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Archive for May, 2015

Latest Roy Morgan poll – wholly predictable results and no reason to panic

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Fuck National and the morons who support it

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The latest Roy Morgan poll reports a surge in support for National – up 8.5% to 54% – one of the highest rises since October 2011, according to Australian-based the polling company.

Labour and the Greens have suffered a corresponding drop in support;

National: 54% (+ 8.5%)

Labour: 25.5% (-2%)

Green Party: 10.5% (- 3%)

NZ First: NZ First 6% (- 2.5%)

Maori Party: 1% (-0.5%)

ACT: 1% (n/c)

United Future: nil (n/c)

Mana Party: nil (n/c)

Conservative Party: 1% (n/c)

Undecideds were up one percentage-point to 5%.

However, the results should be seen in the context that the poll was conducted in the lead up to, and during, the 2015 Budget, delivered on 21 May.

In fact, National’s polling rises during each Budget event, only to drop back down as media  attention  and political hype subsides. The charts below show the correlation between Budget events and the days/weeks leading up to each Budget Night, where National drip-feeds positive news stories to the public, via media;

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roy morgan poll march 12 april 1 2012

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Roy Morgan poll - May 2015 - National - Labour - Greens - NZ First

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The ‘spike’ in National’s support will begin to abate, as on previous occassions.

As housing prices continue to escalate, and child poverty continues to be a major problem in our society, the public will once again focus on what – if anything – National is doing to alleviate them.

On top of which will be a growing feeling that if English fails to deliver a Budget surplus next year, then National’s talk of tax cuts becomes more and more an absurdity. This seems more than likely according to various commentators, as next year’s surplus has already been pared back from $565 million to $176 million.

National got away with promises of tax cuts in 2008, even as the Global Financial Crisis was impacting on our economy. But at that stage, the Great Recession had not yet hit with full force. Unemployment in 2008 was still only 4.3% and the Clark-led Labour government had paid down most of the country’s sovereign debt.

By contrast, unemployment is now at 5.8% and the country is around $65 billion in debt. (Net core crown debt is forecast to be $61.7 billion by 30 June, up  $1.7 billion from last year.)

Faced with the Four Horsemen of the Fiscal Apocalyspse of another Budget deficit;  higher debt; broken promise of tax cuts; and a runaway housing crisis in Auckland – National’s undeserved reputation as a “prudent manager of the economy” begins to look every bit as shabby as what Muldoon left the country.

By 2017, even a Budget event may not be sufficient to give National a boost in the polls.

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References

Roy Morgan Poll:  May 25 2015

NBR: Budget 2015 – NZ credit ratings unaffected by government’s 2015 budget

Additional

Fairfax media: Budget 2015 – An idiot’s guide

 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 26 May 2015.

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Advertisement

Campbell Live, No More

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77wNkZgE_400x400

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Campbell Live‘ was more than just current affairs.

It was more than just a vehicle for advertising.

It was the heart and soul of the nation, and epitomised those values which we Kiwis profess to hold dear; fairness, tolerance, and giving others a fair go.

Perhaps in this day and age of bottom-lines; stakeholders; shareholders; mission statements; unbridled consumerism; value-for-money; and all the other faddish buzz-words of this Corporate Age – a show like ‘Campbell Live‘ was an anachronism, reminding us of another New Zealand.

John Campbell and his hard-working team of professionals reminded us that we are better than just consumers chasing, en masse, the cheapest bargains. He reminded us that we are still citizens, and that we should still care about the country we live in.

Friday 29 May 2015 will be a sad day for many. Today, we have lost a little bit more of our spirit. (To those who don’t ‘get’ it – don’t worry. You’ll never understand.)

Today, we lost another small piece of what it means to be a Kiwi.

Today, we lost a little more of our soul.

Today, we lost a friend.

Thank you, John and your team. And my apologies that we could not help you, as you’ve helped us, over the years.

That is my deepest regret.

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He aha te mea nui? He tangata. He tangata. He tangata

(What is the most important thing? It is people. It is people. It is people)

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Previous related blogposts

Radio NZ – Mediawatch for 24 May 2015 – TV3’s Mark Jennings interviewed re Campbell Live

Friends, Kiwis, Countrymen! I come to praise John Campbell, not bury him

Related

NZ Herald: Political roundup – Who killed Campbell Live?

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This blogpost was also published on The Daily Blog on 29 May 2015.

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Categories: Media Tags:

Friends, Kiwis, Countrymen! I come to praise John Campbell, not bury him

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Campbell Live - GCSB - John Key

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Whatever is slated to replace ‘Campbell Live‘, I care not one whit. Short of the second coming of Jesus Christ; time travellers from the future; the breakout of world peace, or some other vastly improbable event, our household will no longer be watching TV3 News and whatever follows.

Mark Weldon and Mark Jennings have badly underestimated that public backlash that will follow this incomprehensible decision.

Campbell Live‘ is a decade-long brand that media companies spend millions in advertising to promote and instill in the public’s consciousness – and at a stroke they have destroyed it.

Conspiracy?

There are rumours – unsubstantiated, I would emphasise – that the Prime Minister demanded from Mediaworks’ CEO, Mark Weldon;

“I want that leftie bastard gone”

The item referred to in The Standard blogpost refers to a piece in Mana News  (now deleted), and was itself based on a Facebook post;

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save campbell live - facebook - I want that leftie bastard gone

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As mentioned, there is no hard evidence that the alleged quote is factually correct, and could well be the result of a well-intentioned – albeit badly misguided – critic of this government. However, it would not be the first time Key has abused the media;

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Herald - John Key calls media 'Knuckleheads'

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Interestingly, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that Key might have had that conversation (or something similar) with Mark Weldon. In a well-researched piece, Rex Widerstrom shone a spotlight on the link between Key and Weldon;

1: He’s the man John Key picked to chair the “Summit on Employment” in 2009(1)

2:He’s also the man John Key picked to lead The Christchurch Earthquake Appeal(2)

3: He’s also the man who used that position to breach the Bill of Rights Act and force “the advancement of religion” into the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust’s constitution(3)

4: And he’s the man Cameron Slater (Whaleoil) characterises as “allegedly a friend of John Key”(4)

5: Slater also asked on October 15 last year “Who will be the first (of many) casualties under Mark “I’m the boss” Weldon at Mediaworks?” with one commenter on that story saying “The man is a tyrant who doesn’t play nicely with others. Frankly, I love the idea of Weldon and John Campbell having to work together …”(5)

6: he’s also the man whom insiders were picking as a potential National Party candidate for the safe seat of Tamaki(6)

7: And he’s a man who praised John Key’s program of asset sales announced in 2011 as “bold, it was clear, it was early – and very positive…” and called those who were cautious about it “fearmongering”. That’s the same assets sales program that had to be drastically cut back and became something of an embarrassment to the government(7)

8: He’s the man who made a substantial personal gain ($6 million) as a result of Key’s asset sales announcement(8)

9: He’s also the man who, as CEO of the NZX, characterised those who voiced concerns about aspects of the Exchange’s operations as mentally ill(9)

10: He’s the man who’s already got rid of two of Mediaworks’s main financial watchdogs – chief financial officer Peter Crossan and company secretary and lawyer Claire Bradley(10)

11: He’s the man of whom blogger Cactus Kate (business lawyer and commentator Cathy Odgers) noted “Mediaworks currently does not employ anyone on your television or radio with a larger ego than Weldon, even Willie Jackson, Sean Plunket and Duncan Garner combined can’t compete” and that “NZX was the greatest reality soap opera in town under Weldon’s leadership, the casting couch of characters was enormous as disgruntled staff left and new bright eyed disciples were employed”(11)

12: He’s the man Odgers also described (in a blog post now deleted by referenced by another, also right wing, blogger) as a “weasel word corporate-welfared CEO…” and a “shallow self-promoting tool”(12)

13: He’s the man who said there was no conflict of interest in allowing the NZX to be the provider of NZX services, the supervisor of its members, a listed participant on its own exchange and the market regulator… a statement one broker described as “utter balderdash”(13)

Weldon was also appointed by Key, or one of his Ministers, the Capital Markets Development Taskforce in 2009/10; the Tax Working Group in 2009; and the Climate Change Leadership Forum in 2007.

Key gave him a QSO in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

[Note: numbers in parenthesis in above extract refers to sources given by Rex Widerstrom. Please refer to the full story for additional information.]

Is it a conspiracy between the National government and Mediaworks?

There is no evidence to prove such an allegation. National supporters will quickly dismiss any such suggestion with derision.

However, when Nicky Hager released his expose on National’s dirty tricks campaigns against it’s opponents, the reaction from many was either automatic derision, or, the casually dismissive, “So what? We all knew it was happening!

If it ever was proven that National had a hand in Campbell’s sacking, would National’s apologists respond in the same way? You bet.

Despite the unproven veracity of the claimed comment between Key and Weldon, there are proven links between the National Government and Mediaworks. In 2011, National bailed out Mediaworks facing a crippling $43 million debt;

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Prime Minister defends loan to MediaWorks

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Which was a story initially denied by National, only a month previously, and spun in a way that stretched credulity;

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Government denies MediaWorks loan

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The loan-that-was-not-a-loan was re-paid by Mediaworks two years ahead of time;

MediaWorks’ subsidiary RadioWorks has repaid the $32.28 million outstanding on a “loan” signed off by former Communications Minister Steven Joyce that allowed the media group to defer payments to the Crown for radio spectrum licences.

The balance of $32.28m of principal plus interest was paid on Wednesday – almost two years ahead of schedule, current minister Amy Adams said in a statement.

MediaWorks had originally owed $43.3m plus GST and had previously made two payments of $11.9m. The Crown charged the private equity-owned company interest of 11.2 percent.

Government officials had recommended against loaning RadioWorks the money, but Mr Joyce, a former owner of RadioWorks, then approved the loan.

Note the reference in the media report above; “[Minister] Joyce, a former owner of RadioWorks, then approved the loan“. Joyce was indeed owner of RadioWorks, until it was bought out by CanWest, in April 2001. CanWest was also former owner of TV3.

Also note the reference that Key discussed the bail-out of MediaWorks with then CEO, Brent Impey, at a “social event”. Key has conducted government business at other, similar, “social events“;

Earlier this week, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said Mr Key’s diary showed no scheduled meetings with Sky City representatives since July last year.

“Having said that, the Prime Minister attends numerous functions and is quite likely to have come across Sky City representatives at some stage.”

Mr Key was asked last July in a question for written answer from Green MP Sue Kedgley whether he or any of his ministers had met representatives from the casino to discuss changes to the Gambling Act.

He replied: “I attended a dinner with the Sky City board 4 November 2009 where we discussed a possible national convention centre and they raised issues relating to the Gambling Act 2003”.

Mr Key said he was unable to speak for other ministers as to whether they had met casino representatives.

