Word of the day

October 31, 2011

animadvert – to comment critically (upon), censure, express criticism.

Question of the day

October 31, 2011

A caller to Newstalk ZB this morning said he didn’t own shares and never would because they were too risky.

Leighton Smith responded by asking why, if shares in a company are so risky anyone would want the government to own the whole lot?

Halloween not all bad

October 31, 2011

One of the advantages of living in the country is that we won’t be bothered by anyone tricking or treating.

If we were, unless I knew the children doing it, my inclination would be to discourage them.

It’s not so much that it’s a celebration imported from another country – many of ours are – it’s more that it’s from another time.

Then there were just a very few celebrations and the sweet treats which went with them- Christmas, Easter, birthdays and a very rare other special occasion. Neighbours knew neighbours and children put an effort into making their own outfits.

But it’s different now and I don’t see why parents forking out money on an outfit from the Warehouse is a good excuse for knocking on doors of people you don’t know asking for more sugar.

However, this year at least, Halloween isn’t all bad. Occupy Wellington protesters have had to move to make way for a Halloween party.

Aussie women #1

October 31, 2011

How did I manage to overlook the build up to yesterday’s series decider between the Australian Diamonds and the Silver Ferns?

Did I not notice the interviews with players and coaches,  the commentary from experts, the media coverage of fans who were travelling to support the team or how they’d be gathering to watch at home, or wasn’t there much to notice?

For the record, the  Diamonds won  the game 44-41 in Melbourne last night.

This was their second win in three matches which gives them the Constellation Cup.

That, following the Diamonds’ World Championship win last year takes them to the number one ranking.

In memory of Richard Walls

October 31, 2011

This morning’s ODT carries the sad news of the sudden death of Richard Walls.

He won the Dunedin North seat for National in 1975, the last person from that party to hold a seat in the red city.

He was a former Dunedin mayor, current and city councillor and a businessman who was passionate about his city and the south.

I served on a board with Richard, appreciated his contributions. He often took a contrary view which made us think about an issue in a different way and he always did it with good humour.

He was also an occasional commenter, under a pseudonym, on this blog.

Grievance and gimme or whanau helping whanau

October 31, 2011

Tariana Turia talks sense:

Hone Harawira’s rhetoric that political parties should ‘feed the kids’ must be challenged says Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia.

“Gone are the days when we allow the State to take over the role of families; to encourage whanau to abdicate their responsibilities” said Mrs Turia.

“Our greatest opportunity through Whanau Ora has been that our whanau are able to inspire the nation and act as a beacon of hope for our own solutions” said Mrs Turia.

“The last thing we need is for another politician to come in to save our families by handing out free breakfast and free lunch to their kids”.

“It’s patronizing, it’s demeaning and it devalues the vital capacity of our whanau to take responsibility for their own children’.

“Hone has picked a number out of the air  ($38m) but the costings are at least ten times that” said Mrs Turia “and that’s not for all children either”.

“If we provided free breakfast and lunch to the children the Child Poverty Action Group has classified as living in poverty (230,000) that brings a cost of $368m per year – that’s right  – a billion dollars for the next term of Parliament to authorise politicians to take over the rights and responsibilities of families”.

“We must resist any attempts by politicians to paint our families as incapable of doing for themselves.   We should be working to inspire hope; to remind our whanau of their capability to feed their children, provide a healthy lifestyle, a warm and secure home”.

“Government’s job is to ensure that there is support for families to look after their own; that there is meaningful work available; and a minimum wage of at least $16 an hour”.

“And we must restore to ourselves our time-honoured traditions.  The Maori Party has invested in the recreation of maara kai so that our whanau can fend for themselves, determine their own futures”.

“Our whanau are our future – not a politician handing out a free lunch”.

This is really encouraging and offers voters in the Maori electorate real choice – the grievance and gimme of Harawiara and the Mana Party or whanau helping whanau of the Maori Party.

One encourages dependency the other encourages responsibility.

FIF beats borrowing for new assets

October 31, 2011

National has always said that proceeds from the mixed ownership model of state assets would be used to fund different ones to reduce the need to borrow.

John Key’s announcement that the proceeds from the sale of a minority share in a few of the many assets owned by the state will go into a Future Investment Fund confirms that and ensures the money won’t be lost in the Consolidated Fund where it could easily be frittered away.

