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Easter Trading – A “victimless crime”?

30 March 2013 23 comments

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happiness is just around the corner

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Some years ago, on ANZAC Day,  I was in a convenience store in downtown Wellington, chatting with a staffmember who also happened to be a friend.

It was before 1pm, and according to the law, whilst the convenience store was able to open, it was not able to sell alcohol.

A customer came in and wanted to buy a bottle of wine (who drinks booze in the morning?!). The staffmember advised him politely that, according to the law, they were not able to sell alcohol before 1pm.

The customer – a well-dressed pakeha male – threw what can only be called a tantrum and demanded his “rights” to buy whatever he wanted.

The shop assistant stood her ground. He continued ranting. And that’s when I said to him,

Do you realise that if she sells you that alcohol, she is breaking the law, and if caught, would lose her job?”

His reply? He spat back with a fair degree of venom, “I don’t care. I don’t give a shit about her job. I just want what I came in for.”

To which I replied,

Well, if you don’t care about her job, why should she care about your so-called rights? It cuts both ways, mate.”

His response was to swear and stormed out of the store.

Good riddance to an arsehole who, as a child, must have gotten everything he wanted by simply demanding it and stomping his feet.

I’ve never forgotten that incident. To me, it signified everything that is wrong with our society.

Since the mid/late 1980s, it seems to me that a “Me Culture” of  individualism, has achieved a degree of dominance that, in the past, would not have been countenanced.

This “Me Culture” is  one that demands consumer goods and services whenever we want it, without due regard for consequences or the rights and needs of others.  The issue of easy availability of cheap alcohol is one such example.

We all know that cheap booze is causing millions of dollars worth of damage to our society and economy. BERL put the figure at over $4.5 billion in 2005/06.  (See: Costs of harmful alcohol and other drug use) The demands placed on paramedic callouts, frontline hospital services, Police, Courts, Prisons, and loss to the economy due to ACC payouts, lost work days, family disruption and violence, etc, is costing our country hundreds of millions of dollars.

Yet, when community leaders and elected representatives want to control aspects of the booze industry, the shrill screams of outrage usually centre around one, selfish, argument,

“Why do you want to penalise me for the actions of others?”

Check out any messageboard, internet forum, letters to editor page, etc, on this issue – you’ll find that argument repeated ad nauseum. (And whinging like that it is nauseating.)

The perennial debate about retailers trading over the Easter weekend is another prime example of the “Me Culture”.

Companies such as Oderings flout the law every year; are fined a paltry $1,000, and are left to repeat the offence year after year,

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2011

Garden centre defies Easter trading ban

Acknowledgement: TVNZ – Garden centre defies Easter trading ban

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2012

Nursery enjoys a good Friday

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Nursery enjoys a good Friday

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2013

Easter trading 'a victimless crime' - retailer

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Easter trading ‘a victimless crime’ – retailer

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Meanwhile, in a quirky irony, larger corporate chain stores obeyed the law,

New Zealand Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich said the corporate chains usually stuck to the rules, and would be closed today and Sunday.

Acknowledgement: IBID

The $1,000 fine paid by each store is outweighed by the big profits made by the law-breaking retailers.

So is it a “victimless crime”, as garden centre owner, Darryn Odering insists?

Or is this a a case of businesses manipulating ill-informed public opinion; selfish attitudes;  and exploiting their advantage as a minority of law-defying businesses, trading when their competitors are closed?

There are other laws in this country – specifically drug related – where it could be reasonably argued that smoking cannabis; ingesting LSD; snorting cocaine; or injecting heroin, is a “victimless crime”.

Yet, our prisons are filled with people who’ve used cannabis,  LSD,  cocaine, or heroin.

And how, specifically is “victimless” defined?

Are retail assistants who are forced to work on public holidays “victims” of  business owners whose only concerns are turning a profit?

There are a few numpties in this country who mistakenly  think that retail assistants (along with fast-food workers, etc) have a “choice” in working on public holidays.

Let me disabuse these naive individuals if that illusion. Retail, fast-food, etc, workers have zero choice in working whatever days/nights they are rostered on.  When employers interview staff one of their first questions will be,

“Can you work public holidays/evenings/nights/etc?” – despendent on what hours the business is operating.

If an employer needs staff  on a Monday, regardless of a public holiday; and s/he has two candidates; all other things being roughly equal; one can work a public holiday; the other can’t – who do you think the employer will choose?

And if a staff member doesn’t like working on  public holidays, and would rather spend time with a family; or has children to look after when schools are closed – do the Pro-Choice Muppets really believe that the employee has the power to change their rostered hours with repercussions?

I submit to the reader that with 170,000 unemployed in this country (and possibly higher according to some stats – see:  New Zealand Real Unemployment at 9.1%), that no retail or fast food worker will jeopardise their job by refusing to work public holidays.

