Inflation steals from us all

19/10/2021

The last election took us back more than 25 years to a First Past the Post result and the government that gave us is giving us an increase in inflation from the same era:

The consumers price index rose 2.2 percent in the September 2021 quarter, the biggest quarterly movement since a 2.3 percent rise in the December 2010 quarter, Stats NZ said today.

Excluding quarters impacted by increases to GST rates, the September quarter movement was the highest since the June 1987 quarter, which saw a 3.3 percent rise.

Annual inflation was 4.9 percent in the September 2021 quarter when compared with the September 2020 quarter. This was the biggest annual movement since inflation reached 5.3 percent between the June 2010 and June 2011 quarters.

Excluding periods impacted by changes to GST rates, the September 2021 annual inflation was the highest since it reached 5.1 percent in the September 2008 year. . .

The Prime Minister who promised to address child poverty is leading a government that is fueling a sharp increase in the cost of living:

The Government needs to urgently recognise soaring inflation as the biggest medium-term threat to the New Zealand economy and halt its wasteful spending, says National’s Finance spokesperson Michael Woodhouse.

“Today, StatsNZ has confirmed what Kiwis all across New Zealand already know – the cost of living is rising fast under the Labour Government.

“In the past 12 months, the cost of living has increased by almost 5 per cent, meaning prices are now rising faster than they have at any time in the past 10 years.

“Grant Robertson has increased the size of government spending by more than 40 per cent in just four years. It is no surprise New Zealanders are now seeing costs increase all throughout the economy.

“Labour’s big spending is hurting the very people Labour claims to represent. The cost of renting a house has now increased 7.8% since just September last year, the biggest increase since records began.

“Prices of fresh fruit and vegetables have increased 9.3 per cent in the past 12 months.

“The increase in prices in just the last three months is the highest three-monthly increase since the 1980s, excluding the one-off increase in GST in 2010.

“The next big cost increase is unfortunately likely to now be mortgage costs as the Reserve Bank is forced to painfully increase interest rates as Kiwis and businesses try to recover from the current Covid outbreak.

“Grant Robertson needs to hit pause on any and all of his so-called Covid stimulus spending that is not fully committed. It makes no sense for the Government to be spraying cash at pet projects like the Green School when the biggest problems now facing the economy are inflation, labour shortages and Covid closures.

“The Covid Fund needs to be used to support businesses impacted by lockdowns and to ramp up the health response to Covid, not as Grant Robertson’s personal slush fund.”

The only winner from soaring inflation is the government that will collect more tax as pay increases push people into higher tax thresholds:

Responding to the revelation of 4.9% inflation for the last year, Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Jordan Williams says:

“Skyrocketing prices are an indictment on the Government’s print, borrow, and spend economic strategy. In general, Government spending is more inflationary than leaving money in taxpayers’ pockets, and Grant Robertson needs to shoulder some of the blame for today’s numbers.”

“The need to adjust income tax brackets has now become desperate. Inflation pushes our wages up into higher tax brackets even when we’re no better off in real terms. Grant Robertson might be pleased to get his hands on all this inflation-driven tax revenue, but during a pandemic this tax grab is unconscionable.”

 

 

It steals from us all, devaluing the real value of wages and savings by making everything more expensive.

It creates a vicious circle. When people know things will cost more in the future they are much more likely to buy more today. That feeds inflation which encourages people to buy more . . .

It will almost certainly force an increase in interest rates which will make mortgages unmanageable for the highly indebted and add to the costs of doing business which will in turn push up prices and that will feed into higher inflation and all of this will hit the poorest hardest.


Interest rates rising

07/10/2021

The cost of borrowing is going up:

The Monetary Policy Committee agreed to increase the Official Cash Rate (OCR) to 0.50 per cent. Consistent with their assessment at the time of the August Statement, it is appropriate to continue reducing the level of monetary stimulus so as to maintain low inflation and support maximum sustainable employment.

The level of global economic activity has continued to recover, supported by accommodative monetary and fiscal settings, and rising vaccination rates enabling a relaxation of mobility restrictions. While economic uncertainty remains elevated due to the prevalent impact of COVID-19, cost pressures are becoming more persistent and some central banks have started the process of reducing monetary policy stimulus. . .

This is a response to a steep increase in inflation:

Headline CPI inflation is expected to increase above 4 percent in the near term before returning towards the 2 percent midpoint over the medium term. The near-term rise in inflation is accentuated by higher oil prices, rising transport costs and the impact of supply shortfalls. These immediate relative price shocks risk leading to more generalised price rises. At this time, measures of core inflation and medium-term inflation expectations remain close to 2 percent.

The Committee noted that further removal of monetary policy stimulus is expected over time, with future moves contingent on the medium-term outlook for inflation and employment. . . 

The Taxpayers’ Union lays the blame for the increase at the government’s door:

“Today’s OCR hike – which will see households squeezed with hire mortgage payments, is a direct result of the Government’s reckless spending over the last 18 months. Even worse, with COVID’s economic shock now coming, it comes at the very worst time for households.”

“The Government needs to do all it can to focus on quality, not quantity, of spending. Its programme of money-printing and borrowing for political purposes has pumped up inflation to unacceptable levels and left future generations of taxpayers with a debt monster. Higher interest rates will increase the financial pain caused by that debt.”

It’s a risky move:

Today’s move by the RBNZ to raise the Official Cash Rate by 0.25 per cent to 0.5 per cent shows the bank has been forced to make the risky move despite two major New Zealand cities still being locked down, says National’s Shadow Treasurer Andrew Bayley.

“The Government’s failure to rollout the vaccine and prepare our Covid defences has resulted in the Reserve Bank having to make this decision in the middle of lockdown, which is incredibly risky for the economy.

“Obviously, the Reserve Bank has seen that the cost of living is rising too quickly, and its hand has been forced. This has been exacerbated by huge amounts of wasteful, untargeted spending from the Government on matters entirely unrelated to the Covid response.

“As a result of the Government’s lack of fiscal discipline and failure to prepare for another Covid outbreak, mortgage-holders and businesses are now set to face rising interest costs at a time they can least afford it.

“The Government should now take a cue from the Reserve Bank and rein in its wasteful spending and focus unrelentingly on its Covid response, and ensuring businesses survive the current extended lockdown.” . . 

The announcement has already led to an increase in interest rates:

It took just a few minutes for ANZ to announce it was increasing its floating and flexi rates by 0.15 percent. . . 

No doubt other banks will follow.

It’s a small increase on what was a historically low rate and is unlikely to bring much cheer to savers.

But it could bring woe to some borrowers.

A small increase on a big amount, which many who have bought into the overheated housing market have borrowed, could be more than some can afford.

The younger ones among them might not have seen interest rates in double digits and will have no memory of the 1980s when inflation and interest rates were raging.

Like most conventional sheep and beef farmers then, most of our income came in a couple of big chunks when we sold our lambs and wool. That was always several months after our major costs had to be paid so we survived on seasonal finance and at the peak we were paying around 26% for everything we bought for the farm and household.

