24 Thursday March 16 2017 Latest Christchurch news at www. .kiwi The Star Viewpoint Recovering from the Port Hills fire A MONTH on from the Port Hills fire, we now know a lot more about the damage caused by the blaze and the condition of the areas affected. Excellent work from people across many agencies has gone into managing the situation after the fires. Helicopters have used thermal imaging technology to identify hot spots, which are particularly dangerous features of bush fires. Even when the flames are out, the ground can still be hot enough to cause the fire to flare up again. Firefighters from across the country have been digging out and dampening down the problematic hot spots but the end of the situation is in sight. The death of chopper pilot and former SAS soldier Steve Askin was a devastating blow to emergency services and the wider community. I attended his funeral, which was a very moving service for a man who embodied the best qualities of the Kiwi spirit. The damage caused by the wildfires was extensive and disastrous and firefighters worked tirelessly to save as much property as possible. I know they take the loss of anyone’s home very hard. Some aerial pictures of where Gerry Brownlee the fire travelled show clearly the immense efforts to divert the fire from houses, with patches of green visible in the middle of black, burnt ground. The prime minister and I visited the command centre in Selwyn and saw the extent of the damage first-hand from the air, which was a very sobering experience. It was heartening to hear that some particularly significant natural hardwood forests were saved. These forests have tōtara, mataī and kahikatea that are 700 to 800 years old. I’m also pleased that the new Christchurch Adventure Park narrowly avoided being destroyed as this would have been an enormous loss for our regenerating city. I want to again thank the firefighters, helicopter pilots, local authorities, the New Zealand Defence Force and all frontline personnel for their long hours of work in difficult conditions – we truly owe them. •Gerry Brownlee is Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration Readers respond to an article in The Star last week, which reported many Cantabrians were struggling to find jobs and believed pay rates were being driven down by competition from the 6292 foreign workers brought to Christchurch over the past three years under the Government rebuild worker scheme Glenn Morrissey – What I could say about being a contractor here and the phone not ringing; about agencies that don’t hire Kiwi labour; of a complete lack of interest from the industry; about the volume of under the table work that happens here; of living in a complex that’s being renovated by entirely foreign labour; of all of that. Yet Work and Income is still giving people three grand to come here. Emma Poole – I am a dairy farmer (or was), who has spent three full seasons with one employer and worked as a relief milker for the same employer the following season. I have found it very hard to gain employment within this industry as employers are more often employing foreigners and paying less. I have even looked and applied for positions that are well below my average wages/salary, simply as I want a job. I’m told I am either over qualified or they are looking for someone just starting out. I have worked with several Indians and through conversations I learnt that both Indian employees were being paid $15,000 less than I was, and I had taken a junior position just to get back into what I love doing. I have also applied at several fast food outlets and have been declined, even though they are hiring. Instead of employing overseas, maybe the Government should introduce a work for the benefit scheme, where they work and learn and, if they don’t CHANGE: Migrants are willing to work for a lot less than local contractors, which is driving down pay rates. PHOTO: GEOFF SLOAN show up, dock their wages by the amount of hours they never showed. Drug test unemployment beneficiaries, as I know so many young ones aged 16-25 that are constant drug users. The Government needs to stop making excuses and start acting. Joseph Shaw – I read your article in The Star about migrants taking jobs off Kiwis like me and I can honestly tell you they are! I can’t get a job here in Christchurch, employers want cheap labour. I live in Hornby- Wigram. On the job seekers benefit, like for ever. Someone help me get a job! Ken Duncan – I will give you several examples of the issues confronting Kiwi workers, and the claims by politicians, leaders of groups like Business New Zealand and employers are nothing but smoke and mirrors. First example happened to me recently. It is not uncommon when going through agencies for the agency to mislead you about the nature of work to just get a body on site. It is also not uncommon for employers to state to an agency that they want someone for a position which pays lower than what they really want. According to an employment advocate, these situations cannot be resolved by the employment courts. In the main, they involve a couple of dollars an hour difference, but my recent experience was quite different. The company allegedly asked for a labourer and an agency passed it on to me, so yes, I needed work and went. First thing I was told on arriving is you’re driving the truck. Three days later it was upgraded to a class four truck. Since most of it was off road so fitted with my training in the army, I kept doing it. The agency was aware of this, and aware that I should be getting paid more. I generally don’t do driving jobs because I don’t like driving, systems have changed and many requirements are unrealistic. On the third week, another person arrived from the agency to do the same job, getting paid $7 an hour more. They had more experience at driving trucks, but not in the off-road driving type we were doing. Pay came through, I was still on a labourer’s wage.
