Another interesting NZ/Oz employment stat: 78% of Kiwis in employment are full-time v only 70% in Oz. Higher overall employment in NZ now too.
The gap between the repayment rates of New Zealand-based borrowers and overseas-based borrowers continues to grow, despite overall lifts in the number of people paying off student loans.
Overseas-based borrowers make up 60 per cent of the 84,562 borrowers in default as at March 31 this year, despite comprising only 15 per cent of the borrowing population. They are responsible for 82 per cent of the $520 million currently in default.
“More overseas-based student loan borrowers are paying more off their student loans as a result of the Government’s compliance initiative, but we need a major behavioural change if we are to see the pay-back rate even begin to match what we currently receive from domestic borrowers,” Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.
“It is simply not fair for those overseas to get a far easier ride than people who stay in New Zealand, contribute here, and pay off their loan responsibly.”
These people have been educated at our expense and the money the loans they are defaulting on are owed to us all.
“Our initiatives to date to encourage overseas-based borrowers to repay their student loans have collected $64 million since October 2010,” says Revenue Minister Peter Dunne.
“Overall we have collected $812 million from all borrowers (overseas-based and domestic) up until March 2013, which is up over $263.4 million on the same period last year. However some of that is undoubtedly a one-off as a result of people paying more before the end of the repayment bonus programme at the end of March.
“While the default amount owed by New Zealand based borrowers has decreased by 5.9 per cent in the last year, the default amount of overseas based borrowers continues to increase – since March 2012, it has risen by 34.3 per cent.
“While that’s partially the result of shortening the repayment holiday for overseas borrowers, the evidence we had was that the long holiday just masked the overall low level of compliance,” he says.
The outstanding student loan balance is currently $13.5 billion.
Just think of the many good uses that money could be put to if it was paid back.
The Government has been considering further initiatives for overseas-based borrowers and will make announcements regarding the selected initiatives shortly.
“We are determined to lift the rate of overseas-based borrowers repayments to ensure people are meeting their commitments to New Zealand taxpayers, just like the New Zealand-based borrowers are doing,” says Mr Joyce.
Many people who are working overseas will be finding the high dollar erodes the value of the currency they’re earning but that is no excuse for defaulting on a loan.
Interest-free student loans were a very expensive election bribe and the amount owed by overseas defaulters increases the cost to the rest of us.
The economy grew 3% last year and at last there’s a sign that the growth is leading to more jobs.
The drop in the unemployment rate from 6.9 per cent to 6.2 per cent in the March quarter is encouraging news, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.
The Household Labour Force Survey released today showed that 38,000 more people were employed in the quarter.
“The result follows news the economy grew 3 per cent in the year to December and is another sign the economy is continuing to head in the right direction,” Mr Joyce says.
“While the fall in unemployment is a good result it may be a little too good as this survey is known to move around and we need to be cautious.” . . .
Caution is sensible. With surveys, like polls, it’s the trend which is more important than an individual result.
The result puts New Zealand in 11th place in the OECD, which has an average unemployment rate of 8 per cent. Our participation rate grew from 67.2 to 67.8 per cent and remains higher than Australia’s at 65.3 per cent.
Hours worked increased 3.2 per cent for the quarter – the highest since 1994.
“The Government’s economic management and Business Growth Agenda were praised last month by IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde who described the New Zealand economy as being ‘very stable’ and ‘very promising’ and a lot better than other parts of the world,” Mr Joyce says.
“The National-led Government is encouraging more investment right across the New Zealand economy as we know that nothing creates jobs and grows incomes for New Zealand families better than business growth.”
The left still think it’s governments which create jobs.
The government’s role is to get the environment right so that businesses have the confidence to employ people.
Quote of the day:
Shearer’s smoko room reference about as dated as his economic ideas. A speech for the bored-room & a recipe for lower incomes. -Steven Joyce.
He was referring to a speech in which David Shearer panned the Budget which hasn’t been delivered yet as one for the board room rather than the smoko room.
Yet another reminder that labour and its leader don’t understand business and the link between successful businesses and wages, job stability and creation.
The report into economic development in 16 regions released by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce highlights significant differences between them.
. . . “The report is designed to encourage more debate about what it takes for a region to be successful, and to more clearly link the decisions that are made by local stakeholders about resource allocation and usage to the number of jobs available in a region,” Mr Joyce says.
“It is my expectation stakeholders will want to use it to compare and contrast the economic fortunes of different regions around the country, and ask themselves what lessons and opportunities there are for growth and jobs in their region.
“For businesses to succeed they need to be able to make the most of their local resources, both physical and human. They need public institutions that make sound infrastructure investment decisions, administer fit-for-purpose regulation and provide services that improve local circumstances.” . . .
It isn’t always people in the regions who are loathe to make use of natural resources.
West Coast people were very keen to continue sustainable logging of native timber. It was pressure from elsewhere, mostly urban areas, that put a stop to that.
. . . “Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes better than business growth. For New Zealand to build a more productive and competitive economy, we need all of our regions to achieve to their potential.
