Hard to beat the Aussies and Meat & Livestock Australia when it comes to lamb ads:
When a joint media release from two Prime Ministers is headlined next steps towards quarantine-free travel between the Cook Islands and New Zealand you’d expect it to be about progress. Instead we get this:
. . . Both Prime Ministers and their Cabinets have instructed officials to continue working together to put in place all measures required to safely recommence two-way quarantine-free travel in the first quarter of 2021. . .
This bubble babble is sadly typical of the PM and her government who so often mistake media releases for action.
It means no more than a continuation of what’s been happening and progress towards opening the borders is far too slow:
The Cook Islands bubble is taking far too long to set up, there is no reason why it shouldn’t already be in place, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Today’s announcement of ‘next steps’ in travel between the Cook Islands and New Zealand is an utterly meaningless statement that does no more than repeat that officials are still working on the issue.
“The Prime Minister must explain the delay when a month ago she said there was ‘progress’ and that it would only take ‘a couple of weeks’ before a bubble would be up and running once both sides were happy. . .
“New Zealand officials have been and returned from the Cook Islands, although even that trip was delayed and far later than it should have been.
“The Cooks are heavily dependent on tourism, from New Zealand in particular. Pre-Covid, tourism made up 85 per cent of GDP. Getting the bubble up and running should be a high priority as it will help save jobs and livelihoods in our Pacific neighbour.
“New Zealanders and the Cook Islands need answers from the Government as to why it’s taking so long. A tepid statement that officials are working towards quarter one next year is meaningless given statements in the past.
“‘Quarter one’ could easily mean late March, which even assuming nothing goes wrong, is months away. In the meantime we’re going to see businesses fall under and both Kiwis and Cook Islanders lose their jobs. The Government needs to get on with the job immediately.
“The Government should release a copy of the ‘arrangement to facilitate quarantine-free between the Cook Islands and New Zealand’ so that all parties know what the requirements are.”
The Cooks are Covid-free and there is no community transmission in New Zealand. Why the glacial pace for opening the borders?
The bubble babble about opening the border to travellers from Australia is even worse. Steven Joyce dissects them:
. . . The Prime Minister’s reasons for further delay, as reported in the Herald yesterday, are ridiculously weak. There were basically three of them. Let’s take them in turn.
The PM is reportedly concerned that Australia could have a looser definition of a Covid flare-up than New Zealand. It seems like there is an easy solution to this. New Zealand retains sovereign control over its borders and the Government could reinstate a quarantine requirement at any time. Having a bubble doesn’t mean always agreeing with Australia’s definition of risk.
The second problem is apparently that having fewer Australians in quarantine facilities would allow more people from other countries at greater risk to come into our quarantine facilities. This would increase the numbers of people in quarantine that could have Covid.
Let’s think about that for a second. Are we really keeping people arriving from Australia in isolation, even though it’s not necessary, in order to reduce the number of people from other countries in quarantine who could have Covid? Seriously?
A lot of those people are New Zealanders who are being forced to queue for MIQ places in order to get back to family, friends and/or work.
An alternative view is that freeing up nearly half of the quarantine facilities currently taken up by travellers from Australia would allow faster processing of critical workers and Kiwis from elsewhere who are currently queuing on the other side of the border. Which would surely be a good thing.
Our biggest risk is people coming in from countries other than Australia who are in MIQ. Putting people from Australia, many of whom would be Kiwis, in MIQ increases the risk they will contract the disease from people in the same hotel.
The third problem identified is what happens to Kiwis already in Australia if we have to close the bubble again. Well, I’m thinking they would then have to use quarantine to come back. Which seems a no-brainer. And if this is an argument for not opening a bubble we will never open one.
That’s pretty much it. The Prime Minister is suggesting that we need to postpone our end of a transtasman bubble till at least February to deal with these supposedly intractable issues, which a competent set of people could solve in roughly five minutes. . .
Requiring MIQ for Trans-Tasman travellers is splitting families and friends, keeping people from visiting the dying and attending funerals, adding costs and imposing restrictions on businesses. It’s also withholding a lifeline from the beleaguered tourism industry.
