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Posts Tagged ‘Standard Poors’

Standard & Poor’s just sabotaged Simon Bridges’ tax bribe announcement

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Poor Simon Bridges.

Since becoming Leader of the National Party, he has been dogged by embarrassing leaks (which appear to be ongoing even after Jami-Lee Ross’s departure from caucus); a once-trusted MP turned feral; another MP accused of bullying her staff; allegations of a culture of sexual harrassment in the Party; travel expenses that make him look profligate with taxpayers’ money; assorted bed-hopping; and a potential contender for his job breathing down his neck as his poll ratings continue to languish in single figures.

Never mind “it’s not easy being green” – being Blue right now is positively diabolical for Simon Bridges. The only thing missing is a National MP who is revealed to be an agent for a foreign power. Oh…

With indications that the Tax Working Group will shortly be making it’s final report back to the Coalition, and with expectations that it will recommend a Capital Gains Tax on property (excluding the family home), National has launched a multi-media campaign on taxation. Twitter, Facebook, as well as the msm have all carried National’s announcement to cut taxes (dressed up as “tax adjustments” to deflect criticism that National is once again planning to cut taxes for the rich).

It was revealing that Bridges decided to give his speech out-lining plans for  tax-cuts-dressed-up-as-tax-adjustments at the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce, in Christchurch. He would not dare make such a speech at the Child Poverty Action Group, foodbank, or community hall in a predominantly state housing area.

He made his pitch at the Canterbury Chamber of Commerce because those are the people who would – yet again – benefit from tax-cuts-dressed-up-as-tax-adjustments.

As well as offering the bog-standard tax-cut bribe, Simon Bridges also alluded to National’s so-called reputation for being a “prudent fiscal manager“;

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To which one couldn’t help but reply;

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But worse was to come for Simon Bridges.

A day later, international credit ratings agency, Standard & Poor’s, up-graded New Zealand’s sovereign outlook from “stable” to “positive”. The  S&P report noted;

“Accommodative monetary policy, population growth, higher wage outcomes and higher government spending” and a decline in the New Zealand dollar, was continuing to support growth, it said.

“We don’t believe trade tensions between New Zealand’s major trading partners will currently have a substantial impact on the country’s economy and external performance, particularly given that key exports are imported for domestic consumption in China, rather than for re-exporting.”

It was capitalism’s vote-of-confidence in a left-wing government with overtly left-wing policies.

Which stands in stark contrast with the credit-rating down-grade New Zealand experienced in 2010 and 2011 – under the right-wing, Key-led National government;

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New Zealand went from “stable outlook” in 2009 to “negative” by November 2010.  By September 2011, we had dropped from AA Positive to just AA.

In fairness, a sound explanation could lie with the fallout from the 2008 Global Financial crisis and Great Recession that followed.

But no. National compounded the fall in tax revenue resulting from the Recession by cutting taxes in 2009 and 2010, which reduced the tax-take even further. That meant only one recourse for then Finance Minister, Bill English: borrowing. Massive amounts of borrowing..

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

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

In opening remarks to the party’s annual conference in Wellington today Mr Key said National would incorporate Labour’s October 1 tax cuts, bring forward a second round to April 2009 – a year earlier than Labour – and a third round to April 2010.

Labour’s planned third round would not take effect until April 2011.

National is yet to explain how it will pay for the promised larger cuts.

But deputy leader and finance spokesman Bill English told delegates National was prepared to borrow more to fund infrastructure.

He said New Zealand had one of the lowest levels of debt of any developed country and “additional borrowing” for infrastructure would boost economic growth.

Even after Treasury released a report predicting a $30 billion deficit, then National leader (and subsequent PM), John Key, was not prepared to abandon his party’s planned taxcut bribe;

John Key has defended his party’s planned program of tax cuts, after Treasury numbers released today showed the economic outlook has deteriorated badly since the May budget.

The numbers have seen Treasury reducing its revenue forecasts and increasing its predictions of costs such as benefits.

Cash deficits – the bottom line after all infrastructure funding and payments to the New Zealand Superannuation Fund are made – is predicted to blow out from around $3 billion a year to around $6 billion a year.

Mr Key said National anticipated that the figures would be bad but thought “even Michael Cullen could do better than this”.

But he said his party would proceed as planned with the announcement of their tax strategy on Wednesday and he said there would be tax cuts.

By mid-2009, National realised that spending cuts to social services would have to be made. The public were being “softened up” to the inevitable.

Despite drastic spending cuts to social services; ceasing payment to the NZ Superannuation Fund, and redundancies in the state sector – it was all futile and  insufficient to meet the duel cost of reduced revenue due to recessionary pressures and the – now obviously unaffordable – taxcuts.

By May 2011, the National government was borrowing $380 million per week. Debt stood at $71.6 billion.

National’s crazy borrowing had been exacerbated by tax cuts that we could ill-afford. This is why Standard and Poor’s took alarm at National’s tax-cuts and borrowings, and downgraded our credit outlook to “negative”. It could be said that New Zealand was ‘Going Greek’ in the South Pacific.

So when current National Party leader, Simon Bridges boasted that New Zealanders “trusted National with managing the economy. You know we’ll be careful with your money” – people with long memories reacted with justified derision.

