Bob Parker’s overseas travel spending under fire

Bob Parker charged five servings of Moet to his ratepayer funded credit card while in Seoul. Photo / NZ Herald

Bob Parker charged five servings of Moet to his ratepayer funded credit card while in Seoul. Photo / NZ Herald

The Christchurch City Council is under more fire – this time over details about Mayor Bob Parker’s overseas travel spending.

The Star can reveal today that Mr Parker charged $219.25 on his ratepayer funded city council credit card for five servings of Moet et Chandon Brut champagne and a ham and cheese sandwich at the Hyatt Seoul while he was in Korea on council business last year.

The spending on the card was in breach of what he can use his city council credit card, or P (purchasing) card as it is known, for.

The Star only learned about the spending after the receipt was leaked to the newspaper.

In June, The Star requested through the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) all receipts for Mr Parker’s overseas trips since he was re-elected in 2010.

The city council has only supplied receipts for this year, despite ongoing requests to the council’s communications unit, and head of the Mayor’s Office, former Government House staffer Sarah Owen, for a full release of receipts.

The Star is still seeking the receipts for 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Mayoral candidate Lianne Dalziel said The Star’s issues obtaining information from the city council mirror her own problems.

“I am very sympathetic because I’ve had official information issues with council. I have been chasing information on the red zoning decision and I hit a brick wall.

“The acting chief executive [Jane Parfitt] did step in and now I have it.”

Ms Dalziel said the culture of “avoidance” and “secrecy” within the city council and in their dealings had to stop.

“If elected I will make sure reports are automatically disclosed – no journalist should spend time chasing information which has been requested – whatever system is currently in place needs to go.”

“We need a whole new way to open up council.”

Mr Parker’s spending at the Hyatt was subsequently reimbursed by the Israeli Embassy, but the council is refusing to say who his guests were.

Last week Mr Parker finally answered questions put to him by The Star after weeks of failing to respond to them.

In an emailed statement he told The Star the Seoul costs were for a “private meeting”.

He said he had apologised to staff for using his ratepayer funded credit card.

The Star asked why he had not used his own credit card as policies governing the use of city council credit cards say they can only be used for “valid business purposes”.

Said Mr Parker: “In the circumstances I found myself on, [sic] helped pick up the account knowing the policy, sought to have it immediately reimbursed, and apologised to staff for having to use my P card but had no alternative on that occasion.

“Not ideal, but no costs rested with the ratepayers,” he said.

He said all cost on the trip were “reimbursed by the host – not by council.”

Mr Parker travelled with his wife Jo Nicholls-Parker to Seoul and Israel last May.

He left Korea on May 5 to attend the International Mayors’ Conference in Israel.

He was widely criticised for taking Mrs Nicholls-Parker. Mr Parker ended up paying for the cost of her travel.

The Office of the Ombudsman said they had received 10 complaints for the year ended June 30 about city council LGOIMA requests.

That was down from 22 the previous year.



The New Zealand Herald

Revealed: staff down by 25%

September 18, 2013

Anna Patty

State Political Reporter



Pru Goward.

In the hot seat: Minister for Family and Community Services Pru Goward. Photo: Dallas Kilponen

The death of toddler Zoran Ivanovski has been drawn into the latest crisis involving Family Services Minister Pru Goward, after it emerged she has apparently misled Parliament over the number of child caseworkers.

In the days after his death, Ms Goward rejected claims of any staff shortages and accused the public service union of running a ”morally bankrupt” campaign.

But now, a series of high-level government emails reveal the number of child protection workers in Wollongong fell by 25 per cent last year.

Zoran Ivanovski

Tragic loss: Toddler Zoran Ivanovski died in Wollongong. Photo: RDP

Opposition Leader John Robertson said the minister ”should be sacked today”. ”This is now the third time she has misled the Parliament over the most critical of child protection issues,” he said.


After Zoran died from head injuries last August, child protection workers walked off the job in protest against staff shortages they said had prevented them from seeing him. They had received a number of reports about the two-year-old. His mother, Tamie Leanne Apps, has been charged with his murder.

In response to questions about a lack of resources, Ms Goward told Parliament on August 15 last year ”the truth is that not a single caseworker position has been cut in Wollongong”.

