Archive

Posts Tagged ‘David Shearer’

My thoughts on David Shearer’s resignation…

22 August 2013 8 comments

.

David Shearer

.

So David Shearer could no longer stomach the infighting and back-room dealing going on within the Labour party.  He’s decided to chuck in the leadership and let someone else do the job.

Fair enough. His life; his call. Who knows, one day, after another decade of experience, he’ll return with a vengeance and be the best Prime Minister since [insert name here].

In the meantime, I make this comment to the Labour Caucus…

Decide on who your new leader will be and then get on with the job. Put an end to back-room dealings, whisperings, and undermining each other.  Because whilst 1,000,000 New Zealanders voted for National – 3,400,000 did not.  And things are getting pretty dire in this country.

We have a Prime Minister who – as Russell Norman correctly pointed out – is becoming more Muldoonesque with each passing day. We have National ministers trampling on our rights; flogging off our assets; turning the country into a Surveillance State; giving millions away in corporate welfare – whilst bashing the most vulnerable in this country.

The country needs a united opposition.

That means a Labour-Greens (NZ First?) coalition aiming it’s sights at the Nats and working as a government-in-waiting. Labour-Greens need to look determined to hit the ground running.

We cannot afford to have Labour MPs engaging in ego-driven pissing contests whilst the Tories keep screwing this country.

Because if you can’t do the job, we’ll be stuck with another three, six, nine, whatever years of National who will corporatise this country. The rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer, and the Middle Classes will send their kids of to Australia.

So. Choose your new Leader.

And get  on with it!

.

.

= fs =

Categories: The Body Politic Tags:

Labour leader coup…

10 July 2013 4 comments

… are we there yet?!

.

duncan garner - labour coup

.

Still no signs of coup from Labour camp…

No helicopters circling the Beehive with red Labour flags fluttering…

No ultimatum from rank and file army of members to Leader Shearer to step down or face a blistering attack by volley of stern emails…

One gets the distinct impression that there’s some game-playing here;

  • playing political  silly buggers
  • and playing  Duncan Garner like a fiddle

Perhaps this should serve as a lesson here for the media.

1. Report the news

2. Don’t try to pre-empt it.

In the final analysis, this wasn’t really journalism. It was playing oneupmanship with your media competitors. And it’s not enlightening the public one iota.

If one wants an example of  fine journalism, Campbell Live tonight (10 July) on the machinations behind the GCSB Bill was the best I’ve seen for many, many years,

.

Campbell live GCSB 10 July 2013

 

Click to view

.

This is what journalism used to be like.

.

.

= fs =

Citizen A: With Martyn Bradbury, Julie Fairey and Keith Locke

- Citizen A -

-

- 27 June 2013 -

-

- Julie Fairey & Keith Locke -

-

This week on Citizen A host Martyn Bradbury, Julie Fairey & Keith Locke debate the following issues:

Issue 1: Poll Dive for David Shearer. Does this latest Herald Digi-Poll scare Labour’s caucus into reconsidering Shearer as leader?

Issue 2: Would a NZ First backed GCSB bill be the worst outcome for New Zealand?

Issue 3: And what did Auckland mayor Len Brown give away to get the support of this National-led Government?

Citizen A screens on Face TV, 7.30pm Thursday nights on Sky 89


.

*

.

Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

The Daily Blog

.

.

= fs =

The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Wha

new zealand high electricity prices

.

Continued from: The Politics of Power and a Very Clear Choice – Part Toru

.

First NZ

.

As Chris Trotter pointed out in his excellent blogpost just recently,

ONLY STEVEN JOYCE could offer up JB Were, Woodward Partners, Milford Asset Management, First NZ Capital,  and Forsyth Barr as credible critics of the Labour-Greens’ energy policy. As if these six financial institutions were ever likely to offer the Opposition parties their fulsome support!.”

Acknowledgement: The Daily Blog – No Dog In The Fight: Whatever happened To Academic Expertise?

We can add to the above list; AMP Capital, Morningstar Research, BusinessNZ, and Federated Farmers – all of which appear to be the front-line foot-mercenary-soldiers in National’s counter-attack to the Labour-Green’s NZ Power.

Minister of the Known Universe, Steven Joyce’s actual comment was,

Financial analysts including JB Were, Woodward Partners, Milford Asset Management, First NZ Capital, Devon Funds Management and Forsyth Barr are unanimous in their condemnation. One has labelled it a ‘hand grenade’ to the New Zealand economy, while others have said it will cut the value of every New Zealanders’ KiwiSaver account and lead to rolling blackouts. ”

Acknowledgement: Scoop –  Labour-Greens Power ‘Plan’ Economic Sabotage

Rolling blackouts“?!

He left out a plague of locusts and rivers turning into blood (though with farm run-offs, these days it’s more like Rivers of  Excrement).

We’ve had power black-outs in the past, due to dry weather; equipment failure; shut-downs for maintenance; human error; etc. And we will continue to have unavoidable power cuts, in the future;

.

Damaging gales forecast for north 5.5.2013

Acknowledgement: NZ Radio – Damaging gales forecast for north

.

Joyce added,

Kiwis are deeply suspicious about the Labour-Greens announcement and its timing. It’s simply economic sabotage. ”

Hmmm, considering the high value of the New Zealand dollar’s destructive effects on our manufacturing/export sector and the 40,000 jobs that’s been lost in the last four years – if I were Joyce, I would not be too keen to bandy about charges of “economic sabotage”. National’s policies in the last few years have been more than effective in that regard,

.

Exporters tell inquiry of threat from high dollar

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Exporters tell inquiry of threat from high dollar

.

It’s hardly surprising that most of the negative response has been from the financial markets and commercial firms. They are the ones with the naked vested interests.

To date, the following fear-threats have been thrown at the New Zealand public – because make no mistake, these  doomsday scenarios are directed at voters, and not Labour or the Greens.

Perhaps the most outrageous claims – or outright lies – came from share broking company, First NZ,

“Despite the alleged “excessive price increase in the 13 years since 2000 we are not convinced the system is broken. If it isn’t, then it doesn’t need fixing.

Since 2008, the “real” rate of increase (net of line charges) has slowed even further to 0.5 per cent per annum. Your writer knows for a fact he is paying less for electricity today than three years ago.

Our modelling assumes 11.6 per cent residential tariff increases over the next four years, however net of line charges this reduces to 3.2 per cent over four years.

We believe the Opposition’s desire for a 10 per cent reduction in power prices can mostly be achieved through the current market without the need for a complex and costly change of market structure.”

Acknowledgement:  NZ Herald –  Power price cuts coming anyway, says First NZ

In another document, First NZ made the extraordinary claim,

“Despite the alleged “excessive” price increases in the 13 years since 2000 we are not convinced the system is broken. We estimate that, net of line charges and after allowing for inflation, residential electricity prices have risen 2.6% since 2000.

Acknowledgement:  First NZ – Contact Energy – If it ain’t broke don’t fix it

Hold on.

Is First NZ is really telling the public that power prices have only risen 2.6% since  2000?!?! Well, they do qualify that with “net of line charges and after allowing for inflation”. Though why they would omit line charges seems pointless; the public are still paying at the end.  “Clipping the ticket” seems the norm and impacts on the end-consumer regardless of how it is done.

Which also raises a question in my mind;  why is First NZ making this assertion only now? Why did they not make the effort to rebut National’s claims when Dear Leader issued public statements like this, on 27 January, 2011,

“In the nine years Labour was in government, power prices went up 72 per cent and the Government owned 100 per cent of the assets.”

Acknowledgement:  NZ Herald – Power price fears if Govt stakes go

Why did First NZ not issue public statements ‘correcting’ National’s “misrepresentations” at the time?

Why have they left it only till now, to counter the assertion that “power prices went up 72%”?

Why is a single-buyer desk for electricity sending brokerage firms into a panic? Especially, considering, that we already have single buyer-desk’s in the form of Fonterra, Zespri, PHARMAC, etc.

The answer, I submit, is fairly obvious. First NZ’s fanciful statements and assertions are part of an orchestrated litany of bullshit to scare Joe & Jane Public to run back into the cold, dead arms of Nanny Neoliberal.

The Financial Money Men, with their Federated Farmers allies, are propping up their neo-liberal stooges in Parliament. The rats are out of the woodwork, and we can see who is lined up against the best interests of the public.

Because, in the final analysis, this all boils down to money – who makes it and who gets to keep it. And because so much money is at stake, we are told that rising power bills is the price for living in a “free” market.

We’re also promised that power prices will drop. Sometime. In the future.

We just have to be patient.

Maybe another thirty years?

It will be interesting if people buy into this propaganda BS.  Will voters believe the fear-mongering campaign from the money-pushers?

Or will they realise that share brokers and merchant bankers are  interested only in seeing that power prices remain at stratospheric levels, to provide maximum returns for their shareholders?

Because one thing is as certain as the sun rising tomorrow; these firms are not remotely interested in our welfare. Nor in the welfare of Kiwi families being gouged with higher and higher power bills.

I’m struck senseless that so many National supporters believe  that siding with the likes of JB Were, Woodward Partners, Milford Asset Management, First NZ Capital, Devon Funds Management,  Forsyth Barr, Business NZ, Federated Farmers, et al, will somehow gain them some kind of  ‘benefit’. Are National supporters so masochistic and blinded by their faith in the “free market” that they are willing to tolerate  paying higher and higher prices for electricity?

I hope they realise that JB Were, Woodward Partners, Milford Asset Management, First NZ Capital, Devon Funds Management,  Forsyth Barr, Business NZ, Federated Farmers, et al, will not pay the power bills for National supporters.

Good luck with that!

The Labour-Green coalition should welcome these attacks as an opportunity. Every time one of these money-pushing firms launches a critical attack on NZ Power – the Labour-Greens should counter with press conferences where facts, stats,   and more details are presented for the public and nice, big, colourful  graphic-charts presented.

Like this one, from the Ministry of Economic Development/Business, Innovation, and Employment;

.

Ministry of Economic Development - Power Prices 1974 - 2011

Acknowledgement: Ministry of Economic Development/Business, Innovation, and Employment – Power Prices

.

(Note price drop around 1999. Whilst Industrial and Commercial prices fell, residential prices continued to rise. There is more to explain the 1998/99 price fall here;  Statistic NZ –  Electricity consumption. It had little to do with Bradford’s reforms, and more to do with competing retailers changing their  methods of calculation for the CPI electricity price index and building extra generation capacity. The cost of the latter had shifted from the State and onto domestic consumers.)

Where possible, David Parker and Russell Norman should  speak at engagements around the country at public meetings. (Community newspapers and other local media should be engaged, as they love anything that happens within their community.)

Invite others such as  the Salvation Army, and experts such as energy-sector expert, Molly Melhuish, and Victoria University researcher Geoff Bertram, should be invited to address media events.

Invite members of the public; families, etc,  to present their power bills as evidence of skyrocketing prices.

Build a Broad Front of support. Show the country that there is support for NZ Power.

People want reassurance. We need to give it to them. And we need to show them why the National and the  finance sector are working in cahoots.

Because ain’t it funny that no community organisation has come out, demanding that the electricity sector remain unregulated and welcoming higher and higher prices?

And if the media aren’t presenting the full story, use progressive blogs to publish the information. We, too, can be  “foot soldiers” in this struggle. (Because surprise, surprise,  we too, use electricity.)

This is a war between the Neo Liberal Establishment and Progressive forces fighting to roll back thirty years of  a failed experiment.

That war began on 18 April.

There is no reason on Earth why we should not win.

.

NZ First

.

I find it hard to trust  NZ First. Or, to be more precise; I find it hard to trust it’s leader, Winston Peters.

His parliamentary colleagues; party members; and supporters – I have no problem with. They are people who, generally, want the best for this country and dislike the false religion of neo-liberalism as deeply as those on the Left do.

But Peters…

Peters has ‘form’. He has changed direction  on numerous occassions, and I find it hard to take him at his word.

Some examples…

1.

In 1996, Winston Peters campaigned to defeat the National Government and remove it from power. His campaign statements at that time seemed unequivocal;

Jim Anderton: Is the member going into a coalition with National?

Winston Peters: Oh no we are not.” – Parliamentary Hansards, P14147, 20 August 1996

.

There is only one party that can beat National in this election that that is New Zealand First.” – Winston Peters, 69 & 85 minutes into First Holmes Leaders Debate, TVNZ, 10 September 1996

.

Of course I am not keen on National. Who is?

… This is a government bereft of economic and social performance  [so] that they are now arguing for stability.” – Winston Peters, Evening Post, 25 June 1996

.

The prospects are that National will not win this election, that they will not form part of any post-election coalition.” – Winston Peters, The Dominion, 5 October 1996

.

It is clear that this National government will use every means at its disposal to secure power… Come October 12…  Two months ago I warned that the National Party would use every trick and device at their command to to retain their Treasury seats.” – Winston Peters speech to Invercargill Grey Power, 26 August 1996

.

The Prime Minister [Jim Bolger] is not fit for the job and come 12 October he will be out. He should not get on his phone and call me like he did last time, because we are not interested in political, quisling  behaviour. We are not into State treachery.” – Winston Peters, Parliamentary Hansards, P14146, 20 August 1996

.

We believe the kind of politician depicted by Bolger, Birch, and Shipley is not to be promoted into Cabinet. As a consequence we will not have any truck with these three people.” – Winston Peters, NZ Herald, 22 July 1996

.

We are a party that says what we mean and mean what we say, regardless of the political consequences.” – Winston Peters, Speech to public meeting, 9 October 1996

Despite Peters’ assurances,  on  11 December 1996  the public woke up to this nightmare,

.

.

2.

In 1996, one of the biggest election issues was the sale of  Forestry Corporation of New Zealand Ltd (cutting rights only,  not the land). In 1996, the then Bolger-led National government had announced it’s intention to privatise the SOE,

In 1996, the Minister of Finance announced the government’s intention to sell its shares in the Forestry Corporation of New Zealand (formerly Timberlands Bay of Plenty). The corporation’s assets were Crown Forestry Licences to planted forests, which had expanded to 188 000 ha in the central region of North Island, processing plants in various locations, a nursery and a seed orchard.

A handful of large forestry companies and consortia submitted bids. The sole criterion was price. However, as the strength of the bids was not as great as hoped, bidders were asked to resubmit their bids. In August 1996, it was announced that the Forestry Corporation of New Zealand had been sold to a consortium led by Fletcher Challenge in a deal that valued the assets at $NZ 2 026 million.

Acknowledgement:  Devolving forest ownership through privatization in New Zealand

The sale went ahead and the  final sale-price was $1,600,000, to a consortium made up of  Fletcher Challenge Forests (37.5%), Brierley Investments Ltd (25%) and Citifor Inc (37.5%).

Acknowledgement:  Treasury – Income from State Asset Sales as at 30 September 1999

Throughout 1996, Winston Peters engaged in an election campaign to “hand back the cheque” should he and his Party be elected into a position of power,

.

Forests Buy back signalled - Evening Post - 13 August 1996

Acknowledgement: (hard copy only): Evening Post, 13 August 1996

.

the Game plan - what we're all playing for - Eveni ng Post - 2 October 1996

Acknowledgement: (hard copy only): Evening Post, 2 October 1996

.

To quote  Peters, who said on 13 August 1996,

I ask both the Labour and Alliance parties – putting politics aside for  this one day – to join New Zealand First in it’s post-election pledge to reverse the sales process“.

As many who lived through the times will recall, Peters pledged to “hand back the cheque”. It was a powerful message.

But it never happened.

Peters joined in coalition with National  (consigning Labour and The Alliance into Opposition) and the pledge to buy back the forests was dropped – much to the disgust of people at the time..

Sixteen years later, and Peters has made the same promise all over again.  On TV3′s The Nation, on 24 June 2012,  Winston Peters stated,

 “The market needs to know that Winston Peters and a future government is going to take back  those assets. By that I mean pay no greater price than their first offering price. This is, if they transfer to seven or eight people, it doesn’t matter, we’ll pay the first price or less. ”

Acknowledgement: TV 3 – The Nation

On 4 March this year (2013), Peters announced,

New Zealand First will use its influence on the next coalition Government to buy back our state-owned power companies which are being flogged off by National and we are committed to buying back the shares at no greater price than paid by the first purchaser.”

Acknowledgement: Scoop – One More Quisling Moment from Key

Another quote from Winston Peters, who  said in a speech to the NZ First Conference,  in 1999,

All the policies and manifestos in the world are meaningless when you cannot trust the leadership. That is what leadership is about – trust. Nobody expects leadership to be infallible. But you have a right to expect it to be trustworthy.”

Acknowledgement: (hard copy only):  Speech by Rt Hon Winston Peters to the New Zealand First Conference, 18 July 1999, at the Eden Park Conference Centre

Indeed; “All the policies and manifestos in the world are meaningless when you cannot trust the leadership.”

If Peters and NZ First hold the balance of power in 2014 and choose to enter into a coalition arrangement with National – will he carry out his pledge this time?

Or will that promise be dropped and buried for political expediency and some babbled, weak excuse?

It’s happened once, before. And not too long ago.

Can he be trusted for a second time?

I am of  the belief that folks can learn from their mistakes. God knows I’m made a few in my early adulthood.

Has Winston Peters learned to honour his electoral pledges and not to treat the voting public as fools? Has he learned that he betrays voters at his peril? I hope so.

Because the public exacted a fitting response to his behaviour in 2008, as he and his Party were punished and spent three years in the political wilderness (see;  New Zealand general election, 2008).

More than ever, the future of this country – and the power –  is in our hands,

.

NZ Power Shearer Norman

.

Residents Vote In Mana By-Election

.

Don’t screw up this time, Mr Peters.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 May 2013.

.

*

.

Previous Related Blogposts

History Lesson – Tahi – Electricity Sector “reforms”  (4 March 2012)

John Key: Man of Many Principles (28 Sept 2012)

Labour, Greens, NZ First, & Mana – A Bright Idea with electricity! (10 March 2013)

Additional Sources

Statistics New Zealand: The history of electricity reform

Ministry of Economic Development: Electricity Prices

NZ History Online:  Dancing Cossacks political TV ad

The Treasury: Income from State Asset Sales as at 30 September 1999

References

NZPA: Splitting up ECNZ expected to cut wholesale power price (16 Dec 1998)

NZPA:  Reforms aimed at business – Luxton (21 April 1999)

Otago Daily Times: Power Prices Set To Soar (12 May 1999)

Otago Daily Times: No case for regulation (24 May 1999)

Otago Daily Times: Lower power prices coming says Bradford (3 June 1999)

Otago Daily Times: Power prices to rise by up to 15.1% (29 June 1999)

Otago Daily Times:  Reforms blamed for hike (13 July 1999)

Scoop: Alliance to hold Winston Peters accountable (8 Oct 1999)

NZ Herald: Peters ‘forgets’ NZ First support for power reforms (13 Aug 2008)

Fairfax: Government to seek inquiry into power price rise  (30 September 2008)

NZ Herald:  Put prices on hold, Brownlee tells power companies (21  May 2009)

NZ Herald: Mighty River directors’ 73pc pay rise realistic – Key (5 April 2013)

Scoop:  Labour-Greens to rip up the book on electricity pricing (18 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  Labour-Greens plan could work, says Vector CEO (19 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  National gobsmacked at Labour idea (19 April 2013)

NZ Herald: Power plan likened to Soviet era (19 April 2013)

NZ Herald: MRP chief slams socialist’ plan (21 April 2013)

TVNZ:  Q+A – Transcript of Steven Joyce interview (21 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  Bernard Hickey: Power barons fail to fool the public this time around (21 April 2013)

Radio NZ: Power prices nearly double since 2000 (21 April 2013)

Other blogs

Kiwiblog: Electricity Prices

Tumeke: MANA threaten overseas investors not to buy assets – Bloomberg pick up on the story

.

.

= fs =

Brain fades and balls ups

.

John Banks - John Key - David Shearer

.

On 20 March, Key made this curious remark, regarding Shearer’s stuff-up over his undeclared New York bank account,

“You don’t get cut any slack from the Labour Party when you say (you’ve made) a mistake but when they make one they don’t want anyone to have a look at it.”

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – IRD knew of Shearer account, but not Parliament

There are two points of interest regarding that remark,

1. “…but when they make one they don’t want anyone to have a look at it.”

Not true.

As Vernon Small wrote in the Dominion Post on 21 March,

He was right to front-foot it by doing the rounds of the press gallery to disclose his blunder and face the music. It would have played must worse if he had left it until the next register of pecuniary interests was published.

Acknowledgement:  Fairfax media – Shearer’s bank blunder threatens chances

Yet again this is another prime  example of Key willfully mis-representing facts to suit his own purpose. His ability to “bend the truth” is unparalled by any other Prime Minister, whether Labour or National.

Shearer actually fronted to journalists and made a candid admission of his stuff-up.

When is the last time Key or Banks did the same?

2. You don’t get cut any slack from the Labour Party when you say (you’ve made) a mistake…”

Why should Labour (or any other Party) cut any slack” for the National-led government?

Did National “cut any slack” for Labour when Helen Clark was Prime Minister? No, the Nats were relentless in their disparagement of Labour. In fact, they were often quite brutal,

.

Showers latest target of Labour’s nanny state

Acknowledgement: Scoop – Showers latest target of Labour’s nanny state

.

National launches its Food in Schools programme

Acknowledgement: Scoop – National launches its Food in Schools programme

.

(Note: National never proceeded with it’s “Food in Schools” programme, and the policy was quietly dropped soon after they were elected into power in November 2008. see:  Govt guarded on free school meals)

And this little ‘beauty’ in abusing Labour, in this January 2008 speech by John Key,

” Under Helen Clark and Labour, our country has become a story of lost opportunities. 

Despite inheriting the tail wind of a strong global economy, Helen Clark has failed to use that momentum to make significant improvement in areas of real importance to New Zealanders.  She has squandered your economic inheritance by failing to build stronger foundations for the future. 

Tomorrow, Helen Clark will tell us what she thinks about the state of our nation.  In all likelihood, she’ll remind us how good she thinks we’ve got it, how grateful she thinks we should be to Labour, and why we need her for another three years. 

Well, I’ve got a challenge for the Prime Minister.  Before she asks for another three years, why doesn’t she answer the questions Kiwis are really asking, like:

  • Why, after eight years of Labour, are we paying the second-highest interest rates in the developed world?
  • Why, under Labour, is the gap between our wages, and wages in Australia and other parts of the world, getting bigger and bigger?
  • Why, under Labour, do we only get a tax cut in election year, when we really needed it years ago?
  • Why are grocery and petrol prices going through the roof?
  • Why can’t our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?
  • Why is one in five Kiwi kids leaving school with grossly inadequate literacy and numeracy skills?
  • Why, when Labour claim they aspire to be carbon-neutral, do our greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at an alarming rate?
  • Why hasn’t the health system improved when billions of extra dollars have been poured into it?
  • Why is violent crime against innocent New Zealanders continuing to soar and why is Labour unable to do anything about it?

Those are the questions on which this election will be fought. 

Helen Clark thinks she can hoodwink Kiwi voters into giving her another three years to answer these questions.  Well, I say she’s had nine years, she’s had her chance and she’s wasted it. The truth is that as time has gone on, Labour has concentrated more and more on its own survival and less and less on the issues that matter to the people who put them there.”

Acknowledgement: National Party – 2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

So when Key whinges about the Labour Party not cutting him “any slack”, Key might consider that he gave as well as he got when he was in Opposition.

That is the role of Opposition – to criticise, challenge, and question. The alternative would be a quick trip down the road to join the club of authoritarian regimes.

By the way… how is John Key’s list of criticisms that he levelled against the Labour Government on 29 January 2008,

  • Why, after eight years of Labour, are we paying the second-highest interest rates in the developed world?
  • Why, under Labour, is the gap between our wages, and wages in Australia and other parts of the world, getting bigger and bigger?
  • Why, under Labour, do we only get a tax cut in election year, when we really needed it years ago?
  • Why are grocery and petrol prices going through the roof?
  • Why can’t our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?
  • Why is one in five Kiwi kids leaving school with grossly inadequate literacy and numeracy skills?
  • Why, when Labour claim they aspire to be carbon-neutral, do our greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at an alarming rate?
  • Why hasn’t the health system improved when billions of extra dollars have been poured into it?
  • Why is violent crime against innocent New Zealanders continuing to soar and why is Labour unable to do anything about it?

Except for interest rates (which is not controlled by governments – which Dear Leader should have known), none of John Key’s  list above has improved in any measurable manner.

He’s probably forgotten it by now.

.

Disclosure

This blogger is not a member of the Labour Party, nor has any preference in who leads that Party.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 23 March 2013.

.

.

= fs =

The Fletcher Affair – a warning for Labour

6 April 2013 5 comments

.

spy vs politician

.

The current mess surrounding the appointment of Ian Fletcher as the Government Communications Security Bureau’s (GCSB) Director should serve as a clear warning to any future Labour-Green government: Don’t Do It.

To be precise; don’t do what Key (and his ministerial cronies) has done. Circumventing the State Services Commission to “facilitate” appointments – even if done for decent motives – is simply;

(A) Not a good look

(B) Not worth the hassle when the media, bloggers, and Opposition get hold of it

(C) A slippery-slope toward cronyism and inevitable corruption.

The appointment of John Key’s Electorate Chairperson,  Stephen McElrea (who is also the National Party’s Regional Deputy Chair, National Party Northern Region) to the Board of NZ On Air raised numerous charges of cronyism and an agenda of political interference in public funding for television programming. (See:  Call for McElrea to resign from NZ On Air; See: PM has questions to answer over NZ on Air link )

Concerns over political appointees to highly sensitive positions, vulnerable to political interference, was quickly borne out when McElrea began to flex his “political muscles” even before being appointed to  NZ on Air’s Board,

.

National man eyes NZ On Air chair

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – National man eyes NZ On Air chair

.

Key’s background in deal-making; cutting corners to achieve set goals; and getting results fatally blinds him to the realities that politics and government is a whole different kettle of fish to ‘high finance’. (Which would be a good thing, considering the almighty crash of  ‘high finance’ four years ago.)

The State Services Commission was set up precisely to keep politician’s greasy hands of appointments.  At the beginning of out nascent civil service, ministerial cronyism was rampant,

The departments that grew up over the next few decades operated under the direct control of their Ministers, in arrangements that were practical in pioneering times.  Ministers approved appointments, determined pay and conditions, and oversaw administration and financial management, with varying degrees of diligence.

[...]

Understandably, Ministers were inclined to see that the people appointed were sympathetic to their own political outlook and priorities – and inevitably, in a small population, these were sometimes friends or acquaintances.  The Public Service was run on somewhat ad hoc ‘frontier’ lines, and seems not to have been much different from its parent institution, the British civil service.  In their report on the British civil service Sir Stafford North and Sir Charles Trevelyan described a bureaucracy that was, in the 1850s, rife with patronage, fragmented and inefficient.

Acknowledgement: State Services Commission –  Origins of the Public Service and Office of State Services Commissioner

Accordingly, after 1912, reforms were enacted to clean up this unholy mess,

The Hunt Commission in due course recommended, as ‘the most important matter of all’, establishment of a Board of Management under Cabinet, to have ‘absolute and undisputed power’ in ‘all matters relating to the control and management of the Service – … appointments, salaries, promotion, suspensions, dismissals, and indeed everything affecting officers – ‘  It suggested the Board’s first duties should include blocking all ‘back doors’ of entrance to the Public Service, and arranging for all promotions be made from within the Service.

The outcome was the Public Service Act 1912 – based on Herdman’s Bill already before the house – which set up a non-political and unified career Public Service; non-political through powers of appointment, promotion and dismissal being entrusted to an independent body – the Public Service Commissioner.

Acknowledgement: IBID

It is abundantly clear that John Key doesn’t ‘get’ any of this, when he said,

I didn’t do anything wrong whatsoever. Labour have done very similar things.”

Again, blaming Labour.

Is everything he says or does predicated on what the previous government did?

Does Key not have standards of his own? (Rhetorical question. Don’t answer.)

Because Key’s memory lapses cannot be blamed on anyone but himself. Especially when, on 3 April he openly contradicted himself as to who-phoned-who, as Andrea Vance reported,

…he appears to be confused about who first suggested Fletcher for the job.

Asked why he didn’t tell the full story last week, Key said: “I’d forgotten that at that particular time.”

In Porirua this afternoon, Key was grilled about the sequence of events that saw Fletcher appointed as director of the GCSB in September 2011.

At first Key said: “Iain Rennie, state services commissioner recommended him to me… I rang [Fletcher] and said ‘look, you know, you might be interested.”

Asked again who first brought up Fletcher’s name, Key replied: “Iain Rennie put it to me.”

Later on, he was asked again who first mentioned Fletcher. “I would have mentioned it to him, I’m sure.”

When pressed to clarify if he first suggested the name to Rennie, he said: “I’m sure I probably would have.”

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Fletcher’s appointment defended by SSC boss

Key lied. He was caught out lying.

On 4 April, Scoop Media wrote about the rationale behind Ian Fletcher’s appointment as GCSB director. Fletcher had no prior military of Intelligence experience. But he did have an extensive  background in intellectual property, commerce and “free” trade (see: The CV of a Spy Boss ) .

Fletcher’s appointment was announced  in September 2011, and was due to take up his new job in early 2012.

At the same time, police were planning their raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion, scheduled to take place  on January 20 2012.

Scoop wrote,

Suppose Dotcom’s arrest and extradition was the clincher in the deal that secured Warner Bros’ agreement to produce The Hobbit in New Zealand. But any link to John Key, who led the negotiations with Warner Bros, would tend to confirm Dotcom’s claim, supported by the strong connection between Hollywood and US vice-president Joe Biden, of political persecution. So the prime minister had to be protected by having total deniability, leading to the completely implausible claim of not knowing about the most prominent resident in his own electorate until the day before the raid.

Acknowledgement: Kim Dotcom Part Two

Conspiracy fantasy?

Remember that Key has had several top level meetings with Warner Bros executives,

October 2010

.

No decision yet in Hobbit talks - Key

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – No decision yet in Hobbit talks – Key

.

July 2011

.

PM's 'special' movie studio meeting

Acknowledgement: Fairfax – PM’s ‘special’ movie studio meeting

.

October 2012

.

Key - Dotcom won't be discussed during Hollywood visit

Acknowledgement: TV3 – Key: Dotcom won’t be discussed during Hollywood visit

.
Four days later,
.
Dotcom raised at PM's Hollywood dinner

.

And those are only the meetings which we, The Masses, are aware of.

It’s interesting to note Chris Dodd, the CEO of  the Motion Picture Assiciation of America (MPAA) referred to the Trans Pacific Partnership Aggreement (TPPA) in the 5 October NZ Herald article above.

The TPPA has more to do with intellectual property rights than with “free” trade. (See: “Global Research –  The “Trans-Pacific Partnership”: Obama’s Secret Trade Deal; See: MFAT -Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations – Intellectual Property Stakeholder Update)

It’s also worthwhile noting that Ian Fletcher’s appointment coincided to the month with the raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion.

  • Raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion:  20 January 2012.

And both men were involved in intellectual property rights – though from different angles,

  • Kim Dotcom – the man who Hollywood executives wanted brought down because of alleged copyright violations on his ‘megaupload’ website. (see: The MPAA on Dotcom)
  • Ian Fletcher – the man who had worked in the UK to protect oroporate interests in intellectual property rights. (see below)

When Ian Fletcher’s appointment was announced on 8 September 2011, Key himself proudly boasted of the new Director’s  career,

Announcing the appointment Prime Minister John Key said he has ” policy and operational experience particularly in relation to international economic and trade matters.”

Acknowledgement: New Zealand’s new top spy boss revealed

Fletcher’s ” policy and operational experience particularly in relation to international economic and trade matters” seemed to matter for John Key for some reason?

Kim Dotcom was very high on the list of issues relating to “international economic and trade matters“; namely intellectual property rights.  Indeed, in March 2007, Fletcher was appointed as Chief Executive of the UK Office of Intellectual Property.

On 20 March 2007, Ian Fletcher said,

“I am delighted to be joining the Patent Office. It already plays a vital role in the UK’s economic prosperity, its scientific excellence and its innovation system. As the Office moves on to tackle to challenges set out in Andrew Gowers’ review, the Office’s role will become even more central to the UK’s response to the challenges of globalisation.”

Acknowledgement: Intellectual Property Office – New Chief Executive for the Patent Office

(Hat-tip; Karol, on The Standard)

It has been widely commented that Ian Fletcher has no background in the military, nor Intelligence – yet was considered the one candidate who was eminently suitable for the role of Director of the GCSB.  Perhaps now we are starting to understand why Ian Fletcher’s appointment seemingly related to,

  • the Crown’s case against Kim Dotcom
  • Illegal downloads/Intellectual Property rights
  • MPAA concerns
  • Hollywood big business
  • Trans Pacific Partnership

And as Key himself admitted, the issue of Kim Dotcom had been raised by Hollywood executive. Just what does our Prime Minister have to discuss with said executives? Who knows – it’s all done in secret, behind closed doors. We’re just expected to pay our taxes and shut up.

Conspiracy theory?

Conspiracy theories remain the subjects of idle parlour chit-chat and somewhat kooky websites… well, until charges are laid. Then a conspiracy theory becomes a conspiracy case in a Court of Law.

This affair should serve as a warning for the next in-coming Labour-Green government. National’s administration is a text-book case of how not to do things.

Every minister in the next Labour-Green government should be appointed a “minder” to ensure that they do things By The Book, and not to cut one single corner. Or at the very least, periodically re-read press reports and blogposts detailing every f**k-up by National over the last four years.

New Zealand is a small country. Secrets are notoriously difficult to keep. And even if the whole story behind the Fletcher-Dotcom-GCSB-TPPA thing has not been fully revealed – I think we’ve had a glimpse into the murky shadows of political perfidity to smell something rotten.

The issue has not only further dented Key’s credibility, but is starting to wear down his public persona of  good natured, ‘blokeyness’,

.

John Key calls media 'Knuckleheads'

Acknowledgement:  NZ Herald – John Key calls media ‘Knuckleheads’

.

Abusing the media? Not a good look for Dear Leader. It appears that the stress of the job is getting to him. And he can’t handle it very well.

Key’s “blokeyness” morphes into bratty petulance when he further dictates the terms under which he will talk to the media and in Parliament,

.

PM John Key

‘What I should have done, and what I will be doing in the future, is saying, well, the member needs to put that down to me in writing, and I’ll be doing that to the journalists as well.
‘Cos if you want perfection of everything I have done, two, three, four, five years ago, I will get you all that information for you, but I’ll get you the whole lot and give it to you.”

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – John Key changes tack over questioning

.

This is “seige mentality” stuff.

Key’s teflon coating wore away over a year ago. With no defensive cloak, the media recognise a government and it’s leader who are in dire trouble and  on the defensive.

As Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury wrote on “The Daily Blog”,

“John Key’s extraordinary appointment of his school-hood chum to be the new Director of our spy network could well be his ‘speeding in the Prime Ministerial Limo’ moment.”

Acknowledgement: The Daily Blog – John Key’s ‘speeding in the Prime Ministerial Limo’ moment

And as Bryce Edwards noted in the NZ Herald on 4 April,

“As a barometer of the political media, John Armstrong is always useful, and it appears that he too ‘smells blood’.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Political round-up: John Key’s precarious credibility

There are more headlines to come out of Key and National. It’s only a matter of time.

.

*

.

Related blogposts

Crony Watch!

References

Fairfax Media: New Zealand’s new top spy boss revealed (8 Sept 2011)

The Listener: Kim Dotcom and Megaupload: a timeline (20 March 2013)

Scoop: Kim Dotcom Illegal Surveillance And Response: Timeline (28 March 2013)

Fairfax Media:  Fletcher’s appointment defended by SSC boss (3 April 2013)

Radio NZ: State Services boss ‘surprised’ at PM’s phone call (4 April 2013)

NZ Herald: PM paints himself into another corner  (4 April 2013)

NBR: Honesty bigger issue than cronyism (4 April 2013)

NZ Herald: PM put mate’s case for job in 2009 (5 April 2013)

Radio NZ:  PM has no regrets about calling Fletcher (5 April 2013)

Fairfax Media: John Key changes tack over questioning (5 April 2013)

Scoop: Kim Dotcom Part Two (4 April 2013)

NZ Herald: PM put mate’s case for job in 2009 (5 April 2013)

Radiolive: Former GCSB boss intrigued by Ian Fletcher appointment – Audio  (5 April 2013)

NZ Herald: Ian Fletcher appointment a ‘totally ethical process’ (5 April 2013)

NZ Herald: John Key calls media ‘Knuckleheads’ (6 April 2013)

Other blogs

The Standard: The CV of a spy-boss

The Standard: Fletcher GCSB Change manager – and QLD

The Daily Blog: John Key’s ‘speeding in the Prime Ministerial Limo’ moment

.

.

= fs =

The unmitigated audacity of John Key and John Banks

19 March 2013 13 comments

.

This is how a politician  owns up to a mistake,

.

Shearer makes no excuse for forgetting bank account

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

.

Then there are politicians who continually blames others or claim to “forget”, when it’s obvious they are lying.

John Key’s talent for blaming others for his own stuff-ups is fast becoming becoming legendary,

.

http://fmacskasy.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/national-and-john-key-blames.png?w=595

.

Key’s habitual finger-pointing currently extends to blaming Solid Energy’s debt crisis on it’s  Board; management; coal prices; global financial crisis, and uncle Tom Cobbly. He takes  no responsibility for his own Ministers demanding higher debt gearing levels  and dividend payouts which helped plunge Solid Energy into a financial hole,

He’s [John Key]  blaming the previous Labour Government, including former state owned enterprises minister Trevor Mallard who encouraged the company to expand in 2007, and citing a Cabinet paper supporting that stance.

“They can’t wash their hands of the fact that from 2003 on, they were intimately involved with the plans that that company had,” Mr Key said.

Acknowledgement: TV3

It was put to the PM that Solid Energy seemed to have been working with a “pretty high-risk” strategy. He responded by saying that all of these things were operational matters — he added that “if National’s to blame, then so’s Labour”. He said that the management and the board are responsible for the balance-sheet.

Acknowledgement: Scoop.co.nz

Board at fault for Solid Energy debt, not Govt – Key

Mr Key denied the Government was responsible for the company’s woes, despite encouraging the board to take on debt in 2009 and expecting it to pay a dividend.

Acknowledgement: TV3

They made some investments in core assets and those didn’t work out either, and the coal price collapsed.

Acknowledgement: MSN News

So everyone was to blame for Solid Energy’s collapse – except National which has been in power for four years and bled the company dry with demands for high dividends.

Then there are times in politics that politicians make utterances that are breath-taking in unmitigated audacity,

.

Shearer makes no excuse for forgetting bank account Banks comments

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

.

This is one such instance – John Banks,  whose memory was so “bad” that he forgot his close relationship with a rather large German multi-millionaire; a helicopter flight to one of the biggest mansions in New Zealand; and who forgot $50,000  cheques for  donations for his electoral campaign.

.

John Banks says he never lied about internet billionaire Kim Dotcom’s $50,000 donation to his 2010 mayoral campaign but says he erred in not answering questions about the affair more openly.

But Mr Banks denied misleading the public about the donations and events around them, including a helicopter ride to Dotcom’s mansion which he has said he cannot remember.

“I didn’t lie. There’s no reason to believe that I lied. I simply couldn’t recall.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald

.

For someone with “nothing to hide” ACT leader and former Auckland mayor John Banks is doing an awfully good job of creating the impression there are some things he would rather keep to himself.

He has refused to confirm he solicited a donation from internet billionaire Kim Dotcom for his 2010 mayoral campaign and refused to confirm he asked that the $50,000 donation be split into two $25,000 payments.

He has also said he does not remember who donated money to his mayoral campaign, does not remember discussing money with Dotcom and his staff and, till yesterday, could not remember flying to Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion in Dotcom’s helicopter.

Either Mr Banks is suffering from the early onset of Alzheimer’s or he thinks honest answers to the questions raised by the revelation that Dotcom was an undisclosed donor to his campaign will reflect poorly on him.

Acknowledgement: Dominion Post – Editorial: Bad memory or poor judgment?

John Key and John Banks are now attempting to compare David Shearer’s omission for declaring his New York-based bank account.

Key said,

“People make mistakes. I make mistakes and when I do, I try and tell people I’ve made them. It’s just that you don’t get cut any slack from the Labour Party when you say you’ve made a mistake, but when they make one they don’t want anyone to have a look at it.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Key weighs in on Shearer’s $50,000 ‘oversight’

And John “I-can’t-recall” Banks added his own 2 cents worth,

“Shearer is on record as saying those who suffer from a memory lapse aren’t fit to hold office.  Shearer’s hypocrisy is staggering.”

Acknowledgement: IBID

Except for one thing – and here’s the rub:

David Shearer himself disclosed and admitted his own mistake,

“Frankly I was horrified that I’d overlooked it and I moved straight away to correct it. When I myself found that (bank account) error I made the move to correct it, I didn’t wait for anybody else to find it.”

Acknowledgement: IBID

It is one thing to stuff up; come clean; apologise; and not try to blame others.

It is entirely another matter when one continually blames others for his mistakes or has such problems recalling events that they become a laughing stock.

Perhaps Mr Key and Mr Banks should take a lesson from David Shearer’s book;  own your mistakes; don’t blame others; and don’t make facile excuses.

It’s not politicians who make mistakes, that the public loathes. It’s when they try to avoid responsibility for their errors.

Especially when Key and Banks demand responsibility from the rest of us,

.

Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key

.

.

.

= fs =

John Key – am I detecting a seismic shift in public attitude?

10 February 2013 22 comments

.

5923658

.

Is Dear Leader  losing his touch? He doesn’t seem quite so “dear” to some people any more…

  • The Novopay foul-up just gets worse and worse and worserer with each passing pay cycle. Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to just delegate the pay-system into the hands of Lotto? The results would’ve been about the same.

 

  • Education Minister, Hekia Parata, screws up on a semi-regular basis. Does Key hand her the ceremonial sword and with a smile tell her, “you know what to do with this”. Nah, he annoints her as National’s “most effective communicator. Has anyone ever seen 4.4 million people do a collective face-palm?! Meanwhile, Joyce is the new de facto Minister of Education and Parata is given duct-tape to put over her mouth. This, for National, is seen as a “solution”.

 

  • Unemployment keeps going up and up and up and up… And when the stats cannot get any worse, they do a massive West Auckland-style u-turn and wheelie burn-out… Unemployment is no longer up – people have given up banging their heads against a brick wall. So the stats are now a mess. What they do indicate is that people are turning off from looking for work.  It must be depressing getting knocked back time after time after time after… And if you think it’s bad now, in bright sunny summer – wait till the gloom and shortened days of Winter really kick in with mass-depression.

 

  • Manufacturing and exporters are screeching like banshees that the high Kiwi Dollar is sending them to the wall… and Steven Joyce smiles benignly and sez, “things are challenging”. Not helpful, Mr Joyce. Not one bit.

 

  • The country’s third biggest construction company goes to the wall and the Nats do… nothing. Question: at a time when we have to rebuild the second (or third) largest city in the country – how does a fricken construction company manage to go into receivership?!?! Someone explain this to me. Wouldn’t that be like a water-tanker truck in the Saharan desert unable to sell water???

 

  • We have a critical housing shortage in the country… A shortage of housing?! But, but, but… isn’t the free market supposed to prevent these shortages??? What goes on here?

 

  • We have a shortage of skilled tradespeople, IT specialists;  healthcare professionals… whilst on the other hand, we have 175,000 unemployed. Hmmmm… shortage of skilled staff… 175,000 unemployed… shortage of skilled staff… 175,000 unemployed… shortage of skilled staff… 175,000 unemployed… why don’t we-? Nah. What a silly idea. For a moment there I had this ridiculous thought in my mind about re-training 175,000 unemployed to meet our skills shortages… Bugger me, where do I get these daft notions from.

 

  • National doesn’t want to build housing for New Zealanders. They say it’s up to the Free Market to do this. Government, sez Joyce, Brownlee, Key, et al, say that it’s not the role of government to offer subsidies or state housing. Unless you’re a private school. Or farmers wanting irrigation systems. Or Rugby World Cup. Or investors in a finance company. Or insurance companies. Or a movie producer – especially a foreign one. Then there’s plenty of money. Whoopie – lolly scramble!

 

  • But just don’t get silly over housing.

 

  • Steven Joyce wants to put the bulldozers and excavators into our conversation lands and have deep-sea drilling off our coast, in deep waters… because, you know, we don’t mind if the remaining few native forests in New Zealand are destroyed for the benefit of foreign investors. Or that we run a risk similar to the horrendous disaster in 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico which spewed millions of barrels of oil into the Caribbean. After all, the oil companies will look after us… *snort!*

 

  • Because National is not a hands-on government to create jobs and support local businesses. But if you’re a private school or Warner Bros, then the question becomes, “How much did you want me to make that cheque out for?”

 

  • Tony Ryall wants $30 million shaved from the Health budget (where else will we get the cash to subsidise those lovely furry Hobbit movies?!). So  grommett operations for kids may be cut. Hey who needs a pesky grommett anyway – and did I say how cool Hobbits are…? And of course those seven New Zealanders who are suffering from the terminal Pompe disease… they aren’t as cool as Hobbits.

 

There’s more.

But I think you, the reader, get’s the point. (Unless you’re a dedicated National/ACT supporter – in which case don’t you just lerrrve those cute Hobbits?)

But it seems that the bad news and continuing incompetance and just sheer lack of bright ideas from National is becoming too much for even National’s traditional cheer leaders…

Fran O’Sullivan wasn’t impressed. Not by a long shot. In fact, she seemed a bit ‘put out’ by Key’s inaction (as if it had suddenly dawned on her),

.

Time for Key to call an economic summit

Full story

.

For Fran O’Sullivan – who is widely noted as a bit of a Nationalphile – to be chiding her beloved Dear Leader indicates that even his adoring legion of glassy-eyed admirers are starting to feel frustration. When O’Sullivan criticises Key for “waffling” and then berates Key for “simply shrugging his shoulders” – then we know that not only is the honeymoon well and truly in the past, but the ‘marriage’ is verging on a trial separation.

O’Sullivan didn’t mince words when she bluntly stated that “faith is no excuse for a failure to act” and demanded that  “it’s time, surely, for Key to call an economic summit to address the issues New Zealand faces“.

Good call, Fran.

A few years too late, but hey, some of us are a bit slower than others.

Meanwhile…

Right wing/all-over-the-place  media “personality” and talkback host, Kerre Woodham wrote an extraordinary column on 23 December, last year. Had it been written at any other time than two days before Christmas – when 99% of the populace is bleary eyed with the so-called “Festive Season” (said through gritted teeth, I might add) – her words would have had far more clout.

In fact, I could just barely recall her column piece and retrieve it from my Bookmarks (filed under WTF?). For the reader’s edification – read and enjoy (if you’re a National/ACT supporter you may want to put down your deluxe, Jackson-autographed, mink-lined Hobbit and read this bit),

.

Kerre Woodham - Nats run out of petrol

Full story

.

If Kerre Woodham speaks closer for the Middle Classes, then National should be in high-gear panic mode by now. Her attitude was summed up thusly,

I thought John Key said that by cutting income tax rates we would be able to stimulate the economy. Guess that didn’t work. I thought Key said that he would be able to stem the flow of New Zealanders to Australia by building a competitive economy and offering after-tax earnings on a par with those across the ditch. Well, that hasn’t worked, either.

 There are now more people moving to Oz under National than there were under Labour. But instead of ‘fessing up and conceding nothing the Government has come up with has worked, the Prime Minister has produced a classic example of Orwellian double-speak.

Akshally, says Key, moving to Australia is a GOOD thing for New Zealanders to do. They’ll see the world, gain experience – no, just like everything else, Key is comfortable with the numbers of Kiwis farewelling this country.”

Source: IBID

That, readers, was the sound of a Middle Class person coming to the realisation that our esteemed Dear Leader; dodgy Party; and worthless policies – are a fraud.

That, readers, was the realisation by a Middle Class person that National was not about to meet their aspirations.

It is the same sound of  National’s ‘House of Cards’ crashing that we heard in the late 1990s. A crash which culminated in National’s election defeat on 27 November 1999.

When bene-baiting right-wing talk-back hosts like Woodham can make statements like,

Well, they may know how to make money for themselves but they don’t seem to have any answers when it comes to making the country richer.

If, after four years of government, the best strategy they can come up with to produce a surplus is to raise the fuel tax, they are devoid of initiative and bereft of imagination.”

Source: IBID

- then we know that the Middle Classes are starting to wake up. And they’re noticing that the Emporer is naked and it ain’t a pretty sight.

Next…

Businesspeople are running as fast as their feet can carry them – to a joint inquiry run by the Opposition Parties in Parliament – and it’s a brave/stupid/both National Government that ignores the signals,

.

Exporters tell inquiry of threat from high dollar

Full story

.

When a businessman – in this case managing director Gordon Sutherland –  says,

We know that – we’ve known that for a very, very long time. Of course we get efficient, of course we try and work as hard as we can to be efficient – it’s the only way we can exist. It drives me insane when people say, ‘Get efficient’. What do you think we are – idiots? We’re not.”

- then the Nats are treading on very thin ice to ignore such messages.

National is supposed to the the Party for business. So when business people begin to turn on the Nats – that’s a pretty bloody big signal that it’s the beginning of the end for this government. And considering Key has stated he will not lead National from the Opposition benches (see:  Key says he’ll quit politics if National loses election) – it’s ‘bye-bye’ Dear Leader.

Once he’s gone, the Nats will have left in their wake a poorly performing economy; high unemployment; growing income divide; higher child poverty; businesses about to collapse (Mainzeal already gone); and a raft of other tragic consequences.

The 2011-14 Key-led  administration will be remembered in the same way many New Zealanders view with derision the Bolger/Shipley-led National government from 1996-99.

Going by the next story, however, Key is already despised by a wide sector of the community.

But more to the point, that hostility is no longer held in check and is being voiced out loud,

.

Mixed reception for Key at Big Gay Out

Full story

.

What we are seeing now seems to be a  seismic shift in public opinion on Key and National. But more importantly,  where only a year ago people were reluctant to voice their dissatisfaction or hostility in public – now that shyness is disappearing. People are pissed off and they know who to vent at,

.

200204-3x2-340x227

.

In 2008, Key raised levels of expectation to new heights (see: A fresh start for New Zealand).

With promises of higher wages and other warm-fuzzy, populist nonsense, people voted for him in droves. Their expectations were raised as Key’s supreme self-confidence;  personal rags-to-riches story; and plausible rhetoric made them line up and put their trust in him.

The trouble with raised expectations, though, is that failing to deliver “the goods” results in an inevitable backlash. Not just at the ballot box, but in terms of vitriol. We tend to pull people of a pedestal mighty quick, if they stuff up.

National’s failure to meet those expectations may already be a foregone conclusion, as NZ Herald columnist, John Armstrong wrote on 22 December last year,

A slight sense of desperation was evident in National’s reaction to this week’s release of the Treasury’s latest forecasts.

National is not going to let anything stand between itself and its Holy Grail of a return to Budget surpluses within the next three years.

What was once merely a target now seems to be an obsession. The reason is straightforward. Some major economic indicators are starting to confirm anecdotal impressions of an economy close to tipping into recession,

National is therefore clinging ever tighter to the increasingly vain hope of balancing the books by its target date of the 2014-15 financial year.

Meeting the target is all part of National’s branding as the party of sound economic management. Failure on that front would be a major blow to its credibility.”

See: Gloom sets scene for tumultuous 2013

If meeting an accounting target is all that National has left – Shearer better start packing up now. He’ll be in the Prime Minister’s residence at the next election.

.

*

.

References

Interest.co.nz: Stats NZ reports 23,000 jobs lost

NZ Herald: Time for Key to call an economic summit

NZ Herald: Kerre Woodham: Nats run out of petrol

Fairfax media: Mixed reception for Key at Big Gay Out

.

.

= fs =

David Shearer – New Solutions or Time-Honoured Answers?

29 January 2013 7 comments

.

David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

Wainuiomata, Sunday, 27 January 2013 –  It was a scorcher of a day throughout most of the country – and the Wellington region was no exception.  The Met Office was predicting 23 degrees – this blogger scoffs at that and thought it nudged closer to 30.  Not for the first time, I thanked the Human Race for the invention of air-conditioning inside a car.

This was not the first time I had heard Party leaders speak. My very first occassion was Bill Rowling, in the 1975 election campaign.  According to my memory, he seemed a nice enough guy and had some good things to say.

Unfortunately forLabour – and for the nation – Muldoon made “mince meat” out of Rowling; won the ’75 election; trashed Labour’s compulsory super-savings scheme; and set the country on a course for future dependency on foreign bankers. Nice one, Rob.

My most recent encounter with a Party leader had been John Key, in Lower Hutt and then in Upper Hutt, in 2011 in the lead-up to the general election.

Impressions? I understood why many people likened politicians to used-car salesmen.  There was something about Key that instinctively made me feel uneasy and doubt every word he uttered. At any moment, I expected him to offer the audience shares in the Wellington harbour bridge. (Soon, he’ll be offering us shares in companies we already own. So I wasn’t far off.)

Back to the present…

At first, I thought the Wainuiomata Rugby Club – at a far-flung corner of this little village – was an odd place for a public meeting. But maybe not. In some ways, Wainui represents New Zealand  in the wider world; tiny, isolated, out-of-sight of the rest of the country and mostly forgotten. As a microcosm of New Zealand, surrounded by verdant green-covered hills, it was a perfect setting.

The Rugby Club car-park was jam-packed. Decided to park across the road. Smiled nicely at the Wainui Bowling Club folk who must’ve been wondering what was going on across the road, and legged it.  Bloody traffic had been slow all the way through the Hutt Valley and through Wainui and the ” star attraction” was due to start his speech within minutes.

The host’s introductory speech was just finishing, and David Shearer walked – strided confidently – from a rear annex where he had been waiting with one of his staff.

There was good applause from the audience, perhaps a third or half of whom were Labour party members or supporters.

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

Shearer was in good form as he opened his speech,

.

Tena koutou katoa.

Greetings everyone and thank you for being here together on a Sunday.

It’s great to see so many friendly faces.

It’s wonderful to see so many of you prepared to give up some of your summer break to talk about the future of our country.

There is nothing more important. And nothing more urgent.

I can tell you that today I’m refreshed, I’m fired up, and I’m raring to go.

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

This year will be a big year for Labour – a year where we not only hold the government to account, but also show there’s a better way.

A way of hope, where there is a place for everyone and where we fight for a world class NZ that we can all be proud of.

Today I want to lay out the challenges before us, the need for change and our focus for the year.

.

Shearer started off well – and for the most part, maintained a vigorous energy as he gave his twenty to thirty minute long speech.

.

David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

NEW ZEALANDERS WHO INSPIRE US ALL

A book I was given for Christmas tells the stories of 50 inspiring New Zealanders – artists, scientists, musicians, business people, some well-known, some less so.

Reading about their lives, they share the same passion and pride in their work and in their country. The ambition to be world class.

As scientist Ray Avery says: ‘we have no respect for the status quo’.

These people never say it’s too hard – we’re not big enough, we’re too isolated, we don’t have enough money.

Instead they say, “To hell with it, I’m going to do it anyway”.

New Zealanders have always achieved what wasn’t supposed to be possible.

Sir Edmund Hillary’s idea of what was possible took him to the very top of the world.

Kate Sheppard’s idea of what was possible made New Zealand the first country to give women the vote.

Alan MacDiarmid’s idea of what was possible took him from Masterton to winning the Nobel Prize.

We’ve always dreamed big and succeeded.

.

Interestingly, this is the same book that Alliance leader, Jim Anderton, referred to on numerous occassions during the 1996 general election campaign.  He often mentioned it in his speeches, highlighting how New Zealanders had struggled to overcome adversity during their lives.

.

I see that same attitude in families and schools, businesses and sports teams as I travel up and down the country.

People overcoming adversity, dreaming of something better.

When I see a single mum put herself through polytech to build a better future for her kids, I’m inspired.

When I meet New Zealanders well into their retirement, who after a lifetime of service are the first to volunteer come Daffodil Day, I’m inspired.

When a kid, who the stats say should fail, becomes the first member of their family to graduate from university, I’m inspired.

It’s inspiring because Kiwis don’t lie down.

From the most famous to the most humble, courage and determination is the common bond.

They deserve a Government that backs their hopes and inspires them to succeed.

A Government that says: you do your bit, we’ll do ours.

.

Shearer used the phrase “you do your bit, we’ll do ours” several times throughout his speech. It’s a phrase that can mean different things to different people.

In a centre-left context, it can suggest an interventionist hands-on government. Though it  harks back to the famous Marxist expression, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs“, I doubt if 21st Century Labour’s speech writer  had Karl Marx in mind.

.

That’s what a Labour Government will do.

That’s what a government I lead will do.

 NATIONAL’S EXCUSES ARE HOLDING US BACK

 But this Government’s low expectations are holding us back.

For 4 years we’ve been fed skilfully spun excuses for why we can’t get ahead.

It’s the Global Financial Crisis, the Canterbury earthquakes, the global outlook that is the problem.

We are told we have to accept second best.

There is always an excuse for why we can’t get ahead. For why we can’t be a leader in this field or that.

For example, the National government aspires to being a fast follower when it comes to climate change.

Hold that thought. What is a fast follower exactly?

Does it mean that if we follow too fast we become … what…an accidental leader?

.

Good point; “Does it mean that if we follow too fast we become … what…an accidental leader?

Writing his speech, I would have referred to New Zealand’s leadership during the French anti-nuclear tests at Muroroa, and our opposition to apartheid in South Africa. Whilst our Aussie cuzzies were lukewarm in their support of Norman Kirk’s decision to send a frigate to the test site, we went ahead and did it anyway.

We were The Mouse that Roared. And this would have tied in beautifully with his references above to “ 50 inspiring New Zealanders”.

.

But a leader with no clue about where they’re going.

That’s not good enough with an issue that is so important to our planet, and our country.

We deserve better than that.

I refuse to accept that for New Zealand.

And so do the Kiwis I meet.

.

Strangely, this seems reminiscent of Key’s January2008 speech, “A Fresh Start for New Zealand“,

We know this isn’t as good as it gets.  We know Kiwis deserve better than they are getting.  We are focused on the issues that matter and we have the ideas and the ability to bring this country forward. 

National is ambitious for New Zealand and we want New Zealanders to be ambitious for themselves.

The reason I point this out is that Shearer’s speech writer(s) should be wary of using too much generalised rhetoric. In many cases New Zealanders have heard it all before.

If rhetoric is used, make it original and make it something unique to social democratic precepts. There has to be a different language; different words – a different brand – to that of the Nats.

Otherwise Labour’s message will be diluted and lost within the political-media maelstrom.

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

 FORGOTTEN NEW ZEALANDERS

 But this Government has forgotten the hard-working and inspiring people I come across every day.

In a pub in Napier, a guy came up and said to me “I’m working harder than ever, I pay my taxes, we’re trying to bring up our kids the best we can, but we simply can’t seem to get ahead”.

He went on to say: “I just feel nobody is standing up for me”.

So many others I have met feel the same.

They’re busy helping organise school galas, donating their time to charities, running the sausage sizzle to fundraise for local sports clubs.

They are at the heart of our communities helping make our country the great one it is.

I’ve run into that spirit amongst many small business owners.

They’re the kind of people who pay themselves for 40 hours but work 80 just to keep the doors open.

They’re not asking for an easy ride or a hand-out.

But like thousands of others across this country, they’ve been taken for granted.

They feel the Government has forgotten them.

Kiwis across the country are working harder than ever.

They’re doing their fair share. Playing their part.

We all have that responsibility.

But they feel let down.

My promise to you as Prime Minister is that I will always stand up for the hardworking, forgotten New Zealanders.

You’re doing your bit, it’s time you had a Government that did its bit too.

 NEW ERA – HANDS ON GOVERNMENT

 We desperately need real leadership now more than ever.

The Global Financial Crisis has exposed the frailties of the old economic wisdom.

.

Now we’re getting to the knitty-gritty. Recent history backs up Shearer’s statement 100%  that  the “Global Financial Crisis has exposed the frailties of the old economic wisdom“. This is reality and only the most hard-line rightwing National/ACT Party devotee  would attempt the futility of arguing to the contrary.

This is where National is vulnerable (amongst a truckload of other vulnerabilities).

In point of fact, whilst Key may not have been personally responsible for the 2007/08 Global Financial Crisis – his profession certainly had a hand in it’s making.  Key has admitted as such, two weeks after the 2008 general election (notice not before the election),

.

Source

.

In turn, despite the lies from National MPs (more on that in an upcoming blogpost), Labour left the New Zealand economy in a fairly positrive state,

  • unemployment was low at 4.6% (source)
  • sovereign net debt mostly paid down from 20% to 5.6% of GDP (source)
  • and Labour was posting surpluses, as even Key had to admit, with open derision (source)

These are all positives that Labour shouldn’t be afraid to remind New Zealanders – many of whom suffer from long-term memory-fade at the best of times.

.

The National Party believes the financial crisis is just a blip to get over. Their solution is to apply their failed ideas of the past over and over.

They are wrong.

The hands-off, simply leave it to the market approach has failed all over the world.

We are on the cusp of a new era – when new thinking and leadership is needed to build wealth we can all share in.

The world has changed…

.

Why not offer a few examples?

- Examples of hands-on State intervention.

- Examples of governments re-taking control of their currencies.

- Examples of people throwing out right wing governments and replacing them with centre-left administrations.

.

…National hasn’t. It’s stuck in the past.

