Geraldine Lopdell’s family was looking for a fitting way to celebrate a “life well lived” when they decided to set up one of AUT’s newest awards.
During life, Geraldine had been an excellent teacher and artist, a supportive and generous friend and a captivating storyteller with an adventurous spirit.
Her early years were spent in Tonga and Samoa where her family travelled for her father’s work, and she had a firm belief that more women’s stories and views – particularly those of Pasifika women – needed to be told and heard.
The Geraldine Lopdell Award for Diversity in Communication will encourage Pasifika women to tell their stories. The first prize will be given in April 2019, nearly one year after Geraldine’s passing. It will be set at $1,200, and is anticipated to be offered annually for an initial term of ten years.
Deciding a memorial award to support something she cared about would be a fitting way to celebrate her life, Geraldine’s partner Colin and her two daughters Alex and Anne had approached their family friend, AUT’s Professor David Robie and have since been working with the AUT Foundation to establish the award.
Professor Robie, who heads up AUT’s Pacific Media Centre – Te Amokura, suggested a prize be established alongside the existing Storyboard Award for Diversity Reporting. It was decided the Pacific Media Centre, with its focus on telling ignored and ‘untold’ stories, and amplifying Pasifika women’s voices, was a natural fit for an award to celebrate this special woman’s legacy.
The family believe that Geraldine would have been honoured to have this award established in her name as she would have wanted to value the contributions and perspectives of Pasifika women.
Future generations As Colin says: “The award is about recognising the life of an extraordinary and wonderful woman by encouraging an extraordinary and wonderful woman at the start of her career. She would have liked her legacy to support the next generation.
“It’s not just about making a financial difference to the recipient, although clearly we hope that it will help. It is about saying to them that we acknowledge your hard work, we recognise your achievements, you are doing brilliantly, keep going!”
Setting an award up is fairly straightforward, Alex says: “and you can direct it in a way to match up with the social changes that you want to encourage and see. It’s something that can benefit future generations and depending how you set it up, it can go on in perpetuity.’
Alex and Colin say they would love to see more awards of this type, “because you don’t have to have a huge amount of money to do something small and positive. We’d love to see other people think in this space and unleash that potential.”
Dr Janet Tupou … injecting diversity into university communications space. Image: AUT Pacific
By Dr Janet Tupou
Hand over heart, speaking life into your goals and dreams can see them come true.
After sitting in my first ever lecture at university, I knew that I wanted to be the one on the other side of the lectern. Week after week for three years in my undergraduate studies, I failed to see any Māori or Pasifika educators on the stage.
It was during those years that I set out the goal to be a university lecturer to inject some diversity into that space. Six years on, you can find me in front of the lecture stage and classroom, doing just that.
As I was studying, I began teaching on undergraduate papers, the very same ones I had taken a few years back. It was such a surreal moment, to be lecturing alongside the same educators that once taught me. And it still is.
I wanted to show all sides of the story, particularly from a Tongan perspective. I therefore wanted to explore what creativity meant for Tongan people, specifically Tongan youth in New Zealand, and that’s exactly what I did.
Identity crisis Creativity is seen as a concept that can be seen as a threat to the Tongan culture. For example, for Tongans who are born in New Zealand, there can be an identity crisis in how to express one’s Tonganness in a Western world.
I found there is a lack of awareness of how much creativity and studying creative subjects at a higher level can better Tongan people.
My passion of exploring the notion of creativity at a deeper level is also put into practice in my teaching approaches, by way of allowing students to share their creative outlooks, voices and perspectives on any given topic that is discussed in a safe space. At the same time, to back up my talk, I walked the walk by studying my Graduate Diploma in Tertiary Teaching.
As well as lecturing full time, I am also a part time real estate salesperson. I use my skills to help educate and shed light on the complicated terminology and processes in this industry that often exploits people. How did I get to where I am today?
As a Christian, my faith has helped me power through achieving goals. Supportive family and friends, commitment and taking up incredible opportunities at institutions such as AUT has also played a huge part in my journey.
My ultimate goal as a teacher is to nurture belief in students to dream big and to achieve big. The classroom is my space to encourage students to be the best versions of themselves, because “Hand over heart, speaking life into your goals and dreams can see them come true.”
Dr Janet Tupou is a lecturer in Communication Studies and chair of the AUT School of Communication Studies diversity committee. This article was first published by Spasifik magazine and is republished by Asia Pacific Report with permission.
Bryce Edwards’ Political Roundup: Is Labour yielding too much to business?
