Posts Tagged ‘australia’

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

18 August 2021 15 comments

[Blogger’s Note: Events from 1.30PM, 17 August have overtaken this story.]


covid 19



16 June, NSW: A Sydney limousine driver ferrying airline flight crews is found to be infected with covid19. Analysis confirms it is the Delta variant.Two days later, community transmission is reported where a Sydney woman had only fleeting contact with the limousine driver.

22 June, NSW: The “Bondi cluster” increases to 21 cases.

22 June, Wellington: Aotearoa New Zealand’s government announces a “travel pause” with New South Wales, effective 11.59PM. As reported;


covid australia trans tasman bubble


Strike 1

23 June, Wellington: The news shocked the entire country: a traveller from Sydney to Wellington had tested positive for covid19:


covid 19


The male traveller had spent the weekend of 19/21 June in Wellington. After only a fleeting two day visit, the country was thrown into an urgency not seen since last year’s covid outbreak and lockdown.

The response was immediate. Wellington’s Level Alert was raised to Two. It was quickly determined that the traveller had mixed with  thousands of other people as he visited popular tourist spots; retailers; a bar; cafe; hotel, etc:




Authorities only knew of his precise movements because he – unless most New Zealanders  – was scanning the QR code wherever he went. It was this meticulousness that allowed the Ministry of Health to ascertain not just where he had been, but who might have been in close contact with him.

We owe this person a great deal.

Four days after the first announcement, and upon his return to Sydney, the traveller’s partner tested positive for covid19. It was announced at around the same time that – unsurprisingly – the traveller’s covid variant was indeed the highly infectious Delta strain.

It was the same strain that was rapidly spreading through Sydney from where the traveller had come from. By a miracle, as days passed, there were no reports of community transmission in Wellington. None of his 2,609 close contacts tested positive for the virus. Neither were there any traces of the virus in the city’s wastewater.

We had dodged the bullet. Strike 1.

Strike 2

5/6 July, Auckland-New Plymouth: The country was stunned to learn that relieving foreign ship crews were landing in Aotearoa, without the full 14 day MIQ. One crew was transported to their vessel, the Spanish-owned Viking Bay:


covid 19 playa zahara


Alarmingly, the MoH disclosed:

A Ministry spokesperson says they entered into the country under an exemption so they did not have to quarantine.

“These mariners entered into New Zealand under an exemption contained within the maritime border order.

“It’s important to note that all people such as mariners who this exemption applies to are still required to comply with full infection prevention controls.”

It is as if  leading Ministry of Health officials are oblivious as to the vastly more infectious nature of the Delta variant. Remember that the Sydney limousine driver infected a 70 year old woman at a local cafe with only the briefest of interactions. As New South Wales’ Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, pointed out:

“This indicates that the initial case was highly infectious, as transmission must have occurred through fleeting exposure, noting that the woman who caught the infection at the café was actually seated outside and there was no known contact with the initial case.”

The van driver who transported the nine seafarers was put into isolation, as were two other Ports of Auckland workers.

The Ministry’s insistence that there was “minimal additional risk to any of the contacts during the transfer process” rings dangerously hollow when we realise that the current crisis facing NSW started of with one highly infectious person.

At last two Ports of Auckland workers and the van driver were put at risk of infection; potential serious illness, and possibly worse.

The drive from Auckland to Port Taranaki is a five hour journey.  During that journey, the travellersstopped to use the toilets at a Hamilton isolation facility”.

It is difficult to accept they made only one “pit stop”.  With nine individual seafarers and a van driver, is it credible they all needed to use the toilets simultaneously? And as Maritime Workers Union national secretary, Craig Harrison, added:

“It’s a fair old drive from Auckland to New Plymouth when you think about it. If the driver’s coming back from New Plymouth, if it’s down and back in one day, he must be refuelling somewhere.”

It is unclear where else the van may have stopped for food, toilet visit, or to re-fuel. And if the van had broken down, with two infectious seafarers onboard; had they interacted with passers-by or professional road-side assistance, the scenario for community transmission would have been set.

12 July, Wellington: A week after the five-hour drive from Auckland to Port Taranaki, the Viking Bay docked in Wellington.

13 July, Wellington: According to the MoH, fifteen of the Viking Bay’s 20 crew were transferred to an on-shore MIQ facility at the Grand Mercure Hotel. Including the original two from the Auckland-to-New Plymouth drive, all fifteen were now infected with the Delta variant.

The following day, another crewmember – one of the remaining five aboard the Viking Bay – became unwell and joined his comrades in MIQ. This despite the fact that same seafarer had recently returned a ‘negative’ covid test.

We had apparently (?) dodged another bullet. Strike 2.

Strike 3

18 July, Lyttelton Port: Another ship, the Spanish-flagged Playa Zahara docked at the port. The Delta variant had spread easily throughout the ship, infecting three crewmembers. A further thirteen crew also tested positive for covid, most likely Delta as well.

Again the relieving crew for the fishing vessel landed in Auckland on 18 June and spent only two days in MIQ. According to MoH,  they were tested before their arrival in Aotearoa New Zealand and again prior to boarding their ship. It is unclear when the second testing took place.

4 August, Port of Tauranga: Matters took a dangerous turn when the Singapore registered container ship, Rio De La Plata, docked at the port to unload its cargo.

Initially, 72 Tauranga port workers boarded the Rio De La Plata.

Eleven of the 21 crew aboard the ship tested positive for covid. According to the MoH, “Officials have worked with employers to identify 94 port workers who had contact with the ship, unloading cargo in shifts over the four-day period it was berthed at Port of Tauranga from 6pm on Wednesday 4 August to 2pm on Saturday 7 August.”

The number was subsequently increased to 98.

Writing for Stuff media, was able to reveal that no one at Port of Tauranga or Bay of Plenty District Health Board was keeping track of who was or was not vaccinated at the port.

Worse was to come.

It was also revealed that port workers were needlessly exposed to infected crew aboard the Rio De La Plata  a second time:

The Rio de la Plata was initially given the okay to berth in Tauranga on Wednesday. Then it was suddenly shut down that same night. Then it was given the all clear again the next morning. And now, half of its crew have tested positive for Covid-19.

Ports of Tauranga management put their side  of events:

The ship was tied up at Port of Tauranga from 6pm on Wednesday 4 August to 2pm on Saturday 7 August…


… A Port of Tauranga pilot boarded the vessel at approximately 5pm on Wednesday and brought the ship in to the Tauranga Container Terminal. At about 9pm, Customs NZ unexpectedly shut down operations on the ship and the local Public Health Unit advised Port of Tauranga that our pilot and the stevedores unloading the ship should go home and isolate while awaiting further instructions.

On Thursday morning, Government agencies have clarified the situation and the Public Health Unit advised us that operations can resume on the vessel and there was no need for workers to isolate.

This despite Port of Tauranga admitted that they had been advised the day before the Rio de la Plata had been boarded by an Australian Queensland pilot who later tested positive for the virus:

On Tuesday, 3 August, Port of Tauranga received an alert from Maritime NZ that the ship had been boarded two weeks ago by an Australian pilot, who had tested positive for Covid-19. Maritime NZ subsequently cleared the ship for pilot boarding. The ship was also cleared to berth by the Medical Officer of Health at the local Public Health Unit as part of the normal free pratique process.

11 August: the Rio de la Plata  departed Port of Tauranga. All port workers and two pilots tested negative for covid.

The Australian pilot who became infected was not so lucky:

The ship is linked to a COVID case in an Australian pilot who was onboard the vessel July in Queensland and who later developed symptoms and then tested positive for COVID-19 nine days after being aboard the vessel. The Australian pilot is confirmed to have the Delta variant and has not been linked to any other Queensland cases.

Yet again, bullet dodged. Strike 3.


