Rural round-up

April 18, 2014

A sense of proportion about risk, and be grateful for farmer success - Stephen Franks:

I look forward to playing with my latest farm toy. The family call it a ‘golf cart’. It is a UTV ( said by a Jim Mora Panel listener to mean ‘Utility Task Vehicle’) but more commonly referred to as a “side by side”.  As dairy farmers upgrade their gear in the dairy bonanza, the rest of rural New Zealand benefits from their second hand off-road wheels.

The farm bike then quad bike largely replaced the horse several decades ago. Now they in turn will be replaced by UTVs.

The safety over-lords expolit the injury rates on ATVs to get ordinary people to cower apologetically before them. Ignoring the drive of many of us to use our machines to the limit for the same kind of satisfaction as we get from mountain climbing, or playing rugby, or skiing fast, or even perhaps binge drinking, they force industry leaders into snivelling apologies for accidents that are inevitable if people are to continue to be free to choose their preferred levels of risk. . .    

Govt to establish Food Safety Science & Research Centre:

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced that expressions of interest have been released for a Food Safety Science and Research Centre.

Establishing a New Zealand centre of food safety science and research is one of the 29 recommendations from the Government Inquiry into the Whey Protein Concentrate (WPC) Contamination Incident, released in December last year.

“The centre will ensure delivery of excellent food safety science and research while also minimising the risks of foodborne illness and maximising economic growth opportunities,” Mr Joyce says. . .

Dairy Women’s Network appoints Atiamuri dairy farmer to North Island convenor role:

Atiamuri dairy farmer Karen Forlong has been appointed North Island convenor coordinator for the Dairy Women’s Network (DWN).

In the 20-hours per week role, Forlong is charged with supporting 18 regional volunteers who run the Network’s regional groups from the top to the bottom of the North Island.

DWN chief executive Zelda de Villiers said the Network was delighted with Karen’s appointment.

“Karen brings a wealth of farming and leadership experience to the Network. Alongside her farming responsibilities she is on the board of Rotorua District Vets and is about to complete the Agri-Women Development Trust’s Escalator Programme. . .

 

Spreading the word on alternative tree species:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has announced that a project which aims to provide information for growers on alternative tree species has been approved for a Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF) grant.

“The project will focus specifically on cypresses and eucalypts. Both species groups have been successfully grown here on a wide range of site types for many years, but on a limited scale,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“When grown well, both cypresses and eucalypts produce high-value timber with a wide range of possible uses. They have a valuable role in soil conservation, improving water quality, providing shade and shelter, and increasing biodiversity.” . . .

$9.9m in funding for new sustainable farming projects:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the latest round of projects receiving funding from the Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF), covering a range of issues from water quality to climate change.

“There are 31 approved projects in this round, with $9.9m in funding over three years coming from the Government and $8.7m from the project’s co-funders.

“The one common factor is they will deliver real economic and environmental benefits to New Zealand’s primary industries. They are driven from the grassroots and will make a real difference to regional communities.

“For example a project addressing water quality issues in the Opihi catchment aims to increase profitability and productivity while reducing the environmental impacts on catchment farms.   . .

Delegat’s founder Jim Delegat to step back from daily operations - Suze Metherell:

(BusinessDesk) – Jim Delegat, founder of Delegat’s Group, is stepping down from running the winemaker’s daily operations to focus on the company’s strategic direction.

From next month Delegat will take on the role executive chairman, where he will provide strategic direction and monitor performance, the company said in a statement. Graeme Lord will take over as managing director and will be responsible for developing growth plans, building a high performing organisation and executing business plans. Lord has been the general manager of global sales and market for the past six years. Current Delegat’s chairman Robert Wilton will remain on as a director. . . .

 

 


Attracting regional investment

April 14, 2014

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise is to establish a new regional investment attraction programme to encourage more international firms to invest in New Zealand’s regional economies, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says.

NZTE will work in partnership with regions around the country to create comprehensive investment profiles that outline the strengths of the particular regional economy, the opportunities for investment, and what the region can offer to investors.

“We know there are big opportunities for New Zealand from the massive growth in the numbers of consumers across Asia. However, companies these days can invest their money wherever they like around the world. The challenge for each of New Zealand’s regions is to showcase the real opportunities for competitive businesses in their region, and this programme will help them do it in a more systematic way,” Mr Joyce says.