Restricting freedom of movement is one of the most serious restraints a government can impose on its people.
Australia has opened its border to travellers from here. The reasons the PM has given for not reciprocating are spurious and the government should address any real issues and open the border from Australia before it goes on holiday.
Calf milk powder shortage dire – Neal Walllace:
Calf rearers battling a shortage of milk powder are unlikely to get a reprieve this season with a major retailer warning product delays could continue for another four weeks.
As if that wasn’t enough, farmers report the price of calf milk replacer, or what some are calling white gold, has increased in recent weeks from $53 for a 20kg bag to $75.
Farmlands chief executive Peter Reidie said his company was not taking any new orders for calf milk replacer (CMR) because suppliers had advised they could not supply any product. . .
World food trends favour dairy – Hugh Stringleman:
Fonterra has identified 11 modern consumer food trends it says are very positive for high quality milk production in New Zealand.
Global consumer and food service chief operating officer Jacqueline Chow said Fonterra had invested $1 billion over the past decade in dairy innovation – in science, sustainability, nutrition and packaging – to position the co-operative to meet the trends.
Its dairy farmers had also spent $1b over the past five years on environmental initiatives. . .
The Waikato Rural Support Trust is receiving unusually high numbers of calls from farmers as adverse weather conditions and the low dairy payout take a toll, it says.
Trust chairman Neil Bateup said a particularly wet spring had caused issues with feed quality and quantity and that had made farming very difficult.
Mr Bateup said the farmers calling were mainly in the dairy industry, with those people also struggling with the low payout of the past couple of years. . .
Activism in New Zealand has sunk to a new low as conservation workers don’t even feel safe going about their daily jobs.
Federated Farmers is deeply concerned for the safety of the country’s conservation department staff and contractors, as so-called activists continue to ignore the fact that 1080 is working well for New Zealand.
“It is simply unacceptable for New Zealanders who go to work every day to protect our environment, to be made to feel unsafe doing their jobs,” says Federated Farmers president Dr William Rolleston.
“This is madness and it’s activism out of control. . .
Ngāi Tahu adds horse treks to its tourism stable – Aaron Smale:
Ngāi Tahu has bought a horse trekking business in Glenorchy to add to its tourism portfolio.
The South Island iwi has bought Dart Stables in Glenorchy, which runs horse treks through a region that features heavily in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Ngāi Tahu Tourism chief executive Quinton Hall said the business fit well with its broader tourism strategy.
“The team at Dart Stables has an excellent reputation with customers and within the local community and has access to some of the most beautiful parts of the country,” he said. . .
Six fantastic businesses are competing in three categories this year and the ultimate winner will receive the supreme prize for the Enterprising Rural Women Awards.
Rural Women New Zealand’s annual awards showcase rural women who run their own successful businesses. For the entrants, it is an opportunity to promote their innovative rural enterprise and gain recognition for their contribution to their community.
Each category winner receives $1,000 in prize money and a trophy, with a further $1,000 being awarded to the supreme winner who is judged as an exceptional rural business women. Prizes also include clothing from Swazi Apparel and from the Agri-Women’s Development Trust $400 worth of executive coaching for each category winner and an additional $3,400 professional development package for the supreme winner.
2016 ERWA categories: . .
New Zealand is hosting beef producers from the International Beef Alliance in Taupo this week.
The International Beef Alliance includes the national organisations representing beef cattle producers in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay and the United States and it meets annually to progress issues of common interest.
This week the Presidents and CEOs from the Cattle Council of Australia, Associação dos Criadores de Mato Grosso, Associação Nacional dos Confinadores de Brasil, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Confederación Nacional de Organizaciones Ganaderas, Asociación Rural de Paraguay, Beef + Lamb New Zealand and the US National Cattlemen’s Beef Association will meet in Taupo. This group accounts for 46% of the world’s beef cattle production and 63% of global beef exports. . .
With volatility in the dairy payout, there has never been a more important time to have a clear picture of your farming business’ performance.
