With the election looming, now would be a good time to find out what the issues are facing New Zealand. A good place to start would be our Critical Issues Collection from Bridget Williams Books.
First off before you vote for a new Prime Minister (technically we didn’t vote for Bill at the last election) you may want to read The 9th Floor: Conversations with Five New Zealand Prime Ministers. Based on the acclaimed RNZ podcast series, and including new material, The 9th Floor by journalists Guyon Espiner and Tim Watkin presents in-depth interviews with five former Prime Ministers of New Zealand. Geoffrey Palmer, Mike Moore, Jim Bolger, Jenny Shipley, and Helen Clark reflect on their time occupying the prime ministerial offices on the 9th floor of the Beehive. Their recollections are a fascinating record of the decisions that shaped modern New Zealand.
After reading this about some of New Zealand’s Prime Ministers, you then have the option of reading about some of the other top issues in the upcoming election. The Critical Issues Collection has tackled all the major topics including the environment, child poverty, housing, immigration, health and the economy.
Christchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.
Ethical supply chains is an important issue in today’s consumption-driven world (and related to the last episode Human Trafficking). To debate the issue, Sally is joined in the studio by Jeff Ward (Liminal Apparel) and Natalie Baird (Christchurch Trade Aid and University of Canterbury) with David Capperauld (Child Labor Free) on the phone. Talking points include –
consumer habits in today’s society (people want things cheap and fast)
Part I: Paul Dalziel
Budget 2017 in its economic context; key elements of Budget 2017; putting Budget in layperson’s terms
Part II: Helen Leahy
Budget 2017 and its implications for whānau; family vulnerability and resilience
Part III: Discussion
Government-civil society partnerships and the importance of holistic approaches to family wellbeing; pros and cons of statistics-based funding models; prioritising economic growth against other types of growth
Yet another Kiwi icon passes. But his legend will live on.
John Clarke is someone many of us remember. For me it was as Fred Dagg, singing the immortal song “If it weren’t for your gumboots” played on National Radio storytime. For others it was his incredible skits on farming life and economics.
In later life in Australia, Clarke tried to shed the Fred Dagg persona. He made an indelible mark there with his scathing and incredibly intelligent political satire.
Christchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from New Zealand’s only specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.
This episode discusses issues around the UN climate change conference, the “Conference of Parties” or COP 22 which is underway in Marrakech and questions whether it’s an effective way of combatting climate change. Also discussed are –
scientific and political understandings of the realities of climate change
History of COP especially COP-3 (Kyoto), COP-15 (Copenhagen) and COP-21 (Paris)
The Paris Agreement – What? Why? How has it been received?; the Agreement as enabler for grassroots environmental advocacy
New Zealand’s climate record
The panel for this show includes host Sally Carlton, Hamish Laing, Jeff Willis and Pubudu Senanayake.
When it comes to city-building and urban planning people in Christchurch have more to say about this than they ever have. We’re at a crucial point in our recovery where most of the old that will go has and we’re getting a clearer and clearer idea of what the new will actually be like. It’s an in-between place, a liminal place, and not necessarily a comfortable place.
So picking the brains of experts in the field of governance, sustainability and city planning seems like a good idea. Sure, we might all have opinions about how to make a city that offers a better life for its inhabitants but they’re not necessarily well informed ones. What do the experts think?
On the panel for this session were French experts Marie-Anne Gobert of Lyon, Cécile Maisonneuve of Paris, Mark Todd of Auckland property development company (and literary prize sponsors) Ockham, and former Christchurch resident (who now lives in Sydney) Barnaby Bennett.
Radio New Zealand presenter Kim Hill had what turned out to be a reasonably challenging job, in keeping the discussion moving along, correctly interpreting the French accents, and managing the audience input – tasks she undertook with her characteristic gentle belligerence.
Speaking of the audience, this was bar far the most vocal crowd I’ve been part of in the festival so far. Christchurch people are, generally speaking, fairly undemonstrative in these kinds of events but this topic generated much spontaneous clapping (mainly when Central Government was pinned as having failed in some respect) and vocal affirmations of the “hear, hear” variety.