“Each region needs to assess its performance and decide whether it is willing to take the opportunities that exist for jobs and economic growth.” . . .
The report shows economic diversity is important.
. . . Steven Joyce says while oil and gas will play a role in regional economic growth, diversity and developing new industries will be vital to economic success across New Zealand. . .
”If Taranaki was just the dairy sector it would be another struggling region, even though it’s an important dairy sector part of the country, but it’s got oil and gas, has had that for a significant period of time,” says Mr Joyce.
No longer can regions afford to ignore unpopular industries, like mining, intensive farming or aquaculture, says Mr Joyce, because this will be what brings the region economic growth.
“But what is a struggle is that some regions because of the discussion and the way it flows in a region basically don’t even want to look, and that’s a bit exasperating because many of the same people in the same regions would say we need more jobs for our people, but they just don’t want to explore the opportunities.” . . .
Instead of saying a blanket no to new industries, regions need to look at how to diversify using their resources while minimising or mitigating any negative impact.
Economic diversity brings growth and also offers protection from inevitable ups and downs in demand and performance which happens in every sector.
More than 100 jobs were lost at Summit Wools Spinners in Oamaru earlier this year but unemployment went down in that quarter in spite of that because there was work available in other sectors.
Irrigation and dairying have provided a lot more work in North Otago, but tourism which has grown on attractions like the little blue penguin colony, historic precinct and steam punk is also providing work.
Challenge goal to boost NZ export earnings - Hugh Stringleman:
Four of the government’s selected 10 National Science Challenges are connected with the primary sector and have potential to boost export earnings, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says.
However, the need to expand export earnings to the government’s target of 40% of GDP by 2025 was not a specific criterion for selection of the challenges.
Prime Minister John Key’s chief science adviser, Professor Sir Peter Gluckman, drew attention to challenge four, called high-value nutrition – developing high-value foods with validated health benefits – as an obvious area where commodities would be enhanced to earn much more. . .
Why only a small number of people will consider working on a dairy farm – Milking on the Moove:
There are 60 new dairy conversions going into Canterbury this year. In This video I discuss how this equates to an extra 250 dairy staff been required, and why most “townies” won’t even consider a job on a dairy farm.
I’m surprised by the extra staff required, but the numbers seem to be logical. . .
60 new dairy conversions in Canterbury for 2013 season
Hey, well I want to talk about dairy farm employment issues. So staffing, of all the issues that the dairy industry face, finding people to milk the cows is the biggest issue. So I was talking to a cow shed manufacturer. He said there’s 60 dairy conversions going into Canterbury this year; and those are new dairy conversions.
60 conversions x 750 cows (cant avg) = 45,000 extra cows into Canterbury 2013
Now the average herd size in Canterbury is 750 cows, so 60 times 750 equals 45,000 extra cows coming into Canterbury this year alone. That’s not including Southland or the rest of the South Island; 45, 000 new cows into Canterbury. . .</>
Malaysian officials have confirmed no palm kernel expeller (PKE) has been exported to New Zealand from the processing mill that Federated Farmers has reported concerns about.
The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is taking the concerns about post-production handling of PKE very seriously, says director plants, food and environment Peter Thomson.
“There are stringent safeguards in place that ensure PKE is safe for use, and MPI is requiring full assurance that these safeguards have not been breached,” Thomson says. . .
O’Connor leaves DINZ in good heart – Annette Scott:
If Mark O’Connor has done something right in his 13 years as chief executive of Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ), it has been employing good people.
He will officially leave his position after the industry’s annual conference later this month and he makes no secret he will miss the people.
“It is a wonderful industry in terms of people – they are a unique bunch. I will certainly miss them. It has been nothing but a joy,” O’Connor said. . .
Centre-pivot irrigator ruts are contributing to the high accident rate amongst groundspreaders.</>
The New Zealand Groundspread Fertilisers’ Association, (NZGFA) would like to see a reduction in recent accident rates amongst groundspreaders.
NZGFA president Stuart Barwood says “we are aiming to make farmers aware of the dangers to groundspread fertiliser drivers and trucks. Centrepivot ruts are a major accident waiting to happen. . .
Federated Farmers is delighted that New Zealand’s primary industries are well represented in New Zealand’s fiscally upsized National Science Challenges, announced yesterday by Prime Minister John Key and the Minister for Science and Innovation, the Hon Steven Joyce.
“This is significant because we hear talk of creating a technological future and the National Science Challenges are about inspiring this to happen,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.
“Significantly, the Government has increased its funding by $73.5 million taking the investment to $133.5 million. In an age of constrained spending this deserves praise for its foresight.
“When taken in conjunction with AgResearch’s major investment announcement earlier this week, the National Science Challenges are another tool to break down institutional barriers and foster scientific collaboration and endeavour. . .
The Government has announced the final 10 selected National Science Challenges and a $73.5 million boost over four years to fund them.
“The National Science Challenges will tackle some of the biggest science-based issues and opportunities facing New Zealand,” Minister of Science and Innovation Steven Joyce says.
“The Challenges are designed to take a more strategic approach to our science investment by targeting a series of goals which, if they are achieved, would have a major and enduring benefit for New Zealand. . . .