They are a victim of their powerlessness and  high unemployment.

This is not a “victimless” crime. It is an exploitative crime, much like the pimp who forces his girlfriend/wife/relation out onto the streets at night, to have sex with strangers for money. It may be a legal activity, but it is not “victimless” (see: Girls pimped out by relatives – pastor )

Secondly; Louise Evans McDonald, of  the Retailers Association government and advisory group manager stated that,

“Many retailers similarly deserve the right to decide whether they open or not.”

Acknowledgement: Fairfax Media – Easter trading ‘a victimless crime’ – retailer

And that, folks, is the crux of the matter.

Oderings is open during Easter because it is hugely profitable.

Why is is hugely profitable?

Because it’s a public holiday.

Would it be hugely profitable if every single business was open on Easter Friday? Including schools, government departments, etc? In fact, if Easter Friday and Easter Monday was no different to any other day of the week – how profitable would it be for law-breakers like Oderings?

The answer, of course, is that it wouldn’t. It would simply be another business day. Let’s be clear here;

Oderings relies on it’s profits because it’s competitors obey the law.

Oderings would not have those huge  profits if it Easter Friday (and Monday) was another normal trading day.

So people like Rochelle Cook, with her children, at  Oderings Nursery in Upper Hutt on  Good Friday in 2012 (top image) would be at work and her children at day care.

So if the law is to be changed, let’s do it fairly and apply it across the board throughout the country: everything opens and everyone (with a job) works. Not just the captive retail assistants and fast food workers. Everyone.

And this is where the rubber hits the road. Do we, as a country, want to give up a holiday so we can all work like any other day?

And if we’re all working – how will that benefit us and retail outlets?

The answer is; it doesn’t benefit us. We get another day that shops are open and we’re all working. Oh  whoopty f****n doo.  What the hell did we just gain/lose?!?!

To all elected representatives, I offer this advice;

  1. If we’re serious about keeping our holidays, then it’s time that the $1,000 fine was increased to a more meaningful amount. $25,000 seems a nice figure. The current  penalty of $1,000 is meaningless. It’d be like sentencing a drug pusher to community service. Both are supposedly “victimless” crimes, after all.
  2. If we’re going to allow Oderings to open on Easter – then make it a blanket law, across the country. Everyone opens; everyone works.  That includes schools on Easter Friday and Easter Monday.  No one takes time off.

Now let’s see which way the public jumps.

As for Mr Odering, in future I think our household will be shopping at Mitre10 for our gardening supplies.

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References

TVNZ: Garden centre defies Easter trading ban (22 April 2011)

Fairfax Media: Nursery enjoys a good Friday (7 April 2012)

Fairfax Media: Easter trading ‘a victimless crime’ – retailer (29 March 2013)

Fairfax Media: Drought wilts Easter trade in plants (30 April 2013)

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Citizen A – Susan Devoy; Nick Smith; Len Brown; and DoC job losses – 28 March 2013

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– Citizen A –

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– 28 March 2013 –

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– Marama Davidson & Efeso Collins –

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Issue 1: Is Dame Susan Devoy’s appointment as Race Relations Commissioner a step forwards or backwards for Race Relations in NZ?

Issue 2: Do Nick Smith or Len Brown have any affordable housing options for the poor?

and Issue 3: Why must we be burning DoC to save DoC?

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


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Acknowledgement (republished with kind permission)

Martyn Bradbury

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Why a Four Year Parliamentary Term is not a Good Idea – Part Rua

29 March 2013 19 comments

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On 7 February, Key called for the Parliamentary term to be increased from three to four years.

This issue was canvassed in two previous referenda in 1968 and 1990. More than two-thirds of voters wisely voted to keep it at three years.

According to polling, the public response is narrower this time. Perhaps in part to the same polling method that seems to show National with 50%-plus support amongst the public.

This blogger thoroughly rejects any notion  to increase the Parliamentary term.

As I wrote previously in The Daily Blog, there are compelling reasons to deny politicians an additional year in office;

1. Attacks on Critics

Governments become arrogant over time, and National’s (mis)-treatment over it critics should give us great cause for concern.

The following is a  list of just  some of the people who have criticised this government and been abused or derided in return;

July, 2009

Natasha Fuller &  Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers

Personal WINZ details released to the media by Social Welfare Minister, Paula Bennett, to discredit both women after they criticised National for canning the Training Incentive Allowance (which Bennett herself used to pay her way through University).

May, 2011

Jon Stephenson, journalist
John Key derides Stephenson’s research into NZ activities in Afghanistan: “I’ve got no reason for NZDF to be lying, and I’ve found [Stephenson] myself personally not to be credible.”

