• Fix Political Donations
    Recent scandals have once again brought our loose electoral finance laws to light. The current rules around campaign finance are allowing anonymous donations to hide motives and influences. Our democracy should be transparent and open, we should know who is bankrolling our representatives, and who they are listening to. In New Zealand there are no limits on the amount anyone can give to a political party (this is uncommon internationally). It’s only if your donation is over $15,000 do you even have to be named. That has lead to a lot of shifty accounting. Last year it was reported that four out of every five dollars donated to big parties is in secret. That is tens of millions of dollars in anonymous donations funding our politics. There are three ‘quick fixes’ that would address the worst abuses of our electoral funding system until we can work out a more long term solution. All donations over $1500 should be declared and the donors named. Loopholes that allow fundraising through trusts, diners, and charity auctions to remain anonymous should be closed. Donations should be publicly disclosed in real time, to allow greater and immediate scrutiny. Introducing those changes would have an immediate impact on the transparency of our political system, allowing much greater scrutiny of who has influence of the politicians elected to represent us. Why not just make all donations public? There are good reasons some people can’t make their political beliefs public, like family pressure or sensitive employers. But when anonymity is used to hide motives and influence bought through major donations, it becomes a problem. A $1500 threshold would be a balance. There should be a complete rethink of the way our politics is funded to make sure it’s fitting of the society we want, and there are some exciting ideas of how that would look. But these quick fixes are a first step towards a fairer system.
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  • Fair Council Representation for Mount Roskill
    There is currently a representation review which occurs every six years to set up the wards which elect local councillors for Auckland City. A working party of four councillors and four local board members has been working through a consultation process and will be putting up a final proposal to the council governing body on 19 October. The proposal being put forward will make the Albert-Eden-Roskill ward population of 177,800 the highest of any ward. This is far too big a population for effective representation. Councillors are more accessible and accountable when representing manageable populations. and can focus on our particular issues. The number of events that those councillors are expected to attend are reduced with a smaller population and they can focus on more local issues. At present Auckland has seven wards which elect two councillors each and six (Waitemata and Gulf, Orakei, Maungakiekie-Tamaki, Whau, Rodney and Franklin) one each. The present situation gives some wards two to two and and half times as many people as others. The cost (in time and/or money) to candidates seeking to reach these numbers is much higher than for those contesting single member wards. This is likely to limit the numbers willing to stand in those wards. If the governing body accept the new Working Party proposal with 177,800 people in the Albert-Eden-Roskill (or Albert Eden Puketapapa ) it will be a decision that results in less effective representation for our neighbourhood. The Local Government Commission will make the final decision in November or December. Please sign to support a representative council for Albert-Eden-Roskill ward. Link: https://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/have-your-say/topics-you-can-have-your-say-on/consultation-on-electoral-boundaries-and-representation/Documents/electoral-review-faq-august-2018.pdf
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  • Tell our politicians to protect your privacy online
    Facebook have announced fifty million Facebook accounts were compromised by hackers, who could have had complete control of your account, and any apps you use Facebook to log in to. This is being described as the worst data breach in Facebook's history. It means fifty million people, including New Zealanders, could have had their messages, private information, Instagram, Tinder and other apps accessed by hackers. That opens you up to fraud, theft, and blackmail. This is the first serious hack of Facebook since the European Union passed new data protection laws, the GDPR. Because of that Facebook had to report the hack within 72 hours and will face extra scrutiny for how they deal with it. If the company is found to have not done enough to protect users, they could be liable for billions of dollars in fines from regulators. They will face few consequences in New Zealand though. Our Privacy Act was written in 1993, and doesn’t have ways to deal with hacks like this. The good thing is the act is finally being modernised, and the MPs deciding what changes to make report back next month. Tell them they should expand protections for your information online. At ActionStation we have advocated for changes to the Privacy Act to include meaningful penalties companies who fail to tell you when they’ve been hacked. We also support other GDPR style regulations that would give you more control over how your data is used. We can’t let this become normal. This hack shows that neither Facebook, or any other corporate whose business model relies on gathering increasing amounts of your private data, can be trusted. If one of the richest companies ever to exist isn’t able to, or isn’t interested in, protecting us from outside attackers, we need to change the way they work. In the past two years we seen have scandal after scandal showing social media platforms, which are run by some of the wealthiest people to ever live, being used to spread misinformation, discourage voter turnout, organise violence and harassment, and having a cavalier attitude to protecting your sensitive information. It's time to change things. Email Raymond Huo (the chair of the Justice Select Committee) now to ask him to protect our privacy.
