Facebook posts of the day:
Quote of the day:
”. . . As much of an attraction as the Moeraki Boulders are, I’m happy to lay a sizeable wager that when the first boat does arrive in New Zealand waters, it won’t be sailing past the West Coast, rounding Stewart Island, and making its way up to Oamaru.
”These are childish people trying to play grown-up. If they want to spend their days walking up and down the beach staring at the ocean, perhaps they could do something useful and bring a rubbish bag to tidy up while they’re at it.” Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.
He was responding to reports that Right Wing Resistance New Zealand (RWR) had delivered pamphlets seeking men to form ”armed coastal patrols” to ”protect” the coast from ”people smugglers” and ”illegal foreign fishing”.
The Minister was supported by Waitaki Mayor:
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said Mr Chapman and his group were ”a joke” and the idea of armed boat patrols was ”just more idiocy from a group of people that are really not bright enough to know what they are doing”.
If #gigtownoamaru becomes the southern hemisphere’s first gigatown it will be even more attractive to immigrants but it is not in need of this sort of defence.
“The Veterans’ Support Bill enables the Government to better meet the needs of both older veterans who require assistance to remain in their own homes and veterans of modern-day deployments,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“The Government recognises the significant sacrifice and contribution our veterans have made for our country. Replacing the outdated War Pensions Act 1954 with this modern bill demonstrates our commitment to those who have given service.”
The Veteran’ Support Bill follows a Law Commission report that provided the most comprehensive review of veterans’ entitlements in 60 years.
“The Government has adopted 132 of the 170 recommendations reported by the Law Commission as part of a $60 million package of changes of which this Bill forms the material part.
“I have received positive feedback from a number of veterans on the changes, and have confidence the Veterans’ Support bill will better meet their needs and provide the support they require going forward.”
The Bill contains many of the same provisions as the current Act. The service eligibility criteria remain the same and all veterans currently covered under the 1954 Act will have coverage under the new legislation.
Veterans from the Korean War are among those who will benefit from this legislation.
Most of us haven’t got any closer to that war than watching MASH on TV.
But National MP Melissa Lee is Korean and made a moving speech in parliament last night. She spoke of what our service people did, how it helped the people and describing herself as one of those beneficiaries:
Why do we need immigrant workers when there are so many New Zealanders unemployed?
One answer to that question is that sometimes immigrants are better than locals.
. . . I want to share with you my thoughts on the ‘Kiwis first’ policy in the context of migrant labour because there is debate about the number of overseas workers in our workforce and this raises a number of issues.
The broader context to that debate is simply this: the opposition often cries “Where are the jobs?” And they do so at a time when, for every Kiwi receiving an unemployment benefit there are between 3 and 4 foreign nationals working in New Zealand on various types of visas. So what many of those who ask “where are the jobs?” are really saying is “where are the jobs that are in exactly the place I want, doing the type of work I want, paying what I think I should earn and tolerating all of my shortcomings”.
And the employers who say that prospective kiwi employees are too hard to train, have bad attitudes and are generally unhappy with the quality of some of the New Zealanders they have been offered by Work and Income need to also reflect on their efforts. I appreciate that employers might not always get exactly what they want, and I acknowledge that for some young New Zealanders there are barriers to employment.
Four barriers spring to mind: education and skills, mobility, attitude and recreational drug and alcohol use. But they are barriers to overcome, not immoveable impediments. In the short term migrant labour will ease this problem, but I get the feeling that some employers and some industries have become overly reliant on this as a long-term salve.
In the future I expect industries that are successful in having an occupation added to a Skills in Demand list, or an employer granted an Approval in Principal to employ temporary migrant labour will, as a condition of the continuation of that status, be more energetic in working with Government to find a long term solution, and more diligent in demonstrating to me that they are doing all they can to ease their labour shortages domestically.
I won’t constrain a firm’s ability to grow in the short term, but I will be encouraging and expecting them to invest in New Zealanders by up skilling and training them so they have an opportunity to maximise their potential. . .
When were were applying to employ an immigrant the Immigration Department told us that WINZ had several people on their unemployed list who could work for us.
We went into WINZ to discuss the possibilities. This was a few years ago when unemployment was low. I said we could manage someone without experience but doubted there was anyone on WINZ’s books who would have that attitude we were looking for.