Make no mistake – and let me spell it out with crystal clarity:  there is no such thing as a ‘free school lunch’ or tax-cuts without consequences. School lunches (which are a social necessity) are usually paid for by taxpayers.  Tax-cuts will be paid by all of us, if sufficient numbers of voters buy into Bridges’ tax-cut bribe.

Expect National to cut spending on vital social areas; sell remaining state assets (by stealth, if they can get away with it); stop contributions (again) to the NZ Super Fund; and increase user-pays government charges. Bridges may even go so far as to raise gst again.

As well as promising de facto tax cuts, Bridges has also made other, expensive promises;

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It is difficult to understand how National will pay for it’s promises with all those taxes abolished. And what does Bridges mean “in our first term“? What, exactly, are they planning for a second term?

We have heard this terrible “tax cuts” song before. It will not sound better the second time around.

I hope New Zealanders have better sense than to fall for this fiscal sleight-of-hand again.

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References

Radio NZ: Bridges – National caucus didn’t leak travel expenses

Otago Daily Times: More National Party leaks

Fairfax/Stuff: Another alleged recording of phone call between Simon Bridges and Jami-Lee Ross is leaked

Radio NZ: Maggie Barry bullying claims – Ex-staffer speaks out

Mediaworks/Newshub: National to conduct independent review into party culture

Radio NZ: Simon Bridges defends $113k expenses bill

Noted: Parliament’s star-crossed lovers who crossed each other

Otago Daily Times: Could Collins become National’s new leader?

NBR: Bridges clocks lowest Newshub-Reid poll rating of any National leader for a decade

Newsroom: Newsroom Investigation – National MP trained by Chinese spies

Mediaworks/Newshub: Capital gains tax set to be biggest political scrap of the year

Twitter: Simon Bridges

Facebook: Simon Bridges

Fairfax/Stuff: National promises three-yearly income tax cuts in first major speech of 2019

Fairfax/Stuff: Improved S&P outlook ‘underlines’ position of NZ economy, says Grant Robertson

The Treasury: Credit Ratings

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

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

Fairfax/Stuff: Labour Budget pledges face axe

NZ Herald: Govt borrowing $380m a week

Fairfax/Stuff: Government debt rises to $71.6 billion

Twitter: Simon Bridges – 30 January 2018 2.44pm – abolish taxes

Additional

The Atlantic: Tax Cuts Don’t Lead to Economic Growth, a New 65-Year Study Finds

Other Blogs

Greater Auckland: What happens if you get rid of the Regional Fuel Tax?

The Daily Blog: Yawn – Simon Bridges promises less than a weekly Big Mac Combo in tax cuts

The Standard: Show us the money Simon

Previous related blogposts

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

Tax cuts & school children

The Mendacities of Mr Key #3: tax cuts

The consequences of tax-cuts – worker exploitation?

Plunket and the slow strangulation of community organisations

The cupboard is bare, says Dear Leader

An earthquake separates John Key and ‘The Iron Lady’, Margaret Thatcher

The Mendacities of Mr Key # 19: Tax Cuts Galore! Money Scramble!

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 1 February 2019.

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The Mendacities of Mr Key #2: Secret Sources

24 February 2014 3 comments

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key's credibility takes a hit

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In an on-going series, we will look at the half-truths; mis-representations; omissions; and outright lies, told by Dear Leader John Key.

2. Secret Sources

Background

On 4 October 2011, John Key made this astounding statement in the Debating Chamber,

When Standard & Poor’s were giving a meeting in New Zealand about a month ago, what they did say was there was about a 30% chance we would be downgraded – that’s what happens when you’re on negative outlook. They did go on to say though, if there was a change of government, that downgrade would be much more likely.”

The comment was made under Parliamentary privilege.

Five days later, on 10 October, Key “explained” that the comments had come to him in an email, from an un-named “friend”. He duly released the text,

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When Standard and Poors heard Key’s comment, they were none too pleased.  Standard and Poor’s sovereign rating analyst, Kyran Curry, who attended the Auckland meeting that the “email” referred to, replied,

“In Auckland last month, I might have talked about the importance of the Government maintaining a strong fiscal position in the medium term but I would never have touched on individual parties. It is something we just don’t do. We don’t rate political parties. We rate Governments.”

Key fronted to a media conference and was grilled by journalists,

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His body language, tone of voice, and other minute clues all indicate he was being less than honest. I leave it to the reader to reach their own conclusion how honest Dear Leader was.

In my opinion, John Key lied and the email was subsequently fabricated.

Nearly two and a half years later, and Key is embroiled in yet another “secret sources” mess;

On 12 February, Key disclosed that Winston Peters had met with Kim Dotcom, at his mansion in Coatsville, three times. Peters accused Key of using the GCSB/SIS to spy on him, saying,

“What’s his informant, who is he? … This is is a surveillance matter and I want to know more about it.”

Key responded the same day,

“I heard from an individual who’s a person who’s got nothing to do with National Party, nothing to do with any government agency. The person told me it was three. I was pretty sure they’d be right – because they often are – and guess what, they were.”

On the 13th of February, Key stated,

“I can absolutely categorically tell you it’s got nothing to do with an official agency. From time to time people see things and from time to time people tell me.”

