Archive for the ‘Social Issues’ Category

2015 – Ongoing jobless tally

9 October 2015 6 comments


Unemployment logo


Continued from: 2014 – Ongoing jobless tally

So by the numbers, for this year;

















new zealand unemployment rate july 2014 - july 2015


*NB: actual rate for Dec 2014/Jan 2015 Quarter should be 5.7%, not 5.8% as depicted in above column. See Stats NZ data here.


March 2015 quarter – Employment & Unemployment


March 2015
Quarterly change Annual change 
(000) Percent
2,355 +0.7 +3.2
Unemployed   146 +2.1  -0.6
Filled jobs 1,832  +1.8 +3.3
Percent Percentage points
Employment rate 65.5 0.0 +0.7
Unemployment rate   5.8 0.0  -0.2
Labour force participation rate 69.6 +0.2 +0.6
Level Percent
Average ordinary time hourly earnings $28.77 0.0  +2.1
Wage inflation (salary and
wage rates, including overtime)
1105 +0.3 +1.7


June 2015 quarter – Employment & Unemployment


June 2015
 Quarterly change
 Annual change 
 +0.3 +3.0
 Filled jobs
 Percentage points
 Employment rate
 Unemployment rate
 Labour force participation rate
 Average ordinary time hourly earnings
 Wage inflation (salary and wage rates, including overtime)


Unemployment – From Statistics New Zealand:

The unemployment rate increased to 5.9 percent in the June 2015 quarter (up from 5.8 percent), Statistics New Zealand said today. At the same time, there were 7,000 more people employed over the quarter (up 0.3 percent).

“Even though employment grew over the quarter, population growth was greater, which resulted in a lower overall employment rate for New Zealand,” labour market and household statistics manager Diane Ramsay said.

“Despite lower quarterly growth, this is still the 11th consecutive quarter of employment growth, making it the second-longest period of growth since the period between 1992 and 1996,” Ms Ramsay said.

Over the year to June 2015, employment growth was still fairly strong (at 3 percent) with 69,000 more people employed. The manufacturing industry showed the strongest annual employment growth.

“This is the first time since the December 2013 quarter that the construction industry has not been the largest contributor to annual growth in employment,” Ms Ramsay said.

The vast majority of growth was in Auckland (29,600 people), where the annual employment growth was driven by retail trade and accommodation, followed by construction. Bay of Plenty had the second-highest employment growth, with 11,000 more people being employed over the year.

Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index, was 1.6 percent, compared with annual consumer price inflation of 0.3 percent.


From ANZ Business Outlook survey:

A net 15% of businesses are pessimistic about the general economy; a six year low. General business sentiment is negative across all the five sub-sectors. Agriculture is the most pessimistic; services the least.


A downturn in construction sector sentiment is notable this month.


Construction is now the most negative sector by this measure


From WestPac Weekly Commentary:

In contrast, our views are predicated on the economy entering a sharp slowdown in the near term. Until this week our view was based only on a sense that the most recent declines in dairy export prices were an important turning point, and would seriously knock confidence across the economy. We have also been cognisant of the fact that the Canterbury rebuild has peaked nine months earlier than previously thought, and will no longer underwrite accelerating GDP growth. Updating our economic forecasts is a work in progress, but indicatively, we are looking at GDP growth dropping below 2% and the unemployment rate rising to around 6.4% by early next year.


From Fonterra:

Revised 2014/15 Forecast
Fonterra Co-operative Group Limited has today reduced its forecast Farmgate Milk Price for the 2014/15 season to $4.40 per kgMS. Along with its previously announced forecast dividend range of 20-30 cents per share, the change amounts to a forecast Cash Payout of $4.60 – $4.70 that would be paid to a fully shared-up farmer.


Building Consents – From Statistics New Zealand:

The seasonally adjusted number of new dwellings consented fell 4.1% in June 2015, though the trend shows steady growth between May 2011 (post Christchurch earthquake) and June 2014.

The actual value of building work consented in June 2015 was $1.3 billion – a drop from  $1.4 billion in May 2015.

Residential: residential work was down from  $868 million in May 2015, to $832 million in June 2015.

Non-residential: non-residential work was down from $486 million in May 2015, to $454 million in June 2015.

Source (May 2014)

Source (June 2014)


Addendum1: Under-employment

The  under-employment stats;

People who are underemployed are those who work part-time, would prefer to work more hours, and are available to do so. In unadjusted terms, the number of underemployed grew by 12 percent over the year. While the number of part-time workers increased over the year, the ratio of people underemployed to employed part-time also rose – from 17.1 percent in June 2013 to 18.7 percent this quarter.

Official under-employment: up


Jobless: people who are either officially unemployed, available but not seeking work, or actively seeking but not available for work. The ‘available but not seeking work’ category is made up of the ‘seeking through newspaper only’, ‘discouraged’, and ‘other’ categories.

Under-employment: employed people who work part time (ie usually work less than 30 hours in all jobs) and are willing and available to work more hours than they usually do.

