Cunliffe leaves race backs Little

October 14, 2014

David Cunliffe has pulled out of Labour’s leadership race and is backing Andrew Little to succeed him.

He says the decision to withdraw was a difficult one, and says he had been “under a lot of pressure to keep running”.

Mr Cunliffe will stay on as an MP in Parliament and made the decision to pull out last week. He said his decision was final.

“I believe I still have a useful role to play in the party and in the Labour movement and as MP for New Lynn.

I’ve really enjoyed the election campaign. I can look myself in the mirror and know that I gave absolutely everything to it and left it all on the track, and that’s what I think the party deserves.”

He says Mr Little has a strong vision for the party, and will bring “greater cohesion”.

“I have enormous respect for Andrew. I believe he is the right man for the job.”

Mr Cunliffe believes pulling out of the race is in the best interest of the Labour Party.

“I will be staunchly supportive of the party whoever the leader will be.” . . .

I’m not sure Cunliffe’s chances of winning the leadership contest were very good but had he done so it would have been a disaster for the party when so few in caucus supported him.

Whether those who don’t support him will take any notice of his support for Little will remain to be seen.

With three candidates remaining, Little, Grant Robertson and David Parker, and both David Shearer and Stuart Nash having contemplated running, that’s nearly a fifth of caucus with leadership aspirations.

The first challenge of whoever wins the race will be uniting his colleagues.


Whyte warns of Frankenstein monster

September 7, 2014

Act leader Jamie Whyte warns the parties of the left, including New Zealand First, could still get enough votes to form a government:

A Frankenstein Labour-Green-Internet-Mana-New Zealand First government may be unthinkable, but it is not impossible.  . .

If ACT succeeds, New Zealand will have three more years of stable center-right government. If we fail, New Zealand faces the prospect of a chaotic left-wing Frankenstein government.

It’s not pretty, but we should look at that monster.

Part of the monster – the crazy tangled mess of hair stitched onto the scalp – is the Internet-Mana party.

This is a party of hard-left socialists – Hone Harawera, Laila Harre, Annette Sykes and John Minto – funded by a convicted fraudster wanted for copyright violation in America.

Their lunatic policies include shutting down all the prisons (perhaps on the suggestion of their fugitive sponsor).

In a televised debate, Hone explained that prisons are unnecessary because if boys are sent on Kapa Haka courses, they commit no crimes.

If only they had Kapa Haka in Germany, Kim Dotcom would not be a wanted man!

As I said to Hone at the time, it’s a very nice idea. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Why don’t you send all the boys for Haka training and then, after the crime rate falls to zero, we will close the prisons. In the meantime, let’s keep them open – just in case you are wrong about the transformative power of Kapa Haka.

It’s not just Internet and Mana together or separately that’s the worry, it’s the puppet master Kim Dotcom who is funding them and pulling their strings.

The Greens are the monster’s face, grinning inanely below its swivel-eyes.

In the nicest possible way, they intend to force everyone to live as the Greens prefer. They will tax the things they don’t like, such dairy farming, and subsidize the things they do like, such as solar panel manufacturers.

The Greens are not so much a political party as a religious movement, worshipping snails and ferns and all that makes up Gaia, except us humans of course.

For the Greens, humans fall into two categories: the helpless, who smart green politicians must save, and the wicked, who smart green politicians must stop.

In virtue, and intellect, Russel Norman and Meteria Turei are so vastly superior to everyone else that it is their moral duty to subjugate us.

The lovely, soft green – with a small g – concern for the environment that many people find appealing camouflages a lot of hard red policies.

The big flabby torso of the monster is the Labour Party.

It was briefly a thing of beauty and strength. We have the Labour government of Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble to thank for the fact that New Zealand is not now a basket-case like Argentina.

But the Labour Party has gone horribly to seed.

Nothing reveals this more clearly than its finance spokesman, David Parker – the man who now occupies the position once held by the great Roger Douglas.

Mr Parker fancies himself the smartest boy in the fourth-form. But he has not even the weakest grip on basic economics.

