Rob today’s poor to pay tomorrow’s rich

August 30, 2017

A leaves school and gets a job. A doesn’t have much in the way of qualifications or experience and the pay reflects that.

B leaves school and goes to university. B isn’t sure why s/he’s there, what to study or what s/he wants to do, mucks around and drops out.

C leaves school and goes to university. C loves to party and does, work suffers, s/he fails and drops out.

D leaves school and goes to university. D studies well enough, graduates and goes overseas.

E leaves school and goes to university. E loves to party but manages to do enough work to get by, graduates and gets a job, parties less, works more and gets well paid.

F leaves school and goes to university. F gets a qualification which doesn’t provide a meal ticket but manages to find a job with average pay.

G leaves school and goes to university. G works hard, gets well qualified, gets a good job and earns well above the average income.

H leaves school and gets a job, works hard, saves hard, decides s/he needs a qualification, goes to university, works hard, graduates and sets up a business which booms.

I could continue through the alphabet with the many and varied scenarios about people who choose to get a tertiary education.

Not one of them would provide a good reason why A should pay more tax to help people who don’t know why they are at university, don’t work and drop out; or do graduate and leave the country, or graduate and earn $1.6 million more on average over their lifetime than those who do not:

 That is a huge personal benefit which is why we say that they should contribute something towards the cost of that degree. Not a huge amount – usually $20,000 or so. A great investment for a $1.6 million return.

That is an average of $40,000 more a year for a 40-year working life than someone who doesn’t have a tertiary qualification.

Why should a waitress, truck driver, tradesperson, receptionist or anyone else pay more tax to give even more help to people who will go on to earn so much more?

Fee-free tertiary education is Robin-Hood reversed:

The implementation of a zero fees policy for tertiary education would reach into the pockets of the disadvantaged, to line the wallets of the future’s wealthy, according to a briefing paper just published by the Taxpayers’ Union.

‘Robin Hood Reversed: How Free Tertiary Education Robs Today’s Poor for Tomorrow’s Rich’ assesses the impacts of free tertiary education policies, like that announced today by the Labour Party.

Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union said, “We found that similar policies overseas have led to job shortages in crucial areas, and poorer quality courses.”

“Contrary to claims that zero tertiary education fees help the poor, in Scottland, which introduced zero fees in the early 2000’s, students from low socio-economic groups were the first to be shut out. This contradicts the political ideology of those who advocate for it, because the policy hampers social mobility, and actually increases barriers to reducing inequality.”

“The costs of such a policy are borne by low and middle-income earners, to help tomorrow’s rich get a free ride.”

The briefing paper, Robin Hood Reversed: How Free Tertiary Education Robs Today’s Poor for Tomorrow’s Rich, is available for download at: www.taxpayers.org.nz/robin_hood_reversed.

Key findings: 
• Taxpayers already cover 84 percent of the cost of obtaining a tertiary degree.
• The average household currently pays $2,456 in tax per year to fund tertiary education.
• Fully implemented, Labour’s proposal would increase that cost by $852.57 per year.
• Low and middle-income earners will pay more to subsidise tomorrow’s rich.
• Likely effects of the policy, based on the experience in Scottland with its zero fees policy, include:
o more job shortages in crucial skills-based areas;
o lower quality tertiary education;
o less access to education for students from disadvantaged or low socioeconomic backgrounds; and
o less social mobility and entrenched income inequality. 

A better educated population benefits a country, but there is also a considerable personal benefit from an education.

There’s a choice – students can continue to pay a small proportion of the cost of their education while they’re studying or everyone pays more tax forever.

Anyone with the intelligence to get a degree should be able to work out that they, and the country would be better off paying a little more for the few years while they’re studying than a lot more for the many years ahead when they’re working.

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Labour wants consent to farm

August 12, 2017

Labour’s water tax policy holds a sting in its tail:

Farmers and horticulturalists face the prospect of resource consents if they want to make a shift in land use under a Labour government.

Buried in Labour’s water policy announcement was its intention to dump the National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management and replace it with a policy based on recommendations made by Environment Court judge David Sheppard in 2010.

Sheppard’s recommendation was any increase in farming intensity including more livestock, irrigation or fertiliser would no longer be permitted under the Resource Management Act unless a resource consent was obtained.

That suggestion was shelved by National when it instead opted for the policy statement on freshwater management now in play.

Federated Farmers water spokesman Chris Allen said he was surprised to learn about the resource consent provision in Labour’s policy, which had less profile than the water royalty charges mooted.

“But take that along with the water charges and they have just added another level of burden and cost on producing food in this country.

“It would seem the $18 cabbage will become more of a reality.”

He also challenged the costs the consent conditions would bring.

“This will require a significant increase in the number of people skilled to work in this area of consenting.

“Even here just in Canterbury right now we cannot get enough of those people, let alone throughout NZ.”

He said Labour’s water package taken in its entirety should have all New Zealanders concerned. . .

Water New Zealand has joined the critics of the policy:

. . . “It is only fair that some of the profits from the taking of water are returned to communities to help restore degraded water quality,” says Chief Executive John Pfahlert.

But it’s not fair that people who are already doing everything they can to protect and enhance waterways and in areas where there aren’t quality problems should pay for clean-ups elsewhere.

In principle it acknowledges the value of water and its huge contribution to our economic security and way of life.”

He says he can understand why voters would be attracted to policies that include charging big commercial users such farmers who rely on irrigation and water bottling companies. But he believes a fairer approach would be to charge everybody who uses water.

“Why target farmers and water bottlers and not industrial and domestic users in order to ensure that water is used efficiently across all sectors?”

John Pfahlert says it is important that there is a consistent approach to any policy on water and water pricing and not a knee-jerk response to opinion polls.

He says although publicly appealing, this policy raises many difficult questions.

“Currently the Government’s view is that nobody owns water. This policy takes the view that everybody owns the water.

“This shift in ownership status would raise questions of the rights of Maoridom who could legitimately claim a share of ownership under the Treaty of Waitangi.”

John Pfahlert says there are also questions around the mechanisms that would be used to impose a charge on water consent holders and irrigators.

“It would probably mean there would need to be retrospective legislation and this would raise many fish hooks for farmers and for the government.”

Massey University agribusiness expert Dr Jame Lockhart says the policy is the wrong solution to the wrong problem:

Dr Lockhart says the policy has been borne out of unsustainable growth by the dairy industry and foreign-owned bottling plants exporting water at no cost and creating little, if any, benefit to New Zealand.

“There is no doubt that some of our waterways have degraded with the intensification of land use,” he says. “This is due to many things – water extraction for irrigation, reducing flow levels, is only one. But if these are the problems that Labour is trying to solve, then the policy cabinet is full of tried and true methods to rectify them.”

He says the impact on farmers will be immense, especially those in regions where water supply is at risk, including the Heretaunga Plains, Marlborough, Nelson, Canterbury in particular and North and Central Otago.

“If this tax, and it is a tax, is at the levels being mooted, there could be as much as $500-600 billion to be paid by irrigation users, including vegetable growers, vineyards, and orchardists. Agriculture and horticulture is being asked to bear the entire burden for the nation’s water use and the degradation of its waterways.” . . .

The policy also raises questions over property rights and Treaty claims.