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  • Divest the NZ DHBs of the responsibility of Nursing 'safe staffing' agreement
    The DHBs have been asked by the Nurses Union NZNO for more money for more nursing staff to safely staff their (the DHB) workplaces (DHB workplaces are public hospitals), for 14 years, and each year since 2004, the DHBs have failed to provide money for more nursing staff to make their workplaces safe for the patients and the nursing staff. When DHB workplaces are unsafely staffed the patients do not receive the care that they require. Essential monitoring of a deteriorating patient gets missed by the nurse because they have too many patients to safely care for, pain medication gets missed, nurses become exhausted and fail to take their meal breaks which compounds an already unsafe situation, and sentinel events (near misses, and serious injury and death to patients due to unsafe staffing) start to occur. However as the DHB hasn't committed to putting Care Capacity Demand Management into place which is NZNO Safe Staffing request, as advocated for by NZNO, the instances of Unsafe Staffing in DHB workplaces are neither recorded nor audited. So NZNO, NZNO Nursing members, DHBs, or the Safe Staffing Healthy Workplaces Unit have no idea how many instances of care rationing have lead to sentinel events for patients being cared for in DHB workplaces. The DHBs have a conflict of interest and at NZNO nurse wage negotiation times, pit one essential requirement of nurses demanding a pay rise versus the nurses essential requirement for more staffing to safely care for our patients. The District Health Boards honour neither requirement, because it is in the District Health Board's interest to save money. This is a conflict of interest and it makes a mockery of the District Health Board acting as a "Good Faith" bargaining partner. This is the possibility of corruption in a government department, and is not acting in “Good Faith” as an employer. We ask that the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation divest all District Health Boards from New Zealand Nursing Organisations 'safe staffing' agreement. Make the 'safe staffing' agreement between New Zealand Nurses Organisation, Ministry Of Health, and Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment. The DHB needs to bargain in good faith on the wages and pay increases for its employees. The DHB could then be held accountable to the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment regarding honouring the government mandate of providing a safe DHB workplace for the staff and patients. Ensure that care capacity demand management requirements are provided for and achieved in the DHB workplace, and are advised upon and enforced by NZNO. Funding for Safe Staffing would be the only responsibility of the Ministry of Health to avoid future conflicts of interest, and regulated by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, and be audited, administered, enforced and staffed by NZNO in the DHB workplace every shift. It is important that an effective government department such as the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, which is bound by the Health and Safety Act 2015, can regulate, administer and enforce laws that protect the patients and staff who work in DHB workplaces. Nursing and Allied Health Staff work in DHB workplaces and provide care for Patients, in the workplace that the DHB provides. The DHB is obliged under the Health and Safety Act 2015 to provide all requirements in their workplaces, to meet Health and Safety standards which include Safe Staffing, specific nurse to patient ratios depending on acuity/comorbidity that are enforced by New Zealand Nurses Organisation 24/7 on site staff who monitor, record, audit, communicate and find staff for unsafely staffed DHB workplaces. NZNO would advise, regulate, enforce, administer and provide staff to monitor DHB workplaces and Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment compliance with safe staffing. There would always be a NZNO staff member available within DHB workplaces 24/7 to monitor compliance of the DHB workplace's nurse to patient ratios and reporting, recording, and enabling provision of one or multiple nursing staff members to work should that be required. Having a stronger and more responsive government Ministry in place will make accountability for safer staffing greater, will minimise care rationing by nurses to patients, and will decrease length of hospital stay for patients, it will provide for better care to the patient and more effective nursing care within a shorter time frame, and will diminish the incidence of serious sentinel events (serious and fatal harm caused to patients due to unsafely staffed DHB workplaces). It will also allow the DHB to act as a bargaining employer of Good Faith, and will restore some transparency, integrity and accountability to the DHB's reputation to deliver upon wage negotiation pay rises for Nursing staff. http://nursingnzme2.wpengine.com/right-staffing-happier-staff-finds-ccdm-research/ http://nursingreview.co.nz/right-nurse-right-place-and-right-time/ http://nursingreview.co.nz/safe-staffing-and-nursing-strikes-a-brief-history/ https://www.nzno.org.nz/get_involved/campaigns/care_point/what_is_ccdm https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/opinion/2018/07/duncan-garner-irony-nurses-finally-get-safe-staffing-levels-during-strike.html
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  • Save Wellington Citizens Advice Bureau!
