Monday, November 24, 2014

Dining Out

A promo cartoon for my favourite cafe/restaurant in Whangarei - The Fat Camel

Friday, August 15, 2014

Lightning Strikes Wand In Wellington

Not long after the release of Nicky Hager's book "Dirty Politics", Wellington's Wind Wand sculpture was struck by lightning. Nicky's book revealed some of the murky business of spreading tacky and privileged information to right wing bloggers by the National Party to strike their opponents. As it turned out, their efforts have now been exposed and John Key's 'Mr Nice Guy' image is looking less and less credible with Hager's left field rebound.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Nick Smith's Fish'n Game Fiasco

No doubt about it, when when the 'bigs wigs' in the New Zealand dairy industry pull the strings their political minions in the National Government dance to their tunes. The latest example was the Conservation Minister Nick Smith's not so veiled threats to take away funding sources that keeps Fish and Game afloat if they continued to criticize the rising rates of effluent from dairy farms polluting lakes and rivers. This organization is a compulsory fee funded environmental watch dog in NZ and they are fighting back on the eve of a Parliamentary election. Good luck to them I say. Let's see if they can get a signed commitment from the National Government that ensures their financial status remains intact as they do their job to keep NZ "Clean and Green".

Worshipping the golden cow in the cartoon harks back to ancient Babylon and Indian religions and also a cartoon by American cartoonist Bill Day.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wheel Of Misfortune


    I heard comments on the news recently that New Zealand has “ Zombie” towns in many regional areas that should be left to die away naturally and let Auckland grow without restraint. These views apparently come from Shamubeel Eaqub, an economic commentator from The NZ Institute Of Economic Research and seem to me to perpetuate a dangerously shallow perception of what is really happening in the World Economy and how it is being allowed to stifle the economic performance of many regions in New Zealand.

He is, in my opinion, ignoring the fact that many Asian economies are using mercantile policies (state intervention and manipulation) that are sucking away the wealth of many Western monetarist (open market) economies and dethroning them as dominant powers in the World at large. New Zealand has followed Western economic trends too and we are being exploited as well, with so many of our regional towns showing us the tragic consequences. Auckland has escaped the effects somewhat because it has become a relatively prosperous market town - a place where the much of the wealth produced by the regions is spent on real estate, lifestyles and consumer goods etc and playing with borrowed money from abroad. Productive industries have shrunk away and are being replaced by service sector activity that caters for the needs of local customers and foreign interests. As I see it, New Zealand is being sold away right under our noses and there will not be an end to it until those in power wake up to economic and social realities and act before it is too late to have any control of our future.

The following article might offer some hope for a better future with one solution to help avoid this danger. Hopefully it will help you see the big picture and perhaps appreciate that a household full of affordable clothing, electronic gadgets and cars etc from Asia and misuse of borrowed funds from abroad might be costing us much more than we realize. To implement these suggestions will require the same kind of courage and foresight that NZ governments have shown in the past and I believe it can be done if enough people in power act soon.

                                      The Wheel Of Misfortune

    If you want to make things or farm commercially in NZ, one of the biggest difficulties you have to deal with is the way our government chooses to use a floating exchange rate internationally to help regulate our economy and discourage inflation. I wonder whose bright idea it was to use our unstable dollar in this way and deliver Kiwi business profitability into the hands of fund managers who handle the savings of people living in other countries.

    To get a take on what is happening in the overseas currency markets, just imagine how you would have to cope if the NZ internal economy operated like the global economy - where some districts within NZ had their own exchange rate that could be changed daily by professional gamblers in the Sky City Casino. To further complicate matters, other districts would also set their exchange rates to ensure a continual economic advantage over other districts.
   If this was the case, when you travelled around NZ, imagine how frustrating it would be trying to work out the going rates every day so you could control your spending and income expectations in localities only a few hours from your front door. I think it would be incredibly complicated, inefficient and unfair.
   Obviously, in our domestic economy, we need a single exchange rate for commerce and the rest of or society to run efficiently along with one set of commercial laws etc. Perhaps there is a solution here to help the World's economic woes and ours too by eventually having one world currency and the same commercial standards.
    If a shared currency and accepted trading rules became established worldwide, as it does within our domestic economy, we would know at last the real costs of goods and services being traded by each nation. This would stop each government seeking unfair advantages for their trading sector by manipulating their exchange rates and help reduce their huge trade surpluses that are lent back as debt to other countries and disrupting their economies - which can eventually lead to a very messy World debt crisis.