The consultant agreed with me and signed the immigration form saying there was no-one suitable on her books.
Unemployment is higher now so this shouldn’t be the case.
Unfortunately it sill is.
Some people don’t just want a job. As the Minister said, they want a job in a particular place, doing what they choose, paying what they think they’re worth and accepting of their shortcomings.
This isn’t just difficult for employers it makes work difficult, sometimes dangerous, for other employees.
However, while employers’ first responsibility is to their business, employees and customers, we can’t always expect to get exactly the employees we want.
We shouldn’t be expected to take on the unemployable but we can’t expect the government and other employers to do all the training and upskilling of those who, with a bit of time and effort, could be employable.
Outgoing chief executive of the state owned farming enterprise, Landcorp, says it could play a greater role in industry good functions such as training and technology transfer.
But that would require the agreement of Landcorp’s sole shareholder, the Government. . .
Chirs Kelly . . . says under the SOE Act, Landcorp is required to operate profitably. . .
“I think if Landcorp can pass on some of its successes and help lift farming generally in New Zealand that will do a lot for the country itself ,so I see we do have a bit of an industry role as well, but it is a bit of a dichotomy with the SOE Act.”
There is such a thing as a social dividend and that would include training, for which Landcorp has a good reputation.
But there’s an awful lot of money tied up in the company which makes very low returns on capital.
Rather than making even less to fulfil a social role it would be better to sell the farms and invest at least some of the proceeds in education and training.
Different cultures have different rules and different ideas of what is acceptable including over the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers.
In New Zealand it isn’t acceptable to exploit workers and changes to the law protecting migrants are welcome:
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has announced measures to combat the exploitation of migrant workers, and make it clear that unlawful and exploitative behaviour will not be tolerated in New Zealand.
“By breaking the law, unscrupulous employers not only harm their staff but they also gain an unfair advantage over their law-abiding competitors.
“New proposals will see exploitative employers face lengthy prison time, hefty fines, and in some cases deportation back to their country of origin. Changes have also been made to encourage victims of exploitation to come forward.
“I plan to amend the Immigration Act to make it a specific offence to exploit migrants who hold temporary work visas. The proposed penalty will reflect the seriousness of the offence – imprisonment for up to seven years, a fine not exceeding $100,000, or both.
“Unlawful migrants are already protected by the Act in this way, and it is only right that lawful migrants have the same protections,” Mr Woodhouse says.
“I also propose to make exploitative employers with residence visas liable for deportation if the offence was committed within 10 years of gaining residence. We are seeing an increasing number of cases where the crooked employer is themself a migrant, taking advantage of vulnerable people from their own community.
“Changing the law to make such employers liable for deportation sends a strong message that the government will not tolerate such behaviour.”
This is a good move. Not all expoitative employers are immigrants but those who are must learn what is and isn’t acceptable practice here regardless of whether it might or might not be in their home countries.
Mr Woodhouse says that the legislative changes are likely to be introduced by August, and are in addition to a number of other steps being taken by the government to address the issue of migrant exploitation.
“Last week I signed off on an immigration policy change to encourage victims of exploitation to come forward so that action can be taken. There are currently few incentives for migrants to report exploitative practices by employers – particularly when the worker is in breach of their visa conditions, or is unlawful.
“The new policy means that in cases of serious workplace exploitation, migrants who come forward will be allowed to remain in New Zealand while they apply for a new visa. This will also help us better understand the true extent of migrant exploitation in New Zealand.
“I am also working closely with the Minister of Labour, Simon Bridges, to ensure cross-agency collaboration on this important issue. He is looking at operational and legislative mechanisms to improve enforcement of minimum employment standards, including proportionate and severe sanctions for serious breaches.”
“Ministers have made it clear to agencies that we expect a whole-of-government response to combating migrant exploitation, and MBIE’s Labour Inspectorate and Immigration New Zealand are undertaking joint enforcement actions targeting the fishing, hospitality, horticulture and viticulture industries.
“The decision last year to require the reflagging of foreign-owned fishing vessels clearly demonstrated that putting a stop to illegal exploitation is a priority for the Government. These new immigration changes are another important step towards achieving that goal.”
Migrant workers who may not have good language English and an understanding of their rights are particularly vulnerable to exploitation.
There is no excuse for migrant employers who exploit their workers and there is even less for local employers who should be familiar with their responsibilities to staff.
