Brexit is go

Boris Johnson writes:

After nine months on the launch pad, Britain finally engaged the most famous ignition sequence in diplomatic history.

At 12.29 pm London time, the Prime Minister’s Article 50 letter was delivered in Brussels and the countdown began. After nine months of meticulous legal, technical and political preparation, the engines switched on and are today firing in an irreversible crescendo. 

The referendum result has now started implementation. It is going to be a fascinating two years of negotiations. But the one certainty is that the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union.

Glad we are not using US ISPs

A press release from NordVPN:

U.S. Senate has just passed the most dangerous resolution for Internet privacy.

Last year, Federal Communications Commission had passed strict privacy regulations (not yet in effect), banning ISPs (Internet Service Providers) from selling their subscriber’s browsing data without consent. This week, these regulations were reversed in the Senate, allowing ISPs to collect all possible information about their subscribers. Such data includes precise geolocation, financial information, health information, children’s information and web browsing history.

This also means that from now on, an Internet provider can sell their users’ private data to third parties, such as ad buyers, ad aggregators, and anyone else who might want to use it for their purposes.

True, FCC’s regulations did not cover Facebook and Google that are able to collect data without any bigger restrictions. However, putting a brake on ISPs data collection/ and sharing powers would have saved Internet users’ Internet browsing privacy. 

This goes even further – the FCC is now also banned from passing even less strict regulations in the future. 

The key to me is consent – ISPs should have to get consent to share and sell data.

E-cigarettes to become legal

Nicky Wagner announced:

Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner today announced the sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and e-liquid will be made legal with appropriate controls.

“Scientific evidence on the safety of e-cigarettes is still developing but there’s a general consensus that vaping is much less harmful than smoking,” Ms Wagner says.

Public Health England estimate they are 95% less harmful than normal cigarettes.

New rules for all e-cigarettes, whether or not they contain nicotine, include:

  • Restricting sales to those 18 years and over

  • Prohibiting vaping in indoor workplaces and other areas where smoking is banned under the Smoke-free Environments Act

  • Restricting advertising to limit the attraction of e-cigarettes to non-smokers, especially children and young people.

Sounds reasonable, but devil will be in the detail.

“This is an opportunity to see if restricted access to e-cigarettes and e-liquid can help lower our smoking rates, reduce harm and save lives,” Ms Wagner says.

“The Government is strongly committed to achieving our goal of a smoke-free New Zealand by 2025.”

E-cigarettes may be the most effective measure left in the toolbox, to get the smoking rate down to 5%.

 

Will the left condemn this exploitative employer?

NewstalkZB reports:

Kim Dotcom has been ordered to pay more than $26,000 in unpaid wages to former staff.

Three of Dotcom’s former employees claimed they were unfairly dismissed by the internet entrepreneur, and took their cases to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

In the ruling released Monday, ERA member James Crichton upheld two of the complaints and dismissed the third.

Pan Filo Orduna, John Tactaquin and Ruth Relleve worked for Dotcom from 2010 onwards.

The authority upheld Orduna and Tactaquin’s cases but dismissed Relleve’s.

Orduna was employed by Dotcom as a butler six days a week. …

Crichton said he was satisfied that Orduna and Tactaquin had been unfairly dismissed and so awarded each three months’ salary of the difference between what they were earning when working for Dotcom and what they were earning in their new jobs.

This equated to $8850 for Orduna and $17,526 for Tactaquin.

Will the Mana Party be commenting on this court ruling?

Actually impossible that we’re wrong

Hager and Stephenson on Monday said:

In a statement sent to media on Sunday night, the authors say it’s “actually impossible that the story is wrong”.

On Wednesday media reported:

English’s comments come on the back of the two authors, earlier on Wednesday, conceding the attacks were at a different location from the position given in their book.

How can this be? They said it was actually impossible for them to be wrong. Not implausible. Not unlikely. Not improbable. But actually impossible.

Now of course because they were wrong on the location doesn’t mean they are wrong on everything. But they should show some humility after the arrogance of their statement on Monday.