[This part written after 1.30pm, 17 August. However, it largely follows the original ]

The high-transmission rate of Delta Covid was starkly illustrated in Australia, as described above, when a woman at a cafe came into brief, passing contact with a limousine driver.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, the insanely high degree of transmissability of Delta Covid was reinforced at Auckland’s Jet Park quarantine facility:


covid - jet park


Every aspect of the increased dangerous nature of Delta Covid, combined with Aotearoa New Zealand’s policies toward foreign ship crews avoiding full fourteen-day MIQ; and haphazard protocols followed by port workers with visiting ships – does not bode well for us.

Little wonder that the Prime Minister was also uneasy about our vulnerability when it came to maritime traffic:



Delta covid is unforgiving.  We are tempting Fate with our complacency. Someone at the Ministry of Health has not been paying attention.

We must do better.

Meanwhile, from the Death Cult Capitalists

For ACT leader David Seymour, opening up Aotearoa New Zealand couldn’t come fast enough:



And to drive home the point, he added:



That could mean living with Covid-19, even if that led to large outbreaks, more hospitalisations and even deaths…” – Mr Seymour can be very casual with other peoples’ lives. Almost sociopathic.

To be clear what Mr Seymour is calling for:



“We couldn’t afford a situation in New Zealand to have it out of control in the community because it would risk collapsing or compromising our health system.”

It is not often a politician calls for the planned exposure of a deadly virus on to our country; casually dismisses the inevitable deaths (and not just from unvaccinated); and doesn’t comprehend the damage it would cause our health system.

Not only would opening up and “living with covid” kill – our hospital wards would quickly fill with hundreds of covid patients. This would take beds normally occupied by others with injuries and illnesses. Hip operations would be cancelled: no beds. Injuries from a natural disaster would not be treated: no beds. Life-saving transplants could not go ahead: no beds.

That is the nightmare scenario ACT leader David Seymour would visit upon his fellow Kiwis.


twitter - covid





ABC News: How the potentially ‘inexcusable’ actions of a limo driver put Sydney on COVID-19 alert

Sky News: Woman in 70s contracted COVID from ‘fleeting exposure’ to Bondi limo driver

NSW Government:  COVID-19 (Coronavirus) statistics – 22 June 2021

Otago Daily Times: NZ pauses travel bubble with New South Wales

Ministry of Health: Australian traveller tests positive for COVID-19

RNZ: Sydney Covid-19 case flew to Wellington last weekend

Stuff media: Covid19 NZ – Wellington enters alert level 2

Stuff media: Covid19 – If Aussie tourist who visited Wellington has Delta variant, alert level shift may be needed

TVNZ: Partner of Sydney man who visited Wellington tests positive for Covid-19

Otago Daily Times: Sydney man who visited Wellington had Delta variant

The Conversation: New Zealand has managed to dodge the COVID-19 bullet, again. Here’s why

RNZ: Australian traveller who visited Wellington has Delta variant

RNZ: Two mariners who were in Auckland test positive for Covid-19

RNZ: Covid-19 – Mariners driven from Auckland to Taranaki pose ‘very low risk’

RNZ: Fishing vessel with two Covid-19 cases will dock in Wellington

MoH: Update on Viking Bay fishing vessel

RNZ: Public at risk, confine infected mariners to MIQ rooms – Des Gorman

RNZ: Another Viking Bay crew member moved to Wellington MIQ facility

MoH: No community cases; 2 new cases in managed isolation; 2 historical cases; Taranaki wastewater update

MoH: Update on Whole Genome Sequencing for Playa Zahara

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus – Most of infected Playa Zahara crew to go to Christchurch MIQ

Stuff media: Explainer – How a Covid-19 carrying ship docked in NZ, and why workers were let aboard

MoH: More than 20,000 daily vaccine doses; no community cases; two cases of COVID-19, two historical cases in managed isolation; Rio De La Plata update

Otago Daily Times: No community cases in NZ, port workers all negative

MoH: Container Ship at Sea off Tauranga tests positive for COVID-19

Stuff media: Who, exactly, is monitoring vaccination numbers at the port in Tauranga?

Port of Tauranga: Rio de la Plata Update – Tuesday 10 August

RNZ: Covid-19 transmission at Jet Park when doors opened for seconds

Stuff media: PM wants to stop foreign fishing boats from changing crews in New Zealand

Otago Daily Times/NZ Herald: Seymour – Open borders next year regardless of vaccination levels

RNZ: Covid-19 – Delta in NZ community would ‘risk collapsing or compromising our health system’

The Conversation: Most COVID deaths in England now are in the vaccinated – here’s why that shouldn’t alarm you

Twitter: @GrumpyYetAmusin8.1AM – deadly virus – eugenicist – 8.11AM  Aug 12, 2021


NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus – Viking Bay mariners broke MIQ rules in Wellington

Previous related blogposts

Life in Level 1: Reinfection – No, Dr Bloomfield!

Life in Level 1: Reinfection – Labour’s kryptonite

Is Air NZ the Covid re-infection problem? Possible evidence points to national airline

Does OIA evidence confirm possible Air NZ link to recent covid outbreaks?




Acknowledgement: Shaun Yeo


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Have your own thoughts? Leave a comment. (Trolls need not bother.)


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Life in Lock Down: Day 22 – Is that a light at the end of a four week long tunnel?!

17 April 2020 2 comments



April 16: Day 22 of living in lock-down…

Fifteen new cases reported today, definitely a downward trend. Best of all, no further deaths. Our government and our Prime Minister are on the right track.

Meanwhile, Barry Soper has joined a small, select group of foolish people (predominantly middle aged, privileged white men) who continue to belittle the government’s efforts – and considerable success – to contain and eliminate covid19. I won’t link to his Herald article. But suffice it to say he has joined a tiny, irrelevant-but-noisy clique of ‘cup-a-soup’ instant-experts who whinge that our success at containing the virus indicates our leaders “went to far”.

It indicates no such thing.

It demonstrates that our leaders did what they were supposed to. Unlike the Orange Moron who squats in the White House’s Oval Office, who rails against others; blaming them for the disaster over-taking the United States,  and refusing to accept responsibility for his gross ineptitude.

These armchair experts point to Australia and Sweden as models we should have copied.

Let’s look at Australia and Sweden, and compare to Aotearoa New Zealand;




Australia’s population is five times ours – but their death rate is seven times higher.

Sweden, which opted for no lock-down (and may now be regretting it) has a population a little over twice ours – but their covid19 death toll is a staggering 134 times ours.

Which underscores the craziness of critics with agendas and armchair “experts” who claim Aotearoa New Zealand “over-reacted”. This graph – whilst not 100% scientific, is still a bloody accurate illustration of wilful human absurdity;


Acknowledgement: @gdinwiddie


Whatever garbage Barry Soper, Mike Hosking, Gareth Morgan, Simon Bridges, “Dr” Simon Thornley, et al, are peddling does not gel with the reality that our death rate is inarguably lower than Australia’s or Sweden’s.

In an exercise of bizarre reverse-logic, they have confused our success rate with the notion that we “over reacted”. Without doubt our low death rate is a result of considered measures based on sound science and mathematics.

If our lower death rate is a “failure”, I look forward to  celebrating a “failure” rate of zero new infections and zero deaths.

New Zealanders can count themselves fortunate we have the steady leadership of Prime Minister Ardern to guide us through this crisis.

Now imagine if Barry Soper, Mike Hosking, Gareth Morgan, Simon Bridges, and “Dr” Simon Thornley were in charge. No, I don’t want to either.

No details of any travel around the Hutt Valley and Wellington – today was a sick day spent at home.

But I did get the opportunity to watch Prime Minister Ardern’s 1pm public address this afternoon. Then RNZ’s Checkpoint. Unfortunately, what followed next were the usual gormless questions and whining; “Why can’t I go hunting if they can go swimming? Why can’t I leave my bubble to go live in my other home? Can I hug my mum? Why can’t my [insert business here] open?Why can’t I XYZ?”