Thanks to the “failed” policies of the 80s and 90s, such eyewatering interest rates should be consigned to history.

That won’t be of any comfort to home and business owners whose finances are already stretched and for whom even a very small increase in interest could stretch them too far.


Pravda Project at work

01/10/2021

Is the media biased?

I can understand reluctance to give any oxygen to conspiracy theories, but it is possible to write a story on this extraordinary response without doing that.

 

Could the reluctance to report this have anything to do with the Public Interest Journalism Fund which Karl du Fresne calls the Pravda Project.

. . . Judith Collins and David Seymour were putting the heat on Jacinda Ardern over Labour’s so-called Public Interest Journalism Fund. Collins wanted to know whether the fund – applicants for which must commit to Treaty principles and support for te reo, among other things – was influencing the editorial decisions of media outlets. Seymour more pointedly asked what would happen to a media outlet that had accepted money from the fund but wanted to report something deemed inconsistent with Treaty principles.

Ardern brushed off the questions as if they weren’t worthy of an answer, but that’s by the bye. What interests me is whether the exchange in the House was reported by any media outlet that has accepted, or has its hand out for, money from the fund.

This highlights another potentially disturbing and insidious aspect of the media slush fund. Can we expect mainstream media outlets to report criticism of the fund or possible revelations and concerns about its misuse, or will that be left to independent journalists such as Adams?  

You see what’s happening here? I’m already wondering whether the media are choosing to ignore stories about the fund that might not reflect favourably on it or them. The mere fact that it’s necessary to ask this question shows how media companies compromise their credibility by accepting money from a highly politicised government agency.  

Incidentally, “Public Interest Journalism Fund” strikes me as a bit of a mouthful, and time-consuming to type, besides. So I’m giving it a shorter, punchier name: the Pravda Project, after the old Soviet Union’s esteemed official press organ, on the assumption that the PIJF will exhibit the same fearless independence and unstinting commitment to the truth. 

Michael Basset has similar concerns:

. . . The availability of money, coupled with a completely absent sense of constitutional propriety, appear to offer the divine intervention Ardern and Robertson need going forward. Their gig is to bribe the media in the run-up to the next election in the hope that they will save Labour. This is happening in two ways. First, the direct distribution of cash from the Public Interest Journalism Fund aimed at keeping the media on side until the next election. All the big daily papers have dipped into it already, and applications are now open for a further swag of taxpayer money. The second way the government is trying to keep the media on side is by over-paying them for printing the masses of Covid announcements. I’m reliably informed that the government negotiated none of the regular discounts available to those who advertise on a grand scale in newspapers and TV. The expectation is that none of the media greedies will bite the government hand that feeds them. Or not very hard.

If my information is correct, it is corruption, pure and simple. In normal circumstances there would be rebellion. But in the topsy-turvy world of this pandemic, I’m not sure that anyone any longer cares much about constitutional propriety.

Privately owned media has a lot more leeway in what it chooses to report and how it reports it.

But publicly owned media has a much greater responsibility to be balanced and fair.

Regardless of whether its privately owned or publicly, the Pravda Project makes it look like the media is softer on the government and harder on the opposition which leads it wide open to accusations of bias.


But the $billion bridge

04/08/2021

Every government gets priorities wrong and makes expensive mistakes.

The proposal to build a walking and cycling bridge across Auckland Harbour is one of the stupidest examples of wasting money on a luxury when there are so many necessities going unfunded.

That is was announced when the government is living on borrowed money; had announced it wasn’t funding other previously promised road projects, and flooding had cut the South Island in two at the Ashburton bridge made it even more difficult to accept.

The cost was given as about $700,000 but delays, difficulties and price increases would easily turn that into $1 billion – and that is a billion that is sorely needed elsewhere.

The political problem for the promotors of such a stupidity is that it will be thrown up every time any other plea for funding is turned down.

National’s Finance spokesman Michael Woodhouse points out higher priorities:

The projects Labour is choosing to spend hard earned taxpayer money on speaks volumes around its priorities, National’s Finance spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says.

“Kiwis across the country dealing with potholes and unsafe roads, and Aucklanders sitting in deadlocked traffic, would’ve questioned the reasoning behind investing $785 million on a cycle bridge that will only benefit a small number of people.

“Those same Aucklanders stuck on the harbour bridge will be wondering why the Government is so obsessed with light rail that it would rather spend upwards of $15 billion on it than a much needed second harbour crossing.

“New Zealanders would’ve struggled to understand how the Mongrel Mob, an organised criminal group known for peddling drugs and violence throughout communities, was more deserving of $2.75 million than the ‘I Am Hope’ support group which provides free counselling for youth struggling with mental health issues.

“Our underappreciated nurses are sick of being side-lined while the Government funnels half a billion dollars into a health restructure and bureaucracy. They’ve had enough and they’re striking to show it.

“We’ve got 4000 children being raised in motels exposed to intimidation, violence, drug deals and gang involvement. The Government should be making it easier to build houses and making sure these families have access to safe and secure homes. Instead it’s bought one motel for $8 million.

“The consequences of this poor quality spending by Labour is higher taxes and more debt.

“New Zealanders deserve a Government that prioritises their health, safety and wellbeing.

“Labour has made its priorities very clear, and they involve funding the Mob over mental health support for young Kiwis.”

What does it say about Labour’s priorities when:

Nurses are striking because their case for better pay and conditions has been turned down but the government is going to spend $1 billion on a bridge.

Hospitals are in crisis mode with 30,000 people overdue for treatment but the government is going to spend $1 billion on a bridge.

More than 4,000 children are living in motels but the government is going to spend $1 billion on a bridge.

Except now, maybe because Sunday’s poll showing the government has dropped in popularity, maybe because more than 80% of people polled opppose it,  or maybe just because common sense has asserted itself, it’s probable the government has accept that it’s a bridge too far:

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson wants the Government to bring forward work on a second Waitematā crossing, likely to be a tunnel.

It is understood that the Government is also considering scrapping its $785 million walking and cycling bridge over the harbour.

On Tuesday, Robertson would not confirm that the walking and cycling bridge would definitely be going ahead, only that the bridge was the current proposal.

When asked whether he would renege on building the bridge, Robertson said “we continually look at the network and the programme to make sure that it works well”. . . 

Given there is no doubt that the proposed bridge is deeply unpopular, and so much else in Auckland’s transport system is not working well, this can be taken to mean that the current proposal will be shelved.

The Taxpayers’ Union applauds the probable u-turn:

. . .“This proposal has perhaps been the Government’s worst political misfire. Even Labour supporters don’t want a gold-plated bridge for the sake of the Takapuna lycra mob – especially when other parts of our transport system, used by a wider range of New Zealanders, have gone neglected.”

Given there is no doubt that the proposed bridge is deeply unpopular, and so much else in Auckland’s transport system is not working well, this can be taken to mean that the current proposal will be shelved. . . 

Dare we hope this is the start of the government focusing on high priorities and not other boondoggles like the billion dollar bridge?


