Which lane?

April 18, 2014

Slow lane or fast lane.

Backwards or forwards.

Left or right.

Wrong or right.

Labour or National.

The difference is stark, the choice is clear.

Photo


Andrew Bayly Nat candidate for Hunua

April 18, 2014

Andrew Bayly has won the National Party selection for Hunua.

Andrew and his wife have raised three sons in Franklin.

Andrew co-founded a strategic advisory firm that lists governments, local authorities, NGOs and Australasian corporates among its clients. He has led multi-disciplinary teams to deliver projects across the health, infrastructure, property, food and agriculture, economic development and tertiary sectors.

Formerly an Officer in the New Zealand Territorial Army and British Parachute Regiment, Andrew is comfortable in the outdoors and the boardroom. He dragged a sled 112 km to the South Pole in the summer of 2012/13 and is a keen mountaineer, having conquered many mountain peaks including Mt Cook.

Andrew was born into a farming family and his father, Phil, is a respected racehorse owner/breeder. With his twin brother Paul, he has owned a 4,500 acre hill country farm and a range of other businesses, including an award-winning composting and recycling environmental business that services horticulturalists and orchardists.

As a trustee of Enterprise Franklin Development Trust, he led the initiative to further develop a motorsport hub in the Franklin area, assisting the Manukau Institute of Technology to establish a satellite campus in Pukekohe.

During his corporate career he has been the chair and a director of several companies, including independent chair of the board of New Zealand Financial Planning. Andrew is a Fellow of the NZ Institute of Management, the NZ Chartered Institute of Corporate Management, and the UK Chartered Association of Certified Accountants.

National has selected another candidate who provides a stark contrast with the stale Labour caucus, many of whom have spent years in parliament and who had achieved little if anything before they got there.

 


If Peters is preferable . . .

April 12, 2014

John Armstrong forecasts storms ahead for the left:

Having turned its caucus room in Parliament Buildings into a war room staffed almost around the clock by policy wonks, political strategists, experts in social media, plus assorted press secretaries – all in readiness for the coming general election – the Labour Party may find itself with another war on its hands before then. Or something close to it.

The “enemy” on this occasion will not be National. Neither will it be Act. Nor United Future. Nor Colin Craig’s Conservatives. Nor even Kim Dotcom and his Internet Party.

No, this war will be of the internecine variety where the combatants all come from the same neck of the (political) woods.

It will have been sparked by the seemingly endless positioning and posturing ahead of September’s election which will count for little in the aftermath. But this week it all turned ugly for the Greens. And things may yet get uglier still.

It may be that fate has decreed that the power struggle between Labour and the Greens takes centre stage at the worst possible time for the centre-left.

It may not come to open warfare. But the dismissive, almost contemptuous attitude displayed by David Cunliffe with regard to a supposed ally is bound to rankle deeply wherever Green Party members gather.

You can be assured there will be a response; that there will no longer be any scruples about upstaging Labour on the hustings. . .

For all MMP is supposed to be about consensus it is first about competition and then compromise.

Labour has set up a war room and it is aiming not just at National but potential allies with whom it is in competition for votes and the biggest of those is the Green Party.

In-fighting and lack of traction by Labour has enabled the Greens to stake out territory as the de facto leading opposition party.

Labour has more MPs and is a bigger party, but it isn’t getting enough support to be a strong leader in a coalition.

The weaker it is, the stronger the Greens will be and that poses a dilemma for Labour. A stronger Green Party isn’t at all attractive to  voters in the centre. The more power the Greens are likely to have the less attractive a Labour-led government becomes to many in the centre who will be much more likely to move a bit right to National than leap left to Labour.

Labour knows it has to grow the left block, but it also knows this will be harder with a strong Green Party which is why it is doing its best to keep its distance.

Labour’s failure to take the initiative must have made the Greens suspicious. So they approached Labour with a proposal for both parties to co-operate to a much greater extent in the run-up to the election and “brand” themselves as the Government-in-waiting.

What the Greens were really doing was testing the extent of Labour’s commitment to working with them in government following signs that Cunliffe was wavering on that question.

The Greens got their answer soon enough. It was not what they wanted to hear. They got a lecture in semantics – that the next Government would be a “Labour-led” one, not a “Labour-Greens coalition” – and a lesson in history – that Labour had been the dominant party on the centre-left for the past 100 years and thus called the shots as of right.

Cunliffe made it patently clear in word – and more so in tone – that Labour was decoupling itself from the Greens and would be seeking to “maximise its share of the vote” – code for saying it was now open season on territory occupied by the Greens.