    Wellington Citizens Advice Bureau provides a free information and advice service to people in need. It helps people know about their rights and responsibilities and the services available in their community. It is there for everyone, about everything. Despite this, Wellington City Council wants to cut its services and leave its citizens without this essential support. Last year Wellington CAB helped over 30,000 people with questions and problems across the range of issues people face in their lives. These include helping with enquiries about emergency accommodation, noisy neighbours, overhanging trees, abandoned vehicles, relationship issues, enquiries about consumer rights, tenancy rights, employment rights, as well as information about local services - the whole range of questions and queries imaginable. It also includes referrals from the City Council and helping people to fill in Council forms! Wellington CAB has had a long-term strategic partnership with Wellington City Council. In spite of this, the Council have, without consultation, made a recommendation to stop funding the Wellington CAB via its long-standing contract for services, and give a one-off six month grant for the CAB to completely redesign its operation, including shutting the doors on its physical premises. The Council have said there is “no guarantee of funding beyond that”. The CAB is core community infrastructure. It is locally responsive, and staffed by dedicated volunteers from the local community. The people who come to the CAB often don’t know where to go, don’t know what assistance is available to them, can’t access information, or are excluded from services. Without the CAB those people will fall through the cracks. Please show your support and save this essential community service.
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  • Sensible Sentencing Trust should not have charitable status
    On March 31, Sensible Sentencing Trust (SST) founder Garth McVicar took to Facebook to congratulate police for fatally shooting a 29-year-old east Auckland man after a police chase. He said: "One less to clog the prisons! Congratulations to the New Zealand Police, our thoughts are with the officer who was forced to take this action to protect the public." McVicar founded SST in 2001 for the purpose of lobbying government for a more punitive justice system that is based more on his ideology than actual evidence. McVicar later stood as a candidate for the Conservative Party. In 2010, SST were stripped of their charitable status because they had become a lobby group rather than a charity. The Charities Commission found that the trust "...had not provided any evidence of how ensuring stricter laws concerning violent crimes will protect human life." To get around this, in 2015, the McVicar family set up the Sensible Sentencing Group Trust (SSGT) which is a seperate organisation that has been granted charitable trust status and all of the tax benefits that come with it. The SSGT Administrator is Anne McVicar. Given the Independent Charities Registration Board's recent decision to deny Greenpeace charitable status because of their "independent purpose to promote its own particular views", it seems correct to independently reassess whether the activities of SSGT are in fact charitable. Please sign and share so that we together we may force a review. *** REFERENCES: https://www.charities.govt.nz/news-and-events/hot-topics/update-on-greenpeace-of-new-zealand-incorporated-from-the-independent-charities-registration-board/ http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?objectid=12024068& https://www.charities.govt.nz/news-and-events/media-releases/sensible-sentencing-group-trust-registration/
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  • Fix Facebook
    It’s been revealed that Cambridge Analytica used tools provided by Facebook to suck up personal information about millions of people, and used it to spread targeted misinformation during the US election. Similarly manipulative tactics were used in the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom. The problems with Facebook don’t end with the manipulation of personal data for political micro-targeting. Facebook’s algorithms are designed to be both addictive - using the insights of neuroscience to keep us scrolling longer - and polarising. Content that outrages us gets more of our attention, and our attention is the product Facebook sells to advertisers. Those same algorithms allow the rapid spread of disinformation and fake news by people who want to disrupt democratic processes. Some people have responded to these problems by deleting their Facebook account or changing their privacy settings. But just as we’ve learned in relation to climate change, individual behaviour change can’t replace effective government regulation. The only long term solution to these problems is government regulation of the mega-companies making massive (and often untaxed) profits from the use of our personal data. Only government action can prevent further breaches of privacy and erosion of our democracy by Facebook, it’s time for the government to step in. Read more here: https://medium.com/actionstation/is-facebook-good-or-bad-for-democracy-de411db3beec
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  • Write "Pākehā" as your ethnicity in the Census
