Home' The Wellingtonian : March 8th 2012 Contents 7
THE WELLINGTONIAN, MARCH 8, 2012
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Shearer faces tricky balancing act
For weeks, new Labour
leader David Shearer has
not been short of advice.
He has been urged by all and
sundry to get more visibly
involved in the issues of the day,
and to let everyone know where
he stands on the ports of Auck-
land dispute, the Crafar Farms
controversy, the Government's
welfare agenda and so on.
All that urging is about to bear
Shearer is about to deliver the
first in a series of speeches setting
out his political philosophy, and
the direction in which he intends
to take the Labour Party.
It could be a difficult sell for
Certainly, the public will be
wanting more than good
intentions and a few re-branding
One of Shearer's problems is
that he needs to please several
audiences at once, some of whom
cancel each other out.
Any warm fuzzies about the
plight of the unemployed, for
example, seem bound to affront
many of the middle-class
strugglers who have drifted away
In one of his few speeches since
becoming leader, Shearer
described this bloc as containing
many former Labour voters who
are now self-employed, indepen-
dent contractors, or in small
The sort of people, Shearer
suggested, you'd expect to find fill-
ing out their GST returns at the
As job security becomes a thing
of the past, they're also fearful
about being pushed down the
They're a voting group unlikely
to be interested in any Labour
plan to re-distribute the nation's
Shearer has to do more than
devise some palatable ways to re-
distribute wealth more fairly.
He also has to unveil new ideas
for generating wealth in the first
Again, that's a challenge.
Despite all the social upheaval
New Zealand has been through,
our economy looks little different
today than it did 40 years ago.
We remain just as reliant on
selling primary products to a
world that has steadily become
more technologically sophisticated
-- while we have hardly progressed
beyond the farm gate.
Moreover, despite three decades
of free market policy and pep
talks, the state is still the main
engine of wealth in the economy,
in a trend that appears to be
In 1981, the New Zealand
sharemarket was dominated by
privately created and owned com-
panies -- and reportedly, eight out
of the top 12 companies back then
were strongly involved in
Today, however, the share-
market is dominated by former
state-owned organisations or by
There are seven former govern-
ment or local authority-owned
companies among the 12 largest
companies currently listed.
Export-oriented firms barely
As financial analyst Brian
Gaynor says, once the partial sale
of the state's energy company
assets goes through, it appears
likely that soon, 10 of our 12
biggest listed companies will have
had their origins in the public
Not that Shearer can afford to
dwell on that point.
Ultimately, he may just end up
calling for a new and dynamic
partnership between the state and
No matter how zealously some
politicians try to starve and
shrink the government, it still
remains the most reliable engine
of wealth in this country.
All Shearer has to do is devise a
more positive role for the state
and -- somehow -- make that vision
The Wellingtonian welcomes
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However, any closer/medium
distance event on the Hikurangi
Trench, or along the Pacific rim,
particularly at night, will be
beyond the capability of our
existing warning systems.
A tsunami two or three hours
away will leave us dangerously
unprepared and seismic events
are happening there.
Many of us are interested in
testing a siren for Wellington
because we saw WEMO's efforts
and thought that they couldn't be
Anyone wishing to get accurate
information on the success or
otherwise of Japan's earthquake
warning systems needs only to
visit the WEMO website wmo.int/
It gives the example of Rikuzen
Takata, where 85 per cent of the
population was saved because of
Wellington still deserves better.
I agree with Allan Jenkins.
Wellington City Council, GNS
Science and WEMO are leaving
Wellington totally exposed to a
mid-range tsunami generated by
activity on the Pacific tectonic
They deal only with localised or
The whole of the Pacific plate is
experiencing activity and a
seismic event, say south of the
Kermadecs, would leave us
WEMO has been dishonest
about Japan's abandonment of
sirens and their effectiveness, as
witnessed by the letter by Y
Hoshino (February 23).
I see WEMO's low-tech
approach and reluctance to
consider any alternatives to its set
methods as crazy and backward.
Mr Jenkins' comment that
Wellington has a Dad's Army
approach to tsunami warnings is
uncomfortably close to the truth.
The argument about false
alarms is rubbish. Lower Hutt has
relied on sirens for years with no
I call upon the Minister for
Local Government to intervene
before this clown show has a
tragic ending. RUPERT BUCHANAN
I'm horrified to hear that more
blue tsunami lines are to be
painted on Wellington roads.
What a dreadful waste of time
and money. Even an ant knows to
go to higher ground when there's
a flood, so obviously people know
to go to higher ground when
there's a tidal wave.
Some people may be curious or
unconcerned and decide not to go
to higher ground. Others may be
unable to get to higher ground in
time. Blue lines aren't going to
make a blind bit of difference.
There hasn't been a tidal wave
in Wellington for more than 100
years. The next one may not be for
1000 years, for all we know.
In the meantime, the council
will be spending ratepayers'
money painting and repainting
I'm not surprised to learn that
the tsunami lines are a world
first. Other cities aren't stupid
enough to bother. JOSIE BULLOCK
I never knew Wellington had its
own flag until I read your story
What an amazing history
behind the flag, and it is so
To think that virtually no-one
in Wellington -- including our
mayor obviously -- knows about it.
I'm sure an enterprising young
business type could make some
good money by supplying and
selling the Wellington flag.
It would adorn many of the
flagpoles around the city.
The case for
Gordon Campbell understates the
case for state housing in New
Zealand (March 1).
Those who formed the first
Labour Government put together
state housing because they had
experienced the deprivations and
injustices that existed in the
housing market of the day.
Under the current
administration, state housing is
being further eroded. There is a
feeling that those driving the
economy want to turn back the
clock and those unfortunate
enough to find themselves without
the wherewithal will find
themselves either in the
workhouse or, worse still, living
on the streets.
State housing has always been
the landlord of last resort, a
refuge where residents felt safe,
knowing they were protected and
unlikely to be chucked out on the
streets. No longer.
Times have changed.
The minister may be in charge
of the department but no longer
takes responsibility. Public
servants now take on those
Ministers enjoy the baubles of
office but shun any accountability.
Tick for Parun
Thank you Onny Parun for telling
it the way it is with Hospital food
measures up'' (March 1).
As a member of Capital and
Coast Health Board we received,
every month, statistics of patients'
most favoured'' and least
favoured'' during their stay in
hospital. The least favoured was
After a spell in hospital, I
decided those who didn't like the
food were used to Cordon Bleu
cooking because, like Onny Parun,
I couldn't dig up a complaint.
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