Tax teachers to tackle tail of failures?

September 19, 2017

Why don’t we tax teachers and use the money to tackle the tail of kids who fail at school?

That wouldn’t be fair, there are many reasons for children failing, you can’t hold all teachers responsible.

There are many reasons for the degradation of water quality, but you say it’s fair to tax all irrigators to clean it up. You could use the money for professional development for teachers who aren’t performing.

That’s ridiculous, you couldn’t take money from good teachers to upskill the bad. it’s not their responsibility, that’s up to principals or the ministry.

But Labour plans to take money from all irrigators and use some to bring poor performers up to standard even though regional councils already have the powers to make them comply.

And what about the teachers who are already doing everything they should, and spending their own money on further education. You can’t expect them to pay for those who don’t.

That’s exactly what Labour’s water tax would do. It would take money from irrigators who have spent and still are spending their own money to bring those who haven’t and aren’t up to scratch.

But what if the school doesn’t have a problem with pupils not achieving, what if it and it’s teachers are already doing everything they can for all their pupils?

The money could go to schools where there are problems.

But that’s not fair, you can’t tax teachers at one school and use the money to deal with problems at another.

That’s exactly the way the water tax would work. It would take money from the good in one place and use it to deal with problems in another.

But what if teacher standards aren’t the problem anyway? You can’t tax them for something over which they have no control.

That’s exactly how the water tax would work. It would take the money even if the problem with water quality was due to bird life, storm water or sewerage and nothing at all to do with irrigating or even farming.

And what exactly would the money be used for, how would it make a difference? You have to have a plan first then work out how to pay for it, not take the money and then find ways to spend it.

That’s exactly what’s been suggested for the water tax. Labour has said it would take the money, give some to Iwi, some to regional councils to clean up waterways, but with no plan for how they’d do that, and if any is left over it could be used for roads which are district council responsibilities. All of that’s very vague and nothing they’ve said explains how the money will make a difference to waterways.

Teachers always get the blame but you can’t make them pay because children are behind before they get to school, don’t have basic language, are hungry, have health problems . . .

Just like farmers get the blame for poor water quality when it isn’t them or their farming practices which are the problem.

It would simply be unfair to tax a whole group of professionals, with a vague intention to use the money to solve problems for which most aren’t responsible and over which they have little or no control and no concrete plan over how it could make a difference.

Exactly.

 

 

 

 

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Rural round-up

September 18, 2017

DairyNZ slams farm tax proposals – Hugh Stringleman:

All of New Zealand’s 12,000 dairy farms face an average $18,000-a-year additional taxes under the carbon and nitrogen taxes proposed by the Green Party, DairyNZ has calculated.

Add in the Labour Party’s proposed water tax and those 2000 farms that also irrigate face more than three times the impost, an average of $63,000 per farm.

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said details on the proposed new taxes were sketchy, but his economists used what was available from Labour and the Greens to come up with the figures. . .

Sell-off surprise – Alan Williams:

A process for the surprise sale of most Landcorp farms to young people will start very quickly if National is re-elected, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says.

Landcorp was unaware of the plan till told just before it was announced.

He hoped to have several farms leased to young farmers during the next term.

That would be the first step towards them buying the farms over the next five to 10 years. . . 

From milk to advanced medical nutrition – a farmer’s journey from Southland to Toronto:

Dylan Davidson was a passenger in a car when the driver lost control after a deer ran out. The car rolled and left Dylan with two broken vertebrae in his back and several other injuries. Dylan lost a lot of weight from being in a coma for three weeks, and Dylan’s parents, Paul and Carol Davidson, said the Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC) from Fonterra farmers’ milk played a key part in the healing process. The value of milk protein in human nutrition and muscle recovery has been well known for many years – but, as delicious as milk is, it takes litres of whole milk to do what a small amount of milk protein concentrate (MPC) can. . .

Florida’s Farmers Look At Irma’s Damage: ‘Probably The Worst We’ve Seen’ – Dan Charles:

When the worst of Irma’s fury had passed, Gene McAvoy hit the road to inspect citrus groves and vegetable fields. McAvoy is a specialist on vegetable farming at the University of Florida’s extension office in the town of LaBelle, in the middle of one of the country’s biggest concentrations of vegetable and citrus farms.