At the recent Queenstown Chamber of Commerce political debate Mr Parker explained his party’s desire to reduce immigration to New Zealand. He claimed that economic output requires increasingly little labour to produce. So immigrants cause unemployment.

This nonsense has been peddled by economic fools since the invention of the weaving loom. In fact, I imagine it got started when someone first thought of killing animals with a sharp stick instead of bare hands.

For the sake of Mr Parker’s education, here is what really happens when workers become more productive. People produce and consume more.

And not just more of the same, but entirely new things. Even Mr Parker has surely noticed that, over the past 30 years, as worker productivity and the population have both risen, unemployment has not increased.

Instead, we are consuming more than we ever have. And we are consuming better goods and services than ever before.

Everyone, please, get your cell phones out and wave them in the air so that Mr Parker might understand.

That Parker is regarded as one of the more reasonable voices in Labour merely reflects the dearth of talent in its caucus.

Finally, we come to Winton Peters and his New Zealand First, the stumpy little legs of the monster. Little legs that remain idle for 2 years and 10 months out of every three years and then spend two months running around furiously kicking everyone in sight – foreigners, journalists, bankers, you name it: everyone except pensioners.

After all, it’s common sense.

That’s Winston’s slogan: it’s common sense.

I am not sure what “it” refers to but that doesn’t really matter. Because, as my old PhD supervisor used to say, “sense isn’t common”.

And there is no better example of this fact than Winston himself.

Winston’s big economic policy for this election is removing GST from food. That would reduce government revenue by 3 billion dollars.

But Winston has no plan to cut government spending by 3 billion dollars. On the contrary, he plans to increase government spending massively.

Where will he get all the money?

Winston’s answer: by cracking down on tax evasion.

Honestly. He claims that he can raise 7 billion by cracking down on tax evasion.

That’s not sense, common or otherwise. That’s bollocks.

When a politician tells you that he is going to fund his spending promises by cracking down on tax evasion, you know he is either a fool or a charlatan. And Winston ain’t no fool. . .

Labour is also trying convince us it would fund some of its expensive promises by cracking down on tax evasion.

Some people aren’t yet convinced to vote for a National-led government but these are compelling reasons to vote against a Labour-led one.


Compare the chairs

September 2, 2014

Duncan Garner chaired last week’s debate between the finance spokespeople for five parties.

He began by saying each speaker had three minutes to give a pitch and he’d accept interjections if they were witty.

The speakers largely abided by his rules and on the few occasions any tried to speak over another Garner quelled him.

On Sunday  Corin Dann chaired a debate between Finance Minister Bill English and Labour’s spokesman David Parker.

He kept control throughout, only rarely did one of the MPs try to talk over the other and Dann kept good control when that happened.

In both debates the audience heard almost every word the speakers said.

Contrast that with the Leaders’ Debate between Prime Minister John Key  and Labour’s David Cunliffe on Thursday.

Mike Hosking rarely seemed to be in control and let Cunliffe away with constant interruptions.

The result was he looked like a boor and it was difficult to hear what either he of the PM was saying.

I wondered if Hosking was worried about the perception of bias, Kerre McIvor does too:

. . . Moderator Mike Hosking could have been more aggressive himself.

There had been criticism from Labour over the choice of Hosking to chair the debate. It felt he had pinned his colours to the mast by introducing Key at a business meeting and exhorting those there to vote for him.

Perhaps Hosking felt a little hamstrung – if he pulled up Cunliffe too often, the accusations of bias would appear to have some justification. . .

That a debate could have a strong influence on how people vote is concerning.

But whether or not it does, it should allow the speakers to speak and the audience to hear what they say and it’s the chair’s role to ensure they do.

Not PC has some advice on a proper debate.

Garner and Dann showed how to do it.

The chairs in the remaining debates should follow their example.


They haven’t learned a thing

August 30, 2014

Labour and the Green Party are trying to pretend they would be good economic managers.

The cost of their policies puts the lie to that:

David Cunliffe and Labour have actually increased their new spending promises for the next four years to $18.4 billion, despite putting some of their proposals such as New Zealand Power on the never-never, National Party Finance Spokesman Bill English says.

