Wrong side of the line

March 23, 2014

Opposition parties have to tread a fine line between attacks aimed at the government and those which could damage anyone, and anything, caught in the crossfire.

Has Labour got on the wrong side of the line with their on-going fuss over Judith Collins and Oravida while Prime Minsiter John Key ahs been in China?

But the Opposition has been determined to try to ensure Key does not get to politically bank the positives from the deepening bilateral relationship.

This is a mistake, especially given Labour’s own groundbreaking role in forging bilateral ties with China.

Helen Clark – with her profound understanding of international politics and intuitive approach to cementing deals with political leaders of a vastly different ideological mindset – played the diplomatic pathfinder role.

It was Clark’s Government that took the political risk of hurting New Zealand’s relationship with that other great power, the United States, by making significant concessions over China’s “market economy status” to negotiate the free trade deal. Clark Government ministers Phil Goff and Jim Sutton were at the cutting edge. Their negotiations enjoyed bilateral support from then Opposition trade spokesman Tim Groser.

It is a great pity that this “New Zealand Inc” approach has now been deliberately thrown out the window by Opposition politicians out to make domestic political advantage in election year. . .

National and Labour used to have a fair degree of consensus over trade and its importance. In the past week Labour has put political opportunism first.

New Zealand exporters were pleased Key was able to make time after his Xi dinner for photo opportunities with their Chinese clients at Wednesday night’s Celebration of Dairy dinner.

The event kicked on – as they tend to – elsewhere at the Four Seasons hotel and in various nightspots around Beijing.

Here’s the thing: New Zealand exporters are scathing of the Opposition’s timing of the Oravida revelations. Beijing expats retain deep suspicions that in the first place, some “low-level” Foreign Affairs official leaked details of Cabinet minister Judith Collins’ off-schedule meetings with Stone Shi’s Oravida in October, and that the Opposition sat on the issue until the eve of the Prime Minister’s China trip to inflict maximum political damage while he was overseas.

Political foes might be fair game but exporters are not and this timing looks suspiciously like it wasn’t a coincidence.

The upshot is that, yet again, a positive diplomatic foray by Key has been overshadowed by domestic politics.

Collins’ links with the company of which her husband is a director needs to be examined.

But Labour’s decision to rain on Key’s parade is not only short-sighted but mean-spirited.

If Labour wins the next election it will be the beneficiary of Key’s China-related diplomacy in the same way that the Prime Minister has benefited from Clark’s visionary moves.

Reflect on that.

There’s not just political benefits for whichever parties are in government after the election, there’s trade gains to be made with the economic and social gains that come from that which political opportunism from the opposition could have derailed.


Respect’s the key

March 22, 2014

ACC Minister Judith Collins says respect is the key to tackling sexual violence.

She was announcing a new school-based pilot project funded by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) as part of its new focus on preventing sexual violence.

“Sexual violence has a significant effect on victims and families, resulting in substantial physical and mental health issues as well as social problems like poverty, addiction and suicide,” Ms Collins says.

“Encouraging a culture of respect is one of the most effective ways we can help to prevent sexual and dating violence. This pilot programme will teach young people the value of having healthy relationships based on respect, negotiation and consent.”

Recently ACC has made sexual violence prevention part of its core business focus and its first initiative in this area is a school-based pilot programme focussed on fostering healthy and respectful relationships.

In 2012/13, ACC spent $44 million on services for about 15,000 sensitive claims – the majority of which are related to sexual violence.

“There is some great work already being done by the sexual violence sector in schools but there is also recognition that we need to ensure these programmes have better national coordination, are consistent in content and ensure the best coverage possible,” Ms Collins says.

The school based programme is being developed with an Advisory Group made up of sexual violence sector representatives, interested community groups, government agencies and specialist academics, with input from students, parents and teachers. The programme will be a part of a wider programme of work led by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett.

The programme is still in its early stages of development and there will be further announcements on the specific content, providers, and schools that will be piloted in the third school term this year.

This programme will have to work hard to combat the many media messages which teach people to neither respect themselves nor others.

It is designed to help prevent violence. Legislation is also underway to protect people after a crime has been committed with a Bill creating a new order to protect victims of serious violent and sexual offences passing its second reading in Parliament this week.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says the Victims’ Orders Against Violent Offenders Bill creates a new non-contact order to help reduce the likelihood of serious violent and sexual offenders coming into contact with their victims.

“This Government has made perfectly clear its commitment to putting victims at the heart of our criminal justice system. This Bill is one more way to ensure victims feel safe and protected from further offending,” Ms Collins says. 

The order would prohibit the offender from contacting the victim in any way and could ban the offender from living, or working in a particular area.

“This Bill recognises that victims are forced to relive these serious ordeals and suffer on-going effects when they come into contact with their offenders. The proposed new order will help to safeguard and give peace of mind to victims and where necessary, place more restrictive conditions on an offender.”

The provisions added to the Bill today include:

  • orders can be applied to a person who has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for a specified violent or sexual offence (rather than the five year threshold proposed in the original Bill)
  • non-contact orders can be extended to cover an offender’s associates, where the offender encourages the associate to engage in prohibited behaviour that would harm the victim’s recovery
  • victims can apply for an order at any time after sentencing.

Ms Collins acknowledges the Law and Order Committee and thanked those who made submissions on the Bill.

The Government expects to pass the Victims’ Orders Against Violent Offenders Bill by the end of 2014.

Photo: National is delivering on its promise to put victims at the heart of our justice system - www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=43384


Another poll confirms the trend

March 18, 2014

Support for he Labour Party is below 30% in the latest Herald DigiPoll survey:

Labour’s support has sunk nearly six points and it is polling only 29.5 per cent in the Herald-DigiPoll survey.

The popularity of leader David Cunliffe has fallen by almost the same amount, to 11.1 per cent. That is worse than the 12.4 per cent worst rating of former leader David Shearer.

National could govern alone with 50.8 per cent if the poll were translated to an election result.

The popularity of John Key as Prime Minister has climbed by 4.6 points to 66.5 per cent. That is his best rating since the election but not as high as he reached in his first term when he often rated more than 70 against Phil Goff.

The increases in support for National and the Greens since December put them at their highest ratings since the 2011 election.

The Greens are up 2.3 points to 13.1 per cent and with Labour would muster a combined 42.6 per cent.

