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The BulletinApril 24, 2019

The Bulletin: Tensions loom over ANZAC Day


Good morning, and welcome to The Bulletin. In today’s edition: Tensions loom over tomorrow’s ANZAC Day services, government coming up short on police recruitment, and attachment orders against beneficiaries blow out.

ANZAC Day will dawn tomorrow amid tensions over how the day should be celebrated, what it means, and who is included. It is taking place in the context of the aftermath of the Christchurch attacks, but that is only part of the story.

Many dozens of services in Auckland have been cancelled, with fears that they could not be properly protected in a heightened security environment. As Stuff reports, 186 ANZAC services will still be going on (the RSA has a list here) and it is understood that few services outside of Auckland have been cancelled. However, as former MP and Territorial soldier Heather Roy wrote earlier in the month, the cancellations were “distressing and abhorrent,” and said said it was “offensive that “security concerns” can dictate the way in which we honour and remember the fallen.”

There have been other controversies, such as the violent threats made about a plan to include a prayer from the Koran in one service. Paul Little wrote an excellent commentary about what the incident showed in the NZ Herald, saying it was notable how quickly the rhetoric of ‘they are us’ was turned completely around. Never mind that New Zealand soldiers have fought alongside Muslims for more than a century, and it might have been a kind gesture to acknowledge the loss of fifty lives just over a month ago.

International tensions also hang over the day, with the country of Turkey a major part of that. President Erdogan famously showed video of the Christchurch attacks, and harked back to the ANZACs in the process. ANZACs were after all invaders against the Ottoman Empire, and modern Turkey was formed in the aftermath of Gallipoli. But the comments shocked many New Zealanders, because of the previously friendly relationship between New Zealand and Turkey regarding ANZAC Day. Incidentally on that subject, journalist James Robins argued recently in the Guardian that the friendliness between NZ and Turkey was partly a reflection of this country’s complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, which took place in the immediate aftermath of the Gallipoli invasion.

Apart from those tensions, there is something of a generational change taking place among the ranks of veterans. There was a really interesting and sad story published in the Waikato Times, about what will be the final wreath laying for the Hamilton branch of the Korean War Veterans association. Their numbers are dwindling, and soon there won’t be any left who fought in that conflict.

Remember when the government promised 1800 new police officers in three years? As Radio NZ’s Ben Strang reports, it could end up taking quite a bit longer. But of course, to be fair to police minister Stuart Nash, it wasn’t a promise to deliver those numbers, it was a promise to strive to deliver those numbers. National’s Chris Bishop says they’re not going to get anywhere near the target, and it’s another example of the government over-promising on what they can actually achieve.

The number of ‘attachment orders’ made against beneficiaries has exploded in the last five years, driving many into ever-deeper debt spirals. As Joseph Nunweek reports for The Spinoff, it follows a law change in 2014 that streamlined the process of getting an attachment order – which is where a creditor can make a claim against a person’s income. By contrast, the process to get an attachment order reduced or removed isn’t remotely friendly or streamlined.

The problem is, many thousands of people on the benefit don’t really have any income to lose – almost 25,000 attachment orders were taken against beneficiaries last year. Sometimes those debts aren’t really the fault of those incurring them, and some sharks are deliberately targeting beneficiaries because they know it’s basically guaranteed revenue. Anti-poverty advocates want them done away with.

There was a really interesting discussion on the AM Show yesterday morning about Rent to Buy schemes for housing – which is being called ‘Kiwibuy’. A range of community organisations want government funding for their programmes, which allow low-income people to progressively buy their way into a house, under a shared equity model. They say they’ve had some success so far, but want to roll it out on a much wider scale.

Minginui is becoming a better place to live, in part because of an influx of Provincial Growth Fund money a year ago. Radio NZ went back and found the number of jobs associated with a plant nursery had increased – though not by as many as been suggested when the announcement was made. The story itself covers three quite distinct threads – along with the jobs angle there’s also interesting discussions around hormone additives to help trees grow faster, and another completely distinct angle around what to do with the old abandoned buildings dotted around the isolated Urewera town.