Employed: people in the working-age population who, during the reference week, did one of the following:

  • worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment 

  • worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business, or professional practice owned or operated by a relative 

  • had a job but were not at work due to: own illness or injury, personal or family responsibilities, bad weather or mechanical breakdown, direct involvement in an industrial dispute, or leave or holiday.


Addendum2: Other Sources

Statistics NZ:  Household Labour Force Survey



[To  be periodically up-dated]



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On ‘The Nation’ – Anne Tolley Revealed

2 October 2015 2 comments




On past occassion, I have been critical of ‘The Nation‘ for not making greater use of facts and data when confronting National ministers. Without cold, hard facts and stats, slippery Ministers like Steven Joyce can find wiggle-room to avoid straight answers and indulge in wild flights of fantasy-spin.

But when the team at ‘The Nation‘ get it right, they do it well, and Ministers are laid bare for the public to see, hear, and assess for themselves.

Cases-in-point, the 2 May interview with Corrections Minister, Sam  Lotu-Iiga, and the more recent (26 September) interview with Social Development Minister, Anne Tolley;


The Nation - Interview - Social Development Minister Anne Tolley


Both interviews showed Ministers out of their depths, and grappling with critical problems that apparently have “snuck up” on them – though the rest of the country had long been aware that not all was well in the Land of the Long White Cloud (and possible Red Peak).

Recent “revelations” of massive problems for children in State-care are only confirmation of what many in the sector already knew. According to Tolley’s own speech to the Fostering Kids New Zealand Conference  on 24 September;

By the time children with a care placement who were born in the 12 months to Jun 1991 had reached the age of 21:

Almost 90 per cent were on a benefit.

Over 25 per cent were on a benefit with a child.

Almost 80 per cent did not have NCEA Level 2.

More than 30 per cent had a youth justice referral by the age of 18.

Almost 20 per cent had had a custodial sentence.

Almost 40 per cent had a community sentence.

Overall, six out of every ten children in care are Māori children.


64 per cent of the 61,000 children notified to CYF in 2014 had a previous notification.

In 2013, children who had been removed from home were on average 8 years old and many of these children had been involved with the system since 2 or 3 years of age.


Seven year-old children should not have eight different home placements.

A study of those in care in 2010 showed that 23 per cent of children who exited care and returned to their biological parents were subject to neglect or physical, emotional or sexual re-abuse within 18 months. Ten per cent of those who returned to kin or whānau were re-abused, while re-abuse rates for those who exited into non-kin and non-whānau placements was one per cent.

It has taken seven years for a National minister to come to understand this? Where have they been all this time – playing golf on Planet Key?

But not only has  this government ignored this crisis in supporting young people in State care – but they have been criminally guilty of making matters worse by job cuts and destabilisation by constant re-organisation of  MSD (Ministry of Social Development);


Job cuts for MSD


Then Social Development Minister, Paula Bennett, was adamant that there would be more frontline social workers, despite the massive number of redundancies. Her mantra at the time was;

”I can absolutely assure them that the concentration is on frontline staff, on social workers that are working with those people that need it most, and that’s where this Government is putting their priorities.”

Take note that in the “re-structuring”  in 2009, the job cuts included “a team of 18 child abuse education social workers“.  In effect,  skilled professionals working on behalf of children suffering abuse were sacked.

Only the Minister of Finance trying to balance his books, and those who perpetrate child abuse on small bodies, could possibly have been delighted at that announcement.

To deflect criticism from the growing problem of  child poverty and New Zealand’s “under-class” (which, in  October 2011, even Key was forced to admit was rising), Bennett resisted demands to assess just how bad the problem really was;


Combating poverty more important than measuring it - Paula Bennett - MSD


No measurement; no way of telling how bad it is. Very clever, Ms Bennett.

But worse was to come, as National slashed the state sector to make up for revenue lost through two tax cuts and the recessionary effects of the Global Financial Crisis;


MSD restructure lacks transparency


98 MSD staff face the axe - union


This time, the person over-seeing on-going job-losses and re-structuring was the current Social Development Minister, Anne Tolley. This time, the cuts were given a new euphemism; “re-alignment”.

Despite Bennett’s reassurances in June 2009  that there would be a “concentration […] on frontline staff, on social workers that are working with those people that need it most” – six years later the cutting of back-room support staff resulted in inevitable (and predictable) consequences. As Tolley herself was forced to admit on ‘The Nation‘;

“Well, there’s 3000-odd staff, but only 25% of them are actually working with children. And of that 25%, they’re only spending 15% of their time actually with children.”


twitter - msd job cuts - anne tolley - the nation


At that point, Lisa Owen asked Minister Tolley the question;

“So are you telling me that we need more back-room staff to allow those people to get on to the front line and deal with the kids?”

Tolley’s reply was pure gobbledegook;

“What we need is a system that is designed to look after those children when they first come to our attention, we need good interventions with them and their families, and we need to free up the front-line social workers to do the work they come in every day to do which is to work with children, not a system that’s built on layers and layers of risk management and bureaucracy and administration, which is what we’ve got now.”