New Zealand First is down slightly to 3.6 per cent but leader Winston Peters’ ratings as preferred Prime Minister at 6.5 per cent suggest the party could still top the 5 per cent threshold required to get MPs under MMP without requiring an electorate seat.

Other polls have shown a decline in Labour’s fortunes this year but today’s is the first to have Labour in the 20s since Mr Cunliffe took over the leadership from Mr Shearer in September last year. . .

Polling began on March 6, in the midst of the fallout over his use of trusts for donations.

But it continued through last week when Mr Key condemned minister Judith Collins for her failure to declare a dinner in Beijing with her husband’s business associates. . . .

The last fortnight was dire for Labour and last week wasn’t good for National, but maybe it’s only political tragics who are really interested in these issues.

Mr Key said the poll was a confirmation that a majority of New Zealanders believe the country is heading in the right direction “but clearly there is a lot more work to be done if we are to create the jobs and increase the living standards that New Zealanders want to see”. . . 

Asked if the issue of Mr Cunliffe’s of Ms Collins non-declarations would have affected the poll, he said: “Voters weigh up a great many factors when considering who to support but I continue to believe the strongest motivation is when a political party is focused on the issues that really matter to voters.” . . .

Individual polls bounce around but this one confirms the trend which shows National and its leader are popular, Labour and its leader aren’t.

There’s just six months until the election.

That’s time enough for National to slip a few points and make it difficult to form a coalition.

But it’s not a lot of time for Labour to climb out of the doldrums and convince voters it could offer good governance and stability with the collection of support parties it would need.


Explosion or erosion

March 13, 2014

Yesterday morning Chris Trotter called the election for National unless something hugely dramatic happens between now and polling day.

In the afternoon Justice Minister Judith Collins had to apologise for not being as open as she should have been about her trip to China.

This morning, the Reserve Bank  is expected to announce an increase in the Official Cash Rate which will lead to an increase in interest rates.

That won’t come as any surprise when the OCR has been at a record low of 2.5% since March 2011.

It will be welcomed by those who get income from interest-bearing investments. It won’t be appreciated by the many more who have mortgages, even though interest rates will still be well below the 11% we were paying when Labour lost the 2008 election.

Neither of these are hugely dramatic and are unlikely by themselves to have much impact on the polls when Labour continues to be divided internally and confused about which coalition partners it would choose.

The odds still favour National, but when even a day can make a big difference, six months is time for an even bigger one.

Erosion over time can do as much damage as an explosion.


What matters

February 25, 2014

While sideshows get attention, what really matters are the basics: the economy, education, health, welfare and security.

An important ingredient in personal security is a low crime rate and the news on that is improving:

Crime and reoffending continues to fall according to the latest progress report on Better Public Service (BPS) to September 2013, Justice Minister Judith Collins announced today.

“Increased collaboration between the Ministry of Justice, Police, Corrections and Courts means the Justice sector is making excellent progress and is well on track to meet, and even exceed its targets by 2017,” Ms Collins says.

“Since June 2011, the total crime rate has fallen 13 per cent, the violent crime rate has fallen 9 per cent, the youth crime rate has fallen 22 per cent and the reoffending rate is down 11.4 per cent.

“Crime is at a 33 year low and we have the opportunity to keep doing what works and finding new and innovative ways to prevent crime from occurring in the first place.”

BPS targets for the justice sector are to reduce the total recorded crime rate by 15 per cent, the recorded violent crime rate by 20 per cent and the youth crime and re-offending rate by 25 per cent by 2017.

Ms Collins says the sector is also continuing efforts to strengthen support for victims of crime to make sure they remain at the heart of our justice system.

“We’ve embarked on a comprehensive programme of reform to protect communities, prevent crime, and put victims first, with levies on offenders, new laws, and new services for victims,” Ms Collins says.

“We’re staying tough on criminals, keeping record numbers of Police on the beat, and ensuring the justice system focuses on the rights of victims and is more accessible for those who need to use it.”

Today’s results show that in the year to September 2013, 51,553 fewer recorded crimes have been experienced by New Zealanders than in the year to June 2011.

Ms Collins acknowledges the Ministry of Justice, Police and Corrections and her Justice sector ministerial colleagues for their continued commitment to making New Zealand safe.

Better Public Service (BPS) graphic 1
Better Public Service (BPS) graphic 1
Better Public Service (BPS) graphic 2

There are both social and economic benefits to crime reduction.

Fewer crimes means fewer victims, fewer people in prison, more people engaged meaningfully in society and less money spent on detection, prosecution and punishment.

It also means a better quality of life, people who feel safer are freer.

Friends visiting from Argentina kept saying how much they enjoyed being in a house without bars on its windows and being able to walk down the street without being in fear of pick-pockets.


Cosy deal continuing to end of year

January 15, 2014

The Taxpayers’ Union blew the whistle on the $19m wasted on contracts for workplace safety training:

Material released by the Taxpayers’ Union show a cosy deal between Business New Zealand, the Council of Trade Unions (“CTU”) and ACC has cost ACC-levy payers $19 million since 2003.

The documents, available and summarised below show ACC knew that millions paid to Business NZ and the CTU to provide health and safety training did little, if anything, to reduce workplace accidents.

Recent ACC analysis concludes that, even with optimistic assumptions, for every dollar spent on the training 84 cents is wasted. 

A 2013 briefing to the Minister for ACC, Judith Collins, states that the CTU has found it “challenging” to meet its performance obligations even though it has been contracted for service since 2003. 

The documents show that Business NZ and the CTU worked together with ACC to create the venture and doubts about the value of the scheme have existed since at least 2008.

It appears that Business NZ and the CTU have created a nice little earner for themselves. But we think it’s a disgraceful example of big corporate and union welfare chewing through taxpayer cash. We think members of Business NZ and the CTU should be asking hard questions of their respective management teams.

Even the report in 2008 shows that that whole scheme was achieving little more than ‘engagement’. While ACC, Business NZ and the CTU must have known the scheme was worthless, they all allowed further millions to be spent.

This is the worst example of government waste the Taxpayers’ Union has seen to date. It involves two quasi-political organisations from the left and the right complacent in receiving taxpayer funds, likely knowing that the benefit was a small fraction of the amount being spent.

The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on Ms Collins to put an end to this hand out to Business NZ and the CTU.

ACC Minister Judith Collins says this has all the markings of a taxpayer rort:

. . . Ms Collins told Radio New Zealand’s Summer Report programme on Wednesday the scheme is clearly not working and she does not intend to waste more money on it by taking further action, since the contracts are unlikely to be renewed.