And according to Figured’s marketing manager Monica Shepherd, nearly 40 per cent of farmers surveyed at the New Zealand National Fieldays, said they wanted more advice from their accountants on how to achieve just that.
In response, Dairy Women’s Network is running a free dairy module called ‘Farming in the Cloud’ with its partners Figured, Xero, ASB Bank and Crowe Horwath. . .
Winners in New Zealand’s most prestigious competition for olive oil were announced last night at a formal dinner held at Parliament in Wellington and hosted by MP Paul Foster-Bell.
Robinsons Bay Olives from Akaroa took out the 2016 Best in Show as well as Best in Class in the Commercial Medium Blends Class at the New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Awards, run by Olives New Zealand, the national organisation for olive oil growers.
The Old N’Olive Grove Partnership from Wairarapa won the Best in Boutique Category for growers who produce less than 250 litres of certified extra virgin olive oil, as well as Best in Class in the Boutique Intense Single Varietal Class with their Rockbottom Grove Picual. . .
Thank ewe for supporting wool week.
For several years we’ve looked across the Tasman as Australia boomed on the back of Chinese demand for its minerals.
It’s now New Zealand’s turn:
. . . For so long the poor cousins across the ditch, it’s the Kiwis’ turn to ride the China resources roller coaster, with all the fun and fear that can engender. The commodity is different but the fundamental story is much the same as the China boom that lifted Australia over the past decade.
What iron ore and coking coal did for Oz, milk powder is doing for New Zealand. Forget the cliches about New Zealanders and sheep – it’s cows that are making Kiwis feel good now, as well as the All Blacks having an undefeated year.
But it’s not only dairying and the All Blacks doing well.
. . . An ANZ bank survey this month found NZ businesses the most confident they’ve been since 1994. House prices and wages are rising and consumers are spending more – the government is expecting consumption growth of 2.8 per cent while Australia struggles to manage 2 per cent.
New Zealand’s terms of trade are at their highest since 1974, giving the average Kiwi sharply stronger buying power. It’s not so expensive for Kiwis to visit the relatives in Australia – but the land of the strangled dipthong is no longer a cheap holiday for Australians. The Kiwi dollar started the year above $1.26 to the Aussie. It’s finishing at $1.09. . .
While our Treasury forecasts Australia’s unemployment will nudge up to 6.25 per cent, New Zealand’s is 6.2 and falling from a high of 7.3 last year, twin factors that can be expected to reduce the usual migration flow. Australia has done well out of its Kiwi migrants. Given the direction of the New Zealand currency, we might have left it a wee bit late to stock up on five-eighths and sauvignon blanc. . .
Trans-Tasman rivalry is usually pretty good natured.
But while we can enjoy our moment in the sun, we shouldn’t forget that Australia is our second biggest market.
Beating them because we’re doing well and we’re doing better is to be celebrated. Bettering them because they’re going backwards is bad for both of us.
Mining magnate Clive Palmer has plans to turn Queensland’s Sunshine Coast into one of the world’s top tourist destinations:
His plans include an international airport, a 1000-room beachfront hotel, and a 400-person ocean-going hovercraft service between Brisbane’s CBD to Coolum.
In the video on the link above (1:07) he speaks about the Sunshine Coast being depressed with high unemployment.
That confirms our observation, on a two-day sunshine fix at Noosa last week, that the Sunshine Coast’s economy was far from sunny.
Last time we were there, about four years ago, the town was bustling. This time it was quiet with several empty shops and lots of for sale and lease signs on buildings.
The weather was cool by local standards which might have been keeping people indoors but locals we talked to said it had been a quiet winter.
The high dollar won’t be helping tourism, nor will high prices. People complain about the cost of food here, it was more expensive there even before we converted our currency. Main courses were rarely less than $A35 and often more than $A40 which was at least 10% more than was usual in cafés and restaurants we ate at when we were in Europe in June.
We spoke about our observations with farmers at a dinner in Sydney on Thursday. They said we were seeing the slower side of the two-speed economy. Mining is booming, farming’s generally okay and so are the businesses which service and supply them but the rest of the economy is struggling.