September, 2011

Nicky Hager, writer, researcher
John Key dismisses Hager’s book, on CIA involvement in NZ military activities in Afghanistan:  “I don’t have time to read fiction,” quipped the Prime Minister, adding that the book contained “no smoking gun”, just supposition, which, “makes it business as normal for Nicky Hager”. (Despite the book having 1300 footnotes to referencing documentation.)

October, 2011

Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury, broadcaster, blogger
Criticised John Key on Radio NZ. Subsequently banned/ “uninvited”  from returning to Radio NZ as a panellist for the Afternoons with Jim Mora segment.

November, 2011

Robyn Malcolm, actor
Criticises the John Key led National government for it’s failures at a Green Party campaign launch, and is, in turn, vilified by the ‘NZ Herald’, and by one-time National Party aspiring-candidate, Cameron Brewer.

November, 2011

Bradley Ambrose, journalist/photographer
Investigated by police after complaint laid by the Prime Minister, over the “Teapot Tape” affair. Ambrose investigated and interviewed by Police. Media office raided. Property seized. Eventually, no charges laid. Government considered seeking costs of $13,669.45 from Ambrose – but eventually decided not to.

March, 2013

Annette Sykes, lawyer, activist, President of Mana Party

When Annette Sykes criticised the appointment of sportswoman Susan Devoy to the role of Race Relations Commissioner, Minister Judith Collins responded with “Annette Sykes is a stupid person”. That’s how National views critics.

There is a degree of  vindictiveness to how National ministers deal with their criticism – and it ain’t pretty, Billy-Bob.

In addition, John Key’s response to  anti-asset sales opposition has revealed glimpses of his arrogance and dismissal of public concerns.

2. Public Opposition

As I wrote in The Daily Daily, on 4 May 2012,  over five thousand people took part in a peaceful,  anti-asset sales Hikoi to Parliament,

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Aotearoa is not for sale hikoi - anti asset sales march   - wellington - 4 May 2012

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Key’s response was instructive,

“How many people did they have? John Key asked reporters. “Where was it? Nope wasn’t aware of it.”

Key says the National Party has a clear mandate to proceed with privatising some state assets.

“Well over a million New Zealanders voted for National in the full knowledge we were going to undertake the mixed ownership model,” he said.

“So look, a few thousand people walking down the streets of Wellington isn’t going to change my mind.”

Source: Key unfazed as protesters descend on Parliament

Nearly a year later, on 12 March, a 392,000-plus signature petition was presented to Parliament. The petition  was  signed by ordinary New Zealanders who wanted nothing more or less than a say in their future.

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12-march-2013-presentation-of-anti-asset-sales-petition-parliament-referendum

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Key’s response?

Key said of the opposition petition you could be as “sure as little green apples [that] huge numbers of them are not bona fide names on the list” and would have to be struck off.

“They’ve probably taken over a year to get maybe 300,000 names, we’ve had 285,000 pre-registrations in a matter of days”.

Source: Government to ignore asset sales referendum

And according to Green Party co-leader, Russell Norman, Key further disparaged New Zealanders who signed  the petition by saying,

“…that the Prime Minister has said the people who signed this are children and tourists….”

Source: IBID

Charming.

We should be under no illusion that National ministers view any form of criticism or opposition with disdain. Key himself is contemptuous of  anyone who dares cross him.

Who in their right minds would want to give politicians an extra year to look down on us, as if we were grubby peasants, not worthy of their time and attention?

3. Unbridled Power?

Never forget that we are governed by an “elected dictatorship”,

  • There is no Upper House to scrutinise legislation from governments.
  • There is no written constitution to safeguard our interests.
  • Referenda have all the ‘bite’ of a toothless octagenarian (not that I support binding referenda – especially without Constitutional safeguards to protect the rights of minorities).
  • There are no mid-term elections; right-of-recall; Presidential Veto; or any other controls over elected representatives.

Once elected, unless a Member of Parliament is found guilty of a lewd act with a sheep, we have zero control over them.

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In conclusion

One of the main arguments in support of a Four Year Term is that three years is not sufficient time  for a government…

To which I respond with this;

That statement is never completed. It gives government more time to achieve – what? What incredibly complex, radical reforms are there that require an extra year (or more) for a government to have more time? What does Key have in mind that demands a four year term?

Remember that Select Committees work in unison, not one at a time, and Legislation can be passed in as little as 48 hours – as “The Hobbit Law” showed us (see: Helen Kelly – The Hobbit Dispute) – not that I’m advocating legislative changes conducted at warp speed.

Perhaps governments might have “more time to achieve things” if time wasn’t wasted with petty point-scoring in the Debating Chamber?  (see: Making Bold With The Speaker’s Chair)

As National-aligned blogger, David Farrar,  said in the NZ Herald on 25 March,

“People do feel three years is not long enough to judge. With a four-year term, more Governments might get chucked out after one term because people would say, ‘It’s been four years, we should have seen some impact.”‘

Really, Mr Farrar?

