Friday, September 16, 2005

The Eve of Poll Blog......Friday September 16 2005

Hi Everyone

This is the eve of poll blog, the final one of the campaign.

I just want to say that the Alliance has fought a spirited fight and while we maybe marching into history tomorrow, the votes we will gain from those who still support us will help build a new left movement in the future.

I wish to stress that a party vote for the Alliance will not be wasted entirely. In a tight contest, it will count in a way as all wasted votes will be re-allocated and it is more likely that our votes will help Labour and the Greens gain a few crucial extra seats.

It also sends a message that there are people out there who want completely free health, education and affordable housing. It sends a message that people want affordable, decent housing and a livable clean environment. It sends a message that people want the power back over their lives.

Media appearances

I have appeared in a background shot on One Network News and also on Channel 9 (twice) this week (that's our local Dunedin TV station).

I spent some time on the campaign trail last Saturday on a stall in South Dunedin. We got a great response and thanks to Gail who assisted.

A lot of thanks

A lot of thanks must go to the Alliance campaign team here in Dunedin who have worked hard on behalf of myself and Victor Billot.

Thank you to my comrades who have cycled and walked numerous streets in recent weeks delivering our tabloid and supporting both myself and Victor at meetings.

I wish to pay tribute as well to my fellow candidate Victor who has really rallied people to the cause against considerable odds. He is a powerful, forceful orator who will certainly have a place in the leadership of a new left movement.

Also thanks to his partner Julie (who one fellow candidate described as scary - she isn't really!) who has worked the media over the last three months to secure the good local coverage we have had and on what we could get in terms of national exposure (minimal, if to say bugger all). However, her efforts have been extraordinary!

Now to the final assessment of my fellow candidates.....

Alan Wilden (ACT): Nice to see that you stopped wearing a bush shirt in the end and didn't write your ACT policies in a scrapbook like you did at the first forum. It's sad that your party is going down the toilet. If the party decides to continue like we have in some form, it will be tough as your leadership will disown you....need I say more. And yes, you have nowbeen mentioned in my blog. I am looking forward to ACT going down tomorrow night, I really am!

Alan Heward (NZ First): It must be a prerequisite for all NZ First candidates to attack their hair with bryl cream just like the Great Leader's.

David Benson-Pope (Labour): Good luck for the next three years as if Labour get into government after tomorrow, it might be your last term there.

Conway Powell (National): I imagine it must have been difficult to have been heckled like that at every forum. After all, you're a representative of the party that is closest to the Business Roundtable and their privatising, New Right agenda.

Pauline Moffat (United Future): The most improved candidate. When she first started Pauline was a bit nervous and hesitant. By the end of the campaign, she had come up in confidence. Well done Pauline! Sad about your party though. Like mine, it's support has gone down.

Peter Thomlinson (Greens): Can you still remember your energy policy? I wonder! Anyway, it was great to share a stage with you at some of the forums even though I think your tax policy is not a real winner. Shifting tax from wealth onto resources is a real way to make the wealthy even richer! But the social justice policies of the party do have something to them but they don't go far enough. Best of luck for your future.

Brent Daglish (Destiny): Send a message to Brian from me.....start accounting for all that money you take off your parishioners! Not a great campaign from Destiny....I was expecting more brimstone and fire and street marches!

Alan Wansink (Restore All Things In Christ): I much enjoyed your winter home heating policy....it seems like good old fashioned sex is the way to keep warm, huh?

Martin Vaughan (Jim Anderton's Progressives): Who?

New blog on wider issues....

After this election, when all the dust has settled, I will be starting up a new blog in which I will be commenting on the issues of the day. Stay tuned.

Oh and one more thing.....

Don't forget to vote tomorrow!

Chris Ford
Alliance candidate
Dunedin South

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Thursday August 18, 2005


Hello again,

Much has happened since the last blog on August 6th.

Appearing on Attitude TV programme

I'm appearing on the "Attitude" disability TV show election special this Sunday morning, August 21, at 9.30am on TV One speaking on behalf of the Alliance Party.