The main victims of exploitation are the workers who are being exploited. The exploitation also creates unfair competition for other workers and employers who follow the law.
A transcript of the interview of the minister on Q&A is here.
MMP has been given some of the blame for the inability to kick Aaron Gilmore out of parliament.
Is that fair?
Both list and electorate MPs can be sacked from their caucus and party but if they don’t resign they stay in parliament until the next election when voters give their verdict.
However, while a voters can ensure an MP doesn’t win an electorate they have no influence on where a candidate is on their party’s list. That means they can vote for someone else in the electorate but still find the person they rejected has got into parliament.
This is an aspect of the system on which many people submitted to the review of MMP, arguing that if an MP loses a seat, or contests it and fails to win it, s/he should not be able to enter parliament on the list.
I disagree with that.
Standing in an electorate ensures candidates face the voters and get to know the people whose support they are soliciting and learn about their concerns.
If they take it seriously, and given it’s the party vote which really counts they’d be stupid not to, they gain an understanding of the individuals, groups and communities on whom their policies will impact.
The goods ones don’t just stand in an electorate they stay in touch with it, working with and for the people in it. And failing once or twice doesn’t prevent later success.
Eric Roy* and Nicky Wagner, for example, failed to win electorates but got in on the list, worked hard, earned the support of the people and won Invercargill and Christchurch Central respectively.
Others like Chris Finlayson and Michael Woodhouse have stood in dark red seats they have little hope of winning, but even those who don’t share their political views would be hard pressed to criticise their performance as MPs and Ministers.
I have no doubt that standing in electorates has helped them in their work.
That not all list MPs who stand in seats perform well in parliament is not a reason to change the rules to prevent dual candidacy.
MMP is not my preferred electoral system but the advantages of dual candidacies outweigh the disadvantages.
One valid criticism of the system is that list MPs aren’t directly answerable to constituents. Dual candidacy at least means they have to front up to voters.
Good MPs will ensure they don’t squander the goodwill they earn by doing so by continuing to work in electorates whether or not they have any chance of winning them.
But to return to the original question of whether it’s MMP’s fault that Gilmore could have stayed in parliament had he not chosen to resign.
It’s not. But it is the system which enabled him to be there in the first place and that system has given less power to people in electorates and more to parties.
If parties get an electorate selection wrong, voters can ensure the candidate doesn’t get into parliament. They can’t do that with an individual list MP.
* Eric first entered parliament in 1993 by winning the seat of Ararua which disappeared when MMP was introduced. He stood unsuccessfully for Invercargill twice but stayed in parliament as a list MP. He missed out on the electorate and list in 2002 but won the seat in 2005.
New rules for agricultural vehicles will reduce compliance costs while maintaining safety standards, says Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse.
Mr Woodhouse has signed changes to Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Rule 1999 and seven other Land Transport Rules that will offer agricultural vehicle owners improved compliance and greater operational flexibility from 1 June 2013.
“This Government recognises that the primary sector remains the powerhouse of New Zealand’s economy and we want to remove unnecessary costs and red tape,” says Mr Woodhouse.
The Ministry of Transport estimates that changes will result in a net benefit of $51 million over 25 years. . .
Great white butterfly not pretty - RivettingKate Taylor:
Federated Farmers has put out a warning about a significant new pest threat – the great white butterfly.
What is it?
It is a significant pest of brassica vegetable crops. Its caterpillars feed voraciously on host plants reducing them to a skeleton. In New Zealand, it poses a major threat to commercial and animal forage brassica vegetable crops. It could also have serious consequences for the survival of many of New Zealand’s 79 native cress species. . .
A referendum of forest growers has shown strong support for a levy on harvested forest products.
“We have been given the thumbs-up to introduce a funding system that will provide greater certainty, equity and commitment for activities that benefit all growers, such as research, promotion and forest health,” says Forest Growers Levy Trust chair Geoff Thompson.
“At this stage, we expect the levy to be introduced on 1 January 2014.” . . .
The untapped potential of Marlborough’s primary sector, if cleverly exploited, could take this region out in front of the field as an export earner according to a report prepared for the Marlborough Research Centre (MRC).
The research, examining the prospects for innovation with existing primary products, suggests that these industries could be transformed, said MRC chief executive Gerald Hope.