“Due to the abundance of water in New Zealand, we have not assigned value to it in the way we should. That means New Zealand has built an agricultural and horticultural sector around water being free, while the volumes used are regulated to some extent, all the costs to date are around access and application, such as storage, pumping and distribution.

“So, if a business has its own harvesting and storage, does it pay the same royalty as a business that takes artesian groundwater or surface water? At that point some fundamental property rights are being removed from those who have invested in their own systems.”

He says the thorny issue of who owns water in New Zealand has, until now, been something that successive governments have tried to avoid.

“Who owns water in New Zealand? Right now, Labour is saying that if they become government they do. At that point, water ownership becomes highly contestable and immediately opens the door for another round of Treaty claims.”

There are also anomalies in the policy, Dr Lockhart says, including during periods of drought.

“Labour appears to be offering some leniency during drought events so when water has the most value to the agricultural and horticultural sectors, and the environmental consequences are greatest, the tax will be either lowered or removed completely. That shows it is not an environmental issue they are trying to solve at all.

“Labour is boldly going where no government has gone before – but this is looking largely punitive as opposed to being a deliberate effort to restore the quality of our waterways.

“The policy simply has not been thought through as anything other than a vote gathering exercise. Our tax system should not be built on the principle that someone has to do worse for you to do better.”

This is echoed by the Taxpayers’ Union:

Labour’s Water Tax policy is quickly becoming the laughing stock of public policy circles with parallels being made to its infamous 2014 NZ Power policy – which, ironically, saw the very industry which escapes the Water Tax whacked with an economic gorilla.

Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union says, “Three week’s ago, if Andrew Little got up and announced a new water tax, but couldn’t answer how much it is, he’d have been laughed off the stage”.

“How can Labour credibly protest against industry claims that cabbages will cost $18 and grocery bills will sky-rocket when they can’t put a single number next to their policy?”

“As much as NZ Power was laughed at, at least David Cunliffe had some numbers.”

Minister for Primary Industries said the policy is like sending farmers a blank invoice.

Labour has little understanding of farming and very few MPs outside Auckland and Wellington.

Perhaps that’s why they haven’t joined the dots between the profitability of farming and those who service and supply the industry, nor between the costs of food production and the cost of food.

 


One week two taxes

August 10, 2017

It’s just over a week since Jacinda Arden took over as leader of the Labour Party and she’s already announced two new taxes.

The first was a fuel tax :

The Labour Party might have changed its leaders but where it wants to take New Zealand hasn’t changed, National Party Campaign Chair Steven Joyce says.

“By resurrecting a decade-old idea of charging Aucklanders another tax it’s now clear why they had to abandon the “fresh approach” line,” Mr Joyce says.

“Regional Fuel Tax was Labour Party policy back in 2007 and it has been rejected by voters many times since then. It’s about as tired as R&D tax credits.

“Labour would make Aucklanders pay at least another 10 cents a litre every time they fill up their tank and that’s just for starters. That would have a real impact on the cost of living for hard-working Aucklanders.

“And it would probably spread around the country. Last time around, Wellington and Canterbury were lining up for regional taxes too. There is also no national price so fuel companies could easily transfer the cost to motorists around the country.” . .

The second is a water tax.

 A Labour-led government would implement royalties for bottled water, irrigation schemes and other commercial uses, leader Jacinda Ardern told the Environmental Defence Society’s annual conference in her first major policy speech on environmental policy since becoming party leader last Tuesday.

Drinking water, stockwater for farms, and ‘non-consumptive’ uses such as hydroelectricity generation would not face the charges, which would be set following a national conference of affected industries and water users within the first 100 days of the new government, Ardern said. . .

What happens when irrigation water is also used for stock?

Why is water for stock to drink seen as a more virtuous use than water to grow grass for stock to eat?

Farmers are understandably worried:

Pledges from Labour to consult on a “proportionate and fair” royalty for irrigation water have eased the concerns of farmers – but only by a tiny margin.

They remain terrified by the potential impacts on farming families, rural communities and the entire economy.

Federated Farmers water spokesperson Chris Allen said consultation is welcome “but talking won’t allay the fears of farmers of where this could go”.

The Federation remained opposed to any royalty on irrigation water, especially when it remains unclear what purpose it would serve, other than adding another tax.

“At least Labour appears now to be proceeding with caution, recognising the considerable risks. They’ve promised that if they are part of a new government, deciding the levels of any royalty on commercial use of water will be preceded by consultation.”

Mr Allen said the 10 cents a litre figure some had bandied around would bankrupt farmers and cripple our export competitiveness and regional economies. Even one thousandth of that figure, if that’s a level Labour has in mind, would be “eye-watering” given the volume of consumptive water use.

“With any royalty, farmers and growers would have little choice but to pass on the extra cost, if they could, meaning New Zealand consumers would pay more for food, and our products would be at a disadvantage against imports.”

Farmers recognised some positives in the Labour policy announcements. They would applaud that riparian planting would qualify for carbon credits under the Emissions Trading Scheme, “but we hope this is not a hint of a policy announcement to come on including animal emissions in the ETS”.

And the idea of activating young people who are out of work to join water quality improvement projects is worthwhile.

“That will get young people out on the land and more familiar with the farming sector, and they’ll get to experience – and help with – the large amount of environmental enhancement work farmers are already doing.”

But the whole exercise of adding a new tax on water, even if the revenue is shared with regional councils for water quality work, “is counter-productive, and a money-go-round with administration costs added in.

“Farmers are working hard to live within the limits imposed by environmental standards and the desire by all New Zealanders – farmers included – to clean-up water quality hot-spots.

“Adding an extra cost in the form of a water tax drives a perverse incentive for farmers to intensify their activity, and deprives them of income that at worst puts them out of business and at best leaves them with less money to spend on environmental protection work.”

Labour has pledged to consult, and Federated Farmers would take that opportunity, Mr Allen said.

“If we can get round a table with them, we’ll be able to talk them through all the downsides of what they’re proposing in a rational way. This needs to be done without the distraction of a general election.”

Federated Farmers believes an important principle is that if there’s to be a charge for commercial use of water, it should be paid by all, with no room of discrimination.

“If you’re going to be stupid enough to bring this in, it’s got to be fair.”

DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle said Labour’s proposal to introduce a water royalty for commercial water users would be difficult and require extensive consultation around the regions.

. . .“Within a farming business, just like any business, commercial water rates already apply. Our farmers also pay for access to irrigation, and access to water on their land through council consents. Water royalties could potentially duplicate these costs.

“Labour earlier hinted that such a levy wouldn’t result in a cost increase for farming, but without a robust conversation about how their water royalty policy will work we can’t know exactly how this would affect dairy farmers.” . .

Horticulture NZ says “Let’s not do this“:

“Extra costs on growers of fresh, healthy fruit and vegetables will make healthy food more expensive,” Horticulture New Zealand chief executive Mike Chapman says.

“This seems incongruous with policies around alleviating poverty and the benefits of healthy eating to reduce the economic burden of secondary health issues as a result of obesity.

“Horticulture New Zealand supports sound, consistent water policy to support efficient use of water and we have issued our own such policy (available here).

“But we do not support a blanket tax without due consideration of New Zealand’s water priorities as a nation. These priorities must include water for drinking, sanitation and food production.

“Today’s statement does not provide sufficient detail about Labour’s intentions, which should be made clear prior to the election. We don’t feel it is enough to say that if Labour forms the next Government, there will be a conversation about water within the first 100 days.