“David Cunliffe and David Parker have again been caught out under-costing their expensive promises,” Mr English says. “This is irresponsible and deceptive and confirms that under David Cunliffe, Labour is reverting to its failed spend and tax recipe of the past.

“We saw what happened the last time around – under Labour in 2008, floating mortgage rates reached almost 11 per cent, inflation exceeded 5 per cent and the economy went into recession well before the global financial crisis.”

Labour’s latest costings attempt, which it released on Monday, confirm its untried New Zealand Power proposal, which would give politicians control of the electricity industry and push up power prices, would be postponed until 1 January 2018.

And in another example of it attempting to dress up its numbers, Labour has also pushed back free GP visits for over 65s and other groups to 1 January 2017.

“So while David Cunliffe is going around New Zealand making expensive promises, he is quietly pushing some of them back beyond two elections because he knows they are unaffordable,” Mr English says.

“But he has again failed to hide Labour’s real spending agenda because he has not added in promises made over the last two weeks.

“Even using Labour’s own numbers, the cost of its promises over the next four years is now $17.3 billion – up from its claimed $16.4 billion when it first attempted to cost its policies.

“But when the real costs of its proposed R&D tax credit, compulsory KiwiSaver and New Zealand Power are included, the tally jumps to $18.4 billion – up from around $18 billion the last time around.

“As Labour’s numbers come under scrutiny, they keep changing them,” Mr English says. “David Cunliffe has tried to say he would spend less, but when you add it all up he is actually spending more.”

Labour Party Election 2014 Spending Announcements – as at 27 August 2014
Four year costings as per Labour documents unless noted

$m
27-Jan-14 Best Start Policy 614
27-Jan-14 Extended Paid Parental Leave 245
27-Jan-14 Maternity Policies 50
27-Jan-14 Early Childhood Education Announcements 352
19-Mar-14 Forestry Policy 28
14-Apr-14 Bowel Screening Programme 56
23-Apr-14 Veterans Pension Extension 37
23-Jun-14 Canterbury Policies 116
25-Jun-14 R & D Tax Credit* 1,079
25-Jun-14 Accelerated Depreciation 210
25-Jun-14 Universal KiwiSaver** 845
25-Jun-14 NZ Power*** 566
25-Jun-14 KiwiBuild 1,527
25-Jun-14 KiwiBuild Finance Costs 176
2-Jul-14 School Donation Policy 175
3-Jul-14 Family & Sexual Violence Policies 60
5-Jul-14 Digital Devices in Schools 120
5-Jul-14 Reading Recovery 140
5-Jul-14 Food in Schools 70
11-Jul-14 ICT policies 17
22-Jul-14 Regional Investment Fund 200
24-Jul-14 Digital and Connectivity Policy 21
30-Jul-14 Living wage for Public Sector 94
31-Jul-14 Centres of Vocational Excellence 40
4-Aug-14 Youth Employment Package 182
6-Aug-14 Primary Healthcare 150
8-Aug-14 ACC 40
10-Aug-14 Free Doctors’ Visits 540
18-Aug-14 Tertiary Education (incl ACE) 130
20-Aug-14 Aged Care 222
22-Aug-14 Welfare Policy 78
24-Aug-14 Immediate Funding of City Rail Link**** 800
25-Aug-14 Other Education Initiatives 45
25-Aug-14 Other Smaller Initiatives 80
25-Aug-14 Maintain Real Value of Spending in Public Services 9,000
25-Aug-14 Policy Soon to be Announced 289
Total Announced Spending Pledges 18,394

*Adjusted to reflect Treasury’s forecast costs of the previous R & D Tax credit
**Adjusted to include the average Kiwisaver tax credit paid to new Kiwisaver members
***Adjusted to remove the claimed fiscal offset for wider benefits in one part of the economy that ignores wider costs elsewhere
****Labour says it would reprioritise existing transport spend but most of first 4 yrs committed/contracted

Note: some costs differ from the original Labour releases as a result of fiscal tables released 25 August.

This is only the cost of its spending.

It doesn’t take into account the cost of poor economic management, higher and extra taxes, higher interest rates, a greater burden of government and all the other hand brakes a Labour/Green?New Zealand First.Internet Mana government would impose on the country.