Funny thing…

National has now been in power for over four years.

What have they achieved in that time?

  • growing child poverty?
  • rising unemployment?
  • large numbers continuing to migrate to Australia?
  • wage cuts for 16-19 year olds?
  • taxpayer funded subsidies for Big Business?
  • taxcuts for the rich?
  • increased GST and other government charges for the poor?
  • lowing environbment standards and more pollution?
  • continuing attacks on the unemployed, solo-mums, etc?
  • no job creation policies?
  • continuing attacks on worker’s rights?
  • no comprehensive training for 85,000+ unemployed youth?
  • importing foreign workers instead of training our own unemployed?
  • state asset sales despite over-whelming opposition?
  • high dollar damanging our export sector?
  • more dodgy deals like pokie-machines for Skycity?
  • increasing foreign debt?
  • closing schools?
  • planned mining in Conservation lands?
  • etc, etc, etc…

As pro-National blogger David Farrar stated,

“It’s been four years, we should have seen some impact.”‘

Damn right, Mr  Farrar, damn right.

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When you stop voting

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Previous related blogpost

Why a Four Year Parliamentary Term is not a Good Idea  (15 March 2013)

References

Wikipedia: Election Day (United States)

NZ Herald: Food parcel families made poor choices, says Key (17 Feb 2011)

NZ Herald: PM attacks journalist over SAS torture claims (3 May 2011)

NZ Herald: Charities’ food handouts at record after Govt cuts (18 Oct 2011)

TVNZ: Key unfazed as protesters descend on Parliament (4 May 2012)

Fairfax media: PM John Key Wants Four-Year Term For Parliament (7 Feb 2013)

Fairfax media: Government to ignore asset sales referendum (12 March 2013)

NZ Herald:  Voters divided on four-year term  (25 March 2013)

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Mighty River Power, Members of Parliament, and Conflicts of Interest

26 March 2013 16 comments

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On 27 June last year,  on the last episode of TVNZ7’s ‘Backbenches’, Minister for Courts, Associate Minister of Justice, and Associate Minister for Social Development, Chester Borrows, admitted his intention to  buy shares in partially-privatised state owned enterprises.

In an  exchange between ‘Backbenches’ Host Wallace Chapman and Chester Burrows,

CHAPMAN:  “Will you be buying shares in Mighty River Power?”

BORROWS:  “Yes, probably.”

CHAPMAN:  “Ok.”

BORROWS:  “I’m a mum and dad investor, well I’m half of a mum and investor partnership.”

CHAPMAN:  “So you will be.”

BORROWS:  “Yep.”

On 2 July, when I blogged this issue (see: Conflicts of Interest?), I asked three questions,

  • Is this a vested interest in partial-privatisation?
  • Is this a conflict of interest?
  • Is this verging on self-serving corruption?

It will be interesting to find (if at all possible to uncover), how many National/ACT/United Future members of Parliament will end up owning shares in Mighty River Power, and other part-privatised SOEs?

A recent Sunday Star Times story told readers that members of Parliament and government ministers would follow a self-imposed “moratorium” on not buying any shares in SOEs for 90 days,

Cabinet ministers have agreed to a voluntary “moratorium” preventing the purchase of shares by all ministers, and some of their staff, until 90 days after the initial sale.

Finance Minister Bill English’s office said: “Cabinet also agreed that ministers and the staff in those offices . . . should use their best endeavours to ensure that their partners and dependent children adhere to the same moratorium.”

Acknowledgment: Fairfax Media – Call to ban ministers from share float

That is simply not good enough. A politician could easily instruct a solicitor to buy shares on his/her behalf. Or purchase shares via a ‘shell-company‘. There are as many ways to dodge scrutiny as the human mind can imagine.

The implications of government MPs and Ministers owning shares in state assets which they themselves have decided to privatise is a serious matter.

The only three ways to avoid such a spectacular conflict of interest is,

  1. Pass legislation banning MPs or their spouses from ever owning shares in SOEs (not very practical)
  2. Make the Pecuniary Interests register a permanent feature for all politicians to fill out for the rest of their lives. (possible – though a real pain in the arse)
  3. Scrap the asset sales programme. (Much easier.)

If politicians such as Borrows purchase shares in SOEs, it will further lower their reputations in the eyes of the public. “They’re in it for themselves” will become a reality in the minds of people, rather than just a vague suspicion.

We’re treading on thin ice here and the prospect of real political corruption takes one step closer to reality.

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Additional References

Call to ban ministers from share float (24 March 2013)

Previous related blogposts

Conflicts of Interest?

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The road to Youth Rates – Wrong way, Prime Minister, Wrong way!

