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Archive for March, 2014

Thank you, Geoff, and best wishes for your future…

31 March 2014 2 comments

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geoff robinson radio nz

Morning Report co-host, Geoff Robinson

Photo Acknowledgement: Sunday Star Times

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Tomorrow (1 April) see the last day for one of New Zealand’s best media presenters; Radio New Zealand’s Geoff Robinson. It will be a sad day, and somewhere in the back of my mind, I am hoping that this is some kind of quirky “April Fool’s” joke from the good people of Radio NZ.

In all seriousness, I will miss Geoff’s steady voice and hand. As I wrote 23 November, last year,

Geoff Robinson had been a part of my mornings since I “discovered” Radio NZ in the early 199os. He had been part of my mornings since then, outlasting several partners/lovers, and being there as I had my brekky and first of umpteen coffees.

His style was professional and reassuring. He asked the questions and voiced pertinent points from his guests that screamed from my own thoughts.  He always sounded chatty and “laid back” – but his subtle questioning could be deceptively edgy and insightful.

It’s a cliche, I know, but he will be a tough act to follow.

 

All things must end. But with the certainty of change also come human feelings of loss and sadness.

As I also wrote last year; I will miss him terribly. Like a family member who hangs around, never really imposing himself, but always with something interesting to say.

All the best, Geoff!

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Previous related blogpost

Geoff Robinson – an era ends

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Categories: Various Tags: ,

Winston Peters recycles pledge to “buy back state assets” – where have we heard that before?

31 March 2014 5 comments

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Over the last two years (give or take), NZ First leader, Winston Peters, has stated on numerous occassions that buying back shares in the three energy SOEs (Meridian, Genesis, and Mighty River Power) will be a “bottom line” in any post-election coalition deal.

On 20 June 2012, NZ First posted this statement on their website,

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.

Rt Hon Winston Peters says New Zealand First is committed to buying back the shares at no greater price than paid by the first purchaser.

“State-owned assets rightfully belong to all New Zealanders but National is intent on handing them over to rich foreign investors.

“It is simply lining the pockets of the wealthy by selling off well-performing assets that already provide the Government with extremely healthy dividends.”

Mr Peters says it is only fair to alert potential investors that New Zealand First’s intention to buy back the shares will be part of any coalition negotiations.

“As things stand now, the assets will end up in foreign ownership which is an outright attack on our sovereignty. We are committed to repelling that attack.”

The pledge was repeated on 29 November 2013;

New Zealand First is the only political party that has said since the beginning that if the Government did go ahead with this idiotic decision, then when we are in a position to influence the next Government, we would buy back the shares at a price no more than that initially paid for them.

On ‘The Nation‘, on 15/16 March, interviewed by Patrick Gower, Peters repeated NZ First policy that a share buy-back, at a cost no greater than the original purchase-price, was a bottom line policy for his Party;

Gower: So that means buying Genesis back?

Peters: That’s right. At no greater price than they paid for it.

Gower: And does that mean buying back the other power companies as well?

Peters: It means exactly that. That’s what our position has been for some time.

Gower: So that’s a priority for you in any negotiations?

Peters: It is a priority, and it also has the blessings in terms of economic calculations from Treasury.

Taken at face value, Peters’ committment to buy back shares in the powercos seems more comprehensive and radical than either the Greens or Labour. Neither have committed to buying back shares in Meridian, Genesis, and Mighty River Power until the government books allow it.

But, can Peters’ pledge be taken at face value?

Can he be trusted to make good on his word to (a) make a share buy-back a bottom-line in any coalition deal and (b) actually follow through?

His track record on such matters is not good.

On 27 September 1996,  the then-Bolger-led National government sold the Forestry Corporation of New Zealand Ltd cutting rights to a private  consortium (Fletcher Challenge Forests, 37.5%, Brierley Investments Ltd, 25%, and Chinese state-owned company,  Citifor Inc, 37.5%)

This became a major election issue in  the lead-up to the first MMP election in  1996, with the Alliance organising a CIR petition to halt the sale.

NZ First leader, Winston Peters, pledged to buy back the cutting rights, stating on several occasions that any government he was part of would “hand back the cheque“;

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The game plan - what we're all playing for - NZ First buy back forest corp

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During the election campaign, Peters stated unequivocally his intentions that the privatisation of Forestry Corp would not stand under any government he was part of;

“I want to tell the Chinese buyers and I want to tell Brierleys that they had better not make any long-range plans because the day after the election is over we will be sending them an emissary to them them exactly what is going to happen, that is, that we are going to keep out promise, they can give back the asset and we will give the money back.” – Winston Peters,  Otago Daily Times, 1 Feb 1997 (on pre-election statement/promise)

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http://fmacskasy2.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/otago-daily-times-1-february-1997-winston-peters-asset-sales-forestry-corp-buy-back-hand-back-the-cheque.jpg

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On 11 December 1996, Peters announced that he would be entering into a formal coalition arrangement with the National Party, to form the first MMP coalition government.

Subsequently, Peters’ pledge to “hand back the cheque” and buy back the forestry cutting rights, was ‘quietly’ dropped;

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NZ First ignored chance to implement own policy

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“… NZ First did not make any attempt to include  in the [Coalition] agreement its policy of placing a 24.9% limit on foreign ownership of strategic assets.

Neither did they raise the NZ First promise to buy-back Forestry Corp, which was sold earlier this year to a consortium including Fletcher Challenge.” – Otago Daily Times, 16 Dec 1996

As Treasurer and Deputy Prime Minister in the National-NZ First government, Peters had ample opportunity to implement his Party’s buy-back policy. It was a promise he could have kept. And should have kept.

Instead, NZ First opted to implement National’s policy of tax cuts on 1 July 1998. With even more tax cuts promised by then-Finance Minister, Bill Birch.

This was money that Peters could have allocated and spent of re-nationalising our forests – but was instead wasted on cutting taxes, thereby reducing the ability of the coalition government to implement a buy-back, as Winston Peters had promised.

If Peters holds the balance of power after 20 September, and if he forms a coalition with either bloc, he may well carry out his promise to buy back shares in our energy utilities.

Or then again, he might not.

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References

NZ First: NZ First Committed To Buying Back State-Owned Assets

NZ First: Our asset sales buyback promise – Radio Live Column

TV3: Winston Peters: Asset buy-back ‘a priority’

FAO.org:  Devolving Forest Ownership in New Zealand: Processes, Issues and Outcomes

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

Wikipedia: CITIC Group [Citifor]

Wikipedia: Referendums in New Zealand

Otago Daily Times: Alliance quits quest for forestry petition

Otago Daily Times: NZ First ignored chance to implement own policy

Otago Daily Times: NZ First opts for National

Otago Daily Times: Further tax cuts unlikely before next century

NZPA: Birch pledges more tax cuts

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Be careful what you wish for - Key and Peters

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 March 2014.

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Radio NZ: Nine To Noon – Election year interviews – Jamie Whyte

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– Radio NZ, Nine To Noon –

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– Wednesday 26 March 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan –

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On  Nine To Noon, Kathyrn Ryan interviewed ACT leader Jamie Whyte, and asked him about coalition negotiations, policies, polls, and other issues…

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Radio NZ logo -  nine to noon

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Click to Listen: Election year interviews  ( 22′ 24″ )

 

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A Query to the Taxpayers Union – ***UP DATE ***

27 March 2014 6 comments

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Taxpayers Union website banner

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Further to an earlier blogpost where I emailed Jordan Williams, at the Taxpayers Union, regarding Judith Collins’ taxpayer-funded trip to China, where she visited a milk importer (Oravida) of which  her husband is the sole Director…

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FROM:   "f.macskasy"
SUBJECT: Judith Collins
DATE:    Wed, 12 Mar 2014 10:39:48 +1300
TO:     "Taxpayers Union" <tipline@taxpayers.org.nz> 

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Kia ora,

I am aware that your Union recently condemned the cost
incurred by Green MP, Ms Mojo Mathers, in a trip she made to
Masterton to participate in a radio interview on
disabilities.

Accordingly, will you be investigating and commenting on the
trip made by National MP and Minister, Judith Collins, for
her recent taxpayer-funded trip to China? 

Ms Collins' portfolios include  Minister for Ethnic Affairs;
  Minister of Justice; and Minister for ACC.

It is unclear what purpose was served by a trip to China as
none of her portfolios relate directly  to foreign affairs
or trade.

Will you also be investigating and commenting on the
conflict of interest posed by her visit to Orivida - a
Chinese company of which her husband is a Director?

This appears to be little more than a tax-payer funded
'junket' and I await your response to this in the light of
your critical stance taken regarding Ms Mathers' trip to
Masterton.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

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Mr Williams, from the so-called Taxpayers Union, responded on the same day;

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National puppet organisation

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Several commentators on my previous blogpost suggested that blogs are a part of the media (or “new media”) and that Mr Williams should, accordingly, be responding to my query as if the NZ Herald had contacted him for a comment.

I took note of the suggestions and wrote back to Mr Williams,

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FROM:    "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT:  Re: Judith Collins
DATE:     Sun, 16 Mar 2014 12:37:51 +1300
TO:      "Jordan Williams" <jordan@taxpayers.org.nz>
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Kia ora Jordan!

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my query, and in
such a timely fashion. That was greatly appreciated.

Regarding your point on the Mojo Mathers issue; I understand
that you stated you did not initiate contact with the
Herald, and that you responded to their query.