“There’s enormous scope for products which are health and performance oriented. It’s about turning smart ideas and clever science into new products and processes which will meet the expectations of the future,” said Mr Hope. . .
Wattie’s Canterbury green bean crop has, like its sister crop of tomatoes in Hastings, relished the benefits of the country’s hot, dry summer, which has also been experienced by the wine industry.
Harvesting and processing of the beans is scheduled to finish this week, and Wattie’s South Island Agricultural Manager Mark Daniels reports excellent yields and blemish-free quality.
“Our bean crop has thrived under the hot dry conditions and we are finishing slightly ahead of schedule compared with recent years. . .
Is it possible to make world class wines from Syrah and Bordeaux varietals grown in the same area?
In France, you would have to drive almost 500km between Bordeaux and the Northern Rhone. Yet in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand, GIMBLETT GRAVELS wines from these grape varieties – growing, literally, side by side in an area less than 800 hectares (2000 acres) – continue to receive acclaim from leading international wine critics.
Each year, the Gimblett Gravels Winegrowers Association (GGWA) releases to key wine influencers a limited number of their Annual Vintage Selection, comprising an independent selection of the members’ red wines that best represent the given vintage. The current 2010 vintage, selected by Andrew Caillard MW, comprises nine blended reds (from Bordeaux varieties) and three Syrah’s. . .
Prime Minister John Key has announced a bigger Cabinet reshuffle than anticipated:
Mr Key confirmed the Government’s nominee for Speaker to replace the departing Lockwood Smith will be long-serving National MP and Cabinet Minister David Carter.
“I’m pleased to announce David Carter as the Government’s nominee for Speaker and I’d like to thank him for his service as a Minister,” Mr Key says.
“I have taken the opportunity presented by the change of Speaker to look at the Cabinet line-up as a whole, in the context of the Government’s priorities.
“As we begin a new year I am optimistic about the progress we can make, while being mindful of the challenges created, in particular, by the uncertain international economic environment.
“New Zealanders expect their elected Government to get on, and not only do what it has promised to do, but to do so with a sense of urgency and purpose, with real energy and new thinking along the way.
“It is in this context I have decided to make changes to the Ministry.”
Two other Ministers will also be leaving Cabinet on 29 January – Phil Heatley and Kate Wilkinson.
“Phil and Kate have both made a real contribution to the Government in their four years as Ministers and I’d like to thank them for that,” Mr Key says.
“I have made the judgement that it is time for fresh energy and ideas, and for other members of our talented 59-strong caucus to be given an opportunity.”
Returning to Cabinet is Nick Smith, who will take on the Housing and Conservation portfolios. Mr Key says Dr Smith will bring his trademark energy to housing market and social housing issues, which are of real public interest.
“I have also asked Social Development Minister Paula Bennett to work with Nick as Associate Housing Minister, reflecting the strong links between these two areas. Tariana Turia will remain as Associate Minister and a part of that housing team.”
Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye will be appointed to Cabinet where she will become Minister for Food Safety, Youth Affairs and Civil Defence. She will also be Associate Education Minister, reflecting her work as Chair of the Education select committee.
Senior Whip Michael Woodhouse will be the third new Minister, serving outside Cabinet as Immigration and Veterans Affairs’ Minister as well as Associate Transport Minister.
“I’d like to congratulate Nikki and Michael on their promotions, which are both well deserved,” Mr Key says.
The remaining position inside Cabinet will be filled by Simon Bridges, who will be promoted from outside Cabinet and take on the Labour and Energy and Resources portfolios.
“Simon has had a very good first year as a Minister and is ready to step up and take on more responsibility,” Mr Key says.
Nathan Guy will pick up the Primary Industries portfolio to be vacated by David Carter, with Jo Goodhew assisting him as Associate Minister.
Mr Key says Chris Tremain will be appointed as Local Government Minister and is well placed to work with the sector on the Government’s well-advanced reforms.
Mr Key says he had also decided to make a change in relation to Novopay.
“I share the concerns of teachers and principals at continuing problems in the operation of Novopay, and fixing this as quickly as possible is a priority,” he says.
“A fresh set of eyes is needed and I have asked Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce to take on this responsibility.”
The change will be done through a transfer of responsibility to Mr Joyce under section 7 of the Constitution Act.