Neither could Cunliffe muster much enthusiasm when asked to digress on how Labour would treat the Greens in any post-election negotiations.

Of course, Cunliffe’s remarks were for targeted at an audience of one – Winston Peters. Cunliffe knows he will likely need both New Zealand First and the Greens to make it to the swearing-in of a new Government. But it is Peters’ chalk to the Greens’ cheese. It is Cunliffe’s conundrum.

Peters has choices. The quickest way to have him running helter-skelter towards National’s camp would be for Labour to get tied down in some pre-election arrangement with the Greens.

The Greens are consequently expendable. But for how long? Cunliffe is clearly taking things step-by-step, conscious that the voters might solve his problem. Or compound it.

But Labour’s antipathy cuts deep. Labour does not trust the Greens and believes that party is seeking to supplant it. . .

If Labour doesn’t trust a potential coalition partner it can’t expect voters to either.

The net result of this week’s wrangling is to reduce the centre-left’s share even more. The message most voters would have picked up is that Labour no longer wanted to work with the Greens. Voters hate disunity and punish accordingly.

The Greens deserved better. They are not responsible for Peters’ existence. Cunliffe could have been less dismissive and more accommodating in his language.

He could have accepted a much more limited pre-election understanding. Something symbolic, like Jim Anderton’s invitation to Helen Clark to speak at the Alliance’s conference a year before the 1999 election.

Key likes to wind Peters up; Cunliffe risks looking like he is being cowered by the veteran politician.

Labour’s pursuit of power dictates, however, that Labour be hostage to Peters for the next five months despite knowing such obedience will not make even the tiniest bit of difference as to whether he ultimately favours the centre-right or centre-left. . .

Labour is competing with the Greens to keep its vote strong and is signalling if it has to make comprises it would prefer to do so with Winston Peters.

Peters will be enjoying that. However, if he’s the more preferred partner for Labour it speaks volumes about how little the party thinks of the Greens.


Remember the wreckage

April 11, 2014

The latest IMF report on New Zealand is by and large a positive one.

Finance Minister Bill English reminds us that it wasn’t nearly as positive a few years ago:

Louise Upston: What comments has the International Monetary Fund made previously about the New Zealand economy?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: In the light of recent discussion about the history of the New Zealand economy, I looked for the IMF reports from 1975. That seems to have been the focus of economic debate in the House, but actually I could not find any. Instead, I went to the 2008 IMF report, where the IMF talked about a number of issues facing New Zealand, including what it described in careful bureaucratic language as “rapidly appreciating house prices”. It noted that in response to rising inflation the official cash rate reached 8.25 percent and homeowners faced floating mortgage rates of 11 percent. The current account deficit was 8 percent. All of those numbers are about double what they are now, and they are measures of the wreckage that the previous Labour Government did to the New Zealand economy.

It’s important to remember that wreckage because anything Labour is threatening us with should it return to government in September is more of what caused the problems in the last term – higher taxes and higher spending.

That’s what put New Zealand into recession before the global financial crisis.

It’s careful management by National which has turned round the forecast decade of deficits and has got the economy growing again.

One result of that is more jobs:

. . . Nationwide job numbers have been rising for the last 18 months with more people seeking work and successfully finding jobs across the country.

 According to the recruiter’s latest Hays Quarterly Hotspots list of skills in demand for the April to June quarter, the jobs growth is being led by professional, technical and administration workers.

 Significantly, it’s not only the rebuild in Christchurch that is generating new employment opportunities in New Zealand; jobs growth is gathering pace across all regions of the country. . .

Employment has lagged other positive indicators but that too is changing for the better.


Leaders lead but do followers follow?

April 11, 2014

David Cunliffe declared that a pre-election coalition between Labour and the Green Party was not going to be an option.

But was that the decision of his caucus or just his own?

The second tweet has a recording of David Parker saying that the decision was that of the leadership group but when asked to clarify that he suggests it was Cunliffe’s because “leaders lead”.

Leaders do lead but followers don’t always follow.

A caucus with a majority which didn’t consider Cunliffe their first choice as leader is quite likely to give less than its wholehearted support to any initiatives he takes.

Whether or not they do it’s yet another story which shows Labour hasn’t got its own act together and is, therefore, still not ready for government.


The right recipe for better times

April 10, 2014

Getting through the recession required careful management and disciplined spending.

