Health and Safety Bill
The National Party is holding their annual conference at SkyCity this weekend. This morning, Deborah McMillan placed 291 white crosses outside SkyCity and held a silent vigil. These crosses represent the 291 workers that have died while they were at work since 2010.
New Zealand has a pretty abysmal work Health and Safety record. Our fatality rate is double that of Australia’s and nearly two-thirds higher than the US. In 2012, the government realised the importance of this and (in the wake of the Pike River disaster) appointed a taskforce to review the current Health and Safety legislation. They recommended a reform bill, and two years later, the country is still waiting for it.
Ms McMillan (whose husband passed in 2009 when a branch fell on him at work) is concerned about the fact that, this week, it was revealed the bill has been watered down and employees working at ‘low-risk’ businesses - with less than 20 employees - will not have the right to ask for a Health and Safety rep at their business. It also exempts farmers from some of the law changes. Opposition parties and trade unions are accusing National of stripping away the vital changes that the bill would have introduced.
Turkey and ISIS
There’s been a dramatic turn of events in the Middle East as Turkey has finally decided to work with its allies against Islamic State. Turkey borders Syria, therefore they are in a prime position to have a base from which to attack Islamic State. However, over the last two years, Turkey has done very little to join in on the fight. The country is a member of NATO, who are actively fighting the militant group, and they also passed a vote in October last year saying they would help out, but until now, nothing has happened.
Until this week; an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 32 people in Suruç, a Turkish town near Syria. This put huge pressure on Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to do something. After a quick chat to Obama, Turkish aircrafts are now being used in the fight, and the US have been given permission to use Turkish airbases, much closer than the ones in the gulf, giving them a lot more flexibility.
Turkey’s change of heart is not solely due to the suicide bomber this week, but because of the President’s relationship with the Kurds - an ethnic group in many Middle Eastern countries. Erdoğan doesn’t like them andbelieves their fighter groups are terrorists. However, because Turkey hasn’t been helping out with the fight against Islamic State, the US have really relied on groups of Kurds to help them out instead. Erdoğan is wary that they have become an important ally to the US - and through this could possibly gain independence; so, by joining in on the fight, they are trying to cut the relationship between the Kurds and the US.
For Obama, this agreement with Turkey is a huge step in his fight against Islamic State.