Alliance Party opening address

The Alliance Party opening election address will air this Saturday night, 20 August, on TV One sometime between 7.30pm and 8.30pm. It will also air on National Radio between 8pm and 9pm the same night.

David Russell Lange 1942-2005

First of all, I wish to pay my condolences to the family of former Labour PM David Lange. His final illness and relatively early death was sad for them.

However, while not wanting to speak ill of the dead, it must be remembered that David Lange was not the architect of New Zealand's nuclear policy back in the 1980s. It must be remembered that while he was PM, he was initially very reluctant to fully implement the policy as he was prepared to buckle to US pressure and admit the USS Buchanan into the country's waters. After massive pressure was exerted by the Labour Party rank and file and the peace movement and with Rogernomics at that time massively unpopular, Lange saw the political wisdom of standing up to the US.

After that time he became the best salesperson for the anti-nuclear policy. Also, admittedly over time, he became its greatest champion.

His presiding over Rogernomics and his failure to grasp even basic economics, despite his obvious intelligence, probably coloured his legacy as well. It was only when he realised that his political chips were done that he began to have doubts about the policy and even then they were only fleeting. In 1996, he more or less said in his parliamentary valedictory that he was sorry for the pain but still felt it was the right thing to do for the country.

Conversely, the most positive characteristic he had was his propensity to be witty. During the past week, we have been treated to some classic TV clips including the one where Lange walking past a media pack, when asked if "he had a short word" replied "wombat".

Dunedin Grey Power Forum - Monday August 15.

This was my second forum appearance this campaign.

The ODT had this to say about my appearance at the Grey Power forum:

"Alliance Dunedin South candidate Chris Ford said a new 1% tax would help provide free doctors visits and prescriptions, while a graduated tax system would mean those who earned less would pay less, and avoid the health issues associated with poverty." (ODT, 15/08/05)

Well it was a good forum as far as the Alliance was concerned. My speech was commended even by the other candidates (at least for the clear way in which it was given.)

But there are some standout moments from the forum.

There was the woman who said she was paying up to $106 for essential prescription medications because of Pharmac's refusal to fully cover the cost of medication for her condition. I said that cases like this were still happening under a Labour Government and that Pharmac should be read the riot act for continuing to implement a market-driven cost-benefit analysis when it came to considering which treatments should be covered.

Also there was a question about PHOs and why it was so costly to go to the doctor. Yes, I could agree with that questioner as even I had to pay $30 for my last GP visit and that was with a Community Services Card. Leslie Soper, Labour list MP who was covering for both Pete Hodgson and David Benson-Pope (who were in Wellington for cabinet) said that we should go and tell our MPs and put pressure on the PHOs to keep costs down by going over to another PHO. What an answer that was! While I was not asked to give my view on this issue, I can state that while the Alliance endorses the PHO concept, it is still laboured by such issues as facing the pitfalls of population based funding, etc. Population based funding is a real pain for regions like Otago that get less funding for health services as while the system might sound fair, it doesn't take account of such variables as socio-economic status.

National's prescription for health, letting the private sector have more of a role and limiting subsidies to low-income earners (ditto United Future, ACT, etc) is no answer to this either, Katherine Rich!

Besides, the Green Party's Dunedin South candidate Peter Thomkinson faced a 'patsy' question from fellow candidate Phillippa Jamieson about the party's energy policies. Or was it that Phillippa had forgotten and needed Peter to remind her, lol!

What of the United Future Party? Gordon Copeland's a nice guy, in fact too bloody nice to be in politics! However, I don't know whether United has any future given that MP Paul Adams has chosen to split with his party and stand as an independent (this news was classically hidden away by the death of David Lange - of course United Future have picked up on British Labour's favourite spin tactic of burying bad news on a big news day!) In fact, I personally know their Dunedin South candidate Pauline Moffat who's a really nice person but that won't stop me from saying that they're a New Right party to the utmost!