The minister said the programme looked like a very cosy deal set up in 2003, leaving the people it aimed to help with nothing.

“I think it’s pretty clear what happened and the review that’s been undertaken by ACC has already shown that it has been a waste of money,” she said.

“I actually think it has all the hallmarks of a rort.” . . .

There’s nothing new in cosy deals which give unions public funds for programmes which may or may not be value for money.

Business New Zealand members should be asking very serious questions of the organisation to find out why it too has been wasting money in this way.

Yesterday it looked like ACC was canning the scheme but today the Taxpayers’ Union says the schemes have been extended to the end of this year.

Despite the ACC telling media yesterday that it decided ‘late last year’ to can the programme, we learned this morning that the contracts were renewed in December. The end date is now 31 December 2014.

It appears that ACC only changed its tune since the Taxpayers’ Union publicly exposed the rort.

Remember, it’s not the Taxpayers’ Union who labelled the training scheme a waste of money, it’s ACC’s own experts. Telling the public that they will scrap the scheme but waiting for the new contracts to expire is not good enough. They conveniently failed to mention that the contracts have just been renewed…

The Taxpayers’ Union is also backing the Minister for ACC’s reported comments that Business NZ and the CTU should pay the wasted money back to ACC. With such clear evidence that the money did little if anything to improve workplace safety, we think Business NZ and the CTU are morally obliged to stop wasting this money and compensate ACC levy payers.

ACC fees are being reduced for most workers and businesses.

If it wasn’t wasting money on useless training it might be able to make further cuts.

Workplace safety is a serious business, it shouldn’t be a vehicle for a rort by unions and the group which is supposed to work in businesses’ best interests.


Quotes of the year

December 31, 2013

“It was probably a classic example of me probably being too much army, and not enough prince. . . “ Prince Harry.

. . . Whether it is in sport, business, agriculture, the arts, science and the creative industries, or in international fora such as peacekeeping, New Zealanders have repeatedly shown their talent, tenacity, flair and commitment.

That legacy of the new way of doing things was well put by New Zealander and Saatchi and Saatchi worldwide chief executive Kevin Roberts a few years ago when he said: “We were the last to be discovered and the first to see the light. This makes us one of the great experimental cultures. We try things first. Whether it’s votes for women, the welfare state or the market economy, powered flight, nuclear physics, anti-nuclearism, biculturalism. First-isms. The New in New Zealand is our reason to exist.” Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae.

”I like to cook meat, except for chicken. To me chicken’s like a ladies’ meat, so it’s more of a vegetable.” Jonny Trevathan, Master Chef entrant.

By 1984 the economy was in a mess, and I hope history will record more positively the decisive actions of both the Lange-Douglas Labour Government and the Bolger-Richardson National Government that followed. The resilience of the New Zealand economy during the recent global downturn owes much to the courage of those Cabinets, at least in their early years, putting New Zealand’s very real needs ahead of political considerations in pursuing necessary reform. – Lockwood Smith

As a former Commonwealth Scholar in Science, I have often regretted that I never got involved in that area during my time here. Science and technology have been so crucial to the advancement of human well-being, yet scientists are a rare breed in politics. Internationally, there is something of a disconnect between the two. In politics, for example, green is the claimed colour of sustainability. Yet in science, the very reason we perceive plants to be green is that they reflect green light. They cannot use it. It is red and blue light that sustain most of our living world. Lockwood Smith

Some commentators assess members on how successfully they play the political game. But to me what sets a member of Parliament apart is how much they care about the impact of the State on an ordinary person, and how far they are prepared to go in representing people whose lives can be so knocked around by the actions of the State. Lockwood Smith

This House, in so many ways, has become a place of political parties rather than a House of Representatives. I am not for one moment trying to make a case for the old system, but I do believe there will come a time when we will need to re-examine that balance of accountabilities. Representation is enhanced when members have to help ordinary people in their local communities, many of whom may never have voted for them. Lockwood Smith.

We aren’t scientists we are farmers, we choose not to debate the science but work hard to deal with changing weather patterns. Bruce Wills.

Anyway, credit where credit is due. The Labour Party has finally adopted one of the very sensible policies of the National Government, and that is the mixed-ownership model. That is right. These days, the Labour Party is 51 percent owned by Labour and 49 percent owned by the Greens. Yes, these two parties have come together in this happy little place, where fruit meets loop. John Key.

. . . Kids who read stay out of jail (unless they grow up to be financial investment directors). Reading gives them words. Words give them the ability to express and clarify themselves to others. How many young guys end up in strife because they don’t have the vocab to explain what they’re doing, and so they move from incoherence to frustration to violence?

Reading helps young people come to terms with themselves and their issues. . .  David Hill

“Oh my god, another cross to bear,” Tim Shadbolt on being told  he was the most trusted mayor in the country in a Readers Digest poll.

. . . The response that students gave to Christchurch is phenomenal, and it only was thanks to a really strong team of people who all were able to bring their individual skills to something.  . . .  just like young people right around New Zealand – all specialising in different areas, focusing on what they’re good at, being willing to be wrong, being willing to ask for help and fundamentally believing that change is possible, that you can look at things in a different way, no matter what level of society you’re on.  It’s our philosophy – the skill of the unskilled.  I sit at a lot of conferences, and I’m the only one without a PhD, but we say, ‘What about this idea?  What about this idea?  Where are we going?  Are we fundamentally doing things that are right and taking our country and world in a good direction?’ . . .Sam Johnson

. . . You know, Christchurch is still in a position that it’s hard there for a lot of people, but it’s also— the group of people that I am with every day through Volunteer Army Foundation, the Ministry of Awesome, we are— we love Christchurch, and you couldn’t pay us to move anywhere else, because of the innovation, the excitement.  You know, population numbers are up in Christchurch, and we are going to be a— it’s a strong place to be. . .  Sam Johnson

. . . I focus on doing things that I love.  I focus on surrounding myself with people much more intelligent than myself and people who can really make things happen, building strong teams.  I think that’s the philosophy we take in Christchurch.  We specialise in different areas with what we’re good at and focus on that. Sam Johnson

One witness was asked to identify an accused by describing the man’s tattoos. I applauded his response. “I can’t really describe his tattoos. They were a load of rubbish. They looked like the graffiti on a public dunny wall.” District Court Judge Russell Callander

“You’ve got to have a reason for getting up in the morning and I firmly believe retirement has killed more farmers than farming.” – Ted Ford

A Government should not be relied upon to create jobs. To bolster our economy and growth, we need the private sector to be creating jobs in the tradeables sector.

