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Archive for March, 2014

Aboriginal woman’s jailing highlights the plight of intellectually impaired aboriginal offenders…

Australian Human Rights investigation…


Ms Fulton is an Aboriginal woman (from Alice Springs) with intellectual disability  has been held in Kalgoorlie prison for eighteen months without a trial or conviction

An investigation has revealed dozens of intellectually disabled Aboriginal people are being kept in prison indefinitely because of a lack of proper healthcare facilities.

The ABC’s Lateline program exposed the case of 23-year-old Rosie Anne Fulton, who has spent the past 18 months in a Kalgoorlie jail without a trial or conviction after she was charged with driving offences.

“It is simply unacceptable that a nation of Australia’s standing, and commitment to the rule of law, should lock people up for undetermined periods when they have not been found guilty of an offence.  Prison is simply not an alternative accommodation option for people with disabilities

Australian Human Rights Commission Press release below

The magistrate in her case declared her unfit to plead because she is intellectually impaired – a victim of foetal alcohol syndrome – and has the mental capacity of a young child.


Her legal guardian, former police officer Ian McKinlay, says Ms Fulton ended up on a prison-based supervision order because there were no alternatives in the area at the time.

“At the moment this outcome is almost entirely reserved for Aboriginal, Indigenous Australians,” he said.

The birdsongs of the Catlins are being heard in greater chorus…




The mohua population in the Catlins is on the increase after a successful joint agency pest control programme last spring.
 Birdsongs of the vulnerable mohua are being heard in greater chorus in the Catlins after a 1080 drop, the Department of Conservation says.
The population of mohua, one of New Zealand’s rarest songbirds, in the Catlins was increasing after a successful joint agency pest control programme last spring, DOC said.
In August, TBfree New Zealand and the Department of Conservation treated 47,000 hectares of forest in the Catlins with aerial 1080 to knock down possums, rats and stoats.
DOC’s focus was to control rats and stoats to protect mohua in 10,000ha of beech forest, while TBfree New Zealand targeted possums to control bovine tuberculosis (TB) over 37,000ha surrounding this area.
Mohua number less than 5000 and are found only in small isolated populations in the South Island and several small islands near Stewart Island, such as Ulva Island and Codfish Island, and Resolution Island in Fiordland.
DOC conservation services manager David Agnew said monitoring results showed mohua numbers increased to the highest level recorded since the population suffered a big decline about 14 years ago.      The Green Planet

What works and what doesn’t: How a job affects mental health…


The Wireless
by Eamonn Marra

I have been on some form of benefit through Work and Income for most of the last five years. I have been on the unemployment benefit, the sickness benefit and am now on the all-encompassing Jobseekers benefit.I also suffer from anxiety and severe depressive episodes.Work and Income was never short of advice in regards to my illness. Whenever I went to my local service centre, I would sit in the waiting room surrounded by quasi-inspirational, but really just condescending posters of smiling people, with phrases such as: “Thinking I couldn’t do it was my biggest disability”.Meetings with case managers at Work and Income frequently featured a unhelpful and unsolicited medical advice, ranging from exercise to yoga to meditation to eating correctly to doing volunteer work. But by far their most common go to line was “Employment is the best path to recovery”.

Eamonn Marra outside Work and Income
Eamonn Marra: “I worried that one day I would attend an interview and be asked ‘So why has this Bachelor of Arts taken you six years?’”Supplied

Employment can have a huge effect on mental health, but we cannot only recognise its positive contribution without admitting it has the ability to be a negative one as well. Work and Income’s mantra is not completely wrong; employment has been a huge step in my increasing mental health over the past eight months. However, on the flipside, an extremely unhealthy work environment in my late teens caused huge damage to my mental health, and contributed to years out of the workforce.

In December 2009 I worked for a security company car park at a large mall in Christchurch, directing the Christmas traffic into available parks. It was hands down one of the worst experiences of my life. It had all the tropes of a bad job: long hours, low pay, stress, dealing with stressed and rude customers, minimal breaks, and little real human interaction. But by far the worst thing was the contempt we were treated both by the mall and the security company.

Any complaints to and from the security company were blamed on the unapproachable, faceless mall. The mall was a faceless entity who kept us under constant vigilance through security cameras and plainclothes spies. We were separated and unable to talk to one another, so any collective power we could have had was quickly quashed. Any and all problems or complaints were dealt with purely on a one-on-one basis to someone who would have no power to change the situation.