The reason it is risable gobbledegook is that after hundreds of job losses – of mostly so-called “back room staff” one assumes – and restructurings, there cannot be too many “layers and layers of risk management and bureaucracy and administration” left in MSD.

Lisa Owen pushed the Minister further;

“…But some evidence that was provided last year was the case-load review, which said that you were 350 social workers short. So can we expect more social workers?”

When the Minister offered vague assurances that “we may well” expect more social workers, Ms Owen was blunt;

“But ‘may well’ is not a definitive answer, is it, Minister? So yes or no? Will we get more?”

Tolley’s response was anything but reassuring;

“I don’t know, because the final system proposal will come to me in December, so I’m not going to pre-empt what the panel’s coming up with. What they’ve done in this interim report is give us the building blocks…”

Listening to the Minister was not only far from reassuring, but left a sense of unease.

Our esteemed Dear Leader, John Key, has already said that “outsourcing” to private providers for MSD services is possible;

“Child Youth and Family does outsource to the private sector already some contracts, and I think last year $81 million of business went to private sector contractors, so I can’t get up and say there is no involvement with the private sector, because there already is that.

I don’t think we’re seriously talking about the private sector taking control of all the children, but if there is some small function they could do, maybe, I’d have to see what that is.”

“Some small function”?

What is Key referring to – delivery of afternoon tea and biscuits to CYF staff?

Or, as more likely, would “some small function” involve Serco – already in deep trouble over it’s incompetence over running of Mt Eden prison?

This is a possibility that Tolley herself touted as a possibility on TVNZ’s ‘Q+A‘, as recently as June this year;


Tolley Serco could run social services - MSD - CYF


On 31 August,  CEO of the Association of Social Workers, Lucy Sandford-Reed,was reported on Radio NZ as saying  she believed call-centre operations might be outsourced;

“That really creates an opportunity for further fragmentation of the service delivery and could potentially create the opportunity for failure. And there has been a sense that a organisation like Serco could be looking at picking up those contracts.”

Tolley was adamant on ‘The Nation‘ that there would be no outsourcing of MSD’s front-line services. She told Lisa Owen to her face;

“Look, I- Let’s put it to rest – this is a state responsibility. There’s no talk within Government at all of outsourcing that responsibility.”

However, only two days earlier (24 September), it was reported that Serco had indeed been ‘sniffing’ around CYF facilities in Auckland;

CYF sites visited by Serco – Tolley

Thursday 24 Sep 2015 4:30 p.m.

Serco case managers have visited several Child, Youth and Family facilities in Auckland, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has confirmed.

She’s previously denied knowledge of such visits, and told Parliament today she had been given incorrect advice by her ministry.

“I apologise for giving an incorrect answer (to previous questions)… I’m disappointed that I got incorrect information,” she said.

Opposition MPs suspect the visits were connected with the possibility of some CYF services being contracted out to Serco.

The question that begs to be asked is; why has National drawn attention to the (supposed) “failings” of CYF/MSD? Why was Tolley so eager to receive a report so scathing of her own department, as she stated in her 27 August press statement;

“I welcome the release of this report, which makes for grim reading for those involved in child protection, and have met with the Commissioner to discuss his findings.”

Usually, this is a government whose ministers are desperate only to present “good news” stories. They are quick to dismiss, minimise, or deride any criticism that does not fit with their “good management” narrative. Blaming the previous Labour government has become the #1 Default position of National ministers.

The only possible rationale why Tolley has commissioned a report into MSD/CYF – where no public or media pressure had demanded one – is that Paula Rebstock’s highly critical findings of MSD/CYF were pre-determined.

As Chris Trotter wrote in his analysis of Rebstock’s report on 2 April;

“The Rebstocks of this world are spared the close-up consequences of their recommendations. They are experts at reading between the lines of their terms of reference to discover exactly what it is that their commissioning ministers are expecting from them – and delivering it. So it was with Paula Bennett’s welfare review, and so it will be with Anne Tolley’s review of Child Youth and Family (CYF).

Once again in the lead role, Ms Rebstock will not have to work too hard to decode the meaning of Ms Tolley’s comment that: “CYF has drafted its own internal modernisation strategy and while it is a good starting point, it doesn’t go far enough”.”

Without doubt, Rebstock’s eventual (and predictable?) report into MSD/CYF was highly critical of that organisation.

Key has publicly disclosed that he is not averse to privatisation (aka, “outsourcing”) aspects of MSD/CYF’s services.

Despite Tolley’s denials, Serco has shown interest in CYF facilities.

Which leads to the inescapable conclusion that the Rebstock report; the willingness of Ministers to front up to the media to candidly admit to MSD/CYF’s shortcomings; is setting up a Problem demanding a Solution.

That “Solution” is privatisation of services.

Which perhaps is what Tolley was referring to in her 24 September speech;

“While the new operational model is being developed, a feasibility study of an investment approach to improving outcomes for vulnerable children is being commissioned by MSD on behalf of the panel, and the findings will inform the Panel’s December report.”

Investment approach”?

As in business investment.