Whether they are high-earning export roles, or an entry level company, it is the job of entrepreneurs. Government’s role is to put in place the right conditions for economic growth, so companies can feel comfortable about expanding, growing, or just starting out in the business world.

Local government also has a role, through having plans for economic growth and development that encourage businesses and don’t stifle their creativity. Eric Roy

Politics is a two-stage process: first you’re sworn in, then, inevitably, eventually, you’re sworn at. Denis Welch.

There is rarely any danger of overestimating Labour Party stupidity. Having described myself recently as ‘a sentimental socialist’, I’m inclined to think that sentiment may be the main, and possibly the only reason for my ongoing belief in an organism genetically predisposed to push the self-destruct button when faced with the slightest glimmer of electoral success. . .   Brian Edwards.

. . . within 48 hours it looks very much to us as if it is just another David, another day, and another step to the left, as we see the disloyalty in the Labour caucus slowly beginning to foment. Gerry Brownlee.

But now, of course, under the new leader of the Labour Party, the pledge card, like his CV, will be a living document—kind of like the Treaty but without the principles.Bill English

“We were given opportunities in Mangere. Education unlocks opportunities you would not otherwise have.” - Sam Lotu-Iiga MP

The big, bad thing is that large parts of the Left have never faced up to the failure of socialism. The nicer Leftists, often very belatedly, deplored Stalin and Mao – the purges, the Gulags, the famines, the invasions. The more intelligent ones detected certain (let us put it gently) problems with state ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Yet when, in 1989, the Berlin Wall was knocked down by the citizens in whose name it had been erected, few could admit that this was a defeat for socialism as fundamental as that of Nazism in 1945. . . Charles Moore

Arts degrees are awesome. And they help you find meaning where there is none. And let me assure you, there is none. Don’t go looking for it. Searching for meaning is like searching for a rhyme scheme in a cookbook: you won’t find it and you’ll bugger up your soufflé. Tim Minchin

We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat.
Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege.

Most of society’s arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge nuance. We tend to generate false dichotomies, then try to argue one point using two entirely different sets of assumptions, like two tennis players trying to win a match by hitting beautifully executed shots from either end of separate tennis courts. Tim Minchin

Parliament applauded Eleanor Catton winning the Man Booker Prize for her book ‘The Luminaries’ when it resumed today.

Prime Minister John Key said the success should be celebrated by New Zealanders as much as they did sporting victories. Catton’s feat in becoming the youngest winner of the prize at 28, came as 16 year old Lorde topped the US charts with her music showing New Zealand was blessed with strong, creative young women. Parliament Today

“You guys have spent your careers trying to analyse what he says and you’ve got more sense out of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. He talks in riddles, he doesn’t stick to what he says, it’s a waste of time having discussions that are about a bottom line.

“There are no bottom lines with Winston Peters. He will do a deal with who he feels like doing a deal with.” John Key

Not so much a political honeymoon as a naughty weekend with the floating voters. – Vernon Small on David Cunliffe.

. . . Girls dress for other girls. They dress to fit in. They dress to be part of a group. They want to be respected and they want to be liked. They want to be beautiful. They dress to impress. They copy their celebrity idols. These might well be fashion crimes, but short skirts and cleavage don’t signal a willingness to be victimised.

New Zealand is internationally rated as one of the best countries to be a woman. This year, we celebrated 120 years of women winning the right to vote.

With that goes the right to not be abused. Judith Collins

. . . considering I’m probably in the 10% of New Zealanders who pay 70% of the tax, considering I’m a self-employed business owner with farming interests and considering I still bear the farming scars from some incredibly short-sighted, militant union behaviour in the 1970s and 80s, why would I vote Labour now?

There’s nothing for me in their policies of higher tax, greater environmental and economic handbrakes for farming and re-unionising the workforce. Farming Show host Jamie Mackay on Labour after its leader refused to appear on the show in case he was laughed at.

. . . For the farmer, the business person, the property owner, and the financial investor it’s all pretty straightforward. What’s in it for National’s electoral base is economic growth, low inflation, reduced taxation and a reasonable rate-of-return. What they’re not looking for is more economic regulation, higher taxes, rising prices or inflationary wage demands.

Getting the attention of those who feel that their stake in New Zealand society is much too meagre to matter is a considerably more daunting task. - Chris Trotter

There is a saying that you do not beat New Zealand – you just get more points than them at the final whistle. – Sir Ian McGeechan

“I don’t really believe in Great — insert a country — Novels,” she said. “I don’t see how you can reconcile that with diversity, and I think the diversity is the most important thing in any national literature.” Eleanor Catton

I knew it would never be about zeroes. I’m not a spreadsheet with hair; will never be. I am an artist, an author, with a hunger for showing people what I can do and a talent for making people turn my name into a call while they’re waiting front row. It’s me. I’m here. - Lorde

Imagine if Nelson Mandela was as angry as John Minto when he got out of prison” – Josie Pagani on ‘The Huddle

Beyond the All Blacks being unbeaten for a whole season, and Emirates Team New Zealand coming second in a two-boat race, what put New Zealand on the world’s front pages in 2013 was a novel, a song and a film. – Hamish Keith

It’s one of the oldest cliches in politics - that perception is reality. In other words, if enough of us are convinced that what we think we see is real, then it may as well be real. Even if it’s not. - Tim Watkins

I find it fascinating that if you dig a hole and plant a tree in it, you are a greenie; if you dig a big hole, take the gold out of the ground and plant a forest, suddenly you’re an eco-terrorist. There’s no consistency in that. – Colin Craig

“Tasmanian Devils are renowned for their big mouths, bad behaviour and noisiness, so they will fit in well with the nation’s politicians in the capital,” - Nick Smith

I totally disagree with it. If you’re going to earn money, you earn it. You’re given it by your productivity.” - Sir John Walker on the living wage.

Science is not a bunch of facts. Scientists are not people trying to be prescriptive or authoritative. Science is simply the word we use to describe a method of organising our curiosity. It’s easier, at a dinner party, to say ”science” than to say ”the incremental acquisition of understanding through observation, humbled by an acute awareness of our tendency towards bias”. Douglas Adams said: ”I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.”

