Gift of praise for birthday

April 10, 2014

Yesterday was Social Development Minister Paula Bennett’s birthday and Trans Tasman gives her the gift of praise:

. . .Is Paula Bennett the most effective Minister to have held the Social Development portfolio? There’s little doubt her welfare reforms are hitting the mark, judging by the fierce reaction to the news at least 21,000 beneficiaries have travelled overseas in the past nine months. Of those, nearly 5000 have had their benefits cancelled once eight weeks had elapsed since their departure. It makes it hard for Opposition politicians to pitch the case of growing inequality. Bennett has also been equally effective on issues like family violence, when lobbyists (who would normally be critical of a National Minister holding the portfolio) praise her work and say they want her to keep on with it…………

Having lobbyists on social matters, who are almost on the left of the spectrum, want her to stay on is high praise and well deserved.

Political playground

April 8, 2014

Trans Tasman takes politicians back to school:

Hone Harawira, one suspects, used to specialise in Chinese burns and other playground tortures when he was at school. The Mana Party leader has the kind of air about him redolent of such schoolyard antics. John Key was probably the cheeky kid who cracked enough jokes to be popular with the other kids but who nevertheless did his homework assiduously and kept on authority’s good side. David Cunliffe was the greasy goody two shoes, bright, geeky and probably a bit of a sneak. Peter Dunne – swotty pants. Russel Norman – ditto, but a more argumentative version of the same. Metiria Turei: the slightly flaky party girl (a bit like Paula Bennett, in fact).

We had classic playground diversion stuff this week when it was suggested Harawira is the lone electorate MP Kim Dotcom has signed up to his party. It’s not me, sir, Harawira protested – pointing indignantly to the class swot Peter Dunne sitting quietly in the corner. Key of course has rubbished the idea his support partner might be in talks with the Internet pirate who has promised to bring the Prime Minister down. “Not a dog show,” the PM laughed, which prompted a few to remember the Country Calender spoof about the remote controlled sheep dogs, and to ponder Dunne’s resemblance to a slightly affronted Scottish Rough Collie.

Former Labour leader David Shearer – the decent kid  everyone used to pick on – is the other candidate who has been suggested, but this looks even less likely than Dunne. Dotcom has historically held a somewhat awkward relationship with the truth which has occasionally brought him to the attention of the authorities. This looks like another of those occasions. . .

An awkward relationship with the truth, may or may not apply to the 2000 members his Internet Party claims to have.

It’s applied to register as a political party.

. . . Following registration the Internet Party will need to submit its rules providing for the democratic participation of members and candidate selection within the time period specified by law. . .

It’s constitution is here but Russell Brown raises questions on whether they allow for democratic participation by members:

1. There is a special role called ‘party visionary.’ This is defined as Kim Dotcom, or a person selected by Kim Dotcom. THis visionary has the automatic right to sit and vote on the party’s executive and policy committee and cannot be kicked out by the membership.
2. To stand for election to the party’s executive, in addition to being nominated by current members of the party you’ve got to be nominated by a current member of the National Executive. This locks in the incumbents.
3. The party’s executive has nearly unfettered control over the list: they put together an initial list, send it out to the membership to vote on, and then they ultimately decide what the final list should be having regard to the member’s choices.
4. The national executive chooses who stands in what electorate. No local member input at all.
5. The party secretary has a very important role (eg they get to solely arbitrate over disputes; they set out the process for amending the constitution, they decide the process for electing office holders; they’re a voting member of the National Executive). The only problem is they’re legally an employee of the party’s shell company, meaning that it is very hard for the members to exercise democratic control over the secretary (you can’t just fire an employee).
6. On a related note: the way the Internet Party is structured is so all its assets are kept in a shell company (Internet Party Assets Inc), away from the party itself. I don’t know what the purpose of this one was TBH. (the rules of this company were meant to be attached to the constitution in a schedule, but as far as I can see they’re not there)
7. They’re using the old ‘vote in Parliamentary caucus’ decides leader method. To be fair, most parties use this though. There is a bit of a quirk though that until we know their list we don’t know who their party leader is, because if they’re outside of Parliament their party leader is just whoever is at number 1 of the list. (I also note there’s no way to remove a leader if they don’t have representation in Parliament).”

