Saturday, October 3, 2009

"NZ Is A Nation Of Drunks"

Or so goes the headline in a statement issued by ADAC ltd. The quote is allegedly attributed to the mayor of Auckland John Banks after the council failed in its efforts to make most suburban bars close by midnight.

"NZ is a nation of drunks", says Auckland's mayor, John Banks after withdrawing proposed bylaw changes which would have compelled most suburban bars to close by midnight.

Roger Brooking, spokesperson for ADAC said that he was reluctant to agree with John Banks about anything but on this occasion had to agree that Mr Banks was right. Mr Banks acknowledged that the proposed bylaw closing Auckland bars at 11pm was a policy blunder but it does not hide the fact that New Zealand has become a drunken nation.

Elated publicans said the proposed law change was unworkable and would have sent some broke. Mr Banks said that liquor bylaws would never deal with abuse. He was unsure the wider community was serious about the problem.

"New Zealand incorporated is quite a drunken community," he said. "The abuse of alcohol is endemic and the cost is appalling, consequently the education process is not working." It was crazy that people could end up with 10 drink-driving convictions and not be jailed, he said. "Are we serious about alcohol abuse? The answer is no, definitely no."

Perpetuating drink driving

Mr Brooking agreed that New Zealand was not serious about the way it deals with alcohol abuse and with drink drivers in particular. "The New Zealand system actually facilitates repeat drink driving by allowing 95% of all drink drivers to get their drivers licence back without attending an assessment or treatment for their drinking problem. We also impose totally adequate sanctions on drink drivers," he said. Currently the maximum sentence for stealing a car is seven years while the maximum for killing someone while drink driving is only five years.

"That's just ridiculous" said Mr Brooking. "It seems to demonstrate that New Zealanders value their cars more than they value human life."

We have to agree with him on that. Some evidence on how deep rooted the problem really is:

One of the South Island's top transport officials and anti-drink-driving campaigners is Dennis Frank Robertson who quit his job after he was convicted of drink-driving in Christchurch earlier this year. To add insult to injury he is/was chairman of the New Zealand Roadshow Trust, which promotes road safety with programmes in schools. Great example to set kids mate.

Mr Robertson put his finger on tackling the problem as far back as 2003 when he told The Press the answer to reducing alcohol on the roads was simple New Zealanders had to change their attitude.

"That is what challenging the New Zealand psyche is all about. The solution is in our heads and we have got to get over the fact that we think it's someone else's problem," he said.

We can't get over it either.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Turangi Campervan Robbery - Family Robbed

Both the Herald and TV3 are carrying reports about a family who were robbed whilst sleeping in their campervan near Turangi around 1.30am this morning.

The family of five, comprised of two parents and children aged 10, 13 and a girl of 17. There was also a 17 year old male travelling with the group. They were said to be deeply upset by the incident, but fortunately no one was hurt.

The group was camping in a layby known as the Three Sisters, near the Oturere Stream, State Highway 1, which is approximately 25km south of Turangi.

News reports the following day named the parents as Glenn and Rhonda Moulden from Pukekohe.

The incident is bound to rekindle the debate over the safety of free camping in New Zealand.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Taupo Council Passes Anti-1080 Resolution

At last, a council strong enough and with the courage to take on the mighty 1080 machine within New Zealand. Taupo District Council have passed a resolution calling for a sustainable alternative to the highly toxic pesticide 1080 (chemical name sodium fluoroacetate) and for all aerial dropping to cease:
That the Taupo District Council, in accordance with the Section 10b of the Local Government Act 2002, advocate with central government and appropriate agencies, viz:

a. To develop a sustainable alternative possum eradication and trapping programme.

b. For the abolition of all aerial dropping of 1080 poison forthwith.

In their press release the council said

"Taupo District Council will advocate to central government to stop the aerial dropping of 1080 forthwith and to find a sustainable alternative to the use of 1080 poison to eradicate possums.

The vote was close but the resolution was greeted with applause from the small crowd present at Wednesday’s (30th September) SPO council meeting.

The decision* has been awaited with interest with attendance at recent meetings in Turangi and Taupo drawing people from far and wide. Today’s meeting was accompanied by a small but vocal group of anti-1080 protestors with placards on Lake Terrace.

Mayor Rick Cooper stressed it was the method of delivery which caused him the most concern “we need to stop the aerial bombardment by helicopters dumping 1080 indiscriminately over large tracts of land. This method is uncontrolled and the risk to the environment and our waterways is too great – we understand 1080 will be used until the powers find and fund a more sustainable method of eradicating possums but aerial dropping must be stopped forthwith.” He said the Council are very grateful to all of those who have taken the time to present their views and arguments to Council which has allowed Council to make a very well informed decision.

Clr Don Ormsby - Chairman of the TT CBD who put the motion to the vote says “It is good to see that the commitment of a small but passionate community can make a difference and I would like to congratulate the Taupo District Council for listening to its communities and taking this bold stand. I know people who have been trying to do something about 1080 for forty years and if we don’t stand up for them who will?”

The debate on the aerial dropping of 1080 was triggered by the Turangi-Tongariro Community Board which was reacting to concerns from their community about the indiscriminate dropping of 1080 poison baits to eradicate possums. Clr Gary Keepa said there is clear evidence of indiscriminate dropping of 1080 in the Turangi area which he was against."

Council tasked Clr Ormsby to take the lead on this issue and stipulated that there should be no undue burden of cost to the ratepayers."

Good for them we say, we hope more councils follow their lead and put an end to the widespread use of this toxin within New Zealand.

See also "Dept of Conservation and the 1080 Fraud": Link

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dairy Giant's Calves Starve To Death

From a report on the site by Bernard Hickey. Some people may find this video disturbing

"The video shows dozens of calves starving to death at Crafar Farms' Benneydale property between Tokoroa and Te Kuiti earlier this month. Poor management and the pressures of massive debts obtained during rapid expansion meant this farm was so poorly managed that none of the staff trained calves to drink milk, allowing them to die of dehydration in a muddy pen.

MAF's inspectors were called in to this farm many times yet it was allowed to keep operating. Days after this video was taken MAF inspectors visited the property and destroyed many of the calves, yet has said this was just a management issue and not worthy of prosecution.

Farm owner Allan Crafar was on the Fonterra Shareholders council for 6 years, while Westpac, Rabobank and PGG Wrightson Finance lent Crafar Farms around NZ$200 million to buy more than 20 such factory farms despite numerous prosecutions for dirty dairying. Crafar Farms is now trying to sell its farms because it cannot service its debts, which are now worth more than the land."


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