Teachers, nurses look set to be big winners from coalition Government's first budget

Teachers and nurses look set to be winners from the coalition Government's first budget in May.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson acknowledged on TVNZ 1's Q+A today both groups missed out on a "dividend" from strong growth in the economy in recent years. 

New Zealand's economy has been growing for nearly 10 years straight, but the Finance Minister says workers haven't reaped the rewards. 

"It is time for New Zealand wage and salary earners to see a better dividend from growth," Mr Robertson said. 

One way Mr Robertson can do that is by lifting the pay of thousands of nurses and teachers. Both groups are in pay negotiations with the Government.

"Those groups of professionals probably haven't seen the benefit they should've in recent years," Mr Robertson said.

Join Q+A's Corin Dann for questions around spending demands for Grant Robertson. Source: Q+A

Asked are those groups in line for a "reasonable bump" in pay he said, "Yeah, look, they are in line for a negotiation with us. You know, when people start throwing figures like 16 per cent around, you've got to be pretty careful with a number like that." 

While the minimum wage is being increased, Mr Robertson accepts his ability to boost wages across the private sector is limited.   

"In the end it's the overall growth of the productivity of economy that will flow through to people in the private sector getting bigger wages." 

Following the interview with the Finance Minister, Fran O'Sullivan, NZME Head Of Business commented: "I didn't hear anything there that actually gave me confidence in productivity gains, apart from sloganeering."

When it comes to this year's Budget, money will be tight. Teachers and nurses pay demands alone will cost hundreds of millions dollars. 

So it's not surprising Mr Robertson wouldn't commit today on National's $20 billion pledge to upgrade the New Zealand Defence Force. 

"I don't think it's responsible at the moment to commit to any number until we're completely clear about the way that we go about our procurement," he said. 

But balancing the books is not his sole mission.  He also wants a focus on "well-being" rather than just economic activity or GDP.    

"What matters, I think, to New Zealanders is that their environment's clean, that the water's clean, that actually people in their communities are feeling safe," Mr Robertson said. 

Ms O'Sullivan said: "Really, without hard nose policies about expenditure, about micro reform that actually does deliver on productivity it's going to be difficult to see how the Government can tend to what on the surface is some fairly fluffy stuff."

Grant Robertson talks social dividends, are pay rises on the cards for teachers? Source: Q+A

Grant Robertson will deliver his first Budget on May 17. 

Finance Minister Grant Robertson acknowledged on Q+A today both groups missed out on a "dividend". Source: 1 NEWS



Education Ministry encourages parents to complain to Hamilton school if unhappy with principal's truant rape speech

The Ministry of Education is encouraging parents to complain to a Hamilton high school if they're concerned by it's principal's remarks to students that truants are highly likely to be rape or suicide victims.

Fraser High School principal Virginia Crawford's speech to a full school assembly yesterday already has some parents vowing to pull their children from the school.

In her speech which was secretly recorded by a student and uploaded to YouTube, Ms Crawford said in part: "Every student who walks out of the gate to truant is already a statistic of the worst kind - highly likely to go to prison, either commit domestic violence or be a victim of domestic violence, be illiterate, be a rape victim, be a suicide victim."

The Ministry of Education has told Newshub it has been in contact with the school following Ms Crawford's speech.

"We are aware that some of the comments made by the principal have been upsetting to some people," the ministry's deputy secretary sector enablement and support Katrina Casey said in a statement.

"The school has a complaints process in place and we would encourage any parents who are concerned about the content of the speech to contact the school directly."

In her speech, Ms Crawford said: "When I drive out of school during class time for meetings, and I see groups of students sitting outside the dairy, fish and chip shop, bus stop, some of the things I am thinking is that is another group of students without a future."

She urged students to work hard in school to make better lives for themselves.

Ms Casey said it's really important that children go to school every day, saying international surveys have shown that attendance is one of the strongest drivers of student achievement.

It appears, however that Ms Crawford's speech has backfired with angry students now said to be planning a "mass wag".

A staff member told Newshub students had mentioned they're planning on wagging next week, probably for one period.

A parent commenting on the YouTube video, said they would pull their daughter out of the school, describing the principal's speech as disturbing, revolting and tormenting.

"This revolting tormenting speech has only proven that YOU madam principal are the FAILURE in this matter. Disgusting inappropriate accusations. I'm pulling my daughter out until you are replaced," the parent wrote.

Another commenter said his stepson would no longer attend Fraser High School after hearing the speech.