Belated congrats to Otago students

Just noticed this August story:

University of Otago students have rejected a controversial ban against offensive costumes.

Before the March 2016 Hyde St Keg Party the Otago University Students’ Association told Dunedin students they were not to dress “offensively”. It issued an extensive list of costumes to avoid, including like Arabs, Nazis, Bill Cosby or Caitlyn Jenner.

The costume ban sparked outrage from some would-be participants.

In a binding referendum, 61.67 per cent voted to reject OUSA regulating costumes for the annual party.

Well done Otago students for rejecting the costume police.

Labour on first readings

Politik reports:

With Ngati Paoa members sitting in the gallery, Labour’s Tamaki Makaurau MP, Peeni Henare said the bill offered an opportunity not just for Tāmaki-makau-rau but, in particular, for Ngāti Paoa, “and for that reason, I am extremely excited.”

“This particular opportunity at Te Tauoma is a fantastic one—one that will allow Ngāti Paoa, in partnership with the council and, of course, with central government, to provide for housing not just for their people but also for the people of Tāmaki-makau-rau,” he said.

“This particular bill provides an opportunity and a start and the platform for Ngāti Paoa, for which we are grateful, and I am sure the people of Ngāti Paoa are, too.”

Mr Henare was in Sydney last night and was unavailable for comment, but Mr Twyford dismissed his comments as a typical first reading speech.

He said first reading speeches were not based on research but almost always were in a situation where the MP had had to take the Government’s Bill at face value.

What a stunning admission by Labour that they don’t do any research on legislation facing its first reading.

Note that the first reading was six days after the Bill was introduced. And it is basically a one page bill.

The reality is that Labour are being NIMBYs. They spend years calling for more housing and then time after time oppose any actual housing development.

PSA: .nz reserved names conclude at 1 pm on Thu 30 March

From the .nz Domain Name Commission:

The reservation period finishes at 1.00 pm on 30 March 2017. Domain names are unable to be reserved for a further period of time. If you have a reserved name you must register this before the above date, or the domain name will become available to register by anyone on a first come, first served basis. More information about registering reserved domain names can be found below.

So if you have a reserved name, the reservation ends at 1 pm tomorrow. If you do not register by then, it becomes generally available.

Soles for Satan

The ODT reports:

A Dunedin satanic organisation’s campaign to collect warm clothes for disadvantaged people across New Zealand is being welcomed by some and leaving others hot under the collar.

Satanic New Zealand recently launched a ”Soles for Satan” online page, which aims to buy new socks, hats, and warm clothing for people in homeless shelters and children living in poverty.

Can just imagine the scene in many family homes. “Oh where did those lovely socks for Jimmy come from” … “Those nice Satanists dropped them around”.

”We’re not in any way anti-Christian; we’re just pro-Satan,” she said.

I wonder how well a pro-Satan group would do in the Middle East!

All clothes collected would be donated to KidsCan, Women’s Refuge and homeless shelters.

It seems Satan works in mysterious ways!

WCC rates

Stuff reports:

Lester also signalled that the average rates increase for the city would be 3.3 per cent, done from the original forecast of 5.1.

It was possible residential rates could drop further, but that depended on revaluation of buildings and homes in late May or early June.

The lower rates rise was the result of saving $11 million, by re-prioritising and re-phasing capital expenditure, better use of council office space, building consent processing in-sourcing from Auckland, increases in energy efficiency, and improved procurement processes.

This is going in the right direction but the Mayor said he would not vote for an average rates increase of over 3% over the next three years. So if it is 3.3% this year then needs to be no more than 2.85% the next two years to remain within the promise.

Also other Councillors who made a rates pledge in terms of maximum average annual increase were:

  • Nicola Young – no more than inflation
  • Andy Foster – 3%
  • Diane Calvert – 2% to 3%
  • Simon Woolf 4.5%
  • Sarah Free 3%
  • Chris Calvi-Freeman – no more than inflation
  • David Lee – around 4.6% (said 30 cents a day for a $500,000 RV)

So that is five Councillors who have said a maximum of 3% on average is acceptable.

Latest poll

I’ve blogged the latest One News Colmar Brunton poll at Curia.