The Progressives (or Jim Anderton's Stalinist Progressives) made a two second appearance in the form of Matt Robson who stated that he had to go to Rotorua to cover for Jim Anderton! Matt Robson predicted that his party could have more MPs after the election but I think that Anderton will truly be able to call his party "Jim Anderton's Progressives" after the poll as he will be the only one returning on current polling.

I also met National's Katherine Rich formally for the first time. I am so inspired by National's energy policy which calls for more competition in the electricity sector, a la Max Bradford. Remember how successful Mad Max's free market driven electricity policies were? Pete Hodgson's energy policies are only mildly better as I still get monstrous power bills every winter!

Remember who your friends are too! Neither NZ First (the purported friend of the elderly) and nor ACT were there!

Anyone seen the NZ First candidate for Dunedin South?

If anyone has had a positive sighting of the NZ First candidate for Dunedin South, please let me know! Last I saw, they were advertising for a candidate but apparently they must not have had any luck finding anyone. Sad!

Destiny candidate wants stability!

Destiny's Dunedin South candidate Brent Daglish wants stability! He would like to see all the political parties nominate the same candidates at every election. In talking to him on Monday, I was astonished to find out how both nice and naive he was. Mate, welcome to the world of politics where parties naturally select different candidates for electorates at each election. This rule only applies to incumbent MPs it seems. His musings left me to wonder whether Destiny NZ is going to leave the same list in place for 2008!

He also quizzed the audience to see if they knew the Destiny Party slogan. No one knew what it was. Apparently it was "next generation minded." Whoopdy shit!

Forums coming up

It's getting busy out there in campaign land. Here's my list of upcoming forum appearances for anyone interested!

Wednesday August 24th - ACClaim political forum - Dunedin Community House, 7pm (rescheduled).

Tuesday August 3oth - Dunedin Star Communities/Chamber of Commerce Dunedin South Candidates Forum, Fullwood Room, Dunedin Centre, 7-9pm.

Saturday September 3rd - NZ College of Midwives Political Forum - venue to be advised.

Second week of September - DPA (Assembly of People With Disabilities Forum). Time and date to be confirmed.

That's all for now folks!

Chris Ford

Friday, August 05, 2005

Saturday, August 6, 2005

Hi Everyone

Just letting you know what's been happening on the Alliance campaign front of late.

Disabilities Policy release

This campaign week has been dominated by the release of the Alliance Disabilities Policy. It's designed to ensure that all New Zealanders with disabilities can be supported to live fulfilling lives in their communities.

Policy 2005
Disability

The low-down
· The Alliance supports the implementation of the New Zealand Disability Strategy-Whakanui Oranga adopted by the Alliance-Labour Government in 2001.

The next steps
· The Alliance supports the establishment of an independent and adequately resourced Disability Commission, to advocate on behalf of people with disability, their families/whanau and support agencies. Most members will be people with disability.
· We support the employment of people with disability in the mainstream workforce. However, we recognise that sheltered workshops provide employment for those who have difficulty finding jobs, and we believe these workers are also entitled to a full minimum wage and other protections.
· It is essential that income support/benefits for people with disability reflect the real costs of living with disability.
· Both ACC and Disability Support clients should receive the same level of benefits and equipment. There should be better access to hydrotherapy and other care for people with disability on the same conditions as ACC clients.
· ACC pensions for those clients whose impairment restricts or inhibits their ability to work should be re-introduced. The principles of the Woodhouse Report which governed ACC policies and principles until 1992 should be fully restored
· The Alliance will support and call for an urgent independent inquiry into the level of customer service given by ACC. Long-term claimants have often felt harassed and intimidated in their dealings with ACC, especially through pressure to return to work before injury recovery is achieved. The inquiry should examine funding levels and internal processes of the ACC.
· The Alliance supports access to education, both mainstreaming and /or special needs units in schools) best suited to the needs of individual disabled students with an emphasis on being included in open educational settings with adequately funded resource support.
· Health care should be provided in a relevant and appropriate manner for people with disability.
· More state, community and local authority housing stock will be adapted, as part of the Alliance’s housing modernisation programme, to meet the needs of those with physical, intellectual, sensory and psychiatric disability.
· We endorse implementation of recommendations of the Human Rights Commission’s Inquiry into Accessible Public Land Transport. For example, buses, trains and airplanes should be fully accessible for all people with disability by 2015.
· We support the right of people with disability to create, perform and develop their own arts and cultural activities and will lobby for funding for projects that promote this aim.