The NZTE regional investment attraction programme is part of the agency’s work to mobilise capital from domestic and international sources to help lift exports and grow New Zealand’s economy. This includes the new “Better by Capital” service which helps companies to understand the capital raising process to fund their international growth.

“The regions that are doing the best are those that have a clear positive approach that welcomes investment and new opportunities,” Mr Joyce says.

“The profiles will allow regions to clearly lay out the advantages they offer investors in terms of natural resources, infrastructure, the availability of skilled workers, and innovation hubs that support investment.

“NZTE will also provide a toolkit, training, and assistance for regional economic development agencies to better support investor engagement, guidance, and due-diligence.”

To help create and further develop these investment profiles, the Government is commissioning a number of Regional Growth Studies to evaluate growth opportunities in particular regions. These detailed in-depth reports will identify areas of existing economic strength and where opportunities for further growth lie, with a particular focus on the primary sector.

“In commissioning the Regional Growth Studies, the Government will work alongside regional stakeholders such as regional councils and economic development agencies. Local input into the reports will be vital to ensure they are evidence-based and comprehensive,” Mr Joyce says.

“The first study, for the Gisborne/Hawke’s Bay region, arose out of discussions with Regional Councils last year and is nearly complete. A request for proposals for the Northland study was released yesterday by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment alongside the Ministry of Primary Industries, and additional studies will be considered in partnership with other regions.

“The latest data shows that it is the regions that have been clearly leading New Zealand’s recovery out of the GFC. Today’s announcements will further accelerate this progress.”

The left demonise foreign investment, but it brings significant benefits:

A $70 million investment in Hawke’s Bay that future-proofs one of the region’s biggest employers was celebrated yesterday.

Japan-owned Pan Pac in Whirinaki, north of Napier, has upgraded its grade of wood-pulp exports thanks to a new $50 million plant that bleaches the product.

A $20 million investment was also made so that treated waste was “better than it has ever been before”, pulp mill manager Roger Jones told dignitaries touring the plant.

Previously, Pan Pac sold only newsprint pulp to its owner Oji Holdings for the Japanese market but now exports two grades of pulp throughout the world, with the US an increasingly important customer.

Pan Pac has the country’s largest Market Mechanical pulp mill and thanks to a recent third shift of workers, now has the country’s most productive sawmill. . .

This investment safeguards jobs, it’s already brought in foreign money and some of the export earnings will remain here for on-ging maintenance and development.

Investors who come from cities whose population is bigger than that of the whole of New Zealand might not be aware of the potential for investment like this outside our main centres.

But lower costs for property and generally stable workforces could make regions attractive to overseas investors.

These factors ought to be considered by domestic investors too when close proximity to a larger market isn’t a consideration.


Provinces lead recovery

March 28, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But they’re only looking at last year:

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

Both of those are beyond government control.

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

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

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

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


Keeping OCR rise in perspective

March 14, 2014

The small increase in the Official Cash rate, from the record low of 2.5% to 2.75%,  has provided the Opposition with the opportunity to run round like chicken little.

They need to keep it in perspective:

Paul Goldsmith: How does the new 2.75 percent official cash rate compare with previous cash rate settings, and what steps is the Government taking to ensure that interest rate increases are not as severe as they were in the mid-2000s?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: As I said, the official cash rate has been at a record low of 2.5 percent since March 2011. As the Reserve Bank Governor has indicated many times, it could not remain at this expansionary level for ever, particularly as the economy picks up strong momentum. The new official cash rate of 2.75 percent is significantly below its record high of 8.25 percent, which it was through much of 2008. The Government continues to support lower interest rates with its responsible fiscal policy and by addressing supply issues in the housing market. This has been good news for families who faced mortgage interest rates of nearly 11 percent back in 2008. A family with a $200,000 floating rate mortgage has been saving about $200 a week compared with 5 or 6 years ago. If the official cash rate increases by 1 percent over the coming year, this would be worth around $38 a week on that mortgage.

Anyone with a floating rate on a mortgage of $200,000 has been saving about $200 a week compared with what they’d have had to be paying before Labour lost the 2008 election.

If the rate goes up by 1% in the coming year they’ll be paying another $38.

No increase will be welcomed, but it is better than run-away inflation which the increase in the OCR is designed to forestall.

Paul Goldsmith: What reports has he seen on alternative approaches to economic and monetary policy, and how would these impact on interest rates for New Zealand households?