Last month the Maori King said Maori should support the Maori Party. Andrew Little said the Maori Party have achieved nothing and Maori should vote Labour.

The ONCB poll sees the Maori Party go from 0.7% to 4.0%. This is a significant increase in support for them – well beyond the margin of error.

So I guess we know who wins in a contest between Andrew Little and the Maori King.

Little is in 4th place as Preferred Prime Minister behind English, Peters and Ardern.

Hehir says there should be an inquiry

Liam Hehir writes:

Hit and Run, a new book by Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson, was the dominant news story last week. The book accuses the SAS of participating in illegal killings in Afghanistan. It also suggests that officials have covered up these possible war crimes.

Needless to say, few civilised people would consider this acceptable. If there is anything in them, the claims are troubling. …

The accusations in Hit and Run will blight the reputation of the SAS for too many New Zealanders. We cannot shrug that off.

There is a national interest in giving the public the reassurance of a fresh look at the matter.

The investigations of the time,  no matter how robust or sound, are not enough. Citizens at home are not equipped to evaluate competing narratives about faraway battlefields. We do not have the time, skills or resources to determine what version of events is closer to the truth.

Only a fresh look at the events in light of the accusations will suffice. The person in charge must be of unimpeachable character and the process transparent. It will take  nothing less to persuade Hager’s admirers that crimes were not concealed.

Like Liam I think there is merit into an inquiry – not into war crimes (as that is up to the Police) but into which version of events is correct.

However I have one reservation to this. Stuff reported:

In a statement sent to media on Sunday night, the authors say it’s “actually impossible that the story is wrong”.

Now with such a stance from the authors that it is “actually impossible” that their story is wrong, what use is an inquiry. Unless the inquiry agrees 100% with the authors, they will decry the inquiry as a cover up, biased, wrong etc etc. They have stated it is impossible they are wrong, so implicitly they can not accept any other outcome from an inquiry.

It would be like the 9/11 Commission – no matter what the official inquiry found, there are those convinced it was a conspiracy organised by George W Bush, not Osama bin Laden.

If Hager and Stephenson were open to the possibility that they could be wrong on significant details, then the merits of an inquiry are much stronger.

But their stance suggest an inquiry into their allegations will be no more useful than the inquiry the Greens demanded into Genetic Modification – they rejected the outcome because it didn’t deliver what they wanted.

So there are only two possible outcomes from an inquiry at present:

  1. The inquiry backs the Hager/Stephenson book, and they are vindicated
  2. The inquiry doesn’t back the Hager/Stephenson book and they remain adamant it is impossible they are wrong and the attack the inquiry as a cover up

Can you see why an inquiry isn’t looking so appealing.

Now if Hager and Stephenson made an unequivocal statement that they would accept the findings of an independent inquiry, well then you might be making progress.

Upton to become PCE

One News reports:

Former Environment Minister Simon Upton is all but confirmed as the new Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.

The Offices of Parliament committee has recommended that he be appointed for a five year term, beginning October 9.

He’ll replace outgoing commissioner Jan Wright.

Now with the Paris-based OECD group, Mr Upton, a former National Party minister, was in Wellington last week to launch a progress report on New Zealand’s environment.

Normally it would be unusual for a former Minister to be appointed an Officer of Parliament, but the fact Labour and Greens support the appointment shows they think Simon Upton will be independent.

Simon has been head of the OECD’s Environment Division since 2010 and prior to that was Chair of the OECD Round Table on Sustainable Development. He was also theNZ Minister for the Environment from 1990 to 1999 so he has around 25 years of experience in environmental issues.

Left scream betrayal at fiscal rules

Bryce Edwards writes:

Does New Zealand still have political parties on the left in parliamentary politics? Do the poor and working classes have anyone to vote for this year? These are some of the key questions being asked in the wake of the Labour-Green announcement that they will restrain themselves in government from any significant deviation from the economic status quo.