The present set up is surely more than a bit crazy and would collapse if the debt accumulated by the USA was called in for repayment. It would also collapse if every country tried to devalue its currency and restrict imports in order to accumulate capital. There would be no winners, only billions of people losing faith in money doing its job – which is to be used as a means of exchanging goods and services.

Establishing a standard worldwide currency would of course be extremely difficult in today’s highly competitive political and economic environment. That will come in time when the World requires it, so initially, for cultural and practical reasons, currency parity between groups of nations would be an achievable first step. Obviously, the best parity partners for us to begin with would be countries that we have the most in common with culturally and/or have a similar standard of living – e.g. USA, Australia, Canada and the UK, followed by Europe, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore etc.

   Other arrangements would require more complex evaluation and adjustment systems to establish fairness and still remain true to keeping internationally traded money as a means of exchange instead of speculation and manipulation. To help poorer countries catch up and achieve faster rates of economic growth than richer countries, openly transparent trade assistance could be used until it became unnecessary. This would not include China. Because of its economic power it would need would need a separate deal to join groups of nations sharing a common currency value. China has been accustomed to doing rather well out of the present set up and would need extra time to adjust.

   Another advantage of nations adopting currency parity values would be that it would help stem the wealth transfer taking place from the West to Asia by unfair trading practices and instead allow wealth to be generated within each country - influenced by its own skills and natural advantages. It might also help environmentally by exposing the real cost of transport and energy.

   Initially, in New Zealand, export returns might fall in real terms from some countries and rise in others as our market adjusts to a fairer trading system. The pressure to keep quotas and tariffs would no doubt re-emerge with our trading partners, but they would be far more obvious and I would expect they would be less justifiable in a fairer trading environment that has a real level playing field.  

   Some time ago, I heard President Obama saying that his government would strive to lift his country out of the recession by reforming the finance sector and promoting ‘Fair and Free Trade”. He has not been able to do this, but could we succeed with our less complex economy and political set up? I would say “Yes We Can”, while we are still able to establish and maintain trading relationships on our own terms.

Until the principle of currency parity values was accepted and implemented by our trading partners it would be prudent in the meantime to mirror the various kinds of restrictions, tariffs and currency manipulations imposed on our exports and apply them to imports as we receive from them – a kind of Fair Trade Duty that over-rides current trade agreements. This would level the playing field for our productive sector (i.e. manufactures and farmers etc). These measures would be removed of course when currency parity was established and other state imposed protections were removed on both sides. If fluctuating currency values were removed, handling trading transactions would also be far less complex and enable businesses to focus on more important matters such as planning ahead with more confidence.

   It is plain to see that currency speculation and exchange rate manipulation are unfair and distort world trade. They are not tolerated inside most economies and it is time to remove them internationally. World peace and continuing rises in world wide prosperity are at risk if we just sit back and hope that the invisible hand of the marketplace sorts it out somehow. Surely the wars, recessions and depressions of the last century are enough to warn us that changes are needed and leaving it to traders in many Western economies and Nationalist Governments in the East to sort it out does not work well. It is time instead to establish a fairer international trading system and build a more balanced World Economy.

If this came to pass, I believe that even poorly performing areas outside the main cities in New Zealand would very likely to become prosperous again. Their economic growth would be then be based on natural advantages, sound business management, technology and creativity instead of being hammered by policies dictated from abroad that reward mercantilist nations who punish the gullible nations ruled by leaders who cannot see or do not want to see what is really going on. These leaders seem to believe in monetarist myths and allow other nations to unfairly establish an unfair trading advantage. We have plenty of these running the show in NZ.

