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The REAL level of unemployment…

20 December 2013 9 comments

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Job-Hunting-10-Tips-for-When-Your-Unemployment-Checks-Stop

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Current unemployment/employment statistics provided by Statistics NZ through the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS) have been called into question with the release of poll data from two other sources.

Current HLFS stats have unemployment falling to its current level of 6.2% – from a height of 7.3% last year,

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Unemployment Rate - 2008 - 2013

Source

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The HLFS stats appear to put a positive, downward ‘spin’ on New Zealand’s unemployment rates. All good news for the current National-led government that is desperate for good news as it faces an election next year – and probable defeat.

However, on 5 December, Roy Morgan released the shock results of an nationwide poll, showing unemployment as well as  under-employment much higher than the Household Labour Force Survey has been reporting,

New Zealand unemployment was 8.5% (down 0.3% since the June Quarter 2013) of the 2,629,000 in the NZ workforce – an estimated 223,000 (down 5,000) were unemployed and looking for work.

A further 8.6% (down 1%) of the workforce* were under-employed – that is working part-time but looking for more work – 227,000 (down 23,000) New Zealanders.

In total 17.1% of the workforce (450,000, down 28,000) New Zealanders were either unemployed or under-employed.

The latest Roy Morgan unemployment estimate of 8.5% is now 2.3% above the 6.2% currently quoted by Statistics New Zealand for the September Quarter 2013.

Source

Curiously, this poll result was not reported (as far as this blogger can determine) by any mainstream media.

A subsequent  report – again released by Statistics NZ – revealed  the Census 2013 results on unemployment. The results were once again higher than the HLFS,

  • There were 2,001,006 employed adults (people aged 15 years and over) in 2013. Those who were employed made up 62.3 percent of adults, down from 65.0 percent in 2006.
  • Unemployment increased since 2006, but was slightly lower than in 2001. The unemployment rates for the last three censuses were:
    • 2013 – 7.1 percent
    • 2006 – 5.1 percent
    • 2001 – 7.5 percent.
  • Unemployment was higher for the 15–24 year age group than for the labour force overall. In 2013, the unemployment rate for this age group was 18.4 percent.

Source

The Census survey not only revealed that unemployment is much higher than the HLFS (7.1%, instead of 6.2%), but that youth unemployment was 18.4% – an increase from  the 2006 Census result of 13.3%.

The data table below tells the full story,

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Unemployment Rate - 2013 Census

IBID

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Not only are the 2013 Census result and HLFS at odds with each other , but made a damning indictment on the National-led government prior to 2000. Unemployment in the 2001 Census is shown at 7.5% – a legacy of the Bolger/Shipley administrations of the 1990s.

As a side-note, the Census confirmed the decline of  manufacturing  with 29,472 (13.5%) fewer people currently  employed in this industry than in 2006.

Interestingly, whilst HLFS unemployment for March 2006 is reported by Statistics NZ to be 4%,

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Unemployment Rate - 2006

Source

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- the 2006 Census gave a higher result of 5.1% (see above table). The Census results appear to be consistently higher than the HLFS – and most likely more accurate.

The implications of this are not hard to miss; unemployment (and under-employment) are much worse than we have realised.

Not only is this a drag on our economy (like a ship at sea dragging it’s anchor along the ocean-bottom, and wondering why it can’t pick up speed) – but the social consequences must be enormous.

More than ever, this should serve as a wake-up call to any government with a modicum of common sense that allowing job-creation to be left to the “free market” is fraught with uncertainty at best – and a massive failure at worst.

We have listened to 30 years of promises from successive politicians that the neo-liberal model will provide more jobs; higher pay; and growth.

None of those promises have eventuated and on top of which, as former Assistant Auditor-General Bruce Anderson stated in his report, Public Sector Financial Sustainability”,

Kiwis also feel good about themselves. New Zealand rates highly for tolerance, interpersonal trust and life satisfaction, the report says. That is just as well because the country probably needs that “social capital” to offset the negatives faced by the economy.

[...]

Those include increasing income inequality, with New Zealand one of the least equal in terms of market income in the OECD from one of the most equal 30 years ago. The country also shows disturbing social trends, including high youth suicide, teen fertility and unemployment.”

Source

In the same report, Anderson also referred to private borrowing ballooning to 140% of GDP (thanks to massive borrowing from overseas to finance our penchant for property speculation) whilst at the same time our economic performance was mediocre.

If we are to re-build a fairer society where everyone who wants can find work; good wages for a good day’s work; and an opportunity to own our home, then the economic model we have been pursuing must change.

For clues to the change we so desperately need,  the Christchurch Re-build has offered us one.

Canterbury (along with Auckland) has bucked the trend in terms of  reducing unemployment,

The Household Labour Force Survey, released today, shows employment in the Canterbury region rose by 2100 people, an increase of 0.6 percent.

Unemployment figures for the region decreased by 4000 people or 21.3 percent, most of which came from men who showed a decrease of 3800 unemployed.

Overall the Canterbury unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in the March quarter.  

Meanwhile, the national unemployment rate was 6.2% (in reality 7.1%, according to the Census).

The lesson here is simple for all but the most ideologically blind; where there are jobs, people will work.

Where jobs do not exist, unemployment will result.

The so-called “free” market has failed to deliver those jobs – most of which have been exported overseas to low-waged societies.

As David Cull, mayor of Dunedin angrily said in June 2011, when it was announced that Kiwirail would award a contract to purchase rail-wagons from South Korea and China, inside of building them at the Hillside workshops,

This is frankly a form of economic vandalism. What are we mounting here? An economic development strategy for China?”

Source

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catching-up-with-bangladesh

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That decision alone  cost the city of Dunedin over a hundred jobs (at the very least) plus millions in lost wages and down-stream business. The same has been repeated all over New Zealand; lost jobs; lost wages; depressed regions – and a growth in the social welfare cost to taxpayers.

If, after 30 years, the Rogernomics experiment has not delivered the results we were promised – just how long will we have to wait?

Just how long does it take to learn a lesson if we keep repeating the same mistakes, year after year, decade after decade?

Because really, 153,210 people would like an answer.

Meanwhile, as a reminder to us all,

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Budget 2011 - Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs

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Are we there yet?

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 December 2013.

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Sources

TV1:  Budget 2011 – Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs (19 May 2011)

TV1 News:  KiwiRail under fire over job cuts (9 June 2011)

NZ Herald: Unemployment up to 7.3pc – a 13 year high (8 Nov 2012)

TV3:  Canterbury employment rate rises (9 May 2013)

NBR: NZ’s first world aspirations based on economy ‘harvesting water’ (6 June 2013)

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: September 2013 quarter (6 Nov 2013)

Roy Morgan: New Zealand real unemployment down 0.3% to 8.5% and a further 8.6% (down 1%) of workforce are under-employed (5 Dec 2013)

References

2006 Census

2013 Census

Trading Economics:  New Zealand Unemployment Rate

Previous related blogposts

Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

2013 – Ongoing jobless talley

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Key’s broken promise on raising wages

 

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http://fmacskasy.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/john-key-says-id-like-to-raise-wages-but-i-cant.png?w=640&h=514

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Once again, the Prime Minister has shown that he says one thing – whilst doing completely the opposite. The implementation of Youth Rates next month will be another in a series of his broken promises.

I think most readers of this blog (and other sources of  political information) will recall certain statements made by Dear Leader over the last four to five  years,

We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, 29 January 2008

See: National policy – SPEECH: 2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

One of National’s key goals, should we lead the next Government, will be to stem the flow of New Zealanders choosing to live and work overseas.  We want to make New Zealand an attractive place for our children and grandchildren to live – including those who are currently living in Australia, the UK, or elsewhere.

To stem that flow so we must ensure Kiwis can receive competitive after-tax wages in New Zealand.” – John Key, 6 September 2008

See: National policy – Speech: Environment Policy Launch

I don’t want our talented young people leaving permanently for Australia, the US, Europe, or Asia, because they feel they have to go overseas to better themselves.” – John Key, 15 July 2009

See: Speech: Key – business breakfast

Science and innovation are important. They’re one of the keys to growing our economy, raising wages, and providing the world-class public services that Kiwi families need.” – John Key, 12 March 2010

See: National policy – Boosting Science and Innovation

We will also continue our work to increase the incomes New Zealanders earn. That is a fundamental objective of our plan to build a stronger economy.” – John Key,  8 February 2011

See: Statement to Parliament 2011

The driving goal of my Government is to build a more competitive and internationally-focused economy with less debt, more jobs and higher incomes.” – John Key, 21 December 2011

See: Parliament – Speech from the Throne

We want to increase the level of earnings and the level of incomes of the average New Zealander and we think we have a quality product with which we can do that.” -  John Key, 19 April 2012

See: Key wants a high-wage NZ

Key has repeated the same pledge every year since 2008.

On 1 May this year, National will be implementing a cut to the wages paid to young New Zealanders. The new youth rates will be  euphemistically known as the “Starting-out wage”.

The cut to wages of young workers will be as follows,

  1. 16 and 17-year-olds in their first six months of work with a new employer
  2. 18 and 19-year-olds who have been paid a benefit for six months or longer, and who have not completed six months of continuous work with any employer since starting on benefit
  3. 16-to-19-year-old workers in a recognised industry training course involving at least 40 credits a year.

Acknowledgement: Scoop – Starting-out wage available from 1 May

On 21 March Labour Minister, Simon Bridges, said,

“…The starting-out wage will provide an incentive for employers to help give young people a foot in the door and start building their skills and experience…

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The starting-out wage will help set young people up for a lifetime of meaningful employment.”

Acknowledgement: Parliament – Hansards – 3. Youth Employment—Starting-out Wage

So will  a reduction in wages for young people, 16 to 19, help create more jobs? Or will it simply increase “job churn”, displacing older worker for younger, cheaper labour?

A previous “job creation” initiative from National was an amendment to the Employment Relations Act 2000, Section 67A – the 90 Day Trial Employment Period.

The 90 Day Trial Employment Period was implemented on April 2009, for workplaces with fewer than 20 employees. Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson enthusiastically predicted that the change to legislation would create more jobs,

“ The 90-day trial period will provide confidence for employers engaging new staff and allow struggling job-seekers to get their foot in the door, rather than languish on a benefit…

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… The 90-day trial will provide real opportunities for people at the margins of the labour market.”

Two years later, by April 2011, National extended the 90 Day Trial Employment Period to cover  all businesses.  Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson stated,

The Government is focused on growing a stronger economy and creating more jobs for New Zealand families,” says Ms Wilkinson.

There are a lot of people looking for work and the changes announced today will help boost employer confidence and encourage them to take on more staff.

[...]

The evaluation showed that 40 percent of employers who had hired someone on a trial period said it was unlikely they would have taken on new employees without it.

Acknowledgement: Government statement – 90-Day Trial Period extended to all employers

So. How did the 90 Day Trial Employment Period work out? Did it create more jobs? The stats reveal the results with unambiguous, damning, clarity,

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Source

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As the chart above clearly shows, the answer is clearly no.  After the initial introduction of the 90 Day Trial Employment Period in April 2009, unemployment continued to rise. The same occurred after April 2011.

There is no reason to believe that implementation of Youth Rates will yield any different results.

The evidence suggests that tinkering with labour laws does not – and cannot -  create jobs. High unemployment is caused by other factors; entrenched problems in our economy; the high value of the dollar; a flood of cheap consumer goods; foreign workers being brought in to fill vacancies; poor wages; lack of planning between business-labour-government; and an ad hoc approach to on-going training for young people.

Instead of treating on-going education and training in young people as an investment – successive governments have erected barriers such as training and education fees. The situation that New Zealand finds itself in is sheer lunacy. We have thousands of unemployed New Zealanders – and yet government does little to facilitate them into training or higher education.

Why, for example, are unemployed paid a benefit to do nothing – and yet are forbidden to take up further education or trades-training?

To a half-way sensible person, this is madness.

And speaking of madness… National must know that cutting wages for young workers will not help create new jobs.  It may displace older workers in some areas, but otherwise it may act as further de-moralisation and discouragement for young people who are already facing tough times and an uncertain future.

What this does show is that National has no real job creation policies. For National, their sole reliance is on the “marketplace” to deliver new jobs. Sadly, they are mistaken – their market-based faith is half the problem.

Having faith that rain will come on a given day will not make it so.

Sensibly, the fast food industry has already come to the same conclusion that unions and others on the Left have instinctively understood for ages,

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Thumbs down by fast-food chains to youth rates

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Thumbs down by fast-food chains to youth rates

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The Nats appear to be so wedded to their screwy market-based faith-politics that the failure of the “marketplace”  eludes them.

It’s a shame that National hasn’t caught up with the bleedin’ obvious.  Or… have they? It appears that some people are doing very well from the “marketplace”.

At our expense…

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Increase for SOE bosses 'obscene'

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Increase for SOE bosses ‘obscene’

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Addendum

Here’s a clever idea – all those people who vote National should have a wage/salary freeze during the term of that government.  After all, as some National supporters keep insisting, raising the minimum wage “harms the economy”. (I assume the same holds for all  wages and salaries?)

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- “Hey, Krystal, let’s freeze our wages, to set an example for everyone else, and for the good of the economy!”
- “Oh, Toby! What an absolutely spiffing idea! Dear Leader WILL be pleased!”

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The rest of us, who vote for Labour, Greens, Mana, et al, can have our wages/salaries linked to Australia’s pay rates.

Now I ask you – what could possibly be fairer than that?

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 April 2013.

