Labour negative on labour

August 27, 2014

Labour’s campaign on positivity took several hits at the ASB finance spokespeople’s debate in Queenstown last night.

The worst was from its finance spokesman David Parker in response to a question on immigration when he said:

“I don’t think that in a world that needs less labour the answer is more labour.”

He then went on to talk about low value immigrants, was pulled up by the chair Duncan Garner and tried to turn it into immigrants doing low value jobs.

Then he repeated what he’d already said that in a world with a decreasing need for labour because of technology the answer wasn’t more labour.

That is an extraordinarily ignorant statement which shows no understanding of how an economy and the job market works.

It also demonstrates a depressingly negative attitude from a party which obviously doesn’t understand wealth creation.

Businesses go and others come, jobs go and others come and in a growing economy more come than go.

They might be different jobs and will need differing levels of skill and receive differing levels of pay, but they will be jobs.

Finance Minister Bill English made that point by saying that we will need 150,000 people to fill the jobs that will be created.

Parker presumably meant labour with a small l but look at his sentence with a big L:

I don’t think that in a world that needs less Labour the answer is more Labour.

Now that’s positive.


Labour lacks ambition for Otago

August 22, 2014

Labour is promising to create 3000 jobs a year for Otago which shows a distinct lack of ambition when compared with job growth over recent years:

David Cunliffe has committed to short-changing Otago on the job front with his pledge today to create 3000 more jobs in the region if elected, National’s Economic Development spokesman Steven Joyce says.

“In his press release today, Mr Cunliffe announced that Labour’s policies would create 3,000 more jobs in Otago in the next three years. However that would be a major slowdown on job growth achieved in the last five years,” Mr Joyce says.

“In the last five years our policy mix has seen 23,000 extra jobs created in the Otago region according to Statistics New Zealand. That’s an average of 4,600 jobs a year. Mr Cunliffe is proposing to cut that growth rate by nearly 80 per cent with his ‘economic upgrade’.

“On the one hand I understand Mr Cunliffe’s lack of ambition. A Labour-Greens government with at least four big extra taxes and large amounts of extra spending and the high interest rates that go with it would be a massive drag on the Otago economy.

“On the other hand, with their policy prescription I think they would struggle to even create the extra 1000 jobs a year he suggests.

“Under this Government Otago’s unemployment rate has dropped to 3.3 per cent – one of the lowest in the country.

“And great Otago companies are flat out creating the Innovation and Knowledge Centre Mr Cunliffe says he wants to create.

“Mr Cunliffe is struggling under the weight of his own lack of knowledge about what is happening in the region.

“I suspect that once Otago people compare their economic performance under this government with Mr Cunliffe’s prescription, they will likely tell him to keep his ‘economic upgrade’.”

The Otago unemployment rate is now at about 3.5%.

That’s getting down to the unemployable – those who either can’t or won’t work for a variety of reasons.

One reason for that is government policies and the economic climate, including low interest rates, have given businesses the confidence to invest and expand.

But that confidence will be severely dented by the anti-business, anti-progress policies Labour and its coalition partners – the Green, New Zealand First and Internet Mana parties would impose on us.

They are threatening us with more and higher taxes, greater compliance costs, less flexible employment laws, higher KiwiSaver contributions, higher interest rates . . .

None of those is conducive to business growth and the jobs which rely on it.


Rural round-up

August 21, 2014

Increases for fish stocks show success of QMS:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced increases to catch limits for a range of New Zealand fisheries today, thanks to healthy stock levels.

“This shows the success of our world-leading Quota Management System (QMS). It is flexible and driven by science, which means that we can increase take as stock levels improve,” Mr Guy says.

Healthy stocks have led to increased Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits for:

• Hoki 1 (10,100 extra tonnes across New Zealand)
• Orange Roughy 7A (1155 extra tonnes on the upper West Coast)
• Orange Roughy 3B (525 extra tonnes around the lower South Island) . . .

Just what the doctor ordered, no way or only a matter of time? - Allan Barber:

There are three possible responses to the prospect of an overseas, probably Chinese, investor buying seriously into the New Zealand meat industry: bring it on, not on your life or it’s inevitable.

So far Chinese interests have recently bought a minority stake in Blue Sky Meats and an application to buy Prime Range Meats is with the Overseas Investment Office; ANZCO is just under 75% Japanese owned with New Zealand management and staff holding the balance. ANZCO’s ownership structure has remained like this for over 25 years bringing positive benefits to the company, its suppliers and New Zealand as a whole. . . .