“Getting Novopay working as it should may take some time, given what appears to be the systemic issues involved. I can assure teachers that we want to get Novopay sorted as soon as possible.
“With this change and Nikki Kaye’s appointment, there is no need for Mr Foss to remain as Associate Education Minister. I have instead asked him to pick up the role of Minister of Consumer Affairs, which will link in with his existing responsibilities as Commerce Minister.”
Mr Key says there are also two notable promotions in terms of Ministerial rankings in the Cabinet changes – with Jonathan Coleman rising to 10, and Amy Adams to 15.
The resignations of Mr Carter, Mr Heatley and Ms Wilkinson will take effect on 29 January, and all the other changes will take effect on Thursday 31 January, when the Governor-General appoints the new Ministers, and the necessary paperwork will have been completed.
Mr Key says it is anticipated that a new Senior Whip will be elected at National’s first caucus meeting of the year on 29 January 2013.
“This refreshed Ministerial team is ready to continue the Government’s focus on its four key priorities for this term – responsibly managing the Government’s finances, building a more competitive and productive economy, delivering better public services within fiscal restraints, and supporting the rebuilding of Christchurch,” Mr Key says.
“I will have more to say about how we intend to meet these priorities in coming days.”
The promotion of David Carter to speaker and Nick Smith’s reinstatement aren’t a surprise.
The other changes are unexpected but refreshment is a good.
Nikki Kaye and Michael Woodhouse have earned respect as chair of the Education Select Committee and Senior Whip respectively.
Promotions always cause disappointment for those who miss out but these two are deserved.
Questions are being raised about the practicality of Labour’s plan to build 100,000 houses for around $300,000.
Acting Minister of Finance Steven Joyce explains some of the flaws in the proposal:
One of the big issues in Auckland is the availability and price of land. The median cost of an Auckland section is nearly $320,000, which is around 60 percent of the cost of the house, and that compares with around 40 percent in the rest of New Zealand. That is why the Government is putting a big emphasis on land section availability in our biggest city. I have heard there are some people who believe there are thousands of sections around Auckland available for around $50,000, apparently. That is news to most people. I actually suspect we would have to zone all the land to Taupō as residential before we would get to that sort of price.
John Hayes: Has he received any other proposals on housing affordability?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I have received a proposal that would take $1.5 billion of borrowed money, magically build $30 billion worth of houses with it, provide those houses to people at low interest rates but apparently at no cost to the Government, and then get the $1.5 billion straight back again. Under this particular “back of the envelope” plan, apparently, two-thirds of these houses will be built in Auckland on all those widely available sections that sell for $50,000. A very esteemed colleague of mine has referred to this plan as Fantasy land.
Section prices in Fantasy land must be considerably cheaper than those in Auckland.
However, the Prime Minister has found somewhere else it would be possible to build a less expensive house:
Michael Woodhouse: Has he heard of any reports that would encourage the building of at least one house for $300,000?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I have. I have seen the reports that there would be interest to build one house for $300,000 in Lumsden. The advice I have had is that it is possible to build a house for $300,000 in Lumsden. That house would contain David Cunliffe and it would be called the doghouse.
I suspect it would be possible to build a house for less than that in Lumsden, and of a much higher standard than the average doghouse.
Those of us who’ve wondered where Labour is getting its policies from have an answer:
David Shearer: Is the Prime Minister aware that Kurdistan recently postponed selling its state-owned mobile network, Russia recently cancelled three State privatisations, Hungary is preparing to renationalise a gas company, and Croatia has cancelled selling off its State bank?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No, but now it is all starting to become clear where Labour is getting its economic policies from!
Those who wonder why the government wants to sell minority shares in a few energy companies also got an answer:
Michael Woodhouse: Why is it important that the share offer programme goes ahead?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: It is important, firstly, because the Government can use the proceeds of the share offer to invest in new public infrastructure without having to borrow so much to do so. This is exactly the same situation as in 2005 when the previous Government took $600 million from the sale of publicly owned asset Southern Hydro and used it to invest in roads. The share offer also gives New Zealand savers the opportunity to invest either directly or indirectly in big New Zealand companies, and being publicly listed will be good for the companies themselves. . .
I do believe bringing these companies to the market through the mixed-ownership model is a good, sound economic approach, and actually I think it will deliver a better result for New Zealand without having to borrow more money. . .