Not so much of, for and by the members as of, for and by Dotcom.

But the silver lining to the Dotcom cloud is that every bit of media attention he’s getting – and he’s getting a lot – is less for the rest of the opposition.

Change in leader not enough for Labour

March 21, 2014

Trans Tasman notes that this week’s poll continuing the dismal trend for Labour confirms that the party needed more than a change of leader.

Labour’s slump in support in the latest poll underlines the party’s problems are more deep seated than can be overcome by a change in leadership. David Cunliffe’s poll ratings are now below those of the man he replaced. But even though anxiety among lower-ranked MPs is growing over their electoral future, there is unlikely to be any fresh moves to change the leadership, despite Shane Jones looking a better bet. The Herald-Digipoll confirmed the trend in other polls, though it’s the first to show Labour below 30%.

The only major changes in the party since it lost the 2008 election are three leaders and rules which can inflict a leader on the caucus without its support.

It is offering almost all the same old stale faces and most of the new policies announced are failed ones from the past.

. . . The significant lesson Labour doesn’t appear to have absorbed is the bulk of voters think the country is heading in the right direction.

The latest poll showed the gap between those who think things are moving in the right direction, and those who do not, expanding from around 3 percentage points to more than 17 points compared with December. Yet this week in Parliament Labour MPs were strumming the theme the present Govt has the worst economic record of any Govt for the last 40 years. They haven’t got the message the Key-led coalition has won the battle on fiscal prudence. And with such a mindset, fresh promises of new spending provoke the opposite response among voters to the one they are seeking. . .

Labour might think the economic and natural disasters since 2008 have been beyond the government’s power. But many voters recognise the difficulties National has faced, the progress it has made in dealing with them and the positive difference it is making.


March 7, 2014

Quote of the day:

. . . Labour couldn’t run a bath – and if they did, it would leak. But would the leak be deliberate or accidental? Who, after the last week, can say? There was a flurry of discussion over whether the leaks about David Cunliffe’s secret trust, and then the Clare Curran email snafu, were on purpose or by accident. Malice or stupidity? There is perhaps a third, blended category: Malicidity. A combination of malice and stupidity, treachery and boneheadedness. . . Trans Tasman

A majority of caucus saddled with a leader they didn’t prefer; fissions and factions within and between caucus and members . . .

It would be a reasonably safe bet that the leaks would be deliberate.

Has accident already happened?

December 3, 2013

Trans Tasman’s annual roll call says this about David Cunliffe:

Due to changes in Labour’s rules managed to pull off the unthinkable and become leader despite many in the caucus not wanting him. He is clever, articulate and a good communicator. Has the potential to be the next PM, but he will only get the one shot. Caucus has no choice but to get behind him. The great fear is he could still  be an accident waiting to happen.

An accident has already happened.

Labour leader David Cunliffe might have fallen foul of the law with a message posted on his Twitter profile on the day of the Christchurch East by-election.

The Electoral Commission is looking into the tweet by Cunliffe on Saturday urging Christchurch East residents to get out and vote for the successful Labour candidate Poto Williams.

“If you are resident in Christchurch East don’t forget to vote today – for Labour and Poto Williams!” he wrote.

Under Electoral Commission rules, no campaigning of any kind is allowed on election day.

The message has since been deleted. Cunliffe yesterday took responsibility for the tweet, saying it was sent in error but was reluctant to explain how. It was “deleted within seconds”.

He said he was not aware of the rules at the time it was sent. He would co-operate with the Electoral Commission if it investigated. . .