Both those are needed when we get back into surplus:

Paul Goldsmith: Why will it remain important for the Government to maintain fiscal discipline, even after the Crown’s accounts return to surplus?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The first reason is that we should not, of course, be wasting taxpayers’ money, and, given that this Government has developed much more thoughtful ways of spending Government money, we should stick to that. Secondly, we want to make sure we do not put extra pressure on interest rates. The Reserve Bank has already started to raise interest rates from 50-year lows towards more neutral levels. Keeping Government spending under control means that over the course of the interest rate cycle, interest rates will be lower than they would otherwise be. The Government wants to avoid the mistakes of the previous cycle, when a 50 percent jump in

Government spending under the previous Labour Government led to first mortgage rates of close to 11 percent. Households and businesses simply could not carry that burden this time.

Paul Goldsmith: What will be the Government’s approach to allocating new spending in the Budget next month and in future years?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Government’s approach is to examine critically each of its interventions and to ensure that any new spending shows a clear pay-off. A good example would be the fairly significant commitment to increasing the quality of teaching, with a view that we will gain a clear pay-off of more children reaching national standards and higher levels of achievement in our secondary schools. We have found that if we take that robust approach, many propositions that people have simply do not add up to a good use of taxpayers’ money.

Hon David Parker: Did he say in 2008 “This is the rainy day that Government has been saving up for.”, after Labour ran nine Budget surpluses and reduced net Government debt to zero, and can he confirm his Government has since borrowed over $50 billion?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, I did say that. What the member left out of his little story is that in the last Labour Budget of 2008 they forecast a surplus of $1.3 billion. What actually happened was a deficit of over $3 billion, plus forecasts of a decade of deficits and a blowout in Government debt. We are very pleased this Government has been able to get that financial wreckage under control.

Paul Goldsmith: As part of its wider economic programme, what progress has the Government made in reducing previous increases in Government spending?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: If I could use just one measure of progress, following the previous Government’s final Budget in 2008, since that seems to be where Labour members prefer to fight their political battles, core Crown expenses jumped $7 billion, just in that Budget—just in that Budget. This left a deficit of $3.9 billion in Labour’s last year. Since then, under the discipline of the current National-led Government, spending has increased by only 13 percent over five Budgets, compared with a 12 percent increase in just the one Budget in 2008. We are very pleased to be off that track.

The country faced a decade of deficits because Labour squandered the good times, doing far more taxing and spending than was good the economy and implementing too few policies that promote growth.

National rejected the temptation to slash and burn, protecting the most vulnerable through the recession.

It had to borrow to do that.

Now surpluses are in sight, we need a government that continues careful management and discipline to reduce debt and keep the economy growing sustainably.

Labour’s failed policies of the past combined with new tax and spend measures won’t do that.

 


Greens spurned by Labour

April 10, 2014

Labour has spurned Green Party overtures to form a pre-election coalition.

ONE News has learnt the Green Party proposed a formal coalition with Labour to contest this year’s election but Labour MPs rejected it.

The proposal called on the two parties to campaign together and brand themselves as a future Labour/Greens Government. The proposal also wanted a divvy up of cabinet positions in proportion to the number of seats won.

It also called for a strategy on how the parties could work with New Zealand First.

“Some specific ideas that were put forward by the Greens did not find favour on our side…that’s a fair statement,” Labour Leader David Cunliffe told ONE News. . . .

Rejecting Green advances was Labour’s best option.

Most swinging voters in the centre aren’t enamoured of the Greens.

Any support Labour gained from the left with a pre-election coalition would be more than lost by the number of voters that prospect would have been scared away from the centre.

But Labour’s still got a problem.

It doesn’t want to govern with the Greens but could well find it difficult, if not impossible, to govern without them.

Whether they’re in a pre-election coalition or not, the prospect of the radical left policies a red-green government would implement isn’t at all attractive to undecided moderates.

 


From the Labour war room

April 9, 2014

Labour has turned its caucus room into a war room.

Whether that’s legitimate use of parliamentary premises which you and I pay for is moot.

However, this is the strategy that could come out of it:

 

Photo: Labour has set up a new election ‘war room’. We can only guess what the strategy looks like. What’s next?


Tau to retire

April 8, 2014

National list MP Tau Henare has announced that he will retire from politics at the election.

He’s one of the more prolific tweeters among MPs and that’s how he told the world:

The Dominion calls him a veteran:

. . . The veteran MP announced he will retire at the election.

The 53-year-old former Maori Affairs Minister made the announcement via Twitter this morning, saying: “Well, I’m on my way to caucus to inform my colleagues of the @NZNationalParty that I intend to retire at the upcoming General Election.”