This explains  Tolley’s rejection of Lisa Owen’s suggestion of paying caregivers more money;

“Well, I think you’ve always got to be very careful that you’re not setting up a professional caregiving regime. And when you talk to people who are fostering, most of them don’t do it for the money.”

Indeed, “people who are fostering, most of them don’t do it for the money” – but it sure helps pay the bills, especially for professional services for some very damaged children.

No wonder Tolley was vague on whether more money or social workers would be provided to MSD/CYF, in her replies to Lisa Owen. This was never about increasing resources to the Ministry or caregivers.

This is about a private enterprise “solution” to a National government “problem”.

The Rebstock Report is simply the means to sell that “solution” to the public and media.

Machiavellian does not begin to cover this mad agenda.






TV3: The Nation – Interview – National’s Chief Strategist Steven Joyce Speech to Fostering Kids New Zealand Conference

Fairfax media: Job cuts for MSD

NZ Herald: Key admits underclass still growing

Scoop media: Combating poverty more important than measuring it

Radio NZ: MSD restructure ‘lacks transparency’

Fairfax media: 98 MSD staff face the axe – union

Twitter: Frank Macskasy to The Nation

Radio NZ: Key – More CYF private sector involvement possible

TV3 News: Tolley – Serco could run social services

TV3 News: CYF sites visited by Serco – Tolley Minister welcomes State of Care report


MSD: Redesigning the Welfare State in New Zealand: Problems, Policies and Prospects (1999)

Other Blog posts

The Daily Blog: Fixing CYFs – Paula Rebstock is asked to “rescue” another state agency

The Daily Blog: Why The State Needs To Support Young People Until They’re 21

Previous related blogposts

WINZ, waste, and wonky numbers – *up-date*

Bill English: When numbers don’t fit, or just jump around

The law as a plaything

Random Thoughts on Random Things #3

John Key’s government – death by two cuts

The cupboard is bare, says Dear Leader

Government Minister sees history repeat – responsible for death

“I don’t know the details of that particular family” – Social Development Minister Anne Tolley

Polls and pundits – A facepalm moment

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






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



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National’s blatant lies on Housing NZ dividends – The truth uncovered!

18 September 2015 Leave a comment


cold and damp houses - newspaper magazine front pages


Recent statements by Minister for Social Housing, Paula Bennett,  Minister Responsible for Housing New Zealand, Bill English,  Building and Housing Minister, Nick Smith, and Prime Minister John Key, have been shown to be deceptively misleading – and in many instances, outright lies.

Their public utterances have been revealed  to be untrue after this blogger discovered a statement from Housing NZ, buried deep within one of their Annual Reports.

#1 – Nick Smith

On 25 April 2014, Building and Housing Minister, Nick Smith, was indignant when he rejected a claim by the Labour Party that National was planning to siphon off  Christchurch earthquake insurance payouts to Housing NZ as government dividends.

As Radio NZ reported;

Papers obtained by Labour under the Official Information Act reveal plans to delay maintenance and redirect Canterbury quake insurance payouts to meet the Government’s demands for increased returns from state housing.

Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says Housing New Zealand has agreed to pay higher dividends to the Government by using some of its $320 million insurance payment and putting off repairs and maintenance.

Mr Twyford says the Government is robbing Housing New Zealand in Canterbury to fund dividends going into the Crown account. He says Housing Minister Nick Smith needs to explain why money that should have gone into the rebuild has gone into Government coffers instead.

But Housing Minister Nick Smith says it’s not a case of earmarking any particular income towards the dividend, but it’s not true to say it will come from the insurance payout.

He says insurance proceeds are going towards capital expenditure, including 2000 new houses, which will be under construction by the end of 2015.

Dr Smith says Housing New Zealand has always been expected to return a dividend to the Crown, including under the previous Labour-led Government. This comes from normal operating revenue, including rent and rent subsidies from the Government.

Housing New Zealand’s latest statement of intent shows $308 million in insurance money earmarked for capital expenditure this financial year.

#2 – Bill English

Barely five months later, Housing NZ announced a dividend of $118 million to be paid to the government for financial year – the largest since 2009-10;

Housing New Zealand returned a $108 million dividend in the past financial year, the third largest ever paid.

At the time the responsible minister, Bill English said the higher dividend would allow the Government to help more people with serious housing needs.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said the idea the Government was continuing to make money off State housing when children were getting sick from living in those houses was unacceptable.

He said the Crown must rule out taking a dividend until all Housing New Zealand stock was up to standard.

“Given that Housing New Zealand homes are actually killing their residents, I think it makes no sense for there to be any dividend at all.

“Everything that they get should be ploughed back into making sure that their homes are safe.”

Minister Responsible for Housing New Zealand, Bill English justified the massive  dividend with the extraordinary statement;

“Housing New Zealand has sufficient cash to invest in new houses and at the level that we’ve specified, and to do its maintenance programmes. So really the dividend is about just a bit of pressure on them to be efficient.”

The cash-grab by National had been hinted earlier, on 24 March, when Bill English signalled that maintenance on HNZ properties would be deferred;

Mr English says the lack of maintenance on state houses is concerning and that in the long run the government will need to invest the $1.2 billion dollars in state houses to get them up to scratch.