Perspective

03/06/2021


No need to spend it all

05/05/2021

This is not a bonus:

Almost $1 billion that was allocated for the Covid-19 response last year was never spent, and Finance Minister Grant Robertson has put it back into the Covid fund to spend on the recovery.

Robertson delivered the first of his pre-Budget speeches this morning to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, saying Budget 2021 would be a “recovery Budget”. . . 

Finding you’ve spent less than you borrowed doesn’t mean you should spend it all.

Responding to the Finance Minister’s decision to reallocate $926 million from the COVID-19 response fund, New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says:

“Grant Robertson is acting like he’s got a spending target. Someone needs to tell him he doesn’t actually have to spend every last cent from his COVID-19 response fund.”

“The Government’s decision to borrow more than $100 billion has monumental consequences for future generations of taxpayers. That borrowing was justified purely on the basis of dealing with COVID-19. If we no longer need the money for our COVID-19 response, then it should simply not be spent.”

“We’re currently looking at a forecast of around $100,000 in government debt for every household in the country. The Finance Minister should be using whatever fiscal wriggle room he can find to reduce that burden.”

Not spending as much borrowed money than at first anticipated doesn’t give you more money. It could give less debt if it’s not spent.


Climate Change Commission Submission

29/03/2021

Submissions to the Climate Change Commission on its report closed yesterday.

I submitted:

    1. If you expect people to accept the science on climate change you must use the best science in your response.
    1. All policy must ensure that action locally does not lead to a reaction that increases emissions globally.
    1. All policy must ensure it doesn’t result in the waterbed effect i.e. that reductions in one area don’t free up emissions in others.
    1. All policy must adhere to the Paris Accord’s requirement that climate change mitigation must not come at the expense of food production.
    1. Allowing the band-aid policy of offsetting long lived gases by planting trees must not be permitted to continue.
    1. All policy must balance environmental, economic and social considerations.
    1. All policy must, as your report proposes, recognise the distinction between short and long-lived gases.
    1. Farmers must be permitted to offset animal emissions with their shelter belts and soil carbon.
    1. Central planning did a lot more harm than good to the economy; central planning as prescribed by the CCC will do little if any good environmentally at enormous economic and social cost; and it is unnecessary when the ETS will achieve what is required without further need for intervention.
    1. Funding research that fosters innovation will achieve more at a far lesser cost than draconian government dictates that reduce economic activity, stifle creativity and hit the poor hardest.
    1. I support the submission made by Chris Garland, in particular that responding and adapting to climate change must be achieved in a way that doesn’t threaten food production, and/or have adverse impacts on mental health and livelihoods in rural communities.
    1. I support the submission made by the Taxpayer’s Union.

 

The Climate Change Commission let itself, and New Zealand, down in at least two major ways.

The first was by releasing its report at first only to a few selected journalists.

The second by not providing its full data.

We will all be let down again if it doesn’t treat submissions, in particular those critical of its first report, with the seriousness they’re due and provide a second report that is backed up by data which is fully disclosed for analysis.

 

 

 


Anything but kind

25/03/2021

Court documents have provided National with fuel to renew calls for Speaker Trevor Mallard to resign:

The legal threats used by Trevor Mallard to silence a Parliamentary staffer who he falsely accused of rape make him unfit to continue as Parliament’s Speaker, Shadow Leader of the House Chris Bishop says.

National has received the statement of claim by the plaintiff, lodged in the High Court as part of defamation proceedings, which alleges Mr Mallard repeated his false allegation against the staffer in public even after he was told by Parliamentary Service that it was incorrect.

The document also shows Mr Mallard, who has admitted he knew within 24 hours of making the initial claim that he made a mistake, informed the staffer, through lawyers, that he would not apologise, would not pay damages, did not accept the staffer had been defamed, would prove what he said about the staffer was true, and would defend any claim “vigorously”.

Mr Mallard, via his lawyers, said that should the staffer pursue litigation, “the question of his reputation, and his conduct, will be very much the centrepiece of any public proceeding”.

It took about 18 months before Mr Mallard finally settled with the staffer and apologised for “distress and humiliation”. The matter cost taxpayers $333,641.70 in the form of a $158,000 ex-gratia payment to settle the legal claim, $171,000 in fees to Dentons Kensington Swan and $4641.70 to Crown Law for advice to the former Deputy Speaker.

Trevor Mallard has lost the confidence of the Opposition over his handling of this matter and should not continue as Speaker of the House, Mr Bishop says.

“Trevor Mallard behaved in a threatening and bullying way. This wasn’t just a ‘mistake’, as he tried to portray it. His behaviour is unbecoming of someone whose job it is to uphold the standards and integrity of Parliament.

“He is in a position of immense power and has used this power to try and silence a former employee. The irony is that he has exhibited the exact behaviour the Francis review was commissioned to stamp out: bullying.”

National has sought the leave of Parliament to debate a motion of no confidence in Mr Mallard on several occasions this term, but they have been continually blocked by Labour.

Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins wrote to the Prime Minister on March 16 to inform her of this latest information regarding Mr Mallard.

“The Prime Minister and her Labour MPs need to ask themselves whether this is the sort of behaviour they’re prepared to keep defending,” Mr Bishop says.

“In any other workplace in New Zealand, Trevor Mallard would be sacked. What’s good for any other workplace should be good for Parliament as well.”

Making the accusation without proof was wrong.

Failing to apologise as soon as he knew he was wrong made it worse.

Allowing the legal process to continue when he knew he was wrong compounded the wrongdoing.

That the legal process included threats should the accused man pursue litigation is unacceptable behaviour from anyone let alone the Speaker.

This could all have been avoided had Mallard apologised as soon as he knew his accusation was groundless.

It could have been avoided had PM Jacinda Ardern done the right thing by seeking his resignation months ago.

Allowing the matter to fester is anything but kind to the man who was wrongly accused and who lost his job as a result of that.

It is also anything but kind to the taxpayer who has already had to pick up the bill for legal costs and could well face even heavier payments for more legal fees and compensation.

The PM says she always reads letters from children. She should not only read but act on this one:

The transcript of Bishop’s speech is after the break.

Read the rest of this entry »


Broken promises and bromide

24/03/2021

Yesterday’s announcement on housing was mere tinkering.

It broke the promise of Grant Robertson that there would be no changes to the bright line test and Jacinda Ardern’s promise there would be no capital gains tax while she was leader.

What makes it worse is that the broken promises will do nothing to solve the housing crisis. It could well decrease the supply of rental accommodation and will lead to increased rents.

That pressure on rents will be compounded by the decision to single property owners out by ending their ability to claim the cost of interest against their income for tax purposes.

This is not as the government asserts, and some in the media parrot, closing a loophole, it’s a change to tax law that has until now applied to every business.

Higher costs for landlords will inevitably be passed on to their tenants.

Increasing income caps and house prices for First Home Grants is a token gesture when house prices are so high and if it does anything it will add fuel to the fire. Anything which makes it easier for people to buy a house without increasing the supply will push up prices.