She said the staff vacancy rate at the Wollongong office had been reduced by one third.

In July this year, she maintained her position, saying Wollongong vacancy rates were at their lowest level in years. Her office told Fairfax Media ”the government has not cut front-line child protection caseworker positions”.

However, emails between senior managers from the Department of Family and Community Services and the Minister’s office show the number of full-time caseworkers in Wollongong fell from 44 in June 2011 to 39 in June last year and to 33 in December. The emails suggest the number of positions would drop to 29 in January this year.

An email from the Department of Family Services executive Kate Gray to Ms Goward’s chief of staff William Crook on February 25 says ”you will note there is a downward trend” in the Wollongong numbers.

The NSW Opposition questioned Ms Goward about why she has repeatedly claimed there are 2068 budgeted caseworkers when internal documents reveal this number has never been filled.

Minutes from ministerial meetings on June 11 and July 8 show the Department of Family and Community Services was asked to prepare a cabinet minute seeking additional funding to fully fund 2068 caseworker positions.

The ministerial notes tabled in a NSW Upper House call for papers say the 2068 positions have ”never been filled”.

Ms Goward told Parliament on Tuesday ”caseworker retention is a matter for the department. And the government has provided funding for 2068 caseworkers and that is what we expect to see”.

A spokesman for Ms Goward said: “Advice from the department is that the caseworker headcount at Wollongong increased between 2010 and 2012, and that budgeted positions remained constant during 2011 and 2012 at 37.7 full-time equivalent positions

The Sydney Morning Herald

Tony Abbott will domm future genertations if he ditches carbon tax

September 18, 2013

David Suzuki


<i>Illustration: Matt Davidson</i>

Digitally altered image: Matt Davidson

A quarter of a century ago, I asked Canada’s bright, new environment minister Lucien Bouchard what he felt was the most important environment issue facing Canadians. ”Global warming,” he immediately replied. ”It threatens the survival of our species. We have to act now.”

Back then his views echoed those of politicians around the world. George H.W. Bush, who didn’t have an environmental bone in his body, promised to be an ”environmental president” when he ran in 1988 because Americans had put it at the top of their concerns. Even Margaret Thatcher, when she was filmed picking up litter, turned to the camera to say, ”I’m a greenie too”.

But now, Bouchard and politicians around the world continue to retreat from the battle to protect the environment. Your new prime minister Tony Abbott is just another who finds it easier and more politically rewarding to focus on the next election cycle rather than the mountain of evidence that continues to grow and show we are trashing the biosphere and must reduce carbon emissions.

'This unprecedented event is unlike anything recorded in North American history.'

“This event is unlike anything recorded in North American history.” Photo: Nicolas Walker

I used to think some cataclysmic, climate-related event would shock the world into taking the steps needed to preserve the future of the human species. But after seeing what’s happened this past decade, I’m no longer sure any event or set of circumstances will be enough to jolt governments into action. (The 2008 bank-induced economic meltdown spurred politicians to spend hundreds of billions just to get the defective economy back up and running again!)


Just look at Canada.

In British Columbia, where I live, a warming climate has allowed insects the size of grains of rice to destroy $65 billion worth of pine trees in just a bit over a decade. For millennia the mountain pine beetle, a native of Canada, has been kept in check by our winter temperatures which reach minus 35 degrees for several days.

"Your new prime minister Tony Abbott is just another who finds it easier and more politically rewarding to focus on the next election cycle".

“Your new prime minister Tony Abbott is just another who finds it easier and more politically rewarding to focus on the next election cycle.” Photo: AFP

Not anymore. The British Columbia Ministry of Forests says that, thanks to global warming, we have not had one of these widespread weather events in the British Columbia interior since the winter of 1995-96.

With no more killing freezes, pine beetle numbers have exploded, destroying 710 million cubic metres of commercially valuable pine timber. That’s more than half of all such pine in the province. As the climate warms, the beetles have been blown over the Rocky Mountains where pine trees of the boreal forest extend across Canada.

This unprecedented event is unlike anything recorded in North American history, but it’s not been enough to galvanise our government to get serious about acting on climate change.

