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Jobs Summit: 2012

10 October 2012 5 comments

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1. Problem

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If we’re going to have to wait for National’s policies kick-in and create the 170,000 new jobs they promised us last year, the  rate of progress will be so glacial that continental drift will  propel New Zealand to crash into the Australian sub-continent before anything happens.

Oh well, at least we won’t have to fly to Australia to find jobs. We’ll just be walking across the beach to Sydney.

Unfortunately, that may take the better part of 50 million years, give or take.

All hilarity aside, the point that should not escape us is that National’s policies are simply not growing the economy and not delivering the jobs we need to reduce  162,000 jobless numbers.  Their obstinate  reliance on ‘The Market’ to deliver job-growth has ham-strung National’s ability to address growing redundancies and unemployment.

Bullying the unemployed – as Bennett has been doing with her bizarre “social obligations”, compulsions, and sanctions  – is little more than a vote-grabbing exercise for rednecks and low-information voters, but otherwise of no practical value in creating even one single job.

John Key’s much-vaunted “Jobs Summit” in early 2009 appears to have  generated only limited success, with John Key’s “darling” project – the Cycleway – not living up to hype for job creation,

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Source

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National clearly has no inkling of how to generate jobs.

Indeed, their own neo-liberal doctrine demands that all job-creation be left solely up to ‘The Marketplace’,

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

Although when it suits Key, he can be  unashamedly “Janus-faced” when it comes to whether or not the State has a role to play in job-creation,

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

Indeed, Mr Key.

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2. Solution

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It is patently obvious to all but the most partisan neo-liberal National/ACT disciple, that the last 30 years of  “orthodox” market ideology has not delivered the ‘goods’.  Rogernomics/Market economy/crony capitalism  – call it what you will – has failed at nearly every level.

Only a few have benefitted,

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Full pathetic story

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The EPMU (Engineer Printing Manufacturers Union) is not waiting around for John Key and National to get of their chuffs and act.

They have called for a summit, to be held this Friday (12 October), in Auckland.

EPMU national secretary, Bill Newson, said,

No one who has seen the mass redundancies of recent months or the numbers of Kiwis heading to Australia can be unaware of the deepening jobs crisis in this country and the need for a new approach.

“Every day we’re seeing redundancies and the impact these have on communities all over New Zealand. At the same time we’re talking to employers who tell us they don’t want to lay people off and are looking for any support they can get to keep people in jobs.

“The common thread through all of these redundancies is the hands-off approach of the last 30 years, which says the Government should keep out of the economy, leave our exchange rate to be set by speculators and accept the decline of manufacturing in this country as somehow inevitable.

“Our union is part of a growing consensus that the hands-off approach to the economy is broken and we need the Government to step up and support our manufacturing sector and the jobs it provides.

“There are alternatives, and as a country we need to discuss them. This summit is about bringing together the new consensus and we welcome anyone interested in the future of our country to join us in planning a new way forward.”

See: EPMU calls summit to tackle jobs crisis

See: EPMU call urgent meeting to tackle job crisis

Those invited to the Summit include,

  • Russel Norman, Green Party co-leader
  •  David Parker, Labour’s finance spokesperson
  • Winston Peters, NZ First leader
  • Peter Conway, NZ  Council of Trade Unions
  • Nick Inskip, Heavy Engineering Research Association
  • Selwyn Pellett, technology entrepreneur
  • John Walley, NZ Manufacturers & Exporters Association
  • Hugh Whitaker, University of Auckland

This is a good start and is something that the next incoming government should take on board and run with.

But rather than a “talkfest” and propaganda exercise, such as National’s 2009 exercise-in-futility, a real New Zealand Summit should include representatives from all industry groups, Iwi, trade unions, and other community, business, and activist representatives.

A real New Zealand Summit should have firm targets to address, with a committment from a new government to find solutions.

Such a Summit must have, as it’s priorities,

  1. Jobs, jobs, jobs.
  2. Elimination of child poverty
  3. Economic growth with entrenched  environmental conservation

As a society we  need to reappraise our values, our goals, and what sort of nation we want for ourselves and our children.

Do we want to live as a highly individualistic “society” of  minimal taxation; minimal social and state services; a greater degree of user pays; and where those left behind rely on struggling charities to survive? And where jobs and services are left purely for Market Forces to deliver?