Mr Key’s spokesman today refused to say what date Mr Key’s offer to make a deal with Sky City was made.

Commercialism?

Mediaworks’ rationale for canning ‘Campbell Live‘ has rested solely on it’s supposed ratings.

Despite ‘Campbell Live‘ improving in ratings over the last few months, the company has “reviewed” the programme, and decided to ditch it, in favour of something else. According to MediaWorks’ Group Head of News, Mark Jennings, the new show is described thusly;

Campbell Live is to be replaced by a four-day-a-week programme presented by two people.

[…]

Mr Jennings said audience research suggests that people want more stories at a shorter length, and TV3 had already been trying to get more stories into Campbell Live.

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He said people want a mix and a mix of personalities

Considering that ‘Campbell Live‘  already often presents three or four stories, of varying lengths, within it’s half-hour slot – even with advertising breaks  removed! – it is hard to see how much shorter a story can get. Are we talking about four-minutes-once-over-lightly?

Many issues and problems confronting our nation are deep and complex. It is hard to see how making a story shorter gives viewers the details  necessary to inform and enlighten.

In effect, it seems to be a continuing dumbing-down of the 7PM timeslot.

Radio NZ reported Jennings explaining why TV3 had not actively promotedCampbell Live‘;

Asked about criticism of the lack of promotion for the programme and Mr Campbell, Mr Jennings said Campbell Live was an established programme and he didn’t think that publicity campaigns would make much difference to the size of its audience.

Really? And yet TV3 heavily promotes entertain shows like “The GC“;  “X Factor“; “The Block“, and “The Bachelor” – programmes that are high in entertainment (questionable) but lacking in any informative value whatsoever. Like consuming a constant diet of sugar and carbs, but nothing else of a substantive, nutritional nature.

Even the ratings argument does not entirely stack up when we see the figures;

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TV Ratings - All round rises at 7pm - Campbell Live - Seven Sharp - Throng - TV3 - TVNZ - Mediaworks - television

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Acknowledgement: Throng.co.nz

Note the highs where ‘Campbell Live‘ (in green graph) outperforms ‘Seven Sharp‘ (though not often in the same evening) and note how viewing numbers are steadily increasing for ‘Campbell Live‘ but remain relatively static for ‘Seven Sharp‘.

For ‘Campbell Live‘, the numbers are moving in the right direction.

But if Mediaworks is looking at cancelling low rating shows on TV3, then perhaps it should be looking elsewhere, as Throng website reported on 22 May;

Most watched on TV3

  1. Campbell Live: 330,830 (7:00pm – 7:35pm)

  2. The Graham Norton Show: 298,660 (8:35pm – 9:35pm)

  3. Jono and Ben: 224,210 (7:35pm – 8:35pm)

  4. 3 News: 220,930 (6:00pm – 7:00pm)

  5. Live at the Apollo: 169,260 (9:35pm – 10:35pm)

If ratings are the sole determinant of what goes/stays, then TV3’s News at 6PM should be the first to face the chop. At 220,930 viewers, it 109,900 behind ‘Campbell Live‘. Even ‘Jono and Ben did better, with 3,280 more viewers.

Interestingly, TV3 gains viewers after it’s 6PM News.

Note how TVNZ loses viewers after the TV1 News;

Most watched on TV ONE

  1. One News: 700,220 (6:00pm – 7:00pm)

  2. Seven Sharp: 429,510 (7:00pm – 7:30pm)

  3. Millionaire Hot Seat: 386,220 (5:30pm – 6:00pm)

  4. Location Location Location: 382,170 (7:30pm – 8:30pm)

  5. Coronation Street: 255,130 (8:30pm – 9:25pm)

TV1 loses 270,710 viewers after their 6PM News.

The upshot of this should be blatantly obvious to the dullest TV executive (take note please, Mark Weldon); Mediaworks has hot property in the form of  ‘Campbell Live‘.

Seven Sharp’ – not doing quite so well in viewer retention.

Campbell Live‘ should be promoted by Mediaworks – not dumped and replaced by some lowly imitation of TV1’s execrable ‘Seven Sharp’ .

Has Mediaworks  actually taken the time and effort to conduct a focus group on how ‘Campbell Live‘ is perceived? This is important because one of the most important commercial factors in a product or service is branding.

If ‘Campbell Live‘ has a more positive branding than, say, ‘Seven Sharp‘, then Mediaworks is being foolish and short-sighted in not capitalising on it.

If whatever replaces ‘Campbell Live‘ fails to attract numbers, then those responsible should – and must – fall on their corporate swords and resign.

If the leaders of Labour and ACT could take responsibility for their parties dismal results at the last election, then so should the entire Board of Mediaworks, starting with Mark Weldon.

Conclusion

Companies  expect hard work and dedication from their employees, and fair enough. But to then shaft employees who have given that hard work and dedication, and put their heart and soul into their profession – is a poor reward.

For those  executives at Mediaworks who made the decision to axe ‘Campbell Live‘, I have a clear and simple message for them. They may expect the same loyalty from viewers toward TV3, as they themselves have shown to John Campbell, his team, sponsors, advertisers, audience,  and loyal fans.

I look forward to repaying in kind.

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Addendum1

The team at Campbell Live thanked Action Stations for the petition mounted to save the programme;

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Action stations logo - campbell live

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A personal message from the team at Campbell Live to each and everyone of you…

From everyone on Campbell Live, your support and kindness has saved us during these past seven weeks. Not only did it lift us personally, it reminded us why we’re here and that what we do matters and can make a difference. To the 86,000 people who so kindly signed the petition, and even marched for us, thank you – very much. We’re so proud to have you as viewers.

Pip Keane, John Campbell, Ali Ikram, Anna Burns Francis, Sarah Stewart, Tory Evans, Chris Jones, Jayne Devine, Julian Lee, Lachlan Forsyth, Marise Hurley, Michael Hardcastle, Mike Wesley-Smith, Sarah Rowan, Claire Eastham-Farrelly, Tristram Clayton, Vanessa Forrest, Billy Weepu, Dan Parker, Whena Owen, Lee Thomson, Emily Samonta, Jendy Harper, John Sellwood, Kate McCallum, Graeme Mulholland.

Addendum2

From Hilary Barry, one of John Campbell’s closest colleague and friend, shared her feelings with a audience of hundreds of thousands of viewers;

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How many of us felt the same? For many of us, John  Campbell was like the Conscience of the Nation; the person we could most trust to tell a story that held authority to account; truth to power; and spoke for the ‘ordinary Kiwi battler’.

Someone in  mainstream media recently asked me, in a roundabout way, if we would feel the same if Mike Hosking left NewstalkZB.

I suggest not.

Hosking does not engender the same empathy and respect that Campbell does.

Not even close.

 

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The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones…

– Julius Caesar, ActIII, scene ii

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#boycottTV3

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References

NZ Herald: John Key calls media ‘Knuckleheads’

TV1 News: Prime Minister defends loan to MediaWorks

Fairfax media: Government denies MediaWorks loan

TV3 News: Mediaworks pays off ‘loan’ 2 years early

Fairfax media/Website: Key’s six million dollar man – Steven Joyce

NZ Herald:  SkyCity deal was PM’s own offer

Radio NZ: TV3 – New show won’t be ‘light and fluffy’

Throng: Ratings – All round rises at 7pm

Throng: TV Ratings – 22 May 2015

Youtube:  Hilary Barry’s tears for John Campbell during 3news

Other bloggers

The Daily Blog: Martyn Bradbury – And then they came for Campbell Live – the end of political journalism on NZ television

The Daily Blog: Rex Widerstrom – Thirteen things you (probably) didn’t know about Mark Weldon (CEO of Mediaworks)

The Standard: I want that left wing bastard gone

Previous related blogposts

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How

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

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

The Curious World of the Main Stream Media

Producer of ‘The Nation’ hits back at “interference” allegations over ‘Campbell Live’

Campbell still Live, not gone

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media sensationalism and laziness - Jon Stewart

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 24 May 2015.

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Radio NZ – Mediawatch for 24 May 2015 – TV3’s Mark Jennings interviewed re Campbell Live

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Radio NZ logo -  media watch

 

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Originally aired on Mediawatch, Sunday 24 May 2015

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Mediaworks Head of News and Current Affair, Mark Jennings, answers questions on the planned  cancellation of  TV3’s ‘Campbell Live‘…

Jennings’ responses to Colin Peacock are at times contradictory, and at others, raise more questions still.  The listener is left wondering if there is indeed more to the demise of ‘Campbell Live‘ than Mediaworks has been letting on.

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Play AUDIO

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Play AUDIO(Alt. link)

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The number one question has to be why Mediaworks did not promote ‘Campbell Live‘ more heavily. Jennings’ comment that the show “had been drifting down in ratings” simply does not stack up when the rating numbers are looked at.

Jennings admitted that the recent “burst of publicity has helped” ratings. So, one is left wondering why Mediaworks has not done it’s own promotional activity if the “burst of publicity” helped.

Listen to the interview. Come to your own conclusion.

 

 

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 25 May 2015.

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National Tinkers while Auckland Property Prices Burn

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snail politics - national government tinkers

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When it comes to tax cuts for the rich;  state asset sales; slashing public services; and corporate welfare – National can move at relativistic velocities that Einstein concluded were beyond the realms of physical  laws in our Universe.

When it comes to social problems like child poverty; increasing greenhouse emissions from agriculture; and a housing crisis in Auckland (denied again, recently, by our esteemed Prime Minister)  – the National government can tinker and prevaricate in ways that would do a two year old, at an early childhood centre, proud.

It has opposed, resisted, condemned, criticised, and generally done everything within it’s power not to implement any form of capital gains tax in this country. Suggesting to National that a CGT could be one tool (of many) to quell housing speculation in Auckland has been like inviting a Vegan to a spit-roast barbecue.

Belatedly, as is usual for this  government, after considerable pressure from multiple political, community, business, and state sectors, Key has decided to move – albeit at a glacial pace, and with a tentative single step – to introduce a limited Capital Gains Tax.

The limited CGT will apply;

Introducing a new bright line test to tax gains from residential property sold within two years of purchase, unless it’s the sellers main home, inherited or transferred in a relationship property settlement.

As Key explained;

“It’s not unreasonable to expect that if you buy an investment property and sell it for a gain within two years, then you should be taxed on that gain.”

Fair enough to. It is not unreasonable, especially when the rest of us have no choice but to pay tax on all our other earnings, whether it be as a wage-slave; self-employed; retailer; contractor, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc…

Even property investors admit it is fair, as NZ Property Investors’ Federation CEO, Andrew King, pointed out;

“As we have been saying for years, people trading property have always had to pay tax on their profits and this move will help to clarify this. This should finally put to rest all the unfounded comments from people who say that property has a tax advantage.”

But – two years is the “bright line”?!

