Across the Ditch: Caregivers Get $2b Deal From Govt + Survival Story + The Finale

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Across the Ditch: Australian radio FiveAA.com.au’s Peter Godfrey and EveningReport.nz’s Selwyn Manning deliver the final of their weekly bulletin, Across the Ditch.

FIRST UP: Weather + Headlines + ITEM ONE: The New Zealand Government announced a $2 billion deal that will see caregivers in NZ receive a significant wage increase.

ALSO: A wonderful survival of an eight year-old girl who was in a boating accident yesterday on the Manukau Harbour and treaded water for over two hours before being rescued by Coastguard. She has now been released from hospital and is back home with her family. The search for a 52 year-old relative continues today.

In Depth – It must be election year in NZ

The Prime Minister Bill English announced this week that 55,000 workers in New Zealand’s caregiver sector will get a significant lift in their weekly wages.

The Prime Minister said the deal will cost the Government $2 billion and addresses gender inequality in the female dominated sector.

There’s an irony in the background to this announcement.

Those advocating the interests of the caregiver sector sought a government commitment to addressing the gender inequality. Basically, they argued that if the sector was dominated by male employees, the wages would be significantly higher.

The Government fought tooth and nail through the courts, lining up some of the best Crown lawyers to be found.

But that was when John Key was prime minister. It appears the new PM, Bill English, is determined to brand his leadership as being fiscally prudent but fair. English even went as far as to applaud the caregivers, advocates, and unions for the way they negotiated with Government, and acknowledged that they had been underpaid for too long.

The $2 billion deal is costed over five years and will see caregivers hourly rate increase from $16-$18 up to between $19 and $27. The band is determined by the caregiver’s skill and experience grade.

The Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said the costs of residential care will likely lift beyond the government subsidies paid to private providers operating in the aged and continuing care sector. Coleman said this increase, paid in many cases by the elderly or their families could go up by around $100 per week topping out at just short of $1000.00.

ITEM TWO – And it’s goodbye from him

It’s the last episode of Across the Ditch. Peter Godfrey and I have been doing our weekly bulletin for over a decade, pretty close to 12 years by our recollection. It has been fun, rewarding, and an honour.

I thought we could highlight some of the things we have talked about.

There was the Christchurch earthquake that killed 185 people. The quake struck at 12:51pm on February 22 2011 and registered 6.3 on the Richter scale. New Zealanders were humbled by the help and support that flooded in from overseas, and the first of our global friends to arrive were from Australia.

Due to my preoccupations, we have talked a fair bit about politics. But it always interests me how your state and New Zealand share many common issues. So, analysing the substance of solutions seems progressive.

There were some lighter moments too. Like when we were doing a live talk while I was in hospital. We were about 10 minutes into our talk when a nurse injected into my IV line morphine. As far as I could tell we got through the bulletin without your audience realising too much was amiss.

But there was no hiding from a coughing fit I once had on air. And also the inevitable technical hiccups when a telco seemed determined to cut us off after 15 minutes. Oddly, it seemed to occur almost every time we spoke about spies and intelligence issues.

There was the time when we were discussing something or rather, and suddenly there was a deafening squawking sound. You thought I had a Kookaburra in the room with me!

The truth was I hadn’t fed the dog his marmite sandwich for his breakfast, so ole Blake the Greyhound protested. He stormed into the home office with his squeaky toy, Lance, and dominated the remainder of the bulletin.

Perhaps that was the most poignant account of life across the ditch here in New Zealand. Thanks for sharing your time with us Peter.

Kia Ora, Ka kite No, Haere ra. Take care.

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 25 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn is former co-founder of 36th Parallel Assessments (36th-Parallel.com) and has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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