At first glance the infrastructure accelerator looks good, but will it be effective?

. . .However, Kiwibank chief economist Jarrod Kerr said the policy changes simply “tinkered at the edges”, and were not enough to address the systemic supply issues that have caused New Zealand’s house prices to soar beyond the reach of many.

“It was pretty disappointing to be honest. Some of the ideas are good, but the size is pathetic. It’s a drop in the bucket and it’s a leaky bucket at that.”

Kerr said the tool with the most potential was the $3.8b infrastructure accelerator, which is intended to help local councils create the necessary services infrastructure – plumbing, roads, power – to unlock remote land for property development.

“I think the idea is great; we need to get funding into councils to sort out woeful infrastructure and get it to areas that need to be developed. But the fact that it only got $3.8b means that it’s going to be ineffective – $3.8billion spread across all our councils is a rounding error.” . . 

The whole package is underwhelming, it’s just broken promises and bromide that ignore the root cause of the crisis – a lack of supply and the foundation for that is an unwillingness to cut the red tape that holds back development.

 


Trampling democracy

22/02/2021

Fast forward to a future political cycle when National leads a government with Act’s support.

Neither party campaigned on radical changes to local government legislation but the government decides to make them under urgency.

It introduces a Bill that reinstates the right for residents to petition a council for a referendum on Maori wards and it goes further.

It adds a clause to allow people who own more than one property, a vote for every property whether or not they are in the same local authority area.

It then cuts the Select Committee process form its usual six months to six days and the time to lodge submissions from 20 days to just one.

Adding anti-democratic insult to authoritarian injury it advises groups it knows will support the move six days notice to prepare submissions for the Select Committee and alerts those it knows will oppose the Bill just one day before submissions are due.

Imagine the uproar that would ensue.

The Minister responsible would be pilloried by the media which would also give wide coverage to anyone who took issue with the Bill and the process.

Why then has there been hardly a ripple to the way Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is doing exactly this:

The Government’s parliamentary process on its Bill to allow Councils to have separate Māori Wards has been a sham, National’s Local Government spokesperson and Electoral Reform spokesperson Christopher Luxon and Dr Nick Smith say.

“Electoral law is important as it determines how we are governed, yet the Government is running a sham process and giving supporters an unfair advantage through the short Select Committee process,” Dr Smith says.

“Labour cut the normal Select Committee process from six months to six days and the time for submissions to be lodged from the normal 20 days to just one day,” Mr Luxon says.

“What’s more appalling is that Councils supporting the Bill were told on Friday February 5 of the Bill’s timeline, that the Select Committee process would be exceptionally short and to prepare to lodge their submissions by February 11.

“Giving those who support the Bill six days’ notice and those opposed just one day would be called insider trading in the business world.”

“To have read the submission on the Bill in the timetable set by the Government, I would have had to read three submissions every minute with no sleep for three days,” Dr Smith says.

“Further, the Labour Chair told the Committee there was insufficient time to consider any amendments to the Bill, raising the question as to why the Government bothered with a Select Committee.”

“Labour is making a mockery of Parliament with this Bill. New Zealanders deserve a better process on the laws that determine how we are governed,” Mr Luxon says. 

The Taxpayers’ Union says the process has been so badly screwed the Bill should be referred back to the Select Committee:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is condemning Local Government Minister Nanaia Muhata’s decision to give local councils supporting her Māori wards legislation advance notice of the short submission process.

This decision was revealed by National MP Dr Nick Smith during Question Time this week.

Union spokesman Jordan Williams says, “The Minister gave her allies a five-day head start to prepare submissions on the Bill to entrench Maori wards. Meanwhile, members of the general public were given just one day’s notice to prepare for the disgracefully short two-day submission window.”

“The Minister knew perfectly well what she was doing. The decision to warn her mates before blindsiding the general public can only be read as a cynical attempt to manipulate the consultation process and limit the contributions of New Zealanders opposed to the Bill.”

“The Taxpayers’ Union has 60,000 subscribed supporters, thousands of whom would have likely produced personalised submissions on the legislation, had they been given the time. Instead, these voices were effectively silenced while the Bill’s allies were able to spend six days writing screeds for the select committee.”

“If a National Government did a favour like this for corporate special interests, Labour would rightly be up in arms.”

“This is a complete betrayal of the promise of open and transparent government. It shows a complete disrespect for not just the public, but Parliament as an institution. It undermines trust in the Select Committee process and justifies the Speaker stepping in so that public submissions are reopened.”

Local body elections are nearly two years away. There is plenty of time to go through the proper process of consultation.

That her government has a majority is even more reason to follow correct processes.

By using urgency, truncating the submission process and giving her allies nearly a week more to prepare than the Bill’s opponents, the Minister is trampling all over democracy and opening herself, and her government, up to accusations of acting like a dictatorship.

 


Separate wards not needed

05/02/2021

The government’s move to rush through legislation cancelling the right to a referendum on the establishment of Maori wards on local councils is based on a big lie:

The Government is planning to rush through Parliament under urgency retrospective legislation that will cancel nine local referendums on whether or not to establish a Maori Ward in nine local authorities. This will disenfranchise several hundred thousand New Zealanders.

They effectively argue that it is vital to have Maori wards, because without them, racist New Zealanders will not vote for Maori and they will be under-represented in local Government. Nanaia Mahuta said that “Increasing Māori representation is essential to ensuring equity in representation”. This implies that there is a huge under-representation. . .

If you click on the link above you’ll get to Kiwiblog where a graph shows a positive trend with the proportion of local government elected officials who are Maori tripling from 4.2% in 2004  to 13.5% now .

That is only fractionally less than the percentage of Maori in the population.

These people will have stood for a variety of reasons and on a variety of platforms. People will have voted for them for a variety of reasons, which might include their ethnicity.

Why they stood, on which platforms and why people voted for them is irrelevant. What matters is that they were free to stand, did so and succeeded without the assistance of government patronage.

Why then is the government rushing through legislation to cancel nine local referendums on whether or not to establish a Maori Ward in nine local authorities, disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of residents in the process?

The Taxpayers’ Union has the answer to that question:

The Taxpayers’ Union has launched a nationwide petition against Labour’s plan to entrench Māori wards for local councils.

Union spokesman Jordan Williams says, “Nanaia Mahuta’s legislation has nothing to do with equity or justice. It is quite simply an attempt to dominate local politics, guaranteeing more councils will be controlled by Labour-aligned councillors. These councillors will consistently vote for higher rates to fund the pet projects that Labour supports.”
 
“It has been a long tradition that electors can vote on, and veto, fundamental changes to local voting systems. For example, voters get to approve any change from an FPP voting system to an STV one. Labour now plans to disenfranchise voters, overturning convention in order to privilege its local candidates and allies.”
 
“Labour knows perfectly well that new Māori ward candidates will disproportionately come from the political Left. That’s already true for Māori electorate seats and in existing Māori wards and statutory boards.”
 