So, property speculators/investors who sell their assets in, oh, say, two years and one day are safe?

I’m sure this has escaped the attention of every property speculator/investor in the country. Plus their accountants. Plus tax specialists. Plus the chap who mows the lawns.

Shhhh! Be vewy, vewy quiet! Don’t tell anyone.

As long as no one knows of the two year “bright line”,  the law is “perfectly workable”…

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flying money pig

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Tinkering – best left to a National government. They are expert at it.

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References

Fairfax media:  No housing crisis in Auckland – John Key

NZCity: Capital gains tax on property announced

NZCity: Capital gains tax – what’s been said

Other blogs

Bowalley Road: The Least They Could Do

Gordon Campbell on the government’s belated moves on property speculation

No Right Turn: Winning the argument on taxing capital gains

Polity: At the end of the day what most New Zealanders ackshully accept is… (Housing edition)

Polity: More-tax-on-capital-gains-but-not-at-all-a-capital-gains-tax

The Dim Post:  Progress

The Standard: CGT – the focus groups made Key do it

The Standard: Capital gains tax to be introduced

The Standard: Herald praises Cunliffe for CGT policy

Previous related blogposts

A Capital Gains Tax?

Our growing housing problem

National spins BS to undermine Labour’s Capital Gains Tax

Why should tradies be prosecuted for doing “cashies” and not paying tax?

Letter to the Editor – A Claytons Capital Gains Tax?

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 21 May 2015.

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John Banks – A Tale of Two Cheques

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John banks - kim dotcom - false electoral return - conviction - 2010 local body election - cheques to dotcom

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On Radio NZ’s Morning Report, on 20 May, John Banks admitted to Guyon Espiner that he had requested a donation from Kim Dotcom for his mayoral campaign in the 2010 local body elections;

@ 4:42 –

Espiner: “You got five donations of $25,000, all were

recorded as anonymous. How did Kim Dotcom know to

split his donation into two lots of twentyfive thousand

dollars?

Banks fudged the question and repeated that he had  been exonerated under the Electoral Act.

With constant probing and deft dismissal of Banks’ obfuscation, Espiner persisted until he got a truthful response from Banks;

@ 5:56

Espiner: “Did you ask Kim Dotcom for money?

Banks: “Yes. And that is the evidence. You should have

a look at the evidence.”

So three questions remain;

  1. Why did Kim Dotcom split his $50,000 donation into two lots of $25,000?
  2. Why was Kim Dotcom’s two donations recorded as “anonymous”, when the name “Megastuff” was clearly imprinted on his cheques?
  3. Who were the other three $25,000 anonymous cheques from? Were they all from one donor, splitting his/her $75,000 donation into three lots to avoid requirements to name benefactors?

Plus, there are other matters of Banks “forgetting” that he had met Kim Dotcom; forgetting that he had asked for a donation; forgetting taking a helicopter ride to his Coatesville mansion, etc.

Banks referred several times that the Court of Appeal had vindicated him and his wife;

I have been completely exonerated.” (@ 2:05)

No such thing has occurred. His case was dismissed on a technicality. The evidence – including any new evidence – was never put before a jury to determine.

I submit to the reader that judicial “vindication” by technicality is no vindication at all.

Banks’ claim to innocence should be regarded as a mere “technicality”, at best.

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References

Radio NZ: Morning Report – Banks calls for Solicitor-General to stand aside (alt. link) (audio)

NZ Herald: Dotcom’s secret donation to Banks

NZ Herald: Banks’ donations – ‘I know nothing’

NZ Herald: Banks scandal – Lost in the memory banks

Other blogs

No Right Turn: Acquitted

Pundit: If you want people to believe you are honest, then it’s best not to file false donation returns

The Standard: John Banks; Conviction Quashed

Previous related blogposts

John Banks – escaping justice

John Banks: condition deteriorating

John Banks – escaping justice (Part Rua)

John Banks – escaping justice (Part Toru)

From the Pot-Kettle-Black files: John Banks (1997)

John Banks, ACT, and miscellaneous laws

Graham McCready to John Banks – an Open Letter

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John banks - kim dotcom - false electoral return - conviction - 2010 local body election.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 21 May 2015.

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The cupboard is bare, says Dear Leader

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a-country-of-opportunity

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The latest on Budget 2015;

Prime Minister John Key is lowering expectations about measures to combat child poverty in this week’s budget.

Mr Key says there’ll be “some support” for those suffering material deprivation.

“But you’d appreciate that there’s a limited amount of resources that we’ve got in very tight financial conditions,” he told reporters on Monday.

Key has driven home the lack of “resources” (ie; money) in this year’s budget. On the Paul Henry show – that great bastion of critical thinking –

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cartoon

 

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–  Key was his usual relaxed self as he casually informed his host;

“We don’t have a lot of money. But again what I’d say to you is that we already do a lot, but there could be more we could do.”

And just to drive home the point, again casually;

“When you go to a Budget, you don’t have a lot of cash – and we haven’t, because we’ve been wanting to get the books in order.”

Of course National doesn’t “have a lot of money“.

Remember the tax cuts that Key promised during the 2008 general election? That was the  money National gave away in 2009 and 2010.

2008 was election year, and National’s aspiring leader, John Key, was pulling out all stops to win. His promises of tax cuts were the lynch-pin of National’s campaign strategy.

On  2 August 2008, National announced;

National will fast track a second round of tax cuts and is likely to increase borrowing to pay for some of its spending promises, the party’s leader John Key says.

But Mr Key said the borrowing would be for new infrastructure projects rather than National’s quicker and larger tax cuts which would be “hermetically sealed” from the debt programme.

The admission on borrowing comes as National faces growing calls to explain how it will pay for its promises, which include the larger faster tax cuts, a $1.5 billion broadband plan and a new prison in its first term.

On  26 September 2008, the Herald reported;

GDP shrank 0.2 per cent in the June quarter, confirming what everyone already knew – that the country is in recession. The smaller than expected June quarter decline followed a fall of 0.3 per cent in the three months to March, so the country now meets the common definition of recession: two consecutive quarters of economic contraction.

Undeterred by the country entering into recession, on  6 October 2008, Key promised;

John Key has defended his party’s planned program of tax cuts, after Treasury numbers released today showed the economic outlook has deteriorated badly since the May budget. The numbers have seen Treasury reducing its revenue forecasts and increasing its predictions of costs such as benefits. Cash deficits – the bottom line after all infrastructure funding and payments to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund are made – is predicted to blow out from around $3 billion a year to around $6 billion a year.

With a looming election only a month away, on 14 October 2008, National maintained it’s commitment to tax-cuts;

National will not slash spending at a time when people are looking to the government for a sense of security. In developing our economic management plan, we have concentrated on the fundamentals of the economy, and particularly on laying the foundations for a future increase in productivity.

National’s rebalancing of the tax system is self-funding and requires no cuts to public services or additional borrowing.

Over the next term of government the total cost of National’s personal tax cuts is balanced by the revenue savings from:
• Changes to KiwiSaver.
• Discontinuing the R&D tax credit.
• Replacing Labour’s proposed tax cuts.

Overall, our fiscal policy does not result in any requirement for additional borrowing over the medium term.

National won the election on 8 November 2008.

By 6 March 2009, the Global Financial Crisis had crashed New Zealand’s economy;

Budget deficit worse than forecast; debt blows out by NZ$15.4 bln

The New Zealand government’s operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) for the seven months ended January 31 was NZ$600 million, which was NZ$800 million below the pre-election update and NZ$300 million below December forecasts, Treasury said. Tax revenue and receipts during the period were NZ$500 million lower than the pre-election forecast. Meanwhile, Treasury also disclosed a NZ$15.4 billion rise in Gross Sovereign Issued Debt to NZ$45.4 billion (25.3% of GDP) from the pre-election forecast. This included fresh Reserve Bank bill issuance to mop up the liquidity from lending to the banks against securitised mortgages.

Despite falling tax revenue, and increased borrowing by the government,  the tax cuts went ahead regardless. First, on 1 April 2009. The second trance on 1 October 2010.

The cost of these tax cuts was in the billions.

According to Key, the 2009 tax cuts cost the government $1 billion;

“…The tax cuts we have delivered today will inject an extra $1 billion into the economy over the coming year, thereby helping to stimulate the economy during this recession. More important, over the longer term these tax cuts will reward hard work and help to encourage people to invest in their own skills, in order to earn and keep more money.”

And according to information obtained from Parliamentary Library, and released by the Greens, the 2010 tax cuts cost the country an additional $2 billion;

The Green Party has today revealed that the National Government has so far had to borrow an additional $2 billion dollars to fund their 2010 tax cut package for upper income earners.

New information prepared for the Green Party by the Parliamentary Library show that the estimated lost tax revenues from National’s 2010 tax cut package are between $1.6–$2.2 billion. The lost revenue calculation includes company and personal income tax revenues offset by increases in GST.

All up, National gave away an estimated $3 billion – per year – in tax cuts.

That is why John Key has reneged on his promise – made on 22 September 2014, on TV3’s ‘Campbell Live‘ – that his third term would be spent combating child poverty.

No money.

Not only will National abandon any serious work to alleviate growing child poverty in this Country of Plenty, but it seems that the viability of  community organisations doing invaluable work  are threatened by chronic under-funding.

These community groups are often the ones on the front-line, picking up the pieces after government programmes are cut back or cancelled entirely. Even as our Brave New Free-Market World widens the wealth-gap even further, year after year.

Since National came to office in 2008, their cuts to community organisations has been systematic and dire.

From Women’s Refuge;

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Women's Refuge cuts may lead to waiting lists

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Then it was the turn of  Rape Crisis;

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NZ Herald - Govt funding cuts reduce rape crisis support hours - government funding cuts

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To medical clinics serving our most vulnerable, in-need youth;

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Christchurch's 198 Youth Health Centre to close its doors as management fails to implement directives from CDHB - National cuts to community organisations

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A Radio NZ report on 19 May revealed that yet another community organisation has become the latest victim of National’s mania to starving community organisations of funding;

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Relationships Aortearoa - funding cuts - Anne Tolley - budget 2015

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Relationships Aotearoa is facing closure as Radio NZ outlined on 19 May;

Relationships Aotearoa, New Zealand’s largest provider of counselling services, says its funding has been cut by $4.8 million since 2012 and the situation is increasingly dire with no assurance of more government funding.

The organisation posted a $271,000 deficit for the year ended 30 June 2014.

[…]

Relationships Aotearoa spokesman John Hamilton said since 2012 its funding from government agency contracts had fallen by $4.8 million – a fall of about 37 percent from $13.1m to a forecast $8.2m.

“There’s been no grants or injections to the bottom line … there’s been no CPI increase for MSD services for seven years but there has been increasingly complex demands in reporting requirements.”

Mr Hamilton said the situation was increasingly dire and more than 120 staff and 60 contractors would potentially lose their jobs if went goes under.