Those who wonder who will benefit from the investment got an answer too:
David Shearer: Is it his aim in selling off assets to maximise return to the New Zealand taxpayer or, given that the value of shares is likely to slump as result of the sales, is it to give enormous bargains to those buyers rich enough to buy shares?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member will be aware, because of the Securities Act, that I cannot offer a comment on whether the share sales are likely to be successful or not. What I can say is that if one goes and looks at TradeMe as an example, they will see it was brought to the market under what can really only be described as the mixed-ownership model, and that has proven to be very successful. I think if one also looks at the number of KiwiSaver accounts, the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, the other pension funds in New Zealand, and mums and dads looking for investments, they will find those to be attractive investments. . .
And those wondering about alternatives to the partial sales also got an answer:
Michael Woodhouse: What reports has he seen on any alternative approaches to paying for new public infrastructure?
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I am aware of a couple of approaches. One is simply to go out there and print money in the misguided belief it will make a country wealthy. Today I have with me actually a $500 million Zimbabwean note. Members might be interested to know that when this was issued in May 2008, you needed 100 of these to buy—
. . .
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: As I say, one option is to print money, and you would have needed 100 of these when it was printed, 100 $500 million notes, to buy an egg—poached, boiled, fried, scrambled, or any other way. The other option—
. . .
Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The second approach I have seen is to go out and borrow $5 billion to $7 billion, at a time when countries around the world are trying to reduce their debt. We know that that policy belongs to the big spending, big promising Labour Party.
We’ve sold non-core assets several times to allow us to reduce debt or reinvest in core assets. It’s normal and sensible business practice in countries with free markets.
The concept might be harder to grasp for those who get their policies and business practices from places still struggling from the aftermath of communism.
Dunedin has joined some other councils in calling moratorium on fracking – hydraulic fracturing.
National MP Michael Woodhouse, has responded by challenging the city to say yes.
He’s calling on Dunedin’s city leaders to publicly state their support for oil and gas exploration as long as environmental risks can be managed.
Speaking in yesterday’s General Debate he compared the national GDP per capita of $46,000 with that of Taranaki where the GDP per capita is $88,000.
In that province agriculture, tourism and oil and gas exploration co-exist. The latter adds significantly to the economic and social benefits without environmental problems.
When the idea of a split age for the purchase of alcohol was first mooted I thought it was a good idea.
That would allow people to drink in licensed premises when they were 18 but not purchase alcohol to drink elsewhere until they were 20.
The aim is to address the problem of binge drinking and other problems associated with too much alcohol.
But when I thought about it more I realised that splitting the age is treating a symptom not the problem – and the problem isn’t confined to the young.
Teenager Verity Johnson writes:
If we actually want to reduce teenage binge drinking, we need to change what society demands. We need to show that drinking responsibly is the way to go. After all, drinking is going to happen.
Moderating it is the challenge.
National MP Michael Woodhouse has issued a challenge to young people who are advocating for him to vote to leave the purchase age at 18:
Here’s what will definitely get me voting 18/18:
- if young people actively promote the idea getting trashed is dumb, in the same way that smoking or drink-driving is dumb
- that student organisations pass remits promoting moderation, and rules expelling people from organisations (after say a three strikes process) for excessive drinking; messages saying alcohol consumption is normal – excessive consumption isn’t
- messages that the taxpayer is entitled to expect its money given to students is not thrown up against the wall of the Cook.
All of these are very good points but the first doesn’t apply only to young people and the message that excessive consumption isn’t normal needs to be spread far more widely than youth organisations.
A lot of people who should be old enough to know better also get trashed and organisations of older people condone or even encourage excessive drinking.
It’s absolutely no use telling young people to do as we say if older people aren’t doing it too.
Excessive drinking and the problems it causes aren’t acceptable at any age.
Tinkering with the purchase age or price of alcohol won’t change the culture which is the only way to properly address problem drinking.
The quote in the previous post was from a Critic interview with National’s senior whip and Dunedin-based MP and Dunedin North MP David Clark.
Among the questions asked by interviewer, Callum Fredric was:
In a hypothetical society, which society would you prefer: One where everyone earns $50,000 per year; or one where half the people earn $70,000 and the other half earns $300,000?