It might traditionally be the “workers party”, but at the moment Labour is making a serious play of inviting business into the tent, in order to stop their traditional foe lobbing bombs from the outside. That’s the upshot of this week’s major charm offensive from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to the business community.
Her speech to business leaders in Auckland on Tuesday came with the announcement of a new Business Advisory Council, which is supposed to allow business interests more influence at the highest levels of Government.
Obviously, the Labour-led Government is attempting to mollify business with this announcement, along with other concessions spelt out in Ardern’s speech. The objective is to turn around the so-called plummeting business confidence surveys that Labour is embarrassed by.
But isn’t this going too far? Does it mean Labour has capitulated to vested interests? Certainly, some are worried that the Government is placing the demands of business interests too high in the policy-making process.
Herald business journalist Fran O’Sullivan points out just how influential the new business group will be: “Ardern says the council’s role will be to build closer relationships between Government and business, provide high-level free and frank advice to the Prime Minister on key economic issues, and to create a vehicle to harness expertise from the private sector to inform the development of the Government’s economic policies” – see: Anointing Christopher Luxon a smart move by Jacinda Ardern.
Ardern herself has said “I want to work closely with, and be advised by, senior business leaders who take a helicopter view of our economy”, and she has invited business leaders to “join us in taking the lead on some of the important areas of reform the Government is undertaking”.
Writing in the NBR, Brent Edwards reports how the head of Business New Zealand, Kirk Hope, is impressed with the new initiative, saying “the new body is important because it gives business a direct line to the prime minister” – see: Prime Minister urged to slow the pace of employment law changes. Hope is quoted saying, “As another conduit to government and as a formal mechanism for engagement with the prime minister over policy I think … it’s probably a smart idea and a really critical channel for business.”
But Edwards notes that “Business New Zealand is already represented on five government-initiated working groups, including reviewing the tax system, the future of work and pay equity.”
Business journalist Rob Stock points out that, in general, business interests are already incredibly dominant in the policy making process, and it is therefore absurd to give them even more power: “I can think of many interest groups who lack a political voice. Business is not one of them. Business has money. It is well organised. Its opinion on anything is easily gauged. It has a powerful voice. It has its business membership groups – a bewildering number of them” – see: The Business Advisory Council is a waste of time; or is it a belated masterstroke?
After listing a large number of powerful business interest groups, Stock then explains their current political power: “Each has a staff of experts, policy officers, lobbyists, and communications people. On literally no topic is it possible for the government not to know what business thinks and wants.”
And, says Stock, these groups have a big impact on legislation: “I hear the voice of business echoing in all government discussion papers. It works like this. A minister announces a review. A few policy options are flagged. Business lobbyists go about their work. When the discussion paper comes out, much of the watering down has already happened… And then comes the whole consultation, and law-making process.”
The same article also includes the analysis of Stuff’s new national business editor Rebecca Stevenson, who is much more enthusiastic about integrating business more into government’s decision-making. She says: “This announcement is a smart one in my view. It makes business feel included, which has been sorely lacking”.
Stevenson lists various ways in which the current Government has apparently sidelined business interests, including when “the prime minister failed to turn up for the Deloitte Top 200 awards in November” and when “business failed to gain even one single mention” in the Budget (“That had to sting”). Therefore, for her, the new advisory council is “the least the Government could do for business. Literally.”
Like Stock, The Spinoff’s Toby Manhire also sees the absurdity of the Government attempting to give business even more power: “There is of course something fairly hilarious about the creation of an advisory group for big business. If you’re searching for underrepresented voices who go unheard in the corridors of power, who lack the resource and networks to put their case in policy making, big business is probably not going top of the list. But that just underscores the symbolism in all of this” – see: Jacinda Ardern takes on the elephants and albatrosses in the business zoo.
Nonetheless, Manhire believes Ardern’s charm offensive has probably worked. He says that her main message to business is “We promise you we are listening”, and he thinks “she’s probably done enough to shake something of that albatross” of low business confidence from around Labour’s neck.
Business journalist Jason Walls has also reacted with surprise, saying there are already ample opportunities for business interests to have input into the workings of this government. He questions whether another is needed: “what about the Treasury? What about the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)? The Reserve Bank? BusinessNZ? Surely they should be doing this type of work already. On top of that, we have a Minister of Finance who has not one, not two but three Associate Ministers as well as a Minister of Revenue and Small Business. And already this year, the Government has already established two other business-led groups to help advise the Government – the Tripartite Future Work Forum and the Small Business Council” – see: Jacinda Ardern’s latest pitch to woo business won’t work – here’s why.