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Previous related blogposts

John Key’s track record on raising wages: Preface

1. The “Hobbit Law”

2. The 90 Day Employment Trial Period

3. Ports of Auckland Dispute

4. Rest Home Workers

5. The Minimum Wage

6. Youth Rates

7. Part 6A – stripped away

8. An End to Collective Agreements

9. Conclusion

10. A New Government’s Response

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More dispatches from Planet Key

17 March 2013 4 comments

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planet key

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Planet Key’s #3 Moon “Brownlee”; Largest of the Moons, it tends to disturb other bodies through it’s presence. “Brownlee” has a rough surface and highly abrasive atmosphere that many find obnoxious. “Brownlee’s” gravitational influence has a negative, perturbing,  influence on nearby bodies such as Planet Christchurch.

Brownlee recently let rip at Christchurch City Council for not carrying out repairs to council-owned community housing fast enough,

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Brownlee says housing councillor should go

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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Consider for a moment that Brownlee, as the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery  Minister, is in constant contact with CERA, Christchurch’s mayor, and anyone else remotely connected with that city and it’s re-build.

Brownlee has channels of communications that are open to him that allows him to discuss issues and problems as they arise.

So what was the purpose of this display of public excoriation of the Christchurch Council and especially the vilification of one Councillor, Yani Johanson?!

Does Mr Johanson not have a telephone?

Email? Skype? A paper letter? Smoke signals? (The latter seems to work well for the Vatican.)

Could Brownlee not have sat down around a table and asked the most basic of questions,

How can we help?”

Or is the public display of testosterone-fuelled machismo Minister Brownlee’s new modus operandi when dealing with those who fall within his ministerial orbit?

This kind of authoritarianism may be the norm in Zimbabwe, Burma, or North Korea – but here in New Zealand it comes across as the cries and foot-stamping of a petulant child.

Meanwhile, National ministers should look in their own backyard when it comes to housing,

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Pomare housing demolition begins

Acknowledgement: Dominion Post

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Christchurch has been wracked by two massive earthquakes and thousands more quakes since. Every aspect of their basic infra-structure was damaged or ruined to varying degrees.

I think we can cut them some slack when it comes to re-building an entire city, from beneath ground-up.

Meanwhile, nearly eighteen months later, with no earthquakes or any other major disasters (unless one  calls a National Government a major disaster), one wonders why National ministers have not progressed any further to re-build Pomare’s state housing?

After nearly a year and a half, all we’re seeing is a vast vacant lot, where once peoples’  homes existed,

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Pomare state housing_vacant lot_farmers cres

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Pomare state housing_vacant lot_farmers cres

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Any ideas, Mr Brownlee?

(More on this issue in an up-coming blog-story)

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Planet Key’s #4 Moon “Dunne”; covered in a dense, white atmosphere; “Dunne” is known to move from Planet Key to Planet Labour depending on which mass is greatest. The largest surface object on “Dunne” is the ‘Make Me a Minister’ volcano, which erupts whenever there is a nearby power-source.

As Minister of Revenue and Flashy Hairstyles, Peter Dunne is charged with taxation issues in this country.

No doubt his job was made considerably harder with two tax cuts (2009 and 2010) which considerably reduced taxation revenue for the State. (see:  Govt’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting, see:  Outlook slashes tax-take by $8b) Indeed, English was forced to tax children and their paper-rounds. (see:  Key rejects criticism of ‘paperboy tax’)

Taxing kid’s meagre earnings. That’s how low and desperate National ministers have gone, to make up for the 2009/10 ‘lolly scrambles’ when the Nats  gave away billions in unaffordable tax cuts.

To try to fill the fiscal hole that Bill English, Peter Dunne, et al, have put themselves into, they’ve been scrambling to raise government charges  and tax everything and anything else that moves. (see: Prescription fees increase, see: Vulnerable children at risk from Family Court fees increase, see: Student fees rise faster than inflation, see: Petrol price rises to balance books)

The latest attempt to raise new taxes is Peter Dunne’s ‘carpark tax’,

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Business will evade car park tax

Acknowledgement: Fairfax media

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Well, well, well… a new tax?

A new fringe benefit tax?!

This is interesting.

Because John Key has always insisted that his Party cuts taxes and doesn’t increase them. Specifically, way back on 4 April 2005, when National was in Opposition,

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National Party Finance spokesman John Key has signalled an overhaul of the Fringe Benefit Tax, during a speech to the Auckland Rotary Club today.

“The next National Government will cut the red tape and compliance costs that are choking our businesses and preventing them from getting off first base,” he says.

“A practical example of what I am talking about is in the area of Fringe Benefit Tax.

“Today I want to announce that National will revamp Fringe Benefit Tax to remove a substantial amount of the paperwork that currently occupies too much administrative time for many of our businesses, especially the small ones.

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- We won’t entertain suggestions of applying FBT to on-premises car parks.” 

Acknowledgement: Scoop.co.nz

And again in 2010, when a video was uncovered where Dear Leader was quoted as saying,

National is not going to be raising GST. National wants to cut taxes, not raise taxes.

See: Key ‘no GST rise’ video emerges

When challenged on this in the House, just recently,  Minister for Everything, Steven Joyce, responded with this bit of bovine faecal material,

I would say that I think a fair amount has changed since that statement was made back in April 2005, which was when Don Brash was leader of the National Party. Since that time we have had three leaders of the Labour Party, and maybe a fourth leader of the Labour Party

Source: Parliament Hansards – 9. Tax System Changes—Employee Car-parks

Yeah. Lot’s of things have changed. Like, for example, the difference between being in Opposition and Promising the Moon – and being in Government and having to explain why the Moon is still out of reach.

And when the Nats have to make smart-arse comments about Labour’s leaders, then you know they’re really on the ropes. Defensive much, Mr Joyce?

Like Key’s broken promise on GST, the “carpark” tax is another instance of National breaking it’s election promises. Which indicates, mainly, that National’s tax-cuts were never as affordable as they made out in 2008.

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Special Edition Tax cuts today - John Key

Acknowledgement: National Party

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Planet Key’s #5 Moon “Bennett”; “Bennett” originated from the asteroid belt, where many poorer dwarf-planets with low mass; minimal mineral wealth; and mostly invisible, are locked in orbits that will take them nowhere. “Bennett” gravitated to the National Zone where her mass and mineral wealth increased by close association with  Planet Key and it’s many  moons.

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To repeat and quote Bennett, when she stated on TVNZ’s Q+A on 29 April 2012,,

There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do. “

See:  TVNZ  Q+A: Transcript of Paula Bennett interview

To quote Minister Bennett’s latest utterances on this issue, on 12 March 2013, when hundreds of  people recently queued for just seven jobs at Carter Holt Harvey in Auckland,

“Well I am absolutely thrilled that 200 turned up quite frankly we’ve got more than 50,000 on the unemployment benefit but work expectations of them I think the fact that they are lining up that they want those jobs um speaks for itself and about peoples’ motivation to get work.”
 

“There’s always a lot of people going for certain types of jobs and if in particular if they are lower skilled they feel they can do them, they don’t have a lot of work experience, they have been out of work for some time.”

 
“No I don’t feel there is a job for everyone and I think it’s damn tough but I am incredibly proud of New Zealanders and their  motivation and the fact that they want them and I know that the economy is improving and we are going to see more happening.”

See: TV3  – Campbell Live:  Sign of the times: hundreds queue for 7 jobs

Acknowledgement for transcript:  Waitakere News – Don Elder, Paula Bennett and the rest of us

Ok, so the lightbulb has finally clicked in Bennett’s head. New Zealand has a problem. We do not have enough jobs for the number of unemployed and solo-parents who want to work.

It’s not often that a politician acknowledges the bleedin’ obvious – so kudos to her for having the  courage to do so. (John Key might learn a thing from Bennett in terms of not ducking  issues.)

However, if there are not sufficient jobs to go around – what is the point in wasting taxpayers’ money and Parliament’s time on this exercise in futility,

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Welfare reform bill passed into law

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald

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And why is language like this used by Bennett,

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Reforms to help beneficiaries out of 'trap'

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald

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If there are insufficient jobs – as Bennett herself has now acknowledged on at least two occassions, then ipso facto, the following must be true;

  1. The only ‘trap’ is a lack of work – not welfare
  2. Why “reform” the welfare system  when welfare itself is not broke – it’s the economy that is not working (as are 170,000 people)
  3. Why muddy the waters with  rhetoric like  “trap of benefit dependency“; “introduce expectations for partners of beneficiaries and make beneficiaries prepare for work“; or that welfare had “become a bit of a trap for quite a few people“?

What does “a bit of a trap for quite a few people” mean? That it’s a “little” trap as opposed to a “big” trap? Or is she attempting to minimise the impact of her beneficiary-bashing by trying to soften her rhetoric?

So the “dog whistle” rhetoric filters down to the right wing; the ill-informed; and other welfare-hating cliques in our society – but the message is watered-down for the Middle Classes who are uncomfortable with victimising the unemployed, or who may even know someone who recently lost their jobs.

That’s the trouble with beneficiary bashing during times of high unemployment. Most of us know someone who has lost their job through no fault of their own. Bennett is walking a tight-rope here.

Eventually, people will be asking; why are National ministers  wasting time on pointless welfare “reform” when it’s jobs we need?

Once that message percolates into the collective consciousness of the masses, National will be left standing naked – their corrupt, bene-bashing, dog-whistle politics exposed for all to see.

A few questions for Ms Bennett,

Why are you messing around with welform “reform”, when it’s jobs that we need?

Why aren’t you and your well-paid ministerial colleagues reforming the economy to create more jobs?

How much are these “reforms”  costing us, the tax-payer?

How many extra jobs will welfare “reforms” create?

I don’t expect answers to these questions because, really, they are unanswerable.

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Links

Facebook: Pomare save our community

Copyright (c)  Notice

All self-made images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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National recycles waste product very well

11 March 2013 7 comments

From Bill Birch, in 1999,

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Bill Birch Speech On Taxation IRD

Source

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Note these two items,

 We aim to grow the economy by 10% in the next three years
 Create 100,000 new jobs

National’s track record in the three years leading up to the November 1999 election, and Labour’s track record from January 2000 onward,

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New Zealands Employed Person 1996 - 2003

Source

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Pretty self explanatory really.

Fast forward eleven years and four elections later,

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Budget 2011 Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs

Source

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 We aim to grow the economy by 4% by 2013
 Create up to 170,000 new jobs

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New Zealands Employed Person 2008 - 2013

Source

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Again, self-explanatory,

Key facts – In the December 2012 quarter compared with the September 2012 quarter:

 The unemployment rate fell 0.4 percentage points, to 6.9 percent.
 The number of people unemployed decreased by 10,000 people (down 6.0 percent).
 The employment rate fell 0.8 percentage points, to 62.6 percent.
 The number of people employed decreased by 23,000 (down 1.0 percent).
 The labour force participation rate fell 1.2 percentage points, to 67.2 percent.
 The number of people in the labour force decreased by 33,000.

Source: Dept of Labour (MoBIE) & Statistics NZ

There we have it: 23,000 jobs lost.

And 33,000 fewer people in the Labour Force (left the country, given up looking for work, etc)

Bill Birch – meet Bill English.  Different Ministers of Finance;  same bullshit; more empty promises.

Any predictions for National in 2023?

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Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment – Growth

9 January 2013 5 comments

To Whom It May Concern; the following Report Card detail’s Johnny’s achievements over the last four years.

The following contrasts compare four years, ranging from the end of 2008 to the end of this year, 2012.

Whilst it is acknowledged that the Global Financial Crisis impacted harshly on our society and economy, it is also fair to say that National has had the benefits of starting out with a sound economy (surpluses, low unemployment, etc)  in 2008 and four years in office to make good on it’s election promises.

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Growth

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Recent history:

In the past, whenever National (or the right wing “Labour-ACT” government of the 1980s) came to power, the result was never very good,

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Decline in economic activity

Source: Dunedin Star

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Highest jobless rate in 2 years - 7 May 1998

Source: Otago Daily Times

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Redundancies hit Tranz Rail workers hard - 2 Oct 1998

Source: Otago Daily Times

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Current Account deficit blows out to 10-year high - 28 Jan 1997

Source: Otago Daily Times

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The rhetoric:

The National Party has an economic plan that will build the foundations for a better future.

* We will focus on lifting medium-term economic performance and managing taxpayers’ money effectively.

* We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.

* We will cut taxes, not just in election year, but in a regular programme of ongoing tax cuts.

* We will invest in the infrastructure this country needs for productivity growth.

* We will be more careful with how we spend the cash in the public purse, monitoring not just the quantity but also the quality of government spending.

* We will concentrate on equipping young New Zealanders with the education they need for a 21st century global economy.

* We will reduce the burden of compliance and bureaucracy, and we will say goodbye to the blind ideology that locks the private sector out of too many parts of our economy.

And we will do all of this while improving the public services that Kiwis have a right to expect.  ” – John Key, 29 July 2008

See: 2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

Growing the economy is the Government’s number one priority, and science and innovation have a key part to play in that growth.

Indeed, this Government has made science and innovation one of the six cornerstones of its economic growth agenda. We’ve done this because New Zealand needs an economic jolt. Our productivity and economic growth have been sluggish for decades and as a result we have slipped down the OECD’s ranking of national wealth per capita.

Our performance compared to other smaller advanced economies has been uninspiring at best. For example, in 1976 our per capita income was slightly ahead of Australia. It was nearly 20 percent greater than the OECD average.

We are now 20 percent behind the OECD average. Australia, by contrast, is still about 20 percent ahead.

Finland is another example of our relative decline. In 1979 our per capita income lines crossed – New Zealand going down and Finland going up. The Finns are now about 20 percent ahead of us.