“In short, the Government is ramming a law change through Parliament under urgency to cancel referenda because they think people will vote the wrong way. It’s a disgraceful hijacking of local democracy that we must oppose with all our strength. We’re calling on ratepayers across the country to add their names to the cause.”

If you oppose the government’s plan to hijack local democracy by ramming a law change through Parliament under urgency to cancel referenda because they think people will vote the wrong way you can sign the petition here.


Rural round-up

14/09/2020

Fertiliser levy for vegan fantasy would be handbrake on recovery:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is slamming the Green Party’s “farming for the future” policy, which would introduce a levy on fertiliser and cost taxpayers $297,000,000 over three years to subsidise “regenerative and organic farming methods”.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “Agriculture will be a key plank in New Zealand’s economic recovery. The last thing our farming sector needs is a tax on efficiency in the form of a levy on fertiliser. Fertilisers help farmers produce more with less land, limiting the impact of agriculture on our outstanding natural landscapes. The Greens should be happy about that!”

“That the revenue from this tax will be spent on promoting ‘vegan plant-based practices’ adds insult to injury. The Government should focus on allowing the economy to recover, not wasting money on trendy environmental schemes.” . . 

Nothing sustainable without profit – Sudesh Kissun:

Chair of Dairy Environment Leaders programme Melissa Slattery believes that sustainable farming is highly important to young farmers. T

he Waikato farmer believes the upcoming generation of farmers are driven to learn and adapt, just like the previous generation did for the issues of their time.

“Opportunities will evolve for the new generation farmers who understand what is and will be required in terms of sustainability on farm,” Slattery told Rural News. . . 

Work together industry told – Annette Scott:

Verified sustainable production right across supply chains is key to New Zealand beef improving its standing on the world stage, says NZ Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (NZRSB) chair Grant Bunting.

The results of a pilot programme conducted by NZRSB and delivered at a field day on Rangitikei Station last week are proof NZ can do it, Bunting said.

The NZRSB, formed late last year, is about beef industry stakeholders from across the supply chain working to position NZ as a leading producer of beef that is safe and produced in a way that is environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable.

“We need to ensure we not only keep up with other countries, we want to be world leaders,” Bunting said. . . 

Living the dream:

Kiwi agro-ecologist Nicole Masters is living the dream, touring ranches in the United States with her horse for company.

“I love being able to integrate my two loves which are soil and horses all in one place.”

Nicole has been working in the US for seven years now, pretty much full-time for the past three years, running workshops and coaching clients on how to build soil health and optimise water cycles.

Ranging from bison farmers to winegrowers, her clients are progressive operators who are interested in food quality and improving livestock health and pasture diversity. . . 

Ben Tombs wins Tonnellerie De Mercurey Central Otago Young Winemaker regional competition:

Congratulations to Ben Tombs from Peregrine Wines who came first in the Tonnellerie de Mercurey Central Otago Young Winemaker competition held on Thursday 10th September at VinPro in Cromwell.

Ben was back to defend his title from last year so was thrilled to be again raising the cup. Last year, as he was on the Burgundy Exchange, he was unable to compete in the national final, so is extra thrilled to be heading up to Hawke’s Bay in November this year to represent Central Otago.

Congratulations also goes to Jordan Moores from Felton Road who came second and Rachel Bradley from Burn Cottage who came third. . . 

Cattle might be secret weapon in fight against wildfires, experts say. Here’s how – Katie Camero:

Evidence shows that wildfires have become more widespread and severe over the years, with the ongoing West Coast blazes bearing testament to the worrying trend.

Firefighters and farmers have tricks of their own to prevent fires from sparking and to contain them enough for successful defeat. But there might be a secret weapon that hasn’t been getting the attention it deserves.

Researchers with the University of California Cooperative Extension set out to evaluate how much fine fuel — grasses and other plants known to start fires — cattle eat and how their feeding behavior affects flame activity.

The team concluded that without cattle grazing, there would be “hundreds to thousands” of additional pounds of fine fuels per acre of land, which could lead to “larger and more severe fires.” . . 


Better health beats another holiday

08/09/2020

The country is still stuttering along at lockdown 2 (or 2.5 in Auckland).

The government is borrowing every cent it’s spending.

The country, and the world is facing the worst economic crisis in decades and yesterday we got a contrast in priorities from National and Labour.

National launched a policy taking a health approach to the meth pandemic:

National has outlined an integrated and comprehensive plan to tackle the issues caused by methamphetamine use. Our Plan will deliver a response work programme, unifying resources from Justice, Health, Police and Customs.

National’s plan tackles the harm of methamphetamine use, restoring hope to people trapped in cycles of drug dependence and challenging those who peddle misery in our communities.

The use of this drug tears families apart, fuels violence, enriches criminals and destroys lives. We cannot tolerate the continued misery this drug causes, which leads to rising levels of violence and poverty, and widespread social harm.

Methamphetamine is the most commonly detected illicit drug nationwide. Social agencies identify it as a significant factor in domestic and family violence.

There is no single solution to what has become a scourge on our society. A National government will tackle this problem from all angles, addressing both demand and supply.

National Plan to tackle demand will:

  • Deploy the Matrix Methamphetamine Treatment Pilot Programme across District Health Boards to provide direct support to those recovering from methamphetamine use.
  • Add 13 detox bed for methamphetamine across New Zealand, ensuring every District Health Board has at least one.
  • Ensure at least one methamphetamine specialist per District Health Board is available to assist with in-patient detoxing from methamphetamine.
  • Establish a contestable fund of $50 million to pilot new or scaled-up whole-community harm reduction programmes.
  • Establish best practices for frontline police to refer meth users to DHBs, Ministry of Social Development, education resources and community-based support.

National will reduce demand by improving the health response and providing treatment options that are not available today.

There must also be a strong response from our law and order agencies to disrupt those trying to bring meth into the country.

We will build capacity to interdict the international crime cartels that are bringing this problem to our shores. Good intelligence and international co-operation will be a priority under National.

There can be no tolerance for the dealing and supply of methamphetamine. Those who peddle this drug are responsible for the misery and social harm it causes.

National’s Plan to tackle supply will:

  • Increase funding for drug intelligence to enable Customs, Police and health authorities to identify drugs coming into the country.
  • Increase funding for Police and Health to identify new drugs and bad batches sooner.
  • Introduce more drug dogs at airports and ports.
  • Identify a new supply disruption strategy to reduce methamphetamine use in Corrections facilities.
  • Target domestic organised crime networks with extra focus and resourcing from Police.

National has a strong track-record of fighting the meth scourge. The Methamphetamine Action Plan we introduced saw increased seizures of methamphetamine and a 59 per cent reduction in use as a proportion of the population, between 2009 and 2015.

Labour rescinded National’s refreshed Action Plan in 2018 in favour of an ad-hoc, piecemeal approach to drug harm.

We will re-establish the social investment approach across the justice system, making sure the impacts of crime are addressed, as well as the causes of it.

New Zealand needs a co-ordinated and effective response to the methamphetamine problem.