Our morale shrunk everyday as we were told we are useless and replaceable, but many of us we were unable to quit without financial repercussions due to our being on fixed-term contracts. All problems were responded with threats of docked pay or being fired and replaced. We lost our humanity over this period. There was no pride to be had in this job; we were cheap labour that was told we weren’t even worth the minimum wage we were being paid. While my labour was cheap for both the mall and the security company, it cost far more for both me and, eventually, the taxpayer.

Read more here:  

Read the latest at Petes Place…


Lower Hutt mayor Ray Wallace organises mayors meeting to discuss Super Cities…

A group of mayors from throughout the country are meeting in Taupo on Monday to discuss their concerns about proposed Super Cities.

The meeting is being organised by the Lower Hutt mayor Ray Wallace, who has confirmed the mayor of Opotiki, John Forbes, is also attending amongst others.

Mr Forbes is the vice president of Local Government New Zealand but will not be representing that organisation at the meeting.

The local government minister, Paula Bennett, was also invited but declined.

Mr Wallace says he is concerned the Local Government Commission has already made its mind up about the fate of areas being considered for Super Cities.

He says those attending will pay for their own travel and the lunch is being paid for by the Hutt City Council.

Mr Wallace says this is the first of many such meetings.

Lower Hutt opposes a super city concept for its area.

Is it a case of ‘blacks’ being banned in Western Australia?


  • :roll:I just report on what I find. You make up your mind on what you read:

    Noongar political activist Herbert Bropho.

    A decade after move-on laws were introduced in Western Australia, one man is engaging in a public campaign to protest their use as a means of social control.

    It was Labor’s then Attorney General Jim McGinty who pushed for the laws in 2004. At the time, it was said that police needed extra powers to prevent alcohol-fuelled anti-social behaviour outside nightclubs and parties.

    Under WA’s laws, police can issue a person with a move-on notice requiring that they leave a specified area for up to 24 hours. The police need only record that they “reasonably suspect” that an offence is “about” to be committed in order to issue a notice. If a person subject to a move-on notice returns to the proscribed area, they can be arrested and fined or imprisoned.

    Despite making up only 4 percent of the state’s population, in 2009 Aboriginal people received 34 percent of the 20,300 move-on notices issued. By 2013 that number had risen to 40 percent.

    One homeless Aboriginal man, Ricky Louis Indich, has received 463 move-on notices since the law came into effect, including one at a city park where a charity was operating a soup kitchen in June last year.

    Herbert Bropho, a Noongar man and local political activist, has been sticking up posters around inner-city parks in protest. Red Flag spoke to him about move-on notices and how they echo WA’s racist history.

    “Well the posters are in response to the homeless mob … Why they say ‛‘Blacks Banned’ is that we need to educate our kids that the blue line hasn’t left. Why they are giving these fines, it goes back to the days of the old passport, where you had to get permission to come in town, from the government or the police … The blue line is still here, and the kids of Western Australia, white and black, need to be educated about the blue line.”

    Under the Aborigines Act 1905, designated areas could be declared prohibited to Aboriginal people unless they could show they were in “lawful employment”. A 1927 amendment made it an offence for Aboriginal people to come within five kilometres of the city centre after 6 pm.

    “Mainly all the homeless mob are the ones being picked on, and young Ricky Garlett has got over nearly a hundred and something move-on notices, and he lives and stays in the city, where they go through to Beaufort for their 5 o’clock meal.

    “At the end of the day, when they go to get their 5 o’clock meal, some of them don’t make it. Manaj [police] pull them up and give them a move-on notice. They know who they are, they target them 24 hours a day.”

    This aspect of the issue is particularly important to Herbert. Many of his family members were made homeless in 2003 when Lockridge Campsite – the Swan Valley community that Herbert’s father Robert Bropho and others had fought for and won in the late 1970s – was shut down by the government in circumstances similar to the NT intervention.

    “There’s a lot of people homeless, of my family members. Where we are, fighting for our community back – it’s been closed down for so many years – if we could have that back, they wouldn’t have this problem of vagrancy. It’s all political.”