As you may be aware, I blog on various issues, including
covering public activities such as Select Committee
hearings; protests; etc. 

I am therefore part of the so-called "new media" of citizen
journalists/bloggers, as your colleague, Cameron Slater also
maintains.

Accordingly, I seek a response from you, on behalf of the
Taxpayers Union, on  National MP and Minister, Judith
Collins'  recent taxpayer-funded trip to China.

It is unclear what purpose was served by a trip to China as
none of her portfolios relate directly  to foreign  affairs
or trade. Ms Collins' portfolios include  Minister for
Ethnic  Affairs; Minister of Justice; and  Minister for ACC.

Considering that none of her portfolios relate to foreign 
affairs or trade, was this trip necessary? What purpose did
it serve, and for who?

What is the Taxpayers Union's response on the
perceived/actual conflict of interest posed by her visit to
Orivida - a  Chinese company of which her husband is a
Director?

Does the Taxpayers Union view Collins' trip as little more
than a tax-payer funded  'junket'?

Does the Taxpayers Union consider the $36,000 spent by
Collins on this trip "value for money"?

I look forward to the Taxpayers Union's statement on this
issue.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy
Blogger

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As at 11.59PM, on 18 March, I have received no further correspondence from Mr Williams, nor from any other representative of the Taxpayers Union. Not even a simple acknowledgement of having received my 16 March email.

It is interesting to note the circumstances surrounding this issue.

I emailed the Taxpayers Union because it had commented – and roundly condemned – Mojo Mathers’ flight from Christchurch to Masterton, to attend a radio interview on the issue of disabilities.

On 2 March, Jordan Williams made this statement on the resulting furore surrounding his remarks on Ms Mathers’ travel;

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This morning there has been some criticism of my comments in a story on the Herald website about a trip Mojo Mathers took to Masterton from Christchurch apparently just for a short interview on a community radio station.

For clarification:

  • The Taxpayers’ Union did not seek media attention on this story. There is no associated press release. The Herald called yesterday evening asking for comment, as happens often.
  • The Taxpayers’ Union operate 24 hour media line for comment on taxpayer issues. Yesterday’s call came through to me and I was asked whether it was value for money for an MP to fly 800km for a radio interview on a small community station. I said it was not value for money when the interview could have been done on Skype as well as the comments that are quoted in the story.
  • I’ve made no comment about Ms Mathers disability. In fact, if the travel was necessary I would not criticise the spending. But answering questions posed by the Herald, on matter which as far as I know are completely unrelated to her disability, is legitimate.
  • Accusations that I (or the Union) sought to go after Mathers are ridiculous. To repeat, we were asked for comment by the Herald who were running the story. The comments would have been the same whoever the MP.
  • Accusations that the Taxpayers’ Union are partisan are also silly. I am proud that the Union has gone after National MPs and the current government for expenses, wasteful expenditure and corporate welfare. Seehttp://info.scoop.co.nz/New_Zealand_Taxpayers’_Union 

On reflection, I wonder why an MP from a party that prides itself for having a low environmental footprint choose to fly to a radio interview that could have been done on Skype. Perhaps Ms Mathers had other engagements in Masterton. If so, that was not the information provided to me at the time by the Herald reporter.

Jordan Williams.

Jordan Williams
Jordan Williams
Author

Note Mr Williams’ statement;

Accusations that the Taxpayers’ Union are partisan are also silly. I am proud that the Union has gone after National MPs and the current government for expenses, wasteful expenditure and corporate welfare

Aside from a handful  of press releases aimed at National Minister, Steven Joyce, most of the Taxpayers Unions public comments seemed to target Auckland mayor Len Brown; government departments (whilst not mentioning their Ministers); and strangely, the Labour Party – which is not even in government.

The Taxpayers Union has not commented on Judith Collins’ trip to China, despite there being glaring questions which demand to be asked. Questions such as why a Minister of Justice/Ethnic Affairs/ACC felt the need to spend $36,000 of taxpayers’ money on a junket overseas.

Mr Williams has not deigned to respond to my queries with a comment.

Yet, he was only too happy to launch into a savage excoriation of Green MP, Mojo Mathers, for spending an estimated $500 to speak on an issue that was actually her portfolio – and which, because of her disability, is  a matter she is intimately familiar to speak on.

One can only assume that Mr Williams does not wish to be drawn into this issue.  The reason is quite apparent.

Jordan Williams is closely connected to the likes of David Farrar, Cameron Slater, and Simon Lusk – all of whom are hard-Right National/ACT supporters and apparatchiks.

Right-wing blogger, David Farrar, is one of the  Board members of the Taxpayers Union. His ‘bio‘, however, mentions nothing about his close links to the National Party,

“David is a well known political blogger and commentator. David also owns and manages the specialist polling agency Curia Market Research and has an active involvement in Internet issues. He is an experienced political campaigner and former parliamentary staffer.

“I helped form the New Zealand Taxpayers Union because I believe that New Zealand needs a lobby group to stand up for the rights of taxpayers and ratepayers, and fight against those who treat them as a never ending source of funds”.”

David Farrar’s Disclosure Statement on Kiwiblog;

“Since I joined Young Nationals in 1986, I have been affiliated to, and a member of, the National Party. I do not regard National as always right, but it is the party which I believe gives me the greatest opportunity to achieve the New Zealand I want.

As a volunteer, I established National’s initial Internet presence in 1996 and have held various roles in the party up until 2005. I have three times been a temporary contractor to National HQ, helping out with the campaign in 1999, and also between staff appointments – in 2004 and 2007 for a total of ten months.”

Other Board Members are;

John Bishop; businessman; columnist for the right-leaning NBR; and authored a “puff piece” on National’s Deputy Leader, Bill English; Constituency Services Manager,  ACT Parliamentary Office, April 2000 – August 2002, “developing relationships with key target groups and organising events”.

Gabrielle O’Brien; businesswoman; National Party office holder, 2000-2009.

Jordan McCluskey; University student; member of the Young Nationals.

Jono (Jonathan) Brown; Administrator/Accounts Clerk at the Apostolic Equippers [Church] Wellington, which, amongst other conservative policies,  opposed the marriage equality Bill.

None of this is mentioned even in passing on the Taxpayers Union ‘Who We Are‘ page.

By now, it should be patently obvious that the Taxpayers Union is little more than a thinly-disguised, right-wing, front organisation for the National Party.

In which case, it would be “counter-productive” of the Taxpayers Union to be criticising Judith Collins’ trip to China. It would be a case of  attacking one of their own.

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References

Taxpayers Union:  A question of value for taxpayer money

TV1: Key puts Collins on warning, opposition calls for sacking

Fairfax Media: Anti-MMP plan leaked

Taxpayers Union: Who we are

Kiwiblog: Disclosure Statement

Finda.co.nz: John Bishop Communicator

Johnbishop.co.nz: Bill English – Minister of Infrastructure

Advisoryboards.co.nz:  Curriculum Vitae: John Bishop – Advisory Boards NZ

LinkedIn: Gabrielle O’Brien

LinkedIn: Jordan McCluskey

LinkedIn: Jonathan [“Jono”] Brown

Newswire.co.nz:  ‘Not up to church to dictate on gay marriage’

See Also

NZ Herald:  John Drinnan – High-risk PR strategy flies

Sciblogs: Jesus heals — but not cancer! [Equippers Church]

Previous related blogposts

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

A Query to the Taxpayers Union

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 19 March 2014.

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 24 March 2014

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 24 March 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

Will The Mana party and The Internet party form an alliance?

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (25′ 54″ )

  • Mana Party
  • Internet Party
  • Hone Harawira
  • Kim Dotcom
  • The Alliance
  • Sue Bradford
  • Roy Morgan Poll
  • Shane Jones, Winston Peters, NZ First, The Green Parrot Restaurant
  • Hekia Parata, Kohanga Reo National Trust, performance pay for teachers
  • Ernst Young, Serious Fraud Office, PISA Education Ratings
  • Judith Collins, Oravida
  • John Key, China, Fran O’Sullivan, Rod Oram
  • Labour Party, Forestry policy, Red Stag Timber, government procurement

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Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 21 March 2014

23 March 2014 2 comments

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– Focus on Politics –

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– Friday 21 March 2014  –

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– Jane Patterson –

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A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

Friday after 6:30pm and Saturday at 5:10pm

The Education Minister has once again found herself at the centre of a political storm, after allegations relating to the Kohanga Trust Board’s commercial arm, have ended up with the Serious Fraud Office.

The question is; when does public money cease to be public?

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 21 March 2014 ( 17′  28″ )

  • Hekia Parata, Pita Sharples
  • Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board, Te Pataka Ohanga
  • Ernst & Young report
  • Serious Fraud Office
  • Derek Fox

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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National, The Economy, and coming Speed Wobbles – March Update

23 March 2014 2 comments

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The Nationalmobile

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On 1 March, in a previous blogpost, I raised the following issues;

1. The Reserve Bank has indicated that  it will begin to increase the OCR (Official Cash Rate) this year. Most economists  are expecting the OCR to rise a quarter of a percentage point on March 13.

Confirmed. True to it’s word and as clearly signalled, on 13 March the Reserve Bank  raised the Official Cash Rate (OCR) from 2.5% to 2.75%.

2. An increase in the OCR will inevitably flow through to mortgage rates, increasing repayments.  As mortgaged home owners pay more in repayments, this will impact on discretionary spending; reducing consumer activity, and flow through to lower business turn-over.