23 March 2013 15 comments

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closing the wage gap with Australia as promised by John Key

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1. Backgrounder

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It was during the 2008 general election that the issue of the growing wage disparity with our Aussie cuzzies became an issue. Curiously, it was the then-Opposition Leader, John Key, capitalist; multi-millionaire; and currency trader, who was making some very odd comments.

Indeed, he was sounding positively socialist – at the time;

We think Kiwis deserve higher wages and lower taxes during their working lives, as well as a good retirement.” – John Key, 27 May 2007

Acknowledgement: John Key’s website – “National Tough On Crime”

One of National’s key goals, should we lead the next Government, will be to stem the flow of New Zealanders choosing to live and work overseas.  We want to make New Zealand an attractive place for our children and grandchildren to live – including those who are currently living in Australia, the UK, or elsewhere. To stem that flow so we must ensure Kiwis can receive competitive after-tax wages in New Zealand.  We must cut taxes and grow our economy, and National will have policies to ensure both occur.” – John Key, 6 September 2008

Acknowledgement: National Party – “Environment Policy Launch

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

Acknowledgement: Government statement

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

Acknowledgement: Dominion Post – Key wants a high-wage NZ

Which sounded all well and good…

Until reality set in. And we remembered that John Key was leader of the National Party – not Labour, Greens, Mana, or the Alliance.

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2. Present Day

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As this blogger wrote last year;

On 9 October (2012), Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson announced that National intended to introduce a new Youth Rate, to take effect in April (2013). The rate would be set at $10.80 an hour – compared to the minimum rate of $13.50 [soon to be $13.75]  an hour currently, and would include 16 to 19 year olds.

As Scoop.co.nz reported,

That equates to $10.80 an hour, or $432 before tax for a 40-hour week. From April next year, the ‘Starting Out Wage’ will apply to 16- and 17-year-olds in the first six months of a job, to 18- and 19-year-olds entering the workforce after spending more than six months on a benefit, or 16 to 19-year-olds in a recognised industry training course.”

Acknowledgement:  Scoop – NZ teens face $10.80 an hour youth wage rate

It is doubtful if National’s Youth Rates will actually create new jobs. More likely, a drop in youth wages will simply create more ‘churn’ in employment/unemployment numbers.

As David Lowe, Employment Services Manager for the Employers and Manufacturers Association, inadvertently revealed,

Without an incentive an employer with a choice between an experienced worker and an inexperienced worker will choose experience every time.”

Acknowledgement:  Scoop – Starting-out wage will help young people onto job ladder

So there’s no new job for the  younger worker – s/he is merely displacing an older worker. Which probably results in  older workers joining the migration to Australia.

End result; a loss of skill and experience for New Zealand, and a gain for our Aussie cuzzies.

Note: the above figures relate to the adult Minimum wage at $13.75 an hour. At the time  the above statements were written, the adult minimum wage was $13.50 an hour. National very generously raised it by 25 cents an hour, and will take effect on 1 April this year.  (Low income earners would celebrate by popping the corks on a few bottles of Wairarapa ‘champagne’ – but 25 cents an hour doesn’t quite cover it. Perhaps a bottle of fizzy will suffice.)

So what was the rationale for National to implement what, effectively, is a wage cut for 16-19 year olds?

Minister for [Cheap] Labour, Simon Bridges said on 21 March this year – and I reprint his statement in full;

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Starting out wage - youth rates - simon bridges - national government - minister for labour - cutting wages

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Acknowledgement: Government statement – Starting-out wage available from 1 May

Nowhere in that statement does Bridges state –  or even hint –  that cutting the wages of 16 to 19 year olds will create one single new job.

Contrast that to Kate Wilkinson’s statement on 18 July 2010, when National introduced the 90 Day Trial Employment Period,

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

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

[…]

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

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

Wilkinson assured the country that, in return for employees losing job protection for 90 days, that the counter-benefit would result in  “stronger economy and creating more jobs for New Zealand families.

So how did that work out?

Let’s check the stats, shall we? From mid-2010 to the latest data for this year,

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Unemployment Rate - july 2010 - march 2013

Acknowledgement: Trading Economics/Statistics NZ

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From July 2010, unemployment rose to January 2011; dropped to July 2011; and then began an inexorable climb to 7.3%.

Even the drop to 6.9% [highlighted in the red box] in January 2013 is illusory, as Statistics NZ reported on Radio NZ,

The numbers officially out of work eased back from a 13-year high at the end of 2012.

But the fall in the unemployment rate was due to more leaving the workforce than new jobs being created.

The numbers of those deemed officially unable to find a job fell by 10,000 to 163,000 in the final three months, figures released by Statistics New Zealand on Thursday morning show.