It defies belief that a seasoned MP could not be aware of the rules, which aren’t just rules, they are electoral law.

In the National Party the law about what you can and can’t do on election day are drummed into everyone from the newest volunteer to the longest-serving MP. I have no doubt Labour takes the law equally seriously.

He might have forgotten, he might not have thought but ignorance is no defence.

Keeping Stock noticed the tweet and responded:

Whether or not that prompted the deletion of the tweet, it disappeared very quickly.

The Electoral Commission is unlikely to do anything about this given the fleeting appearance of the tweet.

But it does show a lamentable lack of attention to detail on Cunliffe’s part.

That is not not an asset in an aspiring Prime Minister and confirms Trans Tasman’s view of him as an accident waiting to happen.




Bill English politician of year

December 2, 2013

Trans Tasman’s annual roll call of MPs’ performances named Bill English politician of the year.

The star performer, however, is Finance Minister Bill English – he won the title of politician of the year. The judges said it was no contest. . .

This is well deserved.

Prime Minister John Key: Still remarkably popular for a second term PM, but not as bouncy and spontaneous as he was. 8.5/10

Mr English: Politician of the Year: He is restoring the Crown Accounts to surplus, getting the economy “set to fly” and he does more than his fair share of the heavy lifting on policy.

“He and John Key make a formidable team, with English’s intellectual grunt complementing Key’s instinctive political feel.” 9/10

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee: Being responsible for rebuilding a quake-stricken city would severely test anyone. Frustration showed through as he fielded EQC blunders and dealt with the shortcomings of cumbersome bureaucracies. 7/10

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce: If it’s too hard for anyone else, give it to Joyce and he’ll fix it. 7.5/10.

The full roll call will be published by Trans Tasman    later today.




Moral fervour

November 13, 2013

Trans Tasman opines:

Moral fervour has its place, but it is something not to be totally trusted. Self righteousness should never be allowed to become mob rule. Society’s norms should be enforced with a degree of legal detachment, lest righteous condemnation be allowed to turn into lynch mob justice.

So it was possible to feel a smidgeon, just a smidgeon, of sympathy for talkback hosts John Tamihere and Willie Jackson this week. They found themselves on the receiving end of a nationwide, social media wide storm of condemnation for their on-air antics in the wake of the “Roastbusters” rape allegations.

But any sympathy should be minimal. The pair are not exactly strangers to these types of  on-air controversies.

Fellow babyboomer broadcaster Bill Ralston  described them, in a friendly way, as some of the last bastions of 1950s male attitudes, but this is hardly an excuse. One would expect the two to have noticed one or two changes since then. Implicit in the way the two questioned one of the rape victims on the air – and also in some commentary elsewhere – is the notion the girls in some way contributed to their predicament.

Now, contributory negligence is a useful concept in civil law, but hardly applies to criminal matters such as rape – unless it is assumed, from the outset, men have as little control as, say, an out of control machine. Tamihere has form in the misogyny area: he famously called women in the Labour Party “front bums.”

Well, now he and his partner are off the air, for acting like a pair of total back bums.


High dollar not all bad

October 28, 2013

The relatively high value of our dollar makes our exports more expensive but Trans Tasman points out it’s not all bad:

. . . The exchange rate is proving a tough obstacle for many exporters, yet the historically high prices for dairy commodities are a key catalyst for NZ’s improving terms of trade. The strong NZD is also keeping a brake on import costs.

ANZ Bank economists say the $64,000 question will be the extent to which the high NZD impacts on the RBNZ’s deliberations. Concerns regarding the currency are one of the motivating factors behind the RBNZ’s decision to broaden its tool-kit. The recent easing in mortgage approvals suggests the high LVR lending speed limits and subsequent lift in fixed mortgage interest rates for such lending are having an impact on borrowing, and hence the residential property market. But the elevated NZD is providing the RBNZ with more breathing space. It could potentially delay rate hikes.