Up till now I never realised just how childishly whiney some supposed adults can be. Even teenagers would roll their eyes in exasperation.  A zombie apocalypse starts to look like a refreshing, welcome change.

Personally, I doubt if we should be faffing around with jumping from Level to Level. For one thing it breeds confusion. The gormless questions read out by Lisa Owen on Checkpoint is plenty of proof of that. Secondly, it is hard to enforce. Level Four was more back and white. Level Three-Plus has a wide-ranging gray area.

We should stick to Level Four and drive this damnable virus to extinction (hey, it’s us or It!); and then come off the Level System entirely. That would provide more certainty. And drive Hosking, Soper, Bridges, Seymour, Thornley, et al, into fits of apoplexy. (Payback for having to hear/listen to their ignorant witterings over the last three weeks.)

Let’s hope our esteemed PM and her team know what they’re doing.

After which we can look at re-building what’s left of the economy; holding a Commission of Inquiry (not for blame-gaming but to see how we can do better next time); and reform welfare and/or implement a UBI. We had to do too much ad hoc tinkering to the welfare system as it groaned under the burden of thousands losing their jobs.

Though on the positive side, a whole bunch of middle class folk suddenly discovered that welfare was not the “luxury lifestyle” many right-wing pundits and polis have lied about.

The other issue for a Commission is to look at how well prepared our health sector was. I believe we got through this not by studious pandemic-planning by Higher-Ups, but by the sheer guts and initiative shown by health workers on the ground. And while we’re about it, let’s look into DHBs. Some of their behaviour needs scrutiny.

All too early, as yet, but after the crisis is over there will remain much work to do.



Also agitating to open up our economy; this character. I’m guessing a bit of self-interest involved?!


Current covid19 cases: 1,401

Cases in ICU: 3 (2 critical)

Number of deaths: 9






The Independent:  Is Sweden having second thoughts on lockdown?

RNZ:  Fifteen new cases of Covid-19 in NZ, no further deaths

Must Read

Democracy Now:  Madrid’s Ice Rink Turned to Morgue as Spain Exceeds China in Coronavirus Deaths

The Independent:  Is Sweden having second thoughts on lockdown?

Elemental: Hold the Line

Other Blogs

Will New Zealand Be Right?

Previous related blogposts

The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus

Life in Lock Down: Day 1

Life in Lock Down: Day 2

Life in Lock Down: Day 3

Life in Lock Down: Day 4

Life in Lock Down: Day 5

Life in Lock Down: Day 6

Life in Lock Down: Day 7

Life in Lock Down: Day 7 (sanitised version)

Life in Lock Down: Day 8

Life in Lock Down: Day 8 (sanitised version)

Life in Lock Down: Day 9

Life in Lock Down: Day 10

Life in Lock Down: Day 11

Life in Lock Down: Day 12

Life in Lock Down: Day 13

Life in Lock Down: Day 14

Life in Lock Down: Day 15

Life in Lock Down: Day 16 – Bad Friday

Life in Lock Down: Day 17

Life in Lock Down: Day 18

Life in Lock Down: Day 19

Life in Lock Down: Day 20

Life in Lock Down: Day 21





Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson


This blogpost was also published on The Daily Blog on 17 April 2020.


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Letter to the editor – Time to milk a tragedy again, by our Dear Leader

17 December 2014 4 comments


Frank Macskasy - letters to the editor - Frankly Speaking


from: Frank Macskasy <>
to: Dominion Post <>
date: Tue, Dec 16, 2014
subject: Letter to the editor


The Editor
Dominion Post


Once again, predictably, our esteemed Prime Minister has exploited a tragic situation for his own political ends.

I refer to his comments on Radio NZ, on 16 December, where he referred to the lone gunman in Sydney as the product of an “ISIS outreach programme”.

There is no evidence whatsoever of any ISIS or any other organisational involvement. Thus far, the gunman appears to have been a narcissistic, deranged individual facing criminal sex-related charges in Australia.

Then Key justified the increase of SIS/GCSB surveillance powers by referencing this lone gunman.

Though good gun-control laws help, no amount of legislation will ever fully curb determined, lone nutters, as David Gray in Aramoana in 1990 showed. Or Martin Bryant in Port Arthur in 1996.

If this is his justification for turning our country into a Police surveillance state, then we have been grievously misled.Shame on Key for exploiting this tragedy and mis-stating the facts for political opportunity.

I would have thought he had learnt his lesson from his Pike River Mine involvement and broken promises.

-Frank Macskasy


[address & phone number supplied]




Radio NZ:  A tragedy for the Australian families – Key



No more anarchy



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Radio NZ: Focus on Politics for 14 February 2014

16 February 2014 3 comments


– Focus on Politics –


– Friday 14 February 2014  –


– Chris Bramwell –


A weekly analysis of significant political issues.

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

Legislation to introduce plain packaging of tobacco products passed its first reading in Parliament this week with almost unanimous support.

Listen to John Banks’ prioritising the right of Big Tobacco company’s “intellectual property rights” over the health and wellbeing of New Zealanders.


Radio NZ logo - Focus on Politics


Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 14 February 2014 ( 16′ 07″ )


Acknowledgement: Radio NZ



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A taste of racism…

9 January 2014 6 comments

This item was Stuff (the Fairfax news media) caught my attention,


'Racist' label angers Kiwis in AustraliaSource


Having lived briefly in Australia, I can vouch for the racist attitude that many Australians have toward migrants. New Zealanders are no exception, and also suffer the wrath of prejudice from some of our Aussie cuzzies.

Which is ironic, as we ourselves have a long way to go, to examine our own racist attitudes and how desperately we (or some of us) cling to prejudice to preserve our place in society’s hierarchy.

Nisbet’s cartoons, published mid last year (2013) are a case in point;


290513 The Marlborough Express Al Nisbet cartoon


Al Nisbet's racist cartoon (2)


Those who did not see Nisbet’s cartoons as racist and offensive could be placed in two broad (sometimes over-lapping?) groups; those who are ordinary racists and who saw the cartoons as a validation of their views; and the Uninformed who – whilst not consciously racist – probably didn’t recognise the nature of the images and the messages they were conveying. They simply had no political consciousness that could *switch on* a light-bulb in their minds and instantly recognise what Nibet’s cartoons represented.

And really, any one of us can fall into that particular trap on occassion. An image that might seem innocuous to one person might be utterly reprehensible to another.

The difference between the racist and the uninformed is that the latter can learn and when understanding comes, the *lightswitch* comes on.


For a cartoonist to be truly subversive, their art should express  critical attention on society’s unpleasant prejudices; irrational contradictions; and those who exploit  traditions to maintain positions of power. These are the things that demand to be challenged.

Nisbet’s cartoons did not challenged popular prejudices – they reinforced and gave credence to them. It gave “comfort to the enemy” – the enemy being ignorance and bigotry. It reinforced rather than scrutinised or challenged.

The cartoonist below, on the other hand, challenged the knee-jerk mindlessness of parroted bigotry,




The unknown (American?) creator of the above cartoon subverted the “logic” of the racist, showing it to be what is truly is; untenable when taken to it’s ultimate, ludicrous conclusion.


Returning to the Stuff article above, it’s not often that white New Zealanders get a taste of what racism feels like. Experiencing it at the hands of others suddenly widens our perception as we find ourselves walking in someone elses’ shoes.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 2 January 2014.





Fairfax media: ‘Racist’ label angers Kiwis in Australia



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A letter to our Aussie cuzzies…

8 September 2013 14 comments




A condolence letter sent to our Aussie cuzzies…



from:     Frank Macskasy
to:     Sydney Morning Herald <>
date:     Sun, Sep 8, 2013 at 4:13 PM
subject:     Letters to the Editor


The Editor
Now that Australian voters have made their decision at the ballot box, they can look forward to a change in government.  They can also look forward to tax cuts promised by incoming PM, Tony Abbott.
But what else do Australians have to look forward to?
Well, if his government is anything like the National government we’ve had since 2008, Australians can also look forward to cuts in Federal government spending; massive redundancies in the state sector; a rise in unemployment;  cuts to social and other government services; union-busting and fall in wages;  and a resulting recession as a drop in spending flows through your economy as a whole.
Here in New Zealand, that is precisely what has happened, with cuts to everything from early childhood education to border bio-security control (with resultant influx of foreign pests).