    Herbert’s poster campaign has already attracted the attention of the WA police, but he is not one to be intimidated.

    “When I put up these ‛‘Blacks Banned’ [posters] I got a lot of people talking. A lot of people thought it was wadjelas [white people], but they didn’t know it was a Noongar person until I came out of the woodwork, and I said that I was the man that put the posters up. Then, a couple of days after that I got a visit from the police, and they said if you put these posters up again, we’re going to charge you.

    “I said I’m allowed to do it, I’m telling what’s happening to my people, and to my family.

    “They say now it’s a time of healing, and moving on – where are we moving to? Are we moving forward in going back? The move-on notice needs to be abolished.”

    – See more at:

Humiliated National cabinet minister, Gerry Brownlee, apologises to Labour – feels let down by EQC…

EQC should have some new competent staff next year…
Dot Boyd

Stacy Squires

WAITING: Dot Boyd hopes her Aranui home will be repaired before she dies. Interviewed by Labout leader David Cunliffe.

English: Gerry Brownlee at the Solray Algae to...

English: Gerry Brownlee at the Solray Algae to Biofuels opening in November 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A humiliated Gerry Brownlee has apologised to Labour MPs he sledged over their workrate on behalf of earthquake victims and says he feels let down by EQC.

The Earthquake Recovery Minister lashed out at Labour after they raised the plight of 85-year-old Dot Boyd, who is still waiting for repairs to her Aranui Home three years on from the Christchurch earthquakes.

Brownlee confirmed yesterday that he had discovered that Boyd may be the tip of the iceberg after EQC identified a further 85 cases where vulnerable elderly people had been left in limbo while waiting on a decision.

He had also just learnt that Boyd’s plight was raised eight months ago with EQC by Labour but no action was taken.

In Parliament on Tuesday, Brownlee labelled Labour MPs “despicable” for organising a photo-op to publicise Boyd’s case rather than raise their concerns with EQC. He also accused Labour’s Christchurch MPs of lodging requests with EQC on just five occasions on behalf of their constituents.

But he was forced into a humiliating backdown yesterday after learning that he had understated the number of requests from Labour MPs by hundreds.

Brownlee said he was “deeply embarrassed” by his speech in the House attacking Labour and felt “totally let down”.

“I unreservedly apologise to those MPs; they clearly have made contact.”

Brownlee said he had queried the figures given to him at the time by EQC because it did not seem right that just five requests had been lodged. “I said to them at the time are you sure about this, five? And they said ‘yes, that’s all that’s in our system’.”

In relation to Boyd’s case, he confirmed late yesterday that her case was raised by former MP Lianne Dalziel in June 2013.

Brownlee intervened last week to have Boyd’s situation resolved after her plight was made public.

“So the question for me is, frankly, how the hell do they ignore something for eight months?

“That is completely unacceptable. Because it would have stated, and they would have known, that this was a woman [in her 80s], in a very badly damaged house.”

After being told yesterday by EQC that there were 85 “vulnerable cases” like Boyd still waiting in the system, he was now concerned that even that figure might be too “light”.

“I’ve told them to go and check again.

“We’re going to have a very robust conversation.”

He felt “totally let down” and had conveyed that to EQC chairman Sir Maarten Wevers in a phone message, Brownlee said.

At a parliamentary select committee meeting yesterday, EQC chief executive Ian Simpson confirmed that there had been five “formal” requests for information, but information tabled in Parliament shows more than 200 approaches were made by Labour MPs.


The Earthquake Commission has promised better services, but has asked for understanding, saying the Christchurch earthquakes were a disaster far in excess of conceivable magnitude.

The commission was castigated for poor performance last year by the Privacy Commissioner and the Ombudsman. It has since brought forward deadlines and attempted to lift its gam

EQC chairman Sir Maarten Wevers and chief executive Ian Simpson faced Parliament’s finance and expenditure committee yesterday to answer questions about the commission’s progress and present its financial review.

Wevers said EQC’s home- repair programme was “unprecedented” anywhere in the world.

“Based on geotechnical estimations, the worst-case scenario EQC planned for was an earthquake in Wellington which would result in about 150,000 claims.”

Almost 470,000 claims had been received as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes.

Wevers told the committee that EQC was on track to respond to a remaining backlog of 700 overdue official information requests by April. All new requests would be answered within the legal 20-day time frame.