“There is already the Land and Water Forum which has been working on the wider issues of water allocation, rights and use for some time.

“Horticulture is a rapidly growing industry, contributing significantly to the economic wellbeing of New Zealand. Our vision is healthy food for all forever. We do not want to see the cost of fruit and vegetables grown in New Zealand, supporting local economies and providing jobs, pushed up higher than the cost of imported or processed food. We do not believe the long-term outcomes from a blanket water tax would benefit New Zealanders.”

The Taxpayers’ Union says a water tax shouldn’t pick and choose:

“Picking and choosing who pays what ‘water tax’ and changing the tax rate based on its use, is economic silliness,” says Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union

“In principle, a case can be mounted for charging users of water. However, Labour’s proposal seems more focused at the users, than the actual use.”

“If Labour is genuine in charging a ‘fair’ amount for water, why hasn’t it backed tradable permits for water? That’s a far more efficient, fair, and environmentally beneficial system than royalties payable by some users.”

“Jacinda Ardern comparison to royalties on oil and gas is a bit silly. Labour’s water royalty policy is akin to saying, they’ll charge oil drillers if the oil is used to make asphalt, but not if it’s used for plastics. Our point is that a water royalty should treat industries the same – rather than pick and choose.”

“The most disappointing thing about today’s announcement is that it’s really just another tax on business and entrepreneurship.

With the Treasury swimming in money, Labour should be explaining how it will lower the tax burden to get Kiwi businesses ahead – not saddling industry with even higher tax bills.”

Taxing water for bottling will be popular with voters even though a tiny amount of available water is involved and there’s a danger of it being regarded as an export tariff.

But why tax water for bottling unprocessed but not the water that is processed into beer, wine and other beverages? Or will the spring water at Speights be taxed too?

Taxing irrigators might be popular in some places until the consequences become apparent – higher costs for milk, meat, fruit and vegetables.

But popular isn’t necessarily good and the water tax is unfairly targeting a small number of businesses, most of which are in Canterbury and Otago.

Most of these will have fenced and planted waterways and already be doing everything else they can to protect and enhance water on or near their farms. It is unfair and unreasonable to take money from them to clean up other people’s messes elsewhere.

It is especially unfair for those of us who have to adhere environmental farm plans which are independently audited each year, where the only problem with nearby water is E.Coli from seagulls and where we pay the costs of water to provide environmental flows in the Waiareka Creek.

Some of the money would go to regional councils the rest would be absorbed into the consolidated fund, to be used for Treaty settlements, where there is no need for it.

The government is forecasting surpluses for years ahead, there is no need for any new taxes unless there are compensatory cuts elsewhere.

The water tax is Labour’s attempt to hide its economic profligacy under environmental camouflage.

Two new taxes in one week prove that the party has a new leader but nothing else has changed including its tax and spend policies.


Woolly thinking isn’t answer to wool woes

July 11, 2017

New Zealand First is trying to court farmers and has come up with a policy that takes us back to the 1970s:

Clearly Winston Peters has had a flashback to the 1970s when he was MP for Hunua under Rob Muldoon with this ‘Fortress New Zealand’ proclamation that under his watch no civil servant would walk synthetic again.

Earlier today, Peters issued a press release setting out NZ First’s ‘carpet policy’which favours wool and fibre over everything else.

Taxpayers’ Union, Executive Director, Jordan Williams says “While some will be scratching their heads that 76 days out from the election Winston Peters’ priority is the carpets, the issue is actually an important reminder of why taxpayers must be ever-vigilant”.

“Carpets, as well as all other government supplies, should be selected on value for money alone. This sort of crony favouritism by politicians is exactly the sort of thing which sent New Zealand bust in the early days of Peters’ career”.

“Here’s hoping Peters’ release is merely an ill-timed joke and that he hasn’t come full circle”.

It isn’t a joke. It’s a policy and one farmers don’t want.

Wool is in the doldrums but a return to the woolly thinking of the past when political interference and subsidies were the norm is not the answer, especially when the $120 million it would cost would be better spent elsewhere:

NZ First’s ‘carpet policy’ announcement this morning, to line all Government offices with woollen carpets, would cost approximately $120 million, based on the Government Property Group’s estimate of Government floor space.

Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union, Jordan Williams, says “While smarter carpets for government bureaucrats may be appealing to some, in comparison to what $120 million will buy you in nurses, policeman or teachers, we’re not so sure.”

“In another context, $120 million is the income tax take of over 6,000 average New Zealand households. The Taxpayers’ Union questions whether taxpayers would really get $120 million of value for bureaucrats having woollen carpet and a more comfortable walk around their office.”

“In the lead-up to the election, we would encourage all political parties to provide costings with their policy announcements. If not, the Taxpayers’ Union will be here to help.”

Notes:
• Using a standard price of a woollen carpet of $79 per square metre, and a floor space of 1,524,524 metres squared, the total cost is $120,437,396.
• If new carpets were only installed as part of usual replacements, the marginal cost of wool is $60 million to $93 million (in today’s dollars) more than usual synthetic commercial carpets.

We have only wool carpet in our home but that’s our choice and paid for with our own money.

The decision on what carpet to use in Government offices is one for the chief executive, not politicians.

It should be based on the best value for the taxpayers’ money, not political direction from an opportunist trying to court voters.

Political interference and subsidies got farming and farmers into a mess. Getting out of it through the reforms of the 1980s and 90s came at considerable financial and emotional cost.

We don’t want policy based on woolly thinking that will take us back to the bad old days when political whim rather than commercial reality drove business decisions.


Quotes of the year

December 30, 2016

When you work in the media, you realise men and women age differently. Male hosts and presenters age chronologically – when they’re 40, they’re 40. Women hosts and presenters age in time and a half – when they’re 40, they’re really 60 and obviously unemployable. – Kerre McIvor

All these observations have led me to build up a profile of the typical litterer.

Their most blindingly obvious characteristic is that they have no taste. No surprises there: people who drink Lion Red or eat Chicken McBites are unlikely to be sensitive to aesthetic concerns about the urban environment. . .  – Karl du Fresne

“I think it’s more important that New Zealand has a policy on these things that is based on principle and for us it’s got to mean as a small country we support strong international institutions and we support international law.” – Murray McCully

A strong, growing economy encourages businesses to boost investment in new products and markets, hire more staff and pay good wages.

It means New Zealanders can be rewarded for their enterprise and hard work.

And a strong economy supports better healthcare, education and other public services New Zealanders need.

We frequently hear Opposition parties calling for the Government to magic up more jobs, to increase wages or to spend more on any number of things.

Actually, governments can’t do any of those things without a strong, confident economy.

The Government’s role is creating an environment that gives businesses the confidence to invest and grow.