As for tax cuts – beware of sneaky governments. They tend to raise charges, sales taxes, fringe taxes, and other government fees to make up for the revenue shortfall.

So welcome to our world of fiscal austerity; entrenched high unemployment; and lower and lower wages.

You seem to have caught our ‘bug’ – the “New Zealand Disease”.
I wish you luck. You’ll be needing it.


-Frank Macskasy

(Address & phone number supplied)



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

23 March 2013 15 comments


closing the wage gap with Australia as promised by John Key


1. Backgrounder


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

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

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

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

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

Acknowledgement: National Party – “Environment Policy Launch

We will also continue our work to increase the incomes New Zealanders earn. That is a fundamental objective of our plan to build a stronger economy.” – John Key, 8 February 2011

Acknowledgement: Government statement

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

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

Which sounded all well and good…

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


2. Present Day


As this blogger wrote last year;

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

As reported,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

So how did that work out?

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


Unemployment Rate - july 2010 - march 2013

Acknowledgement: Trading Economics/Statistics NZ


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Unemployment persons - july 2010 - march 2013


Acknowledgement: Trading Economics/Statistics NZ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GUYON But is it a good thing?

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

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

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

GUYON But you said it was an advantage, Minister.

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

Acknowledgement:  TVNZ Q+A – Interview with Bill English

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

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

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

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

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




Previous related blogposts

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

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


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

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

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

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



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Bolivia, New Zealand, and Tony Kokshoorn



As the economy continues to stagnatebusiness confidence plummets, unemployment remains stubbornly high, and other negative social and economic indicators feature in our daily media reporting,  National’s desperation for any means for economic growth becomes more apparent.

The national cycleway fizzled out; the Christchurch re-build moves at a snail’s pace; and the Sky City convention centre has become a liability as the public is (rightly) concerned about increasing problem gambling.

National continues to look at easy, quick-fix solutions. And nothing is easier as a quick-fix than digging a hole and extracting precious stuff. You can’t get easier than that.

Facing staunch public opposition, on  20 July 2010, National announced that it was backing away from mining in Conservation land. In an attempt to allay mounting public anger, Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee stated categorically,

At the time the discussion document was released, I made it clear that it was a discussion. There were no preconceived positions from the Government. We have no intention of mining national parks.”

See:  Govt confirms no mining Schedule 4, national parks

But it seems that the Nats cannot help themselves.  Like a kleptomaniac drawn to shiny things, National disclosed on 25 June,

The Government has confirmed plans to survey for minerals in world heritage sites on the West Coast.

Aeromagnetic surveying will be conducted in the South Island from Haast to Karamea, including large chunks of Te Wahipounamu South West New Zealand world heritage area.

The surveying follows a similar project in Northland last year, when more than 13,590 square kilometres of the region were surveyed from February to August. That was followed by an announcement from Energy and Resources Minister Phil Heatley this month, of a competitive tender process for exploration permits for metallic minerals in the region. “

See:  Mineral hunt in heritage areas

They said were  “just looking“.

On the following day – probably sensing rising public unease – Dear Leader John Key rushed to reassure the public,

I can give you an assurance we won’t be mining on world heritage sites.   What we are doing is gathering information for a variety of other reasons.”

See:   Key: No mining in world heritage areas



One wonders what Key’s “ variety of other reasons  ” are?!

As one media report states,

The Conservation Department says it is one the great natural areas of the world, with “landscapes of untouched beauty”.

The West Coast surveys will not include areas protected under Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act. However, the schedule does not prevent mining in world heritage areas such as Te Wahipounamu.

Economic Development Ministry spokeswoman Tracy Dillimore said yesterday that Te Wahipounamu would be surveyed to provide a good understanding of the geology and mineral potential of the wider area.

“New Zealand is potentially highly prospective for a wide range of minerals. The Government would like to see New Zealand maximise the benefits of safe and environmentally responsible development by reputable operators”.  “

See:  Mineral hunt in heritage areas

On 11 July, in response to a Herald-Digipoll, Grey District mayor, Tony Kokshoorn was invited to comment on the issue of mining on the West Coast, on Radio New Zealand’s  ‘Afternoon With Jim Mora’s‘ show.

To say that Kokshoorn was enthusiastic about mining – including open cast mining – would be the understatement of the year,

” … Look the benchmark has always been talked about in the last two years was when Gerry Brownlee said they were going to actually mine on Schedule 4  [DoC] land. What happened was you had a big protest  that was just alluded to a minute ago, down Queen Street and they said 50,000 went down there and that was taken as the benchmark and people were against mining on Conservation land.

But the benchmark is totally wrong. I mean, it’s a well known fact it was nothing like 50,000 people. It was more like only 25,000 or 30,000 people that marched in the first place, so it’s all out of kilter. The bottom line here is that  West Coasters  and a lot of people in New Zealand, they do want mining. They want to actually get  the wealth that’s in the ground, out, so we can have  good health, education, and policing. 

Why would we send our workers to Australia and the rest of the world, to earn big wages and earn those countries valuable overseas exchange when we can have it, and we can have wealth ourselves?

Jim Mora asked,

Even if it’s open-cast, a lot of it?

Mayor Kokshoorn replied,

Yes, of course. Look, it’s a pin-prick  on the surface. The West Coast runs from Karamea to Haast, which is the equivalent of Wellington through to Auckland.  It’s a huge, huge, area. We’re not going to ruin the crown jewel that we have, and which is our rain forest. We’re gonna make sure they stay intact.

There’s a big tourist industry round that and you got to go back to the fact that the Resource Management Act 1991 was put in place for that exact reason, and was to get a win/win so we can actually manage our environment and at the same time get economic development for our region. So for anyone to think that somehow we’re going to ruin it; we’re going to get the chainsaws out again; or we’re going to get the bulldozers out, that is just absolute rubbish.

Those days went many, many years ago. “

Source: Radio NZ   The Panel with David Slack and Ali Jones (Part 2)

Tony Kokshoorn sez “we’re not going to gret the bulldozers out again”. In which case,  pray tell, Mr Mayor, how do you propose to dig an open-cast mine? With f*****g teaspoons???

And how can he say that “those days went many, many years ago” – of chainsaws and bulldozers – when that is precisely how open cast mines are dug out of ground or mountains. Let us be absolutely candid and straight up; open cast mines are excavated with bulldozers and other massive earth-moving equipment.

The waste material – millions of tonnes of rock – has to be dumped somewhere.  Much of those tailings contain toxic heavy metals and other elements,

Mining can cause serious long-lasting water pollution through acid mine drainage. Copper, lead, zinc, cadmium and arsenic can leach out when water contacts the exposed rock in mine workings or tailings. This pollution is very serious and can be a problem that remains long after a mine is abandoned.

On Mt Te Aroha, poisonous waste –  from just 90,000 cubic meters of tailings of the Tui mine, (which was abandoned in 1970 when the mining company went bankrupt) , is costing taxpayers over $17.5 million to attempt to fix. The Martha Mine will have over 40 million cubic meters of toxic tailings.  Which means the Tui Mine tailings are just 0.225% of  the volume of the Martha mine tailings !

See:  How would outstanding  areas  be degraded by gold mining?

To remind folk what an open-cast mine looks like, this is the Newmont mine in Waihi,





Perhaps the most dubious claims made by the likes of Tony Kokshoorn, Steven Joyce, et al,  is that mining will create new jobs and increase our wealth.

As recently as 5 July, Key stated,

New Zealanders, mostly, understand that while we owe it to future generations to do everything we can to protect our environment, we must also do all we can to leave them with a robust and sustainable economy where they can expect a good job and a good standard of living.

