Home' Greymouth Star : May 1st 2017 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Monday, May 1, 2017
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uLetters to the editor
1517 - “Evil May Day ” riots in London as
apprentices attack foreign residents. Sixty
rioters are later hanged.
1522 - England declares war on France and
1648 - Scots begin second Civil War.
1707 - Union between England and Scotland
goes into effect under name Great Britain.
1889 - May 1 is chosen by socialist congress
meeting in Paris as the date to demonstrate for
the eight-hour day.
1931 - The 102-storey Empire State Building
in New York is officially opened.
1937 - Spanish painter Pablo Picasso
produces the first sketch of his masterpiece
Guernica, five days after the Basque town is
bombed by the Germans.
1948 - Democratic People’s Republic of
Korea, known as North Korea, is established.
1960 - The Soviet Union shoots down an
American U-2 plane piloted by Francis Gary
Powers, who is jailed for spying
before being exchanged in an East-
West spy swap in February 1962.
1961 - Cuban leader Fidel Castro
declares the country a socialist
nation and abolishes elections.
1967 - Elvis Presley marries
1970 - US and South Vietnamese troops
invade Cambodia to root out Vietnamese
1974 - Sir Frank Packer, chairman of
Australian Consolidated Press, founder of
The Australian Women’s Weekly and father of
Kerry and Clyde, dies in Sydney, aged 67.
1979 - Greenland is granted home rule by
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Joseph Addison, English poet-politician
(1672-1719); Kate Smith, US singer (1909-
1986); Joseph Heller, US writer (1923-1999);
John Meillon, Australian radio and
television actor (1934-1989); Judy
Collins, US singer (1939-); Rita
Coolidge, US singer (1945-); John
Woo, Chinese-born film director
(1946-); Joanna Lumley, English
actress (1946- ); Ray Parker Jr, US
singer (1954-); Wes Anderson, US
film director (1969-); Tim McGraw,
US country singer, (1967-); Stuart Appleby,
Australian golfer (1971-).
“Think much, speak little, and write less.”
— Italian proverb.
“ I said, ‘O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me,
for I have sinned against You’.” — Psalms 41:4
The dismissal of five
employees and the
closure of eight ward
beds in the Kawatiri
maternity annexe were announced today in an
economy drive by the Buller Hospital Board.
The board has been forced to adopt these
measures because of reduced allocations this
year from the Health Department.
Announcing the measure this morning, the
chairman of the board Mr B L Gay said the
board had to cut back its spending by £13,750
for the year. The maintenance grant to the
board had been reduced to £195,268.
A 17-man West Coast Rugby League senior
squad has been named to play Queensland at
Greymouth on May 16. A newcomer to the
squad is Cobden-Kohinoor’s speedy winger
George Maskill, who has developed well this year.
The squad is: Backs — B Mann (Runanga),
M Brereton (Marist), G Scully (Blackball),
G Maskill (Cobden-Kohinoor), N Nahu
(Cobden-Kohinoor), L Brown (Marist), B
Sweetman (Marist), N Kiely (Runanga).
For wards — L Mahuika (Ngahere),
C McMaster (Brunner), R Scholefield
(Blackball), P Mason (Marist), K Dixon
(Marist), G Cowan (Marist), G Rutledge
(Cobden-Kohinoor), A Dennehy (Marist).
The death occurred at Greymouth early this
morning of Mr Archibald Arrol Stewart, one
of Coal Creek’s oldest residents. He was 86.
Mr Stewart was born at Coal Creek and had
lived there for most of his life. His parents were
pioneer settlers to the district who established
Stewart’s Brewery, which he later conducted.
Predeceased by his wife and one son
some years ago, he is sur vived by one son, a
daughter; 10 grandchildren and three great-
uFood for thought
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last June, they
had a referendum
on a universal
basic income that
would have given
each adult Swiss
citizen $2500 per
month. It was a
truly universal basic
income, because it
would have gone to
everybody whether they were working or
not — and the horrified Swiss rejected it
by a majority of more than three to one.