Or do we want a more cohesive society where we pay sufficient taxation to deliver comprehensive social and state services; where we do not tolerate child poverty and adopt a collective responsibility to assisting those who need it? And where the State, Business, and Unions work together to deliver jobs; good wages; a productive economy with sensible investment/monetary policies; and where the environment is considered our #1 wealth asset?

We need to ask ourselves ,

  • Why is it acceptable to provide vast amounts of electricity to the Rio Tinto/Tiwai aluminium smelter at vastly subsidised prices – and yet our nation opposes subsidised electricity to New Zealand families and retirees?
  • Why is it acceptable to give the movie industry a $100 million tax break to produce fantasy films here – whilst at the same time objecting to a $4-$20 million dollar programme to provide healthy meals in schools for our children who face the harsh reality of poverty?
  • Why is it suddenly necessary that we need overseas investment and foreign “expertise” in our farms – when we lead the world in dairying and agriculture? Why are New Zealanders investing in housing speculation – forcing farmers and businesspeople tro look overseas for investment?
  • How is it we can produce the cleanest, safest food in hygenically maintained factories – and yet we foul our riverways and lakes to the point where many are no longer safe to swim in?
  • Where is the logic of allowing our Dollar to be speculated on by overseas money traders; investment bankers; and outright crooks – and it’s our workers who have to pay the price by losing their jobs when our exporters are no longer able to sell their goods overseas?
  • Why do we have a crisis in housing in this country, and then to top it off, our skilled tradesmen and women head off to Australia?
  • Why are our young folk not in education, employment, or training – with rising joblessness and hopelessness – and then 1 million of us vote for a government that has no solution except to use sanctions to take away what little money they have? And then we wonder where crime, poverty, and lack of hope springs from?

These are a few critical problems (I refuse to call them “issues”) , and it is high time we addressed them instead of opting for soft-options such as unaffordable tax cuts and blaming the unemployed for daring to be unemployed.

Being adrift on the vast sea of ‘Market Forces’ and “muddling through” is no longer acceptable.

Electing inept governments that rely more on ideology than common sense will no longer be of any benefit to us.

Personally speaking, if National wants to participate in a new New Zealand Summit, then so be it.

But in my view, I consider them part of the problem, and their ideology of more-of-the-same is simply a waste of time and energy.

National is part of an unfortunate economic experiment in market liberalism and raw Individualism. They are as much a failure in outcomes as was the great marxist-leninist experiment in the former-USSR.

It took our Russian cuzzies 72 years to realise that their grand experiment in State collectivism was unworkable and failing.

Let’s hope we can make that same determination in only half the time, when it comes to neo-liberal capitalism.

I applaud the EPMU for taking the first steps in beginning a conversation that is long over-due, and which we can no longer avoid.

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Welfare ain’t broke – It’s the Jobs that ain’t there, John-boy!

10 October 2012 9 comments

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Or,

Jobs, Welfare, & the  Joys of a National “Government”

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John Key, being empathetic,

I have said before that I believe in the welfare state and that I will never turn my back on it. We should be proud to be a country that looks after its most vulnerable citizens. We should be proud to be a country that supports people when they can’t find work, are ill, or aren’t able to work.  ” – John Key, 30 January 2007

See:  The Kiwi Way: A Fair Go For All

The promise of National policies on job creation…

This is a budget that actually delivers that.  Treasury say in the Budget, as a result of this platform on what we’ve delivered, 170,000 jobs created and 4% wage growth over the next three to four years.” – John Key, 19 May 2011

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

The economic reality  of National’s “leave it-to-market-forces” policies…

New Zealand’s unemployment rate unexpectedly rose to 6.7pc in the first quarter after the labour force swelled to a three-year high as more people started looking for work in what’s been a tight jobs market. The kiwi dollar fell after the data was released.

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. ” – NZ Herald/Household Labourforce Survey, 3 May 2012

See: Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc

A minister forced to admit the bleedin’ obvious,

There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do.” – Paula Bennett, 29 April 2012

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

How National deals with  a stagnant economy and growing unemployment; blame the beneficiaries,

We will be introducing social obligations, so they will have to enrol their child in early childhood education and get well-checks at the doctor by enrolling with the local PHO. If you have kids, then you will lose 50 per cent of your benefit. That’s the worst case scenario. We hope it doesn’t get to that.” – Paula Bennett, 27 July 2012

See:  Hardline Key to rivals: Bring it on

After all, everyone (who votes National/ACT) knows that welfare beneficiaries – the unemployed, solo-mums, widows, invalids, etc –  really run the country;  hold the reigns of power; and create the policies that generate jobs.