The hardest hitting response has come from former Green MP Sue Bradford, who gave an extraordinary interview on RNZ’s Morning Report today. Bradford rounded on her former party, saying “The Greens have completely sold out on where they started from in my generation of MPs in 1999” – you can listen to her seven-minute interview with Guyon Espiner: “What Price Power” Former Green MP Sue Bradford slams Greens’ deal with Labour.

Bradford explains that the new rules adopted by the left parties – which she calls a “totally business-friendly policy” – will constrain them in being able to depart from the National Government’s main economic settings.

She despairs of what this means: “So what you see here is the Green Party deciding to go after votes on the centre and the right of the New Zealand political spectrum. It wants business in its corner. It wants your National blue-green voters in its corner. And completely abandoning the huge number of people who are in desperate need in the areas of housing, welfare, jobs, and education”.

To Bradford, it’s about political opportunism by the Greens, in order to get into government. She asks: “At what price power, if you sell out everything that your party was originally set out to achieve? I mean, this Green Party here is following the same trail as green parties all over the world – some of who have ended up in coalitions and alliance with really rightwing governments”.

She suggests that some Green Party supporters “are going to end up like some of us already, who have no one to vote for this year. The Greens was perhaps the last hope. This is the death knell for the Greens as a left party in any way, shape or form. They are a party of capitalism. They’re a party that Business New Zealand now loves”

Bradford also expressed her protest on Facebook. This led one Green Party activist and candidate at the last election to comment: “Frankly, I’m very disappointed with the party I belong to for doing this! In fact, I know that many other members (like me) are disappointed and angry. I am reassessing my membership. I knew that this statement was being developed but party members seem to have been largely bypassed in doing so.”

Also on Facebook, Laila Harre, who has now rejoined the Labour Party, questions the apparent assumptions behind the announcement: “Who says voters won’t buy into tax increases on high incomes? I’m sad that our redeemers are capitulating to that rather than making the case for it. Elections are an opportunity to win support for ideas. Not just frame ideas around putative support.”

In a unique move, the Council of Trade Unions has also come out against the announcement, with president Richard Wagstaff giving a CTU perspective: “We support higher levels of Government activity and investment than these rules permit. There is an urgent need. Many countries who are more successful than us socially and economically have much greater government activity” – see Isaac Davison’s Higher spend needed than under Labour/Green rules: Council of Trade Unions.

Wagstaff elaborates: “If an incoming Labour/Green Government is serious about fixing the problems we have in our education, health, housing and other public services, if it’s going to correct the imbalances we have in terms of pay equity, if we are going to really tackle income inequality and our environmental challenges together as a nation, then it will need to be prepared to invest significantly. That will test these rules as they stand.”

This is the biggest political shift in a generation and the media have almost missed the significance of it. The fundamental divide between parties on the right and left tend to be on the size of the state and tax. Right parties are for a smaller state and lower taxes and left parties for a larger state and higher taxes.

It is remarkable enough that Labour have come out and said they will keep the size of the state to the same as National has it after eight years, but even more remarkable that the Greens have said the same.

Add to that Labour have said no tax increases.

Bradford and Harre get how big a deal this is.

Guest Post: school rules

A guest post by Anne Hunt:

If you don’t like the school rules, choose another school seems to be the approach taken by most people who have become embroiled in this latest ‘long-hair’ debate.

What seems to be overlooked is that this was a case of a parent trying to get a response from the principal and board of trustees before a child was enrolled at his in-zone school.

Any child living within the home zone is entitled at any time to enrol at that school. That is the law, not some personal sense of ‘entitlement’.

The fact that this school happened to be Auckland Grammar has fuelled the latest frenzy.

Let’s be clear: James was not breaking any school rules because he is not even enrolled at Auckland Grammar as yet.

Heidi had lived in the Grammar zone for at least a decade before James was born.

On his behalf, Heidi was simply taking the precaution of checking out well in advance whether James would be facing the risk of expulsion if he attended his Auckland Grammar as his in-zone school.

Her father who was already a well-established musician had been expelled from Freyberg High School shortly before he was due to sit University Entrance, affecting his future employment.

Obviously, she did not want James’ education disrupted by similar issues.

So she took the responsible course of action by writing to both the School Principal and Board of Trustees.