As a result, the unemployment rate fell from 7.3% of the workforce to 6.9%.

The Household Labour Force Survey shows that employment fell by 23,000, led by there being more women out of work.

It was the third consecutive quarterly fall, taking those employed as a proportion of the workforce to a 10-year low.

The unemployment rate fell only because even more people gave up looking for work than lost jobs.

In all, 33,000 people dropped out of the workforce in the final three months of 2012 – the highest number to do so on record.

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ – Unemployment rate falls as more give up job hunt

If we add those missing 33,000 people to the number who are unemployed, the figures become  jaw-droppingly ghastly,

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Unemployment persons - july 2010 - march 2013

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Acknowledgement: Trading Economics/Statistics NZ

It’s fairly obvious; the 90 Day Trial Period not only did not create new jobs – but unemployment has skyrocketed.

Quite clearly, there are other factors that create new jobs, and silly, ill-considered, simplistic,  neo-liberal gimmicks do not contribute to the mix.

This blogger predicts that precisely the same will happen when youth rates are implemented on 1 April,

  • No new jobs will be created
  • Employment numbers will remain high
  • Older workers will be displaced in favour of cheaper, younger workers
  • New Zealanders will continue to migrate, en masse, to Australia, where jobs and wages have not  been undermined by an ideologically-blinded government

Is reducing the wages bill for  businesses really the best that Dear Leader can come up with? Because, really, the only thing that a new Youth Rates will do is transfer employment to cheaper workers and drag down wages with it.

This is not a plan for wage growth, it is a plan for a low-wage economy, with those New Zealanders who can, escaping to Australia.

Let’s not forget that on 10 April, 2011, Bill English actually welcomed lower wages, on TVNZ’s Q+A,

GUYON Can I talk about the real economy for people?  They see the cost of living keep going up.  They see wages really not- if not quite keeping pace with that, certainly not outstripping it much.  I mean, you said at the weekend to the Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum that one of our advantages over Australia was that our wages were 30% cheaper.  I mean, is that an advantage now?

BILL Well, it’s a way of competing, isn’t it?  I mean, if we want to grow this economy, we need the capital – more capital per worker – and we’re competing for people as well.

GUYON So it’s part of our strategy to have wages 30% below Australia?
BILL Well, they are, and we need to get on with competing for Australia.  So if you take an area like tourism, we are competing with Australia.  We’re trying to get Australians here instead of spending their tourist dollar in Australia.

GUYON But is it a good thing?

BILL Well, it is a good thing if we can attract the capital, and the fact is Australians- Australian companies should be looking at bringing activities to New Zealand because we are so much more competitive than most of the Australian economy.

GUYON So let’s get this straight – it’s a good thing for New Zealand that our wages are 30% below Australia?

BILL No, it’s not a good thing, but it is a fact.  We want to close that gap up, and one way to close that gap up is to compete, just like our sports teams are doing.  This weekend we’ve had rugby league, netball, basketball teams, and rugby teams out there competing with Australia.  That’s lifting the standard.  They’re closing up the gap.

GUYON But you said it was an advantage, Minister.

BILL Well, at the moment, if I go to Australia and talk to Australians, I want to put to them a positive case for investment in New Zealand, because while we are saving more, we’re not saving more fast enough to get the capital that we need to close the gap with Australia.  So Australia already has 40 billion of investment in New Zealand.  If we could attract more Australian companies, activities here, that would help us create the jobs and lift incomes.

Acknowledgement:  TVNZ Q+A – Interview with Bill English

If the Nats think that the Australian government will sit idly by whilst Aussie businesses relocate to this country for cheaper wages, they are fooling themselves.  Australia will retaliate in some way – and it won’t be pleasant for us.

In last year’s May budget, the Nats decided to tax  the meagre wages of paper boys and girls (see: Budget 2012: ‘Paper boy tax’ on small earnings stuns Labour).  Now Key and English are cutting their pay again.

If this is truly the best that the Right can come up with, then they are bankrupt of ideas.

New Zealanders should ponder one, simple question; is this what we really  want for our country and our kids?

Meanwhile, we can add Key’s pledge to raise wages to his growing record of other broken promises. It’s turning into quite a list.

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Previous related blogposts

John Key’s track record on raising wages: 6. Youth Rates (11 Nov 2012)

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment – Employment/unemployment (9 Jan 2013)

References

Government statement: 90-Day Trial Period extended to all employers (18 July 2010)

NZ Herald: Budget 2012: ‘Paper boy tax’ on small earnings stuns Labour (25 May 2012)

NZ Herald: Minimum wage to increase by 25c (26 Feb 2013)

Government statement: Starting-out wage available from 1 May (21 March 2013)

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Devoy as Race Relations Commissioner?! (revised)

22 March 2013 4 comments

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Susan Devoy, commenting on her appointment as our new Race Relations Commissioner,  said,

“There is no denying that this is a huge challenge in my life. I’m under no illusions how difficult it might be but maybe I didn’t realise how difficult it might be starting.”