Opposition parties keeping criticising the government for not doing “something” about the value of the dollar.

That their ideas of “something” wouldn’t work and would threaten the independence of the reserve bank doesn’t get in the way of their rhetoric.

They also conveniently overlook the upside of the higher dollar – imports are cheaper.

This doesn’t just apply just to electronic gadgets and trinkets, it also affects essentials like fuel, machinery, some food and medical supplies.

Another benefit of the higher dollar is that it helps keep interest rates down.

Does the Opposition want to explain to the poor people they purport to represent why they want the cost of living and interest rates to increase?

Does Cunliffe prefer NZ First to Greens

October 18, 2013

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman was de facto leader of the opposition while David Shearer led Labour.

Under David Cunliffe the party is lurching to the left, crowding the Greens and leaving them with less of that political oxygen which comes from media exposure.

Trans Tasman makes an interesting observation about this:

There also seems to be a closer rapport between Labour under Cunliffe with NZ First’s
Winston Peters.
This suggests Cunliffe wants to follow Helen Clark’s tactics, when he gets the chance of forming a Govt, of embracing NZ First, and leaving the radical Greens with little choice except to back him from the sidelines. The difficulty with this is Labour’s own policy of raising the age of eligibility for NZ superannuation from 65 to 67. A bottom line for NZ First is no tampering with the age of eligibility for superannuation.
That’s a policy a lot of Labour supporters won’t be happy with either so it wouldn’t be too big a dead rat for Cunliffe to swallow in coalition negotiations if it meant he could leave the Greens out of a coalition.
That would of course depend on Labour being in the position to form a government and the easiest way to prevent that is to keep National in power.

Should single and childless be paid less?

October 11, 2013

If $18.40 is considered to be a “living wage” for a family, should the single and childless be paid less?

Trans Tasman says:

Employers and Manufacturers Association CEO Kim Campbell has exposed fundamental flaws in the campaign launched by the Anglican Family Centre for a so-called “living wage.” The Anglican proposal of $18.40 gross per hour applies to an average family of 2 adults and 2 children, with one adult working fulltime and one working half-time. Their pay at this rate includes Govt payments such as Working for Families, accommodation supplements, and childcare assistance. Campbell says on this basis many people whose pay is currently based on $15 or $16 an hour already qualify as receiving a “living wage.”

Other groups appear to back the payment of $18.40 gross an hour with the welfare and support payments paid as well. If the top-ups are included the “average family” would receive the equivalent of over $20 gross an hour each. Another fundamental problem with the system proposed by the Anglican Family Centre for low paid workers being paid according to their family circumstances is totally different from the way everyone has been paid for their work.

“People are paid for their work, not for the size of their family. If $18.40 an hour was set as the right amount for a family of 4 with 1½ pay packets, a different rate would be needed for, say, a family of 6 with 1 pay packet, or a 2-person-2 income household, or a single person with 2 jobs. Calculating the many different ‘living wages’ would be a nightmare.” . . .

It would be iniquitous to pay people less because they needed less to support the sort of lifestyle a ‘living wage’ is predicated on.

But is it any better to pay people more than the job they do is worth because their needs, which have nothing at all to do with their work, are greater?

New Zealand would be better off if all wages and salaries were higher but increases must be based on what the work is worth not an artificial construct of what’s needed.

Patience might pay

October 11, 2013

When an issue becomes a big issue emotion often clouds the facts.

This has happened with housing affordability and the general acceptance that it’s a problem if first home buyers can’t by the type of house they want at a price they can afford.

Trans Tasman brings some much needed cool reason to the debate:

There are a few things – awkward, intractable and occasionally unpleasant things – being forgotten in the current wave of handwringing about house buying. The first and most basic is supply and demand: if supply of something drops, or demand for it rises, the price will generally go up. If they happen at the same time – as with the Auckland property market right now – silly things happen.