Higher spending and higher taxes didn’t work for New Zealand under the last Labour-led government and it won’t work if voters are conned into trusting another one.

Hopefully voters have learned what works for New Zealand and New Zealanders because Labour and its mismatched mates haven’t.

 

In their last five years in government, Labour’s spending increased by 50%, pushing mortgage rates to 11%, causing inflation to exceed 5%, and putting the economy into recession well before the global financial crisis. Now they want to make the same mistakes all over again.


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.


Peters scared of Craig

August 27, 2014

The Queenstown ASB debate between the finance spokespeople for five parties attracted a sell-out crowd last night.

debate

The photo shows, chair Duncan Garner, Finance Minister Bill English for National, Conservative leader Colin Craig, Labour’s David Parker, Act’s Jamie Whyte and Green Russel Norman.

Duncan Garner said that the Maori Party declined the invitation, Mana didn’t reply and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters refused to come if Craig was there.

The chair gave each speaker three minutes to give a pitch then gave them a few questions before taking questions from the floor.

Labour’s trying to campaign on being positive but its finance spokesman started by being negative about the economy and the outlook.

Jamie Whyte started by quoting Adam Smith:

Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of opulence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice: all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things.

He also asked who’s going to make better decisions – someone putting their own money at risk in search of profit of someone using other people’s money in search of votes?

Duncan Garner asked him to name one Green policy he agreed with and he said he couldn’t think of one.

The question Duncan Garner put to Russel Norman at the end of his three minutes was whether he could say something good about the Finance Minister and he said he’d been very responsible.

Colin Craig rattled through his policy which includes tax cuts at the lower end.

The chair asked him to say whether he’d go with National or Labour if he had the choice after the election. He said National because the party would have the most votes.

Clutha Southland MP Bill English got the biggest welcome from his home crowd.

He started by giving people the credit for their resilience, responsible and work and how important that was because the economy doesn’t just exist in an office in Wellington, it’s what people do.

That, in partnership with National-led government’s careful management of public finances, had put New Zealand back on the right track.

He said we now have a platform built on our resilience the positive encouragement from government and the most positive Prime Minister New Zealand has had that will allow us to have sustainable growth.

“You have set that direction and we can keep it,” he said.

There’s a video of the debate here.


Labour too late to look responsible

August 26, 2014

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce sums up Labour’s announcement it’s dropping some yet unannounced policies:

Finance Minister Bill English isn’t convinced either:

It’s too late for Labour to try to look responsible with taxpayers’ money when it has publicly committed to four years of new spending with almost a month to run before the election, National Party Finance Spokesman Bill English says.

“Labour is desperately trying to make its big spending commitments look smaller, and has decided to not even put costings on its big spending tertiary and transport commitments.

“Neither David Cunliffe nor David Parker could this morning actually list which of their expensive spending promises would be delayed in what was a failed attempt to appear fiscally prudent.

“Labour would return to their high spending ways, with at least an $18 billion list of new spending commitments,” Mr English says.

“That’s before you add the Greens’ promises to spend an additional $10 billion over the next four years. Then then there’s the wish list of support partner the Dotcom party, which wants to spend billions more on free tertiary education and community make-work schemes.

“Whatever Labour presents now would be up for negotiation in coalition talks where the Greens would have considerable sway – not to mention concessions demanded by Dotcom.

“On top of that, the Greens and Labour are arguing over their numbers. The Greens say they want Labour’s numbers independently audited – and for good reason.  And as we saw from the weekend, they can’t even agree fairly basic stuff like where the two of them think the top personal tax rate should be.

“The last time we saw this sort of approach, New Zealand taxpayers and families were the losers, with high deficits, a stalling economy and mortgage interest rates at nearly 11 per cent. New Zealand simply can’t afford the Labour/Greens/Dotcom coalition,” Mr English says.

High tax, high spending policies under the last Labour-led government put the country into recession before the rest of the world and left us with a forecast for a decade of deficits.

If they couldn’t manage the books responsibly in good times, they’ll have no show of exercising the restraint needed to ensure we keep on the road to recovery from bad times.

 


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