Join us on International Women’s Day for a panel event exploring how we can improve diversity and participation in local government.
<Published first in the Hamilton News 8 February 2019>
If we smell smoke, we have a quick look around the house and if nothing is out of order, go back to what we were doing. There’s no perceived need to panic. If the smoke alarm goes off and we see smoke or flames, we evacuate and call emergency services. We are aware of the danger, and act to minimise loss of life and property. We panic.
Greta Thunberg a 16 year old Swedish climate activist, told leaders at Davos last week that she wants us to panic in response to the danger we are facing with climate change. Lately I too have been wondering why we are so complacent when it comes to the biggest threat that modern humans have faced. The science is overwhelming, the timeline to act is narrowing – the smoke alarm has gone off and yet we still aren’t panicking, some of us aren’t even looking up.
When it comes to climate action many of us do nothing more than sign the odd petition, nod in agreement with David Attenborough and leave it to those with economic or political interests to fumble around for solutions that won’t impact their bottom line. A process that is taking too long and falling far short of what is required.
Climate change is already happening, D-day is getting closer. In fact, the world’s leading climate scientists have given us 12 years to limit a catastrophe when life as we know it won’t be possible. Doesn’t that worry you? Climate change isn’t just about sunny days and warmer summer swims, it’s loss of ecosystems, frequent devastating storms and droughts, the inability to produce enough food and urupa falling into the ocean. Why would you let the house burn down if you could lessen the damage by not leaving your cooking unattended?
What will it take for more of us to be assertive and demand real change? When will acts of civil disobedience take over from the polite yet ineffective acts we currently do to make ourselves feel like we’re part of the solution? I like to keep hope as much as the next person; I like to sign petitions and make submissions, but we have to do more. How will we look our children in the eye when they ask why we ignored the alarm?
Youth are taking climate action in Kirikiriroa on March 15th alongside tens of thousands of others around the world. Join us!
Just for fun, a colleague and I trawled through the electoral expenses declared by Hamilton city council candidates in 2016. One thing was clear. It’s a rich mans game. Literally. Only 20% of the players are women and the average election spend is $5000. That’s $5000 you’ll need to put on the table to play. It’s a months income for most homes in Hamilton. Do you have that much to lose? I don’t. It means not everyone can play, and the outcome contributes to an out of touch council.
With my rough calculation, given the number of candidates who put their name forward there is a 20% chance being elected. Can your household risk that money if you don’t get in? When I think of the average Hamiltonian statistically, they are in their 30’s with a young family and more focused on making sure they can eat, pay the rent and buy school uniforms. It’s hard to justify gambling thousands even if you had access to it. Why am I likening an election campaign to gambling? Well, because when you look at candidates, and the results – there is a huge element of luck, and no clear way of knowing who will win a seat. Does it matter if only those with money can afford to put their name forward? Of course it does. How well can elected members represent residents if the life they live is so different to the people they make decisions for? If you can risk thousands as a candidate, and if successful are then on a $70,000 a year job – you might quickly forget what its like to struggle to find the money for bills. Enter a 9% increase to our rates bill. That decision ignores the reality for most Hamiltonians. If I hear one more councillor tell me rates are good value, compared to the same we pay for electricity I’ll lose my mind. All I care about is that I now have less money for other bills, probably food. It’s an example of elected members being out of touch. The limits for election spending are based on population. For Hamilton West it’s $40,000 for Hamilton East $50,000, the mayoralty is $60,000.
We need Councillors from all walks of life. The spending limits set by central government for elections need to be decreased.
- Of course there are examples of candidates who didn’t spend that much. Max Coyle was very close, paying only the $200 nomination fee. James Casson, spent $700 and was successful. Geoff Taylor was a big spender at $32,000.
This week we had confirmation via the Waikato Times that Mayor Andrew King was going for a second term – the only real surprise being that he will not be putting himself forward for his west ward seat as well. All eggs in one basket so to speak. His claim that the government is giving $250 million for development was refuted as “porkies” by Rob Pascoe. You can read more here. It’s all semantics really. Needless to say it’s going to be an interesting year.
In other local political news…
A decision on whether to go ahead with the demolition of the Municipal pools at a cost of $1 million will happen within six months. I will let you know on the show when you can given feedback to the council on this issue. To follow advocacy to save the pools you need to follow Sink or Swim.