We need a government that recognises times have changed.

We need a Government that finds the courage to act, not better excuses for why we can’t.

We need a government prepared to stand up for hardworking forgotten Kiwis.

We need a smart, hands-on Government.

A government that is prepared to be a player, not a spectator.

That will be a Labour Government, and the Government I will lead.

It’s about getting our priorities right, being thrifty about our economy.

Bringing our debt under control.

But being smart about how we tackle the massive challenges ahead.

Above all, this country needs a government that chooses to act. Let me tell you what I mean.

When a young couple is putting off having kids until they buy a house, and yet despite saving hard, prices always slip beyond their reach, it’s time to act.

That’s why I’m committed to putting 100,000 families into new homes.

It’s ambitious, but New Zealanders can see right through the Government’s hands off approach that leaves it to the market.

.

Ambitious? Of course – but also doable. This is not beyond our means and it’s laughable that those right wingers who poo-poo the idea as “too hard” or “too costly” are always – always – the same ones who defend against similar   criticisms levelled at  National’s “pet projects” for their business mates.

Evidently subsidising Warner Bros (a multi-billion dollar corporation) or a rugby tournament with our taxes is “not hard” and “not costly”. It’s called an ‘investment’.

So why is building homes for our own people “too hard” or “too costly”?!

Right wingers have a blinkered view of the world and a narrow idea of what is an ‘investment’.

Housing for our citizens is a human right and something we’ve always taken pride in. This is Labour’s core strength; ensuring a roof over peoples’ heads.

.

They see through the tinkering with the RMA.

They see through the latest excuse – to blame the local Council.

.

Well sussed.

Key has been blaming everyone and everything for the poor state of our economy; rising unemployment; growing poverty, etc.

  • In 2008 he blamed his money-trader mates
  • He’s blamed the Global Financial Crisis
  • He’s blamed people receiving welfare payments
  • He’s blamed “dodgy statistics”
  • He’s blamed the Labour Party
  • He’s blamed the Greens
  • He’s blamed Winston Peters

And now, recently, Key and his National cronies have taken to blaming local body councils,

We need more houses built in New Zealand, at a lower cost. That means we need more land available for building, more streamlined processes and less costly red tape…

… It’s ridiculous that we allow councils to demand almost anything as a condition for the consent.

And it’s ridiculous that we allow them to charge whatever fees they want.

See: John Key’s State of the Nation speech – post mortem

I’m waiting for him to next blame aliens, Illuminatii, et al.

.

It’s just not credible.

.

Damn right it’s not.

.

It’s also why Labour will introduce a Capital Gains Tax to move investment into business and away from property speculation that is pushing house prices through the roof.

.

Problem, solution.

Good.

.

When a student graduating from university faces 7.3% unemployment and little chance of getting a job, it’s time to act.

They’ve done their bit, we need to do ours.

It’s heart-breaking watching parents waving goodbye to their kids at our airports.

People want to work – they just need the jobs.

Two days ago, John Key had an epiphany: We have a youth unemployment problem – we need apprentices.

Good on him. I thank the focus group that brought that to his attention.

.

There was thunderous applause from the audience at this point.  The remark referring to “government by focus group” is a quip  that National constantly  tossed at the Clark government.

It applies equally well to National’s term. Let’s keep using it.

.

There are now 20 per cent fewer apprentices today than when he took office. We are now importing foreign labour to meet skills shortages in the biggest rebuild in our history in Christchurch.

Is he just waking up to this now? Is this government asleep at the wheel, completely out of touch?

You don’t need to answer that. The answer is obvious.

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

There was a touch of humour as Shearer said, “you don’t need to answer that. The answer is obvious.” The audience loved the wry touch and laughed. The laughter was at National’s expense.

.

I have been serious about youth unemployment from the day I was elected leader.

Labour’s plans are out there. I’d be delighted if this government picked them up and ran with them.

For example:

We’ll pay employers the equivalent of the dole to take on apprentices.

.

More loud applause. Everyone welcomes the idea of apprentices – what’s not to like? Taking young folk from our 85,000 Unemployed or Not in Education or Training(NEET); training them into a trade; adding to the skills base of our country – this is real investment.

.

We’ll back Kiwi businesses to get their slice of the $30 billion dollars the Government contracts out every year – but we will require them to take on apprentices and trainees in return.

.

This is the kind of  social contract that only a centre-left government can enact. National’s neo-liberal dogma could not allow such a hands-on, visibly interventionist, policy. It flies in the face of everything they hold dear; that only the “Market” can create jobs.

Labour (or any other centre-left and left Party) has no such constraints. They can be utterly pragmatic and do whatever it takes to generate jobs.

.

We’ll give tax breaks to companies doing world-leading research and development, so the innovations – and the jobs – they create stay right here in New Zealand.

Another thing.

When I see talented people forced to leave their home town because there’s nothing on offer for them, it’s time to act.

That’s why we’ll work with councils on projects that support their provinces. Projects like the Gisborne to Napier rail link to boost economic development and create jobs.

.

This was well received by the audience, with good applause and rowdy cheering. The audience seemed to understand perfectly well the long-term value of rail.

.

When I hear of high value manufacturers shedding jobs because our high dollar cuts them off at the knees, it’s time to act.

We’ll make changes to monetary policy so that our job-creating businesses aren’t undermined by our exchange rate.

.

Problem, solution.

Excellent.

.

When a 5 year old girl falls asleep in class because she had no breakfast before she left home, it’s time to act.

Labour will put food in schools, to make sure all our kids get the same chance to learn.

.

Problem, solution.

On a roll…

.

When a mum and dad work long hours but still can’t afford healthy food for their kids, it’s time to act.

We’ll lift the minimum wage and champion a living wage to make sure hard work can provide a decent living.

This is what I mean when I say we need a smart Government prepared to act.

.

Problem, solution.

Good stuff!

Plenty of applause at these statements.  And plenty of material for the electronic media,

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

And print media,

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

This is where National will continue to be on the back-foot. Come 2014, (if the Nat-led Coalition lasts that long – by no means a foregone conclusion) Key and his administration will have been in office for six years. Aside from balancing the books (oh f****n hooray), what will be their legacy? What practical achievements can they present to the voting public after two terms in office.

Bugger all, I would suggest.

.

A Government that says we will back you if you’re prepared to do your best.

Yes, we face huge challenges, but by being hands on we can turn our biggest challenges into opportunities for the future.

Since we announced KiwiBuild last year, excitement is growing. Architects, construction companies and designers around NZ have been in touch.

They see an opportunity to build affordable, energy-efficient – even energy generating – houses.

Houses that use home grown sustainable materials.

Houses that families will be proud to call home.

This is an idea the country is embracing.

.

And it’s also 100% feasible. There is no reason why any of Shearer’s suggestions cannot be implemented. It is, after all, part of our innovative, “number 8 fencing wire” mentality that we love to espouse as a Kiwi characteristic.

Ok, well let’s put that into operation. Not just to make money for overseas corporates like Warner Bros – but for our own young people.

This is the kind of talk that cuts through the free market, neo-liberal BS. This is what will encourage New Zealanders to call  this country home – and not just a launching pad for overseas destinations.

.

More than 70 per cent of Kiwis support our KiwiBuild programme to build 100,000 first homes.

New Zealanders are also behind our other new ideas and those numbers are growing.

Most people see the need for a Capital Gains Tax on investment properties.

Nearly six in every ten New Zealanders support our idea to make KiwiSaver universal.

And nearly two-thirds of you back our pledge to protect universal superannuation for future generations by gradually lifting the age of eligibility.

The forces of conservatism said that reforming Super wasn’t the right thing to do.

It wouldn’t be popular – so we shouldn’t do it. They were wrong.

New Zealanders are forward thinking and are prepared to do what it takes to create a better future.

.

When New Zealanders understand the long-term implications of their decisions, and vote accordingly for sensible policies on Election Day, we can achieve great things.

But when we vote through sheer stupidity for selfish reasons – as many did on 29 November 1975 for Robert Muldoon – we inevitably achieve short term gain. But loose out Big Time on long term benefits (see related blogpost:   Regret at dumping compulsory super – only 37 years too late).

.

National has a big idea of course – it’s to sell our best assets.

And, with them, goes another chunk of our future.

That is their plan.

Most Kiwis hate it. And we are behind them fighting that idea all the way.

 HANDS ON – A GLOBAL TREND

 Labour isn’t alone in knowing the time has come for active government.

A movement of leaders and people across the world have realised the old hands-off solutions take us nowhere.

It’s a new way of thinking and it’s evolving.

New Zealanders are looking to a government that will roll up its sleeves and back them.

You do your part, and we the government will do ours.

In 2014 that’s the Government I will lead.

.

And that it pretty much what persuaded voters to support Labour and it’s coalition partners in 1999. The do-nothing, slash-and-burn mentality of Bolger and Shipley  was driving New Zealand to a yawning chasm. Neo-liberalism was creating a nightmarish society of high unemployment, degraded social services, missed opportunities, and widening gap between the rich and poor.

Sound familiar?

.

 AGENDA FOR 2013

Kiwis won’t have to wait until the election to find out what I stand for and what I’ll do about the issues that matter to them.

I’ve already put clear stakes in the ground on housing affordability, quality education, growing jobs and the economy.

There’s more to come.

For Labour, this year is about preparing for Government.

We want New Zealanders to know that we’re ready to govern.

.

It’s simple: appear confident and act like a government-in-waiting – and they will flock to you.

Note, this applies also to NZ First, Mana, and the Greens. The public want to see Opposition Parties working together for the good of the country as a whole. By all means offer your own policies for public debate – but take note that there’s a very fine demarcation between debate and squabbling.

Any hint of squabbling and the voters will turn of.

There have to be positive reasons for voters to take a punt on voting for the Opposition.

Work together, in a cool, calm, methodical, professional manner – and they will flock to you.

.

That’s why today I’m setting out my agenda for the year.

Number one is jobs.

It is our most urgent priority and cuts across everything we do.

.

Damn straight.

.

Labour’s plan to build new affordable homes will create thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships.

A job is more than a weekly wage, it’s gives people a purpose and pride in themselves. That’s why I’m focussed on jobs.

Our housing proposals are at the cutting edge of urban design and energy efficiency.

This year we will bring together the best ideas of architects, designers, urban planners and others to a housing conference.

I want KiwiBuild ready to roll on Day 1 when we take office.

First-home buyers shouldn’t have to wait.

Jacinda Ardern, my Social Development spokesperson, will produce an alternative white paper this year, setting out our direction to help lift kids out of poverty.

There are 270,000 children in hardship in this country, and the government is failing them.

Kids deserve the best chance in life regardless of their parents’ wealth, and with Labour they will get that.

.

And those of us on the Left will be supporting, encouraging, and where necessary, nudging, a Labour-led government to maintain the focus of these problems (I refuse to call them “issues”) .

It is simply unacceptable to have poverty in this country and tackling this cancer in our society must rank at the top, along with job creation and caring for our children.

On this note, I would suggest that David Shearer demonstrate his total commitment to addressing child poverty in this country by taking on the role of Minister for Children.

There is nothing more important to the future of our nation than our children. (Some rightwingers don’t get this simple fact – but then, they do suffer from a brain-deficit in comprehension of social problems.)

John Key made himself Minister of Tourism – and spent his holidays in Hawaii. I guess he’s Minister of Tourism for Hawaii, and we just didn’t hear that part of the announcement.

An incoming Labour Prime Minister’s portfolio must be Minister for Children.

No ifs, buts, or maybes – that will set the tone of an incoming Labour-led government.

.

Their best opportunity is from a world-class education system.

We’ve already set out our plan to put food in schools and extend reading recovery so our kids aren’t destined to be drop outs from their first day at school.

This year I’m asking my education team to look at ways to improve transitions from school to further training and high-skill jobs.

.

Suggestions;

1. Can Charter Schools. These are parasitic neo-liberal constructs which add nothing to our education system.

2. Look at Finland. They’re at the top of OECD PISA tables for achievement. I suggest they have a wealth of knowledge we can  gain from them. (Finland does not use the “Charter schools” model.)

3. Whether of not NZ First joins the Coalition on an official basis, I would strongly suggest that MP Tracey Martin be given an education or health or Associate Minister of Children’s portfolio. This woman has talent and should not be over-looked. (Disclaimer: I’m not a member, supporter, or even fan of NZ First. But I recognise talent when I see it.)

.

85,000 young New Zealanders are not in work, education or training.

It’s a flaw in our system.

I want to see our schools seamlessly connect to further training opportunities.

I want every child to go through school with a purpose and plan of where they’ll end up.

Because every young Kiwi deserves a shot at a career that excites and motivates them.

Without this we’ll continue to see kids, without the right skills to get a job, falling through the cracks.

And our employers will continue to struggle to find the skills they need.

That’s not a future I want for my kids or yours.

.

Pretty damned obvious, eh?

I mean, really, it’s so fricken insanely straight forward.

In fact, it’s so patently obvious that voters have a clear choice,

A. Vote National and more of the same – 85,000 not in work, education or training.

B. Vote for a centre-left Coalition and get these kids into apprenticeships.

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t get this?

.

I’ve spoken of a clean, green, clever economy many times.

We need our environment to drive our economic success and our economy to keep our environment clean.

.

Despite warnings from the likes of Dr Mike Joy that our environment was hardly the fiction of  being “100% Pure” or “Clean & Green”, right wing spin doctors (see:  When spin doctors go bad) and our Dear Leader don’t seem to understand the simple fact that much of our economy is predicated on our marketing brand (see:  John Key’s “pinch of salt” style of telling the truth).

Dr Joy was lambasted by Mark Unsworth – a rabid right-wing lobbyist for a professional “government relations consultancy” company, Saunders Unsworth – who condemned the scientist as an economic “saboteur” on 21 November, last year.

Now, as our environmental mishaps begin to compound, the chooks are coming home to roost – and crap all over everything,

.

NZ works on agreement on residue in milk

Source

.

The reality is we will not create more better paying jobs by simply exporting more milk powder.

We’ve been talking about it since Mike Moore invented lamb burgers.

Our future prosperity will be carved out by backing the talent of businesses working in high tech, or the innovations of those adding value to our natural resources.

It will be built by those that see the promise and opportunity of a clean, green future.

Great ideas are emerging from organisations like Pure Advantage, and from thousands of innovative can-do Kiwis.

A thriving manufacturing sector is at the heart of my vision. That’s why our manufacturing inquiry that starts tomorrow is an important first step.

But the commitment is lacking from government.

Well I am committed to this future.

There is simply no other option.

That is why I have asked my colleagues to develop a clear plan to diversify our economy.

A plan we can put in front of New Zealanders, not airy fairy concepts.

.

There was more applause to this…

.

All of these areas – jobs, education, housing and building a new economy – are critical to rebuilding our second largest city.

I am committed to rebuilding Christchurch from the grassroots up, not the Beehive down.

.

A part of me thinks that “rebuilding Christchurch from the grassroots up, not the Beehive down” may be the toughest, most demanding of Labour’s promises.  300,000 Cantabrians may have 300,000 opinions as to what should be done.

At the very least, a Labour-led government must put an end to  school closures and the prospect of the Charter Schools experiment. Christchurch has enough stresses without central government adding to the woes of an already vulnerable community.

.

That’s why I’ll be talking to Cantabrians about how they see their future.

To ensure their voices are heard.

That’s what we’ll work on in the coming months.

These ideas will make a difference.

These are ideas National simply can’t see.

CONCLUSION

The difference between the forces of conservatism and the need for change has never been wider.

.

Indeed. On almost every level, there is a world of difference between the expectations of National Party supporters and those who support Labour, the Greens, Mana, and NZ First.

The differences are best epitomised by the issue of child poverty.

National/ACT supporters play the blame-game and deride parents for making “bad choices”. Key himself validated this belief in February 2011, when he said,

But it is also true that anyone on a benefit actually has a lifestyle choice. If one budgets properly, one can pay one’s bills.

“And that is true because the bulk of New Zealanders on a benefit do actually pay for food, their rent and other things. Now some make poor choices and they don’t have money left.”

See: Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key

This attitude of selfishness can become vicious and downright psychopathic in cruelty. Perhaps the nastiest I’ve seen was Damien Grant’s piece in the NZ Herald yesterday – see:  Damien Grant: I’d rather a better phone than feed a hungry child.

People like Grant – and those who posted vile messages in support of his comments – are the mean spirited, self-centered, dark side of humanity. Their vision of  society would not be too dis-similar to to Dickens’ Victorian-era world.

Though strangely enough, Rightwingers/National Party supporters are never quite able to explain  how a child can choose to be born into a family ridden by unemployment, poverty, dysfunction, addiction, abuse. Strange, eh?

Labour/Green/Mana and probably NZ first supporters see problems such as  child poverty as a societal problem that affects us all. They understand there are many reason why a family may be living in poverty.

With 175,000 New Zealanders now unemployed, it’s hardly surprising that poverty is increasing. Contrary to the bizarre fantasies of right wingers and low-information voters, the dole is not very generous. No one in their right mind would give up a job earning $600 a week, to go on the dole for $204.96 a week, net (see:   WINZ Unemployment Benefit – current).

A priority of an incoming Labour-led government should be  to un-do the benefit cuts of Ruth Richardson in 1991. It is an indictment on Labour that it never carried out this positive reform during it’s tenure in office.

Aside from being the right thing to do, Labour should ask itself; why should the poorest in our society vote for them if they don’t un-do the policies of previous right-wing  governments?

What’s in it for them?

.

Come 2014, New Zealanders will face a choice more stark than any in a generation.

A choice in the direction of their country.

A choice between staying as we are and managing our decline, or being part of a hands-on

Government that’s backing hardworking New Zealanders.

.

Government that’s backing hardworking New Zealanders“.

Code for the fickle middle classes?

.

A government that chooses action over excuses.

A government that understands the world is entering a new era and we need to change with it.

One that shares the determination and passion of those Kiwis who inspire us most.

.

There was more loud applause at this point. Despite not giving specifics, the audience seemed to like what they were hearing; the direction that Shearer was moving the Party.

.

That’s the Labour Government I will lead.

But I can’t do it alone.

Today, I am asking for your help.

I want you to be part of my team and play a part in the next government.

I want to hear your hopes for this country and your ideas of how we get there.

I want each of you to take the Labour message out to your neighbours, your co-workers, your congregation, and your friends.

Tell them yes, we in the Labour Party are committed to making a real difference in people’s lives.

We will not accept the status quo.

A tide for change is building.

.

Indeed. And that tide for change is not just the poor; the unemployed; or the low-paid. Even businesspeople seem to be getting mightily pissed of at National’s arrogant  hands-off, do-nothing, Leave-It-To-The-Marketplace attitude,

.

The managing director of a company that makes and exports a device that protects crops from hail stones said comments from the Government that his sector needs to get smarter are “insulting and unnecessary”.

Mike Eggers said he is sick of hearing politicians telling him he has to up his game if he wants to survive – when the high dollar makes it more and more difficult to operate.

“We’re told to get smarter and I find that irritating and insulting. I’m about as smart as they get in my little field. How the hell do these people get smarter? For a politician to tell somebody else to get smarter – he’s risking his life.”

A scrap-copper manufacturer told the inquiry the Government can’t continue to do nothing about the exchange rate.

A W Fraser managing director Gordon Sutherland said the over-inflated dollar is crippling exporters and it was disappointing when the Government told them to keep making efficiencies to remain viable.

“We know that – we’ve known that for a very, very long time. Of course we get efficient, of course we try and work as hard as we can to be efficient – it’s the only way we can exist. It drives me insane when people say, ‘Get efficient’. What do you think we are – idiots? We’re not.”

Joyce’s immediate response?

“Nobody’s arguing that being a manufacturer isn’t challenging. In fact, in my history in business, every time you’re in business it’s challenging.

“But going around and trying to talk down the New Zealand economy and talk about a crisis in manufacturing, I don’t think is particularly helpful.”

Mr Joyce said there was no simple answer to the problems the sector are facing, except to keep working hard to further improve their businesses.

See: Radio NZ – Exporters tell inquiry of threat from high NZ dollar

.

If Joyce and his little  National buddies think that kind of response will win them the next election – they must be more deluded than I thought imaginable.

Joyce might as well have saved time and simply told exporters and manufacturers, “Go vote Labour”. The effect will be the same.

.

Change that guarantees everyone gets ahead, not just those at the top.

Change so we once again stand tall as a country.

A country where we strive to be a leader – not a follower.

A country where the Government is hands-on and backs its people.

A country we can be proud of.

Friends, join with me to build that future.

Because, together, that’s what we will do in 2014.

Thank you.

.

With that, Shearer concluded his speech.  As the audience rose to their feet, cheering enthusiastically, he left the stage,

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

So, what to make of  Shearer’s performance?

Shearer spoke from a pre-prepared speech (hard-copy provided to this blogger) which he more or less followed. He spoke convincingly and  passionately and though perhaps not as charismatic as a Jim Anderton or younger Winston Peters or late Rod Donald, it was sufficient to present his message to people in the  Hall.

Reading a pre-prepared speech, this Blogger scores Shearer  a 6/7  (where 10 is in the league of Lange/Kirk/Savage and 1 is one-dimensional to the point of being robotic.)

The speech scores a 5/6. It was adequate – but perhaps something was missing. Something that would make a listener sit up, with the proverbial lighbulb switching on.

After Shearer left the stage, Hutt South MP, Trevor Mallard, invited the gathering outside to enjoy the beautiful hot day in an adjacent park, as well as a free sausage sizzle for all,

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

A traditional Kiwi sausage sizzle provided free snacks – though there were suggestions that NZ Herald journo, Audrey Young (not pictured) pay for hers in the spirit of Market User Pays,

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

It also gave Shearer an opportrunity to meet the press outside, to answer questions. Most questions  seemed focused on  Labour’s recently released Housing policy,

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

Patrick Gower (at left, with pink tie) was the main questioner,

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

At times the questions were so intent on detailed house pricing; number of bedrooms; location; location; location, that they  seemed more suitable for a real estate agent than a Party leader. But they were fair questions and this blogger has no quibble with them,

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

I stood with the group throughout the Q + A session, listening and recording the exchange between Shearer and msm journos.

My impression? He has improved significantly since his earlier days as Labour’s mumbling, incoherent,  leader. Occassionally there is still hesitation, and that requires further training to make his speech patterns more fluid, natural, and assertive.

In any case, except for an occassional moment or two, he answered journo’s questions reasonably  well.

The question is – is he ready to go head-to-head with The Great Car Salesmen, aka, our Prime Minister John Key? Currently, I’m not sure. By 2014, with more practice and experience, and as his confidence grows, he has a fair chance.

What the Labour Party needs to do is ensure that not only does Shearer get the training and experience, but that he is 100% well-versed in every aspect of Labour policy and funding mechanism.

National is vulnerable right now, and this blogger  believes things are about to get a whole lot messier for the Tories. 2012 was only the beginning of their eventual demise as government.

There’s still a lot of work ahead of us, and every critic and opponant of National must do their bit; Party activists; MPs (which means side-lining hopeless non-performers and elevating those who are taking it to the Nats); bloggers; and disaffected ordinary New Zealanders who’ve had a gutsful.

2014 is ours to seize.

Other moments and faces of the day

Rimutaka MP, Chris Hipkins, (“Kennedy for President” t-shirt) and friends,

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

Hutt Mp, Trevor Mallard, chatting with two members of the public,

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

Te Atatu MP, Phil Twyford, and supporters,

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

And Labour leader, David Shearer, listening intently to a fellow New Zealander,

.

Frank Macskasy  Frankly Speaking  blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com David Shearer - 27 January 2013 - new era new solutions - wainuiomata rugby club

.

Other blogs

The Jackal: Anti Shearer faction loses traction

The Standard: For a February leadership vote

Disclaimer

This blogger has no links or preference to either “Team Shearer” or “Team Cunliffe”, and is mostly neutral in the leadership stakes.

Copyright (c)  Notice

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

* Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
* Where purpose of  use is  commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
* At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals.
* Acknowledgement of source is requested.

.

.

= fs =

Guest Author: David Shearer, Leader of the Labour Party

- David Shearer, Leader of the Labour Party

.

.

Speech: New Zealand – A new direction  |  Sunday, November 18, 2012

.

Today I want to talk about two paths that lie before us as a country.

Each offers very different directions and different choices.

One path leads to disappointment, decline and constant struggle.

That’s our country’s current path, the one National is taking.

The other path is about change.

It’s about a new direction for Labour and a new direction for New Zealand.

A new direction where we fight back, create opportunity and build a world class New Zealand that we’re proud of.

A new direction that’s about what is best for the long term, not just the short term.

A new direction that’s about all New Zealanders daring to dream and having the opportunity to get there.

Not just accepting second best and managing decline.

We’ve always been a creative, innovative people with a ‘can do’ attitude.

Respected and admired across the globe.

Down to earth. Willing to give it a go.

We need that new direction now more than ever.

It’s about building a smart, new and powerful economy that delivers a fairer society.

That’s what I stand for.

That’s what we can achieve together.

For most of the last 20 years, I lived in parts of the world where life was bleak.

Every time I came home, I counted my blessings.

I counted my good fortune that I had grown up in a country like this.

But we are losing what we once held dear.

Kiwis just want the chance to succeed, to be the best they can be and to build a great life.

It’s not too much to ask.

I got my fair chance growing up in Papatoetoe. My father was a teacher. My mum worked at the local school.

They gave us the kind of Presbyterian upbringing where you saved for what you needed, and made the most of what you had.

I remember Dad wanted a boat to take us kids out sailing but he didn’t have the money to buy it.

So he rolled up his sleeves, went to night classes and learned how to build one.

Over 4 months, he and I built that boat together in the garage.

That was the way things worked. The State backed you so you could realise your dream.

I grew up in a time when there were plenty of part-time jobs for kids and – thanks to penal rates – some of them were quite well-paid.

I had a paper round that earned me the money to pay for my own bike. I pumped gas at the Puhinui petrol station and learned the value of a dollar.

That’s what it was like back then, growing up in New Zealand.

I know it wasn’t perfect for everyone but for most Kiwi families, life gave you a fair go.

And, free, to everyone, was an education that could match any in the world.

A nation flourishes when it gives every person a fair chance.

When it looks after its own.

And when it prizes fairness and humanity.

It was when I went out into world that I discovered just how much that means.

I also learnt something about myself.

That if you’ve grown up with the values this country gave me, you can’t turn away. You just can’t.

So my life has been about making a difference.

Lifting people up when they need it the most. Making their lives better.

Giving them the opportunity to take the next step.

This world can be hugely indifferent to suffering.

For me, that came into stark relief when I went to Somalia. War and famine was overtaking the country.

A small group of us working there realised that unless something changed, thousands would die from hunger.

With daily gun battles being fought in the streets, we were faced with a choice.

Take a risk and make a change. Or shrug our shoulders and say the job’s too big, let’s get out of here.

We stayed. We made a change.

I worked with a dedicated team of Somali doctors and others. We fought to keep supply lines open to bring in food.

We fed around 30,000 children who would have died otherwise.

We evacuated our staff three times. I lost a colleague on that operation.

But I was never in any doubt. Standing up for what was right – what would make a difference – that was the right decision.

Looking back I feel immense satisfaction.

But I can tell you it also makes it very clear to me where my priorities lie.

I am in politics to make lives better.

I’m not here to cross something off my bucket list. Or to indulge in some sense of celebrity.

I went out into the world to help improve people’s lives and I’ve chosen to enter politics for the same reason.

It’s why I want to lead this country and it’s why I need your support to get there.

Together we can make a difference. A big difference.

The values I bring with me are the ones that I was raised with.

They are the ones that I took with me out into the world.

They are Labour values. They’re our values: that everyone should have a fair chance and the opportunity to get ahead.

And if you agree people are not being given that fair chance right now then I’m asking you to join me in making the changes we need.

Change can make people uneasy.

But change has always been what has saved us in times of trouble, and it can save us again.

The first Labour government made the big changes that mattered:

affordable housing,

free schooling,

free health care,

a fair start for every child.

Don’t let anyone tell you a government can’t do big things to change lives.

Those big changes led New Zealand out of the Depression and it was this party that made them.

We are the party that is brave about change.

I think about Norman Kirk’s government establishing the Waitangi Tribunal that has helped reconcile Māori and Pakeha. And his commitment to New Zealand’s independent place in the world.

I think of David Lange standing up for our independence at the Oxford Union debate:  “hold your breath for just a moment – I can smell the uranium on it.”

It’s not just a great line, it’s about a great idea. Today we’re still nuclear free and I’m proud of that.

And the thousands of children lifted out of poverty under Helen Clark. The icons of Kiwisaver and KiwiBank were put in place.

Don’t let anyone tell you a government can’t do big things to change lives.

We made big changes and New Zealand flourished.

But where is our country today?

Where is the sense of possibility?

Where, I ask our Prime Minister, are the jobs?

It should never have come to this.

Imagine this scenario, for just a moment.

If we had kept Norman Kirk’s Superannuation Scheme – that Muldoon scrapped – it would be worth more than $240 billion today.

We would probably still own some of our banks and many other major companies.

Our entrepreneurs would be thriving because we’d have so much capital to invest in their ideas.

The Kirk Labour government could see the future. The National government saw political opportunism.

When our opponents say they want to grow our economy, I don’t doubt their sincerity.

But I doubt their method. I doubt it fundamentally.

How have they done in the last 4 years? Measure the results any way you want:

the cost of your groceries,

the money you’re earning,

the affordability of houses

1,000 Kiwis a week give up hope and go to Australia despite John Key promising he’d turn those numbers around.

That’s the population of Hamilton leaving since National was elected. It’s never been higher.

This government simply hasn’t delivered.

Our unemployment rate is 7.3%. Can you remember who was in power the last time it was this bad? Let me remind you it was the last National Government.

Right now there’s 175,000 people looking for work.

Māori and Pasifika unemployment is at 15%. One in four of our young people are unemployed.

And week after week, the losses just keep on coming.

Behind those numbers are real people, real families and real communities.

A couple of weeks ago, I sat down with miners who’ve lost their jobs at Spring Creek.

Darryl Sweetman is a miner. His future should be bright.

He has a lovely family, a partner, a daughter and a new-born son. But Darryl’s been laid off.

He’s worried he’ll lose the home they’ve been renovating and have to leave the town he’s lived in his entire life.

Paris Brady came back from Australia to raise his young family in Greymouth. He’s the kind of guy we need here.

Keen, motivated and used to hard graft. But just 10 weeks into his mining apprenticeship, he’s had the rug pulled out from under him and he’s out of work.

All over the country that’s the human face of losing jobs.

When this Government rests its entire hopes for future economic growth on the rebuild of Christchurch – our biggest natural disaster – you know it has no ideas.

What will it take for National to admit its hands-off policies aren’t working?

They know in their hearts that selling Mighty River Power will not make our power bills cheaper.

That selling Meridian won’t create a single job.

That selling Genesis won’t grow the economy.

Yet they knock us for being a party that can’t deliver growth.