So, how do we turn the situation around? ” – John Key, 1 July 2011

See: National Economic Development Forum

Present  reality:

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Declining traffic bad for the economy

Full story

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Unemployment up to 7.3pc - a 13 year high

Full story

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KiwiRail under fire over job cuts

Full story

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Current account gap narrows as trade balance shrinks

Full story

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Two things would be fair to say,

    1. National inherited an economy with low unemployment and net government debt at an all time low of 5.6% of New Zealand’s GDP, net. (Far from being fiscally profligate as National claims, Labour actually behaved more responsibly than National has done, as the information below clearly illustrates.)
    2. The Global Financial Crisis was not an event of National’s making. (Though the ideology of corporate greed, profiteering, and minimal government oversight which contributed to the Crisis is most certainly one that National shares.)

As Treasury data shows, New Zealand’s net government debt situation worsened from 2008 to June of 2012,

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NZ Government net debt 2008 - 2012

Source: Treasury – Financial Statemement of the Government of New Zealand

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NZ Government net debt 2008 - 2012 table 16

Source: IBID

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Table 16 above opened with a net government debt of 5.6% – left by the outgoing Labour government.

It closed with 25% net government debt – a fourfold increase – courtesy of National’s “prudent fiscal management”.

As the Treasury document explained,

Net debt increases as a result of cash deficits and
declines as a result of cash surpluses. It also
fluctuates in line with valuation movements in the
underlying financial assets and liabilities of the Crown
and movements in the amounts of currency issued to
New Zealand banks.

Net debt increased this year, continuing the steady
increase since the global financial crisis (figure 11).
Net debt increased from last year primarily due to
additional borrowings over the year to meet the
residual cash deficit (refer table 17).

Source: IBID

In other words, National took in lower revenue – taxes – which  inevitably resulted in increased borrowings; slashing of State services and funding; increasing user pays for other state services;  mass redundancies of state sector workers, and impending partial state asset sales.

The Treasury document goes on to show how much revenue was lost between 2008 and 2012,

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NZ Government tax revenue 2008 - 2012

Source: IBID

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A recent NZ Herald report has updated Treasury’s expections. The tax-take, GDP growth, and unemployment outlooks are not good,

A weaker economic outlook over the next four years has taken a bite of nearly $8 billion out of the Government’s forecast tax revenues for that period.

Nevertheless the Treasury is still forecasting a return to surplus, though only just, on schedule by 2015.

The forecasts in yesterday’s half-year economic and fiscal update are in line with the latest consensus forecasts, which means they are significantly weaker than in the Budget.

The growth track is lower by around 0.5 percentage points a year.

It reflects downwards revisions to expected growth among New Zealand’s trading partners, and a kiwi dollar expected to remain around present levels until the first half of 2014, so that net exports subtract from growth for the next couple of years.

Unemployment has been revised higher; it is 7.3 per cent now and still expected to be 5.6 per cent by March 2016.

See: Outlook slashes tax-take by $8b

The forecast rate of tepid growth is on top of low to negative growth in the last four years,

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NZ GDP growth rate 2000 - 2012

Source: tradingeconomics.com

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So what caused the drop in government tax revenue? And why did the lower tax revenue impact on higher unemployment and lower domestic growth?

The answer, in part, is not hard to uncover, and the following reports tell the story of how National undermined (sabotaged?) our nation’s government accounts.

First, we were offered The Bribe,

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National's 2005 tax cut plans still credible - Key

Full story

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Then we got the warning signs,

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Treasury to Rescue Fannie and Freddie

Full story

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Russia Halts Trading After 17% Share Price Fall

Full story

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Lehman folds with record $613 billion debt

Full story

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We were not exempt from the looming storm that was the coming Global Financial Crisis ,

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Recession confirmed - GDP fall

Full story

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National’s response?

The prudent step to take would have been to cancel the tax cuts as simply unaffordable.  (Labour’s Phil Goff generously promised to support National had it taken such a prudent measure. See: Labour would support deferral of tax cuts)

As a nation, we  would then maintain social services (education, housing, healthcare, justice system, early childhood education, superannuation, etc)  – or cut taxes. We could not have both. Not without even further massive borrowings from overseas.

National’s decision to persevere with their taxcuts beggered belief for those who understood the seriousness of the GFC and the recession we had fallen into,

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Key - $30b deficit won't stop Nats tax cuts

Full story

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The consequences of  National’s irresponsible cutting of taxation revenue was utterly predictable,

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Govt borrowing $380m a week

Full story

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Govt's 2010 tax cuts 'costing $2 billion and counting'

Full story

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Writing for the NZ Herald, Brian Fallow put the cost of taxcuts at $8 billion. (See:  Outlook slashes tax-take by $8b)

Only a fool (or devoted National supporter – the two are not mutually exclusive) could believe that we could give away billions in tax cuts without resorting to massive borrowings to cover the shortfall.

The result was a government deficit rising fourfold from 2008 to 2012, as the above Treasury stats clearly show.

National then desperately needed to balance the books. It scrimped and scrapped by cutting the state sector; raising taxes (gst, fuel tax, ACC levies, government charges, etc) elsewhere; closing tax exemptions for property investors; and cutting back on services (see: Student allowances a thing of the past for post-graduate students ).

Even paper delivery kids were not exempt from the grasp of this Scrooge-like ‘government’. See:  Budget 2012: ‘Paper boy tax’ on small earnings stuns Labour)

It also desperately needed to proceed with it’s state asset sales.

A cynic with a conspiratorial ‘bent’ might suspect that National deliberately manufactured it’s own debt crisis so that it could justify the partial privatisation of Meridian, Genesis, Might River Power, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand, to it’s corporate/investor/aspirationist constituent-base.

In doing so, not only was the door left open for their privatisation agenda – but the side-effects of tax cuts left National with few options and manouvering room for job creation policies.

With net government debt quadrupling in four years from $10.2 billion (2008)  to $50.6 billion (2012), and taxation revenue falling from $56.7 billion (2008) to  $55 billion (2012), their hands were seemingly “tied”.

Compounding matters,    National cut back state services and  fired thousands of state sector workers, resulting in a further drop in  expenditure, all of which  impacted harshly on the economy.

Whether Free Marketeers like it or not, the state is the #1 business generator in our economy and society. When it cuts spending, the flow-on effects on  other, down-stream businesses, is inescapable.

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Govt austerity slows growth, keeps rates low - RBNZ

Full story

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With higher income earners either saving their tax cuts or paying down debt, tax cuts failed to “fire” the economy as Little Leader said in 2009 and Dear Leader adamantly predicted in  2010,

By taking firm, early and decisive action, the Government is managing the downturn to cushion the immediate impact on New Zealanders and to enhance future growth.” – Bill English, 28 May 2009

See: Budget 2009 – House goes into urgency

We’ve cut all personal income tax rates, GST has increased to 15%, and we’ve boosted NZ Super, Working For Families, and benefit payments by 2.02% to compensate for the rise in GST.

Today’s changes are just one part of our comprehensive plan to grow the economy, create jobs, boost incomes, and raise living standards for all New Zealanders. The tax package improves incentives to work, and tilts the economy towards savings, investment, and exports.” – John Key, 1 Oct 2010

See: Tax cuts today

In May 2010, Key had even used the migration issue as justification to cut taxes for higher income earners, professionals, and others in top brackets,

We can be envious about these things but without those people in our economy all the rest of us will either have less people paying tax or fundamentally less services that they provide.

They include doctors, entrepreneurs often, scientists, engineers, lawyers, accountants, school principals and nurses.

On Thursday you will see a deliberate attempt to make sure those people stay and put their skills to work here in our economy.” – John Key, 18 May 2010

See:  Key again defends tax cuts

BS. All of it is, BS.

None of it worked, of course. The economy not only failed to grow – it  stagnated or contracted (see:  Economic recovery stagnates – NZIER). And despite two tax  cuts, migration to Australia skyrocketed – ten thousand higher than under the previous Labour government’s last four years.  (see related blogpost:  Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment y/e 2012: migration)

Up until 2011, two of our most important  industries – manufacturing and construction – contracted, at a time when the Christchurch re-build should have been growing their turn-over and profitability. The downturn in manufacturing and construction had a flow-on effect on the  Wholesale Trade sector,

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New Zealand in Profile_2012_economy

Source: New Zealand in Profile: 2012 – Economy

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Other measures of the economy show no sign of improvement,

Bank profits back over $3 billion while economy stagnates (24 April 2012)

then “good news”,

Pickup in economic growth predicted (29 Aug 2012)

followed two months later by bad news,

Businesses gloomy about economic growth (9 Oct 2012)

Current Account Deficit Widens (19 Sept 2012)

 Trade deficit widens as dairy values fall (27 Nov 2012)

Terms of trade continue to drop (4 Dec 2012)

Govt deficit up as tax take dips (5 Dec 2012)

Deficit $169m wider than predictions (6 Dec 2012)

Growth forecast cut, debt seen higher (18 Dec 2012)

Current account gap narrows as trade balance shrinks (19 Dec 2012)

Outlook slashes tax-take by $8b (19 Dec2012)

Whichever way one looks at it, it’s a mess.

And it’s simply a bad joke for Key to reassure us,

While I think we have to acknowledge that the last three years have been pretty tough with the Global Financial Crisis, on a relative basisNew Zealand’s been doing a better than a lot of other countries.” – John Key, 17 Nov 2011

See: Key and Goff Q&A: Creating jobs

Trying to suggest that we  are nowhere as bad off as other nations such as the US, Spain,  Greece, etc – so our current stagnating economy is somehow  acceptable – is sheer rubbish.

One might as well justify National’s poor performance and reckless decision-making by stating we are better off than Zimbabwe, Haiti, or Bangladesh,

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catching-up-with-bangladesh

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We should not be “worse off” than those nations – we headed into the Global Financial Crisis with relatively good economic indicators!

There is Always An Alternative!

A responsible government would have abandoned any prospect of taxcuts and prepared policies to keep people in work; off the unemployment queues;  paying taxes; and contributing to the economy.

Policies such as,

With Option #3, National appears to have missed the obvious.

Injecting several billion into a crash-programme to build ten thousand homes for New Zealanders, who are currently struggling to buy their own houses, makes sense.

The Christchurch re-build has proven this to be the case, as the NZ Herald reported on 20 December 2012,

The economy grew at an annual pace of 2.5 per cent, and was 2 per cent higher than the same quarter a year earlier. Revisions to previous quarters showed New Zealand dipped back into recession in the second half of 2010, with two 0.3 per cent contractions in each quarter.

 The New Zealand dollar dropped to 83.33 US cents after the figures were released, from 83.60 cents immediately before.

Construction kept the economy ticking over with a 4.5 per cent expansion, contributing 0.2 of percentage point to overall GDP. Electricity, gas, water and waste services grew 4.4 per cent in the quarter, contributing 0.1 of a percentage point in growth to GDP, underpinned by an increase in hydroelectric generation.

“Residential and non-residential building activities were both up strongly this quarter, and both were boosted by Canterbury,” Statistics NZ said in its report. “The upper North Island also contributed to the growth in residential building activity.”

The Canterbury rebuild, which is expected to top $30 billion, is widely seen as the saving grace for an economy that has struggled to recover from its deepest recession in two decades, and has been getting some help from a resurgent property market in Auckland in recent months.

See: Economy grows 0.2pc – saved by construction

Statistics NZ national accounts manager Rachael Milicich didn’t split hairs. She bluntly stated,

 “The growth in the latest quarter was driven by construction.”

See: Economic activity up 0.2 percent

As for the tax cuts stimulating the economy with extra spending – you can forget that pipedream. According to Statistics NZ,

Household consumption expenditure, which measures the volume of spending by New Zealand households, was flat this quarter (0.0 percent).

See: IBID

National not only bought the 2008 election with promises of unsustainable, unaffordable tax cuts – Key, English, Joyce, et al, squandered an opportunity to keep 70,000 New Zealanders in paid employment (see: Employment graph, 2008-2012).

It was all so unnecessary.

Addendum

In March 2008, the then Finance Minister, Michael Cullen said,

Even before these challenges hit home John Key wants to increase our debt to at least 25 per cent of GDP. But he does not pretend he wants to borrow more to pay for more services and he does not really believe he needs to borrow more to pay for roads. He only wants to outspend Labour on tax cuts.”

See: [Labour]Government will not borrow for tax cuts

According to Treasury, the current net government debt as at 30 June 2012  stands at… 24.8% of GDP – just shy of 25%,

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NZ Government net debt 2008 - 2012 - Cullen's prediction

Source: Treasury – Financial Statemement of the Government of New Zealand

Cullen called it 100%.

It’s a shame that 1,053,398 voters couldn’t look past their own selfishness, and the lure of cash dangled before them, by a Party that was hell-bent on it’s own agenda to win power at any cost.

For New Zealand, that cost measured $50 billion and 175,000 unemployed.

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Report_Card_growth

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= fs =

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment y/e 2012: employment/unemployment

9 January 2013 4 comments

To Whom It May Concern; the following Report Card detail’s Johnny’s achievements over the last four years.

The following contrasts compare four years, ranging from the end of 2008 to the end of this year, 2012.

Whilst it is acknowledged that the Global Financial Crisis impacted harshly on our society and economy, it is also fair to say that National has had the benefits of starting out with a sound economy (surpluses, low unemployment, etc)  in 2008 and four years in office to make good on it’s election promises.

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 Employment/Unemployment

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The rhetoric:

We agree with you, it’s the government’s responsibility to do everything within it’s powers to try to get people jobs.” – John Key,  17 November 2011

Source

The driving goal of my Government is to build a more competitive and internationally-focused economy with less debt, more jobs and higher incomes.” – John Key, 21 December 2011

Source

It’s true, ultimately if every one was to get off welfare we’d need to create even more jobs, but that’s the Government’s whole agenda is to have a vibrant economy that does produce jobs. I  certainly accept there’s not a job for every single person, but I don’t accept there aren’t some jobs out there.” -  John Key, 28 February 2012

Source

The reality:

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New Zealand Unemployment Rate

Source:  Tradingeconomics – Unemployment rate

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New Zealand Unemployed Persons

Source:  Tradingeconomics – Unemployed persons

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The response:

Unemployment has increased by 70,000 people since National took office in 2008.

