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Exploiting disaster

Written By: - Date published: 11:47 pm, December 16th, 2010 - 33 comments
Categories: farming, jobs, Mining, poverty - Tags: , , ,

It’s a tough Christmas for far too many Kiwis. Poverty is up, wages are down. 350,000 Kiwis are jobless or underemployed. The job losses are still coming – 130 from sawmills hammered by the high dollar, 160 from the Te Aroha meatworks fire, 400 as a result of the Pike River disaster, and untold numbers – that may reach 20,000 – from the earthquake. The rich got tax cuts, 70% got nothing. Drought is spreading. Thousands of Cantabrians face an uncertain future with their houses damaged and their jobs on the line.

As with the global recession, National isn’t responsible for creating these problems but, as government, it is responsible for fixing or ameliorating them. It’s not happening. Key promised to do “whatever it takes to assist the region” after the Canterbury Earthquake. Now, the message from National is “businesses that are struggling need to have a good look at themselves to identify whether it is just the earthquake or whether they are at a stage that they need to do more work on their business model and the earthquake has just brought it to a head earlier than it would normally” and a modest request for $4.1 million in assistance to keep businesses going was met with a pathetic $600,000 from the government.

Key and co promise big but, instead of delivering the help that is needed, National is exploiting disaster to advance its agenda.

We saw the Government’s cynical use of disaster during after the Canterbury Earthquake, when it rushed through CERRA, the Gerry Brownlee Enabling Act, that made Brownlee our virtual dictator. The law has already been used to circumvent the public’s concern about the safety of super-sized trucks on the roads by permitting over-dimension and over-weight trucks anywhere in the country as long as its part fo the ‘earthquake recovery’

Crisis was exploited again during the Hobbit shake-down, when the government slammed through legislation intended to remove the work rights of film workers.

Brownlee, again, is cynically exploiting disaster on the West Coast. He’s talking about by-passing the RMA using the new ‘Environmental Protection’ Agency to fast-track new mines and even allow Pike River to be open-cast mined  – actually mountaintop removing mining – despite being on Schedule 4 land (won’t happen anyway: the company has said it never considered open-cast mining because removing 150m of hill-tip to get at a few metres of coal is plainly uneconomical). Of course, all the fast-tracking in the world wouldn’t create new mining jobs for several years.

Make no mistake: this isn’t about preserving the jobs that have been lost. It’s about making an end-run round the huge public opposition to mining on protected land. Brownlee thinks he can wrap the issue in the emotion of the disaster and get what he wants.

With drought spreading and set to become a more regular feature due to climate change, look for the government to seize more control of the nation’s water resources for farming interests. The first taste of this was the sacking of Ecan and the canceling of elections. More of this to come – regional councils may even be abolished with power concentrated in Nick Smith’s ‘Environmental Protection’ Agency. It’s all about letting dairy farmers on land that should never be used for dairy take more water out of our rivers and replace it with cow shit. The farmers have no shame in the fact that the rivers they swam in as kids are now unsafe, and National will always be at their side.

33 comments on “Exploiting disaster ”

  1. while on the general topic, what the hell is going on with the Government appointing an electoral systems and tax expert to the commission of inquiry into Pike River but no health and safety expert?
    http://epmu.org.nz/news/show/173227

    Also, Blood on the Coal is worth checking out: http://ondemand.tv3.co.nz/60-Minutes-Blood-In-The-Coal/tabid/59/articleID/1717/MCat/22/Default.aspx

    • bobo 1.1

      the clip of Gerry Browlee mocking a photo of Phill Goff with some miners was a cheap shot then and very bad taste now.. kinda like the nah nah bulley in the simpsons poking fun which backfires..

    • Swampy 1.2

      There is nothing to stop the RC from getting this advise from someone whos not a commisoner but an experit they have got in. it is another push by the miners union to get their favourite hobby horse the check inspectors in. yet the check inspector proposal the Union wants is for more powers than the old system and more powers than they have in UK or much of Australia.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    The sawmills closing is an example of why raw product should not be exported. Other, larger economies with cash to burn buys up our raw product, adds extra value to it and then sells it back to us. They win, we lose both in monetary value and a loss of skills.