There are of course many other factors working together that encourage economic growth or decline in nations. However, I see our trading policies as the elephant in the room that few people want to discuss because I suspect that the current set up suits most of us. Many Maoris probably felt much the same when Europeans first arrived here offering a treasure trove of manufactured products. This short sighted attitude delivers short term individual needs very nicely and yet ignores the long term consequences of eventually becoming dispossessed. It appears to me that this is happening again and yet I am sure it is not too late to reverse it. If we do not, then the number of  “Zombie Towns” will grow and eventually turn us into a “Zombie Nation” as we watch hopelessly while our land and future independence and prosperity are spirited away.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Hundertwasser Art Centre Saga Continues

The saga of the ill fated Hundertwasser Art Centre in Whangarei is not over yet. The Whangarei District Council has rejected it and now commercial interests like the Whangarei Economic Development Group (with Barry Trass as Chairman) are trying to keep it going despite pessimistic comments from the Hundertwasser Foundation about no longer wanting to be involved with the WDC

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

NZ Houses Keep Going "UP"

This cartoon might appear at first glance to be xenophobic, but it is an undeniable fact that NZ is sadly allowing its economy and land to be bought by people outside the country and putting a price on citizenship. What we need is real investment in new industries that generate wealth producing exports and a level playing field for NZ businesses competing with imports. NZ finance minister Bill English's budget does little to help out and so the inequality of opportunity for NZ businesses and labour continues to get worse as money goes into real estate instead of the productive economy - in my opinion.

Pixar's animated film "UP" appeared to say more to me than just the surface story line. It seemed also to comment on the decline of the USA in the face of a resurgent Asia. Very appropriate as a platform for this cartoon I thought - as we are behaving very much like the USA in many ways, but not all thank God. Strangely enough, I also thought "UP" was saying we can achieve goals together with all the people of every age in this World and the journey will be worth it.

In the meantime we need to change the mindset of our Government that is locked into outmoded social and economic ways of doing things. Looking at successful economies everywhere and especially in Asia will show us the way to rediscover what they learnt from us in the past and add their own recipes to our mix to bake a bigger and better cake to share.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Seeing Purple

Peter Dunne, the leader of the United Party with one seat in Parliament (his own), was somewhat miffed to find that the new Internet Party had decided to use purple in their logo/trademark. Hardly worth worrying about you might think until you realize that the voting form shows a small square of colour beside each candidate. Peter sounds very concerned. It might even help him tho' if young voters, who would not usually vote, get confused and vote for him by mistake.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Taking The Bait

National's Murrio McCulliovalli certainly pulled one out of the hat when he lured Labour MP Shane Jones away from Parliament with a Pacific fishing ambassadorship. I was one of many who were completely surprised. Mind you, looking back I remember Shane having a permanent disgruntled look, which I took for being frustrated with being an Opposition MP in Parliament. It goes to show that Shane is indeed a superb political poker player or maybe duped again by his emotions. Hard to tell from here.

Lest We Forget

Sadly, the New Zealand Government has once again allowed another NZ owned company to be taken over by foreigners. This time it is the Japanese who are buying Carter Holt and its associated businesses (timber and pulp and paper). That means more profits going overseas and to make it worse, I also see that the buyout includes some funds from the Japanese Government. So what was the war last century against Japan all about then? I grew up being told it was to push back Japan extending its power to enslave us into "The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere". I guess that is where we are heading once again and this time China, along with other Asian countries, are at the table too and buying up NZ companies and land. Sad, but true and I hope it is a hot election issue.

Legal High Street Begging

Friday, April 18, 2014

Blood On His Hands?

Did NZ Prime Minister John Key pass on the names to the USA of a New Zealander who was killed by a drone missile in Yemen recently? John Key is also the head of the The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) - NZs equivalent to the CIA - and only he knows the truth about this murder.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hey Jude!