A funding cut of $4.8 million…

A deficit last year of $271,000…

Staff cuts of  46…

When interviewed on Radio NZ’s Morning Report, Minister Anne Tolley’s outright denial of any cuts to Relationship Aotearoa’s funding – despite evidence presented to her –  left seasoned journalist and interviewer, Guyon Espiner, frustrated with her moronic semantics game-playing;

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radio nz - Min. Tolley responds to potential collapse of counselling - relationship aotearoa - underfunding

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Tolley’s exercise in word-games beggars belief and if she thinks any intelligent person listening to her comments gave  credence to her obvious avoidance-tactics, then she is delusional. There is a world of difference between Radio NZ’s critical audience – and those who stare stupified and lobotimised at ‘X Factor‘/’My Kitchen Rules‘/’The Block‘.

As Key lamented,

“We don’t have a lot of money. But again what I’d say to you is that we already do a lot, but there could be more we could do.”

“When you go to a Budget, you don’t have a lot of cash – and we haven’t, because we’ve been wanting to get the books in order.”

Though there is always cash for really important things that “matter to New Zealanders”.

Things like corporate welfare;

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PM defends $30m payout to Rio Tinto

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Or like a flag referendum – $26 – $27 million;

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John Key defends cost of flag referendums

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And even spending $6 million of taxpayer’s money to build a sheep farm for a Saudi millionaire;

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NZ Government gifts $6m to offended Saudi businessman

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Key will always find money for things that matter to his government.

Child poverty just doesn’t happen to be one of them.

 

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References

NZCity News:  PM lowering expectations on child poverty

NZCity News: Child poverty targeted in budget

TV3 News: Child poverty targeted in Budget – John Key

NZ Herald: Nats to borrow for other spending – but not tax cuts

NZ Herald: Recession confirmed – GDP falls

NZ Herald: Key –  $30b deficit won’t stop Nats tax cuts

Jo Goodhew MP for Rangitata: Newsletter #41

Interest.co.nz: Budget deficit worse than forecast; debt blows out by NZ$15.4 bln

Parliament: Hansards – Tax Cuts – Implementation

Scoop media: Govt’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting

Dominion Post: Women’s Refuge cuts may lead to waiting lists

NZ Herald: Govt funding cuts reduce rape crisis support hours

NZ Doctor: Christchurch’s 198 Youth Health Centre to close its doors as management fails to implement directives from CDHB

TV1 News: ‘Devastating news for vulnerable Kiwis’ – Relationships Aotearoa struggling to stay afloat

Fairfax media: Government may let Relationships Aotearoa fold

TV1 News: Relationships Aotearoa hanging on at ‘awful’ 11th hour

Radio NZ: Counselling service rejects claim it’s badly run

Radio NZ – Morning Report: Min. Tolley responds to potential collapse of counselling (alt. link) (audio)

NZ Herald: PM defends $30m payout to Rio Tinto

NZ Herald: John Key defends cost of flag referendums

TV1 News: NZ Government gifts $6m to offended Saudi businessman

Other blogs

Local Bodies: Government Kills Relationships Aotearoa

Previous related blogposts

That was Then, this is Now #6

Budget 2013: petrol taxes

“It’s fundamentally a fairness issue”- Peter Dunne

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200000-abandoned-for-national-tax-cuts-ht-william-joyce

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 20 May 2015.

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This is news?!

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john key's shirtless snap - nz herald

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This is news?!

Isn’t this taking the Cult of Key just a wee bit too far?

What next? John Key burps?

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References

NZ Herald: John Key’s shirtless snap

 

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media sensationalism and laziness - Jon Stewart

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Categories: Media Tags:

National Minister refers to PM as “Wild Eyed” Right-Winger!

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Foot In Mouth Award

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It’s not often that Ministers of this increasingly desperate and inept government make a statement that is unerringly accurate – but on Friday 15 May, on Radio  NZ’s Morning Report, GCSB Minister, Chris Finlayson did just that. Minister Finlayson painted a picture of Dear Leader John Key that every critic of this government would agree with.

Interviewing the Minister, Guyon Espiner asked;

@1.38:

Espiner: “Ok, when this become public in the NZ Herald,

one comment was that this was a back-ward looking

anti-American bunch of plonkers. That’s what these guys

are, they’re not interested in the future of New Zealand,

or making it stronger, they’re just opposed to the

government. Do you agree with that view?

 

Finlayson: “Oh look you always get that kind of wild

eyed stuff from the right, just as you get the —“[drowned out by cross-talk]

 

Espiner: “Well that was from John Key I was quoting.

That was John Key, your prime minister who said that.”

 

Finlayson: “And you get the wild apocalyptic comment on

the Left. The fact of the matter is that there are lot of

people who are —” [drowned out by cross-talk]

Full interview:

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radio nz - morning report - GCSB Minister responds to Greens claims - chris finlayson

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(Alternative Link)

Finlayson put his foot in it. The tendency of National ministers to react badly to any form of criticism has become more deeply ingrained the longer they are in power. They are unable to listen to alternative views, treating all criticism as a verdict of failure.

A prime example of this kind of aggressive defensiveness was highlighted by the “wild apocalyptic” abuse meted out by John Key to visiting US journalist, Glenn Greenwald;

 

“There is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders by GCSB, and there never has been mass surveillance of New Zealanders by GCSB.  Now in the fullness of time we’ll respond to Dotcom’s little henchman  [Glenn Greenwald], but mark my words, he’s wrong… Lets understand what’s going on here; Kim Dotcom is paying Glenn Greenwald to come to New Zealand a week before an election and he’s trying to influence New Zealanders.” – John Key, 13 September 2014

Dotcom’s little henchman is wrong. I’m probably not going to jump in front of what information he’s got. It’s up to the henchman to go and deliver that information I suppose, but mark my words, he’s wrong. I’m right and I’ll prove I’m right.”John Key, 13 September 2014

“This is what happens when you hack in to illegal information, when you wander down to New Zealand six days before an election trying to do Dotcom’s bidding – what happens is you get half the story.” – John Key, 14 September 2014

“People got really wound up about me calling him Dotcom’s little henchman. I would have a modicum of respect for the guy if he had the guts to turn up here six months before the election, or six months after. If this loser [Glenn Greenwald] is going to come to town and try and tell me, five days before an election, staying at the Dotcom mansion with all the Dotcom people and being paid by Dotcom, that he’s doing anything other than Dotcom’s bidding – please don’t insult me with that.” – John Key, 15 September 2014

 

Previous comments by John Key to Nickey Hager, Jon Stephenson, and others who dare critique this government is indicative of the Right’s sensitivity to dissent.

Which also happens to highlight Key’s sheer hypocrisy earlier this year when he had the gall to defend freedom of speech and the right of the media to question;

The targeting of journalists going about their daily work is an attack on the fourth estate and the democratic principles of freedom of speech and expression, which must be strongly condemned.” – John Key, 8 January 2015

Indeed, Mr Key.

Perhaps condemning “targeting of journalists going about their daily work” and  on “the democratic principles of freedom of speech and expression” would sound more credible if we  started closer to home? And by ministers of this government?

Otherwise, Mr Key begins to sound like “wild eyed stuff from the right“, making “wild apocalyptic comment[s]”, to his own Ministers.

The truth, as always, slips out.

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Postscript1

Previous instances of critics coming under sustained public attack by this government:

July, 2009

Natasha Fuller &  Jennifer Johnston, solo-mothers

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

May, 2011

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

September, 2011

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

October, 2011

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

November, 2011

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

November, 2011

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

March 2012

ACC Claimant, Bronwyn’s Pullar’s personal details are leaked to the media and to a right wing blogger, who has been given her full files, emails, etc. ACC Minister, Judith Collins, and her office are implicated.

November 2012

Dr Mike Joy, environmentalist, scientist, academic. Attacked by both John Key and right wing “media relations/publicist”, Mark Unsworth, for daring to tell the public the truth about New Zealand’s polluted waterways.  On 21 November, Unsworth sent a vicious email to Dr Joy that showed the state of mind of Unsworth to be bordering on unhinged.

March, 2013

Annette Sykes, lawyer, activist, President of Mana Party

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

May, 2014

Katie Bradford, Parliamentary Press Gallery, and TV1 journalist.  Judith Collins makes allegations to a TV3 journalist, that  Ms Bradford asked the Minister to intervene on behalf of her (Bradford’s) husband to join the police force. This is refuted by Ms Bradford as untrue. Collins later apologises.

September, 2014

John Key refers to to visiting US journalist, Glenn Greenwald, as Kim “Dotcom’s little henchman” and a “loser”.

 

 

 

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References

Radio NZ: Morning Report – GCSB Minister responds to Greens claims

Fairfax media: Key dismisses GCSB spying claims from Greenwald

TV3 News: Key hits back at Greenwald’s claims of mass surveillance

The Guardian:  New Zealand PM deceiving public over spying claims, says Glenn Greenwald

NZ Herald: Kiwis’ data lodged with NSA – Greenwald

John Key: New Zealand condemns Paris shooting

Previous related blogposts

John Key’s “pinch of salt” style of telling the truth

When spin doctors go bad

State Media Bans Dissident!

Taking responsibility, National-style

A Question to Hugh Rennie, Counsel for the NZDF

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

“One law for all” – except MPs

Hypocrisy – thy name be National

The slow disintegration of a government; 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5

 

 

 

 

 


 

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6a00d83451d75d69e201901e6882a1970b-800wi

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 18 May 2015.

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Letter to the editor – Used car salesmen and pony-tail pullers

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Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date: Sun, May 17, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor

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The editor

Dominion Post

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Unemployment is officially at 5.8% – 146,000 people

Ten years ago it was down to around 3.7% – 82,000 people

If National had started a house building programme in 2009, rather than Key’s underwhelming “cycleway” project (estimated 4,500 new jobs), then the effects of the GFC would’ve been minimised and the same re-building in Christchurch that has created high employment in that city, would have been spread over the entire country.

Key would be hailed as the Great Builder.

After all, high employment plus low unemployment equals higher tax take plus lower welfare spending and lower government debt.

Instead we having falling exports and pseudo economic “growth” based on an Auckland housing boom/bubble and a temporary rebuilding boom in Christchurch – neither of which are sustainable.
Not exactly rocket science if one thinks it through.

Not much wonder then, that Key is seen as a dishonest car salesman by some, and a hair-pulling bullyboy/joke, by others.