However, he says that won’t all happen this year.

When asked why Housing New Zealand had not spent as much money as it should have on maintenance, Mr English put the blame partly on the previous Labour government saying they had chosen to build new state houses rather than fix up old ones.

Yet, that quiet admission did not stop both Paula Bennett and Bill English from repeating their ‘spin’ that Housing NZ had sufficient cash for necessary maintenance of their housing stock;

Bill English  – 5 June 2015

“They’ve done a very large scale programme – insulated every house that it can, which is 48,000 houses over the last four or five years.

It’s got to deal with the same limitations of process as everybody else, it’s got to get consents, it’s got to find a workforce, but it’s not short of money to do the job.”

#3 – Paula Bennett

Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Housing – 12 June 2015

@ 4.28

“What I will say is that it’s not, um, not a money problem. So there is enough money there for us to get that stock up.”

@ 5.42

“It’s not actually about the money. The money is there to be spent on the maintenance.”

Bill English – 8 September 2015

“Housing New Zealand has sufficient cash to invest in new houses and at the level that we’ve specified, and to do its maintenance programmes.”

Bill English – 9 September 2015

@ 2.36

“The constraint on repairs isn’t cash. They have enough money to do the jobs that they need to do.”

@ 4.28

“With respect to the maintenance. Ah, yes, if any tenant lets Housing NZ azbout any, what they call urgent maintenance needs, and they got 125,000 of those notifications, ah, in the last year or two, ah, then Housing NZ has the cash to act on those…”

@ 6.11

“In fact, our main challenge there is not [a] lack of money…”

@ 6.35

“So the constraint isn’t cash, it’s a lack of houses.”

All of which was  revealed to be dishonest spin by these two Ministers, when this statement was discovered from Housing NZ’s 2013/14 Annual Report;


housing nz annual report 2013-14 maintenance cutbacks

The responsive repairs programme, which includes work on vacant properties, is dependent on demand, which was higher than expected in 2013/14. Consequently, the budget was overspent due to higher volumes of work orders. The average cost per work order was also higher as a result of more comprehensive repairs and upgrades being carried out on vacant properties. To mitigate this overspend, we deliberately reduced the planned maintenance programme, which decreased the percentage of maintenance spend on planned activity.” – [p28]


Perhaps English and Bennett forgot – or did not realise – that Housing NZ would disclose the true nature of their lack of funds for on-going maintenance of their increasingly dilapidated properties.

#4 – John Key

Perhaps English and Bennett both hoped that the media and public would buy their #1 deflection – that it was all a problem left over from the previous Labour government. Even our esteemed Dear Leader repeated the same spin in Parliament on 26 August this year;

“But what I can say is that this Government is proud of the fact that it is spending $300 million a year improving the mess we inherited from Labour. Its own house was never in order. It is not in order at the moment. No wonder we inherited-“

“It would be easier to take the member seriously if what Labour did when in Government was actually maintain the houses. But, in fact, not only did it not do that, it let them run down … It is a joke for the Labour Party members to come here and talk about this. They ran the housing stock down. They should hang their heads in shame—that is what they should do.”

“Where is the moral compass of an Opposition that just failed to upgrade and maintain houses? They were a mess under the Labour Government. They were a disgrace, and this Government has actually had to fix them up. It is the same old story all the time with Labour: hopeless in Government; roaring like lions in Opposition.”

“I am advised by the Minister responsible for HNZC that the previous Labour Government suspended the maintenance on those properties to build more properties. Labour let those houses run down, it let those tenants get sick, and now in Opposition it wants to pass the buck to someone else. It is a disgrace, Mr Little. It is a disgrace.”

In that one exchange, Key repeated the Blame Labour mantra four times.

During the 9 September interview on Radio NZ’s ‘Checkpoint‘ with Bill English, Guyon Espiner voiced his obvious disgust/weariness at that hoary old excuse;

“Ok, I think after seven or eight years we’ve had enough of you blaming the [previous] Labour government.”

Bennett and English did the same throughout various Radio NZ and television interviews.

At one point during the  9 September Radio NZ interview, English even  blamed tenants for the state of their run-down homes;

English: “And generally the reason a repair or an upgrade doesn’t happen is because they don’t –  is because they need to be told it’s needed, ah, they’re not in every house every week  but when, y’know as I said -“

Espiner: “So hang on, it’s the tenant’s fault, for not telling them, is it?”

Key used that blame-gaming on 26 August, in Parliament,  during his previously mentioned blame-game session;

“But also I will say that my mother took absolute pride in making sure that she kept the house clean, tidy, and ventilated.”

So, according to Key, English, and Bennett, the poor state of Housing NZ properties is due to;

  1. The previous Labour Government
  2. Tenants

Nothing to do with $664 million in dividends siphoned off by National to fund reduced tax revenue post-2009/10 tax cuts, which led to National demanding bigger and bigger dividends from SOEs such as Solid Energy; state-owned power companies, and social services such as Housing NZ.