John Key, not-so-empathetic,

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.  ” – John Key, 17 February 2011

See:  Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key

National’s view on unemployment,

But as a country, we need to have a hard look at where the welfare system has got to. I don’t think our welfare system today is what its architects had in mind.  That’s why National has a new approach to reduce long-term benefit dependency. ” – John Key, 15 August 2011

See: Building a more effective welfare system

An unemployed person’s view on unemployment,

It’s just so tough out there at the moment. I do have limited experience. I’ve only had one reply from my ads but a few people have rung about my sign on my fence. They think I’m offering work though … there is next to nothing going out there. ” – Jeffrey Rollo, 4 August 2012

See: Rotorua’s jobless at wits’ end

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SEEKING WORK: Jeffrey Rollo has put a sign up on his front fence and placed advertisements in The Daily Post looking for a job after being laid off a month ago.

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Is this a welfare “problem” – or a lack-of-jobs problem? Who do you believe? John Key or Jeffrey Rollo?

Which begs the questions – will National’s welfare “reforms” create jobs? Will it put Jeffrey Rollo into work?

Will youth rates help Jeffrey Rollo into work?

Will an employer hire Jeffrey Rollo at $13.50 an hour – or an 18 year old at $10.80 an hour?

Who get’s a job that 150 other people will also be applying for?

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Full tragic story

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The answers are fairly obvious.

Exporting jobs to places like China will not create jobs. We end up paying our own workers to rot on the unemployment scrapheap.

Welform “reforms” will not create jobs. Welfare is not “broke”, and is operating as it should, saving people from starving to death.

Youth rates will not create jobs. It simply shifts the few remaining deck chairs around ‘S.S. New Zealand’.

It is time to invest in jobs in our own country.  Blindingly obvious, I would’ve thought.

Unfortunately, as events are now unfolding, it appears that we will have to wait for a change of government that will be job-creation-friendly.

Addendum

The Household Labour Force Survey: September 2012 quarter will be released on 8 November.

 

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Another bare-faced lie from the ACT Party

10 October 2012 1 comment

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From the ACT Party website,

When Labour abolished the youth minimum wage in 2008, youth unemployment soared.  A study by the former Department of Labour found that abolishing the youth wage resulted in a loss of up to 9000 jobs.  Removing the youth minimum wage priced young people out of the market.

See:  Re-establishment of Youth Minimum Wage A Win For ACT

What nonsense. The rise in youth unemployment post-2008 was due to the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

In February 2009, the DoL (former Department of Labour)  website reported,

Unemployment has risen across the OECD

9. Statistics New Zealand reports that New Zealand’s unemployment rate is the tenth
equal lowest of the 27 OECD nations with comparable data. The Netherlands and
Norway have the lowest unemployment rate at 2.7%, with South Korea,
Switzerland and Austria also below 4%. The OECD average unemployment rate
was 6.5%, up from 6.0% when the September 2008 quarter HLFS was released.

10. New Zealand has so far not been affected as much by the global financial crisis as
some other countries. Furthermore, it is in a relatively better position due to a
strong starting point, fiscal stimulus and large decreases in interest rates. In the
United States, the unemployment rate has risen from 4.8% in February 2008 to
7.2% in December 2008, a 15-year high. Unemployment has increased in other
developed nations, particularly Ireland (to 8.2% in December 2008, from 4.7% a
year earlier) and Spain (to 14.4% in December 2008, from 8.7% a year earlier).

[abridged]

15. Youth are often the most at risk during a recession and their unemployment rate is
expected to rise further over the next year. This can be attributed to them having
low levels of experience, but also because those aged 15-24 years old are two to
three times more likely to be unemployed in general. In the early 1990s recession,
the unemployment rate for 15-24 year olds rose from 13.3% in early 1990 to
19.5% in early 1992.”