Back to the future? – Andrew Hoggard:

I am going to propose something provocative.  The big long term issue for us isn’t going to be water but will be employment and occupational health and safety. 

While the mention of water and farming gets some people worked up, the truth will eventually break through the spin and I think we are just starting to see this.  When it comes to employment matters though, our industries have been named by the government’s Worksafe NZ as the most dangerous.  Another part of government says a big minority of employers aren’t meeting basic employment law obligations.

If that’s not enough, we’re fully in the crosshairs of the Council of Trade Unions too. . .

It’s a super trim season yes, but milk and disaster, no – Chris Lewis:

Do you know that in the first half of 2014, the amount of global tradable milk grew by an amazing seven billion litres.  That’s enough milk to fill 2,800 extra Olympic sized swimming pools and it was available for export.  It goes to explain why Fonterra cut this season’s forecast payout by a $1 per kilogram of milksolids (kg/MS).

It would be nice if our politicians realised that farmers have good and bad seasons but they don’t.  All the spending promises seem to assume we’re constantly swimming in greenbacks.  We aren’t.  It is also why anyone, whether a Kiwi or a foreigner, who looks at a farm like a get rich quick property scheme will likely end up come a cropper. 

A farm is your business and your home.  This is why farmers are passionate about what we do and that makes us go the extra mile.  It is why I take exception to the line ‘milk and disaster’ being applied to dairy.  It is super trim season yes, but milk and disaster, no. It is great to see the latest GlobalDairyTrade average still in the US$3,000 a metric ton range but that slight 0.6 percent fall means we are on exactly US$3,000. . .

 High pin bones too prevalent in NZ – Yvonne O’Hara:

New Zealand has a rump angle problem, says Holstein Friesian classifier Denis Aitken.

As well as being a dairy farmer who is trying to retire, Mr Aitken, of Maungatua, is a member of the World Holstein Friesian Federation Type Harmonisation working group. He spent some time in Denmark attending its two-yearly meeting in May.

The working group was seeking to standardise or ”harmonise” 18 different physical traits in Holstein Friesians by classifying or precisely defining the ideal of each of those traits and promoting the evaluation system. . . .

Young Agricultural Professionals Are Driving Agricultural Development – Food Tank:

Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) is a global network of young agriculture and development professionals who are coming together to create innovative and sustainable agricultural development. YPARD enables its young members to share knowledge and information, participate in meetings and debates, promote agriculture among young people, and organize workshops.

Food Tank interviewed Rebeca Souza, a YPARD representative in Brazil, to discover what YPARD members have been accomplishing.

Food Tank (FT): How did you become a representative for YPARD?

Rebeca Souza (RS): Last year, I was doing an internship at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Three other interns and I decided to organize an event calling on young professionals to share innovative ideas to overcome world hunger and malnutrition. YPARD was one of our partners, and Courtney Paisley, the director, was attending our event. I came to her asking if I could be a country representative in Brazil since no one was appointed to this position yet. She said yes! . . .

 


Unemployment trending down

August 7, 2014

Unemployment has been lagging behind other positive economic indicators but it is now trending down:

More people are working and unemployment has fallen to 5.6 percent according to the latest figures from Statistics New Zealand.

“We continue to see more people move into employment and although the participation rate has dropped from a peak last quarter, it is still at an historically high level,” labour market and households statistics manager Diane Ramsay said. “The unemployment rate fell from a revised 5.9 percent to 5.6 percent and is the lowest it has been since the March 2009 quarter.”

Annually, the number of people employed rose 3.7 percent in the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). Employment growth in Canterbury accounted for almost half of the total national employment growth over the year. In the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES), demand for workers from established businesses rose 2.3 percent.

Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index (LCI) salary and wage rates (including overtime), increased 1.7 percent compared with annual consumer price inflation of 1.6 percent. Average ordinary time hourly earnings (QES) rose 2.5 percent over the year.

“Annual wage inflation edged up and this was driven by private sector annual wage rate growth of 1.8 percent – influenced by the minimum wage increasing 3.6 percent. Public sector annual wage rate growth was unchanged at 1.2 percent,” Ms Ramsay said. . .

National’s policies are working for New Zealand and resulting in more people working:

Unemployment has fallen to 5.6 per cent – its lowest level since the March 2009 quarter.

Today’s Household Labour Force Survey shows the number of people employed increased by 83,000 over the last year.

