tigger 7

    Whoops, forgot to sign this piece. For the record, it’s mine.

  8. Nick C 8

    Seriously? What a fucking stupid policy, I cant believe it has taken National so long to repeal this!

    On principle why the hell should a union get to decide who I spend my money employing for my production? Once I decide to employ someone who is a member of a union, let the union negotiate their terms and conditions or indeed a collective agreement for all the workers in the industry, sure. But just handing legal control to unions over employment in the entire industry.. i can’t even find the words!

    Any benefits are based on believing the economic falacy that immigration leads to higher unemployment, which is debunked here: http://amateurassetallocator.com/2009/02/11/immigration-causes-unemployment-and-other-economic-fallacies/

    • Colonial Viper 8.1

      Yep, undermine the local industry and local workers just as we are developing to stand on our own two feet. Mind you the big corporates and the big players like Jackson will love having more leverage over local workers.

      Your immigration red herring is useless as well, as these foreign workers are not immigrating to NZ, they are just taking a short term job.

      On principle why the hell should a union get to decide who I spend my money employing for my production?

      Just because you hold the capital does not mean you hold the power, yeah? Unions increase workers’ power over capital, and that needs to happen even more.

      • Nick C 8.1.1

        “Your immigration red herring is useless as well as these foreign workers are not immigrating to NZ, they are just taking a short term job.”

        No it’s not, the fact that are only here short term is completely immaterial (think of the long term is just a series of short terms). It’s to do with the fact that when people come here; short term or long term, they dont just work in jobs, they also create them. Read the link before you make such stupid comments.

        “Just because you hold the capital does not mean you hold the power”

        It should mean that you hold the power over the capital, and you should be free to make mutually beneficial, consentual agreements with other workers.

        • Colonial Viper 8.1.1.1

          It should mean that you hold the power over the capital, and you should be free to make mutually beneficial, consentual agreements with other workers.

          Ahhh, but should you also have the power to make agreements which disadvantage disempowered and hungry workers, but maximises your return on capital? Well?

          No it’s not, the fact that are only here short term is completely immaterial (think of the long term is just a series of short terms).

          This is idiotic.

          A temporary seasonal worker who is in NZ for 3 months is not going to buy and renovate a house, purchase furniture, buy school uniforms or get a membership at the gym.

          Learn a lesson from the Vietnam war why don’t you. Having 3 different soldiers in Vietnam for a year each does not give you the same experience as having the same soldier there for 3 years. As this, and the above example re: buying and furnishing a house shows, the long term is not simply a series of short terms added up together 🙄

          It’s to do with the fact that when people come here; short term or long term, they dont just work in jobs, they also create them. Read the link before you make such stupid comments.

          Frak you asshat.

          OK then, let’s have a look at what your precious link actually says.

          The best refutation is historical: Why did the U.S. have extremely low unemployment throughout the 19th century when immigration numbers were much, much higher than they are today? Because the increased aggregate demand created by the immigrants created at least as many (if not more) jobs than they took.

          The writer assigned an answer: more immigrants more aggregate demand. No reasoning, no facts, no logic, no historical economic context. No analysis of the type, background, skills of the immigrants. They just said A is because of B. And then you say that somehow, that ‘conclusion’ drawn from 19th century USA is directly relevant to 21st century New Zealand 😯

          Why are you wasting our time with this quality of shit house ‘reference’?

        • SPC 8.1.1.2

          The USA did not have free trade in the 19th C. So its immigrants had to produce their consumption, thus no employment.unemployment issue.

          Your links relevance in a free trade global market world is zero.

    • The Voice of Reason 8.2

      Got some bad news for you, Nick. Unions, and other interested parties, are routinely asked for their opinion on bringing in overseas workers all the time.

      Whenever an employer wants to bring in overseas labour, a check is done by Immigration on whether the work could be done by Kiwi residents and, if allowed, minimum pay rates that do not undermine the locals must be paid. Unless you are working for the liar, sorry, er, master story teller, Peter Jackson.