We have always believed that New Zealand’s mineral wealth can play a large part in the economy, and we have also always believed this can be done with a minimal impact on our environment”. “

See: Poll backing for more mineral searches cheers Key

They almost always point to Australia as an example.

However, Australia’s wealth is predicated on several other factors as well,

  • A$1.3 trillion-dollar compulsory savings fund
  • Stable political system and economy
  • Strong trade union movement that ensures regular wage increases and protection of conditions
  • The service sector of the economy, including tourism, education, and financial services, accounts for about 70% of GDP. Source

Far from rolling in cash, Australia has a balance of payments that is more than 7% of GDP negative, and has had persistently large current account deficits for more than 50 years. Source

As well,

”  One single factor that undermines balance of payments is Australia’s narrow export base. Dependent upon commodities, the Australian government has endeavoured to redevelop the Australian manufacturing sector. “

See:  Balance of payments of Australia

So it appears that the mining industry is not quite the ‘gold mine‘ that many believe for Australia.

More to the point, in de-constructing the illusion that mining is some kind of economic ‘panacea‘,  is the example set by Bolivia. A cursory comparison of fiscal indicators between Bolivia and New Zealand yields some interesting facts,



New Zealand


10,629,000 [2]

4,416,000 [1]

Gross domestic product (2011)

US$24.604 billion [2]

US$161.851 billion [1]

Gross domestic product per capita (2011)

US$2,314.826 [2]

US$36,648.204 [1]

GDP Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) Total (2011)

$50.904 billion [2]

$122.193 billion [1]

GDP Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) per capita (2011)

$4,789.212 [2]

$27,668.367 [1]

Gini coefficient [3]

58.2 (high, 2009) [3]

36.2 (medium, 1997) [3]


5.5% (est.) [4]

6.5% (est.) [5]


5.1% (2011 est.) [4]

2% (2011 est.) [5]


6.5% (2011 est.) [4]

4.5% (2011 est.) [5]



[1] Source IMF

[2] Source IMF

[3] Source Wikipedia – The Gini coefficient measures the inequality among values of a frequency distribution (for example levels of income). A Gini coefficient of zero expresses perfect equality where all values are the same (for example, where everyone has an exactly equal income). A Gini coefficient of 100 expresses maximal inequality among values (for example where only one person has all the income) .

[4]CIA Factbook

[5] CIA Factbook

Bolivia’s economy is heavily dependent on oil, gas, and mining,

Bolivia’s estimated 2011 gross domestic product (GDP) totaled $23.3 billion. Economic growth was estimated at about 5.1%, and inflation was estimated at about 6.9%. The increase in GDP primarily reflected contributions from oil and gas production (7.9%); electricity, water, and gas distribution (7.6%); construction (7.2%); transport and communications (6.0%); and financial services (5.5%). Exports rose by more than 30% between 2010 and 2011 to $9.1 billion, due mostly to increased commodity prices, not increased volume.

In 2011, Bolivia’s top export products were: hydrocarbons (45% of total exports), minerals (27%), manufactured goods (24%), and agricultural products (4%).

See: Wikipedia Bolivia Economy

Quite simply, Bolivia’s reliance on mining and hydrocarbons does not seem to have yielded the wealth that people like Key, Joyce, Kokshoorn, and others, are telling us should be our reward for digging bloody big holes in the ground.

Whilst the Bolivian GDP grew two and a half times that of New Zealand, the income appears not to  have “trickled down” to ordinary Bolivian workers.

In fact, as the chart above shows, GDP per capita and GDP Purchasing Power Parity per capita is greater for New Zealanders by several orders of magnitude, than it is for Bolivians.

Further GDP per Capita rankings can be found here:  List of countries by GDP (nominal) per capita. Despite Bolivia’s higher  GDP growth, New Zealanders’ per capita incomes are far higher. Our standard of living is greater.

Accepted wisdom tells us  that our more diverse economy is more productive, and a  subsequently greater wealth-producer. Opportunities for higher wages (than Bolivia) abound throughout our economy that includes food processing, wood and paper products, textiles, machinery, transportation equipment, banking and insurance, tourism, as well as mining and hydro-carbon extraction.

As David Slack said on the same panel, hosted by Jim Mora, when he addressed the NZ Herald-Digipoll ‘support’ for mining,

I’m  kinda dismayed that there’s still this Lotto mentality that wants to just find a way to just happen upon our wealth rather than developing  our economy so  that we’ve got more high value business so that we’ve got perpetual wealth from that…  [host interuption]

… Yeah, well you’ll have it once then it’s gone, and you’ll only be getting the royalties off it, not the whole damn thing.

If mining was such a quick-fix wealth creator, then Bolivia should be light-years ahead of us. It clearly is not, and this blogger believes that our higher per capita income can be attributed to the  diversification  and sustainability of our economy.

It should also be remembered that, as David Slack  pointed out, New Zealand does not earn $100 million from the extraction of Mineral X. We benefit from only the royalties (currently set at  1 or  5 %), some taxes, and a few thousand jobs.

See: Taxation and Royalties for Mining Companies

This Fairfax article is  illuminating,


Full story



” Crown royalties from the mining industry returned just $6.5 million last year… “


” Mining was a $2b a year industry, with $1.1b in exports… “

Obviously, New Zealand makes bugger-all from mining royalties.

And if the mining companies are owned by offshore interests (eg; New Zealand’s two biggest gold mining companies; Newmont, which owns the open pit Martha Hill and underground Favona mines at Waihi, is US-based; and Australian-based OceanaGold), then profits made are remitted overseas, worsening our balance of payments. Only company tax (which can be minimised) and employment of local people provide any measurable benefits to our economy – and even those are minimal.

Where the mining activities result in a tax loss, this loss may be set off against income from non-mining activities, although the benefit of the mining loss is reduced by 50%; ie $300 of mining losses are required to be offset against $200 of non-mining income. The reasons for these unusual offset arrangements relate back to a period when mining companies paid a lower rate of tax than ordinary companies.

Mining companies are prohibited from grouping their profits or losses with other mining companies or with non-mining companies.

Despite these limitations, the tax regime for mining companies is generally regarded as concessionary. For example, it allows mining companies to immediately deduct their exploration expenditure and any expenditure incurred in the development of the mining licence. Thus buildings, mine-shafts, plant and machinery, production equipment and storage facilities, which would ordinarily be capitalised under standard accounting conventions, may be deducted immediately for income tax purposes.

See: Taxation and Royalties for Mining Companies

Further regarding taxation, the Fairfax article   states,

“… but the Government had not yet done any work on how much more tax or jobs could be created from expanding mining into conservation land.”

“More tax”?


Dear Leader is already on record opposing the Capital Gains Tax, and any other tax for that matter,

National is not going to be raising GST. National wants to cut taxes not raise taxes. “

See: Key ‘no GST rise’ video emerges

And lastly; jobs.

How many workers does the mining industry employ?

Number employed: 4,000 directly, another 8,000 indirectly, as suppliers of goods and services

See: Key Facts of New Zealand Mining

By comparison, the tourism sector plays a significant role in New Zealand’s economy,

Tourism Satellite Account 2011 Report [1 MB PDF]

Year to March 2011 (released October 2011)

  • Tourism Expenditure
    Total tourism expenditure was $23.0 billion, an increase of 2.1 percent from the previous year. 
  • Tourism Contribution to GDP
    Tourism generated a direct contribution to GDP of $6.9 billion, or 3.8 percent of GDP.  The indirect value added of industries supporting tourism generated an additional $8.8 billion to tourism. 
  • Domestic and International Segments
    Domestic tourism expenditure was $13.2 billion, an increase of 2.5 percent from the previous year. 
  • Tourism Export Earnings
    International tourist expenditure in 2011 ($9.7 billion) represents 16.8% of the total export earnings ($52.4 billion).  Tourism is New Zealand’s second largest export earner, followed dairy ($11.6 billion or 19.9% of exports) in 2011. 
  • Tourism Employment
    The tourism industry directly employed 91,900 full-time equivalents (or 4.8 percent of total employment in New Zealand), an increase of 0.6 percent from the previous year.
  • Tourism Contribution to GST
    Tourists generated $1.7 billion in goods and services tax (GST) revenue.