    When it comes to ethnicity, lots of us think of ourselves as Pākehā, rather than the current option for people like us in this month's Census which is "NZ European". Pākehā is a New Zealand word for a New Zealand ethnicity. The origins of the word Pākehā are not that clear but it has been used since the early 1800s by non-Maori New Zealanders to distinguish themselves from Maori New Zealanders. According to the Stats NZ website, an ethnic group is made up of people who have some or all of the following: - a shared culture, such as traditions or ways of doing things, customs, beliefs or language - a common ancestry or history - a similar geographic, tribal or clan origin. Stats NZ says ethnicity is the group that we identify with or feel we belong to. For people like us, "Pākehā" seems to fit the bill far better than NZ European. Of course, if people prefer "NZ European", they will have that option. There used to be an option "NZ European or Pākehā" in the 1996 Census but it was removed, apparently because some people objected to the word Pākehā in the option (even though it also said NZ European). We want the "Pākehā" option back and will petition Statistics NZ for this but it is too late for them to change this Census. If enough of us write in "Pākehā" in this Census, it will go along way to persuading Stats NZ to offer this option next time, either on its own, "Pākehā", or as part of "NZ European or Pākehā".
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  • Remove Official Language barriers towards political participation in NZ by 2020
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YoNWym2Lus NZ's official languages are not being utilised enough during Elections and within political party and campaign groups. Not for profit organisations and volunteer groups are having to beg for volunteers or use their own limited funding to cover the cost of NZSL/Te Reo Interpreters at Meet the Candidates events around the country. This is unreasonable to expect NZSL Interpreters to give up their time to volunteer when they need to pay rent, rates, mortgages etc too. This puts Deaf and Hard of Hearing voters/candidates in a position of having limited means of communication to ask questions or give presentations at these events. TVNZ refusing to make available NZSL Interpreters on our state broadcasters Television Election Debates is a prime example of electoral prejudice against voters who depend on an official language to fully participate in a democratic progress. Deaf/Hard of Hearing members need NZSL interpreter and communication support funding that allows them to fully participate within their chosen political party/campaign group throughout the year. We request the Speaker of the House to set aside funding to allow full political party/group participation in an accessible democracy society. Lets make Elections barrier-free for our official languages by 2020.
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  • Stop the industrial water consents!
    In 2016, some private business owners (including industrial horticulturalists) began applying to Northland Regional Council (NRC) for resource consents to extract water from our aquifer in Te Hiku.[1,2,3] Together known as the Motutangi-Waiharara Water Users Group (MWWUG) they have applied to pump up to 2-million-cubic-metres a year from the Aupouri aquifer, north of Kaitaia. By 'limited' notification on 27 October 2017, NRC announced it was considering these applications. The scale and the ramifications of the proposal from the MWWUG greatly concerns those of us who have been attempting to protect our underground water supply for several decades. We are very concerned that consent decisions will be based largely on financial and profit-making concerns, and fail to give proper regard to important environmental, social and cultural values of this community resource. The industrial avocado industry has been described as a ‘gold rush’, with the perception that NRC allocates water rights on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis. Such an approach is incompatible with the required “sustainable” management of our precious freshwater resources. Expert peer reviewed hydrology advice says the overall take could lower water tables in some areas on the peninsula by about 2 metres at peak times, and that in turn could affect existing bores and wells.[4] The Northland Environmental Protection Society president Fiona Furrell has said there was insufficient data or monitoring of the aquifer, to allow much more than guesswork on the likely effects of the water-take. She said the greatest danger was salination as the aquifer came under pressure, which would ruin Aupouri's many tiny lakes and wetlands.