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UPDATED: “Disgraced former minister Phil Heatley was repeatedly warned by officials about his ministerial credit card use, new documents reveal. Mr Heatley, 42, quit his fisheries and housing portfolios yesterday after moves by Prime Minister John Key to put his spending under more scrutiny by Auditor-General Lyn Provost…”(Source: Dominion Post, 26th February 2010). Read more
Full text of resignation speech by Minister of Housing and Fisheries Phil Heatley. Read out at a press conference an hour ago.
I have called this media conference today to announce my resignation as Housing Minister, Fisheries Minister and a member in John Key’s Cabinet.
I contacted the Prime Minister this morning to let him know of my plans and he has accepted my resignation.
Firstly, I want to say that it has been a privilege to serve the people of New Zealand as a Cabinet Minister in this National Government, but I believe that I have failed to live up to my own standards and for that I am embarrassed and immensely sorry.
The decision today comes after I had a closer look at my Ministerial Credit Card expenses covering the past 18 months.
As I explained earlier in the week, I was not as familiar as I should have been with the rules; in fact, I was careless. I have apologised and have undertaken to pay back any money wrongly billed.
However, a closer inspection of my accounts has revealed an error in addition to that already in the public arena. On reconciling my accounts I discovered an expenses claim that sits apart from the rest.
I charged two bottles of wine already highlighted this week to my account as food and beverages. There was no food included in this purchase, and I accept this could be viewed as an inaccurate representation of the expense.
But rather than arguing semantics about whether this was deliberately misleading or not, I have decided that this is one step too far and I offered my resignation to the Prime Minister this morning.
Furthermore, today I have submitted my accounts to the Office of the Auditor General to conduct an independent inquiry, and I expect those results will be made public in due course.
I believe this is the right course of action.
I have absolutely no desire to become the focus of a distraction for this Government, which has much to do to grow the economy, invest in jobs and help Kiwis get ahead.
I do intend to remain in Parliament as an advocate for Whangarei, and I want to thank the wonderful people from my electorate who have rung to offer their support.
I also want to thank my wife, Jenny and family for their ongoing support in what have been a tough few days.
Heatley’s Profile on http://www.heatley.co.nz
In the National-led Government, Phil Heatley is:
- Minister of Fisheries
- Minister of Housing
|Phil Heatley is 42 years old and the electorate MP for Whangarei.
He attended Maunu & Whau Valley Primary, Kamo Intermediate and Kamo High Schools in Whangarei.
Being born, raised and educated in Whangarei, he has strong personal ties to the electorate with his own family and extended family all residing there.
In 1990 he completed a Masters with honours degree, majoring in Horticultural Engineering. After finishing his studies he returned to Whangarei to work.
Phil’s personal interests include carpentry, tennis, boating and fishing.
In 1993 both Phil and his wife Jenny, a registered nurse, worked voluntarily with an international relief agency aboard a nine-story, 12,000-ton hospital ship. When in port crew undertook medical, agricultural and construction work in developing countries.
After returning from overseas in 1995, Phil was employed as a Professional Engineer for a NZ Dairy Board subsidiary in Northland. Nationally, Phil was responsible for working on behalf of the dairy industry in relation to the Resource Management Act (1991).
By Mike Treen, National Director, Unite Union
pacificEyeWitness.org takes no responsibility for the views expressed here. They are the writer’s views, his own opinions, and do not necessarily reflect the views of pacificEyeWitness.org or any others on this site.
Roger Douglas has had his bill to reintroduce youth rates drawn for discussion in Parliament. National voted against the effective abolition of youth rates when in opposition. Both claim the abolition of youth rates has lead to higher unemployment for young people. The assertions are not based on fact.
For decades the right wing economists have argued that any increase in the minimum wage will lead to an increase in unemployment. The ACT party is actually opposed to any minimum wage. They use economic models that don’t exist in the real world to justify their claims.
Instead of using a model for an economy that does not exist, we can use the actual changes that have occurred in New Zealand over the last decade.
What is the evidence. When Labour was elected in 1999 the minimum wage for someone under 20 years of age was $4.20 an hour. The adult rate was $7.00. The previous National government had also believed higher minimum wages were bad for business (or at least their business mates) so had only increased it by 87 cents an hour during their 9 years in power.