“These results show the continued strength of the New Zealand economy as we continue to recover from the twin blows of the Global Financial Crisis and the Canterbury earthquakes,” Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.

“It is particularly pleasing to see young people benefitting from our economic growth with 11,300 more 15-19 year olds in employment in the last year. The  15-19 years NEET rate is down to 7.4 per cent in the quarter which is its lowest level since prior to the GFC in mid-2008.”

Other highlights of today’s HLFS release include employment for Pasifika people rising by 19.3 per cent in the past year – the largest annual movement since the series began in December 2007. The Maori employment rate is up 2.8 per cent over the same period.

New Zealand’s unemployment rate continues to be lower than most OECD countries and is now the 9th lowest in the OECD, and better than Australia, the US and the UK. The average unemployment rate across the OECD is 7.4 per cent.

Mr Joyce said today’s data also showed that wages continue to grow ahead of inflation with average weekly wages up 2.7 per cent over the year, compared with inflation of 1.6 per cent.

“The challenge now is to continue to build on this momentum so we have consistent and sustained economic performance that really lifts the opportunities for and incomes of New Zealanders over the longer term,” Mr Joyce says.

“The Government is continuing to work hard through its Business Growth Agenda to implement policies that encourage businesses across the country to invest and grow, and hire more people.”

 

Unemployment has fallen to 5.6 per cent in the June 2014 quarter as we recover from the Global Financial Crisis and Canterbury earthquakes, and with 170,000 more jobs forecast by mid-2018 it's projected to fall even further. ntnl.org.nz/1pBy9CR #Working4NZ
 

 

Unemployment has high economic and social costs for the individuals without jobs and the wider community.

Both the increase in the number of people in the workforce and the reduction in unemployment are good for the people involved and the country.

the trend is improving but there is still work to be done and it needs a National-led government to do it.

We can’t afford to change from the policies which are working for New Zealand and New Zealanders  to those promoted by Labour and the rag-tag bunch of wee parties it would need to prop it up in government.

They will increase the costs and complexities of employing people which will threaten existing jobs and put hurdles in the way of creating new ones.


Give with one hand, take with other

August 5, 2014

Labour has come up with similar ideas on youth employment to National with a much higher price tag:

The Labour Party’s skills and training policy for young people largely follows the Government’s ideas, only with a more expensive price tag, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.

“National has a very comprehensive programme for young people and has introduced the Youth Guarantee, Trades Academies, Maori and Pasifika Trades Training Initiatives, Vocational Pathways, New Zealand Apprenticeships, the Apprenticeship Reboot, the Youth Services programme and the Flexi-wage wage subsidy,” Mr Joyce says.

“Under National, the 15-19 year old NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) rate is already down to an average of 8.2 per cent over the last year which is similar to before the Global Financial Crisis. Our comprehensive set of youth training programmes will get it down further as the economy recovers.”

Mr Joyce says the only substantive change Labour seems to be suggesting is to swap out Military Style Activity Camps for Conservation Corps.

“Labour is proposing to take the most serious, hard core repeat youth offenders on bushwalks,” Mr Joyce says.

“Other than that, Labour’s policy is an almost exact mimic of what the Government’s already doing, except Labour would re-brand some of it and spend an extra $183 million paying for it.

“This is becoming a pattern for Labour. In these key policy areas, they simply haven’t been doing the work so they don’t know what is already going on.”

Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows says Labour’s proposals to scrap Military Style Activity Camps (MAC Camps) without any alternative plan show they are prepared to turn their backs on serious youth offenders.

The camps, established by the National Government in 2010, take up to 40 of the most serious and persistent young offenders each year.

“Military Style Activity Camps were created to help serious young offenders get back onto the right track before they end up in jail,” says Mr Borrows.

“They are not ‘Boot Camps’, but place intensive support around the young offenders, including the discipline and positive role-modelling provided by the New Zealand Defence Force as well as education, rehabilitation, drug, alcohol and anger-management counselling.”

The most recent results show 79 per cent of MAC graduates reduce their rate of offending.  Of those who do reoffend in some way, 81 per cent offend at a less serious level, including a 53 per cent reduction in violent offending.

“No reoffending is acceptable, but anyone who thinks they have a magic solution to stop these young people offending entirely is dreaming,” says Mr Borrows.

“These are some of our most serious young offenders, so any reduction in their future offending means fewer victims, and is a huge success.”

MAC Camps are part of the broader success in reducing youth crime, which has fallen by 30 per cent since June 2011, already ahead of the Better Public Services target of 25 per cent by June 2017.