The Global Financial Crisis, as a rationale, has worn thin and should be dismissed for what it is;  a shoddy excuse that should no longer be accepted.

The lowest unemployment, as any National politician will happily confirm is in Christchurch,

In Canterbury, in the year to September 2012, the unemployment rate decreased 0.3 percentage points to 5.2 percent. For women the decrease was 0.8 percentage points, down to 5.9 percent. There was a slight increase in the unemployment rate for men (0.1 percentage points), up to 4.6 percent.

The number of people employed rose 8,800 over the year in Canterbury, with 11,600 more people employed in part-time work (up 17.9 percent). There was a 2,800 decrease in the number of people working full time (down 1.2 percent).

The total increase in employment reflected a statistically significant 9,000 rise in the professional scientific, technical services, administrative, and support services industry group. Most of this rise was from the professional, scientific, and technical services industries.

The number of men and women employed in Canterbury both increased. For women the rise in employment was mostly in the professional, scientific, technical services, administrative, and support services industry group. For men the rise in employment was in that industry group, but also in the construction industry.

Source

Which poses the question: if the reconstruction of Christchurch is creating jobs – why has National not engaged in a similar house-building programme throughout the country?

If the reconstruction programme has resulted in increased employment in Christchurch – why not implement the very same solution nationwide, to generate jobs?

The answer, unfortunately, lies in ideological pig-headedness; National does not accept that the State has a role in job creation,

Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than business growth. For New Zealand to build a more productive and competitive economy, we need more innovative companies out there selling their products on the world stage.” – John Key,  24 August 2012

Source

Unfortunately (for us, as a nation and society), this laissez faire, market-based  approach, has  failed to deliver the jobs we desperately need. In fact, the “free market” has simply opted for the cheaper, easy-option,

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Foreigners flood in for Chch rebuild

Full story

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Not exactly a stunning result for National’s promise last year to create 170,000 new jobs.

Addendum:

Will Statistics NZ  include the 719 foreign workers as part of any job growth stats for the next Quarter?

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Report_Card_employment

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= fs =

“I was wrong about rising unemployment” – Blogger

8 November 2012 22 comments

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On 10 October, this blogger made the following prediction,

New employment figures are due out on 4 November from Statistics NZ, and this blogger predicts that unemployment will rise from 6.8% (currently) to 6.9% or even 7%.”

See previous blogpost: The betrayal of our young people

I was wrong.

I was badly wrong.

Unemployment has not risen to 6.9% or 7%,

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Full story

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The latest figure from Statistics New Zealand is a shocker. It shows with crystal clarity that National’s policies are not working and not resulting in  the jobs that National promsed us last year.

Without doubt, the litany  of redundancies is  a eye-watering list of job losses this year alone,

On top of this statistic, youth people aged 15 to 24 not in employment, education, or training (NEET),  rose from 13.1%  to 13.4%  in the June quarter. This is a specific  target demographic for National, and is another failure on their part.

National’s reliance on “market forces” to create jobs was never going to succeed. Most New Zealanders are aware of this salient reality by now. (Only the most die-hard, ideologically-blinded,  National/ACT supporters still hold to this futile, discredited dogma.)

It is time that National resigned and that a new electionwas called.

On every measure (except one), National has failed. It’s ideogical hands-off policy is not only failing to create jobs – it is hindering economic recovery.

National has to go. John Key must call a fresh election.

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Addendum

Emails sent to Dominion Post and NZ Herald,

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Date: Thursday, 8 November 2012 1:10 PM
From: Frank Macskasy
Subject: Letters to the Editor
To: Dominion Post “letters@dompost.co.nz”

The Editor
Dominon Post
Sir/madam,
News that unemployment has surged from 6.8% to 7.3% is the clearest indication yet that National’s reliance on “the market” to generate new jobs is a failure.
National has no policies  for job creation and Key’s previous promises to create 170,000 new jobs; raise wages; and stem the flow of migration to Australia has as much chance of becoming reality as me winning Lotto this Saturday.  In fact, for many people, finding a job is now not much different to winning a Lotto prize.
With these failures, John Key has few options left. He should dissolve Parliament and call for a fresh election. None of his pledges last year hold any water any more, and he should present himself and his Party to the voters for a fresh mandate.
Let the people decide whether they want to persevere with National, or abandon John Key’s blind faith in “free market” dogma and seek an alternative.
7.3% unemployment – John Key can no longer avoid taking responsibility.

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
“Frankly Speaking”

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Date: Thursday, 8 November 2012 1:20 PM
From: Frank Macskasy
Subject: Letters to the Editor
To: NZ Herald “letters@herald.co.nz”

Sir/Madam,
With shocking news that unemployment has skyrocketed from 6.8% to 7.3%, the question that springs to my mind is; what radical right-wing policies to beneficiary-bash the unemployed will Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, be releasing to deflect the public’s attention from this apalling state of our economy?National promised us 170,000 new jobs in last year’s election campaign. Over 1,058,000 New Zealanders accepted John Key at his word, and ticket ‘National’ on their ballott paper.
Unfortunately, their faith in John Key has been misplaced – as has been National’s faith in neo-liberal ideology for “the market” to create jobs. Epic fail on every account.
I now wait for Ms Bennett to announce her latest attack on the unemployment for daring to be unemployed. Isn’t that what National does when they’re in trouble?

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
“Frankly Speaking”

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Date: Thursday, 8 November 2012 1:26 PM
From: Frank Macskasy
Subject: Christmas prezzie wish
To: Father Christmas   “father.christmas@northpole.com”

Father Christmas
North Pole (what’s left of it)

Dear Father Christmas,

As well as Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all Mankind, could you please add the following to my christmas prezzie list,

* an early election

Thank you.

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
“Frankly Speaking”

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*

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Previous related blogposts

Unemployment; A right way and the Government way

Paula Bennett on unemployment: spin baby, spin!

Guest Author: Reactionary distractions hide NZ’s 9.1% unemployment

The betrayal of our young people

Additional

TV3: Key’s cop out on employment numbers

TVNZ: Budget 2011 – Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs

The Daily Post: Rotorua’s jobless at wits’ end

Fairfax Media: NZ economic growth ‘unspectacular’

NZ Herald: Fed-up Kiwis head to Oz en masse

Other Blogs

The Dim Post: Turns out scorn is not a growth multiplier

Tumeke: Like 7.3% of the NZ labour force, John Key isn’t working

Red Alert: National Crisis

Frogblog: Unemployment is a human rights issue

The Standard: National’s failure: 400,000 wanting work

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= fs =

5 October: Protest against Govt harrassment of the unemployed and solo-mums

5 October 2012 4 comments

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NZ, Wellington, 5 October 2012 -  Today marked a National Day Of Action Against Welfare “Reforms” around the country against National’s ongoing harassment and demonisation of unemployed, solo-mothers (but never solo-dads), and others receiving welfare assistance.

Dunedin: ODT – 150 protest welfare reforms in Dunedin

Christchurch: The Press – Protesters angry at benefit moves

Auckland: NZ Herald – Welfare protestors march on MP’s office

Hamilton: Waikato Times – Solutions sought to poverty

Wellington: Dominion Post – nil coverage

Radio NZ: Welfare reform protests held throughout country

The protest in Wellington was held outside the WINZ offices in Upper Willis St, on a cold, blustery day, and was attended by around  100 people,

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The protest was joined by members of the CTU, who had been at a Conference, nearby,

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The crowd swelled from around thirty, up to about 100,

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Radio NZ and TV1 media were present to cover the event, and several folk were interviewed by the RNZ journalist (not in picture),

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Heleyni and Michelle, voluntary advocate-at-large, addressed the gathering. Michelle  had come from Napier on business, and had been keen to join the picket in support of beneficiaries.

Michelle was particularly scathing about National singling out welfare recipients with demands to undertake various “social obligations”,

They should be reaching out to every parent. If they [National] want to interfere in our  lives it should be across the board and be fair about it. So I’m here to support any beneficiary that’s having a headache with this department. But it’s the politicians that need to get a clear message in their heads.”

Bennett has never answered a simple question; if social obligations (such as compulsory early childhood education; school participation; enrollment at a doctor’s clinic) is such an excellent idea for beneficiaries  – why has this policy not been rolled out for all New Zealand families? Why not have  compulsion for everyone?

The answer, I submit, is fairly obvious.

Michelle said that she had kept Jenny Shipley’s  “Code of Social Responsibility” booklet that National had mailed out to  every household in  the country in 1998. Michelle drew parallels with that taxpayer funded exercise  to smear welfare recipients as the cause of society’s social problems – with current policies to achieve similar ends.

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On a current case that I’m advocating for in my home town, is  a young guy  who was the top apprentice in the course;  was working; his boss laid him off, and it’s taken 13 weeks to get his unemployment benefit on. In the meantime he’s had no money; he’s absolutely depressed , he did all that training, he did everything right, and he ended up in the dole queue where he’d never been before actually.

And he is absolutely distraught because there are not enough jobs, let alone qualified ones around.

It’s jobs that the government need to be held to account to create. That’s the problem. It’s not about fault with WINZ. I did eleven years on DPB, worked part time, took me that bloody long to get of my benefit . I trained my way out of it and I’m really  lucky now that I never have to go back to it. Who’s to say that one day I might not have to though. And that’s why our government needs to hear that we need the safety net and we need to have everybody treated with respect.

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Michelle

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David shared his experiences with WINZ, with this blogger.  His  WINZ caseworker suggested that his mental disability was not a true disability, even though he “had been in and out of the mental health system since the age of 13″. He had been hospitalised four times for overdoses, and has self-harmed.

David showed me the angry-red scars on his wrists.

He described how the mental health system had let him down, and his subsequent contact with police and the justice system. (Unfortunately, David’s story is not that uncommon. See:  Radio NZ - Suicides amongst mental health callouts – police )

David said he was worried about being taken off his invalid’s benefit and not having his mental condition taken seriously,

” Basically, because I was able to bike down to the WINZ appointment, my mental health is not that severe

She saw me on one of my good days. She said because I’d been job hunting; because I do one paper a semester at University; which actually is part of my care-package to keep me going, and keep me engaged, instead of stagnating, then she looked at those two things and how I presented and wrote it all of.”

He added,

They are looking at taking me of my invalid’s benefit.”

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David

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This gentleman arrived at the protest well prepared. He carried  ‘urine’ samples to present to WINZ,

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If the contant tooting of passing traffic car horns was anything to go by, there was strong support from the public for the protestors. Perhaps the public are starting to weary of constant job redundancies, rising unemployment, lack of movement on job creation – and in the meantime, National blaming beneficiaries for poor economic performance and indicators.

A government can fool people for only so long…

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Green MP, Jan Logie, addressed the protest and cited National ‘s failure to create the jobs that unemployed needed to get of benefits,

Kia Ora katou, I’m Jan Logie, I’m the Green Party spokesperson for income support. And I’ve gotta say  it’s great to see the crowd out today, people who are in paid work, and those of you who are brave enough not to be in paid work and be out here today, because I know [wind noise].

I’m here because the Green Party believes in a society that we can all participate in. And this government is creating a society that is actively excluding many of our most important people; our parents, our thinkers, our artists, the soul of our society, which is you and every other person accepting income support. I’ve been on income support, most people in this country have been on income support at some stage in their life. And  this government which  is in deep denial, is creating a perception that it is only slackers and losers who are in need of any government support. Well, shame on them! [car honking background noise]

The chances are, the way they’re setting up the world, they’re going to have enough money to be able support their families for generations. Because they’re creating a divided country where the rich are getting so much wealthier and everyone else is just being bloody well left out. And that’s not a country I was brought up to believe I was part off. That’s a country that I looked at overseas and  thought, ‘you poor people, to have a government that treats people and excludes people like that’. That is not the country I know, and that’s not a country I want to be part of.

So I’m so glad that this is a start of a fightback, a start of a fightback for a society we can all be part of. Kia ora katou.”

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This woman had her own story to share with the crowd,

Due to circumstance in our lives – I’m partnered – we had to ask for benefits. Just for two months as it turned out, my partner go a job. But when I came to ask for benefits, we asked not for a free hand out, but for a loan . A loan of $200 to buy our brand new baby clothes. You know what I was told? – “No”.

D’you know why? Because they said my baby wasn’t born yet and just in case  something happens, that … what would the loan be for? [wind noise] They did not give me the loan. So this is the kind of system that is systematically telling us that our children aren’t worth anything, our lives are not worth anything. Anything can happen to you and fundamentally “we do not care”.

So this is what I’m standing against. I’m standing for human rights and against people who say “you don’t matter”, “your unborn child does not matter”… I’m standing against that; my child matters [car & wind noise] So thanks very much for nothing, Mr John Key.”

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Solo-mum and Parliamentarian, Jan Logie (green scarf). The contrast between Ms Logie and Welfare Minister Paula Bennett is stark.

Considering Bennett’s own background as an ex welfare beneficiary, when will she stand with the unemployed, powerless, and dispossessed, on protest lines like these?

Bennett enjoyed full access to state social services; DPB, free tertiary education paid with the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett closed down), and even bought a house using  WINZ assistance.

The people here today simply want what Bennett received, to get out of the poverty trap as she did,

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Others had the opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts on issues surrounding beneficiary-bashing, lack of jobs, and Paula Bennett’s behaviour,

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This protestor knew precisely where to sheet home responsibility for ongoing economic problems,

There’s a lot of talk right now about debt and financial burden… This is actually scapegoating. The bulk of debt in this country is private debt, it’s not government debt…. By attacking beneficiaries, the poorest people, it’s a way of actually  making people insecure and making people blame those who aren’t causing this problem. The people who are causing this problem are capitalists and  banks. .. and we should not blame beneficiaries for causing this problem.”