-Frank Macskasy

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[Address and phone number supplied]

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Skipping voting is not rebellion its surrender

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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The Mendacities of Mr Key # 12: No More Asset Sales (Kind of)

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Lying National lying john key

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On 25 February 2014, Dear Leader John Key announced to the nation that his government’s asset sales programme was over;

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“Just as we did before the last election we’re making our position on share sales clear to New Zealanders before we go to the polls later this year. We’ve achieved what we wanted with the share offers in energy companies and Air NZ. We’re now returning to a business-as-usual approach when it comes to  [state-owned enterprises]. The truth is there aren’t a lot of other assets that would fit in the category where they would be either appealing to take to the market or of a size that would warrant a further programme, or they sit in the category that they are very large like Transpower but are monopoly assets so aren’t suited.”

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Like so many of  the Prime Minister’s promises, that “Key Committment” did not last long. Not even a year.

As Fonterra’s payout to farmers collapsed and weakening exports to China’s slowing economy began to impact on the government’s tax-take,   Bill English’s much-heralded promise of a Budget surplus sank deeper than the m.v. Rena in 2011. English promised almost exactly a year ago on 16 May 2014;

It’s a real surplus and it follows a string of improvements in deficits starting at $18 billion four years ago, this year about $2.5b and next year a surplus of $370 [million], and then bigger surpluses after that.

Barely three months after the 2014 elections, Treasury had bad news for English and the National government;

Treasury this morning delivered a body blow to the Government’s hopes of returning to surplus, saying it now expects a deficit of over half a billion dollars for the June financial year.

At this morning’s Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update, Acting Treasury Secretary Vicky Robertson said despite solid growth in the economy, the Crown’s finances would take a hit from lower than previously forecast tax take.

That had seen Treasury change its forecast operating balance before gains and losses (Obegal) for the 2014-15 year from a slim surplus of $297 million to a deficit of $572 million.

Treasury said softer outlook for economic drivers of the tax such as lower dairy prices and interest rates had seen the expected tax take for the year fall by $600 million.

In the same Herald report, English and Key  were both frantically doing their best King Canute impersonations since King Canute took a day to go to the beach;

But Finance Minister Bill English was this morning still clinging to the hope Treasury is wrong and the books will indeed be back in black this year as he and Mr Key have promised for some years.

I’m hopeful we will,” Mr Key told reporters this afternoon.

The view of the Minister of Finance is that we can still achieve that surplus. There’s a lot of different factors moving around here at the moment.

By 2 May of this year, even  National’s spin-meisters had run out of steam, and on TV3’s ‘The Nation‘, English was forced to admit that the world was indeed round and not flat; money-printing pixies did not exist; and dreams of a budget surplus were a Tory fantasy;

No, I don’t call it a failure. It is what it is, and that is for the 14/15 year, we budgeted $370 million surplus. It looks like it will be a $500 or $600 million deficit, and the surplus will be the next year. So we’re on track.”

So “the surplus will be the next year“?

The Minister had better be hoping that the Christchurch re-build; the Auckland housing boom; and renewed growth in China’s economy,  will continue to stimulate the economy. Otherwise, that “500 or $600 million deficit” will balloon into $1 billion or $2 billion or…

National’s expensive, multi-billion dollar 2009 and 2010 tax cuts may not have been such a clever move after all.

English, though, is not about to surrender. His government’s policies may be predicated on tax revenue from re-building a semi-destroyed city; an unsustainable housing boom in Auckland; and waning dairy exports – but National’s Finance Minister has other ideas up his sleeve.

In his 2 May interview on ‘The Nation‘, English committed the government not to cut spending;

Lisa Owen: Okay. Well, before on The Nation, you said that the Government would not make any cuts to reach surplus. Is that still your plan?

Bill English: That’s right. We’re not going to make any specific extra decisions now just because our tax revenue’s a percentage point – 1 percent down.

If past experience has taught us one thing about this government; if they promise you one thing, you can be sure that somewhere, in some back room; they are planning something completely different.

English has committed the government not to “make any specific extra decisions now just because our tax revenue’s a percentage point – 1 percent down”.

It’s just a shame we can’t believe a word of what he says. The cuts had begun long before English uttered his lies to Lisa Owen.

The story unfolds…

16 May 2014…

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Budget 2014 - Surplus real, says English .

National’s “economic whizz-kid” had promised the country a “$372 million surplus” – as well as “an increase to paid parental leave from 14 weeks to 18, free doctors’ visits and prescriptions for children under 13,  extra money to ease the cost of early-childhood education, eligibility for paid parental leave extended, and the existing parental tax credit to  rise“.

Labour’s social policies had been nicked by National. English basked in political glory. Sceptics were ignored. The country went to the polls four months later.

20 September 2014…

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National Party wins third term

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And then reality began to reassert itself.

16 December 2014…

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No surplus this year - Treasury

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National’s core policy; it’s raison d’être; it’s reputation amongst New Zealanders who are only vaguely politically conscious – is it’s so-called “reputation for fiscal prudence and responsible economic manager”, and it was rapidly being sucked down a flushing toilet of indebtedness. If it couldn’t deliver on it’s promise of returning the books to surplus – as Labour’s Finance Minister, Michael Cullen, had done between 2000 and 2008 – then what good was it?

English looked at his options to cut spending, and to raise money without creating headlines that shrieked “panic” or “broken promises”.

28 January 2015…

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Up to 8,000 state houses could be sold under John Key's radical plan - asset sales

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So much for Key’s assertion that “the truth is there aren’t a lot of other assets that would fit in the category where they would be either appealing to take to the market or of a size that would warrant a further programme”.

Truth and John Key parted company a long time ago. Key’s announcement that up to 8,000 State houses could be sold came only eleven months after his earlier committment to New Zealanders that no further state assets would be sold.

13 April 2015…

John Key denies there is a housing crisis in New Zealand;

No, I don’t think you can call it a crisis. What you can say though is that Auckland house prices have been rising, and rising too quickly actually.

21 April 2015…

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No free GP visits for all children - Government - broken promises - health cuts - National - under 13s

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National’s broken promise flew in the face of committments made prior to last year’s general election, as then-Health Minister, Tony Ryall said;

Free doctors’ visits and prescriptions for children aged under six will be extended to all children aged under 13 from July next year, Health Minister Tony Ryall says.

Budget 2014 is investing $90 million over three years from 1 July 2015 so primary school-aged children can go to a doctor for free, any time of the day or night, and get their prescriptions free as well, he says.

“National brought in the policy of free GP visits and prescriptions for children under six, including free after-hours visits. Thanks to our prudent management of the health budget, we are extending this policy to all children under 13.

This is what careful financial management can deliver to Kiwi families.

Interestingly, there was a very minor – but all-important word missing between two otherwise identical Facebook postings by John Key and the National Party;

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Facebook - free GP visits for all children - Government - broken promises - health cuts - John Key - under 13s

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Facebook - free GP visits for all children - Government - broken promises - health cuts - National Party - under 13s

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Note the one missing word – “all” – from Key’s Facebook statement.  Otherwise, the statement is identical to the National Party Facebook page. Someone in the National Party’s politburo obviously wasn’t keeping track of re-writing their election promises.

Green Party Health and ACC spokesperson, Kevin Hague, hit the nail on the head when he demanded;

If one in ten kids have to pay up to $38 to go to the doctor when they have an accident, then that visit is not free and that’s a broken promise. It begs the question: what other promises are the Government going to renege on this year in a bid to save a bit more money?  This shows how desperate the Government is to reach a surplus that it’s trying to pinch pennies from injured children.”

30 April 2015…

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Government offloads 2800 state houses to Auckland development company

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Attempting to justify the transfer, English announced;

Over half of the new houses will be sold to help offset construction costs, and the remainder will be retained as social housing. Our bottom line is that there will be at least as many social houses in Tāmaki as the 2800 there now.

As with previous promises, National’s assurances cannot be relied upon. Ministers will utter soothing reassurances one day – and weeks, months, or years later will find justification why they had to retract.

National ministers simply cannot be trusted to keep their word. Even if 7,500 new homes are built, there is no guarantee that “half of the new houses will be … retained as social housing“. National will find a reason to sell them.

English further stated;

The Government owns one in 16 houses in Auckland and we need to do a better job with them for the sake of tenants and aspiring homeowners, as well as for the neighbourhoods they live in and the wider city…

…This transfer of ownership of HNZC properties and the responsibility for tenancy management to TRC will enable faster construction of warm, dry and safe houses that better meet people’s needs.”

His comments are a repetition of National’s spin that NZ Housing properties are ‘badly run down and in dire need of maintenance’;

Finance Minister Bill English has confirmed the Government will need to spend $1.5 billion upgrading state houses as they are sold to social housing providers.

Mr English conceded many state houses were not up to standard and had not been properly maintained.

He said the cost of deferred maintenance had risen to $1.5 billion and that the matter had been raised during discussions with social agencies considering buying state houses.

“They’ve highlighted that. So part of the benefit of the process we’re going through is that these agencies are going to apply a very tight scrutiny to the state of the houses that maybe they might be looking at buying.”

Mr English blamed the former Labour-led Government, saying it had focused more on building new state houses than on maintaining existing homes.

English’s apportioning of blame to the previous Labour government is disingenuous.

The sole reason why Housing NZ has not been able to maintain it’s properties is that it has had to pay dividends from income (rent paid by low-income/beneficiary tenants) to successive governments. According to National’s Building and Housing Minister, Dr Nick Smith;

The average dividend under the 5 years so far of this Government has been $88 million. The dividend this year [2014] is $90 million…

Fairfax reported Nick Smith as stating;

Smith said the dividend had been been fairly consistent in the past several years – $71m in 2010, $68m in 2011, $77m in 2012 and $90m in 2013.

Four years worth of dividends – $306 million – were paid to the government’s Consolidated Fund. No wonder Housing NZ is unable to maintain it’s properties.

National was brutal in it’s expectations of huge windfalls from Housing NZ;

The letters reveal that on six occasions ministers asked for dividends to be hiked, or paid faster. In March 2010, Maurice Williamson wrote: “I expect . . . a significantly higher annual return to the Crown.”

Phil Heatley, when he was housing minister, asked that in 2011-12 and 2012-13 the dividend be $45m higher than that forecast in the 2011 Budget. Later he revised expectations upwards, to $251m over three years.

In July last year, Smith said “dividend levels should be significant enough to represent a challenge”.

These demands from National ministers were placed on a government department charged with housing the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. Williamson, Heatley, and Smith were content to bleed Housing NZ and let tenants live in cold, damp, miserable conditions.

Williamson, Heatley, and Smith – National’s 21st century slumlords.

As with Solid Energy, National exploited government departments and SOEs such as ACC, as “cash cows”, with which to balance their books to return to Budget surplus. (see: Solid Energy – A solid drama of facts, fibs, and fall-guys )

It is also worthy to note that National Ministers are employing spin when it comes to state house  sales. English and other ministers use the term “transfer” and not sale.

On 6 May, Bill English stated that  houses would not be sold “unless tenants get better services and taxpayers get fair and reasonable value“.