The 10 challenges are:
- Ageing well – harnessing science to sustain health and wellbeing into the later years of life
- A better start – improving the potential of young New Zealanders to have a healthy and successful life
- Healthier lives – research to reduce the burden of major New Zealand health problems
- High value nutrition – developing high value foods with validated health benefits
- New Zealand’s biological heritage – protecting and managing our biodiversity, improving our biosecurity, and enhancing our resilience to harmful organisms
- Our land and water – research to enhance primary sector production and productivity while maintaining and improving our land and water quality for future generations
- Life in a changing ocean – understanding how we can exploit our marine resources within environmental and biological constraints
- The deep south – understanding the role of the Antarctic and the Southern Ocean in determining our climate and our future environment
- Science for technological innovation – enhancing the capacity of New Zealand to use physical and engineering sciences for economic growth
- Resilience to nature’s challenges – research into enhancing our resilience to natural disasters
This covers a wide field of scientific endeavour.
I’m especially pleased the challenges focussing on high value nutrition, land and water, biological heritage and technological innovation included with the potential to improve productivity while enhancing the environment.
Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy have today unveiled concept plans for a world-class agricultural research and education facility to be sited at Lincoln, near Christchurch.
The Lincoln Hub concept plans and business proposal have been developed by a partnership of Lincoln University, DairyNZ and Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, and Landcare Research.
“The Lincoln Hub has the potential to transform New Zealand’s farming productivity by providing a one-stop shop allowing information and ideas to be shared more easily,” Mr Joyce says. “Internationally, science and innovation parks that collect together public and private organisations in one place drive a lot of education, science and innovation. The Lincoln Hub can achieve this for New Zealand farming.” . .
A mammoth $100 million investment in AgResearch’s core science resource will help boost its potential to support exports from the primary industries in reaching $60 billion by 2025, on current policy settings.
“It is no secret that some of AgResearch’s physical scientific infrastructure is getting a bit creaky,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.
“It was a genuine pleasure to be at the unveiling of an impressive roadmap that will also see the “hubbing” of primary research capabilities at and with Lincoln University. . .
Meat Industry excellence Group campaign warms up - Allan Barber:
The MIE organised farmer meeting in Feilding on Friday was attended by about 700 farmers which one speaker from the floor compared unfavourably with 2000 at the Drought Shout. However there is obviously an increasing level of support for substantial change to the meat industry’s operating method which results in volatile market returns.
Alliance and Silver Fern Farms were both represented and the respective chairmen, Owen Poole and EoinGarden, spoke in support of the group’s aims. Poole told the meeting the industry was working constructively to develop an improved model which was simpler than MIE’s plan and it was important to ensure the two plans were complementary. . .
The resignation of Wayne McNee, Ministry for Primary Industries Director-General, to take up the position of Chief Executive at Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC), will still see this talented person working in and for New Zealand’s primary industries.
“This role shows the versatility of Wayne who has performed to a very high standard with the public service and now departs for a high profile leadership role in a company important to New Zealand agriculture,” says Bruce Wills, President of Federated Farmers.
“Wayne has put the Ministry on the right path for farmers following the merger of the old MAF with the Ministry of Fisheries. I feel disappointed in one regard because he leaves it, just when we are starting to see the fruits of his work appear in this new and dynamic Ministry. . .
An additional $20 million over four years has been allocated to the Department of Conservation in Budget 2013 to provide for additional frontline roles and the upgrade of recreational facilities, Conservation Minister Nick Smith announced today.
“The four year funding package complements the Government’s recently announced tourism investment. It recognises that DOC is the Government’s primary agency responsible for providing infrastructure, visitor services and nature-based experiences that support the tourism industry,” Dr Smith says. . .
Two of New Zealand’s most innovative dairy companies are forming a partnership to boost exports to one of the world’s fastest growing consumer markets.
Synlait Milk will next month despatch the first consignment of a2® Platinum™ infant formula destined for mothers and infants in China. a2 milk™ contains only the A2 version of the beta casein protein which is more comparable to protein that mothers naturally produce than other versions of the beta casein protein found in standard milk.
Synlait Milk will be processing a2 milk™ from 10 suppliers from August this year and will further expand production to meet the requirements of A2 Corporation when a2® Platinum™ infant formula becomes available to mothers in New Zealand and Australia later this year. . .
Vineyard beats the weather to harvest pristine, flavoursome fruit
Early predictions of an outstanding vintage have proven true for Brancott Estate, the pioneers of the original Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, who have successfully completed harvest ahead of autumn rain, and with fruit that bears all the characteristics of the region.
“The season has been so dry until now and this has delivered a sensational vintage for Marlborough” says Patrick Materman, Chief Winemaker for Brancott Estate. “While we’ve enjoyed the sunshine, it hasn’t been a particularly warm season, tracking around the long-term average in terms of Growing Degree Days. This, combined with the lack of rain, is a real positive for vineyards. The dry conditions mean pristine fruit development and allow us to make harvest decisions based on optimal flavour development, while the relatively cool temperatures ensure the aromatic expression and balance of natural acidity that has made Marlborough famous.” . .