Henare was first elected to Parliament in 1993 elections for New Zealand First in the former Northern Maori electorate.

He is currently chair of the Maori Affairs select committee and a member of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee. . .

He will be the 15th National MP to step down during this term or at the election which has provided a wonderful opportunity for healthy renewal in the caucus.

Contrast that with Labour which so far has had only one retirement announced.

National MPs are showing they know they can succeed outside parliament, most Labour ones are too scared to try.

National will be presenting fresh ideas and fresh faces to voters, Labour will have the same stale faces who squandered the good years of the noughties, and lost the 2005 and 2008 elections, offering the same old tax and spend policies.


Prove it

April 7, 2014

Act leader Jamie White is challenging David Cunliffe to prove he’d be better at investing money than the private sector.

The Labour Party has announced a return to “industrial policy”. If elected, they will decide which businesses and sectors of the economy will deliver the highest returns and promote them in various ways – most obviously, by subsidising them with taxpayers’ money.

This policy effectively replaces the decisions of private investors with the decisions of Labour Party politicians. It would be a foolish policy if Labour Party politicians were not better investors than the private investors they will replace.

So, before asking people to vote for the policy, shouldn’t David Cunliffe prove that he and his colleagues really are better investors than those who do it professionally?

He could do this easily. Mr Cunliffe could set up a small investment fund – $5,000 would suffice to get started – and trade it in the months before the election. Since he claims to know better than private investors which businesses will give the best returns, his fund should massively outperform the NZX 50 and other stock market indices. . .

Mr Cunliffe talks a good game when it comes to investing. And he plans to put your money where his mouth is. But before anyone goes along with him, they should insist that he puts his own money where his mouth is.

So I challenge Mr Cunliffe. Trade the stock market in the months before the election. Publish your trades as you make them and explain how you arrived at your supposed knowledge of which investments are best. By the election we will be able to see if you really do know what you claim to.

If you won’t accept the challenge, then withdraw your proposal to use taxpayers’ money to invest in the businesses that take your fancy.

A defining feature of the National-led government since 2008 is a respect for public money because they understand it’s other people’s.

That has yet to penetrate the we-know-better fog which envelopes the left, all of whom are concentrating on how they’ll divide the national pie rather than working on how to make it bigger.


How long does it take to select a candidate

April 6, 2014

Labour lists its candidate selection timetable which include:

East Coast Bays – nominations opened October 7th and closing April 28th.

Selwyn – nominations opened December 6th and closing April 28th.

How long does it take to select a candidate?

It’s a serious business but nearly seven months to select a candidate for East Coast Bays and nearly five months to select one for Selwyn makes it into an unnecessarily drawn out process.

 


More RMA reform needed

April 6, 2014

Environment Minister Amy Adams says the 2012/13 Resource Management Survey shows the Government’s first phase of RMA reforms aimed at improving consenting processes are paying off, however further reform of our planning frameworks is still required.

The survey of how well councils are implementing the Resource Management Act shows that 97 per cent of consents were processed on time for the 2012/2013 period, compared with 95 per cent in 2010/2011.

“This is a vast improvement from the 69 per cent of resource consents processed on time in 2007/08,” Ms Adams says.

Labour and the Green party have opposed National’s reforms but the figures show the positive difference they have made.

Delays are expensive, draining money and energy.

Speeding up the process helps productivity, whether or not consent is given.

“The overall trend across the country shows that resource consenting is becoming more timely and efficient, with fewer staff processing more resource consents. I commend councils for this improvement in performance.”

However the survey finds that resources and staffing required for the current planning framework is a challenge, particularly given extensive consultation requirements and maintaining community input and interest in the often lengthy processes.

“It is not surprising that plan making is identified as an area where further focus is required, as this has also been identified by the Government as a key area for reform, says Ms Adams.

“Councils also highlight the challenges in the time taken to move through planning processes and the difficulty in achieving regional consistency due to the different stages and nature of District Plans.”

“The Government’s reforms are specifically aimed at improving decision-making at every level and a driving fundamental shift towards more proactive planning for what we need, and away from reactive decisions through consents and court appeals.”

The biennial survey has been undertaken since 1995 and monitors council’s performance in implementing the Resource Management Act.

The RMA survey provides information on the Council processes, rather than the social, cultural, economic and environmental outcomes they contribute to.

This latest survey covers the period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 and all councils provided their data within the required timeframe and can be found at: http://www.mfe.govt.nz/publications/rma/annual-survey/index.html.

The RMA process is better than it was but further reform will make it better, reducing costs and delays for councils, applicants and anyone else supporting or opposing a consent.