With this Plan, National will deliver one.

You can read National’s Tackling Methamphetamine Policy Factsheet here.

This is a positive policy that takes a health approach to addicts and a cross agency approach to the people who peddle the drug.

And what’s Labour’s priority?

Another public holiday:

New Zealand is in the biggest economic crisis in a generation and Labour’s answer to this is another public holiday, National’s Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“At a time when the economy is shrinking and we are losing jobs, it’s tone deaf for Labour’s second policy announcement to be an additional public holiday.

“More and more New Zealanders want to celebrate Matariki, but if it is to take the form of a public holiday it should replace an existing one.

I like the idea of a holiday to celebrate Matariki. Mid winter is a much better time for fireworks than GUy Fawkes (which isn’t a holiday) or New Year. But my support is for it to replace an existing one not as an extra one.

“Businesses up and down the country are under colossal pressure right now, they’re the ones who will have to pay for another public holiday.

“It’s a pity that Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern has shown zero empathy for the tens of thousands of New Zealanders who are struggling right now to keep their businesses afloat and employ Kiwis.

“A new public holiday won’t mean much to the tens of thousands of families who are now on the unemployment benefit.

“The absolute focus should be on saving jobs and creating new ones, but we’re not seeing that from Labour.”

The Taxpayers’ Union describes it as another tax on employers:

An additional public holiday is a blatant tax on employers, who will be forced to pay workers for a day off. It will also reduce overall productivity, which means a smaller economy and fewer jobs. An economic recession is the worst time to introduce this kind of regulatory tax.”

“If the intention is to acknowledge the cultural significance of Matariki, there’s an opportunity for a middle road: introduce the new holiday, but scrap Labour Day, an obsolete hangover from international Marxism that most New Zealanders just consider to be a day off.”

The concept of an International Workers’ Day (also known as Labour Day) began its spread after a resolution by the Marxist International Socialist Congress in Paris, 1889.

The EMA is unimpressed:

The EMA says the Government’s announcement today of an extra public holiday for Matariki from 2022 is unlikely to find favour with its business members.

Chief Executive Brett O’Riley says it will be seen as another cost to business and is unlikely to support increased tourism, which was the original argument for an extra public holiday during COVID-19 Alert Levels 1 and 2.

Some tourism businesses already close on public holidays because any increase in customers doesn’t cover the extra cost of wages and time off in lieu for staff who work on those days.

Mr O’Riley says the Government priority should be focused on fixing the dysfunctional Holidays Act.

“We need to see a simplified and streamlined process for calculating entitlements and creating efficiencies for business.”

“We understand the cultural argument about Matariki being considered important enough for a public holiday, but it could have been exchanged with one of the other public holidays,” he says. 

Heather du Plessis-Allan likes the idea but not the timing:

. . . Labour seem completely tone-deaf on this.

At a time when government should be reducing as many burdens on business as possible… they’re doing the opposite.

In this term alone they’ve increased maternity leave to 26 weeks, domestic abuse leave to two weeks, upped the minimum wage by 20 per cent, scrapped 90-day trials, regulated when employees must take breaks, are apparently considering doubling sick leave to two weeks and now this.

All in all that is a huge amount of regulation and cost added to businesses who are fighting for their survival right now.

It makes it slightly better than the policy is deferred to mid-2022. But, in truth, businesses will still be struggling then. ASB today projected it won’t enter recovery mode until 2023.

You have to wonder also at the priorities here. If this is the policy to kick off the campaign property you have to wonder whether Labour either doesn’t appreciate what’s headed our way or just knows it can get away with it while voters live in a fantasy land of sugar money propping up the economy.

This is a great idea, but it’s a great idea for another time. Right now, we have bigger problems than the need for another public holiday. 

We already have four weeks’ annual leave and 11 statutory holidays.

If ever we could afford another day off it isn’t now.

The contrast between the two policies couldn’t be starker – National’s will tackle a very real problem, Labour ignores the problems we’re facing.


Rural round-up

09/07/2020

Wool, trees, rules threaten sheep – Annette Scott:

Sheep farming is under serious threat from incentives to grow trees and more crops, retired Federated Farmers meat and wool chairman Miles Anderson says.

In his six years on the national executive, the past three as section chairman, Anderson said the biggest single frustration has been wool.

“We have got a product we have selectively bred for generations and generations, it ticks all the environmental boxes and many of us are dumping crutchings, bellies and pieces on-farm because it costs more to get them to the woolstore than you get for it – it’s ridiculous.

“If there was ever a time for the wool industry to get its act together and work collaboratively to improve the fortunes of everyone in the industry, now is the time. . . 

We don’t know how lucky we are – Gerald Piddock:

New Federated Farmers dairy chairman Wayne Langford says the next few years will be critical for the industry as it navigates freshwater reform, climate change and Mycoplasma bovis.

The Golden Bay dairy farmer takes over from Chris Lewis, having served as his vice-president for the past three years.

“I think with the state of the Government and potentially them doing another term, I think these are all going to start to come to a head. 

“They have made their intentions pretty clear on that so I think these next three years are pretty crucial in that, making sure our farming sector, where we are still profitable and where there are still vibrant communities and a bunch of young farmers still on the ground.” . .  

A shake-up for the land and her export billions – Tim Murphy:

The Government wants to accelerate improvements to production and sustainability on the land to greatly increase export earnings over the next decade. But big change will be needed, Tim Murphy reports.

A new package to grow our agriculture, food and fibre industries, improve the environment and stimulate jobs has a huge financial target and an even bigger set of challenges for farmers and growers.

The final report of the Primary Sector Council – Fit for a Better World – sets an ambitious agenda to ‘transform’ farm and forestry practices sustainably and in keeping with Te Taiao (the natural world) to address the climate crisis, while finding new $1 billion export products and saving and developing free trade for our products.

After a long period of consultation and research, the council’s vision for New Zealand’s primary industries is all encompassing: “We are committed to meeting the greatest challenge humanity faces: rapidly moving to a low carbon emissions society, restoring the health of our water, reversing the decline in biodiversity and, at the same time, feeding our people.” . . 

Grief over grain drain – David Anderson:

A whole generation of farmers don’t seem to know about the advantages of feeding NZ-grown grain to livestock, claims Jeremy Talbot.

Talbot is a South Canterbury arable farmer and long-time proponent of farmers using more NZ-grown grain to feed their livestock.

believes the current drought in many parts of the country, and the resulting shortage of hay and baleage, is an ideal time for the practice of grain feeding livestock to be highlighted. . . 

Government Sells Taxpayers Down The River:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is sceptical that 61% of taxpayer funding for waterway clean-up just happens to be focused on the Northland electorate.

Union spokesperson Louis Houlbrooke says: “The Government has announced that $162 million of taxpayers’ money will be spent on cleaning our waterways. There are 23 projects, but one will receive $100 million, 61% of the total allocation. It is also the only project set to run more than one year.”