What’s the difference between the National and Labour parties?
There are plenty but the most stark is their attitudes to growth.
National is pro-growth and has spent the last four years implementing policies which will promote it.
Labour has spent the last four years opposing those policies and is, as Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says, fast becoming the Anti-Growth Party by pursuing polices that would hurt households and damage the New Zealand economy.
“What has become increasingly clear is that intentionally or unintentionally, Labour is promoting policy ideas that would stunt New Zealand’s growth. On top of that they are opposed to all initiatives that would create jobs and boost incomes. They are becoming the ‘Anti-Growth’ Party’,” Mr Joyce says, speaking today at the National Party’s Mainland Regional Conference in Hanmer Springs.
The Green Party has never made any secret of its disdain for economic development. Labour used to pretend it was interested in growth.
But in abandoning the centre ground and lurching leftwards it has given up the pretence it is economically rational and wants a growing economy.
Some commentators say this more united LabourGreen approach will help them look more like a government in waiting.
That might be so but it will also scare the moderate swinging voters in the centre. Given the choice between extreme-left, anti-growth Labour Green and moderate centre-right National they are much more likely to tick blue rather than red and green.
Keeping Stock asks how much we’ll really save on power under a LabourGreen government?
Ministers Bill English and Steven Joyce gave the answer at yesterday’s National party Mainland conference: nothing, we’ll be paying more.
They’re promising households a $300 saving on power bills. Even if they can deliver on that which is most unlikely, they’re also going to impose a $500 cost through their ETS.
The best we can hope for under LabourGreen is a net $200 increase in our power bills, not any decrease.
Ever since National came to power it has concentrated on making the economy stronger.
It is succeeding but more than a year away from the next election the spectre of a LabourGreen government is providing a hurricane force headwind.
The government has put a lot of effort into policies which encourage savings, investment and export-led growth and LabourGreen are sabotaging that.
The façade behind the Labour-Greens power plan is crumbling as it becomes clear their electricity nationalisation ‘plan’ is nothing more than deliberate economic sabotage for attempted political gain, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says.
“Comments made in recent days by Grant Robertson, David Parker, and Russel Norman show they don’t care about the damage to KiwiSaver accounts, mum and dad investors and the wider New Zealand economy,” Mr Joyce says.
“Financial analysts including JB Were, Woodward Partners, Milford Asset Management, First NZ Capital, Devon Funds Management and Forsyth Barr are unanimous in their condemnation. One has labelled it a ‘hand grenade’ to the New Zealand economy, while others have said it will cut the value of every New Zealanders’ KiwiSaver account and lead to rolling blackouts.
“Investment in new power generation would suffer as would wider investment in the New Zealand economy. The National-led Government is focused on attracting investment in new business and jobs for New Zealanders. Labour and the Greens would do the exact opposite.
“Kiwis are deeply suspicious about the Labour-Greens announcement and its timing. It’s simply economic sabotage.
“The great irony is that it’s clear the policy is not worth it for anybody. The last time that we had central planning of the power industry, prices went up faster. Labour’s own Cabinet paper in 2006 said it would push costs up.
“New Zealanders will see it for what it is: a cynical and selfish attempt by left-wing parties to play politics with the value of New Zealand’s economic assets.”
The market isn’t perfect but I’d rather put my faith in it than an army of expensive bureaucrats.
And I’d feel much happier investing in companies that weren’t going to be at risk from government interference.
The LabourGreen power play is supposed to save people money.
It is unlikely to do so in isolation and certainly won’t when other policies are taken into account.
Claims that households would save money on power under a Greens-Labour Government are demonstrably false, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says.
“When National was elected to Government in November 2008, Labour’s Emissions Trading Scheme was estimated to cost an average family of four around $330 a year based on a carbon price of $25/tonne,” Mr Joyce says.
“The National Government amended the ETS and more than halved the cost to families and businesses. However the Greens-Labour coalition have stated publicly as recently as the beginning of this year that if they were the Government they would increase the price of carbon to $50/tonne.
“This would see a family of four paying $495 extra a year on electricity and fuel; which would more than wipe out any of their claimed savings from their plan to nationalise the power supply.
“They need to answer for their policy inconsistency before making any claims about power savings to the New Zealand public.
“The reality is that under a Greens-Labour ETS – or carbon tax – and the so-called power ‘plan’ it announced this week, households and businesses would be paying significantly more for electricity and fuel.
“And the worst part is that there would be fewer jobs for New Zealanders. As we already heard from firms like JB Were, investment in New Zealand would dry up as a result of government effectively nationalising such a big industry.
“What the opposition either doesn’t know, or doesn’t want to understand, is that savers and investors in this day and age can choose which country to invest in. This Government is working hard to attract investment and jobs for New Zealanders by applying good quality regulation that encourages competition, new investment and jobs. This sort of policy would do the exact opposite.”
Like many other socialist policies, the LabourGreen power play would give a little with one hand while taking a lot with the other.