Key added,

“Contrary to what [Peters] might want to believe, I can read. A member of the public, for want of a better term rang me up and said what was the case. I assumed it was right. I said it, it turned out to be right. I didn’t think it was that controversial, to be honest.”

So did a member of the public” phone Key and inform him that Peters had visited Kim Dotcom? Or did Key “read” about it somewhere?

When questioned by the media, Slater told the Herald,

“If the Prime Minister says I’m a source, I guess I must have been.”

Which kind of makes Key’s earlier assertion that he “heard from an individual who’s a person who’s got nothing to do with National Party” a complete lie. As we all know, Slater is closely connecxted to the National Party; his father (John Slater) is an ex-President of the National Party; and Slater is probably a paid up member of the National Party.

Unless it is Slater who is lying (which is equally plausible as he has a reputation  for telling lies)? Otherwise, if Slater is telling the truth, then he has landed Key in it.

One of them is lying.

Take your pick.

Conclusions:

Key had not been forthcoming either on the Standard and Poors “email” or on where he got the tip-off that Winston Peters had visited Kim Dotcom.

What is equally disturbing is that Key is willing to use private information to smear a political opponant. Not since Paula Bennet released information on Natasha Fuller and Jennifer Johnston, has a politician willfully invaded another person’s privacy.

Whatever one may think of Winston Peters – and I am no fan of his – Peters deserves his privacy like anyone else.

Charge: broken promise/deflection/half-truth/hypocrisy/outright lie/mis-information?

Verdict: Mis-information, (probable) outright lie

 

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References

NZ Parliament: Credit Rating Downgrade—Effect on Economy

TV3: Key accused of lying in Parliament over downgrade

Previous related blogposts

Nick Smith

Politicians never tell fibs

The Mendacities of Mr Key #1: The GCSB Bill

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 February 2014.

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Nick Smith

21 March 2012 10 comments

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I take no satisfaction from Nick Smith’s resignation.  Dear Leader will simply appoint another National MP to take Smith’s portfolios. Nothing has changed.

In the scheme of things, his letter to ACC on behalf of former National Party activist and friend, Bronwyn Pullar, appears to be one of those gaffes that all politicians of species Homo Sapiens are capable of.

What I find unjust is that Dr Smith fell on his own sword – whilst John Key  got away with something even more questionable, last year, when on 4 October, John Key made this statement in the Debating Chamber,

When Standard & Poor’s were giving a meeting in New Zealand about a month ago, what they did say was there was about a 30% chance we would be downgraded – that’s what happens when you’re on negative outlook. They did go on to say though, if there was a change of government, that downgrade would be much more likely.”

That statement was the beginning of a political furore that, for the first time, attacked Key’s credibility.

Less than a week later, on 10 October, Standard & Poors issued a firm rejection of John Key’s assertion that Standard & Poors stated “if there was a change of government, that downgrade would be much more likely“. In fact, S&P was quite adamant,

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Key’s staff eventually released the so-called “email” that Key claimed had been sent to him by a friend (un-named), which made the S&P claim. The email was (supposedly)  sent on 6 September 2011 at 11:24 am,

Hi John

I was part of a session with a range of economists yesterday morning – every year they do this session – with economists from Aus plus all the main NZ banks, and this year two from Standard and Poors, including the guy who obviously has a lot to do with the NZ grading.

Anyway, the S&P guys were very complimentary about how the NZ Govt is managing fiscally and their trust that what you say will happen happens, and your unwavering commitment to getting NZ’s balance sheet sorted for the long term.

But there was a key one-liner that I thought you could well use. S&P said that there was a 1/3 chance that NZ would get downgraded and a 2/3 change it would not, and the inference was clear that it would be the other way around if Labour were in power. They discussed the impact on interest rates if NZ got downgraded and how that would quickly impact on the home owner mortgage market, so net net there is a much higher risk to NZers that they will face higher interest rates under a Labour Government.

Don’t know how you use it but they were quite serious.

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So, who was telling the truth?

In an effort to uncover the truth, Key fronted to a media conference,

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To this day, the identity of the mysterious  author of that “email” has never been disclosed and we have no clue as to the veracity of who-said-what.

Perhaps the wrong person resigned.

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From 2011 back to 1991?

1 December 2011 23 comments

Even without a Tardis, John Key’s National government is set to return New Zealand to 1991, as it plans to cut spending and make more state sector workers redundant,

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Yet, the NZIER is warning of dire consequences  should National proceed with more cuts to state sector spending,

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Many will recall that it was precisely brecause of severe cuts to state spending in 1991 that made New Zealand’s recession so much worse at the time. Ruth Richardson even boasted that her budget was the “Mother of All Budgets”.

Economic data is presented here, in graph form, and shows the immediate conseqences that impacted on New Zealand soon after Richardson’s Budgetary cuts were implemented. Unemployment skyrocketed to approximately 11% – the highest since Depression days in the 1930s.

It is generally considered that Richardson’s harsh cuts unnecessarily deepened New Zealand’s recessionary effects. It caused considerable misery throughout the country as businesses collapsed; GDP fell; the prison population increased; and credit ratings agencies downgraded the country.

As John Key’s government lays plans for implementing more state sector cuts, it is clearly apparent that New Zealand’s economy is still struggling,

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And just to really drive home the fact that matters are becoming dire,  ratings agency Standard & Poor’s today downgraded the credit ratings of our major banks;  ANZ New Zealand, ASB, BNZ, and Westpac New Zealand,along with their Australian parents.