  3. RedLogix 3

    Anyone suggesting removing the top off the Paparoa Range to get at some coal (however ‘valuable’ it might be) has to be slightly unhinged. Really.

    The result has been bad in large places like West Virginia… but here in a small country like the SI it would be appalling. And forever.

  4. tc 4

    It was only a matter of time before Czar Browncoal was going to try on re-lighting his mining agenda under the veil of “helping pyke river worker”…..but as we all know the workers need help now not years down the line after any such fast tracked venture could provide jobs.

    • Swampy 4.1

      There has been no comitment made by Goverment to this Open cast thing which frankly is being pushed by the local Mayor who while he has been great in this disaster does have a reputation of being a bit off a blow hard at times

  5. Eddie 5

    In a sad link, turns out the workers at Te Aroha were docked two minutes pay for taking part in the two minutes silence for the Pike River miners.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10694840

    disgusting.

    Hey, isn’t David Carter, as well as being Minister for Agriculture, a shareholder in Silver Fern Farms that owns the plant? http://thestandard.org.nz/carter-must-go/

    I assume he has written to the board to express his disgust.

    • Why should the boss pay?
      You want to stand around doing nothing?
      Do it on the weekend
      Why couldn’t they ‘celebrate’ during lunchtime?
      Or is it a case of I will only show my support for the miners and family’s if I’m paid to.

      • Jilly Bee 5.1.1

        Robert, I was in St Luke’s Shopping Centre that day, an announcement came over the PA system asking for two minutes silence at 2pm – you could have heard a pin drop. I hope all the shop owners didn’t dock two minutes off their workers pay for that day.

        • Robert Atack 5.1.1.1

          And good on them for not doing so, I’m not saying it shouldn’t have happened, just why do people EXPECT the boss to pay?
          I stoped as well, to find out what was wrong with the radio.

        • just saying 5.1.1.2

          Funnily enough I was in the supermarket too. They announced the checkouts would be vacated five minutes ahead of time.
          Dead slience except for a baby crying

      • Cnr Joe 5.1.2

        From the Herald – “The silence was requested by Prime Minister John Key and observed by thousands of New Zealand workers. It marked the start of the official memorial service in Greymouth on December 2.”
        Sorry to be abusive but you’re a dick on this Robert.
        John Key did not request workers ‘celebrate’ either.
        Double dick. In fact – don’t have a merry xmas either u scrooge ass

        • Robert Atack 5.1.2.1

          Xmas – ho hum
          I don’t salivate like a Pavlov dog, just because I hear a Christmas bell ringing, xmas is just another sop to keep the masses happy, and consumerism alive, if there was a Christ, he would be rolling over in his tomb, at the on going destruction of the environment in his name.

          • Cnr Joe 5.1.2.1.1

            Good to hear you’ve brought your slobbering under control Robert.
            most unattractive in a ascetic curmudgeon
            Merry Christmas

      • Daveosaurus 5.1.3

        Robert, that was disgusting. I suggest you take it over to Whale Oil, or somewhere like that, where it would fit in better with the debate.

    • cardassian 5.2

      They’re also paying those workers until christmas even tho they don’t have to.
      link is in the main article.
      so 2 mins docked but 3 weeks paid doesn’t sound all bad to me.

      • jcuknz 5.2.1

        It is pretty inept though … unless as I guess some petty minded bean counter with no brain [humanity]

      • Murray 5.2.2

        I’m a subcontractor. We did stop for a period of quite reflection, slowed down our work so I guess we lost money But we accepted that. I guess with the meat workers it was just all about money

      • Robert Atack 5.2.3

        Was the pay docked or isn’t it a case they get paid to kill x number of cows per cow, it only x minus 2 were killed they still get paid as per agreement at the start of the day. To turn the factory off, and back on could have taken 15 minutes, maybe they should have worked that out before they went ahead, but if management decided to push the button then maybe they should pay?
        This is more of a worry
        Sign in Levin Medical Center yesterday
        10 minutes only
        If you mention more than one complaint you will be charged double, make another appointment for your ingrown toenail.