And to do that in the knowledge they’ll be backed by clear and sensible government policies.  – John Key

I’ve been warned recently, don’t go to most university campuses because the political correctness has been taken from being a good idea—which is, let’s not be mean particularly to people who are not able to look after themselves very well, that’s a good idea—to the point where any kind of criticism of any individual or group can be labelled cruel. And the whole point about humor, the whole point about comedy—and believe you me, I’ve thought about it—is that all comedy is critical. Even if you make a very inclusive joke—like, How do you make God laugh? Tell him your plans—that’s about the human condition, it’s not excluding anyone, it’s saying we all have all these plans that probably won’t come and isn’t it funny that we still believe they’re going to happen. So that’s a very inclusive joke, but it’s still critical. All humor is critical. If we start saying, oh, we musn’t criticize or offend them, then humor is gone, and with humor goes a sense of proportion, and then, as far as I’m concerned, you’re living in 1984. –  John Cleese

“The electorate will either come to believe that Labour has given no serious thought to how its promises are to be paid for – which makes it fiscally incompetent. Or, that Labour knows very well how its promises will be paid for, but is unwilling to say so before it has been safely elected – which makes it politically dishonest. Chris Trotter

I miss Clark. She knew how to bribe voters.

Each election was a fresh and exciting promise with other people’s money. You did your voting, and you got your money. It seemed somehow more honest. – Rodney Hide.

“Unfortunately all Tai Tokerau (Northland) tribes are tainted by the Te Tii Marae circus. Their decision that the PM could go on the Marae but not talk makes a mockery of Marae culture.

What were they thinking, that the leader of the nation would stand and hum Pokarekare ana? – Shane Jones

. . . And I still don’t get it. I never get it when people use the word rape loosely, to cover any insult or transgression, when the reality is by no means imprecise, is often violent, and is always intensely, revoltingly invasive. . .

There is a difference, and it’s important. We shouldn’t undermine the serious criminality of rape by accusing people of it every time they annoy us. And another thing: if you’re going to protest, make your message clear. . .  – Rosemary McLeod

What bandwagon won’t politicians use our money to jump on? Here is a fantastic grassroots initiative, rightfully earning praise and the support from tens of thousands of New Zealanders, and Andrew Little comes along and wants in on the action. If politicians want to be associated with the campaign they should be digging into their own pockets, not forking out what comes from other people’s.”

“Being prudent with taxpayers’ money means not saying yes to every good cause that comes along. Is this beach really the most pressing need for extra Government cash right now? – Jordan Williams

Before any politician commits taxpayer’s money to any project they should think beyond the kudos of the publicity and be sure it is the most beneficial – and hence responsible  – way to spend the next million of other people’s (i.e.; taxpayer’s) money.

It is the norm before any public money is spent for the Treasury to give advice on the value for money that the spend offers. To let politicians to just spray taxpayers’ property around like confetti is a recipe for disaster. While running on their gut political instincts is their natural predisposition, any politician who expects tenure needs to be a bit above that. – Gareth Morgan

We all know DOC has plenty of land in its portfolio and can’t look after the estate it has already. The true conservation dividend it can earn comes from killing stuff – eliminating predators so that our native species can flourish. It does not come from buying more hectares that it can’t protect. Predator free zones are our best investment in conservation. – Gareth Morgan

He should be generous with his time but prudent with his money, quick on the rugby field but slow to criticise his mother-in-law.

He should also prefer to hold an articulate conversation rather than be hunched over a phone wasting time on social media. – Jane Smith on what makes the perfect Southern man.

. . . Against all this, our national day is almost rational. 

It marks the anniversary of the signing of an agreement – or rather a couple of differently worded agreements in different languages – which we have been arguing over pretty much ever since.

We’re kind of good at that. 

But we’re not breaking each other’s heads over it, despite the bad-tempered stirrers on both sides. We do tend to yell a lot. But we don’t ignore the issues any more.  . . Rob Hosking

“I’m the sort of guy who wants to give everything a crack.

“When you’re an old man sitting back and reflecting… Whether you achieved it or not, at least you gave it a crack, and that’s what I want to be thinking.” – Richie McCaw

Outside the membership of the ALP and the Greens, few Australians are interested in the politics of income redistribution.

And why should they be? After 24 years of continuous economic growth – a rising tide of national prosperity and wealth creation – the objective of government policy should be to float all boats, not to sink the biggest yachts in the flotilla in the vain hope that somehow this might help everybody else … – Mark Latham

One of the best parts of my job is the number of public servants and services providers I get to meet.

Overwhelmingly I find we’re all driven by the same thing – getting better results for New Zealanders, and doing our best for the most vulnerable.

Whether it’s social housing, health, education, welfare or justice, the goal is the same.

It is not enough to simply service misery with welfare payments or social houses or urgent health services. We want to help people make the changes they need to become independent.

This ensures people lead better lives, but also saves taxpayer money in the long run.

This Government is focussed not on spending for the sake of it, but on getting tangible results for people from that investment. . . Bill English

“We want to reduce misery, rather than service it and that requires a deep understanding of the drivers of social dysfunction.”Bill English

The first six weeks of the year has seen the left-wing parties talking about subjects of great interest to left-wing voters – the TPPA, free tertiary education, should John Key go to Waitangi? But, as with the last seven years, they’ve said and done nothing to cause soft National voters to question the competence or credibility of the government to run the country, and consider an alternative.

That’s really the game, now. Opposition MPs talking about values and visionary aspirations and compromised sovereignty and the future of work and what a jerk they all think John Key is is all very well, but if Key’s government is seen to be doing a good job in delivering the core government services that voters value, they’re not going to change their votes. And they shouldn’t! – Danyl Mclauchlan

“Of course I love the Union Jack, it’s my favourite flag and does things to my heart, but you guys are New Zealand.”  – Dawn French

I think the vans are plain nasty. Their slogans reinforce the misogyny that seems to have pervaded our society in recent years and imply that men are simply walking penises with only one thing on their mind and women are only useful as receptacles for sperm.

They demean both sexes and reduce men and women to their most base. – Kerre McIvor

There’s a classic clash of rights here: the right to protest versus the right of people to go about their lawful business unobstructed (or to use the classic phrase, “without let or hindrance”).

Freedom of movement, like freedom of speech, is a fundamental part of our rights. No one has the right to impede it just to make a political point, no matter how righteous they feel about their cause. . .

Now here’s the point. We live in one of the world’s freest and most open societies. People are entitled to shout and wave placards.

Protesters are indulged to the extent that authorities routinely allow them to conduct street marches that inconvenience other people.  In much of the world this would be unthinkable.

But protesters too often interpret this tolerance as a general licence to disrupt, which is where they get it wrong. Generally speaking, the right to protest ends at the point where it obstructs the rights of others.

When protesters become so pumped up with self-righteousness that they believe they’re entitled – indeed, have a moral duty – to interfere with the rights of others, public sympathy for their cause rapidly evaporates.Karl du Fresne

. . . This no doubt explained the Labour Party’s petulant stance, which itself raises the issue of how far we can trust a party that promoted a change of flag in its 2014 election policy and was fully represented on the cross-party committee that gave its blessing to the referendum process, but changed its mind. . .

The referendum may have resulted in no change, but for reasons so complex, confused and contradictory that it would be unwise to draw too many conclusions about why people voted the way they did. There were many ironies, including anti-TPPA protesters voting for the ultimate symbol of corporate greed ­sanctioned by the Empire.

Support for a new flag hasn’t been snuffed out. Rather, its momentum has been temporarily slowed. As we go on with the task of explaining to the rest of the world the difference between our flag and that of Australia – the Aussie flag depicts the Southern Cross more accurately – New Zealanders have at least engaged in a passionate, if frustratingly inconclusive, debate about what our flag should say about us. In the process, we may have learnt something about ourselves. That should leave us better prepared when the issue comes up again – as it will. The Listener

Admittedly humour is subjective, but Wicked’s misogynistic brand of wit is hardly worth dying on the barricades for. It’s a smart-arse, advertising-agency type of humour that appeals chiefly to sniggering schoolboys.