Source: EMPLOYMENT AND UNEMPLOYMENT – DECEMBER 2008 QUARTER

The DoL website also stated that “Maori and Pacific workers are also expected to be affected by the downturn. These groups have a greater proportion of youth relative to Europeans and also tend to be disproportionally employed in low-skilled and semi-skilled occupations, which are often more affected in a recession“.

Does ACT have a policy advocating a lower wage rate for Maori and Pacific islanders, based on their ethnicity?

After all, if one can discrimiminate on age – why not race?

It is dishonest to lay fault with a previous government’s policy when facts point to a completely different cause and effect scenario.

ACT should learn to be a bit bit honest with the facts rather than re-writing history, Orwellian-style, to suit some confused ideology.

But then again, this is John Banks’ Party. ’nuff said.

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: ,

The betrayal of our young people

10 October 2012 11 comments

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In 2007…

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Today, in the suburb where I grew up, I want to talk about what I consider to be an important part of The Kiwi Way. I want to talk about opportunity, and hope, and how we can bring these to some of the most struggling families and communities in New Zealand.

Part of The Kiwi Way is a belief in opportunity and in giving people a fair go.

As New Zealanders, we have grown up to believe in and cherish an egalitarian society. We like to think that our children’s futures will be determined by their abilities, their motivation and their hard work. They will not be dictated by the size of their parent’s bank balance or the suburb they were born in.

We want all kids to have a genuine opportunity to use their talents and to get rewarded for their efforts. That’s The Kiwi Way, and I believe in it. After all, I was one of the many kids who benefited from it

You might ask “where will the money come from?”

The fact is we are already spending millions of dollars for Wellington bureaucrats to write strategies and to dream up and run their own schemes. I want more of those dollars spent on programmes that work, regardless of who thinks them up and who runs them.”

John Key, 30 January 2007

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Unemployment rate December 2007:

77,000 (3.4%)

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In 2008…

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

  • We will focus on lifting medium-term economic performance and managing taxpayers’ money effectively.
  • We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.
  • We will cut taxes, not just in election year, but in a regular programme of ongoing tax cuts.
  • We will invest in the infrastructure this country needs for productivity growth.
  • We will be more careful with how we spend the cash in the public purse, monitoring not just the quantity but also the quality of government spending.
  • We will concentrate on equipping young New Zealanders with the education they need for a 21st century global economy.
  • We will reduce the burden of compliance and bureaucracy, and we will say goodbye to the blind ideology that locks the private sector out of too many parts of our economy.
  • And we will do all of this while improving the public services that Kiwis have a right to expect.  “

John Key, 29 January 2008

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In 2010…

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“90-Day Trial Period extended to all employers

The 90-day trial period is to be extended to enable all employers and new employees to have the chance to benefit from it, says Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson.

The extension is among planned changes to the Employment Relations Act 2000 that Prime Minister John Key announced today in a speech to the National Party Conference.

“The Government is focused on growing a stronger economy and creating more jobs for New Zealand families.”

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

… “Trial periods were introduced to encourage employers to take on new staff and I’m pleased to see this is occurring”.”

Kate Wilkinson, Minister of Labour, 18 July, 2010

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In 2012…

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Household Labour Force Survey: June 2012 quarter

Unemployment: 162,000 (6.8%)

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“New youth pay rates kicking in

The Government will re-introduce a a youth pay rate which will see 16-to-19-year-olds making a minimum $10.80 per hour.

The new pay rate, to be called the ‘starting-out wage’, will not be compulsory but 40,000 teens will be eligible.

It will kicks in on April 1 next year and the Government estimates it will create up to 2000 youth jobs in the first two years.

The starting-out wage will be set at 80 per cent of the adult minimum wage, which is currently $13.50 per hour.

It will apply for six months after starting with a new employer. The move was National Party policy ahead of the election last November.”

Dominion Post, 9 Oct 2012

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The above facts and stats tell a grim story.

The prologue to this story are the high expectations which John Key presented to the people of New Zealand in 2007 and 2008.

In 2007, Key spoke of  “opportunity, and hope, and how we can bring these to some of the most struggling families and communities in New Zealand “.

In 2008, Key pledged that  “we will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.

Four years later;

National’s latest ‘offering’? To cut the minimum wage for 16 to 19 year olds.

The logic of this policy – planned to start on 1 April 2013 – defies comprehension. In fact, the only way it can be understood is that National is utterly desperate.