Mr SPEAKER: The Hon Steven Joyce, in as far as he has ministerial responsibility.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I have seen an alternative policy reported, claiming that apparently you can go soft on inflation by tinkering with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act and that somehow this will keep interest rates lower for longer. The trouble with those sorts of approaches is that the prescription does not stand up to scrutiny, particularly if you accompany it with much higher Government spending. History has shown that under Governments that go soft on inflation, the people who are hardest hit are those on low and fixed incomes, because their spending power does not keep up with the cost of living. Yet the very politicians who complain about the cost of living can now apparently approach a policy that would set them soft on inflation. That just does not make any policy sense. If you want to look after the vulnerable in society, control inflation.

Inflation is theft by incompetent economic management.

It erodes wealth, be it what you earn or what you save.

It reduces real buying power and the people it hits hardest are those who have least to begin with and are least able to cope with less.


Inflation hurts

March 13, 2014

Question of the day:

It was prompted by Labour’s threat to meddle with the Reserve Bank.

Inflation effectively cuts wages by reducing buying power and it erodes the value of savings.

Some Labour MPs were in government in the 1980s when inflation was nearly ten times higher than it is now and interest rates were in the mid to high 20s.

Have they forgotten, have they no influence on their caucus or do they just not care?


Belief born out of experience

March 8, 2014

One of the 12 questions put to National Minister Steven Joyce was were you always right wing at heart?

To which he answered:

I don’t see myself as right wing. I’ve believed strongly in the ability of individuals to make decisions and make their own courses in terms of how they want to live their lives. I don’t see that as particularly ideological.

My parents owned a dairy when I was young and wanted to get ahead in life. What I believe is born out of my experience, I don’t think it’s particularly right wing. The labelling of particular politics is a bit unhelpful in many ways.

Joyce, like most National MPs has had plenty of experience of the risks and rewards of  the real world and it is that which has shaped his beliefs.

That is yet another contrast with Labour, very few of whose MPs have business experience and whose beliefs appear to be built on political theory rather than real-world practice.


Caption contest

March 3, 2014

Tweet of the day:

It begs a caption.

Usual rules – political’s fine, personal isn’t and wit gets more points than whining.


The manufactured crisis

February 14, 2014

Remember the manufactured manufacturing crisis the opposition spent so much of their energy and our money on last year?

The news on it is bad for them but very good for the rest of us:

New Zealand’s manufacturing sector started 2014 on a healthy note, according to the latest BNZ – BusinessNZ Performance of Manufacturing Index (PMI).

The seasonally adjusted PMI for January was 56.2 (a PMI reading above 50.0 indicates that manufacturing is generally expanding; below 50.0 that it is declining). The sector has now been in expansion for 16 consecutive months, with the last six months also averaging 56.2.

BusinessNZ’s Executive Director for Manufacturing Catherine Beard said that despite the usual seasonal effects of Christmas and the holiday season, the sector has begun the way it finished off 2013.

“Positive comments from manufacturers revolved around a growing confidence by consumers, further gains in building construction and continued high levels of new orders, both domestically and offshore. In particular, the metal product sector is currently benefitting from the strong residential construction boom, which will no doubt continue for some months to come.”

BNZ Economist Doug Steel said it would be easy to understand if the PMI had lost a bit of heat in January, given the hefty lift in the NZD/AUD exchange rate. But the PMI has barrelled on, as domestic demand strengthens. . . .

This provided the opportunity in Question Time yesterday:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Of the 16 different industries measured by the household labour force survey, employment rose in 11, including manufacturing, which does debunk another myth often heard around this building. There is no doubting that the high New Zealand dollar is a challenge for exporters, but the January Performance of Manufacturing Index, which was released today, shows manufacturing has now been in expansion for 16 consecutive months, which is, weirdly, precisely the exact same time since the Opposition announced the start of its inquiry into a manufacturing crisis. I quote from the Performance of Manufacturing Index today, which says that manufacturing punched above its weight regarding job growth in 2013. It accounted for 13.5 percent of jobs added in the New Zealand economy overall last year, which is more jobs than were added in Australia in the same period. . .

There is a cloud on the horizon though:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: . . .  The Government has more than 350 initiatives under the Business Growth Agenda that are helping businesses grow, because that is how employment grows. I contrast this with policies that would put a chill on industries, that would cause their hiring intentions to freeze, and companies themselves might not even survive—for example, if you nationalise the electricity industry or double the cost of the emissions trading scheme on households and businesses, or if you impose new taxes on every single business in the country. . . .