Even though it was cool, the sun was shining in Noosa but there was a chill in the economic air.
Palmer’s plan is likely to be controversial but it could be what’s needed to bring some heat back to the Sunshine Coast’s economy.
The trans-Tasman tide appears to be turning as businesses choose to move from Australia to New Zealand.
That should be cause for celebration, but not for opposition MPs:
. . . the Labour Party turned up its nose at every kind of new job available, from cigarette-roller to croupier to call centre operator, egged on by most other political parties.
So we’re back to wanting the nanny state, now, are we? What a luxury to feel the country is able to pass up gainful employment in legal industries. . .
These are the same MPs who have complained about losing New Zealand jobs to Asia but they can’t have it both ways:
There are complaints that firms are moving over here because we have lower wages than in Australia, and that is causing anger and concern for people that enjoy complaining.
However, these same people are also complaining that the strong NZ dollar against a number of countries (primarily China and the US) is leading us to loss jobs by making labour less competitive – in other words, by making New Zealand labour relatively more expensive, in other words by pushing up peoples real wages.
I wonder what the people doing the jobs think of the MPs’ criticism of their gainful employement?
No jobs are bad jobs and working for a low wage doesn’t have to be a life sentence. Some people might not have the ability and/or will to earn more but low-skilled work still has to be done and many who start in low-paid positions can work their way up to better ones.
Finance Minister Bill English rightly says that the increasing number of Australian companies investing and creating jobs in New Zealand is good for the economy and will help increase incomes:
“For the first time in quite a few years, Australian businesses are seeing competitive opportunities in New Zealand,” he says. “This reflects a number of issues, ranging from the exchange rate, lower business costs, an improving regulatory environment and the positive direction of economic policy.
“That was conveyed to the New Zealand team of ministers and officials at the Australian New Zealand Leadership Forum in Sydney last week, where business leaders said they were encouraged by New Zealand’s economic policy direction.”
Over the past three years, the Government has implemented a wide-ranging economic programme to make New Zealand more competitive.
- The Budget 2010 tax package which increased taxes on consumption and property speculation, and reduced taxes on work, companies and saving.
- Improvements to regulation – for example resource management laws, building laws and industrial relations laws.
- The Government’s multi-billion dollar infrastructure programme, in rail, roads, electricity transmission and ultra-fast broadband, to make the economy more productive.
- A focus on changing the incentives around welfare and work.
- Reducing government-imposed costs on business – for example, ACC levies on employers and the self-employed will fall by 22 per cent this year, reducing total costs to business each year by about $250 million.
“This is a long-term programme that will continue over the next few years to improve New Zealand’s competitiveness,” Mr English says.
“We need to encourage companies to invest, and create jobs, including from countries like Australia. This investment needs to come from businesses because the Government simply cannot afford to borrow and spend at the rate of the past decade.
“When capital is invested and management skills improve, New Zealand companies can sell their products for higher prices in overseas markets. It’s a recipe for higher wages, more exports and a faster-growing Kiwi economy.
We’d all be better off if our economy supported higher wages, and we’re more likely to get there by having people employed in any jobs, even if they’re low paid, than by having them unemployed.
The more people in work the better it is for them and the economy and a healthier economy supports higher wages.
Australia or Wales? Dragons or Wallabies?
They meet tonight to decide third and fourth place in the Rugby World Cup and it’s not easy to decide which team to support.
Both teams have New Zealand coaches but if I take them into account I’d opt for Robbie Deans who made such a wonderful contribution to Canterbury rugby – even if several of their wins were against Otago teams.
I know Wales deserved to win last week, and maybe the All Blacks would have a less daunting task on Sunday if they had, but if I have to pick a side, it will be the Wallabies.
It’s not personal, the Welsh are lovely people but most of them are on the other side of the world and Australia’s just next door so I’m opting for our neighbours.
If Argentina was playing any other team than the All Blacks I’d be backing Los Pumas.