The last housing boom/bubble wasn’t driven by supply issues. In fact the construction sector was dashing from site to site like water trucks in the Sahara. There was also hell of a lot of speculative trading going on – a top tax rate of 39% and tax breaks for depreciation and LAQCs will do this for you. This vanished in 2009-10 but so did construction. Residential property investment is now 23% below 2007 levels.

A final, crucial and awkward truth. Young Kiwis who can barely scrape together a deposit right now are better off waiting. Not only interest rates but also inflation are their lowest for 50 years and will rise over the next three years. Insurance and rates – which tend to catch first home buyers by surprise – are rising by 10% or more. And a house-building programme of the kind being launched right now could see house prices fall.

By 2015-16, we could easily be seeing negative equity plus a rash of mortgagee sales as today’s cheap fixed rate mortgages end and jump a couple of percent. All the new Reserve Bank restrictions require is the scraping together of a larger deposit. It ain’t such a bad idea at the moment.

Patience is a virtue and it might well pay when it comes to house buying.

Interest rates won’t stay as low as they are now and other costs will rise which could make it very difficult for people to service large mortgages.

If they’ve borrowed most of the money for their purchase it will take only a small drop in property prices to push them into negative equity.

It’s not that long ago that most people wouldn’t have dreamed of going to a bank until they had a sizeable deposit.

A return to that mind-set would take some heat out of the market and make eventual purchases much more secure.

Why all the fuss

July 5, 2013

The media fascination about Kim Dotcom has bemused me.

I’m pleased to find that Trans Tasman is similarly unimpressed:

You could fire a shotgun down the corridor of Parliament’s press gallery offices on Wednesday afternoon and not hit anyone. Not, one hopes, you would want to do such a thing, although it is possible the thought brings a gleam to the eye of more than few MPs.

But most of the gallery media team was crammed into a committee room waiting for the Man of the Decade, Kim Dotcom Superstar, to make his appearance.

Dotcom managed to walk in, like a normal mortal, rather than appear in a puff of smoke, manifest himself in a burning bush, or be beamed down like some character from science fiction. Which was disappointing, in its way. It wasn’t the only disappointment.

The panting enthusiasm for Dotcom and all his works takes a great deal of explaining… no: actually, it is beyond explanation. The hope was, of course, the internet entrepreneur and convicted fraudster would appear before the Intelligence and Security Select Committee and say rude things about the Prime Minister.

As it is not too difficult to find people to say rude things about the Prime Minister, it was never clear just what the big deal was. Hell, most of the media write or broadcast rude things about the Prime Minister on an almost daily basis. If Dotcom had any revelations to make it would have been different but of course he doesn’t know any more than any of us: only he was spied on and he is not happy about it.

He was rather keen on democracy, and not keen on the GCSB, he told MPs. The most exiting events of the hearing were the Dotcom Megastar sweated: the Prime Minister blushed.

Neither is really worth making headline news.

I think this is the first time I’ve written a post about Dotcom because I’ve been unable to find anything that justifies one except the question of why the media has given him so much attention.

Could they organise a booze up in brewery?

June 27, 2013

If you’ve ever wondered whether politicians could organise a booze up in a brewery, wonder no more.

Trans Tasman has the answer:

Top Town Goes Political
TVNZ’s Heartland channel is looking at re-invigorating the old “Top Town” competitions, and invited all political parties to take part in a pilot show during the recent recess. MPs only had one task: to organise a booze up in a brewery.

Trans Tasman obtained a copy of the judges’ report.

National: Got booze-up sorted by doing deal with one of the breweries. Floated 49% of booze on sharemarket but what was a good craft beer at time of float fell in value and became Fosters and Joseph Khutz lager.

Labour: Women’s and Rainbow factions opposed the notion of ‘booze-up’ as heterosexist and patriarchal. MPs opposed a brewery in principle and then accepted invitation to the opening anyway. David Shearer popped in for five minutes and had a shandy.

