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Archive for 12 February 2014

Letter to the Editor: The threat of law-suit over plain-packaging – a clear warning!

12 February 2014 1 comment

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FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT:  Letter to the ed
DATE:     Wed, 12 Feb 2014 12:48:25 +1300
TO:     " Dominion Post" <letters@dompost.co.nz> 

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The Editor
DOMINION POST

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John Key is reluctant to pass the government's own Plain
Packaging Bill, which removes glossy advertising on
cigarette cartons, citing the current lawsuit across the
Tasman, between the Australian Government and tobacco giant,
Philip Morris (Hong Kong Branch).

Key is afraid that the NZ government might be sued by global
tobacco companies.

Just as the Australian government is being sued in court
through a free trade agreement with Hong Kong. Hence why
Philip Morris - a multinational company - has instigated the
lawsuit via it's Hong  Kong branch.

This should serve as a clear warning that free trade
agreements such as the mooted Trans Pacific Partnership
Agreement (TPPA) also leaves New Zealand open to law suits.
FTAs restrict the right of democratically-elected
governments to pass legislation if they affect a
corporation's profits.

Whilst the CER free trade agreement binds the Australian and
New Zealand governments to free trade - it does not bind
individual corporations.

This was clearly illustrated when Aussie supermarkets
decided to remove NZ-made goods from their shelves, in
favour of locally-made products.

No wonder John Key does not want to release the text of the
proposed TPPA until the National government signs it.

What is he hiding, I wonder? 

-Frank Macskasy
(Address and phone number supplied)

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Additional

Daily Mail Online: Cigarette giant Philip Morris sues Australian government for billions over plain packaging law

Radio NZ: Plain packaging bill passes first hurdle

NZ Herald:  Most MPs set to back plain-package smokes

Smokefree Coalition: The health effects of smokingbill/#sthash.gNpkdBl0.dpuf

Previous related blogpost

Some thoughts on the Plain Packaging Bill

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A lesson in free market economics for ex-National MP, Katherine Rich

12 February 2014 4 comments

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Milo's Week Invisible Hand

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It seems that our Aussie cuzzies are taking matters in hand and implementing their own “Buy Local” policies. A few overly-zealous supermarket operators have even taken to removing New Zealand-made products from their shelves,

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Supermarket stoush sours CER

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According to Tracy Watkins’ story in the Dominion Post, Key will raise the problem when he meets Australian PM, Tony Abbott in Sydney, later this week.

Raise what, precisely?

This is capitalism/free market/whatever at work. Supermarket owners can stock whatever goods they like. If an owner took it upon him/herself to stock goods only from Outer Mongolia – that’s his/her call in a free market.

In fact, like the Scottish Shop in Dunedin, some retailers are very specific in what they stock.

Food and Grocery council CEO,  Katherine Rich, complains that this policy “undermined the spirit of CER and risked a backlash in New Zealand as well”,

‘‘It’s an issue we’re watching closely because both major supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths, have come out with a very pro-Australia stance. There have been some high profile delistings of some New Zealand brands for no other reason than that they are not Australian.’’

Which is supremely ironic as Ms Rich was a one time member and National Party minister from 1999 to 2008.

So she should know how the free market, capitalist system works. It’s a bit too late in the day to start whinging that another nation’s private companies have adopted their own, specific retail policies.

After all, this is something the “invisible hand of the free market” will work out. According to neo-liberal dogma, if consumers want to purchase New Zealand goods, they will go elsewhere, to other retailers. Or buy via the internet. Or hop on a flight to do their grocery shopping here in New Zealand, at a Pak N Save.

That is how the Free Market works, right?

In fact, as Ms Watkins correctly reported, CER binds governments – not private companies;

One option would be for the Government to lodge a formal objection but sources say the situation is complicated by the fact that CER is a government-to-government agreement, and it is not ‘‘straight forward’’ whether supermarkets are captured by that process.

Very astute.

After all, wouldn’t it be a form of “communism” to bind private companies to buy certain goods?!

On the other hand, free trade agreements such as the CER, or the China-NZ FTA, or the impending TPPA, do bind governments in the way they must purchase goods and services.

A New Zealand government wanting to implement a procurement policy that favours locally produced goods and/or services would immediatly be sued by other nations or foreign corporations, via the World Trade Organisation. (In fact, New Zealand sued Australia at the WTO, over the latter’s refusal to allow New Zealand applies into that country. We won.)

So free trade agreements bind governments – but not private companies (those Kiwi apples can be exported to Australia – but no law can force an Aussie retailer or chain-stores to stock them).

