Thursday, February 26, 2009

Only If Convenient

Our National government is teaching us new things every day, it seems, and one of the latest is: gender equality is only for good economic times. Yes, you read that right; Tony Ryall announced this week that pay equity investigations in two departments would be cancelled because they would lead to pay demands which the government couldn't afford to meet. He is blatantly admitting that women are being paid less and deserve more, but denying them on the grounds of the economy. Labour instituted these pay equity inquiries, and we at Young Labour Christchurch believe that there is never a bad time for equality to be promoted, or for anyone to be paid a fair wage. We encourage everyone reading this to email Tony Ryall and tell him why he's wrong at, or to participate in the faxathon protest being organised by the fabulous ladies at The Hand Mirror. We assure you that we all will be!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Zealand's Housing Problems

During the support negotiations of the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) the Green party was able to secure a $1b fund to insulate homes around the country. During the election campaign National announced that they would scrap this fund citing lack of money in the budget to do so. I would argue that this is something that they can't afford not to do. Having lived in a cold damp flat last year I have experienced firsthand how your home can affect your health. I thought that I would share my story as an example but I am confident that my experience is not unique and I consider myself lucky to have had the option of shifting house.

I have always had mild asthma symptoms which have come and gone over the years but it has never been a major issue for me, until last year. As soon as I moved into the flat I began coughing at night and wheezing a lot during the day. This was largely controllable by inhalers until early in the winter when I got the flu which was going around Christchurch at the time. Every night for nearly two months I struggled to sleep because I couldn't stop coughing at night and I coughed during much of the day as well. It was only when I went to stay at my parents that I got a decent night's sleep. It took me nearly four months to fully recover from it. In the meantime it took its toll on me physically and mentally. I was tired and run down all the time and I struggled to keep up with assignments at uni.

It is no coincidence that when I moved into my flat my asthma symptoms flared up or that I coughed every night. The house that made me sick had no insulation and no heating and what was worse was that when I moved out and pulled the bed right out I found mould growing along the wall - it was that damp in my bedroom. It is because of my experience that I feel so strongly about this issue. It is also an issue that affects the population disproportionately, creating distinct inequalities between groups of people. The people that are forced to live in houses such as this are unable to afford an alternative. There are also many children suffering ill health as a result of poor quality housing. Is it any wonder that New Zealand has one of the highest child asthma rates in the world?

Insulating and heating homes are such simple solutions to a whole range of health issues. It also makes life that little bit better for people if they know that they are going home to a warm house that isn't going to make them sick. National's proposal to bring forward their $15million spending project just doesn't go far enough and will barely scratch the surface of the housing issues we have in New Zealand.

Barack Obama

I was one of many New Zealanders who got up early Wednesday morning to watch Barack Obama being sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. To me Obama's inauguration speech can be compared to Martin Luther King Jr.'s I have a dream speech. While many journalists have analysed what his speech means in terms of policy, I thought a good idea would be to get everyone to leave a comment on what Obama's election means to them. To get the ball rolling I have included a paragraph on my thoughts on Obama's speech.

Firstly what his speech signalled was the end of an era and a new beginning. We all know what the US has been in the past, but I can't see how it can possibly carry on down that path, and fortunately this was a key theme of Obama's speech. I was impressed by his commitments to the environment, reforming the education system, and of course making progress towards a universal health care system. These of course are policies that America has long needed but what excited me the most was his commitment to being a responsible world leader by dealing with poverty issues in the world, and also his wish for peace in the Middle East. I'm excited about Obama's election and I can't wait to see what his next move is and how he will go about achieving these amazing goals.