  6. We are in the crap, and are borrowing $300 mil a week now, the organizations ‘we’ are borrowing our lifestyles from, want to know we will eventually pay for it.
    Key, Clark, and co have already flogged the family silver, so now we have to put up the dinning room furniture, carpet and drapes etc, what have we got left to sell or offer as collateral? We’ve sold the next few generations into basic slavery to maintain our happy happy joy joy lives, we are living a form of infanticide, we have destroyed any hope the children alive today will have lifestyles remotely as good as say the baby boomers have had these past 50 years (thanks kids)
    I know when I was born in 1958 things were bloody great, we had endless growth, and space to do it, we were living on the sheep’s back – in paradise. Now we are on the kids back and in fast approaching hell.
    Any fool could run shit when we had unlimited energy, space, and money. But now ‘they/we’ have to start paying for it. This is what collapse looks like.
    Deal with reality or reality will deal with you lol

  7. Janet 7

    I hear that another 100 or so jobs are going in the Ministry of Health and the people concerned just got the news this week. Great Xmas present.

    • Marty G 7.1

      and 27 jobs at IRD, the first of up to another 500

      • jcuknz 7.1.1

        It is ‘management 101’ that you lay off staff before Christmas to save the wages you are required to pay while the staff spend time off site … it has been happening every Christmas as long as I can remember. Not good for the workers but a fact of life to be allowed for by them.
        Morning Report told me that IRD Greymouth staff welcomed the news because it was better to know that some of them were going than to be in the dark, now all they have to worry about is who … some consolation..

        • Despite all this mess this government has put us in,still acording to the polls, they are top of the pops.I just cannot understand it . Labour left the country in good shape .Low unemployment , in surplus and wages rising .So why are the polls favouring this ghastly lot? I accept that their public relations people are first class and I accept that the media is in the back pocket of the Nats, but surely t all those people out there ,ie.the out of work and the underpriviledged will come our and vote??

    • felix 7.2

      Woah, hold on!

      Are you saying Bill English and that nice John Key were LYING all along?

      Unbelievable.

  8. Bored 8

    Time for a go at “my ” side: Why the F are we forever bitching that Nact are not doing the right thing?

    Get real guys, that is not their job, their interest, their ideology. We live over here, they live over there!!!!!!!!

    Dont expect them to do any differently, dont complain, its fekkin pointless. They dont care about the rules, the niceties, anything! They are what they are, they will act like scorpions, they are irredeemable.

  9. Swampy 9

    Your talking nonsesne because Browlee has said open casting Pike River is not going to be looked at for 12months and the truth is once the officials have looked at it and told Gerry it is uneconomic apart from anything else it will never happen.

    the Pike River mine was not opencast from the start and this was after spending nearly a hundred mill to get the tunnel in from White Knight. because over the life of the mine it is still way cheaper to have the mine undeground. you could open cast but the cost is astronomocal & would make the mine uneconomic. apart from the environmental damage reembering they were allowed only to take out 1/3 of the actual reserve s to make sure the ground didn not subside which would have collapsed the cliffs at the western escaprement that they have to preserve.

    • felix 9.1

      “Your talking nonsesne because Browlee has said open casting Pike River is not going to be looked at for 12months and the truth is once the officials have looked at it and told Gerry it is uneconomic apart from anything else it will never happen.”

      Hmm, I seem to remember someone saying pretty much exactly the same thing every time a concern is raised about what this govt is up to.

      90 day fire at will? “SHUT UP IT’S ONLY FOR 20 EMPLOYEES OR LESS”

      Raising gst? “YOU CAN’T COMPLAIN IT HASN’T EVEN HAPPENED YET”

      etc etc. Either of those choice lines come from your dirty little fingers, Swampy? Can’t be arsed checking but I think it might’ve been you.

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