Since they are playing New Zealand I’m saying vamos Argentina pero no demasiado bien – play well Argentina, but not too well.
I’m conflicted with the other quarter-final game.
I want the winner to be whichever team the All Blacks are most likely to defeat should we get through to the next round and I’d like that to be Australia. But my farmer who knows far more about rugby than I do and who was in Brisbane to for the last Tri-Nations game when the Wallabies beat the All Blacks, reckons South Africa might be an easier semi-final opponent.
We were at a 21st birthday party last night but what from what I saw of the two games, Wales deserved its 22-10 victory over Ireland and the French earned their semi-fianl spot by beating England 19 -12.
Last night’s upset win by Tonga against the French was a good upset.
Unless you happen to be French or a Francophile.
Scotland’s loss to England after a good start will have upset some.
Unless you’re one of those who weren’t hoping that Sctoland would go against the odds, win with a bonus point and so progress ot the quarter finals.
The Wallabies 68 -22 win over Russia wasn’t an upset but what’s described as a tournament-threatening injury to wing Drew Mitchell, on top of serious injuries to other players could be upsetting.
Unless you’re one of those who’s not wanting Australia to do very well.
This afternoon it looked like Georgia might upset Argentina until Los Pumas took charge of the game which ensures them a spot in the quarter finals.
That would have upset Argentina’s supporters but pelased the Scots who would then have secured a place in the next round.
Like Adam Smith I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s heartbreaking that Dan Carter is out of the Rugby World Cup altogether though I acknowledge that will be upsetting to many.
Although not those in or supporting one of the teams hoping to beat the All Blacks.
But let’s keep it in perspective, a team is made up of 15 players plus reserves. They will all be doing their best to ensure there’s no upsets for them and their supporters, especially in today’s match against Canada.
This afternoon I’m backing Fiji against Wales and will take the underdog in the match between Ireland and Italy.
The upset win by Ireland over Australia last night will have more than Irish eyes smiling.
Rugby World Tournament organisers will be delighted that the competition, which was warming up anyway, has been well and truly set alight.
The Welsh players will no doubt be thinking of the death of four men after a flood in a coal mine near Swansea on Friday when they meet Samoa this afternoon.
I’m backing Samoa in that game, Canada against France and for what might be the only time in the tournament I’ll be siding with England when the team meets Georgia in Dunedin.
Australia’s decision to exempt agriculture from its carbon tax has political implications for farmers here.
National has consistently said the Emissions Trading Scheme won’t be imposed on agriculture until our competitors face a similar regime.
Labour’s policy is to force agriculture into the ETS in 2013.
National understands there’s no environmental gain to imposing an ETS on farming until there are scientifically proven methods farmers can use to reduce emissions. It also understands the economy would suffer if our competitors didn’t face similar costs.
Labour just wants to tax farmers more – the impact on the environment and economy are irrelevant to them.
The difference is clear and every farmer should take that into account when voting.
Australian Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig has reopened live cattle trade to Indonesia on condition exporters are responsible for the welfare of stock sent for slaughter.
Although there have been no inspections of Indonesian abattoirs by Australian officials, Senator Ludwig said export permits would be issued only if exporters complied with a new system that ensured individual cattle were tracked and slaughtered under international standards.
The ban, which was imposed after evidence emerged of Australian cattle being treated brutally in Indonesian abattoirs, has devastated the $320 million a year industry and sparked tension with Australia’s nearest neighbour. Senator Ludwig’s decision means Australian exporters can now apply for export licences to start shipping stranded cattle to Indonesia if they meet strict conditions to track animal movements to ensure their humane treatment.
Cattle producers in the Northern Territory and northern Western Australia have few other options for selling prime stock.
When we were there last year, Indonesia had changed the rules, reducing the weight of cattle which could be imported and that was putting huge pressure on station budgets.
The change was made because Indonesia wanted to increase domestic production to reduce its reliance on imports. The ban has added impetus to that:
The Indonesian government described the scrapping of the ban as ”great news”.
Deputy agriculture minister Bayu Krisnamurthi said Jakarta is now rethinking its reliance on live cattle imports in the wake of the ban.