During the Labour Government’s term the adult minimum wage went from $7 an hour to $12 – an increase of 71%. The youth minimum wage went from $4.20 an hour for everyone from 16-19 years old in 1998 to $9.50 in March 2005 for 18 & 19 year olds and $7.60 for 16 and 17 year olds – an increase of 126% and 81% respectively. The youth rate for 16 and 17 year olds was largely abolished in 2008.
Youth unemployment during that time kept falling to 11.8% by December 2005 – a level not seen since 1987. When Labour lost the election the youth unemployment rate of 17.9% was still below the level when they were elected 9 years before.
A Treasury working paper in 2004 found that a 69 per cent increase in the minimum wage for 18 and 19-year-olds in 2001 and a 41 per cent increase in the minimum wage for 16 and 17-year-olds over a two year period had no adverse effects on youth employment or hours worked. In fact, hours of work increased for 16 and 17-year-olds relative to other age groups.
The Labour Department report to the government on the minimum wage conceded that “Research from overseas suggests that increases in the minimum wage may have a small negative impact on profitability, but find no evidence of in increasing the probability of firm closure.”
Youth unemployment has increased since then along with the general levels of unemployment which are a consequence of an international recession that is a product of corporate greed not workers needs. The current youth unemployment rate of around 25% is a terrible blight on our community – but the same level was reached in the recession of the early 1990s when youth rates existed and the minimum wage for adults was much lower in real terms.
The improvements in the minimum wage under Labour only brought the adult rate back to where it had been in real terms before the major decline under the 1990-99 National Government – about 50% of the average wage.
But the union movement is aiming to raise the minimum to two-thirds of the average wage and Unite Union is supporting an increase to $15 an hour immediately as a step to that goal. This was the level that existed in the 1950s and 60s and as late as 1973 under the Kirk Labour government. This was also the time period when New Zealand had virtually zero unemployment.
Middle East: United Arab Emirates Reaches Out to Pacific Island Nations; Aid Partnerships Programmes LaunchedPosted: February 19, 2010
PRESS RELEASE: UNITED ARAB EMIRATES MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
UAE launches Pacific Islands Partnership Program
50 Million USD to finance education, environment, social and healthcare projects in the South Pacific region
Friday February 19,2010 -Abu Dhabi: Building upon the first visit of United Arab Emirates (UAE) Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the South Pacific region in February 2010, the UAE has today officially launched the ‘Partnership in the Pacific Program’, formally inviting organizations from the South Pacific region to participate.
Discussed with Pacific Island leaders during the recent Ministerial visit, the program seeks to facilitate cooperation between the UAE and Pacific Island nations in the development of sustainable responses to the key social, environmental and broader developmental challenges affecting these countries.
The Program forms part of the UAE’s broader efforts to deepen its relations with the island states. During the five-day tour of the Pacific region that included Tuvalu, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Palau and the Kingdom of Tonga among others, Sheikh Abdullah held meetings with senior government officials and explored the possibility of identifying areas of bilateral cooperation, particularly on developmental issues as well as renewable energy.
The Program announces a 183 million dirham (US$50 million) fund that the UAE has established to finance specific projects and partnerships in the Pacific Islands in key areas, including education, social and health care services, as well as infrastructure and energy issues.
The UAE’s focus on the island grouping is in response to the critical needs of these countries, which are on the front line of the battle against the impacts of climate change. Despite being the lowest contributors to this phenomenon, they are viewed as the most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change.
According to HH Sheikh Abdullah, “This program is consistent with the UAE’s long-standing record of international cooperation and its diverse foreign aid efforts which have been a key pillar of UAE President HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan’s international affairs strategy.”
With an active foreign policy portfolio, HH Sheikh Abdullah continued by saying, “the UAE is committed to developing partnerships and providing solutions to the island states of the South Pacific and is looking forward to closer engagement for meaningful and deeper ties.”
The partnership aims to assist individual countries in their own efforts to address social, economic and environmental issues. In the area of climate change, it seeks to establish a new model for country-to-country and country-to-region cooperation to address the domestic and cross-border impacts of climate change.
The partnership program will be overseen by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and will be managed by the government-owned Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, which has established nearly 200 individual projects in more than 50 countries since 1971.
Beyond financial partnership, the other key elements of the program include facilitating dialogue between key stakeholders; developing research and academic partnerships; as well as developing working mechanisms and capacity-building programs.