Confirmed. The ANZ Bank  has already  announced it will increase its floating and flexible home loan rates .25 percentage points to 5.99% on 17 March. Expect other banks to follow suit. Other bank rate rises will be signalled here.

This will inevitably dampen consumer spending and reduce economic activity.

3. An increase in the OCR will inevitably also mean a higher dollar, as currency speculators rush to buy the Kiwi. Whilst this may be good for importers – it is not so good for exporters.

Confirmed, as the NZ Herald reported;

The New Zealand dollar jumped to a five-month high after the Reserve Bank raised the benchmark interest rate as expected and signalled further hikes are on the way.

The kiwi rose as high as 85.26 US cents, from 84.73 cents immediately before the Reserve Bank’s 9am statement. The local currency recently traded at 85.20 cents.”

And in another Herald story,

By raising rates, the Reserve Bank aims to tame both inflationary pressures and house price increases but also runs the risk of elevating an exchange rate it already considers too high, making exports less competitive.”

For a nation that bases it’s economy on exporting, a rising Kiwi Dollar will bring inevitable problems of higher debt and greater trade imbalance. It means we are not paying our way in the world and inevitably there will be a “Crunch Day” of tragi-Greek proportions.

On that day, the public will blame politicians.

Politicians will blame each other.

And the Left will shake it’s head in exasperation – it’s admonitions that this was all predictable as a natural consequence of unconstrained consumerism coupled with rampant capitalism –  lost in the shrill clamour of pointless blame-gaming.

As BERL economist, Ganesh Nana, said on The Nation on 15 March, we’ve been down this road before and not learned a single lesson  from these experiences.

4. As economic activity and consumer demand falls, expect businesses not to hire more staff and for fresh  redundancies to add to the unemployment rate. Unemployment will either stay steady later this year, or even increase.

On-going…

5. As interest rates rise, in tandem with the Reserve Bank’s policy on restricting low-home deposits, expect home ownership to fall even further. This will increase demand for rentals, which, in turn will push up rents. Higher rents will also dampen consumer spending.

Confirmed. The Reserve Bank  has reported that there has “been some moderation in the housing market. Restrictions on high loan-to-value ratio mortgage lending are starting to ease pressure, and rising interest rates will have a further moderating influence...”

Expect home ownership levels to fall even further as interest rates rise further; rents increase (thereby making it harder for low income families to save); and mortgagee sales to rise as well.

Interestingly, when in Opposition, National Party leader, John Key lambasted the Labour Government for a high OCR leading to high interest rates. In a desk-thumping speech, on 29 January 2008, he railed,

Why, after eight years of Labour, are we paying the second-highest interest rates in the developed world?

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Why can’t our hardworking kids afford to buy their own house?…

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Mortgage rates are rocketing upwards…

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We know Kiwis are suffocating under the burden of rising mortgage payments and interest rates…”

It seems that Mr Key should now begin to be answering his own questions.

6. As the global economy picks up and demand for oil increases, expect petrol prices to increase. This will have a flow-through effect within our local economy; higher fuel prices will lead to higher prices for consumer goods and services. This, in turn, will force the Reserve Bank to ratchet up interest rates (the OCR) even further.

Whilst fuel prices remained steady during the worst of the GFC, they have begun edging upward again as the global economy improves and demand for energy grows.

Our high Kiwi Dollar will mitigate the worst of rising crude-oil prices – but only temporarily. Once other Central Banks begin to rise their OCRs, expect the value of the Kiwi Dollar to fall as speculators sell the Kiwi in preference to harder currencies.

This will be good for exporters.

But will be a negative impact on imports – such as oil. Prices will rise as the Kiwi Dollar falls. Count on it.

7. As businesses face ongoing pressures (described above), there will be continuing  pressure to dampen down wage increases (except for a minority of job skills, in the Christchurch area). For many businesses, the choice they offer their staff will be stark; pay rise or redundancies?

Data suggests that wages are not keeping pace with GDP Growth;

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Wages

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NZ average hourly wages 2012 - 2014

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GDP

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NZ GDP Growth Rate 2012 - 2014

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8. Expect one or more credit rating agencies (Fitch, Moodies, Standard and Poors) to put New Zealand on a negative credit watch.

On-going…

9. According to a recent (21 February) Roy Morgan poll, 42%  of respondents still considered the economy their main priority of concern. 21% considered social issues as their main concern.This should serve as a stark warning to National that people will “vote with their hip wallets or purses” and if a significant number of voters believe that they are not benefitting from any supposed economic recovery, they will be grumpy voters that walk into the ballot booth.

There is no reason to think otherwise on this issue. Voters who are spending more on mortgage or rent are less inclined to be happy consumers.Especially as mortgage rates are expected to rise even further, according to Bernard Hickey’s assessment of Governor Graeme Wheeler’s statement,

Wheeler said in early December he expected to raise the OCR by 2.25% by early 2016, which would lift variable mortgage rates to around 8% by then. The bank forecast interest rate rises of around 1% this year and a similar amount next year.”

Home owners paying 7% to 8% on their mortgage will not be happy-chappies and chapettes. They will be grumpy. The 2009 and 2010 tax cuts will be a dim memory and any attempt by Key to remind voters of those cuts will not be warmly received. Especially as any minute gain for workers was more than swallowed up by the rise in GST, ACC, government user-pays charges, and now their mortgages and rents.

If only a small percentage of grumpy voters change their voting away from National (or stay home) – that will mean a critical drop in support for a right-wing bloc. One or two percentage points is all that is required to change the government.

10. National has predicated its reputation as a “prudent fiscal manager”  on returning the government’s books to surplus by 2014/15. As Bill English stated  just late last year,

We remain on track to surplus in 2014/15, although it will still be a challenge to actually reach surplus in that financial year.”

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On top of which is the $61 billion dollar Elephant in the room; the government debt racked up by National since taking office in 2008. As Brian Fallow wrote in the Herald in 2011,

The concern about government debt is not so much about its level, but the pace at which it is increasing. In June 2008 net government debt was $10 billion, or 5.6 per cent of GDP, and gross debt $31 billon, or 17.2 per cent of GDP.”

A lower tax-take, reported by Treasury on 11 March puts serious doubt on National’s ability to return to “remain on track to surplus in 2014/15″;

  • Total unconsolidated tax receipts for the seven months ended January 2014,  $143 million (0.4%) below the 2013 Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update (2013 HYEFU) forecast…
  • Total unconsolidated tax revenue for the seven months ended January 2014,  $459 million (1.1%) below the 2013 Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update (2013 HYEFU) forecast…
  • GST $250 million below forecast,
  • Net individuals’ taxes $191 million below forecast,
  • Customs and excise duties $156 million below forecast

The March Treasury report follows from a February report showing a similar “smaller than forecast tax take across the board“,

The Crown’s operating balance before gains and losses (obegal) was a deficit of $1.79 billion in the six months ended December 31, $380 million wider than forecast in its Dec. 17 half-year economic and fiscal update, and down from a shortfall of $3.19 billion a year earlier. Core tax revenue was $602 million below forecast at $29.18 billion.

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The smaller tax take was across the board, with GST 2.3 per cent below forecast at $7.5 billion, source deductions for personal income tax 1.2 per cent below forecast at $11.71 billion, and total corporate tax 4.9 per cent below expectations at $3.56 billion.

As I wrote on 1 March, should National fail in that single-minded obsession, the public will not take kindly to any excuses from Key, English, et al. Not when tax payer’s money has been sprayed around with largesse by way of corporate welfarism. Throwing millions at Rio Tinto, Warner Bros, China Southern Airlines, Canterbury Finance, etc, will be hard to justify when National has to borrow further to balance the books.

Any economic “recovery” is fragile; dependent on overseas factors; and will bring new problems. Little wonder that Key brought the election date forward by two months. Mortgage rates by the end of the year will be nudging 7%.

Not much of a Christmas present for New Zealanders.

As such, Labour must begin to attack Key’s government in this area. This will be a grand opportunity for the Left to finally drive a stake through the “heart” of National’s undeserved reputation as  being a “responsible economic manager”.

National remains utterly vulnerable during this year’s election.

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References

Interest.co.nz:  Bernard Hickey looks at what the Reserve Bank’s OCR decision means for mortgage rates and house prices

Radio NZ: Reserve Bank warns of more interest rate rises

Interest.co.nz: Mortgages

NZ Herald: Dollar jumps on OCR hike + video

NZ Herald: New Zealand raises interest rate to 2.75 percent

Reserve Bank: Reserve Bank raises OCR to 2.75 percent

John Key: SPEECH: 2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand

Interest.co.nz: Oil and Petrol

tradingeconomics.com: Wages

tradingeconomics.com: GDP

Roy Morgan: Economic Issues down but still easily the most important problems facing New Zealand (42%) and facing the World (36%) according to New Zealanders

NBR: Govt sees wider deficit in 2014 on ACC levy cut, lower SOE profits

Fairfax media: Public debt climbs by $27m a day

NZ Herald: Govt debt – it’s the trend that’s the worry

NZ Treasury: Tax Outturn Data

NZ Herald: Govt deficit bigger than expected as tax trickles in

Previous related blogposts

TV3 Polling and some crystal-ball gazing

National, The Economy, and coming Speed Wobbles

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https://fmacskasy.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/the-cost-of-living1.jpg

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 March 2014.

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Political Identification Chart for the upcoming Election

21 March 2014 1 comment

MEMO TO SOME LABOUR MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT

Evidently, some folk in the Labour Party have difficulty in recognising who the real enemy are.

