from: Frank Macskasy <email@example.com>
to: NZ Herald <firstname.lastname@example.org>
date: Mon, Mar 23, 2015
subject: Letter to the editor
On 23 March, John Key and Tim Groser signed a “free” trade agreement with South Korea (before Key scooted back to New Zealand to prop up National’s lame-duck candidate in the Northland by-election).
Key tried his best to push for the benefits of the NZ-Korea FTA by claiming;
“At the moment, New Zealand exports into Korea attract $229 million a year in duties. Tariff reductions in the first year of the FTA alone will save an estimated $65 million.”
It may well “save” exporters $65 million in tariffs.
But how many jobs will it create?
Before New Zealand opened it’s borders to imports from low-wage economies, our unemployment was much lower. In 1981, the Five Yearly Census showed unemployment numbering at 60,258.
Thirtytwo years later, after trade liberalisation; abolition of tariffs; and other so-called “free” trade initiatives, the 2013 Census showed unemployment to number at 153,210 – two and a half times more than the early 1980s.
Perhaps it is just as well that we have cheap goods pouring in from China and elsewhere. We certainly have more unemployed to purchase them.
[Address and phone number supplied]
TV3 News: NZ signs Korea free trade agreement
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When right-wing, normally pro-National, columnists like the NZ Herald’s John Armstrong question the veracity of this government’s assertions, then it is another indication that things are not going well for John Key’s six-year old administration.
Specifically, Armstrong’s questioning Steven Joyce’s claim on 12 March that thousands of new jobs have been created in Northland;
“When you add that to the 7,500 extra new jobs created in Northland in the last year, it is clear that the region is turning the corner and beginning to grow well.”
Armstrong replied two days later, lambasting the National Minister;
Deserving of special scrutiny is the repeated claim by Steven Joyce that 7500 new jobs were created in Northland last year. It certainly sounds impressive. The Economic Development Minister’s assertion is based on Statistics New Zealand’s household labour force survey. That indeed showed an increase of 7500 more people in employment in Northland at the end of last year as against the previous December.
The survey, however, stipulates that anyone who does paid work for as little as one hour a week is classed as being in employment. When people talk about “new” jobs, they usually mean full-time or part-time with a reasonable number of hours. We simply do not know what types of jobs were actually created.
Note Armstrong’s comment; “The survey, however, stipulates that anyone who does paid work for as little as one hour a week is classed as being in employment”.
He is indeed correct. Statistics NZ considers a person to be employed if they;
- worked for one hour or more for pay or profit in the context of an employee/employer relationship or self-employment
- worked without pay for one hour or more in work which contributed directly to the operation of a farm, business, or professional practice owned or operated by a relative
Note that a worker does not even have to be paid for Statistics NZ to consider you officially “employed”.
Which Armstrong duly noted;
The risk of making bald assertions without qualification is underlined by the survey’s other finding that despite the apparent strong lift in employment, the number of unemployed in Northland fell by only about 100 during the same 12 months.
It is refreshing that some in the media are finally starting to pick up the mendacities of this government. Key and his cronies are simply not be be trusted and every utterance they make should be fact-checked.
If an openly pro-National columnist understands that the governments claims are bogus, it should not be beyond the abilities of other journalists to undertake basic research as well. There is simply no excuse; the information is readily available through search engines.
Even Cameron Slater has picked up on National’s blatant propagandising and seems less than impressed.
As I blogged in early February;
If the last six years have shown us one thing, it is that the next scandal and revelations of dodgy ministerial practices and inept Prime Ministerial behaviour is not too far away.
The media are alerted. The public now have some awareness of dirty politics behind the scenes. And journalists are starting to exercise a form of collective memory.
It is said that the public no longer care about politics, and that Key has “de-politicised” it. But, like the continuing bad stories that finally destroyed Jenny Shipley’s government, continuing negatives stories can have a corrosive effect on this government.
The more times Key is caught out lying or being tricky with the truth or breaking promises – the more that the public will slowly but surely distrust his “brand”.
The loss of Northland will not only be damaging to the National government, it will be the clearest indication yet that the value of “Brand Key” has been irrevocably tarnished and diminished.
This will be Key’s final term in office.
National Party: Strong economic performance in Northland
Statistics NZ: […] Definitions
Previous related blogposts
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 16 March 2015.
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Graphic courtesy of The Daily Blog
A few reasons why our debt skyrocketed from 2008 onwards…
1. The Global Financial Crisis, which reduced corporate turnover and export receipts, thereby lowering the company tax take;
2. Two tax cuts (2009 and 2010) reduced government revenue, thereby necessitating borrowing more from offshore to make up the difference. In essence, we borrowed from other peoples’ saving to put more money in our (mostly top incomer earners) pockets.
Using Parliament Library information, the Greens have estimated that this involved borrowing an extra couple of billion each year.
3. National could have kept Debt down by investing in job creation. Key’s cycleway project was promised to create 4,500 new jobs – it failed spectacularly.
Instead, job creation was largely left to “the market”, which itself was having to engage in mass redundancies for businesses to survive the economic downturn.
Ironically, part of our current economic “boom” is predicated on the Christchurch re-build – evidence that had National engaged in a mass housing construction programme in 2009, after it held it’s mostly ineffectual “Jobs Summit”, we would have;
A. Maintained higher employment,
B. Paid out less in welfare,
C. Persuaded more New Zealanders to stay home and not go to Australia to find work,
D. Addressed the current housing crisis we now have.
As usual, National’s short-sightedness; irresponsible 2008 election year tax-cut bribes; and misguided reliance on market forces resulted in New Zealand borrowing more than we really needed to.
NZ Herald: Govt borrowing $380m a week
Scoop media: Govt’s 2010 tax cuts costing $2 billion and counting
NZ Parliament: Government Proposals—Cycleway and Nine-day Working Fortnight
NZ Herald: Cycleway jobs fall short
Statistics NZ: Employment and Unemployment – March 2008 Quarter
Statistics NZ: Household Labour Force Survey: September 2012 quarter
Fairfax NZ: Jobs summit ‘fails to deliver’
Fairfax media: Public debt climbs by $27m a day
Fairfax media: Budget 2014: The essential guide
Previous related blogposts
Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes
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- Focus on Politics -
- Friday 21 February 2014 -
- Brent Edwards -
A weekly analysis of significant political issues.
Friday after 6:30pm and Saturday at 5:10pm
Disagreement about how to reduce poverty and inequality is looming as one of the big debates of election year.
Click to listen: Focus on Politics for 21 February 2014 ( 16′ 38″ )
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