Does business even deserve to have more influence? That’s the question asked by University of Auckland professor of economics Tim Hazledine, who hopes “that the talking at the Council’s meetings is not all in one direction” – see: Business Advisory Council could prick ‘lack of confidence’ bubble. He thinks that the Prime Minister should be using the new council to tell business to get its act together.
Hazledine agrees that New Zealand has a business confidence problem, but of a different sort: “there is indeed a substantive ‘business confidence’ issue in New Zealand: it is about our, the people’s, lack of confidence in them – specifically, in the big business corporate sector. Overall, the corporate sector in New Zealand has been a conspicuous poor performer over the past thirty years.”
Possibly the most interesting and challenging criticism of the Government’s new business working group comes from former Reserve Bank economist Michael Reddell, who has two big problems with the new approach – see his blog post, A country is not a company.
First, “such councils can be a path towards cronyism. On the one hand, attracting sycophants who like to be able to tell their mates they have the ear of the Prime Minister. And on the other, more concerningly, enabling selected business heads to bend the ear of ministers and put pressure on them to make decisions favourable to the specific economic interests of those involved and their employers.”
Second, he challenges the very notion that businesspeople have expertise in running economies: “what do chief executives of businesses know about overall economic management, and the challenges of New Zealand’s longstanding productivity underperformance?”. Reddell argues that “Expertise on economic management, and the particular confounding challenges the New Zealand economy faces, just aren’t the sort of thing that tends to be fostered in the course of a corporate career.”
There were other aspects of the Prime Minister’s speech to business that the audience should have been appreciative of, according to the New Zealand Herald – see its editorial: Two small words from PM should lift business confidence. In particular, they should be thankful to the PM for saying “We won’t” on the issue of relaxing the conservative fiscal policies contained in their Budget Responsibility Rules. And the editorial points out that Ardern reiterated that planned industrial relations reform will not “fundamentally disrupt the employment relations landscape” established by the National Government.
According to Stuff political editor Tracy Watkins, such statements about industrial relations reform show that this government is now shifting away from a more radical and transformative approach, and towards a moderate and incrementalist approach – in the same way that Helen Clark and John Key pragmatically ran their governments – see: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s plan to bring the boardroom into the Beehive.
Could it be that this Government has rolled over too easily in the face of business grumpiness? Pattrick Smellie writes today that “The degree of political attention paid to the decline in business confidence… is overblown”, and the “Government has let itself be spooked, which may say something about its internal confidence about the cohesion of the economic plan it says it’s pursuing” – see: Magnifying the elephant in the boardroom.
Finally, the capitulation of the Government to business might actually be the opposite of how it looks. Mike Hosking argues that Labour is simply co-opting business leaders in order to blunt their opposition, because “what you are achieving is getting buy-in from them. They are signing up for the plan. They are on board with the government because they are in the pay if not debt of the government… once you’re on a government board you work for the government” – see: Jacinda Ardern’s Business Advisory Council is political genius.
Remember the ‘knowledge economy’. It was a buzz-expression around 20 years ago. The impression was that the leading growth sectors would be in education, information, and communication. So, what has happened?
The chart converts employment numbers (fulltime equivalent jobs, where part-time jobs are counted as half a job) into indexes with a base of 1000 set at the year to March 2009 (the year of the Global Financial Crisis – GFC).
Prior to 2009, the growth sectors were ‘Information Media and Telecommunications’ and the assortment called ‘Professional, Scientific, Technical, Administrative and Support Services’. ‘Education’ and ‘Real Estate’ were slower growing sectors despite obvious boosts to the demand for these services in the 2000s’ decade.
After the GFC, the sector dominated by real estate (‘Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services’) grew sharply, until the last 12 months when it dropped off markedly. Few surprises, except that the same thing did not also happen from 2003 to 2008.
The big employment stories this decade are the dramatic retrenchment of the 2000s’ darling ‘Information Media and Telecommunications’. And the flatlining of the education sector.
To understand what has been happening – rather than what has not been happening – we need to unpack the ‘Professional …’ hodgepodge. This assortment of services now represents 15% of all employee jobs, up from 10% in 2000.
Basically, this industry sector is ‘non-financial business services’, though there are many services to businesses in the other sectors as well. (The chart only shows 4 of 16 employment sectors.) The keywords are: ‘design’, ‘legal’, ‘accounting’, ‘marketing’, ‘management’ and ‘consulting’ services. These are sometime called ‘transaction services’, which represent ‘transaction costs’; ie the outsourced costs of other businesses doing business. We note that these services are not growing as a direct response to increased desire by consumers for these activities. Increased productivity in these sub-sectors should mean them releasing workers into other parts of the economy.