Greens: Eyes lit up at the word “organise” – Greens LOVE organising things – but lips curled at “brewery.” Settled for small organic vineyard in Nelson where members gathered to work out how to exempt it and other Green businesses and landholdings from the capital gains tax which will go on all other businesses.

ACT: Organised booze up well, but no one came.

NZ First: Despite much natural talent, failed to perform. Raised continual points of order with judges, somehow obtained other parties’ team plans and leaked them to media.

United Future: Peter Dunne was unwise, even stupid. Disqualified.

Maori Party: Booze up in brewery went extremely well until someone asked Tariana Turia if they could smoke. Everyone then decamped to National booze up, where Maori Party MPs helped out by laying out the welcome mats.

Unhappy, unfocused and slap-happy

June 22, 2013

Trans Tasman’s verdict on Labour:

This is an unhappy, unfocused and slap-happy team.

It’s difficult to disagree with that.

On pinning down Peters

June 13, 2013

Trans Tasman observes John Campbell’s attempt to pin down Winston Peters:

For those who have been around for a bit, Peters’ mix of belligerence and incoherence is getting more and more like 1970s-80s trade unionist Jim Knox. Certainly Campbell, whose mien is usually bubbly and engaging even with the most difficult subjects, gave an impression of a man in a wrestle with a particularly large and truculent molasses-coated rhinoceros. . .

My memories of Knox are mercifully dim, but I can recall enough to suspect Peters won’t be flattered by the comparison.

Over at Opposable Thumb, Denis Welsh also paints a word picture:

 . . . But the days are long gone when he seized on something really meaningful, and it’s a sign of how impregnable the National government has been to his usual tricks that all the old shark can do now is sink his increasingly blunt teeth into a fellow minor party. Shark bites minnow: this is news? The more Peters attacks Dunne, the more he shows how weakened he has become. And as it also grows clearer with every day that he has no more of substance to throw at his victim (admitting he hasn’t got all the dirt he needs would have been unthinkable once), so we witness the sad spectacle of a veteran showbiz star no longer able to wow the crowds in the same dazzling way. The old soft-shoe shuffle, so slick before, looks worn and creaky now. One is reminded irresistibly of John Osborne’s play/film The Entertainer, in which a faded music-hall performer past his prime keeps wheeling out the same tired old jokes and routines, to increasingly thin applause. Peters has so lost the plot this time, in fact, that he’s in serious danger of rousing public sympathy for Dunne. . .

A truculant molassess-coated rhinoceros; an old shark with increasingly blunt teeth; the old soft shoe-shuffle . . .  looks worn and creaky now.

These aren’t descriptions of a man on the way up and in politics if you’re not going up you’re going down.

Why Thatcher matters

April 19, 2013

Quote of the day:

. . .The reason Thatcher still matters is symbolic – symbolic but important. She ended an era of apologetic conservatism.

The accepted dynamic of democracies like the UK – and, yes, like NZ – was of two main political parties, with one the party of radicalism and change, and the other party being of consolidation and minimal change. In practice, because the party of change was always of socialist inclination, this meant an ever-Leftward policy shift towards a larger state and higher taxes.

Thatcher called this the “ratchet effect” and set her Govt towards turning the ratchet the other way. Her success was mixed, in the case of her own government. But in her wake came conservative governments with a more confident belief in values such as private enterprise, lower taxes and a smaller – well, in practice, a contained state.

This is why Thatcher still matters. Trans Tasman


Left don’t have monopoly on caring

March 31, 2013

The left like to think they have a monopoly on caring but Trans Tasman notes:

Although John Key’s popularity is down from its peak, it is still higher than any of his predecessors in modern times. Equally importantly his Ministers are engaging strongly with their constituencies, leaving few gaps for the Opposition to penetrate. The Govt has sustained a momentum over a range of issues, but more particularly in health, welfare, and law and order which has left no opportunity for the Opposition to identify a parallel universe where they are the party which “cares” for the downtrodden.