Tweets of the day:
3. Lab/Greens want ETS that would increase prices more than consumers would save, even if policy worked.
#policyfail http://www.stevenjoyce.co.nz/index.php?/archives/190-Greens-Labour-would-cost-household-power-bills-and-jobs.html …
BusinessNZ calls the Labour/Green plan to nationalise electricity wholesalers economic vandalism.
Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly says the proposal would destroy a functioning market and replace it with heavy-handed bureaucracy.
“Inserting an army of bureaucrats between power generators and retailers would destroy price signals, so prices would not reflect the cost of generation.
“In that situation, the taxpayer would continue to pay ever higher subsidies of the electricity system. This is not sustainable.
“The Electricity Authority said only yesterday that the electricity market is as competitive as it has ever been. It can always be improved, and this is where the focus should be.
“It’s only competition that can drive prices down. Governments can’t do this, not without subsidising the sector from taxes.
“A state-controlled sector as envisaged by Labour would drive out private investment. Why would the private sector invest in generators when the state can determine the prices they can charge, while subsidising state-owned competitors?
“The private sector power companies would have to seriously consider their future in the market. Those who have invested heavily would basically find their profits confiscated.
“Interfering in the market in this way would send a signal to the rest of the world that it is not safe to invest anywhere in New Zealand. The knock-on impact from that, on jobs and growth, would dwarf any short-term benefit from artificially reduced electricity prices,” Mr O’Reilly said.
Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges says the Labour-Greens power plan is incoherent and will kill competition in the electricity market.
“Under the previous Government, electricity prices increased by 72 per cent. It has taken the National-led Government’s reforms to arrest these ridiculously steep increases on New Zealand households,” says Mr Bridges.
“The 2010 electricity market restructure is working. The market now has more players and much more competition than it ever had under Labour.
“New Zealanders are increasingly taking advantage of greater competition and are switching companies for a better deal – in some cases, saving up to several hundred dollars a year.
Since the Electricity Authority’s What’s My Number? campaign began in May 2011, there have been almost 700,000 consumer switches.
“Why scrap the whole electricity market when consumers can already save more than the economically illiterate promises the Opposition is making?
“These types of policies have been considered in the past and rejected for very good reasons. Consumers should be very afraid of them. They may look simple but all they will ultimately bring is higher costs to households,” Mr Bridges says.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce calls it a a half-baked Soviet Union-style nationalisation “plan”:
“This is truly wacky and desperate stuff obviously made up in the last minute in the Koru Lounge between comrades Norman and Shearer,” Mr Joyce says.
“Their crazy idea to have both a single national purchaser of electricity and to exempt Government-owned companies from both company tax and dividends would effectively demolish private investment in the electricity industry overnight. It would also raise real questions as to why any individual or company would want to invest in businesses in New Zealand.
“Even the idea of it is economic vandalism of the highest order, with the timing designed to try and disrupt the mixed-ownership company floats. What we are seeing here is a desperate Opposition that is prepared to sacrifice economic development in New Zealand on the altar of political opportunism.
“The sad truth is that Labour has no idea how to operate a competitive market that keeps downward pressure on prices. Labour made a number of reforms to the electricity market in the early 2000s and the result was power prices rising 72 per cent over nine years.
“This Government’s reforms have halved price increases while maintaining investment in generation and transmission. Labour’s suggestion today is no more than a belated apology for their mismanagement, with a back-to-the-70s solution that would only make things worse.
“You seriously have to question the quality of economic advice the Labour Party is getting. They really need to get a lot more serious if they are ever to be considered fit to manage the New Zealand economy.”
It’s not just the government questioning the policy.
I’m assuming the answer is yes, judging by today’s incredulity-creating announcement that, if elected next year, Labour will essentially nationalise the electricity industry. . .
The Opposition says it’s going to create a single buyer, NZ Power, that will buy all the country’s electricity generation “at a fair price” and then onsell it to consumers.
It’ll pretty much give away a 300KW bloc to every household and then charge for additional units.
At a stroke, Labour is proposing to dismantle the electricity market, ruin Contact Energy and Mighty River Power and decimate the Government’s share float plans for both MRP and Meridian.
Oh, and sell thousands of mum and dad investors down the Mighty River, since MRP’s share price would almost certainly plummet if the company was forced to retail only through a government department at whatever price it deemed to be fair.
Already Contact shares dipped 3 per cent on the news, and that’s just a taste of what would come if this policy was ever implemented.
I’m no fan of high power prices – and I don’t own any Contact or MRP shares – but what Labour is proposing is essentially nationalisation a la Brazil or Argentina. This is Third World, funny-money stuff. Goodness knows what the financial markets will make of it. And what message does it send to overseas investors? . . .
It’s extremely rare that I agree completely with Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, but his comment today that the plan was “a return to the 1970s-style monopoly provision of electricity…Only North Korea and Venezuela did not think such ideas are nuts” is pretty much spot on.
I agree with Joyce that Labour is virtually sabotaging the economy.
It is, in my view, also an indication that Labour does not believe it has any hope of winning the next election. In my experience, only political parties that know they have no realistic hope of winning an election propose things they know they will never have to try to implement. . .
