. . . Labour’s problem may be summed up in two words: proportional representation. New Zealand’s MMP electoral system allows minor parties to thrive, thus removing the pressure on opposition supporters to transfer their allegiance to the party best placed to defeat the Government. By denying Labour the 5 to 10 percentage points it needs to become a credible competitor to the National Party, proportional representation and the Greens are encouraging the Right to contemplate permanent political ascendancy. . . Chris Trotter
The Rugby World Cup is taking place on the other side of the world and matches will be played when most New Zealanders would normally be in bed and pubs are closed.
When UK fans were faced with that scenario in 2011 the government brought in special legislation to allow pubs to open for fans.
“An internationally televised world cup featuring our own reigning champions should be an opportunity to bring communities together over coffee or beer and showcase our wonderful hospitality facilities,” said Mr Seymour.
“Shutting New Zealanders at home for this event seems like a mean-spirited affront to community freedoms.
“The Greens do themselves no favours by locking themselves in as the party opposed to fun. . .
I’ve no desire to go to a pub in the wee small hours and if I did go I wouldn’t be drinking anything stronger than water.
I’ve stayed up all night four times in the last 12 years. That was for weddings in Argentina and I drank only one glass of wine at each because I knew any more alcohol would put me to sleep.
But I can see why some people might want to gather in a pub to watch the games, especially if the All Blacks make it to the final.
Green MP Kevin Hague accused Seymour of using the issue as a publicity stunt.
But it is Hague who is grandstanding.
In being the party pooper he’s providing ammunition for those who accuse his party of being the fun police and all for nothing more than negative publicity because the government will probably pick up the Bill.
Too many people drink too much but that’s a problem which won’t be addressed by the party-pooping.
Labour finally answered the calls to show us some policy last week with an announcement on proposed changes to provisional tax:
The bad news for Labour was that it wasn’t its own fresh policy it was reheated National Party policy:
Acting Minister of Finance Steven Joyce has congratulated Labour Party Leader Andrew Little on finally announcing his first “new” policy after eight months in the job, although unfortunately for Labour it’s a cut and paste of a previous Government announcement.
“Labour announced today it was launching a discussion document on changes to provisional tax for businesses. However it seems to have overlooked that the Government launched its own discussion document containing almost identical proposals back in March,” says Mr Joyce. “These in turn were based on National Party policy at the last election.”
The Government has already consulted on proposed changes to provisional tax including a business PAYE, changes to use-of-money interest and penalties, increased use of tax pooling and the use of tax accounts. A Green Paper was launched on 31 March this year and submissions closed on 29 May.
“Feedback on the Green Paper’s suggestions has generally been supportive, and provisional tax was the part most commented on. As we’ve said previously, the changes will require new technology to be implemented, which will be developed as part of the IRD’s Business Transformation project,” says Mr Joyce.
“Quite why Labour has started its own consultation is beyond me.
“Submissions are now closed but the Government would be happy to accept a late submission from the Labour Party in support of the proposal,” Mr Joyce says. “We also appreciate its implied endorsement of the Business Transformation process that will make these policy changes possible.”
A link to the March announcement can be found HERE.
A link to the Government’s Green Paper, Making Tax Simpler, can be found HERE.
A link to the National Party’s 2014 election policy on this issue can be found HERE.
The good news for all of us is that this could mean there is consensus on provisional tax which is very unpopular with businesses for good reason.
They have to pay on expected income without the benefit of a crystal ball that can give them an accurate forecast of their futures costs and income.
A reasonably accurate estimate is difficult enough for any business, it is particularly taxing in farming where there are so many variables and a lot of income is lumpy.
Dairy farmers get monthly payments for their milk but last year the pay out was far higher than expected, this year it is much lower.
Cropping, sheep and beef farmers and many horticulturists get most of their income in a very few payments a very few times a year. Estimating what they are likely to produce, how much that will cost and what they’ll be paid for it months in advance with any deegree of accuracy is next to impossible.
The changes proposed by the IRD which now seem to have support across the political spectrum would simplify the tax system.
Simpler taxes are less expensive to comply with and administer. That reduces costs for businesses which is good for them and the people they employ, service and supply.
New Green co-leader James Shaw wants to woo National Party voters:
“I think there is a huge number of people out there who are concerned about the environment and they are concerned about the economy,” says Mr Shaw, “and they have been holding their nose and voting for the National Party. . .
Concern for the economy and environment aren’t mutually exclusive and people vote for and against parties for a variety of reasons.
But environmental concerns and initiatives aren’t the preserve of left-wing politicians and Shaw has sabotaged his campaign to woo National voters by ruling out going into government with the party.
Like his predecessor, he’s moored his party on the left flank of Labour which means its doomed to be in opposition if National wins another term and has no guarantee of being in government if Labour wins.
If Labour has a choice of coalition partners it would more likely opt for New Zealand First, safe in the knowledge the Green Party has nowhere else to go.
Green Party co-leader aspirant James Shaw has just got his learners’ licence:
. . . Aged 16, Mr Shaw decided he would not learn to drive for environmental reasons. He has maintained that stance while living in Wellington, Brussels, and London.