A number of other major developments were made during the Minister’s recent visit. For example, in Tonga, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Sheikh Abdullah and the HRH the Crown Prince of Tonga, Taouto’a-Lavaka, that pledged amongst other items to aid the Kingdom of Tonga achieve its 50% renewable energy targets.
During this key visit which marked a turning point for UAE relations with the nations of the South Pacific, His Highness was accompanied by Minister of State Reem Al Hashimy, Dr. Saeed Al Shamsi, the UAE Ambassador to Australia, Assistant Minister for Economic Affairs Khaled al Ghaith, Acting Director-General for Abu Dhabi Fund for Development Mohammed al Suwaidi and Group Vice President of Taqa, Abddulla Khunji, Mohammed Al Khaja from IPIC, as well as other diplomats from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Before anyone points a finger, a reality check is needed. Management issues and problems with staff occur throughout industries and organisations across cultures around the world. So this is not a stand alone example for any group of people. But it is an interesting example of how language can be used to make others feel small, apparently, which is a shame.
Maori Language Commission chief executive Huhana Rokx has resigned after an investigation over concerns about her management style.
The Dominion Post reported in November that a dispute between Ms Rokx and her staff prompted the board to order an investigation.
The independent inquiry, conducted by Sir Wira Gardiner, began after some staff wrote to the board expressing concerns about her management style.
After the investigation, Ms Rokx and the board entered mediation, which was completed last week.
Board chairman Erima Henare said yesterday Ms Rokx had informed the board that it was “timely for her to stand aside to make way for a fresh approach”.
…Papers obtained by The Dominion Post said staff members fluent in Maori used this ability to “show superiority” over their colleagues.
No pretty picture here. Statistics NZ shows the unemployment rate has risen again for Maori and Pacific job seekers. They represent the worst hit groups normally resident in New Zealand. The unemployment rate for Pacific has almost doubled from 7.8 percent unemployment (December 2008) to 14. percent, as at December 2009.
Unemployment among Maori has risen from 9.8 at 15.4 percent. This does not include the figures for European/Maori which is 13.6 percent. Asian unemployment stands at 9.2 percent. The unemployment rate for those who identify as European is 4.6 percent.
MP for Mana Luamanuvao Winnie Laban says the rate should shame the Government into action.“Just over three months ago unemployment rates among Pacific Islanders was 12.3 per cent and we were being promised by the Government it was working to get people back to work, “she says.
The Labour Opposition Spokesperson for Pacific Island Affairs says this latest increase shows their policies are not working. “In just one year, 5000 additional Pacific Island people have lost their jobs. Pacific Island people, who are overrepresented in lower paid jobs, were also bitterly disappointed at the miserly rise in minimum wage announced last month.”
Luamanuvao says many in the Pacific community are saying they are disappointed with a lack of action from the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Georgina Te Heuheu.
Te Heuheu, who is the second Maori woman to gain election to the National Party, is widely criticised within the Pacific community for her lack of action on Pacific issues.
Luamanuvao on Te Heuheu:
“She is virtually invisible in the portfolio and offering no support or ideas. I am deeply saddened that the Government is failing so many families and that the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs has sat back and done nothing.”
NZ Pacific Affairs Minister Georgina Te Heuheu(right), during a visit to Samoa with the Prime Minister John Key(next to her) and Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples (left), July 7, 2009 in Apia, Samoa.
Opposition Leader Phil Goff says unemployment in New Zealand is now at the highest level it has been in 16 years and is growing at the highest rate in a decade.
“168,000 Kiwis are now unemployed. The total number of jobless is more than 275,000,” says the Labour Leader.
“The Government’s stimulus package has produced just 2300 jobs. That is a lot less than the 3500 people who queued for hours last month for the chance to grab just 150 jobs at a new South Auckland supermarket.”
Goff, who is highly critical of Prime Minister John Key’s Job Summit for producing few results to help those who need it the most, says more and more people are struggling to make ends meet, with the young, the less well off, Maori and Pacific communities and other ethnic groups especially hard hit.
|Source: Statistics NZ
Single/combination unemployment rate (unadjusted) by ethnic group
|Pacific peoples only||7.8||14.0|
|‘Other ethnicity’ only||4.1||3.3|
|Two or more groups not elsewhere included||6.5||14.1|
|Note: MELAA = Middle Eastern/Latin American/African|
National Director, Unite Union
Unite Organising Centre
6a Western Springs Rd,
Kingsland, Auckland, 1021
The 25c an hour increase in the minimum wage is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of people struggling to survive on the low wages paid in New Zealand.