MEDIA RELEASE
Alliance Party
August 5, 2005

PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES DESERVE BETTER

People with disabilities in New Zealand deserve better, according to Chris Ford, the Alliance Party's Disabilities Spokesperson who today unveiled the party's disabilities policy.

The policy has a number of key points which include:

A pledge to retain The New Zealand Disability Strategy developed in 2001 when the Alliance was in coalition government
Full support for mainstream supported employment for people with disabilities including a pledge to support full wages and conditions for sheltered workshop workers
Ending the disparity between Ministry of Health and ACC funded disability support entitlements
Adequate funding for mainstream education for children with disabilities within either inclusive settings or special education units within ordinary schools.

"These policies will reinforce the ideal that all people with disabilities should be supported to live within their communities," said Mr Ford.

In saying this, he challenged Labour which has been cutting disability support funding for a number of years in real terms to restore full funding in this area. He also challenged the National Party to state what it would do with The New Zealand Disability Strategy given their attacks on other minority groups such as Maori.

"Labour is the party of indifference when it comes to disability support funding. National is the party of indifference when it comes to promoting disability inclusion and human rights," he added.

However, Mr Ford is hopeful that people with disabilities and their families/whanau will cast their party vote for positive, progressive policies on September 17.

Policy receiving good coverage

This policy is set to receive good media coverage. Already I have been filmed for the 'Attitude' disability TV programme that airs at 9.30am on Sunday mornings. I was filmed for a segment that will air on a Sunday before the election (I'll let you all know as to when it will be) where the main parties disabilities spokespeople outline their respective party positions on disability issues.

I have also submitted the policy for inclusion in the next edition of 'Without Limits' magazine, an Auckland-based publication that deals with disability issues.

Alliance hoardings going up in Dunedin

The Alliance Party is putting up its hoardings in Dunedin this weekend.

So next time you drive past a political billboard zone, look out for the 'Alliance - Party Vote' sign!

Anyway, must be going and I will report back soon.

Candidate turns 35 tomorrow

By the way, this candidate turns 35 tomorrow (Sunday 7 August.)

Chris Ford

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Friday, July 29, 2005 - Day Five of Campaign '05

Hello again

Well, the last three days have been eventful within the campaign culminating in this morning's New Zealand Herald DigiPoll survey.

Radio interview with Marvin Hubbard - Tuesday, July 26

The radio interview with Marvin Hubbard on Hills AM went well. Even though it was focused on my role as a disability activist, I was asked at the conclusion of the interview what I hoped to see over the next three years in terms of disability sector developments. I answered that I hoped to see an extension of funding for disability support services, supported employment, inclusive (special) education and accessible transport and that the Alliance will shortly be announcing policies to this effect.

Campaign sign goes up on fence post

The Alliance logo now has a place outside my front gate! It was put there by my landlord on Tuesday night and now will remind all pedestrians and drivers who see it to party vote Alliance! To (hopefully) prevent either stealing or vandalism, it's been well nailed down within a wooden frame.

Look out for more Alliance posters and signs in the weeks to come!

Labour's student loan interest write-off - just tinkering

It's good news to see that Labour is proposing to write off all student loan interest at a cost of $300 million annually.
The major downside of it, though, is that it is just mere tinkering. While beneficial it will not address the major issue - user pays education and the need to end it entirely!
One of the major reasons why I'm still in the Alliance is that it is the only political party in Aotearoa/New Zealand proposing completely free education from early childhood through to tertiary level.
The Alliance has pledged to get rid of fees and loans. We will not just write off student loan interest for all present and past students but we will completely write off all existing loans.
We will also pay out a universal student allowance at a liveable rate to all students.