The Star Latest Christchurch news at www. .kiwi Thursday March 16 2017 25 have seen the decline in the river water since the dairy industry got well paid from the price of milk solids. This river needs to be saved now, not by 2040 – it will be long gone by then. ECan, do your work properly or move on from the next election and get someone in there with the guts to turn the sprinklers off and save our rivers. I had to inform the agency that it was to be sorted, otherwise was going to the police to have fraud charges laid (theft by deception). Until then I was unaware that, according to the agency, they had gone back to the client who refused to pay more even though the truck required a class four license. I was paid back pay by the agency but lost the work. Second incident was a guy of 63. He was told by Work and Income to come to Christchurch. Like me, he had a truck licence from years ago, but like me he had never used a Road Ranger gearbox. He was applying for jobs left right and centre either cooking or truck driving. He was called into try for a truck job but was told after two hours of training to go. A week later while labouring on a job, a truck showed up from that company with a Filipino driving. For the Filipino to have just arrived and be driving meant it was already in process when they went through the charade of seeing if a Kiwi could do the job. The third incident involved a young fellow living in his car waiting for a job to start, who went to Central Otago to pick fruit. He was lined up with all these other Kiwis when all these foreign backpackers walked past and got the jobs ahead of the Kiwis. Fourth incident was a 64-year-old who went for a job only to be told he wouldn’t get it because he wanted to do the job properly. They didn’t want people who wanted to do the job properly, but just someone to do the job. Barry Rutter – In short, what a load of rubbish! There’s still heaps of painter jobs around, check out Trade Me jobs. I made three phone calls and those that I called all pay well above minimum wage. Also, at the end of the day, any painter getting $43 an hour is just out right greedy. I own a small business that employs up to six staff (no migrant workers) and none of my staff get those rates. Personally, I only get paid $18 per hour, and yes, I have three kids and a mortgage just like many other workers. So to Mr Creagh . . . Stop being greedy and get up with the times, high pay rates were never going to last forever and it is not due just to migrant workers. Holly Traxler-Puddle, of Avonhead, reacts to an article in The Star about ECan investigating measures to protect the Selwyn River. In the article, Selwyn Waihora Zone Committee chairman Allen Lim said about 15-20 per cent of the river’s low flows could be attributed to irrigation What a bunch of hooey! The Selwyn River is dead because of the irrigation in the area – certainly not the pittance of 15-20 per cent as stated by Allen Lim. Where is he getting his information from? If you are from this area, you Selwyn Waihora Zone Committee chairman Allen Lim responds: The 15-20 per cent figure I mentioned, referring to the relative impact of irrigation compared with other factors, comes from the scientific assessment made for the Selwyn Waihora water plan, which became operative last year. It represents the average reduction in Waihora spring-fed streams (not just Selwyn) caused by cumulative irrigation takes. Climate played a big part in the current situation. There are examples of other rivers and lakes that have gone dry, or are at record lows, but are not subject to irrigation takes, such as Lake Lyndon in Porters Pass. To deny that the lack of rainfall for the last three winters has nothing to do with the river going dry and Lake Lyndon at record lows is like saying CO2 is not a greenhouse gas and there is no climate change. Full irrigation restrictions apply to all takes from the Selwyn River. Many groundwater takes are on partial restriction and all deep groundwater takes have restrictions on their annual volumes. This has been the case since November 2015. We need to consider all factors and not close our mind to any. To this end, in our last meeting, the Selwyn Waihora Zone Committee resolved to put the near river augmentation project for the Selwyn River up for funding. We want to have the Selwyn swimmable long before 2040. Again, I would like to encourage anyone with a bit of energy to channel it and help us manage the water. •Debate over the closing time of Selwyn bars, page 26 Clinical mental health services struggling LAST WEEK, the organisation responsible for delivering clinical mental health services in our area, the Canterbury District Health Board, came to Parliament to give its annual report. This did not make for pretty reading. The health select committee heard that there are simply not enough beds for the people requiring them at Hillmorton. As a result of this, some patients have had to be moved to other facilities at night. The adult acute inpatient service has been seeing up to 80 or 85 inpatients at a time, but only has 64 beds. This means that instead of being able to stay in for their treatment, patients are being shuffled off to other organisations for the night and brought back to Hillmorton each day. The committee also heard that the health board is increasingly worried about the 18, 19, 20-year-old age group. Those were the children who were moving from primary school to secondary school in 2011. They noted a significant increase in a range of different social agencies involved in the lives of this age group, including police and justice. There is no doubt that our mental health workers in Canterbury are under immense pressure. In January, the health board said that they’re seeing about 700 more adults and 300 more children each month than they were before the quakes. The number of nurses working in specialist mental health services has increased by about 10 per cent since 2012, but the number of doctors and senior doctors has stayed the same,in spite of the unprecedented increase in need since February 2011. The National Government has let Canterbury down on mental health. In spite of an indisputable need for services post-quake, they have continued to fund us under a “business as usual” model. The small one-off funding injections the Government has delivered have not even begun to scratch the surface of the problem. The current situation is unsafe and unacceptable for the workforce. It is not good enough for the patients and it is damaging for our wider communities. National is putting everyone at risk. •Megan Woods is Labour’s Canterbury spokeswoman