The left demonise business without realising its the goose that lays the golden eggs of employment and economic growth.

The recovery is real but it’s not yet robust and a change of government with policies that would undermine business confidence could easily reverse the hard-won progress that’s being made.

 

 

 


National’s plan is working

February 12, 2014

National’s plan for a brighter future is working – and as a consequence so are more young people:

The latest HLFS employment figures show the Government’s focus on young people is paying off, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce and Social Development Minister Paula Bennett say.

“An increase of 28,500 (9.3 per cent) 15 to 24 year-olds in work over the past year and the lowest number of young people not being in employment, education, or training since 2008 is promising news for them and their families,” Mr Joyce says.

“Through our Business Growth Agenda the Government has been investing heavily in education and training to lift the skills and qualifications of our young people while matching the needs of employers.

“Initiatives such as Youth Guarantee, the Apprenticeship Reboot and Maori and Pasifika Trades Training are proving very successful in providing young people with important skills they will have for life.”

Mrs Bennett says the Government’s investment in youth services as part of the welfare reforms was also having a big impact in reducing the number of NEETs.

“Government funded youth providers are actively supporting 9,602 NEETs to get enrolled and remain in education, training or work based learning,” Mrs Bennett says.

“The Government’s Job Streams subsidies are encouraging more employers to give young people a go in good jobs with training. Thanks to these subsidies 2,578 young people got jobs.

“The Government is proud of what we are achieving in making a real difference for young people to get work and to get on with a bright future ahead of them.”

Employment has been lagging other positive indicators so this improvement is very encouraging.

Youth who go from school to a benefit are likely to stay on it for longer at a huge cost to them and the country financially and in terms of social outcomes like poorer health and a greater likelihood of committing crimes.

Keeping young people in education or getting them into training or work has both social and economic benefits for them and the rest of us.
>National’s focus on young people is paying off and making a real difference: www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=43060


Making stuff up

February 6, 2014

It’s so much easier to be in opposition when there’s a lot of bad news around.

Then the politicians can bring out the metaphorical sack cloth and ashes and say how bad things are.

It’s much harder to do that when there’s a growing trend of positive announcements, but that doesn’t stop them trying, even if they have to ensure the facts don’t get in the way of their stories:

Greens leader Russel Norman has joined his Labour colleague David Cunliffe in being caught making stuff up about the economy, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.

“Dr Norman really does need to be held to account when he alleges National has failed to grow jobs and wages – when the official statistics show the opposite is true,” Mr Joyce says.

“In the past year alone, 66,000 more people have jobs across New Zealand – the biggest annual increase since 2006.

“And the best source of wage movements is the Quarterly Employment Survey, which the Greens and Labour have agreed over the years to use as the basis for paid parental leave and New Zealand Superannuation.

“Using this measure, average weekly earnings rose 2.8 per cent over the year to December, while inflation was only 1.6 per cent. So, on average, wages are continuing to rise faster than inflation.

“The gains are more significant when measured on an after tax basis. The average weekly earnings, after tax, have gone up 25 per cent since September 2008, compared to inflation of 10 per cent over the same period.

“The Greens and Labour continue to deliberately use the wrong measure of actual wage growth by quoting the Labour Cost Index. In doing so, they are misleading New Zealanders.”

Photo: We are heading in the right direction.

And another piece of positive news:


Employment up, unemployment down

February 5, 2014

Employment has lagged behind other encouraging announcements but the labour market is strengthening and unemployment has fallen to a three-year low:

The labour market continues to grow and unemployment has fallen to 6.0 percent, Statistics New Zealand said today. There were 24,000 more people employed in the December 2013 quarter, following an additional 28,000 in the September quarter.

Over the December 2013 year, the number of people employed rose 3.0 percent in the Household Labour Force Survey (HLFS). Demand for workers from established businesses rose 1.9 percent in the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES).

“We’re seeing strength across the labour market, particularly in the industries that provide services,” industry and labour statistics manager Diane Ramsay said. “The unemployment rate has been falling and employment rising for the last 18 months, with both now at levels last seen in early 2009.”

Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index (LCI) salary and ordinary time wage rates, remained steady at 1.6 percent in the December 2013 quarter. Average ordinary time hourly earnings, as measured by the QES, rose 2.9 percent over the year – up from 2.6 percent in the September quarter.

 

Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says this is further evidence that the New Zealand economy is heading in the right direction.

