75 and counting

April 20, 2018

The government has established 75 inquiries, reference and working groups – that’s nearly one every two days since it was sworn in.

National Party Leader Simon Bridges says after just six months the Government’s tally of inquiries, reference and working groups has soared to 75 as it desperately tries to compensate for its inability to think for itself or put in the work.

“After nine years in Opposition claiming they knew better, Labour, NZ First and the Greens put in so little work and came up with so few ideas they’re now outsourcing the job of running the country to consultants – wasting tens of millions of dollars in taxpayers funds in the process.

Labour never looked like a government in waiting when it was in opposition. It spent more time sabotaging itself than developing policy.

We paid for them to waste nine years on internal bickering and now we’re paying for inquiries, reference and working groups to do the work they should have done themselves.

“There is now, after just six months, 75 different groups of people telling the Government what it should be doing. That’s more working groups than MPs in the entire government.

“It’s nothing short of an abdication of its responsibility to lead and it shows how completely out of its depth the Government really is – and how willing it is to waste taxpayers money which should be invested in areas like health and education.

A few reviews or working groups of suitably qualified people, without partisan agendas, could lead to better policy, but more groups than MPs is many times more than should be needed.

“What we are now certain of is when Jacinda Ardern claimed in Opposition she could slash immigration without harming New Zealand businesses, balance the books without raising taxes and build more houses she wasn’t telling the truth. They had no clue then and they have no idea now.

“What is even more concerning for New Zealanders is when this Government has implemented its own, ill-thought through ideas they’ve been bad for New Zealand.

“Raiding our regions through fuel taxes, fewer roads and pulling the plug on important irrigation projects, putting a wrecking ball through entire industries like oil and gas and slowing our economy through low-growth policies like empowering unions and slashing foreign investment.

“These do nothing but take New Zealand backwards and undermine an economy which is delivering for all New Zealanders.

“Every day this Government is proving to New Zealanders it doesn’t have the ability to run the country, the ideas to take it forward or the best interests of New Zealanders at heart.

“National won’t make the same mistake. We’re working hard in the interests of New Zealanders and we’ll be ready with plans and policies if we earn the right to govern again in 2020.”

You can see the list of working groups and reviews here.

As this video points out – Labour has gone from let’s do this to let someone else do this.

 

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It’s only one poll

April 16, 2018

Labour’s honeymoon is over for now.

National is back in front of Labour but the three parties in the coalition are still comfortably ahead of National and Act.


Paying cost of lack of preparedness

March 23, 2018

Labour wasn’t prepared for opposition when John Key led the National Party to its election win in 2008.

Nor was it prepared for government when Winston Peters anointed it last year.

It wasted nine years in opposition, wracked by internal dissent, spending a lot more time on leadership wrangles than policy development.

It didn’t expect to win last year’s election and so made stupid promises, like the fees-free tertiary education, it didn’t think it would have to keep.

The price for Labour’s lack of preparedness is a policy vacuum  which Checkpoint points out it has filled with reviews, working groups, advisory groups and investigations.

Ministers have announced 39 of those in three months – one every four days.

A few might be acceptable, even wise, for a new government, 39 is not.

Instead of a government of action we’ve got one  of inaction and prevarication.

Instead of governing, it’s marking time while it marshalls the policies it ought to have been working on in opposition.

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$38m wasted on dropouts

March 9, 2018

Even the very few people who think making the first year or tertiary study fee-free must acknowledge that wasting $38m on dropouts is not good use of public money:

Students aren’t paying, but the taxpayer will. According to 2013 data, 14 percent of first year university students failed to complete their studies.

In its first year, the fees free policy will cost $275 million. If 14 percent of students drop out that means a potential $38 million could be spent on them.

The Government expects more people will enrol as a result of the policy – so in its second year, it will cost $372 million.

If dropout rates remain the same, that means a potential waste of $58 million.

“The government is giving money to rich kids and wasting it,” Mr Seymour said.

The $38 million is on top of what taxpayers already cover in fees for those who drop out.

Before the fees free policy was adopted, the Government was already funding 71 percent of the $2 billion cost of tuition.