Science is not the opposite of art, nor the opposite of spirituality – whatever that is – and you don’t have to deny scientific knowledge in order to make beautiful things. On the contrary, great science writing is the art of communicating that ”awe of understanding”, so that we readers can revel in the beauty of a deeper knowledge of our world. Tim Minchin

. . . Remember the Government’s $30 million cash injection to secure the immediate future of Tiwai Point?  That helped to protect 3,200 jobs and the smelter’s $1.6 billion annual contribution to the Southland economy. Dairying doesn’t need such support, but in 2009, it injected over $700 million into the Southland economy and employed over 2,300 people.  Dairying may not be number one here but we’re a pretty important second that’s become more important over the past four years. . . Russell MacPherson

All of us pay for some of us to indulge romantic dreams about trains or to feed fanciful beliefs that the government owns these “assets which are valuable”

This stuff is not silver its rust… the best performers can’t perform without laws which force revenue into their pockets, the worst performers are a receivers dream.

Genuine concern for the poor would not see government owning commercial assets. - Eye to the Long Run

. . . If from the time their children could read, parents had introduced them to newspapers, as certainly happened when I was young, rather than addiction to idiotic texting, they would, instead, be addicted to the world in all of its wide-ranging fascination and zaniness (the human factor), as delivered to us daily in the newspaper.

It’s a shame as nothing matches the daily newspaper for sheer stimulation, education, and entertainment value for money. Take a recent Dominion Post. First the pleasure of its crosswords and tussling over the wordgame, this after quickly scanning the front page for later reading. Each news item induced a full spectrum of emotions, from rage to delight, in the latter case from the splendid heading, “Mr Whippy frozen with fear by chainsaw wielding cross-dresser”. That alone was worth the price of the paper and was promptly dispatched to friends abroad. These texting obsessives don’t know what they’re missing. . .  -  Bob Jones

. . .  Seemingly the first duty on rising every morning for Remuerites is to go outside and rake up the $100 notes that have fallen like confetti on them overnight. It must be very tiresome.  . . Bob Jones

. . . But as you go through life when you run into a brick wall, you’ve just got to knock the bastard over. – Sir Peter Leitch.

 


$387m drop in employer, worker ACC levies

December 2, 2013

ACC Minister Judith Collins has announced changes to ACC levies which will leave $387m in the pockets of employers and workers.

“This Government is committed to the long-term sustainability of the ACC scheme so that it is working for the benefit of both levy payers and claimants,” Ms Collins says.

“Workers and employers will be paying less thanks to the Corporation’s astute financial management, outstanding investment performance and dedication to effective rehabilitation.

“The average New Zealand household can expect to keep just over $200 each year. Small businesses will also be around $180 better off annually and larger employers will receive, on average, a $6000 reduction.”

Ms Collins says the cuts largely reflect the Earners Account (paid by workers) and the Work Account (paid by employers) being fully funded. This means there is enough money in those accounts to cover the ongoing cost of claims.

Motor Vehicle Account levies, incorporated into car registration and petrol prices, will remain the same as that account is not yet fully-funded. The Government expects to introduce cuts for motor vehicle owners from 1 July 2015.

Ms Collins says the Government is on track for further levy cuts in 2015/16 as signalled in the Government’s budget this year.

“It’s important New Zealand maintains its fiscal credibility by reducing pressure on the exchange rate and interest rates to ensure private sector growth and investment are supported. This is especially important as the Canterbury rebuild gathers pace.”

The new rates will be in place for the levy year which starts 1 April 2014.

 

Work Account
Average levy per $100 of liable earnings

Earners’ Account
Levy per $100 of liable earnings (incl. GST)

2014/15 levy rates

$0.95

$1.45

2013/14 levy rates

$1.15

$1.70


Two strikes

November 23, 2013

It hasn’t been a good week for David Cunliffe on the publicity front.

First he confirmed rumours of his high opinion of himself with a biography for the Federated farmers’ conference which described himself as the next Prime Minister.

His second strike came when he referred to Justice Minister Judith Collins as a trout.

Mr Cunliffe made the comment in a blog post on the website The Ruminator this afternoon.

He wrote: “The original brief was to respond to a post by Judith Collins. My post was going to be about snapper, not trout. But considering that issue, along with Judith’s leadership aspirations, has floundered, I’ll try another hook.”

As insults go it’s relatively mild but it’s the second time he’s made a sexist remark about the Minister.

Mr Cunliffe has previously apologised for making a sexist remark about the minister. He told RadioLive in 2011 that the human species would be extinct if Mrs Collins was the last woman on earth.

Neither over-confidence nor repeated sexism are good look for an aspiring Prime Minister especially one who leads a party which is supposedly so supportive of women it’s introduced a female quote for MPs.


Prevention vs prosecution

November 5, 2013

Abhorrent, cruel, deviant, disgusting, inhuman, immoral, shameful, sickening . . .

All of these adjectives can be applied to the people portrayed on the sexploitation Facebook page, Roast Busters, and their exploits.

The story so far raises lots of questions, one of which is why the police allowed the page to stay up for so long.

Last night 3 News revealed police had been monitoring the ‘Roast Busters’ for two-and-a-half years, but it wasn’t until 3 News contacted Facebook that their page on the social networking site was taken down.

In videos uploaded to the internet, 17- and 18-year-old Auckland men brag about their sexual conquests, who are often drunk and underage. The teenagers also actively recruit new members. . .

Police told 3 News they haven’t been able to take action against the group – aside from a warning – because none of the victims have laid a formal complaint.

“We would love to take some positive action for these girls and others who may be victims in the future, but without actual evidence my hands are tied,” says Detective Inspector Bruce Scott.

“None of the girls have been brave enough to make formal statements to us so we can take it to a prosecution stage or even consider a prosecution stage.”

And the Roast Busters’ Facebook page was allowed to stay online for similar reasons.

“These things obviously did breach Facebook’s terms and conditions, but it takes somebody to see it and make that complaint in order for action to happen,” says Mr Lyons.

Are the need to gather evidence for prosecution and the prevention of more crime mutually exclusive?

Could the police not have identified the perpetrators, interviewed them and alerted their families and schools to what was happening?

Couldn’t they at least have alerted the public to protect the girls and possibly prevent more rapes?

Answering those questions might be easier than finding out how people in a supposedly civilised country can be so divorced from civilised behaviour.

The Harmful Digital Communications Bill being introduced to parliament by Justice Minister Judith Collins might help prevent this sort of abuse in future.