“What is pleasing is the growth is right across the country and shows the Government’s responsible economic policies and comprehensive Business Growth Agenda is creating the opportunities for businesses to invest and employ more people.”
Highlights include:

  • The labour force participation rate increased 0.3 per cent to 68.9 per cent – the second highest since records began in 1986. Female participation rose 0.4 per cent to 63.4 per cent – the highest level since the HLFS began
  • The rate for youth not in employment, education or training (NEET) for 15-24 year olds fell 0.1 per cent to 11.3 per cent – the lowest rate since December 2008
  • Māori and Pasifika unemployment are both down. Māori unemployment rate was 12.8 per cent (from 14.8 per cent a year ago). Pasifika unemployment rate was 13.7 per cent (from 16.0 per cent a year ago)
  • Manufacturing jobs are up 6 per cent in the last year or 14,300 people.

New Zealand’s unemployment rate remains better than most OECD countries and is just behind Australia (5.8 per cent). New Zealand has a significantly higher employment rate than Australia because of our higher participation rate. The average unemployment rate across the OECD is 7.8 per cent. 

Wages continue to rise faster than inflation. Average weekly earnings rose 2.8 per cent in the last year, compared to inflation of 1.6 per cent.

“While steady progress is being made, as a country we need to remain focused on encouraging investment that will bring jobs, and higher incomes for New Zealanders and their families,” Mr Joyce says.

Six percent is still too high but the improvement is welcome and increased business confidence means it is likely to continue.


Northland must embrace job opportunities

February 5, 2014

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce is urging Northland iwi and community leaders to endorse and encourage resource opportunities that will create jobs and boost economic growth in the region.

It follows comments from a spokesperson for one Ngapuhi hapu on Radio New Zealand and in Mining Australia magazine that Ngapuhi miners working in Australia wouldn’t be welcome home if they return to work in mining exploration in Northland.

“While regions across New Zealand are leading New Zealand’s economic recovery, Northland has been struggling with high unemployment. The only way to change that is to encourage new investment in the region,” Mr Joyce says.

“Northland iwi and community leaders have been working well together to develop a number of economic opportunities. It’s important that Northland embraces all opportunities to grow jobs in the region while carefully managing the environmental impacts.

“There are many opportunities for investment and growth here. Accelerating treaty settlements, improving the development of Maori land, and exploration of mineral opportunities are all part of the story.

“We have to get past the point where people react with a black and white no to resource opportunities. We need to manage the process so that we can both have the jobs and protect our environment.

“It’s time to unambiguously endorse measures that will really lift the North and bring jobs, incomes, and above all a stronger future here in Northland for the young people of the region.”

Northland is one of the poorest regions.

Taranaki is booming with higher employment and higher wages because it has embraced resource extraction.

In doing so it’s got the economic benefits without any of the environmental problems those opposed to drilling and mining use to defend their position.


Picture paints many thousand lies

January 30, 2014

On TV3 this morning, Labour leader David Cunliffe blamed the difference between the baby bribe bonus he announced and what it would actually deliver as a slip of the pen.

But it wasn’t just the speech that gave a very wrong impression, it was almost all the back-up material given to media and advertising:

That clearly shows paid parental leave on top of the baby bribe, it doesn’t make it clear it would only kick in after paid parental leave finished.

A picture can paint a thousand words – this one paints many thousand lies.

There’s a very big difference between the 59,000 families Cunliffe said would get the baby bribe for 52 weeks and the real figure minus the 25,000 who get paid parental leave and the 15,000 who get the parental tax credit who won’t get it for the whole year either.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says Cunliffe needs to answer seven crucial questions at his photo-opportunity today if he is to start the year with any credibility at all:

  1. How many families with new babies would actually get an additional $60 per week for one year under his package, given that it wouldn’t be paid to families while they are receiving Paid Parental Leave, and given that he is proposing to scrap the Parental Tax Credit which already provides up to $1200 to 15,000 families of new-born babies?
  2. Why did he say in his speech: “today, I am announcing that for 59,000 families with new-born babies, they will all receive a Best Start investment of $60 per week, for the first year of their child’s life”, when that statement is so obviously false and deceptive?
  3. Why is he blaming his staff members for getting the line in his speech about the package wrong when it is clearly his speech and this was the most significant element of it?
  4. Who wrote the speech given he takes no responsibility? Is it true he wrote the speech himself?
  5. Why did he announce last week that he had “saved $1.5 billion a year” when quite clearly he hadn’t?
  6. What specific programmes would he cut in New Zealand’s accounts to generate the savings of $1.5 billion a year he said he had made last week?
  7. Does he think it is right to attempt to con New Zealanders not once, but twice, in the first week of the political year?