Wevers said the “unprecedented” demand for information had been overwhelming. Since then an additional 26 staff had been employed.

Acknowledgements:    © Fairfax NZ News

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Lower Hutt mayor, Ray Wallace, answers critics of proposed spending in the city


An economic about-face that will see millions of dollars spent in Lower Hutt is being criticised by a ratepayers’ group as “a last-chance-saloon spending spree” ahead of a possible supercity merger.

Last week the Hutt City Council unveiled “a significant shift” in its draft financial strategy, aimed at boosting development. Proposals included a new $3 million learners’ pool at the Huia swimming complex, and a $4m revamp of Riddiford Gardens.

The projects could take the council’s net debt from about $66m at present to a possible $93m in 2020 if all the initiatives proposed in the draft Annual Plan are adopted.

Charles Sands, of ratepayers’ group Heart of the Hutt, labelled the spending plans “a last-chance-saloon spending spree”.

“It seems that this flurry of activity may be due to the proposed supercity amalgamation with Wellington,” he said.

But Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace yesterday dismissed the claim as “absolute nonsense”.

The mood for more spending and growth was clear during last year’s election campaign, which he won with a majority of 18,000, he said.

“We have been given the biggest mandate in Lower Hutt’s history. People are telling us that it’s time to revitalise the city.”

Heart of the Hutt has campaigned against plans to demolish Lower Hutt’s Town Hall and Horticultural Hall for a new convention centre.

In the 1990s, the Hutt City Council had its finances monitored by the government, after concerns about escalating debt which then totalled almost $110m. The council currently has an AA credit rating from ratings agency Standard & Poor’s.

Mr Wallace said debt was forecast to rise, but the council still owned assets of $1.7 billion.

Hutt City Council chief executive Tony Stallinger said that, even with the proposed potential increase in debt, “Hutt city would still have comfortably the lowest debt per capita of any New Zealand city our size”.

A request for the council to put $25m towards a proposed football stadium in Petone was not included in the forecast.

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The great northern Godwit migration…

Godwits flying north

Godwits flying north (Photo credit: SilverStack)



An official send-off has been given to Godwits in Canterbury on Sunday before the birds make their annual flight north.

Every September about 70,000 godwits, also known as kuaka, come from their northern summer breeding grounds in Alaska to New Zealand.

In March they make their return journey of up to 15,000 kilometres.

Godwits begin their journey to Alaskan breeding grounds in March.Godwits begin their journey to Alaskan breeding grounds in March.


Spokesperson for Canterbury Ornithological Society Jan Walker says the birds will head north in groups of about 30.

She says during the next three weeks the birds will head to the Yellow Sea in northern China on their way to Alaska.

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Is Matt McCarten the ‘game changer’ for Labour? He may well prove to be…

David Cunliffe and Matt McCarten (@katieabradford)

David  and Matt…

Labour’s electoral fortunes suddenly appear to hang on the appointment of an unelected backroom parliamentary official largely unknown by the public. The major political story of the week has been Matt McCarten suddenly becoming David Cunliffe’s right-hand man. Well known within the Wellington beltway and in the wider political sphere, McCarten may well be the leading leftwing activist in the country, but few people know a great deal about him.

For an in-depth introduction to McCarten, it’s well worth going to two sources in particular. The must-watch item is a recently released 22-minute TVNZ documentary on The Life and Politics of Matt McCarten. And the must-read item is Steve Braunias‘ Matt McCarten: Better red than dead. This online Metro feature is an insightful profile published in 2011 when McCarten was dying of cancer. Both items show why McCarten is both loved and loathed amongst the political community, but taken incredibly seriously by all. For a visual representation of both the past and contemporary politics of McCarten, see my blogpost of cartoons and photographs, Images of Matt McCarten.
What sort of Game Changer?
The big question being asked by all political commentators is whether the appointment of McCarten is a ‘game changer’ for Cunliffe and the Labour Party. Few seem to think that the appointment will have no impact on Labour’s fortunes. In fact, there’s almost a consensus that his appointment is indeed a ‘game changer’, but opinions differ over exactly how it will change – whether we will see a revival of Labour’s fortunes or major disaster for the party. Those are the two broad scenarios being painted at the moment.

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