There is no virtually about the economic sabotage this policy would inflict.
I was in parliament for Question Time yesterday.
The Government benches were enjoying themselves and Ministers made the most of the opportunity Labour and the Green Party gifted them:
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The Electricity Authority yesterday released its review of the electricity market in 2012. The report showed 18 percent of customers, around 32,000 people a month, voted with their feet by switching electricity providers in 2012, presumably for lower prices. For the benefit of the Opposition, that is called “competition”. Since November 2008 annual electricity price increases have halved from the 8 percent year-on-year increases suffered by hard-working New Zealanders during the previous 9 years. This follows a number of pro-competitive reforms by this Government, which apparently the Opposition is not aware of. We have reconfigured State owned enterprise assets to increase competition, created the Electricity Authority and made it responsible for promoting competition, allowed line businesses to compete in the retail space, and funded promotion of consumer switching through the What’s My Number campaign.
Todd McClay: Has the Minister seen any other proposals to try to lower electricity prices?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, weirdly, yes, I have. Just before lunch today I received one report, which I believe came from the “North Korean School of Economics”. Apparently, the suggestion there was that nationalising the entire electricity industry would somehow lead to lower power prices. . .
That got a point of order call from Winston Peters to which the Minister responded:
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: If I could perhaps clarify my answer, I should clarify that I received a report from the local branch of the “North Korean School of Economics”.
I’d like to believe Espiner’s theory that this is the policy of parties which know they’ll lose the next election and therefore never have to implement it.
The only other explanation is that the people promoting them are so economically illiterate they don’t understand what they’re talking about.
Either way, it shows they haven’t learned from history because these policies would power us back to the socialist seventies and it would be all downhill from there.
During Question time yesterday Winston Peters showed just how dangerous his protectionist policies would be:
Rt Hon Winston Peters: Could I ask the Minister why he would prefer an open bank resolution scheme, which in part or wholly in extreme circumstances could see the depositor having all their money stopped from their use, rather than a very sound scheme announced by me in October 2008—[Interruption] Well, we were there before you even did the ballot, OK?
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Rt Hon Winston Peters: In 2008. It would have this effect: it would have the effect of a Government guarantee for the first $100,000 of a deposit in a New Zealand – owned bank.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I could think of a number of issues with the member’s proposal immediately, because what he would be proposing to do would be to guarantee a certain number of deposits in a New Zealand – owned bank, which would mean that suddenly all the money would move, particularly in a difficult situation, like we have with the global financial crisis, from other banks that were not necessarily New Zealand – owned, and that would collapse the other banks, which I do not think would be in the interests of the financial stability of the New Zealand economy.
Rt Hon Winston Peters: They’re all foreign-owned.
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Right, so we should actually—here is what Mr Peters is suggesting in a xenophobic way. It is that we should collapse all the foreign-owned banks into the New Zealand— thank goodness he was not in Cabinet during the global financial crisis.
Thank goodness, in deed.
Peters’ doesn’t appear to appreciate but a lot of the people he purports to represent would lose their savings if his misguided policy was implemented.
Finance Minister Bill English has welcomed the International Monetary Fund’s conclusion that the Government’s deficit reduction programme strikes the right balance between supporting growth and limiting public debt.
In its Preliminary Concluding Statement the IMF says New Zealand’s macro-economic policy stance is appropriate and that the monetary policy should continue to be the first line of defence against adverse shocks.
And it notes that economic growth appears to have strengthened in the last few months of 2012.
The IMF says: “We regard the planned pace of deficit reduction as striking the right balance between sustaining output growth and limiting public debt growth, and consistent with a policy setting where monetary policy plays a primary role in managing aggregate demand. The benefits of the plan are many.”
Mr English says the IMF’s assessment reflected the balanced and pragmatic approach the Government had taken with its economic programme over the past four years.
“The IMF notes there are many benefits to the Government’s plan. It is withdrawing fiscal stimulus at the right time by making room for private sector and earthquake-related reconstruction spending.
“It has also improved the macro-economic policy mix by reducing pressure on monetary policy. The programme also allows New Zealand to deal with aging and healthcare costs, and to cope with any future shocks.
“Finally, as the IMF concludes, the programme could help to increase national savings, reduce the current account deficit and limit the increase in New Zealand’s foreign liabilities.”
This was the subject of questions in parliament yesterday:
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The IMF identifies two main near-term risks to the New Zealand economy. These are potential weaknesses or a worsening in the financial conditions in the world economy. The IMF also identifies risk in the New Zealand housing market, noting that supply bottlenecks persist and prices remain elevated. The IMF notes that New Zealand has room to respond to shocks with its monetary policy, and the level of public debt leaves room for fiscal policy response. The floating New Zealand dollar is also seen as an effective buffer. The IMF also says that our fundamentals have improved since the global financial crisis. Household and business balance sheets have strengthened, and banks have reduced their foreign funding and been assisted by a strong growth in deposits and slower growth in credit.