In fact one of the striking things about the Wicked controversy is that the company’s supposed humour has managed to offend almost everyone, liberals as well as conservatives.   – Karl du Fresne

We measure success by results, rather than the level of spending – Bill English.

. . . no one should be verbally attacked and denigrated because they believe in democracy and the right to make their own unsolicited political choice on who they want to give a donation to. – Lani Hagaman.

I would like to thank the dairy industry for pulling this country out of the recession in 2008, when the milk price generated the revenue, paid the tax, helped us stave off the pressure on the government’s books and, in particular, lifted the general confidence in regional New Zealand,” said Mr English. “It’s something of an untold story. –  Bill English

It is a common misconception that socialism is about helping poor people. Actually, what socialism does is create poor people, and keep them poor. And that’s not by accident.

Under capitalism, rich people become powerful. But under socialism, powerful people become rich.Glenn Reynolds

Real beauty is being able to laugh out loud and to make others laugh — not at ourselves, but at the absurdities of the lives that we’ve been told we should live. –  Gina Barreca

. . . Look, if we weren’t giving out the first, second and third place ribbons and the day was just about having fun and being outdoors, great! Let’s go on an Oprah Christmas special ribbon giving spree: “You get a ribbon, and you get a ribbon and you get a ribbon, riiiibonnnnnn!”

However WE DO give out the first, second and third place awards, so what message are we sending them? “Hey kids it doesn’t matter if you win but if you do win you get a special prize and accolade, but it doesn’t matter, but it does, and the rest of the kids get a generic thing because they’re not special like the kids who won, who aren’t special, but they are …”

Confusing huh? Imagine being a kid then!

After my highly scientific research at the track I’m now of the opinion that we don’t need to bother with participation awards.

For three reasons:

1. The kid’s don’t want them. They’re well on to us, the jig is up mates.

2. It’s OK to fail! Don’t be afraid to let your kids feel the sting of defeat. Let their little hearts get a ding or two, help them identify what they can learn from it and then they will grow and be better next time.

3. Don’t reward them for just showing up. It makes them grow up feeling entitled. You’re not doing them any favours — want and need create drive. . . Em Rusciano

We have tried everything and all we have created is a culture of dependence, entitlement, helplessness and irresponsibility. – Martin van Beynen

Food is essential to a stable functioning society and we must look at irrigation as essential public infrastructure. We must consider its benefits in terms of regional development and food production, urban water supply and recreation use, not simply in terms of economics and income generation.  . .

We need to start looking at water storeage and land use intensification as part of the s0lution and manage the environmental issues appropriately. It’s as simple as that.- Peter Graham

The Swiss decide not to steal from each other, launder the loot through a government bureaucracy and then give what’s left back to each other. Note this comment from a voter who favored the idea: “For me it would be a great opportunity to put my focus on my passion and not go to work just for a living.” Translation: “I would like others to work harder and pay taxes so I can work less and have fun.” – Lawrence Reed On the Swiss referendum where the majority rejected the proposal for a guaranteed basic income.

When female narcissism translates as empowerment I am both amused and confused. Whose gaze are such women courting when they expose so much pampered, surgically enhanced flesh if not males? If their intention is to attract female attention their only possible purpose could be to annoy, and cause older women to wonder how they deal with going to the bathroom, let alone cold weather. Blue goose-bumped skin has yet to take off as a fashion trend, but they could yet make that fashionable I guess.

These new-style feminists are not displaying ordinary, imperfect bodies, but bodies that conform to traditional pin-ups from men’s magazines, small-waisted, big-breasted, with rounded buttocks and flawless legs, in Kim’s case an old-fashioned hourglass figure that formerly called for a tight corset.Rosemary McLeod

So when an individual attempts to keep more of what he has created there is less anger than when someone tries to take what he hasn’t. That is why society has greater tolerance (and exhibits it through the courts) for tax evasion than welfare fraud. – Lindsay Mitchell

Every day starts with me not being dead, and what a fantastic way to start each day. . . There’s no excuse to not appreciate life fully. You owe it to the people who are unable to. Jake Bailey

It’s not easy being left wing in New Zealand at the moment. We’re currently focusing most of our efforts on cyber bullying John Key’s kids: it’s pretty bleak.

Labour and the Greens joining forces should be something I guess, if you add two parties together you can create a larger and more cohesive losing unit for 2017. The one bright spot is that after a solid eight years in opposition the Labour party have put together a comprehensive plan of what not to do. – Guy Williams 

My observation is that idiot posters from the hard Left tend to be plain nasty whereas their idiot colleagues from the far Right tend to be defined by their stupidity.    One of my PolSci lecturers used to put it this way … that there’s really no difference between the far Right and and the far Left … they are joined at the hip.  Both are authoritarian; both are dismissive of dissenting opinion to the point of violence. –  The Veteran

“When you’re a farmer who isn’t working your farm it can be pretty hard. We are farmers because we love the lifestyle, but over the last couple of years the fun has completely been taken out of it.

“Day in and day out all you think and talk about is the weather. It can be pretty depressing.

“There isn’t much you can do about it. You can’t buy the rain.” – Nick Hamilton

At 100, like many centenarians, this country’s Labour Party is looking confused and befuddled. It appears to have forgotten what it stood for when it was young and vibrant.

Under Little, this party that once stood against unthinking imperialism has campaigned to keep the Union Jack on New Zealand’s flag – perhaps keen to safeguard that Royal telegram! This party that once stood for workers making new lives in a new land, now wishes to stop immigrants investing in property in New Zealand; this party that once stood for diversity now makes overseas investment policy by tallying up “Chinese-sounding names”. Little is busy battling defamation claims, rather than fighting for Labour principles. – Jonathan Milne

News editors need to insist their journalists call out falsehoods in press conferences. Both Shorten and his Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen have previously advocated corporate tax cuts. They went to the election with higher deficits, higher spending and higher borrowing. How can reporters all last week have allowed Labor MPs to warn of imminent budget blocking tactics when only a week earlier Labor accepted $30 billion of so-called zombie cuts? Will reporters now let Labor get away with blocking savings it counted in its own election costings?

Do reporters know the Medicare rebate freeze Shorten claims is the basis for his Medicare scare was introduced by Labor in its 2013 budget? Are reporters going to let Labor continue to claim the government, which has presided over the highest bulk-billing rates in the history of Medicare, has cut $57bn from health when Labor ­itself only committed $2bn more to health than the Coalition?