      • Tigger 8.2.1

        And it isn’t just a union thing, it was the entire industry that possessed this power, including the employer’s guild – SPADA. But hey Nick, don’t let the facts get in the way of you rushing to bash the unions over the head…

    • Jum 8.3

      But, you’re happy with this government handing legal control over workers to employers in all industry…

  9. Jeez …we could do with some fresh local talent on the screen though. It’s like we have A-listers Paquin, Neill, Curtis, Urban and then Z-listers with nothing in between

    Shavaughn on Shorty St anyone ?…anyone ? or how about the pencarrow/sandfly point/pencarrow/sandfly point guy as a Norse God…nah ?…Me neither.

    So exactly who is our equivalent of Ian McKellern that we cold sub him in and still bank on box office clout to get the bums on seats ? Maybe we could put the ubiquitous Rhys Darby in a smock with a repoed farmers day santa parade beard fixed in place with some number 8 wire and we’d all be buy into it.

    Look ,I’m all for suspending disbelief but fuck it, when it comes to star power to prop up a big budget movie we’re a bit thin on the ground

    and RIP Frank Whitten… Good on ya mate ! She’s a hard road to riches and fame treading the Kiwiland boards eh ? Better luck in the next life. I’ll sink a speights to your memory…cheers

    • Mark 9.1

      I agree that there is a major gap between A-listers and the rest of New Zealand actors, but I think that’s exactly the issue at hand. If producers/employers continue to hire foreign actors to do the ‘big jobs’ then how are we ever going to produce an acting community of high calibre? Everyone is either going overseas or being re-used, as per your example; pencarrow/sandfly point guy. However, on THAT note I have to say that Jared Turner (he has a name) is a competent, talented, and well respected actor within the acting community. He’s been around for a while, but it’s only now that he’s starting to gain momentum and get some decent parts in the public eye. That’s because the industry is (albeit slowly) beginning to bank on New Zealand actors. This new practice is going to take us a step back from becoming a truly independent film industry.

      And yes, R.I.P. Frank Whitten.