I’m at a loss to understand why. But if the melting polar ice cap, and the devastation wrought by hurricanes Katrina and Sandy was not enough to force governments into serious action, I guess I can hardly expect a little mountain pine beetle to do it.

From what I can see, it’s a similar story in Australia. Half the coral on the Great Barrier Reef has disappeared in the past 27 years and its size could halve again in the next decade with degradation of the environment and the increasing frequency of cyclones.

Bushfires in Australia are getting more severe and more frequent. I see in Sydney you have already had your first fires barely a week into spring. And what has your new government done in response? As soon as Mr Abbott won power, he promised to wind back Australia’s recent efforts to combat global warming.

His promise to scrap the carbon tax, a tax which had been a timid step in the right direction, to close down your green energy bank and to reduce the rebates for buying solar panels, all send a terrible signal to your entrepreneurs and to the community.

And all of it is being done in the name of saving the economy.

But for more than 20 years the insurance industry has been telling us we have all been paying more for changes in the climate. Why aren’t we listening to the insurers, the hardest business heads of all?

I would have thought Australia would be leading the world in developing a new economy because climate change is going to devastate Australia.

Instead, mining magnates are manipulating the debate in Australia just like they are doing elsewhere. Like the tobacco industry before them, they have known for years that climate change is happening and that burning fossil fuels is at the heart of it. But to maximise their profits they have continued to sow misunderstanding and confusion, funding the sceptics to perpetrate the myth that global warming is junk science.

They should be ignored because there is no confusion in the scientific community about what’s happening to our planet and what the future holds unless we change the way we live.

A carbon tax is just one small step to encourage companies and individuals to reduce dumping rubbish into the atmosphere.

Don’t Australians pay to put their junk into landfill?

The consequences of dumping our junk in the atmosphere are far greater than leaving garbage in the streets so why don’t we limit it by making people pay to dump it?

It’s the most basic lesson of economics. Anyone who understands and cares about the environment and economics will know ditching the carbon tax is not only crazy, it is absolutely suicidal.

David Suzuki is an award winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. He will speak at a City of Sydney City Talk on Tuesday, September 24, at City Recital Hall, Angel Place.

Brisbane Times

Bishop calls for a moratorium

September 18, 2013

Hamish Boland-Rudder

Reporter at The Canberra Times


New Catholic Archbishop Christopher Prowse outside St Christopher's Cathedral in Manuka.

New Catholic Archbishop Christopher Prowse outside St Christopher’s Cathedral in Manuka. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Canberra and Goulburn’s incoming Catholic Archbishop wants a moratorium called to stop the passage of any new laws on same-sex marriage.

Christopher Prowse, currently Bishop of the Sale diocese in Victoria, will take up the role of Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn in late November, and said he thought debate around equal marriage legislation took a narrow view.

He had not seen the proposed ACT bill, due to be introduced into the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday, but said generally speaking laws should not be rushed through.

“This debate is happening at a time when married life –


heterosexual married life – and family life are at a very fragile moment,” he said.

”I think we’ve got to look at this particular rising topic in a calm way which is not being pressurised for time or rushed into legislation before a good, philosophical and reasoned debate can be had. I have a feeling myself that Australian society needs a lot more time to consider implications of legislation in this regard.

”I would be calling for more of a moratorium to suspend pending legislation so that we, over the next period of time, can discuss this in a more reasoned way, where both subjective and objective arguments can be put forward and discussed in an atmosphere of calm and reason, particularly holding forward the importance of traditional marriage and its role in society.”

Bishop Prowse said he believed traditional, heterosexual marriage needed protection, and while he would hear people’s views, he would not be swayed by statistics showing high levels of support for same-sex marriage legislation in Canberra.

”I’m a person who is open to listening to people but I’ve also got plenty of opinions of my own and I think the Catholic Church’s opinion on such matters – we represent a reflection on humanity going over 2000 years … I think that gives us a certain confidence to have our opinions heard and, in a reasoned way, debate with people,” he said.

”The Catholic Church’s teaching on the matter is that homosexual acts are never approved of, but persons who are of homosexual orientation, that a great deal of compassion and understanding should be shown to them.”

The stance is in contrast to his predecessor in Canberra and Goulburn, former auxiliary bishop Pat Power, who, while opposed to same-sex marriage, was ambivalent towards homosexuality.