See:   Ministry of Economic Development – Tourism satellite account

It should not escape anyone that there is a high degree of irony here. A multi-billion dollar industry (tourism) relies on the very environment that the Mining industry would despoil with their activities.

To sum up;

  1. Mining is not as beneficial to a modern economy as some insist.
  2. Bolivia is a mining nation and is lagging behind New Zealand in per capita income.
  3. Bolivia’s GDP is growing 2.5 times faster than ours – but so is their inflation, whilst incomes still lag behind ours.
  4. Australia’s mining wealth is considerable – no doubt – but their balance of payments  is more than 7% of GDP negative, and has had persistently large current account deficits for more than 50 years
  5. Australia is far too reliant on mining wealth; their economy is far too dependent on commodities; and they need to diversify.
  6. Crown Royalties are minimal – 1-5% .
  7. Big profits by foreign-owned mining companies leave New Zealand.
  8. Open cast mining creates a considerable impact on the environment, despite claims to contrary.
  9. Mining companies enjoy  a taxation regime that  “is generally regarded as concessionary”.
  10. And far more New Zealanders are employed in the Tourism sector than in the mining industry.

To repeat David Slack’s comments from Radio New Zealand,

I’m  kinda dismayed that there’s still this Lotto mentality that wants to just find a way to just happen upon our wealth rather than developing  our economy so  that we’ve got more high value business so that we’ve got perpetual wealth from that…  [host interuption]

… Yeah, well you’ll have it once then it’s gone, and you’ll only be getting the royalties off it, not the whole damn thing.

Whilst Dear Leader John Key stated,

New Zealanders, mostly, understand that while we owe it to future generations to do everything we can to protect our environment, we must also do all we can to leave them with a robust and sustainable economy where they can expect a good job and a good standard of living.

We have always believed that New Zealand’s mineral wealth can play a large part in the economy, and we have also always believed this can be done with a minimal impact on our environment.

See:  Poll backing for more mineral searches cheers Key

I know who I believe.





NZ Herald:  Optimism dips in struggling economy

NZ Herald:  Poll backing for more mineral searches cheers Key

Fairfax Media: NZ economic growth ‘unspectacular’

NZ Herald:  Unemployment rate lifts to 6.7pc

Crown Minerals Act 1991



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Dear Leader; prescriptions, airline taxes, and priorities


Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking


Continued from: National prescribes bad medicine for the poor


Whacking the poor and bashing the benes…

National thinks nothing of raising prescription charges, from $3 to $5. As Dear Leader has assured New Zealanders, the poor have nothing to fear about more expensive medication.

John Key, with an estimated value of $55 million, of course understands what it’s like for the poorest in our society to pay for healthcare.


prescription-charges-to-go-up Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

Full Story


Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking pm-says-low-income-earners-will-benefit-from-health-improvements

Full Story


Once upon a time, prescriptions used to be free of charge. Then a “part charge” of 50 cents per prescription was introduced during the 1980s/90s  neo-liberal “reforms”.

The argument was that everyone could afford 50 cents.

Then the charge was raised to $3 per item.

Now National will raise it to $5.

This is what is colloquially known as The Slippery Slope. The Slippery Slope is where a governments wants to implement a certain policy – but knowing that it will be highly unpopular, will introduce it gradually, in small increments.

Fifty cents. $3. $5. Next – ?


Key is up in arms about the Australian government’s plans to increase it’s airport departure tax from A$8 to A$55, per traveller.

See:  Travel chiefs declare war on airline tax

Evidently, according to one of Dear Leader’s  spokespeople, Key  “would raise the matter with Julia Gillard “shortly”.”

It’s reassuring to know that John Key takes his Tourism portfolio so seriously. This is a vital issue.

After all, no unemployed person; solo-parent; part-time worker on the minimum wage; or superannuitant wants to be distracted from their re-budgetting, to take into account more expensive medicines,  by the worrisome issue of  tourists facing higher airport charges.

Thankfully, Dear Leader is on the job.

John Key knows what his priorities are.




In a previous blogpost, National prescribes bad medicine for the poor , this blogger stated that tax cuts must inevitably result in reduced services and/or increased User Charges,

Common sense will tell even the most die-hard National groupie that if you reduce revenue, then one  has to cut expenditure and services; borrow to make up the shortfall; raise  user-charges; or all three. There ain’t no other way.”

Dear Leader has confirmed this by saying that because National was planning  a “zero Budget” (aka Black Budget), that would result in  “either an increase in charging or a reduction in expenditure“.

Key has stated that we should expect more increases in User Charges.

Message to National Party supporters and voters:  still enjoying your tax cuts?

See:  Opposition attacks prescription charge hike



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A public broadcaster for New Zealand?

Matty T, Blogger,


Digital switchovers (and analogue turnoffs) are presently progressing in both Australia and New Zealand. In New Zealand most people tuning into free to air television are either going for Freeview Satellite, being broadcast on the Optus D1 satellite, or Freeview HD on UHF (or since they have slightly different channel line ups, setting themselves up to receive both). In Australia they have Freeview Australia serving the capital cities and major towns on UHF. For regional areas beyond the reach of UHF towers they are going with a new system called V.A.S.T, which is being broadcast on the Optus C1 satellite. V.A.S.T. is replacing an earlier system called Aurora. Both V.A.S.T and Aurora broadcast mostly encrypted channels enforced by smartcards mostly to limit the geographical areas of broadcast for the licensees.  New Zealand’s satellite system in contrast is free to air (but limited by the footprint of the satellite beams to just over New Zealand).

Those in the know in New Zealand have been tuning into 2 channels from SBS, an Australian public broadcaster which has been filling a hole in the Aurora coverage for viewers in remote parts of Tasmania with transmissions on the Australia New Zealand beam of the Optus D1 satellite. (You can get it with a 90cm or larger dish and a LNB picking up the vertical polarity, or with a dual polarity LNB since Sky and Freeview Satellite use horizontal polarity on the same dish.) SBS is a unique station in that it is a public broadcaster of an ilk that New Zealand just doesn’t have. Originally setup to broadcast to ethnic viewers initially in Sydney it went nationwide and has evolved into a station that still serves its ethnic viewers, but with all foreign language programmes subtitled in English, and many programmes in English (e.g. documentaries, cooking shows, soccer, cycling) it is a channel that has wide appeal.

TVNZ7 is the only channel in NZ that comes close to being a public broadcaster like SBS and it is being defunded by the NZ government in July 2012. This will be a great shame.

With the commissioning of V.A.S.T. for Tasmania in the first half of 2013 New Zealand viewers are probably going to lose the ability to pick up SBS. This will also be a great shame.

SBS was originally ad-free, but then as Australia’s second public broadcaster it was being squeezed for funds by the Australian Government and it introduced some ads between programmes. The purists were horrified. Since then ads have been snuck in during programmes, and a lot of people in Australia have decried the intrusion. Ads are on SBS for about 5 minutes every hour. This is apparently to raise revenue of a bit over $20 million dollars a year. The commercial channels in Australia and NZ by contrast have 15 or 16 minutes of ads per hour.

