Do they think govt would spend their money better?

15/07/2020

Eighty three of the world’s wealthy are asking governments to tax them more:

Businessman and philanthropist Sir Stephen Tindall is among the world’s richest people urging governments to raise taxes on the rich, as the world grapples with the economic impact of Covid-19.

Tindall is one of 83 millionaires who signed an open letter which said “today, we, the undersigned millionaires, ask our governments to raise taxes on people like us. Immediately. Substantially. Permanently”.

“As Covid-19 strikes the world, millionaires like us have a critical role to play in healing our world,” it says.

“So please. Tax us. Tax us. Tax us. It is the right choice. It is the only choice.”

Are they saying this in the knowledge that they have been and are paying all the tax they should, that they haven’t arranged their affairs to minimize their personal or business taxes?

Oh and how many of them have applied for government subsidies? If they have, would they like to start by repaying at least some of that?

The letter says: “No, we are not the ones caring for the sick in intensive care wards. We are not driving the ambulances that will bring the ill to hospitals. We are not restocking grocery store shelves or delivering food door to door.”

But we do have money, lots of it. Money that is desperately needed now and will continue to be needed in the years ahead, as our world recovers from this crisis.” . . .

They do have lots of money and they’ve got that through hard work and shrewd investments. Do these people really think the government would spend their money better and do more good with it than they can?

If so they are free to give the national coffers a lot more money than they owe in tax at any time.

But there aren’t very many really rich people in New Zealand and governments aren’t as good at using other people’s money as successful people are at using their own.

If they really want to make a positive difference the wealthy would be better to invest their money themselves in businesses that would increase or create jobs, preferably ones that would also earn export income to replace at least some of what we’ve lost from international tourism and education.

These successful businesses would then contribute to the tax take without the need for the punitive tax rates the wealthy are suggesting.

If they prefer something more philanthropic they could build and run charitable hospitals and schools to reduce the burden of providing health and education services publicly.

Either way they would waste less and achieve more than the governments they are so eager to give more to would.


Anger isn’t kind

10/06/2020

Does Jacinda Ardern not take her own advice on being kind?

Retail NZ is calling for the Prime Minister to be kind, after reports that she is ‘angry’ that the Warehouse Group is undertaking a change process that could result in a substantial number of job losses.

“Retail NZ has been advising Government for months that larger retail chains are not immune from the impacts of the COVID-19 and we have been forecasting substantial numbers of job losses across the sector, and the Prime Minister should not be angry that businesses are acting to reduce costs and create sustainable futures,” Greg Harford, Retail NZ Chief Executive, said today.

“Retailers greatly appreciate the support that the Government has provided to the retail sector in recent months – but the margins in retail are wafer-thin. New Zealand businesses, both large and small are doing their best to manage the consequences of the lockdowns, and they are needing to make very tough decisions. Recently, a number of small and high-profile retailers have found themselves in a position where they need to close stores and reduce headcount in order to remain viable into the future. Retail NZ research suggests that more change and more job losses are expected in the coming period, across both small and large businesses.

“There is a misconception that larger businesses are able to incur big losses – but the fundamentals of operating a business are the same whether your business is large or small. Nobody in retail wants to make people redundant or close stores, but no matter the size of a business, it needs to make operational decisions to drive efficiency and productivity in order to survive. Failing to do so will ultimately lead to the demise of those businesses, and much greater numbers of job losses. . .

There is rarely a single factor behind business difficulty.

Those shedding staff, closing branches and folding altogether may well have been facing problems before the Covid-19 lockdown.

But not being able to operate for weeks while still incurring fixed costs, even with the wage subsidy, pushed them over and it didn’t have to be that tough for most of them.

When the lockdown was first announced, the Warehouse declared it was an essential business and would be operating at alert level 4. Ardern declared it wasn’t and wouldn’t be.

I had joined the chorus of people saying that the Warehouse wasn’t an essential business and agreed its stores shouldn’t be open at level 4. But why couldn’t it and any other retailer that could have done mail order not been able to do so?

Had the government allowed what was safe rather than dictating what was essential, the Warehouse and many other retailers would not have faced the total loss of business for all those weeks at level 4.