On TVNZ’s Q+A on 10 May, Minister for Social Housing, Paula Bennett, admitted that her government was selling state housing;

@ 2.13

Corin Dann: “But the point is, they are going to get these houses, they’re going to be sold these houses, aren’t they? You say transfer but it’s a sale of houses at a discount, right?

Paula Bennett: “Well, I’m sure it’ll be less than the market value, yes.

These are sales, not a transfer. “Transfer” implies a change of ownership without cost or exchange of money. There is Big Money involved in state house sales.

[Incorrect information deleted. – FM]

6 May 2015…

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 Invercargill and Tauranga chosen for first state house sales

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The Great Sell-off of Housing continues under National – with the government disposing of all state housing in Tauranga and Invercargill. Radio NZ reported;

The Government has announced it will begin selling off up to 1600 state houses in Tauranga and Invercargill to social housing groups.

There are 370 state houses in Invercargill and 1250 in Tauranga and it’s understood all of them could be sold if buyers come forward.

Only vetted and registered community housing providers will be able to buy them and, depending on their negotiations with the Government, they may not have to pay the market price.

There is nothing to stop private developers from acquiring state houses through back-door means, as this report on a landlords website explained;

The state houses will only be available for sale to registered Community Housing Providers (CHPs).

However, Housing NZ Minister Bill English said that registered CHPs can partner with other organisations to acquire and develop social housing.

Any transfer of houses will not affect the rent tenants pay or their eligibility for subsidised housing, and properties transferred as social houses will also have to stay as social housing unless the Government agrees otherwise.  In both Tauranga and Invercargill, Housing New Zealand owns a significant number of houses so there is potential for more than one organisation to acquire houses for community ownership.

This means there could be scope for private investors to get involved in the provision of social housing – either by becoming a registered CHP or by partnering with a registered CHP.

Speaking on TVNZ’s Q+A on 10 May, Minister for Social Housing, Paula Bennett confirmed that private investors could “partner” with Community Housing Providers to purchase state houses; re-develop the properties; and sell new residences at a profit.

On 6 May, English assured the public;

Any transfer of houses will not affect the rent tenants pay or their eligibility for subsidised housing, and properties transferred as social houses will also have to stay as social housing unless the Government agrees otherwise.”

Of course National will agree. This is a wholesale sell-off of state housing. Why wouldn’t they agree to new owners on-selling these properties for a profit? Otherwise new owners would be stuck with old, dilapidated properties, requiring expensive repairs, and soon getting into deep debt.

This is privatisation, by stealth,  through the back-door, using intermediaries. This is a whole new level of government subterfuge.

It also exposes John Key’s assurance – that state assert sales have ended – as a lie.

Conclusion

Finance Minister Bill English is desperately scrabbling for every dollar he can claw back. Miserly does not even begin to aptly describe this government’s actions.

It seems that the tax cuts of 2009 and 2010 are being paid for by paperboys and girls; sick children; welfare beneficiaries; and Housing NZ tenants.

It remains to be seen what further cuts in social spending Bill English has planned. His reassurances on 2 May 2015 – that there would be no cuts to social spending – are to be treated with the same contempt as other promises, assurances, and committments that have been made, and broken, by John Key, Bill English, et al.

Governments are at their worst and most dangerous, when desperate. And this is a desperate government.

Addendum1

Karol, writing for The Standard, has more on this issue. See: “Key Govt asset stripping state housing‘.

Addendum2

Registered community housing provider, Habitat for Humanity Invercargill-branch  chairman, Stephen Falconer, is an enthusiastic cheerleader for National’s covert privatisation programme. He told the Otago Daily Times on 7 May;

We’re a private organisation, essentially, and we think that private enterprise can actually do a better job than Government on most things.

Because private enterprise has done such a stirling job thus far in meeting demand for housing in Auckland, Christchurch, and elsewhere?

It is disappointing that an ostensibly community organisation like Habitat for Humanity has bought into the government narrative, complete with parroting neo-liberal cliches that “private enterprise can actually do a better job than Government“.

If it were true that “private enterprise can actually do a better job than Government“, then why does Habitat for Humanity exist?

Addendum3

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett is interviewed by Corin Dann on TVNZ’s Q+A. Along with Bill English’s admissions, her comments are a disturbing indication where National is going with state housing.  See:  Govt social housing target 3000 homes

 

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References

NZ Herald: PM – no more SOEs to sell after Genesis

John Key: My key commitments to you

NBR: Weak dairy prices prompt analysts to pull back Fonterra forecast payout for next season

The Independent: How China’s slowing GDP growth could drag down the global economy

TV3 News: National Party wins third term

NZ Herald: No surplus this year – Treasury

Fairfax media: Budget 2014 – Surplus real, says English

TV3: The Nation – Bill English

Fairfax media: Budget 2014 – Surplus real, says English

TV1 News: Up to 8,000 state houses could be sold under John Key’s radical plan

Radio NZ: Key denies Auckland housing crisis

NZ Herald:  No free GP visits for all children – Government

National Party: Free doctors’ visits, prescriptions for under 13s

Facebook: John Key

Facebook: National Party

Scoop media: Govt breaks free doctors visit promise to kids

Fairfax media: Government offloads 2800 state houses to Auckland development company

Radio NZ: Govt to spend $1.5b fixing up state houses

Parliament: Hansards – Questions for Oral Answer — Questions to Ministers – 8 May 2014

Fairfax media: Nats milking Housing NZ – Labour

Fairfax media: Not much in the cupboard for English to dine on

NZ Herald: State houses in Tauranga and Invercargill to go on the market

TVNZ Q+A: Govt social housing target 3000 homes

Landlords – For Kiwi Property Investors: State houses to go on sale in Tauranga & Invercargill

NZ Herald: Budget 2012 – ‘Paper boy tax’ on small earnings stuns Labour

Fairfax media: Invercargill and Tauranga chosen for first state house sales

Radio NZ: Tauranga, Invercargill state houses to be sold

Otago Daily Times: Invercargill among first state house transfer sites

Previous Related Blogposts

Can we do it? Bloody oath we can!

Budget 2013: State Housing and the War on Poor

Budget 2013: State Housing and the War on Poor

National recycles Housing Policy and produces good manure!

Our growing housing problem

National Housing propaganda – McGehan Close Revisited

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Tahi)

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Rua)

Housing; broken promises, families in cars, and ideological idiocy (Part Toru)

“It’s fundamentally a fairness issue”- Peter Dunne

Solid Energy – A solid drama of facts, fibs, and fall-guys

The Mendacities of Mr Key #11: Sorry, Prime Minister, what ‘mandate’ were you referring to?!

Other blogs

Polity: Housing horrors

The Jackal: Nationals housing failure

The Standard: Key Govt asset stripping state housing

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I will never turn my back on the poor

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 May 2015.

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Why should tradies be prosecuted for doing “cashies” and not paying tax?

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“My name is Mr Smith. I am from Inland Revenue and Bill English sent me to help.”

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Before we go any further, just to remove all doubt from certain quarters, as the IRD points out with crystal clarity;

“New Zealand does not have a capital gains tax.”

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IRD - capital gains tax - investor - speculator

Source

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IRD - new zealand does not have a capital gains tax

Source

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Meanwhile, the IRD today (5 May) announced a crack-down on ‘tradies’ and other businesses who  do “cashie” (cash) jobs whilst not declaring that income with Inland Revenue and subsequently not paying their full measure of tax.

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IRD - crackdown on cashies jobs

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First of all, let me state that  everyone should pay their taxes. Without a comprehensive taxation system, our infra-structure would never have been built and our social services would be non-existent.

We need taxes for our education system; our public healthcare; judiciary; housing; police; DoC; border controls; public transportation, et al. As Inland Revenue’s marketing and communications group manager, Andrew Stott, stated in a NZ Herald report;

“Tax in New Zealand pays for many of the things that we enjoy about this country and so it’s important to encourage everyone to do that.”

But it’s a bit “rich” (excuse the pun) for the IRD to be clamping down on an underground “cash” economy  when we have – in broad view of the entire nation – a massive tax loop-hole costing society billions in lost tax-revenue.

I refer to a lack of Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

A tradesman is expected to pay tax on thousands or tens of thousands of dollars received for sub-contracting jobs.

An investor/speculator can pocket hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions)  of dollars in Auckland’s over-heated property market – and not pay one dollar in tax on profit;

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People making more on their homes than they earn at work - nz herald - auckland property market - daily blog - capital gains tax

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In effect, the current taxation system rewards doing very little work. For “Jonathan”, a property investor/speculator, he will just sit back in his Italian-leather recliner-rocker; and watch property inflation increase values. Then cash-up and make a tax-free windfall.

Meanwhile, “Gazza”, a tradesman living across town  to the property investor/speculator, gets up at 6am; goes to work in cold or shine; rain or fine; puts up with the risk of workplace injuries (or worse); goes home; and repeats the next day. For his efforts, he is taxed. And if he dares pocket a dollar without paying a percentage to the Taxman – he can be fined 150% plus interest; taken to Court; perhaps even bankrupted.

The latter is called “a mug’s game”.

Let me demonstrate this  with a highly complex, detailed,  financial diagramme;

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Taxpayer and Speculator

(L-R) “Gazza; works six days a week; earns $150,000 p.a.; pays income tax on earnings plus GST on any new home he builds – “Jonathan”; works in his garden tending to his geraniums; made $1 million selling three houses in Auckland he bought a few years ago; paid nil tax.

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“Gazza” then gets a letter from IRD saying he’s being audited because he  may have done a few “cashies” sometime in the last few years when things were a bit lean after the GFC. Seems he forgot to pay tax on a few thousand dollars.

Meanwhile, “Jonathan” thinks he and his wife will enjoy a round-the-world cruise with their tax-free gain.

“Gazza”, who built the houses, paid tax on every cent he earned (except for the “cashies” he  may or may not have done elsewhere).

“Jonathan”, who has lifted a hammer only to put a picture up on the wall, who built nothing, and simply bought and sold existing houses – paid nothing in tax.

Only in New Zealand do we have a law going after the battlers like “Gazza” – who actually get up each morning to build new houses. National and ACT think this is a perfectly sane state of affairs.

“Mr Smith” from the IRD is knocking on “Gazza’s” door.

“Gazza” wonders why he bothers getting up in the mornings.

“Jonathan’s” geraniums are  doing very well.

Addendum

Stuart Duncan sold his 1982 fibre-cement home at 116 Oaktree Ave in Browns Bay in November 2013 for $751,000.

Now the new owners have on-sold for $1,205,000 – despite doing little work on the property – giving them a 16-month profit of $454,000 – about $940 a day.

“I’m still in shock,” Mr Duncan said after learning how much his old property fetched. “It’s just disbelief.

“It was an 80s house, three-bedroom do-up. Where is the market going? God help New Zealand.”