Accordingly, I have taken the step of borrowing from the World War 2 era, where the British War Office produced Enemy Plane Identification Charts to easily recognise British warplanes and not confuse them with their Nazi counterparts;

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enemy idenification chart

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To assist some Labour MPs, who seem to have comprehension and eyesight difficulties, I have designed an  easy-to-understand wallchart, to differentiate between the enemy (National, ACT, Peter Dunne, et al) and the Good Guys (their allies, the Greens and Mana).

It helps when you know who to ‘shoot’ at, and who to welcome as a potential Parliamentary ally. Accordingly, I present  the Friends & Foes Political Spotter Chart;

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political friends and foes spotter chart

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It helps the Cause not to shoot your friends.

Anyone who cannot tell the difference should not be on the political battlefield.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 March 2014.

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A Query to the Taxpayers Union

20 March 2014 5 comments

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Oravida - Cartoon-Rod-Emmerson-GIF

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A comment by Sally Randell, on The Daily Blog, raised this interesting point;

Why was Judith Collins in China anyway?

She is justice Minister, not trade minister.

Cheers, coz I can’t find it via google

Which is intriguing. Ms Randell is quite correct; Collins has no portfolios that would necessitate an expensive tax-payer funded trip – complete with a coterie of staffers – to travel thousand of kilometres to China. Airline fares. Plus hotel accomodation. Plus meals.

This would have cost thousands of taxpayer’s dollars.

How many hungry children; endangered species protection;   or hip operations could this money have paid for?

Accordingly, I wrote to the Taxpayers Union on this matter;

.

FROM:   "f.macskasy"
SUBJECT: Judith Collins
DATE:    Wed, 12 Mar 2014 10:39:48 +1300
TO:     "Taxpayers Union" <tipline@taxpayers.org.nz> 

.

Kia ora,

I am aware that your Union recently condemned the cost
incurred by Green MP, Ms Mojo Mathers, in a trip she made to
Masterton to participate in a radio interview on
disabilities.

Accordingly, will you be investigating and commenting on the
trip made by National MP and Minister, Judith Collins, for
her recent taxpayer-funded trip to China? 

Ms Collins' portfolios include  Minister for Ethnic Affairs;
  Minister of Justice; and Minister for ACC.

It is unclear what purpose was served by a trip to China as
none of her portfolios relate directly  to foreign affairs
or trade.

Will you also be investigating and commenting on the
conflict of interest posed by her visit to Orivida - a
Chinese company of which her husband is a Director?

This appears to be little more than a tax-payer funded
'junket' and I await your response to this in the light of
your critical stance taken regarding Ms Mathers' trip to
Masterton.

Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

.

Ms Mathers’ trip cost taxpayers an estimated $500-$600.

Collins’ junket reportedly cost us $36,000.

It’ll be interesting if Jordan Williams lays into Judith Collins with the same gusto he did with Green MP, Mojo Mathers.

What are my chances?!

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*** Up date ***

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Evidently my “chances” weren’t too flash.

This was Jordan Williams’ response to my query to him;

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Jordan Williams - 12.2.14

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Hi Frank,

We commented on Mojo as a result of the Herald calling us and 
asking for such.  Of course we will do the same if asked.

Regards

Jordan Williams

Executive Director  |  New Zealand Taxpayers' Union Inc.

.

So… I take it from Mr Williams’ reply that we will not be hearing from the Taxpayers’ Union unless the media asks them to comment?  And if the media doesn’t make any requests for comment – we’ll never hear from them at all, ever again?

I do believe Jordan Williams has just demonstrated – with crystal clarity – the pro-National partisanship of his “Taxpayers Union”.

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References

TV1 News:  Key puts Collins on warning, opposition calls for sacking

Related

The Daily Blog – Chris Trotter: Dispelling The Negatives: Judith Collins refuses to cry over spilt milk

Previous related blogposts

“It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash”

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

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Op Shopping by Tolley and Collins

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 March 2014.

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 17 March 2014

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 17 March 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

Winston Peters and the possible make-up of the next government. Moves to link school funding to performance.

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (23′ 51″ )

  • Winston Peters, NZ First
  • Judith Collins, Orivida,
  • Helen Clark
  • Green Party transport policy
  • Hekia Parata, education policy, school fundsing system

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More “tricky” business – National’s election strategy now apparent?

18 March 2014 2 comments

. Dirt Unit .

On 1 March (2014), in a previous blogpost, I made the following predictions regarding the coming election campaign,

5. A dirty election campaign , including a well-known extremist right-wing blogger releasing personal information on political opponants, which will backfire badly on National,

It seems that National’s (tax-payer funded) spin doctors/media minders/political strategists have already begun their dirty-campaign to discredit their political opponants in the Labour Party. Note the common theme emerging in these media stories and public statement by National Party politicians;

. Tricky issues facing Cunliffe .

In Parliament, Craig Foss used the “tricky” phrase four times (in case anyone missed it the first time;

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Foss, Craig - Debate on Prime Minister’s Statement .

John Key was well schooled by his media minders to drop the term into his public statements;

. 'Tricky' Cunliffe has priorities wrong - Key .

National minister, Amy Adams, used it in her press statement twice; once in the headline, and once in her text;

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Tricky Cunliffe continues to mislead

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… but her press statement was widely released on other media, such as Scoop;

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Tricky Cunliffe continues to mislead - scoop media

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… and here;

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Tricky Cunliffe continues to mislead - wn website

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“Tricky”, eh?

With his usual casualness, Key began dropping it into his everyday statements,  hinting that his Party was not as “tricky” as ‘the Other lot‘;

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Secret fundraising meals not 'tricky' - Key

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And to really push the point home, National’s strategists made certain to  employ right wing bloggers – from the feral/psychotic (Whale Oil) to the slavishly loyal (Kiwiblog) – to keep pushing the meme.

Kiwiblog

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kiwiblog

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Keeping Stock

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keeping stock blog

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Whalesoil

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whale shit blog

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Homepaddock

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home paddock blog

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Good little foot-soldiers, doing their masters’ bidding.

Just in case anyone is thinking that this blogger is either a tad paranoid or been supping on the Blackberry Nip once too often – I’m not the only one who has been noticing National’s game-playing.

On 7 March, writing for NewstalkZB, Mike Hosking perceptively realised the political spin that was being played out in the media, and that  David Cunliffe’s reputation was firmly in the Tory’s cross-hairs;

This could not have played better for the Government. They wanted to label Cunliffe and they came up with ‘tricky’. Its short, it’s sharp, it’s effective. They came up with tricky after the baby bonus, which not only gave money to people who didn’t need money but actually didn’t give money to as many as they said it would. This was Cunliffe’s first major blow.”

The rationale for National’s strategy is fairly obvious: John Key is wholly vulnerable on issues relating to trust and truth. Dear Leader has a fairly lengthy record of broken promises; dodgy dealings; mis-representation of events; selective use of facts; convenient ‘brain fades’; and some outright lies.

So the Nats simply decided to pre-empt any potential attack on Key’s (somewhat tarnished) reputation, by  Labour’s own strategists, and got in the  first blow.

Expect the Nats to keep pounding this message – and for new, even dirtier attacks of Cunliffe, Norman, Turei, and anyone else who stands in their way for re-election.

A dirty election campaign; mixed with fear mongering and dis-information,  coupled with Key’s obvious (and somewhat bizarre) deflection with his proposed flag referendum are National’s main strategies for re-election. They have very little else to fall back on.

Certainly not their track record, over the last five-and-a-bit years.  That’s the last thing they want the public and media to focus on.

That would be embarrassing.

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References

Manawatu Standard: Tricky issues facing Cunliffe

Parliament: Foss, Craig: Debate on Prime Minister’s Statement

TV3:  ‘Tricky’ Cunliffe has priorities wrong – Key

Beehive: Tricky Cunliffe continues to mislead

Scoop media:  Tricky Cunliffe continues to mislead

Wn.com: Tricky Cunliffe continues to mislead

NZ City: Secret fundraising meals not ‘tricky’: Key

Newstalk ZB:  Mike’s Editorial: ‘Tricky’ Cunliffe needs to break the reputation

NBR: More tricky – Cunliffe’s role in $4m house purchase

Previous related blogposts

National, The Economy, and coming Speed Wobbles .

Other blogs

The Standard: An honest man?

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Waiting to serve the Nats a vote of disgust

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 12 March 2014.

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National’s fund-raising at Antoine’s – was GST paid?

17 March 2014 6 comments

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Key not talking about fundraising dinner

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On TV3’s The Nation, Key steadfastly refused to make public  the names of donors to various fund-raising events (or pay back) at Antoine’s restaurant in Parnell, Auckland.

Instead of using a Trust, where the names of donors are kept hidden, in this case Antoine’s Restaurant – whose owner is a well-known National Party supporter, Tony Astle – was the “bag man” who took the money; banked it; and then passed it on to the National Party as a donation. These donations were recorded with the Electoral Commission for 2010*and 2011*.

However – and here’s an interesting questing question that few (if any) have asked; was GST paid  by Mr Astle on any of the monies ($60,000 and $105,000) received in payment for the meals?

A donation made directly to a political Party does not incur GST. But  Inland Revenue (IRD) is quite clear of what constitutes a donation;

A donation is an unconditional gift only if the giver receives nothing in return.

But these monies were received from people attending the dinner and who paid for their meals accordingly. They received a ‘goods’ and ‘service’ in return for payment.