“The Harmful Digital Communications Bill sends a strong message to those who continue to harass and harm others online – time’s up.”

Research shows one in five New Zealand high school students has experienced some sort of cyber bullying or harassment.

“Cyber bullying can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, particularly young people. This Bill will protect victims and hold perpetrators to account.”

Proposals in the Bill include:

  • Creating a new civil enforcement regime that includes setting up or appointing an approved agency as the first port of call for complaints.
  • Allowing people to take serious complaints to the District Court, which will be able to issue remedies such as take-down orders and cease-and-desist notices.
  • Providing a legislative mechanism for people to easily and quickly request the removal of harmful content from websites, which also clarifies the law relating to website hosts (called a “safe harbour” provision).
  • Making it an offence to send messages and post material online with intent to cause harm, punishable by up to three months imprisonment or a $2,000 fine.
  • Creating a new offence of incitement to commit suicide, even in situations when a person does not attempt to take their own life, punishable by up to three years imprisonment.

The Bill includes changes to relevant criminal and civil law to ensure they cover all forms of harmful communications, regardless of whether tormentors use “online” or “offline” means. It also future-proofs the laws against technological advances, to ensure they remain relevant.

But it will take a lot more than legislation to address the causes of  these heinous crimes.

The FAQs on the Bill are here.


Two Nat MPs to be challenged

November 1, 2013

Marlborough grapegrower and fourth-generation farmer Stuart Smith is to challenge sitting MP Colin King for the National Party’s Kaikoura electorate candidacy for next year’s election.

This is the second challenge of a sitting MP.

Former banker and owner of Matahiwi Vineyard Alistair Scott is challenging John Hayes in Wairarapa.

MPs should always be aware they have a use-by date and it’s better to retire gracefully than lose a challenge.

However, if they are as good as they think they are they can survive a challenge and be stronger for it.

Challenges can be messy for a party and cause problems within electorates.

But they can also invigorate them, bringing in new members and offering refreshment.

Prime Minister John Key and Justice Minister Judith Collins both won their seats after challenging sitting MPs.

Sometimes the challenger doesn’t win as once the challenge is public more contenders join the race.

This happened in what was then Wallace when someone challenged the sitting MP who decided to retire. Several others were nominated, one of them was Bill English who won the candidacy and the seat.

National selections are democratic – providing an electorate has enough members it is they who choose the candidate under a proportional voting system.

#gigatownoamaru gains points across the political spectrum.


Knowing when to go

October 3, 2013

National list MP Chris Auckinvole has said he won’t be standing at next year’s election.

. . . Auchinvole said yesterday he intended to resign. “One could say leaning towards retirement. You never have enough, but I am 68 now, I’d be 70 shortly after the next election. It is my intention to retire from party politics.”

He said he had a “number of really good opportunities in the commercial world” to pursue.

The Scottish-born MP entered Parliament, as a list MP, in 2005 “along with half the caucus”.

In 2008 he won the West Coast-Tasman seat from Labour MP Damien O’Connor, who regained it in 2011. . .

I’ve enjoyed the interaction I’ve had with Chris who did a lot of work behind the scenes to help the families of the Pyke River mine victims.

He’s the second National MP to announce his retirement from parliament this week. Napier MP, and Minister, Chris Tremain won’t be seeking re-election either.

. . . Prime Minister John Key indicated he anticipated “one or two” more would follow suit, but declined to say who. . .

One of the few silver linings to the dark cloud of National’s 2002 election defeat was that it cleared out a lot of longer serving MPs. That allowed a big influx of fresh blood in 2005 and there was a good intake of new MPs in 2008 too.

National had a couple of mid-term resignations which brought two fresh faces into the house before 2011, eight new MPs at the election and two more new ones since then.

This has given National the mix of experience and freshness which a caucus, and government, need.

Good MPs know when to go and it’s better to go on their own terms than lose a selection challenge – although challenges have brought in some excellent MPs including John Key, Bill English and Judith Collins.

A few more announcements of end-of-term retirements, in plenty of time for the party and prospective candidates to prepare for selection would be healthy.

It would also reinforce the difference between National and Labour which hasn’t had nearly as much fresh talent and is still saddled with too many MPs who haven’t accepted they’re near or past their best-by dates.

This could be a positive reflection on the potential employability of former National MPs in contrast to those in Labour who might not be as attractive to would-be employers.

But being unemployable outside parliament is not a good reason for clinging on to a seat.


Hyprocisy alert

October 2, 2013

Labour wants ACC cuts to take effect immediately.

I have no doubt people will agree when they work out that would increase their take home pay.

However, spot the irony:

Opposition ACC spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway said the corporation’s big surplus was gouged from the pay packets of hard working New Zealanders.

This is a spokesman from Labour, the party that contributed to ACC’s financial liabilities by adding more categories of beneficiaries without increasing funding sufficiently.

His party has fought tax cuts which leave more in the pay packets of hard working New Zealanders.

And his party is going to increase taxes to gouge more from those same pay packets of the same hard working New Zealanders and add a Capital Gains Tax too.

That’s not irony, that’s hypocrisy.

 


Collins questions ACC funding of CTU

October 2, 2013

ACC Minister Judith Collins is questioning ACC funding the CTU to provide injury prevention training:

“The Council of Trade Unions’ (CTU) published annual accounts show the CTU has been paid up to $1.3 million (highest year was 2009) each year by ACC. In 2012 the total paid to CTU under three contracts was $669,000,” Ms Collins says.

“In the biggest contract shown in CTU accounts, ACC pays the CTU to provide training to health and safety representatives that large employers (over 30 staff) are legally obliged to have.

“Currently this is free-of-charge to these large businesses – it remains to be seen why ACC and levy payers should have to pay for this.

“It is not clear to me whether the provision of free training services for big business to carry out their legal obligation, is a good or fair use of levy payers’ money.”

The CTU and two other entities have similarly arranged contracts getting paid by ACC per person trained. The current fee is around $360 per person trained but the CTU has a higher maximum earning potential.

“ACC is investing up to $40 million a year on injury prevention. I’m advised all injury prevention investment is being reviewed to ensure it is evidence based and achieves results,” Ms Collins says.

It is perfectly reasonable to ask why businesses are funded for something they are legally obliged to have and a review to ensure that money spent on injury prevention is evidence based and achieves results is sensible.

ACC is back on a sound financial footing and its annual report annual report, released yesterday, shows a net surplus of $4.9 billion, which was $3.6 billion ahead of budget.