I guess when an author is discussing their work we’re happy to sit and listen, but we are all, to some extent or other, experts in our own city and people attending this session obviously have a reasonable level of engagement with the subject matter.
The main points that stuck out for me were –
Local authorities need to be willing to take risks and to experiment, to try small-scale pilots of things to learn if they work and then be scaled up if successful. Failure, particuarly when small, fast and comparatively inexpensive aren’t cause for shame or embarrassment, they’re a crucial way to learn what works and what doesn’t.
Good public transportation is vital.
Engagement with communities needs to be iterative.
Stratification of the rich and poor is really bad for cities and the people who live in them
Public-private partnerships can work if the terms are clearly defined
The question and answer session at the end was unfortunately rather overshadowed by a gentleman (I use the term loosely) from Southland who ranted on and on and even with prodding from Kim Hill simply refused to get to the point, prompting her to ask –
I appreciate this dystopian polemic, sir…but is there a question?
The crowd was actively booing him and telling him to shut up at this point and by the time he insulted Barnaby Bennett’s dress sense, he’d lost pretty much everyone. It was the most extraordinary thing I’ve ever seen at a literary festival.
Out Of The Mountains focuses on how and why the future of guerrilla warfare, terrorism and insurgency will be carried out in dense urban environments, as opposed to the familiar practice of carrying out rebellions in jungle, mountainous or rural settings.
While this might all sound a bit Rambo and militaristic, David Kilcullen’s observations aren’t just borne out of his extensive knowledge and experience within conflict zones, but also his research into demography and economics which reveal global “mega-trends”.
These mega-trends are grand global changes such as rapid population growth, population density, accelerated urbanization, increasing interconnectedness, and littoralization (the tendancy for societies to cluster on coastlines). All of which exacerbate the challenges already faced by humanity …
Kilcullen argues that, despite wars BETWEEN countries declining, conflict WITHIN countries is on the increase. He says mega-trends intensify pre-existing hostilities, which involve ethno-sectarian loyalties and identities, as well as the countless and ever-fermenting ideological and religious struggles.
In addition, he argues these mega-trend environments become even more complex and volatile when you add other forces into the mix – such as climate change.
These issues are often outside of government control, especially when many countries are already unstable and corrupt, with large populations trying to scratch a living on low incomes (despite the burgeoning middle classes in emerging economies like the BRICS group).
So, the world’s mega-city future will probably feature a series of simmering geographic quagmires which render pre-existing national security and foreign policy doctrines quite useless. Some of what governments have learned over the decades will possibly be disregarded as they have to adapt to these new trends.
Being a New Zealander I don’t usually endorse anything which comes out of Australia, except maybe Home and Away or James Boag’s beer (Definitely not Tony Abbot’s Speedo clad aquatic heroics). But Australian David Kilcullen is a mastermind on counter-insurgency and military strategy. He was senior counter-insurgency adviser to General David Petraeus in Iraq, and the NATO security force in Afghanistan. That – along with his writing style – makes this book a very engaging read which illuminates complex subjects and makes them more understandable for people like me. His forecasting of the future is convincing.
This book makes a great companion to George Friedman’s Flashpoints, which also looks at the future of conflict and resource related issues.
There are people with money, who know what to do with money and think about money. I am not one of them. My foolishness started early. “I will go to university and get a degree in history not accounting”, I said at 18. My student loan will have 9% interest from the minute I borrow, but I was not concerned as they told me that with my degree I would be making more money. Did I think to query this advice? No. At 28 I was still poor despite my education but was told what you need is a post graduate qualification to get ahead in your career. Did I think to query this advice? No. Two and a half years later I completed by distance my Masters. The investment in my education came to $55,000 according to IRD which took over 20 years to pay back and I am still no richer. So where did it all go wrong? Did I invest badly? Did I heed the wrong advice? So far yes on both counts. My own advice? Never doubt it is all about the bottom line. Being broke all the times loses its charm quickly. To learn about this bottom line we have:
Both these eResources are available from home or in libraries for you to learn about money, business, finance and investment. The Financial Times (sober reporting) will tell you of events and the Economist (loud opinions) will help you interpret and learn from that event. The two archives are cross searchable via Gale NewsVault making comparisons and carrying out research easier. Delve into these two and learn from my mistakes!