This is something that New Zealanders might consider as the issue of the TPPA nears resolution; signatory governments – like our government – would be bound by a TPPA. But private companies would not (or only in peripheral ways) be bound.

As for Katherine Rich?

Tough luck, lady. This is the capitalist system at work.

Suck it up.

Welcome to  the corporatisation of human civilisation.

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References

TV1: Sweet success after bitter battle over NZ apples

Fairfax media: Supermarket stoush sours CER

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Why I am a Leftie

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 5 February 2014.

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Roy Morgan Poll: Unemployment and Under-employment up in New Zealand!

12 February 2014 8 comments

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Unemployed under-employment

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A new Roy Morgan poll has un-employment in New Zealand steady at 8.5%, with a further 11.3% under-employed. Collectively,  19.8% of the workforce (519,000, up 69,000)  were either unemployed or under-employed. For the December Quarter 2013, according to Roy Morgan:

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New Zealand real unemployment steady at 8.5%

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By contrast, the last Household Labour Force Survey (September 2013 quarter) reported 6.2% unemployed, and the 2013 Census survey gave a figure of 7.1%.

Gary Morgan, of Roy Morgan said,

The latest Roy Morgan New Zealand December Quarter 2013 employment figures show New Zealand unemployment at 8.5% (unchanged from September Quarter 2013). However, New Zealand under-employment – those working part-time but looking for more work – has jumped to a record high 11.3% (up 2.7%). It should be noted that this is the fourth year in a row that under-employment has increased in the December Quarter. However, this year’s increase is substantially larger than in previous years and must represent a major concern for Prime Minister John Key seeking re-election.

“This means a total of 19.8% (up 2.7%) New Zealanders are either unemployed or under-employed – almost identical to the figure earlier last year in the March Quarter 2013 of 19.9%. Total New Zealand unemployment and under-employment is also significantly higher than when Prime Minister John Key won the 2011 Election (19.0%). Key clearly needs to reduce unemployment and under-employment during 2014 to have a strong chance of winning re-election to a third term in November.”

Bearing in mind that Statistics NZ defines being employed as anyone working one hour or more, per week, whether paid or unpaid, and it becomes apparent as to why unemployment/employment statistics in this country are skewed towards the low end. Statistics NZ is simply not presenting us with a real picture of  unemployment.

This, of course, suits governments of either hue, whether National or Labour-led.

Roy Morgan further  explained how their polling was conducted;

The Roy Morgan New Zealand Unemployment estimate is obtained by surveying a New Zealand-wide cross section by telephone. An unemployed person is classified as part of the labour force if they are looking for work, no matter when.

The results are not seasonally adjusted and provide an accurate measure of monthly unemployment estimates in New Zealand. The Statistics New Zealand Unemployment estimates are obtained by mostly telephone interviews.

Households selected for the Statistics New Zealand Labour Survey are interviewed each quarter for up to two years (eight interviews), with one-eighth of the sample being replaced each quarter. The first interview is conducted face-to-face. Subsequent interviews are then conducted by telephone.

Statistics New Zealand classifies an unemployed person as part of the labour force only if, when surveyed, they had actively sought work in the past four weeks ending with the reference week and were available for work or had a new job to start within the next four weeks.

Statistics New Zealand Unemployment estimates are also seasonally adjusted. For these reasons the Statistics New Zealand Unemployment estimates are different from the Roy Morgan Unemployment estimate.

There is a similar divergence caused in Australia’s ABS Unemployment estimates and the Roy Morgan Australian Unemployment estimates. Roy Morgan Executive Chairman Gary Morgan’s concerns regarding the ABS Unemployment estimate are clearly outlined in his letter to the Australian Financial Review, which was not published.

No doubt National/ACT supporters will find little joy in these figures and will casually dismiss them as unreliable or some other reason.

But one suspects they will sing a different tune when a Labour-led government is installed later this year, and Roy Morgan polling continues to show higher-than-official  unemployment statistics.

At that point the Right will suddenly “discover” Roy Morgan.

Note: The Household Labour Force Survey for the  December 2013 quarter was released on 5 February 2014.

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References

NZ Parliament: Unemployment and employment statistics: the Household Labour Force Survey in context

Roy Morgan:  New Zealand real unemployment steady at 8.5% and a further 11.3% (up 2.7%) of workforce are under-employed

Roy Morgan:  Roy Morgan measures real unemployment in Australia not the “perception” of unemployment

Statistics NZ: 2013 Census QuickStats about national highlights

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: September 2013 quarter

Statistics NZ: Definitions – About the Household Labour Force Survey

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

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18 percent of 18-24 year olds unemployed

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 5 February 2014.

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