The Alliance threatens Bishop Tamaki!

This morning's New Zealand Herald Digipoll has the Alliance threatening Brian Tamaki. In the so-called "Others" category, the Alliance is at 0.5%, just a point off the Destiny Church's 0.6% rating.
This poll should concern the good bishop and his flock as we are on the cusp of perhaps overjumping them. That would be great given that, in my opinion, Destiny rob from their mainly poor churchgoers through their so-called "voluntary" tithes. Conversely, the Alliance would take from the rich and give to the poor through progressive taxation.

And speaking of that.....

Here's a letter from the Otago Daily Times of 27/07/05 on that very subject from myself:

I congratulate Chris Trotter for his analysis of the Alliance's progressive tax policies (ODT 15/7/05). This perspective has been missing from the recent tax debate given that Labour and National (and all the other parties besides) are too busy outbidding one another on how much they would cut taxes for the wealthy. This is the case as Labour will give a tax cut of $10 per week for everyone earning over $60,000 and National would probably give away more than that. As Chris Trotter's column pointed out the Alliance's policies will benefit the vast majority of taxpayers and even for those higher earners who will have to pay more tax, they will still be able to benefit from universally free health and education.

By the way where is National's tax policy?

What is Don Brash trying to hide? The fact that his tax cuts don't measure up? Besides, isn't health and education more important to voters than tax cuts according to today's New Zealand Herald DigiPoll? National are proposing to return to bulk funding and privatised healthcare too which is another reason not to vote for them.

Winston - what about tackling Christian religious fundamentalism?

Winston Peters is again seeing the supposed virtue of attacking minority ethnic and religious groups for his own political gain. This time it's the Muslim community that is bearing the brunt of his wrath. How many times do Islamic leaders in this nation have to say that theirs is a peaceful religion and that what transpired in London is contrary to their beliefs and values?

It appears not enough for Winston and the right-wing talkback radio crowd!

If Winston is so interested in attacking religious fundamentalism (which is a threat in and of itself across the religious divide) then why is he not focusing on the homegrown Christian version in the form of Destiny Church and their political offshoot, the Destiny Party?

Visiting the sins of a few on an entire community is not conducive to good inter-ethnic relations at all.

Well it's almost time for me to go anyway.

I will post again soon.

If people want more information on the Alliance then go to www.alliance.org.nz.

Cheers

Chris Ford


Monday, July 25, 2005

Day one of election campaign 2005

Hi

Welcome to the Dunedin South Alliance campaign 2005 blog.

This will be the place to catch the latest news, impressions and comments from the Alliance campaign trail in Dunedin South in 2005.

Today is July 25, 2005, officially day one of campaign 2005. This afternoon, Helengrad (or Helen Clark as she's better known) called this year's election for Saturday, September 17.

In this election campaign we will hear much about taxes, health care, education and other matters besides. The Alliance, as distinct from other parties, will campaign in this election to restore genuine full employment. Besides, we will also provide free health care, education, affordable housing and electricity for all New Zealanders. These measures will be funded through a genuinely progressive tax system.

Tune into this blog regularly for further policy announcements from our Co-Leaders Paul Piesse and Jill Ovens.

Campaign Diary

Tuesday, July 26, 2005: Interview with Marvin Hubbard for 'Community or Chaos' on Hills AM Radio, 1575AM in Dunedin. Time: 11am.

Monday, August 15, 2005: Grey Power Dunedin Election Candidates Meeting, Octagon Club, The Octagon, Dunedin, 1.30pm.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005: ACC Claimants Group meeting (ACClaim), Dunedin Community House, 7pm.

I have also previously attended the PANDO (Poverty Action Network Dunedin- Otepoti) Candidates forum on June 24, 2005.

Victor Billot - Dunedin North candidate

Please also visit the blog of my friend and Dunedin North candidate, Victor Billot. His blog can be found at www.dunedinelection.blogspot.com

Until next time....
Chris Ford
Alliance Party Candidate
Dunedin South