In Finland last January, the government
actually launched a pilot programme for
a “ basic income”, but it was a timid little
thing that gives the participants in the
trial just $600 per month. It certainly is
not universal; it goes only to jobless people
who are receiving the lowest level of
In Canada last Sunday, the province of
Ontario launched a pilot programme that
sits somewhere between the other two. It
pays out more than the Finns — $C1400 a
month ($1491). Moreover, you do not have
to be unemployed to get it, just poor.
“The project will explore the effectiveness
of providing a basic income to people
who are currently living on low incomes,
whether they are working or not,” Ontario
Premier Kathleen Wynne explained. But it
is still far from universal, and its supporters
are keen to stress that the ultimate goal
is to get people back into work. As in
Finland, they believe (or at least profess
to believe) that the only real solution to
poverty is full employment.
In the early 21st century, this quaint
belief is about as credible as the Easter
Bunny, but in last November’s United
States presidential election campaign both
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were
still peddling the same sepia-tinted fantasy
of crowded assembly lines and the return
of the good old days.
Trump was even promising to “bring
back the jobs” from abroad, as if they were
all now sitting in China or Mexico. He
may or may not know that most of the
missing jobs whose loss created the “Rust
Belt ” were killed by automation and simply
do not exist any more, but he certainly
does not mention it in public. Clinton was
equally reticent about the fact that full
employment is not a realistic option for the
A lot of other people have finally focused
on the real future, however, because if you
want to understand the rise of Trump you
first have to acknowledge what automation
is doing to jobs, especially in the United
States. Then you have to figure out how to
prevent this huge shift from causing a great
political, economic and social disaster.
That is why universal basic income is now
a hot topic in political circles throughout
the developed democratic countries:
It might prevent that disaster. But the
curious thing is that none of trials now
being undertaken is actually universal, with
everybody getting the same “basic income”
regardless of what other income they may
have. Why not?
UBI is not meant to be merely a more
effective and less bureaucratic means of
helping the poor. It is also intended to
abolish the stigma of “unemployment ” and
the misery, anger, and political extremism
it breeds. If everybody gets the basic
income as a right, the argument goes,
then receiving it causes neither shame
nor anger. If the anger abates, then maybe
democratic political systems can sur vive
But nobody really thinks we should
introduce UBI at a national scale today.
We will need a majority of people to go
on working for a long time to come, and
we do not even know whether enough
people would choose to do so after they
start receiving the basic income. That is
one of the questions that the current pilot
programmes are designed to answer.
However, these UBI test programmes
are being smuggled in disguised as anti-
poverty projects, with the announced
objectives of streamlining the system and
encouraging people to re-enter the job
market. That is because the public is not
ready for full-blooded UBI. There is a very
strong popular belief that people should
work for a living, even if the society as a
whole is very rich and the work does not
actually need to be done.
This prejudice applies especially strongly
to the poor. As Har vard economist John
Kenneth Galbraith once put it, “Leisure
is very good for the rich, quite good for
Har vard professors and very bad for the
poor. The wealthier you are, the more you
are thought to be entitled to leisure. For
anyone on welfare, leisure is a bad thing.”
So these early experiments with
guaranteed income pretend to be aimed
solely at getting people back into work.
But meantime they will be gathering
valuable data about the actual behaviour
of people who have a guaranteed basic
When the supporters of UBI come
back with concrete proposals for national
systems in five or 10 years’ time, they may
have much more solid arguments than
they do now.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
(Not quite universal) basic income
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
n the 19th floor of Bowen
House, Murray McCully’s
office provides a beautiful
view of the skies, a picture
the jet-setting Foreign
Minister must be all too
familiar with by now.
A framed photo collage documenting
Mr McCully’s many international trips
is propped up on a couch — a gift from
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
(Mfat) officials at a farewell function the
night before. A caption on the back reads:
“For a minister who worked to change the
world for the better.”
The effect is leavened somewhat by
a miniature red punching ball on the
windowsill — another gift from a colleague,
and a reminder of the veteran politician’s
more pugilistic qualities over the years.