In this letter, she stated that James is not prepared to cut his well-groomed hair and therefore realises that he might sacrifice an education at Auckland Grammar if Auckland Grammar adheres to the same rules that cut short the education of his grandfather fifty years beforehand.

She also said that James was prepared to tie his hair back to keep it off his collar.

So James was not seeking preferential treatment.

Heidi pointed that a school’s board must perform its functions and exercise its powers in such a way as to ensure every student at the school is able to attain his or her highest possible standard in educational achievement.

And she also referred to s75 of the Education Act 1989, which says that except to the extent that any enactment or the general law of New Zealand provides otherwise, a school’s board had complete discretion to control the management of the school as it thinks fit.

Obviously Heidi mentioned the Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

But more importantly, she reminded the school principal and board of trustees that even taking into consideration the sporting and cultural activities James will engage in, he will come under the management of the school for only about forty hours per week.

What about the remaining 120 hours each week when he is not under the management of the board?

Is the board exceeding its authority by imposing a rule that affects a student when he is no longer under the jurisdiction of the board?

James cannot re-attach his hair when he takes his school uniform off.

Heidi could have quietly enrolled James at this prestigious school, and then taken the school to court to test this issue if the school disciplined him for having long hair.

Instead, she wrote to the school principal and the board so that she would be able to make an informed choice on the school James will attend in 2019.

The school did not have the courtesy to respond so she sent her letter to a reputable newspaper.

Fortunately, James is a well-adjusted child and will take the cyber-bullying in his stride.

But by approaching the media, she discovered that the school principal did not see the need to take her letter to the Board of Trustees.

That, as far as Heidi is concerned, is not professional enough when she had also sent a copy of her letter to the board who could access the legal expertise to evaluate the issues she had raised.

When she eventually enrols James at a school, I am confident it will be a school that cares as much about complying with the law as the principal is about enforcing the school rules imposed upon their students.

Anne is the grandmother of James. She is also the author of a book on David Collins, the Judge in the Lucan Battison case.

Goff’s tax in trouble

The Herald reports:

Goff is pinning his hopes on the targeted rate to replace ratepayer spending by Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed) to attract visitors and fund major events. It would free up $28 million to fund transport and housing infrastructure and help Goff’s election pledge to hold rates to 2.5 per cent.

If the accommodation providers are forced to fully fund ATEED, they should then get to decide what level of funding it gets. Allow them to appoint a majority of the board and you’d soon get better value for money.

Goff said 75 per cent of the feedback so far on the draft budget supported the targeted rate.

Of course it is. You are proposing a tiny number of ratepayers pick up the bill for the other million ratepayers.

Last night, Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said the targeted rate would be a disaster for Auckland and should be withdrawn.

He said visitors to Auckland spend $7.5 billion a year, of which the accommodation sector only accounted for 9 per cent but which is being asked to pay 100 per cent of the targeted rate.

I’m all for user pays, but it should be on all tourism businesses, not just hotels and motels. And they should then get to decide what level of funding for ATEED is deemed worthwhile.

Last week, motel owner Troy Clarry told councillors his Whangaparaoa 14-room motel’s rates would rise from $13,600 a year to just under $40,000.

In 2015-16 he made $529,000 from the motel on 65 per cent occupancy and after taking a $52,000 salary for two people net profit before tax was $27,000.
Much of this was reinvested in the business but the new rate would swallow nearly all of this.

 

So Goff’s tax will mean the motel is no longer profitable.

Reconciling the versions

As the NZ Defence Force and Hager/Stevenson have been giving their versions of what happened in Afghanistan, I’ve been waiting for a media site to go through them and explain to those of us confused, what are the things they agree and disagree on.

The mainstream media have yet to produce such a thing, but Toby Manhire at The Spinoff has, which is very useful.

An extract:

Both sides AGREE that there may have been “civilian casualties”, but DISAGREE on both the scale and identities. While Hager and Stephenson have identified six dead, including a three-year-old girl, and 15 injured, Keating conceded only that civilian casualties “may have occurred – but [were] not corroborated”, based on a report into the raid by the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). This nevertheless represents a shift from the earlier NZDF position that reports of civilian casualties were “unfounded”, which Keating struggled to reconcile during the press conference.