It is no longer an “unconditional gift”.

So those meals should have incurred GST.

(What Mr Astle then does with those monies, excluding GST,  is his business, and he subsequently gifted it to the National Party as a donation.)

Accordingly, I have made an inquiry with Inland Revenue on this matter;

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Inland Revenue - Te Tari Taake.

Information about a business

Business or trade name: Antoine’s Restaurant
Business IRD/GST number: Not provided
Address – business: Street: 333 Parnell Road
Suburb, city or town: Parnell, Auckland
Phone number: (09) 379 8756
Mobile number: Not provided
Description of the business: restaurant
Provide your detailed information:

Kia ora Mr Taxman, It has recently been revealed in the media that Antoine’s Restaurant in Parnell, Auckland, hosted a series of fund-raising dinners on behalf of the National Party.

One dinner event, in 2010, was attended by 21 people, where each person paid $5,000 to participate in the meal. The restaurant collected $105,000 from attendees.

Another event, in 2010, a sum of $60,000 was paid to the restaurant for a similar event. Considering that the monies paid was for a meal; paid to Antoine’s directly; this appears to have been a good and service provided to paying members of the public.

Was GST paid on these transactions?

Regards,

-Frank Macskasy

.

You’ve successfully submitted your information.

Your information was received on Sunday, 9 March 2014 2:24:30 PM NZDT. This form is now completed.

Your reference number is: 208194.

It remains to be seen if Mr Astle paid GST on payments received for those meals. If 21 people paid $5,000 each, that comes to $105,000.

GST on that sum (in 2010), at 12.5%, would have amounted to $13,125.

Yet, the Donations Return for 2010 clearly shows that the full amount of $105,000 was transferred from Antoine’s/Astle to the National Party. No deduction has been made for GST.

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*

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* Interesting Note:

The 2011 Party Donations Return for National also includes two payment by Oravida;

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Antoines Oravida donations 2011

.

This is the same Oravida that National Minister, Judith Collins, recently visited in China – and of which her husband is a Director. Other donors on this Return also have links to Oravida.

The 2010 National_Party_donations Return also included a donation by one, Susan Chou, who is also connected to Oravida,

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Susan Chou donation 2010

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When it comes to ‘tricky’ – National excels with undisputed mastery of Big Time Tricky.

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References

TV3: Key not talking about fundraising dinner

NBR:  Key under fire for Antoine’s donations

Electoral Commission:  New Zealand National Party donations 2011.pdf

Electoral Commission: National_Party_donations_2010.pdf

IRD: Business income tax

TVNZ:  Judith Collins defiant amid claims of conflict of interest

Previous related blogposts

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

Other blogs

No Right Turn:  “Out of the blue”

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John Key - merril lynch

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 March 2014.

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Letter to the Editor: what is a politician’s promise worth?

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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FROM: 	"f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the Editor
DATE: 	 Sun, 16 Mar 2014 21:10:15 +1300
TO: 	"Sunday Star Times" letters@star-times.co.nz 

.
The Editor
Sunday Star Times

.

Winston Peters has pledged that his Party's bottom line is
the re-purchase of all shares in Meridian, Genesis, and
Mighty River Power at "a price no more than that initially
paid for them".

This is stated on NZ First's website, and Peter's reiterated
his pledge on TV3's 'The Nation' on 15/16 March.

I sincerely hope that Mr Peters' promise to buy back the
powerco SOEs fares better than his pledge in 1996, to buy
back Forestry Corp's timber cutting rights. Forestry Corp
was privatised by the Bolger-led National government for
around $1.6 billion to a consortium made up by Fletcher
Challenge Forests, Brierley Investments Ltd,  and Chinese
state-owned company,  Citifor Inc (now known as CITIC
Group).

Peters promised during the 1996 general election;

“I want to tell the Chinese buyers and I want to tell
Brierleys that they had better not make any long-range plans
because the day after the election is over we will be
sending them an emissary to them them exactly what is going
to happen, that is, that we are going to keep out promise,
they can give back the asset and we will give the money
back.”

The buy-back never happened, despite Mr Peters becoming
Treasurer and Deputy PM on 11 December 1996. His pledge
quietly disappeared.

Let's hope the same fate does not befall his pledge to buy
back the powerco shares.

-Frank Macskasy
(address  & phone number supplied)

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Related blogposts

Fool me Once, Shame on you

Winston Peters recycles pledge to “buy back state assets” – where have we heard that before?

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Letter to the editor: An idea regarding a new(ish) flag

16 March 2014 1 comment

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

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FROM:     "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT:   Letters to the editor
DATE:      Sun, 16 Mar 2014 20:42:43 +1300
TO:       "NZ Herald"  <letters@herald.co.nz> 

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The Editor
NZ Herald

.

John Key suggests that the black and white silver fern
should be our new flag.

I have a better idea.

Why not sell the rights to re-brand our flag? That would
work in well with National's corporatisation of New Zealand
quite nicely.

Perhaps Oravida could be persuaded to sponsor our flag by
incorporating their company logo on it? That would tie in
quite nicely with Judith Collins' passionate desire to
promote our milk internationally, via her husband's company.

The tragic thing is that some hardcore National/ACT
supporters would probably think this was a great idea. It is
not.

-Frank Macskasy
(address & phone number supplied)

 

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References

NZ Herald:  Should the silver fern be NZ’s new flag?

 

 

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Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 14 March 2014

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– Focus on Politics –

.

– Friday 14 March 2014  –

.

– Brent Edwards –

.

A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

Friday after 6:30pm and Saturday at 5:10pm

This week the Prime Minister announced the election date and his plan for a referendum on the New Zealand flag. Meanwhile, Judith Collins got a roasting in the media over perceptions of conflict of interest, and from the Prime Minister in withholding information from him.

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Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

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Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 7 March 2014 ( 15′  30″ )

  • NZ flag
  • Judith Collins
  • Oravida
  • Chief of Staff Wayne Eagleson
  • Cabinet Office
  • conflicts of interest
  • David Cunliffe
  • trusts

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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Radio NZ: Nine To Noon – Election year interviews – Winston Peters

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– Radio NZ, Nine To Noon –

.

– Wednesday 12 March 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan –

.

On  Nine To Noon, Kathyrn Ryan interviewed NZ First’s leader, Winston Peters, and asked him about coalition negotiations, policies, polls, and other issues…

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Radio NZ logo -  nine to noon

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Winston Peters is the leader of NZ First, which is polling at around the 5% threshold for getting MPs into parliament without winning an electorate seat, meaning it could yet hold the balance of power after voters go to the polls on September 20.

Click to Listen: Election year interviews  ( 35′ 17″ )

 

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A Tale of Two Track Records: Labour vs National #1: New Zealand GDP

12 March 2014 4 comments

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party-logos - which

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As the election campaign for 2014 heats up, citizens can expect a deluge of dis-information, distortions, and  lies from the enemies of the progressive Left. Their constant repetition will be that Labour left the economy is a shocking state in 2008, with the most pernicious  outright lie that the Clark-Cullen government left New Zealand with a “decade of deficits”.

None of it is true. It is part of a meme-construction by the Right, with zealous followers who are willing and able to spread their mis-information on the internet.

Spreading lies is easy.

Discovering the truth is that much harder – you need to know where to look.

This series of reports will hopefully make things easier for those who want a clearer picture of events over the last two or three decades.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

  • Introduction

Most graphed information is taken from Trading Economics, a US-based, on-line, economics-information website.

Trading Economics provides its users with accurate information for 196 countries including historical data for more than 300.000 economic indicators, exchange rates, stock market indexes, government bond yields and commodity prices. Our data is based on official sources, not third party data providers, and our facts are regularly checked for inconsistencies. TradingEconomics.com has received more than 100 million page views from more than 200 countries.

In turn, the site uses information from Statistics New Zealand, the World Bank, NZ Treasury, etc.

The reader can set dates for specific time-parameters  (indicated with red arrows) to search the site’s data-banks by years. It is extremely user-friendly and informative.

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field parameter searches

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Other sources for data will be clearly referenced.

National governance is marked with a blue line.

Labour governance is marked with a red line.

  • New Zealand GDP

“The gross domestic product (GDP) measures of national income and output for a given country’s economy. The gross domestic product (GDP) is equal to the total expenditures for all final goods and services produced within the country in a stipulated period of time.”

.

New Zealand GDP

.

In the 1990s, under National and Ruth Richardson’s (1990-1993) economic stewardship, GDP dropped from $43.9 to $40.3 billion and unemployment skyrocketed to 11.2%. For much of the 1990s, GDP see-sawed up and down, peaking at $67.9 billion in 1997 before falling away again.

Note: National implemented two tax cuts, in 1 July 1996 and 1 July 1998. Neither seemed to help grow GDP, and many public services were cut back in the late 1990s.

For Labour, except for a dip in 2001, GDP rose every year from 2002 to 2008. The rise in percentage terms is outlined below.

From 2009 to 2013, despite the GFC, GDP increased from $117.8 to $169.6 billion, though the rise in percentage terms, outlined below, was not so encouraging. GDP growth, per capita, was also lack-lustre, as demonstrated below.

  • New Zealand GDP per capita

“The GDP per capita is obtained by dividing the country’s gross domestic product, adjusted by inflation, by the total population.”

.

New Zealand GDP per capita

.