Mr McCully, who relinquishes his
ministerial warrant today, says he always
planned to leave Parliament at the same
time as John Key, a sign of the strong
bond that formed between the two in
“The relationship has to be very tight,
both domestically and internationally. If
you can fit a cigarette paper between the
two, in terms of the positions you take,
then . . . it confuses the public, it confuses
partners and makes you less effective.”
Mr Key actually “inherited” him in the
foreign affairs portfolio after rolling Don
Brash for the National Party leadership,
but quickly made it clear he wanted him to
remain in place after the 2008 election.
One of the pair’s first major policy
manoeuvres came in opposition, when
National committed to keeping nuclear-
free legislation — a contrast to Brash’s
infamous “gone by lunchtime” remarks to
United States officials.
Mr McCully says the change of approach,
hashed out at a caucus retreat and during
other discussions, was vital in setting the
stage for National’s time in government.
“It would have been pretty easy for the US
relationship to be a political football that
was kicked backwards and for wards by the
two major political parties had we not had
quite a clear view about the anti-nuclear
legislation on one hand, but also about
rebuilding of trust and confidence as
With just under eight and a half years in
charge, Mr McCully is behind only Keith
Holyoake and Don McKinnon on the list
of our longest serving foreign ministers.
What then is the “McCully doctrine”, the
principles that have guided New Zealand
on the international stage since 2008?
Perhaps foremost in his mind is the
need for “fundamentally mainstream
New Zealand positions” able to withstand
changes of government in the interests of
“Looking for the middle ground,
looking for positions that are going to be
sustainable over time is, I think, pretty
important for a small country like this.”
He says the Government has reinforced
traditional relationships with countries like
the United Kingdom, the US and Australia,
while also building new connections in
areas like Asia and the Gulf States.
However, Mr McCully says his most
fulfilling and most challenging work has
been building New Zealand’s role in the
Pacific, redirecting more aid to the area and
making every dollar work.
“I’ve put a lot of my personal effort into
ensuring that we actually live up to the
expectations our neighbours have of us and
the responsibilities we should carry.”
Aid researcher Terence Wood last week
accused Mr McCully of leaving behind
white elephant infrastructure projects in
the region. The suggestion sparks a burst of
passion from Mr McCully, as he talks about
shifting Pacific countries from diesel-based
electricity to renewables.
“If you go and talk to the people in
Tokelau, who were 100% dependent upon
fossil fuels for their electricity who are now
100% renewable, if you go and talk to the
people in the northern Cook Islands . . . if
you go to all of the outer islands of Tuvalu
and find the same there, these people aren’t
talking about white elephants, let me assure
These “transformational” projects may
not have pleased NGOs, Mr McCully
says, “but they sure as hell have made their
impact in the region”.
Mr McCully also highlights the
Government ’s progress on trade, with
negotiations on the China FTA upgrade
under way, a Gulf States FTA set to
be signed this year, and progress on a
European Union F TA after “a lot of sweat
and a lot of travel”.
Perhaps the most high-profile result of
Mr McCully’s efforts came in 2014, when
New Zealand won a seat on the United
Nations Security Council for a two-year
While the prestige of the position was
undeniable, the long-term benefits for the
country after relinquishing the position
have been less clear to some.
Mr McCully says the role allowed New
Zealand to intensify its relationships with
other countries involved with the council,
including those from the Middle East and
He says New Zealand ’s standing in the
international community has improved as a
result, building on the reputation which led
us to victory in the first place.
“ We are a small country that has a good
reputation, a reputation for being fair-
minded, for being open and having good
values, and I think our time on the council,
not just what we did but the way we did it,
built that brand.”
Mr McCully has never shied away from
criticising the UN, particularly veto powers
exercised by the Security Council’s five
Asked whether meaningful reform
is possible, he puffs out his cheeks and
audibly exhales before responding.
“The short answer is it ’s not going to
happen in a hurry . . . it comes down the
193 members who have to sooner or
later say they ’re fed up with a body that
has governance arrangements that are
completely unsuitable to the Security
Council carrying out its tasks in a modern
Of course, Mr McCully’s time in charge
has not been without its controversies.