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    Back in 2015, then Ombudsman Beverley Wakem conducted a review of the OIA, Not a game of hide and seek. The "review" was a whitewash, which found no need for legislative change, and instead criticised the media and requesters - which destroyed Wakem's reputation, and undermined that of the Office ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • You Gov MRP Poll Out
    So, You Gov's MRP poll - the weird one that tries to reflect what will happen at a constituency level and which pretty much nailed the hung parliament in 2017 - is not looking too good for Labour:
    UK #GE2019 MRP seat projection:CON: 339 (-20)LAB: 231 (+20)SNP: 41 (-2)LDEM: 15 ...
    5 days ago
  • Climate Change: Accountability?
    We've known about climate change for over forty years now,and it has been a major political issue for twenty. And yet fossil fuel companies have kept polluting with impunity, while government have looked the other way and twiddled their thumbs and refused to do anything because "the economy", or just ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Delusional And Irrational: The Rise Of Paranoid Politics In New Zealand.
    Sheer Loopiness: Many of those expressing bemusement at the antics of these #turnardern effacers, were convinced that they were yet another expression of the National Party’s increasingly spiteful anti-government propaganda campaign. They marvelled at the oddness of the perpetrators’ mindset and questioned the common-sense of allowing the rest of New Zealand ...
    5 days ago
  • Things to know about Whakaari/White Island
    Brad Scott, GNS Science VolcanologistThis post was originally published by GeoNet. Following the 9 December devastating eruption at Whakaari/White Island we have put together some information about the island. New Zealand’s most active volcano Whakaari/White Island is currently New Zealand’s most active volcano, it has been since an eruptive episode ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    6 days ago
  • Status quo supports status quo
    The Justice Committee has reported back on its Inquiry into the 2017 General Election and 2016 Local Elections, with a host of recommendations about how to improve our electoral systems. Some of their recommendations are already incorporate din the Electoral Amendment Bill currently before Parliament, but there's also a recommendation ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • The Greens abandon NeoLiberalism
    Back in 2017, in order to make themselves "electable" in the eyes of rich people who oppose everything they stand for, the Greens signed up for NeoLiberalism, adopting a restrictive set of "Budget Responsibility Rules" which basicly prevented them from using government to make things better. Now, they're finally abandoning ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Lying about a failed war
    Since invading in 2001, the US has consistently claimed that their war in Afghanistan has been going well, even when it continued year after year after year. Of course, they were lying, and thanks to the Washington Post and the US Freedom of Information Act, we get to see just ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Artificial Intelligence and You
    How should we think about artificial intelligence and the implications that it has for our work and leisure? There are many articles on artificial intelligence and its potential impacts on jobs, and the ethics of applications. These are important topics, but I want to focus on some less discussed aspects, ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    6 days ago
  • Statistical manipulation to get publishable results
    I love data. It’s amazing the sort of “discoveries” I can make given a data set and computer statistical package. It’s just so easy to search for relationships and test their statistical significance. Maybe relationships which ...
    6 days ago
  • More lies on the Twitter (Dan Hodges edition)
    The other big story concerning Leeds Hospital is Boris Johnson's bizzare behaviour at Leeds Hospital, where he was confronted by a journalist and challenged about a four year old boy with suspected pneumonia who was left sleeping on the floor, rather than getting  abed like a sick kid would in ...
    6 days ago
  • LabourActivistPunchedMattHancock’sSPADGate
    So, for a brief period of history, it was alleged that a protester had punched Matt Hancock's SPAD (not a euphemism; special adviser) when Hancock visited Leeds Hospital.This was reported by the likes of Robert Peston and Laura Keunssberg, as well as the less credible Guido Fawkes.  It also quickly ...
    7 days ago
  • France’s anti-Zionism is anti-liberté
    by Daphna Whitmore Last week France passed a law that equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. It is based on a definition of anti-Semitism that includes criticism of Israel such as: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Another bus lockout
    Over the past year we've seen major bus problems in Hamilton and Wellington, as drivers have sought better wages and an end to the bullshit of split shifts, which basicly see them "married to the job". And now its Auckland's turn. When NZBus's drivers planned low-level strike action of not ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Showing us how its done
    The government has been congratulating itself over the passage of the Zero Carbon Act, which sets out long-term emissions targets. But those targets are insufficient. Meanwhile, Denmark is showing us how its done:Denmark’s parliament adopted a new climate law on Friday, committing to reach 70% below its 1990 emissions in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Public sector dysfunction should not be allowed to undermine freedom of information