Labor lost the election. Its primary vote, at 35.2 per cent, is its second lowest since World War II. Not only did it need a lie to save its primary, in truth it owes much of its position to Kevin Rudd, who in 2013 saved at least 15 seats that would have fallen under Julia ­Gillard. – Chris Mitchell

A complex and difficult social problem with many levels to it is being reduced to inane, empty slogans (just build 100,000 “more bloody houses” to quote the elegant language of the rather crude Leader of the Opposition) without any regard to how all that might be achieved. – Peter Dunne

There is no healing in pretending this bizarre violent stuff is not going on, and that there is some cute bumper sticker silver lining. (It is fine if you believe this, but for the love of God, PLEASE keep it to yourself. it will just tense us all up.) What is true is that the world has always been this way, people have always been this way, grace always bats last, it just does–and finally, when all is said and done, and the dust settles, which it does, Love is sovereign here. Ann Lamott

Seumas Milne remains on the staff of the Guardian and Observer while Labour pays him to work as its director of strategy. As a colleague on leave, he has the right to be treated with a gentleness journalists would not usually extend to spin doctors who do not enjoy his advantages. I therefore write with the caution of a good corporate man and the cheeriness of a co-worker when I say Milne could not do a better job of keeping the Tories in power if rogue MI5 agents had groomed him at Winchester College, signed him up at Oxford University and instructed him to infiltrate and destroy the Labour party.Nick Cohen

“If students can’t learn the way we’re teaching then we need to teach the way they learn.  Teaching is like any job, complacency is the enemy. So to ensure the success of students the teacher has to actually care.” – Matarahi Skipper 

. . . I would also like to think in Queenstown that we embrace culture instead of judging race and we celebrate our differences while not letting ourselves be defined by them.

We exist united by our similarities, not divided by petty differences.

We are, for the most part, grateful we have the opportunity to live in paradise, safe, happy and free.

If only this attitude could be spread as easily as fear and intolerance.Mark Wilson

I recognise that politicians don’t create jobs. Politicians create the environment in which business people create jobs. My job is to create the right the right environment for them to flourish and thrive.” – Sadiq Khan

The man is a psychopathic narcissist and that’s not just my opinion, that is the opinion of a whole range of people who are currently sitting in the Parliament. Come on, folks. I can think of 12 Australians off the top of my head who would be a better Secretary-General and one of them’s my Labrador. – Kristina Keneally

It isn’t so much saying Empress Helen has no clothes: It is just that she hasn’t quite earned the halo other people are all too enthusiastic about crowning her with. – Rob Hosking

Labour needs to move away from leftist anti-trade and anti-growth populism and try to make an actual difference to people’s lives rather than keeping its bloggers happy. – Greg Loveridge

Whatever shorter-term measures that government might take to contain spending, in the longer term the ideal way to reduce or contain government spending is to have less need for it.  . .

Much of Government spending is dealing with past failure, with poor decisions with programmes that claimed a lot and didn’t work.

We are creating a whole new set of tools that enable us to be much more discriminating about where spending is effective because where it is effective, it is worth spending a lot. – Bill English

In whichever direction you look, the autocrats, the dictators, the terrorists and the corrupt and cynical opportunists are fighting back. They are demonstrating daily that the lazy assumption of western triumph may be mistaken. Accordingly, it is time to relearn the lessons of history: that free societies do generally triumph in the end, but they need constant vigilance to protect them, and they often need a mixture of strong leadership, determined unity and a good measure of low cunning to help them along. – William Hague

The combination of John Key as PM and Bill English as Finance Minister has achieved an increasingly rare feat in any advanced economy. It includes returning a budget to surplus while managing better growth along with substantive social, economic and taxation reform.All within a political framework of relative popularity, especially a track record good enough to be re-elected with stronger voter endorsement for its programme. Better outcomes in health and education, fewer people on welfare and a return to surplus – not bad. – Australian Financial Review via Trans Tasman.

The principle of free speech can sometimes be used to defend the indefensible but it certainly shouldn’t be curtailed to avoid hurting the feelings of over-sensitive people whose views are often as unreasonable and entrenched as those of the very people they despise. – Martin van Beynen

Urban Kiwis are fewer generations away from the paddocks than are their American counterparts, and that helps maintain a certain egalitarianism of respect, but that won’t last forever. We already are seeing strong pushes to legislate and regulate against the lifestyle choices of those outside of the urban elite. You hear it in trendy Wellington cafes, where well dressed rich folks drinking high calorie mochaccinos speak with disdain about how others drink Coke or eat at McDonalds. It’s an inequality of respect.

Poverty is real and important. When it comes to inequality, I think we need a renewed egalitarianism of respect for the choices others make about what is best for them. The more cocooned we are in bubbles away from those who make different choices than we do, the more hesitant we should be to cast judgement. – Eric Crampton

Just remember that Hamish and I came out of a boat that failed.Eric Murray

Maybe it’s time to stop looking for someone or something to blame. The truth is: I am the only one who can give myself permission to be a badass. So here you go, sister. Turning 49 is not the moment to turn into a wilting sissy; it is not the time to be faint-hearted: it is time to prevail. In your own way, whatever that entails, since both the slavish adherence to rules and the utter abhorrence of them are reactions that need to be examined.

It is also time to stop making excuses because you have nothing to excuse.  – Deborah Hill-Cone

“I went down, and I was like, ‘What’s happening? Why am I on the ground?’ Then suddenly this hand on my shoulder, like ‘Get up, get up, we have to finish this,’ and I was like, ‘Yup, yup, you’re right. This is the Olympic Games. We have to finish this.”

“When you’re at this level you know how hard it is to get here. There’s just a mutual understanding of how much everyone puts into it. I’m never going to forget that moment. When someone asks me what happened in Rio in 20 years’ time, that’s my story.”

“I’m so grateful for Abbey for doing that for me. That girl is the Olympic spirit right there. I’ve never met her before, like I’ve never met this girl before, and isn’t that just so amazing? Such an amazing woman. . . . – Nikki Hamblin

I hate to break it to you, but there is a right to insult. The way to deal with a racist is to shame him with reason, not to jail him. Freedom of expression includes the right to say offensive things. It doesn’t include a right never to be offended.

There is certainly a right to say things that will be construed as insults by those intent on being insulted even though they’re not intended to be. – Lindsay Perigo

One thing we seem to have no shortage of is activists who claim Labour and National have devastated our country with successive “neoliberal” governments in the past 30 years. But the alternative to neoliberalism isn’t Norway, Denmark or Sweden. It’s Cuba, Zimbabwe and Venezuela. I know where I would rather live. – Liam Hehir

. . . silliness is part of sanity.
Looseness is an antidote to being uptight all the time.
Being able to play is essential to mental health.
If you don’t still sometimes do things that are foolish, or wacky, or a little loony then you will lose contact with your inner child, and miss the simple delight that comes with doing something just for the higgledy-piggledy hell of it. –  Robert Fulghum

It’s actually really important for us to be welcoming immigrants. We have to get over this xenophobic idea that we’re doing them a favour. At worst, it’s this completely mutually beneficial thing. So they get to live in a pretty nice country, and we get to live with people who are skilled and smart and clever and who are doing things that build our economy.  – Nigel Latta

In fact, being a parent is valuable precisely because it is so unlike goal-directed productive work. Caring for a child involves a deep recognition of the individuality and autonomy, the irreducible complexity and value of another unique, irreplaceable human being. That makes it worthwhile all by itself. – Alison Gopnik

There are some principled, genuinely compassionate in there who really want to make a difference. And then I think there are people that are the complete opposite.

They are, after all, just people like all of us. Like all organisations they have great people, and some not so great.

For us though, as voters, I’m hoping we can learn to demand more than coverage of the trivial, or the endless inane controversies, and instead expect a higher quality of debate. We should also, just by the by, lift our own game.

We might like to think they don’t of what we want, but the sad thing is a lot of the time they do exactly what we want. Maybe we need to want different things?Nigel Latta

There will always be a place for career politicians in Government since, if nothing else, a lifetime in politics can be assumed to impart knowledge about how the system actually works. But an effective Government should also include people who have experience with how things are in the real economy.  . .