Voters generally accept that National is better qualified as economic managers. The party has always found it more difficult to convince them it is on the right track with social policy.

But this government is demonstrating that it has both a head and a heart.

It has increased spending on health and education with zero budgets, is focussed on reducing the long tail of educational failure, made in-roads into long-term benefit dependence, and reduced the number of prisoners and reoffending.

A government with both a head and a heart doesn’t just throw money at problems, it  addresses the causes.

It’s very difficult for an opposition to counter that.

Not intellect but real world experience

March 30, 2013

Trans Tasman observes:

The indication this week Labour would jettison one of its flagship items from the 2011 election campaign (the removal of GST on food and vegetables) underlines just how madcap the policy was in the constrained financial conditions in which the Govt has to operate. Until Labour’s younger brigade show they can compete intellectually, the Opposition will continue to trail in the polls.

You could well question the intelligence of anyone who thought that removing GST on fresh fruit and vegetables was good policy.

However, I don’t think Labour’s problem is lack of intelligence, it’s lack of real world experience.

So few of Labour’s caucus have business backgrounds, so many are former unionists or parliamentary staff.

That might have given them more than enough theories but it is no replacement for practical experience in private enterprise.

NZ not so sorry savers

March 2, 2013

New Zealanders have been accused of being poor savers for years, but are we really?

This exchange in parliament last week suggests otherwise:

David Bennett: How has household savings changed recently and what reports has he received on household wealth?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I think, as we are familiar with, official measures show a significant improvement in the last 3 years, from dissaving of 7.1 percent of household income in 2007 to just positive household savings more recently. Alongside that, though, there is a maybe confusing report from the Reserve Bank, which has recently highlighted that in measuring household wealth its statistics exclude some important items. For instance, when it measures household wealth it does not include equity in farms. It does not include equity in shares in some businesses and commercial properties and forests, and nor does it include some types of foreign assets held by New Zealanders. It estimates that when these items are included, household net wealth is in fact $167 billion higher than it thought, or around 25 percent—that is, the Reserve Bank’s revision of the numbers indicates households may be 25 percent wealthier than they thought.

Trans Tasman offers further explanation:

. . .  The reworked figures put NZ not as an outlier among developed nations for its low rate of savings but more in the mainstream. For the best part of a generation it’s been part of the NZ economic story that Kiwis focus on housing as their main form of saving, but the revelation household wealth, following a re-estimation of non-housing assets , is more evenly balanced between property and other assets, will have implications for several major areas of Govt policy ranging from retirement to housing needs. As a result of the information from the RBNZ, Finance Minister Bill English has Treasury testing the figures and reviewing the implications.

This is encouraging, better savers have more security, more choices and are better able to look after themselves.

Better domestic savings also reduce reliance on foreign savings for investment and growth.

Government’s role in encouraging savings include policies which encourage economic growth and discourage inflation.

The first helps lift incomes and the second protects the real value of wages and savings.

SOEs put govt blanace sheet at risk

March 1, 2013

Opponents to the partial sale of state assets complain about the loss of dividends, they forget about the costs.

Trans Tasman points out the risks of state ownership:

. . .there is a harsh reality to be faced, not only with Solid Energy (what’s a Govt trying to do in owning coal mines?) but with other state-owned entities whose profitability has shrunk: think of TVNZ, NZ Post, Kordia. Not surprisingly, Solid Energy’s troubles have thrown into relief how the Govt’s balance sheet, already structurally weak, can be pushed into dangerous territory by businesses where all the risks have to be shouldered by the taxpayer.

Opponents to the sales complain that the government will lose dividend income when up to 49% of shares in an SOE are sold.

They forget the risks and costs of ownership which ultimately fall on the taxpayer.

I’d rather have my taxes pay for core government responsibilities like defence, police, infrastructure, health and welfare than investment in areas best left to the private sector.


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