    Another day, another piece of legislation with a secrecy clause. This time its the innocuous-seeming Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill, which (after establishing a new body and making it subject to the OIA in three different ways) includes the rapidly-becoming-standard clauses enabling it to request information from other public ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • “This is England, this knife of Sheffield steel…”
    The state of the United Kingdom is fractured, torn up, shredded. The Empire is gone, it died a long time ago. And yet, the country is still tracking with a lead in favour of the ones who play to the ingrained, class-bound division for political gain. It is a disgrace ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    1 week ago
  • CORSIA, coming soon to an airport near you
    On 27 September, Greta Thunberg addressed a crowd of 500,000 at the School Strike for Climate in Montreal, saying: “You are a nation that is allegedly a climate leader. And Sweden is also a nation that is allegedly a climate leader. And in both cases, it means absolutely nothing. Because ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert McLachlan
    1 week ago
  • Cloaking hate speech and fake news in the right to free expression.
    It should be obvious by now but let’s be clear: The same folk who regularly traffic in disinformation, misinformation and “fake news” are also those who most strongly claim that their freedom of expression rights are being violated when moves are made to curb hate speech (as opposed to protected ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • The Physics (and Economics, and Politics) of Wheelchairs on Planes
    Michael Schulson When Shane Burcaw flies on an airplane, he brings along a customized gel cushion, a car seat, and about 10 pieces of memory foam. The whole arsenal costs around $1,000, but for Burcaw it’s a necessity. The 27-year-old author and speaker — who, alongside his fiancée, Hannah ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • To Advance Civil Rights, Oppose Transgender Extremism
    We are very pleased to publish this submission is from Lucinda Stoan. She is a social justice activist, mother, and educator, based in Washington State in the  US.   This detailed and comprehensive source-linked overview of trans issues and what is at stake will be useful for many people, especially in ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Faafoi should be fired
    Newshub last night reported that Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi had apparently promised to help out a mate with an immigration issue. While its normal for people to approach MPs for assistance in this area, when you're a Minister, the rules are different: as the Cabinet Manual says, Ministers must "at ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Adrian Orr – The Reserve Bank’s Revolutionary Governor?
    New Zealand's Underarm Banker: It bears recalling that the “independence” of the Reserve Bank Governor was for decades held up by neoliberal capitalists as the most compelling justification for passing the Reserve Bank Act. Interesting, is it not, how the ruling class’s support for the Bank’s independence lasted no longer than ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Driving Us Up The Poll.
    Rubbish In, Rubbish Out: Put all this together, and it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that anyone who responds positively to a pollster’s request to “answer a few questions” is just ever-so-slightly weird. Desperately lonely? Some sort of psephological train-spotter? Political party member primed to skew the poll for or against ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Jordan Williams, Colin Craig podcast series announced
    “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.” ― Martin Luther King Jr. A long and bitter court feud between former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig and Jordan Williams has been settled, with an apology and compensation from Williams. On Tuesday, Craig sent out ...
    The PaepaeBy Peter Aranyi
    2 weeks ago
  • How plant-based meat is stretching New Zealand’s cultural and legal boundaries
    Samuel Becher, Victoria University of Wellington and Jessica C Lai, Victoria University of Wellington Earlier this year, the New Zealand-based pizza chain Hell Pizza offered a limited-edition “Burger Pizza”. Its customers weren’t told that the “meat” was plant-based. Some customers complained to the Commerce Commission, which enforces consumer law in ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Scientific integrity requires critical investigation – not blind acceptance
    Some people seem to want to close down any critical discussion of the current research into the relationship between water fluoride and child IQ. They appear to argue that claims made by researchers should not be open to critical review and that the claims be accepted without proper consideration ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: The shameful reality
    The government has been congratulating itself over the passage of the Zero Carbon Act, which sets out long-term emissions targets. Meanwhile, Climate Action Tracker has the shameful reality: those targets are insufficient:While New Zealand is showing leadership by having passed the world’s second-ever Zero Carbon Act in November 2019, under ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • More secrecy
    The government introduced a Racing Industry Bill today. As an urban who horse racing as pointless-to-cruel, and gambling as a tax on stupidity and/or hope, this isn't normally a bill which would interest me in the slightest, beyond grumpiness at more government money for a dying industry. But there is ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Unlikely online bully, Liam Hehir