Things are not looking terribly flash,

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Whilst it is abundantly obvious that we cannot influence events on the other side of the globe, and that the slow disintergration of the Eurozone; the economic downturn in China; and America’s mind-numbingly huge deficit – that our government can still play a role in what happens locally.

First and foremost, now is not the time to be cutting back on state sector spending and government workers. Adding to unemployment will not help matters and will simply,

  • reduce overall consumption spending by unemployed civil servants
  • make it harder for 154,000 currently unemployed to find jobs
  • reduce overall economic activity

John Key needs to read up on our recent history and learn from the mistakes of his predecessors, Jim Bolger and Ruth Richardson.

He needs to understand that government cutbacks during a recession will not help – and will actually make matters much worse.

Instead, the incoming government should be considering the following;

  • Shelve all plans for further cutbacks
  • Abandon further cutbacks of state sector employees
  • Implement a crash training programme for those currently unemployed, removing barriers such as fees
  • Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour
  • Compensate the increase in  minimum wage with a correlating tax write-off/reduction, for companies affected for one year
  • Increase the top tax rate for income earners over $100,000
  • Review Working for Famlies for those earning over $100,000

Some high income earners, businesspeople, and free marketeers may squeal at the above suggestions – but we either pay to keep our economy afloat and maintain high employment – or we’ll pay for  welfare, increased crime, social dislocation and other problems, as well more skilled Kiwis fleeing to Australia.

Why not pay to achieve positive outcomes instead of the proverbial ambulance at the bottom of the cliff?

Because either way, we will pay.

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Additional

Wellington hit with leap in mortgagee sales

Wellington furniture company in liquidation

Fourth National Government of New Zealand

The 1991 Budget and Tertiary Education: Promises, Promises…

Reserve Bank – Employment-Unemployment

Dept of Corrections: Prison sentenced snapshot trend since 1980

Annual figures for Bankruptcies and Liquidations since 1988

Chris Ford: National/ACT Coalition aiming to complete New Right revolution

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“Less Debt and Lower Interest Rates” – Really?

2 November 2011 2 comments

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National’s “statement of intent” for “less debt and lower interest rates”  on one of their billboards,

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It would be a laudable goal, if National’s track record was not somewhat different,

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Our recent double down-grade by Standard & Poors and Fitch will eventually flow into our mortgage rates. Bill English guesses that the amount could be “as little” as “about one-tenth of a per dent” – but of course, he’s guessing.

Whilst National is alleging that Labour will be borrowing to fund it’s policies, the fact is that National has already borrowed $18.4 billion,

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This is borrowings made up, in part, because we could ill afford two tax cuts cuts which gave up to $1,000 a week for someone on a salary similar to John Key’s.

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In fact, National has cut taxes to such a level that they are now having to part-sell State assets to pay for day-to-day maintenance of schools, hospitals, etc. This is not good fiscal  “housekeeping”.

Put another way, it would be like a Courier selling his/her van, to buy groceries and pay other bills. The courier will have enough money – for a while. After that, the money runs out and the Courier is left with no money and no means to earn an income.

This is not sustainable lontg-term. It is a desperate attempt for National to find money it does not have. Otherwise it will have to simply borrow more… or undo it’s 2009 and 2010 tax cuts.

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That was Then, this is Now #8

26 October 2011 1 comment

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Previous Blog post

That was Then, this is Now #7

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Of Polls, Politics, & Pollution

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“Do as I say, Not as I Do”, is not a particularly savvy way to relate to an important electorate such as Epsom,

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It beggars belief that a Party leader could ask voters in a given electorate to vote for the candidate of another Party – whilst he himself supports his own Party’s candidate.  John Key has stated categorically,

“‘I’m going to vote for Goldsmith. I am the National Party leader and I am going to vote for the National Party candidate and give my party vote to National.Source

One wonders how National supporters in Epsom must be feeling.

The leader of their Party hints that they should vote for ACT’s John Banks, whilst Key himself votes for the National candidate, Paul Goldsmith?

And if Paul Goldsmith is the “sacificial lamb” – why is he standing as an electorate candidate anyway?  National could just as easily – and more honestly – simply not stand a candidate and mount a publicity campaign for the Party Vote only,

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In effect, National’s  electorate candidate is not really campaigning to win. And if he doesn’t want to win, why is he standing? To give  Epsom National supporters a “wink and a nod” to Electorate Vote ACT and Party Vote National?

And if such is the case – what possible legitimacy does that give ACT when they can’t attract electorate support on their own merits?

So much for ACT being a Party that encourages success through merit. Especially when they apply the merit-based principle to Maori:  Maori Must Earn Auckland Seats On Merit .

As the ACT statement sez;  “Let our bright boys and girls EARN their seats.

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ACT and National’s  machinations in Epsom are, of course, due to ACT’s low poll ratings. Practically every single poll has them around the 1.5-3.5% mark. Under MMPs rules, if they cannot cross the magical 5% Party Vote threshold – or – win an Electorate Seat, they will end up like  The Alliance and NZ First: out of Parliament.

(Despite what critics of proportional representation would have us believe, MMP is not a very ‘forgiving’ system to small Parties.)