In the discussion that followed Michael said:
. . . It’s a really straightforward question, with a really straightforward answer. Either you agree with the proposition that as long as you’re better off, it’s okay for other people to be even more better off in society, all other things being equal. . .
The question was about income inequality. All other things being equal, would a society where everybody is better off but there is greater income inequality be a better society than one where everyone is equally impoverished? I’m going to quote my new colleague Dr Jian Yang who grew up in china. And in his maiden speech said by 1968 when he was 6 years old, china under Mao Zedong had reached its utopia. Everyone was equally impoverished, and on his tenth birthday his present was two eggs for breakfast. So we can go to the statistics that David loves quoting and say that according to your argument, we would be better off living in Afghanistan or the Czech republic than we would be in NZ and I simply reject that proposition. What’s important is the issue of social mobility. So fair pay for work.
The left are spending a lot of energy on inequality but it’s not whether everyone has enough is far more important than whether some people have more.
Prosperity for everyone even if it’s unequal is far better than everyone being equally poor.
Quote of the day:
… if we can’t agree that getting really pissed, and throwing up and falling down is not cool, then no amount of law change in Wellington is going to change that. Michael Woodhouse
He’s right. You can’t legislate a change in culture.
Parliament could tighten drinking laws and increase the tax on alcohol but that won’t change the belief among some people that getting drunk is normal and acceptable.
Dunedin list MP Michael Woodhouse is National’s new senior Whip and Taupo MP Louise Upston is the new Junior Whip.
This makes Michael the highest ranked National MP ever to come from Dunedin.
There have been three previous National Party MPs in the city - the late Sir James Barnes served two terms from the snap 1951 election until 1957, the late Richard Walls served one term in 1975-78, and Katherine Rich was a list MP from 1999 until 2008 when she retired from politics.
Both Michael and Louise entered parliament in 2008.
Lockwood Smith has been elected unopposed as Speaker.
He is a candidate for the best Speaker in recent years, having done a lot to raise the standard of behaviour in parliament.
Some of his National party colleagues might think he went too far in holding ministers to account in a far stricter fashion than Labour ministers were held in the previous governments.
One of National’s active supporters in Dunedin reckons the city isn’t so much red as purple.
The cover of the give-away paper DScene and story on the election result – National winning the party vote in Dunedin South and nearly doing it in Dunedin North - backs her up:
One of the benefits of MMP has been the presence of a National MP in the city.
Former MP Katherine Rich helped raise the party’s profile and present its softer side. She was succeeded in Dunedin North by Michael Woodhouse who has made an impressive start to his parliamentary career and worked hard for the people of city.
Conway Powell started turning the tide towards National in Dunedin South in 2005, built on that in 2008 and this year’s candidate Joanne Hayes carried on to win the party vote.
Boundary changes which included more rural areas and lifestyle blocks in the electorate, and demographic changes have helped cement the base. But it takes dedicated candidates and supporters to build on that and turn it into more votes.
There were special circumstances this time. It wasn’t just the National vote which went up, the Green vote did too and Labour’s went down.
But the result is an encouraging indication that the city could be changing from red to purple, though not blue – yet.
What is believed to have been a politically motivated complaint against the National Party’s human hoardings team backfired when it resulted in a story and photo in the ODT.
A complaint to Dunedin police yesterday morning about the potential hazard posed to drivers from these National Party hoarding carriers appeared to be politically motivated, Senior Sergeant Mel Aitken said.
The complainant had been on foot, not driving, she said . . .
Dunedin North National candidate Michael Woodhouse also suspected the complaint was politically motivated, as the supporters had carried out the promotion responsibly.
He believed Dunedin Labour was concerned by the “visibility” and energy of National’s Dunedin election campaign.
Dunedin is supposed to be a red city.
A dedicated group of National Party members, supporting Michael and Dunedin South candidate Joanne Hayes, are doing their best to turn it blue as this photo of the “Hayes stack” shows:
The human hoardings are part of the strategy and thanks to the false complaint they’ve been seen not just by passers-by but everyone who reads the ODT.
It is possible that Opposition leader Phil Goff did more than one thing yesterday but all we – at least the media and other political tragics – know is that he engaged in a public argument with the head of the SIS.
Meanwhile in the real world Prime Minister John Key had got up at about 5am to do some work before catching a flight to Timaru where he was met by Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean and whisked off to Geraldine for a meeting with pupils and the public at the high school.
