What’s Cooking in Our Hospital Kitchens?

What’s cooking in our hospital kitchens? Not much if Compass Group has anything to do with it.

Compass Group has convinced the now-disbanded crown entity, Health Benefits Ltd, that outsourcing hospital food services to them nationwide will result in substantial savings for inadequately funded District Health Boards. Health Benefits Ltd in turn put pressure on District Health Boards to outsource to Compass Group. And apparently charged them for the privilege of doing so. For example Southern District Health Board will have to pay $230,000 towards the cost of developing the proposal even if it decides not to outsource. Continue reading

GST Is Past Its Use By Date

GST was first introduced in 1986. Most workplaces used typewriters. Businesses were coming to grips with the fax machine. EFTPOS was still in its trial phase.

There was no internet in New Zealand. Share trading and currency speculation were not a significant feature of the economy. Personal overseas shopping had to be done in person, overseas.

Three decades on GST is no match for the global marketplace that is now accessible to everyone with a PC and an internet connection. No amount of tinkering will change that. Continue reading

Mass Surveillance – Our 13c Worth

It is estimated that the total annual surveillance budget for Five Eyes is $120 billion. Five Eyes is the intelligence operation New Zealand, Australia, Britain, Canada, and the US has teamed up on. It apparently costs 13c (US) a day for surveillance costs per internet user.

By comparison, Oxfam calculate that it would take around $60 billion per year to eliminate extreme poverty worldwide. Continue reading

Should the Left Take One for the Team in Northland?

According to recent polls, Winston Peters has an odds on chance to take Northland from National. Labour and Mana are sadly well off the pace, though both are fielding excellent candidates.

If New Zealand First were to win Northland, that would given them 12 MPs. National would go down to 59. Crunching the numbers, that means that all opposition parties apart from ACT combined would have 61 votes, to National and ACT’s 60. Continue reading

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Charade

The Trans-Pacific is a corporate raid. It’s about stealing our sovereignty and killing democracy. Investor-state dispute settlement provisions mean that when big corporates tell us to jump, the only thing we will be able to do is ask “how high?”

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative have confirmed that negotiators from the 12 participating countries will meet in Hawaii from March 9 to 15 to try to wrap up the Trans-Pacific free trade agreement. We can’t let that happen.

Time to dust off the banners and take to the streets again on March 7th to try to get the message across to New Zealanders and the New Zealand government that this agreement is a crock and we should have no part of it. There will be marches in 22 towns and cities across New Zealand. Similar actions are happening in the other 11 participating countries. Continue reading

Sky City; Walk Away Or Run?

Sky City doesn’t need any government help. This week they announced revenue of over $500 million and a half year profit of just over $66 million.

There can be no justification for handing over any taxpayers money to Sky City, certainly not over $100 million of it. Sky City can well afford to build whatever it wants to out of its own operating profits. They’ve already been gifted a piece of public land in downtown Auckland to build the convention centre. Not to mention a 27-year extension to its licence and the right to have an extra 230 pokies and up to 52 more gaming tables. The government has been generous to a fault – at our expense. Continue reading

No One Wants You to Look the Other Way, John

Our Prime Minister defended sending New Zealand troops to Iraq to join the fight against Islamic State, in his speech at the Waitangi Marae. Mr Key attacked his critics, saying that by opposing sending New Zealand troops they are asking him to stand by and do nothing. To use his own words, “to look the other way when people are being beheaded by kids, burned by kids, and thrown off buildings.”

He’s got that wrong. No one wants him, or New Zealand, to look the other way. What we don’t want is New Zealand trotting along behind yet another US led offensive. US forays into Middle Eastern disputes in the past two decades have been spectacularly unsuccessful. Continue reading