 NZ Cabinet Minister, Judith Collins, has dug a hole for herself by not being very transparent about her relationship and meetings in China with the Chinese owned  milk company Oravida. Once seriously considered as a probable successor to Prime Minister John Key, she now has revealed another rather ugly side to her persona and skittled her chance for some time to come I would think.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tiny Monsters Threaten NZ Again

This is serious stuff for anyone wanting to grow fruit in New Zealand. I live close by the area being searched after another male Queensland Fruit Fly was found in a bio-security trap in Whangarei. It probably came off a yacht, judging by its location and is the second one found in the same area. I am hoping that a breeding colony does not get established - mainly for the danger they pose for fruit growers, but also because an aerial and ground spray program might be needed over a large area to eradicate them. 

In that case I will have to leave until the spraying has finished because I have no intention to be put in danger from the inevitable side affects. Fingers crossed some cold weather will sweep in and put them off breeding. However, it is really nice and warm here right now and my fruit bowl hums with fruit flies if someone leaves the window open without the insect screen in place. I never thought I would pray for cold weather!  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Swine Flu Returns To Plague Us

Labour Makes More Policy Announcements

 You might not have noticed, but the Labour Party has been trying to let us know that they will get the real economy going with Government encouragement when they get back into power - this time with incentives to boost forestry processing and production. These policies are well overdue, as the wharves around the country are stacked high with raw logs destined for China and taking our badly needed processing jobs with them.

In Northland, we are waiting to get a commitment for the rail link to North Port at Marsden Point that will take hundreds of logging trucks off the roads which are slowing traffic down and breaking up the tar seal.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Grasputin Takes Over Crimea

As many Kremlin watchers feared, Putin has moved the Russian armed forces into Ukraine to protect Russian interests. So far the invasion has been limited to Crimea, but he has made it very clear that further incursions will take place if necessary.

I assume that this violation of Ukraine sovereignty is to protect not only Russian bases in Crimea but also to send the new Ukrainian Government a direct message not to mess with civil rights of the millions of ethnic Russians living in Ukraine.

From the outside, this looks disturbingly like the break up of Yugoslavia. I hope the politicians avoid that scenario, because civil wars are such vicious affairs and a pathetic waste of valuable lives. In this case, both sides have many more close cultural and historical ties that binds them more than their differences. Perhaps it is time for them to listen to John Lennon's tuneful incantation, "Give Peace A Chance"- and put the guns away.

Phoney Poll?

Yes indeed, guess what, the Whangarei District Council has opted to use a telephone poll to tell them if there is enough local support to continue spending money on converting the old Northland Regional Council Basin building into a Hundertwasser styled gallery! Just under half the Council wanted to ditch the project and this appears to me to be a compromise to keep the peace between the opposing camps.

The wording of the survey will be need to be clear and not just a front to get a predetermined result. It also needs to be large enough to be credible and also connect with people without a land line. I am hoping that I will not feel compelled to rail against a rigged poll.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Whangarei Council Sends A Message

The Whangarei District Council has voted against supporting a  one council proposal for the whole of Northland. I agree with them on this one because the area is long and narrow, has urban areas situated far apart and culturally more distinct than a typical city.

A Drop In The Bucket

In New Zealand, MPs get generous cost of living rises, but not so the working poor it seems.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Home Alone Billy

Billy has been left behind to guard the farm, while his boss and Sharlene are away at the Northland Field Days - that are taking place near Dargaville, in Northland, from  the 27th of Feb.  to  the 1st of March. In the meantime, Billy is hopeful that Sharlene'e Mum will be popping over to ensure that he is well provisioned with extra treats not normally on the menu.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cola Role Models

The New Zealand Rugby Union must be nuts if they take on Coca-Cola as an All Black sponsor. Don't they know about the negative reputation that company has with those trying to stem the rising tide of tooth decay and diabetes in New Zealand? Crazy!!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Litigation Conversations

Two minor parties contesting the election in New Zealand this year have already started scrapping.  Colin Craig, as the NZ Conservative Party Leader, is threatening take Russell Norman, the Green Party's co-leader, to court over comments Norman made about Craig's attitude toward women and homosexuals at "The Big Gay Out". Craig is demanding that Norman offer a retraction or risk being sued.