They DISAGREE on how any civilian casualties may have come about. “If there were casualties, the fault of those casualties was a mechanical failure of a piece of equipment,” said Keating. He said this happened when some rounds of fire from US Apache helicopters fell short, and so were called off.

They DISAGREE on whether Taliban insurgents were killed in the raid. While the NZDF maintains that nine “identified insurgents” died as a result of the operation, Hager and Stephenson say that the insurgents, expecting a reprisal attack, had fled for the mountains, though returned later to funerals of civilians killed. Keating said they did not have a record of their names, but the NZDF has video footage which provides “irrefutable evidence” backing their account of events; it is “classified” but he would explore releasing it.

There may be ambiguity around how the NZDF judged an individual to be an enemy combatant, and it is possible that some of those categorised by the NZDF as insurgents are the people categorised as civilians by sources in Hit and Run.

I wonder if this could explain some of it. Of course relatives are unlikely to say “x was a pro-Taliban fighter”. This would not explain the three year old, but might explain some of the difference.

It would be useful if the NZDF did release the video.

They DISAGREE on the “second raid”. Hit and Run describes a return to Naik about 10 days later, in which houses were destroyed by explosives, with an SAS member quoted saying “it was to punish them”. According to Keating there was a return to Tirgiran but it was many weeks later, unremarkable, and only one small explosive was used to access a building, not to destroy it.

Kudos to NZDF for replying in such detail, rather than just blandly saying the book is wrong. A point by point rebuttal is far more convincing.

Moodys on NZ economy

Stuff reports:

An international ratings agency has kept New Zealand’s credit status at the highest possible level.

Moody’s Investors Service has affirmed the Government’s triple-A issuer rating with a stable outlook and said it was in a strong fiscal position compared to other countries.

“We expect New Zealand’s economy to be among the fastest growing Aaa-rated economies in coming years,” it said.

Factors behind the rating included New Zealand’s economic resilience against overseas and domestic shocks, which remained “very high, supported by strong growth”.

The country was also praised for its “proactive” policies, a vigilant central bank and stable political system which meant it had effective tools to “shoulder downside scenarios”.

Moody’s noted that strong population growth had bolstered the economy’s potential and that longer term, its growth could be higher than many other Aaa-rated countries.

We are one of the very few developed economies to have the books back in surplus, and be paying our way.

Harete Hipango for Whanganui

The Herald reports:

The National Party’s Whanganui electorate delegates have chosen Whanganui lawyer Harete Hipango to contest the September election.

She will go up against Labour’s Steph Lewis and the Greens’ Nicola Patrick.

Speaking on Sunday afternoon, after the voting in the party’s “rigorous and thorough” selection process, Ms Hipango said she felt humbled and very privileged to be chosen.

She plans to transition out of her law duties to campaign full-time for the Whanganui seat.

Politics has always been part of her life, and she intends to make it her career – it will be “embarking on a new adventure”, she said.

Current Whanganui MP Chester Borrows – who has held the seat for National for 12 years but who is quitting politics at the end of this parliamentary term – said it was the first time the party had chosen a Maori woman to contest a seat it held.

“I think that says a heck of a lot about Harete as a candidate.”

The delegates had an excellent field to choose from, he said: Former Wanganui Chronicle general manager Andy Jarden, Whanganui dentist and district councillor Hadleigh Reid and South Taranaki farmer Warwick Fleming.

Congrats to Harete for winning against a tough field.

Chester had a 4,505 majority. If Labour were stending Hamish McDouall again (he is now Mayor) then I think it could have become a very close race. But I think Harete should comfortably hold the seat.

Guest Post: Continuing problems with the new seclusion and restraint provisions

A guest post from the PPTA:

Seclusion

seclude, in relation to a student or child, means to place the student or child involuntarily alone in a room from which he or she cannot freely exit or from which the student or child believes that he or she cannot freely exit

This definition of seclusion, under which it has to meet all three tests is at risk of not actually banning the seclusion rooms that it is designed to prohibit.