“A National-led Government will use the $5-$7 billion proceeds of the mixed-ownership model to set up a Future Investment Fund to buy new productive infrastructure for New Zealanders.

“The first priority will be putting $1 billion into modernising and transforming New Zealand schools over the next five years.

“The environment in which teachers teach, and kids learn, is hugely important to their future. We want New Zealand children studying in modern classrooms that meet their learning needs and let them use the most up-to-date technology.

“That’s a crucial component in lifting achievement, which in turn is vital to building a faster growing economy with more exports and more real jobs.

“As things stand now, the existing money for school building projects will be needed simply to maintain the existing school network and to help address health and safety issues like earthquake proofing and leaky buildings.

“The mixed ownership model will allow us to increase the total amount spent on school building projects each year by more than 50 per cent, without extra borrowing.

“As well as schools, the Fund will be used to pay for high quality projects like major hospital redevelopments and transport projects. More projects will be confirmed as decisions are made.

“We will be very transparent about the proceeds that go into the Future Investment Fund and very transparent about what assets it is used for.

“In this way the public can be assured that the proceeds of mixed ownership are not being lost. Far from it – the money we raise from mixed ownership is being used, in its entirety, to pay for valuable new assets that will benefit New Zealanders.

“And because we will have the money already there in a Fund, we don’t need to go out and borrow that money from overseas lenders, increase our debt, and pay higher interest payments offshore.

“That’s a win-win for New Zealanders,” Mr Key says.

The parlous state of several countries overseas as a result of excessive borrowing is a salutary lesson for anyone who thinks that’s what we should do.

Finance Minister Bill English emphasises the importance of not having to increase debt:

A National-led Government is committed to investing in modern infrastructure that helps build a faster growing economy with more exports and more real jobs, while keeping our debt low,” Mr English says.

“That’s precisely what our extension of the mixed-ownership model is all about. If re-elected, National will put the proceeds of mixed ownership – between $5 and $7 billion – into a new fund, called the Future Investment Fund.

“Through the Fund the public can be assured the proceeds of mixed ownership are not being lost. They will be used to buy new assets for New Zealanders, and to upgrade and modernise our existing assets, reducing the Government’s borrowing from foreign lenders by $5-$7 billion.

“Investing the mixed-ownership proceeds in this way will result in assets that are long-lived, are here in New Zealand and are owned by the Crown on behalf of all taxpayers.

“They will be part of a growing asset pool, with taxpayers’ assets forecast to expand from $245 billion now to $267 billion by 2016.

“We will set a high bar for projects to be paid for out of the Fund and the case for these projects will have to stack up. They will have to either improve public services or deliver substantial economic dividends for New Zealanders and can’t just involve the routine replacement of existing capital.

“Decisions on spending from the Fund will be made on a case-by-case basis, by ministers, as part of the normal Budget process.

“We intend the Fund to run for at least five years but this of course depends on how much the mixed ownership model raises. The higher the proceeds, the more new investment we can pay for without having to borrow.

“The Government has clearly laid out its plans to extend the mixed-ownership model, which Air New Zealand has operated successfully under for almost a decade.

The Labour Party are opposing the partial sale of assets but using Air New Zealand in their campaigning when this is exactly the model National is proposing.

“After the election, we intend to extend this model to four other State-owned companies – Meridian, Mighty River, Genesis and Solid Energy.

“The Government will retain at least 51 per cent of these businesses and Kiwis will be at the front of the queue for shares.

“This will provide an investment opportunity for savers looking to put their money in something other than housing or finance companies.

“A large and growing pool of New Zealand investment funds will ensure strong local demand for shares. As a result, we expect New Zealanders to own at least 85-90 per cent of these companies.

The mixed ownership model will allow New Zealand individuals and organisations including ACC, superannuation funds and Iwi to invest in New Zealand companies.

Some shares might also go to overseas interests. Those opposed to the proposed sell-down portray this as somehow sinister, I don’t think it is.

All New Zealand superannuation funds have shares in energy companies in Australia so it is highly likely that Australian superannuation funds might be interested in buying some shares in ours.

The alternative to selling minority shares in a few assets is borrowing from overseas banks, almost certainly mostly Chinese.

Selling a minority share in a few assets or increasing our indebtedness? No contest.

Detailed policy on the FIF is here; and on proposals for schools is here with a Q&A here.

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