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

Quite simply, none of National’s policies have worked.

Even Key’s promise to raise wages has been an abject failure, sending thousands of kiwis to Australia and further afield, in search of jobs.

National’s plan to cut the wages of young New Zealanders is similar to their cynical ploy to depict welfare beneficiaries as lazy, drug-users, criminals, etc.

Instead, they are targetting 16 and 17 year olds – who have no vote – and have no voice in Parliament.

And they are targetting 18 and 19 year olds – who are adult enough to drink, get married, and go to fight in wars overseas – but will not be paid an adult’s wage.

National claims that the new youth rates will create 2,000 new jobs. Aside from mocking this figure as a gigantic step down from the 170,000 “new jobs” promised last year – it is more likely that those 2,000 jobs will simply displace older workers.

In doing so, the employment of young people on lower pay will simply mean,

  1. Less money spent by young people on services and consumer goods,
  2. Young people unable to support themselves fully
  3. A new motivation to send more New Zealanders overseas
  4. New Zealand becoming a low wage economy of the South Pacific

How can a young New Zealander survive on $432 a week – less tax?!

It wasn’t too long ago that Bill English admitted on TVNZ’s Q+A, on 6 November 2011,  that it was almost impossible to live on the full minimum wage ($13.50/hr),

GUYON:  Okay, can we move backwards in people’s working lives from retirement to work and to wages?  Mr English, is $13 an hour enough to live on? 

BILL:  People can live on that for a short time, and that’s why it’s important that they have a sense of opportunity.  It’s like being on a benefit.

GUYON:  What do you mean for a short time?

BILL:  Well, a long time on the minimum wage is pretty damn tough, although our families get Working for Families and guaranteed family income, so families are in a reasonable position.Source

If it’s “ pretty damn tough ” to live on $13 or $13.50 an hour – what on Earth must it be like to try to survive on $10.80 per hour?

And how does our smile & wave (and forgetful) Dear Leader reconcile slashing the minimum wage by his promises to raise wages?

Specifically, these promises,

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

We want to make New Zealand an attractive place for our children and grandchildren to live – including those who are currently living in Australia, the UK, or elsewhere. To stem that flow so we must ensure Kiwis can receive competitive after-tax wages in New Zealand.”  – John Key, 6 September 2008

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

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

By now, more and more New Zealanders are waking up to one simple reality; National cannot lead this country to prosperity or anything remotely resembling it. Their policies for growth seem predicated on,

  • cutting wages
  • asset sales
  • bullying and demonising beneficiaries
  • planning dangerous and unsound deep-sea drilling of the East Coast of the Nth Island
  • mining in conservation lands

It is the height of desperation and bloody-mindedness that National’s major policy of job-creation relies on cutting wages as some kind of “bribe” for employers.

It is the depth of stupidity that will see young people on $10.80 displacing older workers, as employers cut costs in order to maximise their profits – especially as consumer spending is dropping. (See: Electronic card spending drops in September)

It is this sense of sheer miserly selfishness that resulted in,

  • tax cuts in 2009 and 2010 which benefitted the richest in this country
  • abolishing tax credits for children, so they were now taxed on their megre earnings from jobs such as paper-delivery

Is this, then, an act of desperation from John Key and his inept “government”?

You better believe it is. And things are about to get a whole lot worse as National turns this country into a low-wage economy, making us the ‘Mexico’ of the South Pacific.

My message to New Zealand is two-fold;

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Voters: if you want more of this incompetant government that takes money from our young people, whilst cutting taxes for the richest  – vote National.

For those foolish people who vote National: enjoy your life here in New Zealand. Do not follow us to Australia.

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Labour Party: pull your finger out. It is high time you started firing on all cylinders and presented this country with an alternative vision and road.

Now’s good.

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Additional

Radio NZ: Listen to report on Checkpoint

Radio NZ: Listen to Checkpoint interview with Phil O’Reilly (Business NZ)

Radio NZ: Listen to Peter Conway on Checkpoint (CTU)

Radio NZ: New teenage workers’ pay rate set

Fairfax media: New youth pay rates kicking in

Fairfax media: Division over ‘starter’ wage

Other Blogs

The Jackal: National determined to increase exodus

No Right Turn: The return of youth rates

 

 

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