The Grey Power Magazine is a prime national news source for its readers – New Zealand men and women over 50. Circulated quarterly to more than 68,000 members, Grey Power Magazine reports on the policies of the Grey Power Federation, and the concerns of the elderly, backgrounding and interpreting official decisions which affect their lives.
12 NZ GREYPOWER MAGAZINE » MARCH 2018 STAYING SAFE A refresher workshop for senior road users Have fun and brush up on ways to maintain your mobility and independence Staying Safe is a classroom-based refresher workshop designed for all senior road users aged 70 and over. The aim of this workshop is to: • help you to maintain and improve your safe driving practices • give you information about other transport options available when driving is no longer possible. For more information about courses, please contact the NZ Transport Agency on 0800 822 422. You can take a self-assessment quiz, watch safety videos and read about how to improve your safety on the road at www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/seniorroad-users. Why not visit today?
NZ GREYPOWER MAGAZINE » MARCH 2018 13 PRESIDENT’S REPORT: The power of politics After only a few weeks in office, the new Labour-led government, which I like to think Grey Power played a significant part in getting elected, has shown a degree of human empathy the likes of which the country has not seen since Michael Joseph Savage led the nation out of the Great Depression of the 1930s. FROM TOM O’CONNOR National President Grey Power NZ Federation Inc. Grey Power is not aligned to any political party, but will work with any and all of them in the interests of older New Zealanders. With that in mind, federation board members spent a lot of time with Labour and the Greens, before the general election helping them develop and fine tune their new housing and aged care policies. We have found that working with governments of any colour, is far more productive than fighting them over things we disagree about. That is not to say we can relax, as one of the more important issues over the coming year will be the review of the electricity industry. We have waited for more than 20 years for the promised savings from the 1997 restructure of our system of electricity generation and supply to materialise. They were never going to, and we now have families who cannot afford their power bills as well as buy groceries. Tom O’Connor The International Energy Authority said last year that household electricity prices in New Zealand have grown faster than in other countries and that rises between 2009 and 2014 were “significant”. It remains one of the more glaring examples of the catastrophic failure of applying the flawed principles of neoliberal market forces to an essential commodity. Electricity is no longer an optional extra or modern convenience we can choose to do without as it was in our grandparents’ time. It is as essential and the air we breathe and the water we drink. For a previous generation, electricity was not as essential as it is today and getting in the fire wood was a regular chore which required hard work and skills with axe and saw. Today many households don’t even own an axe, let alone anyone with the ability to use one with safely, and many homes become uninhabitable without electricity. Apart from no power for heating and cooking, turning on a water tap requires electricity to drive the pump, meaning toilets and showers cannot be used. We have built our entire society to be solely dependent on electricity. Without it our world would grind to a halt in a few hours. Turning off the power today would be the equivalent of and unsurvivable heart attack for the country and yet we allow obscene profits to be made from it in the fatally flawed belief that market forces will solve all problems. They don’t. They simply create new ones. These facts were well understood in 1997 when former National minister Max Bradford deregulated the power market against sound advice and the will of the community. Up to that time we had the government owning and operating generation and high voltage power lines and locally elected power boards as retailers and managers of low voltage supply lines. There were no market forces or competition between power boards. There was no need for them, but the old system was thrown out; baby, bath water and all. Electricity is no longer an optional extra or modern convenience we can choose to do without as it was in our grandparents’ time. There were replaced by a bizarre multi-headed, money-making monster consisting of generation companies, about 30 lines companies and numerous retailers all taking profits from consumers with little regulation and consumer control. Those who sought to generate their own electricity with solar panels and other technology have been discouraged by high prices and scaremongering. Reacting to a 50 percent increase in power prices in the past 17 years, newly appointed Energy Minister Megan Woods has launched a major review of the electricity market, from generation to retail and distribution. That review is long overdue but it remains to be seen if it will deal with the underlying problem of inappropriate market forces applied to an essential commodity regardless of how it is generated. There is no possibility of returning to locally elected power boards as the government also wants all electricity generation to be from renewable sources by 2035. That is a commendable if idealistic goal, but much more acceptable than the enforced deregulation of the system 20year s ago which helped create many of the problems the new government must deal with. The predictable lesson from all of this is that there are some services and commodities, on which our lives depend, which must never again be subjected to unregulated market forces. Along with education, health services and drinking water we must include the supply of affordable electricity and Grey Power will be advocating that position. Prearranging your Funeral is a Responsible Decision The FDANZ Funeral Trust is a prepaid funeral plan that allows people to both preplan and make prepayments towards the cost of their funeral. Funds are held and invested by a Trust and paid out after the funeral service has been delivered. Did you know? Pre-paid funerals up to $10,000 are currently excluded from asset testing when assessing eligibility for a subsidy, if they’re held in a recognised funeral plan. If you want more information on how to preplan and prepay your funeral, visit your local FDANZ Funeral Director, phone us for further information on 04 473 7475 or visit www.fdanzfuneraltrust.co.nz FDANZ