Now that electric cars are more readily available, the 42 year-old is planning to change his policy, and has gained his learner licence. . .
Does he travel in cars that other people drive, does he travel in taxis, does he use products which are transported by land sea or air, does he fly . . .?
Not driving but being driven or flown isn’t being green it’s greenwash that defies logic.
If this is the sort of intellectual rigour the politician and his party apply to their policies and practices they are destined to remain on the loopy left of the political spectrum.
A new funding system for people with disabilities was the subject of this exchange at question time yesterday:
CARMEL SEPULONI (Labour—Kelston) to the Minister of Finance: Is the Productivity Commission report released yesterday indicative of a Government agenda to privatise the welfare system?
Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): No. It is indicative of a Government agenda to get better results for people who really need them. We are happy to debate the kind of toolset that the Productivity Commission has laid out, but I would like to signal to that member and to the Labour Party that we are focused more on getting better results and less on their ideological obsessions. What we are doing is building a system that allows Governments to invest upfront in personalised interventions for the child, the individual, or the family for a long-term impact, and to track the results of that investment. The Productivity Commission has produced a framework that gives the Government a wider range of tools. It has been heavily consulted on with the social service sector to a draft form, and now it will be further consulted on before it gives us a final report. But I expect at the end of that that the Labour Party will be out of step with pretty much everybody by sticking to its 1970s models.
Carmel Sepuloni: Does the Minister intend to establish a voucher system for social services in New Zealand?29 Apr 2015 Oral Questions Page 11 of 15 (uncorrected transcript—subject to correction and further editing)
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes. We are under way in establishing a voucher system particularly for people with disabilities. It is called Enabling Good Lives. It has been broadly welcomed by the disability sector. I suspect that the mass adoption of it by the Australian Government in the form of the National Disability Insurance Scheme is going to put a lot of pressure on New Zealand to further develop a sophisticated voucher system for people with disabilities. The reason why is that it gives them some choices rather than being subject to a system where the Labour Party tells the providers—
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Jami-Lee Ross: What progress has the Government made in delivering better outcomes from social services?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: We have made considerable progress in focusing on our customers—that is, getting to know much better the circumstances and prospects of those most vulnerable New Zealanders. For instance, a child under the age of 5 who is known to Child, Youth and Family, whose parents are supported by a benefit, and where either parent is in contact with the Department of Corrections—and there are a lot of those families; around 470 of them in Rotorua, for instance—is around five times more likely to end up on a long-term benefit and seven times more likely than the average to get to be in prison before the age of 21. In the light of that information, we feel a moral obligation, as well as a fiscal one, to act now to reduce the long-term costs, and we are not—
Mr SPEAKER: Order!
Carmel Sepuloni: Does he agree with the findings of the draft Productivity Commission’s report he commissioned that the Government faces incentives to underfund contracts with NGOs for the delivery of social services, with probably adverse consequences for service provision; if so, does he agree that greater contracting out could harm service provision?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: I agree with the first one but not the second one. The Government often does deliberately, as a result of Government policy, actually, pay less than the full cost of services, and often the users of those services need a higher level of more sophisticated service that what we currently offer them. There is no evidence at all that contracting out, as the member calls it, will reduce service provision. Sometimes that is the right way to do it. For instance, the Government owns no elderly care beds in New Zealand. It is all contracted out. That has been a bipartisan approach for many years with a highly vulnerable population. There are other areas where there are benefits from competition and also benefits from cooperation.
Jami-Lee Ross: What results has he seen from investment in Better Public Services?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: One of the first results we are seeing from taking an investment approach to public services is a much better understanding of our customers. The reports, now published 6-monthly, into the welfare liability have lifted the lid on a very complex ecosystem of dependency. Now we are starting to take initiatives in order to change the way that system works. For instance, around 70 percent of the people who sign up for a benefit in any given month have been on a benefit before. They are long-term regular and returning customers. In the past we have thought that because we found them a job once, that was the end of it. In fact, they need sustained support and employment, and we expect to be taking more measures in order to back up that initiative. But there will be hundreds of others that will involve contracting out, will involve competition, will involve the private sector, and will involve better results. . .
Carmel Sepuloni: Does he agree with the finding of the report, which he commissioned, that “Problems with contracting out are often symptoms of deeper causes such as the desire to exert top-down control to limit political risk.”?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes.
Carmel Sepuloni: Does he agree that the Government needs to take responsibility for system stewardship and for making considered decisions that shape the system, including taking the overarching responsibility for monitoring, planning, and managing resources in such a way as to maintain and improve system performance?
Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, the Government can do a better job of what the Government does. We are still unravelling the damage done by the previous Labour Government to our social services delivery, where that Government turned it into what I would call a dumb funding system. Communities and families have an important role as well as Governments—in fact, a more important role. In fact, one of the programmes that the commission refers to is Whānau Ora, which is designed around the radical proposition that a lot of our most dysfunctional families can actually heal some of their own problems and improve some of their own aspirations. . .
This exchange shows a stark difference between National and Labour.
National is determined to improve the delivery of social services, give people with disabilities more choices and reduce dependence.