Except for two recessionary periods (early 1990s and 2007/08 Global Financial Crisis and recession), New Zealand’s GDP, per head of capita, has grown every year, until the GFC/recession, when it dropped from$28,168.1 per capita in 2008 to $27,383.8 in 2009.

Curiously,  the 2009 and 2010 tax cuts did not seem to contribute greatly to per capita GDP.

  • New Zealand Real GDP

Real Gross Domestic Product (real GDP) is a macroeconomic measure of the value of economic output adjusted for price changes (i.e., inflation or deflation). This adjustment transforms the money-value measure, nominal GDP, into an index for quantity of total output. GDP is the sum of consumer Spending, Investment made by industry, Excess of Exports over Imports and Government Spending. Due to inflation GDP increases and does not actually reflects the true growth in economy. That is why inflation rate must be subtracted from the GDP to get the real growth percentage called the real GDP.

The raw data for the Reserve Bank  graph (see below) is available in an XLS spreadsheet containing all key figures.

.

reserve bank of nz real gross domestic product 1990_2013

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  • Main Stats
  1. Average GDP, 1990 to 1999:     2.4%
  2. Average GDP, 2000 to 2008:   3.5%
  3. Average GDP, 2009 to 2013*:  1.2%

* 2013 figure averaged over three Quarters only.

(Calculations based on RBNZ raw data spread sheet)

  • Impactors on GDP growth
  1. Recession, 1987/91
  2. Ruth Richardson’s “Mother of all Budgets” in 1991, which deepened the recession,
  3. Recession, 1997/98
  4. GFC/recession, from 2007/08 onward.
  • Conclusion
  1. Whilst GDP figures “bounce” around, Labour’s stewardship of the economy between 2000 and late 2008 has been more consistant in GDP growth and with less extremes shown in the 1990s and post-2008.
  2. GDP dipped into negative growth in the early 1990s and post-2008
  3. GDP remained in positive growth between 2000 to 2008
  4. Allegations that the economy did not perform well under Labour are clearly wrong, and the evidence does not sustain those claims.
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 5 March 2014.

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References

Trading Economics:  About Us

Trading Economics: New Zealand GDP

Trading Economics: New Zealand GDP per capita

Wikipedia: Real Gross Domestic Product (definition)

Reserve Bank of NZ: Real GDP

Reserve Bank of NZ: Real GDP Raw Data spreadsheet

NZ Treasury: New Zealand Economic Growth: An analysis of performance and policy

NZ Treasury: Recent Economic Performance and Outlook

Te Ara: The ‘mother of all budgets’

Ministry of Business, Innovation, & Employment/Dept of Labour:  How bad is the Current Recession? Labour Market Downturns since the 1960s

Colin James: Ruth amid the alien corn

Previous related blogposts

Labour: the Economic Record 2000 – 2008

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The trouble with capitalism is that you run out of money

There, fixed it.

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Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 10 March 2014

.

– Politics on Nine To Noon –

.

– Monday 10 March 2014 –

.

– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

.

Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

Party machinations, intrigue and trust in politics are among the topics for exploration.

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radio-nz-logo-politics-on-nine-to-noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (23′ 13″ )

  • David Cunliffe, trusts, State-funding political parties
  • Antoines, Tony Astle
  • Winston Peters, Owen Glenn
  • Judith Collins, Oravida, next National Party leader
  • polls

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= fs =

Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 7 March 2014

.

– Focus on Politics –

.

– Friday 7 March 2014  –

.

– Demelza Leslie –

.

A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

Friday after 6:30pm and Saturday at 5:10pm

After being officially appointed as the new ACT leader, Jamie Whyte is now being heralded as the saviour of the party that’s struggling to even register in political polls.

.

Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics

.

Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 7 March 2014 ( 16′  37″ )

  • ACT,
  • Jamie Whyte,
  • RMA,
  • Three Strikes Law,
  • Epsom,
  • John Banks

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Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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= fs =

Purchasing “justice” on the New Zealand open market…

8 March 2014 3 comments

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ladyjustice

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Timeline

19 November 2010: An explosion at Pike River Mine, on the West Coast, kills 29 miners.

10 November 2011:  The Department of Labour  lays 25 charges against Pike River Coal Limited (in receivership);VLI Drilling Pty Limited (Valley Longwall),  and Peter William Whittall.

31 July 2012: Valley Longwall International (VLI) pleads guilty in the Greymouth District Court to three health and safety charges and on 26 October is fined $46,800. Pike River Coal’s  receivers enter no plea and a year later are fined and order to make payments to the families. PRC did not pay the fine and made only a minimal payment to the victim’s families.

25 October 2012: Peter Whittall enters not guilty pleas.

30 October 2012:  A  Royal Commission of Inquiry concludes and presents a report to the Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson.

5 November 2012: Royal Commission’s report made public and   Kate Wilkinson resigns as Minister of Labour.

10 December 2012: “Prime Minister John Key will personally apologise to the families of the Pike River 29 after a Royal Commission report blamed the Government for lax oversight of the mine.” (Source)

16 October 2013: Peter Whittall’s lawyer, Stuart Grieve QC,writes secretly to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) suggesting that  in ‘‘advance of the $3.41 million being made available, it is proposed [with precise terms to be agreed] that  …  the Ministry will not proceed with the charges laid against Mr Whittall by advising the Court that no evidence will be offered in support of any of the charges.’’

12 December 2013: Judge Jane Farish drops all charges against Peter Whittall saying, ‘‘Some people may believe this is Mr Whittall buying his way out of a prosecution, but I can tell you it’s not.’’ Peter Whittall agrees to pay compensation of $3.41 million to the families of the dead Pike River miners.

27 February 2014: Stuart Grieve’s secret letter to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is made public under an OIA request.

Denials

 ‘‘Some people may believe this is Mr Whittall buying his way out of a prosecution, but I can tell you it’s not.’’ –  Judge Jane Farish

‘‘It arrived by Stuart Grieve, nobody asked if they were prepared to offer money – they offered money. Very careful legal advice was taken as to whether it was proper to take this into account at all. We got clear legal advice that we should take it into account, and it was one, but only one, of that factors, and not the predominant factor in the decision that was taken.’’- Geoffrey Podger, CEO, WorkSafe NZ

‘‘I wish to make it very clear, again, that there was no such arrangement between the defence and prosecution.’’ – Brett Murray, General Manager, Worksafe high hazards

Stuart Grieve: “This letter didn’t just come out of the blue. That’s not how it happened. Although that is perhaps the impression that seems to have been given by what I’ve read read, that Worksafe chief executive said that the letter just arrived, and we offered money. That’s not how it happened at all. The [letter] needs to be looked at in context. Over a period starting from about, quite early last year, the solicitors for the defendent, Mr Whittle, and I, were getting disclosure from  MBIE that very quickly revealed that they had, there were  significant problems with the electronic disclosure and then that in turn revealed that there were significant problems with the way  the investigation had been  carried out because a lot of relevant materials stored on computers operated by all sorts  of employees of Pike [River Mine] had not been recovered or retained and a lot of that would well have, could well have been relevent to the defence. There were also significant problems with the evidential aspects of the case.”

Mary Wilson then asked, if the case was looking so bad, if the evidence was looking so poor, what was the advantage in paying $3.41 million to get the charges dropped?

“As a result of all these difficulties, I mean the trial was going to be a long one anyway, but these difficulties which would have had to be contested in court would have made the, on our assessment, the trial would’ve, could have lasted anything between  four to six months. And it was going to be horrendously expensive. If this trial had proceeded and the ministry had failed, the families would’ve got nothing. As it stands now, the families ended up getting the reparation that had been ordered by the judge against the company, which was of course in receivership.”

Mary Wilson pointed out to Grieve that the directors hadn’t been prepared to pay compensation, unless Mr Whittle wasn’t charged.

“Well, look,  all I can say to you is that the money was offered , the charges were dismissed, but the suggestion that it was a backroom deal, is just quite wrong. This was not something that was just agreed by the prosecution. It was at the Court hearing when the charges were dismissed. The Prosecution said that it was considered on principle and conventional basis in accordance with the prosecution guidelines. It had gone, as we understand it, we were told it  was going to be considered by the solicitor-general, so that it went to, you know, significantly high up, in [the] Crown Law office. You know, to say that it was just a back room deal, sort of, is a criticism that’s easily made, but we were told from  the outset that it was going to be considered by the Crown on a principled basis and as I understand it and the submissions to the Court confirm it, that’s how it was done.” – Stuart Grieve QC, interviewed by Mary Wilson, on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint

Conclusions

  1. A secret deal was offered by  solicitor, Stuart Grieve, on 16 October 2013, that in return for payment of $3.41 million dollars by Peter Whittle, that the Crown would drop all charges against Whittle.
  2. On 12 December 2013, Judge Jane Farish dropped all charges against Peter Whittall, and an agreed sum of $3.41 million was offered by Peter Whittle as “compensation”.
  3. The secret deal was finally made public on 27 February.
  4. According to Grieve, the Solicitor General was aware of the deal; “It had gone, as we understand it, we were told it  was going to be considered by the solicitor-general, so that it went to, you know, significantly high up…”
  5. Denials that this was not a “secret back room deal” fly in the face of what looks very obviously a secret back-room deal.

Questions

  1. Is this going to be the new ‘norm’ for the justice system in this country – that a person can buy their way out of a conviction?
  2. Will the government be publishing a tariff for what “compensation” is demanded in payment, according to  severity of charges?
  3. If not, will the Solicitor General, Stuart Grieve, Judge Farish, and anyone else associated with this affair, be resigning their position?

