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Insights 16: 5 May 2017
The Overseas Catch: The state of recreational fisheries management abroad
Dr Eric Crampton on inequality in New Zealand
Dr Eric Crampton: Risky impressions and judicial euphemisms

Equity for home-care clients
Dr Eric Crampton | Chief Economist |
Nobody yet knows the new pay equity regime’s administrative cost. But we have a pretty good estimate of the costs of the pay equity settlement for the aged care sector: about two billion dollars.

Pay there was going to have to increase to attract more workers to serve an aging population – which perhaps discouraged the government from simply legislating around the TerraNova decision. But there is a better way to improve pay for home-based care workers, to reduce overall cost, and substantially to improve conditions for both carers and clients.

Those needing government-funded home-based care, and their families, have little say in who comes into the home to help: they get who the DHB contractor sends. You have more choice in who will be your plumber than in who will assist with your bathing.

Enter MyCare.

MyCare’s website lets carers post the kinds of jobs they can help with, and clients post about the help they need. Then they find each other. About 3500 care workers already are registered through the MyCare system, posting their credentials and hourly rates.

The system takes a small commission but provides a lot of value in exchange. MyCare helps its self-employed contractors find local jobs to suit their skills and availability.

It also handles service records and invoicing, manages their tax obligations, and provides liability and indemnity insurance for workers paid through its platform. On the client side, family members can easily find and coordinate care for elderly or disabled relatives.

And carers there earn more than they would earn through DHB contractors: because clients and their families manage more of their own care, overheads are lower.

But if your home-based care is government-funded, you are stuck with the local DHB contractor. And that regime is set to become a lot more expensive, both because of an aging population and because of the TerraNova decision. Costs would be lower, clients would be better off, and carers would earn more as contractors through sites like MyCare.

District Health Boards should revisit how they handle home-based care. A self-directed system running in parallel to the traditional model would respect able clients’ agency by allowing them choice and more control over some of their own decisions.

And if it means that the TerraNova decision is a bit less costly, so much the better.

The public deserve the "true facts"
Dr Randall Bess | Research Fellow |
The former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was known for saying it would be a mistake to keep the “true facts” from the public.

Basically, we hope our political leaders and their advisors will follow Churchill’s advice. Regrettably, though, political expediency often wins out.

In May 2016, Auckland University released a report regarding widespread historical misreporting of fish catches and discarding of unwanted bycatch.

Our political leaders and Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) advisors were quick to deny any big problems exist. They fired shots at the messenger, with no real acknowledgement of the facts about known problems.

Their responses changed as three MPI investigation reports were leaked to the public. The reports disclosed disturbing evidence, including camera footage, of “what we [MPI] have known for a long time” and did not act on.  

MPI was quick to announce an independent Queen’s Council review, but it had already defended itself on 3 News. Advisors asserted on air that the decision not to prosecute those involved in potentially illegal activities (caught on camera) was based on legal advice.

However, 3 News recently revealed an Ombudsman’s investigation, which concluded that no such advice ever existed. MPI had to admit this “true fact”.  

Meanwhile, the commercial fishing sector has ramped up some legitimate challenges to the Auckland University report, following the late 2016 announcement that the orange roughy fishery has made a remarkable turnaround.

For decades, the orange roughy fishery elicited criticism worldwide for getting the science wrong, causing the fishery to become severely depleted. The fishery’s reputation was redeemed by rebuilding sufficiently to earn Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, with conditions.

The MSC is an independent body dedicated to addressing problems related to unsustainable fishing practices. MSC certification is increasingly important for consumers, because it independently verifies the facts about a fishery’s management and value chain against set criteria.   

The commercial fishing sector should be proud there are now six offshore fisheries that have earned MSC certification. This fact raises some questions about the relevance of the Auckland University report’s historical focus.

But, at present, the extent of reporting and discarding problems in inshore fisheries is unknown. Also, the sustainability status of several is poor or unknown. If key inshore fisheries were assessed against MSC criteria, the facts about these problems might be flushed out.

Let’s hope our political leaders and their advisors find Churchillian courage and determination in addressing these problems.

When pop and politics collide
Dr Oliver Hartwich | Executive Director |
It is a distraction that National could do without this election year. Instead of battling the opposition, they are facing Eminem’s lawyers in the High Court.

The US rapper is suing National for breach of copyright. It is about the use of background music in one of the party’s 2014 campaign adverts.

And indeed, even if you are tone deaf it is hard to miss the similarities between Lose Yourself and what the Nats describe as the sound-alike work Eminem Esque.

The court will decide if copyright laws have been breached, and I am not qualified to offer my opinion. All I wonder is why politics and pop music so often collide around election campaigns.

For anyone familiar with Eminem’s song, it would have been a strange choice for National. At least if it made you recall its largely autobiographical lyrics.

Lose Yourself is about Eminem’s difficult path into the rap scene and estrangement from his daughter. “He goes home and barely knows his own daughter,” is probably not something the Nats’ campaign managers would have liked to see associated with John Key.

At least there was only music in National’s ad. Once lyrics get involved, it becomes even more complicated.

Tony Blair’s campaign, which swept him to power in 1997, used D:Ream’s Things Can Only Get Better. Sounds like a song made for a party that had been out of office for 18 years.

The only problem was that the rest of the song had little to do with politics. Instead, it sounds more like the singer discussing how he managed to overcome his demons:

“I, sometimes I lose myself in me / I lose track of time / And I can’t see the wood for the trees / You set them alight / Burning bridges as you go / I’m too weak to fight you / I’ve got my personal hell to deal with.”

Not quite the scenario in which you would call on Tony Blair for help. And things did not get much better with him anyway.

But wait, it gets worse. In her 2005 campaign, Angela Merkel chose the Rolling Stones’ Angie as her song. Never mind that it is about explaining to that ‘Angie’ why the relationship is over. In fact, at that point Merkel had not even been elected chancellor.

Compared to that, National’s Eminem-esque song may have breached copyright. But at least it spared us any ill-suited lyrics.
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