The latest Horizon Poll makes for very interesting reading. Horizon is the only polling company that prompts Undecideds to state a preference. Under this system, the results appear to give a far more realistic result of Voter’s intentions, rather than the ‘fantasmagorical‘ results that have National at 53-55%-plus,

Horizon is the only polling company publishing results for don’t know voters.

Horizon’s results are for

  • Decided voters
  • Undecided voters with a preference

who are

  • Registered to vote and who
  • Intend to vote.

The poll finds

  • National has 36.8% of registered voters (down 2.7% since September 22)
  • Labour 25.7% (-1.1%)
  • Green Party 11.6% (up 0.9%)
  • New Zealand First 6.2% (- 1.1%)
  • Mana Party 2.3% (+ 0.3%)
  • Act 3.4%  (down 1.4% from September and down from a high of 5.3% in May shortly after Don Brash became leader)
  • Maori Party 1.7% (+0.7%)
  • United Future 0.4% ( 0% in September)
  • Conservative Party of New Zealand 2.2% (new party, first time measured)
  • New Citizens 0%
  • Other parties 1.2%

National has highest voter loyalty:  76.2% of its 2008 voters still support it. It has picked up 19.9% of Act voters and 9.1% of Labour voters (while Labour has picked up 7.6% of National’s).

The Greens have 68.7% voter loyalty and are gaining 2008 voters from the Maori Party (23.1%) and Labour (14.6%).

Labour has 63% voter loyalty, losing 14.3% to the Greens, 9.1% to National and 3.7% to New Zealand First.

The Maori Party has 30.8% voter loyalty, losing 23.1% of its 2008 voters to the Greens and 19.1% to Mana.

Assuming John Banks wins the Epsom electorate seat for Act, Peter Dunne retains Ohariu-Belmont, the Maori Party retains its four electorate seats and Hone Harawira retains Te Tai Tokerau, a 122 seat Parliament  would result, with a two Maori Party seat overhang, comprising:

National 50

Act 5

Maori party 4

United Future 1

Current governing coalition: 60 seats

Labour 35

Green 16

NZ First 8

Total: 59 seats

Mana 3

Horizon Research says a great deal depends on the support New Zealand First attracts at November 26.

Horizon polls have had the party at 6% or higher since November 2010. (Note the poll’s margin of error is +/- 2.2%).

Source

If correct, National is in trouble.  Their chances of a second term are not guaranteed, and judging by the public’s low opinion of National’s performance of the grounding of the m.v. Rena; the double credit-rating downgrades; the questionable veracity of the so-called Standard & Poors  “email”; and various promises made that have not been kept, John Key’s “teflon” image is definitely beginning to show signs of wear and tear.

And with the RWC behind us, and the public “partyed-out”, a return to politicking may be a welcomed diversion for many. Especially as people begin to focus on issues such as asset sales and the sales of farmland – both contentious and highly unpopular with the public.  In a way, the RWC may even strengthen opposition to asset/farm sales to foreigners.

After all, if we’re good enough to beat the world in rugby, then  why the dickens aren’t we good enough to hold on to our taongas?! Explain that, Dear Leader!!

On the other hand, though Labour leader Phil Goff has consistently polled lower than Key, his dogged determination to persevere and not fold under media scrutiny may actually earn him “brownie points” with the public.

Goff can wear the label of  “underdog” with real credibility. If Labour can play on this in a subtle manner, and show that Goff does not cave under pressure; that he keeps on like the proverbial ‘Energizer Bunny’ when all seems lost; and that he doesn’t rely on shallow charisma and meaningless smiles and utterances – he is in with a fighting chance.

God knows that lesser mortals would’ve probably chucked it in long before now, and call for a replacement from the “benches”.

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Another Horizon Poll has shown what many suspected would be the reaction from New Zealanders over the grounding of the m.v. Rena: that the government was slow of the mark and wasted precious time in delaying action,

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Source: Horizon Polls

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Taken in isolation, the grounding and response from government and statutory bodies would probably have raised no more than slight annoyance from the public.

But the grounding of the Rena is now the third major disaster this country has experienced; on top of the Pike River Mine explosions and the Christchurch earthquakes.

In both instances, central government made promises to locals that – in hindsight – may have been unrealistic at best, and irresponsible at worst. Public patience with the ever-smiling, waving, John Key may be wearing just a bit thin.

Then on top of all that, was the near-disaster of the Rugby World Cup’s opening night. The government had well and truly taken their collective eyes of the ball that night, and it is pure good luck that no one was seriously injured or killed in the mayhem.

Unrealistic promises and slow responses were only the beginning.

We also have the government intending to bring deep-sea oil drilling to our coastal waters. More than half the country by now must be asking themselves,

Just hang on a mo’, Mr Prime Minister! If we can barely cope with a single stranded freighter, sitting on the surface of the sea – how the heck are we going to cope with a major oil disaster that might be two or three times the depth of the Gulf of Mexico disaster?! Aside from hoping for good luck that nothing goes wrong, we’re not really prepared are we, Mr Key?