[5] NRC’s MWWUG aquifer resource consent decision-making process so far has demonstrably failed to meet its good governance and decision-making obligations, especially with respect to tangata whenua/whānau, hapū and iwi. We call on NRC to STOP this consents process unless and until all affected ratepayers, tangata whenua and wider community have had the meaningful opportunity to effectively participate in proper, good faith consultation with NRC about these applications - including comprehensive, transparent engagement about the full effects and implications of the proposed freshwater extraction for (1) our natural environment, (2) our human rights to access safe drinking water, and (3) community well-being. We also call on all responsible authorities, elected officials, business and industry and wider civil society to actively support and encourage NRC to do what's right to protect our aquifer, our human rights to water and democratic decision-making. We are in an age of unprecedented and converging climate, economic, geo-political and other crises which threaten habitat collapse, societal implosion and humanity's very existence. Without water, there is no Life. Therefore, Aotearoa must build local resilience. To achieve this, we must restore and protect our freshwater ways and systems which are under relentless exploitation pressure from business and industry, and in steep decline. All responsible authorities are also obliged to uphold their legal and moral obligations to its citizens and to the natural environment - under Te Tiriti o Waitangi 1840, the Local Government Act 2002, Resource Management Act 1991, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples 2007 and other internationally recognized standards. For more campaign information, see: ♣ Our "Aquifer Protection Action!" page at https://www.catherinemikenn.com/copy-of-community-action; and ♣ Our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1105337399603221/ References: 1 - Limited Notification - Motutangi-Waiharara Water Users Group (MWWUG) https://www.nrc.govt.nz/Consents/Notified-resource-consents/limited-notification-motutangi-waiharara-water-users-group-mwwug/ 2 - Water use worries http://www2.nzherald.co.nz/northland-age/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503399&objectid=11947026 3, 4, 5 - Water worries as avocado industry spreads to Far North https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/country/343325/water-worries-as-avocado-industry-spreads-to-far-north
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  • Taihoa on the water bottling plant planned for Murupara
    New Zealand Aquifer, a private company trading as Murupara No 1 and Murupara No 2, in partnership with Te Runanga o Ngati Manawa and an as yet unknown foreign investor is proposing to construct a water-bottling plant in Murupara which would extract up to 18 million litres per day.[1] The creation and expansion of a water export industry on Murupara could have severe and wide-reaching consequences for the management of this critically important public resource. The petitioners ask that the Whakatane District Council cast a wide net to engage the community and the iwi in consultation and to conduct an environmental impact study prior to approving any water consent. There has been no meaningful consultation done with whanau and hapu of Murupara, many of whom have real concerns about this proposal. The company behind the project has a record of failed projects and it’s claims of ‘no impact’ is not realistic with such huge amounts of water being taken. The claims of 500 new jobs also seem exaggerated.[2,3] We ask the Murupara Community Board to resource a community-wide consultation to provide a means by which local residents can contribute to and influence the discussion about this proposed venture. Please support the Murupara community’s urgent request for full transparency and engagement to achieve the best outcome for our pure water source. 1 - Plans to build NZ's biggest water-bottling plant http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/new-zealand/2017/11/plans-to-build-nz-s-biggest-water-bottling-plant.html 2- Missing history in bottling bonanza reports http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/mediawatch/audio/2018622593/missing-history-in-bottling-bonanza-reports 3 - Ashburton council reneges on controversial water bottling deal http://www2.nzherald.co.nz/the-country/news/article.cfm?c_id=16&objectid=11672314 4 - Director of water bottling plant has yet another attempt http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/news/national/director-of-water-bottling-plant-has-yet-another-attempt/
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  • AA New Zealand - improve representation of members and all road users
    It's really important that New Zealand's largest non-government democratic organisation reflects the diversity of the membership. The AA has more than 1.4 million members throughout New Zealand, and yet the present Board is 100% male.[1] While the National Council is elected from active members, the organisation should be doing much more to encourage members belonging to groups under-represented on the National Council and Board - particularly women, Maori and members of other ethnic and cultural groups, people with disabilities and younger people. This lack of representation means the needs of its membership are not truly being met and the organisation is not meeting its full potential. AA is an important institution in New Zealand, a powerful lobby group with a long history and huge potential to do good for the country. In advocating for a better and safer driving environment for New Zealanders it is crucial it is talking to all its members. The priorities of the organisation need to be guided by the needs of all communities - and people with more diverse backgrounds at the governance will level create better outcomes for members and the country as a whole.[2] 1 - http://www.aa.co.nz/about/the-aa/governance/board/ 2 - https://diversityworksnz.org.nz/benefits-of-diversity/
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