It is said New Zealand is too small to have a proper public broadcaster. TVNZ has virtually been fully commercialised. It may be a State-owned enterprise, but it doesn’t have a remnant of public charter to fulfill. The charter was officially dumped by the National Government on July 12th 2011. Government money is spent by NZ on Air to get New Zealand productions and NZ shows onto the existing commercial channels. The last Labour government’s attempt to introduce a modicum of ad-free public broadcasting, TVNZ6 and TVNZ7 have come and gone, and as previously said, or are about to go. TVNZ6 has turned into the god-awful channel U and TVNZ7 will be defunded, meaning that it will disappear altogether. Only public outcry has saved TVNZ7 from being turned into a shopping channel. (A blank screen, and a hope for something better is better than a shopping channel). New Zealand free to air TV will thus be aligned to the National government’s ideological position that quality public television should not exist. One of their problems with it (apart from wanting to keep the population stupid so they are more likely to vote National) is the cost of running a quality public broadcaster. New Zealand is a small market and to run a BBC or ABC like service it would cost the country a lot, or so the argument goes.

So the end result is no quality ad-free public broadcasting for New Zealanders. It really doesn’t have to be that way.

Suggestion one: flog off TVNZ to the highest bidder. We will lose nothing more than we have already lost by allowing it to be privatised.

Suggestion two: Make an offer to the Australian Government. Tell Australia that New Zealand will pay just over $20 million dollars a year to share the costs of running SBS. SBS takes that $20 million dollars and completely removes advertising from its two TV channels. Most of the programming doesn’t change. SBS News Australia, becomes SBS News Australasia. Mandarin News Australia becomes Mandarin News Australasia.  Dateline is now seen on SBS instead of TVNZ 7. SBS will now look to Australia and New Zealand production houses when it commissions work. SBS 1 (HD and SD) and SBS 2 (SD) gets added to either Freeview Satellite or Freeview HD. The beauty of this suggestion is that for $20 million a year you get channels that would cost many more millions of dollars to produce than that.

NZ On Air still can fund New Zealand specific content on the commercial broadcasters much in the same manner as it does now. Not accounting for the fact that funding crap reality TV with public funds is sometimes pissing money up the wall. FFS who thought funding reality TV was a good idea?

Indigenous Television

Maori TV which is primarily for Maori audiences either in English on Maori TV, or in Maori on Te Reo can continue to be funded by the NZ Government at about $28 million a year.

In Australia there is an Aboriginal channel on the Optus-C1 satellite, called National Indigenous TV. It is run as a non-profit enterprise.

There is a reasonably large Maori population in Australia ( >100,000 people), and many of the programmes on Maori TV are interesting to a non-Maori audience.. There are not that many Australian Aboriginals in New Zealand, but likewise some of the programming has a wider appeal than just to one indigenous group. So a straight out swap and putting Maori TV on VAST and Freeview Australia and NITV onto one or both of the Freeview services in New Zealand will give people all over Australia and New Zealand access to all the indigenous cultures of both countries.

There would be a minimal cost to governments in NZ and Australia,

What Australia gets: 1 new FTA channel. The two SBS channels go back to being ad-free.  Price competition for commissioned works. Australians get to see Maori programming. Cost – the broadcast fees for another channel on Freeview Australia and VAST.

What New Zealand gets: 3 new FTA channels, including quality public ad-free TV. Programming for some ethnic groups present in NZ. Another market for content makers. New Zealanders get to see Aboriginal programming. Cost – $20million a year to help fund SBS. The broadcast fees for another 3 channels on Freeview-HD and/or Sat.

It’s win/win/win/win/win for the Australian public/ the New Zealand public/SBS/Maori TV/NITV. The only objectors would be commercial interests who run commercial TV faced with more quality competition, and small-minded ideologues opposed to public broadcasting.

* * *

Author’s Note

This is version 2 of this post. I’ve made a couple edits since I had a couple of factual errors, and a suggestion was made to me that because of the two hour time difference when SBS is showing foreign news in the late afternoon (4-6pm) East Coast Australia time it’s early evening (6-8pm) in New Zealand, and those hours could be used for New Zealand specific programmes such as we are losing from TVNZ7. Australian audiences might prefer Hearts and Crafts over the PBS News Hour.

It’s also been pointed out to me that $20 million dollars a year is more than the cost of keeping TVNZ7 open with its current budget of $16.25 million dollars. Whatever solution to our public broadcasting deficit though it’s better to fund public TV than to subsidise commercial TV in NZ. If commercial TV needs handouts from the government to survive then perhaps there are too many commercial channels.




= fs =

Voting with their feet…


"Too many Kiwis are looking at those stats and choosing to join their cousins across the ditch. We have to give them better reasons to stay." - 29 January 2008


It seems that far from “giving them better reasons to stay“, John Key and his incompetant government may be accelerating the exodus to Australia,


Full Story

Despite bribing us with two tax cuts, New Zealanders continue to migrate to Australia.

No – “migration” is the wrong word. They are not just migrants, they are  economic refugees. This is a mass break-out and escape of New Zealanders and their families for whom life in this country no longer holds any future.

Far from “giving them better reasons to stay“,  social ties to this country appears to be weakening.

John Key raised voters’ expectation with grandiose promises of job creation,



Much of National’s campaign was predicated on new jobs and boosting the economy,



Instead, we have been given mass sackings of state sector workers, for no discernible purpose,


Full Story


With more sacking to come, and instead of boosting the economy, National is content to rearrange government departments, to form monolithic, Soviet style Ministeries,


Full Story


Is this making sense to anyone?

It may be perfectly “sensible” to National and ACT and their slowly diminishing support-base – but not 53,000 New Zealanders who have had a bellyful of a stagnating economy; tax cuts for high income earners; tinkering; and not much more,


Full Story


Which is why it is interesting to remind ourselves of  Dear Leader’s speech in 2008,

We know Kiwis are suffocating under the burden of rising mortgage payments and interest rates.  We know you cringe at the thought of filling up the car, paying for the groceries, or trying to pay off your credit card.  ” – John Key, 29 January 2008

It seems matters have not changed much in four years,


Full Story


It’s unsurprising that Kiwis who have been thrown onto the economic scrap-heap by a government that has no vision and no plan, except to cut and slash, are deserting their country of birth,


Full Story


Is this the “Brighter Future” which our Dear Leader promised us?

This is no plan for a “Brighter Future”. National  is hell-bent on an ideological crusade to cut the state sector; cut taxes for companies and the rich – and then hope for the best.

This, folks, is what a neo-liberal, “free market”, government does. They wait on the ‘Market’ to deliver jobs, higher wages, and better living standards,

Sustainable economic growth which creates permanent worthwhile jobs is best achieved by building a competitive economy that allows business to trade successfully with the rest of the world,the Ministers say,13 March 2012 .

We’ll be waiting an awful long time.

Actually, some of us will be waiting. The rest are off.



* * *


Previous Blog Post

Why did the Kiwi cross The Ditch?



= fs =

How To Lose Skilled Staff To Australia Made Stupidly Easy

10 December 2011 4 comments



How do we go about making sure that we lose more skilled workers to Australia? Obviously losing 35,000 (net) New Zealanders to Australia isn’t enough. We must do better.

In an effort to help the National government (which 1,058,638 voters kindly helped re-elect) de-populate this country and boost Australia’s economy, MidCentral District Health Board took the contract to provide specialist medical testing from Canterbury Health Laboratories in Christchurch, and instead gave it to Auckland-based, LabPlus,




Oh, jolly well done!

This achieves three strikes against workers in this country;

  • It removes job security. Obviously if your job can be taken away at the stroke of a pen, via a “contract”, and given to someone else in Auckland (or Sydney, or Mumbai, or Tashkent), then you can no longer plan for your future. Buying a house is out – you don’t know if you’ll be able to service a mortgage in a years’ time. Planning a family? Forget it – how will you  pay for Little Johnny or Jenny’s music lessons/soccer lessons/food/clothing/medical bills/education/orthodontic braces if your job is contracted to someone else? No home, no children, and probably no job in New Zealand?  Australia beckons.
  • Lower wages? Most likely. Service contracts are usually awarded to alternative providers because of lower costs – and wages constitute a hefty portion of business costs. So by driving down wages (as CMP Rangitikei/ANZCO meat processing company is trying to do to it’s workers, by cutting their wages by up to 20%), MidCentral District Health Board is assisting central government to drive down wages in New Zealand. (see details below) That will ‘motivate’ skilled workers to reconsider their “living arrangements.” Australia beckons.
  • Gutting Christchurch’s infra-structure? What two major earthquakes started, National intends to finish. For starters, the Nats have canned 167 full-time-equivalent teaching positions in Christchurch, effective next year. Next, the re-build is being slowed to a crawl by a lack of enrollments for trade training courses in  Christchurch. Of course, even if we train new tradespeople, Bill Englishl will ensure that wages are kept screwed down – therefore ensuring that builders, electricians, plumbers, glaziers, etc, heed the call to migrate to Australia.  Australia… beckons.