Let me tell you. The evidence tells a different story.

If we compare all National and Labour Governments, back through history, the average GDP growth under National is 2.9%.

Under Labour, it’s 3.7%.

Who are the best economic managers?

But this government takes the prize. It has the worst economic performance in 50 years.

And we should remind ourselves of this:

In 2008, this National government inherited one of the world’s best government books after 9 budget surpluses.

And in 2 years’ time, no doubt, they’ll hand them back to us in bad shape.

The problem is that in order to pull us out of this hole they’re turning to the very ideas that put us there in the first place.

You know and I know: it’s not going to work.

And that’s why we need big change.

VISION

We need a different path.

We need to fight for the future we want.

One where we make a real difference to people’s lives.

We have always been the Party of new ideas.

When it mattered throughout our history, we’ve been willing to use the power of government to give the country what it needs to move ahead.

New Zealand needs to use that power once more. And under my leadership, we will.

Five years ago, that might have been seen as economic heresy in many places.

But not today.

Governments all around the world are intervening in their economies to dig themselves out of a vast Global Financial hole.

And they’ve got it right.

Hugh Fletcher is not what you’d call a radical.

But just a couple of weeks ago he was on the radio saying the laissez-faire status quo position is not acceptable.

He said our exporters were finding it hard to compete and we would have to come up with a new approach.

The Manufacturers and Exporters Association is saying the same thing.

So too is the EPMU.

And so are we.

There is a meeting of minds around a new direction.

The hands-off approach has failed and it’s left the world badly off balance.

Government has at its disposal levers that only it can pull.

Levers to change the settings that stimulate growth and opportunity.

As Prime Minister, I’ll use the power of government to change this country.

Let me be clear, it’s not about big government.

It’s about common sense.

It’s about using government intelligently, so it can transform the economy for everyone.

In a small country like New Zealand competing against the world’s economic giants, we need the government to pitch in together, not step back.

If you are willing to do your bit, the government should do its bit too.

It needs to be a player, not a spectator.

We need to get the country firing on all cylinders again.

I know we need to grow the economic pie – not just be expert in dividing it.

That means prudent financial management. It means balancing our budgets.

It means making the tough decisions to reduce our current account deficit.

This government hopes we can get there by cutting costs, selling assets and driving down the cost of labour.

It won’t work. It never has.

If you want to run the economy like they do, this is what you’ll get:

A few very wealthy people at the top,

No decent jobs in the middle

And a whole lot of low-skill, low wage families barely managing to hold on.

That’s a strategy that is as short sighted as it is heartless.

I have no interest in building an economy where only a few get rich, and everyone else gets left behind.

I lived in too many ruined countries where that happened to want to ever see it happen here.

My vision for New Zealand is fundamentally different from the one National is following.

New Zealand should be a place where people know they can get ahead, a place where the world wants to live and a place we can all be proud of.

A place that rewards talent and hard work, that puts a premium on innovation. Where our environment is a driver of our economic success and our economy keeps our environment clean.

A place which grows skilled, well-paid jobs and keeps our kids in New Zealand.

I want to lead that transformation.

I want a fair society where everyone gets a chance.

Where we look after those who need it, but where everyone has a responsibility to do their bit too.

Rights and responsibilities – a society based on that simple social contract.

I want to lead a country that is independent and confident in the world.

Where our values dictate what we say and do, not the persuasions of other nations.

That’s the kind of country we all want.

A few months ago, I spoke of that vision.

I received an email from Paul Callaghan thanking me. Because of course, his thinking had inspired me.

I phoned him back to thank him. For devoting his life to making New Zealand a better place.

He died 3 days later.

His inspiration is still with me.

He argued New Zealand cannot grow wealthy on agriculture alone. Valuable as it will always be, we must add to it and diversify our economy.

We must get behind our new smart, innovative businesses – that are growing faster than any other sector.

They are doing their bit. The Government should do its bit. Under Labour it will.

To realise that vision I promise that from the day we take office, you will see big change.

Right across the economy we will make fundamental changes.

We will replace a simplistic hands-off approach with a smart hands-on one.

Monetary policy will change.

So when the high dollar is killing our exporters we will give the Reserve Bank tools to act on the exchange rate.

Our manufacturers are our job generators.

If they’re doing their bit, we should do ours with intelligent government.

The R&D policy will change.

Most of what New Zealand exports today was known to the world before the industrial revolution.

This government treats Research & Development as ‘nice to have’.

We will treat it as absolutely vital to grow our smart businesses so they can take their products to the world.

We’ll change our tax system for the better.

We will bring in what this economy desperately needs:  a capital gains tax.

We want people to invest in houses because they need a place to live, not because they get a tax free investment.

To shift investment instead into productive businesses to grow jobs.

The savings policy will change.

We’ll enrol everyone into KiwiSaver. That will support our retirement, but also build an investment pool to power our best businesses.

That means companies like F&P Appliances can be owned here, not sold off-shore.

We’ll change the approach to productivity.

Kiwis work longer hours than just about anywhere else in the world. But you wouldn’t know it looking at our pay packets.

That’s because the hands-off approach says: “pay low wages, cut back on conditions and ramp up casualization”.

That has to end. We’ll be hands-on. The Minimum Wage will go up. A Living Wage must be our goal.

And Labour laws will be reformed to restore decency.

We are proud of our unions and our origins. We thank them for what they do in standing up for workers’ rights, but we need to be in government to back you up.

The procurement policy will change.

The government spends $30 billion a year on contracting goods and services.

The simplistic hands-off approach says “forget about Hillside Railway workshops, forget about local jobs. Go for the cheapest offshore price.”

The intelligent hands-on approach says: “we get much more from each government dollar by investing in a Kiwi company”.

So wherever it’s the smart thing to do, we’ll prioritise the local supplier.

The approach to education will change.

I started my working life as a teacher. So I have an appreciation of the valuable job teachers do.

And I know a gimmick when I see one.

Bigger classes, unqualified teachers, charter schools and performance pay will achieve nothing.

The intelligent approach, the one I will follow is the one that asks:  what will it take to make this education system the best in the world?

Our teachers are demoralised. Yet we all know they are critical to equipping our kids for the modern world.

We know too that shutting schools in Christchurch destroys communities and causes heartache for already distressed families.

I went to a public meeting there after receiving a moving letter from Christchurch mum Sonya Boyd.  She’s devastated that her local school will close and is worried about the impact on her son Ben, his friends and in fact the whole community.

At that meeting a parent told me: Hekia Parata is doing what 10,000 earthquakes couldn’t do – destroying our school.

I say to the people of Christchurch: we are committed to helping you rebuild your city from the grassroots up – not the Beehive down.

You want, more than anything, to get your lives back, and on your own terms.

It’s time you had a government that stood alongside you.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING

So those are the big changes we’ve already committed to.

To lift the economy. To grow jobs.

Today we add another important item: housing.

Owning your own home is a Kiwi ambition but for tens of thousands of New Zealanders it’s a dream that’s out of reach.

If there is one thing your newspaper tells you every day about life in New Zealand it’s this:

We have a housing problem. And it’s a deep seated problem.

If you’re a young person today, you look at the cost of houses and you despair.

For the first time, home ownership in Auckland has dropped below 60%.

It’s one of the reasons so many of our young people are giving up and going to Australia.

The National government’s answer fell woefully short of what is needed.

They don’t understand that the market has failed first-home buyers.

The simple fact is we need more affordable houses.

It’s time for Government to step up.

And we will.

Today I’m announcing that we will put 100,000 Kiwi families into their first home.

That’s the sort of big change we need to make a big difference to people’s lives.

We’ll oversee and invest in a large scale 10 year building programme of entry-level houses that Kiwis are crying out for.

Yes, it’s a big commitment and it’ll take a couple of years to ramp up, but we can do it.

I won’t stand by while the dream of home ownership slips away from future generations.

At the peak of last decade, about 30,000 new homes were built a year. Now it’s less than half that.

These are the missing rungs on the housing ladder. And it shows what an active and responsible government can do to help.

The start-up cost of the building programme will be financed through issuing government stock called Home Ownership Bonds.

The money we make from selling the houses will go back into the pot for building more.

The houses will be compact in size. Some will be stand-alone dwellings and others apartments. All of them will be good quality and energy efficient.

The homes will be sold to first home buyers who’ve saved their own deposit, like with KiwiSaver.

We estimate that the maximum needed to be raised for a kick-start will be $1.5 billion.

It will quickly become self-funding though. And because it’s a capital investment, it won’t affect our commitment to balance the books and return to surplus.

I can already hear our opponents complaining that this is too bold. That the problem’s too big and there’s nothing we can do.

I won’t accept that. I won’t give up on the Kiwi dream of an affordable home.

I have spoken to Auckland Mayor Len Brown to take up his offer of a partnership with Auckland council to make land available.

In addition, we will introduce a National Policy Statement under the RMA to ensure that planning rules and consenting decisions support affordable housing.

We want to make a difference.

Building 100,000 new houses will create training opportunities for apprenticeships, more jobs and give a $2 billion dollar a year boost to the economy.

This will make a big difference but alone, it’s not enough.

HEALTHY HOMES GUARANTEE

Too many Kiwi families are living in cold, damp and mouldy homes.

This affects their health and their quality of life.

Because of this, we’re seeing the sort of third world diseases that I was battling in Somalia in our own communities here. That’s not right.

Child poverty is a scourge that robs hundreds of thousands of kids of their future.

This cannot continue.

Let me be clear, we are not prepared to have families, particularly children, living in these conditions.

Eradicating poverty will be a top priority for the next Labour Government.

That’s why we’ll introduce a Healthy Homes Guarantee so landlords have to ensure every rental property is a healthy home that’s insulated and has efficient heating.

It’s time for poor quality houses to be brought up to scratch with minimum standards.

The crucial point is: this is about smart government pulling the levers to make New Zealand a better place.

We will take action where the market has failed for the benefit of thousands of Kiwis.

CONCLUSION

We have done the work we needed to do to change ourselves at this conference.

Now it’s time to lift our sights and to come together to change New Zealand.

Our Labour movement has always relied on the hard work of volunteers.

I thank you for everything that you do to support our cause and to support our country.

And now I ask you to join me.

Norman Kirk once famously said: New Zealanders don’t ask for much: someone to love, somewhere to live, somewhere to work and something to hope for.

As much I’d like to, I can’t provide everyone with someone to love.

But everyone should have a job, a home – and a country we can all have hope in.

But we won’t on National’s track. It’s full of disappointment and is taking us nowhere.

We need to change.

We need a new direction.

One that’s about using our Kiwi ‘can do’ attitude to create new wealth.

One that encourages Kiwis to dream of what can be.

One that offers opportunities to realise that dream.

One where everyone who plays their part shares the rewards.

And, one where the government gets stuck in too.

I promise you this: from the day we take office, we will turn over a new page for this country and continue Labour’s proud tradition of progressive government.

We won’t be taking office to tinker, we’ll be taking office to remake New Zealand.

So I am asking you.

To rise up.

To take a message of hope to New Zealanders.

To fight for our future.

To say loud and clear that there is a better way. There is a Labour way.

We can do it, standing strong together.

We can make the change.

And we’ll do that in 2014.

.

.

= fs =

 

Citizen A – 1 November 2012 – Online now!

.

Citizen A

.

- 1 November 2012 -

.

- Claudette Hauiti & Chris Trotter -

.

.

Issue 1: How do we get affordable housing in Auckland – is the Government on the right track and should the Super City open up more land?

Issue 2: Can the Maori Party convince Pakeha to vote for them?

Issue 3: What does the latest roy morgan poll mean for David Shearer at this months Labour Party conference in Auckland?

Citizen A broadcasts 7pm Thursday Triangle TV

.

Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

Tumeke

.

.

= fs =

Just say “NO!” to political prostitutionism

25 October 2012 18 comments

.

From the Sunday Star Times (scanned hard-copy  – on-line version locked behind a Fairfax paywall) on 14 October,

.

.

Andrea Vance is correct;  most polls have shown a steady decline for National (with the exception of those at specific moments when issues surrounding Maori claims over water rights are in the headlines) since the general election last year.

John Key’s teflon coating is patchy at best, as scandals; incompetance; and a stagnating economy is showing up National as singularly inept at any measure of governance.

A TV3 poll tonight (24 Oct) was even more bad news for these ministerial muppets,

.

Full story

.

The four relevant questions asked of respondents were,

1. Do you agree National has done a good job in terms of building a brighter future?

  • 49% said no;
  • 46% said yes;
  • 5% did not know.
2. Has National helped with full employment?

  • 57% said no;
  • 36% said yes;
  • 7% did not know.
3. Is the Government providing the best school system for our children?

  • 58% said no;
  • 32% said yes;
  • 9% did not know.
4. Are our Government departments run efficiently?
  • 49 percent said yes;
  • 42 percent said no.

Key’s responses to each of these four questions is reported here: National’s bright future not here yet – poll

Some of his comments are laughable. Actually, no. All his comments are a joke.  If anything, his responses to these poll results are a scathing indictment of National’s arrogance and disconnect from the public.

Which brings us to Peter Dunne.

National is in power only because of complicity by John Banks and Dunne.

Dunne’s history began in 1984, as a Labour MP. From there, he  jumped from one Party to another; Labour; United New Zealand; United Future New Zealand; and join coalitions led by both National, then Labour, and back to National again in 2008.

See: Peter Dunne – Member of Parliament

Dunne is a political chameleon – able to re-shape and re-form to suit his political environment, as governments come and go. Unlike that other Great Survivor, Winston Peters, Dunne has the unmatched record of rarely having been out of government. Any government.

He has outlasted  Lange, Palmer, Moore, Bolger, Shipley, and Clarke – and is now onto his seventh Prime Minister, John Key.

Whatever “political viagra” the man is on, he could make a vast fortune selling it globally, to other politicians.

Political journalist, Andrea Vance,  has suggested in her 14 October article that,

As Labour begin to pick up in the polls… Dunne is the kid on the sidelines, eyes screwed shut, willing David Shearer to pick me, pick me”.”

Like hell.

For many people in this country, and this blogger included, Peter Dunne has burnt his bridges with the social democratic left.

His vote in Parliament, to enable the passing of legislation to facilitate the 49% sell-down of Mighty River Power, Genesis, Meridian, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand, is a step too far. (See: The asset partial sell-off can begin)

With the passing of the Mixed Ownership Model Bill into law on 27 June, Peter Dunne well and truly nailed his colours to the mast – despite even a poll on his own website receiving an over-whelming ‘no’ vote, and many comments critical of asset sales.

.

.

.

The poll was taken down soon after it began to attract public attention. (Evidently the outcome was not to Mr Dunne’s satisfaction?)

So much for asking the public to “let us know your views“.

Unless we see a threat of a possible third term for National (and one hopes the voting public is not that capricious), Shearer, the Greens, Peters, and Harawira should have nothing to do with Dunne.

His politics is best described as prostitutionism – with about as much ethics shown as a Wall Street banker or back street crack-dealer.

Dunne has utterly betrayed his own country by supporting the sale – theft –  of state assets. Considering he has been part of three terms of a Labour-led government – to then support neo-liberal policies  shows a lack of principled behaviour.

What was he doing in a Labour-led government in the first place?

What else is he willing to do to keep ministerial “baubles of power”?

A new Labour-led government, starting  afresh and addressing many of the social inequities and economic imbalances afflicting our country,  should leave behind the dross of previous administrations.

The next government should be a principled one. And Peter Dunne has none of the necessary qualities that would make him a credible fit with such a new administration.

Take note, Mr Shearer; you need to start your new Administration on the very best footing. Peter Dunne will provide the opposite.

Mr Shearer; do you really want the left-overs of a failed National “government” at your Cabinet table?

As the Member for Ohariu once said,

We understand clearly that the only reason for our existence is to represent the voice of the people in our parliament. We believe  that any  party that is not constantly in touch with the views of the people is simply not doing its job. In this space you can read what others think on key issues, and you can let us know your views.” – Peter Dunne, “Have your Say Polls”, United Future website (since deleted)

Clean sweep, Mr Shearer, clean sweep.

.

*

.

Postscript:

Whilst Dunne’s website has closed down the Poll and the many posted comments are lost on his website, Blogger Robert Guyton had the presence of mind to C&P and re-post many of the posted comments on his blog.

These are the views that Peter Dunne does not want us to read: Robert Guyton.

.

.

= fs =

Teapots and Tearooms – a tale of two tapes

22 October 2012 9 comments

.

.

Hark back to 11 November 2011; two men met at a cafe for a chat over a cuppa tea.

Nothing unusual about that,  you might think?

Except that the men were John Banks and John Key;  leaders of two political parties;  campaigning for an upcoming election; and about 40 journalists were present to  record the event and report it for their respective media outlets.

The publicity stunt went awry when a recording device was discovered on their table, and Dear Leader was not impressed,

John Key remains intractable today about the teapot-tape fiasco, maintaining and repeating his line that he is a victim of a deliberate attempt by the Herald on Sunday to covertly record his conversation with John Banks. .

Continuing on from his defiance yesterday, the Prime Minister reiterated on Firstline his stance against “News of the World tactics” and said he went to the police because it was “a matter of principle”. 

Firstline host Rachel Smalley, who has seen part of a transcript of the conversation, told Mr Key that hacking into the phone of a family whose child has been murdered, like the News of the World did, is very different to mistakenly leaving a microphone on a table.

“No it’s not,” Mr Key replied, “it’s an illegal attempt to get information and that’s the principle”.

“I have a totally clear conscience about what I’ve done, I think it’s the Herald on Sunday and the cameraman that may not have a clear conscience and in the end, they will have to answer to the police,” he said.

“There are many times where I am in a public place but that doesn’t mean I can be taped…I don’t care about the tape, I haven’t heard the tape but my recollection of the conversation was that it was pretty bland”. ” – Source

John Key was fairly adamant; he was outraged that he had been recorded without his knowledge and point-blank refused to permit the contents of the tape to be made public.  On 30 November he made his Royal Displeasure further known when the coercive arm of State authority – the NZ Police – raided the offices of Radio New Zealand, searching for copies of the “teapot tape”.

Further raids on other media followed.

Contrast Key’s wrath with his attitude toward the alleged video-taping of  his meeting with the GCSB on 29 January, this year.  In response to allegations made by David Shearer, Key responded on 16 October,

There was no tape, to say the GCSB erased it is a very serious allegation and he should put up or shut up, he should apologise.” – Source

Indeed, Key challenged Shearer to present the tape on more than one occassion.

Does such a tape or any other form of recording exist?

We don’t know. The GCSB says it has searched and “found nothing”.

But most pointed is that a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said on 12 October,

We are checking that there is no recording that GCSB made. ” – Source

Let’s re-cap;

On 29 January, Key visits the GCSB for a briefing. He makes some sort of speech in the GCSB cafetaria.

On 11 October, Key is interviewed by TV3 where he stated point-blank that he was unaware of any recording made of his visit to GCSB HQ on 29 January. (See: Secret GCSB recording catches Key out – Labour)

On the same day, GCSB boss, Ian Fletcher, states categorically,

The department has made exhaustive enquiries of its records and its IT systems, and can find no audio-visual recording of the Prime Minister’s visit to GCSB on 29 February 2012.” – Source

On 12 October, Key’s office announces that they are “checking that there is no recording that GCSB made“.

On 16 October, Key invites  the Labour leader to present any recording,  “and he should put up or shut up“.

This seems a remarkable turnaround for our Prime Minister?!

He obviously wasn’t aware that he was being recorded – and yet, after checking with the GCSB – is agreeable to Shearer releasing any recording that might be in his possession?!

This seems in stark contrast to Key’s anger at being recorded last year, in Epson – also unknowingly –  when he not only refused to release the tape – but called in the police to enforce his diktat.

Key was obviously having none of it.

So why the sudden change of heart at being unknowingly recorded in the GCSB’s cafetaria?

What happened between 12 October and 16 October that allowed Key to comfortably challenge Shearer to “ put up or shut up“?

Fairly bloody obvious, I would think.

The GCSB found the recording before copies could be made (otherwise it would have leaked by now); deleted it; and then advised the Prime Minister “that no recording existed”.

There is simply no other way to explain Key’s inexplicably contradictory responses on being unknowingly recorded on two separate occassions, only 110 days apart.

.

*

.

Sources

NZ Herald: Bugged in the Act

NZ Herald: PM blocks release of chat tape

TV3:  Key reiterates that he is ‘teapot-tape’ victim

Dominion Post: Radio NZ hands over ‘tea tape’ interview

TV3: Key to take staffer to GCSB meetings

Scoop: GCSB in the House on Wednesday

.

.

= fs =

Guest Author: David Cunliffe on Scandinavian Economic Development

- Hon David Cunliffe, Labour Economic Development and Associate Finance Spokesperson, Clean-tech Cluster Chair

Published 30 September 2012

.

.

Scandinavian Economic Development Speech: Fast Forward – Growing Good Jobs

.

Speech to Laingholm District Citizens Association, Laingholm, 30 September 2012

.

Robert Louis Stevenson, the man who wrote ‘Treasure Island’, once said: “Everybody lives by selling something”.

In these days of economic treachery, this sounds like a very negative statement.

Everybody lives, today, by selling something.

But actually, the phrase: ‘Everybody lives by selling something’ is merely stating a simple truth.

In order to survive I must breathe air.

In order for me to breathe air, there need to be green plants producing oxygen.

So, when I breathe in, I’m breathing in air that was mostly made in the green plants.

But this is not a one-sided trade.  I don’t just breath in air, I breathe out carbon dioxide, which is in return breathed in by the green plants, and converted back into oxygen, for me to breathe once more.

The green plants and I need each other. We trade what we produce, and both sides survive and prosper as a result of our necessary partnership.

Ecologists call this process of mutually-beneficial trading ‘symbiosis’.

WINNERS AND LOSERS

Motivational speakers have a simpler term: they call this process ‘win-win’. There’s no winner and loser when I trade my carbon dioxide to the green plants and get oxygen in return. I need the oxygen; the plants need my carbon dioxide in order to convert sunlight into food.

Provided both sides play fair, this is truly a win-win situation.

The problem is, too often over the last 30 years, and some would say for much longer, the world’s economic system has not been win-win for the average person, indeed for most of us. It’s been win-lose: they win and you lose.

The rich speculators and traders get richer, while the rest of us get poorer. Like it or not, our country is going backwards.

What happened? This widening gap isn’t the Kiwi way. What’s changed over the last thirty years?

Let’s have a quick recap of history. As a result of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the New Zealand Labour Party – like its counterparts around the world – legislated to rein in speculation, to protect jobs and to protect human rights.

Most of New Zealand’s great economic assets, such as our farms, our roads and our forests, grew and prospered as a direct result of these policies. As our nation grew more prosperous, the wealth was widely shared. No children needed to starve in the New Zealand I grew up in.

However, the 1980s and ’90s saw the rise of a philosophy developed by the rich, for the rich. It was called Neo-Liberalism.

Neo-Liberalism is based on the idea that it’s a dog-eat-dog world. Neo-Liberalism is based on the idea that greed is good, that we’re all locked in an economic life-and-death-struggle with each other. Neo-Liberalism says that compassion is for suckers. Neo-Liberalism says that if the world is going to the dogs, it might as well be the top dogs. Indeed, to borrow from Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, not only is greed good, “it’s legal.”[i]

When the British Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher was asked about the effects that her Neo-liberal policies would have on society, she replied:

There is no such thing as society… There are individual men and women.[ii]

The amazing thing about the Neo-Liberals is their wilful blindness to how badly their ideas have failed. Not just once, but repeatedly. Neo-Liberal policies directly caused two of the largest financial crashes in history. Did they apologise? No way. Like some mad doctor, when the first dose of medicine didn’t work, they wanted to double the dose.

And so, the Neo-Liberal bandwagon rolls on. Right here in New Zealand, the National Party is still trotting out the same discredited economic policies that got us into this mess in the first place.

I have just returned from Denmark and Finland, and I am convinced there are lessons for us all in how these Scandinavian countries run their economies. In particular, we need to take note of why the Scandinavian countries are slowly winning while many other European countries are rapidly losing.

Let’s take a quick look at the ‘Scandinavian model.’

The ‘Scandinavian model’ isn’t really Scandinavian at all. It could also be called the traditional New Zealand model. A model based on the idea that the economy is like a farm or garden. If you want a garden to grow, then you have to dig the soil and plant the seeds. You have to feed and nurture the plants and you have deal to the weeds when they grow up amongst the crop.

If this sounds like simple common sense: it is.

Any farmer will tell you that you get back from a farm what you put in. If you let weeds grow, you get a farm full of weeds. If you nurture your soil, livestock and crops, you have a good chance of a healthy farm, and a healthy return on your investment.

Which countries are currently surviving the recession best? The ones with the Scandinavian economic model.

According to Neo-Liberal economic theory, the Scandinavian countries should have collapsed by now. After all, they have large numbers of public employees on decent wages. Large trade unions. Very high taxation. A huge amount of government spending. I’m not arguing for a carbon-copy, but it has worked for them.

While the Neo-Liberals in America, Britain and New Zealand have been targeting those on welfare, blaming them for the world’s problems, the Scandinavian countries have been doing the opposite. That is, they’ve been helping those on welfare to get jobs, not blaming them for being poor.

After taking a big hit from the global financial crisis in 2009, the Scandinavian economies have bounced back strongly, while most of the rest of Europe seems stuck in reverse.

What’s the Scandinavian secret? The Scandinavian people have mastered the art of win-win.

For example, on my recent visit, I saw the Danish approach to economic development.

Denmark doesn’t tell its businesspeople what to do. Instead, Denmark sees its businesspeople as partners. The Danish government sits down with its key business groups. The two sides plan a workable strategy. After listening to its voters, workers and business partners, the Danish government doesn’t muck around. Incentives, sector plans, skills training, research and development, industry investment, targets and timetables are all actively used to get the economy moving and to keep it moving.

There is real symbiosis; it’s a win-win partnership, and the whole country benefits.

No surprise then, that Finland and Sweden came third and fourth respectively in the latest World Economic Forum competitiveness survey.[iii]

This competitiveness is driven by a government that understands how to invest in its people. According to the World Economic Forum, the key to the Scandinavians’ success is largely the result of a high level investment by the government and industry in education and training.[iv] The Scandinavians understand that ignorance is poison.

The Scandinavians know they cannot compete with China for low labour costs. They don’t bother to try. Instead, the Scandinavians have learned the value of working smarter instead of merely working harder.

Scandinavian bosses and workers don’t see each other as natural enemies. They may not always get along and they may not always agree, but they understand clearly that bosses and workers need each other.

I wish our government understood this.

GROWING JOBS, NOT WEEDS

So what would a good farmer do to grow the farm called New Zealand? What practical tools and lessons can we take from the small, smart countries of Scandinavia?

Good soil

A good farmer ploughs the soil to create the conditions for healthy growth.

Getting the economic basics right is important.

The first economic basic that we need to get right is trust. Whether it’s with respect to John Banks skirting around the truth or John Key burying his head in the sand over the Dotcom saga, New Zealand’s reputation as an honest country in which to do business is under serious threat.

We have to restore trust, both in New Zealand and overseas. Investors won’t come to New Zealand if they think we’re a banana republic.

And make no mistake about it: Labour welcomes investors to New Zealand. However, we welcome investors who come as partners, not masters. Our country is not for sale. New Zealanders do not wish to become tenants in their own country.

We also need to stabilise our currency, so that businesses have some certainty. We need to keep the New Zealand dollar from continually rising, because if the dollar is too high then our exported goods become too expensive. Other countries do this – so should we. The high New Zealand dollar is making life hard for exporters and it’s simply ruining manufacturing in New Zealand.

As my colleague David Parker has said recently, targeting inflation alone is an old orthodoxy that few countries support[v]. We need more balanced objectives, and a broader range of tools to achieve them.

We also need to stop the housing market from spinning out of control. Not only do high housing prices make homes unaffordable for many ordinary families, but housing booms are usually followed by housing busts. We’ve had quite enough economic train wrecks in recent years, thanks very much.

But economic and financial stability is about more than just keeping prices stable.

Watering the soil

Good farmers don’t just dig the soil, they keep it watered.

The lifeblood of business is capital, but many private investors have taken flight since the crash of 2008. A business community without investment is like a field without irrigation: without some water, the crops will wither and die.

I’m not advocating the government dolling out taxpayer funds to big business. There’s been too much of that already. Taxpayers are sick of it. I’m sick of it.

However, there’s no reason that the government can’t help those who are helping themselves.

For example, suppose a private company needs to do some expensive research and development, and this research and development benefits the whole country.

As another example, suppose a private company is researching a cure for Kiwifruit disease? Labour’s research and development tax credits would help that company find a solution.

Accelerated tax depreciation for short-life technology, and other measures soon to be announced, would also assist the innovation process.

Those kinds of policies could be part of a broader win-win approach. That’s how things work in the Scandinavian countries. That’s how the Scandinavians gets results.

Investment also comes from savings. For those who don’t know it, New Zealanders in recent times has had some of the lowest levels of savings in the developed world.[vi] This is wrong for two reasons: one, without savings, our citizens have no fall-back position if something goes wrong. Two, because when people save these savings can be invested wisely.

That’s why Labour’s universal KiwiSaver plan lifted our savings rate four times faster than National’s alternative. Under Labour’s policy, New Zealand would have more capital available for local investment, rather than relying so heavily on foreign-owned banks.

That’s a lesson the Scandinavians have learned and that our Aussie mates have also got right. We need to get it right as well.

Another area in which Labour is streets ahead of National is in the area of capital gains tax. Let me explain this very briefly: many New Zealand businesses have given up investing in useful and productive areas. Why? Because the New Zealand tax system encourages business to invest in the wrong places. That’s because many of the richest New Zealanders have grown rich from capital gains. They buy a piece of land for a million and sell it for three million. That’s a cool two million dollar profit, much of it tax-free. Regardless of how they earn their income, everyone should pay the same rate of tax.

Investing in property for capital gains not only makes home buying unaffordable for many families, it sucks billions away from productive investments.[vii]

Worse still, history has shown that what goes up generally comes down, and often with a crash.

What a capital gains tax does is encourage all investors to put their money into areas that produce something.  This will have the effect of dampening the current property bubble, while freeing up billions for investment in areas like computer technology or energy production.

This is not some freak theory; it’s acknowledged internationally. That’s why there are only two other developed countries that don’t have a capital gains tax.

Pro-growth tax reform, including a capital gains tax and the restoration of tax credits for research and development, is needed to water the soils: feeding real Kiwi businesses and creating real Kiwi jobs.

Planting the seeds

Good farmers carefully sow and nurture the seeds and tend the crops as they grow to maturity.

The seeds of our economy are the innovation and ideas that can be raised in our universities, businesses, garages and garden sheds.

Kiwis are an innovative, creative people. Our capacity for working wonders with reduced resources has led us to developing the world’s first electric fences, jet boats and so on. The list is almost endless and the ideas are often brilliant. But too often, unless the inventor has deep pockets, too many good ideas don’t get off the shelf. Once the seed capital from ‘friends, fools and family’ runs out, often, so does the business. The sad fact is that – even during the economic good times, four out of five Kiwi business start-ups withered and died in the first two years.

