Value Your Vote

Family First has launched a new website: Value Your Vote. It lists how each of the party leaders has voted on moral issues over the past few years, and ranks them on how “family friendly” they are, according to which way Family First feels is more “family friendly”. This is a pretty blunt measure as it gives each issue equal weighting, but is very interesting nevertheless.

Surprisingly, Winston Peters comes out top, at 77% family friendly. Helen Clark is worst, scored as only 8% family friendly, even worse than Jeanette Fitzsimons.

The worst two scores are both left-wing (Labour and Green), but other left-wing parties (Maori and Progressive) haven’t scored too badly. In general the centre parties (NZ First and United Future) come out top, with the right (National and Act) not doing too badly.

Unfortunately this chart doesn’t include parties not currently in parliament of course, as they haven’t voted on these issues. As far as I can see, based on policy, The Family Party would top the list at 100% had we been in parliament.

Labours crazy education policy

Following on from their proposal to stop early school leaver exemptions, and Chris Carter’s insulting and derogatary comments about “low-skilled” workers, Labour is out with a new bit of nuttiness. After enforcing the school leaving age as 16 with no exceptions, they will then raise the “education and training age” to 18. So you can’t go to work before the age of 18.

This is crazy. I finished 7th form at the age of 17 1/2, so I couldn’t have left school and gone to work for another 6 months? It would have been ok for me as I went straight to uni, so was still in “training”, but if I had wanted to take a “gap” year or just start work I wouldn’t have been allowed, even though I had completed high school.

Furthermore, what if I was sick of school by 15 (as plenty of people are) and wanted to work, what could I do? I wouldn’t just have to wait until 16, I would now have to wait until 18 before I could go and work.

And where do they expect all these well-qualified people to work? Someone has to stock the supermarket shelves, will you have to study supermarket-shelf-stocking until you are 18 before being allowed to?

Do Labour want more disgruntled, unemployed youths roaming the streets and creating chaos? Because they’re certainly going the right way about it.

Hat tip: No Minister

Formula marketed as better than breastmilk in China

With the recent tainted formula scare in China I immediately became suspicious – why are so many Chinese using formula anyway? It is a poor country, surely they would be breastfeeding? Sure enough, just like in the West in the 40s and 50s, formula is being promoted in China as better than breastmilk.

The report concludes that an important reason for these statistics is aggressive advertising by infant formula companies. After hearing infant formula ads touting the product’s “nutritious matter beneficial to children’s brain development,” 57% of mothers were willing to buy formula.

According to the report, much of this advertising is illegal. Under Chinese consumer protection regulations, ads can’t claim or hint that a product is a replacement for breast milk. Nor are ads permitted to use images of breast feeding women and babies. Nonetheless, infant formula companies often flout these regulations and engage in other forms of “stealth” advertising and product placement, including promotional give-aways and sponsorship of health hot lines or baby feeding forums.

This is very worrying, for a number of reasons. We know very well now that breastmilk is far better than formula. The World Health Organisation recommends babies are exclusively breastfed till 6 months, then continue to be breastfed until at least 2 years, with no formula used at any stage. This knowledge is well established in Western medical circles now, and although some parents are forced to use formula for medical reasons, and others will choose to use formula, for example for convenience if the mother is returning to work, they at least have access to the best science.

The official Plunket recommendation in NZ is for babies to be “breastfed for at least the first 6 months”, which is far from the ideal WHO recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding as it allows topping up with formula, and this outdated practice appears to be commonly recommended by some Plunket nurses (Plunket probably doesn’t recommend it officially, but some nurses are still recommending this). However this is still a lot better than saying formula is better than breastmilk, as appears to be the case in China.

This is a serious concern for NZ, because dairy exports provide so much income to our country. Are our dairy exports being marketed honestly in China? Officially it is illegal for them not to be, but in practice, is this the case? It is illegal to contaminate milk, yet they do that too (and this isn’t the first instance, it happened in 2004 as well). This is a very serious issue for an agricultural nation such as ourselves.