Some of the overseas teachers brought in to fill the desperate shortages are effectively being paid below minimum wage, reports the NZ Herald. Many of them are on the ‘untrained employee’ rate, which at $1245 per fortnight works out at 40 hours below minimum. Of course, this is assuming that they’re actually working 40 hour weeks, when all the evidence suggests that teachers work much longer hours. The Ministry says only a small number of teachers have been affected, but the union says that’s just not good enough.

How bad can the Wellington bus situation get? One News reports residents of Karori and Strathmore Park are independently looking at just setting up their own charter services – a damning indictment on the network revamp. More than a thousand complaints a month are still coming in.

There have been many claims flying around about who carried out the dreadful terrorist attack against Christians in Sri Lanka, and why. A Sri Lankan minister has suggested it was in retaliation for the Christchurch attacks, and Islamic State have claimed responsibility. However, neither claim is exactly watertight for various reasons – the attacks appear to have been planned for months rather than weeks which would invalidate a post-Christchurch timeline, and the NZ government said last night they were yet to see any evidence of that being true. Islamic State provided little evidence to support their claim.

With regards to the attacks, Chamanthie Sinhalage has written a deeply thought provoking piece on The Spinoff about the effects these attacks can have on psyches – both personal and national. She is Sri Lankan, and says there is deep trauma and baggage within the Sri Lankan community because of the decades of violence the country endured from colonialism, terrorism, and the brutal civil war.

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Photo: Sylvie Whinray.

Right now on The Spinoff: Alice Webb-Liddall writes about Māori wards, and how a project designed to bring indigenous voices into Council decision making is being shut out by voters. Hannah McGowan writes about how she turned away from being against vaccinations. And also, I completely forgot to include this piece from Raglan’s own Don Rowe, who has gone back to his hometown to profile the changes that are taking place. Locals are being squeezed out amid a tremendous tourism boom, which has been good for some but is putting the fabric of the community at risk.

Here’s Wednesday’s question to win a Spinoff pen – email’s clue should be taken somewhat cryptically, somewhat literally. Don’t take a dip beneath the shimmering surface of this lake. We all need to stand together on water quality. Where am I?

Congratulations as well to Barbara, who got the correct answer to yesterday’s question at 7.06am! You’ve got to be up early to win it against other Bulletin readers. As many people subsequently guessed (including one unlucky 7.07am entry) the correct answer was Katikati.

A massive reason people cite for liberalising drug laws is because of the injustices people suffer when they’re caught up in the criminal justice system. Things can be changed for the future, but what about the people who have in the past fallen foul of these laws? What happens to those who have been on the receiving end of the various wars on drugs? It’s not like the law changes can simply start from scratch, removed from the context in which they were made. Journalist Tess Nichol put together this thought provoking piece for the Drug Foundation’s Matters of Substance journal which looks into these questions. Here’s an excerpt:

Advocates have also cautioned that it is better to approach legalisation at a measured pace in order to anticipate and avoid as many problems as possible, as it’s harder to go back and fix mistakes than it is to make changes while the law is still being drafted. “Have patience,” cautions Oscar Velasco, one of the few Latino business owners in Washington state’s cannabis industry.

“Really take the time to define what the structure [of legalisation] is going to be. The advantage New Zealand has is [that] they can be the wise person that learns from others’ mistakes. Do your due diligence, research, have conversations with people who have developed industries in other parts of the world.”

In New Zealand, drug policing has disproportionately affected Māori, particularly in high deprivation areas. Currently, 40 percent of people serving prison time for drug offences are Māori, despite only accounting for about 15 percent of the total population. Māori are also more likely to suffer other drug harm, such as substance-use disorder, than the rest of our population. Legalisation offers an opportunity to help those with substance-use problems rather than criminalise that behaviour.

So last week we had NZ’s Super Rugby team of the week. This week, Rugby Pass writers have come together to hand out mid-season awards for the whole competition. If you take the Crusaders out of the mix, it’s a surprisingly even spread of where the top teams are coming from. That’s heartening to see after last season, when the Australian and South African conferences were basically just making up the numbers. This season, there’s a lot of love being shown for Quade Cooper of all people, who has all of a sudden come right and is now a possibility to be Australia’s starting 10 at the World Cup.

From our partners: Climate change has already affected how electricity gets delivered to customers, and it’s only going to get more challenging. Vector’s Chief Networks Officer Andre Botha outlines what the lines company is doing to respond.

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