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A petition was passed around. It made a simple request,

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This woman demanded to know how she could meet Bennett’s  “obligations” to find  work when employers preferred to hire able-bodied people rather than someone with a disability.

She said she couldn’t even speak to some at WINZ’s reception, at eye-level, because her line of sight was blocked by the reception-counter,

I’ve been to this WINZ office.And I went up to the  Counter. And unfortunately it was the Counter I saw. Because it is so inaccessible. I couldn’t see the staff – I could see the counter. I think it is disgraceful that Work and  Income is so inaccessible … and that is discrimination. Do they not deal with disabled people? Perhaps some disabled people might be on a, I don’t know, an in-valid benefit. Perhaps they might be on a sickness benefit. Perhaps they might be receiving super. I don’t know… there may be the occassional disabled person coming to work at Work & Income  And yet, it is inaccessible!”

She added,

Social responsibility does go both ways. And this government must must get it’s act together.”

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Protestors enjoyed a  moment of spontaneous entertainment and humour  when a streaker from the nearby university hostel, ‘Ustay’, ran across the street; back again;  through the protestors; and back into the hostel-building.

He had guts (and lots of skin).  The wind that blew up and down the street was bitterly cold.

Unfortunately, he was too quick to catch on-camera (his streaking was suitable for the Olympic 100m dash), but the reaction from the crowd is plain to see,

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This particular sign perhaps says it all; whilst National demands that unemployed, solo-mums, etc meet certain “obligations” – where is National’s obligation to create the 170,000 new jobs they promised us during last year’s general elections?

Are obligations a one-way street?

Has National abrogated it’s obligations, and thrust responsibility for their job-creation policy-failures, onto the unemployed?

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And finally, this shot of WINZ’s interior says a lot. It is emptly, save for the security guard lucky enough to have a job,

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The reason that unemployed are not queuing up at WINZ offices is mind-numbingly simple; there are no jobs to be had at WINZ.

Instead, the unemployed, solo-mums, and other beneficiaries queue where the jobs are,

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See: Employment-Unemployment Fact Sheet #1: Queues for Vacancies

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Addendum 1

More images of  the Protest action here.

Addendum 2

Right wing blogger; ex ACT candidate; critic of solo-mothers; and self-proclaimed “expert” on New Zealand’s welfare system, Lindsay Mitchell, had this to to write about today’s day-of-action,

” WELFARE REFORM PROTESTS ALARM BENEFICIARIES

Friday, October 5, 2012

The language protesters are using to describe ongoing welfare reforms is unnecessarily frightening people on benefits, according to welfare commentator Lindsay Mitchell.

“Welfare reforms are being described as ‘cruel’, ‘punitive’, ‘brutal’, ‘vicious’ and ‘violent’ prompting beneficiaries to fear the worst – that they will lose their income. “

See: Welfare reform protests alarm beneficiaries

Mitchell did not name the mysterious people being “unnecessarily frightened”. Of course not. Mitchell does not move in circles where she would come into contact with  the unemployed, solo-mums, and other such “riff-raff”.

She was merely interviewing her own keyboard. Making it up.

Mitchell went on to write,

The reforms are focussed on getting more people into work and on creating better outcomes for children.”

Mitchell is deluding herself. The reforms are not “ focussed on getting more people into work“.  The “reforms” will not create one single job. That is not the purpose of said “reforms” – which she well knows.

The actual purpose is to push people of welfare and make unemployment stats look better for National.

National has no policy on job creation and has stated on numerous occassions that it believes that only the private sector can create jobs – not government,

Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than business growth. For New Zealand to build a more productive and competitive economy, we need more innovative companies out there selling their products on the world stage.” – John Key, 24 August 2012

Now in her dotage, Mitchell is little more than an apologist for  National’s nasty beneficiary-bashing agenda. Her views on social welfare are stated with crystal clarity on her blog,

” This blog intends to debunk the myths surrounding the welfare state. The government is not caring and compassionate. It cannot replace families and community. The welfare state is unsustainable economically, socially and morally. “

Yeah, far better to let people sleep  in alleyways and die in gutters. If it’s good enough for the slum-dwellers of Mumbai and Soweto…

Interestingly, the one response she had on her blogpost was an Invalid Beneficiary who was unashamedly honest in demolishing Mitchell’s bullshit.

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Other blogs

Leftwing

The Standard: National Day of action against Bennett’s welfare reforms

Rightwing

Lindsay Mitchell: Welfare reform protests alarm beneficiaries

Copyright (c)  Notice

All images are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

  •     Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
  •     For non-commercial use, images may be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
  •     Acknowledgement of source is requested.

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Paula Bennett: one strike and she’s out.

19 September 2012 9 comments

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National’s diversionary strategem of inferring that our high rate of unemployment is a deliberate life-style choice, and the fault of the unemployed, continues unabated. In large part, with few exceptions, this strategem of Divert & Deflect, is aided and abetted by a compliant media.

People like  Fairfax’s Tracey Watkins,  and NZ Herald’s John Armstrong and Fran O’Sullivan, have been unquestioning in their slavish “reporting” of  National’s assault against the unemployed.

The latest from  National Politburo member, Comrade Bennett, is a new  diktat  imposed upon the unemployed that  ” cancels payments for those who refuse [an]  offer of ‘suitable’ job “,

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Full tragic story

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To repeat and quote Bennett, when she stated on TVNZ’s Q+A on 29 April,

There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do. “

See:  TVNZ  Q+A: Transcript of Paula Bennett interview

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#1 – Where are the jobs?

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Where are the jobs – especially the 170,000 that Dear Leader Key promised us last november?

This is not just a rhetorical question – National was re-elected upon their (undeserved) reputation as “prudent stewards of the economy”. And a pledge to create 170,000 new jobs.

That they have failed to produce these new jobs, is an understatement. Unemployment continues to rise.

See: Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc (May 2012)

See: Unemployment rises: 6.8pc (August 2012

And redundancies continue on an almost daily/weekly basis,

So, where are the jobs,  Comrade Bennett?

Never mind turning down one job – with 162,000 unemployed all competing for a small, limited number of jobs – most jobless people will not even have the luxury of one job offer.

This blogger has a sneaking suspicion that Comrade Bennett is referring to pseudo-”jobs”,

  • telemarketing (best done at dinner time)
  • door-to-door salesperson (households love to greet strangers on their doorstep, flogging vacuum cleaners)
  • prostitute (highly skilled/motivated to satisfy clients’ needs;   someone with passionate  people-skills)
  • chimney cleaner (for small-builds, to facilitate easier access up chimneys)
  • rent-a-womb (for rich, childless couples – males beneficiaries may be excused from this, at WINZ discretion)
  • fruit picker (traditionally seasonal work – but still doable in winter time, lack of fruit is NO excuse!)

All growth industries, no doubt.

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#2 – An alternative to the ‘One Strike’ policy?

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The WINZ Charter, as follows,

What you can expect from us

We will:

  • give you prompt and efficient service
  • let you know about our services and how we can help
  • give you information that is correct and easy to understand
  • give you the assistance you are entitled to
  • explain your rights and obligations
  • explain why we ask you to do certain things
  • listen carefully so we understand what you are telling us
  • be understanding and caring about your needs
  • be respectful, friendly and professional in the way we serve you
  • tell you who may be able to help if we can’t.

You have the right to:

  • be treated with courtesy and respect
  • cultural sensitivity
  • use any of our services
  • be given information about the services we offer
  • be given correct information and entitlements
  • be listened to
  • be given fair, non-judgemental service
  • have your information kept private and confidential
  • have any decisions we make explained to you
  • have a support person there whenever you deal with us
  • make a complaint or ask for a review if you disagree with us.

So that we can help, you need to:

  • give us the information we need to assess your entitlements
  • make sure any information you give us is correct
  • tell us about any changes in your situation
  • keep any agreements you have made with us
  • attend and be prepared for our meetings
  • tell us if you’re unable to keep an appointment
  • treat our staff with courtesy and respect.

See: WINZ – Our Service Charter

I propose a minor amendment to the above Charter with one addition,

Our prime obligation to you:

  • we are committed to honouring the Prime Minister’s pledge to create new 170,ooo jobs
  • we will have one chance to provide suitable work from one of those 170,000 new jobs; at decent pay-rates; within reasonable travel time/distance
  • failure to comply will mean that the Minister of Social Welfare will have her Ministerial salary docked at the rate of unemployment benefit, for each week that you remain unemployed
  • if, after one year of  failing to honour our committment to you, and you are still unemployed, the Prime Minister will personally apologise to you, and will either provide a meaningful job for you, or support you into retraining at a nearby polytech or University, to be paid out of his own $50 million bank account

I think that amendment is fair, and puts the onus on to John Key and Paula Bennett to fulfill their obligations to us, the public, and to those people who voted National on the basis of creating 170,000 new jobs.

Let’s see National meet their obligations: 170,000 new jobs, as promised.

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Full story

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Other Blogs

Why politicians like the beneficiary debate

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Class act, National – taking money of widows?!

18 September 2012 8 comments

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Bennett sez that welfare has,

“…become a bit of a trap for quite a few people

That sounds to me like it’s trapping them there and not giving them the kind of opportunities that they need, so changing those will make a big difference for them.”

I would have thought that it’s a lack of jobs “trapping” people in welfare?!

Not enough jobs = people on welfare.

Seems simple enough to me. Even Bennett admitted this, on TVNZ’s Q+A,

 “ No. There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do. ” – Paula Bennett, 29 April 2012

See: Q+A:  Paula Bennett interview

And just five  months earlier, Key had stated,

We agree with you, it’s the government’s responsibility to do everything within it’s powers to try to get people jobs.” -John Key, 17 November 2011

See: Key and Goff Q and A Creating jobs

So where are the jobs?

Key and Bennett make big noises about jobseekers’ and other beneficiaries having obligations to find work. Where is the obligation of National to create an economy that  would produce these new  jobs?

Thus far, not only has National failed to create the 170,000 new jobs they promised last November – but unemployment is on the rise.

And National’s respomnse is to threaten the unemployed with benefit cuts and force compulsion onto solo-mothers to undertake so-called  “social obligations”?

It’s gotten to the point where this shabby government and it’s incompetant ministers have taken to robbing widows, for chrissakes,

Apart from penalties, the only groups that will face an actual benefit cut are widows and women alone with no dependent children. The widows’ benefit, now $213.49 a week, will disappear next July and widows without dependent children will go on to Jobseeker Support at $204.96, a cut of $8.53 a week.”

$8.53 less: that’s a loaf of bread; a bottle of milk; and a tub of butter, less to put on the table. From women who’ve gone through the tragedy of losing their partners and husbands.

That’s how low National and this country  has gone; taking food of the tables of widows.

Christ, New Zealand, how f*****g proud are you to elect people like these cockroaches to Parliament?

Meanwhile, that taxpayer-bloated, minister -  charged  with  “protecting” the most vulnerable people in our society and who have suffered the most from the fallout of the Global Financial Crisis -  enjoys a highly paid “job” with perks that the rest of us could only dream about.

A bit of background into Paula Bennett’s life before she came to Parliament…

  • Paula Bennet was a solo-mother, at age 17
  • Just two years later, she got a Housing Corporation loan to buy a $56,000 house in Taupo.
  • All of this while on the domestic purposes benefit.
  • Paula Bennet was a recipient of the Training Incentive Allowance (a WINZ special allowance)
  • Paula Bennet obtained her degree at Massey University, through the TIA, at taxpayers’ expense (which she has since canned for other solo-parents
  • She tried a part-time job whilst at at Uni, but gave it up, citing it was “too much for her” to study and be a solo-mum at the same time.

Source

Source

So that’s the sort of parasitic creature we now have, sitting in a well-padded ministerial chair, on her equally well-padded backside.

All at taxpayers’ expense.

The same could be said of  John Key;  speculator; millionaire; and now ‘esteemed’ Prime Minister.

The same John Key who,

  • as a child, benefitted from living in a cheap, state owned house, at taxpayers’ expense,
  • had a widowed mum who received  a wideowers benefit (now cut) and Family Benefit ( now gone)
  • aas a young man, benefitted from a free University education, at taxpayers’ expense (pre-student fees and loans)

These two well-paid politicians have enjoyed every assistance and benefit imaginable from our earlier social support mechanisms.

Now they have the utter hypocrisy to attack others receiving the same social support systems and welfare that they benefitted from?

And worse still – these two parasites have not even bothered to fulfill their end of the “contract” that they entered with the country and unemployed!

Paula Bennett is muck-raking when she says,

It’s growing all the time … so if we can get them in, if we can give them the kind of help that they need, then I think that will make a big difference.”

See: Reforms to help beneficiaries out of ‘trap’

Rubbish.

The only “help” that welfare beneficiaries need are jobs. Bennett makes no reference to a lack of jobs and growing unemployment, because she is studiously avoiding her responsibilities and attempting to shift blame onto the victims of National’s ineptitude.

Cast our memories back to November, last year;

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National committed itself, and pledged to voters, a programme of job creation. They were elected on the basis of a “bright new future” of 170,000 new jobs.

Instead we’ve had growing redundancies and rising unemployment.