”I think it is really important to honour homosexual people and to understand that if that is their orientation, that is the way God has made them,” Bishop Power said at his retirement last year.

”If they are expressing their sexuality in a particular way, I don’t know I would want to be too judgmental about that. I think God is often kinder in any judgments that would be made than sometimes other Christians are.”

The Australian Christian Lobby said at the weekend the ACT’s proposed legislation on same-sex marriage was inappropriate and should be overridden by the federal government should it pass in the territory. But the group fell short of committing to a High Court challenge.

On a separate issue, Bishop Prowse had high praise for the work of the royal commission into institutional abuse, which began public hearings in Sydney this week. He hailed the bravery of victims who spoke out against abuse, and said the Church would support the commission and any victims in every way possible.

Bishop Prowse will be installed in a ceremony at St Christopher’s Cathedral on November 19. Before then he will be on Church business in Rome and India.
Canberra Times

New Dreamliner 787-9 off on test flight

A Boeing 787-9 taking off at Paine Field in Everett, Washington this morning. Photo / AP

A Boeing 787-9 taking off at Paine Field in Everett, Washington this morning. Photo / AP

The next model of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner took off today for a four-hour test flight.

Air New Zealand is the launch customer of the 787-9 aircraft and the first of the planes is due to join its fleet in the middle of next year.

The aircraft took off early today from Paine Field, near the factory where the plane was assembled, to the cheers of a couple of hundred Boeing employees who watched the blue and white plane with a number 9 on the tail rise into a cloudy sky.

See more details of the flight, including video of the landing at Boeing’s website here.

 A Boeing 787-9 taking off at Paine Field in Everett, Washington this morning. Photo / AP
A Boeing 787-9 taking off at Paine Field in Everett, Washington this morning. Photo / AP

After its maiden test flight, the plane landed at Boeing Field in Seattle.

The 787-9 is 6 metres longer and can seat 40 more passengers than the original 787-8, which carries between 210 and 250 passengers. The new version of the fuel-efficient, long-haul widebody also can carry more cargo and fly further, Boeing spokeswoman Kate Bergman said.

The 787-9 has 388 firm orders, which account for 40 per cent of all 787 orders, Bergman said.

After flight tests and certification, the first 787-9 will be delivered next June to Air New Zealand.

The airline won’t get the test aircraft first but one that is still on the production line. The first two test planes will be refitted before being delivered to Air New Zealand which has 10 of the 787-9s on order to fly routes, initially in the Pacific rim and Australia.

The original 787-8 was delivered in September 2011, nearly three years late because of production problems. The worldwide fleet of about 50 planes was grounded for almost four months this year after lithium batteries smouldered on two planes in January.

The redesigned battery system, which resolves the overheating problems, is built into the 787-9.

Boeing plans another stretch with the 787-10. That plane would seat between 300 and 330 passengers.


The New Zealand Herald

Definido corpo de jurados do Miss Brasil 2013


Sabrina Sato, Rita Batista, Matheus Massafera e as ex-misses Yeda Maria Vargas e Jacqueline Meirelles estão entre os escolhidos para o júri artístico do Miss Brasil.


Flávio Ricco com colaboração de José Carlos Nery

Raquel Nunes fará participação especial em Pecado Mortal


“Pecado Mortal” terá cerca de 200 participações especiais nos seus primeiros 20 capítulos…
… Além da Iris Bruzzi, Raquel Nunes e Sérgio Abreu também estão nesta lista.


Flávio Ricco com colaboração de José Carlos Nery

Band vai transmitir Mundial de Futebol de Areia


Na madrugada desta quinta-feira, às 3h30, ao vivo, a Bandeirantes começa a mostrar o Mundial de Beach Soccer, direto do Taiti. Jogo Brasil e Irã.


Flávio Ricco com colaboração de José Carlos Nery

SBT poderá lançar programa É hora de educar ! Veja o empecilho para o lançamento …


É hora de educar” é o título dos programetes que o SBT pretende lançar com a educadora Cris Poli…
… Mas só vai sair se o comercial vender.


Flávio Ricco com colaboração de José Carlos Nery