In Japan and Korea, four out of five new businesses survive past two years[viii]. The difference is that in Japan and Korea, there is comprehensive government support for small business development. Support with budgeting. Support with obtaining investment. Support with business plans. Support with taking successful products and showing them to the world.

Last week, the New Zealand Herald told the sad story of how 32 of New Zealand’s biggest high-tech companies have been sold off overseas at an early stage[ix]. That’s like ripping out a crop when it’s half-grown. It’s madness.

Labour welcomes positive investment, but we want to avoid the best and brightest of our young companies being continually hollowed-out from Kiwi ownership.

We need policies that will help young Kiwi companies grow for longer, and become stronger, right here in New Zealand. We know the main problems: a lack of capital to support growth, a lack of experience in trading outside of New Zealand, difficulty communicating with overseas customers and a difficulty delivering the product or service around the world. David Shearer, who is also our Innovation Spokesperson, will be speaking more on our ideas in this area shortly.

Labour also believes that government should try to buy Kiwi-made products where possible and appropriate, and ensure that Kiwi companies have a fair chance to sell to their own government. Taking a hard look at government procurement is also a part of Labour’s policy mix.

The government should also have a strong policy of avoiding products that cause significant environmental harm and those that rely on the cynical exploitation of workers, especially women and children.

Rebuilding manufacturing, sectors and regions

Good farmers have a plan for every paddock on the farm. We need a sustainable growth strategy for every industry sector and region.

Sadly, however, since National took over many regions have slipped backwards, and this is no accident. The East Coast and Northland have skyrocketing youth unemployment. Wasting a generation of young Kiwis in our regions is not good enough. Take forestry for example. We don’t build enough quality products with our own wood. Instead we cut down the trees and ship the logs to ‘sweatshops’ overseas. Under the current New Zealand government policy, there’s simply no incentive to do otherwise.

A similar thing happens in dairy. Our milk is mainly shipped overseas as commodity products like milk powder, while too often those that develop these ingredients into branded products get most of the benefit.

It’s even worse with our seafood. Did you know that for the next four years it is legal for New Zealand companies to catch fish in our waters using Korean boats manned by Filipino sailors who are treated like slaves?[x] This fish, in some cases, is then sent to Asia for processing, then shipped back to New Zealand for sale in our supermarkets. This is madness.

Both the International Monetary Fund and the credit rating agencies have said New Zealand’s biggest weakness is that too great a share of our total exports is selling raw commodities like milk and logs at low prices. Instead, we need to be making something more valuable out of our milk and timber before we export them[xi]. That’s the Scandinavian way.

In case anyone has missed the headlines of the last few weeks about massive layoffs at Tiwai Point, Norske Skog’s Kawerau mill, Solid Energy’s Huntly and Spring Creek mines, Nuplex and APN in Auckland, and many, many others – manufacturing is in crisis in New Zealand.

40,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2008 when National came to government and there are more layoffs to come[xii].  Some 65,000 more New Zealanders are unemployed[xiii] and that’s not counting what Bill English now calls the “safety valve”[xiv] of 54,000 other New Zealanders giving up and moving permanently to Australia in the last year alone – an all-time record.

So we desperately need a high-value manufacturing strategy in this country. Gone are the days when manufacturing was just some unskilled worker bolting two parts together. That style of manufacturing is now inevitably done in low-wage countries. In most cases, we simply can’t compete with Asia when it comes to large-scale, low-cost manufacturing.

However, we’re not out of the race, by any means. According to Statistics New Zealand, there are about 22,700 manufacturing businesses in New Zealand[xv], which together produce about $20 billion of sales[xvi]. $20 billion.

I believe we could triple that, not by lowering our environmental standards or paying our workers less, but doing what we do so well.

New Zealand is very good at thinking small and thinking smart. We can do small production runs of specialist items. We can process raw materials that were gathered nearby. We can produce products on demand for our local market or international markets.

Above all, we can think smart. We can take an idea from concept to manufacture, often on a budget that wouldn’t pay for lunch in America or Germany.

Should the government be backing the manufacturing sector? Absolutely. Just look to the Scandinavian example.

Prof Göran Roos, a leading Scandinavian industrial economist, points out that every dollar in manufacturing business leads directly to $1.74 in turnover elsewhere in the economy[xvii].  And he and others point out that with increasing linkage between manufacturing and high value services in global trade, you can’t win without manufacturing capability. Buy a new car, get a regular servicing package.

The Scandinavians understand that a successful manufacturing strategy provides high-value jobs, good incomes, and helps reduce our overseas debt.

Labour will work with unions and businesses to enhance skills training to help support a strong manufacturing heart. The heart of a high-performance manufacturing sector is highly-productive workplaces with excellent training and decent living wages.

Like in the Scandinavian countries, we want workers to have the training and support to adapt to changing jobs with ‘flexicurity’ throughout their lives. Flexicurity: it means ‘flexible security’[xviii].

This is important. Look at what’s happening with the West Coast coal miners. After a lifetime of hard work in the coalmines, these miners are now facing the economic scrapheap[xix] thanks to National’s plans to railroad the sale of Solid Energy. The miners must now adapt to a changing world.  Can they do this overnight? Of course not.

That’s where the government can help, not with a handout, and not by lowering environmental standards or strip-mining national parks, but with an investment in the future of those workers and an investment in the future of our entire country. It’s time to recognise that our most valuable resource is not just our land, but our people.

Clean and green

Another crucial sector is clean-tech. Labour leader David Shearer has called for a clean, green and clever economy for good reason – there are almost seven billion people on the planet[xx].

It’s obvious now to most governments, including not only the Scandinavians but also most of Europe, China, Korea and Japan, that we simply can’t keep living the wasteful and destructive ways of the past. As government regulations around the world get tougher, there’s a huge global market for clean technology. That is, technology that makes more effective use of our precious resources while reducing pollution and wastage.

You may rest assured; our competitors are investing heavily in clean technology. Why is New Zealand not doing more to win in the global green race – the $6 trillion export market for clean-tech[xxi]?

There are already some great ideas being developed, but building a strong clean-tech sector will only happen if the government sends the right signals. For example, the more we require our power generators to act responsibly, the more we are encouraging the development of alternative ways of generating electricity.

But the National government is going the other way – scrapping Labour’s biofuels obligations and effectively wiping out the infant biofuels industry.  Now they have the gall to say biofuels will save Kawerau[xxii]. Shameful.

Labour believes there is no inherent conflict between positive business and the environment.

Labour is not opposed to environmentally responsible mineral and energy exploration. However, Labour never forgets that most of New Zealand’s export dollars come from living things. A wise government, like a good farmer, needs to protect and nurture the source of our wealth.

We are interested in investments that have a win-win outcome. Investments that create jobs and exports, balanced with appropriate responsibilities to our communities and the environment.

Nobody in Parliament, and nobody in this room, will still be here in 100 years. However, those who follow us will enjoy the gifts we give and will endure the mistakes we make. That thought alone should make us pause.

GROWING JOBS AND HOPE

We need better from our government. We need a comprehensive strategy that includes planning, research, financial incentives and assistance with helping local companies sell their products overseas.

It’s not rocket science; it’s common sense.

Kiwis are very decent people.  They know they’ve been conned by Neo-liberalism and its National-Act acolytes. They want to do something about it. They want to reclaim that wonderful sense of fairness, safety and honesty that used to be the hallmark of this country.

In my remarks today I have stressed three key things:

First, contrary to the failed Neo-liberal policies that got the world into this mess, it’s really clear to you, to me and to the incoming Labour government, that we all do better together when we all win together. Think Scandinavia. Think symbiosis.

Second, it’s in Kiwi DNA to understand farming – the role of government in helping to create an innovative, job rich economy should be like a good farmer.

  • Tending the soil to get the fundamentals right.  Irrigating it with capital and fertilizing it with skills and technology.
  • Planting the seeds of future success through a step change in innovation.
  • Having a plan for each paddock – our industry sectors and regions – so we can be the best we can be.  Understanding that it is crucial to have high value manufacturing and clean technology developed alongside making the best sustainable use from our resources.
  • And never forgetting that our most valuable asset is always our people. Investing in education, skills and lifelong learning; building decent high performance workplaces, and using the power of government to reward good business practices.

Third, we need a government that listens, that works in partnership, then takes action. We can rebuild this economy. We can make this country the envy of the world again. But we need a government that acts, like a good farmer, not one that just sits on the fence, watching the weeds grow, and letting the farm go to ruin.

.


REFERENCES AND READINGS

[i] Internet Movie Database, Gordon Gekko quotes, available at http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0012282/quotes

[ii] Keay, D. (1987, September 23), Margaret Thatcher interview, Women’s Own.

[iii] Schwab, K. (ed.), ‘The Global Competitiveness Report 2008–2009’, World Economic Forum, available at: http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GlobalCompetitivenessReport_2012-13.pdf

[iv] ibid.

[v] Hon David Parker’s recent Finance portfolio statements are available at http://www.labour.org.nz/portfolios/finance

[vi] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2012, June 7). Household saving rates – forecasts: Percentage of disposable household income, DOI: 10.1787/2074384x-table7.

[vii] New Zealand Labour Party (2011), David Cunliffe talks about the debt propelled economy (video), available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjyHctIljPM

[viii] Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan. Briefing note.

[ix] Wishart, S. (2012, September 24), ‘Kiwi high tech for sale’, New Zealand Herald, available at http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10836029

[x] Ministry for Primary Industries (2012, February), Ministerial Inquiry into Foreign Charter Vessels, available at http://www.fish.govt.nz/en-nz/Consultations/Ministerial+Inquiry+into+Foreign+Charter+Vessels/default.htm

[xi] International Monetary Fund (2012, June 7 and prior), New Zealand and the IMF series, available at http://www.imf.org/external/country/nzl/index.htm

[xii] Newson, B. (2012, September 12), ‘Nothing ‘inevitable’ about mass redundancies’, EPMU statement, available at http://www.epmu.org.nz/news/show/173416

[xiv] Cited by Tarrant, A. (2012, September 21), ‘Record loss of migrants to Australia in year to August, Stats NZ says; Nearly net 40,000 cross Tasman to the ‘lucky country’’, interest.co.nz, available at http://www.interest.co.nz/news/61231/record-loss-migrants-australia-year-august-stats-nz-says-nearly-net-40000-cross-tasman-lu

[xv] Statistics New Zealand (2012, September 10), Survey and methods section, ‘Quarterly economic survey of manufacturing’, available at http://www.stats.govt.nz/surveys_and_methods/completing-a-survey/faqs-about-our-surveys/quarterly-economic-survey-of-manufacturing.aspx

[xvi] Statistics New Zealand (2012, September 10), Table 1: All Manufacturing section, ‘Economic Survey of Manufacturing: June 2012 quarter’, available from http://www.stats.govt.nz/~/media/Statistics/Browse%20for%20stats/EconomicSurveyofManufacturing/HOTPJun12qtr/esm-jun12-qtr-tables.xls

[xvii] Roos, G., (2012, June 29), Is Manufacturing in Decline?, special presentation.

[xviii] One European interpretation of ‘Flexicurity’ is detailed at European Commission – Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion section (n.d.), Flexicurity, available at: http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=102&langId=en

[xix] Sabin, B. (2012, September 25), ‘Spring Creek miner’s 5th redundancy’, 3news, available at http://www.3news.co.nz/Spring-Creek-miners-5th-redundancy/tabid/421/articleID/270538/Default.aspx

[xx] World Bank estimate cited in Google Public Data set. Granular global population analysis is available from the WolframAlpha knowledgebase (2012), available at http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=world+population&lk=4

[xxi] Innovas, cited in Pure Advantage (2012, May), New Zealand’s Position in the Green Race, p. 2.

[xxii] Hon Steven Joyce, National Party MP and Economic Development Minister, cited by Radio New Zealand (2012, September 11).

.

*

.

Previous related blogposts

Guest Author: David Cunliffe, Get your invisible hand off our assets

Guest Author: David Cunliffe, A Bold New Direction?

Charter Schools – Another lie from John Banks!

Finland, some thoughts

.

.

= fs =

John Key: Man of Many Principles

28 September 2012 25 comments

.

.

In case anyone has been holidaying on Planet Key lately, and missed the latest shenanigans from the Ninth Floor of the Beehive,  John Key has apparently  abandoned his earlier principles rejecting  possible coalition deals with Winston Peters. He  has found new principles of  “wait and see”.

In 2008 and 2011, Dear Leader Key was fairly adamant and all but promised to poke himself in both eyes with red-hot pokers, rather than go into any coalition with Peters,

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

But this blogpost is not about Key’s ‘principles’ which, as we all know by now, are so bendy-twisty ‘flexible’ as to be positively plasticine.  When Key assures us that the sun will rise tomorrow morning, we still want to see it for ourselves. Just to make sure.

Indeed, another blogger – NZ Pundit – scarily predicted back  in August 2008  that Key’s “read-my-lips’ rejection of Winston Peters, as a possible coalition partner, was little more than a “hollow promise“, and would change overnight if National found itself desperate for a coalition partner.

See: NZ Pundit – Key’s Hollow Promise On Winston

Fast forward to 2012 – National finds itself desperate for a coalition partner.

With ACT now a Dead-Party-Walking after one scandal too many and Peter Dunne effectively a One-Man-Party, that leaves the Nats with two options;

  • The Maori Party. Does National really want to be beholden to a Maori nationalist party? Even if it is a paler-version of Hone Harawira’s Mana Party? Will the Maori Party make it back in 2014 anyway?
  • The Conservative Party. Notwithstanding it’s quasi-religious flakiness, Colin Craig has managed to alienate about 60% of the population (women and gays) plus probably everyone else with two interconnected braincells. Even if National drops the MMP Party threshold from 5% to 4%, there is no likelihood Craig will increase his electoral support.

In reality, with John Key showing the amorality of a  political  serial-adulterer, he will take whatever option is on offer. Whether his coalition bedmate is  the Maori Party  or CCCP (Colin Craig’s Conservative Party) or a menage a trois of both, concerns him nought.

As long as he can cross that magic 61 or 62 seat majority (depending on over-hangs) is his sole concern.

To achieve that end, National’s back-room strategists have been working over-time and have fixed their laser-sights on Winston Peter’s New Zealand First.

Said strategists have taken a single  approach to dealing with NZ First – with two planned outcomes.

In both scenarios, National makes overtures to NZ First and make it clear to the voting public that this time, Key will not resile from a  National-NZ First Coalition . Key will make the age of super entitlement and promise of abandonment of asset sales two prime factors that Peters will  find hard to reject. ( Peters is not as hard-line in his opposition to asset sales as he makes out.  See “Peters switch on Asset Sales“)

A third common ground between the Nats and NZ First;  if water rights is still a burning political  issue, this will move NZ First to the right, into National’s camp, as both parties have stated positions firmly rejecting Maori aspirations on this issue.

1. Yay

First scenario; Despite been seen as “cosying up” to National, NZ First retains electoral support, and makes it over the 4%/5% threshold. With Peter Dunne, John Key leads a third term of a National-led coalition government.

Outcome: win for National and John Key.

2. Nay

Second scenario;  As National electoral support drops and public hostility to John Key increases, any perceived “cosying up” between the Nats and NZ First is viewed with displeasure by Peters’ supporters.

NZ First’s supporters – traditionally seen as the “grumpy vote” – either do not bother to cast a vote on Election Day (as many of Labour’s supporters stayed away last November), or cast their vote for the Conservative Party or possibly  Labour.

NZ First fails to cross the 4%/5% threshold, and loses their seats in Parliament. In effect, National has been toxic to NZ First. Why would voters support NZ First if appears they will  be getting a National-led government? Those who vote NZ First traditionally do so as a protest vote against the incumbent government (whether Labour-led or National-led).

Outcome: win for National and John Key.

Both scenarios are a No Lose situation for National. Except that in Option #2, any perception of a “cosying up” by National to NZ First may mean the “kiss of electoral defeat” (again) for Peters. If National’s support drops further in the polls; if Key’s status of Preferred Prime Minister  wanes; and if the Nats are seen as ineffectual in a stagnating economy – does Peters want to be “tarred by association” by a Party on the way out?

Many New Zealanders – especially those in the late 30s and older – will remember the events of December 1996.

Many voters viewed NZ First’s decision to coalesce with Bolger’s National Party as an electoral betrayal – especially when Peters had made several Key-like statements during the 1996 election campaign. These statements were  unequivocal in denouncing National as a a potential coalition partner, and sent a clear message to the voting public,

.

Jim Anderton: Is the member going into a coalition with National?

Winston Peters: Oh no we are not. – Parliamentary Hansards, P14147, 20 August 1996

.

There is only one party that can beat National in this election that that is New Zealand First. – Winston Peters, 69 & 85 minutes into First Holmes Leaders Debate, TVNZ, 10 September 1996

.

Of course I am not keen on National. Who is?

… This is a government bereft of economic and social performance  [so] that they are now arguing for stability. – Winston Peters, Evening Post, 25 June 1996

.

The prospects are that National will not win this election, that they will not form part of any post-election coalition. – Winston Peters, The Dominion, 5 October 1996

.

It is clear that this National government will use every means at its disposal to secure power… Come October 12…  Two months ago I warned that the National Party would use every trick and device at their command to to retain their Treasury seats. – Winston Peters speech to Invercargill Grey Power, 26 August 1996

.

The Prime Minister [Jim Bolger] is not fit for the job and come 12 October he will be out. He should not get on his phone and call me like he did last time, because we are not interested in political, quisling  behaviour. We are not into State treachery. – Winston Peters, Parliamentary Hansards, P14146, 20 August 1996

.

We believe the kind of politician depicted by Bolger, Birch, and Shipley is not to be promoted into Cabinet. As a consequence we will not have any truck with these three people. – Winston Peters, NZ Herald, 22 July 1996

.

We are a party that says what we mean and mean what we say, regardless of the political consequences. – Winston Peters, Speech to public meeting, 9 October 1996

.

Despite Peters’ assurances,  on  11 December 1996  the public woke up to this announcement,

.

Front page, Otago Daily Times, 11 December 1996

.

The following three years were harsh for NZ First, culminating in it’s tearing apart in late 1998.The party split in two, with the ‘rump’ NZ First, and breakaway ‘Mauri Pacific‘, led by Tau Henare (now a National MP).

NZ First was nearly annihilated in the following year’s General Election, with Peters barely retaining his seat of Tauranga,

1996 – NZ First Party Vote: 276,603 (source) – Peters’ Electorate Vote: 18,997 (source)

1999 – NZ First Party Vote: 87,926 (source) – Peters’ Electorate Vote: 63 (source)

The message from voters was crystal clear for Peters; supporting an incumbent Party to retain power was a ‘no-go’ . People voted for NZ First to get rid of the incumbent government – not prop it up.

Cosying up with the Nats will not serve Peter’s  interests one iota. It will remind the electorate of the events of the late 1990s, and will harm popular support for NZ First.

Peters should consider; as opposition to National grows, why would people who oppose National vote for a small Party that may end up propping it up? The answer is; people will not vote for such a small Party.

This should serve as a warning to Peters and his Party: coalesce with National at your peril. History can repeat.

.

Peters ‘sorry’ about coalition – NZPA – 14 September 1998

.

*

.

Previous Related Blogposts

Ministers, Mad Moralists, and Minor Parties

Additional

Otago Daily Times – NZ First leads in ‘most loathed’ poll  (8 October 1999)

Dominion Post – Key rules Peters out of National’s future (27 August 2008)

Sean Plunket – PM should ponder the Orwellian switch to the farmhouse (22 Sept 2012)

TV3 – Duncan Garner: John Key refuses to rule out Winston Peters (24 Sept  2012)

TV3 – Peters welcomes National coalition (25 Sept 2012)

TV3 – Video:  Peters welcomes National coalition (25 Sept 2012)

.

.

= fs =

As predictable as the rising sun

11 September 2012 7 comments

.

.

As previously posted on 6 September,

“With low polling and redundancies dominating the headlines, National has cast about for another dog-whistle to distract the easily-led Middle class.

They’ve done the unemployed and solo-mums (but never solo dads) “to death”.

Next minority on the List; Maori.

Cue: John Key’s derisory response to the upcoming nationwide  hui on water rights,

The Government does not believe there should be a national hui; does not believe there should be a national settlement and it probably would not recognise all of the rights and interests that some Maori groups believe they have.

If the Crown was to be represented at the hui, and it wont be, because we’ve said were not having a national hui, we don’t support that…if you are an MP in the government you represent the Crown and any representation by my MPs at such an event would be interpreted as representation by the Crown.

I’ve made that position absolutely crystal clear..I do not accept the view that there needs to be a national hui, because I do not accept there will be a national settlement, because I do not accept it’s a national issue.”

See: Key – Government won’t go to water hui

Maori-bashing.

Almost as good as bene-bashing.

Or “get tough on crime/crush cars” rhetoric.

“Standing tough” with Maori “demands” for water rights will probably work a treat with racist rednecks and low-information voters.  With the former, their racism is deeply ingrained and such ignorance can be written of like the forty-plus financial companies that sucked billions out of mums and dads investors.

With the latter, it is a matter of education and dispelling myths and prejudice, before people’s  eyes eventually open and they connect-the-dots.

National will probably rebound in the polls on this strategy.

See blogpost: National in trouble? Time to dog-whistle the Middle Class!

It appears that my prediction has come true and  the latest Herald-Digipoll shows a slight “burp” in  National’s poll rating.

Support for National has risen marginally by 0.4% – a barely discernible rise for the Party,

.

Source

.

The slight rise in support for National is due in no small part to their redneck dog-whistling; opposition to Maori water-rights claims; beneficiary bashing; and suchlike.

This kind of support is a kneejerk reaction and can be comfortably ignored. People eventually look for a government that offers positive messages – not constant negatives.

By contrast, Labour has dropped in the polls by 2%. But it can take heart that the move has gone to NZ First (1.1%)and predominantly the Greens (1.6%). (This poll was taken before Shearer announced Labour’s Food in Schools policy.)

The increased support for the Greens should reinforce Labour’s move to the centre-Left, and confidently abandon all pretenses of adopting a “National-lite” mirror-image.

For Labour to rise in the polls, they need only stay true to their roots  and raison d’être – as the conscience and humane face of New Zealand society.

Likewise there is room for only one hard-arsed, neo-liberal obsessed, bene-bashing Party in this country, and that segment of the political spectrum is firmly inhabited by the National Party.

Labour’s path is clear; reassert it’s moral leadership on the political spectrum and reach out to every sector of New Zealand society.

Offer New Zealanders a clear path; more of the same of National’s unworkable policies; or something better. Something that encapsulates New Zealanders’ sense of fairness.

.

.

= fs =

Child Poverty: Labour on track

10 September 2012 2 comments

.

.

.

1. National

.

Sad to say, these are the headlines that have  been commonplace in our newspapers for the last few years,

.

Youth jobless rate soars to 19.4%

A poverty of ideas

Unemployment ‘alarmingly high’

Warnings for Government in inequality report

Kiwis still flocking across Tasman

Unemployment rises to 6.8 per cent

Agencies fear Govt will chop vital child services

CEO pay packets 9.9pc fatter

New welfare law a ‘war on poor’

Growth slows – GDP up just 0.3pc

Fear of dangerous rift from wealth gap

UN urges Govt reforms to not target beneficiaries

NZ rich-poor gap widens faster than rest of world

Low income households less likely to move up scale – study

Govt has caused ‘incredible shift of wealth’ – CTU

No food, no shoes and kids kept home

Playing politics is not helping kids

Struggling families borrow to buy food

Family struggle on minimum wage

Hungry kids scavenge pig slops

.

National’s response to this obscene -but preventable –  crisis  has been,

  • to “reform welfare” (as if welfare needed “reform – which it does not)
  • implement purchase cards to prevent 16 and 17 year old beneficiaries from buying booze and ‘baccy (despite the law already preventing retailers from selling these items to young people)
  • paint unemployed and solo-mums (but never solo dads) as lazy; drug-addicts; criminals; kidnappers, etc.

Even National’s election pledge last year, to create 170,000 new jobs is drowning in a wave of ongoing  redundancies, day after day,

Quite simply, National is struggling to address any of the inter-connected socio-economic problems currently besetting our country.

Why? Because National is trapped in an ideological paradigm of its own making.

National is heavily reliant on The Market delivering jobs – not central government – as John Key and his Party has maintained over the years,

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.”

See: Agenda to help Kiwi businesses

Key may have a point. Sort of.

In good times, when the economy is strong, it is mostly business growth that delivers job growth. The two go together, hand in hand, as they did in the early 2000s,

See: Labour shortage holds back growth

See: Skills shortage delays building

See: Skill shortage restrains firms

See: Wellington short of skills

But in bad times, when the economy falters and stagnates, it is the role of central government to step in and take up the slack. It is central government that can implement policies to keep people employed; small to medium businesses turning over; and keep workers off welfare, until the economy picks up.

The alternative is recession; mass unemployment; businesses going under; and people on welfare.

It should be fairly obvious to all  but the most ardent National/ACT  ideologues that society benefits from keeping people in work, rather than allowing them to be made redundant and unemployed. This blogger sees no social good or business gain in permitting high unemployment to blight our society.

National’s abandonment of any responsibility toward actively creating jobs during an economic downturn – as has been ongoing since 2007/08 –  is an indictment on our Prime Minister; his leadership; and his Party’s ineffectual policies.

An ideological faith in the  Marketplace is not a sound basis on which to grow a modern economy and generate new jobs. An ideological faith in the Marketplace is simply grown-ups indulging in  “wishful thinking”.

The result of which is,

.

.

2. Labour

.

Problem: child poverty is resulting in children going to schools hungry.

Labour’s solution: feed them.

It’s that simple.

Cost to taxpayers to do this: up to $20 million dollars a year.

Cost of doing nothing (National’s option):  3% of GDP (NZ$5 billion per year)

See: Stop debating and feed the kids, says Shearer

$20 million to fix a problem vs $5 billion to do nothing. Most common sense people would agree that this is a no-brainer. (Hardline National and ACT supporters  would probably opt for the $5 billion cost to our GDP to do nothing,  but then again, extremist National/ACT supporters are not reknowned for common sense.)

The next argument used by the Selfish Mob is, that it’s the fault of parents for not feeding their own kids; that it’s no one else’s responsibility; that they shouldn’t have had kids; stop drinking and smoking, blah, blah, blah.

Which is all simply a way to say, “It’s too big a problem and I don’t want to deal with it”.

Let’s cut to the chase;

  1. It’s not a child’s fault which family they were born into
  2. Not all families are druggies, alkies, smokers, etc. That’s playing the Blame Game, and it is dishonest.
  3. We either spend a few hundred or thousand dollars now, on each child in poverty, or we spend $90,000 per annum on them – when they end up in prison. Your call.

As Shearer said,

I hear people argue that this is the responsibility of parents. We can debate that endlessly, but it won’t change this reality: tomorrow morning kids will still turn up to school hungry.”

See: Stop debating and feed the kids, says Shearer

Labour leader David Shearer has found his mojo and reacquainted himself with Labour’s heritage; caring for people at the bottom of the socio-economic heap, and not just the braying middle classes.

His announcement of a bold plan to feed every child in the bottom Decile 3 schools –  650  primary and intermediate schools – in our country, is gutsy. It flies in the face of the current fad of Individualism and playing the Blame Game which has infected our society since the late 1980s, when Rogernomics decreed with chest-thumping triumph that ‘Greed is Good’.

No more.

Several media reports, political commentators, professional experts, et al,  have stated that child poverty has been increasing in the last 30 years. By ‘coincidence’, Rogernomics and the Cult of the Individual began thirty years ago.

We all know that is no coincidence. It is an unspoken truth that child poverty has increased these last 30 years because of the unforeseen (?) consequences of free market policies; loss of jobs to overseas low-wage economies; de-regulation; undermining of trade unions; seven tax cuts that transferred wealth upwards to the upper- middle class and 1%;  other right wing socio-economic policies, and the pre-emininence of Individual selfishness over Community good.

The consequences were indeed predictable, and a few lone voices like ex-Wigram MP, Jim Anderton, tried warning us where we were heading. (Anderton predicted in the mid 1990s that increased student debt of dentistry students would push up dentistry fees and make oral healthcare unaffordable for many. That prediction has come painfully true. See: Costs of dental care hurting.)

Shearer has promised that a Labour-led government would pledge,

  • One meal a day for every child in a decile 1 to 3 primary or intermediate school. Cost: $3m-$19m a year.
  • Extend Reading Recovery programme to all schools and put 5000 more 6-year-olds on it annually. Cost: $20m a year.
  • Plain English report on schools.
  • No class size increases.

Good stuff. This is  a fine start to un-doing 30 years of neo-liberal damage and to wind back the jungle-like mentality of me-first Individualism.

This blogger supports 100% the concept of meals in schools. And why not? Our cuzzies in Europe, America, and other nations do precisely this. Not only have their societies not collapsed – but their standards of living are measurably  higher than ours.

It is common sense really. Who could say ‘no’? Well, sycophants to National can.

.

3.  National

.

A cursory check of some commentary opposing Shearer’s announcement is based on costings; where will Labour get the money from?

Interestingly, the same questions are very rarely asked of National, when they engage in big spend-ups on “must have” things.

For example, there seems to be plenty of cash to spend on “consultants”,

.

Full story

.

Plenty of cash found by National, to spend  on the Rugby World Cup last year,

.

Full story

.

Plenty of taxpayers’ money on plastic wakas  –  a real “must have”, according to National. Why not spend up $2 million on another Rugby World Cup project? Money seems to be no object when it comes to our national past-time,

.

.

Full story

See previous blogpost: Priorities?

And who can forget this  expensive little fiasco,

.

Full story

.

National can also spend millions on subsiding businesses  when it suits them;  ETS subsidies for farmers; millions on Ministerial travel; and much more.

It is not so much a matter of whether or not we have enough money to spend on our children, so much as prioritising.

A reader should ask him/herself, what is more important; investing in children and lifting them out of poverty?

Or spending on sports tournaments, Ministerial travel, consultants, business subsidies, etc?

What on Earth can be more important than the children of our nation?! And why the hell am I even asking a question like this in 2012AD?!?!

Once upon a time, even John Key advocated for a Food in Schools programme,

.

Full story

.

To repeat what  John Key said in 2007,

We all instinctively know that hungry kids aren’t happy and healthy kids.  I want this to be the first of many schools and businesses that we put together.

I’m interested in what works and I am humbled by the support this idea has received already.

We are going to put together the package while in Opposition. We are not waiting to be in Government, because all our kids deserve better.”

What happened to John Key’s wonderful idea (no sarcasm intended)?

Simple. He became Prime Minister. And that was the end of that policy.

.

4. Labour

.