Maggie Barry: What does the IMF say about the value of the New Zealand dollar?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: The IMF shares the Government’s view that the dollar is at a high value, largely because of factors outside our control. In particular, the strength of the New Zealand dollar is determined by the relative weaknesses of other currencies and other economies, many of which are printing money. As it says, if global monetary policy were to become less stimulatory, the exchange rate would likely depreciate over time. The IMF also notes that the Government’s return to surplus is easing pressure on the exchange rate by boosting national savings.
Hon David Parker: Does he agree with the IMF that “… New Zealand has run persistent current account deficits resulting in net external liabilities which are high by international standards. The deficit is expected to widen this year despite relatively strong terms of trade …”?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Yes, and I would note that those were largely due to the previous Government when the balance of payments deficit rolled out to over 8 percent of GDP. I really think the member should stop this line of questioning because all he does is point out that the Opposition are lousy economic managers.
Quite where the deficit would be had a Labour-led government still been in power is a very scary thought.
Voters next year have two choices.
A National-led government that understands the importance of low inflation:
. . . These forecasts of low inflation are good for New Zealand households, particularly those on lower or fixed incomes. In addition, average floating home mortgage interest rates are now around half what they were 5 years ago in 2008. For a family with a $200,000 mortgage, that is saving them around $200 a week.
Or the alternative:
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, there are a number of alternative policies that would put substantial benefits of current low inflation and low interest rates at risk, and that would, of course, cost New Zealand households dearly—for example, trying to artificially and substantially devalue the exchange rate or going soft on inflation; or, for example, opposing the Government’s share offer programme and instead borrowing billions of dollars more to pay for priority assets like schools and hospitals; or, for example, just pulling out the photocopier and printing more money. All of those things would send interest rates and inflation through the roof, directly affecting New Zealand households and families. They are, of course, the cornerstones of the Labour-Green opposition—
Oh yes, the Green Party still wants to print money:
So NZ is borrowing other countries (sic) freshly printed money and paying them interest for the privilege. So why don’t we print some of our own?
A rural doctors representative wants a new health alliance to make a commitment to tackling rural depression.
The Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand, which was formed last year, will hold its first AGM on Wednesday afternoon in the run up to the annual Rural General Practice Network conference in Rotorua this week. . .
Federated Farmers is warning Sharemilkers and Sharemilker employers that with drought now widespread, they need to urgently sit down and jointly plan the close of the 2012/13 season.
“Forget about how you handled the last drought because this one is significantly different,” says Tony Wilding, Federated Farmers Sharemilker Employers’ Section Vice-Chairperson.
“These are not normal drought conditions as there is little feed in the whole of the North Island to fall back upon. There are very few places where farmers can send stock to which has enough grass even in the South Island.
“Federated Farmers urges all sharemilkers and those who engage sharemilkers to sit down and plan for the close of the season. Both sides of the business relationship need to figure out how they can best manage today’s situation to prevent further damage or compromise next season’s production. . .
New Zealand sheep and beef farmers have agreed to co-fund the ‘Collaboration for Sustainable Growth Red Meat Primary Growth Partnership’, following a farmer vote held at the Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) Annual Meeting in Wanaka last week.
Electionz.com, which managed the vote on behalf of B+LNZ, has advised that the resolution was passed with 77% support from 2746 participating votes. The weighted voting percentage represents 21.3% of the potential total weighted vote based on sheep (31.2m head), beef (3.74 m head), and dairy (6.46 m head) livestock numbers at 30 June 2012.
B+LNZ Chairman, Mike Petersen said that following the funding commitment from the Government and industry partners, the positive farmer vote paves the way for the programme to proceed. . .
The strong farmer support for Beef+Lamb New Zealand’s co-funding of the Collaboration for Sustainable Growth Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme shows the entire red meat industry is on track toward a brighter future, says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chairperson.
“This PGP will provide a huge amount of investment in ways farmers can directly increase their productivity and returns through their own efforts, so it is very heartening that Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s co-funding resolution was supported,” Mrs Maxwell says.
“Federated Farmers saw the potential in this partnership and more than three quarters of the sheep and beef farmers who voted agreed.
“While the red meat sector is having a tough season with drought now adding to the stress of lower prices, I am confident this scheme could mean we do not face such dire seasons in the future. . .
It’s getting worse.
I have been holding off writing about the drought, but now I want to tempt the rain. It’s like watering the garden and then it rains. Only this time it’s not. And it’s not. And it’s not.
We are so lucky we are only on a lifestyle block. The pet sheep and calfie are not impressed by the dry, but they will survive, as will we with off-”farm” income. . .
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy was impressed by the size and scale of Brazilian agriculture when he met with Brazilian Agriculture Minister Mendes Ribeiro Filho in Brasilia today, at the end of a nine-day trade mission to Latin America led by Prime Minister John Key.
“In meeting with my counterpart I outlined the expertise, innovation, and efficiency which characterises New Zealand’s agricultural sector,” says Mr Guy.
“With New Zealand’s world-leading expertise, and Brazil’s land and location, there are plenty of opportunities for our countries to collaborate and work more closely together.