It took a direct hit from the storm. “The eyewall came right over our main production area,” McAvoy says.

The groves of orange and grapefruit were approaching harvest. But after Irma blew through, it left “50 or 60 percent of the fruit lying in water [or] on the ground,” says McAvoy. Many trees were standing in water, a mortal danger if their roots stay submerged for longer than three or four days. . . 

Predator Free 2050 Ltd on the hunt to fund bold conservation projects:

New Zealand conservation groups committed to broad scale predator eradication are encouraged to lodge an expression of interest for funding and support from Predator Free 2050 Ltd.

The organisation – tasked with eradicating possums, rats and stoats from New Zealand by 2050 is seeking Expressions of Interest from regional and local councils, community organisations, mana whenua, businesses, Non-Governmental Organisations and other entities capable of delivering eradication initiatives in line with its 2025 goals. . . 

 


Let’s not tax this

September 16, 2017

Labour backed down on introducing a capital gains tax without putting it to the electorate in 2020, but they’re still planning plenty of other taxes.


Labour’s no-show

September 15, 2017

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern was supposed to visit Coe’s Ford on the Selwyn River to talk about the party’s water tax.

She didn’t show up.

Ms Ardern’s office pulled the plug on the visit, with a message to media saying: “With regret we have had to cancel the Coe’s Ford media event with Jacinda Ardern, due to flooding”.

However when Newshub arrived, the river wasn’t flooded or flooding at all. . . 

Whatever the reason, it wasn’t the only Labour no-show.

Federated Farmers had hosted a meet-the-candidates meeting in Wanaka last Friday.

Labour’s candidate didn’t show up and didn’t have a stand-in.

The Green candidate didn’t show up either but did have a stand-in, MP Eugenie Sage.

She was asked how the water tax would be used to make water cleaner, she couldn’t give a satisfactory answer.

She was asked why farmers who are doing everything right should be taxed to clean up waterways that other people have degraded. She couldn’t give a satisfactory answer.

She was asked why farmers should be taxed to clean up urban waterways. She couldn’t give a satisfactory answer.

I ran into the Labour candidate when I went to vote on Monday.

I asked her how campaigning was going. She said it was busy and Waitaki was a huge electorate.

I said I knew that, adding that I’d been at the Wanaka meeting and noticed she hadn’t.

She said she had to pay all her own expenses and couldn’t afford to go.

I’ve since learned that neither she nor the Green candidate went to meetings in Cromwell, Fairlie and Waimate.

It’s not easy campaigning in seats you have no chance of winning and it’s both harder and more expensive in the rural seats which cover such a big area.

But the no-shows could also be seen as a reflection on how little respect Labour and the Green Party have for the regions and rural issues.

 

 

 


More tax and bigger budget hole

September 14, 2017

Labour has been frightened into saying it won’t implement any recommendations of its tax working group until after the 2020 election.

But a Labour led government would still add the water,  regional fuel and visitor taxes; reverse the income tax cuts that every party but Labour voted for; and bring farming into the ETS.

And if they don’t introduce new taxes their Budget will have a bigger hole.

A Taxpayers’ Union media release points out:

The Taxpayers’ Union says Labour can’t have it all ways, pointing out that Labour’s manifesto is costed at $23 billion over the next Parliamentary term, second only to New Zealand First.

“Labour have done the right thing in committing to put any capital gains or land tax to the vote,” says Jordan Williams, the group’s Executive Director. “But without new revenue, and having promised new spending of $13,287 per New Zealand household, Labour need to explain what spending they’ll cut in order for Grant Robertson to keep to the Party’s debt targets.”

“Two plus two doesn’t equal five.  Labour can’t credibly promise to hike spending, keep to their debt limits, but also say they won’t hike taxes.  It just doesn’t add up.” . . 

The only way to spend more without taking more in tax is to increase debt.

Labour’s fiscal plan shows it would reduce debt more slowly than National would.

The plan also had a hole, unless you believe a Labour-led government would run zero Budgets.

Ruling out a Land and Capital Gains Tax in the next term is the right thing to do but it will make the hole in Labour’s budget bigger.

 


How much more do you want to pay for food?