Because, really, this isn’t just a case of something rotten in the state of Denmark…

… this is a case of advanced decomposition.

Heads must roll.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 28 February 2014.

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References

Wikipedia:  Pike River Mine disaster

Ministry of Business, Employment, and Innovation: Pike River Charges Laid

Fairfax media: Whittall ‘part of Pike deal’

TV3: Key to apologise to Pike families in person

ABC News: Prosecutors drop charges against former Pike River Coal chief executive Peter Whittall

NZ Herald: Pike River: Labour accuse Govt of dodgy deal

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A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part toru

8 March 2014 3 comments

Continued from:  A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part rua

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new-zealand-national-party_3382 adapted 2014

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An incoming Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?*) coalition government will have much work to do – especially in it’s first three years.

In the six years that National has been in power, they have passed many odious and often repressive pieces of legislation. Labour and the Greens have already committed to repealing some of these laws and policies.

As a Labour-led coalition government addresses growing problems of child poverty; income inequality; a shortage of decent, affordable housing; and chronic unemployment, a legislative programme will demand a long list of progressive reforms.

In no particular order;

The 90 Day Employment Trial Period

An amendment to the Employment Relations Act 2000, Section 67A, allows  employers to sack – without just cause or a chance for an employee to improve performance – within a 90 day period.

It gives unbalanced power to employers who can blackmail an employee or get rid of them at the slightest whim. It also makes workers less willing to be mobile in the workplace. Why change jobs at the risk of being fired within 90 days of taking up a new position?

When the 90 Day Trial period was first introduced in April 2009, it applied only to companies employing 19 staff or less.

By April 2011, this was extended to all companies regardless of staff numbers. (A typical National strategy; start small – then encompass an entire sector.)

Has it helped  generate more jobs as National claimed it would?  Evidence suggests it played very little part in creating employment, and indeed unemployment went up after both legislative changes,

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Source

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So aside from empowering employers and disempowering workers, what exactly was the point of enacting this piece of legislation? Because it seems that an awful lot of people lost their jobs through this legislation. As one media report stated,

It is not known how many workers were dismissed during the trial period, but the figures revealed 27 per cent of employers said they had fired at least one new employee during or at the end of their trial.

This means at least 18,000 people lost their jobs in the first three months of employment last year, with the actual figure likely to be much higher.

And precisely how does this raise wages, as per Dear Leader’s past promises (see below)?

This law gives too much power to one party in the Employer-Employee relationship, and it has no place in a fair-bargaining workplace.

On 17 October 2010, Labour promised that this law would be scrapped by an incoming Labour-led government. I hope the current Labour leadership has not resiled from this commitment.

Ports of Auckland Dispute – Shipping Lines Price Fixing

“The average income has been about $90,000, so it hasn’t been a badly-paid place. But the problem is flexibility when ships arrive and when staff get called out, how they can cope with that.” – John Key, 12 March 2012

Putting to one side the myth of  POAL maritime workers earning $90,000 – so what?

Even if it were true (which is doubtful – POAL has never released the workings of how they arrived at that sum, despite requests), isn’t such a good wage precisely what Dear Leader John Key has been advocating?

POAL management sought to reduce costs;  casualise their workforce; and compete with Ports of Tauranga for shipping business. Unfortunately, competing on costs would, by necessity, involve driving down wages.

This appears to have been motivated  by a high degree of price-fixing by shipping cartels, as was pointed out by the Productivity Commission in April 2012,

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Full story

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Rather than supporting the workers, Dear Leader bought into a situation where international shipping companies were playing New Zealand ports off against each other, to gain the  lowest possible port-charges.  Even local company, Fonterra, was playing the game.

Here we have a situation where New Zealand workers were enjoying high wages – something John Key insists he supports – and yet he was effectively allowing international corporations to create circumstances where those wages could  be cut and driven down.

As with the “Hobbit Law”, our Dear Leader appears to pay more heed to the demands of international corporate interests than to fulfilling his pledges to raise wages.

An incoming Labour-led government should immediatly implement the Productivity Commission’s recommendation,

“The commission recommends that New Zealand require shipping companies wishing to collaborate to fix prices or limit capacity to demonstrate to the Commerce Commission that there will be a public benefit which will outweigh the anti-competitive effects.”

This problem must be addressed by an incoming government. It is simply intolerable for foreign corporations to be dictating labour laws; industrial relations; and wages, in a supposedly sovereign nation.

Youth Rates

From 1 May 2013, National  re-introduced a new Youth Rate. The rate would be set at $10.80 an hour [soon to be increased to $11.40 per hour]– compared to the then- minimum rate of $13.50  an hour  [soon to be $14.25 on 1 April this year], and would include 16 to 19 year olds.

John Key stated,

“For a lot of employers, they will go out there and say, ‘I’m going to give somebody a go that’s been in the workforce before’ and so the balance is against that younger person. That’s very disheartening for them – they are good young people, they just want a chance.

So I think it’s got to be seen in perspective – the vast overwhelming bulk of youngsters actually won’t go on a starting out wage.”

Which conflicts with John Key’s other assertions that he wants to see wages rise;

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

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

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

Youth rates won’t achieve that goal, Mr Prime Minister!

There is no good reason why Youth Rates should 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.”

As Lowe admitted – there is no new job for the  younger worker. S/he is merely displacing an older worker.

As it is, figures from Statistics New Zealand’s  Household Labour Force Survey showed that unemployment for young people had already fallen by the March 2013 Quarter – a full two months before Youth Rates came into effect;

In the year to March 2013, there was a large fall in unemployment for people aged 15–24 years (down 10,500). This fall can be largely attributed to a decrease in unemployed 20–24-year-olds (down 11,200). This was an atypical fall in unemployment, as the number of people unemployed for this age group usually increases during March quarters. The unemployment rate for people aged 20–24 years fell 4.1 percentage points to 10.9 percent – the lowest rate since the September 2009 quarter.

The employment rate for 20–24-year-olds rose over the year to March 2013. There was also an increase in the number of people aged 15–24 years not in the labour force over the year. Behind this was a rise in the number of young people outside the labour force who are studying (up 25,000). The number of both 15–19-year-olds and 20–24-year-olds in study rose –  up 16,200 and 8,800 respectively.
NEET rate declines

In seasonally adjusted terms, the NEET (not in employment, education or training) rate for youth (aged 15–24 years) decreased 1.5 percentage points, to 12.5 percent in the March 2013 quarter. This is the lowest youth NEET rate since the September 2011 quarter. The NEET rate for people aged 20–24 years fell 2.4 percentage points to 15.9 percent.

As the global economy continued to improve; the Christchurch re-build moved into high gear; and demand for our exports increased, unemployment was bound to eventually fall.

In which case, paying young workers a lower wage than their older counterparts was nothing more than a “gift” handed to employers.

As such, it has no place in a modern, civilised society. Youth rates are exploitative and demoralising. They also drag adult wages downward, as employers can opt for cheaper labour, as  David Lowe stated above.

In October 2012, Labour’s then-Leader, David Shearer condemned youth rates,

“It’s not going to create jobs by driving down wages.  These people are going to leave and go to Australia.

We need an economy that provides decent, secure jobs and good incomes and where young people have hope and opportunity, not the low-wage vision promoted by National.”

An incoming Labour-led government must repeal this exploitative legislation.

Continued at:  A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part wha

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(* At this point in time, NZ First’s leader, Winston Peters,  has not indicated which bloc – Labour or National – he intends to coalesce with. As such, any involvement by NZ First in a progressive government cannot be counted upon.)

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1498796_1406892599556857_1741125395_o

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

To be continued at:  A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part wha

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References

Parliament Legislation: Employment Relations Act 2000, Section 67A

NZ Herald: Will the 90 Day trial period make a difference?

Beehive:  90-Day Trial Period extended to all employers

Trading Economics: New Zealand Unemployment Rate

Waikato Times: Thousands sacked under 90-day trial period

Radio NZ:  Labour would scrap 90 day trial – Goff

Fairfax media: Calls to end shipping lines’ price fixing

Fairfax media: Jackson pulls back from port comments

Radio NZ: PM defends lower youth pay rate

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

Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: March 2013 quarter

TV1 News: Employers back youth ‘starting wage’

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Letter to the Editor: Message to students with loans – don’t come home!

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old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879

 

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In the media today; it seems that National has followed through on it’s promise, last year, to enact a new law to criminalise New Zealanders;

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Student loan defaulters targeted

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To which I replied accordingly;

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FROM:     "f.macskasy" 
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE:    Fri, 07 Mar 2014 13:45:08 +1300
TO:     "The Dominion" <letters@dompost.co.nz> 

 

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The Editor
Dominion Post

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So National has passed a law decreeing that student loan
defaulters returning to New Zealand will be arrested at our
borders (ie; airport)?

What will this achieve, aside from sending a clear message
to Kiwi expats - don't come home?

The sad irony of this ridiculous law is that most of it's
National Party architects had the benefit of a free tertiary
education in their youth. In the case of Paula Bennett, her
university education was paid by the taxpayer via a Training
Incentive Allowance which she scrapped in 2009. 

In John Key's case, his university tuition - again free -
gave him the opportunity to amass a multi-million dollar
fortune, before returning home.

After two unaffordable tax cuts, National is so desperate to
scrape together revenue to balance it's books that it is
willing to criminalise an entire sector of our fellow New
Zealanders.