“The Kaipara Moana Remediation programme is predicted to create 1,094 jobs over the six-year life of the project surrounding the Kaipara Harbour, most of which sits within the key electorate of Northland.  . . 

How bush fire management is saving the Carpentaria grasswren – Derek Barry:

Aerial fire management is helping save the Carpentaria grasswren in North West Queensland.

The project at Calton Hills at Gunpowder, north of Mount Isa has been running for three years replicating land management that used to be done for centuries before Europeans arrived and a new video produced by Southern Gulf NRM is showing how it is working.

Michael Blackman, a fire management consultant with Friendly Fire Ecological Consultants said the aerial burns was carried out in older age spinifex.

“This country here has a lot of large wildfires come through in 2011 and 2012 and the main reason for doing this project is to assist in the recovery of the Carpentaria grasswren which lives in the old age spinifex,” Mr Blackman said. . . 


Paying for propaganda

12/06/2020

The Taxpayers’ Union has filed a complaint  over unite for recovery advertisements:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union has laid a formal complaint with the Auditor General regarding today’s full-page advertisements placed in a number of newspapers, including The New Zealand Herald and the Dominion Post, by the New Zealand Government.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesperson Jordan Williams says, “These advertisements are not primarily informative or educational, unlike earlier Government COVID-19 advertisements. Today’s ads have moved into the realm of thinly veiled political propaganda at the taxpayers’ expense.”

“‘Unite for the recovery’ is widely expected to be the central theme of the Labour Party’s 2020 election campaign. Only 102 days from an election, the public service should be vigilant to political masters using taxpayer-funded resources to support political messages.”

“Full page newspaper adverts of a political nature, even in this depressed media environment, are expensive. With Government debt going through the roof, borrowed funds should be used on vital services, not propaganda.”

I’m over the lectures, being talked at as if I’m a child,  and am now at the point where I see the yellow branding for Covid-19 and pass over whatever it says.

Whether or not these advertisements are political propaganda, they’re a waste of public money.

When the government is incurring such an eye-watering amount of debt it should be scrutinising every cent it spends and not wasting it on propaganda.


Another step forward together in confidence

23/05/2020

Todd Muller’s first speech as National Party leader:

The past few months, our country has made many sacrifices.

You have made many sacrifices. You have put a lot on the line to get us through this crisis.

Now, we must begin taking another step forward together, with confidence. 

The confidence to rebuild our country, rebuild our economy and to restore the livelihoods of New Zealanders.

Only a National government can provide the leadership to do that.

That is why we must win the next election.

Nikki and I, and our team, understand that the task for the next Government is immense. We’re honoured by the opportunity to lead this Party.

We take it seriously.

I would like to thank and acknowledge Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett.

Simon has worked hard as Leader, given the job his all, and the caucus is grateful for his service.

Both he and Paula have served the Party and our country well.

Thank you to my wife Michelle and our three children for supporting me on this journey.  Kids, Dad will be home soon.

I want to pause here and acknowledge New Zealand’s tremendous response to the health crisis ravaging the world.

We should all be proud of what we’ve achieved together. 

But regardless of these efforts, COVID 19 has hurt us.

My absolute focus as National Party Leader will be New Zealand’s economic recovery.

We will save jobs, get the economy growing again and we will do so by leveraging our country’s great strengths: our people, our communities, our great natural resources, our values of hard work, tenacity, innovation and aspiration.

I know the size of this task and I will bring my all to it.

Yes, I’ve run businesses. I can read a balance sheet and a profit and loss account.  I can tell a good one from a bad one.  And yes, I’ll bring those skills to the Prime Ministership.

But that’s not what drives me.

What drives me is community – the people who help their elderly neighbours with the lawns on the weekend; The Dad who does the food stall at the annual school fair; The Mum who coaches a touch rugby team;

This election will be about the economy, but not the economy the bureaucracy talks about. It’ll be about the economy that you live in – the economy in your community – your job, your main street, your marae, your tourism business, your local rugby league club, your local butcher, your kura, your netball courts, your farms, your shops and your families.

This is the economy National MPs are grounded in, and the one that matters most to New Zealand.

For too long this economy, your economy – and your life – has been invisible to decision makers in Wellington.

This must change. And under my National government it WILL change. The economy that I believe in – is the one you live in – it is the economy of your community.

If we can rebuild that – we can rebuild our country.

This is what you can expect from my leadership: First and foremost – I’m about what’s best for you and your family – not what’s wrong with the Government.

And I’m not interested in opposition for opposition’s sake. We’re all tired of that kind of politics.

I’m about ideas that get results.

I’m proud of working across Parliament on the Zero Carbon Act. 

Wherever I have the opportunity to work with other parties for our country’s good, I will do so. 

Will I criticise the government?  Yes.

But ultimately, values and ideas are what ground me.

Like the idea that you can shape your own future and are free to do so.

I believe in enterprise, reward for hard work, personal responsibility, and in the power of strong families and communities.

Fundamentally, I don’t believe that for each and everyone of us to do better, someone else has to be worse off.

Those are National’s values. They are New Zealand values.

I don’t believe the right values or the right management skills are guiding our country as it confronts its biggest challenge since the end of the Second World War.

I will lead a party that rises to the great challenges facing us as a nation.

Labour has failed against every measure it has set for itself in Government- KiwiBuild, Light Rail, child poverty, prison numbers.

If we continue on this track of talking a big game but failing to deliver, we simply won’t recognise the New Zealand we are part of in a few years’ time.

Because New Zealanders know, whether or not they support National, they can have confidence that National will meet the challenges our country faces.

New Zealand, it is time for your sacrifice to be repaid, and for your community to be rebuilt.

Today, that work has just begun.

Thank you.

Clarity, direction and positivity on a base of practical experience, this  is what the country needs.

Over at Kiwiblog, you can listen to a Taxpayers’ Union podcast interview with Todd, recorded a few days before his leadership bid.


Taxpayer funded competing with taxpayers

05/03/2020

Taxpayer-funded RNZ is running an advertising campaign which doesn’t tell the whole truth:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is slamming Radio New Zealand’s use of taxpayer money for misleading advertising suggesting New Zealanders do not have to pay for its content, unlike other media organisations.

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Jordan Williams says, “The idea that we don’t pay for RNZ is ridiculous. Unlike other media organisations, all New Zealanders are forced to pay for RNZ.”

“Private platforms also present a much more diverse range of views and perspectives.”

“In addition to being dishonest, RNZ’s advertising is an underarm bowl to those private media organisations, many of which are kneecapped by the state subsides for RNZ and TVNZ.”

Example of RNZ online advertising:

 

We’re all paying for that premium content through our taxes whether or not we listen to it.

Galling as these advertisements are to taxpayers, they’re worse still for those with which the state broadcaster competes:

 Stuff recently campaigned on the value of journalism.

Billboards, bus backs, paid social posts – it was everywhere. RNZ drove its message so hard it even featured in a digital display in Stuff’s own lobby. Trolling maybe?

The message was right, but only in part. RNZ doesn’t run ads. RNZ doesn’t have paid subscriptions for its content.