Most notorious was the “Saudi sheep
deal”, an agrihub set up in Saudi Arabia by
the Government as part of an $11.5 million
deal with Saudi businessman Hamood Al
Ali Al Khalaf.
Opponents alleged it was a pay-off to get
a free trade deal across the line and ease
anger over a ban on live sheep exports.
An investigation by Auditor-General Lyn
Provost found no evidence of corruption,
but “significant shortcomings” in how the
deal was presented to cabinet.
Mr McCully says the issue was “hardly
a hanging offence”, while the state of
relations between New Zealand and the
Gulf region meant something had to be
“Doing something as complicated and
difficult as that to resolve a problem that
was as challenging as that, while you’re
moving around the world and dealing with
a million other things, of course there’d be
opportunities to improve the process.
“But the fundamental point here is that
we had got ourselves into a completely
unacceptable position, not just in relation to
the relationship with one country, but the
relationship with the whole region, and we
New Zealand’s decision to co-sponsor a
UN resolution last December, slamming
Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory
as “a flagrant violation under international
law ”, also put the Government in the
firing line, with Israel withdrawing its
ambassador in protest.
Mr McCully says New Zealand ’s policy
position was always going to disappoint
some countries, while the “rather unusual
set of events” which led to the resolution
— including a last-minute withdrawal
by its sponsor on the eve of Christmas —
However, he is unrepentant about the
“I’m aware that there’s some criticism, but
I regard that longstanding New Zealand
position as one that would be very difficult
for us not to vote for.”
Mr McCully’s relationship with his
ministry has also been a hot topic.
An Mfat restructure early in his tenure
was bitterly fought by some staffers, while
as recently as February he blasted chief
executive Brook Barrington over the
ministry’s delay in responding to Donald
Trump’s “Muslim ban”.
Mr McCully says his relationship with
Mfat is “much better than news media
would suggest ”, at times speaking out
publicly but more often taking a more
However, he says the ministry needed to
change at the time of the reforms, and still
needs to adapt to the changing world it
“This is an environment in which
ministers aren’t going to sit around waiting
for diplomats to go and confer with
some partners and then do some careful
wordsmithing and then send a paper along
— they ’re going to turn on their television
set and see CNN or Sky News, and they ’re
going to pick up their phone and text their
“The real challenge for diplomacy is to
adapt to that new environment.”
Mr McCully praises his successor Gerry
Brownlee, saying he is “sure to do a first-
Mr Brownlee certainly has a lot to live up
to, with Mr McCully’s workload over the
years taking its toll.
He spent nearly three months off work
across 2015 and 2016, after receiving
private surgery to remove a benign tumour
and then contracting a superbug.
Mr McCully does not attribute that to
the job, saying he was simply unlucky —
“or very lucky indeed, depending on which
view you take” — but acknowledges the
role is physically draining.
“ You spent half your time travelling, and
the other half of your time trying to deal
with a lot of inwards traffic and a lot of
paperwork and of course jetlag is not an
insignificant consideration — it knocks you
“So I think my body’s had a reasonable
battering over eight and a half years, and
I’m looking for ward to the opportunity to
just not get on a plane for a while, actually.”
As to what awaits on terra firma, Mr
McCully says he does not intend to rush
into any new work.
However, he speaks of responsibilities
that come with the job, and says if the
Government or businesses call on him for
assistance, he is more than willing to assist.
“ When you sign up to be New Zealand’s
foreign minister and accept the investment
that taxpayers make in you to form
relationships and gain experience with
issues . . . you don’t just tune out because
your term in the portfolio ends.”
He has had some people tap him on the
shoulder already, with a couple of Pacific
projects “already on my plate”.
But for now, Mr McCully is simply
looking forward to some welcome respite
from his time in the skies.
McCully steps down
Foreign Minister Murray McCully steps down from Cabinet today, after more than
eight years in the job and thousands of air miles. He spoke to Newsroom’s
SAM SACHDEVA about the legacy he leaves behind, and his plans after three terms
leading New Zealand’s international agenda.
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