“The National Government is serious about reducing youth crime, and our policies, including MAC Camps, are delivering tangible results,” says Mr Borrows.

“Labour’s promise to scrap them, without any alternative for these young people, shows they have already consigned them to a life of crime, prison, and creating victims.  Labour might be willing to give up on these kids, but we won’t.”

He added in a Facebook post:

. . . Either they want to cut MAC and give up on these young offenders; or they want to give them a machete and send them off into the bush, with no regard for their complex health, rehabilitation and education needs, or for public safety. Complete madness either way!

Labour’s policy is here and while it says what it will give, it omits what it will take.

They are promising a $9100 subsidy to employers to take on an apprentice.

Employers who take an apprentice straight from the dole queue, with no 90-day trial, they have to pay them the higher minimum wage Labour will impose $16.25 an hour – or higher if a National Award applies.

The minimum wage of $16.25 immediately wipes $4160 off the subsidy.

Employers who are contractors working on Government projects, such as roads, would have to pay the new apprentices a Living Wage of more than $18 an hour.

That would cost more than $12,000 a year – a lot more than Labour’s subsidy.

Employers would have to pay more in KiwiSaver contributions and also face higher and more taxes under Labour – including one on capital gains when they sold their business.

This is typical of Labour – giving a little with one hand but cancelling it out by taking more with the other.


Labour’s unemployment policy

July 31, 2014

Labour misnamed the employment policy it announced yesterday – it’s actually a recipe for increasing unemployment:

Labour’s intention to increase the minimum wage to two-thirds of the average wage would hurt business, cost jobs and reduce growth, Labour Minister Simon Bridges says.

“Labour’s policy to immediately increase the minimum wage to $16.25 would cost at least 6,000 jobs, and a wage of $18 would cost around 16,500. If you want to make people unemployed this is a good way to go about it,” Mr Bridges says.

“Setting the minimum wage represents a careful balance between protecting low-paid workers and ensuring jobs are not lost. You cannot legislate your way to higher wages with the stroke of a pen.

“If it’s not based on increased productivity, simply paying people higher wages is a cost that gets passed on to New Zealanders as higher taxes, reduced competitiveness, inflation and fewer jobs.

“Labour’s promise to scrap National’s successful 90-day trial legislation would also cost thousands of jobs. Research showed that a third of employers who used the trial period would not have hired a new employee without it. And an overwhelming majority of employers have kept staff on after the trial period ended.

“As for Labour’s promise to pay all core public service workers at least the Living Wage: why should core government employees — who only represent about two per cent of the workforce — earn more than a private sector employee doing a similar job?

“Labour’s promise to implement industry standard agreements is a return to the 1970s and is a cynical payback to the Unions for their support.

“It would require all regional employers to pay the same pay rates as one in downtown Auckland. That would cause real damage to regional economies.

“This Government is achieving strong job growth by operating flexible labour market policies that encourage employers to take on new workers.

“Flexibility, choice and fairness in the labour market helps create jobs, increase wages and encourages innovation, and it is critical for supporting a stronger and more productive economy,” Mr Bridges says.

Labour is still suffering under the delusion that it can legislate wealth.

It doesn’t understand that increasing wages by diktat isn’t sustainable and anything that adds costs, complexity or risk to employing people will increase unemployment.


Rural round-up

July 23, 2014

Farming family demonstrate conservation message – Ann Warnock:

Dan Steele is a farmer, conservationist, competitive axeman, hunter, historian, lodge host, rugby fan and romantic who never dreamed he’d turn into a bird geek.

But at the age of 21, while wandering up the banks of the Kaiwhakauka Stream at Retaruke Station, his parents’ remote property on the Whanganui River, he spied a family of blue ducks (whio) and they unwittingly shaped the rest of his life.

“I love exploring and poking about up every stream; climbing every ridge. On this particular day I saw two adults with their five ducklings. The next time I saw them there were only three ducklings. Then there were none. I phoned the DOC ranger. They were endangered. It hit me; protecting the blue duck was part of the future of our land.” . . .

Boost for horticulture and viticulture industry:

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett and Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse have announced plans for a new programme aimed at getting more Kiwis into seasonal work, alongside an increase to the annual RSE cap.

Mr Woodhouse says the need to raise the cap on Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers from 8000 to 9000 demonstrates the success of the RSE scheme.

“There’s no doubt that the growth in the horticulture and viticulture industry in the past few years would not have been possible without RSE, which has been widely praised locally and internationally,” says Mr Woodhouse.