Another way of characterising these services is as ‘problem-resolving’ services. That means the increased demand for them is generated by an increased incidence of problems faced by businesses in other sectors. It also suggests that these are sub-sectors that grow as a result of their own failure; and that growth here follows from the persuasiveness of these professionals in convincing other businesses to purchase more of their professional services.
If meaningful economic growth represents the removals of obstacles (problems, barriers) that absorb too many of our resources, then this kind of employment should decline as these problems are solved, while employment in high level consumer services (which include media and liberal education) should be expanding in line with those services capacities to satisfy the higher levels of Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ (see Youtube explanation).
Why is employment in education increasing so slowly compared to employment growth generally? Why do we need 100 percent more transaction service professionals in 2018 compared to 2000, but only 15 percent more teachers? These business service professionals are very much embedded in the marketplace, yet no orthodox economic theory can explain the dramatic increase in our purchases of their services.
Lists of industries within the broad sectoral categories:
Professional, Scientific, Technical, Administrative and Support Services
surveying and mapping services
engineering design and consulting services
computer system design and related services
other specialised design services
scientific research services
scientific testing and analysis services
professional photographic services
market research and statistical services
corporate head office management services
management advice and related consulting services
travel agency services
other administrative services
building and other industrial cleaning services
building pest control services
packaging and labelling services
Information Media and Telecommunications
newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishing
Headline: More than 30 feared dead after quake hits PNG’s Hela, Southern Highlands
By Jeffrey Elapa in Port Moresby
More than 30 people are believed to have been killed in the massive 7.5 magnitude Papua New Guinean earthquake that hit Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces yesterday.
Provincial authorities say more than 300 mainly villagers have been injured and properties destroyed.
Although the communication network into the two provinces has been cut-off, reports through satellite by Hela Provincial Administrator William Bando said there had been unconfirmed reports of more than 30 deaths.
Sketchy reports indicated that more than 13 people have been reportedly killed in the Southern Highlands capital Mendi, while a further 18 people have also been reportedly killed in the most affected areas of Kutubu and Bosave.
The quake, reported widely by the world media, hit in the early hours at a relatively shallow depth of 25 kilometres.
Developers of the multi-million LNG project in Hela and Southern Highlands are preparing to evacuate non-essential staff because of this.
Bando said it was a severe natural disaster which had claimed the lives of many in the two provinces, creating sinkholes and landslides.
Flights cancelled Electricity supply in the two provinces has been disrupted while flights have also been cancelled.
He said the Komo Airport was believed to have suffered damages to half of the runway.
Bando, who was to fly to Tari from Port Moresby, was also unable to leave because the airport was reportedly closed.
Unconfirmed reports from Mendi said that the earthquake was so powerful that people did not sleep, while there has been reports of landslides, landslips and sinkholes in several places and deaths.
The Department of Mineral Policy and Geohazard Management said the 7.5 magnitude earthquake was centered about 30km south of Tari and 40km northwest of Lake Kutubu, (in Bosave) Southern Highlands Province, at a depth of 25km.
It said that the earthquake occurred as a result of fault movements in the Papuan Fold and Thrust Belt, which runs parallel to the axial mountain range of PNG.
“There is potential for significant damage from this earthquake because of the large magnitude and shallow depth of the event. A number of aftershocks have occurred, and more are likely in the coming days,” department said.
“The largest of the aftershocks so far is M5.5. There is little possibility that this earthquake would have generated a tsunami.”
Series of aftershocks Oil Search Limited, the developer of oil and gas developments in Hela and Southern Highlands, said in an email that the quake struck about 3.44am yesterday.
There had also been a series of aftershocks.
The company said its primary concern was the safety of its employees and contractors and that no injuries had been reported.
Oil Search said that as a precautionary measure and in order to assess any damage to facilities, its production operations in the PNG Highlands is in the process of being shutdown.
ExxonMobil PNG Ltd, the developer of the PNG LNG, also confirmed that the PNG LNG Project facility at Hides has also been safely shut down. It said that all its employees and contractors at its Hides facilities have been accounted for and are all safe.
“As a precaution, ExxonMobil PNG Limited has shut its Hides gas conditioning plant to assess any damages to its facilities,” the management said.
Meanwhile, Oil Search and ExxonMobil said they were also monitoring the impact on people in the local communities and would assist the relevant authorities, where possible.