 


No lolly scramble from National

April 3, 2014

If you’d been through several tough years in your household or business, were getting your head back above the water and had a little extra money, what would you do?

Pay down debt and put away something for the next crisis, or splash out?

If you were sensible you’d take the first option and that’s what National will do if it’s returned to government this year.

Prime Minister John Key said that in a speech which told us there will be no election year lolly scramble.

. . . Budget forecasts will show that in the coming financial year the Government is going to post a surplus, albeit a small one.

Once that has been achieved, we can start getting our debt down.

The Budget will show that we remain on track to reduce net government debt to below 20 per cent of GDP by 2020.

At the same time – over successive budgets – we have set out on a longer-term path to repair the damage to our economy from the excessive borrowing, consumption and government spending of the mid-2000s.

That path has involved reforms like the tax switch of 2010, that significantly reduced personal income tax rates across the board, and encouraged savings and work.

As I’ve said, the worst times are now behind us and the risks of another global crisis have lessened considerably.

So the Government’s focus has moved from managing our way through a recession, with persistent budget deficits, to managing a growing economy.

Initially, growth in the economy has been driven by low interest rates, high prices for our exports, a catch-up in housing supply and the rebuilding of Christchurch.

But this momentum has now turned into a much broader recovery where consumer and business confidence has lifted, employment is rising and wages on average are increasing faster than the cost of living.

Our focus is on sustaining economic growth over the medium term, so the economy doesn’t just burn brightly for a couple of years and then run out of oxygen.

Because when we talk about the economy – about things like GDP and the balance of payments – we’re ultimately talking about people’s jobs, their wages, and the costs they face in going about their daily lives and raising their families.

Therefore, it’s hugely important to continue the progress we’ve recently been making.

Over the past year, for example, 66,000 more people have got a job.

Average weekly wages have gone up 2.8 per cent, compared to inflation of only 1.6 per cent.

And the economy as a whole has grown 3.1 per cent – one of the faster growth rates in the developed world.

The Budget will show that this employment growth is forecast to continue and the unemployment rate is expected to fall.

Wages are forecast to continue rising faster than inflation.

And economic growth is forecast to continue.

So we are setting out to manage the growing economy with a five- to 10-year view in mind.

Our task is to take the opportunity of a reasonable growth outlook to deepen investment, upgrade skills, intensify and diversify our export base and become more competitive.

Firstly, on the Government’s fiscal strategy:

We have had an on-going commitment to discipline around government spending and that will continue this year, next year and for as long as we lead the Government.

One way to illustrate our approach is this – in the last five years of the previous Labour government, new operating spending each budget averaged $2.7 billion a year.

But in the five budgets of our government, new operating spending has averaged only $250 million a year.

So that’s less than a tenth of the rate of new spending under Labour.

In the last five years of Labour, government spending in total went up 50 per cent.

Bill English often describes that period as a kind of experiment to determine if indiscriminately spending large amounts of money would solve social problems.

Turns out it didn’t.

Spending more doesn’t necessarily get better results.

In contrast, we’ve had a different approach, which is to focus on what is really driving social outcomes like crime, welfare dependency and underachievement at school, and address those underlying causes.

That approach is delivering real results, without breaking the bank. In fact, over the longer term it saves money.

In prisons, for example, we have focused very strongly on literacy and numeracy, skills training, treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, working prisons and reintegration of ex-prisoners into the community.

That is giving offenders the opportunity to turn their lives around and stay away from crime.

Already this approach has reduced reoffending by 12.6 per cent, which is halfway to the target we’ve set ourselves of a 25 per cent drop.

So far, it has meant around 2,300 fewer offenders and 9,300 fewer victims of crime each year.

In welfare, we have focused on getting people off benefits and into work, because that is the best way to lift people and their families out of poverty.

This has involved an upfront investment in case management and support, but it’s expected to have a considerable pay-off as people leave life on a benefit to get established in full-time work.

Addressing these and other issues hasn’t meant big increases in spending.

In fact, we’ve found that the possibility of more spending can be a distraction from a growing focus in the public sector on solving complex problems rather than throwing money at them.

Government spending has actually been declining as a proportion of the economy, at the same time as we have been achieving these results.

In 2008/09, government spending came to 34.5 per cent of GDP. In the coming year it’s forecast to be 30.6 per cent before going under 30 per cent and staying there.

That is hugely important when the economy is on an upswing because – as the Reserve Bank regularly points out – on-going spending restraint from the Government helps to dampen the interest rate cycle.