    Check. Check. One, two, three, four. Is this thing ON? Hello readers, I logged in last night (yeah, it’s been a while) to mark THE END of the landmark legal case, Jordan Williams v Colin Craig, which (gulp) reached The Supreme Court, in which New Zealand’s most-defamed man was suing the politician he ...
    The PaepaeBy Peter Aranyi
    2 weeks ago
  • The Birth Of Israel: Wrong At The Right Time.
    Before The Birth: Israel’s most fervent supporters set their clocks ticking in Biblical times. They cite the kingdoms of David and Solomon as proof that, in the words of the Exodus movie’s theme-song: “This land is mine.” The majority of Israel’s backers, however, start their clocks in 1933 – the year Adolf ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Public Address Word of the Year 2019: Korero phase
    In an unreliable, strange and confusing world, Public Address is proud to present a measure of comfort and stability by annually asking everyone what words or phrases sum up the year that's been – and then giving some of them consumer goods as prizes for being clever or simply lucky.Well, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Generalist to specialist
    Both my parents are pretty handy – and they seem to have the right tools for most jobs in the garage and they know how to fix practically anything. A similar story could be told about their generation’s experience in the workforce – being a generalist was not unusual and ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • A “coincidence”
    When it was revealed that NZ First had tried to enrich itself from public office via the Provoncial Growth Fund, the Prime Minister assured us that everything was OK as Shane Jones, the Minister responsible for the fund, had recused himself. Except it seems that that recusal came very late ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Member’s Day
    Today is a Member's Day, and probably the last one of the year. After the marathon of the End of Life Choice Act, most of the bills up for debate today are uncontentious. First up is the second reading of Chlöe Swarbrick's Election Access Fund Bill. This will be followed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Worse than I thought
    The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee has reported back on the government's odious and tyrannical control orders bill. As expected, the fraudulent select committee process has made no significant changes (partly because they couldn't agree, but mostly because it was a stitch-up from the start, with no intention of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The cannabis bill and the referendum
    Yesterday, the government released its draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, which will be put to a non-binding referendum at the next election. I'm not a drug policy expert, but Russell Brown is, and he thinks its pretty good. And pretty obviously, it will be a massive improvement on the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill: pretty good so far
    As you're probably aware, the draft bill outlining the proposed legal cannabis regime to be put to a referendum late next year was published yesterday, and has already attracted a flurry of comment. It's notable that a good deal of the comment is about proposals that aren't actually new.A minimum ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Alignment
    One of the big problems in New Zealand climate change policy is the government working at cross-purposes with itself. It wants to reduce fossil fuel use, but encourages oil and gas exploration. It wants to reduce transport emissions, but then builds enormous new roads. The problem could be avoided if ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • How climate change will affect food production and security
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz According to the United Nations, food shortages are a threat ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • More bad faith
    Last year, the government announced it was ending offshore oil exploration by no longer issuing new permits. The idea was that the industry would then die off as permits expired. Except almost immediately the government revealed its bad faith, by saying they would extend permits and alter conditions to keep ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Banning foreign money from our elections
    The government has said it will ban foreign donations to political parties and candidates, and will be introducing legislation to be passed under all-stages urgency this afternoon. While I agree with the goal, I don't see a particular case for urgency, unless the government is concerned about a flood of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Reforming the Education Acts
    The government introduced the Education and Training Bill to Parliament yesterday. Its a massive bill, which replaces both existing Education Acts, as well as various other bits of legislation (including some which are still proceeding through the House). I'll leave the serious analysis to teachers and people who actually know ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Bite-sized learning
    Amelia SharmanThere’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to micro-credentials, those bits of bite-sized learning that can help workers stay on top of technological change.  What’s a micro-credential? While definitions vary, micro-credentials can be understood as short courses that allow people to learn new skills or have an existing competency recognised. ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • “Not The Labour Party We Once Knew.”
    All Smiles Now: Claire Szabo is taking up her presidential role after serving as the CEO of Habitat For Humanity. Which is absolutely perfect! After KiwiBuild was so comprehensively mismanaged by Phil Twyford, the party has not only elected a new president from a thoroughly respectable not-for-profit, but one who ...
    2 weeks ago

