Civil servants are grown like oak trees, not mustard and cress.
— Sir Humphrey Appleby (@YesSirHumphrey) February 19, 2021
Close contacts of people with Covid-19 are told to self-isolate, but some can’t afford to:
There’s concern people will choose not to scan Covid-19 QR codes because they can’t afford to go into self isolation.
More than 1000 people who were at Kmart Botany at the times of interest have been asked to stay home for 14 days.
Up to $585 per week is available for people who can’t work because they need to isolate.
That won’t come close Ro cover outgoings for a lot of people.
Auckland University’s Des Gorman told Heather du Plessis-Allan he is disappointed the Government isn’t willing to increase the payments.
He says compliance matters, and we have already see the cost non-compliance in this country.
“I don’t think the Government’s thinking clearly enough about the counterfactual, the cost of lockdowns.
“Whatever the cost of properly subsidising people is, it’s going to be small against the cost of lockdowns.”
Paying people enough is the carrot, is there also the need for a stick for those who then don’t comply?
However, Gorman also wants to see close or casual contacts more accountable for not complying.
He says that there needs to be some surrendering of privileges in order to protect the community. . .
Heather du Plessis-Allan agrees:
I think we might’ve struck on the very reason that we have this Covid outbreak in Auckland right now: Families can’t afford to stay home and isolate for two weeks
The government support money is too miserly.
We’ve been told this is the very reason that families of Papatoetoe High School students didn’t isolate for the full two weeks they were supposed to: because they need money, so they have to work.
And today, a guy called Jeff phoned Kerre’s show to say a very similar thing. He was at Kmart when the infected worker was there so he is expected to stay home for the full two weeks.
He says he can’t afford to stay home on the government and, this is what should be ringing alarm bells for health authorities, if he’d known that he would have to stay home on this money, he wouldn’t have admitted he was at Kmart . . .
He also says he wouldn’t admit it again and who can blame him when you do the maths:
The truth is the government isn’t enough. The payment for a full time worker each week is $585.80. That might not sound that bad by itself, but annualise, and it’s $30,400. That’s not a lot – the hourly rate, is $14.6, that’s not even the minimum wage .
I wish I could tell the government was open to raising the payment but listen to Chris Hipkins yesterday.
“We are never going to be able to compensate everybody for every eventuality for every cost that they may occur as part of our Covid-19 response.” . .
The government had multi-millions of dollars to throw at big tourist businesses but doesn’t have enough to pay people to stay home to prevent the spread of the virus and threat of lockdowns.
Paying people their full wage, or close to it would be expensive.
It would also be open to abuse by people who feel like a paid holiday.
But the border isn’t secure which makes the risk of community transmission real with the subsequent need for lockdowns.
Until now most people have been compliant but each time there’s an outbreak with or without a lockdown, more will run out of patience.
Each time more will decide the risk of running out of money if they self-isolate is worse than the fear of the disease.
And each time that happens the likelihood of community transmission and lockdown increases.
Given all that’s been thrown at eliminating the disease already, it’s worth properly compensating people who self-isolate, and that would then justify having strong enough consequences to discourage anyone from not complying.
Housing price increases have been outpacing wages for 20 years:
If nothing significant changes now that will get worse:
If New Zealand politicians thought the housing crisis in 2020 was bad, the worst is yet to come, warns a new report by The New Zealand Initiative.
In The Need to Build: The demographic drivers of housing demand, Research Assistant Leonard Hong modelled 36 scenarios and found that New Zealand’s population gets older and larger by 2038.
Hong calculated that the number of additional dwellings needed would reach between 26,246 and 34,556 annually under the most plausible scenarios. This excludes the annual housing replacement and demolition rate, and the current 40,000 undersupply calculated by Informetrics.
“Historical data tells us that only 21,445 new houses have been built in New Zealand annually since 1992. This is nowhere near enough to accommodate our growing population,” says Hong.
For the next 20 years, even with zero net migration, we still need to build close to 20,000 dwellings annually to keep up with population changes.
“Policymakers should stop blaming the housing crisis on land banking investment and speculation and find policy solutions to drastically expand housing supply to keep up with demographic changes.”
Demographic changes will also have adverse effects on our prospects for fiscal prudence. The report demonstrates that the number of those over 65 years will be up by at least 23% in 2060.
This means fewer future taxpayers and more pressure on working-age New Zealanders to fund public services such as health care and education.
“Our future is an older and larger New Zealand and we must start preparing for it,” says Leonard Hong.
“We need to make a growing and ageing New Zealand a liveable place for New Zealanders, and this starts by building more houses now. Otherwise, future generations will have to deal with terrible housing affordability prospects.”
“This report should be a wake-up call for the government,” concludes Leonard Hong.
The full report is here.
It is no use tinkering with policies that attempt to reduce demand. The shortfall in supply is too great for that to make any significant difference.
The only solution is to build a lot more houses and start doing that now.