What an absolutely apalling state of affairs we have arrived
at when greed, in the form of lower and lower taxation,  
has resulted in permanently exiling so many of our children.

The message is clear: don't come home unless you have money.

-Frank Macskasy
(address & phone number supplied)

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References

Radio NZ:  Student loan defaulters targeted

Previous related blogposts

Budget 2013: How NOT to deal with Student loan defaulters

 

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Paula Bennet

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And this is why we call them Right Wing Nut Jobs…

7 March 2014 3 comments

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ACT

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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From the Xtremely Looney Files

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Right wing nuttiness knows no bounds.  Public utterance by Garth McVicar, Colin Craig,  and recently from ACT’s new leader, Jamie Whyte, are just too good for any self-respecting (or otherwise) blogger to pass up.

From the laughable, on the chemtrail conspiracy theory,

Our party has no formal position on chemtrails. I am aware of the theory that chemicals are being released at high altitude for some nefarious purpose, but don’t know whether there is any truth in this or not.” – Colin Craig, December 2012

… and more snorts of  laughter on the conspiracy theory that the moonlandings were a hoax,

I don’t have a belief or a non-belief in these things. I just don’t know. I have no idea, mate. That’s what we’re told. I’m sort of inclined to believe it. But at the end of the day I haven’t looked into it. There are very serious people that question these things. I don’t have to have an opinion on these things, I don’t have time to look into it.” – Colin Craig, 4 December 2013

… to the offensive,

Why should, say, a 70-year-old who’s had one partner all their life be paying for a young woman to sleep around? We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world. This does nothing to help us at all.”- Colin Craig, 9 May 2012

… to nasty, ignorant, religion-inspired judgementalism,

The marriage institution being a relationship between a man and a woman predates government. It is not the job of government to start re-defining marriage… New Zealand has had enough social engineering; it’s time to bring government back to core services”  – Colin Craig, 11 May 2012

I think most people recognise that there are other influences such as upbringing, such as events in life. For homosexuals, they are statistically far more likely to have suffered child abuses as a child… It certainly can make a difference in someone’s choices in life, there’s no question about that in my mind.” – Colin Craig,  4 August 2012

Yes, we are discriminating between relationships. We are saying that marriage between a man and a woman is recognised. We are saying that a relationship between a man and a man, for example, goes down the path of a civil union.” – Colin Craig, 23 January 2013

… to this very strange exchange on TV3,

He was so sure that homosexuality was a choice, he bet his own sexuality on it.

“Do you think you could choose to be gay if that is the case?,” he was asked.

“Sure. Sure I could,” he responded.

“You could choose to be gay?,” he was asked again.

“Yea, if I wanted to,’ he replied. – Colin Craig, 27 July 2012

Something you want to tell us, Colin?!

Meanwhile, new ACT leader, Jamie Whyte took a walk on the Very Wild Side on incestuous relationships,

I don’t think the state should intervene in consensual adult sex or marriage, but there are two very important elements here – consensual and adult.  I wonder who does believe the state should intervene in consensual adult acts?  I find it very distasteful I don’t know why anybody would do it but it’s a question of principle about whether or not people ought to interfere with actions that do no harm to third parties just because they personally wouldn’t do it.

The probability of having some problem with the children is greater when the mother is over the age of 35 but I’ve never heard anyone suggest that anyone over the age of 35 shouldn’t be allowed to have sex.” – Jamie Whyte, 26 February 2014

Mind you, this is the character who referred to the minimum wage as “cruel”,

“ …those businesses which don’t directly lay off workers will be discouraged from employing more, or replacing those who leave voluntarily in future. The best thing that low skilled workers can do is get work experience. It’s hard to think of a crueller policy than passing a law that bans the people most in need of work experience from getting any.” – Jamie Whyte, 25 February 2014

–  because as we all know, paying someone $1 an hour is not *cruel*.

… and has no problem in abolishing health and safety regulations to protect workers,

I do believe that the regulatory framework around labour and health and safety in New Zealand should be liberalised, and I think there’ll be many advantages to workers in liberalising them.  I’m not sure that we’re going to campaign hard on that, but I certainly believe that.” – Jamie Whyte, 3 February 2014

– because 29 men killed at Pike River Mine, and dozens killed in the foresty industry,  is not a sufficient sacrifice on the alter of Libertarianist ideology.

… and plucking bizarre beliefs out of thin air (on the marriage equality Bill),

The marriage amendment bill will not benefit society at all and will ultimately have detremetal [sic] effect on crime at all levels .” – Garth McVicar, 20 January 2012

If you look at the court stats, most of the crime that has been committed has been committed by fatherless kids .” – Garth McVicar, 21 January 2012

Although that  rationale  seems more than a bit odd. If “most of the crime that has been committed has been committed by fatherless kids” – having two  fathers  should all but eliminate crime!?!

That would be a Good Thing, right?

But that’s prejudice for you. It collapses very quickly under a groaning weight of  blind prejudice and weak foundations based on irrational ‘logic’.

On a positive note, even society’s fringe elements can count  on Parliamentary representation.

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References

Fairfax: Craig focusing on ‘upside’ of media

NBR:  Colin Craig not sure man walked on moon

Otago Daily Times: NZ women ‘most promiscuous in the world’

NZ Herald:  Homosexuality a personal choice, says Conservative Party leader

Dominion Post: Colin Craig: Gay marriage is ‘social engineering’

NZ Herald:  Act Leader Jamie Whyte stands by incest comments

Scoop Media: National bows to minimum wage myths

NZ Herald: Society right to discriminate – Craig

The Ruminator: Mr Ryght: An interview with ACT leader: Jamie Whyte

Newstalk ZB: Don Brash surprised by ACT’s new direction

Fairfax: Lobbyist links gay marriage to crime rise in NZ

NZ Herald: McVicar stands by claim over gay bill

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Colin Craig Conservative Party

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

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WTF? Is John Key having a melt down?!

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Key_cunliffe_mccarten

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On Radio NZ’s “Nine To Noon” programme, ex-Labour Party president, Mike Williams described the appointment of veteran political campaigner, Matt McCarten, as “either an act of lunacy or a stroke of brilliance“.

This blogger opts for the latter – this was a strategic master-stroke by Cunliffe and the Labour Party hierarchy. In one move, Cunliffe has;

  • appointed one of the most skilled veteran political campaigners in the country,
  • sent a message to Labour members that the Party is moving away from the corporate-driven neo-liberal concensus,
  • chosen a political figure with a wealth of experience  and who has contacts across the political spectrum,
  • is highly respected by those on the Left and Right of the political spectrum.

It is hard to see who could have filled this role any better.

Judging by comments from National’s leader, John Key, the appointment has struck a raw nerve. Key is obviously worried, as his comments across the media clearly suggest,

Fairfax media;

“He [McCarten] is hard-Left.”

TV1;

“The reality is that Matt McCarten comes from the hard left, he’s been deeply involved with the Unite Union…”

Radio NZ;

 “They’ve taken a long time to get their press team together, they’ve gone through now a couple of chiefs of staff, their caucus is not at all united, it’s very divided, and I think they’re going to struggle to keep control of that caucus.”

TV3;

“The tone for Labour will be much more aligned with what we see from the Greens.  They’ll have a certain appeal to a small audience of New Zealanders, but most New Zealanders will know that means bad news when it comes to jobs, when it comes to economic growth, and to a competitive economy.

[…]

David Cunliffe was put into his job by the unions and this is the unions getting an even tighter grip on the direction of the Labour Party.

I really don’t think he’ll have a dog show of unifying the Labour Party.”

Key is most definitely worried. If he wasn’t, he would have shrugged his shoulders at media questions and dismissed the issue as trivial and none of his concern.

When Matt McCarten was an organiser for the Alliance Party in the 1990s, he achieved the near impossible; taking a relatively new political movement from two to 13 Members of Parliament in the first MMP election in 1996.

No wonder the Nats are worried. And no wonder right-wing zealots on Kiwiblog and elsewhere are staining their underwear in anxiety. They fully understand the implications of Matt’s  new role and influence in this year’s election. This is a serious  (excuse the cliche) game-changer.

But more than winning the election, Matt’s appointment indicates that Labour is no longer wedded to the neo-liberal policies of the last 30 years – policies which even Helen Clark only tinkered with around the edges, such as reforming the Employment Contracts Act into the Employment Relations Act.

It also sends a clear, unequivocal signal to any remaining “ABC” elements within the Labour Parliamentary caucus – do not mess with the Leader.  As our American cuzzies like to phrase it, “Matt’s got his back”.

For John Key, two words – Game On.

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References

Radio NZ:  Matt McCarten tipped to be Labour’s new chief of staff (audio)

Fairfax media: Matt McCarten new Labour chief of staff

Radio NZ: McCarten taking Labour hard left – PM

TV3: Labour leans to left with McCarten – Key

TV1: Key tips Labour to go ‘careering to the left’

Wikipedia: 1996 General Election

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If I can get of my arse to work in a crappy underpaid job

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 February 2014.

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Radio NZ: Nine To Noon – Election year interviews – Russell Norman

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– Radio NZ, Nine To Noon –

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– Wednesday 4 March 2014 –

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– Kathryn Ryan –

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On  Nine To Noon, Kathyrn Ryan interviewed Green Party co-leader,  Russell Norman, and asked him about coalition negotiations, policies, polls, and other issues…

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Radio NZ logo -  nine to noon

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Click to Listen: Election year interviews  ( 30′ 55″ )

 

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