If  Labour is to be the new government in 2014, it cannot rely simply on National dropping in the polls. There are too many unforeseen events that may work in National’s favour to rebuild their public support.

Shearer and his colleagues must give the Voting Public a new reason to turn away from John Key and look  at Labour instead.

There must be a “brand difference” between National and Labour – something that gives the punters a very real point of difference to consider.

I offer this to Labour’s strategists; the public are starting to sniff the wind blowing from National, and there’s a definite “odour” wafting down  from the Ninth Floor.  Too many things are rotten in the National Party; too many things don’t add up; John Key’s smile and wave has worn thin; and his promises are amounting to nothing.

Even Bennett’s beneficiary bashing is starting to look for what it is; an attempt to deflect public attention from National’s failure to create jobs.

Because despite National’s slavish adherence to free market dogma, even Key  slipped when he admitted,

We agree with you, it’s the government’s responsibility to do everything within it’s powers to try to get people jobs.”

See: Key and Goff Q and A Creating jobs

And they’ve failed miserably.

Which leaves a vacuum.

And as any High School student can tell you; Nature abhors a vacuum.

To the Labour Party I say this, don’t try to be “National lite”.

In fact, don’t even try to be something you’re not. Return to values upon which the New Zealand Labour Party was built.

Stay loyal to those values.  Except for a group in our society  of die-hard self-centered bastards who couldn’t care less about their fellow kiwis,  most New Zealanders are decent, fair-minded, and long for a society that we can be proud of,  because everyone gets a fair go.

If Labour stays confident and loyal to it’s true core values, then it need not pretend to be something it’s not. People will recognise that dedication and there will be no need to try to pander to the lowest common denominator to win votes.

That kind of self-confidence is what will win you votes. Lots and lots of votes.

Labour’s policy on child poverty is where we, as a country, turn the tide on selfish Individualism and the creed of  “Greed is Good”. This is where we start saying that we can do better – but we have to change the road upon which we are travelling.

The road of the free market is leading us into a mire of income disparity; poverty; hopelessness on the part of the Have Nots;  selfishness on the part of the Haves; and a general sense of feeling that… something is not right with this country.

People are leaving New Zealand in droves – but it’s not just the money. This blogger senses a feeling of ‘disconnect’ from many families and young folk departing our shores. It is as if they no longer feel a committment to, or from, this society.

The road to the Free Market has failed.

We need a new road. We can start with feeding the poorest children in our society. Because, goddamit, it we can’t – or won’t – do a simple little thing like that, then we are not a society any more.

As TV3’s Lachlan Forsyth wrote on his blog,

… For too long we, as a country, have done nothing.

If you don’t think the issue of child poverty in New Zealand is a problem, you’re dreaming.

And you’re part of the problem.

.

.

*

.

Previous related blogpost

Priorities?

Greed is good?

Additional

Sccop.co.nz: National launches its Food in Schools programme

Radio NZ:  Listen to more from Hekia Parata on Morning Report

Radio NZ:  Feeding school children important for nation – Shearer

NZ Herald: Child poverty costs NZ $10b a year – expert

NZ Herald: Free meal policy good, but more needed: KidsCan

NZ Herald: Blowouts push public Rugby World Cup spending well over $200m

NZ Herald: Illiteracy a yearly $3 billion cost – report

Office of Child Commissioner: Solutions to Child Poverty in New Zealand

Other Blogs

Tumeke: Days after Pagani goes – Labour steps to the left with MANA Party ‘feed the kids’ policy

The Standard: A decent policy

The Dim Post: The Big Lie

.

.

= fs =

Prime Minister committs NZ troops to next US-led conflict zone!

4 September 2012 4 comments

.

Correction and apology

4.ooPM *Update*

It now appears that the following quote;

New Zealand warmly supports the United States rebalancing towards the Asia Pacific, and we welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the U.S. in the next conflicts.”

… was transcribed erroneously by the US State Department.

The words “conflicts” was mistaken recorded instead of “contexts”. The US State Department page has since been amended,

.

Source

.

Russell Brown posted this link to Key’s actual words,

http://publicaddress.net/assets/upload/269061/986065130/key.mp3

.

Whilst highly critical of many of National’s policies and John Key’s actions, this blogger strives to present only that which is factual.  Accordingly, this blogger retracts the story below (which many would have read) and regrets and apologises unreservedly for any embarressment caused to the Prime Minister.

- Frank Macskasy
4 September 2012

.

*

.

.

.

Blogger s have unearthed information indicating that John Key is willing to commit New Zealand armed forces to upcoming conflicts.

According to the US State Department, they reported Key as saying,

New Zealand warmly supports the United States rebalancing towards the Asia Pacific, and we welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the U.S. in the next conflicts.”

No wonder Dear Leader was warm and chummy with  Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton (see above).

Key “welcomes” getting involved  “in the next conflicts”?

One wonders what conflicts Key has in mind? What possible “next conflicts”  are being lined up by the Pentagon where Key  ” welcomes the opportunity to cooperate with the U.S. “?

This should be of grave (!) concern to all New Zealanders.

.

Full story

.
One particular cause for concern is that the  American taste for neo-imperialism in the Middle East, to secure regions of oil production for US needs, shows no sign of abating.

The war drums and propagandising over Iran are heating up.  America’s faithful ally/client state in the Middle East, Israel, is straining at the leash to be let loose on the Iranian state.

See:  Israeli leader demands “clear red line” on Iran

See:  Get tougher on Iran over its nuclear ambitions, Israel tells world

There is also an escalation of American activities in the Pacific, to counter a perception of growing Chinese “influence”.

See:  US moves to counter China in Pacific

See:  U.S. and allies move to counter Chinese power

Only a madman would even contemplate getting further involved in American military adventurism.  Surely, Key would not be that madman?! Or would he?

.

.

As Key screamed hysterically in that clip, in 2003,

Our traditional allies are in there, in this agreement. Where’s our name? Missing! MIA! Just like it was in the war in Iraq, missing! And this country will, this country will pay for that, don’t you worry about that, don’t you worry about thatThere will be no  free-trade arrangement here in  New Zealand [with the USA]. That’ll be one thing we won’t have to worry about is container ships going to America, because there’ll  be none of them  leaving out of this country because there’ll  be no free-trade arrangement because of the shambles, the absolute shambles,  the Government  made of that position… “

If anything has been made quite clear is that John Key is only to happy to ‘snuggle’ up to our American cuzzies.  Especially where a free trade agreement is on offer.  “Cold dead corpses for cold hard cash”, is one one of describing such a  mercenary position.

He has advocated a larger role in Iraq and is now promising the US active involvement  for “the next conflicts”.

Where will New Zealand troops end up? A bloody war in Iran, perhaps dragging Russia into the conflict? A proxy war in South East Asia or the Pacific, as a client of the US  vs a Chinese-backed antagonist? We’ve been down that road before in the 1950s, ’60s, and 70s.

Key seems to have a slavish, puppy-like eagerness to pander to Washington.

At the same time, his attitude to our fallen soldiers can only be described as  cavalier,

.

Full story

.

To be clear, John Key has never  served in the armed forces, nor has he ever been in a combatant in a warzone. He is that most dangerous type of  leader – someone who has little concept of the horrors of war, nor it’s lingering consequences, but is still able to make flippant committments for our military.

For Key to offer New Zealand military support to unknown, future conflicts in such a casual, reckless manner is a dangerous sign of a man out of touch.

In this area, his political opponant,  Labour-leader David Shearer, who has worked in combatzones and has witnessed first hand the devastastion and human tragedy  caused by war – is far more aware. Shearer is possibly the only man in Parliament with an  awareness of the human cost of war.

New Zealand voters should think carefully before voting for John Key again. They may inadvertantly be sending their children to war because of Key’s fawning desire to appease America.

Key has already said as much,

New Zealand warmly supports the United States rebalancing towards the Asia Pacific, and we welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the U.S. in the next conflicts.”

We have been warned.

.

*

.

Other blogs:

Fearfacts Exposed:   Key – “We welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the U.S. in the next conflicts”

Tumeke: Did John Key just enter us into a new American war?

36th Parallel: Press Releases: Remarks With New Zealand Prime Minister Key

Public Address: We … WHAT!?

.

.

= fs =

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

- Neil Watts,  Blogger, Fearfactsexposed

28 August 2012

.

Shocking new unemployment figures hidden by hard-Right red herrings.

Damning new unemployment statistics released by Roy Morgan Research yesterday reveal that the true rate of unemployment in New Zealand is much greater than the official 6.9% claimed by the Government.

According to Roy Morgan’s figures, unemployment is sitting at 9.1%, with a further 9.6% under-employed and looking for work.  That’s almost 20% of New Zealanders not achieving their productive potential and not contributing to the economy.  These figures are an economic disaster, and point to the single worst management of the economy in New Zealand’s history.  Little wonder the Government were busy rolling out Paula Bennett’s latest poor-hate policy this week, to give their friends in the mainstream media something else to talk about.

And, of course, John Key’s favourite Rightwing propagandists at Fairfax Media were more than happy to ignore the shocking new figures and concentrate instead on National’s latest initiative to demonise the poor;  forcing beneficieries to take complulsary drug tests.

Here we go yet again.  It’s as predictable as the sunrise – as soon as National are likely to be tarnished by bad news, they simply get Herr Paula to pull out another piece of dog-whistle poor-hate to remind the rest of the proletariat that all of our problems are caused by the dirty, filthy, lazy, unemployed, and not by the failed free market dogma that crashed the world’s economy, and is now being touted as the only way to fix it.

There isn’t a single word on Stuff about the Roy Morgan report, which is interesting, considering that when their polls show National doing well with voters, Fairfax struggle to find a font big enough.  Instead, they do National the usual courtesy of focussing on the distraction, with the bold headline “Beneficiery drug testing plans unveiled”.  They are effectively making scapegoats of the most vulnerable to justify the unthinkable. Now, in what kind of historical regimes have we seen this strategy before?  It’s a dangerous and morally bankrupt Government that attempts to blame soaring unemployment on the unemployed themselves.

While unemployment is an increasingly worrying issue for struggling New Zealanders, Fairfax revealed their abject contempt for our concerns, by making a facetious joke out of the Opposition’s attempts to save jobs at Dunedin’s Hillside manufacturing plant.  Labour Leader David Shearer’s visit to the plant yesterday and his calls to save New Zealand’s manufacturing industry might be serious to ordinary Kiwis, but Fairfax didn’t even bother reporting his comments, instead publishing the following maliscious, poor taste comments:

LABOUR MPS CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF HILLSIDE

Office sceptics are wondering . . . would productivity rise at Dunedin’s Hillside engineering workshops and would they get more contracts if Labour MPs would just leave them alone to do their jobs? Labour leader David Shearer was the latest to visit yesterday, and our reporters can recall two visits by former leader Phil Goff and one by David Cunliffe in the past year.

Mr Shearer said the workshops were “a national asset” and their future had to be secured to protect skilled jobs and flow-on economic benefits to other businesses.”

Clearly, New Zealanders losing their jobs is something of a big joke to Fairfax.  It certainly isn’t a big deal to their mega-wealthy shareholders, like climate change denying serial polluter Gina Rinehart, who owns most of the corporation’s shares.  Perhaps that’s why big news today of a record Arctic ice melt, resembling a giant slushie, hasn’t been reported by Ms Rinehart’s own personal propaganda company.   According to the story published on the more reliable New Zealand Herald’s website:

“Michael E. Mann, a lead author of a major UN report in 2001 on climate change, said the latest data reflected that scientists who were criticised as alarmists may have shown “perhaps too great a degree of reticence.”

“I think, unfortunately, this is an example that points more to the worst-case scenario side of things,” said Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University.   “There are a number of areas where in fact climate change seems to be proceeding faster and with a greater magnitude than what the models predicted,” Mann told AFP.  “The sea ice decline is perhaps the most profound of those cautionary tales because the models have basically predicted that we shouldn’t see what we’re seeing now for several decades,” he added.”

Outrageous isn’t it?  But, what can you do about it?  Well, you can share this page, you can join our ever-growing protest on Facebook , you can boycott Fairfax’s publications, and you can avoid stuff.co.nz.  Oh, and please tell your friends!   Kia ora New Zealand.

.

*

.

Links

Roy Morgan: New Zealand unemployment was 9.1% with a further 9.6% of workforce under-employed

Scoop.co.nz:  New Zealand Real Unemployment at 9.1%

Tumeke: NZ real unemployment rate 9.1%?

NZ Herald: Record Arctic ice melt ‘like a giant slushie’

Fairfax Media: Today in politics: Tuesday, August 28

Fairfax Media: Beneficiary drug testing plans unveiled

Radio NZ: Hillside shouldn’t be broken up – Labour

ODT: ‘Crying shame’ if Hillside closed

Acknowledgement

Fearfactsexposed

.

.

= fs =

Investing in someone elses’ future

5 August 2012 54 comments

.

.

Mandates

.

Firstly, let’s cut to the chase and address John Key’s assumption that he has a ‘mandate’ from the country to pursue many of his Party’s unpopular policies, including state asset sales.

No, he does not.

As Bryce Edwards said on Radio NZ last year,

.

Full Story

.

As reported in the NZ Herald,

Moreover, only an estimated 93.2 per cent of the 3,276,000 people who were eligible to vote were enrolled, so the 2,254,581 people who did cast their votes (including special votes) leaves just over 1 million who stayed at home. “

See: 1 million didn’t bother to vote

So doing a bit of simple arithmetic,

  1. 2,254,581 people voted
  2. 1,058,636 voted National
  3. The population of New Zealand is approximated 4,430,000
  4. 1,058,636 is about 24.5% of the entire population.
  5. John Key’s “mandate” is roughly one quarter of  the country’s population.

The Nats can dress that  up any which way they like, but that’s not a mandate. That is  a minority in drag, masquerading as a “majority”.

But still a minority.

.

National Conference

.

Let’s cut to the next ‘chase’.

The recent National Party Conference in Skycity had nothing to do with conferencing or  the Party’s internal workings. It was purely and simply a public relations exercise  to raise “troop” morale and present National in a positive light to the public.

It was about appearing decisive and on-message. It was about strong leadership and confidence, reminiscent of Rob Muldoon, and Dear Leader played his part perfectly as he gave the rallying cry to his fellow MPs and Ministers.

Key thundered,

Our policy of partial share sales is a win-win and I stand totally behind it.”

See: Labour, Greens hit out at asset share plans

After months of various scandals, resignations, disastrous flip-flops, and gaffes, the Party pulled out it’s “ace-in-the-hole” – John Key. “The Boss” laid down the law, and as Tracey Watkins from Fairfax said,

No more tip-toeing around. That is the clear message from National’s annual conference, where the Government’s economic programme has been invested with a new sense of urgency.”

See: Damp protest shows heat gone from asset sales fire

Ms Watkins tends to present political issues  from a position favourable to National  and her piece on 23 July was no exception. But she also had a valid point – National was fighting back. They were on a counter-offensive on several fronts.

But as the dust settled, and the “whizz-bang-gosh!” factor faded, the public’s  momentary distraction returned to the issues and problems currently confronting us as a nation.

As much as Dear Leader might wish it, those issues and problems will not go away.

.

State Asset Sales

.

National is desperate to sell this lemon to the public as a going concern. Indeed, the issue was presented as one of several issues on a leaflet/questionnaire that the Parliamentary wing of the Party mailed out,

.

.

The Nats are sensitive to recent public protests and an ‘insider’ advises this blogger that Ministers are tracking correspondence; internal polling; and letters-to-editors on the subject.

In an effort to “sweeten” the deal and to assuage public opposition, National is offering,

  • preference to “mum and dad” investors
  • a three year loyalty share-bonus scheme
  • a minimum of $1,000 dollar share parcels
  • a guarantee of shares to New Zealand investors wanting parcels of up to $2,000
  • Treasury setting up a retail syndicate of share brokers and banks to help first time share investors potential investors.

See: Kiwis encouraged to take up SOE shares

National’s “carrot” is matched by it’s “stick”.  As Bill English threatened in June last year,

We are saying that New Zealanders are at the front of the queue, but if not enough of them show up, it won’t be 49 per cent. I wouldn’t want to exactly guarantee every share but we have got to look at how to make that happen.”

See: ‘Buy state-asset shares or foreigners will’

So the message is crystal-clear; ‘If  we don’t buy these assets (which we already  own),  John Key and Bill English will sell our companies to overseas interests’. It’s like watching a rather bad, cheaply-made, B-grade gangster movie from the 1940s.

But the ‘rort’ doesn’t end there.  Treasury estimates that any loyalty scheme will end up costing taxpayers up to half a billion dollars. That’s because giving away free shares as a “loyalty bonus” still incurs a cost – nothing is for free,

A “loyalty” scheme to sweeten state assets sales for investors could cost the taxpayer $500 million – more than $100 for every man, woman and child in New Zealand – according to Treasury numbers.

[abridged]

In a report to the Cabinet last year, the Treasury said incentives to encourage local investors to buy shares “typically range from 5 to 10 per cent of total value ($250 million to $500 million based on a $5 billion programme)”.

The Government says it expects to raise $5 billion to $7 billion via the sales programme.

Based on the Treasury’s $500 million upper estimate of the cost of a loyalty scheme, the forgone revenue works out to just under $113 for every man, woman and child here.

See: $112 a head for asset loyalty

Labour Leader, David Shearer summed it up thusly,

Effectively, the taxpayer will be paying for a loyalty scheme that a small number of New Zealanders who can afford to buy shares will be able to enjoy. It’s clear there’s some real winners here, and the losers are most New Zealanders. “

Based on the Queensland experience where Queensland Rail was privatised in 2010;  where  a share-bonus loyalty scheme of 1:15 shares was used; the cost to Queensland taxpayers would be $360 million, according to our  Parliamentary Finance & Expenditure committee. To which Key was reported as saying, that the figure was,

“… a possible number. I haven’t seen their workings so I wouldn’t want to agree with that at this point.”

Key’s comments were reported on the NZ Herald website at 5:30am, Tuesday 24 July, 2012.

By mid-day, on the 24th, he had changed his views from ” a possible number  “, to,

These numbers that the Labour Party are coming up with and the Greens are farcical.”

See: PM: Asset loyalty won’t cost hundreds of millions

First point: that report on the Herald’s website was posted at 12:18pm on the same day;  Tuesday 24 July, 2012.  Not quite seven hours had passed before National’s spin-doctors had noticed Key’s blunder, and Dear Leader changed his stance.

Second point: the figures were not from the Labour Party, nor The Greens. They were Treasury’s figures.

Was this a deliberate attempt to undermine the credibility of those figures by shifting it’s provenance from Treasury to opposition parties?

Key then made this extraordinary comment,

If you think about the entire float that could be in the order of $5 billion to $7 billion. Let’s argue that it’s $5 billion for a moment if you then turned around and said about 20 per cent of that could be for mum and dad, it could be more it could be less – but just for the purposes of maths that’s a billion. If you apply the Australian Queensland model that’s one in fifteen shares – that’s 6 per cent. Six per cent of a billion is $60 million for the entire programme.”

20 per cent “?!?!

What happened to the 49% that Key and English have allocated to “mum and dad” investors,

Counting the Government’s controlling shareholding, we’re confident 85-90 per cent of these companies will be owned by New Zealanders, who will be at the front of the queue for shares.”

See: Running up $5-$7b more debt not the answer

Was this an unintended slip from Key that National is counting on only 20% of shares going to New Zealanders?

And did he think that no one would notice?

Acknowledgement:  Cheer up Mr Key – Fairfax still love you

This is disengenuous of Dear Leader. On the one hand, National is claiming that 49% of shares will be allocated to local “mum and dad” investors – and on the other, they are calculating a bonus-share loyalty scheme on a figure of 20%. Key is shuffling figures around and quoting them to suit daily events.

This is not the first time Key and English have done this.

In January last year, when John Key announced National’s policy to part-privatise five state assets, he stated,

If we could do that with those five entities … if we can make some savings in terms of what were looking at in the budget and maybe a little on the upside you’re talking about somewhere in the order of $7 to $10 billion less borrowing that the Government could undertake.”

See: John Key reveals plan for asset sales

The figure of $7 billion to $10 billion proceeds from a partial asset-sale then shrank,

First, the Government gets to free up $5 billion to $7 billion – less than 3 per cent of its total assets – to invest in other public assets like modern schools and hospitals, without having to borrow in volatile overseas markets.”

See: Running up $5-$7b more debt not the answer

And finally, English confessed all,

If we did get $6 billion, that would be a gain of sale [of $800 million] which is just a product of the accounting. I just want to emphasise that it is not our best guess; it’s just a guess. It’s just to put some numbers in that look like they might be roughly right for forecasting purposes...”

See: English admits his SOE figures just a guess

Key did precisely the same thing over the Skycity-convention centre-pokie machine contra-deal.

He advised the country that building a new convention centre (in return for changing the law to allow up to 500 additional pokie machines for Skycity), would result in up to 1,900 new jobs in Auckland,

It produces 1000 jobs to build a convention centre, about 900 jobs to run it, and overall the number of pokie machines will be falling although at a slightly lower rate.

See: Key defends casino pokie machine deal

Key’s figures turned out to be rubbish.  The true numbers were disclosed last month by Horwath Ltd director,  Stephen Hamilton,

Horwath director Stephen Hamilton said he was concerned over reports the convention centre would employ 800 staff – a fulltime-equivalent total of 500.

He said the feasibility study put the number of people who would be hired at between 318 and 479. “

See: Puzzle of Key’s extra casino jobs

Key  had either made them them up out of thin air, or else he has some very poor advisors.

.

Frustrated – Where to from here?

.

And lastly, the sheer economics of the partial asset-sales cannot be  commercially sustained, as  BERL reported in May of this year,

The interim loss of earnings resulting from reduced dividends and the period of time before the new assets reap benefits is never recouped.

”Subsequently, the option of asset sales can only significantly improve the Government’s accounts if a set of assumptions are adopted that are at the extreme ends of plausibility.”

‘While the initial offering may be directed towards domestic purchasers, future private share transactions could increase the portion of shares [and earnings] in overseas investors hands.

”Such an outcome would lead to a further deterioration in the external deficit and external debt position.”

See: Asset sales will leave Govt worse off

Unbelievable.

Unbelievable that a number of New Zealanders still believe that National is a sound manager of the economy. These muppets couldn’t run a corner Dairy – they simply wouldn’t have a clue how much to charge for a packet of chippies.

No wonder Labour Leader David Shearer expressed his frustration at Dodgy John’s slippery numbers, when he said,

We absolutely have no idea how much this loyalty scheme is going to cost New Zealanders. He was happy to go out and announce the loyalty scheme at the National Party conference but he’s not prepared to come out with the numbers now.”

See: PM: Asset loyalty won’t cost hundreds of millions

Either way, National is keeping information on asset sales secret – or they have no idea what’s going on. Conspiracy or cock-up – neither option is particularly reassuring.

The ground keeps shifting, and this blogger believes it is a deliberate ploy to deny information to sales-critics and the public. Without solid information, it becomes harder to mount a sound critique of National’s plans – though BERL has done a fairly reasonable job of it.

Accordingly,  this blogger invites “mum and dad” investors to exercise caution as shares are made available to the public,

.

Full story

.

A Possible Solution?

.

As BERL stated in their report, selling state assets will eventually impact on the government’s balance sheet. Quite simply, any short-term gain through sales proceeds will  eventually be whittled away by reduced dividends from half of these state assets sold into private ownership,

The interim loss of earnings resulting from reduced dividends and the period of time before the new assets reap benefits is never recouped. “

Plain english: we will  lose money on the deal.

Selling any of these State assets defies understanding.

As Treasury stated last year, the revenue stream is quite significant according to their own SOE Economic Analysis  that, “…on average, the SOEs have performed favourably when compared to the averages for the quartiles computed for the benchmark companies“.

See: Treasury SOE Economic Profit Analysis 25 November 2011

On average, Treasury show a 14.5% average shareholder (Government) return. Compare that to other investments, and it’s a fairly remarkable achievement for state enterprises which – according to free marketeers – are not supposed to operate more effectively than private enterprise.

See: Assets returning record dividends – Greens

In a further,  surprising turn of events, in February 2001, Finance Minister Bill English agreed, stating,

Generally the SOE model has been quite successful in that respect.”

And even  went so far as to complain that they were making excessive profits! (There’s no satisfying the National Party!? They sell under-performing state assets, explaining that the “market will improve their performance” – and then complain when state assets are making too much money! Then the Nats will flog them off to reduce returns and make them more “competitive”.)

See: State-owned power returns excessive, says English

By contrast, Contact Energy – an electricity corporation privatised in 1999, and now mostly Australian-owned – retails it’s electricity at a higher price than it’s competing, state-owned rivals.

See: 226,000 shop for power savings

National has stated several reason for wanting to sell 49% of Meridian, Genesis, Might River Power, Solid Energy, and further down-sell Air New Zealand – but their   main, carefully-worded, rationale has been to “reduce debt/invest in new assets/infrastructure”,  according to Bill English,

We are firmly focused on keeping the Government’s overall debt as low as possible and that is the most important consideration over the next few years.”

See: Govt says asset sales will cut debt

If  National is planning on extracting $6 to $7 billion from most New Zealanders’ pockets, then they are dreaming. A small minority (the 1%, as usual) might have the resources – but even they, I suspect would have to off-load their own assets to buy into the five offered SOEs.

It is more than likely that, like Contact Energy, the majority of new shareholders will be corporate and/or offshore  investors.  New Zealanders simply don’t have the savings to buy their own energy comnpanies and airline.

If National wants to realise $6 to $7 billion  from partial-privatisation and is serious in not wanting major foreign ownership, then it has only one other option: the NZ Superannuation Fund.

Selling half of five state assets to the NZ Super Fund would achieve several desired goals,

  1. Keep state assets in New Zealand ownership
  2. Prevent an outflow of profits to offshore investors, which would worsen our current account deficit
  3. Satisfy Maori that water resources were not about to be privatised, and therefore any claims before the Waitangi Tribunal could be set aside
  4. Fulfill a government-ordered directive that the NZ Super Fund invest more heavily in New Zealand

In May 2009, Finance Minister Bill English wrote to the NZ Super Fund, instructing that,

The Government believes that is is in the national interest for the Fund to have significant interests in New Zealand. Consequently, persuant to section 64 of the New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2004 (the Act), I direct the Guardians to note that it is  the Government’s expectation, in relation to the Fund’s performance, that opportunities  that would enable the Guardians to increase  the allocation of New Zealand assets in the Fund should be appropriately identified and considered by the Guardians. “

See: Letter from Minister of Finance Regarding NZ Directive and Funding May 14 2009

How much does the NZ Super Fund have invested in overseas businesses?

Answer: NZ$6,459,938,145 – Nearly $6.5 billion. Possibly more  by now.

See: NZ Superannuation Fund: Full Final Equity List – 30 June 2011

How much was National expecting to gain from it’s privatisation programme? Between $6 and $7 billion dollars.

$6.5 billion happens to lie smack in-between $6 and $7 billion!

Considering that the NZ Super Fund is actually a state owned entity, selling five SOEs, whether partially or the whole damned lot, would not matter one iota. They would still be state-owned.

National has an opportunity here; they literally can have their SOE Cake, and eat it.

  • The state assets would remain state assets.
  • National would gain a guaranteed NZ$6.5 billion – no mucking around with messy share floats.
  • The revenue from the state assets would remain in New Zealand.
  • The Super Fund would have even more profitable investments in their portfolio.
  • The Super Fund will be investing in our future – not someone elses’, in another country.
  • Maori may well be satisfied that their taonga, water, was not being privatised.
  • Our current account would not be blown further into the red.
  • New Zealanders would be happy chappies, as the great majority oppose losing ownership of state assets.
  • Opposition from the Left would most likely evaporate – heck, we might even vote for you in 2014, Mr Key!!

Where is the down-side in this compromise?! Damned if I can see any.

And the strangest part in all this proposal? I may just  have saved John Key’s arse from being thrown out at the next election.

.

.

= fs =

On course for a change in government…

14 July 2012 6 comments

.

http://images.tvnz.co.nz/tvnz_images/news2009/politics-generic/mmp_ballot_box_2.jpg

.

… by 2014, if not earlier.

The latest Roy Morgan poll has National continuing to fall,

.

NZ Newswire

National down, opposition up in new poll

NZ Newswire July 13, 2012, 8:17 pm
 

A new political poll suggests the result of an election held now would be too close to call.

The governing National Party was at 45.5 per cent support in a Roy Morgan Poll taken between June 25 and July 8, down 2 per cent on the last poll taken between June 8 and 24.

The only other parties above the 5 per cent threshold were Labour, up 0.5 per cent to 32.5 per cent, and the Greens, up 1 per cent to 13 per cent.

This put the combined total of Labour and the Greens at 45.5 per cent, the same as National, making it a tight race to decide who had the keys to the Beehive.

NZ First was up 0.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent, the Maori Party was at 1 per cent (down 0.5 per cent), while ACT, United Future and Mana were all unchanged at 0.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Roy Morgan confidence rating was unchanged at 117.5, while 51.5 per cent of New Zealanders saying the country was heading in the right direction compared to 34 per cent saying it was heading in the wrong direction.

Economic issues (52 per cent) were regarded as the most important problem facing the country, well ahead of social issues (19 per cent), Government and public policy issues (12 per cent) and environmental issues (6 per cent).

The telephone poll surveyed 1026 people.

Source

.

This does not surprise me in the least.

Since National’s lurch to the right after the last election; various scandals; stagnant economy; high unemployment; unpopular dodgy deals; and even more unpopular asset sales, National has been in political free-fall.

The drop in their polling is slow and miscule – but incrementally it will be the undoing of  National in power.

I’ve been preparing for a change of government since the last election. By 2014, the Nats will have dropped to around 38 – 42%. They are goneburger. The public are beginning to tire of radical right wing policies – many based on nothing more than ideology – whilst still seeing unemployment stubbornly high, and the economy stagnating.

More than that, as news of redundancies fill media stories, Middle New Zealand is now facing their greatest fear; the prospect of losing their job, and dropping down the socio-economic ladder.

More than one middle class professional has found him/herself losing their job and ending up on the dole.  Only to find that the dole does not pay as much as their prejudices suggested. How often, I wonder has a recently redundant salaried professional remarked,

$204.96!!! Is that all I get?!?! How do people live on that???”

When the realities of a recession start to get in the faces of the Middle Classes – that’s when governments change. Usually to the Left.

France, Iceland, and Mexico’s recent elections seem to indicate that voters are turning away from market-driven, centre-right parties. What the Occupy! movement could not achieve by occupation, they may be still be influencing voters and gaining victory through the ballot box.

New Zealand’s time to throw out National and replace it with a more pro-active government will soon be upon us.

The big issue is, now, is how many of our State assets can the thieving buggers flog off in the meantime?

And can Labour and David Shearer begin to present themselves with an alternative vision of something better for New Zealand as a whole?

.

.

= fs =

National – what else can possibly go wrong?!

.

.