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To make things worse, is the disquieting suspicion that our de-regulated safety regime; lax building codes; and continual cutbacks to government workers are  contributing to a systematic running-down of essential services. Especially when even  emergency services are now starting to feel the blades of National’s  savage cuts,

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When the aspirational middle class Baby Boomers start to feel that their comfort zones are threatened, government politicians should take heed. That’s when we throw out governments. We don’t like our “comfort zones” upset. (It upsets our delicate tummies.)

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Now let’s really stir the political pot of discontent;   our youth seem to have re-discovered their own political power and realised that leaving matters to the Older Generation (us) may not achieve the outcomes they desire. God knows our generation has succeeded in wrecking the global economy; threatening the stability of the Eurozone; and bringing the once great super power that is the United States, to it’s knees.

Young folk have woken up to the world around them – and they are not very happy at what they find,

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The recent government interference in Student Union affairs (forcing voluntary unionism upon people who may not necessarily wish for it) should be a stark wake-up call to young people that National governments – far from being “hands off” and opposed to “nanny statish” behaviour – can be just as controlling as their counterparts allegedly were.

In fact, more so. After all, this “hands off” government did force almalgation on Aucklanders without any democratic referendum being conducted. National had no hesitation in passing legislation to ban cellphone usage whilst driving (but not banning  applying makeup or eating whilst driving). Then they lifted the driving age. And have begun liquor law reforms. And John Key is even now contemplating the ungodly “Nanny Statish” policy of making Kiwisaver compulsory!! Oh dear gods – whatever next?!

Oh, that’s right – National wanted to  extend Police powers to allow greater video surveillance in the community. (Which even ACT decided was a step too far.)

All in all, the gloss has worn away from this government, and it’s track record of the last three years cannot be dismissed with a smile and a wave, with a hollow promise chucked in for good measure.

And young New Zealanders are starting to flex their political muscle.

Not too bad, on top of winning the rugby world cup, eh?

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Tui Time!

Sent in by an astute reader,

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The irony of this billboard is that it is not a parody.  It’s a real billboard spotted on someone’s front lawn.

Obviously this particular hoarding-facing was designed before news that  government  borrowings have increased from $16.7 billion to June this year, to $18.4 billion to October this year.

Or that interest rates will most likely rise, due to credit downgrades by Fitch and Standard & Poors. And with an imminent announcement Moody’s – also likely to be a down-grade – expect your mortgage repayments to rise soon.

I suspect these particular billboards may come down very shortly. The embarresment factor may be somewhat irritating for the encumbent government.

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Acknowledgement

Thanks to ‘Sandman’  for sharing this image with us.

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A New Public Image Being Born?

16 October 2011 3 comments

Recieved today – and like John Key’s mysterious Standard & Poors “email” – my source will remain anonymous as well…

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national party billboard

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national party billboard

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national party billboard

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I assume the above three images depict the billboard facings coming down – not going up.

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national party billboard

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national party billboard

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Hmmmm, obviously the “artist” had a point to make about our Dear Leader, and not the local candidate? It will be interesting to see what other graffiti makes it on to National’s hoardings.

It is also interesting to note that, this graffiti aside, there seems to have  been remarkably little vandalism toward political hoardings. Are people that apathetic toward the 2011 election that even the vandals can’t be bothered?!

You have to wonder what they are putting into our drinking water…

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That was Then, this is Now #7

15 October 2011 4 comments

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Previous Blog post

That was Then, this is Now #6

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Politicians never tell fibs…

10 October 2011 12 comments

… do they?

It was revealed today that John Key was caught out telling a “porky” in Parliamement. (In political-speak, “porky” = lie.) And quite a setrious one at that,

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The Prime Minister stated in the House,

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I cannot confirm that. It may well be; it sounds logical. But let me quote this from Fitch Ratings: “New Zealand remains well placed amongst the world’s highly-rated sovereign credits, with its creditworthiness supported by moderate public indebtedness, fiscal prudence, and strong public institutions.” But I will say this: when Standard and Poor’s was giving a meeting in New Zealand about a month ago, what it did say was that there was about a 30 percent chance that we would be downgraded. That is what happens when one is on a negative outlook. It did go on to say, though, that if there was a change of Government, that downgrade would be much more likely.” –  Hansards

So according to the Prime Minister, Standard & Poors – one of the three main credit agencies – stated that if there was “a change of Government” (ie; Labour was elected), that our sovereign credit-rating would be “much more likely”.

Unfortunately for our happy-go-lucky Prime Minister – Standard & Poors denies saying any such thing,

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Specifically, S& P stated categorically,

We don’t rate political parties. We rate Governments’.

Caught out, it seems, the  Prime Minister then went on to say,

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Got it in an email

At his post-Cabinet press conference in Wellington on Monday, Key told media he was not at the meeting with Standard & Poor’s in September, but that he had received an email on September 6 from a trusted source who was at the meeting.

That source told Key Standard & Poor’s said there was a one-in-three chance that New Zealand would get downgraded and a two-in-three chance it would not, “and the inference was clear that it would be the other way round if Labour were in power,” Key quoted his source as saying in the email (see the full email below).

“The person is known to me, they’re known to be very trustworthy. I rang the person, had a conversation with them and it was relayed exactly as I relayed it in the House,” Key told media on Monday.

Key said he had not spoken to Standard & Poor’s to confirm whether S&P had made the comment.