Chair Paula Rebstock said:

. . . the surplus would allow ACC to reduce the deficit between its assets and the lifetime cost of every claim on the books by $4.9 billion to $2.3 billion.

“The scheme is well on track to meet its objective of being financially sustainable – the point at which assets match forward costs – by 2019.

“More importantly, ACC’s strong performance has given the Government the confidence to signal that it believes decreases in ACC levies in 2014-15, and again in 2015-16, are sustainable. That is great news for all New Zealanders, particularly as it follows a $630 million reduction in levies for households and businesses in 2012-13.” . . .

“To ensure we maintain sustainability we will continue to evolve the Corporation. We will greatly increase our spending on injury prevention, and we will embark on a programme designed to improve outcomes for our clients through better case management and rehabilitation services. . .

Increasing spending on injury prevention is commendable but it provides an even stronger argument for a review which ensures that money currently being spent is well spent.


Postal referendum on partial floats

September 30, 2013

The government has taken the least expensive option for the referendum on the partial float of a few state owned assets.

The citizens initiated referendum on the Mixed Ownership Model will be held as a postal vote in November and December this year after a petition regarding the Mixed Ownership Model was signed by 10 per cent of eligible voters. 

The referendum will ask whether New Zealanders support the Government’s sale of up to 49 per cent of Meridian, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says the Government is required to hold the referendum by September 2014, which will be overseen by the Electoral Commission.

“We want to hold this referendum as soon as practicably possible and completing it before the traditional holiday period begins will help us get maximum voter participation,” Ms Collins says.

The voting period will open on Friday, 22 November and will close three weeks later on Friday, 13 December.

The referendum roll will close on Friday, 25 October, but voters will be able to enrol on the supplementary roll up until Thursday, 21 November.

The Electoral Commission has estimated the cost of the postal referendum at $9 million – including $2.85 million for public information and advertising.

The Commission is expected to deliver a preliminary result after voting closes and a final result will be delivered as soon as possible thereafter.

The result of the referendum is not binding on the Government.

This politicians’ initiated referendum is a very expensive publicity exercise for the opposition.

Grey Power, which initially fronted the petition, lost any credibility on the issue when it signed up to discounts for its members with a private company.

Meanwhile, the share offer for up to 49% of Meridian energy began this morning with strong demand.

The Prime Minister says there has already been “strong” early demand for Meridian Energy shares by retail investors, ahead of the offer opening today.

Close to half of the Meridian Energy share offer has been pre-committed to New Zealand retail investors after Kiwi sharebrokers were invited last week to submit bids for shares on behalf of interested clients. . .

The partial float will be done and dusted with the money banked before  the referendum begins.


House ownership has never been easy

September 30, 2013

The Herald has a story on MP’s buying their first houses.

Two points stand out – prices were lower but interest rates were much higher than they are now; the first step on the housing ladder often has to be modest.

Housing Minister Nick Smith:

. . .  bought his first home, a former state house in Riccarton, Christchurch, in 1985 while he was a 22-year-old at Canterbury University. He paid $24,000 for it, just before interest rates “went through the roof”, hitting 24 per cent.

“As a consequence, I spent the holiday building a new room on to it so I could get a new flatmate to pay the mortgage.

“I confess I was capitalist and I thought the economics worked in getting into the property market early, getting a heavy mortgage and trying to service it with four flatmates,” the minister said. . .

Auckland mayor Len Brown:

. . . recalls the difficulty of securing finance, and the cost of it, with interest rates of up to 23 per cent. “It was terrible. I don’t know how anyone ever owned any homes at all in those days,” the mayor said.

He believed the challenges in getting finance meant it was as difficult 34 years ago as it is now for first-home buyers. Back in the late seventies, “there was probably more housing available at relatively better prices”.

“Now it’s difficult because of the way prices are generally and because you’ve got to put together a 10, 15 or 20 per cent deposit.

“But the one thing I will say is if you’re prepared to start at a practical and realistic level in a community that you can afford, then you can still get a house, whether it’s an apartment at $200,000 or a standalone house at $350,000 to $400,000. That’s still available for you but you can’t afford to be too choosy.”

Justice Minister Judith Collins makes the same point:

. . . With interest rates around 20 per cent, it was “a huge struggle” to make payments.

She accepts it is difficult now, and says first-home buyers should be prepared “to buy a place that needs to be done up and to have a first home that may not be your last home”.

“I moved into a two-bedroom flat, I didn’t move into a five-bedroom mansion.

“What you have with your mum and dad is probably not what you’re going to get for your first home.”

It has never been easy to buy a house – high interest rates on lower mortgages were as least as difficult to service when these people were paying off their first homes as lower interest rates on higher-priced houses now.

Then we have Green co-leader Metiria Turei:

. . . She and her family left Auckland in 2002, partly because of the cost of housing on an MP’s salary.

She says there were good homes available in Dunedin for $140,000 to $180,000 when she was house hunting.

But her bank wouldn’t lend her less than $200,000 as she had no deposit and had to take out a 100 per cent mortgage.

She couldn’t cope with the cost of housing on an MPs salary and had no deposit saved?

That is a very sorry reflection on her financial management and a chilling reminder of how dangerous she could be in government.

People who can’t manage their own money shouldn’t be taking and spending other people’s.


ACC consulting on levy reduction

September 18, 2013

ACC Minister Judith Collins is welcoming the announcement that the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) is looking into dropping its average levy rates.

Today ACC starts its public consultation on levy rates for levies in the upcoming 2014/15 year.

Earlier this year, Ms Collins signalled $300 million worth of levy cuts for taxpayers for 2014/15. 

“These levy cuts reflect positive gains made by the corporation across all its activities,” Ms Collins says. 

“ACC’s role is to reduce injuries and to help the injured back to independence after their injury as this is best for them, their families and their communities. The Corporation’s investment team has been in place for 17 years and has a long record of returns above benchmarks.

“Earners, employers and motorists may pay less in levies in 2014/15 as a result of ACC’s solid performance.

“ACC also protects New Zealanders by placing a greater focus on evidence based injury prevention.

“When teamed with progress in client services, the possibility of lower levies shows excellent improvement in the balance between the quality of services and the price New Zealanders pay for it.”

Answers to FAQs on the proposals are here.

Submissions close on October 15th. Details on the proposals are here and include:

  • 17% decrease in the average Work levy, paid by employers and self-employed people
  • 15% decrease in the Earners’ levy, paid by everyone in the paid workforce
  • 15% decrease in the average Motor Vehicle levy, paid by motor vehicle owners.