When Goff was in the Waitaki electorate a few weeks ago, he had a crayfish lunch at Fleur’s. Jacqui and her team decided that enabling as many people as possible to meet John was more important than his dining pleasure. I provided a picnic for the entourage which they ate in their cars between Geraldine and Waimate High School where another meeting with pupils and public had been scheduled.
This visit was supposed to take only half an hour, but getting the PM away from the pupils who lined up to shake his hand, get photos and autographs almost doubled that. This had been taken into account in planning so more than enough time had been allowed to drive between stops at the legal speed limit without causing too much delay to the itinerary.
Senior pupils from Oamaru’s three secondary schools were waiting for him at Waitaki Girls’ where he delivered his third speech of the day and answered questions.
Outside he stopped to greet pupils, pose for photos and took a mintue to launch Jacqui’s campaign.
A good-sized crowd was waiting for John at his next stop in Waikouaiti where he made his fourth speech of the day.
He went straight from there to a cocktail party jointly hosted by National’s Dunedin North MP Michael Woodhouse and Dunedin South candidate Jo Hayes.
Five speeches, meeting hundreds of people and driving more than 300 kilometres in a car which had to double as a lunch room and mobile-office made it a very big day. But I bet the PM enjoyed his day in the real world far more than the Opposition Leader enjoyed his in the media.
Labour justifies policies of high taxation and redistribution as being “fair”.
But a question from Michael Woodhouse to Bill English shows that the income tax burden already falls on very few people:
2.MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (National) to the Minister of Finance: What progress has the Government made in making the tax system fairer?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): In Budget 2010 we recognised there were parts of the community who, over the past decade, have simply not paid their fair share of tax. The Government raised the effective tax rate on property with a number of different measures, including denying depreciation on long-life assets, tightened the eligibility for Working for Families so that those with high economic incomes could not use paper losses to qualify, and allocated $120 million to the Inland Revenue Department to better enforce the rules. These measures have been successful, and we have achieved a more balanced and fair tax system that supports growth and provides good incentives in the economy.
Michael Woodhouse: How does the tax system interact with income support, which the Government provides?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Income support and the tax system need to be seen together. We tax those who earn income at progressive rates, although 75 percent of taxpayers pay no more than 17.5c in the dollar now. We also support those on low and median incomes with dependent children. A single-income family with two children pays no net tax until their income reaches $50,000 a year. This year Treasury projects we will collect $26 billion of income tax. Net of tax we will pay about $12 billion in income support and another $8 billion for superannuation.
Michael Woodhouse: Which groups now pay most of the tax collected by the Government?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Our tax and transfer system is highly redistributive, and the number of people paying income tax is surprisingly small. The lowest-income 43 percent of households currently receive more in income support than they pay in income tax. The 1.3 million households with incomes under $110,000 a year collectively pay no net tax—that is, their total income support payments match their combined income tax. The top 10 percent of households contribute over 70 percent of income tax, net of transfers—over 70 percent of income tax, net of transfers. This system is highly redistributive and we believe it is fair.
Michael Woodhouse: What steps has the Government taken to prevent the erosion of the tax base?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: When we became the Government we found a pretty chaotic tax system, where a lot of wealthier people were simply not paying their fair share of tax, so we set out to tighten the taxation of property, beef up enforcement by the Inland Revenue Department, and reduce widespread income-sheltering through trusts. The Inland Revenue Department did an exercise where it tabulated New Zealand’s 100 richest people, and found that over half of them were not paying the top personal tax rate. That is how badly the tax system was operating.
Kiwiblog has a chart which shows how many – and how few – New Zealanders are net taxpayers.
Labour’s justification for a capital gains tax is fairness, but given how few people pay income tax now the policy is really motivated by envy, as Mike Hosking put it
The only people who truly believe in more taxes, and more taxes at the top end, are the envious who want to chop the tall poppies and somehow see it as unfair that they don’t have what others do and the true lefties who argue income redistribution is good for a fair and just society. But they’re the ones who paused to tell you that by putting down their book on Marxism, the world has moved on from the Labour style tax approach.
This is a country built on graft, inspiration, risk taking and just a lot of ordinary people who want to rely on themselves and their skills to do well in life. They don’t like Governments picking their pockets in a needlessly overt fashion.
Hat tip Keeping Stock