Acknowledgement: Fairfax – Squashed in court of public opinion

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Dame Susan first woman in race post

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Dame Susan first woman in race post

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That has to be one of the  two worst Under-statements of the Year. (The other being John Key’s now infamous line that Hekia Parata was one of  National’s “smoothest communicators”. See:  Parata safe in her job – Key)

Ms Devoy’s appointment  has been heavily  criticised, mostly along the lines that she had zero experience in any field even remotely approaching race relations.  And some of her comments in the column she used to write for the  Bay of Plenty Times probably didn’t help much.

Comments like this,

“We deserve a day of true celebration and pride. We need a day that doesn’t necessarily replace Waitangi Day but complements it . . . This would leave Waitangi Day to be the day that recognises the importance of Maori, but the door open for a day that we don’t feel ashamed to be a New Zealander.”

Acknowledgement: Fairfax – Squashed in court of public opinion

Oh… so Maori can have Waitangi Day? That’s big of her.

No wonder that Annette Sykes condemned her appointment.

Judith Collins – famous for promising to crush all resistance (or was that Boy Racers’ cars?) – gave a measured, thoughtful, and insightful response to Ms Sykes. Collins called Sykes “stupid”. Wow, that rapier-sharp wit of Collins…

I must admit, when I first heard of Ms Devoy’s appointment, that I raised an eye-brow. I’m not totally familiar with her background, but from what I  knew, she seemed to have no social, practical,  or academic experiences that might give her insights into race relations.

Simply claiming to have “common sense” is not sufficient. What might be “common sense” for one individual might be offensive to someone else.

For example, referring to  “political shenanigans” on Waitangi Day, last year.

Ms Devoy and others of a like-mind might believe that was a straight forward, “common sense”,  assessment of events at Waitangi. It was not. It was inflammatory

On the other side of the coin, those who express themselves at Waitangi are doing so from a long history of broken promises; land theft; destruction of their culture; and a Treaty – signed between Maori and the Queen’s representatives here in New Zealand – that for well over a century had been observed more in the breach than reality – and then forgotten altogether.

If we’d been defeated in WW2 and colonised by a victorious Axis power, I think we would begin to understand how Maori felt.

Furthermore, when Ms Devoy said on 21 March,

“One of my strengths is that I’m pretty forthright and not afraid to have an opinion, but at the same time I have a very strong moral compass and I have a desire to do the right thing.”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Dame Susan first woman in race post

– that really raised alarm bells with me. Her job is not to express “forthright… opinions” nor to “have a very strong moral compass”.   She is not there to tell people what to do nor to impress her “very strong moral compass” on others. If she doesn’t get to grips with that, the next few years will be a rough ride for Ms Devoy and others around her.

Judith Collins responded to criticisms of Ms Devoy’s comments by saying, that her opinions were hers alone, and she would be able to divorce them from her professional appointment,

Mrs Collins said the comments were made before Dame Susan became commissioner, and she would not be as free to express her personal views in her new role.

She added: “The Far Left does not have a monopoly on caring about race relations and Dame Susan Devoy is a very sensible and balanced person.

“We’re allowed in this country to have views that have not been politically sanitised and what’s wrong with that?”

Acknowledgement: NZ Herald – Minister defends Dame Susan Devoy’s new role

It’s not very reassuring when Minister Collins asserts that Ms Devoy, “would not be as free to express her personal views in her new role”. The underlying message is that Ms Devoy’s personal viewsare somehow  unpalatable and inimical to the role of  Race Relations Commissioner.

Worse still is when Collins says,

“We’re allowed in this country to have views that have not been politically sanitised and what’s wrong with that?”

Is the Minister suggesting that  Race Relations Commissioners in the past have had “ views that have … been politically sanitised”?

I would suggest that there is a vast gulf of difference between “ politically sanitised ”  and “ politically sensitive “. Unfortunately, National ministers seem not to know the difference.

And really, if Collins is serious about appointing people whose views have not been “ politically sanitised ” – perhaps she could hire the leader of a local White Supremicist group to the role? There’d be nothing sanitary about the political views of a white supremacist racist.

Whatever  inspired Collins to make this appointment, I believe, will come back and haunt National. Perhaps not this year. Maybe next year.

Does John Key really need another political fire to deal with? One would have thought that Hekia Parata and her Bigger Classroom Sizes foul-up would have been sufficient warning how events can rapidly spiral out of control?

Unless Ms Devoy has some hidden talent for this most-complex of jobs – her appointment will be like a quietly ticking political time-bomb.

