Posts tagged ‘unemployment’


The graffiti issue

25.09.2013

One voter says, ‘Hi, when I show people around Wellington I feel really ashamed of how our beautiful city has been covered in graffiti.’ And she is right. So what can we do?
   I responded in an email:

You are right, and believe it or not, $500,000 of our rates are going toward the cleaning and we’ve little to show for it. It’s worsened over the last few years.
   There are some basic things we can do, but they won’t stop the problem. Let me get those out of the way first, just out of completeness’ sake, because residents have told me they’d like to see these in place.
   Spray paint buyers could provide ID when buying, and I notice Eastern Ward council candidate Sarah Free proposes that sellers should even record the colour and date of purchase. I’d certainly support a bylaw for the ID requirement.
   Shop owners are telling me that it’s not just graffiti, it’s glass-scratchers. They’re going to huge expense replacing the glass.
   I understand from police that it’s difficult to identify the offenders but the few that we do catch, I support having them come and clean up their own mess along with doing community service.
   Now, all of the above are things we can do after the fact. What we really need to do is make sure young people (most taggers are 22–23) don’t commit these crimes in the first place.
   So here are my solutions.
   It’s no surprise that this happens more during a recession. Two main reasons these young people spray graffiti are: creativity (21·6 per cent); and believing in “celebrity” (15·7 per cent).
   This is why I emphasized youth in some of my policies. I put these in to my manifesto back in April, three to four months before my opponents even had theirs. Youth unemployment is shockingly high in Wellington—if you only look at 15–19, it’s 25 per cent. But if we provide them with apprenticeships (Dunedin City Council is already doing this) and internships, then they will be able to see that they can have a proper career path.
   Wellington businesses are telling me they are finding it hard to get talent, including the creative industries, and if some of these taggers are frustrated creatives or people who want their name “in lights”, let’s make them do things that benefit our economy.
   I’d rather spend [a chunk of] the $500,000 on the apprenticeship programme instead. I mention this as I’m not one to make election promises that we can’t pay for as a city.
   We publicize these programmes and we must include those that have an artistic component to them, and target the areas in our city that fall foul to graffiti the most.
   We recognize their issue that there aren’t jobs, and show them that they can apply their talents legitimately. Those businesses that want artists can get them; and the young people understand they can have a future.
   It’s not a perfect solution, but I’m all about targeting root causes rather than applying Band-Aids.
   This has the added effect of stopping some of the drunkenness as well—which is also socioeconomic and partly cultural—so we have a more palatable Courtenay Place and entertainment district. In effect, all this leads to a more presentable, liveable and prouder city.

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Posted in culture, New Zealand, politics, Wellington | No Comments »


The statistics back up my manifesto: we need to help young Wellingtonians

06.07.2013

One of the things I hear when campaigning is that one should not focus too much on youth, because young people do not vote as much. I think the first part of that is bollocks.
   While it’s true that the youth vote has never been strong, no one can claim to represent a city without getting a sense of where young people are at. They have the most to lose if political leaders mess things up. And being the youngest candidate (at 40), I have the most to lose among those running—because I’ll want to keep living in Wellington and I want to make sure everything’s right the next generation.
   It’s why my manifesto contained policies for younger Wellingtonians as well as other groups. You can’t shun one for another. Published in April, I allowed people to give me feedback on it, to discuss and enhance the policies in there. While I technically authored it, it’s really one that you’ve written—through my interacting with you in person and on the social networks for the past six or more years.
   And it’s lucky I did. One of the policies, about providing internship programmes, was one that came out of my own experience with them at my company. Dozens have come through Jack Yan & Associates and Lucire. Many continue to live in Wellington and establish careers here, and become ratepayers or, in some cases, business owners. Some go off on their OEs but come back here. When Mayor Dave Cull of Dunedin told me about the DCC’s one, I thought: it is doable within a city’s budget. It can help with companies’ recruitment, encourage young people to stay in the city, equip them with skills, and show them that the industries they want to work in have a future that includes them. Of course, we would need to look at the ROI more closely, but there are few down sides from helping younger Wellingtonians starting out in their adult lives.
   Of course we’ll need to get the other parts of the economy right, too, which my manifesto addresses.
   Six weeks after my manifesto was released, this has become vital, with statistics showing that unemployment for 15- to 19-year-olds is 25 per cent. That’s what the aggregate figure of 7·5 per cent across Wellington hides. When you look at pre-loading and the other issues relating to alcohol policy, it’s not impossible to see a connection: there’s a sense of hopelessness for some of our young people, that we have to get right.
   As I said time and time again: it cannot be politics as usual.
   If the creative sector is one where we can have high-value jobs, then maybe we need to elect someone from that very sector with a history of entrepreneurship.
   In April, I noted, under the section on ‘Uniting Wellingtonians’:

There have been relatively few programmes to help younger Wellingtonians. Probably because politicians don’t see them as big voters. It shouldn’t matter: mayoral policies should look to future voters because the brain drain to Auckland, Australia, and the UK is doing us little good.
   Not only will I advocate internship and apprenticeship programmes such as Media Lab, which will see young people placed with our tech and creative firms with the city supporting the venture. It will be a priority for the programme to meet a high conversion rate to real jobs—something I have practised in my own firm.
   Young people should rightly participate in our city’s decisions, because they have more to lose if we mess things up. That means opening the city up to greater participation online and encouraging input from them in every area, from the arts to commerce, including a city branding campaign where they can have their say over Wellington’s direction.
   In 2010, I was the most connected candidate, and I promise to remain accessible through major social networks in this one, and after getting office.
   I believe some minor crimes such as tagging stem from a sense of hopelessness, something that should not be happening in a first-world country. By giving youth a say, we can reverse their pessimism and let them know that the system is working for their futures.