No so much news, more of an observation. In November 2018 the New Zealand Tax Payers Union thought it would be a good use of ratepayer paid time to request the cost of the hold music when calling the Hamilton City council. I wish I was kidding. However it serves as a reminder that we are all able to request information from the Council, and can expect it back in 20 days. You can check out all OIA’s made in 2018 here.
A farmer was fined over $8000 for burning tyres on his property. He know that tyres are an environmental problem – but what do we do about end of life tyres in Hamilton? I’ll find out and get back to you.
It looks like 2019 will be another year of strikes. Junior doctors are next. There are 450 within the Waikato district health board. The strike, impacting nearly 1500 patient appointments, will occur between Tuesday the 15th of January and Thursday the 17th.
All of this and more on this week’s show. You can listen to the podcast here.
The end of a year is a great time for reflection. I’ve had over 70 guests on Kelli from the Tron in 2018 ranging from politicians, environmental and social advocates / activists, event organisers and bands. For the last two weeks of the year, I’ll recap some of the bigger stories and themes covered in the show and share tracks from 10 of the bands I’ve been lucky enough to interview.
Listen to Part one. http://bit.do/2018-part-1-
I recap the by-election, some great shows, environmental themes and Future City Festival. I share tracks from Nation, Cheshire Grimm, The Situations, Strangely Arousing and Otium.
Listen to Part two http://bit.do/2018-part-2-
I recap the 10 year plan, representation review and women’s issues. I share tracks from Coral, The Recently Deceived, Macaila, Funk Therapy and Glass Shards.
First published in Hamilton News 14 December 2018
She should have been safe, but she wasn’t. That’s the message our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern relayed to Grace Millane’s family on Monday as her suspected murderer faced court. The outpouring of sorrow, grief and guilt from Kiwis led to two candlelight vigils being held in Hamilton and throughout the country on Wednesday, and in true 2018 fashion a torrent of attention on social media focused on how this could happen here.
I found it hard not to think back to the case of Margery Hopegood who unfortunately found a similar fate here in Hamilton in 1992, days after arriving in the country. It reminds me that she should have been safe, but wasn’t. We should all be safe, but aren’t. It’s a reminder to us all that Aotearoa has an secret uglier than our less than 100% pure image – which is our rate of physical and sexual violence towards women. I feel compelled to discuss this today due to #notallmen trending online. No, it’s not all men. But, it’s too many men, and this is one instance where you don’t get the luxury of putting up a wall to deny blame. We all have to take responsibility for this.
Whenever we read an article about violence towards women there is an element of victim blaming. Why was she travelling solo? (How dare she be independent). We check what she was wearing in her last photo. (Skirts a little too high, Dear). We give well intentioned warnings to our daughters to, keep a phone with them, not drink too much and stay with friends. What we don’t do is spend enough time telling our boys and men that they have no right to touch a woman without express permission, that “no means no” and that it’s not okay to “keep trying lest she changes her mind”. Violence is never justified. I was pleased to see strangulation and assault towards family members highlighted in the Family violence Act. We don’t spend enough time telling the #notallmen brigade that it would be more useful for them to be pulling up their friends or family members who act or talk out of line. Speak up against the violence. Intervene.
If you find yourself wanting to direct your anger and sorrow anywhere – it should be at changing our culture that is currently accepting violence towards women. We all have a responsibility to keep women like Grace safe, our daughters safe, my daughter safe.
Golriz Ghahraman, an Iranian-Kiwi became the first refugee to be sworn in as an MP in 2017. She is a member of the Green Party of Aotearoa and is spokesperson for a raft of portfolios including human rights and corrections. I really admire the work that she is doing and felt privileged to have the opportunity to speak with her this week.
I asked for her views on the Grace Millane case, which has stunned the country this week. We discussed violence towards women and the need to stop tolerating devaluation of women. She gave her advice to women looking at putting themselves forward for governance roles – pointing out that there needs to be a change in culture and systemic changes to make working within those roles possible for those with a family.
We discussed human rights, in terms of the right to vote, which Golriz is advocating we return for prisoners; the UN migration pact and the CPTPPA.
Listen now. http://bit.do/episode-111