If ever there was a clearer picture of transferring wealth from low-income New Zealanders to the top 10% of income earners and “high net worth” (ie; filthy rich) individuals – it is the financial gutting of Housing NZ.

Despite claims that Housing NZ has “the money is there to be spent on the maintenance” – the facts prove otherwise. Housing NZ’s own statement condemns two ministers and the Prime Minister as manipulative liars;

“To mitigate this overspend, we deliberately reduced the planned maintenance programme, which decreased the percentage of maintenance spend on planned activity.”

# 5 – Nick Smith (again)

Perhaps the most tragic result of National’s cash-grab was the death of two-year old Emma-Lita Bourne, who died in a grotty, damp, cold State house. The death was preventable, as the Coroner, Brandt Shortland ,reported;

The coroner’s report into the toddler’s death, which was released on Thursday, says the poor condition of the state house in the South Auckland suburb of Otara was a contributing factor to Emma-Lita’s death.


“I am of the view the condition of the house at the time being cold and damp during the winter months was a contributing factor to Emma-Lita’s health status.”

Building and Housing Minister* Nick Smith, expressed his version of human empathy with this callous observation of the little girl’s short life;

“People dying in winter of pneumonia and other illnesses is not new.”

Three lying ministers and an emotionless psychopath/automaton.

This is what we have for a government.

It also offers a third option for National’s blame-gaming spin when challenged on their failures;


  • The previous Labour Government
  • Tenants
  • Winter illnesses


No doubt National will come up with other excuses and others to point a finger at. This is, after all, the party of personal responsibility.

#6 – Memo to Mainstream Media

In the meantime,

Memo to Mainstream Media:

Next time English, Bennett, or Key claim that Housing NZ has sufficient money, after dividends are extracted, to carry out maintenance please ask them why HNZ stated in their 2013/14 Annual Report;

“To mitigate this overspend, we deliberately reduced the planned maintenance programme, which decreased the percentage of maintenance spend on planned activity.”

Because we’d really like to know.

* National has not one, but three ministers for housing portfolios. And they still can’t get it right.




Addendum1 – Housing NZ dividends under National

HNZ Annual Report 2009-10 – $132 million   (p86)

HNZ Annual Report 2010-11 – $71 million   (p66)

HNZ Annual Report 2011-12 – $68 million   (p57)

HNZ Annual Report 2012-13 – $77 million   (p47)

HNZ Annual Report 2013-14 – $90 million –  (p37)

HNZ Annual Report 2014-15 – $108 million –  (p33)

HNZ Statement of Performance Expectations 2015/16 – $118 million – (p12)

Total: $664 million (over seven years)

Addendum2 – Housing NZ dividends under Labour

Annual Report 2001/02 – $9 million (p51)

Annual Report 2002/03 – $3 million (p55)

Annual Report 2003/04 – $176 million (p50)

Annual Report 2004/05 – $44 million (p42)

Annual Report 2005/06 – $14 million (p71)

Annual Report 2006/07 – $20 million (p54)

Annual Report 2007/08 – $13 million (p51)

Annual Report 2008/09 – $2 million (p71)

Total: $281 million (over 8 years – no figures found for ’00-’01 period)











Radio NZ: Housing NZ not cash cow – minister

Radio NZ: Housing NZ to pay Crown $118m dividend

Radio NZ: Morning Report – English defends $118M Housing NZ dividend (alt. link)

Radio NZ: Housing NZ to pay Crown $118m dividend – audio (alt. link)

Housing NZ: Annual Report 2009-10 (p86)

Radio NZ: State housing criticism valid, says English

TVNZ News: English concerned by State House deferred maintenance bill

Radio NZ: The state of state housing (alt. link)

Parliament: 2. Housing New Zealand Corporation, Minister – Confidence

Fairfax media:Damp state house played part in toddler’s death

National Party: About Personal Responsibility

Previous related blogposts

Government Minister sees history repeat – responsible for death

Housing Minister Paula Bennett continues National’s spin on rundown State Houses

Letter to the Editor – How many more children must die, Mr Key?!

National under attack – defaults to Deflection #1


Theres always a market solution - housing nz - bill english


This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 September 2015.



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Letter to the editor – When 41% of houses are bought by speculators

26 August 2015 6 comments


Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking


from: Frank Macskasy <>
to: Dominion Post <>
date: Mon, Aug 24, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor


The editor
Dominion Post

If what Deputy Governor, Grant Spencer, says is true that investor-speculators are buying up to 41% of Auckland house purchases – then we have a major problem on our hands.

No matter how many houses are built; no matter how far Auckland spawls; no matter how many parks are swallowed up; no matter what kind of LVR restrictions the Reserve Bank implements; no matter how much money is thrown at the problem – nearly half of all houses will be snapped up by speculators.

Whether those speculators come from Berlin, Boston, or Beijing – or even just north of the Bombay Hills – does not matter one jot.

This government has shown itself to be utterly hopeless at controlling speculation, and the horrendous fact that housing prices have risen 24% over the last year in Auckland is evidence of their incompetance.

Meanwhile young couples wanting to buy their first home are locked out of the market because of the relentless greed of a few.