The government is frightened of the fallout should house prices decrease. It won’t have the courage to say that building more houses is a much higher priority than safeguarding the equity of existing home owners with big mortgages.
But the demand for housing is such to mitigate a lot of that risk.
Even if it didn’t, the financial and social costs of not addressing the housing crisis are a much greater problem that needs urgent action to enable a lot more houses to be built much sooner than any existing policies will do.
Anyone with a heart would have sympathy for someone who flew to Mexico to visit family members with terminal illnesses even if official advice on the government’s SafeTravel website urges all New Zealanders to remain in the country.
But Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March opened himself up to criticism when he tried to get early entry to MIQ on his return and the case for criticism has got stronger:
Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March tried not once, but twice, to get an emergency spot in managed isolation, the first time as a “critical health service” and the second time as “required for national security”.
In a written parliamentary response to National MP Chris Bishop, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed that both applications for an emergency spot in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) were declined. . .
As they should have been.
The written response from Hipkins shows Menéndez March first applied for an emergency spot in MIQ on January 13 under category 2b.
It’s reserved for people whose entry to New Zealand is time-critical for the purpose of delivering specialist health services required to prevent serious illness, injury or death; or the maintenance of essential health infrastructure.
He then applied for a second time on January 15, under category 2d, for New Zealand and non-New Zealand citizens, where urgent travel is required for national security, national interest or law enforcement reasons.
“It is extraordinary chutzpah for a new MP to claim they are critical to delivering public health services, or critical for national security. It just beggars belief,” Bishop told Newshub. “The emergency MIQ allocation is not meant to be for MPs trying it on to come home.”
Menéndez March told Newshub he applied for the category thinking he would qualify as a public servant. . .
Oh dear, that doesn’t say much about his understanding of his lack of importance.
A Minister wouldn’t qualify under either of those categories, a back bencher who thought he might needs some very clear lessons about his role and its lowly status when it comes to critical health services, national security, national interest and law enforcement.
Last week a coalition of over a dozen New Zealand business and industry groups – including heavyweight exporters DairyNZ and the Meat Industry Association, Federated Farmers, mining group Straterra, the Motor Industry Association, the New Zealand Initiative, and BusinessNZ – penned a formal letter to Rod Carr, chair of the Climate Change Commission.
“We are pleased that the commission has, in response to requests, begun to release the models and underlying data that supports the commission’s findings,” it said.
“However, to constructively contribute submissions so that the commission is as well-informed as possible, we must be able to thoroughly review and comment on data and models which will influence major decisions about the future of our economy and society.”
“Given the delay in the release of crucial modelling data (not all of which is out yet),” the letter asked for an extension of the March 14th deadline for submissions by at least two weeks.
It’s a considerable failure that the commission neglected to release this data three weeks ago, along with the draft report. And the drip-feed of information, less than three weeks from the submission deadline, now threatens to reduce the window of public consultation to theatre.
So far, the commission has released peer reviews of its modelling approach and some underlying data. On February 10th, it also held a workshop to discuss the modelling, though the models themselves were not released. It also has a second webinar session to discuss “cost conclusions” scheduled for February 23rd.
Critically, the commission has not provided either sensitivity analysis nor the marginal abatement costs, broken out by industry.
That data matters. Sensitivity work helps economists to understand just how precarious that “less than 1 per cent of GDP” figure is. Will it alter significantly with slight adjustments to inputs? And the industry data for abatement cost would allow interested parties to properly test the assumptions the commission has made. . .
The environmental impact of the CCC’s recommendations will only be known in hindsight but there is no doubt that they will come at a considerable cost which will have a significant economic impact.
The Climate Change Commission’s recommendations span the breadth of the economy. They are required to come up with sector-by-sector climate budgets consistent with getting New Zealand with net zero emissions under the Zero Carbon Act.
The sector-by-sector budgets rest on underlying models. The models build predictions about what will happen as ETS prices rise, and what will happen when some additional constraints are put into the system. Some of the CCC’s recommendations then mandate what they think are their best guesses about what a carbon price would do, subject to those constraints.
The scope is vast. The entire economy, really.
And the Government has already signaled that it will just do whatever the Commission says to do.
So getting things right seems to matter and is rather high stakes.
In that kind of situation, you’d think that the underlying models would be available for checking and testing. Getting bits wrong could be really really expensive, whether you want to frame it as economic costs, or as carbon mitigation forgone.
But the Commission is not in a sharing mood. . .
You might have hoped that plans that have potential to re-engineer the entire economy would have more provably robust underpinnings. . .
You might in deed.
A media release from the CCC advises that it will extend the deadline for submissions by two weeks. Nothing is mentioned about releasing all its data.
It is impossible for anyone to make a fully informed submission without all the information on which the CCC’s recommendations are made and that includes all the data.
The CCC’s final recommendations and the policy the government implements as a result of that, will have significant and long-reaching consequences. Failing to release all the data in time for submitters to analyse and understand is handicapping them, sabotaging the submission process and that in turn will make it much harder to gain support for the policy.