If it was safe to order Easter eggs online from a confectionary factory and a children’s or text book from a book shop, it would have been safe for the Warehouse to offer an online mail order service.

Perhaps the Prime Minister has forgotten her part in the forced closures, and has she also forgotten all the Warehouse founder did to help?

Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall, Trade Me creator Sam Morgan and former Air New Zealand chief executive Rob Fyfe joined forces to help ready the country to fight Covid-19.

Together they ordered 50 intensive care ventilators, seven planeloads of PPE protective clothing and equipment, and met with the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern the Sunday before lockdown was announced to urge the Government not to delay shutting the country down to try to limit deaths and eradicate Covid-19. . .

“Some of us, Sam Morgan and I in particular, realised there was a lot of stuff not getting done. We basically took the bull by the horns along with the guys from Zuru, and used our own money and ordered up a whole heap of PPE gear. There’s actually seven planeloads coming. Two have arrived already.”

They also worried New Zealand didn’t have enough ventilators, and moved to source some to give as many severely ill people the chance of beating infection.

“Of course every ventilator manufacturer in the world was chocka,” he said.

A little Kiwi ingenuity followed, and the group has backed niche New Zealand manufacturers around the country to begin manufacture once key parts can be sourced, though efforts to buy ventilators from overseas continued.

Tindall underwrote the purchase of 50 New Zealand-made ventilators at $60,000 each.

“I said to the agent, place the order, and you have got my word I will pay for them, if the Government doesn’t,” Tindall said. . . 

Tindall and Morgan became convinced lockdown was inevitable about two weeks before the meeting with the politicians. . . 

The government keeps telling us they went early and hard, but these business people saw the danger earlier and didn’t just talk, they acted.

The government didn’t go early enough, didn’t go hard enough at the border soon enough, then went too hard at level 4 and now Ardern has the audacity to vent her anger at the business founded by one of the men who saw the danger and acted earlier to help.

Heather du Plessis-Allan says the anger attack is a bad call politically:

. . . Already, the PM has a long list of calling out business: The Warehouse, Burger Fuel and Air New Zealand. And that’s all just within this Covid crisis.

Yes, this might play favourably with voters at the moment because of the rally-around-the-flag sentimentalism and because plenty of voters don’t understand business and seem to think the wage subsidy was intended for The Warehouse itself rather than the workers

But the PM should know better than that.

What she’s done here is betray her own fundamental let’s-all-work-four-days-a-week lack of understanding of what drives business. She’s complained that The Warehouse should prioritise staff higher and focus less on the shareholder.

Well that’s not how business works. Businesses are not charities.

The business sense behind that is deeply flawed. Sometimes it’s better to cut 100 jobs and save 900 for example, than to keep all 1000 on, risk the business itself – and then lose them all eventually anyway.

Through this public rebuke Ardern’s also essentially warned other big businesses to be careful about redundancies lest they also earn one too.

I tell you what, what I’m hearing from those involved in big business in this country is a deep frustration with this Government, their lack of understanding and their tin ear to pleas.

And what just happened will not make that better.

We’re going into an economic downturn and we are going to look to and lean on big business to help us out of this.

It’d be in the Government’s interests to keep them as friends, not make enemies out of them. . . 

Paul Goldsmith said the PM has the wrong focus:

National’s finance spokesman Paul Goldsmith says Prime Minister should “stick to her knitting” after expressing her fury at The Warehouse Group’s mass job cuts.

“I don’t think it’s helpful for the Prime Minister to be criticising struggling businesses, she should stick to her knitting,” Goldsmith said.

Rather than getting angry, Ardern should be “better focused” on the Government’s plan to grow the economy, he said. . . 

Meanwhile, Independent economist Cameron Bagrie said Ardern “overstepped the mark” when she said she was angry with the Warehouse over the job losses.

“Businesses are dealing with tough economic times,” he said.

“If that means they [businesses] need to cut costs to recalibrate for a different economic environment then so be it.”

He said there is a big structural shift going on in the economy at the moment – “I don’t think consumers are going to be out there spending like they were pre-Covid-19”. . .

No employers make these decisions lightly but sometimes cutting parts is necessary to save the whole.

A politician who preaches kindness shouldn’t be criticising those who are forced to act to ensure their business, and the remaining jobs, are sustainable.