“Mr Cunliffe needs to be upfront with New Zealanders and not constantly try to pull the wool over their eyes if he to be taken remotely seriously as an opposition leader,” Mr Joyce says.

He has to do even better if he’s going to look like a Prime Minister in waiting and he won’t do that while Cunliffe is looking more and more like Conlife.

 


Issues that matter

January 28, 2014

He’s referring to Labour MP David Clark’s suggestion that the government bans Facebook.

Perhaps Andrei is right and Labour is trying to throw the election.

 


Is it Cunliffe of Conliffe?

January 28, 2014

This could well be because he can’t credibly explain how he’s going to pay for the baby bribe.

He tried yesterday but the figures don’t add up:

Labour Leader David Cunliffe needs to explain why he has tried to con the New Zealand public and front up about where the money would come from for his planned big spend-up, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says.

“Mr Cunliffe has been deliberately pulling the wool over the eyes of the New Zealand public by cancelling two Labour policies last week and saying that gives him $1.5 billion a year to spend,” Mr Joyce says.

“His press release of 22 January specifically states: ‘This decision frees up around $1.5 billion per annum’.

“Then yesterday, in attempting to say where the money would come from, he said: ‘Labour has recently confirmed we will no longer be proceeding with a Tax Free Zone or the GST exemption for fresh fruit and vegetables. This decision will save around $1.5 billion per year. The Best Start package will cost significantly less than this’.

“The only problem is he is completely wrong on both counts.

“There is no GST off fruit and veges in the country’s books to save, and no tax-free threshold to take out, so cancelling them doesn’t save anything.

“There are only two possibilities here: Mr Cunliffe is either deliberately trying to pull the wool over New Zealanders’ eyes; or he doesn’t understand the most basic accounting.

“Late yesterday he started to advance the possibility that other things could pay for it. The short answer is he has no idea.

“The country has rightly become very cynical about Labour’s big spending habits, and has spent five years digging out of them.

“Mr Cunliffe needs to be straight-up about spending taxpayers’ money.” . . .

New Zealand went into recession before the global financial crisis because of Labour’s high tax, churn and spend policies.

The road to surplus has been more difficult and public debt is higher because National swallowed some dead rats to continue some of the middle income welfare.

Labour hasn’t learned from that.

It wants to not only continue middle income welfare, it wants to extend it to upper income families.

Even if that was a good idea – and it isn’t – the only way to pay for it is to increase taxes, increase borrowing and/or cut spending somewhere else.

Cunliffe missed the e off the end of Lorde’s name in a tweet yesterday. He said it was a typo.

It wouldn’t be a typo to change the u in his name to an o it would be more a Freudian slip – Conliffe is the appropriate name for someone who’s trying to con the electorate.


Green policy radical red

January 27, 2014

Labour’s former leader David Shearer has realised the faults in his proposal for free breakfasts in school:

. . . Is it right to impose a one-size-fits-all solution on to every low-decile school in the form of a food hand-out?

There’s an old saying: give someone a fish and it will feed them for a day; teach someone to fish and it will feed them for a lifetime.

Of course, we all agree that no child should be hungry at school. But what’s missing is a programme that will not only fix that but also improve nutrition and ensure self-reliance.

Before coming into politics I ran huge feeding programmes for starving kids, including one for 30,000 children in Somalia.

Without that food, those children would have died. But the programme was always designed to be temporary. As soon as the crisis passed, the families moved on, relying on themselves.

My fear is that we will institutionalise dependence through relying solely on a feeding programme. We need to be far more forward-looking. . .

Unfortunately Labour’s potential coalition partner hasn’t seen the light.

The party’s policy announced yesterday is to provide:

. . . 1.     A dedicated School Hub Coordinator ($28.5 million per annum)
The Hubs Coordinator will work for the school to recruit adult and community educators, early childhood, social and health services and explore other opportunities to develop a unique hub in conjunction with the school and its community.
 
2.     Free afterschool and holiday care programmes ($10 million per annum)
We’ll provide free after-school care and holiday programmes for every child at decile 1 to 4 schools, and we will expand access to Out of School Care and Recreation (OSCAR) low income subsidies to children at decile 5-10 schools.
 