Russell Norman is not backing down and so the ball is now in Colin Craig's court now for him to decide if he wants a lawyer as doubles partner to take on the Greens. Colin Craig has already got retractions from a satirist and others in the past, but this time he is taking on a feisty and canny politician and the litigation in my opinion will backfire on him if he goes ahead. The publicity will highlight even more the personal and historical prejudices of Colin Craig, that today look dated and out of sync with our modern liberal society. If he sues, he will be the one to be damned.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More Ugly Aussies

According to New Zealand Labour MP Shane Jones, an Aussie owned supermarket is at it again, this time giving Kiwi suppliers a hard time in their own country. On this occasion, he claims they are demanding suppliers pay cash for low and loss making lines in their NZ shops - and if they refuse, then Countdown supermarkets will not stock their products.

The Commerce Commission has agreed to look into it, but I would be surprised if the accusations did not have some truth in them. Supermarkets generally are said to be using their market dominance to squeeze suppliers to the brink of bankruptcy on both sides of the Tasman. Thank God for the Farmers Markets that are popping up all over the country. Food processors however, have yet to do the same - now there is a new business opportunity idea worth having a crack at.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Borderline Aussie Rules

New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, has been having meetings with our Australian cuzzy's Prime Minister, Tony Abbot. Momentous matters discussed that featured in the headlines were - Australian supermarkets taking NZ stock off their shelves to support local producers and Kiwis living in Australia who pay taxes but get almost none of the government assistance Aussie citizens do.

John Key appeared to score a small victory for students who have long term resident Kiwi parents in Australia - they will now get the same benefits other Australian students have. I believe this was a remnant of a policy of the previous Australian Government led by Julia Gillard, but I did hear Key mention that.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Baby Bonus Bidders

The bidding to entice voters in NZ has begun. Few people would disagree with the motivation of Labour's plans to give young parents assistance to raise their children - especially those on benefits and the thousands more  described as the working poor. However, it remains to be seen if any policies also come to light which will raise real incomes from work for low income earners and allow a parent to stay at home if they choose to.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

International Cricket Buyout Attempt

Australia, the U.K. and India are hatching plans to take over the International Cricket Council and no doubt this will have a detrimental effect on smaller countries like New Zealand. This strategy will also do little to spread and increase the popularity of the sport across the World in my opinion, as the big three cement in their current status in international Cricket.

Small, new and prospective cricket playing countries will struggle to attract players if this comes to pass, which is a shame and I suspect commercial interests are driving the changes. Cricket is a sport after all and not primarily a commercial enterprise. The big three cricketing countries just might bowl over the goose that lays the golden egg and there are no winners if cricket suffers a decline elsewhere because that is where the future of the sport's survival will be decided in the long run.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Queensland Fruit Fly Found In NZ

The recent trapping of one male Queensland Fruit Fly in Whangarei has caused a lot of anxiety in NZ. The insects have the potential to devastate our horticultural crops and home orchards. This fly munches its way thru' fresh fruit and if more are found, then the whole of Whangarei will be quarantined and sprayed with insecticide by  air.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cunliffe Makes Pragmatic Changes

David Cunliffe is starting to get rid of the impractical parts of the old Labour policies that the public never really took a shine to. I did this cartoon in 2010 when Phil Goff (the Labour Party Leader at that time) battled on with a collection of misguided and stifled politicians pushing unattractive policies. I felt at the time that David Cunliffe was very uncomfortable with these, but he remained loyal - and yet his body language appeared to tell quite a different story. In the cartoon he is seen holding the billboard.

His State Of The Nation speech as the new Labour leader will be keenly anticipated by those who want attractive and needed changes in NZ. Ditching the policy of removing the Goods and Services Tax on fruit and vegetables will be a good start, because it would have been very difficult and expensive to impose and police. Next up is the proposed shifting of the retirement age to 67. This is an election plank disaster. There are much better ways to acknowledge the fact that Kiwis are living and working longer. The Government obviously needs to lower the increasing cost of paying  superannuation to people over 65 who also earn wages - some right into their eighties. However, there are also many who are exhausted by age 65 and deserve support after working at hard physical jobs most of their lives. Forming policies with the right balance and electoral appeal will be crucial to Labour's election chances.