Assessing damage “We are continuing to assess damage to our facilities in Southern Highlands and Hela provinces. The Hides gas conditioning plant has been safely shut down and our wellpads have been shut in as a precaution until full assessments can be completed.
“Preliminary reports from the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant indicate the administration buildings, living quarters and the mess hall have sustained damage. Flights into the Komo airfield have also been suspended until we are able to survey the runway.
“The safety and security of our employees and contractors is top priority. Due to the damage to the Hides camp quarters and continuing aftershocks, ExxonMobil PNG is putting plans in place to evacuate non-essential staff.
“We are also concerned about the impact the earthquake is having on our nearby communities. Telephone communications have been impacted in the region, and we are working with aid agencies and our community partners to better understand damage in the local area,” ExxonMobil said in a statement.
The developers had a briefing with the department of Petroleum and Energy yesterday and big rivers like the Tagali and Hegego have been blocked and building up dams, threatening lives down stream in Kutubu and the Gulf Province.
The gas to electricity that powers Porgera gold mine is also said to be affected while the Ok Tedi mine has also reported to have been affected.
Infrastructure like roads and bridges have all been destroyed, cutting off traffic in the two provinces.
Disaster reports However, National Disaster director Martin Mose said all reports on the overall damages should be ready by today when the government team flies in to access the situation, some 28 hours after the disaster.
Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari said the National Government has dispatched disaster assessment teams to parts of Southern Highlands and Hela following the earthquake.
“The National Disaster Centre is working with provincial authorities to assess any damage and impacts on service delivery in the area.
“The Papua New Guinea Defence Force has also been mobilised to assist with the assessment and the delivery of assistance to affected people, as well as the restoration of services and infrastructure.
“Information will be provided as this is made available from assessment teams in the area.
“As this assessment process is underway, it is important that people in the Southern Highlands and Hela be aware of the dangers of earthquake aftershocks. It is advisable to stay out of multi-story buildings, to be aware of the potential of landslides, and to be prepared to move to open ground in the event that an aftershock is felt,” Lupari said.
Jeffrey Elapa is a journalist with the PNG Post-Courier.
Headline: PNG mobile revolution about to enter new high-speed cable phase
Papua New Guinea’s cellphone culture change … 3 million mobile users, says new research. Image: Ourmaninproject
By Scott Waide in Lae
In 2007 when Digicel entered the PNG market, Papua New Guineans realised how much in unnecessary charges they had been paying for mobile and internet services.
Until 2007, the mobile phone monopoly run by a government subsidiary, BeeMobile Communications, forced customers to pay K125 (NZ$45) for a mobile start-up kit which contained a SIM card and K100 in phone credits.
Digicel slashed costs and flooded the market with up to 1 million handsets selling at K30 a piece with free SIM cards.
Over the last 15 years, the implementation of government legislation and regulations have drastically improved the digital landscape in Papua New Guinea.
Research this year conducted by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) puts the figure of internet users in PNG at 960,000.
There are more than 3 million mobile subscribers, which means at least four of 10 people own a mobile phone.
However, despite 15 years of legislative and regulatory reforms and general improvements, the country still lags behind in ICT infrastructure and the cost of services.
Among highest Asia-Pacific rates Statistically speaking, Papua New Guineans continue to pay among the highest mobile data rates in the Asia Pacific region.
Three of PNG’s top mobile service providers; Digicel, BMobile Vodafone, and Telikom are the six most expensive service providers in Asia Pacific.
Papua New Guinea’s closest neighbours – Indonesia, New Zealand, Fiji and Australia – are among the top six countries that have the cheapest rates.
Ten years on and Papua New Guineans are on the brink of another phase of development.
The government’s budget policy for 2018 highlights that a new high-speed internet cable funded by the Australian government will be laid from Australia to PNG. It will take 24 months to complete.
This is expected to take care of PNG’s ballooning ICT demands over the next 25 years.
The submarine cable will complement the investments to mobile telephone infrastructure to improve the availability of 3G and 4G services to more Papua New Guineans.
Through community-based programmes, NICTA also has plans to support the expansion of access to high-speed broadband internet connectivity to selected communities.
As Papua New Guinea prepares to host a series of APEC meetings in 2018, the country is under a lot of pressure to live up to expectations as an exemplary player in the region despite its ICT challenges.
Bringing costs down will trigger, improvements in large business activity and SMEs. It is an area of the economy that desperately needs a boost with government help.
Scott Waide is the Lae bureau chief of EMTV News and a former journalist with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation bureau in Port Moresby. He has won several awards for his journalism. EMTV News reports are republished by Asia Pacific Report with permission.