  • New Zealand will continue to showcase ambitious climate action
    With the global climate change talks closing overnight, the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw said New Zealand will continue to show the world what meaningful, ambitious and lasting climate action looks like. “Lasting action on climate change demands that we keep working every single day. This is the only ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 hours ago
  • More progress in delivering te reo Māori in schools
    600 new te reo advocates are being sought following the success of a programme that supports the Government’s plan to integrate te reo Māori into education, Associate Education Minister Kelvin Davis announced today. Registrations for Te Ahu o te Reo Māori 2020 are now open, with courses starting from February ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Maori voice to help shape tertiary education
    Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced the members of Te Taumata Aronui, a group to work with Government on tertiary education policy from a Māori community and employer perspective. “Te Taumata Aronui is an opportunity for Māori and the Crown to work more closely on changes to the tertiary education ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Courthouse redesign a model for the future
    The Government will invest $100 million on a new courthouse in Tauranga which will be a model for future courthouse design for New Zealand, Justice Minister Andrew Little has announced. The courthouse will be designed in partnership with iwi, the local community, the judiciary, the legal profession, court staff and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Government enables early access to 5G spectrum
    The Government has given the go ahead to enable further development of 5G networks by making appropriate spectrum available. The Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media Minister, Kris Faafoi, has confirmed Cabinet approval for the allocation of short-term rights to an unused portion of 3.5 GHz spectrum. 3.5GHz is the first ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    13 hours ago
  • Record export highs picked for primary sector
    Sustained high growth in primary industry exports looks set to continue over the next two years with strong prices predicted for farmers, fishers, growers and rural communities. Minister of Agriculture and Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor today released the latest Situation and Outlook report for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • New partnership to boost screen sector job opportunities
    Auckland’s growing screen sector is the catalyst for a new partnership between the Ministry of Social Development and Auckland’s economic development agency Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED). The launch today at FilmFX in Henderson, is to celebrate the partnership which looks to capitalise on the social and economic development opportunities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • A minute’s silence for Whakaari White Island victims
    A minute’s silence will be observed at 2.11pm on Monday 16 December in honour of the victims of the Whakaari White Island eruption, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed. “Wherever you are in New Zealand, or around the world, this is a moment we can stand alongside those who have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • NZ to help fund fight against measles in the Pacific region
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced New Zealand will contribute NZ$1 million of funding towards the joint United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO) Pacific Regional Action Plan for Measles.   “Prevention through vaccination is the most effective way of avoiding illness and a costly health emergency. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand remembers Sir Peter Snell
    New Zealand is today remembering one of our true sporting heroes, triple Olympic gold medal winner Sir Peter Snell. “He was a legend, here and around the world,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “Our thoughts are with Sir Peter’s wife Miki and their family.” “Sir Peter is recognised as New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • PM congratulates Boris Johnson on election victory
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his election victory.  “New Zealand and the United Kingdom are close friends and despite our distance we are strongly connected by our history and people,” Jacinda Ardern said.  “I look forward to continuing to work with Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Building a platform for the future of rail
    The Government has released its long term vision for a sustainable 21st Century rail network that gets our cities moving, connects our regions and gets more freight off the roads.   Deputy Prime Minister and State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters said the Government is committed to rebuilding New Zealand’s ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Prime Minister statement Whakaari White Island recovery operation
    I want to start by acknowledging the families who have experienced such grief and such loss since the extraordinary tragedy on Monday. Today was all about reuniting them with their loved ones. We've just come from the airport where many of them were gathered and in amongst what you can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand medical specialists to provide further support to Samoa
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters today announced further support for Samoa’s longer term needs as it continues to respond to a devastating measles epidemic. “Samoa’s health system has experienced massive strain in the wake of the measles epidemic. The volume of patients needing care during this outbreak, and the number of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Discounted electric-bikes offered to public sector workers
    Discounted electric bikes will be offered up to public sector staff across the country as part of the Government’s work to reduce transport emissions and support healthier transport options.  Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter officially launched the new initiative at Wellington Hospital today.  “The Government has negotiated bulk-purchase ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Australia and New Zealand confirm joint bid for FIFA Women’s World Cup
    The Australian and New Zealand Governments today launch an historic joint bid to bring the FIFA Women’s World Cup to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time. Australian Minister for Youth and Sport, Richard Colbeck and New Zealand Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson will announce the bold campaign, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Blackwater gold mine gets PGF boost
    The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) has approved a $15 million loan to help re-establish a gold mining operation at Blackwater Gold Mine, near Reefton, Rural Communities Minister and local MP Damien O’Connor announced at an event on the West Coast today. “This is great news for the Coast that could ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Papakāinga model inspires whānau well-being
    Papakāinga model inspires whānau well-being A housing project by Kohupātiki whānau in Hastings is an outstanding example of a Māori-led housing initiative that can reduce financial pressure and reconnect whānau to their whakapapa says the Minister for Māori Development Hon Nanaia Mahuta.  Minister Mahuta officially opened the Aroha Te Rangi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government provides more funding for major community wetland restoration project