“The person was at the meeting. I simply got the email, thought it was rather interesting, rang the person up. I’ve dealt with them before. They’ve given me information before which has been correct,” Key said.

The person was obviously confident that what he was telling Key was correct, he said.

“I wasn’t at the meeting, but all I’m telling you is it’s not a random comment I made up. I received the email, I verified it with the person. That’s it.” Source

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So in effect, Key got his “information” via “an email on September 6 from a trusted source who was at the meeting”?!

Riiiiight…

Kinda like, I heard this story which is true, ‘cos it came from a mate’s friend who is the brother of this guy’s hairdresser, and she heard it from her cousin who is the wife of the Prime Minister’s secretary’s gardener that…

The text of the email follows,

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Note that all identifying details have been removed. In fact, that “email” could have come from anywhere, including the Prime Minister’s secretary’s gardener.

Interesting.

In the Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament,  he refers to “…when Standard and Poor’s was giving a meeting in New Zealand…”.

But the “email” refers to “…a session with a range of economists yesterday morning – every year they do this session – with economists from Aus plus all the main NZ banks, and this year two from Standard and Poors…”.

In John Key’s statement, the meeting was organised by Standard & Poors.

In the email, the meeting was held by “a range of economists… with economists from Aus plus all the main NZ banks”.

So who organised this meeting?

Where was it held?

Who attended?

We don’t know. All we have is an anonymous “email” – unsourced and unverified –  statements from the Prime Minister that contradict the email; and a firm denial by Standard & Poors’  analyst Kyran Curry that they would ever make such comments.

The greatest irony here is not that  John Key may have lied and mis-led Parliament and the people – but that Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury is banned from Radio NZ for “defaming” the Prime Minister.

If ever you get a chance to watch the movie, “Wag the Dog” – do. It is a chilling insight as to how politicians and their staffers can manipulate the media to serve their own ends.

As for the Prime Minister – perhaps he will get away with it, again. But the “clock is ticking”, and these stories of deceit  are becoming more prevalent.

The media is finally catching on,

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Curiouser and curiouser,

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ANZ chief economist Cameron Bagrie was not at the breakfast meeting in Auckland and a spokeswoman said another colleague of his who was there was not the author. The BNZ's Stephen Toplis said it had not been him nor anyone at the BNZ. Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens said he had not sent the email but wouldn't comment when asked if he knew who had. ASB Bank economist Nick Tuffley said he was at the function but didn't send the email.

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So the question remains;

Who wrote the email?

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Politics-Free Zone? “Tui” time!

9 October 2011 5 comments

Last Friday (30 September), Prime Minister John Key (or ‘Dear Leader‘ as he is now known), played radio DJ for an hour. Using the excuse of the “electoral commission rules”, Key’s presence on Radio Live was supposedly an “election free” event,

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During Key’s session on air, New Zealand’s second sovereign credit-ratings downgrade was announced. Again, he refused to discuss the issue, citing “electoral commission rules”. His one hour was to be keep “politics and election free”.

We learnt that his cat was named, “Moonbeam“.

Which is like having Peter Jackson on-air and expecting him not to make any comment whatsoever on any of his movies or the entire film-making industry…

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Just because Dear Leader instructs his listeners that his show was an “election free zone” does not make it so. In fact, it clearly was not “election free” at all, and only the most naive or ardent National Party-apologist could claim it to be. Quite simply, John Key is the Prime Minister and Prime Ministers are political irrespective of what “zone” they might be in.

In fact, hosting a politics-free radio show is a perfect opportunity for any politician to “connect” with his/her electorate and promote their persona as being one-of-the-people.

But there is more to this issue than simply John Key getting one hour of free media exposure. Quite a bit more.

It began in 1984 when Steven Joyce, at age 21,  set up his first radio station, “Energy FM”. From there, his business venture expanded considerably,

“Joyce made his millions in broadcasting. He got involved with student radio as a presenter and programme director while doing his zoology degree at Massey University in Palmerston North. Then he and a group of friends, including radio presenter Jeremy Corbett, started their own station in Joyce’s hometown of New Plymouth.

Corbett says Joyce son of a grocer had a prodigious work ethic: “Steven expects everyone to work as hard as him and nobody does.”

Joyce was 24 when Taranaki’s Energy FM finally got a full licence. Later, the team began acquiring other stations. As Corbett puts it: “I got married and left, and the rest of them became millionaires.”

Joyce says money was the furthest thing from his mind. For years “we kept living like university students [so] we could keep ploughing money back into the business”.

By 2000 he was CEO of an empire called RadioWorks, with 22 radio stations and 650 staff. He didn’t want to sell up, but Canadian company CanWest launched a stockmarket raid and left him standing with a cheque for $6 million in his hand. It was a “bittersweet” moment.”  Source

“In 2004, CanWest Global Communications combined television company TV3 Network Services and radio company RadioWorks to form the new MediaWorks company. On 29 July 2004, 30% of this new company was sold on the NZSX. Three years later, in July 2007, CanWest sold its stake of the company to Ironbridge Capital, a group of Australian investors, who subsequently obtained the remaining 30% from other investors.  MediaWorks is significantly larger than any of its other investments.”  Source

So far we have the following “trail”:  Steven Joyce/Energy FM → Steven Joyce/RadioWorks → CanWest → CanWest/MediaWorks → Ironbridge/MediaWorks, which is the current ownership-situation.

