The Week in Detail: Firefighters, Taiwan, and alcohol

Every weekday, the detail makes sense of the big news stories.

This week, we looked at the forthcoming national firefighters’ strike, Chlöe Swarbrick’s alcohol control bill, the ‘dark art’ of search engine optimization, the political maelstrom left in the wake of Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, and a new campaign to raise the Age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14.

Whakarongo mai to any episodes you might have missed.

Firefighters’ smoldering anger erupts

Stressed-out and over-worked firefighters have finally had enough. They’ll be walking off the job this month, following a partial strike in June which had little impact on union discussions with Fire and Emergency.

The Auckland city fire station. Photo: Bonnie Harrison

It’s the first time this country will have experienced a national firefighters strike, in which they’ll be refusing to respond when that fire alarm rings.

Karla Karaitiana, a reporter covering the action for theManawatu standard, says pay is only one of the firefighters’ concerns. She says mental health support, staffing numbers and working conditions for staff and volunteers are also front of mind.

“We’ve got staff there that are running on empty and they’re expected to perform at 110 percent. Ultimately, that’s not sustainable for them,” she says.

The member’s bill aimed at our booze-soaked society

Last month, the Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Harm Minimisation) Amendment Bill was drawn from Parliament’s biscuit tin. It aims to reduce alcohol harm by empowering councils to implement their own local alcohol policies by removing special appeals; and by banning alcohol sponsorship and advertising allied to broadcast sports teams and events.

Emile Donovan spoke to the author of the bill, Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick, and Alcoholic Beverages Council board member Dylan Firth about how best to reduce the societal harm done by alcohol.

Search engine optimization rules the web

It’s a three-letter acronym that can seem like magic or witchcraft to those who don’t really understand it, but SEO – search engine optimization – is a vital part of the internet – even if it’s one you don’t see.

Photo: Lynn Grieveson

It’s the process of affecting the online visibility of a website in search results.

Alexia Russell talks to RNZ’s homepage editor Krystal Abey-Leenders about how media headlines are crafted to maximize their reach, and PR consultant Hazel Phillips about how SEO can be used to scrub someone’s digital reputation clean.

Taiwan and China: How does the superpower showdown end?

Over the course of its history, Taiwan has rebuffed attempts to colonize it; it’s been swapped as a makeweight in peace treaties; and, in the mid-20th century, became the refuge for a government-in-exile which claimed authority over mainland China.

Photo: Getty Images

Now, in 2022, it stands as one of the wealthiest and most developed countries in the world. Yet its political status remains uncertain, as powers in Beijing continue to claim it as part of the One China policy.

While Taiwan does enjoy some level of support – demonstrated earlier this month, when the US Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, visited the islands – University of Canterbury political science professor Alex Tan says it still exists in a kind of geopolitical limbo.

Criminal responsibility: How young is too young?

If a 12-year-old kills someone in New Zealand, that results in a court appearance.

Even though neuro-scientific research says a person of that age doesn’t have the brain development to consider the consequences of what they’re doing, are very strongly influenced by peer pressure and their sense of empathy hasn’t fully evolved.

Photo: Lynn Grieveson

Amnesty International has launched a campaign to raise the age of criminal responsibility, from 10 where it is now, immediately to 12, and then to 14, in line with UN recommendations and where other countries are heading.

Alexia Russell talks to Amnesty’s campaigns director in Aotearoa Lisa Woods about what it wants to happen here; and to Dr Enys Delmage, a consultant in Adolescent Forensic Psychiatry for the National Youth Forensic Unit, about why it should happen.

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