These would mean significant savings for individuals and businesses, leaving more money in people’s pockets.

Federated Farmers is welcoming the proposals but also asking if it’s time decisions on ACC were removed from politicians:

“The proposed levies for 2014/15 is potentially good news for farmers and should save them hundreds of dollars each year, especially if they are employers as well,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers ACC spokesperson.

“From our perspective, the performance of ACC has jumped up a few notches over recent years. From the performance of its investments to getting people fit for work, it seems to be getting the mix right.

“While we farmers may work in one of the highest risk groups, at last, we are seeing an improved safety record over the past five years for dairy, beef and sheep farmers translate into lower proposed levies.

“One thing we will be watching closely is to ensure any cut to levies doesn’t shift the goal posts of entitlement when farmers need to claim. This must be from a more efficient ACC rather than chalking up accidental injuries as just the ‘wear and tear’ of being alive.

“Admittedly 2012/13 did see an increase in farming claims and costs of claims, but the levies are based on a five year rolling average and that measure is more stable. It is good that ACC is sending farmers the solid message that improved safety is good for the bottom line.

“That will lock in good behaviour because if our safety record does go south, then higher levies will be the result. It is in our hands as an industry to guard against this.

“So if the politicians do tick off ACC’s proposed levies the work account levies for pastoral farming should be cut by around 20 percent. The earner account levy is also proposed to be cut by 15 percent.

“Having politicians ultimately saying yay or nay sticks in my craw. You must ask why ACC is required to go first by the Minister and then Cabinet to get its levies signed-off when we don’t do that with the Official Cash Rate, medicines or even the price of a stamp.

“All Kiwis benefit from a well run and focused ACC; just look at the proposed 15 percent cut in the motor vehicle account average levy that will save $50.68.

“ACC is now researching the safety performance of car makes and models with a view to bringing in different levy rates based on four ‘bands’. It is this kind of innovation that tells me the time has come for it to have political independence for levy setting,” Ms Milne concluded.

Incentives work.

Initiatives which provide a relationship between risks and costs are a good idea.


Restorative justice to cover country

September 4, 2013

Justice Minister Judith Collins has announced restorative justice services will be expanded and rolled out to all courts in the country.

An additional 2,400 restorative justice conferences – totalling 3,600 in 2014/15 – follow the Government’s $4.4 million investment in adult pre-sentence restorative justice as part of Budget 2013.

Ms Collins says investing in pre-sentence restorative justice will help deliver results, give victims a voice in the justice system and make victims strong.

“We know participation in restorative justice can result in a reduction in the reoffending rate of up to 20 per cent when compared to offenders who did not participate,” Ms Collins says.

“As well as delivering more services in existing centres, restorative justice will now be in courts where it was not previously or readily available, such as Alexandra, Queenstown, Gore, Taihape, Dannevirke, Taumarunui, Huntly, Morrinsville, Whakatane and Wairoa.

“Expanding restorative justice services across New Zealand will help the justice sector meet the Government’s Better Public Services target of further reducing reoffending by 25 per cent by 2017 – already reoffending is down by over 9 per cent.”

Ms Collins says restorative justice is also particularly effective at reducing victimisation and repeat victimisation. The 2011 Victim Satisfaction Survey showed 74 per cent of victims who attended a conference felt better.

The roll-out of new services will start from October 1 following decisions made by the Ministry of Justice as part of an open tender process.

Helping victims and reducing reoffending make the extra money spent on this initiative well worth while.


Mandatory audit of party membership

August 22, 2013

United Future has been re-registered and recognised as a party in parliament again.

One of the problems the party had was the Electoral Commission’s refusal to recognise electronic memberships.

Its leader Peter Dunne took the opportunity in Question Time yesterday to ask about bringing the law up to date:

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: . . .  —I agree that the time has come when we should also be looking into the greater use of electronic data for all aspects of our electoral system. I have asked my officials and the Electoral Commission to consider ways in which this can be achieved while retaining the very high levels of security and public confidence in the system.

Hon Peter Dunne: Does the Minister’s answer mean that she is prepared to look, in the context of the forthcoming rewrite of the Electoral Act, at changes to the law, to ensure that where parties register members online, those memberships will be accepted as valid?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Yes.

Hon Peter Dunne: Is the Minister also prepared to consider, as part of that review or changes to that legislation, looking at providing for a mandatory audit by the Electoral Commission of all parties’ membership once every 3 years?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I have not given that matter any thought, but it is a matter that I could always discuss with the Electoral Commission.

Parties are required to have 500 members to be, and remain, registered. All the Electoral Commission has to go on is confirmation of this from the party.

There is no check on the accuracy of the count of the validity of the memberships and there should be. I would also like to see a significant increase in the minimum number.

Five  hundred members is a very low target for a party to reach.

MMP has given a lot more power to parties, the law needs to ensure that they are representative of more than a few hundred people.

If a party can get tens, even hundreds, of thousands of people to vote for them, they ought to be able to persuade a couple of thousand to join them.

They, and democracy, would be stronger for it.


$500 in the hand

May 17, 2013

Continuing improvements in ACC provide an opportunity for significant levy reductions to benefit businesses and households, ACC Minister Judith Collins says.

“The Government is confident that a decrease in ACC levies is sustainable and is allowing for a reduction of around $300 million for 2014/15, increasing to a reduction of around $1 billion in 2015/16,” Ms Collins says.

This follows a $630 million reduction in levies for households and businesses in 2012/13. . .

“The potential 2014/15 levy reductions would leave around another $300 million in the economy for businesses and families.

“The Government is currently working with the ACC board to review its funding policy, with the aim of improving the governance and transparency of the levy-setting process, while ensuring that it reflects the Government’s objectives for the ACC scheme.

“Already there is general consensus that the improved performance of the ACC scheme makes substantial levy reductions appropriate and sustainable. Therefore, I am signalling a likely further reduction from 2015/16.

“Final decisions on levies for 2014/15 will be made later this year, following public consultation.

“The future for ACC is bright and will be of significant benefit to households and businesses alike,” Ms Collins says.

I read somewhere, and can no longer find it, that the reduction in levies would leave around $500 a year in the average household.

That’s a certain $500 in the hand which is far better than the LabourGreen promise of a $300 saving on power bills about which there is no certainty except any gain would be cancelled out by an increase in ETS charges.


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