   I know: of that group, only 40 per cent can vote. But as we are voting for the future of our city, then we need to consider those who are going to be affected for the long term.
   As the only Wellington-bred candidate who did all his schooling here, I know that we ignore younger Wellingtonians’ demands and participation in our society at our peril.

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Posted in business, culture, leadership, New Zealand, politics, Wellington | No Comments »


It’s time to consider open source

14.06.2010

Certain media are reporting the city’s [debt] in the $200 million–$300 million mark but our outside-council research reveals this is a very conservative estimate. It’s likely to be more.
   Regardless of whether it’s $200 million or half an (American) billion (scary just saying it), any deficit that’s nine digits long can’t be good for a relatively small city.
   One of my plans after I get into office will be to balance the budget, which is why I have been going on about growing jobs and businesses in such a big way. In a very shortcut way of explaining it: more new businesses, more ratepayers, fewer reasons to increase the rates. Which, I might add, this current administration has already locked in for us over the next few years, letting the next mayor get the blame.
   I object to any cuts in library services, even if there is a strong denial that that is happening. In a knowledge economy, we cannot afford to create a class system of the knowledge-rich and the knowledge-poor.
   On this note, recently I asked Don Christie of the New Zealand Open Source Society to examine an open-source strategy for Wellington City. For starters, we discussed how the library software is a proprietary system that costs this city a considerable amount—when there is a New Zealand-developed open-source program that many other cities have implemented.
   While it would be nice to keep believing we can afford expensive software to run city services, I don’t like debt, and I certainly don’t like owing people any money.
   And I’m not prepared to sell off our water to technocrats or any profitable part of the family jewels to see the hundred-million figure reduced.
   There are good examples of open source working for cities and creating significant savings. Zaragoza, Spain, has been moving to a complete open-source desktop. And it’s not the only one.
   Furthermore, open source will mean jobs in Wellington. This will mean new jobs. I have already gone on about the tech clusters being a vital part of this city’s economy. Open-source skills are in high demand, and if overseas trends are anything to go by, we can attract these skilled people to our city. Already Wellington is a centre of excellence in many IT-related fields. I’m talking about extending this and making a real claim to open-source. Let the world know that Wellington is the home of not just the most advanced software and visual effects’ companies, but logically extend that to open source as well.
   It’s projected that by 2020, 40 per cent of jobs in IT will be open-source-related, so if we don’t do it, another New Zealand city will. I’m not about to give up one of our most important advantages, one which has been emerging in the capital since the 1990s.
   Such moves can be done with the city and Wellington’s private enterprises working together—but this will need to come from the top, and be put in motion by a mayor who’s passionate about job creation. It’s one of the biggest challenges we face, and I seem to be a lone voice on focusing on this for our city.

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Posted in business, internet, leadership, media, New Zealand, politics, technology, Wellington | 9 Comments »


I do not stand for John Key’s defeatist talk

09.02.2010

I’ve heard it all before. In the 1980s, the New Zealand Government promised that, with the introduction of Goods and Services’ Tax (GST), people would be better off, because it would mean more money in our pockets.
   With the proposal to hike GST to 15 per cent under the current government, Prime Minister John Key is singing a similar tune: that somehow, this will be better for us, offset by a reduction in income tax.
   It’s the same tune that was sung 25 years ago by another technocratic government, clueless on actually how to grow the economy without stealing from the general public.
   Economies are grown through innovation and creating circumstances that allow that to happen, which was what the National Party promised with its broadband strategy. We’ve since heard less about that and more about putting some cycle tracks through the country for tourists—all short-term projects from people who have never had to start a long-term business in their lives.
   Unemployment is now up to 7·3 per cent. Before you say it’s not that bad compared with overseas, it’s still pretty terrible. It’s why this has been the core of a lot of my mayoral campaign messages: we need to get unemployment down. How? By creating the environment through which innovation can be fostered.
   In Wellington, that means building on the creative and technological clusters people have been creating. What this city should have in the next three years is a mayor and council that support this—because it is in the national interest.
   When Dr Alan Bollard, Governor of the Reserve Bank, said we should not bother trying to match Australia’s standard of living by 2025 because we lacked the natural resources, I was shocked at what I would call a defeatist attitude—one that the PM seems to share with trying to take from everyday New Zealanders.
   I hope that Dr Bollard can inform me of the context, as I was out of the country when he made his statement on television.
   But I will say that we already are among the most innovative people in the world, both out of our natural creativity and out of necessity.
   We also know that economies are built on industry clusters—something that already exists in Wellington and needs just enough encouragement from a supportive mayor and council.
   We also know that in the 21st century, trying to grow an economy based around primary products and natural resources is an outmoded idea. They are important, of course, and New Zealand will always need a vibrant primary sector, but the real growth is in intellectual capital—something which people in national politics seem to lack.
   What we don’t have are enough people seeking public office who can see this. People who want to grow the economy. People who believe enough in the intelligence and innovation of New Zealanders.
   Well, I believe in us, and I believe in our potential. I also don’t believe in robbing everyday New Zealanders of their hard-earned cash.
   While some rates’ increases are already planned by this current administration, let us try to minimize future increases by creating real businesses for Wellington, and for this city.
   Let’s also show the defeatists that they are yesterday’s men. We know better, and we can do better.

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Posted in business, internet, leadership, New Zealand, politics, technology, Wellington | 6 Comments »