The Unite Union petition and opinion polls show that New Zealanders overwhelmingly favour a lift in the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour.
What people are saying is that everyone deserves a fair go – and $12.75 an hour doesn’t cut it.
The government claims it can’t do more until there has been a recovery in the economy. But the question is a recovery for whom?
This economic crisis was brought about by greed and excess on a colossal scale worldwide. In New Zealand we saw deregulation, privatisation, exploding corporate salaries, bonuses and dividends.
We also know that real wages for the vast majority in New Zealand have declined over the last few decades while productivity has gone up 80%.
This has meant a 10% shift in the share of the economy going from wages to corporate profits – equalling $18 billion a year.
If the government keeps holding down real wages through inaction on the minimum wage trying to freeze wages for government workers, then the recovery will bypass the big majority of working people again.
|"The government throwing 25 cents to minimum wage workers is a cheap shot" said Campaign for a Living Wage organiser Joe Carolan.
This is barely 2% of nothing, and will be well below real inflation when his government raises GST in the budget."
"Low paid workers are sick of being insulted by millionaires like John Key. We’ll be initiating for action on the back of this slap on the face, and there’ll be a loud and angry protest this afternoon at 5pm at Auckland’s Chamber of Commerce on Mayoral Drive".
"What workers need is a living wage- we’ve been pushing for $15 an hour now, and for the minimum wage to be set at 66% of the median wage. Tens of thousands of people have signed our petition for a Citizens Initiated Referendum, but John Key has infuriated the half million workers earning less than 600 bucks with this derisory pittance".
CAMPAIGN FOR A LIVING WAGE
MORE INFO ON THE LIVING WAGE CAMPAIGN-
video explaining the Living Wage campaign
27 January 2010
Minimum wage rise ‘miserable’
The Government’s miniscule lift to the minimum wage will immediately be swallowed up by rising living costs, Labour spokesperson on labour issues Trevor Mallard says.
The Government today announced the lowest possible rise to the minimum wage – up 25 cents to $12.75.
“This is miserable decision by the Government,” Trevor Mallard said.
“The increase – at 2 per cent, barely keeps pace with inflation, which is also running at 2 per cent. And when you factor in planned ACC workers’ levy rises it is a decrease in real terms.
“So much for catching up with Australia.
“John Key and National say they want Kiwis to earn more and that their policies will see New Zealand closing the gap with Australia.
“Well, actions speak louder than words and this action shows he is turning his back on our lowest paid.
“It also shows he is out of step with the majority of Kiwis — two thirds of whom supported a $15 an hour minimum wage in a survey last week.
Mr Mallard said Labour would push for the minimum wage to rise to $15 over two years.
“I am drafting a members’ bill which will provide that the minimum wage be raised to $13.75 per hour from 31 March, 2010 and then raised to $15 per hour on 31 March, 2011.
“If the Bill is not drawn from the ballot by 31 March this year, then I will resubmit it so that it takes effect from 31 March 2011 at the $15 rate.
Mr Mallard said there were strong equity and labour productivity arguments for increasing the minimum wage – including the spur it provides employers to boost investment in training, technology and plant.
“Recent research including a major literature review in Australia has also raised serious questions about assertions that minimum wage increases lead to job losses.
“The Government has been telling us for some time now that the recession is over.
“Raising the minimum wage to $12.75 means that for our most vulnerable workers that is certainly not the case,” Mr Mallard said.
// Most of the jobs were offering low pay and many had unsociable hours, but the applicants turned up in their thousands.
The 2500 people who yesterday waited up to seven hours to apply for one of 150 jobs at a new South Auckland supermarket showed competition is fierce when options are few and unemployment is high.
The line of Countdown job-seekers extended hundreds of metres around a Manukau warehouse being used as a makeshift interview suite.
At the end was a 15-minute sit-down with one of up to 40 interviewers. At stake were a variety of positions, from “trolley boys” and “checkout chicks” to butchery, delicatessen, produce and managerial roles.