This is not what I thought New Zealand would look like in the 21st century.

It is not the flag we should be looking at changing – but our blase attitude to something very wrong with our society.


-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]





TVNZ News: The Reserve Bank has again raised concerns about investors driving up the Auckland housing market



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Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

21 August 2015 3 comments




NZ, Wellington, 15  August – Anti-TPPA protesters, many of them young people in their teens and early 20s, faced off against police armed with tasers on the steps of Parliament.

Believed to be the first time that armed police have deployed tasers in a non-violent, non-threatening situation, at least five police officers were visibly carrying the potentially lethal devices on their belts;


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


At least five  weapons were clearly visible, with other policemen and woman wearing bulky jackets that may or may not have concealed more of the devices.

Though there was some minor jostling between one protester and a Parliamentary security guard, there was no violence or any other physical contact between police and members of the public.

The confrontation began when a lone protester made her way to the top of the Parliamentary steps, and seated herself, adopting a meditating position. For a short time, three police attempted to persuade her to move, though no force was used.


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


She was followed by others, who also jumped or skirted around the security fence separating the grassy area from the paved Parliamentary forecourt.


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


As their numbers swelled to approximately a hundred, extra police arrived quickly and with Parliamentary Security, formed a cordon across the steps leading up to Parliament.


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


March organisors and Marshalls attempted to quell the situation by asking people to move back from the steps, without much success.


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


Eventually,  jostling and shouting gave way to a calmer atmosphere as March organisors encouraged a constant stream of speakers to address the crowd. The tiny volatile minority, numbering perhaps half a dozen, joined others seated on the steps. One activist played his guitar and sang songs, though at one point he declined a request for “anything by Dave Dobbin“.


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


After about a hour, the crowd on the Parliamentary forecourt dispersed of their own volition. Police numbers also reduced, with officers leaving the scene.


TPPA - trans pacific partnership agreement - protest march - wellington - 15 august 2015


There was no apparent reason for tasers to be deployed on this occasion. The sight of these weapons incited many in the crowd to angry outbursts toward the police.

More than one person was overheard asking what possible use  four or five tasers would have been against a crowd numbering in the hundreds.

One person, who requested anonymity,  said to this blogger;

“Whoever authorised these guns to be brought out needs their head read. It’s a grim day when cops feel the need to show these things when they’re faced with ordinary New Zealanders engaged in lawful protest. It’s like something out of ‘Sleeping Dogs’.  Really, is this where we’ve ended up, armed cops facing off against women and kids? God help us.”

On this occasion, a tense situation was prevented from escalation not by show of force, but by the wit of organisors who distracted the ‘hot heads’ and encouraged dialogue and engagement.

The best strategy in this stand-off was patience.




Previous related blogposts

Citizen A – 29 Nov 2012 – TPPA Special

TPPA: Business launches propaganda campaign

TPPA: Doomsday scenarios, Critics, and flights of fancy

Open message to the Middle Classes about the threat of the TPPA

Nationwide Rally Against the TPPA – Day of Action!

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part tahi)

They marched against the TPPA and the threat to our sovereignty (part rua)

The Mendacities of Mr Key #5: Has Tim Groser shown the P.M. to be a liar on the TPPA?

Nationwide Day of Protest Captures Public Attention on TPPA

Opposing the TPPA – the Heavens hold their deluge ’till the People speak

Citizens face Police armed with tasers at Wellington TPPA protest march

Support groups

Facebook: Oil Free Wellington

Facebook: It’s Our Future – Kiwis concerned about the TPPA

Website:  It’s Our Future

Facebook: Aotearoa is Not for Sale

Action Stations: A Secret Trade Deal So Terrifying That Parliament Isn’t Even Allowed To Know What It Says

Facebook: TPPA Action Group – Wellington

OraTaiao New Zealand Climate and Health Council

Copyright (c) Notice

All images stamped ‘’ are freely available to be used, with following provisos,

» Use must be for non-commercial purposes.
» Where purpose of use is commercial, a donation to Child Poverty Action Group is requested.
» At all times, images must be used only in context, and not to denigrate individuals or groups.
» Acknowledgement of source is requested.




TPPA-cartoon-trans pacific partnership


This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 August 2015.



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Socially-sanctioned psychopathy harnessed for good

13 August 2015 2 comments





Killing people en-masse is frowned upon in most parts of the world. Serial killing is a definite no-no.

Instead, psychopaths satiate their bloodlust by more legal means.

One option is to participate as a combatant in one of several officially designated War Zones around the planet (Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, several parts of West Africa, Texas, etc). The down-side is that you can be sure that several hundred other combatants will be shooting back at you. Not good.

Another option is a much safer bet for our friendly, neighbourhood psychopath;



Giraffes are dangerous -  another trophy hunter under fire after defending hobby


Corgatelli’s killing of the giraffe follows Minnesota dentist, Walter Palmer’s, slaughter of Zimbabwe’s iconic lion, Cecil;


Cecil the lion hunter Walter Palmer faces calls for prosecution


An unknown number of other hunters are also shooting and slaughtering their way across the African continent and other parts of the world.  In their sights; animals that are not armed with high-tech killing gear. It is hardly an equal “sport”, if one can remotely call it that.