Labour which is still ideologically opposed to private provision of services even if that gives better results.
And it’s not just Labour which has the wrong idea of welfare and the government’s role in services.
Lindsay Mitchell writes on Green MP Jan Logie’s contention that social problems aren’t solved one individual at a time:
If problems aren’t solved “one individual at a time”, when it is individuals who abuse or neglect each other, when it is individuals who successfully resolve to change their behaviour, what hope? And why have role models eg Norm Hewitt to show what individuals can achieve? Why have organisations like AA who focus on each individual owning and addressing their problem; in living one day at a time to break their addiction?
Logie believes in deterministic explanations for human behaviour. Causes are outside of the control of the individual. For instance, colonisation and capitalism cause social chaos to entire groups. Therefore the largest representative collective – government – must play the major remedial role.
And she has the gall to talk about private service providers securing an “ongoing need for [their] services”.
When for the past forty odd years government policy has been creating and increasing social problems through the welfare state.
This reinforces this morning’s quote from Thomas Sowell: Although the big word on the left is ‘compassion,’ the big agenda on the left is dependency.
Big dump culmination of years of worry – David Bruce:
A frustrated North Otago farmer drove 120km on Monday to dump a load of excrement at the Otago Regional Council’s doorstep in Dunedin. David Bruce talks to him about why he did it.
Five Forks dairy farmer Robert Borst says he is at a loss about where to go from here.
He says he faces losing everything he has worked for in an industry he has wanted to be in since he was 15.
He left school and started at the bottom in dairying, shifted from Taranaki to the Waitaki Plains in 1992 then, from 1997, he and wife Sylvia started to build up what are now three dairy farms at Five Forks.
Changes in a water plan by the Otago Regional Council setting new limits on discharges from his farms has put everything in jeopardy, he believes. . .
Positive agriculture Omarama winner – Sally Rae:
Omarama farmers Richard and Annabelle Subtil want to help highlight the positive side of agriculture.
Mr and Mrs Subtil were named the supreme winners in this year’s Canterbury Ballance farm environment awards.
The couple farm Omarama Station, a property of nearly 12,000ha, which has been in Mrs Subtil’s family since 1919. . .
Farmer confidence grows – Dene Mackenzie and Sally Rae:
There is a sense of relief as two surveys show regional economic confidence rose in the three months ended March.
Farmer confidence has taken a ”significant jump” in the first quarterly Rabobank rural confidence for the year. The survey, completed earlier this month, was released the same day as Fonterra dropped its dividend estimate range by 5c to between 20c and 30c to the disappointment of farmers.
The Westpac McDermott Miller regional economic confidence survey showed rural regions and smaller centres generally showing the biggest gains. Confidence in the main centres was mixed. . .
Can science fix the dairy debate – Kevin Ikin:
The debate continues on whether there should be a moratorium on further dairy farm development.
The Green Party and the Fish and Game organisation are keen on the concept, which they say should be given serious consideration while the impact of intensive farming on the environment is properly assessed.
The issue also came up at a water management forum in Geraldine, South Canterbury, last week.
One of the speakers, Morgan Foundation economist Geoff Simmons said if the Government was serious about water quality then it had to consider a moratorium on further dairy farm conversions.
“Actually, if you are maintaining or improving the water quality, how can you do that when you are still doing conversions? . .
Fonterra’s disappointing performance – Allan Barber:
Fonterra’s interim result announcement contains confirmation of the farmgate milk price forecast of $4.70, but a reduction in the added value dividend.
The steady milk payout forecast was anticipated, although Global Dairy Trade auction results have so far failed to achieve the US$3,500 per tonne average which is estimated to be the minimum needed to underpin the payout. The higher volume being released for auction GDT and likely milk production by competitors such as American and European farmers may actually increase the risk of underachieving the forecast end of year payout. . .
(BusinessDesk) – Fonterra Cooperative Group, New Zealand’s largest dairy processor, says it’s holding its own in the dairy-intensive Canterbury region, despite reports some of its 10,600 farmers shareholders are lining up to supply milk to its competitors in the wake of its weak interim results last week.
Farmers were disappointed with the half-year results, which included a 16 per cent drop in profit to $183 million and a trimming of the forecast dividend payout for the year by 5 cents to a range of between 20 cents and 30 cents. Faced with a low forecast payout of $4.70 per kilogram of milk solids this season compared to a record $8.40 kg/MS last season, farmers had been expecting a fatter rather than skinnier dividend from its value-added activities. . .
A nationwide search begins this week for young men and women who exemplify the leadership qualities that have earned New Zealand’s primary products the trust of consumers all over the world.
Starting this April, young horticultural leaders from every corner of New Zealand will compete in six sector competitions to qualify as a finalist in the Royal NZ Institute of Horticulture Education Trust’s ‘Young Horticulturist of the Year 2015 Competition’.
2014 overall winner, Northland orchardist and horticultural business owner, Patrick Malley, believes that despite the ups and downs the primary sector has faced in recent times, New Zealand’s value as a leading producer of primary products comes from the high levels of trust this country’s products enjoy overseas. . .