That’s why I think government could do with more people like Alfred Ngaro. In addition to the skills he will have picked up in his as a pastor and a backbench MP, the five years he spent as a self-employed tradesman will give him an insight into the world so many of us live in. This is the world of GST returns, uneven cash-flows, customer complaints, hard to manage work-flows, provisional tax payments, accounting and legal fees, red tape, health, bad debtors and health and safety compliance costs. It is world with which fewer and fewer lawmakers have much, if any, familiarity.

Not everyone in politics needs to have this kind of background – but some of them should. –  Liam Hehir

Hongi’s name lives on in Hongi’s Track, the place his men dragged their canoes through the forest between lakes Rotoehu and Rotoiti, thence onto Lake Rotorua. He slaughtered and ate and enslaved many of my Te Arawa ancestors. But that’s all right, Hongi. It’s what went down in your day. Are we not, each generation, of the times we live in? –  Alan Duff

There were indeed many aspects of our past that were neither “good” nor “beautiful”; I’m sure that our descendants will find just as many things to condemn in our own age.  But we can never move forward as a nation by spitting on the legacy of the men and women (however imperfect) who helped to build it. – Jonathan Tracy

Domestically the big winner in all this is Key, who got to demonstrate to a couple hundred thousand female swing-voters what a progressive, balanced women-leader-supporting, generally great guy he is. It’s conventional wisdom on the left that Key et al are morons, and the left is morally and intellectually superior, and I’m not sure how this squares with Key and his party constantly doing very smart things, and the left’s parties and leaders mostly, consistently being pretty dumb. – Danyl Mclauchlan

I always encourage particularly young people, don’t be a job snob. Take the job which is there and which is available. Because you take that job, and even if it’s not the perfect one, you do it for six months or so (and) you’ll be much better positioned to take another job down the track which is much more to your liking.

The longer you are on welfare, the steeper the road back to employment is. – Alan Tudge

Just listen to the way a lot of politicians and commentators talk about the public,” Mrs May will say. “They find their patriotism distasteful, their concerns about immigration parochial, their views about crime illiberal, their attachment to their job security inconvenient. They find the fact that more than seventeen million people voted to leave the European Union simply bewildering.Theresa May

A change has got to come. It’s time to remember the good that government can do. Time for a new approach that says while government does not have all the answers, government can and should be a force for good; that the state exists to provide what individual people, communities and markets cannot; and that we should employ the power of government for the good of the people. – Theresa May

The Labour Party is not just divided, but divisive. Determined to pit one against another. To pursue vendettas and settle scores. And to embrace the politics of pointless protest that doesn’t unite people but pulls them further apart… So let’s have no more of Labour’s absurd belief that they have a monopoly on compassion. Let’s put an end to their sanctimonious pretence of moral superiority. – Theresa May

I’m no fan of the burqa. It’s subjugation. A woman whose face is covered, is like a document with all the words blacked out.

A woman in a burqa has been redacted from society. A burqa says, don’t look. Nothing to see here. Her identity is unimportant.

Her smile, her frown, all her expressions, are on the cutting-room floor. . .

The burqa is medieval. And like medieval plumbing and medieval medicine, it’s out of date. Like women not owning property, not going to school, or not leaving home without male guardians, the burqa contradicts basic human rights.

Of course, basic human rights, is a recent concept. But air travel and YouTube have given us time travel. Medieval people are time-travelling into the 21st century, leap-frogging centuries of liberal progress, and they find our ways shocking.

The burqa isn’t some post-feminist freedom from a bad hair day. It’s a mistake we made to get here. –  Raybon Kan

If you consider appearing on the side of a cereal box a qualification for being a role model then you need help. – Jim Kayes

. . . politics is not telling everyone what you think; it’s everyone telling you what they think. – Rodney Hide

And we shouldn’t just be critical of fake news or wary of falling for satire. We should be critical of what we read from any source.

Ask yourself: how does this journalist know what he or she published? How did they gather that information? Where did they cut corners? Why have they paraphrased here instead of a direct quote? Who did they talk to? Have they done their due diligence to verify the facts?

Not asking these questions of our real news is what leads to us not asking them of our fake news. – Ben Uffindell

It is not the business of journalists to tell their readers, listeners and viewers what to think; but to place before them any and every matter that a free people might reasonably be expected to have an interest in thinking about. – Chris Trotter

Whether or not the National Party retains its ascendancy next year, Mr Key must go down as one of New Zealand’s most successful leaders. And New Zealand, under his stewardship, can claim to be one of the most successful countries in the world. – The Economist

It has been an enormous privilege to be Prime Minister of New Zealand, and these last eight years have been an incredible experience. Throughout these years I have given everything I could to this job that I cherish, and this country that I love.

Bronagh has made a significant sacrifice during my time in politics, and now is the right time for me to take a step back in my career and spend more time at home. . .

“I do not believe that if I was asked to commit to serving out a full fourth term I could look the public in the eye and say yes.

“And more than anything else in my time here, I have tried to be straight and true with New Zealanders. – John Key

I’d been telling my kids for years that if they get knocked down they should get up so, in a very public event, I kind of had to do it myself. I had to do it myself to demonstrate integrity to them. That was a big motivator. – Bill English

. . . you learn more from losing than you do from winning. – Bill English

I am having that moment, and I know it sounds cliched, but the 17-year-old solo mum and now I’m standing on the cusp of hopefully a positive Monday vote. . . 

It’s exciting and I just hope there are some solo mothers out there and think ‘actually your future is not pre-determined. Hard work, energy and self-belief can get you a long way in New Zealand. – Paula Bennett

I’ve never been in a community where there isn’t someone with the vision and energy to change how it works  . . . The Government isn’t the answer to everything, most of our answers are in our own families and communities. Sometimes Government gets in the way of that. This is a Government that will be focussed on understanding, at a very individual level, what is going to work with people and then supporting them to achieve it.    Bill English

It’s not your driving you have got to worry about all of the time, it’s other people out there too and some of them can make really bad choices. – Sergeant Pat Duffy

Like the recently departed former prime minister, Mr English and Ms Bennett can also be grateful each day for the idiocy of their enemies in the Labour-Green axis and the shallowness of the WLME, who are not only obsessed with identity politics themselves but really seem to think that the secret to ending National’s political hegemony is through attacking how others choose to personally identify. – Matthew Hooton

A country where the populace is obsessed with politics, and with who sits where around the cabinet table, is a country of angry dullards. – Rob Hosking

That’s stirring stuff. It’s just a pity the movement doesn’t grasp that “equality, empowerment and freedom” are less about what you can do and more about the respect you must show others. – Rodney Hide

But to be inspirational you don’t have to save lives or win medals. I often draw strength from meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things: volunteers, carers, community organisers and good neighbours; unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special.

They are an inspiration to those who know them, and their lives frequently embody a truth expressed by Mother Teresa, from this year Saint Teresa of Calcutta. She once said: ‘Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love’. – Queen Elizabeth


Bribe-O-Meter relaunched

October 31, 2016

National has a lot to gain from winning the Mt Roskill by-election and Labour is already showing it knows it has a lot to lose:

The Mt Roskill by-election campaign has hardly started and Labour has already shown how desperately worried they are about losing it, National Party Campaign Chair Steven Joyce says. 