He said Indonesia’s recent experiences with Australia show that depending on food imports is risky.
The ban cost Australia 10s of millions of dollars. If Indonesia does manage to increase its self-sufficiency it will have a major impact on Australia and northern cattle producers in particular.
Complaints about the price of milk here are based on the theory that locally produced goods should be cheaper.
A good example of how that isn’t necessarily so can be found across the Tasman.
A reader emailed me to say that bananas in Australia are selling for $A14 to $A16 a kilo – and there is no GST on “fresh” food.
Summer floods damaged trees and crops in Queensland. The Farming Show’s Australian correspondent Chris Russell said the problem has been exacerbated by very cold temeratures in the state and as no bananas are imported into Australia there isn’t an alternative to local produce.
My correspondent says even before the shortage bananas were selling for around $A4 a kilo in Melbourne.
The ones in the supermarket I frequent came from the Philippines and cost $2.99 a kilo, inclusive of GST.
I presume the bio-security risk is used to ban imports. But if we judge the Australians by the strong fight they put up against New Zealand apple imports then the ban on bananas from other countries could well be protecting domestic farmers from competition rather than protecting the crop from disease.
Either way, the consumer is paying very dearly.
Prime Minister John Key’s address to the Australian parliament will be broadcast live on Sky channel 90 just before 5pm today.
Like many other New Zealanders I have family in Australia and this time last year I was visiting my brother, sister-in-law and three nieces in Townsville.
A cyclone kit came up in conversation but I thought no more about it until the news that Cyclone Yasi was heading for the city.
It is impossible for anyone who hasn’t experienced it to comprehend the ferocity of a category 4 cyclone but thoughts of family have made this one personal and I am waiting anxiously for news they are all safe.
Most of the news in New Zealand about the Australian election focussed on who would form the government.
There are a lot of other stories:
Twenty-year-old Wyatt Roy won Longman, a seat taking in suburbs north of Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast, by a slim margin for the Liberal Party at the August 21 election, which also produced other political “firsts”.
WA Liberal MP Ken Wyatt is Australia’s first Indigenous member of the lower house. There is also a Greens MP elected at a federal election for the first time – Melbourne’s Adam Bandt.
The Australian reports:
Mr Roy spent his first official day in Parliament yesterday sitting next to the longest serving MP, Philip Ruddock, 67, who took him under his wing.
Mr Ruddock was elected in 1973, 17 years before Mr Roy was born.
He sounds like he’s enjoying the experience, but some things will take a bit of getting used to:
The country’s youngest federal MP, Wyatt Roy, says he is uncomfortable with the formality of some at Parliament House.
“I would much rather they call me Wyatt. I was talking to some of the parliamentary staff today and I said, ‘oh no, call me Wyatt’,” he said.
“They have to call me Mr Roy, and I said, ‘well in the military you salute the rank’, and I suppose here it is about the position and not the person.”
We were in Australia on election day and saw Roy interviewed on television.
He was articulate and came across as mature for his age and very grounded. He’ll need to be because being Australia’s youngest MP will mean he is likely to get more attention than most other new MPs.
His profile is here.
Google tells me that New Zealand’s youngest MP was Marilyn Waring who was 22 when she elected. If memory serves me correctly Simon Upton was the next youngest at 23.
Independent Queensland MP Bob Katter announced he was supporting the Liberal-led coalition earlier today making it 74-all for the two main parties.
Jack the Insider, live blogger for the Australian, says Tony Windsor has given his support to Labor.
That makes it 75-74 to Labor.
Windsor is taking questions then the other independent, Rob Oakeshott will make his announcement soon.
From Jack’s live blog:
|RO says neither party has a mandate|
|Oakeshott talking about the new parliament and how it will function but still no decision|
|Oakeshott – a hard decision , line ball judgment decision. “Could not get any closer”.|
|Oakeshott hinting he will support Labor|
|On now and still not confirming which way he will go.|
|RO certainly likes to create suspense|
|I’m going to call this. Oakeshott supports Labor|
|Labor. RO supports Labor on rural education.|
|Both Windsor and Oakeshott will support the government
Tuesday September 7, 2010 3:31
|Gillard can now form minority government|
|Labor wins. 76 – 74|
The ABC reports:
Independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott have broken Australia’s political deadlock by agreeing to back Julia Gillard in a Labor minority government.