NZ Herald

I doubt if we’ll be receiving much assistance from an invisible supernatural deity. Not when New Zealanders seem unwilling to help themselves sort out this crazy mess. And not when we, as a nation, keep re-electing a government hell-bent on doing nothing about a crisis that has spiralled out of control.

We have only ourselves to blame.


 

References

IRD: International

IRD: Residential Property

Fairfax media: Cash jobs crackdown by IRD

TV3 News: IRD launches campaign to crack down on cash jobs

NZ Herald: IRD chases down tradies’ cashies

NZ Herald: People making more on their homes than they earn at work

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 6 May 2015.

 

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“The Nation” reveals gobsmacking incompetence by Ministers English and Lotu-Iiga

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the nation_logo

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If there is a crystal-clear example why a functioning democracy must have  vibrant, critical current affairs programmes on free-to-air televesion, then  TV3’s ‘The Nation‘ on the morning of 2 May was top-of-the-pile. Without doubt, this land-mark episode was a powerful insight into the general competence (or lack, thereof) of two of the government’s senior ministers; Finance Minister Bill English and Corrections Minister, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.

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Corrections Minister, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga -- TV3's 'The Nation' host & interviewer, Lisa Owen -- Finance Minister Bill English

(L-R) Corrections Minister, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga — TV3’s ‘The Nation’ host & interviewer, Lisa Owen — Finance Minister Bill English

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The highly talented host-interviewer, Lisa Owen, interviewed both, drilling deep down, and extracting information; admissions; and more critically – waving aside pathetic attempts to fudge legitimate answers. The resulting exchanges did not make for a ‘happy day’ for either government minister, revealing one totally out of his depth, and the other unwilling to admit that his stewardship of the country’s economy has been an abject failure.

1. Finance Minister Bill English

In  the opening months of World War 2, there was a period from September 1939 to May 1940, known as “the Phoney War“. Both the Allied Nations (led by Great Britain) and the expanding Third Reich were technically at war, but major military operations did not commence until Nazi Germany invaded Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg on 10 May 1940.

In New Zealand, we might have referred to those first eight months as a “Clayton’s War” – the war you’re having when you’re not really having a war. (For those old enough to remember, “Clayton’s” refers to a non-alcoholic beverage marketed in New Zealand in the 1970s and 1980s. It was heavily promoted with the catch-phrase, “the drink you have when you’re not having a drink”. The marketing campaign was an advertisers dream-come-true, catching the public’s attention. The product, unfortunately for the manufacturers, was less successful. )

The same could be said of New Zealand’s so-called “rock star economy” and “recovery”.

By nearly all accounts, our recent growth has been predicated on three factors;

  1. The Auckland housing boom/bubble
  2. The Christchurch Earthquakes re-build
  3. Exports – particularly dairy – to China

The first is reliant purely on borrowing from off-shore to fund speculative activity. When that bubble finally bursts, we will be left with a multi-billion debt; thousands of bankruptcies; and an economy in tatters as capital flight takes place.

The second is a short-term growth-spurt which owes it’s origins to two natural disasters – literally disaster capitalism.

The third is built upon China’s unsustainable growth, and has recently fallen away, returning Australia as our number one trading partner, as the value of dairy commodities plummet.

The first two are unsustainable. The last is reliant on a major trading partner’s economic well-being. As with New Zealand’s lamb and butter exports to the UK prior to it joining the EEC in January 1973, we have placed our export “eggs” in one, very big, very fragile, basket.

Against this backdrop of The Phoney Economic Recovery,  the following financial facts should give us cause for concern;

  1. The on-going cost of the 2009 and 2010 tax-cuts, estimated to be around $3.8 billion per year, and up to $4.26 billion last year
  2. Plummeting dairy prices resulting in lower payout to farmers and taking $7 billion out of the economy
  3. Reduced tax-take by the government is around $4.5 billion

In view of unsustainable tax-cuts in 2009 and 2010; the economy taking a $7 billion “hit”; and lower than anticipated tax revenue by this government, it was hardly unexpected that Bill English’s promises of a surplus this year have collapsed.

Lisa Owen challenged the hapless Finance Minister in a sixteen minute long interview. In this excerpt, English is evasive when asked questions about the governments surplus;

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Full interview here

Throughout the interview, English was upbeat and insisted that a surplus was just around the corner;

“Well, okay, it would be nice if the number got there this year; it’ll just take a bit longer. What’s important here is the trajectory. So Government is closing its deficits; it’s getting to surplus. We’ll soon be in a position to start paying off debt. Our expenditure’s under control; the revenue’s a  bit harder. You’ve just seen in the last day or two, dairy prices are going down again; that has an impact. So we’re sufficiently confident in the direction that we’re not going to cut services or cut entitlements to try and chase a larger surplus number.”

Lisa Owen asked the Minister: “Okay. Well, before on The Nation, you said that the Government would not make any cuts to reach surplus. Is that still your plan?

English replied;  “That’s right. We’re not going to make any specific extra decisions now just because our tax revenue’s a percentage point – 1% down.”

Then, incredibly, English maintained that tax-cuts were still on National’s agenda;

Owen: “I just want to look at some of the big promises, like tax cuts. They were meant to come from that $500 million that you now don’t have. But is it fair to say that they’re not really likely now?

English: “As we indicated last year, we wouldn’t be able to contemplate that until 2017 for some of the reasons that you’ve outlined. So at the moment, the ability to deliver some kind of moderate tax cut hasn’t changed and we would have the next couple of budgets to work out how that would happen.”

Owen: “Hang on, Minister. It has changed, hasn’t it, Minister, because you’ve just identified the fact you’ve got less money, so it must have changed.

English: “Well, we’ve shifted the money from next year to the year after; that’s technically what’s actually happened. We’ll deal with that as time goes on, but the point I’m making is our finances are-“

Owen: “Is it likely that your tax cuts then will be delayed as well? Maybe 2018, not 2017?

English: “No, we’re not suggesting that. We said at the end of last year that they would be possible in 2017. We’ve made allowance for that.”

It beggars belief that we have a Finance Minister willing to entertain the notion of tax cuts at a time when dairy prices are dropping; tax revenue is falling; and public debt has ballooned to $59.9 billion  and rising by $27 million per day, every day.

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public debt - NZ Treasury

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Never mind tax cuts – when do we, as a nation, start to repay this debt mountain?!

The reality is that if National proceeds with promises of tax cuts in 2017 (which is an election year – bribe anyone?) New Zealand will have to  borrow from offshore to make up the shortfall in revenue. Our debt mountain will continue to grow.

English himself admitted that the deficit this year will be in the order of around half a billion dollars;

“…It is what it is, and that is for the 14/15 year, we budgeted $370 million surplus. It looks like it will be a $500 or $600 million deficit, and the surplus will be the next year. So we’re on track.”

Somewhere in National’s gross mis-management of the economy, they have gone from a $370 million surplus to a potential $600 million deficit – just shy of $1 billion lost.

How does a government make such a colossal mistake? “It is what it is” is hardly an explanation.

Throughout the interview, English kept repeating the mantra of a future surplus;

“The direction is pretty clear. Our surpluses will come and they will grow, and we’ll be able to pay off debt.”

“The target remains getting to surplus, and in the Budget, you’ll see the details of where the Government is up to with it. But I’m indicating that despite falling a bit short in 14/15, we’re on track for surplus.”

Though English insisted that there would be no cuts to spending, he did use coded language for possible reductions to welfare spending;

Owen: “Is it likely that your tax cuts then will be delayed as well? Maybe 2018, not 2017?”

English: “No, we’re not suggesting that. We said at the end of last year that they would be possible in 2017. We’ve made allowance for that.”

Owen: “Okay. So what about measures to curb poverty, then? Will they have to be delayed? Because the Prime Minister identified them as something of a priority. Is that going to be delayed?”

English: “Well, we’ve been working on these issues for a while, particularly focused on communities and families with persistent deprivation and caught in a cycle of dependence. And so you could expect to see us continue with that sort of programme through this Budget…

… Or sickness and invalids beneficiaries with more support for their health issues and more support for employment, could actually get out of dependency, off welfare and remain in work.

Because as we all know, invalids don’t actually have real disabilities or debilitating injuries or diseases – they are simply on a “cycle of dependence”.

When in trouble, blame someone else. In this case, invalids.

Owen then moved on to the issue of Auckland’s growing housing crisis and nailed English on this government’s spectacular inability to manage and address that city’s housing shortage. English simply blamed the Auckland Council;

“Well, the migration numbers have stayed high, bearing in mind about half of migrants appear to go to Auckland; the other half go to the rest of the country. But there’s pretty clear signals that Auckland City Council need to get on with the job. They are the ultimate decision-maker around the infrastructure and around the consenting for new houses. We’re giving them the toolkit to enable them to do it faster, but there’s clearly a lot more to be done, and we’ll keep looking for more tools to help the Auckland City Council to do the job they need to do.”

When still in trouble, keep blaming someone else. In this case, the Auckland Council.

Thus far, National’s grand strategy to cope with Auckland’s housing crisis is to shift ownership of 2,800 properties from Housing NZ to the Tamaki Redevelopment Company – as if shifting properties around on a giant ‘Monopoly’ board will somehow solve the problem?

Owen pointed out to English that in transferring 2,800 houses to the Tamaki Redevelopment Company, that he was breaking a previous committment;

Owen: “Now, hang on a minute. There you offloaded 2800 houses, and I thought you had a cap on getting rid of state houses of about 2000. So is that cap gone now?

English: “Well, no. What we’ve said is Housing New Zealand will own at least 60,000 houses, and that certainly hasn’t changed. Government remains the owner—”

Owen: “No, you said a cap, Minister. So has the cap gone now with this 2800 houses? The cap’s blown?

English: “No. Government will remain the owner of the Tamaki houses. We’ve simply put them in a different government company, which has been set up specifically to regenerate that community, because it’s a very particular skillset.”

English had all but surrendered to Owen’s persistent questioning by outright admitting his government’s failure to address Auckland’s mounting housing crisis;

“That’s right. We’re not meeting demand. I certainly agree with that. Whether it gets worse before it gets better, forecasters can argue over that. We’ve got plenty to do to meet the demand that’s been there for a while. And as I said, the Government’s supporting Auckland City, trying to get them a better toolkit and making our own contribution through redeveloping our own land in Auckland.”

For English, this interview was possibly the worst in his political career. He had to explain why his commitment to returning to surplus this year was now in tatters, and why his government’s housing plan for Auckland consisted of moving state housing from owner to owner, without adding significantly to the overall stock.

The only reason why National’s reputation for being a “sound prudent fiscal manager” survives intact is because New Zealanders are not paying attention.

But worse was to come when Corrections Minister, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga took the chair and was also interviewed by Lisa Owen. What followed was a debacle of Hekia Parata proportions.

2. Corrections Minister, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga

With on-going  privatisation of State services dressed up as so-called “Public-Private Partnerships” (PPPs), Lisa Owen put several questions to the Corrections Minister on the role of UK company, Serco, which has been contracted to run the new prison at Wiri.