A contributor to The Standard blog, ‘Jenny’, made a very simple – but insightful post, detailing National’s track record in the last three and a half years,

This is a government determined to gift everything they could possibly wish to the rich and powerful, and on behalf of this greedy sector force onto the rest of New Zealanders.

More Pokies

More drilling

More fracking

More booze

More junk food

A fire sale of public assets

More pollution

More corruption

More scandal

Less sovereignity

Less civil liberty

More toadying to foreign powers

More toadying to foreign corporates

More spying snooping and videoing of New Zealand citizens

More bail-outs

More tax cuts

More job cuts

More benefit cuts

Have they actually done anything worthwhile or positive?

See:  Katherine Rich on the Health Promotion Board: The next outrageous piece of Nat cronyism

Jenny posits the question, “Have they actually done anything worthwhile or positive?

Try as one might, despite inane rhetoric and vague promises, no National Party MP, functionary, or groupie could possibly point to any success achieved by John Key and his colleagues.

Not . One.

.

1.Economic Growth

.

.

National’s “Master Plan” for economic growth and job creation seems to revolve around four events – none of which have been particularly successful,

  1. The rebuild of Christchurch. Despite being an opportunity to upskill 160,000 unemployed and a major boost to the economy – nothing much is happening. Instead, National is content to allow tradespeople from overseas to come into the country and carry out  the work. With few apprenticeships, we are woefully unprepared for the looming demand for tradespeople – a damning lack of planning by National and it’s naive reliance on the “free market” to provide skilled workers.
  2. The Rugby World Cup – far from being a major boost, seems to have contributed very little to our economy. In the last three months of 2011, GDP grew  just 0.3% – half  that  predicted by economists. It seems that Dr Sam Richardson’s prediction, that $700  million was a hopelessly unrealistic expectation proved to be unerringly correct.  Who is ultimately responsible for National throwing $200-plus million of our tax dollars at this exercise in outrageous extravagance? Murray McCully? Steven Joyce? John Key?
  3. The Sky City/Convention Centre deal. Our illustrious Dear Leader promised 1,800 jobs from this planned project, in return for re-writing gambling legislation and permitting Sky City to increase pokie machine and gaming tables by up to 500. Potential social fall-out surrounding increased problem gambling was casually dismissed by both John Key and Sky City’s CEO Nigel Morrison.    Unfortunately, as with most of John Key’s figures and promises, the expectation of 1,800 jobs was as fictitious as much of what he says.
  4. Asset sales. With weak growth; a stagnant economyhigh unemployment; and New Zealanders continuing to escape to Australia, National’s one (and only) trump card appears to be the partial-privatisation of five state owned corporations. As has been pointed out, ad infinitum, floating shares in these SOEs will not contribute to economic growth; nor create new jobs (in fact,  it is likely to result in redunancies, if past privatisations are any guide); nor create real wealth. It simply shuffles bits of paper (shares) around from investor-to-investor-to-investor. And if investors need to borrow to buy these shares, we are using overseas funds for speculative purposes. Which sounds suspiciously like our love-affair with speculative housing-“investments”.

As Business NZ has stated, our economic growth has been ‘unspectacular’. And that’s coming from one of National’s own business allies. (Just as Business NZ seemed somewhat unimpressed as National’s lack of planning and direction last year, just prior to the election.)

Otherwise, National’s Grand Plan can be summed up as a reliance on a “two pronged” approach to growing the economy; a hands-off “free market” approach, and tax cuts. Not only have neither worked terribly well, but these measures have been counter-productive.

Tax-cuts  gave massive increases in income to the richest 10% of New Zealanders – whilst the GST increase has made life harder for the poorest and lowest-paid in this country.

Right wing cheer-leaders who bleat on about their rich masters “working hard and deserving  increased wealth” may be aspirationists who one day hope to become one of the Master Class – but I hope they’re not holding their breath. That day will be a long time coming.

Tax cuts have also resulted in a government budget blow-out. Borrowing $380 million a week, whilst claiming that National is “not borrowing for tax cuts is credible only to National; their salivating sycophants; and low-information voters (for whom “The GC” is the height of documentary-making).

Tax cuts have also not delivered the promised boost to the economy by increasing spending and consumption. This is not surprising, as the tax cuts were given to the wrong sector of society.

High income, wealthy, asset-rich families tend to use their tax-cuts to reduce debt or spend on investments (shares, kiwisaver,  etc) that do not directly help small businesses.

Low income, poor, families spend everything. These are the the people who will buy more food to put on their tables; clothes; shoes; medication; and other consumables. These are the people that small businesses rely on on for their custom. And the retail supermarket sector is suffering a massive drop accordingly.

.

.

Middle income families continue to stuggle not to fall behind. Any tax increase they may have gained has been swallowed up by increased gst, government charges, increased user-pays, etc.

I think most people have since ‘twigged’ that National has indeed borrowed for tax cuts. And we’re having to pay back those massive borrowings by  cutting services; slashing the state sector; and selling our state assets.

.

2. Asset Sales

.

.

National’s asset sales programme has been an unmitigated disaster from Day One.

Since National first announced their decision to partially privatise Meridian, Genesis, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand, this issue has been opposed by the public.

National has used it’s so-called “mandate” from last year’s election to proceed with their policy, and passed enabling legislation only last Tuesday (26 June).

Any notion of a “mandate” is shaky and open to interpretation.

Whilst the National-ACT-Peter Dunne Coalition has 61 seats, and Labour, NZ First, Greens, Mana, and Maori Party have 60 seats – the number of Party votes cast tells a different story.

National , ACT, United Future Party Votes Labour, Greens, NZ First, Maori Party, Mana, and Conservative Party votes

National – 1,058,636

Labour – 614,937

ACT – 23,889

Greens – 247,372

United Future – 13,443

NZ First – 147,544

Maori Party – 31,982

Mana – 24,168

Conservative Party* – 59,237

TOTAL – 1,095,968

Total – 1,125,240

The irony of the Conservative Party gaining more Party Votes than ACT and United Future combined – yet winning no  seats in Parliament  – will not escape most fair-minded people. Adding the Conservative’s 59,237 party votes to the anti-asset sale bloc, yields a majority of voters opposed to National’s programme.

It is only the current rules of MMP (now under review) that allows this quirk to take place.

Add to that, opinion poll after opinion poll showing  60% to 80% of respondents  opposed to asset sales, and National’s mantra that “We have a Mandate” becomes patently untenable.

A recent  NZ Herald poll, where respondents were asked to leave a comment, as well as a “Yay” or “Nay” vote yielded results that were thoroughly predictable,

For: 151

Against: 552

The National Party understands this only too well. Hence their desperate, ad hoc  schemes to bribe the public with all manner of ‘sweeteners’,

  • giving first option to buy shares  to “mum and dad” investors
  • a bribe of “loyalty” shares
  • promise of “affordable” shares  for investors

There is a considerable degree of arrogance in National’s pursuing of their asset sales, despite considerable public anger.

On 26 October last year,  Dear Leader  said,

They don’t fully understand what we’re doing. My experience is when I take audiences through it, like I did just before, no-one actually put up their hand and asked a question. “

On 3 May, as a 5,000 person march wound it’s way through Wellington, John Key grinned to reporters and cheekily said,

How many people did they have?  Where was it? Nope wasn’t aware of it. So look, a few thousand people walking down the streets of Wellington isn’t going to change my mind. “

And on 26 June, Key tried to dismiss TV3 journalist John Campbell with this demeaning insult,

No, um, and with the greatest respect to your financial literacy, you’ve proven that you don’t actually have any. “

Key said pretty much the same about Greens co-leader, Russel Norman,

With the greatest respect to [Green Party co-leader Russel Norman], I’m sure he’s a great bloke, he doesn’t know much about economics. “

It is fairly obvious that Key has very little time for anyone who opposes his views. In fact, he gets downright belligerent and  derisive.

Who does he remind me of? Someone else who used to belittle and deride anyone who dared disagree with him – especially in economic matters. Who else was famous for his arrogance? Another Prime Minister,

.

.

Despite public opposition and several valid commercial reasons made clear that these sales will be financially disadvantageous to our economy, National carries on, oblivious to all but it’s own ideological fanaticism.

.

.

This is a Party totally out of touch with the rest of the country.

.

3. Welfare

.

.

In 2008, the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) hit the world with a social and economic recession not seen since the 1920s/30s. Coporations like Lehmann Bros collapsed. General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection. Others had to be bailed out with billions of taxpayers’ dollars. Millions lost their jobs and homes, and unemployment skyrocketed. Europe is tottering on the brink of a domino-like collapse of their currency.

Here in New Zealand, unemployment doubled from 3.4% by the end of 2007, to 7.3% by the end of 2009.

When criticism is levelled at National’s inability to address our stagnating economy, John Key and Bill English point to the GFC, stating it’s not their fault,

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

This is a global debt crisis and you certainly wouldn’t want to add more debt at that time unnecessarily.” – Source

The economic downturn that may occur on a pronounced basis in Europe is factored into our books.” – Source

But when it comes to those who are the casualties of the economic downturn; the unemployed, National suddenly sings a different tune when it comes to Cause-and-Effect,

The Government is considering requiring beneficiaries to immunise their children.” – Source

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett yesterday said contraception would eventually be fully funded for female beneficiaries and their 16 to 19-year-old daughters. ” – Source

Prime Minister John Key says beneficiaries who resort to food banks do so out of their own “poor choices” rather than because they cannot afford food.” – Source

Under the Government’s new youth welfare policy, announced by Prime Minister John Key at the weekend, 16- and 17-year-old beneficiaries would receive a payment card for food and clothes from approved stores.” – Source

And perhaps – worst of all – was  this piece of vileness from Finance Minister, Bill English,

.

[click on image to go to TV3 website]

.

English’s smirking disdain, for all those New Zealanders who have lost their jobs due to the global financial crisis, was plain to see.  Shame on him; his revolting attitude; and shame on every person in his electorate who voted for this arrogant little man.

The National Creed

1. The  Global Financial Crisis – a handy excuse for poor economic policies and mismanagement.

2. The Unemployed – a handy scapegoat for National’s inability to grow the economy and create new jobs.

3. If in doubt, never take responsibilty; refer to #1 and #2.

Latest redundancies;

Will drug testing be used to  “sort this lot out smartly”, Mr English?

And more bizarre is Paula Bennet’s admission that National “has ruled out universal drug testing of all beneficiaries, with drug and alcohol addicts being exempted from sanctions for refusing or failing a drug test when applying for a job“.

See:  Addicts escape beneficiary drug testing

Which means that if addicts and alcoholics are not tested – that leaves only those  workers who’ve been unfortunate enough to lose their jobs through New Zealand’s ongoing stagnating economy.

Adding insult to injury doesn’t begin to cover the humiliation which National intends to thrust upon workers who’ve lost their jobs.

And all because National has no job creation policies.

.

4. Sky City/Convention Centre

.

.

This is perhaps one of John Key’s shonkiest deals. It is no wonder that the Auditor General is investigating the Sky City “arrangement” – so I have little faith that the investigation will yield much that is incriminating of Dear Leader.

As Key stated with utter confidence, on TV3’s ‘The Nation‘ on 17 June,

KEY: The involvement I had, as Minister of Tourism was to go and talk to a number of critical players, and as part of a general conversation say to them, “Hey, look, New Zealand’s interested in building a convention centre. Did that with Sky City. I did that with people out at ASB Centre The Edge. I did that with Ngati Whatua. That’s not unusual.  I mean, and to argue that that would be unusual would be to say, well, look I have discussions with people in Whangarei about building a museum there. And I have discussions  with people in Auckland about building  a cycleway.

So now what we’re  talking about about is, ok, was there undue influence or was the process correctly handled, that’s what the auditor general  will say.

So let me tell you this, for a start off, ok, in terms of the expression of interest process, my office had absolutely no involvement, no correspondence, [ interuption by Rachel Smalley] no phone calls, absolutely nothing. So when the auditor general  comes in there will be no correspondence, no phone calls, no discussions, zero. “ - Source (@ 6.37)

That statement does not instill confidence in me. Dear Leader has just stated, on record, that no evidence exists of his meeting(s) with Sky City management. Key admitted meeting with Sky City’s Board in late 2009,

I attended a dinner with the Sky City board 4 November 2009 where we discussed a possible national convention centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003“. – Source

But what was said or agreed on, we don’t know. As Key has stated, “when the auditor general  comes in there will be no correspondence, no phone calls, no discussions, zero”.

This is not a very good  example of transparency. It is certainly not the “transparency in government”  that Key has promised this country on several occassions.

In fact, it’s dodgy as hell.

See:  Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

In the same  blogpost ( Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How )  dated 23 April, this blogger outlined John Key’s somewhat dubious tactics for pushing through dubious policies,

.

Promise Big Numbers.  It doesn’t matter if the numbers never eventuate because they were fictitious to start with. By the time the media and public realise the true facts, the issue will be all but forgotten. A week may be a long time in politics – but a year positively guarantees  collective amnesia for 99% of the public.

From December, 2010,

.

Cycleway jobs fall short

.

6:00 AM Wednesday Dec 8, 2010

The national cycleway has so far generated just 215 jobs – well short of Prime Minister John Key’s expectation of 4000.

In May, Mr Key said he expected the $50 million project, which involves building 18 cycleways throughout the country, to generate 4000 jobs.”Source

.

Who can remember the initial cycleway project and the promise of 4,000 new jobs?

Precisely.

From March, this year,

.

Key defends casino pokie machine deal

.

08:23 Mon Mar 5 2012 – AAP

Opposition parties are accusing the government of selling legislation through an agreement that will see Auckland’s Sky City build a $350 million convention centre in return for more pokie machines…

…  But Mr Key says it’s a good deal for New Zealand.

“It produces 1000 jobs to build a convention centre, about 900 jobs to run it… ” Source

.

In a year’s time, who will recall the promise of 900 new Convention centre jobs?

Who will care that only a hundred-plus eventuate?

.

Well, it didn’t take one year. It took only a matter of  months. On 5 March, John Key asserted,

 “It produces 1000 jobs to build a convention centre, about 900 jobs to run it, and overall the number of pokie machines will be falling although at a slightly lower rate.”

See:  Key defends casino pokie machine deal

But then, on 5 June,  the NZ Herald reported,

Job numbers touted by Prime Minister John Key for a proposed international convention centre at SkyCity are much higher than official estimates.

Mr Key has said a deal allowing SkyCity more gambling facilities in exchange for funding the convention centre would provide 900 construction jobs and work for 800 people at the centre.

But the figures are much higher than those in a feasibility study done for the Government by hospitality and travel specialist analyst Horwath Ltd.

Horwath director Stephen Hamilton said he was concerned over reports the convention centre would employ 800 staff – a fulltime-equivalent total of 500.

He said the feasibility study put the number of people who would be hired at between 318 and 479. “

See:  Puzzle of Key’s extra casino jobs

Sprung! Another of Dear Leader’s “little white lies” uncovered.

Next ‘cast iron guarantee’ from Dear Leader, who said on his website,

SkyCity has agreed to pay the full construction costs of the centre – estimated at $350 million. The company has asked the Government to consider some alterations to gambling regulations and legislation.”

See:  John Key -Convention centre development moves ahead

Yeah, I’ll bet that Sky City has “asked the Government to consider some alterations to gambling regulations and legislation“…

In business, it’s called a ‘contra-deal‘.

But it’s seems that even this deal is not as “free” for tax-payers as Key has made out. In fact, it has been uncovered that  taxpayers are definitely ‘stumping up’ some of their hard-earned cash,

Budget documents reveal that if the plan goes ahead, taxpayers will contribute up to $2.1 million to ensure its design and facilities meet Government expectations...  The Prime Minister, however, is defending the budget allocation of millions of dollars towards a potential Sky City convention centre.

John Key says he has always said his preferred position is that no taxpayer money would be spent – and that if it does go ahead, it will have economic spinoffs. “

See:  Govt misleading public over Sky City: Labour

So… Key has (once again) mis-led the public, and his stock-standard explanation is that “if it does go ahead, it will have economic spinoffs .”

John Key  claims that “a new convention centre would bring 144,000 additional nights of Auckland stays for business tourists, who generally spent twice as much as other tourists“.

See:  Casinos safer than pubs, Key says

But as Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ, said somewhat more convincingly,

Tourists come to see the country and the culture – not the casinos. If tourists were really focused on gambling, they would be going to Las Vegas – not the Sky City casino venue in Auckland.

See:  Tourists Come to See Country & Culture – Not Casinos

What’s the bet that the forecast for “economic spinoffs” will be as accurate as National’s predictions for spin-offs from the Rugby World Cup or national cycleway?!

See:  Weather and World Cup fail to lift GDP

See:  Current account deficit widens to $2.7 billion

See:  Growth slows – GDP up just 0.3pc

How many times have we heard Prime Minister John Key make all sorts of promises that this or that will deliver jobs and economic growth – only to see the promise fail. Which is then  usually followed by an excuse relating to the global economic slowdown?

It’s getting rather predictable and tedious.

What Dear Leader has tried to gloss over and  dismiss is the inevitable consequence of increasing pokie machines: more problem gambling. Both John Key and Sky City CEO, Nigel Morrison,  have tried to trivialise this growing social problem,

The incidence of harm cited from Lotto is greater than that from pokie machines in casinos. Getting those facts across is difficult.  We’re not just on about growing our gaming machines.  We would like to grow our table games product and expand our operations to meet the growth of Auckland. “

See:  Casino boss: Lotto does more harm

Gambling addiction in many way is as pernicious – if not worse – than alcohol and drug additions. A compulsive gambler can damage not only his/her own life – but those around them. Houses have been lost; businesses crippled or closed down; families torn apart,  as problem gamblers suck others down into a whirlpool of uncontrollable gambling.

See:  Barred gambler coaxed back to casino

See:  Mum steals $330k from marae to feed pokies

From a Ministry of Health  report,

Overall, the prevalence of problem gambling in New Zealand adults was 0.4% (about 13,100 adults). Additionally, the prevalence of moderate-risk gambling was 1.3% (representing a further 40,900 people). In total, 1 in 58 adults (1.7%, or 54,000 adults) were experiencing either problem or moderate-risk gambling.

Other key findings of this study include:

  1. Maori and Pacific people experience more gambling-related harm than other people
  2. people living in more socioeconomically deprived areas are more affected by gambling-related harm.
  3. this study may help to inform the provision of problem gambling intervention services and public health activity, as the study showed that:
    • problem gamblers can be found in both urban and rural areas
    • Maori and Pacific people appear to be under-represented in intervention services
    • people experiencing gambling problems are more likely than other people to be current smokers, have hazardous drinking patterns, have worse self-rated health, and have a high or very high probability of a mood or anxiety disorder. “

See:  A Focus on Problem Gambling: Results of the 2006/07 New Zealand Health Survey

Interestingly, the above report, using 2006/07 data, and posted online in 2009, is the most recent Ministry of Health report available. Nothing more recent – and perhaps more damning of current gambling policies – is apparent on the Ministry of Health website.

Why is that?

On a more personal level, this blogger is aware of an elderly couple who were both addicted to pokie machines. Badly in debt, they were forced to down-size their family home and buy a smaller, more modest,  property. One of the couple died soon after, leaving the other who continued her gambling habit.

Not only has this elderly woman lost her surplus cash from the house-sale, but has gambled using equity in her current home.  She often ‘borrows’ money from her grown up children.

Her  modest house is deteriorating through lack of maintenance.

Not only has this woman lost all equity in her home, she is now more reliant on  both the State and her family.

Meanwhile, this article on Sky City’s most recent posted profits should be cause for concern,

”  Sky City Entertainment, one of the biggest gambling operators in the country, has seen a significant rise in profits over the course of the last year. The company attributes this growth to the earnings generated by the Sky City Casino in Auckland.

Over the course of 2011, profits for Sky City rose by over $10 million to $78 for the year. The company believes that the changes made to Sky City Auckland are to thank for this impressive profit increase over the course of the past year.

$50 million was spent on renovating the gambling facilities available the casino, but the company still managed to offset the costs with improved profits. In addition to building a new VIP lounge, Sky City also renovated other areas of the casino to make them more attractive to players.

Slots [pokies]  brought in the amount of increased revenue, seeing a rise by 17%. Non-gaming elements also helped to boost profits. Auckland’s recently-revamped hotels and restaurants garnered a great deal of attention from patrons.

It seems that the adage “you have to spend money to make money” is true for Sky City.  “

See:  Sky City Sees Huge Revenue Jump

If the convention centre is National’s only scheme to grow the economy and to create 170,000 new jobs – we are in deep trouble.

.

5. TVNZ7

.

.

Nothing best illustrates  National’s narrow vision of the role of government than the demise of TVNZ7. Nothing.

Whether the previous Broadcasting Minister, Jonathan Coleman, or the current Minister, Craig Foss – their attitude has been the same; market forces shall prevail – and public-interest programming shall be the responsibity of NZ On Air, who shall contract such programmes to current commercial broadcasters.

Except that this is a cop-out.

.

.

The beauty of TVNZ7 is that public broadcasting was, in the main, focused on a single broadcasting platform. The public knew where to go to watch certain types of programming.

Just as the public now go to supermarkets to buy their meat, fish, veg & fruit, and bread – instead of going to a butchers; a fish shop; a  fruit & veg produce store; and a bakery. Imagine the uproar if John Key told us we must go to five different food retailers to buy five different sorts of foodstuffs?! Dear Leader would have a size 9 boot imprinted on his backside.

TVNZ7 fulfilled the same public demand; niche programming on a niche broadcaster.

Just as, currently we have racing on the TAB channel; Chinese programming on CTV; parliament on Parliament TV, etc.

Ironic that politicians have no problem broadcasting their “debates” (inverted commas used deliberately), deeming their squabbles and shrill screams a must have - but not public, non-commercial TV.

Or, that we can have non-stop horse racing on a free-to-air TV channel.

But we are not entitled to have access to non-commercial public TV.

Whatever concept National has of public television, it is clear that Broadcasting Minister, Craig Foss’s vision is different to the rest of New Zealand,

“…  the government was ‘committed’ to supporting local content through NZ on Air, instead of directly funding single broadcasters. “

See:  No help for titanically pointless bill

Having public TV through NZ On Air is akin to selling vegetarian/vegan food products in butcher shops. You have to go looking for it. It’s not easy to find. And it’s buried amongst ‘crap’ you’d rather not have to put up with.

And what makes NZ On Air funding of  ‘Media7/Media3‘  “public television” – when it will have advertisements peppered throughout?

.

.

Take out the advertising of underarm deodorants; cat/dog food; toilet ducks; panty shields;  the latest 4WD monstrosity from Korea; promos for the latest US crime/cop shows; reality TV shows; home improvement shows; US sitcoms; and voyeuristic, soft-core porn like “The GC”,  and a 30 minute current affairs programme from TVNZ7 becomes a 20 minute show on TV3.

There goes our chance to focus on critical social issues, as commercial advertisers compete for our attention.

What next? Advertising in Tolstoy’s  “War and Peace”? Shakepeare’s “Macbeth”? Anne Frank’s Diary?

We are being ripped off in more ways than one. We deserve better than this.

But not, it seems, according to National; there is more than an element of vindictiveness in their decision to can TVNZ7. As if it was their opportunity to “stick it to us” after their embarrassing backdowns on mining in conservation schedule four estates; their attempt to cut teacher numbers and increase classroom sizes; and ongoing resistance to state asset sales.

The closure of TVNZ7 is a clue what National thinks of us. And it ain’t very pleasant.

See: Pundit – TVNZ kills ad-free channels to grow profits

.

6. Education

.

Current cutbacks to state and social services is a re-run of the 1990s. National’s cuts now, mirror those of last century.

Bolger, Richardson, Shipley, and Bill English  ran amok – slashing health, education, police, military, and anything else they could lay their cold, clammy, neo-liberal hands on.

At one stage, in the late 1990s, the health system was so badly run down that   patients requiring critical surgery were not receiving it – and were dying on waiting lists.

See: Died waiting for by pass

See:  Funding cut puts centre in jeopardy

See:  Myers warns few jobs, more poor, ahead for NZ

This year, as part of National’s on-going agenda to cut government services; reduce the size of the State; and to pass on savings  as tax cuts to the rich, National has cut staffing levels; departmental budgets; and services.

The New Zealand middle class tolerates this – until it affects them, personally.

Enter: 24 June – Minister Parata and her plans to slash teacher numbers and increase class sizes.  That was a step too far, and a teacher-parent-principal-Boards alliance fought back. Hard.

Bill English – a bloodied veteran of the Bolger-cum-Shipley administration of the late 1990s –  recognised the signs that a revolt of the middle classes was in the offing.   National’s merciless cuts to social and government services in the ’90s had resulted in an electoral thrashing in the November 1999 elections.

Upshot: 7 July – Government u-turn on cost-cutting policy.

This is now the second major policy u-turn by National. Their previous bloodied-nose, in July 2010, when Gerry Brownlee was forced to announce a back-down on National’s proposals to mine schedule 4 conservation land, was a stunning exercise in people-power.

In my previous blogpost (Why Hekia Parata should not be sacked), I argued that Educational Minister, Hekia Parata should not be forced to step down from her ministerial role. As I pointed out, “sacking Parata for policies that every other Minister has been implementing seems pointless. Especially when National’s essential policy of cutting expenditure and services would remain unchanged”.

However, recent revelations from OIA-released  document have revealed,

The papers for the education budget reveal class size funding ratio changes went even further than what was announced.

Education Minister Hekia Parata originally urged changes that would seen 1300 fewer teachers hired over the next four years than would have happened under the existing funding formula.

That plan to curb growth in teacher numbers would have seen a “a minimal net reduction” in staffing of about 260 after four years.

The Government eventually decided on a less aggressive plan to cap teacher numbers, with almost the same number proposed to be employed in 2016 as now.

That plan to save $174m over four years was agreed and written in to the Budget but Parata was forced in to an embarrassing backdown earlier this month, which cancelled the plan and returned to the status quo.

However Parata’s original plan was to cut $217m. “

See:  Deeper teacher funding cuts ditched

It appears that Ms Parata’s inclination was for even deeper cuts to Education services  than, (a) the public was initially aware of and (b) that her National ministerial colleagues could stomach.

This explains, in part, why Key torpedoed  Parata’s plans to cut education services; he was thoroughly exasperated with an an incompetant  Minister who badly overestimated her abilities and could not “sell” even a watered down version of her plans. He must have been spitting tacks that, had Parata’s initial plans to cut $217 million (instead of $174 million) gone ahead,  she would have found herself in a much deeper hole, and the fallout to National would have been much worse.

This blogger has come to the conclusion that Hekia Parata is way over her head, and should step down as Education Minister forthwith.

At any rate, she will be gone at the next cabinet re-shuffle.

Tea-lady might be a good, safe role for her?

.

7. ETS – Another of Key’s broken promises

.

.

John Key is adamant that National will not consider slowly raising the retirement age from 65 to 67, because it is a committment he has promised to keep,

I’ve made it quite clear it would be my intention to resign from parliament if I broke that promise to New Zealanders.”

See:  Govt against raising retirement age

This blogger finds it hard to understand Key’s reticence to “breaking” an election promise. After all, he’s broken promises not to raise GST; to retrieve the bodies of the Pike River miners;  to address growing youth unemployment; stem the flow of migration to Australia; grow the economy; and now, to implement an ETS.

In May 2008, Key stated,

Key outlined a series of principles an ETS should have, including…

… It should be closely aligned with Australia’s ETS.

It should not discriminate against small and medium businesses in allocating emissions credits and purposes. “

See: Nats call for a delay to emission trading scheme law

At the time, Key also stated,

This not about National walking away from an ETS, we support that. . . we just simply want to get it right and we now have the time to get it right.  “

That was four years ago.

Since then Australia has implemented it’s own carbon tax that will lead in to a full ETS by 2015,

The A$23-a-tonne price on carbon emissions started yesterday [1 July 2012] , directly affecting 294 electricity generators and other companies.

The federal Government is aiming to cut carbon emissions by 5 per cent by 2020, with the carbon tax shifting to an emissions trading scheme in 2015. “

See: Protests greet day one of Aussie carbon tax

By contrast, National has been delaying implementing New Zealand’s own version of an ETS, and has now “postponed” it until 2015.

And yet, four years ago, Key stated that New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme should ” be closely aligned with Australia’s ETS  “.

Our Aussie cuzzies have already started their carbon tax/ETS.

With National postponing the ETS for farmers, industrial and commercial polluters, until 2015 – that means that Dear Leader’s “postponement” will have lasted seven years – over two Parliamentary terms.  How long does Key need to ‘get it right’ ?

Ten years?

Two decades?

Perhaps the turn of the 22nd century?

Let’s cut through the BS here. John Key is not “postponing” the ETS – he is postponing it indefinitely. National has no intention of ever implementing it. So much for Key’s statement,

Ours is not a political agenda here, we want a good ETS that works.”

That deserves to be immortalised,

.

.

See also: Tumeke – Blue ignores Red to pretend to be Green while turning to Brown to subsidize big polluters

See also: Tumeke – The Emissions Trading Scam and the audacity of Farmers

The sooner the Nats admit this deception, the better for the entire country. Until then, the only sector paying the ETS is… us, the public.

Which leads on to…

.

8. Tax Cuts & Government charges

.

In 2009 and 2010, National cut taxes.  The rationale, as National explained in their 2008 document,

In the short term, National’s tax package will give households confidence and some cash in their back pockets to keep the economy going and to pay down debt.

In the longer term, our tax package encourages people to invest in their own skills and make best use of their abilities, because they get to keep more of any higher wages they earn. It encourages them to look for and to take up better and higher-paying jobs that make more use of their skills.

See: National Party  Tax policy

However, what National giveth with one hand; National taketh with the other.

Any benefits from the ’09 and ’10 taxcuts have been more than swallowed up (for low and middle income earners) by increases in a myriad of government and SOE charges.

The most recent have been Family Courts fees, which have risen astronomically.

From July 1 2012, services which used to be free to couples in dispute, now incur considerable court fees,

  • Child custody disputes: $220
  • Property disputes: $700
  • Hearing of any application for each half-day, or part half-day: $906

Of all National’s user-pays regimes, charging couples who are separating; highly stressed; and where violence may be involved, is mind-boggling. We thought it was miserly when National decided to tax children in the last budget – but these user-pays Family Court fees hit people who are vulnerable in the extreme,

But Family Law Specialists director Catriona Doyle says most families try to avoid handing custody and property decisions to a judge and only use the Family Court as a last resort in irresolvable conflicts.

The few people who waste the court’s time by filing repeatedly or unnecessarily won’t be put off by the fees because they’ll either be wealthy enough to afford it or earning little enough to have the fees waived, she says.

“It’s going to hit the middle class and lower income families where $220 is a lot of money.”

Women especially will be hit hard, as they are often financially disadvantaged when a relationship breaks up, Ms Doyle says.

Rather than trying to keep children out of court, the ministry should be aiming to resolve conflicts before children are affected by them, she says.