The Reserve Bank has already begun to raise interest rates from the historically low levels they’ve been at, towards more neutral levels that aren’t going to over-stimulate the economy.

But keeping government spending under control means that, over the course of the cycle, interest rates will be lower than they otherwise would have to be, and for longer.

In turn, that helps to keep the exchange rate lower than it would be, which is important for the overall competitiveness of the economy.

If you want a real live example of the relationship between government spending and interest rates, think about what happened in the mid-2000s, when the Labour government was putting large cash injections into the economy.

Government spending overheated the economy so much that the Reserve Bank was forced to keep putting up rates, higher and higher, to get on top of it.

By 2008, households faced mortgage rates of almost 11 per cent. Business lending rates were also very high.

In the end, the country went into recession in 2008, well before the global financial crisis.

The National-led Government will avoid repeating the glaring mistakes made in the previous economic cycle.

While some increase in interest rates is an inevitable consequence of a healthy and growing economy, we need to do everything we can to help keep rate rises to a minimum.

And we believe we have the support of New Zealanders who can remember the dashed hopes of debt-fuelled growth and floating mortgage rates above 10 per cent.

So there is not going to be a lolly scramble in this year’s Budget. And we also won’t be doing that in the election campaign later this year.

In this year’s Budget we will be sticking to our new spending allowance of $1 billion.

Together with some sensible savings, this allows us to focus new spending mainly on health and education – which are always at the heart of our budgets – and on families and children.

And sticking to the allowance will enable us to post a small budget surplus in 2014/15, which we have long promised.

In future budgets, we will be posting consistent and larger surpluses. Those surpluses will allow us to begin reducing debt as a proportion of GDP.

This is what sensible and responsible fiscal policy is all about.

In difficult times, governments run deficits and built up debt, to support the economy and jobs. In good times, they run surpluses and pay down that debt. . .

Labour did use some of the tax windfall of the noughties to reduce debt but it also increased spending unsustainably.

Policies it’s announced so far show it hasn’t learned from that mistake.

This gives voters a very real choice in the election – fiscal prudence and responsibility from National or higher taxes and higher spending from Labour and its fellow travellers on the left.


Norman helps National again

March 30, 2014

Undecided voters in the centre generally don’t like parties on the extremes of politics.

They don’t wholeheartedly support National or Labour but they prefer them to those at the more radical end of the political spectrum.

They are more likely to favour a stronger major party because of that, knowing that any of the wee parties which are needed to form a government will have a lot less leverage.

That’s one reason labour is struggling.

Some who might support it aren’t at all keen on the thought of the influence a Green Party with a third as many MPs as Labour would have.

Any flexing of muscles by the Greens might appeal to its supporters but it sends those to the right of the left and in the centre further right.

Russel Norman’s announcement he wants to be deputy Prime Minister will excite his party’s grass roots but it will scare a lot of undecided and swinging voters.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman wants to be deputy prime minister if Labour and Greens become government after this year’s election.

Any cabinet formed after the September election should be proportional, and the deputy prime minister role would certainly be on the table, Dr Norman told The Nation today.

“Obviously it depends on the size of the vote,” he said. . .

Keeping talking like that, Russel, it will hurt Labour and help National.

P.S.

Does this ambition on Norman’s part expose the nonsense of co-leaders. After all, if he and Metiria Turei are truely equal as leaders, why would he be deputy PM ahead of her?


Reverse Midas touch working again

March 29, 2014

Labour spent months telling us manufacturing was doomed and look what’s happened:
Photo: Crisis? What crisis? Stats NZ says manufacturing is sparking. Read more at http://tinyurl.com/mmqv6vz

 

They’ve also put a lot of energy into telling us the regions are going backwards but the reverse Midas touch is working here too.

They hold only two general seats outside the main centres which means they’re out of touch.

Their MPs swan into the regions,  tell us how dreadful things are and go back to the city.

Those of us who live in the provinces know the story they tell doesn’t match the reality we live.

This picture shows the true story:
Photo: Regional New Zealand is leading our recovery from the GFC. Find out more at www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=43489

 


Provinces lead recovery

March 28, 2014

Data on economic activity since 2008 shows the provinces have led the economic recovery:

Provincial regions across the country have led New Zealand’s economic recovery from the Global Financial Crisis according to new Statistics New Zealand numbers released today, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says.

Bay Of Plenty, Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay in the North Island, and Nelson/Tasman, Canterbury, Otago, and Southland, have experienced growth above the national average of the five year period from 2008 to 2013, while Auckland, the West Coast, and Waikato have been just under the average. Meanwhile Taranaki continues to generate the highest GDP per capita by some margin.