After more than a fortnight of suspense, Mr Oakeshott and Mr Windsor today revealed their intention to give Labor their crucial votes, meaning it has secured the 76 seats needed to rule.
Their decision came hot on the heels of Bob Katter, who earlier confirmed he would back the Coalition, putting it on 74 votes.
Mr Oakeshott’s and Mr Windsor’s decision to swing behind Labor is a bitter blow for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who came closer than anyone expected to winning the election. In recent days he pleaded with the country trio not to forget their conservative roots.
Julia Gillard is still Prime Minister.
It is a fragile majority and it will take a lot of skill to hold it together for the parliamentary term.
When Jenny Shipley was leading a minority government here she said she used to wake up each day and do the numbers, and she knew she couldn’t always rely on her own team. Julia Gillard will be in a very similar position.
One of the sorry images which has stayed with me after our return from Australia’s Top End is the large number of Aborigine people wandering round without purpose, sitting in gutters or on the grass of parks, many waiting for the pubs and bottle stores to open at 2pm, all apparently with nothing to do and nowhere to go.
What does it say about their homes that they’d rather be loitering without intent in town than in their own places doing something constructive?
What does it say about a system which allows them to exist on benefits, leaving them with nothing constructive to do and nowhere else to go?
We saw art work produced by Arorigines and heard of tourist operations run by them but in the 12 days we were there saw only two working – one as a shop assistant, another as a guide.
We were told it wasn’t always as bad as this, many used to work in return for board, keep and some money. But when minimum wages were introduced the employers couldn’t afford to keep many of them because they didn’t do enough to justify what they’d have to be paid.
This should serve as a warning to us – the numbers of young Maori who are unemployed has risen considerably since youth rates were introduced.
Surely it’s better to be working and being paid what you’re worth than on a benefit because you don’t work well enough to earn a minimum wage?
New Zealanders’ after-tax average earnings have increased faster than those in Australia in the last couple of years.
Finance Minister Bill English said that was because Australia has had higher inflation and smaller tax cuts than we’ve had on this side of the Tasman.
“As a result, the wage gap between the two countries has actually narrowed slightly.
“We are not getting too excited about that, because we are such a long way behind Australia to begin with. But it’s a good start.”
It’s also a welcome reversal from the widening gap which happened under Labour.
Since September 2008, real after-tax wages in New Zealand have increased by 8.7 per cent. Using a comparable series, Australia’s real after-tax wages have increased by 4.8 per cent in the same period.
“By comparison, New Zealand wage growth significantly lagged Australia’s in the nine years to September 2008. Over that entire period, New Zealand’s real after tax wage growth was a paltry 3 per cent, compared with 19 per cent growth in Australia.
“Put another way, when Labour was in office, real after tax wages in Australia increased over six times faster than wages in New Zealand. No wonder the wage gap blew out under Labour’s watch.”
The outcome of the Australian election will influence the gap – if Labor wins taxes are likely to increase more or decrease more slowly.
However, for the good of both countries we need the gap to continue to close because of progress in New Zealand not regression in Australia.
That means more policies which promote economic growth and continued reversal of the tax and spend policies which put us into recession long before the rest of the world.
Australia may have its first hung parliament in decades after election night results gave neither Labor nor the Liberals a majority.
Julia Gillard refused to concede last night and it’s possible she may be able to cobble together a coalition once preferences are counted. But coming second on election night was a loss for Labor and its very new leader.
However, being ahead by a nose but without a clear majority can’t be counted as a win for Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party either.
One of the criticisms of MMP is that it doesn’t necessarily give a conclusive election night result. But Britain’s election under First Past the Post earlier this year and Australia’s preferential system have both given indecisive results.