3.     A national school lunch fund ($40 million per annum)
The Fund will make lunch available at all decile 1 to 4 primary and intermediate schools, but will be available to other schools based on need.
 
4.     Dedicated school nurses in decile 1-4 schools ($11.6 million per annum)
School nurses will deliver primary health care to children and their families in the school environment where they are known and trusted. . .

 Not only have the Greens not taken note of Shearer’s concerns, they haven’t done their homework on what support is already available:

Education Minister Hekia Parata says the Green Party appeared to be completely unaware of what happens every day in schools up and down the country when it wrote its latest policy ideas.

“We already have around 300 nurses working with virtually every school in the country and with a particular focus on low decile-schools.

“We already provide social workers for every decile 1 to 3 primary school in the country, under the Social Workers in Schools scheme.

“There are already a number of schools operating as community hubs, so it’s not a new idea, but it’s also not a concept that should be forced on every school.

“With Fonterra and Sanitarium we already provide a breakfast in schools programme five mornings a week to any school that wants it.

“We have increased our funding to KidsCan who provide services like raincoats and shoes for children and provide school lunch packs from donations.

“We already subsidise after-school care and holiday care for about 50,000 children, with assistance targeted at low-income families.

“We are already investing $1.5 billion in early childhood education, up from $860 million in 2007/08. Participation in early childhood education has risen to almost 96 per cent and we are focusing on improving participation amongst the most vulnerable groups.

“The Greens should do their homework. They are clearly unaware of all the things the Government is doing in this area, and they are also clearly in denial that the biggest influence on children’s achievement is quality teaching, says Ms Parata. 

“Quality teaching raises achievement for kids from all schools, no matter what their decile ranking, which is why we announced our big new investment on Thursday to raise teaching practice and strengthen school leadership.

“If the Greens really cared about getting better results in education they would back that policy instead of opposing it, and they would do the work to understand what is already happening in terms of providing additional support for children in school.”

Steven Joyce put it more succinctly:

Free milk and breakfasts (paid for by Fonterra and Sanitarium) are given to any schools which want it – and not all do.

Among those which don’t are some decile 1 -4 schools who will have publicly funded lunches foisted upon them.

Other support already provided is targeted at those in need.

In spite of the danger Shearer has seen, the Green Party will use public money to fund policies which institutionalise dependence, waste money where it’s not needed, foist food on schools that don’t want it and treat some of the symptoms but do nothing to address the underlying causes of the problems.


No bang, just recycled whimper

January 23, 2014

Labour and its leader finished 2013 having made no real progress in the polls in months.

They’d said and done nothing to excite people as they headed on holiday making it essential that they started the year with a bang.

Instead of that Cunliffe delivered a recycled whimper.

Whoever came up with this strategy needs to do some serious rethinking.

All it’s done is put the focus on policies which failed three years ago, remind us Cunliffe was the Finance spokesman when they were developed, and provide the opportunity to question the party’s grasp of economics.


Saving cents still doesn’t make sense to Labour

January 15, 2014

Boat builders are upset that the government has awarded an $8 million ferry contract to a Bangladesh company rather than locals.

Economic development minister Steven Joyce told the Herald the difference between the New Zealand tenders and the successful Bangladesh bid was around $14 million.

“The numbers here were just too big to bridge, whatever way you want to cut it. If we were to prefer New Zealand suppliers at any cost, it would be a recipe for economic disaster,” Joyce said.

Saving that many cents make good sense but Labour still doesn’t care about that:

Over at Keeping Stock, Gosman points out that the boat building industry is doing well without public subsidies:

. . . The turnover in the industry as in 2012 was around 1.7 billion dollars. Just to put it in to perspective for you if this contract had been awarded for 23 million dollars it would have been worth around one percent of total turnover. The industry doesn’t need government money to survive so why demand they get special treatment than firms from other nations? . . .

Labour wants subsidies for an industry that’s doing very well without them.

Once more it shows it’s not learned from its mistakes and still isn’t concerned about wasting taxpayers’ money.


Poor policies add up to recession

January 15, 2014

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce shows how poor policies add up to recession:

It’s important to remember that in 2008 New Zealand was already in recession, thanks to the Labour-led government’s mismanagement.

It left office forecasting a decade of deficits before most of the rest of the world went into recession.

National has turned that around in spite of the natural and economic disasters it’s had to deal with.