Taranaki has milk and minerals and they’re benefiting from both.

“This new regional data, which wasn’t previously calculated, is the clearest indicator yet that it is our regional economies that have led New Zealand’s recovery from the GFC,” Mr Joyce says. “Sustained economic growth is the only way we can create more jobs and increase incomes.”

New regional GDP data, which is now available up until 31 March last year, covers the period of the GFC, the Canterbury earthquakes, and last summer’s drought which affected agricultural regions across the country.

“We can see in the data the clear effects of the drought last summer with a number of more farming-based regions having a tougher time in the year to 31 March 2013.  We can also see the positive effect of the first stages of the earthquake rebuild in Canterbury, with growth of six per cent recorded in just one year,” Mr Joyce says.

“Overall the South Island has experienced stronger growth than the North Island over the last five years. The South has grown at 21 per cent while the North has grown 13 per cent in five years. That’s another signal, alongside lower unemployment rates, that there are significant job opportunities in the South Island.

Mr Joyce says regional GDP statistics would become a regular feature of the national landscape in the years ahead. 

“It’s important to have clear indicators for the regions of the results of their efforts to attract investment and encourage growth,” Mr Joyce says.

Labour continues its doom and gloom approach saying the regions have been hollowed out under National.

But they’re only looking at last year:

Decreases were recorded in eight of 15 regions as a result of fluctuations in commodity prices and the 2012/13 drought, which was the worst since 1946. . .

Both of those are beyond government control.

The Canterbury rebuild is certainly having a positive impact on economic growth in the south but farming, in particular dairying; tourism – helped by newly developed cycle trails – and other sectors are doing well throughout the south.

Labour holds only two provincial seats and while its MPs like to grace the provinces with occasional visits to tell us how bad things are, the reality is much brighter.

It will continue to be that way if we can keep a National-led government which focuses on what matters, which includes keeping a tight rein on its own spending and better performance for less money from public services.

The outlook won’t be nearly as bright if there’s a change and we get a Labour/Green government propped up by whichever other parties they need imposing higher spending and more taxes on us.


Letting down candidates from start

March 26, 2014

Labour is letting down its candidates from the start by getting media releases about their selection wrong.

Take this one announcing the candidates for Botany and Pakuranga for example.

The first four paragraphs talk about the process and only then does it get to the candidate, Tofik Mamedov, but still expends more words on the process than him.

It then talks about his nationality and that he’s been campaigning but it doesn’t give any of the biographical details you’d expect, would-be voters would want to know and which might have a chance of being published.

The omission is emphasised because the release carries on to talk about the selection of the party’s candidate for Pakuranga, Barry Kirker, about whom it does give some details.

That release was bad enough, but it compounded its mistake with an even worse one which listed the  two candidates covered in the first release with those for three other electorates – Papakura, Taranaki-King Country and Whangarei.

The party might have no hope of winning these seats but it should be able to give the candidates the dignity of a separate, and comprehensive, media release.


Help this, hurt that

March 25, 2014

Richard Prebble points out that by trying to help the wood sector, Labour will be hurting others:

“Forestry and Wood Products: Economic Upgrade” is a boring title for a policy. We have a new title “Only Maori can apply”. See, you are already interested. (We are not making this up. Labour proposes a tree planting programme costing $20 million a year that is only open to Iwi).

Anti-New Zealand Steel ?

“Labour is pro-wood” says David Cunliffe. Boring! Why not say “Labour is anti-steel framed houses?” Now we want to know why. Does Cunliffe know that much of the steel framing for housing around the world is made in computer driven mills invented and manufactured in New Zealand? New Zealand has three steel frame mill makers and they dominate the world market. The steel used in New Zealand buildings is manufactured in this country too.

More leaks

Labour could have got far more coverage for their forestry policy by saying it is Labour policy to force up the cost of home building. If the country had used more steel framing the leaky homes scandal would have cost less. Steel framed homes are now being exported to the islands because they are easier to erect and have less maintenance issues. But surely what material you use should be your choice ?

Policies have consequences

The biggest loser from the leaky building scandal is the Ministry of Education. It is going to cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars to fix all the leaky schools. The fault is not the use of wood but a government policy to accept the lowest tender. The worst leaky schools were designed by the same cheap architect. Requiring all government building four stories or less to be built of wood will have unintended consequences like a five storey school because it is cheaper to build.