Rural round-up

06/06/2015

Biofuels, grain and the American Midwest – Keith Woodford:

The American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently announced plans to reduce the 2015 and 2016 legal requirements for biofuels within American fuels. At the same time, the American Midwest looks like it could be heading for a bumper harvest year, possibly beating last year’s records.

The reason the Midwest is so important is that it is the American grain bowl. Increasingly, the Midwest is also becoming the centre of the American dairy industry. The twelve key contiguous states are Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. . .

Nominations open for 2015 agribusiness leadership awards:

Nominations have opened for this year’s prestigious Rabobank Leadership Awards – recognising the contribution of outstanding leaders in New Zealand and Australia’s food and agribusiness industries.

The annual awards, which are now in their tenth year, acknowledge the important role played by senior leaders in New Zealand and Australia’s agribusiness and agri-related industries with the Rabobank Leadership Award, which was last year won by the Australian Farm Institute’s Mick Keogh.

A second award category now in its third year, the Rabobank Emerging Leader Award, recognises up-and-coming young leaders in the sector. In 2014, this award went to Bryce Camm from the Camm Agricultural Group. . .

Farmers keen to do their bit for meat export market boost:

Federated Farmers says the New Zealand meat export industry needs to make up lost ground with a boost to marketing New Zealand beef and sheepmeat overseas.

Meat and fibre spokesperson Rick Powdrell says the figures show primary industries in other countries are outmuscling New Zealand meat in our export markets.

“Beef + Lamb New Zealand has identified we aren’t putting enough effort into promoting our meat exports at the moment and it has been working with the meat industry to get a joint farmer/industry promotion of NZ$7 – $8m a year commitment together. I commend that.” . . .

 

Shape of the meat industry – Rick Powdrell:

The Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) report, Pathway to Long – Term Sustainability, has come and gone. Well that’s what it appears, as little of a positive nature has eventuated from its contents.

Why has that been the case?

For one, it would appear that few farmers have actually read it. So does that tell us farmers didn’t believe in MIE’s concept for the report, or that they don’t wish to engage in any industry discussions relating to structural change?

I would say both, as some farmers from all around New Zealand have expressed their feelings that industry structure should not be the main focus. . .

Government supports New Zealand forestry exporters to combat illegal logging:

The Government has today launched a new tool for exporters of New Zealand-grown forestry products to help combat illegal logging of tropical forests, Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew says.

“From 15 June this year information statements will be available for our exporters to use when they send products to countries who have imposed requirements to combat illegal logging,” says Mrs Goodhew.

New Zealand’s legislation, and specifically the Resource Management Act 1991, mean that New Zealand’s planted forests are produced sustainably.

“New Zealand has a comprehensive regulatory system covering the legality and sustainability of the harvesting of our planted forests. We want to help our exporters tell this story,” says Mrs Goodhew. . .

Kauri dieback donation welcomed:

A generous donation towards protecting our native kauri tree from the ravages of kauri dieback disease has been welcomed by Conservation Minister Maggie Barry.

Sir Stephen Tindall and Julian Robertson will contribute $480,000 over the next three years through their Tindall and Aotearoa Foundations, targeted at protecting kauri.

$100,000 a year will go towards landowner’s efforts to stop livestock spreading the spores which cause the disease to kauri on their land. It will also fund public education and practical efforts such as hygiene stations at track entrances. . .

Calves and carers to get the best nutrition this season:

Calving time means lots of hungry mouths to feed on the farm so SealesWinslow has teamed up with the Dairy Women’s Network and celebrity chef Michael Van de Elzen to ensure both calves and carers get the best nutrition.

Calf rearing workshops, which began on 21 May and run through June and July will help rearers prepare for a successful season. Meanwhile Chef Van de Elzen will add seasoning to the sessions, providing recipe packs for fast, healthy meals to sustain farming families.

“I think my life is tough as a chef but farmers certainly work huge hours as well but often in very trying conditions. I’m excited to be supporting them with some tasty tucker,” said Mike. . .

 


NZer of Year shortlist announced

29/12/2014

The New Zealander of the Year 2015 Awards Office has announced the shortlist of people being considered for the 2015 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.