It’s ridiculous that $38m is being wasted one dropouts, it’s no better that most of the rest of this year’s $275 million is being wasted on people who would have been enrolling for tertiary education anyway.

Just think how much good that money could do if it was spent on the children failing earlier in the education system – the ones who can’t read and write.

Unlike tertiary graduates who will generally earn far more than non-graduates over their working lives, these people might never be able to get employment.

 


Who’s paying for unprepared government?

February 22, 2018

Suspicions that Labour wasn’t prepared for government were right:

. . . But Labour — which she admitted was not prepared to be in Government . . 

The she in the above sentence is the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

This is yet another indictment on her party which spent almost nine years in-fighting, festering and frittering away the time it should have been developing policy and preparing to govern.

Because it wasn’t expecting to be in government it made some rash and uncosted promises in the hope of clawing back enough voter support to provide a foundation on which to build for the following election never thinking it would be in a position to deliver.

But a change of leader, MMP, and Winston Peters’ whim, put the party into government.

The price of this unprepared government is being paid in time wasted filibustering its own bills because it doesn’t have enough legislation ready for parliament.

It’s also being paid in promises broken which included one to patients suffering from rare diseases:

The New Zealand Organisation for Rare Disorders (NZORD) is stunned that the Government is not honouring its election promise to establish a separate fund which would allow rare disease patients to access vital, life-saving medicines.

Dr Collette Bromhead, NZORD Chief Executive said that the decision to take the promised fund “off the table” is devastating to the 377,000 New Zealand patients and their families who live with a rare and life-threatening disease.

“We have been told that the pledged $20m fund, to be spent over 4 years, will now not go ahead.

“And in a double blow, we have now been notified that the Government is also reviewing the contract which enables NZORD to provide the essential services and support for patients and families impacted by rare diseases.”

“The decision to cancel the fund for medicines is a complete u-turn by the Government and has been done without any consultation with the rare disease community. It leaves these vulnerable patients with no way to access the essential medicines that could extend their life and provide them with a better quality of living,” she said.

“During the 2017 election, the Labour Party announced that it would set up a separate fund to enable patients who suffer from rare diseases to access medicines. There are over 7,000 rare diseases and we are well aware of the challenges this creates for any funding model.

“The issue with the PHARMAC model is that it funds medicines based on the number of patients with a disease and while, collectively, over 8% of the population suffer from a rare disease, the number of patients for each disease is relatively small. 

“Rare diseases just don’t fit into this model and need to be evaluated differently. We need to start thinking about the value for the patient, not just the value for money. Many other countries, such as Scotland and Australia, have established programmes for life saving drugs which allow rare disease patients better access to medicines.

“It is disappointing that New Zealand is taking a backward step with regard to its rare disease patients and we are urging the Government to honour its election commitment. We are also strongly advocating to the Government that NZORD’s funding contract needs to needs to continue, so that NZORD can provide vital services to patients,” says Dr Bromhead.

At question time yesterday National’s deputy Paula Bennett did her best to get an answer about how many extra students had enrolled because of the fee-free policy for first years.

. . .So isn’t her policy just an expensive exercise—up to $2.8 billion—that, as the Secretary for Education told select committee last week, no cost-benefit analysis was done on, and, actually, there’s been no increase of students at all this year? 

That she didn’t get a straight answer leads to the very strong suspicion that the money being delivered on this election bribe has had little if any benefit.

People with rare diseases and the people who support them could think of much better use for that money and they too are paying the price for an unprepared government.

 


If only there’d been a teal deal

February 16, 2018

The governing coalition is all at sea over fisheries monitoring:

Evidence given to the Environment Select Committee from the Department of Conservation (DOC) today just goes to show the deeply divided factions occurring within the Coalition Government, National’s Fisheries spokesperson Gerry Brownlee says.

“Speaking at DOC’s annual review, the Director General Lou Sanson was asked what input his department has had on the new Government’s decision to firstly postpone and then, this week, cancel the introduction of cameras on fishing boats.