“During the meeting I stressed that New Zealand and Brazil should try to work in partnership as agricultural exporters to reduce trade barriers and ease trade restrictions.” . . .
Fonterra Brands Malaysia’s launch of Mainland Cheese in Malaysia signals the strengthening trade links between New Zealand and South-East Asia, Minister for Economic Development Steven Joyce says.
Minister Joyce today launched the Mainland Cheese brand at a New Zealand Gala event in Kuala Lumpur.
“Over the last five years, Fonterra Brands Malaysia’s business in South East Asia has doubled, which shows the increasing demand for New Zealand dairy products, and the growing opportunities for New Zealand export companies in the region,” Mr Joyce says.
The launch coincides with New Zealand Week in Malaysia, a series of business and education events to lift the profile of New Zealand as an education destination, and to promote business and investment opportunities. . .
Many years ago a British TV programme lampooned New Zealand television for the items carried in the news.
I’m a little vague on the details but I think something to do with the theft of a few sheep had been a leading story at the time.
The implication was we were just a quaint little country where nothing of note happened.
Anyone whose been looking for serious current affairs on television could be forgiven for thinking this still applies.
Seven Sharp didn’t promise to be serious and has failed anyway.
I’d hoped for much better from TV3′s 3rd Degree. It promised much but delivered so little I stopped watching after a very few minutes.
I take it from several reviews, including One Guy too Many from Cactus Kate and why TV3 should hang its head in shame over ’3rd Degree’ and why I suspect Duncan Garner and Guyon Espiner would agree with me from Brian Edwards, that I was wise to do so.
There’s one last chance for television this morning. Q & A starts at 9am.
A media release from TVNZ says:
We speak to the Government’s Mr Fix It, Steven Joyce, about the deals with Novopay and SkyCity, and question how committed the government is to creating new jobs.
Also on the programme, should marriage be solely between a man and woman; we hear from a gay couple who question why they’re being treated as second class citizens. We debate the same-sex marriage bill with Labour MP Louisa Wall and Conservative Party Leader Colin Craig, and ask if gay couples should be able to adopt.
On the panel this week is political scientist Dr Raymond Miller, publisher Ian Wishart, and former Labour party candidate Josie Pagani.
Join host Susan Wood and political editor Corin Dann on Q+A at 9am this Sunday on TV One.
I probably won’t be. I have other things on my agenda this morning – as do most other people at 9am on Sunday. But I will try to catch up with what happened on MySky later in the hope that maybe one little corner of television thinks there is something happening in New Zealand which people ought to know about.
Joyce hints at more partnerships – Tim Fulton:
Science and Economic Development Steven Joyce has hinted at more partnerships between Lincoln and the private sector, calling his unspecified plan a crucial part of the tech-transfer story.
Joyce was at the university’s dairy research farm launching the second stage of the Pastoral 21 programme, highlighting the importance of places like Lincoln for information-sharing.
There had been a lot of talk over the years about the Lincoln campus developing and becoming a true agri-technology hub, he said.
Now, despite the cost of repairing earthquake damage, the university had a unique opportunity to take that role. . .
To feed the world we need to fix the politics not the environment – Milking on the Moove:
They say there will be 9 Billion people in 2050. The popular question is “how can we feed that number of people?”
There is literally not a day go by where I’m not confronted with some sort of report, program or video about the challenge of feeding the world.
The common theme is we need to increase agricultural productivity to meet this massive demand. The view that we have limited resources that will make food production more expensive or difficult in the future is widely popular.
Some people who belong to the environmental movements, like to use the growing demand to push their causes, one such cause is to promote the vegan lifestyle as less cattle will reduce CO2 emissions.
Businesses also jump on the band wagon, because it allows them to get subsidies that keep their business profitable when it otherwise would not be, solar panel manufacturers spring to mind. . .
Eco-n suspension blow for Ravensdown – Tim Fulton:
Ravensdown is usually on full show at Lincoln farming events but last Thursday it was fronting up in a different way, explaining its position after suspending sales of its nitrogen inhibitor. Tim Fulton reports.
ECO-N was introduced to the market on Lincoln University’s dairy research farm in February 2004, Ravensdown’s Richard Christie reminded farmers at the same spot on Thursday. . .
Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has announced that experienced director Alison Paterson will oversee the establishment of a new Crown company to invest in irrigation.
The new company, which is to be established by 1 July, will act as a bridging investor for regional water infrastructure development, with $80 million to be set aside in Budget 2013.
“I’m pleased to have people of high quality and balance to work on what is a critical area of New Zealand’s growth,” says Mr Guy.
“Well-designed storage and irrigation infrastructure has the potential to deliver a major boost to our primary industries and support new jobs, which will have a flow-on effect for all New Zealanders. If current proposals are advanced there could be another 420,000 hectares of irrigated land available over time. . . .
Associate Professor Euan Mason of Canterbury University is surprised more hill country farmers are not showing an interest in carbon credit trading as they stand to boost their incomes while at the same time helping the environment.
Professor Mason said he is perplexed that some farmers have a negative attitude towards carbon trading and the climate change issue. . .