“Leaving children in a conflict situation where the parents are at war is neglect and abuse. The kids who live in that situation are damaged.”

A judge should be the person to decide if a case is genuine or flippant, especially when children are involved, she says.

“It’s not something that should be addressed by Parliament or a court registrar”.

See:  Family court fees will hurt women – lawyer

Minister of Courts, Chester Borrows, stated plainly,

What we are trying to do here is have a disincentive for people to be able to bring these matters before the court. “

See:   Family Court fees tipped to hit low earners, children

(Note: As a matter of interest, Chester Borrows is the very same Minister who stated he would be buying shares in SOEs, when they were partially-privatised. See:  Conflicts of Interest? )

National complains that  court costs have risen  from $84 million in 2004/2005 to $142m in 2010/2011 – hence Family Court fees must be imposed.

This is faulty logic, and is penalising people who are attempting to sort out damaging relationship breakdowns.  Using Family Courts is preferable to taking the law into one’s own hands. Disincentiving people from using the law – which Parliament put in place to protect us all – is like disincentivising people from calling the Police if you’ve been burgled.

Instead, if we are being “encouraged to resolve issues ourselves”, find the burglar; beat the crap out of him; and retrieve our stolen property ourselves.  That is what Borrows is advocating.

Further using Borrows’ “logic”, National should implement high user-pays charges in public hospitals, as  ” a disincentive for people ” to use hospitals.

It sounds ridiculous? It is ridiculous.

It is also dangerous. Borrows and his idiotic fellow ministers are playing with peoples’ lives. Putting expensive, punitive barriers up at a time when families most need society’s help defies logic, common sense, and most of all, compassion.

But then – when did anyone ever accuse the National Party of being compassionate?

And will the Dear Leader, John Key,  take responsibility if something goes horribly wrong, and an emotionally-stressed family explodes into violence because they had no way out through the Family Court? Like hell he will.

This is a death waiting to happen.

On your miserable head be it, Mr Borrows.

.

9. More on those tax cuts

.

As an aside, National’s 2008 Tax document makes this derisable claim,

” This makes it absolutely clear that to fund National’s tax package there is no requirement for additional borrowing and there is no requirement to cut public services.

Jeez. No wonder people don’t trust politicians.

.

10. Alcohol law reforms

.

The latest offerings of irrationality from John Key’s Universe; evidently Dear Leader does not believe that minimum pricing for alcohol would work. He suggests (with a straight face, no doubt) that minimum pricing for booze would not work because it could drive people to drink lower quality liquor instead of reducing consumption,

What typically happens is people move down the quality curve and still get access to alcohol.”

See:   PM sceptical dearer booze will cut consumption

.

.

Mr Key, how do I mock thee? Let me count the ways… (with apologies to Elizabeth Browning)

 How do I mock thee? Let me count the ways.
I ridicule thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when laughing at you hard
For the ends of Banality and Idiotic Government.
I mock thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and ecobulb-light.
I deride thee freely, as men strive for human rights.
I caricature thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I jeer at thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my voter’s faith.
I scorn thee with a scorn I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I sneer at thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if  The People choose,
I shall but take the piss better after you are voted out.

Why so contemptuous, you ask?

Because raising the price of  tobacco has been the number one tool of both Labour and National governments.

As recently as 12 June, John Key stated on a Fairfax online interview,

The Government is unashamedly trying to deter people from smoking through price, particularly young people who are very sensitive to rising tobacco prices. I know this is difficult for those that have smoked for quite some time, but for your long term health I can only encourage you to try and give up. “

See: Blogpost –  Fairfax; An hour with Dear Leader (@ 12.57)

So high-pricing for tobacco is useful for ” the Government is unashamedly trying to deter people from smoking ” – but not for alcohol?

Raising prices to deter smoking works. But raising prices to deter binge-drinking doesn’t?

It boggles the mind how Dear Leader can hold two conflicting viewpoints, simultaneously, without suffering a brain explosion.

Or is it simply that the liquor industry is a generous donor of funds for National’s election campaigns?

In the meantime, life goes on,

.

.

See:   Ambulance base for Wellington party central

See:   ‘Pressure valve’ medics patch up night’s drunks

See:   BERL Report – Costs of harmful alcohol and other drug use

See:   Drunk kids flooding our hospitals

See previous blogpost: A kronically inept government

.

11. Government Cost cutting = Economic suicide

.

On 12 May, this blogger posted a piece on National’s slashing of our MAF biosecurity.

In part, I posted this dire warning,

Now, we have the prospect of  having entire suburbs in Auckland being contained in some kind of loose “quarantine”, after a Queensland fruit fly was caught in a pest surveillance trap,

.

.

Considering that the Queensland fruit fly costs the Australian economy approximately  $160 million a year, this is a very real threat  to New Zealand’s own $5 billion annual horticultural industry.

Five billion dollars, per year, every year. All under threat because this government wanted to save a few million bucks by employing fewer biosecurity staff.

As if the discovery of a  painted apple moth in 1999; the varroa mite infestation of our honey hives in 2000; and other isolated instances of pests found in this country did not serve as a warning to us – National  proceeded to cut back on biosecurity staffing.

This blogger wonders sometimes (actually, all the time) what goes through the minds of our esteemed Honourable Ministers of Her Majesty’s Government. These are supposedly well-educated men and women, with support from thousands of University-educated advisors – and yet they still manage to accomplish the most incredibly moronic decisions conceivable.

National has put at risk this country’s  $5 billion industry – simply to save a few million dollars.

They have risked horticulturalist’s businesses; workers their jobs; and all the down-stream economic activity – to save a small percentage of billions.

This blogger has three pieces of advice for all concerned,

  1. John Key must  accept the resignation of  David Carter, Minister for Bio-security immediatly.
  2. National must reinstate biosecurity services to pre-2009 levels.
  3. Horticulturalists (and others who own farms and other agricultural businesses) should carefully consider whether National is working on their behalf – or for the sake of implementing false economies. What is the point of an orchardist voting for National – if National is going to screw his/her business by cutting back on essential government services such as biosecurity?!?!

Hopefully, this  fruit fly is a lone bug; perhaps a stowaway in someone’s bag or in a container offloaded at Ports of Auckland.

If so, once again we’ve been lucky.

But how long will our  luck hold out?

See previous blogpost: Bugs and balls-ups!

It seems our luck ran out some years ago,

The kiwifruit growers’ association is considering legal action over the outbreak of the vine disease PSA and says it can’t rule out seeking compensation.

An independent review released on Wednesday into how the bacterium came into New Zealand has found there were shortcomings with biosecurity systems, but it does not say that caused the entry.

The disease was first confirmed near Te Puke in 2010 and has infected 40% of the country’s kiwifruit orchards. It is expected to cost the industry $410 million dollars in the next five years.

Ministry for Primary Industries director general Wayne McNee asid the review did not determine how PSA came into the country but does show where improvements can be made.

NZ Kiwifruit Growers president Neil Trebilco says he can’t rule out that compensation will be sought by growers.

See:   Kiwifruit growers take legal advice over PSA

A damning report into the outbreak of kiwifruit virus PSA is another in a series of warnings over the biosecurity system that the Government has failed to act on, Labour’s biosecurity spokesman Damien O’Connor says.

The independent report was commissioned by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) following the devastation caused by the virus in the Bay of Plenty orchards with an estimated cost of $400 million.

The report, released yesterday, found “shortcomings” in New Zealand’s biosecurity system although it could not say how the incursion had occurred.

It said MPI could improve protections and must work more closely with industry groups.

The report also suggested resources be moved from low-risk industries to high-risk ones such as the kiwifruit sector.

O’Connor said there needed to be a complete overhaul of the biosecurity system.

The National Government cut biosecurity funding in 2009 and had accepted the growing risk caused by faults in the system, he said.   “

See:  Labour: Govt ignored biosecurity warning

Anyone with two inter-connecting neurons would’ve figured out very quickly that if a government cuts biosecurity then we put ourselves at dire risk of pests entering our country. Like the varroa mite. Or PSA bacterium.

With approximately  550,000 shipping containers and 4.5 million people entering New Zealand each year, it stands to reason that we are at extreme risk of unwanted organisms being brought into the country.

National was warned as far back as 2009, when 60 Biosecurity jobs were “dis-established”.  It therefore defies understanding as to why National believed that cuts could be made to frontline MAF Biosecurity without serious consequences.

Spelling out those consequences,

  1. Millions – even hundreds of millions of dollars of valuable export dollars lost,
  2. Jobs lost,
  3. Businesses ruined,
  4. And not one single government minister taking responsibility.

The only question now remaining to be asked: how many farmers and horticulturalists will vote for National at the next election?

Remember:  you get the government you deserve.

This time, it is farmers and horticulturalists who have been warned.

See:   Risks involved in cutting MAF Biosecurity jobs

See:   Farming at risk if biosecurity jobs cut, PSA warns

See:  Minister warned about biosecurity concerns

See:  Fruit restrictions in place

See:  Biosecurity savings ‘false economy’

See:  Biosecurity NZ webpage

.

12. The Terminally Ill

.

During the 2008 general election, Prime Minister  John Key adopted the Herceptin campaign.

Pharmac was funding herceptin treatment for women suffering from breast cancer only up to a nine week period.  Breast cancer patients wanted treatment extended to twelve months. Pharmac refused, stating there was no evidence that an extended treatment period would prove beneficial,

Pharmac CEO,  Matthew Brougham, said,

A fresh review of the science and other information has failed to convince us that 12-month treatments offer any additional benefits over the concurrent nine week treatment.”

See:  Nats pledge funding for 12-month Herceptin course

Enter,  John Key. As the 2008 election campaign swung into full force, Key leapt upon the issue,

National recognises that many Kiwis have limited access to modern medicines. We will improve that access.

“We will boost overall funding for medicines and speed up the registration of new medicines, with final approval remaining in New Zealand.

“These initiatives will be funded within the indicative health spending allocations in the Prefu [Pre-election Fiscal and economic Update].

“They are also further examples of our determination to shift spending into frontline services for patients, rather than backroom costs.”

See:  Key says Nats would fund 12-month Herceptin treatment

The election promise was one of many that Key made (along with tax cuts and the perennial “getting tough on crime), and on 10 December 2008, the Prime Minister-elect announced,

I am proud to lead a government that has honoured such a commitment to the women of New Zealand.

“The commitment was part of National’s first 100-days action plan.  I am pleased that the Herceptin funding policy effectively applies from the swearing in of the Government on 19 November.”

See:  Government honours Herceptin promise

Unfortunately, John Key’s belief that ” National recognises that many Kiwis have limited access to modern medicines. We will improve that access. We will boost overall funding for medicines and speed up the registration of new medicines, with final approval remaining in New Zealand -  seems only to apply during election campaigns.

At other times, Key  does not seem to want to know.

Allyson Lock is one of five New Zealanders who suffers from Pompe Disease. It is a terminal condition.

There is medication available (called Myozyme ), but it currently receives no funding from Pharmac agency Pharmac.  It is an expensive drug, but without that medication, Allyson and her fellow sufferers will not survive.

See: Mum not prepared to wait and die

.

Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking Blog Pompe

IN SEARCH OF CURE: Allyson Lock will travel to Brisbane every fortnight for five years to receive treatment for the rare incurable disease Pompe.

.

Allyson and her group have appealed to John Key for funding for their medication – without success. In fact, Key wants nothing to do with Allyson and other Pompe sufferers.

At a recent “on-line  chat” with John Key, hosted by Fairfax Media, several people including this blogger attempted to put a question to the Prime Minister; why was National not prepared to fund medicine for Pompe as they had for breast cancer sufferers?

See previous blogpost:   Fairfax; An hour with Dear Leader

After all, Pharmac had expressed the same reservations regarding the efficacy of  Myozyme as they did with long-term  herceptin treatment. Yet, that did not stop Key from ensuring breast cancer sufferers had full access to a year-long course of herceptin.

John Key and Health Minister Tony Ryall have wiped their hands of Allyson.

It is not election year.

So there are no political points to be scored in saving the lives of five fellow New Zealanders.

I look forward to John Key proving me wrong; a link to this blogpost will be sent to media as will as the Prime Minister’s office. The rest is in his hands.

To Prime Minister, John Key;

Fund treatment for Allyson and others, Mr Key. They deserve no less than breast cancer sufferers. You can either oversee funding for their treatment – or attend their funerals.

Your call, Mr Prime Minister.

See previous blogpost:   Priorities?

.

*

.

Related blogpost

The wheels are coming off, and there’s a funny ‘plink-plink’ sound

A John, a Tony, and a Winston

Additional

David Cunliffe:  Speech – The Dolphin and the Dole Queue

Gordon Campbell:  Efficiency Is Not Your Friend

Acknowledgement

Thanks to ‘S’  for proof-reading.

.

.

= fs =

You Have Mail…

.

.

National, ACT, and Peter Dunne have passed legislation to enable the partial-privatisation of our property; Meridian, Genesis, Mighty Rive Power, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand.

I will not take this lying down. Neither should you.

Every New Zealander who believes, hand on heart, that what National is doing is just plain wrong must take  whatever (non-violent) action they can to make their anger known to our elected representatives,

.

To the editors…

.

from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
to:     Sunday Star Times <letters@star-times.co.nz>
date:     Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 7:17 PM
subject:     Letters

The Editor
SUNDAY STAR TIMES

If ever there was a government that has deliberately ignored the will of the people, it is this John Key-led National Party, along with it’s one-man band supporters, John Banks and Peter Dunne.

By passing legislation to enable asset sales, they have thumbed their noses at the entire country. This government is now so far out of touch with the public, that they are blind to what New Zealanders want for the future of their country.

Mr Key can smile and dress-up the proposed asset sales in any way he wants – but the people will revile him for selling what we alreadsy own.

Shame on you, John Key, and on you, Peter Dunne. Shame of you for taking what belongs to us – and then trying to sell it back to us, and any carpetbagger that pops up from overseas.

If I have one word of advice to this wretched government, it is this: resign.

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
“Frankly Speaking”

.

from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
to:     NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date:     Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 7:08 PM
subject:     Letters

The Editor
NZ HERALD

One cannot help but be thoroughly disgusted at the actions of John Key and his wretched “government”, in passing asset-sale legislation.

The manner in which they have blatantly disregarded public opinion on this issue, is simply appalling.

This government has lost it’s legitamacy and should resign. Give the people a new election, and a fresh chance to determine the future of our country.

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
“Frankly Speaking”

.

from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
to:     Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date:     Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 6:58 PM
subject:     Letters

The Editor
DOMINION POST

Peter Dunne – you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourself.

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
“Frankly Speaking”

.

from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
to:     Peter Dunne <peter.dunne@parliament.govt.nz>
cc:     Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>,
 Morning Report <morningreport@radionz.co.nz>,
 Jim Mora <afternoons@radionz.co.nz>,
 Nine To Noon RNZ <ninetonoon@radionz.co.nz>
date:     Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 12:35 AM
subject:     State Assets

Peter Dunne
MP For Ohariu

Sir,

Congratulations for ignoring the will of the people, including those in your own electorate. Bravo!

The majority of New Zealanders wanted our state assets kept in public ownership – and you have steadfastly refused to  respect those wishes.

I wonder how you will be viewed by future historians? As a politician who stood against 3.8 million New Zealanders; that you were right and everyone else was wrong?

Or as another ‘Roger Douglas’ and ‘Max Bradford’ – politicians who also went against the will of the people, and are now scorned figures in our history?

Mr Dunne, you  could have stood against the tide of privatisation – seen as sheer theft by the rest of us – and gone down in history as the man who  made a difference. You could have been a stand-out figure in our history.

But you failed. You failed us, the people. And you failed yourself.

You have participated in an act of infamy and you will have to share a measure of the responsibility for your actions.

Right about now, a fair number of people throughout the country, and in your own electorate, want you gone from Parliament. But no doubt you will resist that demand as well, just as you resisted our calls not to sell our state assets.

The next two and a half years will not be happy for you, sir. And deservedly so.

Begone from Parliament.

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
“Frankly Speaking”

.

To the politicians…

.

from:     Frank M <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
to:     John Key <john.key@parliament.govt.nz>
cc:     Dominion Post <editor@dompost.co.nz>,
 Jim Mora <afternoons@radionz.co.nz>,
 Morning Report <morningreport@radionz.co.nz>,
 NZ Herald <letters@herald.co.nz>
date:     Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 12:15 AM
subject:     Asset Sales

John Key
Prime Minister

Sir,

Congratulations. You must be feeling quite a sense of victory and accomplishment;

Victory: over 80% of the people who opposed asset sales. You have ignored the vast majority of New Zealanders who do not believe that our power companies; Solid Energy; nor Air New Zealand should be sold. These are people who understand that (a) they make good profits for the State, (b) would not help the country if they were sold, and (c) they belong to us and our children.

The last point is especially pertinent; these are state assets that belong to each and every one of us.

At best you and your Parliamentary colleagues are guardians of these assets – not the owners.

But that hasn’t stopped you from passing legislation to part-sell these SOEs. That is our property you intend to sell.

Accomplishment: you took a slim electoral victory and have converted it into some kind of warped, over-hyped,  “mandate” to sell assets that you do not own and which the people do not want sold.

Right about now, you must be feeling a sense of relief that your Party has overseen this legislation passed. But I am guessing that you may also be sensing a fair measure of unease.

Well you should. You and 60 of your fellow Parliamentarians are facing three and a half million very pissed of New Zealanders. That’s quite a feat to have gone from being one of the most popular Prime Ministers – to someone who is now reviled up and down the country.

Sir, I suggest that these partial-asset sales is a mistake – probably the greatest mistake and miscalculation of your career.  If you think that New Zealanders will come to accept what you are doing, then you are wrong.
 
It is not too late. You can still post-pone any asset sale until after the referendum. If you truly believe that New Zealanders will come to support your plans, then you will give us a chance to express ourselves through the referendum ballot paper.

If you choose to ignore public opinion, then you have lost the support of a majority of New Zealanders. People are angry now. But wait until the first SOE is sold, and that anger will manifest itself in a myriad of ways.

You will have lost respect in the eyes of the country, and any legitamacy you have as our elected leader.

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
“Frankly Speaking”

.

David Shearer
Leader of the Labour Party

Russel Norman & Metiria Turei
Co-leaders of the Green Party

Winston Peters
Leader of NZ First

Hone Harawira
Leader of the Mana Party

Kia Ora to you all,

I am writing to you as a New Zealand citizen – one of many – who is apalled and disgusted at the passing of legislation, making way from the part-privatisation of Genesis, Meridian, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand.

Like 80% of other New Zealanders, I am utterly opposed to any partial sale of state assets – especially strategic state assets such as our energy companies.

As has been pointed out innumerable times, there is no sound commercial or social reason to sell-down any of these assets. As well as making sound returns for the State and us, the taxpayer, these are assets that belong to all New Zealanders – not just those who can afford 1,000 parcel-shares.

John Key and his colleagues have ignored public opinion; scorned public expressions of protest; and swept aside sound arguments against privatisation. They are resisting the will of some 70-80% of New Zealanders by proceeding with their actions.

Accordingly, I offer to you a proposal to undermine their ill-conconceived and undemocratic plans.

From a blog-post I made on this issue:

How to sabotage the asset sales…

Whilst all three parties are staunchly opposed to state asset sales, NZ First leader, Winston Peters went one step further,  promising that his Party would buy back the assets.

The Greens and Labour are luke-warm on the idea, quite rightly stating that there are simply too many variables involved in committing to a buy-back two and a half years out from the next election. There was simply no way of knowing what state National would leave the economy.

Considering National’s tragically incompetant economic mismanagement thus far, the outlook for New Zealand is not good. We can look forward to more of the usual,

  • More migration to Australia
  • More low growth
  • More high unemployment
  • More deficits
  • More skewed taxation/investment policies
  • Still more deficits
  • More cuts to state services
  • And did I mention more deficits?

By 2014, National will have frittered away most (if not all) of the proceeds from the sale of Meridian, Genesis, Mighty River Power, Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand.

In such an environment, it is difficult to sound plausible when promising to buy back multi-billion dollar corporations.

Not to be thwarted, Peters replied to a question by Rachel Smalley on Q+A, stating adamantly,

” The market needs to know that Winston Peters and a future government is going to take back  those assets. By that I mean pay no greater price than their first offering price. This is, if they transfer to seven or eight people, it doesn’t matter, we’ll pay the first price or less. “

Bold words.

When further questioned by Rachel Smalley, Peters offered specific  ideas how a buy-back might be funded,

” Why can’t we borrow from the super fund, for example? And pay that back over time?  And why can’t we borrow from Kiwisaver  for example, and pay that back over time…”

The answer is that governments are sovereign and can make whatever laws they deem fit. That includes buying back assets at market value; at original sale price; or simple expropriation without  compensation. (The latter would probably be unacceptable to 99% of New Zealanders and would play havoc with our economy.)

Peters is correct; funding per se is not an issue. In fact, money could be borrowed from any number of sources, including overseas lenders. The gains from all five SOEs – especially the power companies – would outweigh the cost of any borrowings.

The question is, can an incoming Labour-Green-NZ First-Mana government accomplish such a plan?

A plausible scenario would have the leadership of Labour, NZ First, the Greens, and Mana, meeting  for a high-level,  cross-party strategy conference.

At the conclusion of said conference, the Leaders emerge, with an “understanding”, of recognising each others’ differing policies,

  1. Winston Peters presents a plan to the public, promoting NZF policy to buy-back  the five SOEs. As per his  original proposals, all shares will be repurchased at original offer-price.
  2. The  Mana Party  buy-in  to NZ First’s plan and pledge their support.
  3. Labour and the Greens release the joint-Party declaration stating that  whilst they do not pledge support to NZ First/Mana’s proposal – neither do they discount it. At this point, say Labour and the Greens, all options are on the table.

That scenario creates considerable  uncertainty and anxiety  in the minds of potential share-purchasers. Whilst they know that they will be recompensed in any buy-back scheme – they are effectively stymied in on-selling the shares for gain. Because no new investor  in their right mind would want to buy  shares that (a) probably no one else will want to buy and (b) once the buy-back begins, they would lose out.

The certainty in any such grand strategy is that the asset sale would be effectively sabotaged. No individual or corporate buyer would want to become involved in this kind of uncertainty.

Of less certainty is how the public would perceive  a situation (even if Labour and the Greens remained staunchly adamant that they were not committed to any buy-back plan) of political Parties engaging in such a deliberate  scheme of de-stabilisation of a current government’s policies.

The asset sales programme would most likely fail, for sure.

* * *

These are desperate times, calling for desperate measures. Bold measures.

If all four opposition parties can create a plan that will undermine National’s asset-sales programme, then that may be the only way to preserve what rightly belongs to us all.

I, and others, encourage and support you to work together on this critical matter. Without firm leadership from the four Opposition Parties, the public have little hope of stopping National.

-Frank Macskasy
Blogger,
“Frankly Speaking”

.

And their responses…

.

from:     David Shearer david.shearer@parliament.govt.nz
to:     Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
date:     Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 8:06 AM
subject:     RE: Stopping Asset Sales – A proposal
mailed-by:     parliament.govt.nz

Thank you for your email.

 I will pass it to David Shearer.

 Yours sincerely

Dinah Okeby
Office of David Shearer
labour.org.nz

.

from:     Winston Peters Winston.Peters@parliament.govt.nz
to:     Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
date:     Wed, Jun 27, 2012 at 9:18 AM
subject:     RE: Stopping Asset Sales – A proposal
mailed-by:     parliament.govt.nz

Good morning
 
Thank you for your email.  I will pass your message on to Mr Peters for his attention.
 
Kind regards

  Anne Moore
Executive Assistant
New Zealand First

.

from:     Isabelle Lomax Isabelle.Lomax@parliament.govt.nz
to:     Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@yahoo.com>
date:     Sat, Jun 30, 2012 at 4:25 PM
subject:     RE: Stopping Asset Sales – A proposal
mailed-by:     parliament.govt.nz

Kia ora Frank,

 Thank you for your email to Russel and Metiria. They have asked me to reply on their behalves. We appreciate you taking the time to send your idea through to us. You have obviously put a great deal of thought into this and seem to have a very thorough understanding of the issues involved. It’s an interesting idea. I have forwarded it to our advisors on the asset sales issue, and we will have a think about it!

 Thanks again for taking the time to write, and for your passion about this important issue.

 Nāku noa, nā
Isabelle

Isabelle Lomax
Executive Assistant
Office of Dr Russel Norman MP
Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand
14.14 Bowen House
T (04) 817 6712

Authorised by Russel Norman, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

.

*

.

Related Blogposts

Is John Key showing desperation on asset sales?

How to sabotage the asset sales…

Campaign: Flood the Beehive!

Other Blogs

Aotearoa – a wider perspective: Asset sales and Nationalisation, Argentina leads the way!

.

.

= fs =

She Rides Again!

From Labour leader, David Shearer’s Facebook page,

This morning I went to read to the children at Owairaka Primary School in my electorate, and this was the book the teachers had chosen! ” – David Shearer

.

.

.

And it soon became apparent why the teachers chose this book for David Shearer,

.

.

Let’s hope that Mrs Parata’s ride doesn’t include going down the road of League Tables, Charter Schools, and other mind-numbingly silly New Right ideas.

*

.

.

= fs =

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

18 June 2012 3 comments

.

.

Isn’t it strange how Key and National have a funny habit of making promises about jobs and growth – promises that never, ever eventuate?

It’s fairly easy to keep track of our elected representatives and their utterances. Such a handy little gadget, the “In-ter-Net”. Just the handy tool needed to hold them to account for their promises.

Let’s check out Dear Leader’s track record, shall we?

.

= 2008 – 2009 =

.

Key’s Promise

More than 25,000 Kiwis aged 15-19 are not in any form of education, training or work – that’s despite Labour’s promise to get that number down to zero. Those young people are disengaged from education and are at a loose end…

… Today, I’m going to announce a new education entitlement – National’s Youth Guarantee.  It’s based on National’s expectation that all young people under the age of 18 should be in work, education, or training.  “

See:  2008  A Fresh Start for New Zealand

The Reality

Social Development and Employment Minister Paula Bennett said the unemployment rise was a concern…

… She said young people were being affected more than any other age group with unemployment among 15 to 19 year olds rising 7.5 per cent compared to a year ago and 20 – 24 year-olds rising by 4.7 per cent

… We know how tough that’ll be – that’s why we’ve created the Youth Opportunities Package, to give them some experience in the labour market.

See:  Unemployment surges to 9 year high

.

= 2011 – 2012 =

.

Key’s Promise

”  We’ve grown eight out of nine quarters, we have low interest rates, unemployment is falling, we are on track to create 170,000 jobs…

… I believe we can,” he said. “We created 45,000 this year and we’re on track to create the 170,000 in the budget. “

See:  Key optimistic despite global economic fears

4% economic growth forecast in 2012.

170,000 new jobs forecast by 2015, with wages growing faster than inflation. “

See:  Budget 2011 – Building Our Future

The Reality

The Budget deficit is running $1.2 billion worse than forecast as tax revenue continues to lag.  Treasury today released the Government’s financial statements for the eight months to the end of February showing an operating deficit of $8.8 billion.

See: Budget deficit keeps getting worse

The unemployment rate rose 0.3 percentage points to 6.7 per cent in the three months ended March 31, from a revised 6.4 per cent in the prior quarter, according to Statistics New Zealand’s household labour force survey. That’s higher than the 6.3 per cent forecast in a Reuters survey of economists. “

See: Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc

Stronger food manufacturing is expected to lift economic growth to 0.6 per for the first three months of the year, economists say. “

See:  GDP growth likely to be slow, patchy

.

= 2012 =

.

Key’s Promise

The number of pokie machines in New Zealand will continue to fall despite a deal the government is negotiating which will give Sky City casino more of them, Prime Minister John Key says.

Opposition parties are accusing the government of selling legislation through an agreement that will see Auckland’s Sky City build a $350 million convention centre in return for more pokie machines.

Labour says Sky City wants an extra 500 and the government is offering 350.

But Mr Key says it’s a good deal for New Zealand.

It produces 1000 jobs to build a convention centre, about 900 jobs to run it, and overall the number of pokie machines will be falling although at a slightly lower rate,” he said on Monday on TV One.

See:  Key defends casino pokie machine deal

The Reality

Job numbers touted by Prime Minister John Key for a proposed international convention centre at SkyCity are much higher than official estimates.

Mr Key has said a deal allowing SkyCity more gambling facilities in exchange for funding the convention centre would provide 900 construction jobs and work for 800 people at the centre.

But the figures are much higher than those in a feasibility study done for the Government by hospitality and travel specialist analyst Horwath Ltd.

Horwath director Stephen Hamilton said he was concerned over reports the convention centre would employ 800 staff – a fulltime-equivalent total of 500.

He said the feasibility study put the number of people who would be hired at between 318 and 479. ” – Source

See:  Puzzle of Key’s extra casino jobs

.

The Stats

Labour Government

Total Unemployment March 2008: 3.6%

Youth (15-19) Unemployment March 2008:  24,200 (13.9%)

Wage Growth to March 2008:  3.4% (adjusted LCI)

See:  Employment and Unemployment – March 2008 Quarter

See:  Wage Growth – March 2008 Quarter

See:  Youth Labour Market Factsheet – March 2008

National Government

Total Unemployment March 2012: 6.7%

Youth (15-19) Uemployment March 2012: 65,600 (17.1%)

Wage Growth to March 2012:  2% (adjusted LCI)

See:  Employment and Unemployment – March 2012 Quarter

See:  Wage Growth – March 2012 Quarter

See:  Youth Labour Market Factsheet – March 2012

.

Conclusion

The term “mickey mouse” springs to mind, in describing National’s handling of the economy. Their promises for job creation and economic growth are a fantasy, predicated on religious-like faith in a failed free market ideology. (The same ideology that resulted in the global financial crisis in 2008, and the resulting Great Recession.)

The problem with National is that their blind  belief in the “Market” to create jobs is a trap of their own making. The  “Market” will not create jobs until the economy improves. And the economy will not improve until we have more jobs, so people can buy more goods and services. This kind of economic “Catch 22″ is fairly obvious to most people – hence why the French and Icelanders  have elected centre-left governments, and the Conservatives in the UK are polling badly.

With National leaving economic growth and job creation  to the “Market”, any budgetary predictions on their part are meaningless. Thus far practically every prediction made by Key and his Party has failed abysmally.

John Key, especially,  has a tendency to make hopelessly optimistic predictions.  Yet, as with his Sky City/Convention Centre pronouncements, promising around 1,800 jobs – reality soon catches up and shows his promises as little more than wishing-thinking.

Quite simply, Key is not to be trusted on any numbers he  conjures up.  They are Lotto numbers.

.

.

*

.

Additional

Business NZ sees no economic plan

Key defends casino pokie machine deal

Unemployment surges to 9 year high

Puzzle of Key’s extra casino jobs

NZ rich-poor gap widens faster than rest of world

Government policy impacting child poverty levels

Low income households less likely to move up scale – study

.

.

= fs =

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 706 other followers