This, though, is only because it doesn’t need to.

You already pay for its content through your taxes, so its journalism doesn’t need to be either ad-funded, like ours is, or supplemented through a paid content model like, say, the NZ Herald.

It’s simple:

    • Commercial media make money through ads and subscriptions, which they then use to pay for public interest journalism.
    • Public media are Government-funded to pay for public interest journalism.

But, like newsrooms the world over, the advertising and subscription revenues commercial media once thrived on no longer sustain the number of journalists we once could. As audiences have shifted from newspapers to websites, so have advertising dollars. But the slice of the pie left for news organisations is tiny after the giant global platforms like Google and Facebook take their share.

In short, funding journalism, especially in regional New Zealand, has become increasingly hard. The pursuit of a new, sustainable business model to support journalism is something that is common across competitors; one galvanising connection that brings us all together. . .

Plurality of journalistic voices is deemed in the public interest. RNZ is chartered to serve that public interest. It is its purpose to serve an audience, not to compete for audiences; audiences which in one way or another are needed to fund the great journalism created by many organisations and many companies across New Zealand each and every day.

Journalism and mainstream media are under threat from digital platforms and social media.

Struggling businesses don’t need the taxpayer-funded outlet which competes with them.

The unfair competition from the state-owned Landcorp has been a bone of contention for farmers but at least it hasn’t run a campaign putting down private sector competitors the way RNZ is. That it’s doing it with what isn’t the whole truth makes it worse.


Mixed messages

06/12/2019

The government is sending mixed messages on fuel prices.

It’s imposed a carbon tax as part of its climate change strategy while it’s also criticising fuel companies for charging too much.

In doing the latter they are conveniently ignoring the fact that nearly half of the cost of fuel at the pumps is tax.


Cash spray BAU

02/12/2019

What does it say about a party when a keynote speech on infrastructure offers nothing more than funding for school maintenance?

Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson have cancelled billions of dollars of infrastructure projects whilst dressing up business as usual school maintenance grants as infrastructure investment, National’s Economic Development spokesperson Todd McClay says.

“Kiwis deserve the roads, transport and education infrastructure that National was delivering, not spin from a weak and wasteful government that’s failing to deliver on its promises.

“Today’s education announcement is less than it’s wasted on 300 plus government working groups and committees.   

“This Labour-led Government’s poor economic policies have slowed New Zealand down and on its watch, New Zealand’s infrastructure plans are in disarray.

“Labour inherited a strong economy with GDP growth around four per cent. Latest ANZ and ASB forecasts predict a drop to two per cent at a cost of $1.7 billion in lost revenue each year.

“At the same time this Government has wasted billions on failing policies and isn’t delivering on the things that matter to hardworking Kiwi families.

“Our economy is slowing because of Labour’s failure to deliver. A complete stall in infrastructure spend and $400 million of business as usual school repairs and maintenance just won’t cut it.”

Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Jordan Williams describes the announcement as  a lazy attempt to buy votes, rather than better educations:

“This announcement appears more targeted at parents’ votes, than fixing run down schools, and you only need look at which schools get what to figure that out.”

“What a lazy and pathetic policy. A brand new school gets the same dollop of cash as a school with buildings from the 1950s.  No school gets more than $400,000, but none less than $50,000. Ultimately that approach means those schools which desperately need redevelopment get less.”

“Instead of asking officials which schools need what, the Labour Party has cooked up an ‘every school gets cash’ policy for the PM’s big speech. This is the sort of stuff you’d expect from an unorganised opposition, not a Party in Government.”

It is because Labour was disorganised in opposition it delivers this sort of stuff in government.

“If this is indicative of Labour’s big spending plans, spraying taxpayer cash, instead of micro targeting so taxpayer money goes to where it is most needed, hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars are going to go down the drain.”

If a government that inherited a very healthy economy has to borrow to fund maintenance it has its spending priorities wrong.

Borrowing for infrastructure investment when interest rates are so low isn’t wrong per se, but if the government is borrowing to spend on infrastructure it ought to be investing in new projects not on-going maintenance.

Maintenance is business as usual (BAU), it’s shouldn’t be the recipient of a cash spray, but then spraying cash is BAU for this government.


Open and transparent?

30/09/2019

When Jacinda Ardern declared hers would be an open and transparent government this probably wasn’t what she was meaning:

Controversial Cabinet Minister Shane Jones told a forestry awards ceremony they needed to vote for him or miss out on the billions he’s handing out for provincial growth, it has been alleged.

One person present labelled Jones’ comments as an inducement to “bribery” and another thought the minister – responsible for forestry and the $3 billion provincial growth fund – was “buying votes”.

But Jones says New Zealand can expect him to remind it over the next 12 months that votes for New Zealand First are needed to ensure it continues to fulfil promises in its coalition agreement with Labour.

“When you get a retail politician like myself – a son of the north – you’ve never going to take the politics out of the politicians.” . .

There’s politics and there’s politicking and then there’s blatant vote-for-us-or-else which looks very close to bribery.

Another person who paid close attention to Jones’ speech said he was angry and shocked at the political approach.

“Some of the things he said I didn’t particularly like. [It was] he had this big pot of gold so make sure you keep voting for me. There were direct comments along those lines.”

A third person who objected to Jones’ comment said it detracted from the intent of the evening, which was to celebrate excellence in forestry.

“It should never have been a political rally, which is what he made it. He was saying ‘if you don’t vote for me, you won’t get any share of the billion dollars’. He said you’ve only got a few months of me here, so you’d better vote.

“It’s just bribery. I thought that was pretty disgusting.”

Another person present said: “It wasn’t a political forum. He didn’t do himself any good. He just made a complete idiot of himself.”

Those interviewed did not want to be named, citing the influence of Jones’ Provincial Growth Fund and concerns speaking openly could have a personal and financial impact. 

Whether it was meant as a threat or not, these people have not only interpreted what Jones said as vote-for-us-or-else, they’re scared about the consequences of speaking out.

What he said is bad enough. That he said it so openly is worse. It shows that he thinks he’s immune from any censor by both his leader and the Prime Minister that ought to follow this behavior but won’t.

Reacting to the Herald piece, Taxpayers’ Union Spokesman Jordan Williams said:

“This is truely banana republic stuff.  A Minister telling an industry sector that they need to pony up with support, or else lose taxpayer funded lavish.”

”It is shocking, and belongs in Namibia, not New Zealand.”

“Even for Shane Jones this is breathtakingly shameless.  This not only sours the reputation of the current Government, it sours the reputation of our whole political establishment.  It is pork barrel politics in its true meaning.”

“Taxpayers are relying on the Prime Minister to prevent Shane Jones dragging us down the transparency indexes.  Now is the time for her to show whether she demands western democracy standards of her Ministers, or whether her junior coalition partner wields the true power and can do what they like with public funds.”

Sadly the junior coalition partner does wield the true power and its members not only can and do do what they like with public funds, at least one is open that they’re vote-buying with them.


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