“Mr Sanson and DOC have always been spirited advocates of on-board cameras as one of the best practical measures needed to protect our declining marine bird species.

“He told the committee that DOC ‘absolutely’ maintains its position that cameras on fishing boats are essential if we are to reverse the decline in the sort of seabird species we see in our waters.

“It’s therefore quite extraordinary that his Minister, Eugenie Sage, has so quickly and thoroughly distanced herself from Stuart Nash’s decision to cancel the roll-out that the National Government initiated.

“It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to work out that Mr Nash is being leant on by Coalition partner, New Zealand First.

“I’m surprised that as a junior Coalition partner, the Greens have allowed themselves to be side-lined in this way,” Mr Brownlee says.

The Green Party has had to swallow a lot of dead rats in its agreement to support Labour and New Zealand First in government.

Had they been able to countenance a deal with National last year, there would be no compromise over on-board cameras.

If the Greens could moderate their radical left economic and social agenda, they could sit in the political middle, able to go left and right.

A teal deal would have been better for both the economy and environment than what we’ve got – a red and black one with a weak green off-shoot.


No corruption in NZ?

January 30, 2018

We were in Paraguay a few days before last election and the campaign came up in discussion with a local.

She listened to some of the policy pledges we described and said, “And you try to tell me there’s no corruption in New Zealand?”

In the past two weeks there have been two examples which would support her query.

The first was industrial legislation which is payback for union support of Labour.

Changes include the axing of the 90-day trial period for businesses with 20 or more employees and:

Employers will once again have a duty to conclude collective bargaining unless there is a “good reason” not to.

Prospective employees will be provided with information about unions in the workplace, and employers will have to pay union delegates for time spent reasonably representing other workers.

Collective agreements will be required to include pay rates or ranges for various levels of staff.

Unions will be able to access workplaces without gaining prior consent from an employer, but will still need to come at reasonable times and not unduly interrupt business continuity.

New employees will again be required to be employed under terms consistent with any collective agreement for the first 30 days of their tenure.

This will increase the cost and risk of employing staff which will threaten jobs, and businesses.

Unions make large donations of money and people-power to Labour and this is their reward for which workers and employers will pay the cost.

Then there’s the all-weather racing track.

Racing Minister Winston Peters announced the government’s intention to build the $10m track after several races throughout the country had to be abandoned due to weather.

The track could be in Waikato to boost the region and be closer to some of the breeders, with Mr Peters saying Waikato would be “a good option”. . . 

At least two of the race cancellations this summer were in Otago. An all-weather track in the Waikato will be of no use for these courses.

Mr Peters is also promising tax relief for owners who are breeding horses for racing. He says the current legislation, which he delivered last time he was Racing Minister, isn’t working like it should.

Act leader David Seymour points out:

Winston Peters’ promise of tax relief for the racing industry risks creating the perception of US-style corruption”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Mr Peters and NZ First have taken large donations from the racing industry in the past.

“For example, in 2008, the Dominion Post reported that a number of donations totalling at least $150,000 had been made to NZ First from accounts linked to the Vela family.

“This policy risks looking like a quid pro quo for the industry. . .

Lindsay Mitchell says:

. . .If tax breaks can make one industry stronger, then they can make any industry stronger.

Government picking winners is a recipe for corruption and injustice. We cannot expect New Zealanders who have not a skerrick of interest in the racing industry to disproportionately pay taxes to advance it.

Tax breaks are not subsidies if they are applied universally. Reduce tax period.

You are a guardian of public money Winston. Not a private investor. . . 

There’s no danger of policy which addresses specific problems, treats everyone equally or on the basis of need, and/or  helps the whole country being regarded as payback to donors.

But a direct link between donations and the legislation or taxpayer funded projects which reward donors as there is with the unions and Labour’s workplace law changes and past donations to New Zealand First and the assistance to the racing industry, at the very least gives grounds for the perception of corruption.

New Zealand has been at or near the top of global ranking for lack of corruption for years.

That means we’re better than most, and sometimes all, other countries.

It doesn’t mean there’s no corruption at all and it’s links between donations and policies like these which justify our Paraguayan friend’s query.


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