Meanwhile, the unemployed are queuing up for any vancancies that  do appear on the jobs market,

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Jobseekers flood a new Hamilton call centre

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A “high volume” of people applied for jobs advertised with 1st Call, with at least 100 people applying for each administrative role.” – Source

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10 applicants for every one shelf-stocking job

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The jobs are being welcomed by Bay job-hunters – about 1000 people applied for just 90 jobs at a new McDonald’s in Mount Maunganui, which is due to open next month.” – Source

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2700 applicants for 150 jobs

 

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The 20-year-old is among at least 51 people who have been given jobs at Rotorua’s new Wendy’s Old-Fashioned Hamburgers, which opens next month. After reading about the restaurant’s open recruitment day in The Daily Post, Mr Watson joined 349 people who queued to be interviewed by Wendy’s staff on Thursday last week.” – Source

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Applicants queue for 20 jobs at new KFC store

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1200 applicants for 200 supermarket jobs

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He went for a job at a petrol station and found out he was one of about 60 applying for one position. He was also one of 40 who applied for three jobs at a supermarket.” – Source

Advertisements were placed one week ago for the 124 jobs in sales, administration, customer-service and trade specialist areas, and over 1500 applications have been received so far. Complex Manager Derek Powell says that people from all backgrounds have applied for the roles, and that the positions suit those with a background or interest in customer service, retail or the building trades.” – Source

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It is not the unemployed, solo-mums (but never solo-dads), widows, etc, who are not meeting their obligations in seeking employment. The evidence shows that they  are queuing up at every opportunity.

It is National who has failed to meet their obligations in fulfilling their committment to create jobs.

Whilst National ministers are collecting generous  ministerial salaries, they are not fulfilling any of their responsibilities to ensure that jobs are being created.

It is not the unemployed who are “work shy” – it is John Key, Paula Bennett, Steven Joyce, et al – who are failing to  meet  promises of job-creation, and yet they have the brazeness to blame the unemployed.

And worse still is that a sizeable portion of the population are foolish enough to buy this repulsive attempt to blame the victims of a stagnating economy. New Zealanders might try taking an interest in what is happening in their own society, rather than obsessed aver mother-daughter porn on television.

This blogger is disgusted with the like of Key and Bennett who blame the unemployed for their own failings.

But more than that, I hold every New Zealander, who was idiot enough to vote for National last year, responsible. Theirs is the ultimate responsibility for giving us a government that is hopeless at governing.

Are you people happy now?

 

That was Then, This is Now #16

18 September 2012 5 comments

From Parliament, 2011, to Greymouth, 2012

4 September 2012 5 comments

Nothing better illustrates National’s Epic Fail in the matter of generating new jobs than these two events…

Last year, as National delivered it’s budget, Dear Leader John Key stated,

New Zealand can’t keep borrowing money at $380 million a week. We can’t have New Zealanders exposed to high interested rates, New Zealanders need a plan for jobs.

This is a budget that actually delivers that.

Treasury say in the Budget, as a result of this platform on what we’ve delivered, 170,000 jobs created and 4% wage growth over the next three to four years.”*

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Full Story

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Fast forward sixteen months later, to Greymouth,

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Full Story

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It seems an extraordinary situation  that we have arrived in when New Zealanders have to take to the streets to protest.  Not protesting to save our Conservation estates; nor our state assets from being flogged of;  or in favour of  gay rights; nor any other environmental, political,  or civil rights  issue – but merely to protect jobs in a community.

It is bizarre that this is what we’ve come down to; protesting for jobs.

Unfortunately, this is about as “good” as it gets for a National-led government. National, being a Party that adheres to free market  principles that only private enterprise can create jobs, is trapped in it’s own ideology.

Which means that, unlike the past government of Mickey Savage, National refuses to be proactive. It will not get involved in job creation initiatives because it believes it has no role to play in such an area. That is for the Marketplace to deliver.

We may be waiting for quite a while.

In  May of this year, unemployment stood at 6.7%.

See: Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc

By August it had risen to 6.8%.

See: Unemployment rises: 6.8pc

The next Quarterly result, for the September-November period, will most likely show a similar increase.

If  the partial-privatisation of  Meridian, Mighty Rive Power, and Genesis Energy proceeds – expect more redundancies further still.Privatisation nearly always results in job losses (and price increases) to generate greater dividend returns to private investors.

That is what it means to elect National to power.

See:  Highest jobless rate in 2 years

National is so wedded to free market dogma that this situation will worsen until such time as New Zealanders can no longer stomach a right-wing government and follow their French cuzzies into electing a more proactive centre-left government.  Only then will a centre-left government deal with unemployment and focus on proactive stategies to create jobs.

See: Labour shortage here to stay, so we had better get used to it

We’ve been ‘here’ before, in history.  This blogger has seen this political drama repeated decade after decade since the 1970s.  (In fact, it’s getting rather tediously predictable.)

Unfortunately for the decent, hardworking people of Greymouth and elsewhere in New Zealand, the tragic drama  of unemployment, family life disruption,   social dislocation, and harm to business,  must play out before the final Act is staged on Election Night.

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* At least, that’s what we hope he said. This blogger is checking the Parliamentary Translation Unit to confirm.

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Guest Author: Stop me if you’ve already heard this one

- Rob, The Standard blog

21 May 2011

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Time for a bit of in depth analysis of some of the key phrases in Bill English’s budget speech:

This Budget restricts the increase in public debt to manageable levels. Treasury’s December forecasts showed a dramatic and indefinite rise in debt levels. This is unacceptable to this Government because we do not want to saddle future generations with the cost of short term policies.

We will initiate a programme to lift productivity, improve competitiveness and sharpen New Zealand’s future economic performance.

We will consolidate the Government’s fiscal position, keep debt under control and ensure that Crown finances are properly managed.

This Government came into office with a plan to lift New Zealand’s economic performance.

I move on to our plan to balance the Government’s books. … This Budget will begin to restore the Crown balance sheet to its previous health.

The measures I have outlined will form key elements of our strategy to ensure that New Zealand emerges from the downturn stronger than it entered it.

The Government is determined that future taxpayers will not be burdened with higher debt which is unmatched by increases in productive assets.

To achieve this, the Government has made some difficult decisions.

The measures outlined this afternoon, the expenditure restraint shown by this Government, deferment of the tax cuts and deferment of Super Fund contributions, will keep the increase in public debt within acceptable levels. …

[This Budget] marks a turning point for New Zealand. Ten years of economic growth and expansive appetites for debt and Government spending have ended. Today we have outlined the challenge to rebalance the economy from debt and consumption to investment and exports.

The Budget will improve New Zealand’s international competitiveness.

It will get our debt under control and turning down.

It starts to create a government sector that provides better services and delivers better value for taxpayers.

It will help create new and sustainable jobs.

It will begin to build a platform for a much more ambitious New Zealand.

Mr Speaker, I commend this Budget to the House.

Ooops – Dammit! Sorry, my mistake. Wrong speech. That’s the budget speech from 2009. This is the one I meant:

The worst of the global crisis has for now passed and the economy has begun to grow again. In fact, New Zealand has weathered the economic storm better than many other developed economies.

Government policy struck the right balance between blunting the sharp edges of recession and maintaining control of public finances.

The Government is committed to policies that will reduce our vulnerabilities by tilting our economy away from debt and consumption toward savings, investment and exports.

These policies underpin the updated Treasury forecasts showing steady growth of around 3 per cent over each of the next four years.

The forecasts also show that this growth will raise real incomes of the average household by about $7,000 over the next four years, and create 170,000 jobs.

I now turn to the Government’s fourth objective, that of maintaining firm control of the government’s finances, so we can return the budget to surplus and reduce our rising debt.

The fiscal outlook has improved from last year, due to the economy returning to growth and the positive impact of Budget 2009 decisions.

The projected operating deficit for the next financial year is $8.6 billion or 4.2 per cent of GDP.

It is projected to improve steadily in each subsequent year, and to reach surplus in 2015/16, three years ahead of last year’s projection.

As a result of this improved outlook the debt projections have also become more favourable

We now have our debt under control and unemployment is beginning to fall.

We will emerge as one of the countries that other nations aspire to be more like.

There are risks to the recovery. A mountain of debt hangs over a number of our export destinations, and will also influence the markets that lend to New Zealand.

We cannot take for granted the contribution that the Australian and Chinese economies have made to our growth.

However, we are on track to a position most developed economies will envy.

This includes more new jobs, falling unemployment, rising family incomes,
quality public services and sound public finances.

Mr Speaker, This Budget continues to build a platform for a much more ambitious New Zealand.

Mr Speaker, I commend this Budget to the House.

Oh My. I really don’t know what’s wrong with me today. That’s the wrong speech again! That was the 2010 speech. This is the 2011 speech. Really this time:

Today I introduce a Budget that will further strengthen the long-term performance of the economy.

It supports economic forecasts that show growth returning to its highest in over five years and 170,000 net new jobs being created by 2015.

Our main task remains to return New Zealand to sustained prosperity. The economy has been underperforming since before the global financial crisis. Indeed, per capita GDP has not grown since 2004.

The OECD, the Savings Working Group and others have pointed out that we need to make the economy more competitive and lift national savings.

Currently, most businesses and households have successfully lifted their own savings. While that has hurt retailers for now, in the long term it is a good thing.

The main sector not saving is the Government.

The deficit in 2010/11 will be large, at $16.7 billion or 8.4 per cent of GDP. This includes a range of one-off costs, including the earthquakes.

The measures announced in this Budget will put both the Government’s finances and the economy on a much sounder footing despite a series of adverse events and a slower economic recovery.

The projected operating deficit will fall dramatically over the next three years. It will be in significant surplus from 2014/15.

This is a year sooner than the position forecast last year.

Budget 2011 shows how, from the depths of the global financial crisis when a decade of red ink was in prospect, and despite the devastating Canterbury earthquakes and other setbacks, the Government has laid the basis for future prosperity.

It is within sight of budget surpluses and falling public debt.

It has funded reconstruction of Christchurch, our second largest city.

It has in prospect the strongest growth for a decade.

It has materially improved the tax system.

It has placed KiwiSaver onto a sounder, more sustainable footing, and instilled a culture built on savings rather than debt.

And it will provide future New Zealanders with real choices about further lowering taxes, adding quality public services, or both.

We set a path for responsible government spending from the start of our term, and we maintain that path in this Budget.

This Budget continues to build a platform for a much stronger, more ambitious New Zealand.

Mr Speaker, I commend this Budget to the House.

Sounds awfully familiar doesn’t it. Right down to the recycled prediction of 170,000 new jobs. Why are the promises and predictions of 2011 any more realistic or believable than the failed promises and predictions of 2010 and 2009? How can anyone listen to Bill English, John Key and the Nats making these abundantly meaningless claims time after time without laughing? Know what they say eh. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…

 

 

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Acknowledgement

Reprinted with kind permission by Lprent, The Standard

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Drug Testing the Unemployed – National’s Epic Fail at Job Creation

29 August 2012 31 comments

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This blogger has three questions for John Key and  the National Party,

1. Is is true that Paula Bennett made a correct statement when she  admitted on TVNZ’s Q+A, on   29 April 2012,

No. There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do. ” – Source

2. If National can claim the Global Financial Crisis as the reason for New Zealand’s low economic growth – why does the same rationale not apply to the unemployed, and if it does, why spend an estimated $14 million on drug testing when joblessness is a result of economic circumstances, and not drug-induced laziness?

3. How is National’s pledge to create 170,000 new jobs – made in November last year – working out? Especially when unemployment recently increased from 6.7% to 6.8%?

A day after National announced it’s intentions to drug-test the unemployed, Solid Energy broke the news that it was planning to make up to 263 of it’s miners, contractors, and other staff, redundandant.  Workers from Huntly East Mine and Spring Creek on the West Coast will lose their jobs.

See: Beneficiary drug testing plans unveiled

See: Spring Creek mine work suspended

This follows on from other redundancies announced just this year alone,

How many of the above redundant workers will Bennett insist be drug-tested?

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But more to the point – is this really a problem? Or, as is likely, is this a shameful attempt by National to deflect attention away from rising unemployment; their failure to manage an economy to generate new jobs; and to deflect blame onto the unemployed?

Because any sane, dispassionate analysis of this problem does not indicate that drug taking is the cause of 162,000 people currently out of work.

See: Unemployment rises: 6.8pc

Especially when in 2007, unemployment stood at 3.4%  – or 77,000 people!

See: Household Labour Force Survey December 2007 quarter

What has changed?

As National ministers  like John Key, Bill English, Gerry Brownlee, et al  like to consistently remind us – when their economic track record is held up for scrutiny – it’s called the “Global Financial Crisis”,

We did inherit a pretty bad situation with the global financial crisis. ” – John Key

See: View from the Top

In the midst of a very deep global downturn we expect volatility and low growth, as we are seeing around the world economies.” – Steven Joyce

See: Parliamentary Questions and Answers – August 29

However, the government deferred the increase due to the challenging economic circumstances New Zealand was experiencing as it continued to recover from the global financial crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes.” – Gerry Brownlee

See: Petrol excise, road user charges increases

The global economic situation is like a dark cloud on the horizon and it’s not going to go away possibly for a generation – certainly for 15 or 20 years.” – Bill English

See: English warns of financial crisis lasting a generation

It’s abundantly clear that National has no reservation in blaming the Global Financial Crisis for the sad state of our economy.  They refer to overseas influences time and time again.

So why does the same economic situation not apply to other economic indicators – like unemployment?

Why try to smear unemployed – who up until recently were in full-time, paid, employment – and brand them as drug-taking, lazy, “bludgers”?

Why did Bennett make this statement,

Recreational drug use is simply not an acceptable excuse for avoiding available work. Thousands of working New Zealanders are in jobs requiring they be clean of drugs; it’s reasonable to expect someone looking for work to do the same.”

See: Beneficiary drug testing plans unveiled

Bennett is implying that someone looking for work must be on drugs? Why?

The answer, I submit to the reader, is that National is playing to it’s audience of middle class, low-information voters; right wing extremists; and the plain crazy nutjobs. These are the target demographics for the Nats.

Because any sane person will look at the above list of redundancies from the likes of Brightwater Engineering, Telecom, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, etc,  – and wonder – WTF?! Why is National spending $14 million of my tax dollars on drug-testing redundant engineers, telecommunication workers, diplomats, etc?!