    Restoration efforts for a significant wetland in the Hawke’s Bay are getting more support announced Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage. “Wetlands are vital to healthy landscapes and ecosystems. They function as nature’s ‘kidneys’, filtering and protecting water quality, acting as nature’s sponges after rain and are home to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Housing First to help Nelson Tasman homeless
    Nelson has today seen the launch of Housing First Nelson Tasman. Today’s launch marks the expansion of the Government’s homelessness programme, Housing First, to the top of the South Island. “Housing First is a proven programme that puts people who are experiencing homelessness and multiple, high and complex needs into ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New funding to support Environment Centres working for sustainable local solutions
    New Government funding announced today will help communities make a difference in tackling environmental issues Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage announced in Hawkes Bay today. The Ministry for the Environment’s Community Environment Fund is dedicating $243,101 to growing the capacity and capability of the Environment Hubs Aotearoa’s (EHA) ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government takes bite out of loan sharks
    The days of vulnerable consumers falling victim to loan sharks, truck shops and other predatory lenders are numbered, following the Credit Contracts Legislation Amendment Bill passing its third reading tonight. “Too many Kiwis are being given loans that are unaffordable and unsuitable, trapping them in debt and leaving their families ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New Zealand safer as Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders Bill) becomes law
    A Bill that prevents terrorism and supports the de-radicalisation of New Zealanders returning from overseas has passed its third reading, Justice Minister Andrew Little says. The Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill is a carefully targeted response to manage the risk posed by a small number of New Zealanders who have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Foreign Minister and Pacific Peoples Minister to visit Samoa
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio will travel to Samoa on Friday, where New Zealand medical teams are helping Samoa respond to an outbreak of measles. “New Zealand has been working closely with the Government of Samoa and offering our assistance from the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New Pastoral Care Code will support tertiary students in 2020
    The Government has changed the law to improve student safety and welfare in university halls of residence and other student accommodation. The Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Bill passed its third reading this afternoon and details of an interim Code of Practice setting out the Government’s expectations of tertiary providers have also been released. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New infrastructure funding tool to build housing developments faster
    A new tool to help councils fund and finance infrastructure could mean some housing developments happen a decade earlier than currently planned, Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said today. “This new tool, developed by the Government in partnership with industry and high-growth councils, will allow councils to access private debt ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Vision to unite the primary sector launched today
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has welcomed the release of a bold new vision for the country’s vital food and fibre sector. “I’m delighted that New Zealand’s major farmer and grower organisations are today supporting the Primary Sector Council’s vision – Fit for a Better World,” he said. “The international consumers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • NZ congratulates PNG and Autonomous Bougainville Government on referendum
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has congratulated the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government for completing a well-conducted referendum on the future political status of Bougainville. “New Zealand supported the referendum process by providing technical advice through the New Zealand Electoral Commission and leading a Regional Police ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Next steps for Upper North Island logistics
    In light of Cabinet’s position that freight operations on prime land in downtown Auckland are no longer viable, the Government will now embark on a short work programme to enable decision-making in the first half of next year, Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones says. Minister Jones is today releasing the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Surgical mesh restorative justice report received
    Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter has received the report back from a surgical mesh restorative justice process undertaken by Victoria University. The process heard stories, either in person or online submission, from more than 600 people affected by surgical mesh. “The report made for heart-breaking and confronting reading,” says ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • The Water Services Regulator Bill – Taumata Arowai a milestone for drinking water safety
    The Water Services Regulator Bill – Taumata Arowai , introduced to Parliament today, is a milestone for drinking water safety in New Zealand and will help improve environmental outcomes for urban waterways, rivers and lakes.  “This is a breakthrough for New Zealanders in terms of providing safe drinking water throughout ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Speech to new direction for criminal justice reform announcement
    Kia ora koutouE ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā matā wakaTēnā koutou katoaHaere ngā, moe maiKoutou ma ngā Rangatira Ko Anaru ahauKo au te Minita mo ngā TureHe Honore tino nui kei roto I ahau No reira tena koutou katoa Today, we are releasing two reports that are the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New direction for criminal justice reform
    The Government is looking to turn around the long-term challenges of criminal justice by taking a new approach to break the cycle of offending to ensure there are fewer victims of crime. Justice Minister Andrew Little released two reports today, Turuki! Turuki! from Te Uepū Hāpai I te Ora, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New law sets up $300m Venture Capital Fund
    New Zealand firms expanding beyond the start-up phase are set for more support after today’s passage of the Venture Capital Fund Bill, Associate Finance Minister David Parker said. The Bill, which establishes a $300 million Venture Capital Fund, puts in place a key initiative of the Wellbeing Budget’s economic package. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • New Zealand’s National Statement to COP25
    E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā iwi, e ngā rau rangatira mā. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. Señora Presidenta, Excellencies, Delegates. International action A common thread that runs through the Paris Agreement is the commitment we have made to each other to do what we can to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • $12 billion in extra infrastructure investment
    The Government is lifting capital investment to the highest level in more than 20 years as it takes the next step to future-proof New Zealand. Finance Minister Grant Robertson has announced $12 billion of new investment, with $8 billion for specific capital projects and $4 billion to be added to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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  • Strong economy, careful spending gives $12bn of surpluses
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