More than two thirds of New Zealanders want the government to increase income support for beneficiaries:
Polling out today shows seven out of ten (69%) of New Zealanders agree “the Government should increase income support for those on low incomes and not in paid work”.
The UMR poll was commissioned by a super-group of NGOs who are urging the government to include increases to income support in this year’s budget, in order to release families from the severe constraints of poverty.
The group includes unions, social service NGOs, kaupapa Māori groups, churches, child poverty experts and other organisations across Aotearoa. . .
No doubt the polling company didn’t ask those polled how the government would pay for this and how much more they would be prepared to pay to enable it to happen.
The pollsters almost certainly didn’t remind those polled how much the government is borrowing to counter the impact of Covid-19 and that every dollar borrowed has to be repaid with interest.
They wouldn’t have asked those surveyed about the root cause of poverty and what they thought the government should do about that either.
There is no doubt that poverty is worsening with the subsequent increase in poorer health and social outcomes but solving the problem isn’t as simple as increasing benefits.
Reducing the burden of government on businesses would help, and it could start with replacing an existing statutory holiday with Matariki instead of adding a new one that could cost up $448 million.
Fast forward to a future political cycle when National leads a government with Act’s support.
Neither party campaigned on radical changes to local government legislation but the government decides to make them under urgency.
It introduces a Bill that reinstates the right for residents to petition a council for a referendum on Maori wards and it goes further.
It adds a clause to allow people who own more than one property, a vote for every property whether or not they are in the same local authority area.
It then cuts the Select Committee process form its usual six months to six days and the time to lodge submissions from 20 days to just one.
Adding anti-democratic insult to authoritarian injury it advises groups it knows will support the move six days notice to prepare submissions for the Select Committee and alerts those it knows will oppose the Bill just one day before submissions are due.
Imagine the uproar that would ensue.
The Minister responsible would be pilloried by the media which would also give wide coverage to anyone who took issue with the Bill and the process.
Why then has there been hardly a ripple to the way Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is doing exactly this:
The Government’s parliamentary process on its Bill to allow Councils to have separate Māori Wards has been a sham, National’s Local Government spokesperson and Electoral Reform spokesperson Christopher Luxon and Dr Nick Smith say.
“Electoral law is important as it determines how we are governed, yet the Government is running a sham process and giving supporters an unfair advantage through the short Select Committee process,” Dr Smith says.
“Labour cut the normal Select Committee process from six months to six days and the time for submissions to be lodged from the normal 20 days to just one day,” Mr Luxon says.
“What’s more appalling is that Councils supporting the Bill were told on Friday February 5 of the Bill’s timeline, that the Select Committee process would be exceptionally short and to prepare to lodge their submissions by February 11.
“Giving those who support the Bill six days’ notice and those opposed just one day would be called insider trading in the business world.”
“To have read the submission on the Bill in the timetable set by the Government, I would have had to read three submissions every minute with no sleep for three days,” Dr Smith says.
“Further, the Labour Chair told the Committee there was insufficient time to consider any amendments to the Bill, raising the question as to why the Government bothered with a Select Committee.”
“Labour is making a mockery of Parliament with this Bill. New Zealanders deserve a better process on the laws that determine how we are governed,” Mr Luxon says.
The Taxpayers’ Union says the process has been so badly screwed the Bill should be referred back to the Select Committee:
The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is condemning Local Government Minister Nanaia Muhata’s decision to give local councils supporting her Māori wards legislation advance notice of the short submission process.
This decision was revealed by National MP Dr Nick Smith during Question Time this week.
Union spokesman Jordan Williams says, “The Minister gave her allies a five-day head start to prepare submissions on the Bill to entrench Maori wards. Meanwhile, members of the general public were given just one day’s notice to prepare for the disgracefully short two-day submission window.”
“The Minister knew perfectly well what she was doing. The decision to warn her mates before blindsiding the general public can only be read as a cynical attempt to manipulate the consultation process and limit the contributions of New Zealanders opposed to the Bill.”
“The Taxpayers’ Union has 60,000 subscribed supporters, thousands of whom would have likely produced personalised submissions on the legislation, had they been given the time. Instead, these voices were effectively silenced while the Bill’s allies were able to spend six days writing screeds for the select committee.”
“If a National Government did a favour like this for corporate special interests, Labour would rightly be up in arms.”
“This is a complete betrayal of the promise of open and transparent government. It shows a complete disrespect for not just the public, but Parliament as an institution. It undermines trust in the Select Committee process and justifies the Speaker stepping in so that public submissions are reopened.”
Local body elections are nearly two years away. There is plenty of time to go through the proper process of consultation.
That her government has a majority is even more reason to follow correct processes.
By using urgency, truncating the submission process and giving her allies nearly a week more to prepare than the Bill’s opponents, the Minister is trampling all over democracy and opening herself, and her government, up to accusations of acting like a dictatorship.