“Labour are hitting the panic button fairly early on,” Mr Joyce says. “Promising a $1.4 billion rail link between the electorate and the city looks very desperate.” 

“This is taking pork barrel politics to a whole new level. If this is the sticker price for a Labour party by-election campaign, all the other electorates across New Zealand will be asking for their $1.4 billion. To say nothing of every other electorate in Auckland looking for multi-billions in new railway lines.  And we’ve still got more than a month to go.”

Mr Joyce noted that the Labour party is promising Auckland ratepayers will pay for part of their by-election bribe. “I’m assuming the new Mayor of Auckland is okay with Andrew Little saying the city has got a lazy $700 million lying around at the same time Mr Goff is out there saying the Council is short of money.”

Mr Joyce says Labour would be better off promoting their candidate as a possible MP for Mt Roskill. “This is Mr Wood’s third attempt to become an MP. You think they would be putting in the effort making him look electable rather than highlighting how worried they are he’ll lose.

“The Mt Roskill by-election will be about who is the best person to represent the electorate in Parliament. 

“Parmjeet Parmar is already showing the people of Mt Roskill that she is a hardworking conscientious MP who will be a strong diligent voice for Mt Roskill in Wellington. All this announcement today underlines is that Labour are worried sick that the people of Mt Roskill will choose her over their candidate.”   

These comments show National has learned from mistakes made in the Northland by-election.

 

And it’s just as well because the Taxpayers’ Union is counting the cost of any promises made:

The Taxpayers’ Union is relaunching its election Bribe-O-Meter to keep track of politicians’ pork-barrel promises in the lead up to the Mt Roskill by-election. Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:

“While the by-election is for a single Parliamentary seat, the cost of pork-barrel promises impact the pockets of all New Zealand taxpayers.”

“Labour has run roughshod over Auckland Council and the NZTA’s cost-benefit planning processes. Its pledge to spend $1.4 billion on light rail risks an expensive bidding war with the Government – with the cost landing on taxpayers.”

“The Bribe-O-Meter is to provide transparency and accountability for what those promises will cost.”

The Mt Roskill Bribe-O-Meter will be hosted online at www.taxpayers.org.nz.

In a by-election voters can, as they do with their electorate vote in a general election, choose the person they think will best represent them and pay less attention to parties.

The more Labour promises to spend, the more it will be showing it lacks confidence it its candidate.

 


More than a little stupid

March 29, 2016

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, which is stupidest of all?

Strong arming banks and legislation was rightly met with indignation.

Then came 200 bucks for “free”, funded from tax paid by you and me.

And now you want the flag to change by whatever process you arrange.

If you think you’re going to pick it, you know just where you can stick it.

 

March hasn’t been a good month for Andrew Little, the Labour Party and anyone with hopes they might soon be fit to lead a government.

Little’s attempt to get onside with farmers by suggestions of strong arming banks and legislating to force them to reduce interest rates was met with the derision it deserved.

Then he came up with the proposal of a Universal Basic Income which, as the Herald points out is an idea that’s more bad than good  :

. . . The economy would suffer under punitive levels of taxation, avoidance would be rife, and the benefits would be illusory. . . 

The Taxpayers’ Union points out a UBI would require income tax rates of 50% or more:

A Universal Basic Income which avoided superannuates and beneficiaries being made worse off would require a flat rate income tax of more than 50% or drastic cuts in government services to pay for it, according to a new report released today.

The report, Money for all: the winners and losers from a Universal Basic Income, by economist Jim Rose, examines the Labour Party’s “Future of Work” proposal for a UBI and the more modest proposal by the Morgan Foundation.

A more affordable version of Labour’s scheme, such as that proposed by the Morgan Foundation of $11,000 per annum ($210 per week), would cost $11 billion dollars more than the existing welfare system, while making solo mothers $150 per week worse off. For superannuates, a UBI at this level would see their weekly income reduced by $50.

Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:

“We find it startling that the Labour Party would be floating the idea of a replacement to the welfare system that would see those most vulnerable in society being far worse off. A UBI replaces helping those most in need with handouts to the middle-class and millionaires.”

“If you take Labour’s assurances that no one will be left worse off under their UBI, the amount would need to be so high that Treasury’s economic modelling suggests that a flat income tax of between 50.6% and 55.7% would be needed to pay for it.”

“Here is a political party which for years has rightly been telling New Zealanders that current superannuation entitlements are unaffordable. Now they want to effectively extend the same scheme to every New Zealander from the age of 18.”

“The Morgan Foundation proposes to pay for its more modest UBI with a tax on those holding capital. Such a tax would incentivise all those modern and innovative industries Labour want to encourage, to shift off-shore.”

Jim Rose, the author of the report, says:

“We don’t believe Labour have fully considered the consequence of a UBI on labour supply and economic incentives. People would almost certainly work fewer hours meaning that the burden of supporting the programme would be borne by a fewer number of taxable working hours, potentially requiring even further tax increases.”

“Even the Labour Party’s own paper concedes that the taxes that would be required to fund a UBI higher than $11,000 per year may be ‘unrealistically high’. The analysis in the report certainly backs that.”

Key points and conclusions:

• The Morgan proposal would cost $10 billion more than the current welfare system but leave those most in need worse off.

• For a UBI to achieve any reduction in poverty levels, or to avoid it costing those in society who most need help, much higher taxes are required. These reduce the incentives to work and economic growth.

• A UBI which allowed those currently receiving benefits and/or superannuation would need to be at least $15,000 per year (equivalent to the current average level of benefits). To pay for this, Treasury estimate that a flat income tax of between 45% and 56% would need to be introduced (assuming other taxes stayed equal).

• Child poverty is not reduced by a UBI less than $15,000 per year because single parents receive no more income support than before.

• A UBI would likely push the New Zealand economy into recession off the back of the reduced labour supply from the windfall increase in incomes alone.

One of the National-led government’s successes is a reduction in number of people in long term benefit dependency with all the financial and social costs that go with it.

A UBI would reverse the good done by that and encourage more people into welfare dependency.

Not content with these two bad ideas, this morning Little has come up with another:

In the wake of the flag referendum, the opposition leader said he voted against the alternative as it “doesn’t reflect anything about New Zealand at all”.

“I’m pleased to say we haven’t adopted it,” he said. 

Mr Little said the country should revisit the issue “sooner rather than later”, suggesting a flag that “genuinely represents who we are, the diversity that is New Zealand”. 

Doesn’t reflect anything about New Zealand at all? Anyone’s views on the merits of the alternative flag are a matter of opinion but there is no arguing that the Southern Cross reflects New Zealand’s place in the world and that the fern is recognised as a symbol of New Zealand here and abroad.

It was used long before sports teams adopted it and they did so for that reason.

That aside, there is a mood for change but Little can’t lead it.

He voted for the legislation which set the process, campaigned for Labour with a policy to change the flag then, after the election put political expediency before his principles by criticising the process, the timing and the cost.

The time to criticise the process was before voting for it.

If the timing was wrong last week, it can’t be right this week.

And if the cost of the process we’ve just gone through was too high, another process “sooner rather than later” is even higher.

The party partisan part of me is amused by the way Little stumbles from one demonstration that he’s more than a little stupid to another.

The rest of me is concerned that the leader of the second biggest party in government keeps showing he’s ill-fitted to lead the Opposition let alone a government.

 

 


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