In case anyone is in doubt that taking away jobs from skilled workers won’t motivate them to give this country the ‘Big Flick‘, and leave for Australia – the following comparison of salaries for skilled Medical Laboratory Technicians and Scientists should remove that doubt,


New Zealand – Medical Laboratory Technician




Australia – Medical Laboratory Technician




New Zealand – Medical Laboratory Scientist




Australia – Medical Laboratory Scientist




Medical Laboratory Workers Union president, Stewart Smith, says “staff are already leaving the sector because they are disheartened by the fickle way in which contracts are awarded“.

Of course.

It’s all part of the grand, “master plan” from neo-liberals to transfer the entire working-population of New Zealand to Australia. This should be quite apparent to anyone trying to figure out just WTF this country is doing to it’s workforce. (If anyone still believes in the fairy tale that National is actually trying to raise wages – they haven’t been paying attention.)

Does National really have a “master plan” to de-populate New Zealand?

Of course they do.

They just don’t know it.


Additional Report




Just what the  local  economy – hit hard by two major quakes – needs right now. More redunancies; more uncertainty; more upheavals in peoples’ lives.

And notice a lack of a certain Prime Minister who is nowhere to be seen on the ground, during this time?

Not many photo-ops when people are losing their jobs and having their lives turned upside down, I guess.

Workers at Hillside Railways Engineering, in South Dunedin, must know what it feels like,



Australia beckons.



It’s a simple matter of choice.

1 September 2011 2 comments

With Labour’s release today, of their youth skills/employment policy, voters are now presented with the clearest choice yet between the two main parties. Aside from the issue of asset sales, where National has announced a programme of part-privatisation, and Labour opposes any/all privatisation, employment policy is the real litmus of both party’s essential core philosopies.

National prefers to step back and allow the “free market” to work it’s magic.

Labour has no hesitation in using the power of the State to address social-economic problems.

The National Business Review – hardly an organ for marxist-leninist groups – was  moved to report on an opinion piece penned by Duncan Garner;

“In a lengthy blog post, Unemployed youth would fill Eden Park, Duncan Garner declares that ‘this government’s biggest failure to date is our young people’.  With 58,000 youth not in work or education, ‘We are at crisis point. 27.6% of those aged 15-24 are out of work and out of luck. It’s even higher for Maori and Pacific youth’. And how has the Government performed on this issue? Garner says ‘there is a yawning gap between Key’s rhetoric and the reality’, and asks, ‘So what did Key do in the weekend to target the problem? Very little’. He suggests that ‘Key needs to be bold, he needs to take risks’.”


In stating that Key had done “very little” to target the problem,  Garner was referring to the Prime Minister’s policy speech at National’s Conference on 13 August.  Indeed, thus far National’s track record at addressing unemployment has consisted of the following;

  • Building a cycleway. Anticipated new jobs: 4,000. Actual new jobs created: 215.  (Source)
  • Hiring an advisor for Finance Minister, Bill English, at $2,000 a day. (Source)
  • A new payment card for 16,17, and some 18 year old beneficiaries that could not be used for things like alcohol or cigarettes; (though it’s already illegal for 16 and 17 year olds to purchase these products)
  • … and… that’s it.


It is worth noting the seriousness of youth unemployment in this country. According to the Department of Labour;

“Youth aged 15–19 years have an unemployment rate over three times that of the entire working-age population. Young workers are more vulnerable to downturns in labour market conditions due to their lower skill levels and lesser work experience. The latest official figures show that 17.2% of youth aged 15 to 19 and 8.4% of those aged 20 to 24 years were unemployed, which represents a deterioration of the trends found in the report. Maori and Pacific youth had significantly higher unemployment rates.”


Ducan Garner seems in no mood to respond to John Key’s “smiles and waves” politics when he opens his piece with this caustic observation;

“58,000. This is the crucial number that should be ringing in John Key’s ears every night he bunks down in the refurbished Premier House.

58,000 young people between the ages of 15-24 are not in education, training or work. The majority of them are on a benefit.”

Garner adds,

“Sure the recession has been tough on young people worldwide. 81 million youths are now unemployed around the globe, it was 71 million before the recession. It is a ticking time bomb. In London, it’s already exploded.”


And there we have it:
  1. Problem: growing, lingering unemployment.
  2. Potential disaster: social unrest, exploding into mass-violence.
  3. Solution – ?
To demonstrate how utterly vacuous National’s policy has been to date, let me juxtapose two media reports  outlining policy releases from both Labour and National.  Have a good look at these;

[click to expand]

Labour would cut dole, increase training

National to clamp down on youth beneficiaries

Which offers new jobs, and which offers tinkering with welfare?

At a time when New Zealand has 170,000 unemployed – of which 58,000 are aged 15-24; when we will be needing thousands of skilled tradespeople to re-build a broken city that has endured massive earthquake devastastion; the current government has done next-to-nothing during its three year tenure.

Except create 215 new jobs in building a cycleway; hire some very expensive advisors; and give tax cuts to some very rich people.

In doing so, we do not have the skilled tradespeople required to re-build Christchurch.  Because we are currently losing around 20 skilled tradespeople a day to overseas destinations such as Australia.  At the same time, people are losing their jobs in Christchurch and unemployment is rising.

To show how badly this government has failed, nothing better illustrates that failure than this;



Only the most die-hard National/ACT supporter will believe this this situation is acceptable. (And they usually come up with all manner of excuses why it is acceptable.) But I suspect – or at least hope – that ordinary New Zealanders who look at this situation and will ask the inevitable hard questions;

  1. Why are we not offering training for unemployed?
  2. Why are we not planning  to put our people to work?
  3. Why are we hiring workers from overseas?
  4. How will this help unemployed New Zealanders to get back into the workforce?

On the 13 of August, at the National Party Conference,  Prime Minister John Key stated,that “the current system “is not working and needs to change“.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t talking about job creation or training for unemployed. He was talking about not letting 16 and 17 year olds buy booze and ciggies.

Goff says it is ”crazy”to have high youth unemployment alongside a growing skills shortage crisis“.

Which one resonates with you?



A bouquet  to Hutt Gas and Plumbing Systems Ltd ,  a Lower Hutt company that is one of the many thousands of small businesses in our communities, quietly ‘beavering’ away in the background,  that make  our economy work.



Hutt Gas & Plumbing featured on TV1’s evening news where Phil Goff released Labour’s youth skills and employment package.

Hutt Gas & Plumbing train several apprentices, giving young people an opportunity to learn a trade; earn a wage; and contribute to their local community.  These folk are the real pillars of our society. Not the big, flash corporations and financial institutions that shuffle bits of paper around, and make their profits on speculation.

These are the small companies that deserve our support and encouragement. They are the ones that some of our children will rely on for jobs’ training to get into a trade.

Kudos to Labour for planning to increase apprenticeships. This is the hard policy planning that will create jobs and give our kids opportunities.

And a bloody big brickbat for Minister for Tertiary Education Steven Joyce, for  saying that Labour’s proposal was just National policy dressed up,

They’re basically doing what the government is already doing, they just want to throw more money at it.”

It’s rather revealing that National thinks that creating jobs for our young people is  “throwing money”.

Because buying 34 new BMW limousines, for National ministers, is not “throwing money”?

That was Then, this is Now #1

20 August 2011 5 comments