Because it plays to an audience of predominantly middle class (and quite a segment of the working class), who find it all to easy to believe the cliched  stereotypes  that depict  All Welfare Beneficiaries Are There By Choice. Internet fora are full of uninformed, prejudiced, and outright  crazy ‘trolls’ who revel in their distorted view of those on welfare, or low-paying jobs.

Never mind that four years ago we had half the unemployment we do now.

Do those ignorant fools believe that unemployed are out of work by choice, having given up their average wage/salary of $800 to $900 per week, so they could live in luxury on $204.96 (net, weekly unemployed benefit)?

See: WINZ Unemployment Benefit (current)

Drug testing the unemployed has nothing to do with any perceived problem with drug abuse.

This is a carefully constructed, skillfully diseminated, lie.

National is spending $14 million on a problem that does not exist.

National is desperate to turn public attention away from,

  1. Increasing unemployment
  2. Increasing poverty levels
  3. More and more New Zealanders heading overseas
  4. A stagnating economy
  5. National’s lack of traction in creating the 170,000 new jobs they pledged last year

Middle Class voters are being targetted by National’s tax-payer funded spin doctors and political strategists. Their agenda is clear and simple;

  • Brand  the unemployed as “lazy” and “on drugs”.
  • So it can’t be a failure on the part of National to create the 170,000 new jobs they promised us.

See: Budget 2011: Govt predicts 170,000 new jobs

Above all else, National’s nasty little strategy is an admission of failure on their part. They have failed utterly to,

  • grow the economy
  • create jobs
  • raise wages
  • stem the flow of skilled New Zealanders to Australia

Because clearly, if a government was building an economy that was generating more and more jobs, then what would be the need to create a bogeyman of lazy, drugged unemployed?

Especially when Labour presided over a growing economy with low unemployment,

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There was no talk of “lazy/drugged unemployed”  in 2007.

No Global Financial Crisis either.

Truly, National has hit rock bottom with this vile strategy. How long, one wonders, before the middle classes out in Voterland realise that they are being conned by some very cunning politicians and their back-room strategists?

A question for the Middle Classes;

We live in uncertain times. Any one of us are only one step away from being unemployed ourselves. How  would you feel being branded a possible drug-user by the likes of Paula Bennett and John Key?

Not too happy I’d suspect?

And one final question for the Prime Minister,

Where are the jobs?

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Previous related blogpost

Jobs, jobs, everywhere – but not a one for me? (Part Toru)

What’s up with the Nats? (Part rua)

Related Information

Employment-Unemployment Fact Sheet #1: Queues for Vacancies

Other blogs

Tumeke: What the real aim of drug testing beneficiaries is

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National’s numpty numbers

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Source

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National’s latest budget promise,

Ms Tolley says that’ll go towards the aim of a 25 percent reduction in re-offending by 2017.”

By 2017? Five years away?!

Who will remember National’s promise in five years’ time?

Just as, how many people remember this budgetary promise, made only last year,

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Full story

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One year ago, National’s promises included,

  • 170,000 new jobs
  • wages growing 4% each year, for the next three years
  • 4% growth by 2013

Let’s put National’s 2011 Budget to the test,

1. 170,000 new jobs

In June 2011, employment and unemployment stats showed the following,

Employed: 2,214,000

Unemployed: 154,000

Unemployment rate: 6.5%

Source

By March 2012, employment and unemployment stats showed the following,

Employed: 2,230,000

Unemployed: 160,000

Unemployment rate:6.7%

Source

Summary:

  1. Increase in employment: 16,000
  2. Rise in unemployed: 6,000
  3. Rise in unemployment rate: 0.2%
  4. Verdict: fail

Instead of 170,000 new jobs, there have been only 16,000 – and unemployment has risen at the same time.

2. Wage Growth

Promised: Budget 2011;

4%

Actual:  In the year-to-March 2012 Quarter;

Salary and wage rates (including overtime) increased by 2%

Overtime wage rates increased 2.5%

Private sector  salary and ordinary time wage wages increased 2.1%

Source

Verdict: fail

Growth in wages has been half of that predicted by National.

3. Annual Growth

Promised: Budget 2011;

4% by 2013

Actual: in the year-to-March 2011 Quarter;

Gross domestic product (GDP) increased 1.5%

Source

Actual:  In the year-to-December 2011*  Quarter;

For the year ended December 2011, gross domestic product (GDP) increased 1.4%

Economic activity increased 0.3% in the December 2011 Quarter

Source

(* March 2012 Quarter figures not available until 21 June 2012.)

Verdict:  At 1.4% to December last year, GDP growth is unlike to have  reached 4%  by March this year. Probable fail.

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Moral of the story; take National’s Budget predictions with  several very large grains of salt. They are likely to be more propaganda than precision.

After all, will Anne Tolley even be around in five years to be held accountable for her wish list?

We’re still waiting for the 170,000 new jobs.

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Interview: A Young NZer’s Thirst to make a Difference

12 February 2012 6 comments

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This online interview is with Curwen Rolinson, a member of NZ First’s Board of Directors; Leader, NZF Youth;  and “one-man nationalist revolution”.

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Curwen Rolinson

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Kia ora, Curwen, and thank you for giving us your time and answers to the following questions…

Q: You’re a Director on NZ First’s Board of Directors. How long have you been a member of NZ First, and what attracted you to that Party – as opposed to, say, another Party?


I joined up a little after the 2008 election. I’d always had a soft spot for NZF’s nationalism and its anti-neoliberal economics, and these seemed increasingly relevant in the face of a looming threat from the economic vandals of the Maori, ACT and National parties.

I decided to go along to a local NZF meeting to see what the party was really like on the ground. The attendence may have been toward the gold-card end of the spectrum, but they got what I was on about. They didn’t need me to tell them that Rogernomics & Ruthanasia had ruined the country – they’d lived through it. They didn’t need me to remind them we once led the world as a humane social democracy with a brilliant budding nationhood – they built both.

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Then Winston walked in.

I’d never heard him speak before. I’d seen him on tv, but that’s a very different experience to the live act. The overall impression we got was of a man who shared our concerns, our aspirations and our vision.

Afterward, Winston and I had a chat about tertiary policy and getting a youth wing going at university. What really sold me on NZF was that Winston seemed genuinely interested in how I thought we could improve NZF’s policy for students. The end result of that conversation was a set of policies for students written by students. In what other major political party would you get that kind of consultation with membership.

As for other parties, I ruled out ACT, National and the Maori Party on principle. I also ruled out United Future on lack of principle. Labour struck me as a tired third-way party that didn’t listen to its membership, while The Greens were being somewhat confused about whether they were left or right. Neither struck me as being an especially viable opposition. Jim Anderton’s Progressive Coalition also looked pretty decrepit at that point. His party wasn’t looking too healthy either.

Q: What has been your personal best experience with NZ First thus far?

Now that’s tough – close toss-up between two I think. First, crashing the Cup of Tea and hijacking John Banks’ photo op by staging an NZF Counter-Press Conference outside the Epsom Tea Party. Second, addressing last year’s NZF Convention. I love public speaking, and for me there’s nothing cooler than getting a few hundred people fired up to save the nation!  [link to speech]

How did Banks react to your presence? He couldn’t have been too thrilled to see you there?

Haha; Banks beat a hasty retreat, and still seems shaken by his Near-Curwen-Experience. I was eating in Bellamy’s (the Parliamentary restaurant) last week with NZF’s Caucus and Banks happened to walk in. He caught sight of me, did a double-take, and spent the next five minutes giving me a very disconcerted stare from across the room.

The more amusing reaction at the Tea Party, however, was from Key’s Diplomatic Protection Squad minders who apparently thought I was the guy who’d planted the recording device.

Yes, I think I did hear something to that effect, on the Youtube-uploaded Tape. I think you may be off Banksies Christmas card list from now on…

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NZF's Curwen Rolinson stages counter-press conference outside the Cup of Tea.

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"Got The Mic Winston"

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Q: How do you feel about your Party’s success at the last election? And what do you attribute NZ First’s success to?

I’m exceptionally proud of the party, and exceptionally proud to have helped make a difference. I think it’s safe to say that our values and our mission have never been more needed than they are now. When my grandkids ask me what I did to build and save the nation they’re going to inherit, I can proudly start the tale with “well kids, I helped get NZF back into Parliament.”

I remember watching the swearing in ceremony and feeling hugely confident that the comrades I’ve come to know and respect over the last three years will do their utmost to protect and save our New Zealand.

The one thing I’m gutted about is that Helen Mulford was something like 0.1% away from becoming our 9th MP.

We’re back because we didn’t just try to recapture our old support base.

We undoubtedly had a solid core of support in electorates like B.O.P and Tauranga bolstered by strong local candidates, but we also reached out to new people and campaigned in new ways.

As an example of what I mean, two of my proudest achievements with NZF have been getting us on digital media (facebook, twitter and a new website) and crafting the best damn student policy of any serious political party.
Both of these helped us to connect with younger voters who might not otherwise have considered us. We put our message somewhere they could reach it, and we made sure they knew we’d represent their interests.
The end result of all this was polling showing something like 14.5% of first time voters were going our way.

In general, I’d put NZF’s success down to one in fifteen voters being seriously concerned about the path this country is going down on everything from asset sales to racial separatism. They’ve decided that they trust us above all others to get our ship of state back on its chartered course to prosperity. They have also agreed that (to paraphrase Helen Clark and/or Eminem) it just feels so empty without Winny.

I’ve heard an array of pundits put our resurgence down to the Tea Tape debacle. This interpretation marginalises and undermines the three years solid work we’ve all put into returning to Parliament. While the added media prominence it gave Winston was unquestionably a factor, to my mind it only served to enhance our pre-existing campaign work and solidify our role as the Anti-Key in the minds of the electorate. 

Q: Had Labour won a slightly higher poll result, and had NZ First held the balance of power, what would your personal coalition preference have been? Or would you have preferred no coalition arrangement?

Opposition. It’s what we campaigned on, it’s what the electorate has asked of us, and it’s where our Caucus’s strengths lie at the moment.

More to the point, as NZF’s record with Labour from 2002 to 2005 proves, it’s entirely possible to secure progressive policy gains like the original Foreshore & Seabed legislation and the establishment of Kiwibank without a coalition or even confidence & supply agreement.

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Q: If your option is for coalition, who would be first first preference as a coalition partner, and what bottom line(s) would you have, if any?


If I were pushed, and assuming we hadn’t tied ourselves to a previously announced position, it would have to be Labour. We enjoyed a reasonably amicable relationship with them from 2005-2008 in which they proved themselves capable of helping us govern for all New Zealanders, not a neoliberal few.

Despite Phil Goff’s past record (and I remember stumbling across some truly odious quotations of his from the Rogernomics Error), they agreed with us about improving wages, abolishing youth rates and buying back KiwiRail.

In terms of bottom lines, I’d be thinking about binding Labour to undoing some of the harm National’s wreaked over the last three years. Just off the top of my head… Reinstating the 2004 Foreshore & Seabed legislation, reducing GST back down to 12.5%, keeping the retirement age at 65, amending the Reserve Bank Act to take into account things other than inflation targetting, and a commitment to keep PHARMAC and block the sale of assets or farmland to foreigners would probably be a good place to start.
A Universal Student Allowance wouldn’t be too bad either.

However, what we bring to government is not just a series of bottom lines to horse-trade – Peter Dunne and Pita Sharples seem happy to merely do that; but rather a nationalist vibe that guides our decisionmaking. With this in mind, perhaps we should once again demand the position of Treasurer to ensure we can hold government economic policy to account. 

I’m wondering if we can afford to keep retitrement at 65, or maybe push it out to 66 or 67, so we can fund social policies at the other end of the scale; early childhood education, school lunches, etc?

The way I’d approach this is by asking which you’d prefer to fund – pensions for hardworking Kiwis over 65, or unemployment benefits for same. Nobody in favour of raising the retirement age by two years has ever explained how exactly they intend to keep Kiwis in work for those additional two years. I’m quite in favour of incentivising people to put off retiring for a few years, but still believe that 65 is a fair and sustainable age for New Zealanders to retire at.

More to the point, this doctrine of “either-or” provision of social necessities doesn’t strike me as a sensible way to govern a nation. What your question effectively asks me is “do I prioritize looking after the elderly or the young”; and I cannot in good conscience give any answer other than “both, man, both!”

If we’re serious about having a decent society for all Kiwis regardless of age, then I suppose we’ll just have to once again get serious about having the fair taxation regimen to fund it, rather than looking to unfairly pull the rug out from beneath the feet of entire generations at either end of the spectrum.

Fair point about not pitting one sector of society against another. The Right seem to be quite adept at using that tactic.  (Bomber Bradbury often refers to  workers pitted against beneficiaries, solo-mums against families, etc, on ‘Tumeke‘.)

Q: Do you have a top three list of priorities that NZ First should focus on, this Parliamentary term?


1. Keeping the Bastards Honest. 2. Ensuring someone in the House actually stands up for the vocally expressed will of the people. 3. To echo Muldoon, Leaving New Zealand a better place than we found it.

Q: Have you read or heard of Gareth Morgan’s “Big Kahuna”, and his proposal for a Universal Basic Income/negative tax for the first $11,000?


I haven’t read the book, but I am aware of the idea of a universal basic income – if memory serves, it’s something Roger Douglas proposed back in the 80s. While he’s right that our present welfare system could use some substantial improvement (and arguably broadening of service), I find myself alarmed by the idea of a flat tax rate and a capital gains tax including the family home. Further, the movement away from targetted state assistance to a nonspecific, very generalised apprach arguably allows for far more wasted welfare than is currently the case.

Q: Taxes. Are the top earners/wealthy paying their fair share? Too much? About right?


No. It’s common knowledge that successful economies tend to have progressive taxation structures. We regressivised ours by giving tax cuts to the wealthy and then trying to pay for them by making everyone else shoulder the burden. Even the OECD thinks we went the wrong way on that one.
The end result of this is that many Kiwis are paying more than their fair share of tax to subsidise someone else’s perks.