Personally, I bear no animosity toward Ms Devoy and certainly harbour no desire to see her fail. With New Zealand being such a multi-cultural society, the office of the Race Relations Commissioner is important – this is where frictions can be quickly addressed and parties brought together to talk over differences.

I hope Ms Devoy succeeds.

But I can still hear a quiet ticking in the background.

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Two polls, two governments

21 March 2013 6 comments

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Two  polls out recently give completely different outcomes if an election had been held over the last week or so.

One, the Roy Morgan poll would result in a change of government – whilst the Herald Digi Poll would (without overhangs) allow National to almost govern on it’s own. The results,

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Roy Morgan Poll

Herald Digi-poll

National

43.5% (-4%)

48.5% (+1%)

Labour

32.5% (+2%)

36.4% (+4.4%)

Greens

13.5% (+1%)

9% (-1.7%)

NZ First

5% (+2%)

2.5% (-3%)

ACT

0.5% (n/c)

0.1% (-0.1%)

Mana

0.0% (-0.5%)

0.5% (+0.2%)

Maori Party

2% (-0.5%)

1.1% (-0.4%)

United Future

0.5% (n/c)

0.0% (-0.3%)

Conservative Party

2% (n/c)

1.3% (-0.1%)

Undecideds/Wouldn’t Say

5%

11%

(n/c = No Change)

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Two polls, two outcomes, two governments. So which is more accurate?

In a previous blogpost (see:  Three recent polls), a comparison was made between Roy Morgan, Colmar Brunton, and Ipson Poll. Of the three, Roy Morgan was closest to actual election day results in 2011.

So let’s compare Roy Morgan; the DigiPoll, and Election Day results,

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Roy Morgan

24 Nov 2011

Digi Poll

25 Nov 2011

2011

Election results

Closest Polling result

Right bloc:

National

49.5%

50.9%

47.31%

Roy Morgan

Maori Party

1%

0.4%

1.43%

Roy Morgan

ACT NZ

1.5%

1.08%

1.07%

Digi Poll

United Future

0.5%

0.0%

0.6%

Roy Morgan

Left bloc:

Labour

23.5%

28%

27.48%

Digi Poll

Greens

14.5%

11.8%

11.06%

Digi Poll

Mana Party

0.5%

0.3%

1.08%

Roy Morgan
Other:

NZ First

6.5%

5.2%

6.59%

Roy Morgan

Conservative Party

n/r

1.3%

2.65%

Digi Poll

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Roy Morgan was slightly more accurate than the Heral Digi Poll.

Interestingly, Roy Morgan seems to be the most accurate pollster when it comes to National, beating Herald DigiPoll, Colmar Brunton, and Ipsos.

Equally important to  Roy Morgan’s polling for preferred Party, is  polling for Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction for the government of the day – in this case, National.

Roy Morgan asks respondants,

“Generally speaking, do you feel that things in New Zealand are heading in the right direction or would you say things are seriously heading in the wrong direction?”

The results seem to back up National’s fall in preferred Party stats,

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New Zealand Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating (Government of John Key): Interviewing Dates
 

Jan 30-Feb 12,

2012

(post election)

Jan 2-13,

2013

Jan 14-27,

2013

Jan 28-Feb 10,

2013

Feb 11-24,

2013

Feb 25-Mar 10,
2013

Right direction

57%

53.5%

57%

55%

54%

51.5%

Wrong direction

30 %

33.5%

30.5%

30.5%

32.5%

37.5%

Roy Morgan GCR#

127

120

126.5

124.5

121.5

114

Can’t say

13%

13%

12.5%

14.5%

13.5%

11%

TOTAL

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

#Roy Morgan GCR = Roy Morgan Government Confidence Rating (The Roy Morgan GCR is 100 plus the difference between the percentage of New Zealanders who say the country is “heading in the right direction” and the percentage who say the country is “seriously heading in the wrong direction”).

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Acknowledgement: Roy Morgan Poll

Soon after the 2011 election, National rated highly with respondants, with 57% approval. Since then, except for a ‘blip’ at the beginning of the year, National’s approval rating has dropped from 57% to 51.5%.

Conversely, those expressing a view that National was headed in the wrong direction, rose from 30% soon after the 2011 election to 37.5%.

Those who Couldn’t/Wouldn’t say have dropped from 13% to 11% – meaning that people’s views on National are  firming up – and becoming more pissed off.

Once Mighty River Power is part-privatised, expect to see National’s support  plummet even further.

As this blogger has been predicting consistently; we will see a change of government in 2014 (if not earlier).

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Previous related blogpost

Census, Surveys, and Cellphones

Three recent polls

References

Final poll: Nats win looks certain, Winston over 5% (25 Nov 2011)

Roy Morgan Poll  (18 March 2013)

Labour rises at expense of allies  (21 March 2013)

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