How to keeping growing

January 15, 2014

Business confidence is at a 20 year high lifting jobs, profits and investment:

New Zealand business confidence climbed to a 20-year high in the fourth quarter, lifting expectations for profits, hiring and investments, and raising the prospects for inflation to start to accelerate.

A net 52 percent of businesses were optimistic in the December quarter, seasonally adjusted, the highest since June 1994 and up from 33 percent three months earlier, which was itself the highest in more than three years, according to the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research’s Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion.

Domestic trading activity, which is closely aligned with economic growth, climbed to the strongest since March 2005, with a seasonally adjusted net 15 percent of firms experiencing a pickup in their own activity. Expectations for the coming quarter rose to 32 percent from 24 percent.

“This quarter every region in our survey was doing better,” said Shamubeel Eaqub, principal economist at NZIER. “Until recently much of the recovery was concentrated in Canterbury. This has now broadened to most regions across New Zealand, which points towards a more sustainable and stable recovery.” . . .

Sustainable and stable are very reassuring words, much better than boom and bust which have been used, and experienced, too many times before.

How to build on this and ensure the good times grow is the challenge, as Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce points out:

The top independent world economic brains in the OECD and IMF expect us to continue to outstrip most developed countries in the next couple of years.

At last, we have the potential to make a serious move up that fabled OECD ladder. Net migration to Australia has also dropped sharply. At around 1000 a month, it’s about a quarter of what it was, and close to its lowest point over the past decade.

There are risks – the world remains in economically uncharted waters. However, if we remain cautious and conservative in our approach, we should do better than most.

And, of course, one or two good years do not change the fortunes of a country. We need many years of higher growth to provide better opportunities for Kiwis and their families. . .

The dairy trade, particularly with China, and the Christchurch rebuild are contributing to the growing economy but they are only aprt of the story.

What’s most encouraging is that a range of our companies across a number of industries are successfully selling their goods and services around the world, despite tough economic times.

In industries like ICT, high-tech and medium high-tech manufacturing, engineering services, tourism, international education, wine and other food and beverages, New Zealand firms have got leaner and more savvy in the past few years and all that work is starting to pay off.

The big thing driving the success of our entrepreneurs is their commitment to innovation; to developing products that allow them to demand a premium price in world markets. It’s that which determines their long-term success. . . .

The government has helped by removing road blocks that discourage investment.

A lot of work has been done and laws have been changed to ensure New Zealand is more welcoming of new investment while protecting against the risks. You need constant new investment to replace some of the old industries that become obsolete as a result of revolutionary technologies such as the internet.

So how do we keep growth happening? How do we lift New Zealand’s longer term growth rate so that we add more jobs, reach our potential, and become a true “Pacific Tiger” rather than just a short-term success story? I think there are several key things:

1. Keep opening our markets and building strong people to people relationships. The lesson of the China FTA is obvious. If we can get a good TPP deal, then we should grab it – along with other FTA and trade opportunities.

2. Innovate, innovate and innovate. The National-led Government is putting a lot of taxpayers’ money into assisting firms and their ideas. As a country we are starting to see the power of innovation in our industries but we need to keep lifting private sector investment in research and development to international norms.

3. Keep building the skills of a successful and innovative trading nation. Encourage more of our young people into the careers that breed innovation, like engineering, ICT, and science.

4. Encourage more capital to invest in New Zealand. The mixed ownership programme has helped set up a stellar year for our stock exchange. We need to build on that. Capital investment in competitive industries creates sustainable jobs.

5. We need to keep removing red tape and provide certainty to investors, especially in resource industries. That means making decisions quickly and effectively, while also working to improve environmental outcomes.

6. We need to keep building infrastructure to support a growth-oriented country. Great progress has been made in electricity transmission and ultra-fast broadband. Those projects need to be finished. And we need to keep investing in our transport systems for safety and efficiency. That means high-quality four-lane roads in and out of our main centres, resilient highways elsewhere, and quality public transport that people want to use.

Finally – and above all – we need to make responsible fiscal and economic decisions that keep the tax burden low and pay off debt. We need to keep rewarding New Zealanders with efficient public services and lower income taxes than elsewhere. It’s talented, hard-working Kiwis who get out of bed every day that make all this happen. Kiwis strive and succeed because they see the benefits of their hard work. If politicians keep remembering that then New Zealand will truly become a Pacific Tiger.

That of course requires a National-led government.

Any alternatives are focussed on taxing and spending, on redistributing rather than growing, and appealing to envy rather than aspiration.


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