There is definitely a reduced Occupational Hazard of returned fire that combatants in War Zones have to face.

Trying to peer into the psyche of these so-called “hunters”, some of Corgatelli’s remarks gave a chilling insight. From her Facebook page;

Everybody thinks we’re cold-hearted killers and it’s not that.There is a connection to the animal and just because we hunt them doesn’t mean we don’t have a respect for them.”

Day #2 I got a amazing old Giraffe. Such a amazing animal!! I couldn’t be any happier!! My emotion after getting him was a feeling I will never forget!!!

“ 13 inch wart hog!! What a fun hunt!!!

Yesterday was day 1 an amazing day!!! Got my beautiful beautiful Kudu!! It was my #1 want on my list and I got him on the first day!!! Loving it there!!

Corgatelli’s undisguised joy at killing is disturbing. In some instances, her pleasure seems almost  sexual in nature.

Also worrying is the number of messages on her facebook page highly critical of her destructive behaviour – and to which she appears totally oblivious. This is clearly someone out of touch with social norms, including public odium of  her public revelling in killing wild animals.

Not only does she lack any empathy with the creatures she targets – but seems thoroughly unphased by the torrent of criticism directed at her. There seems to be  a distinct disconnect with her emotions.

People like Palmer and Corgatelli are, unfortunately, not alone in the world. There are plenty like them. People who cannot empathise with others, whether human or non-human.

Some become serial killers. Some become despotic leaders (think Hitler, Stalin, Pinochet, Pol Pot, et al). Others, who are wary of a date with the executioner or spending their lives in a cell, look to other prey.

Same psycopathy. Different victims. And like the killers who murdered their victims at a  movie theater or a school, they prefer their targets to be defenceless. Preferably at a distance, so the targetted animal – or humans in at least one instance – cannot hope to fight back.

Psycopaths; cowards, as well as comfortable around lethal weapons.

Well, I have a solution that protects defenceless animals but meets the inate homicidal needs of psychopaths-cloaked-as-hunters: Survivor Hunter Island!


survivor island


That’s right – we set aside an island devoted to hunters. Real hunters. Hunters who pit themselves against each other. Hunters who take on the ultimate quarry: other human beings!

We put a dozen hunters in and they indulge their passion to seek out their prey and blast away to their hearts’ content. No rules; twelve go in; one comes out.

Last man (or woman, in Ms Corgatelli’s case) standing wins a prize. (A KFC voucher?)

Fitting into our current craze for Reality TV (you can see where this is heading), the hunt could be televised using carefully secreted cameras and Autonomous Flying Vehicles, and broadcast throughout the world. (We can put television sets on the African veldt, in case any lions or giraffes want to watch proceedings.)

The revenue from advertising and sponsorship (the NRA would surely be lining up as a bell-weather sponsor) for Survivor Hunter Island could be used for conservation projects around the world. Hunters, after all,  are staunch supporters of conservation, as Ms Corgatelli claimed.

Hunters and billionaire libertarians could even share their islands as libertarians plan their little tax-free havens somewhere out in the middle of the ocean;




Bag a brace of hunters and a couple of  billionaires?

I’d pay good money to watch that.





The Guardian:  ‘Giraffes are dangerous’: another trophy hunter under fire after defending hobby

The Guardian: Cecil the lion hunter Walter Palmer faces calls for prosecution

Facebook: Sabrina Corgatelli

CNN: James Holmes found guilty of murder in Colorado theater shooting

CNN: Sandy Hook shooting – What happened?

Washington Post: Lee Boyd Malvo, 10 years after D.C. area sniper shootings – ‘I was a monster’ Tech Billionaire Donates $1.25 Million to Create Libertarian Islands


The author confesses to being a meat-eater;

I pay homage to my carnivorous ancestors,” admitted Frank Macskasy, “But I don’t kill for pleasure. Even when a tele-marketer calls or Jehovah’s Witness comes to the door during ‘Dr Who’, I resist the urge. Killing for food is part of Nature’s less-glamorous ‘circle-of-life’. Killing for pure pleasure indicates a deep need for psychiatric care. Apologies to vegetarians, Vegans, and all the chooks, sheep, and cows, I’ve eaten in my life.

In my next life I’ll probably come back as a chicken in a Tegel barn.

Or celery. I hate celery.



This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 8 August 2015.




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Is this the defining quote for the 21st Century?

10 August 2015 1 comment


615 rich poor Gina Sanders shutterstock


Create a society that values material things above all else. Strip it of industry. Raise taxes for the poor and reduce them for the rich and for corporations. Prop up failed financial institutions with public money. Ask for more tax, while vastly reducing public services. Put adverts everywhere, regardless of people’s ability to afford the things they advertise. Allow the cost of food and housing to eclipse people’s ability to pay for them. Light blue touch paper.” –  Andrew Maxwell, Irish comedian


If it’s not, it must come pretty damn close.




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