Increased petrol prices

Buried in Labour’s “pro wood” policies is a proposal that companies needing to buy offsetting carbon credits must purchase 50% of their carbon credits from New Zealand forestry owners. It is called global warming for a reason. A New Zealand carbon credit is no better for the environment. Labour admits New Zealand forestry owners will increase the price of ETAs but then say “COST: This measure will be revenue-creating rather than a net expenditure”. That is like saying a tax increase has no cost because it raises government money!

Some goss

Where does this nonsense come from? The transfer of the Central North Island forests to iwi has made Maori the nation’s biggest forest owners. A new generation of Maori leaders whole work experience has been that wealth comes from the government. How to increase the value of their forests? Get the government to change the rules to force the country to use wood. Iwi have lobbied Shane Jones who has been the driver of this potentially multi-million dollar gravy train. . .

Whether or not the pro-wood policy would benefit for any group, Maori or not, is not the problem.

It is that it would benefit the wood sector at the expense of others.

It’s not just the steel industry which is upset about Labour’s favouritism, the concrete industry is too:

Labour’s “pro-wood” government procurement strategy will create an inappropriate commercial advantage for one construction sector over another, according to the New Zealand cement and concrete industries.

Announced today by David Cunliffe at the ForestWood conference in Wellington, the policy would mandate that “all government-funded project proposals for new buildings up to four storeys high shall require a build-in-wood option at the initial concept / request-for-proposals stage (with indicative sketches and price estimates).”

Rob Gaimster, CEO of the Cement & Concrete Association of New Zealand (CCANZ), believes that policies which appear to be giving preferential treatment to one construction material are misguided.

“It is inappropriate to mandate that those designing new government buildings consider wood as a structural option, and then require an explanation if an alternative material is chosen,” says Mr Gaimster.

“Government should not be picking winners when it comes to the selection of construction materials, which should stand or fall on their own technical, cost, aesthetic and sustainability credentials.

“In addition, the policy does a huge dis-service to the hardworking men and women in the cement and concrete industries. Favouring a single construction material during the design phase of a new government building could seriously impact on their livelihoods and jobs.

“This policy does not create a level playing field for the use of construction materials in government buildings. In fact, materials other than wood will be considerably disadvantaged.

“We are concerned about the wide-reaching implications of this policy and believe it should in no circumstances be adopted.”

 

Out climate makes it easy to grow wood and we produce a lot of it.

Adding value to it would create jobs and that would be good if that’s what domestic and markets wanted, at the price they’re prepared to pay.

Getting the government involved to favour wood at the expense of other materials, especially those with a significant local input, is expensive, misguided and unfair.


Forgetting or ignoring?

March 24, 2014

More headless chookery from Labour:

New Zealand’s interest rates are among the highest in the world and homeowners that are bearing the brunt of them should join Labour’s call for an Economic Upgrade, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says.

“New Zealand mortgage rates are higher than Australia and much of the developed world. That’s because our economy is not paying its way in the world and has major issues that need to be fixed. . .

Any difference in interest rates is a sign of the health of our economies. New Zealand’s is doing better than Australia’s.

That does present us with the threat of inflation which the Reserve Bank has a duty to keep under control.

That’s why the Official Cash Rate eased up from months at an historic low to 2.75 percent last week.

That’s no reason for Cunliffe to run round pretending the sky is falling.

Has he forgotten that people were paying around 11% on mortgages when the government in which he was a minister lost power in 2008?

Has he forgotten that one of the reasons for that was the high taxing, high spending policies of his government?

If he isn’t forgetting that then he’s ignoring the lessons from that and his own education which would be worse.

But that would explain why he’s peddling the unfortunately similar prescription of more tax, more churn, more spending which is what Labour policies announced so far threaten.


Software to blame

March 23, 2014

The NBR’s In Tray (not on-line) has identified a software problem:

Stung by surveys showing ongoing popular resistance to its new brand, the blue-collar chip software company Labour is understood to be mulling a re-launch of its recently unveiled product. Since the Leadership3, unpopularly known as Cunliffe, appeared on the market last year, consumers focus groups drawn from across the board have shown marked resistance to the Cunliffe package with one recent survey showing that fewer than one in three consumers would buy the item if it were offered in its current condition this year. A marketing campaign headed by Mattski & Associates, has suggested a number of fresh priorities for the brand, including a new name (CunLife, “emphasising new energy, new direction, new donations”), a gruelling schedule of presentations to business seminars and the possibility of a guest appearance as a sports anchor at the next major All Blacks fixture at the [cont'd]

If that’s the case does the party need a reboot or a whole new programme?


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