“After seeing this speech I was literally shaking, this kind of offensive culture should not be permitted in New Zealand,” he wrote.

Fraser High School Board of Trustees chair Jeff Green has told Stuff the school has received a "great deal of positive feedback on the speech". 

"We consider that even if just one student reconsiders the path they are taking and takes steps in a more positive direction after this speech then that could have huge impact on their future lives and those of their family and friends and the wider community, Mr Green said in a statement. 

Meanwhile a Year 12 student, Cody Barron, told Newshub one girl started crying in the assembly. 

"When you go to a school, you don't expect to hear your principal be talking trash about suburbs 90 percent of the students come from - which seemed to be racial - and how she's so much better than us," Cody said.

A Hamilton high school principal has come under fire for a speech in which she said truants were highly likely to end up in prison, be illiterate, be a rape victim or commit suicide. Source: Dick Tater

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Doctor's stark warning after Christchurch synthetic cannabis overdoses

"There's no doubt, if you're smoking this stuff, you're gambling with your life."

That's the stark warning to users of synthetic cannabis from an emergency room doctor in Christchurch after a "nasty batch" of the drug has caused 10 people to overdose in the city in the last 48 hours.

Dr Mark Gilbert said there are eight people still critically ill and "we can’t guarantee they’ll live".

The people were unconscious when they arrived at the emergency room, the doctor said.

"When the patients come to the emergency room, we're finding they're in various states of unconsciousness, they can’'t really tell us anything, we get very little information, sometimes no information."

He offered a stark warning to people using synthetic cannabis.

"There’s no doubt, if you’re smoking this stuff, you’re gambling with your life," he said.

"We’d strongly advise that particularly at the moment, where there seems to be a bad batch in Christchurch, that people stay away from smoking even small amounts of this."

"It seems there's no safe level of this drug to smoke."

Dr Gilbert said it appeared the "bad batch" of the drug being sold was "causing particularly severe affects".

He went on to say: "The symptoms of this range in severity, but they generally start off with some agitation and confusion then precede to coma and seizures and in severe cases, cardiac rhythm disturbances and this can precede to cardiac arrest and death," he said.

Emergency department doctor Mark Gilbert says the patients have been critically unwell as a bad batch of the drug is sold. Source: 1 NEWS

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Students report feeling queasy after plane emits unknown substance over Wairarapa school

Several students have reported feeling ill at a primary school in Carterton after a plane flew over the school and one student saw "stuff" coming out of the aircraft.

The incident happened at approximately 1pm at South End School in the Wairarapa town. The school says all students are now "fine".

Police say they are investigating and are going door to door in the area checking on residents' welfare and trying to locate the source of the smell. They are also searching the school's grounds.

A statement on the school's Facebook page reads:  "A plane flew in a southward direction and one student had seen 'stuff' coming out of the plane - so we assume it was a fertiliser of some sort - several students have experienced feeling quezzy and ucky."

The statement continues:  "I have made them wash their face and drink plenty of water."

In a more recent statement the school says no students are allowed out of the school grounds and no one is allowed into the grounds.

"ALL students are fine and being looked after," the statement reads.

A Wellington Free Ambulance spokesperson says they have four ambulances at the scene.

Small aircraft flying
Light plane (file picture). Source: istock.com


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Tauranga mussel processing plant ordered to pay nearly $280k after worker loses eye

A Tauranga mussel processing plant has been ordered to pay nearly $280,000 after a worker had to have his eye removed after an incident involving a corrosive cleaning product.

In a statement Worksafe says North Island Mussels Limited was sentenced in the Tauranga District Court today following the January 2017 incident which left their worker with life changing injuries.

The incident saw the worker decanting a cleaning product as a piece of tubing flicked him in the eye. The impact caused so much damage that the eye had to be removed, while the damage inflicted was so significant that fitting a prosthetic became impossible.

As a result, North Island Mussels Limited have been sentenced with a fine of $219,375, and ordered to pay $60,000 in reparation.

An investigation found that the cleaning product in question should not have been made available to be handled, instead should have been hardwired and plumbed for use.

"Protective equipment should not be the go to safety solution for using hazardous substances. If there is a smarter and safer way of doing a job, and it is reasonably practicable for it to be implemented then that is the expectation of the Health and Safety at Work Act" said WorkSafe's Deputy General Manager for Operations and Specialist Services Simon Humphries.

Seafood processing plant staff checking weight of mussels in small plastic container before packing
Mussel factory (file picture). Source: istock.com