His responses were jaw-droppingly incompetant. The man was totally out of his depth, as these excerpts show;

Owen: “So are they getting paid and how much?”

Lotu-Iiga: “Well, the contract is between Serco and PlaceMakers, and I’m not privy to those sums, but—”

 

Owen: “So you don’t know how much the business is going to make—”

Lotu-Iiga: “I don’t have the figures on me, but we could ask Serco what the contract’s for.”

 

Owen: “Out of the inmates building framing and having these contracts. So who makes the profit out of the contract?”

Lotu-Iiga: “ Well, we don’t know whether there’s profits being made, but what PlaceMakers—”

 

Owen: “Why don’t you know that, Minister? Because this is under your watch.”

Lotu-Iiga: “Well, I spoke to the managing director of PlaceMakers yesterday, and they said that they will pay a standard contract for fees to Serco. I don’t know what that amount is…”

 

Owen: “Right, so in terms of rehabilitation, but you don’t know who’s making a profit or if one’s being made?

Lotu-Iiga: ” Hang on. They’ve got a commercial transaction between Serco and PlaceMakers. I don’t know what that figure is, but we can work it out.”

 

Owen: “Even with that $30 million? Even with that $30 million profit that they’re making per annum?”

Lotu-Iiga: “I don’t think they’re making a $30 million profit.”

 

Owen: “You don’t think it’ll make $30 million, and what you’re saying is it’s still saving money even though this company is making a profit out of it? It’s still saving us money even though they’re taking that profit.”

Lotu-Iiga: “It’s… Well, it’s saving the taxpayer money. It is saving the taxpayer money.”

 

And then this astounding admission from the Minister that must have had every viewer that Saturday morning choking on his/her milo/tea/coffee, and the Prime Minister speed-dialling his Chief-of-Staff;

Owen: “Who employs those monitors? Who employs the monitor in the prison? “

Lotu-Iiga: “There will be— If I can just finish, there will be an ombudsman. They will be subject to complaints—”

Owen: “So the monitor in the prison, Minister, just to be clear, the monitor in the prison; who employs the monitor?
Lotu-Iiga: “My understand is that the monitors are based in the prisons, but they report to the Department of Corrections.”

Owen: “Who employs the monitor and pays their wages, Minister?

Lotu-Iiga: “Well, I don’t have those facts on me, but they do report—”

Owen: “Well, I do. The person who employs the monitor— the person who employs the monitor is the company, Serco. They employ the monitor, and pay their wages.”

Lotu-Iiga’s spectacular ignorance of his own portfolio has almost certainly destroyed his political career. He will also have disappointed his political strategist and mentor, controversial far right-winger,  Simon Lusk.

Lusk was employed by Lotu-Iiga during the 2008 election campaign for the Maungakiekie Electorate Campaign. In return, as well as being paid by Lotu-Iiga, in his Maiden Speech in Parliament the newly-elected MP openly acknowledged Lusk’s involvement in his election to Parliament. In this Youtube video, Lotu-Iiga mentions Lusk at 3:56. Note who is sitting behind Lotu-Iiga – Aaron Gilmore, another Lusk protégé.

Bad luck, Simon.

It is not often that I feel sympathy for a Minister of a National Government. When I do, it is the pity I feel for a doomed man whose career has come to a grinding, crushing halt.

At the next Cabinet re-shuffle, Lotu-Iiga will be joining Kate Wilkinson, Phil Heatley, and Aaron Gilmore in political oblivion.

Dead Minister Walking.

3. Political Panel

Mike Williams, Bernard Hickey & Jamie Whyte comment on interviews with Bill English and Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga. Note ex-ACT leader, Jamie Whyte’s cringe-worthy apologistic comments on behalf of English, and why he thinks government debt does not matter.

4. The Programme

All in all, this was one of the most outstanding episodes of “The Nation” with excellent interviews; topical subject matter; and insightful analysis by (most) of the panellists. Lisa Owen joins Kim Hill as two of this country’s most formidable interviewers.

This is the sort of programming Mediaworks should be broadcasting at Prime Time. My “money” would be on people desperate for informative television – who are sick to their stomachs on a sickly diet of “reality tv” – to flock to such a viewer-friendly scheduling.

Good, quality, current affairs should never be tucked away as some sort of “guilty pleasure”.

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References

Wikipedia: The Phoney War

Wikipedia: Claytons

Rabobank: Country Report New Zealand

Farming Show: Australia becomes top trading partner once again

Radio NZ: Price drop another blow for dairy farmers

NZ Herald: Brian GaynorPlans for jump-start reveal differing styles

Scoop media:  Govt’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting

Fairfax media: Dairy prices fall at Fonterra GlobalDairyTrade auction

Beehive: Fact sheet – Personal tax cuts

Radio NZ: English concedes surplus target unlikely

Youtube: The Nation – Can National promise a surplus by 2016?

TV3: The Nation – Interview –  Finance Minister Bill English

Treasury: Debt

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

Fairfax media: Government offloads 2800 state houses to Auckland development company

TV3: The Nation – Interview – Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga

Wikipedia: Serco

Simon Lusk: Clients

Fairfax media: The rapid rise of a well-educated man

Youtube: Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga MP – Maiden Speech

Previous related blogposts

Tax cuts and jobs – how are they working out so far, my fellow New Zealanders?

Did National knowingly commit economic sabotage post-2008?

Budget 2014 – Why we will soon owe $70 billion under this government

The Mendacities of Mr Key #3: tax cuts

When the Rich Whinge about paying tax

Two Tax Strikes against Dunne?

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

National’s Ohariu candidate admits contact by Simon Lusk

Power Struggle in the National Party?!

Other blogs

Unframed: John Key has no credibility on debt and no Plan B

Acknowledgement

Tim Watkin, Producer of “The Nation“, for interview transcripts; link to Youtube excerpt featuring Bill English; and valuable insights.


 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 3 May 2015.

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Today’s irony was brought to you courtesy of former ACT MP and Govt Minister, Rodney Hide

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big-brother-is-watching-you

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Either Rodney Hide is taking the piss, or Karma has well and truly caught up with one of the National Government’s previous political flunkies;

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NZ Herald - Rodney Hide - ACT - Why am I under investigation - SIS - GCSB - surveillance - police state - nothing to hide nothing to fear

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In case the story mysteriously disappears, here is the full text, from the NZ Herald;

The state apparently has me under covert investigation.

It began two weeks ago. My Christchurch friends and colleagues were served, some at home, some at work. They were summonsed by a senior insolvency officer who explained they could be apprehended should they refuse. Such notices are a detention, an arrest without charge.

The guys are motor mechanics, engineers and motor engineers.

They turn up the following Wednesday as ordered, each at separate times. The deputy official assignee swears their oath.

They are interrogated by private investigators from a firm called InDepth Forensics, Hamilton.

I have the recordings.

On Thursday I email and ring the PI firm. “Why are you investigating me?” They hang up.

I email and leave messages for Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment manager Mandy McDonald.

She won’t return my calls.

On Friday I go to the MBIE office in Christchurch. The boss can’t answer my questions: she doesn’t know what’s happening. She says she will speak to her solicitor and get back to me. She doesn’t.

I ring Minister Steven Joyce’s office. I make no progress.

I return to MBIE’s office on Monday. I’m refused an appointment. I’m told the deputy official assignee “only administered the oath”. But the deputy official assignee signed the recording as “interviewer”. I’m asked to leave. I refuse.

I wait quietly in the foyer for 2 hours.

Joyce’s staffer emails: But because the “Official Assignee [is] an independent body, and also under Hon [Paul] Goldsmith’s responsibilities, I do not think I can assist you further.”

Goldsmith is in Paris explaining how he’s making “it easier for businesses to increase productivity and innovate”.

I ring the Institute of Private Investigators. Useless. I email the Private Security Personnel Licensing Authority. Ditto.

I complain to the Privacy Commissioner. I don’t hear back.

I provide a two-page summary for local MP Nicky Wagner. She rings. Finally someone is taking my complaint seriously.

On Tuesday I drop in a letter to the Christchurch MBIE. Now there’s security. The guard tells me he’s there to see his girlfriend. I tease him.

Keith’s still there an hour later. He admits he has been called because of me. He wants to know if I will be back.

Tuesday night. Wagner must have kicked butt. Mandy McDonald sends a clearly hurried email. She assures me I am not under investigation. It’s taken nearly a week.

But why the questioning under the detention powers?

The next day I get a letter from another MBIE staffer warning me that reporting the content of their examinations of my friends and colleagues would render me liable to a year in prison plus a $5000 fine. But, according to the email from McDonald, I’m reporting a non-investigation.

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear, Rodders. That’s what John Banks kept telling us. That’s what John Key kept telling us. So obviously, the extension to the powers of the GCSB, SIS, and other government departments – which was supported by ACT – should be a non-issue, right?

Really, Rodney, you’ve been part of the growth of the Surveillance State in this country and now you complain that you’re being surveilled?

Really?

Well, my little cherubic,  Right Wing mate, you oughtn’t. It was inevitable really. After all, in the early days of the USSR, the nascent totalitarian State’s security arm (Cheka/NKVD/KGB) devoured many of the high-ranking Communist Party officials. They fell foul to their own pernicious State power.

Welcome to reality.

When Dear Leader’s security thugs throw you in jail for whatever transgression you’ve incurred against the State, remember to remind your   cell-mates that you were partially responsible for the following laws increasing the power of the State;

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Act 2013

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill

Eventually, it all catches up with those in power – an intimate lesson Rodney has learned.

I bet he never thought it would happen to him?

Karma. I love that gal.

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References

NZ Herald: Rodney Hide – Why am I under investigation?

Additional

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Act 2013

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill

Parliament: Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill

Previous related blogposts

Citizen A: Kim Dotcom/GCSB special with Chris Trotter & Phoebe Fletcher

Nigella Lawson, GCSB, Christchurch re-build, and Malcolm Burgess on Campbell Live

Dear Leader, GCSB, and Kiwis in Wonderland (Part Toru)

The “man ban”; animal testing; GCSB Bill; and compulsory miltary training

David Cunliffe announces Labour Govt will repeal GCSB Bill!! **Updated**

A letter to the Dominion Post on the GCSB

An Open Message to the GCSB, SIS, NSA, and Uncle Tom Cobbly

The Mendacities of Mr Key #1: The GCSB Bill

Campbell Live on the GCSB – latest revelations – TV3 – 20 May 2014

TV3 – Campbell Live’s GCSB Public Vote

The real reason for the GCSB Bill

The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

The GCSB Act – some history

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do

The GCSB law – vague or crystal clear?

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

One Dunedinite’s response to the passing of the GCSB Bill

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!


 

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 27 April 2015.

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