To counts as seclusion and be banned it requires all three elements: 1 involuntarily, 2, alone 3 can’t exit or believe they can’t exit.

The question is what does it mean to be ‘involuntarily placed’? Is it involuntary if a student is told to go somewhere and does it, even grudgingly?

The implication of this is that anything that a teacher tells a student to do which they then do is involuntary – i.e. get out your books, go to assembly now etc…

The other contestable phrase is ‘believes that he or she cannot freely exit’. The extent of teachers’ authority  is also in question here – does a teacher telling a student that they cannot leave a room (even until a certain condition is met) mean that they ‘believe they cannot freely exit’?

By including the arguable phrases ‘involuntarily’ and ‘believes that he or she cannot freely exit’ the definition of seclusion is opened up to legal challenge and lacks clarity for schools.

In some situations schools could interpret this to mean that as long as they do not physically place (i.e. drag, lift, carry) a student into a room then they can continue to seclude (i.e. it must have been voluntary as the student willingly walked in her/himself), and in others they may assess that they cannot even use a withdrawal room, as telling a student to go to a room and stay there until a certain condition is met means that they cannot freely leave.

This definition is a mess, and while the sector may have agreed it for use in guidelines that is quite different from agreeing to it in law. We did not expect that it would be written into legislation when we were developing the guidelines and such a statement from the Government does not recognise the majority of submissions from the sector to the Select Committee that were opposed to the proposed definition.  

Restraint

physically restrain, in relation to a student, means to use physical force to prevent, restrict, or subdue the movement of the student’s body or part of the student’s body

 

1)

A teacher or authorised staff member must not physically restrain a student unless—

(a)

the teacher or staff member reasonably believes that the safety of the student or of any other person is at serious and imminent risk; and

(b)

the physical restraint is reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances.

 

Situations this could lead to:

  1. A student squirting a fire hose into a classroom won’t be able to have the hose taken off them, as it is unlikely to be putting safety at ‘serious and imminent risk’
  2. A student steals a device from another student and then goes to walk out of the classroom. The teacher cannot stand in the doorway and block them leaving.
  3. A student is hitting cars parked in the school carpark with a stick. A teacher cannot grab the stick off them.
  4. A student has a tendency to get angry and damage property. The principal and parents have an agreement that a trained staff member can restrain the student until the parent arrives when this happens. This won’t be able to happen in future.

 

The greatest irony is that in the first three of these situations while a teacher cannot intervene, a member of the public could.

Teachers are already very cautious about exercising physical restraint, and there are a maximum of 1-2 cases a year (out of around 50,000 teachers in schools) which lead to complaints to authorities about it. There is no evidence to suggest that this is an area which needs new legislation.

I tend to agree with the PPTA that the solution here, may be worse than the problem.

Five options for tax relief in 2017

The Taxpayers Union has released:

The Government’s failure to index tax brackets to inflation since 2010 now costs the average Kiwi income earner almost $500 each year according to a new report released today by the Taxpayers’ Union. The report, “5 Options for Tax Relief in 2017”, models five options to deliver meaningful tax relief packages which could be part of Budget 2017 with fiscal implications of $3 billion or less.

With Labour now saying they will keep spending under 30% of GDP also, they should also be supporting tax cuts for hard working New Zealanders.

The five costed options are:

  1. A tax free threshold for the first $13,000 of income
  2. Eliminate the 30% tax bracket, so the 17.5% rate applies from $24k to $70k
  3. Eliminate the top tax bracket so top tax rate of 26% applies to all income over $48k
  4. Increase all tax brackets so bottom is up to $25k, second bottom from $25k to $64k, third from $64k to $100k and top above $100k
  5. Cut company tax rate to from 28% to 13%

The report looks at the pros and cons of each option, and the impact it would have on four typical families or taxpayers:

  1. Average worker earning $57,000
  2. Family with two children on $100,000
  3. Low income worker on $35,000
  4. Professional earning $120,000

The report also calls for tax brackets to be indexed against inflation.