They are:

• Dr Sharad Paul: Surgeon and skin cancer specialist (Auckland)
• Sir John Kirwan: Rugby coach, mental health and depression awareness advocate (Auckland)
• Cassandra Treadwell: Chief executive and founder, So They Can (Lower Hutt)
• Sir Stephen Tindall: Founder, The Tindall Foundation (Auckland)
• Julie Chapman: Chief executive and founder, KidsCan Charitable Trust (Auckland)
• Barbara Ala’alatoa: Principal, Sylvia Park School (Auckland)
• Roana Bennett: Manager, Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Trust (Rotorua)
• Dr Susan Parry: Auckland City Hospital and Ministry of Health (Auckland)
• Cynthia Ward: True Colours Children’s Health Trust (Hamilton)
• Judge Peter Boshier: Law Commissioner (Wellington)

Comment from Chief Judge Cameron Bennett

Determining the New Zealander of Year is a very tough job for the judging panel. The calibre of nominations was very high.

Each of these individuals is extraordinary. Some have worked tirelessly to making other Kiwis better off while others have inspired us through being the very best at their chosen fields. All of them are unique and special New Zealanders. They are all Kiwis of whom we can be very proud.

Background

The annual New Zealander of the Year awards are in their sixth year. They recognise, encourage and reward New Zealand’s most vital asset – its people. It is open to all New Zealanders and celebrates the contributions of Kiwis from all walks of life. More than 230 nominations were received for the 2015 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.

In January, the judging panel – comprising representatives of all the awards patrons, presenters, sponsors, community leaders and independent experts – will announce the final shortlist of three people being considered for the 2015 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.

The winner will be announced at the New Zealander of the Year Gala Awards evening in Auckland on 25 February, 2015.

Previous winners of the New Zealander of the Year Award are: Dr Lance O’Sullivan (2014), Dame Anne Salmond (2013), Sir Richard Taylor (2012), Sir Paul Callaghan (2011) and Sir Ray Avery (2010).

Other categories

The New Zealander of the Year Awards 2015 will also be honouring New Zealanders who have performed with distinction in five award categories. The semifinalists for those categories are:

University of Auckland Young New Zealander of the Year

Ben Dowdle (Auckland); Guy Ryan (Wellington); Tabby Besley (Wellington); Sebastian Hallum-Clarke (Wellington); Ella Yelich-O’Connor “Lorde” (Auckland); Jason Pemberton (Christchurch); Matt Strawbridge (Wellington); William Pike (Auckland); Te Rawhitiroa Bosch (Waikato); Henrietta McNeill (Invercargill); Malvindar Singh-Bains (Auckland).

Metlifecare Senior New Zealander of the Year

Donald Sew Hoy (Auckland); Dr Brian Broom (Auckland); Gaylene Preston (Wellington); Kerry Bensemann (Christchurch); Betty van Gaalen (Kapiti); Kai Luey (Auckland); Bob Robertson (Queenstown); Roger Robinson (Auckland); Tong Too (Napier).

Mitre 10 Community of the Year

Paihia!; VisionWest Community Trust (Auckland); Kidscan (Auckland/NZ); Central Lakes Trust (Otago); Givealittle (NZ); South Alive Invercargill; Community Fruit Harvesting (Auckland/NZ); Pathway Trust (Christchurch); Rural Women New Zealand (NZ); Te Whangai Trust (NZ).

Sanitarium Innovator of the Year

Peter Beck (Auckland); Professor Shaun Holt (Tauranga); Kayne Horsham (Wellington); Glenn Martin (Christchurch); BCS Group (Auckland); Chris Rodley (Nelson); Neville Jopson (Dunedin); Pat Martin (Christchurch); William Palmer and Peter Beguely (Auckland); Peter Stothers (Auckland).

Kiwibank Local Heroes Awards

Amy Burke (Christchurch); Billie Jordan (Waiheke Island); Donald Rogers (Auckland); Helen Davidson (Roxburgh); Helen Henderson (Lower Hutt); Trevor Clarke (Auckland); Talitha Vandenberg (Paihiatua); Dame June Mariu (Auckland); Peter Willsman (Queenstown); Steven Parkinson-Loane (Christchurch).

More information on the awards is here.

 


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