In April 2009, the  Radio Broadcasters’ Association wrote to the now-Minister of Communications, Steven  Joyce, asking for the high cost of renewing radio spectrum licence payments to be spread over 20 years, rather than paid in  one lump sum. Source.

In the following month, May 2009, the Ministry of Economic Development advised Joyce that there was no compelling reason to accede to the Association’s request, as it would “put the Government in a credit financing role“. Joyce followed that advice and subsequently declined the RBA’s request. Ibid.

At around this point, the Dear Leader Prime Minister starts to get involved and things begin to get murky. Around August 8th or 9th,  2009, Brent Impey –  the then-CEO of Mediaworks –  lobbied John Key directly, to get a deferred-payments scheme put in place. (Evidently, such a scheme was desirable not because MediaWorks was in financial trouble – but because it would improve their bottom-line profitability.)

At first, John Key denied even meeting with Brent Impey, and stated this  in answer to parliamentary written questions,

The Prime Minister said he had “no meetings” with representatives of MediaWorks to discuss the deal.” Source

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Two days later that answer was corrected, saying he “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” in Auckland where the issue was “briefly raised” and he “passed his comments on” to the responsible minister.Source

It seems fairly unbelievable that one could have a meeting with someone; discuss a matter involving $43 million – and then claim to have forgotten it?!

Despite having declined the Radio Broadcasters’ Association’s first appeal (May, 2009) – after Key  “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” the matter was re-visited and on October 22, 2009, Cabinet agreed to the RBA’s request for deferred payments.

Question: What transpired between May 2009 and October 2009 to so radically change government policy, and in effect adopt the role of “credit financing”, against the advice of the Ministry of Economic Development, which Steven Joyce had originally accepted?

Question: What role did John Key have to play in this matter? Because all of a sudden he seemed to become pivotal to this issue and it’s outcome.

Question: How could John Key have forgotten that he “ran into” Brent Impey at a “social event” ?

Click here for a Timeline of events, by NZ Herald report, Derek Cheng.

Essentially then, for reasons that are as clear as a barrelfull of Christchurch liquifaction, this government decided to make a  loan  for radio frequency-fees, worth $43.3 million to MediaWorks.,

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As John Drinnan wrote in the above article,

…the Government allowed them to keep the frequencies and pay the money over a 50-month period – paying 11.2 per cent interest a year. The Crown held a mortgage on the frequency with a strong security.

However, politicians being politicians, they will always argue the point,

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Telecommunications Minister Steven Joyce yesterday said the money was not a loan, but a deferred payment system to help the radio industry during tough times in 2009.” Ibid

Steven Joyce was  adamant that this was not a “loan” to MediaWorks,

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In fact, Joyce goes on to say,

“”They have to present it as a debt because it is a debt they owe the Crown, so how they do that is between them and their accountants.

“All I can tell you is that the Crown has not advanced any cash to MediaWorks at all, that the Crown has offered a deferred payment option to all of the frequency holders who were due to renew at that time, which involved them paying interest and getting in their payments over five years.”” Ibid

So according to Steven Joyce, this is not a debt “the Crown has not advanced any cash to MediaWorks at all“?!

Reallllly?

Is that how it works?!

In which case, property-owners around New Zealandf should rejoice and do cartwheels! We have no debts! The mortgages that our banks and building societies extended to us are not debts at all because they did not “advance any cash” to us!  After all, mortgage monies  are paid directly to the vendor – the new owner never sees a cent of it. Banks and other financial institutions simply hold a mortgage over our properties, and charge us interest on top of principle, to be re-paid.

Which is precisely what this government has done, as already mentioned above,

…the Government allowed them to keep the frequencies and pay the money over a 50-month period – paying 11.2 per cent interest a year. The Crown held a mortgage on the frequency with a strong security.Source

It’s a loan, Mr Joyce. Deal with it.

So perhaps it’s little wonder why Radio Live (owned by MediaWorks) did not extend Labour Leader Phil Goff, and other Party leaders, the same advantage as John Key had,

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Of course Radio Live “didn’t give an explanation for refusing“.  It’s fairly obvious what has transpired in some fairly shady, back room, “arrangements”.  It is fairly obvious that whatever “arrangement” now exists between Media Works and John Key and  his government is now to their mutual benefit.

The question is; did that $43 million buy just the one hour with Radio Live?

Or is there more to come?

Watch this space.

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Additional reading

A word with… Steven Joyce

Wikipedia – Steven Joyce

Key’s six million dollar man – Steven Joyce

Key changes tack over meeting with broadcaster

Wikipedia – MediaWorks New Zealand

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Naughty Americans told off…

… by wealthier, more fiscally prudent Communist China?!

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This has to be the greatest irony since… since… oh, it simply is! America – the home of capitalism, free enterprise, and republicanism – being counselled by another sovereign nation that is nominally a one-party,  communist,  centrally-planned  state to pull it’s socks up and sort out it’s economic affairs?!?!

I bet our American cuzzies never saw that coming when the Berlin Wall was torn down in 1989, and the West declared victory over communism soon after?!

Next thing you know, and Russia will be criticising America over their use of water-boarding torture-techniques against detainees at Guantanamo Bay…

God, I love the human race.

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