September 14, 2017

We don’t know all the details but we do know that a Labour-Green government would impose new taxes on farming:

Green Party and Labour Party policymakers want to hit dairy farmers with a trifecta of environmental taxes that could cost an average of $18,000 per year for each farm, and for those farmers that draw water for irrigation the cost would be in excess of $63,000 per year, says DairyNZ chief executive Dr Tim Mackle.

“But unlike winning the trifecta at the horse races, there’s nothing for New Zealand’s dairy farmers to celebrate,” says Dr Mackle.  “Our economists calculate that the proposed carbon tax would add an average of $6,850 to each farm’s costs, the nitrogen pollution tax would add $11,232 per farm – and then there’s Labour’s proposed water use tax which would add a further $45,000 average for farms irrigating.”   He notes that of New Zealand’s 12,000 dairy herds, 2,000 use irrigation.

“The tax trifecta would severely reduce dairy farm profitability, and possibly require additional borrowing for some farmers to meet expenditure.  It would impact the success of our rural economy, and put at stake the livelihood of our rural communities.” 

It would also inevitably lead to an increase in the cost of food, and that’s without a land and capital gains tax.

Dr Mackle says if a political party had asked him what the dairy sector wanted from Government, he would have said an economy-wide plan outlining the emission reduction expectations for each sector over the longer term.

“Targeting farmers this severely and swiftly does little to incentivise mitigation, and ignores the hard work farmers have been voluntarily doing themselves to lessen emissions.

“Dairy farmers have been operating in a climate of uncertainty with no indication of when they would be faced with a charge for agricultural emissions. Despite this, we have put the Dairy Action for Climate Change plan in place so that all farmers now know what they can be doing right now to reduce their carbon emissions.”

He says the Greens’ leader James Shaw welcomed the climate change plan when it was announced in June.

“He’s well aware of the work currently underway. However, what might be a surprise to him is that we support the concept of a climate commission, and the idea of clear carbon budgets so the dairy sector can plan for the future.”

Dr Mackle adds that the Dairy Action for Climate Change plan is in partnership with Fonterra, and has the support of the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Primary Industries.

“It dovetails with the work of the Biological Emissions Reference Group (BERG), a joint sector and Government reference group. BERG’s purpose is to build robust and agreed evidence on what farmers – that’s dairy, beef, sheep and deer – and the horticultural sector can do to reduce emissions, and to assess the costs and opportunities of doing so. BERG’s final report is due later on this year, and will be vital in informing future policy development on agricultural emissions.”

He says New Zealand is acknowledged as a world-leader for efficiently producing milk on a greenhouse gas per unit of milk basis, as reported by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

“And we’re committed to doing even better, but it must be understood by everyone, including the Government of the day, that climate change is too complicated for each sector to attempt to address on its own.

“Rather than strongly taxing dairy, we want strong Government direction to get all sectors – rural and urban – to work together through an economy-wide plan to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions over the longer term.”

Brendan Moyle writing at Sciblogs has calculated the cost if agriculture is forced into the ETS:

. . . Some back-of-the-envelope calculations show putting agriculture into the ETS isn’t straightforward. Supposing the price of carbon is say, $16 per tonne, and 1 kg of beef protein takes the FAO average (see below) of 342kg of CO2 emissions.  If a beef cattle yields 200-250 kg of meat (about 1/6th of which is protein), then that’s about 40kg of protein. That’s associated with about 13-14 tonnes of CO2. So that’s an additional cost of about $200 per beef steer. Any way you play with these numbers, the cost of sheep, beef and dairy farming in NZ is going to rise dramatically. . . 

If the cost of farming increases dramatically profitability drops and the price of food will increase.

If emissions drop here it will be because herd numbers drop. Out competitors in other countries will take up the slack and global emissions will increase because they aren’t nearly as efficient as we are.

Until science comes up with ways to reduce emissions, forcing agriculture into the ETS is just tax for tax’s sake.

It will hit farmers and the New Zealand economy without improving the environment.

Rather than leading to environmental improvement it will lead to an increase in emissions in other countries whose governments are sensible enough to leave agriculture out of their emissions targets.


It’s only one poll

September 12, 2017

Newshub political editor Patrick Gower tweeted:

The poll showed:

Dramatic maybe, but not devastating if you want a strong economy and the sustainable social services and environmental protection and enhancement that depend on it.

It is of course only one poll, but a very welcome reversal of the trend of other recent ones.

 


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