“It has provided employers with a stable and reliable workforce and given them confidence to expand and invest in their business. RSE workers have also benefitted significantly from gaining invaluable work experience and being able to send money back to their communities at home.’’ . . .

NZ Pacific encouraged for new Seasonal Worker Scheme:

Domestic Pacific workers can be as successful as overseas Pacific workers in the horticulture and viticulture industries says Pacific Island Affairs Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.
 
Mr Lotu-Iiga is encouraging employers to take up the New Zealand Seasonal Worker Scheme announced today by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett. The scheme will provide pastoral care and other support to assist Kiwis into seasonal work. Mrs Bennett also announced an increase to the Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) scheme. The scheme recruits seasonal workers from overseas to assist in the horticulture and viticulture industries where there are not enough New Zealand workers.
 
“I was in Marlborough in the weekend speaking to employers, Pacific RSE workers and domestic Pacific workers and I saw first-hand the benefits of Pacific people working in the wine industry,” says Mr Lotu-Iiga. . .

Pork industry joins GIA biosecurity agreement:

The Government and the commercial pork industry have committed to a partnership to strengthen biosecurity, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has announced today.

The Deed of the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) on Biosecurity Readiness and Response was signed by New Zealand Pork at its annual conference today.

“This enables New Zealand Pork and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to make joint decisions on biosecurity readiness and response activities. It means we can focus on the areas of greatest priority to the pork industry,” Mr Guy says.

“What it means in practice is a stronger, more effective biosecurity system. Those with a direct stake in biosecurity can now be directly involved in decision making and funding. . .

– Keith Woodford:

Last week I wrote about PGG Wrightson and the challenges it faces. For their seeds division there are clear strategic options, but for the farm services division, the long term strategy remains challenging. Part of the reason is the competition they are facing from the farm services co-operatives, with Farmlands now dominant in the sector.

Farmlands has 56,000 members and an annual turnover exceeding $2 billion. This is more than double the New Zealand farm services revenue of its major investor-owned competitor, PGG Wrightson. The aim of Farmlands is to keep prices low for its members. This ensures that its investor-oriented competitor also has to keep its margins low. . . .

The truth about grassfed beef – The Food Revolution Network:

A lot of people today, horrified by how animals are treated in factory farms and feedlots, and wanting to lower their ecological footprint, are looking for healthier alternatives. As a result, there is a decided trend toward pasture-raised animals. One former vegetarian, San Francisco Chronicle columnist Mark Morford, says he now eats meat, but only “grassfed and organic and sustainable as possible, reverentially and deeply gratefully, and in small amounts.”

Sales of grassfed and organic beef are rising rapidly. Ten years ago, there were only about 50 grassfed cattle operations left in the U.S. Now there are thousands.

How much difference does it make? Is grassfed really better? If so, in what ways, and how much? . . .

New Zealand Meat Exports October 2013 to June 2014:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following is a summary of the combined export statistics for the first nine months of the 2013-14 meat export season (1 October 2013 to 30 June 2014).

[All monetary values are in New Zealand dollars.]

Summary

Despite the high New Zealand dollar, particularly during the main export months of January to June, there was an increase in the average value for lamb, mutton and beef/veal. A smaller national lamb crop flowed through to reduced lamb export volumes. However, for only the fourth time in history, lamb exports exceeded $2 billion Free On Board (FOB) in the first nine months of a season.  . . .

New veterinary resource to manage disease in cattle associated with Theileria:

A new veterinary handbook on Theileria, developed by the Theileria Working Group and published by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), will help to ensure that veterinarians and their farmer clients are well prepared to manage the expected spring upsurge in infections with this important, new parasite of cattle.

The number of affected farms is expected to exceed those reported in the last two years with nearly 700 beef and dairy herds testing positive so far, with about a third of these occurring in the North Island this year.  . .

 Brown Re-Elected as Council Chairman for Third Term, Duncan Coull New Deputy Chair:

Fonterra Shareholders’ Council Chairman, Ian Brown has today been re-elected unopposed to the position for a third term.

Ian Brown: “I appreciate the support I continue to receive from Councillors and look forward to leading the Council for a further 12 months.”

Mr Brown is joined by first time Deputy Chair, Duncan Coull, also elected unopposed, who will take up his new role on 29 July for a 12 month term.
Mr Coull was elected to the Council in 2010 to represent Fonterra Farmers in Otorohanga and serves as the Chair of the Council’s Representation Committee. . . .


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