However, I want to approach taxation fairness from a different perspective.
We pay taxes in part for what we and our families use. For most Kiwis that means paying to cover our kids’ education, ACC and medical services we might use, and more day-to-day things like infrastructure.

For our top earners, it’s a bit different. To amass that kind of income, you have to use the resources of the state a bit differently. Rather than worrying about your children getting an education for their sake, you want an educated workforce to staff your factories and offices. You don’t just want personal transport – you want infrastructure that can carry your products all over the country and further afield.

The question I’d be asking myself is whether the far right’s doctrine of tax cuts at any cost is really the most sensible, sustainable way to keep this going. We want to ensure our next generation of entrepeneurs and high earners enjoy the same if not better opportunities to do business as their predecessors enjoyed.

With this in mind, one of the core concerns for a taxation regimen of the wealthy should be ensuring they “pay it forward” to the next guy.

Q: Just briefly, what are your personal views on,

* private-run prisons?

There are some areas of human activity that I don’t believe a businessman should be able to turn a profit on. The incarceration of our fellow citizens would have to be one of them. This is not running a hotel or a half-way house for people who might have gone a bit off the rails. This is a matter concerning some of our most fundamental human rights. Just as we cannot allow the state to give up its monopoly on legitimated violence and killing to the private sector, we should also not allow the abjuration of our right to personal liberty by the market. 

More to the point, a cursory examination of the track record for private prisons in America is alarming. They seem to cost exhorbitantly, tend to have strikingly high inmate suicide and abuse rates, allow for effective slave labour; and, most chillingly, can produce huge conflicts of interest in the parole process. If you’re being paid a premium per prisoner per year, you’re hardly going to want to release anyone early. Allowing justice to take its course at a parole hearing would harm your bottom line. 

Our existing prisons are not perfect, however and I appreciate the arguments behind allowing non-state third parties a role in providing things like rehabilitation programmes.

* Charter schools?

I’ve yet to see compelling evidence that allowing McDonalds or the Destiny Church to open up a high-school will improve our kids’ educational outcomes.
Most of the points about distinctiveness are already adequately met by provision for ‘character’ schools, while the American experience with charter schools appears to have produced inferior outcomes at greater cost.

* minimum wage?

The expression “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys” springs to mind – although a cursory examination of any corporate boardroom appears to prove that ridiculously overinflated pay packets have much the same effect.

There is something manifestly wrong with a poverty-line wage that doesn’t even cover the costs of keeping you in the job you’re doing (transport, accomodation, food and child care being the most obvious ones).

This was one of the things I initially loved about NZF. They understood the perils of being a low income earner in a low wage economy and had a $15 an hour minimum wage stance years before the other big parties got on board.
I think offhand we increased the minimum wage for youth more in a single year than National has done over the last three.

* waterfront dispute? Do you think the  Labour Party has done enough on this issue?

The Maritime Union should ask for its donations back. Shearer’s stuck in 1951, and Tony Gibson’s attitude to his workers seems to be stuck in the 1800s.

It’s childish brinksmanship to threaten to sack one’s entire workforce as a bargaining tactic, and it’s dangerous dehumanisation to insist on the casualisation of said workforce to cut costs.

Whether or not there’s a privatisation agenda afoot, Tony Gibson is not the sort of man I’d like looking after one of Auckland’s greatest assets.

Indeed – sacking an entire sklled and highly experienced workforce doesn’t seem particularly bright.  I think more than one person has suggested that Gibson is not the right person for the job.

What about ACC – to de-regulate or not to de-regulate, that is the question?

As with Privatization, it’s a case of “we’ve been down this road before”.  It didn’t work in 1999, and I see absolutely no reason to assume ordinary Kiwis are going to get anything worthwile out of this. The insurance companies are no doubt licking their lips in eager anticipation for a cash-cow to offset Christchurch.

* Ok, fair ’nuff. What about mining? Especially of conservation lands?

Now let’s be honest. Mining can be great for an economy; it garners resources and is a major employer in some parts of the country.
However, I am absolutely not OK with mining the conservation estate which is in my eyes a precious resource all its own.

Here’s a simple political axiom – when guys like Rodney Hide think something’s a great idea … that is the time to start fighting vigorously to oppose it. This, after all, is a man who thought an open-cast strip mine would be more worth to the tourism sector than our present unspoilt wilderness.

* climate change?

Whether you believe in anthropogenic climate change or not (and I strongly do), reducing pollution and energy efficiency are good things.

It would, however, be refreshing to see some change in the political climate about things like the Emissions Trading Scheme. Letting derivatives traders like our Prime Minister make a quick buck off pollution is not part of the solution.

Good point about reducing pollution – that’s not something that the Right Wing can readily address. I  mean, who could possibly be in favour of more air pollution?

And your thoughts on deep sea oil drilling? Especially after the ‘Rena’ stranding?

Heck, Yeah! Parata reckons “we have a sufficient legislative and regulatory regime in place to cover the permit that has currently been made available to Petrobras.” Terry Pratchett (whom I have rather more respect for) reckons “when nothing can possibly go wrong and every avenue has been covered, then is the time to buy a house on the next continent.”

We are not equipped to handle a substantial oil spill, as recent events have made unconscionably clear. We have also been steadily weakening the Crown Minerals Act to make ourselves a more enticing prospect to foreign oil companies. We are thus hardly legislatively equipped to handle oil drilling anyway.

You may be right, Curwen.  I think sf writers may be more credible and insightful than many politicians. At least sf writers have more believable fiction. But I digress, let’s carry on…

Should Kiwisaver be compulsory? Should there be an opt-out option?

My gut instinct is that it should be compulsory. Sovereign wealth funds and forward planning for retirement are vital components in many successful economies – Norway, Singapore and Australia being the standout examples.

However, the problem is without substantial increases in wages and employer contribution, a good number of workers can’t afford to belong to the scheme.
The reason I say that is because when it was first introduced, I was the only guy in my workplace to sign on. Everyone else had mortgages, bills or children to support so couldn’t afford it.

So, if we’re serious about having a national saving regimen, we should probably sort out our wages first.

With regard to the opt-out clause, while I’m tempted to say I support one (remembering that Kiwis seem to have an innate fear of anything containing the word “compulsory” – as proven to Bill Rowling’s horror in 1975 and Winston’s in 1996), it has occured that many of the circumstances that might cause one to want to opt out are probably covered by the provision for a “contribution holiday”.

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* Roads or rail? Which should have priority?

Rail, both for mass transit and for goods. I can’t get my head around the logic that people are better moved around our cities by creating multi-billion dollar traffic jams than by doing what every other first world city out there does and investing in rail. As petrol prices increase, it makes less and less sense to move large numbers of people or produce over long distance by road.

* School meals – should they be introduced in all schools? Just low-decile shools? Or not at all?

I can definitely see a place for them in low-decile schools; and, on a needs basis could well see them implemented across the board. Just because one is attending a decile 10 school does not mean one’s parents have a decile 10 income.

I’m frankly appalled by National’s Mike Sabin who claimed we shouldn’t be providing school lunches to our vulnerable kids because “then mothers and fathers would never have to do it”. That, to my mind, isn’t a child-friendly argument.

As far as I’m concerned, a malnourished child is probably not getting all they can out of either schooling or life. It will be through no fault of their own, and petty political point-scoring at the child’s expense is repugnant.

* Republic or not?

My big issue with New Zealand becoming a republic is that there’d be an immense temptation to shoehorn a new constitution into the process.

Thus, the best argument I’ve yet heard against becoming a republic, is the fact that Bill English & Pita Sharples are writing the constitution that would form the basis for it.

Whichever way we go, I hope it’s as the result of a binding referendum on the subject. This should be a matter for the people to decide – not a few hundred elites.

Q: What, in your opinion, has been the worst aspect or single thing, about John Key’s government?

The duplicity. A far better Prime Minister than Key (one Benjamin Disraeli) once noted that there were lies, damned lies and statistics.

Every number this government puts out – from unemployment rates to growth figures and from asset sales revenue to the 170,000 jobs we keep hearing about suggests that this is a government whose economic forecasting makes astrology look respectable.

Yeah, whatever happened to that 170,000 “new jobs”  promised by Key?? It certainly seems to have been quietly dropped.

Q: What, in your opinion, has been the best aspect, or single thing, about John Key’s government?

I love political satire. It’s certainly a treat having an entire government writing for you.

Q: How do you feel about our current media? Do you have a favourite media that you feel stands above others? Which, in your view, is the worst?

Up until relatively recently I was frankly appalled by our mainstream domestic media on a seemingly daily basis.

It’s probably cliche for an NZFer to claim we don’t get a fair go, but I’ve watched it happen. On numerous occasions, I’ve seen journalists attempt to take on Winston in a manner that’s more bull-fight than interview so they can get an aggressive 5-second soundbite to play on the 6 pm news.
Thankfully, they’ve started to change their tune.

On a more positive note, the best media in the country is the blogosphere.

Gordon Campbell is, in my eyes, a national treasure. In few other places do you seem to get the hard questions asked and information presented in a manner that’s insulting to neither truth nor the intelligence of the reader.

Internationally, I love Al Jazeera and I detest the Economist.

Their respective coverage of the Honduras coup a few years back probably explains why. Al Jazeerah was first in, and reported in an unbiased way about a reasonably popular and progressive President who’d just been illegitimately overthrown by legislative elites.

The Economist, by contrast, seemed to be reporting about a completely different coup in which an overwhelmingly unpopular President was legally overthrown by a coalition of concerned citizens and lawmakers with the country’s best interests at heart.

Needless to say, the weight of history, and virtually every other source I came across did not side with The Economist’s manifestly counterfactual interpretation of events.

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Q: If NZ First was in government as the major coalition Party, and you were an MP offered a ministerial role, what portfolio would you want? And why?

Hahaha. Once upon a time I, like almost every other young politico with a smattering of an economics education, wanted to be Finance Minister.

These days, I’d probably consider Minister of Education.

Oh? Why is that?

I’m really passionate about ensuring Kiwi kids get the best start in life. My parents are both teachers, I work in the education sector, and for years I’ve seen first hand the effects of flawed education policy.

At the moment, our education policy seems to be decided and implemented by people whose relationship with the educational professions seems to have moved from “arms length” to “armed standoff”.  
The previous Minister of Education, for instance, was the only Minister in Cabinet lacking a degree and seemed to think her role in government was to play Thatcherite strikebreaker rather than improving the future prospects of our next generation. NZQA’s head office seems quite literally to be staffed with accountants rather than teachers, the end result of which being ongoing shambles like the NCEA and the soon-to-be-upon-us debacle that will be the implementation of National Standards.

I’m not sure about the National Party, but when something like 90% of the paid professionals who’ve spent several years training to teach our kids think something’s a bad idea … I’m inclined to listen. 

Better be careful, Curwen – you could end up the most popular Education Minister since… since… Actually, have we ever had one?!

Which leads us on to,

Q: In your opinion, what is the single most critical problem affecting us as a society? How would you address that problem? And what time-frame would you give yourself?

The apparent lack of any compelling vision or plan by our government to leave New Zealand a better place than they found it.

We have three years to contribute our ideas and convince our government to do better.

After that, we must seek to change the government. 

Q: Are your friends and family political? How do you relate  to those friends and family who aren’t political?

Good question. The closest my family got to politics before me was my father’s vocation as a Reverend. Perhaps that’s where I get the faith & fury rhetoric about social justice from.

Deep down, I think everyone cares about politics. They might not be die-hard supporters of a particular cause or party, but we all want to leave a better New Zealand to our children than the one we inherited.

The trick is to bring that out in people – and I’d like to think that it’s pretty close to the surface in most of my friends.

Or, to put it another way, if they weren’t political before meeting me, they certainly are now. A case in point for this would be my long-suffering girlfriend Anya, who went from being apathetic about politics to the point of libertarianism to evangelising the Bengali community and shooting television commercials for us.

I think my partner would sympathise with you on that one, Curwen.

On a more personal level…  What are some of your most favourite things,

* food?

Shapes, sour-worms and ginger ale.

In terms of actual meals, I’m highly partial to that traditional Kiwi repast of lamb & mint sauce; although I’ve recently developed an insatiable taste for home-made chicken curry. 

Currwen, I must introduce you to ‘ The Curry Shop‘, in Upper Hutt. Their Chicken Saag  is mana-from-heaven.

What about  place to live? What is your favourite turf?

Mt Eden. I love my mountain and my valley.

* movie and/or tv programme?

“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

* book?

I don’t really have favourite books per se. My favourite author’s probably Terry Pratchett, but what I’m reading currently is Bruce Jesson’s “To Build A Nation”.

* prominent historical person you admire the most? And why?

Hunter S Thompson. This was a man whose dual personal maxims of “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro” and “some may never live, but the crazy never die” have proven of great personal inspiration to me. 


His uncompromising political principles, flair for the eccentric, and conviction of life-as-art-worth-doing are things which I hope to bring to my career.

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Well, I see he’s still popular with the ladies…

Q: And your Last Word is on;


NZF’s role in Parliament this term strikes me as remeniscent of Gandalf confronting the neoliberal Balrog in The Fellowship of The Ring.

When National puts forward its bills to privatize our future, I look forward to hearing a clarion voice from the House yelling “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”

Sounds damned good to me.

Thank you, Curwen,  for sharing with us!

Folks wishing to contact Curwen can email him at;  curwen@nzfirst.org.nz    or alternatively Facebook him, on his page; Curwen Ares Rolinson; or blog on puttingnzfirst.blogspot.com, or on Twitter @ huntersrolinson.

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Disclaimer

This blog is not affiliated to NZ First in any way, shape, or form.

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